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Eärendil’s Tale  by Bodkin

Eärendil’s Tale 12: Epilogue 

Elladan’s mist-grey eyes were wide, Elrond realised, his heart contracting at the sudden obvious resemblance between the excited elfling of treasured memory and the weary elf who had disembarked.  His son appeared unable to take his eyes from one he had watched through good times and bad, from the certainty of youth through the despair of injury and loss and even into the days when only the sight of Vingilot in the sky had been left to bind the last elves of Arda to the promise of the Valar and the true refuge of their kind.

‘Is it really him?’ he asked softly, resting a thin hand on his adar’s arm.  ‘I did not see how he could be here, not really.’

‘You are safe now in the Blessed Realm.’  Elrond’s hand stroked his son’s hair briefly as he cupped the back of his head.  ‘Much is possible here.’  He tried to conceal his anxiety, but could tell from his son’s tight grin that he had not managed it.

‘I remember,’ Elrohir said behind him, ‘how you would tell us of the deep peace set on the waters and the brightness of Gil Estel that shone alone in the sky as Elros sailed west with the Edain.’  He could not resist clasping his adar’s arm as if to assure himself of his reality.  ‘And so it was for us.’  He hesitated and exchanged doubtful glances with his brother. 

‘It was hard,’ Elladan said briefly.  ‘The journey to the Havens was – almost more than we could endure, even in the company of Daeradar and Glorfindel and Aran Thranduil.  They had their work cut out to bring our party through the dead lands – but there, in the sky for us, Eärendil’s star shone still.’  He drew a breath.  ‘The light of the Silmaril was bright and pure and full of promise – and it drew us on.’

‘We could not fail,’ his brother agreed, ‘not with its song in our ears.’

Elrond looked from them to his adar, who stood almost shyly, his shimmering robe of dove-grey silk catching the light of Arien’s rays and giving the impression that he shone.  ‘Have you spoken to him yet?’ he asked.

The twins’ heads shook in unison. 

Their adar glanced round the company that had gathered to celebrate the arrival of Celeborn and his grandsons.   His adar-in-law was deep in conversation with Elwing, as Galadriel glowed by his side.  Tuor and Idril had emerged from their usual seclusion and were strolling in the shady gardens with Celebrían between them, but Eärendil hung back. 

‘Come,’ Elrond commanded.  ‘He does not wish to intrude on our reunion, but I think it is time that he had one of his own.  He has watched you since before you were old enough to know of him – and I think it is time that he met you.’

How, Elrond thought, had he failed to recognise the similarity between his sons and their daeradar?  He supposed it was because, through the long years of waiting, the image that had been in the forefront of his mind had always been that of two eager elflings, usually mud-stained and reckless, hurling themselves with enthusiasm into whatever adventure offered itself.  He had preferred to be more selective in his recollection of later times – and avoid altogether the long years when Elladan and Elrohir had closed themselves away from him: dead-eyed warriors, interested in nothing but slaughter, shielded behind a mask of adamant.  And the look they shared, he thought, was beyond the purely physical – the grin at the thought of a challenge, the silver glint in shining grey eyes, the turn of a head, the feeling they gave of holding back from action.

The Mariner smiled at his two tall grandsons.  ‘Your arrival has been eagerly awaited,’ he said.  ‘Your parents have been hoping for this day.’

Elrond nobly hid his amusement as the twins searched for words. 

‘Did you know we had sailed?’ Elrohir asked, his curiosity overcoming his wonder at being in the same room as the Mariner who had sailed night’s seas since the First Age.

Eärendil hesitated. ‘I followed your path west across the Misty Mountains to the sea,’ he said.  ‘It was clear that the last among the great elves had chosen to heed the call to take ship – and your light shone against the shadow of the land.’

‘That light must have been dimmed more than somewhat by the time we reached the Gulf of Lune,’ Elladan muttered.

‘It is a shame you could not travel by water,’ his daeradar sympathised.  ‘You would have found the journey less difficult.’

Three pairs of eyes stared at him.

‘Ulmo’s voice is strong in the waters of the world even now.’ Eärendil blinked.  ‘Did you not realise?’

Elrohir gave a brief humourless laugh and shook his head.  ‘I know that we felt less – thin – once we embarked,’ he said.  ‘I had not realised why.’

‘The dullness of the land sucked at us,’ Elladan agreed, ‘like the reverse of oil being drawn up a wick and we could feel all that we were being pulled from us.  It gave little room for thinking.’  He looked at the Mariner.  ‘We should have gone by water.’  He laughed.  ‘Wait until I tell Daeradar!  He and Glorfindel and Thranduil held onto us all by sheer willpower until our vessel was beyond the scent of the winds from those shores.  I look forward to telling him that the effort he spent on our behalf could have been halved.’

‘But you are here now.’  Again Elrond found it necessary to put a hand on each son’s back as if to reassure himself of their solidity.

His adar sighed.  ‘And the light of the elves is almost gone from the Hither Lands,’ he said sadly.  ‘The ancient forest was the last place in Middle Earth that glowed with life.  Now – there are fading pinpricks where the light survives, but there is only one now remaining who saw the Trees in their glory.’

‘Maglor?’ Elladan asked softly.

‘We met him,’ Elrohir murmured, ‘a time or two.’

Elrond stared at them.  ‘How was that?’ he asked.  ‘Over two ages he never came among the people of the elves.  How did you meet him?’

‘By chance,’ Elladan smiled wryly.  ‘One searing summer after a long winter of rain, when pestilence came north to our brother’s realm.  We encountered Maglor in Pelargir, where men were dying in the streets – and he was doing what he could to give them aid.’

‘He would have slipped away – like a thief in the night – at the sight of us, but the people’s need was too great and so he remained a while, until they had died who would and others had begun to recover.’

‘We made Estel remain in Minas Anor,’ Elladan added, ‘and work on keeping the disease from spreading further.  Warrior though he was, this was an enemy he could not fight – and we had no wish for him to survive the war to die of plague.  Staying away was probably one of the hardest things he ever did for Gondor’s sake.’

Elrond frowned.  ‘Maglor was no healer,’ he said.  ‘I can see why you would keep Estel away, but not what Maglor hoped to achieve.’

‘Restitution,’ Elrohir shrugged.  ‘He said he needed to make restitution – that he would never be free until his service outweighed his sins.’  He paused.  ‘I think he found some peace in what he was doing,’ he told his adar.  ‘He was thin and worn, but he was gentle – and he gleamed in the company of those who needed him.’

‘We asked him to come to Imladris,’ Elladan remarked.  He grinned.  ‘We suspected that our adar would approve of our decision, even if our daeradar did not.  But he would not come: not then.  He said that perhaps, one day, it would be right for him, but that he still had much to do.’

Eärendil glanced thoughtfully at them and decided to keep his observations to himself.

‘We saw him once more,’ Elrohir remarked.  ‘Briefly, where a drought had made men go to desperate lengths to seek water and they delved beyond their ability to support the well-shaft. His strength brought out several men whom none had thought to save, but he disappeared before anyone could thank him.’  He smiled.  ‘He was well on the way to becoming a legend,’ he said.  ‘The help that comes unseen in times of direst need.’

Elrond’s face softened.  ‘I can understand,’ he said, ‘but, in the end, it is he who needs to forgive himself and decide that he has suffered enough.’

‘The path remains open,’ Elladan murmured.  ‘It is hard to find, but, for those who seek it, it is still there.  He will come one day.’

‘Gil Estel is still just that.’  Eärendil stopped as they looked at him and opened his hands in a gesture of offering.  ‘The Star of High Hope.  As long as elves remain in Arda, it is there to offer healing in the west – even to the houseless, if only they will accept it.  As long as men continue to look to the sky for hope, it will shine for them in their darkest hours.’  He hesitated.  ‘It is a link,’ he said finally.  ‘Between what was and what will be.  Just as we are.’

His son and grandsons stared at him, before finally Elrond nodded.  ‘You are right,’ he agreed.  ‘We are a bridge across a ravine – and we have a foot on both sides.  It is up to us to ensure that those dwelling here do not forget the lands that gave us birth – and the home of our kin.  Arwen’s descendants – and Estel’s.  Those of the line of my brother, Elros Tar-Minyatur.’

‘It will not be easy,’ Elrohir said doubtfully.

‘While we have among us the Mariner, sailing Vingilot across night’s ocean?’  Elrond smiled sadly, but with love.    ‘The path is there, plain for all to see, lit by Fëanor’s jewel in which lives the purity of Yavanna’s greatest creations, guided by one who is both elf and man – and it leads home.’

He believed he had long since forgiven his parents for their desertion of him and his twin, Elrond thought, but it was only now, in the return of his own sons, that he realised that his adar had always been there for him, further away than most, it was true, but there – offering a constancy and strength for which many should have envied his son, and gifting it not only to his own children but to every creature living within the bounds of Eä.  Looking at Eärendil, he could see the – innocence – the generosity of spirit that had led the Powers of Arda to give him the role he fulfilled in the world, as well as the courage that had enabled him to continue with his task dauntlessly over long ages. 

A surge of enormous pride overwhelmed Lord of the Hidden Valley.  This was what made his family special.  This – service and sacrifice – was why the One had called them to be, and why they had survived the wearing of the years.  And, for now, this would be enough.  He would continue to hold the faith, as his adar had done – as he still did – and he would hold in his heart an unshakeable trust that, one day, when time wore down, all reunions would be complete.  

Elrond smiled.  ‘It is good that we are together at last,’ he said simply.


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