By his side was an elf of strange appearance, for he wore a beard, silver like his hair; and in his face were signs of age, though he was yet hale and strong. He stood still and vigilant as the ship came to the now silent shore, and his heart was stricken, for he had walked this land often, laboring to teach Eärendil and the folk of Sirion the mariner's craft.
No chatter of sailors, no townsfolk greeted the ship, fastest of her home harborage. The ships were crowded with warriors: elves bearing bows, strung and ready, or swords, or both. They too were silent as many keen eyes searched the sunlit shore, wincing at the smoke and ruin. The companies disembarked, the King leading all, and the sorrow and rage mingled was plain to see in his countenance.
His face was grim as he surveyed those few elves tending the wounded in the central square, or clearing rubble from before one of the few buildings unravaged by fire. He took in the small group that labored to bury the dead. Gil-galad motioned to the row of wounded. "Aglardil, attend them." The healer gathered his assistants with a glance, and they began the tasks of their craft, for which the reward is always uncertain.
The King turned to the townsfolk and spoke his sorrow. "I grieve that we could not call the wind to hasten us or command the ocean to bear us here at once. We will do whatever can still be done for the people of Sirion. When we have helped you heal your wounded and honor your slain, we will bear you with us to the Isle of Balar." His voice dropped. "Tell me how this came to be."
One among them, no young elf, straightened, and her face hardened. "The Kinslayers demanded the Silmaril, My Lord. When we would not yield it, we had but a half-day to prepare, and they came down upon us. We had too few who could bear arms, but they fought to defend the haven. Seeing the evil of their Lords, even some of the Feänorian's own warriors fought for us."
"What of the Lady Elwing?"
"She fought as she could," she said grimly. "At the last, when they would take the Silmaril from her, she cast herself into the sea. I saw a flash of white, though some few among us tell of a large white bird which ascended from the waves and flew into the West."
He took a deep breath. "And the children?"
"They were taken. We do not know if they yet live," her voice quavered. "From where I hid I saw them brought forth from the house, where I bade them stay, alone." She broke then, and wept for a time. He knelt on the ground beside her, his hand a soft weight upon her shoulder. At last her mouth hardened, and she went on, "A warrior with red hair approached them, sword in hand. Another, dark-haired, took them away from the first after a time, and he sang to them with tears in his eyes." She looked up at the king, whose face seemed carved of rock, and her eyes were pleading. "My Lord, surely if he sang to them he will not let them come to harm?"
"I do not know, Lady." He feared he knew all too well, and that the line of Eärendil was ended, and the last of the blood of Thingol, of Melian the Maia, and of Luthien had been spilled by the accurséd ones.
"You will pursue them, Lord?"
He sighed heavily. "They are two days ahead of us. We have not the supplies to track them through the woods, moreover woods that they have wandered and lived in these many years. And I would abandon my duty to the others of your people who survived, should I attempt this." He looked at her pain-filled face, disbelief laying over all. "Lady," he said gently, "should we chance to come upon their host, what would you have me do when a Kinslayer holds one of the babes before me with a blade at his neck?"
She shuddered then. "I am sorry," she choked. "I do not know what to do."
"Nor do I," he whispered.
If they lived they were parentless, and had seen Elwing die before their eyes. He recalled well the deep sorrow of his own loss. What can I do, elflings, if you live? Would that I could find you, and give you home and shelter. Failing that, I pray the Valar that one will care for you as Cirdan cared for me. And bitter is my grief that I can do no more! The older, bearded elf laid a hand on the King's shoulder, and indicated the silent massed group from the ships. Orders were given, and over the next hours the survivors were helped to the ships, the wounded carried aboard, and the remaining dead buried with a cairn raised over them.
Last of all the King and the Mariner mounted onto the deck of the largest ship. All through the turning and the setting of the sails, Gil-galad gazed on the ruins of Sirion, and Cirdan stood by his side, powerless to bring comfort to his grieving King.
A/N: My heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped me with their comments, and especially AfterEver who commented, nagged (in the best possible way), and suggested endlessly. Klose was good enough to correct Sindarin for 'mother' and Finch and Tavia both encouraged me, and helped me to find and fix flaws.
Evranin is listed as Elwing's nurse - The Book of Lost Tales 2, 'The Nauglafring'
Egalmoth is the Lord of the people of The Heavenly Arch in Gondolin - The Book of Lost Tales 2, 'The Fall of Gondolin'
He is known to have escaped Gondolin alive, and Tolkien had him slain at Sirion in an early version where Sirion was attacked by Melkor's orcs.
Voronwë accompanies Eärendil on his voyage in some versions of the story, but there are early versions of ''The Tale of Eärendil' where he is left behind at Sirion with Elwing. The Shaping of Middle-earth
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