10. Part 10
The court is held in delicate suspension. Elves stand against walls, below stairs, some afraid to meet eyes, others conferring openly. Yet no voice is raised above a murmur, no foot stirs. The minstrel is in corner silent, though Turgon did not command him to be so. I listen for the sound of foot falls that would announce the approach of further news.
Only Idril is not disturbed, for she talks quietly to her father, pours him wine, bids him drink, smiles and even passes without care to the window to gaze upon gossamer mounds of snow topping tree and hill.
I wish to walk with her, but I do not. Even now at the thought my skin grows clammy, my breath burns, and I do not dare to even look at face or limb of her lest the thoughts return to me, the dark desire, the loathing that weaves itself into my love song, remembrance of Lothelen when it took but a moment to submit to shadow passion in complete . . . But in knowing that it is there my fear increases, and feeding on the fear the desire increases, and I am dizzy, dizzy, dizzy, swallowed within myself . . .
"Then it has happened," Turgon speaks softly so that only I hear him. "I am betrayed."
I turn from Idril. My eyes crawl his face, wild, fearing he has read my heart in my expression, remorse filling my gut for he is my mother's brother, he is my king, but fear spreading malice to my hands, for he controls my fate and keeps to himself that by which my dark world is lit.
But he speaks only of the stranger.
"Do you know this?" I hear myself say.
There are footsteps.
The page raises his hand as he enters the room, and seems to catch each of us by the throat with the simple gesture, for abruptly there is utter stillness. Idril returns to her father's side and I peer at her over Turgon's head. She meets my gaze pensively, for we are both disturbed by Turgon's wordless, distant expression. But I find myself more troubled that she must worry, and though I long to reassure her I have no means of doing so, no knowledge of a gesture that she would not misinterpret. I cannot touch her. I dare not speak. In frustration I stare at her, until she looks away, and I am left again with the hollow feeling that with every attempt to breach the barrier between us I merely build it wider. But what can be built can also be destroyed. Unless it destroys those who attempt it.
The three of us wait as the page bows, approaches, his face wary with the news he must tell.
The stranger is a Man, brought to Gondolin by one of our own.
"They will let him pass through the gates," Turgon says quietly, evenly. "He wears the armour from Vinyamar."
The pages bows again, leaves, and I see he has understanding. I do not.
"My Lord?" I ask, and Turgon looks on me.
"It is as I spoke to you once," he says. "Peril draws nigh to Gondolin. And a messenger comes from Nevrast."
The words bring a chill to me, but I know not if it is because of his ominous tone or that Idril looks at me when he speaks the word "peril."
The trumpets sound.
From the towers of the Great Gate they resound, circling the walls of the Echoriath, distant, clear, proud. For a few moments the City is held silent. Then from the city walls is issued an answer, so that our ears vibrate with the clamour.
When the last echoes fade, and the gate of the King's house opens, Turgon rises from the throne. He looks out over the court and he is tall, tallest of the Children of World save Thingol, and his eyes pierce with the light of Aman. He is lordly in glimmering robes, gold and white sword belted to his side, the king-helm aloft on his brow.
But he steps down to greet the stranger.
I stay aside the throne.
Now they enter, the mail of the Guard flashing bright, and in their midst is a tall figure, cloaked in a grey mist which is not penetrated by the light. By his side is an Elf captain, Voronwe Aranwion who sought the West, and on his right marches Ecthelion, Lord of the Fountains, Warden of the Great Gate, but the stranger is not eclipsed by their presence. All look upon him with awe, for they all have forgotten that he is just a Man, all but I.
"You have come to the Hidden Kingdom," Turgon speaks slowly, gravely. "And now you will learn its names." His voice raises, deep and grand. "I welcome you to Ondolinde, the Rock of the Music of Water. To Gondobar, City of Stone, Gondothlimbar, City of the Dwellers in Stone, Gondolin, Stone of Song. To Gwarestrin, the Tower of the Guard, Gar Thurion, the Secret Place, and to Loth-a-ladwen, the Lily of the Plain." He pauses a moment, the ringing of his voice fading slowly in the stone halls. "You have entered through the seven gates to stand in the House of Turgon before the Lord of Gondolin," he says at last. "Will you now speak?"
And the stranger's cloak diminishes, revealing a man tall and strong, and so noble is his countenance that even I grow doubtful of his mortality. His head is golden, and upon it is the steel helm which Turgon had fashioned, wrought with wings and now adorned with swan feathers. He is clad in a hauberk of untarnished silver, and bears the figure of a swan on a great blue and white shield.
He speaks in a voice so rich with authority and virtue that all listen and wish to obey it. "Yes, I will speak, for I am Tuor, son of Huor of the House of Hador, and I bring warning from Ulmo, Lord of the Waters to you, Turgon, and the people of Gondolin. I bring a warning that the Curse of Mandos now hastens to its fulfilment, when all the works of the Noldor shall perish. I bid you to depart, and abandon this fair and mighty city that you have built, and go down Sirion to the sea."
Tuor's eyes are sharp and bright, and in the silence which follows his speech he turns his gaze from Turgon. I meet his eyes in curiosity, studying this Man, this mere Man, who has delivered the errand of a Vala to a hidden Elf-King, commanding that he leave the glorious kingdom which has been his home for nearly four hundred years. Does he not fear for his fate? Is he so confident that we will believe the words of his mouth? Does he know that he shall never leave this place should the King choose not to listen to his warning, even unto its destruction?
I see that he does know all this, and I fear what strength lies in the mortal that he takes such a task.
His face is fair indeed and it is with a slight nod that Tuor takes his gaze from mine, looking now to the other side of the throne where Idril sits. He glances upon her and on his face is born a dawn beautiful and awful to behold. For his eyes have seen few women, and now they will see none but her forever.
For a moment I am moved to pity, for though I do not turn I know that Idril in kindness will smile at this Man, and then his doom shall be sealed even as mine is, for silver maiden she will stay, belonging to none but the sky and the water which hold her brightness without fear.
Turgon stands with his face to no one, his head held high, his gaze fixed through the glass pane of a window, and his hands are clasped tightly behind his back. The words of Tuor were not unexpected; in his heart, he has heard them many times, has known that one day he must leave this place. But to hear his deepest sorrow voiced by one who knows no regard for Gondolin, for what he, Turgon, must leave, only stirs his spirit to a grief near anger.
In his pride of Gondolin is Turgon's greatest weakness, and it is now brought to test.
The King pivots round, sweeps his gaze across the court to rest on Tuor. "If these are Gondolin's last days," he says. "Then stay you awhile, and come to know this city before memory is all that is left of her." Saying no more, Turgon leaves the throne room, and I am left ill at ease, for if Turgon does not heed the Lord of the Waters, then who indeed can sway his mind and what price shall it cost him?
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.