Even Quicker Than Doubt 22

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'Even Quicker Than Doubt'


Chapter 22

The dawn was bitterly cold, though the clear sky spoke of an unseasonably fine day ahead. The ground was soaked with dew and the Elves’ breath misted white on the air before them. After riding through the night, Erestor had called a halt at a roadside clearing, suggesting it would be a good place for the escort to make camp and wait while he and Lord Elrond were elsewhere occupied. He offered no further explanation but  waited till the fire was burning properly and then set about making tea with quiet efficiency. 

Elrond sat cross-legged before the fire, long-lashed grey eyes slitted against the smoke. He stared unblinkingly into the flames, absently tidying his hair while he waited.  At some point in the night he had finally reached a compromise with the unruly dark mass, fastening a generous amount back from his face to hang in a thick braid down his back while leaving the rest free. It was a style he would eventually adopt almost permanently. 

He kept quiet for as long as he could, having developed the suspicion that the more questions he asked the more Erestor was laughing at him, but eventually it became more than he could stand. “All right, so we’re meeting someone here. Are they late, are we early or are we going to spend the next few days camped here? If that’s the case, you’ll excuse me if I catch up on my sleep rather than keep you amused?”

The pot began to boil and Erestor moved it carefully to a flat stone beside the fire before adding tea from a small pouch and sitting back on his heels to wait for it to infuse. He looked across at Elrond from under thick  black lashes and smiled very sweetly. “I told you it was meant to be a surprise. You’ll understand soon. We made good time and we’re a little earlier than planned.”

Elrond sighed and moved over to join him. “All right. We rode through the night to be on time for something… or someone. Now we’re early and we’re going to do what? Sit here and drink tea and wait?”

Erestor nodded cheerfully. “Yes, that’s about right. You catch on really fast, don’t you?”

Elrond pushed him sharply though without rancour. “I used to think that,” he agreed. “ Of course that was before I blindly followed you out into the night. If I was so smart, I’d have given that a bit more thought.”

The long ride had in fact been an excellent opportunity to think, while at the same time reducing the inclination to dwell too morbidly on his personal catalogue of loss. He had explored memories of his brother and of his parents, and had spent the best part of an hour wondering what might have become of Maglor based upon the rumours he had carefully pretended not to listen to, but this had all been balanced by a sense of anticipation and overwhelming curiosity. He assumed this had been at least part of Erestor’s intention.

The tea had been poured and they were sipping it when Erestor suddenly raised his head and sat very still as though listening, after which his face warmed into an anticipatory smile. One of the warriors half rose, but Erestor caught his eye and shook his head and he relaxed again. Centuries later when Elrond encountered the mortal belief that his kind could appear and disappear at will, he would remember that early morning alongside the road and the way that, without warning, the empty clearing suddenly filled with Elves. 

Erestor reached out a hand before he could give voice to his confusion and drew Elrond to his feet. Indicating a tall Elf with red-brown hair, he explained, “This is Araslagor, leader of my Company. He has given permission for us to pass the day with them.”

The tall Elf approached them, dark grey eyes glittering in the half light, and placed a hand over his heart, inclining his head gravely. “Elrond Eärendilion, you are welcome amongst us. If we could leave at once? Time grows short, and we wish to be in Forlond by midday.”
The day that Elros and his people were due to leave for the New Land got off to a bad start for Gil-galad. He woke spooned up against the warmth of Glorfindel and had lain content for the few minutes it took before he realised he was in Forlond, he was not in his own bed and it was probably almost time for breakfast. He had already dressed and kissed his sleepy and slightly confused lover good morning before he thought to open the drapes and look out the window, to discover that what he had thought to be morning light came mainly from Vingilot. It now hung so low above the sea that the shape of the great ship could almost be discerned. 

He breathed a sigh of relief and headed for the door, ready with a story about an early morning walk should he encounter anyone other than his personal guard. As he was leaving, a drowsily amused voice from the bed told him, “I warned you not to fall asleep. I’ll see you after the hunt.”

He would have liked to ask what hunt, but the door was already open and anyway Glorfindel had turned over and was settling back into sleep.

He reached his rooms more or less simultaneously with his early morning tea, brought to him by Medliel who, since his arrival in Círdan’s household all those many years ago, had taken care of him with the same common sense affection she showed her three sons. “Overslept,” he replied to her cheerful query as to why he was up so early. He wondered if others found his own early morning good humour irritating, too. “That damn light kept me awake most of the night.” 

She knew where he had been, of course. She knew all about him and Glorfindel. At home the tea was left in the sitting room after a discreet knock on the bedroom door.  She never referred to the relationship, and neither did he. He preferred not to know if she disapproved as much as Círdan did. He supposed it was likely. 

After requesting a large breakfast to set him up for a long and tiring day, full of speeches and high words – and Eönwë, who he would have to remember not to attempt to throttle on sight – he drank his tea in moody silence, thinking back over the previous night’s conversations with both Elros and Glorfindel. 

Hot water was brought for washing, after which, pulling a face at the ornate formal robes that had been laid out for him, he dressed casually in loose pants and a plain shirt until it was time to leave. His hair was a more complicated matter and he spent some time carefully twisting and knotting it into the style, popular long before his birth, which he favoured for public occasions. Finally, after searching through the small selection of jewels that had been brought along for him, he circled his brow with mithril set with dark blue sapphires, a crown that had apparently been favoured by Fingolfin. 

The day, however, continued as it had begun. The relaxing interlude ended when a knock at the door, which he thought heralded breakfast, announced instead the arrival of Thenin carrying the obligatory collection of papers for him to read and approve. His assistant looked at him in surprise.

“Aren’t those clothes a little – unusual – for a council meeting, Sire?” 

Gil-galad looked at him blankly. He had a faint memory of Thenin outlining the schedule for the day and of nodding agreement, his attention elsewhere. Thenin was good with dry detail and the King tended to leave him to get on with it. This approach worked better on some occasions than others.

“You agreed to attend a meeting of Master Edhelûr’s council this morning,” Thenin reminded him. “The full council, plus a number of senior trades people. After which…”

“I saw every trader I had any need to talk to yesterday, and as for Edhelûr’s council, they’re his concern, not mine. I get the reports, I read them, he does an excellent job, that’s all I need to know about it.” 

“After which,” Thenin continued as though he had not been interrupted, “you are expected to join them for a light lunch. You will spend the afternoon down at the harbour, of course, attending the formal farewell and watching the ships sail. Then this evening there is a formal dinner in your honour which will be attended by the town’s dignitaries and their families.” 

“Damn it, Thenin, this was meant to be a break from work, not one long round of formalities…”

Thenin, who knew how to manage his King, was adamant. “I’m sorry, Sire, but this was all arranged well in advance – and presented to you in comprehensive detail, I might add. If you absent yourself now, it will be regarded as a slight.”

Gil-galad grumbled but, with no one to blame but himself, was forced to somewhat gracelessly concede defeat. To make matters worse, he had to watch those unencumbered by responsibility ride out to take part in the alternate activity arranged for the morning, namely a boar hunt. The sight of sunlight glinting off golden hair did nothing for his mood. Even his lover had deserted him. Growling softly at his unsympathetic assistant, he exchanged the crown for a simple gold circlet, hid his clothing under a comfortable old surcoat and prepared to work.

As Thenin  was well aware, the day to day business of running a large town always interested the King and he was soon immersed in ideas to extend the farmlands and plans regarding increased trade with settlements beyond the borders of Lindon. Nýrád was also present to put forward the intriguing possibilities of expanding trade with the Dwarf realm in the south-east, which had been Master Edhelûr’s main reason for seeking Gil-galad’s presence at the meeting. Only the King had the authority to approve trade outside the borders of Lindon.

It proved a pleasant morning. Gil-galad believed that these smaller, more mundane concerns were what built a strong, secure kingdom, far more so than wars and mighty deeds. He suspected that his illustrious predecessors might not have agreed, though he had recently been quietly pleased to discover that Glorfindel certainly did. 
Shortly after lunch and dressed in the more formal trappings of his rank - heavy blue robes overlaid with intricate silver embroidery - Gil-galad rode through town at the head of a procession made up of his nobles, Master Edhelûr’s councillors and other leading citizens of Forlond. When they reached the harbour, they found that many of the ships were still awaiting their chance to come alongside the quay and take on board crates and bags and furniture and even livestock from the wagons that trundled in a steady stream down the path to the water’s edge. There were people milling around everywhere, both Elves and Men, some working, others waiting for the formalities to begin. 

The noise was remarkable.

The guests’ horses were taken with smooth efficiency by members of Master Edhelûr’s household, sent ahead for that purpose. The King’s party were conducted away from the traffic and up hastily constructed wooden steps to seating in a casual though exquisite shelter of silk and tapestries. Edhelûr had shown his usual attention to detail, right down to small tables bearing plates of pastries and dried fruits and jugs of a highly popular pale, sweet wine.

Finding himself walking next to Dalbros, who was scribbling away with graphite on board in a harried attempt to take notes, Gil-galad remarked, “You’d hardly say it was the same quiet place we visited yesterday, would you, Master Dalbros?”

“Sheep!” Dalbros responded in an amazed voice, barely noticing to whom he was speaking. “They are taking sheep with them? Ah, that would be for the wool of course...” He hurriedly made another note.

Gil-galad turned to watch the uncertain progress of the sheep, his lips twitching with amusement. Perhaps, he thought, reconciling himself to the extreme discomfort of a throne-like, high backed chair, the afternoon would be less tiresome than expected. 
The ceremony followed a predictable pattern: speeches, a long monologue from Eönwë on the wonders awaiting the travellers to the New Land, a respectful response from Elros who disclosed a gift for making carefully rehearsed replies sound spontaneous and sincere, more speeches… Other than declarations of war – and dubious oaths – experience had taught Glorfindel it was quite safe to ignore the sort of wordy politeness produced at formal gatherings. He had no part to play in the proceedings, and was occupying himself with watching the other guests’ attempts to look awake and interested. 

Gil-galad sat straight and alert, apparently giving each speaker his full attention, occasionally nodding in agreement at some sentiment expressed. Glorfindel very much doubted that he was hearing more than one word in ten. Círdan looked tired. Rumour had it he had been up all night, conferring with his mariners and double checking Eönwë’s instructions. Edhelûr looked satisfied and relaxed, his town having acquitted itself admirably. As for Elros… the King of Númenor’s face had remained blandly expressionless,  though his eyes betrayed tension. 

Glancing over at him, Glorfindel was just in time to see Elros’ face suddenly soften, touched by a smile that began in his eyes. Following the general direction of his gaze, the blonde  scanned the crowd. After a few moments he caught sight of the familiar and utterly unlikely figure of Galadriel standing amongst yet slightly apart from the crowd. As he watched, she raised her hand to her forehead in greeting and salute and nodded to Elros, smiling in return. 

No one else seemed to have noticed. Leaving his seat, Glorfindel moved quietly to the side of the pavilion and dropped lightly to the ground. As he made his way through the crowd, he wished he had some way to cover his distinctive hair. He hoped that when his absence was noticed it would be assumed that he had either gone to relieve himself or else had become bored with the endless formalities.

She was watching the company in the pavilion, an eyebrow slightly raised in a cynical expression that he remembered from childhood. Círdan had begun speaking in a slow, carrying voice that suggested he intended to continue for some time. A glance at Gil-galad’s expressionless face and still form confirmed this. The King was present in body only at this point. He had probably already heard portions of the speech rehearsed several times.

The blonde almost managed to catch Galadriel unawares, but she looked around at the last moment, her eyes widening slightly in surprise. He threaded his way between a small family, a husband and wife and three children who were torn between respectfully paying attention to the speeches and excited speculation as to which would be ‘their’ ship, and joined Finarfin’s daughter in leaning against the side of a storage shed.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, made blunt by concern. “Where’s…Celeborn?” It took him a moment to call up the name. He had not yet had the chance to meet the Sinda.

Galadriel treated him to a bland look. “Nice to see you as well, cousin. At home I very much hope. This held little interest for him, so I came alone. It’s a lovely trip down the coast on the ferry. Have you tried it yet?”

“You can’t travel alone like that, it’s…it’s dangerous!” He knew he was defeated before he even opened his mouth, but he felt compelled to try.

Eternally self-assured, Galadriel chuckled. “Of course I can. The babe’s not due for at least another month, and it’s by far the safest way to travel – there were at least four members of the palace guard on board, in fact. What could possibly go wrong?” She looked at the uncertainty written large on his face and her tone softened. “It was quite safe, my dear. A quiet sail could do the babe no harm, I would never do anything to put him at risk. And I am fit and strong and well able to take care of myself; I’m pregnant, after all, not ill.” 

“But why…?” Galadriel was impulsive, he knew, but she never did anything without a reason.

Her eyes darkened and her face grew serious. “So many here to see them leave,  so many who want to be able to tell their children they saw the sailing of the Secondborn to Númenor… I wanted Melian’s kinsman to know someone had taken the trouble to be here for him alone, to wish him good journey and watch him sail. Other than Ereinion, I doubt there is anyone else here he feels close to.” She paused, looking westward across the sea. “Such a brave thing he does,” she added softly. “He deserves to know someone cares.”

Glorfindel had been unaware she knew Elros all that well, but he certainly agreed with her sentiments. “You know the reason why he and Elrond are following different paths then? Did Elros tell you? Gil-galad only found out last night…he’s - not pleased.”

“Oh, no one had to tell me anything. I never imagined there had been any kind of choice involved,” she said with a slight shrug. “Elrond has abilities that are the heritage of Melian’s line; that power belongs amongst us. Elros…” She turned from the sea to him, her face sad. “He has other gifts. He will make a great king.”

He nodded silently, remembering Elrond describing that afternoon on the beach with Eönwë and the way Elros had taken charge. One thought led to another. “Nerwen, I’m sorry about Elrond, about the training,” he said hesitantly. He had never crossed Galadriel’s will before.

She slanted an unreadable glance at him, then shrugged and said evenly, “We must each listen to our heart’s wisdom. We shall see what comes of it. No doubt it will all fit in admirably with Their plan.”

Before she could pass any uncomfortable comments on the less likeable aspects of the Shining Ones, Glorfindel hastily changed the subject. “Have you any idea what the crossing will be like? I don’t think I understand what they mean about the way being hidden…?”

She raised an eyebrow. “Anything would be better than the road we survived to reach here, would it not? I believe they sail to a point where there are strange mists and ghostly noises and the waves are huge. They face a few hours of turbulence and careful sailing and then a calm journey into the Uttermost West.”

“How do you know that?” An icy chill ran down his spine as he considered the possibilities. He had no idea of the extent of her power, or how far her mind could range.

She guessed his thoughts and gave an unladylike snort of laughter. “I asked one of Círdan’s mariners of course. How else? I like to know how things work, remember.” 

He had barely nodded acknowledgement, his face flushed with embarrassment, when she was distracted by a particularly large wagon making its way down to the edge of the quay. “Oh look at the size of that one. I wonder what it carries.” Suddenly all eager curiosity, she turned to him, her eyes sparkling. “Come, let’s go and look.”

Glorfindel tried to point out that the footing was rough and that she needed to take care, and that this was probably a good time to go and join Gil-galad in the pavilion, but his arm was taken in a firm grasp and he was forced to join her in hurrying alongside the road down which the wagons still moved. “Oh do stop fussing, Findel, I’m fine. And why would I want to go and join Ereinion in pretending to listen to Círdan trying to out-bore Eönwë? And don’t tell me you aren’t interested in ships. All males love ships.”

As ever, there was no arguing with her.

Most of the attention was on the pavilion and the dignitaries gathered there, and little heed was paid to the tall, strikingly blonde couple as they made their way along the quay.  Glorfindel soon found them excellent seats atop bales of hay on an unattended cart. Galadriel was forced to put aside her independence for once and allow him to help her up.

“I think this might all belong to Elros.” Glorfindel recognised a few items of furniture from the private wing of the palace as well as several pieces he had noticed on the journey to Forlond. “Fit for a king’s household anyway.” 

Nodding, Galadriel sat swinging her feet lightly, watching the calm, blue-grey water and the ships jostling close to the quay. Eventually she turned her attention back to her cousin. “Who was the young girl I saw him talking to earlier? With the pretty brown hair. Do you know?”

“I think her name’s Faengil,” Glorfindel replied after a moment’s consideration. “She’s the daughter of his Treasurer. Why do you ask?”

She shook her head, her eyes distant. “I just wondered. She seemed to fit well with him, and she looked like a sweet child. He deserves kindness.”

They sat together on the cart in the clear winter sunshine and watched the assortment of items being wrestled into place over the side of the ship. From the shouts being exchanged between crew and shore workers it appeared the wagon had been delayed and the ship should have been loaded long since. In the background Círdan’s voice droned on, while in counterpoint they could hear the murmur of the crowd, the swell of the ocean, creaking wood and crying gulls. Glorfindel felt unexpectedly peaceful and at ease, and rather as though he were playing truant. Not that he had much experience of that. He had been a dutiful child. According to her admiring brothers, Galadriel had been a complete terror.

She placed her hand on his arm. “Findel, look! Why is Elrond’s dog going with them? Rather an extreme gift surely?”

Laslech was being hoisted off the wagon as she spoke. The dog was curled up on the floor of the cage and her whimpering carried clearly to them. She must have been terrified, Glorfindel realised. Rather like Elros, he supposed. “She was a present to Elros,” he explained. “I don’t think he has much interest in dogs – Elrond took a liking to her and she adopted him. Elros refused to leave her behind, he felt it would imply he didn’t value the gift. I asked Gil to speak to him about it, but…”

Galadriel’s total outrage surprised him. “What absolute nonsense!” she exclaimed. “Since I arrived in Lindon, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Elrond without her. Really, I would have expected Ereinion to have made a bit more of an effort to persuade Elros…”

“I think he had other things on his mind, Nerwen,” Glorfindel cut in, quick to defend his lover from the implied criticism. She threw him a glance dripping with scorn. 

“I rather expect a king to be able to focus on more than one matter at a time,” she retorted. 

What Glorfindel might have said next was swallowed in a round of polite applause; Círdan had finally finished speaking. Instead of returning to his seat, however, he left the pavilion. Glorfindel glanced at Galadriel, his eyebrows raised and she shrugged. “Probably needs to give some last minute instructions,” she suggested. “The more I get to know him the more I realise he would never delegate anything he could reasonably expect to see to himself.”

“Like you, in other words?” Glorfindel asked blandly, his face expressionless. She punched him amiably in the ribs, rather harder than he might have expected. 

“Like me I suppose, yes,” she admitted. “I drive Celeborn insane. He keeps saying he cannot see the point of us having servants as I have such a compulsion to do everything myself.” She looked suddenly almost ordinary and rather endearing as she added, “I like seeing to things for him, sewing on buttons and the like. Taking care of him. I’ve never had someone to take care of before.”

Glorfindel impulsively slid an arm around her waist.  “I’m sure he loves every minute of it,” he said affectionately. “He must be exceptional. I look forward to meeting him.”

“My brothers weren’t too impressed.” Her expression was momentarily wistful. Of all Finarfin’s children, only his daughter had survived the vicissitudes of life in Arda. 

Glorfindel gave her a sympathetic hug. “Your brothers adored you and thought no one good enough for you,” he reminded her. “Had there been time, I’m sure they’d have approved, especially once they saw how happy you were with him. You are happy, aren’t you?” The old Glorfindel would never have dared ask such a question, even of someone he was as close to as Galadriel.

She gave a laughing sigh and returned his hug. “Yes cousin, I’m very happy with him. We fight like cat and dog of course, but that’s to be expected. We both have strong wills and stronger ideas – and somewhat different views on the world. But we’ve become rather good at compromise.”

“My lady, I had no idea you were expected. His Majesty mentioned nothing to me.” Cirdan, wearing his formal best and looking none too comfortable in it, had arrived beside them unnoticed. He looked vaguely shocked, which Glorfindel thought was a reasonable response to discovering royalty sitting on a bale of hay.

Galadriel looked at him with complete equanimity, though her nails digging into Glorfindel’s arm were a stern instruction that he resist the impulse to get down until she was ready. “A spur of the moment decision, one I’m afraid I neglected to discuss with Ereinion. It never occurred to me that I might need his permission to watch this – unique event.” She had her head tilted slightly to one side, her expression all polite concern. Glorfindel surreptitiously kicked her in an attempt to make her behave. 

Círdan, however, had lived a very long time and was not about to be intimidated by Gil-galad’s unconventional aunt. “I was merely concerned that Master Edhelûr would feel he had been negligent in not arranging seating for you,” he explained reasonably. “I assume you came by sea? In that case, too, he would have wished to provide you with a suitable escort from the dock…”

Galadriel flicked her eyelashes at him, but decided there was no sport to be had here. “As I said, I decided this on a whim. No one expected me. Glorfindel merely spotted me in the crowd and came to keep an eye on me.”

She slid down off the cart unaided, all grace and golden hair and sweetly feminine smiles, and accepted the arm the aged Telerin offered. She paused to watch the last few boxes being loaded, while from the ship itself they could all hear the sound of sharp, concerned barking. Glancing at Glorfindel, she said, “Perhaps you should go on ahead and give them a few minutes to arrange a seat for me – and can you organise some apple juice? I’m very thirsty.” She turned back to Círdan, gravely polite. “If you’ll be kind enough to assist me up to the pavilion, my lord?”

As he left, Glorfindel heard her low voice continuing. “I was wondering if I could ask you two small favours?  Firstly, is there any possibility of one of your sailors going on to Tirion with messages from me to my family? I may be exiled, but nothing was said about letters…” 

Glorfindel had no excuse to linger, so he regretfully had to miss hearing the second request.
There was a festive atmosphere on the hillside overlooking Forlond. The Elves of the Wandering Companies had gathered from far and wide to watch the spectacle of the fleet of ships preparing to sail into the West. The departure itself was an affair of Men and had little emotional impact on the Elves, unlike the wonder of a Silmaril visible in daylight for the first time since the end of the War of Wrath. Watching the light on the water, they were conscious of great events in motion, driven by the will of those who dwelt in the Undying Lands and held the governance of Arda. 

The event also provided an excellent opportunity to spend time with family and friends within other Companies and to exchange news and gossip. This was also a rare chance for the younger Elves present to meet potential love interests or to make new friends. 

Two dark-haired Elves sat on a flat rock sharing bread and cheese and a few early winter apples. They also had a small flask of liquor, about whose type and origin Erestor was carefully vague. They ate in comfortable silence, Elrond sitting up very straight with his eyes fixed on the ships as they began moving out into the bay, while his companion leaned casually against his shoulder. Eventually Erestor tilted his head to look back and up at the Half-elf. "Was I right to bring you here?" he asked softly. "You weren’t as angry as I expected, but still…"

Elrond looked down at him, then rested his cheek briefly against the top of Erestor’s head. The silky black hair was warm from the sun and felt strangely comforting. "What, to bring me here to see them leave? Yes, of course, otherwise it would never have been real - like my mother changing into a swan or my father piloting Vingilot through the skies each night. Just words… No, you were right. I’m sorry I shouted at you – not that it seemed to bother you much. How did you know what I needed?”

Erestor smiled and shook his head. He took another sip from the flask and passed it to Elrond before straightening up and moving to sit behind him. “I didn’t,” he admitted. “It was just a good guess. Yesterday I saw Araslagor at the palace and I just – well, I usually trust my instincts, so I went and asked him if we could join them.  That’s why I set such a pace last night,” he added with a grin, his deft fingers busy unfastening the untidy braid Elrond had enforced on his hair during the ride. “There was no time to make alternate arrangements should we miss them at the meeting place. I expected you to yell a lot more than you did, by the way. I certainly would have.”

“Your instincts are good,” Elrond assured him, relaxing under the touch of Erestor’s confident fingers. “And there’s not much point in yelling at you. You just stand there and blink and look bored.”

He watched the Elves around them, groups forming, splitting into twos and threes, reforming, and he listened to the soft murmur of many voices broken by laughter and the occasional call. They all knew who he was; he had been greeted with courtesy and then left to deal with a matter that they all respected as a private grief. These were the people he would presently be sent to live amongst as part of his training. They were, he realised, the Kindred of his choice, just as those on the ships now leaving harbour were his brother’s. It felt right to be watching the one from within the circle of kinship of the other.  

He looked up towards Vingilot and wondered briefly if the legendary Elf knew that his son was amongst the travellers whose way he lit, and if so whether he even cared. There was no way he would ever know, so Elrond let it go in a way he knew Erestor would be proud of when he told him later. For now, he had no desire for speech.

A movement on one of the leading ships caught his eye as a banner was unfurled. Even at this distance he recognised the crest of his house, unmarked by the colours of Númenor. Elros’ final act was a silent reminder that no matter the title and history that was about to become his own, he left Middle-earth as a child of the First Kindred, Elros Eärendilion, a descendant of Thingol and Turgon. 

Erestor’s hands came to rest firmly on Elrond’s shoulders, steadying him even as his eyes misted and his chest tightened. As they sat watching, the soft wind that had been rising steadily over the last hour suddenly increased, filling the ships’ sails. Guided by Círdan’s experienced mariners who had been awaiting this moment, the vessels moved into formation and, in a mass of green and gold, crossed the bay towards open water, carrying the new line of Men and their King to their protected home beyond the Sundering Sea.


Part 23


Emlinneth – little yellow bird

Beta - Enismirdal, Ilye