6. Part 6
I began building the Seventh Gate of Gondolin at the request of the King, and continued it at the King's pace; I laboured some days, studied others, spent long hours conferring with those more experienced at architecture. But for fourteen days now I have worked without rest, without food, without company. I have endured in silence orders from every link in Gondolin's chain of command save Turgon himself, and I will not now step down for the Lord of the Fountains.
Standing taut in a suspension of ropes, I raise my gaze above the steel pillar directly in front of me to the great, rudely-wrought image above it, and selecting the smallest chisel from my belt, recall the designs of the Crown of the Hidden Kingdom to my mind.
It is of little use. The steel swims a river of white before my eyes, and this chisel is unsteady in my hand. When the voice calling to me fades to silence, easily I begin to drift from consciousness.
But it is not wise to wait for Turgon to arrive himself and order me down. I will go, then, of my own accord, and eat with him. It will please him.
I reach down to return the chisel to my belt and my legs tremble violently. I brace both hands against the pillar, leaning my forehead against the cool surface to shield my eyes from the sun.
"Ecthelion," I call hoarsely down to the Elf. "I do not think I can come down of my own power."
"You do not now wish for my assistance, Lord," his voice is quieter. "The King comes."
He is right of course. I have refused assistance from all for a fortnight, rejected the summons of the Lord of Gondolin himself. I cannot now stumble weakly down on the shoulder of a guard to fall at his feet.
"I come down," I say to Ecthelion and there is great weariness in the words even to my own ears. Before I have time to lose the momentary balance I have acquired, I drop to my haunches and slide from the rope, catching my legs around the one beneath and hands held to one I have just left. It is not steady, so I step to the cross-section in the middle, settling my weight against the strength of three ropes before lunging forward to cling to the steel fence. I descend. Unsure of the stability left in my limbs, it is far from the ground that I allow myself to drop, feet hitting the dirt with the heaviness of a Man's.
Ecthelion stands ready with arm extended, his armour blinding in reflection of the sunlight, and though he be far more lordly than I in stature and in character, it is he who stoops to help me to my feet so that I might stand to face my King.
And Turgon is there, approaching, calmly, for his eyes are not on me but on the gate, and he tests his strength against the fence, runs his hand against the smoothness of the pillars, steps back to peer to the tops of the two majestic windowed towers on either end of the gate. A servant stands ready behind him with a silver pitcher and tray of food but he is not motioned to attend me, savagely though I stare at him. Ecthelion stands at attention beside me with eyes fixed to the sky, though oft he tenses when my feet waver.
Idril has followed behind her father, and she too explores the gate. The hollow feeling inside of me expands, for I have not seen her since before the Battle, and I care not that my stare is obvious to all. My eyes crawl over her with a hunger fiercer than I showed the food platter the servant still faithfully bears. The lustre of her dark gold braids casts shame upon the shine of my great steel pillars, the lithe white hand she touches to a cross-bar making the steel appear grey and drab. In an instant Idril reduces the Gate of Steel, the Great Gate of Gondolin, to a dismal work of clumsy hands.
"It is well done, Maeglin," she addresses me and her voice is sweeter than I could have possibly held in recall, like spring water, like dew.
"You do not like it," I make no disguise on my bitterness. "I see it."
And I swoon.
I catch myself on the fence though Ecthelion reaches to help me and even Idril steps forward in concern. Turgon strides to me now, swiftly, and I pull upright enough to meet his eye. Stopping in front of me, the King looks at me with a sharp eye and places a firm hand on my shoulder, and though I think the weight of it will collapse me, I place my hand atop his and bow my head.
He embraces me then. "Come Maeglin. You will refresh yourself now, or die here at our feet."
I draw back, and with Turgon beside me manage to take a step toward the servant with the tray. "The Gate is nearly finished," I say.
"It is splendorous, this gate you have made-- Never have I seen the equal of it. Truly this is the last and greatest gate Gondolin will ever have." Turgon looks on me with pride, his hand still upon my shoulder.
I look back at him and I despise him, I despise him safe within his Hidden Kingdom and I despise the seven mighty gates he has built to keep the world out, to keep us in.
"It is nearly finished," I repeat. "It will have need of a Guard."
"And it shall have one," Turgon declares. "Soldiers and archers in silver and steel armour--"
"They will have need of a captain," I cut him off. "I wish to appoint Ecthelion."
Turgon is surprised, but he does not question. "It shall be done. Now, eat. Eat and come to my house to rest awhile. The Gate will be finished in time."
"I will eat," I say without protest, reaching for the tray as the servant pours from the pitcher into a goblet. "But I will not leave the Gate until it is finished."
Turgon's brow has grown stern and I think that I have made too many bold statements. But Idril passes us, her fingertips touched to her father's arm in a wordless, compassionate request to allow me this. He acquiesces.
They leave, and I dismiss the servant to go with them, retreating against the last pillar of the Gate where I sit and begin to eat. Ecthelion still stands by me, noble and loyal, his eyes alert and shining with his new position though often his gaze strays to me with a strange expression, and I now recognize it to be pity.
"Go," I order sharply. "I have no wish for company."
And I am alone.
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.