|About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search|
Chapter 4. Those Who Are Most In Need.
Refuge in the Isle of Balar. Midwinter, year 473 of the Sun.
Every day at sunset Círdan could be found at the most distant end of their temporary shipyard, easing out the day’s worries by putting his drawknife or his sanding tool to a wood plank.
Balar did not have much in terms of forests, and what trees they had they mostly kept for nuts and firewood, so they had to make do with repairs and with reusing driftwood brought in by the restless tides. Yet the Shipwright always managed to find a piece of wood that could do with some smoothing. It was a welcome distraction from the harrowing work of sourcing stone for their building, not to mention carrying the heavy blocks from the quarries to the area chosen for their permanent settlement. They still lived in tents, mostly, but the temporary shipyard that Turgon’s crews had built there along the years was serviceable enough for their fleet.
Turgon! The Hidden King had been in his thoughts all day. What madness had possessed him to send his people in that desperate quest for a passage West, what fate must have those poor mariners faced, Círdan could not fathom. He remembered only too well the grief in Fingolfin’s voice when he had shared with Círdan the truth of their coming —how they had left Valinor as exiles, banished from returning and weighed down by the Doom of Mandos. Had Fingolfin’s wise second son then risked only those of Sindarin and Falathrim descent among his subjects, in that foolish search for a way into the Blessed Realm?
The questions itched —unsolvable, weighty, burdensome.
His thoughts strayed then to Falmariel, his sister’s granddaughter, and her son Voronwë, who was of fighting age already…both living in the Hidden City...Had he fought in the Dagor Nirnaeth? Had he died there, while Círdan survived? Had they…
The soughing sigh of the pebbles rolling around in time with the tide caught his attention then. He allowed the cadence to appease his turbulent thoughts for a while, distract him with a different sorrow —the eternal pulse of the merciless sea, who cared not who lived and who died.
He stopped his rhythmic movement on the wood to listen for a while.
The grief was still too raw, though, woven and mixed with the most recent losses, the memory of those who had fallen so others could flee…Unbidden, his thoughts went back to chanting their names in tune with the renewed grating of the drawknife on the wood. It was useless, but so it was fighting against it. He had to let the grief run free, spill over and wash out in the immensity of the sea, ripple away with the tide until it was no longer part of him.
The scraping helped.
“You keep that up, there will be no wood left, my lord.”
He had heard him approach in his tentative, slow steps. Every evening as the day’s tasks were completed, Ereinion would come down to sit with him and share their meal, chatting about his day or simply watching Anor go down in the west in companionable silence.
Círdan considered it progress.
But then, as soon as he had been dragged on board the Gaerandir -last of those rescued, battered and soaked and weak as a newborn fawn because of the colossal effort spent blowing the walls up in time with the mightiest wave- the boy, wild-eyed and disheveled, had clung to him like barnacles to a ship’s hull and had not let go for a long time —thus ending the long moons of silence and distance. That had been the first step.
He put his drawknife away with an overdramatic sigh. “Nothing goes to waste here, wood shavings are good for sanding…” he retorted, for the simple pleasure of seeing the child roll his eyes and shrug.
“I knew that,” the boy shot back with a smirk, opening his pack and handing Círdan a clothed parcel containing a loaf of bread, a piece of goat cheese and a handful of nuts. He sat down beside the Shipwright in a turmoil of long limbs and cloak folds, then opened his own parcel and started devouring its content.
“We had a good harvest today, but Merenel thinks the season must be over now…” he ventured at last, after he finished his meal and scattered the crumbles for the seagulls to fight over.
Círdan grunted in assent, distracted, his attention caught by a distant outline in the north he knew to be a ship, though not one of theirs.
“Gaeliel deems that we already have enough seaweed for the season, though, says that you need not worry…We just finished boiling the last of the sea greens, and the rest will be dried out and ready to be powdered in a day or two, I guess …”
“That’s good to know,” Círdan muttered, studying the uncertain tack the ship was following. At the exasperated sigh he looked back at the child and smiled. “I mean it, this really sets my mind at ease. So, are the bonfires ready for tonight’s celebration?” he asked. Merenel and Gaeliel had insisted that they needed to have a Midwinter celebration, and he had agreed.
That seemed to cheer his ward up.
“Erestor sent the foresters for firewood, and we all agreed it would be better to have two large bonfires instead of many smaller ones… so we can all gather together,” the child began to explain in earnest. “And some of the children were poking fun at me, saying I should be the one to lit them…” he groaned, but there was no hurt or resentment there, just reluctantly amused annoyance.
Círdan smiled. It was not just that word of Ereinion’s deed had spread, the tale growing in the telling about how he had put the Barad Hen to fire while killing off hordes of orcs in the process -the numbers depending on the tale-teller- but also how he had stayed behind, helping in the armoury and in the Houses of Healing. His deeds had earned him the love and respect of the Falathrim.
“I hear they are all calling you Gil-galad, now,” he said. He knew the boy was secretly pleased by the name, because Fingon had used to call him Ëlénya, which had a very similar meaning in Quenya.
“They call me Dagnir na Barad Hen, too,” the boy retorted with a minute scowl, looking down to hide a bashful smile.
Círdan barely managed to choke a snort. Curse of the Barad Hen, indeed. It was a well-known fact, after all, that love and respect among the Falathrim were best expressed through gentle ribbing. “Both are well-earned,” he said, throwing in an open smile for reassurance. “And it will be a well-deserved honor for you to be the one to set the fires on tonight…Seeing as you seem to have overcome your aversion to bonfires,” he quipped lightly.
The Falathrim celebrated midsummer and midwinter around large bonfires —would usually spend those nights by the shores, drinking and singing and dancing and playing games, celebrating Ossë and Uinen’s friendship and honouring Ulmo for protection and bounty. It had been a surprise for Círdan -and a source of irritation between them- when the usually well-mannered and obedient child had stoutly refused to join them on his first midwinter celebration in the Falas. It had taken Círdan some prodding to finally discover that bonfires reminded Ereinion of the Bragollach.
The rift had been healed and a compromise reached on both sides, but fire and Ereinion had remained distant acquaintances at best, hence the gentle mocking now that he had become an arsonist of sorts.
“…they have lost so much...”
“What?” Lost in recollection, Círdan had missed that part of the conversation.
“I said that it would be comforting if tonight we all took turns so every one had a chance to hold a torch to the bonfire… to honor those who did not make it… They have lost so much,” the child repeated in a quiet voice that barely rose over the sound of the waves.
“We all have, child,” Círdan agreed, “we all have.”
They had, indeed. Few of those who had ridden south across Harfalas had made it and less than half of those left behind for the second evacuation had survived the battle, and the waves and the blowing of the walls. The fast boats Hîrvegil continued sending in quick raids along the coast had stopped bringing back survivors after half a moon. The commander himself -together with a handful of warriors from Brithombar- had only barely managed to stay alive after an arduous trek north to the Firth of Drengist, where they had been saved -once again- by the swift boats hidden there for such a purpose. More than half of the Falathrim warriors had perished or worse, and the knowledge that they might have survived to be enslaved weighed heavily on Círdan’s mind.
“They were baking the hemlock bark pies and roasting nuts when I came,” Ereinion was explaining with forced enthusiasm. Is he trying to cheer me up? Círdan wondered, amazed, blinking back from his sad recollections. “Falasadron was setting up a rock skipping competition, and Gelmir and some of his fellow warriors were racing the horses,” he continued, while he searched the ground —for rocks, Círdan guessed.
With a pocketful of suitably flat stones the child unclasped his cloak and let it fall where he had been sitting, then walked to the edge of a tidal pool that was large enough and started tossing them with an almost perfect combination of shoulder swivel and arm whip that sent the rocks skipping over thirty times easily.
“You would have done good for yourself in the competition!” Círdan observed, trying to sound encouraging.
The child looked back at him briefly and shrugged, accepting the compliment. “The young ones are having a good time for once… they are so sad…They have lost all hope,” he said, tossing another stone carelessly
Círdan shook his head, saddened by the unhappy set of the shoulders, the dejected bend of the neck, the disheveled braid and the stained cloak —the child oozed sorrow and despair, and how could he not? He picked up a handful of rocks and walked up to stand beside him.
“They will find it again,” he said quietly, tossing one with far less accuracy that his ward had just shown. “Hope is always there.”
The boy cast him a quick glance. “Is it?” he asked softly, doubtfully. He tossed three more stones in quick succession, with more strength than skill, it seemed, because they sunk after a few bounds.
“Where are those stones, now?” Círdan asked.
“Where? Down there, in the pool’s floor…”
“Can you see them?”
The child cast him a mildly outraged look. “Of course not!”
“And Menelvagor? Can you point it to me?” Círdan smiled at the only too predictable eyeroll, once his ward picked where his questions were leading.
“I cannot see it now, but it is up there,” Ereinion pointed haphazardly to the sky with a long-suffering sigh.
“About there, more exactly” Círdan corrected. “But it serves the point. Unseen things are still there, Ereinion. Pebbles are hidden by the waters, stars are hidden by the light of Anor, but still we know them to be there, beyond doubt, untouched by shadow or fear. That is hope, a light that always shines out there, even if at times we canot see it…”
“How can you know?” the child blurted, turning abruptly to challenge him. All the anguish and grief and loss were clear on his face in an unusual display.
“Because that’s who we are, child, that’s our Estel. ‘In the walls of Doom there’s ever a breach, there will always be a light where darkness was decreed' Lord Ulmo said. Grievous as our losses are, they are but a drop in the ocean of the passing ennin, and will in the end have meaning; it all builds up to the completion that was foretold in the Music, whether…”
“Those children have lost their families, their friends…What should I tell them? ” his ward interrupted unimpressed, walking away in search of more stones.
Círdan watched him with deep sympathy. He was changed, sad and quiet still, but at least he no longer hid away. Instead, he could be found wherever a hand was needed, helping the builders, the cooks, the fishers, entertaining the children, all while continuing with his weapons practice, working until exhausted, without complaint. He felt deeply for the losses of the Falathrim, Círdan guessed, and tried to forget -or at least ease- his own by helping others.
“Do you know all those broken pieces with the sharp edges that seem to be jarring and grating inside you?” he asked, desperately looking for a way of offering unasked for comfort. “Trust me, they will become armor. With time and care they will glue together, like the seashells on the walls of Eglarest, will become the source of your strength if only you nurture them, accept them and make them a part of you…”
After a considering silence, the wretch cast him a sidelong glance.
“Is that what you want me to tell them, or what you are telling me?” he said at last with that minute, cheeky grin he put on when baiting him, walking back to his side, his pockets bulging with stones.
“If you think it might be of help…” Círdan retorted demurely, settling for neither possibility. Ereinion choked a quick, unexpected huff of laughter and turned his attention back to his rocks, tossing again with deft precision. The grief was still there, Círdan noted, deep-seated, and would be for the long run. Still -much as the brownish cones that enveloped the tender new leaves in a wintering beech sang the promise of a new spring while recalling the sorrow of fall’s decay- hope and healing were also growing stronger in him as he comforted others and began to accept some kind of reassurance for himself.
“It may be yet too soon, the loss too near, to speak of hope…to them,” Ereinion oberved shyly, whether speaking of himself or of those he was so intent on cheering up Círdan could not tell.
“In and out the tide goes, twice every day,” he sighed, “and so our lives weave themselves with the ebb and flow of hope and despair. It is for us to choose whether to stay forever trapped in grief and loss or to bounce back with the tide,” he said, almost to himself. Braced for a harsh rebuke and getting a considering, sidelong glance instead, he continued softly.
“When you hit the bottom of your grief, you will find either kindness or bitterness awaiting you there… It is for you to decide what to nurture and make grow there, out of your losses. Sorrow is a tough mistress, Ereinion, but it would be unwise to disregard her teachings. Grief is love that has lost its guiding star, while hope is but a call to action, to direct that orphaned love inwards and outwards. It is up to you to choose, either to be kind or bitter, to yourself first, then to others…” he finished, allowing the wind to carry his voice.
He risked a glance at his ward. Ereinion stood by his side straight and taut as a young tree, his gaze fixed on the horizon, blinking rapidly and breathing raggedly, struggling with barely choked sobs. He wiped his eyes quickly with the sleeve of his tunic and turned a brittle smile to Círdan.
“It gets easier with time, does it?” he asked in a hoarse voice that didn't manage to disguise the tears. Círdan shook his head and passed an arm over the child’s shoulders, pulling against him in brief comfort
“I still hope it will,” he admitted ruefully. The startled laugh that escaped Ereinion at this came as a precious reward. He shrugged. “At times it feels like rowing…your back to your destination and all you can see is what you are leaving behind… trusting that the effort will take you where you are supposed to be aiming for,”
“That is why I much prefer sailing,” Ereinion chuckled in a shaky voice.
“Ah, of course, the haste of youth, dashing forth in a hurry… Only to find themselves sailing in circles,” Círdan prodded with a put upon sigh and a friendly wink.
Ereinion pretended outrage. “I was learning back then, and no one had told me about the drifts and currents in the firth…”
“You are indeed a fast learner and a dedicated student,” Círdan admitted placidly. It was an unspoken rule between them that the ‘incident’ was never brought up in conversation, at least not directly. Whether he had been trying to sail back home or simply had wanted to prove himself a better sailor than he was, piqued by the continuous mockery from other elflings, Círdan had never known nor asked, following the tacit truce.
Placated, the child smiled. “That I am, indeed…” he said with his cheeky grin, slippping off Círdan’s loose embrace. “Let us see how good you are at skipping stones, now, my lord,” he challenged in return. “Best of five!”
It kept them engaged for a while, for the child was quite adept at the game and loved the competition, and Círdan enjoyed indulging him.
“Out and down at the same time,” he explained, showing the movement slowly. “The grip is the key. The ragged side up and this finger along the edge so you can make it spin…see?”
“You are very good at this,” Círdan observed, searching for more flat rocks.
“Calassë taught me,” the chid replied with a bashful smile. “He was…”
“I know…I knew him,” he sighed. He remembered him well, the good-natured, golden-haired half-vanyarin warrior who had been one of Fingolfin’s closest friends, the last to fall before Gothmog protecting Fingon, as Hîrvegil’s account went. “Let’s try again,” he sighed, shaking off those gloomy memories, “see if I am such a quick learner as you are!”
“You almost got it,” Ereinion cheered after a few more tosses. “Well done!”
“I’ve had a good teacher, too,” Círdan retorted, smiling as his rock sunk after close to thirty skips.
“I know,” Ereinion chuckled as he sketched a quick bow. “Now, in return, I want you to teach me those songs of power…”
Círdan tossed a last rock to buy himself some time. It was always like this. Sometimes they butted heads, sometimes they tiptoed around issues for endless days, bantered and poked at each other until, half-seriously, the matter came out into the open. This must have been brewing since the fall of Eglarest, Círdan thought, recalling the child’s amazement as the Falathrim strengthened the walls with their songs. He shook his head. I should have expected it, he thought.
Mistaking his gesture for rejection, the child erupted in a tumble of hasty, indignant claims. “…and what’s more, how will I be able to defend your people in the future if I know not the songs?” he ended the heated tirade breathing heavily, hands on hips, challenging Círdan with a mighty glare.
“They are your people, too,” Círdan said softly, rising his hands in a placating manner. He sat down on a tide-battered rock and gestured for Ereinion to join him. “Never said I would not teach you —I will, and I am sure that you are going to be a very powerful singer, too…”
That caught his ward’s interest. “Am I?” he asked eagerly, taking seat by Círdan. “When? How?”
“First you need to learn how to listen and soak up the voices around you, attune yourself to them, and let them become attuned to yours. Fragments of the Music run in every creature in Arda, Ereinion, and the songs are the way we Quendi connect to those voices. When we learn to listen, we also learn to draw strength from them, and later on, to lend that strength back. What we did in the Falas… it takes a lot from us, to bind all our voices together and tie them to the seas’ and the stones’ and the walls’…For now you need all your strength to grow up. You must learn to treasure those voices and carry them with you, learn to recognize them…it will all come to you in time, and I will be there to help you, I promise…”
“You had it all planned, then,” Ereinion observed in a low voice. “I feared they were leaving you behind…”
“Erestor told me. I am sorry, child. The battle plans had been drawn a long time ago…there was no time to explain… But I promise that you will be let in from now on, if you so choose.” He patted his ward’s back encouragingly. “You were very brave,” he added.
Ereinion shrugged, busy, it appeared to Círdan, musing his explanations.
“Hathol hates me,” he said at last, flinging away the remaining stones in his pockets with dejected throws. “He won’t see me, won’t let me apologize…”
Círdan sighed. The incident that had led the two youngsters beyond the borders had been left unaddressed until then. He had heard bits and pieces, but had not yet found the best way to broach the subject with his charge. Well, so much for planning, he sighed inwardly.
“He will get over it in time. After all, the two of you are equally responsible for that unseemly brawl and for the thoughtless, irresponsible escape stunt…” he said sternly. He was glad to see the boy had the good grace of blushing at that.
“I know, and I have already apologized for that,” Ereinion agreed. “But he…he is angry because I went back for him,” he continued in a tentative voice. “The healers say his leg will not fully mend, he will not become a warrior…He says he would have rather died…” he finished in a sorrowful voice.
That, Círdan had not expected. “I see…It’s a shame, but that will be your burden to carry, child. At times you will do things that not everyone will agree to…” he replied cautiously.
“It is unfair…”
“That it is, indeed, yet such is the burden of leadership…”
“So, should I have left him there, then?”
Despite the deceptively mild tone and the apparently harmless wording, Círdan could sense the subtle challenge underlying the question, the depths of concern contained in the apparently innocent quip. It was clear that the boy had devoted a lot of time and thought to the situation.
When he had agreed to shelter the High King’s only son and heir he had been painfully aware of the duties and responsibilities that came with the task. Now, with Fingon dead and his people scattered in disarray, Círdan had become the child’s permanent guardian and the one in charge of raising a High King worth of his legacy. To Círdan it meant, despite the boy’s young age, to help him carry the burden but take it not from his shoulders, advise and support him in his decisions but bar him not from making his own mistakes, and never, ever taking the responsibility of choice -and the truth of consequences- from him, as he expected he would grow to never take from his subjects —should he choose to embrace his father’s legacy and claim the High Kingship. While he doubted the boy was presently ready for that conversation, he was not going to flinch from it. Tread carefully, he reminded himself.
“Why did you go back for him?” he asked back. He did that a lot, and the child had grown used to examining his own motives and certainties. As he had suspected, Ereinion had an answer ready.
“I could not stand the idea of leaving him behind,” he said with conviction.
“So, you went back for your own peace of mind?”
That gave him pause. “I...I’m not sure…” he replied at last with the blunt honesty that had so impressed Círdan from the first day. “But warriors leave no one behind…My father used to say that, and so does Hîrvegil.”
Círdan nodded in agreement. “That is true, and it is a very good rule to follow… You made a decision, Ereinion. In a difficult situation you followed your instinct, or your beliefs, or both, and chose a course of action. What you must understand is that decisions always have consequences. All you can do is be honest with yourself about your reasons, accept the consequences of your choices, learn from them and move on…”
The boy turned a serious, worried face to him. “But, how will I know? That my decision is… sound, fair, good? How do I choose?”
Círdan grimaced, cast a look around, fixed his eyes on the speck he had spied earlier in the horizon, which had by now become a small fishing boat with a flimsy sail. The craft was having trouble keeping its course in the strong, treacherous currents Ossë had set up around Balar for protection. Ruilin must send someone to pick them up soon, he thought distractedly. Bracing himself, he returned his attention to the expectant child.
“What would you say the first tenet of leadership is?” he asked. The child didn’t rush to answer, which pleased Círdan immensely.
“Do what you have to do, even if you are afraid?” he offered at last in an uncertain voice.
Círdan had to smile. It sounded very much like something Fingon would say. “It’s a good one, yes,” he acknowledged. “Something you can truly live by…”
Yet the child was not looking for comfort, today, and he was relentless as the undertow when he wanted answers. “A good one, indeed, but are there others?” he demanded. “How will I know what I have to do? How will I be sure that what I decide I have to do is the right thing, and not just what I prefer?”
Trust the sharp child to cut to the core of the matter, Círdan thought. He had no simple answer, and what answer he had was not an easy one to commit to. In the end he chose honesty, as he had sworn himself he would always do with Ereinion. “That, child, is something each of us has to learn with time and experience,” he whispered, afraid that he was failing them both.
Another thoughtful silence spread between them. At long last the child looked back, trusting gray eyes fixed on his. “How do you do it, Círdan? How do you choose?” he asked softly.
It was not a day for idle conversation, today, it seemed. He sighed. “Well… It took me many ennin and many mistakes, mind you, and while it works for me, I would not pretend for it to work for anyone else…Even if it sounds easy enough, it is not…” All of a sudden he felt under scrutiny, as if he was being tried -maybe even found lacking- by the solemn-looking young Noldo.
“I would much appreciate if you cared to share, my lord…”
The wretch knew how to bait him, to draw him out, and Círdan enjoyed those conversations that resembled more fencing lessons than politics —he had since the very first day. The child was curious, inquisitive, reflective when he remembered to rein in his temper and, above all, an avid learner. It is not as if he has anyone else’s example to measure you up to, he told himself quite ruthlessly, to dispel the self-doubt. He trusts you, and he will have to build up his own code…He took a deep breath. “It sounds quite simple. You tend first to those who are most in need.”
The child nodded thoughtfully, pondering in silence. “I see… Is that why you stayed behind to blow the walls and drown the city?” he asked at last, pretending a lightness belied by his worried frown.
“It is, indeed…”
“Even if it served very little purpose? Even if Oldáin and his group did not make it in the end? What of the Falathrim? Don’t they need you more?”
Don’t I need you more? Círdan heard the unspoken plea hidden in the incensed complaint. It had been another tough lesson for the young one to learn.
“Those of our people who could be saved were already on their way,” he explained patiently, forcing the grief of the many losses to the back of his mind. “At that point what mattered was to give you all a chance at escaping, those on ships and those fleeing on horseback through the eastern doors…but it was also our responsibility to destroy as much of the Enemy’s forces as possible, so less would return to the wars in Beleriand,” he added. “You make your own rules and then you must be true to them to the bitter end, Ereinion, or live on with the knowledge that you have betrayed yourself…”
“Was it truly our responsibility, even when they failed to come to our succour?” Ereinion replied bitterly, pointing to the bay.
Ruilin had sailed himself to the rescue, Círdan noticed as he followed Ereinion’s hand, seeing the fragile, shoddy-built boat now being towed to safety by the Remmenuil. They had lost hope of more survivors making it to the safe haven of Balar after almost two moons since the fall of the Falas, but unlike his ward, Círdan doubted the approaching boat was from Orodreth —which left only one other possibility. Was that why his thoughts had strayed to Turgon and his hidden city today? He knew the issue of Nargothrond was a sore, open wound for his ward, who had been expecting Orodreth’s help until the last moment, but that wouldn’t be solved today.
He patted the bony back and sighed. “Even then, child. We know not what they were going through, all that matter is what we had to do. What good are rules if we choose when and when not to follow them? All we can do is play our part and be at peace with it,” he offered.
The child shook his head but did not argue the point, still occupied unraveling the implications of Círdan’s claims. “So, did you… did you know that Ulmo would save you?”
A fair question, with another difficult answer. Círdan himself was unsure of what, exactly, he actually did know. Until the last ship sails, Ulmo had told him once, when Círdan had been trying to build a fleet to follow Olwë across the sea. It could mean anything, from the end of Arda Marred -the completion, as the Vala said- to the annihilation of the Falathrim. There was little certainty and no comfort to be found in carrying the burden of a Vala’s foresight.
“I knew not, not for sure… I could only hope that he might… and above all, that something good might come out of our sacrifice… that is Estel, Ereinion, the trust that lies at the very foundation of our being…”
The child cast him a pensive look, then shook his head, mystified. “It may look simple at first, but it sounds to me as a tough rule to live by,” he acknowledged, respect tingeing his voice.
“It takes some training, yes, but then it becomes natural, part of your own self,” Círdan agreed.
“Some training?” Ereinion huffed. The boy seemed unable to sit still. He stood up and walked to the tidal pool, crouched to inspect something that caught his attention, stood up again, tinkered with his windblown braids, watched for a while as the Remmenuil manoeuvered into the small haven, keeping his back to Círdan at all times.
He gave the child his space —he knew the routine, the boy was struggling to gather the courage to say or do something that he found difficult. When at last he turned to look at Círdan his face was set, with no trace of doubt or hesitation.
“Would you be terribly upset, my lord, if I… picked it up as my code to follow as well…For now?” he added hurriedly, raising his hands as if to stop Círdan from disagreeing. “I… I really don’t know what my father or grandfather’s rules were, but yours sounds like something worthy to aim for?”
Círdan bowed his head briefly. “I am honoured, Ereinion, though I am sure that, with time, you will come up with your own set of rules.”
The child’s face was an endearing blend of Fingolfin’s wise solemnity, Fingon’s reckless determination and his own youthful eagerness, all packed in an uncertain grimace. “Why, my lord, I should hope so,” he said in a voice that threatened to break under the weight of mixed emotions. “But in the meantime, it would help to have something to measure myself up to… if you would consent…”
“Of course, child,” he replied. “I promised your father, after all…”
“I know… I… I overheard what you told Erestor, about why you allowed me to stay behind…and..about my name.”
He was about to make a joke about listening to conversations not intended for one’s ears but then noticed the coiled tension, the misery, the hand wringing. “I see,” he said simply, gesturing for his ward to continue. It was clear that there was something else he needed to let out.
“I…Look, Círdan, I… my father’s dead now, you are no longer beholden to him…but truth is, I am not yet ready for…anything, and I still need much help, but I don’t want to be a burden…”
So that’s what was troubling you, young one, Círdan thought, careful not to let dismay show on his face. He stood up slowly and walked to the child, who could not hid a grimace of apprehension. “As I told your father, I tell you now, Ereinion,” he said softly, pressing a comforting hand on the child’s shoulder. “It will be my privilege to shelter you, and support you, and help you grow into whatever you choose to be, whether the High King of the Noldor or one of the Falathrim, or both, I -and my household- will stand by you, may Ulmo be my witness,” he pronounced solemnly, putting then his hand to his heart and bowing briefly to the stunned child, who could barely return the gesture while furiously blinking unwanted tears away.
“I will prove myself worthy of your kindness, Lord Shipwright, and will fail not to repay your support with my loyalty,” Ereinion managed in a choked voice.
Círdan could only smile, more moved than he cared to show. “I know, child, I know,” he replied in a hoarse voice, picking up the discarded cloak and handing it over to the boy, ruffling his tousled hair to hide his emotion. “What do you say if we…”
“Círdan! There you are!” Erestor’s call cut his next sentence. They both looked back in time to see the Nandorin counsellor hurrying along the pier towards them, waving his arm to catch their attention.
“The Remmenuil, Círdan!” Erestor gasped as he reached them.
“We saw them sail in, what news?”
Erestor glanced at them, then looked over his shoulder to the haven. “The boat they just towed in? They carry a message from the… from Turgon.”
Círdan sighed. He nodded minutely, to signal to his counselor that he should bring the child into the conversation.
Erestor smirked. “Since this comes from an allied king and close relative, I think both you and Gil-galad should be there to listen to them,” he finished with a smile, a wink and a quick, not entirely disrespectful half-bow.
“First those who are most in need, isn’t it?” Ereinion replied, raising his brows, the ghost of a smile dancing on his face.
“That’s the spirit, Gil-galad,” Círdan chuckled in agreement, pushing the lad before him towards the pier and the news from Gondolin.
Voronwë was the son of Aranwë, one of Turgon’s followers who married a distant relative of Cirdan’s in Vinayamar. He will be later saved by Ulmo to be the one guiding Tuor to Gondolin.
Élënya. In Quenya, my starry light, an affectionate moniker.
‘In the walls of Doom there’s ever a breach (…) there will always be a light where darkness was decreed' Part of Ulmo’s words to Tuor, in the Unfinished Tales “Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin.”
“…Till the last ship sails” Círdan mentions that to Gandalf when he delivers Narya to his care.
“And when Turgon heard of this (the fall of the falas) he sent again his messengers to Sirion's mouths, and besought the aid of Círdan the Shipwright. At the bidding of Turgon Círdan built seven swift ships, and they sailed out into the West; but no tidings of them came ever back to Balar, save of one, and the last.” Silm Chap 20“Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad”
|<< Back|| |
|Home Search Chapter List|