Main Page ~*~*~
'A Little Less Formal'
The ship docked around mid-morning, and the first thing that struck
Glorfindel was the intensity of it all. Colours clashed and jumbled,
a cacophony of smells and sounds assaulted his senses. Horses drew
carts, dogs barked, elves called out to one another in loud,
carrying voices. The contrast to the tranquil little house on Tol
Eressëa was almost shattering.
The port was called Mithlond, pronounced Meeth-lund by the two
returning mariners whose unexpected passenger he was. Their Sindarin
sounded strange to his ears, very unlike that which he had learned
in Gondolin, and he practiced the name several times in his mind.
Despite the uniqueness of the occasion, Círdan of Mithlond asked few
questions. Instead, he offered the reborn elf his hospitality while
word was sent to Gil-galad, High King since the fall of the Hidden
Realm, to inform him of the coming out of the West of the hero of
fabled Gondolin. The Lord of the Falas was no stranger to Glorfindel.
He recalled meeting him long before in his other life, shortly after
their arrival at what was to become Nevrast. The Telerin had changed
very little in the centuries that had passed since then, although
the cycle of life had turned and he was beginning to show traces of
Mithlond was built along the water’s edge, a collection of imposing
buildings separated by small, open squares and stretches of grass. A
late afternoon walk disclosed that, unsettlingly, although the
streets bustled with people, especially down near the main harbour,
there were no warriors or defenders of any kind to be seen.
Glorfindel followed the road up into the hills above the town for
some considerable distance, but all he found was a solitary,
bored-looking elf sitting on a rock in the sun, his only weapon an
unacceptably light bow. At the sight of Glorfindel he straightened
up and nodded a greeting, but otherwise displayed no concern at the
presence of a stranger.
When he mentioned the lack of security to his host over dinner,
Círdan’s pale grey eyes had expressed surprise.
“This is the western edge of Lindon,” he said, almost as though this
explained everything. “The whole land lies under the High King’s
protection. Times have changed, my lord. There is no need for armed
guards in the streets.”
Which was fine and well, but Glorfindel had never passed a night in
Endor without the certainty of an armed watch. When he finally
slept, it was with a dagger under his pillow.
Breakfast was some kind of grain cooked in milk, producing a creamy
paste the sight of which curdled his stomach. He excused himself
with a shake of the head, afraid his response would appear rude but
having no idea what to call the mess or how to explain that eating
it was beyond him.
“The fruit is good,” Cirdan said mildly, indicating a bowl
containing apples as well as an unfamiliar yellow fruit with fuzzy
skin, which he later learned were called peaches. As he selected an
apple, Cirdan added, “The king is sending an escort for you. They
should arrive within the next hour. He has his residence and seat of
government further down the coast in the new palace.” He pronounced
it ‘New Palace’, in a way that hinted at displeasure. “Perhaps you
would like to sit outside and enjoy the morning air while you wait?”
The idea of a properly constituted, armed escort was a relief.
Glorfindel took two small, red apples and, after a moment’s thought,
a slice of coarse-textured bread topped with a few shavings of pale
cheese, and went out through the side door indicated by Cirdan. It
opened onto a small, private garden that looked out across the sea.
A bench in a sheltered corner caught the morning sun and he went to
sit there and eat.
He had not tasted an apple in centuries, not since Vinyamar, and the
sweet, tartness was unexpected and unfamiliar. They had taken
saplings to Gondolin but the fruit had withered in the mountain cold
and the little trees had eventually died. He had seen none on Tol
Eressëa, and had not thought to ask.
The Lonely Isle had been his home after his return from Mandos. He
had no memory of the period between lives, just a sense of cool grey
and of peace, an almost-memory of rest within earshot of running
water. He had woken as though from sleep in a little house that
looked out over green fields dusted with tiny pink and yellow
flowers. Those who cared for him explained that he was on Tol
Eressëa, home to those who had travelled West at the lifting of the
Ban. It was then that he learned of the defeat of the Enemy and of
the Pardon, and the return of many, though not all, of his
He met none of these re-settled elves. His only company were the two
Teleri who cared for him, feeding and even bathing him until his
strength returned. There was also an older woman, Thalaiel, who
arrived every evening for the first few weeks and spent the night in
a chair in his bedchamber so that when he woke screaming from the
nightmares, it was always to shaded light and a calming voice.
As time passed and he regained his strength, the dreams of fire and
thunder and pain beyond description drew back a little. Life
resumed. His days were spent quietly; he went for walks that
progressed to long runs through the meadow and up into the little
wood on the opposite hill. He was given a sword very similar to his
old one and began training with it for the exercise, and he swam in
the nearby stream in swift-flowing, crystal clear water. Every
activity was a reminder to him of the wonder of life and the joy of
a once-broken body grown fit and whole again.
He remembered his previous life quite clearly, but it was as though
it had happened to someone else. There was colour and movement,
faces, voices, but few strong emotions. He remembered his cold,
correct father, his older brother and sister, both lost in the
Crossing. He remembered the horror of the Ice and the green, rocky
land that had awaited them at its end. He remembered warfare and the
withdrawal within the ring of mountains to what was always, for him,
a gilded cage of suffocating closeness, a memorial to an unbending,
autocratic king’s memories of a better place and time.
The only strong emotion, the only picture from his past that he
truly ‘owned’, was wrapped around a fragment from the very end of
that life, of his mother falling from the narrow mountain pass above
the turmoil of fire and destruction from which they fled. Her last
desperate cry had been his name; it still rang in his ears and
shriveled his heart.
Sick horror twisted his stomach. Thankfully, at that moment the
memory was interrupted by the sound of horses, many horses. He sat
up a little straighter in the strange-fitting clothes that he had
found upon waking, took a few deep, calming breaths, and waited to
In his experience,
the word ‘escort’ implied warriors. Instead Glorfindel was faced
with a short, exquisite creature wearing loose trousers and a
surcoat of dark green cloth embroidered extensively in peacock
shades. His glossy black hair was braided and twisted with sea-green
beads and ribbons - he looked for all the world like a male
courtesan. He listened in disbelief to Círdan’s calm introduction.
seneschal and lore master outside. He carried with him all he owned
in the world: the sword that already fitted his hand as though it
had been with him from the beginning, and a woven bag containing two
changes of clothing. Horses and riders were drawing up in vague
order, waiting for them to take leave of Cirdan at the top of the
steps. Glorfindel, after thanking the Shipwright for his
hospitality, returned to a question that was bothering him.
“Lord Glorfindel, this is the king’s seneschal, Erestor Imerion,
come personally to escort you.”
Amber-gold eyes studied him. “My lord, I am honoured to meet you,”
the seneschal said gravely, bowing slightly. He had a pleasant
voice, low-pitched and melodic. “His Majesty extends his welcome and
looks forward to meeting you this evening. May I introduce Elrond
Eärendilion, the king’s lore master?”
Another elf stepped forward on cue. He was dressed with more
restraint than the seneschal, and had a drift of dark, smoke-fine
hair and sea-grey eyes. “Lord Elrond is Princess Idril’s grandson,”
Erestor elaborated. As he spoke, Glorfindel noticed the slightly
olive hue to the lore master’s skin, and recalled how this had set
the man, Tuor, apart from the firstborn. There had been speculation
throughout Gondolin as to the lifespan of the half-mortal child, but
for this to be his son Glorfindel could only assume he had taken
after his mother’s kin.
Glorfindel bowed low as was proper before royalty. His father had
been kin to Turgon through marriage, but it had been a tenuous link
and he was reluctant to claim kinship. Perhaps later. He studied the
elf for a moment, searching for familiarity, something to anchor him
in a sea of increasing unreality. There was nothing. Save for the
unusual complexion, the face that looked back at him, delicately
boned, full-lipped, was that of a stranger.
“The king’s seneschal… what does he actually do? I’m unfamiliar with
the title.” He kept his voice low, slightly embarrassed by his
Cirdan slanted a glance after Erestor whose attention appeared to be
elsewhere. “Master Erestor's looks belie his abilities, and his
duties are many and varied,” he said in a careful voice, equally
low. “The king has every confidence in his judgement.”
Glorfindel wondered at the distinct hint of disapproval in his tone.
At this point Elrond cut in. “The seneschal’s job is to oversee the
running of the king’s household and to assist the Council in
Erestor, who had clearly heard every word, opened his mouth, but
before he could draw breath to speak, Elrond caught his arm and
steered him firmly down the steps. He was discreet, but Glorfindel
saw the quick shove that accompanied the apparently friendly
A glance at the horses dispelled all curiosity about the
interchange, as well as any lingering illusion of the familiar. The
great warhorses he had expected, battle steeds bred for strength and
heart, were nowhere in sight. In their place were a selection of
attractive-looking animals, shorter and slighter than he recalled,
their bridles and even their manes decorated with ribbons and…
Fifteen hundred years was a long time, he reminded himself, even as
elves measured its passage.
Elrond indicated a black stallion being held by a young elf who
Glorfindel thought was a member of Círdan’s household. “A gift from
the king, my lord.”
This was not strictly true, as Glorfindel discovered some weeks
later. The idea of giving away one of his favourite mounts had not
occurred to Gil-galad, but Elrond knew his cousin was a generous elf
and Erestor, who would have to explain it all later, had agreed it
was an excellent idea.
Glorfindel stared at the animal. How could this beast carry an
armoured warrior into combat? All he had been told before his
departure was that it had been decreed by the Mighty that he was to
return to Endor to ‘protect and serve’... although what and why had
not been made clear. The natural assumption was that war was coming,
and soon. Why else send a warrior?
“Our horses were not built like these - they were much bigger,” he
said unthinkingly, assessing what was before him in the way that had
become habit over centuries of hardship. “Such thin legs… How do
they manage in battle?”
Elrond seemed about to speak but Erestor moved forward smoothly with
a courtier’s practiced grace. “There are skirmishes with outsiders
of course, hill folk and Easterners mainly, but there has been no
major battle in over a thousand years, my lord. Our horses are bred
now for speed and stamina.”
Being on horseback was a new experience for his reborn body. He had
natural ability, but the muscle memory born of experience was sorely
lacking. They were already well along the road that led up into the
hills above Mithlond before he found his centre of balance and could
take the time for a good look at his other companions.
Instead of the anticipated force of well equipped, experienced
warriors, he was surrounded by young elves armed with short swords
and the occasional throwing spear. They were dressed in what
appeared to be a uniform, something Turgon had often considered for
his personal guard, but had never implemented. Several were in
charge of banners and pennants displaying emblems unknown to him. He
felt very isolated, very alone, very out of place.
Once they left Mithlond, his overriding sense became one of
vulnerability. The well-maintained road followed the contours of the
land and was crowded on either side by thickets within which a small
army of orcs could have hidden with ease. Several spots were almost
classic ambush sites, with the tree-lined slope rising on one side
and a straight drop down to the sea on the other. No one else seemed
in any way concerned about any of this, so he held his tongue - and
at times his breath - and remained focused and alert.
Gil-galad’s seneschal rode alongside him, keeping up a stream of
information about the places they passed: planted fields, fishing
villages, a foundry that apparently supplied farm implements… After
a while, Glorfindel found the even voice almost reassuring. It
seemed calm and solid in a world that looked as though it might
prove intangible should he reach out a hand to touch it. His head
hurt, the horse was clearly accustomed to a firmer hand than his and
demanded almost constant attention, and the unfamiliar cut of the
trousers and tunic he was wearing pulled and chaffed in unexpected
Elrond kept to his right, drawing ahead of him where the road
narrowed. His dark hair floated out in a smoky cloud about him, fine
strands sparkling in the sunlight. He rode as though he had been
born on horseback, turning to pass regular comments to Erestor with
whom he appeared to be firm friends. He had a charming smile and a
quick, dry wit, and bore no apparent resemblance to any of his
“You must favour your mother’s family,” Glorfindel said, the words
sounding terse and abrupt as he gritted his teeth and
surreptitiously fought to persuade the black horse to remain on the
road and not attempt a route up into the treeline. “I knew your
grandmother and served your great-grandfather and you seem nothing
like either of them.”
Elrond glanced back over his shoulder, his eyebrows raised. He and
Erestor exchanged a fleeting look and Glorfindel saw the black head
shake once, briefly, “They say I take after my mother’s side in
looks,” the lore master replied succinctly. “She came from Menegroth.”
The ensuing silence lasted until Erestor finally began describing
the settlement at the Mouths of Sirion where the refugees from
Gondolin and Menegroth and other disasters had found shelter for a
time near the end of the previous Age. Too late, Glorfindel realised
his words could well have been taken as a criticism instead of the
polite curiosity that had been his intent.
They stopped briefly beside the road for a light meal which, to his
relief, contained little more unusual than bread, cheese and cold
meats. There were also some small, round, dark things with a sharp
odour that an apparently delighted Erestor identified as ‘olives’
imported from the south, but Glorfindel declined to sample them.
Elrond busied himself with the escort, talking and laughing with
them while Erestor and Glorfindel shared the brief repast in
semi-silence before taking to the road again. The seneschal, he
noted, looked tired.
The only incident of note occurred about an hour after lunch. The
road passed through a place where a tree-topped cliff towered on the
landward side with a steep, unbroken drop to the ocean on the right.
The setting epitomised danger. Glorfindel’s hand dropped to his
sword with an instinct born of experience. His escort, however, rode
into the shadow of the overhanging rocks chatting casually, strung
out untidily along the road. Only the standard bearers maintained
“You, tighten up there!” The words were out before he had even
thought to speak. “You are not a bunch of untrained farmers - even
if your arms suggest it. Keep your form.”
He became aware of Elrond speaking to one of the riders in an
undertone and of Erestor's amber eyes on him as the elves fell
silent and shuffled into some semblance of formation. He felt a
flush of embarrassment rising into his face. He had been out of line
there and he knew it. These were not his warriors to order; he had
merely responded to the habits of over half a lifetime.
It was on the tip of his tongue to apologise, but he suspected it
would only add to the discomfort he sensed around him. And he really
was not all that sorry. The display had been shoddy. An enemy hiding
up amongst those rocks could have picked them off at leisure… He
glanced across at Erestor, but the seneschal was staring straight
ahead, his lips set in a firm line.
They rode on for a time in silence. Presently Erestor seemed to draw
himself up and his quiet voice resumed, discussing the vineyard they
were passing and comparing the final product to the popular wines
imported from the south. Glorfindel was infinitely relieved to
listen and occasionally nod. Anything was better than the silence in
which his thoughts stirred and shifted, and the voice in his mind
whispered ‘this is not real, none of this can be real.’ The colours,
the sounds, the scents, nothing was as he remembered it. On Tol
Eressëa he had longed to return. Now that he was here, he was
learning fast that his memories were inadequate to the reality.
It was late afternoon when they reached the outskirts of a large
town built about a sprawling structure of warm, red stone. As they
swept through the entrance, an imposing archway with a guard station
to one side, the grounds spread out before them, green and lush and
impeccably landscaped. The escort turned off to the left, leaving
Glorfindel to follow Erestor and Elrond past an ornamental lake set
about with benches and up to the main entrance where attendants
waited to take their horses.
He had an impression of pillars, tall windows, a collection of
buildings rather than a single structure. The only security besides
the guardhouse at the gate were the two elves who flanked the
entrance, wearing what looked like ceremonial armour. Elrond
followed his glance and spoke to him for the first time in hours.
“Members of the king’s personal guard. The armour’s just for show.
Pretty, but useless.”
“Ah.” He knew he was saying that a lot but most of the time he was
at a loss for words, everything was just so foreign and new to his
eyes. He would have had endless questions had he known what to ask.
“We had rooms prepared for you overlooking the sea,” Erestor said,
his tone business-like. He had made the journey to Mithlond and back
with barely a break, but he still managed to look and sound calm and
competent. “Up on the second floor. If you’ll follow me…? You’ll
want to tidy up before you meet his majesty.”
They went inside, up a broad stairway, and were making their way
through a warren of passages before Glorfindel remembered. “Clothes.
I only have what I was given in Valinor, nothing formal...”
They stopped outside a door, which Erestor opened before answering
him. “Lord Cirdan organised some necessities, just to tide you over
for a few days. Everything should already have been brought up.” He
gave Glorfindel an unreadable look. “We hope you’ll soon feel at
home with us, my lord. In time, our ways might seem more tolerable.”
There was a definite edge to his voice, but before Glorfindel could
respond he turned and left in a swirl of green cloth and ebon hair.
The rooms were
light and airy: a small sitting room, a bedchamber and an ablution
area. The walls were painted palest yellow, and the drapes, rugs and
furnishings were in a variety of deep jewel shades. There was a
spectacular view of the sea and a stretch of white, sandy beach.
When he leaned out of the window he could also see, off to his
right, a small harbour.
Hot water was brought, subtly scented with citrus, and he washed
away the dust of the journey. When he had finished, he donned the
clothing thoughtfully laid out for him on the bed - white trousers
and tunic and a blue surcoat trimmed with touches of gold embroidery
across the chest. There were also soft, ankle-length boots made of
something light and pliable, which he later discovered was called
He tidied his hair as best he could. Most of his needs had been
anticipated, but a hairbrush or comb had not been provided. He had
to smooth it with his fingers as he had become accustomed to when on
patrol. Then he sat in the comfortable chair beside the window and
watched the sea, waiting for someone to tell him what to do next.
He was summonsed by a
very young elf who stared up at him with undisguised awe when he
answered the soft rap at the door. It took two attempts before he
managed to stammer out, “They are waiting for you on the terrace, my
Glorfindel followed the messenger on a roundabout route that brought
them out on the seaward side of the palace. It was early evening,
his favourite time of day. The sun was near setting and soft colours
were beginning to tint the sky. The air was clear and fresh with the
scents of sea and flowering shrubs, and the ocean shushed softly in
the background. The careful paving of the terrace was broken by
glowing mosaic designs, flower-filled tubs were set at intervals
against the stone balustrade and the area was hung with strings of
unlit lanterns. Broad steps led down to an expanse of smooth, green
It was like walking into a painting.
A small crowd was gathered at the far end. Erestor, now dressed in
pale orange, stood a little apart from them as though waiting. The
young elf managed to attract his attention, but before the seneschal
could reach Glorfindel he was overtaken by a tall, broad shouldered
elf dressed in a deep scarlet robe and wearing about his head an
intricate circlet made of a silvery metal that seemed to glow from
within. He had dark hair, piercing blue eyes and, as Glorfindel
immediately discovered, a smile of almost irresistible charm.
“My lord, welcome,” the elf said, hands outstretched in greeting.
“Sorry for the long ride. If we’d used our heads, you could have
come down from Mithlond on the ferry. Hope the rooms Erestor picked
out for you are all right?”
Nodding in bemusement, he allowed his forearm to be clasped in
greeting. In Gondolin, in Vinyamar, things had been done with almost
ritualistic correctness, and formal receptions in Turgon’s palaces
had been just that - formal. This casual outdoor gathering was
beyond his experience. He wondered how and when - and where - he
would be presented to the king.
Erestor reached them looking harassed, followed by Elrond.
Surprisingly, the quick look the lore master shot Glorfindel was
almost apologetic. “Sire, I thought you and Erestor had agreed on a
reception line? If you stay here talking, they’ll all come flocking
over instead of waiting their turn.”
His arm was released and the tall elf grinned at Elrond, his eyes
bright with mischief. “Yes, yes I know. We’ll get to that in a
minute. I hate those things,” he added to Glorfindel. “Always the
same - a string of people whose names leave you almost before the
next face arrives.”
‘Sire?’ He looked and acted unlike the kings Glorfindel had known or
seen before - an imposing list ending with Turgon - but his voice,
deep and rich and very self-assured, was unarguably royal.
Erestor, his face expressionless but with a distinct glint in his
eye, proceeded to exert some control over the situation. “Lord
Glorfindel, this is Ereinion Gil-galad, High King of the Noldor in
Middle-earth.” His eyes flickered to the lore master and he nodded
almost imperceptibly before adding, “Elrond, could you escort his
majesty and Lord Glorfindel over there?”
‘Over there’ proved to be a flower-decked frame hung with silken
cloth in shades of scarlet and gold. The king went meekly,
apparently undismayed at the steel in his seneschal’s voice. Elrond
touched Glorfindel’s arm lightly as Erestor hurried off. “Let’s get
settled while he rounds everyone up.”
“… but being Galadriel there’s no telling when or if she’ll turn
up,” the king was saying as they caught up with him. He sounded
amused and almost proud. “Sent her word as soon as I heard from
Cirdan, but there’s been no time to hear back from her yet. It’s a
long ride to Ost in Edhil.”
“I think you would have known Lady Galadriel as Artanis,” Elrond
said quietly. “We sent a messenger, but it will be days before she
can be here. This…” He gestured towards the small crowd that, at
Erestor's urging, was starting to form some semblance of a line.
“This was the best we could manage at such short notice.”
“I don’t expect the Lords of the West to keep me informed of their
every whim,” Gil-galad cut in cheerfully. “You arrive, no warning,
Cirdan says not to ask you too many stupid questions… fair enough.
Seemed a good idea to round up my Council and their families and a
couple of nobles and give you all a chance to say hello.” The dark
blue eyes belied the casual tone. They were serious and thoughtful
as they rested on him. “Once they’ve met you in the flesh, so to
speak, there should be less call for invasive curiosity.”
Time seemed to stand
still. As Gil-galad had said, the line felt endless. Names, faces,
titles; all blended into a single amorphous swirl. At some point a
cup was pressed into his hand, wine, sweet and unexpectedly light.
The multi-coloured lanterns were lit, bathing the terrace in soft
light as the sun finally set and darkness drew in. Soft music began,
performed by unseen musicians.
There was even a table set off to one side, well laden with food.
Glorfindel had no idea how guests managed to move about chatting to
friends while simultaneously controlling a plate and a cup, still
less how they managed to eat. He was absolutely certain he would
drop something. The king, who seemed to have no difficulty in
dealing with the contents of the well-laden plate brought to him
personally by Erestor, asked him once or twice if he was not hungry,
but he declined. He could only hope a more conventional dinner would
be served elsewhere.
He let Gil-galad control conversation, contributing nods and a few
words where appropriate. The sheer number of new faces was
overwhelming. In Gondolin, he had only been exposed to those of his
own social rank, the members of his House, and the warriors with
whom he patrolled. Being of a friendly nature and ready to talk to
anyone whether noble or artisan who crossed his path, he gained a
greater circle of acquaintances than most, but nothing had prepared
him to be the centre of this gathering of strangers. He stayed close
to the king, tried to ignore the covert stares that followed his
every move, and waited for it to be over.
And then quite suddenly it was. At some signal that he must have
missed, everyone began to disperse. The king wished him a good night
and a pleasant rest and wandered off deep in conversation with two
guests who looked vaguely familiar to Glorfindel, though their names
escaped him. He noticed Erestor involved in an intense discussion
with two elves who were removing the remaining food from the serving
table and realised, belatedly that his last chance at what would
pass for dinner was about to vanish.
“…and perhaps she could try something that looks a little more
appetising than gulls’ eggs for garnish,” Erestor was saying.
“Although, on the whole, the presentation was very adequate. You can
tell her that his majesty was satisfied.”
He had almost reached the table when Erestor spotted him. For a
moment he seemed confused, then his face cleared and, after a quick
glance off to his left, raised his hand and snapped his fingers. An
elf, in what Glorfindel was starting to realise was the standard
dress for palace employees, hurried forward.
“Lathron, please show Lord Glorfindel to his rooms - the new suite
on the upper level,” the seneschal said briskly. To Glorfindel he
added, “I’m sorry, I forget how confusing the palace can be in the
beginning. If you need anything else, Lathron will arrange it for
you. No need to come down for breakfast tomorrow, I’ll have it sent
up.” A smile lit his face and made his amber eyes sparkle. “This
went well, didn’t it? We thought it would be better than an endless
sit down dinner.”
“It was… unusual,” Glorfindel admitted frankly. “Unlike anything
I’ve experienced before. Things are done rather differently in
Lindon from the way I remember them.”
Erestor briefly closed his eyes and his jaw seemed to clench, then
his face smoothed into the composed expression to which Glorfindel
had become accustomed. “Yes, I suppose they are,” he agreed flatly.
“Good night, my lord. I hope the sound of the sea doesn’t disturb
your rest. If it does, be assured that I can arrange a room on the
other side of the palace. We would like you to be comfortable with
The tension was back in his voice. Before Glorfindel could mention
how much he had loved the sound of the sea in Vinyamar or even thank
him for the trouble he had taken throughout the day, he was off in
pursuit of a pair of giggling girls who were attempting to dismantle
the flower-twined canopy under which chairs - unused - had been set
in case the king and his guest should choose to sit. Glorfindel
suspected Gil-galad did very little sitting around.
A slight movement reminded him of the elf, Lathron. Giving up on the
idea of food, Glorfindel followed him back into the palace and up to
Night settled over
the palace. The sounds that had marked the day slowly faded, leaving
only the ever-present murmur of the ocean. Glorfindel was unable to
settle. Not only was he hungry, but he was in a strange environment
where nothing felt right. He worried, too, that sleep would bring a
return of the nightmares from which he would now waken to darkness
and the unknown.
He prowled his rooms for a time, then sat at the window and watched
the moon on the water. Finally, he decided what he needed was fresh
air. Maybe a walk would relax him and help him to rest.
After a few false starts, he found his way to the only place he knew
- the terrace, now silent and deserted, where he had earlier
undergone the ordeal of being introduced to Lindon society. The
lanterns had been dimmed, the only light came from a torch beside
the door and the half moon riding almost directly overhead. He sat
on the top step of the series that led down to the garden and looked
around. He could see part of the beach as well as the stables and
other, unknown buildings.
The sound of a footfall behind him made him turn. Elrond was
crossing the terrace towards him clad in a simple robe and carrying,
of all things, a plate of food. Glorfindel rose, uncertain, and was
greeted with a wry smile. “I was out for a walk and one of the watch
told me you were here. I thought you might like a snack - I don’t
remember you eating earlier?”
The night was quiet, save for the sea and the spluttering of the
torch. He could think again. There was a night watch? He had seen no
one. “I’ve never had to walk around juggling a plate and a cup
before. It seemed safer not to.”
Elrond’s eyes sparkled. “Oh I know,” he said, laughter in his voice.
“My first few tries were a disaster. You should have told Ereinion.
He’d have understood. There were chairs - you could have sat for a
Tell the king he wanted to sit down and eat rather than stay at his
side? Glorfindel had a brief vision of Turgon’s possible response to
this. His expression must have reflected the thought, because Elrond
said softly, “It would have been fine. Ereinion’s style of kingship
is - uniquely his, I’ve been told. He doesn’t normally expect people
to stand too much on ceremony around him. He knows he’s king; he
knows they know. He doesn’t seem to see the need to make an issue of
Glorfindel had seen the air of casual confidence without really
thinking about it, but now it made sense. He nodded slowly and made
a start on the food - cold chicken, some kind of meat wrapped in
pastry, small rounds of crisped bread with various, anonymous
toppings. After a couple of exploratory mouthfuls, he realised he
was starving and gave the plate his full attention.
Elrond sat near him, watching the moonlit sea and in no apparent
hurry to leave. Eventually he said in a thoughtful voice, “This must
all be so confusing for you. I have no idea why you were sent back
or how well they prepared you for what you would find, but I can
understand the changes must be immense. We need to be more
sympathetic to that, and we will be, but it would also help if you
gave us a chance. Erestor did his best at very short notice.”
Glorfindel was finishing off a chicken leg and was unable to speak
but raised his eyebrows in query. “No idea why I’m here,” he finally
managed. “I woke on Tol Eressëa, I rested, I rebuilt my strength.
Then Lord Námo sent a messenger to tell me that I was to return to
Endor, that I was to sail the following day. Rebirth is strange
enough - I thought this must happen often, until Cirdan told me
otherwise. And of course I know things will be different. I…”
“You probably don’t do it deliberately,” Elrond said carefully, “But
you give the impression of thinking everything you see is not just
different but somehow inferior to what you remember.”
Glorfindel finished the chicken, shaking his head vehemently. “Not
inferior, just - sometimes puzzling. All right, bewildering.
Everything has changed. The language is different, the clothes, the
manner of doing things. Simple things like the correct way to greet
someone - or taking time to ask after family, to find out if we knew
one another’s relatives…”
“And when I declined to discuss mine, I looked rude to you?” Elrond
finished off. “When to me you seemed invasive?”
They looked at one another and, unexpectedly, Glorfindel felt his
lips curving into a smile. “Yes, I suppose so,” he admitted. “So we
both assumed certain things. I need to stop doing that and to look
at this rather as a visit to a foreign land - which, in a way, it
Elrond nodded, smiling back. His eyes sparkled in the moonlight and
his fine hair seemed to catch the light and shimmer when he moved.
“A foreign land, yes, but it will feel more like home every day you
spend in it,” he said. “We’re not all that unlike your memories, we
just do things with perhaps a little less formality.”
Movement on the beach caught Glorfindel’s eye. Two figures came into
view, walking close together at the water’s edge. The moonlight made
identification easy. The tall, strongly-built form of the king was
unmistakable, as was the shorter, slighter figure at his side.
Erestor's hair was loose, lifting in the slight breeze, as was the
king’s. They were both casually dressed and appeared to be barefoot.
The seneschal had his head tilted to look up at his companion and
they were laughing. When they drew level with the buildings on the
left, they crossed the sand, headed up towards the palace and, hand
in hand, disappeared from view.
There was silence on the terrace as Glorfindel considered and
dismissed the chances of spotting Turgon in a similar situation.
Círdan’s comments about the seneschal’s duties came back to him and
took on new meaning, as did Elrond’s response. Glorfindel had been
raised to see kings as distant beings, above such things as
moonlight walks and holding hands. He found he rather liked this
alternative view. He glanced at Elrond, who was plainly amused
though attempting to look impassive, and shrugged slightly. Somehow
the action seemed to shift a little of the weight that he had been
“A little less formality might be a good way to describe it, yes,”
he agreed, finally steeling himself to sample the ‘olive’, which he
had recognised and moved to the side of the plate. It tasted tart
and almost musky, but was actually rather good. He could get used to
He returned Elrond’s smile and said, “I’m quite sure I can adapt to
it. In fact, I think there’s a strong chance I might even grow to
Elrond nodded approvingly. “I know you will. And to prove it, when
you’ve finished eating, we’re going down to the kitchen and I’m
going to introduce you to something very special - a dwarf brew made
from barley.” He smiled at Glorfindel’s look of disbelief. “The
king’s very partial to it. They call it beer.”