2. Chapter Two
Lindir brightened at that, for not even his parents had ever offered to introduce him to Celebrimbor or any of the other great lords or ladies who came to their house. Always he was instructed to stay in another room and not get underfoot, although once he had crept out of the study where he was supposed to be learning his Cirth to see the Dwarves who came from Khazad-dûm. His parents, busily conversing with them in a strange tongue, did not see him, but one of the Dwarven miners saw him peeking out from behind a pillar and winked.
He was glad he did not have to go to his room while the High King visited, and Hallacár even let him stand before him at the edge of the path, so he could see everything.
There was much noise when the King arrived, many loud, clear trumpets and the marching of metal-shod feet. Through the wooden stockade came two columns of soldiers in light blue cloaks and golden, leaf-patterned armor, with eight stars upon their breasts. All carried spears, save for those who bore brightly-colored banners that fluttered in the breeze.
The High King of the Noldor was easy to identify, for he was the only one who rode a horse. Tall he was, even in the saddle, with a gold circlet in his dark hair, and he smiled at those who thronged the edges of the path to see him pass. Lindir held his breath as Gil-galad rode past; he had never seen anything so fine, not even in Ost-in-Edhil.
Another fanfare echoed through the courtyard as the procession reached the steps and the King dismounted. A second, shorter blast was the cue for everyone to kneel; Lindir was reminded only when he felt the gentle pressure of Hallacár’s hand on his shoulder. He went down on one knee just as Glorfindel had showed him a person was supposed to do in the King’s presence, and heard Hallacár whispering at him to breathe.
He stayed with the carpenter and his wife for the rest of the day, joining them in the evening when it was time for supper. Great quantities of food had been prepared for the King’s visit; for three days most of the residents, including many of Glorfindel’s own warriors, had been put to work turning spits and peeling vegetables. Lindir did his best not to laugh at the sight of Hathol cutting himself as he scraped the skin off a potato, but the archer saw him all the same and frowned.
“You know,” grumbled Hathol, sniffing at the air which was fragrant with the aroma of rabbit stew, “I’m the one who brought back that meat. You’d think they would trust me enough to let me cook it.”
One of the cooks happened to overhear and told Hathol that leathery, overcooked meat was not fit for the High King’s table.
Tables improvised from boards and draped cloth were set up in the thamas naur. Lindir sat far from the high table and could not see very much, but toward twilight, as lanterns were being hung in the hall and out in the courtyard, Erestor came to see how he was faring. At the high table there was room only for three people, and the lore master was not among those honored.
“Truly intolerable,” sniffed Erestor. “It seems no one instructed Lord Elrond to have a larger table built so a place could be set for his poor advisor. Ah, well, I have suffered my scant meal in the company of a truly dull healer, and Elrond occasionally glances my way, so I cannot say it was too dreadful an evening. Now, pen-neth, that great golden fool who calls himself your ada bids me to make certain you have eaten your fill and do not stay up too late, but if you wish to stay up long enough to hear some of the music we will not tell him.”
The truth was, Lindir was already very sleepy, for he had scarcely slept the night before in his excitement. He did his best to stifle a yawn, but there was no escaping Erestor’s scrutiny.
“One song, pen-neth,” said the advisor, “then off to bed with you. I will not have Glorfindel wroth with me because I let you stay up too late or eat too many sweets. For half a moment, I thought he was going to tell me to eat my vegetables, but then parenthood does seem to make fools out of most people.”
Unlike Lindir’s father, who was a very grim and proper scribe, Erestor had a tongue that could be both sharp and gently teasing. Glorfindel referred to him as a quáco, which was a crow in Quenya, because Erestor was both raven-haired and noisy, but in the same breath Glorfindel also said that the lore master was also very wise. For his part, Erestor called Glorfindel an empty-headed golden fool, yet at the same time he also said he was a valiant warrior with a noble heart. Always they called each other names, yet there did not seem to be any bad feeling between them.
Erestor noticed Lindir’s confusion and explained that some friendships were strange ones.
“You are a very strange sort of scribe,” Lindir replied.
The dark-haired advisor only laughed. “Am I now? Ai, if you had had my teacher to deal with you, too, would be fey. At least I laugh and do not froth at the mouth like Pengolod. It would be such insufferable bad manners if I did, and in front of the High King, no less.”
The music began and all conversation ceased. It was a soft, lilting piece played on a harp, accompanied by a reed flute. Lindir tried very hard to stay awake and listen, for he loved the music and knew it was very rude to yawn or nod off while someone else was talking or playing, but he could not help it. The thamas naur was very warm and close, and he felt very snug tucked between Hallacár and Erestor. Despite his best efforts, his eyes grew vacant and the hall faded around him.
* * *
He woke on his own cot in the room he shared with his ada, still dressed in his good clothes but for his shoes, which someone had removed and placed on the floor beside him. A thin blanket had been pulled over him, save for one hand that clutched something lying below his pillow.
Still holding it, he stirred and brought the object close to his face so he could study it better. It was a flute of dark, polished wood, and very fine, not at all like the cheap bone whistle he had had in Ost-in-Edhil. His ada left things for him sometimes, but these were usually practical items like new clothes or shoes, which he knew he needed but did not like very much because new clothes were always stiff and he was afraid to get them torn or dirty. The only truly nice thing Glorfindel had given him was a dagger, but that had been during the war and it had belonged to a warrior who died from a yrch arrow.
Lindir wondered if his ada had left the flute for him, but Glorfindel had, as was his wont, risen early and gone.
* * *
“You have gone to much trouble, Elrond,” said Gil-galad. “Indeed, I would almost say it is too much.”
Elrond bent his head over his morning meal. “There is much yet to be done, hir-nín.”
Years earlier, after the war in Eregion, the High King and his herald had established that Elrond would remain in Imladris and fortify it in the event of future conflict. “For something tells me this is not the end of Sauron,” said Gil-galad, “and I would not center all my strength in Lindon.”
Gil-galad took a sip of the clear liquid Elrond poured into his glass and coughed, nearly choking around the trail it burned down his throat. “Ai, Elbereth!” he sputtered. “What was that?” His eyes were watering as he set down the glass.
Elrond beamed at him across the table. “That is miruvor,” he said. “It is a Dwarven recipe that the women of Ost-in-Edhil have modified for our use. Winter comes early here in the Hithaeglir, and anything that helps fortify us against the cold is welcome.”
“Aye, already I feel the warmth.” Gil-galad wiped a tear from the corner of his eye and smiled. “I know who else might make good use of this draught, if you would permit me to give the recipe to Círdan. No doubt his mariners would welcome such heat on the cold sea. Yet as I was saying before you surprised me with this cordial, you need not have gone to the trouble of building an entire wing for my visit when other, more essential tasks remain to be done.”
“We will find some profitable use for those rooms,” replied Elrond. “You have been most generous in sending furniture and household goods, hir-nín. One suite of rooms I intend to keep for your use should you wish to visit again, as we hope you will.”
“As time permits,” said Gil-galad, “I would be most glad to see for myself what you do with this haven. For the time being, I cannot fault your efforts or your generosity, and hope that my gifts to you are as pleasing.”
Elrond nodded, saying that the King knew his tastes as well as he himself did, and that the books Gil-galad sent were a most welcome addition. Glorfindel also nodded when the question came to him, for he prided himself on the care he lavished on his mounts and new tack supplies were always appreciated.
“And what of your foster-son, Glorfindel? Lindir, is that his name?” Gil-galad inquired. “I regret he was already asleep when I sent for him. It would seem I have forgotten that small boys cannot stay awake past a certain hour.”
“I have left the flute by his bed, hir-nín. He will find it when he wakes.”
“Later you must remind me to ask him how well he likes it. Boys usually prefer swords and bows, as I did, though Círdan would never let me have them. Such dreadful presents he always gave me for my begetting day, although the fishing-rod was actually not so terrible.”
“Lindir has never complained about anything he is given, he has so little,” said Glorfindel.
“Then what manner of gifts have you been giving him for his arad en-edonnol that he would complain?” Then, when Glorfindel did not answer, the High King raised an eyebrow and asked, “You have been celebrating the boy’s begetting day, have you not?”
Glorfindel chewed his lip in embarrassment and wondered how the conversation had come to this. “I do not even celebrate my own arad en-edonnol, so I—”
“Is this true?” Gil-galad wanted to know. “Elrond, you are the one responsible for keeping the records of the court’s special occasions, tell me we have sometime in the past celebrated Glorfindel’s begetting day.”
“Without the ledgers here in front of me, hir-nín, I could not say for certain, but I do not believe we ever have,” replied Elrond.
“I-I have two begetting days.” Glorfindel took a breath, for discussing his death and rebirth was not something he cared to do, and explained, “The day of my first birth, in Tirion, and the day I was reborn out of Mandos. Which date would you choose, if choose you must? And how old should I say I am, when the begetting day well-wishers ask? By which beginning do I measure my life? This is not something in which one receives instruction on coming out of Mandos.”
Gil-galad frowned at his tone; anything Glorfindel said about his death or rebirth was likely to be flavored with a healthy dose of angst, and the High King had little patience for self-pity. “I would tell you to celebrate the first date, for Círdan once told me that the fëa does not die. Mortals celebrate the day they come out of their mother’s womb, for their life is bound to their hröa, but among our people the arad en-edonnol is the day on which the spirit is created.”
Glorfindel nodded. “Another told me this once, but even so my old lifetime feels as though it belongs to someone else entirely. Very little that was seems to be mine now, only my name and wisps of memories, some joyous and some terrible. Nay, I have no need of an arad en-edonnol.”
The High King rolled his eyes slightly, for he had heard this tune before, but did not press the matter. “Clearly this is a matter of your own preference,” he said, “but where the boy is concerned you cannot let it lie thus. You may ignore your own arad en-edonnol, but you cannot continue to neglect his.”
“I know this, hir-nín. This very day I intend to ask him what the day is,” said Glorfindel. Still chewing his lip, he felt his cheeks flush with shame. “I rue not having thought to ask. Already he has asked me the day of my begetting.”
“And what did you tell him?”
“What could I say? I told him that I was so old I no longer counted the years, and it was not a lie, for I do not give anymore heed to such things.”
Gil-galad arched an eyebrow. “It would seem you have not told him who you truly are. Is it right, do you think, to keep such a secret from your foster-son?”
“He is but a child,” answered Glorfindel, “and there is no need for him to know. Perhaps when he is older and able to understand better, then I may tell him.”
“Young he may be,” Elrond pointed out, “but he is not beyond sensing there is something special about you, gwador. I know he is able to see in you the light of Valinor, as you might appear in the Undying Lands. Surely he has asked you about this?”
“Aye, and I have told him that I was born in the West, and that all those who are born thus and have seen the light of the Valar shine from within.”
“I do not know that that is entirely true,” said Elrond. “In being reborn you have been granted a certain grace by the Valar.”
Glorfindel was as weary of hearing that argument as the others were weary of hearing how abashed he was to have been granted that grace. It may be thus, yet I do not have to wave my lineage and the fact of my rebirth about like a banner. I am not so proud that I need to see the awe in the eyes of others. “It is not a hero the boy needs,” he answered sharply, “but a father, and that does not require any special grace of the Valar.”
“Perhaps you are right,” said Gil-galad, “but even so, fatherhood requires something more than what you have given thus far.”
In this, he spoke the truth. Ashamed, for he already knew his shortcomings in the matter, Glorfindel nodded.
* * *
gweth: (Sindarin) troop or military unit
thamas naur: (Sindarin) hall of fire
hir-nín: (Sindarin) my lord
Tolkien does not say anything about the origins of miruvor, but as it seems to be a cordial that is associated with Imladris, it is not unreasonable to speculate that it came from among the refugees of Eregion, who might have obtained the original recipe from the Dwarves.
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