Ill Omen, An
1. An Ill Omen
“Mommy!” Earendil cried out as soon as she entered her house with Tuor by the southern walls. Idril smiled and swept Earendil into her arms. She was rewarded with many kisses.
“Welcome home, Lady Idril,” said Meleth, Earendil’s nurse. “The young Prince of Gondolin has been eagerly awaiting your return. He says he as a surprise for you and refused to show it to me.”
“Oh?” Idril snuggled her face to Earendil. He was moist with sweat and had apparently been running in the fields, but he was young and smelled clean and pleasant despite his sweat. “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting for so long.”
“It’s okay, Mother Idril.” He put a small hand to her cheek, tipped his head, and kissed her. Idril smiled. It was not the way a child should kiss his mother, but he had of late been trying to mimic Tuor’s mannerisms. “Your duties are long and many, and so I counseled myself to be patient.”
Idril kissed his forehead. “Good boy. So then, Earendil, what is this surprise that Meleth spoke of?”
Earendil smiled wide. He opened his mouth and put his finger to his teeth. Idril stared in shock and then fainted.
“Elemmakil of the Fountain!” announced Legolas, the doorman to the Council of Turgon. Turgon and the Lords of Gondolin looked up from their business in surprise. Rarely were they interrupted when Council was in session.
“My apologies, my King.” Elemmakil bowed low and knelt on one knee before Turgon. “I came with urgent news: the Heir Apparent is unwell.”
Turgon rose. “My Earendil!”
“The Lady Idril fainted but has since recovered,” Elemmakil continued. Tuor’s face became grimmer. “The healers have been summoned, but even Hendor has no idea what has caused the Prince’s illness. Pengolod is searching his lore for a cure. Lady Idril asked that you come immediately in case you, who were born in the Blessed Realms long ago, had any knowledge of this matter.”
“I will go to Earendil,” Turgon said. “Tuor will come with me, of course. Galdor, Glorfindel, you have some knowledge of herblore. You will come as well.” The King of Gondolin glanced about. “And Ecthelion, for the clear fountains of Ulmo may bring healing to the Prince. The rest of you will stay here. Maeglin, lead the Council.”
“I obey, my King,” Maeglin said with a bow from the waist. To all assembled, he seemed calm in the face of the sudden emergency, but Tuor remembered the warnings of Idril and thought there an odd glint in Maeglin’s sharp glance.
The company of the King traveled with all swiftness to Tuor’s house by the southern edge of Gondolin. Many others were assembled outside of that house, and that only made Tuor more apprehensive.
“I had a guard set about the house,” said Elemmakil as they neared. “I did not want others of the Gondolindrim interrupting the work of the healers.”
Turgon nodded. “It was wise of you to do so.” They entered and went straightaway to Earendil.
“Father,” Idril said with a great sigh of relief. Earendil squirmed out of his mother’s arms and hopped down from the table where he’d been seated. He bowed to Turgon.
“King of Gondolin,” Earendil said reverently.
“Fair Earendil,” Turgon said as he picked up his grandson and balanced him on one arm.
“Father,” Earendil said with a nod of his head to Tuor. He was such a proper child, mindful of greeting the king before even his own father but not forgetting his father after the king had been greeted. Idril came over to them.
“What is the news, Hendor?” Tuor asked.
Hendor shook his head, and his face was grave. “I’m sorry. There seems to be nothing that I can do for the boy.”
“What is wrong with him?” Turgon asked.
“I know not,” said Hendor, his voice filled with apology and worry. “His illness is beyond my skills of healing.”
“We came as well, to give aid if we could,” said Glorfindel. “Though, of course, we do not doubt your skill, Hendor.”
“Nay, I take no offense, Lord of the Golden Flower.”
“What then is the matter?” asked Galdor.
“It is best if Earendil simply shows you,” said Hendor. They all looked expectantly at Earendil, who squirmed in Turgon’s arms.
“Show them, Earendil,” Idril coaxed gently.
“I thought it a wondrous surprise for my mother, and now that I have learned that it is no great surprise but an illness, I am no longer so eager to show it,” Earendil said somewhat glumly.
“Show me,” commanded the King of Gondolin.
Earendil pouted and then said, “I obey.” Earendil opened his mouth. He put one small finger on the frontmost tooth of his lower jaw. The King and Lords of Gondolin gasped as they watched him wiggle the small white tooth to and fro. He moved his finger to the tooth to its left. That one also wiggled, but its movement was less pronounced.
“Oh, my Ardamire!” Turgon cried. He hugged Earendil tightly. “How did this come to pass?”
“He did not fall or hurt himself,” said Meleth, his nurse. “Earendil said he noticed it just this morning, but he would not tell of it to me until Idril came home.”
“It is an ill omen.” Idril rested her head against Tuor, and Tuor held her close.
“In all my years, I have never seen anything like it,” Hendor said. He looked to Galdor, Glorfindel, and Ecthelion. They shook their heads and were apparently also at a loss.
And yet, Tuor couldn’t quite feel the same horror as the other Elf-lords of Gondolin. There was something familiar about this. It seemed a thing natural, not an illness. Tuor looked thoughtfully at his son. He was about seven now. No, that seemed about the right age.
“He’s just teething, isn’t he?” Tuor said into the air, heavy with panic.
“Teething?” said Turgon. At the least, he seemed relieved that someone had put a name to this mysterious illness.
Tuor nodded. “All of his teeth will fall out soon.” The assembled Elves gasped, and Idril began to weep into his shoulder. At moments like these, Tuor really, really regretted that he was not so eloquent when Ulmo did not speak through him. “It’s not an illness. It’s normal,” Tuor added quickly when he saw the dark mood of Turgon.
“How can this be natural?” Turgon shouted. “And did you not say that all of his teeth would soon fall? How will he eat when he is toothless?”
Idril’s weeping became more severe as she heard her father speak Earendil’s fate. “It is an ill omen,” she murmured into Tuor’s shoulder.
“Well, no. All will be well,” Tuor said as he hugged Idril and tried to reassure her. “New teeth will replace those that are lost?”
“That is an excellent idea,” Galdor said. “Enerdil is skilled at metalcraft. Perhaps he can forge for Earendil new teeth.”
“My son with a mouthful of metal teeth?” Idril cried. “Oh, my son! My Ardamire!” She almost swooned again. Tuor held her weight and tried to stop her sobs.
“My dear, my King, my Lords,” Tuor said. “I begin to perceive that this is something unseen for the Elf-kind. But let me assure you that this is normal for Man. My memories return to me. As you know, I did not grow up among my own kind, but I remember similarly losing my teeth when I was Earendil’s age.”
“You lost your teeth?” Ecthelion said with a gasp. “And yet, there they are, plain as day.”
“And your smile, though rare, certainly exists,” said Glorfindel. “How will Earendil smile without teeth?”
“I pray, let me explain as best I can.” Tuor hugged his wife, but his free hand scratched his head as he sought some way to explain. What was it Annael had said of this matter? “I believe--" No, that wasn’t it. Tuor began anew. “I was raised by the Grey Elves of the North, but they were before in the service of Fingon, King of the Noldor. In Fingon’s service were many men, including my forefathers.” And what about the teeth? What to say about the teeth...
“Go on,” Turgon urged. Everyone hung on Tuor’s every stutter.
“Um, Annael, my fosterfather, said that-- When I was Earendil’s age, my teeth also became loose, one after the other. Annael assured me that this was normal, for he had seen it happen even to Galdor, my grandfather. For the race of Men, there is a second set of teeth that arise to replace the first, the baby teeth they are called. The adult tooth will grow underneath the baby tooth, and when it is ready to erupt, it will push through such that the baby tooth becomes loose. The baby tooth either falls out or is pulled out, and then the adult tooth replaces it fully.”
“So, my grandson will still have teeth?” Turgon asked. “He is not ill?”
Tuor nodded. “As I said, he is teething.”
“How very strange are the ways of Men,” Hendor said as he shook his head.
Idril laughed and wiped her tears with a handkerchief. She pounded on Tuor’s shoulder with her two small fists as if to blame him for all the woes of Man, or at least to blame him for the Mannish traits of her Half-elven child. But she was obviously relieved to know that this loss of teeth was normal for Earendil, and her sudden joy was very beautiful. Tuor smiled slightly and kissed her.
Glorfindel poked Galdor in the ribs. “You were among Men. You should’ve known such things.”
“I was never around their youth!” Galdor protested. “And I never heard of this ‘teething’ before today.”
“That makes sense. Once they start falling out, all the teeth are replaced in a relatively short period of time,” Tuor said. “Certainly by the time one is ready to enter the service of the Elves, he would already have his adult teeth.”
“I am pleased to know that my grandson is not ill,” Turgon said. He brought his finger to Earendil’s loose tooth and wiggled the little white tooth that had caused so much anxiety. Earendil smiled and opened his mouth wider. He was pleased that his tooth was the center of attention and that his surprise wasn’t bad after all. “So it is a sign that little Earendil is not so little anymore. May your adult teeth grow strong and straight.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.