Main Page ~*~*~
Lindon, S.A. 1697
The late afternoon sun was sparkling off the water of the Gulf of
Lhûn, creating shards of light to dazzle the eyes of the unwary. Up
on the palace roof, it touched and lit the hair of the solitary Elf
gazing idly out across the bay to the open sea, turning blonde locks
to molten gold. He stood motionless, his folded arms resting atop
the low wall that surrounded the roof area, apparently lost in
The voice of the sea and the whispering of the wind masked the sound
of the all but silent footsteps approaching behind him. Nonetheless,
an instinct born of long years with danger as a constant companion
nudged him, causing him to glance back sharply over his shoulder.
His face lit immediately with a welcoming smile.
"When did you get back?” he asked. “I had no idea we were due a
visit.” His voice carried the accent of a former time; Quenya was no
longer spoken in Middle-earth, had not been for many centuries now,
save for purposes of ritual or study.
Elrond Eärendilion, who had been moving as silently as he was able,
acknowledged defeat with a wry nod. He would long since have given
up attempting to catch Glorfindel unawares, but an innate
stubbornness insisted that he at least try.
“I got here a little over an hour ago,” he answered. “I spotted you
from the stables - there’s no way anyone could miss that hair. I was
on my way up here, but Ereinion caught me. As ever." He grinned
briefly. “He met me before I had even reached the stairs. Barely
greeted me before the questions began. Eventually I asked if I could
at least go and change and get cleaned up - I’ve been days in the
saddle. I came here first; I was afraid you’d have left.”
“Nothing wrong with smelling of horse,” Glorfindel said, sniffing
judiciously. “I’m very fond of horses. You look tired though. Want
to go and find something to eat?”
Elrond shook his head and came to lean next to Glorfindel, standing
close enough for their shoulders to touch lightly. “Later. Let’s
stay here for a while first.”
Following the blonde Elf’s example, he looked out over the bay.
Childhood experience had given Elrond an ambivalence towards the
ocean, his father’s first love and the instrument of his mother’s
departure. Of late, however, he had tried to see it more through the
reborn Elf’s eyes. To Glorfindel the open sea represented freedom, a
fascination that was almost certainly a reaction to years spent
hemmed in by mountains. He never spoke ill of Gondolin, but Elrond
knew the gilded cage had often left him feeling constrained and
They had talked about that confinement many times, along with other
memories from the warrior’s previous life, and by now Elrond had a
resident’s familiarity with the intricacies of life in the Hidden
City and the pristine beauty of distant Tirion. He had also shared a
little of the horror of the crossing of the Helcaraxë, and knew a
selection of bawdy songs and tales from Nevrast that had not formed
any part of his formal education into the history of his kindred.
Unfortunately there had been less time to share in one another’s
thoughts and memories than either Elf would have liked. Since their
first meeting at Mithlond shortly after Glorfindel’s almost mystical
return to the Hither Lands, life had been far from uneventful. The
open warfare that had broken out around that time continued, showing
no sign of abating. Despite Elrond’s best efforts at the head of
Gil-galad’s army, Eregion was in ruins, its towns and villages
destroyed. The land was burnt and bleeding and survivors fled in all
Most of these refugees continued to stream into Lindon, although a
number had chosen to cross the border into the woods of Lorien to
join the Lady. Galadriel, responding to a dream of indescribable
horror, had fled Ost-in-Edhil mere days ahead of Annatar's army,
taking her young daughter and travelling unescorted in the dead of
night - proof yet again that none of Finarfin’s children could be
said to lack courage. More recently, in response to rumour and the
advice of bone-weary warriors heading in that direction, some of the
homeless had begun instead to make their way to the new fortress in
the north that was being created and held in the name of the High
King by his heir, the Mariner's son.
None of this involved Glorfindel, much to his discreetly-expressed
disgust. The King had decided that, whatever the reason for his
return, Glorfindel’s life was too precious to be risked to the
vagaries of battle. Rather than send him into unknown territory
where he would be called upon to ride with an army trained and
deployed in a manner unfamiliar to him, Gil-galad had instructed
that the reborn Elf be properly prepared for a less active, though
equally crucial, role. Accordingly, instead of passing his days in
weapons training and combat preparation, his first few months in
Lindon had been spent immersed in exhaustive - and exhausting -
He had to relearn geography, for the shape of the land that he
recalled from the First Age had been reordered during the War of
Wrath. Once he could orient himself on a map, he was taught about
the various Elven states, along with the complexities of the current
political order. Details of Lindon’s trade links with the Dwarf
realms followed, along with information concerning the unexpected
spread of Men across Middle-earth, particularly in the south. He was
also introduced to the composition and traditions of the High King’s
army, which included an invitation to sit in on military councils.
Initially he did no more at these meetings than listen, but he was
soon invited to take part in discussions and offer suggestions of
After a while it dawned on the former warrior that he was now
numbered amongst the planners, those whose place it was to look at
markers on a map and determine who went where to fight and die. The
real work was done by a thinly-stretched army under the overall
command of the Heir - Elrond of Sirion. By this time, he would have
liked nothing more than to have ridden and fought at Elrond’s side
but, realising that Gil-galad was both well-meaning and immovably
determined in his decision, Glorfindel gritted his teeth and made
the best he could of the enforced inactivity.
"How goes the war?" he now asked dutifully.
Elrond tilted his head, dark hair drifting across Glorfindel’s broad
shoulder, and raised an eloquent eyebrow at him before turning back
to watch the sunlight on the water. They had been soul-mates from
the day of their first meeting; the Half-elf was only too aware of
how much the legendary warrior resented what he regarded as his
"It goes as it goes. We lose more than we win. They fight us to a
standstill at every turn. Eregion may never be habitable again -
they burn the woods and salt the fields and poison the water as they
go. We do what we can. Right now…" He paused, choosing his words
carefully. "Right now my main concerns involve defense rather than
assault. Have you heard about the valley I discovered in Eriador?"
Glorfindel nodded. There had been some discussion as to the worth of
this almost inaccessible cleft in the earth, but Elrond's reports
had been glowing and Gil-galad, who trusted his cousin’s judgement,
was a far-sighted monarch and agreed that a stronghold in the midst
of what was fast becoming enemy territory was more than desirable -
if Elrond could hold it.
"I got the impression you were using it primarily as an infirmary? I
also heard talk of it being as a temporary base where your warriors
could rest up for a couple of days before returning to battle?" he
Elrond shook his head, his face serious. "I emphasised that, of
course. Not even the most ignorant voice on the Council is going to
argue against the need for a well-defended infirmary after all."
Elrond glanced around to make sure they were quite alone then leaned
closer, bringing his dark head nearer to Glorfindel’s blonde one.
His tone changed, became eager, intense.
"We discovered it by chance. We were leading a party of survivors to
safety, and we took a wrong turn and had to make our way along the
edge of a ravine. It was so deep we could see nothing below us but
the tops of trees. Someone stopped to answer nature’s call and
clambered down a way in search of privacy.” He smiled at the memory.
“Her son later came and told me she had seen a river far below, and
what looked like small patches of open land amongst the trees. It
took days to create a path to the bottom that a horse could follow…
Anyway, they were the first residents - not warriors, just a group
of terrified civilians, many of them children."
While he spoke, he watched Glorfindel carefully from under long,
dark lashes, but the reborn Elf's face was expressionless.
Glorfindel’s reputation might emphasise his status as a heroic
warrior, but he was also a Tirion-born lord with royal connections,
the surviving head of a renowned family and formerly a member of
Turgon's Inner Council. He had been taught from childhood to keep
his thoughts to himself.
"Anyway," Elrond continued after a pause. "After that we started
encouraging people to go there rather than to Lindon. One of the
first things we did was set up an infirmary, that’s no less than the
truth. What I played down in the reports is that we also have some
passable shelters built, and we’re already housing a fair-sized
"You're not just telling me all this to ease your conscience for
being less than honest with the Council, I hope," Glorfindel
interrupted, his blue eyes twinkling in denial of his stern
expression. "What is it that you want from me, Elrond? Must I try
and persuade the King that now would be a good time to found a new
"Not a city," Elrond said firmly, his grey eyes dark with memory. "I
have seen what can happen to a city. When we arrived, Ost-in-Edhil
was a burnt-out shell with the body of its lord as its primary
decoration. No, this is a shelter, a refuge. Somewhere that the
survivors of what's being done in Eregion can head for. It’s
defensible… given time it can be made self-sufficient. Eventually it
could also serve as a permanent garrison for at least part of the
"You want me to help you convince Gil-galad of this?" Glorfindel
broke in, interrupting the flow of words. He was willing to help but
not certain how much use his obviously biased support would be.
Their friendship was something well-known and often remarked upon.
Elrond, however, shook his head before flashing his companion a
dazzling smile. "Not a bit of it. That’ll be my problem. No, I want
you to come back with me and have a look around."
Glorfindel turned to lean with his back against the wall and stared
at Elrond, who was apparently quite serious. "The King will never
allow it," he said finally. "You know how he feels about this. My
place is here, advising, using my strategic skills. I make
suggestions, I examine reports of battles and help determine what
went wrong and why…"
Elrond pulled a face. "You're here because the Valar sent you back
and Ereinion has no idea why and he's worried he’ll be the cause of
harm coming to you. You're like a talisman, haven't you noticed? A
sign the Valar favour our cause. Of course, an army of Vanyar out of
the West might be an equally good omen, but that would apparently be
too much to ask of them - you're all we've got. That’s why he feels
he needs to be careful with you."
Glorfindel stared at him, speechless at being described as a kind of
mascot but also fighting down an irresistible urge to laugh. It was
hardly funny, but the sheer enormity of the blasphemy was of the
kind to induce guilty mirth. Glorfindel had been raised with all the
proper respect for the Shining Ones, but the Half-elf’s patent and
well-known lack of respect for the Mighty often had this effect upon
Elrond propped his chin on his hand and looked up, meeting and
holding the reborn Elf’s eyes, twilit grey looking deep into summer
blue. "I have no idea what I'm doing. I know next to nothing about
defensive structures or sealing off access routes, the basics of
making a place impenetrable. You do. You lived in Gondolin. You
would know all about this. And you would look at it all with a
warrior's eye, not with the kind of hopeful amateurism that's
currently being brought to it. Will you come back with me? Please?"
"Elrond, there’s little I wouldn't do for you - you must know that
by now - but the King would never allow…"
"If I can persuade my cousin to let you, would you go?" Elrond asked
bluntly, his expression searching.
Glorfindel paused for no more than a moment, which was all the time
it took for him to imagine being on horseback and riding hard along
the road away from Lindon and into adventure.
"If you can persuade the King, then yes, of course I'll go. Only,"
he added, forestalling Elrond's delighted response by raising an
admonitory finger. "Only because you are the great-grandson of my
lord and it would be unacceptable for me to refuse a solemn request
from you. Not for one moment would I have you think that I have any
desire to shirk my vital duties here."
Elrond gave him a dry look. "Yes, of course. Constrained by
tradition as well as sheer good manners, aren't you? Your reluctance
is noted. I'll be sure to mention it to Ereinion when we discuss
this. I should also point out to him that if we aren't seen to be
making use of your unique skills, the Valar might be tempted to take
you back - leave us to get on with things without the benefit of a
symbol of their goodwill."
Glorfindel nodded slowly, unsmiling, his eyes inward-looking.
"That's all I am, aren’t I? A symbol, a token of the power of the
Valar. Something out of a bygone age, a reminder of a legendary
city. Nothing more."
Elrond shook his head and reached out to place a hand lightly on
Glorfindel's arm. "More than a symbol," he said quietly, a smile
stealing across his tired face, lighting it with a charm and
sweetness often hidden under layers of irony and light sarcasm. "A
sign of hope. And a clear eye and an ordered mind, and a generous
spirit that offers encouragement and support to all who come to you
They stayed thus in silence for a space, eyes sharing truths that
lips were hesitant to utter. Elrond finally broke the stillness.
“Ereinion told me once that when it was time for you to take the
place you had been sent to fill, he would know it. Well, this is the
time and this is the place. With me. Teaching me how to safeguard my
valley and its people. What could be of greater value or need right
now than a safe haven from the horror?"
Glorfindel raised an eyebrow. In his mind he could already hear
Gil-galad shouting. The King’s temper was legendary. Elrond,
however, had an enviable reputation for being able to charm his
royal cousin into submission. Glorfindel had a suspicion Gil-galad
usually knew he was beaten before he began, but felt compelled to go
through the motions.
"This valley," he asked, strongly suspecting he would be visiting it
sooner rather than later, and that his immediate future had finally
been decided. "What have you called it? There was nothing in the
reports but I’m sure it already has a name."
Elrond smiled as he answered, a touch of pride in his voice. He
looked and sounded rather like a parent speaking fondly of a
difficult but much-loved child. "It's this steep gash in the earth -
stand on the edge and look down and all you see is an uninhabitable
chasm. It's damp and overgrown, the river's swift and dangerous, and
in some places the drop is so sheer that the only way to build
houses is going to be literally into the side of the cliff. So we've
called it Imladris - the valley within the ravine.”
He paused and looked up at the tall blonde Elf. He had trusted
Glorfindel instinctively from the day they met, with the same
totality he had offered his long-departed twin. “I think you have to
see it first to understand what I mean. There’s something about it -
in the rocks, the trees, the river’s song. Something that says that
if I can keep it safe I can make that valley into what I’ve looked
for almost my whole life - a place I can call my home."
AN: for Red Lasbelin
Beta: Ilye Elf