4. Part 4
I sit on a balcony of the King's house, pillared and open to the frost-blushed evening. In my hands is an ivory sword-hilt but long my chisel has lain forgotten in my lap. I listen to the voices of Turgon and his council from inside the house, rich and foreign in the High Speech which I am but beginning to learn, and though I do not comprehend but a few words, the low, grave tension settled in Turgon's tone bids me listen a while longer.
He knows where I sit and that I hear, yet he does not speak of it. He will talk with me following the council then, for good or ill. I am untroubled.
Idril passes below me in the garden, and for a moment my attention is diverted. Even she is unnaturally solemn at times now, and in shallow, ice-broken waters her dancing has stilled to slow walks. I watch her hands passing gentle over the snow-dusted mallorn trees as though she wishes to comfort them, her face ever turned away from me to the sky, to the peaks of the Echoriath.
But tenderly the slender braches of the mallorn twist to shield her and she is lost from my sight. I turn my head from the edge of the balcony and Turgon approaches from the door of the house, slowly, the hem of his dark silver cassock gliding against the floor in a motion which likens to water over stone. I am reminded of the hilt still held in my hand and I retrieve my slender chisel, but his eyes are not on me as he stands to my left, hands interwoven behind his back, eyelids heavy with thought.
Guards flank either side of the balcony doorway, but seeing my glance Turgon dismisses them and taking the half-finished hilt from my hand, runs his fingertips against the fine ridges of the carving. He is waiting for me to speak but I hold my silence, discerning as much from his pensive face as I could from perhaps a hundred words.
Then he smiles at me, holding the hilt between his palms. "You grow to great renown in the city," he speaks now in Sindarin, and the words are pallid and flat after hearing the Quenya. "A skilled craftsman."
"A skilled learner," I say, standing to his side. "I am not yet a craftsman."
"And careful in judgement," his conversation is soft, his mind not in it. "One who listens before he speaks. All your instructors speak highly of you, in particular of late the sword-master. He says you are not as powerful as some, but swift and clever of foot, and often times that is the more important skill." He pauses, then inclines his chin a fraction. "In time you will be a creditable addition to Gondolin's council. Soon, I hope."
I study his face, his changing grip on the sword-hilt. "Will Gondolin soon again have need of council?"
Now Turgon looks down at me with a clear and piercing gaze, his slender height emphasized in his tense posture. "The Dagor Bragollach is destroyed. The Siege of Angbad is broken." He observes my face, searching for a response. "The threat of Morgoth draws nigh."
He waits to hear my words, to hear if perhaps I am paying closer attention to matters than he thought or desired.
"There is no threat to the Hidden City," I say blandly. "None shall ever find it."
Turgon relaxes, a faint smile passing again over his mouth. "Perhaps not," he murmurs. "No, there is not, not yet. But there is threat to the Noldor, Maeglin, to other Elves and to Men. If there is counterstrike--" His gaze is sorrowful, his words thick and heavy. "Then Gondolin will join."
He would not have yet given such definite commitment to the council; I am surprised at the quickness of his decision, despite obvious reluctance. "Does the King fear to leave his Hidden Kingdom?" I ask, forgetting myself and allowing a taunt to shadow my voice.
Turgon does not miss it. "The King fears what he will leave his Kingdom to if he should not return," he replies in a voice hard, looking upon me with the easy disapproval of authority. But he softens. "And yes, I fear to leave, I fear to lead my people into the war outside our world. Should I not? It is not cowardice; in time of action I would not balk. But in times of peace, times of thought, it is difficult to think of leaving."
I stand his gaze a moment, then lower my chin in submission. "For that peace we will fight hard, to claim it again."
He looks at me fondly, sadly. "I fear we will, but I do not wish it. Be not eager for battle, Maeglin. No good will come of it." His eyes turn to the sky, seeking stars which have not yet begun to appear. "If Gondolin is lost," he says without difficulty, his face sombre almost to the point of grim. "If we cannot-- and likely we will not-- come back to this beauty of this life, where then, Lomion*, will we go?"
He does not doubt my answer, and I do not doubt he is speaking of that which he has long thought about. "To the West," I say simply. "To the sea."
Still he does not look at me, his stare to the distance, his brow drawn. "You have already sent ships to seek the Path?" I ask.
"They have not yet been sent. But Cirdan the Shipwright builds them now, and when they are completed they will go." For a time he does not speak, and turning my eyes away I see that Idril can be seen again, her step light for she has found a flower, damp and nearly crushed but alive beneath the snow.
"It is such a short time that I have lived in Gondolin," Turgon addresses me quietly. "Such a short time. Life on Middle-earth passes quickly."
"You do not know that you will not have thousands of years yet to live here in the City." But I feel that somehow, he does know. "Do not make history of the present."
"No." He places a hand on my shoulder. "No, I should not. But of one thing am I certain, Maeglin: that Gondolin shall not much longer be the Hidden Kingdom." But he smiles.
There is an ill taste in my mouth.
* Lomion = Quenya for "Son of Twilight"; Aredhel's name for Maeglin
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.