6. The Last Alliance
Therefore they made that League which is called the Last Alliance, and they marched east into Middle-earth gathering a great host of Elves and Men; and they halted for a while at Imladris. It is said that the host that was there assembled was fairer and more splendid in arms than any that has since been seen in Middle-earth, and none greater has been mustered since the host of the Valar went against Thangorodrim.
From the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Chapter 6 The Last Alliance
'I do not understand why he summoned you at all.' Glorfindel said, as he followed Elrond into his study, both still dressed in their travel clothing.
'Who can tell when it concerns Gil-galad?' Elrond returned, a glimmer of disgruntlement in his voice, pulling loose the fastenings of his cloak. 'Perhaps he wanted me to meet Isildur, perhaps he wanted to play at matchmaking.'
'Was he successful?' Glorfindel asked, starting a lighter tone.
Elrond turned round.
'Don't you start.'
Erestor entered, writing-gear and paper ready.
Elrond accepted a towel from an attendant and sat down, dabbing his face and neck.
'Inform the Master of Guards, that soon we will have troops at Imladris once more. Also inform the bakeries, the orchards and the kitchens that we will have many mouths to feed. How are our present supplies?' Elrond rested his arm on the table.
'They would last approximately two months, comparing it with the amount of men we fed the last time Gil-galad stayed over.' Erestor said, bowed over the records.
'Expect many more on this occasion, Erestor.' Glorfindel answered.
'I will see to it, my Lord.'
'We will discuss details tomorrow.'
Erestor nodded and left quickly as Glorfindel sat down.
'He lives for moments like these, you realise that? And so do you.'
Elrond sat back.
The meeting with Círdan, Celeborn and Galadriel had been short. Gil-galad had immediately sent him back to Imladris, not even waiting for Elendil's arrival from Annúminas, to make arrangements for their arrival two weeks from now. They would have departed Lindon at least a week ago, when he himself had still been on the road. Or two weeks even, if there were many on foot.
It was starting. And there was much to be done.
He looked at Glorfindel.
'Let us retire early this evening, for, in all probability, we shall not sleep in a long while.'
Glorfindel nodded and left Elrond, who rested his head on his hand.
He had not been able to properly take his leave of Celebrían. She had seen him leave, but there had only been time to raise his hand in farewell. You should have made the time.
But it could not be undone.
A usually peaceful Imladris turned into a beehive of movement, during the days that followed. There were always people in his study, or waiting in the hall. Messengers arriving and leaving again. No time in which to take a walk by the river, or into the nearby lower mountains. Few private moments whatsoever. But Glorfindel had been right: he was enjoying it. And Erestor even more. The young Elf, in comparison to them, at least, had turned into a true master of managing; stocking up food and drink, wood, even garments, armour and weapons.
When word began to flood in, notifying them of the increasing proximity of Gil-galad's host, Imladris was ready and waiting.
The first sight Elrond caught of them, was Gil-galad's honour guard; not that he could have missed it if he had tried. The early summer sun reflected on the golden armour and the silvery mithril of their chain mails. Elrond remembered it all too well; he had an almost identical one, kept carefully with his armour, worn during their last War against the Dark Lord. He recalled it's weight being insignificant, in comparison to a normal chain mail.
Gil-galad came behind. Elendil, Elrond assumed, as he noticed the jewel, the Elendilmir*, on the Man's brow, next to him. Isildur, together with his three sons and Círdan, followed. Behind them came men, on horse, on foot, for as far as the eye could see.
Unhurried, Elrond joined Glorfindel and Erestor, who had already made their way down. Elrond smoothed his face as the horses stopped and their riders dismounted.
'Welcome to Imladris, my Lords.' He spoke, his eyes meeting Gil-galad's. No embrace, as usual, but a curt catching of arms, before turning to the Númenórean exile.
'My Lord, it is an honour to finally make your acquaintance.'
'The honour is ours, Master Elrond.' Elendil replied, his voice pleasing, also carrying something of the past, as Isildur's did. 'You know my son Isildur, I believe? And my grandsons, Elendur, Aratan and Ciryon.'
The dark-haired young men all bowed as Isildur gave Elrond a grin and a bow.
'My wife, Master Elrond.' Isildur extended his hand to the dark-haired woman that had dismounted, helped by one of her sons.
Elrond smiled warmly, and led them inside.
Informing the company, that a feast would be held in two hours, he and Gil-galad led Elendil to his rooms. Glorfindel was taking care of Isildur and his sons. When Elendil closed the doors behind him, Gil-galad began walking into the direction of his own customary chambers. Elrond silently went along.
'You will not easily forgive me this, will you?' Gil-galad asked.
'My Lord?' Elrond asked, feigning ignorance.
'I did not intend on sending you off so hurriedly…' Gil-galad eyed his vice-regent, his eyes glimmering nevertheless. 'And this is where you say; 'The Lord of Imladris is no messenger-boy, to be dealt with lightly'.'
Elrond looked at Gil-galad.
'I would think, the High-king of the Elves, the wise Ereinion Gil-galad, has no reason for apologising.'
'He seldom feels the need to, that is why I lack skilfulness now.' Gil-galad, catching Elrond's arm, stopped him and pulled him into an embrace.
'I have no son, Elrond of Imladris, and I do not wish to turn Eärendil's son, who I have loved as my own for most of his life, against me now. Be angry with an old man, but not too long.'
Elrond stood silently for a moment, knowing his voice would fail if he spoke now.
Gil-galad smiled faintly at him and went on, alone, knowing his way around Imladris as well as Elrond knew Lindon.
The Lord of Imladris returned to his study, and the hallway with waiting people. Enough to do until dinner.
Later in the evening, Elrond ate little as he listened carefully to the discussions going around the table.
It was Elendil that commented.
'Is it because of sympathy for our troops, who enjoy not so fine a meal as we, that you abstain, Master Elrond?'
Elrond smiled and shifted in his chair.
'I assure you, that our meal is not much different from what the men are being served.'
Gil-galad emptied his glass.
'I heard they have Erestor to thank for that.'
Erestor took the opportunity to start an early discussion on planning.
'Is there any indication on how long you will stay on this side of the Misty Mountains, my Lord?'
'Are you so eager to be rid of us, Erestor?'
The young Elf raised an eyebrow and smiled.
'Merely inquiring on how long we need to continue stocking up supplies, my Lord.'
Elendil had his glass refilled by an attendant.
'I suspect my son would wish to be present when his wife gives birth. By that time it will be winter, and we will not be able to easily pass the mountains.'
'Besides,' Gil-galad started, 'the larger part of our host is not yet assembled, and we must wait for their arrivals; Greenwood the Great and Lórien are to come here and there will be Dwarves from Moria. I also believe Mithlond will be sending more of its people?' He asked, turning to Círdan, who nodded.
'We are gathering as much Elves and Men as we can, along the coast, yet I fear many men will simply refuse. As if the Darkness will stop upon reaching the Hithaeglir*. Yet keep in mind that Anárion needs help, sooner rather than later.'
Neither Elendil or Isildur stayed very long in the Hall of Fire afterwards; Elendil stating tiredness and Isildur escorting his wife back. Ciryon chose to join his parents, but Elendur and Aratan seemed intent on hearing all the storytelling and singing they could.
Gil-galad sat down next to Elrond.
'However much I would prefer to march on, this is nothing compared to the last wars. We need to plan more intensively. This could take a year… Perhaps even more.' Gil-galad rested his hand on Elrond's shoulder. Elrond looked at him, his voice a whisper.
'We came too late last time, my Lord.'
'Anárion will have an easy winter; the Dark Lord had underestimated his persistence. We will be in time, I promise you.' Gil-galad smiled. 'Have you fitted your armour yet?'
'It still fits. Have you decided?'
'You will march with the host, as my herald.'
Elrond nodded deliberately.
In the coldest of winter, the shutters closed against the harsh winds that swept down from the Misty Mountains, the fourth son of Isildur, Valandil, was born. Precisely a year later, Gil-galad, Elendil and Elrond finally made a decision on when to march on, to cross the mountains and make way for Mordor. As soon as spring would arrive in the mountains, they would lead their thousands of men towards Darkness.
Until then, Elrond took the time to re-acquaint himself with swordsmanship, only to discover there was little need. Practising on cold winter mornings, together with Glorfindel, took his mind of what was coming. Gil-galad would come and watch on occasion, but rarely joined.
On such a morning, with spring rapidly approaching, Glorfindel arrived at the training grounds late, bearing a message for Elrond.
'Gil-galad wishes to see you in your library, something seems to have come up…'
Elrond, fearing an early attack on Minas Anor or Osgiliath, set off into the direction of the library. Finding Gil-galad in the hall, he immediately inquired.
'Rest assured, there is nothing that will make us leave sooner than the end of the week. A messenger waits for you inside.'
Elrond looked at the High-king, whose eyes betrayed enough, and hurried into the library. His heart singing in anticipation.
'I tried to tell Gil-galad I had given you my word…' Celebrían said, rising from her chair.
Elrond nodded forgivingly.
'You listen to your King, as do I.'
'But you asked me to leave, and not go to Imladris or Lórien, when enemy forces crossed the Anduin. I remind you; they have not yet done so.'
Elrond smiled broadly. Resting a hand on the table he lowered onto a chair.
'I regretted leaving without a proper farewell.'
'So did I.'
From across the table, a chair down from each other, they each stretched their arms, their fingers meeting. Elrond rested his gaze on their fingertips.
'When did you arrive?'
'Just now,' Celebrían answered. 'Gil-galad sent for you immediately.'
'Lunch will be in an hour… I shall accompany you to your rooms.'
They walked silently, hands entangled once again, faces red, breath constrained.
Arriving at her door, Elrond cleared his throat.
'I will return in less than an hour.'
Celebrían smiled, raising an eyebrow.
'You have two High-kings in your house, that need your attention more than I.'
Elrond returned the smile.
'One of them will take great pleasure in seeing us in each others company. The other will hopefully forgive my folly.'
Neither of them moved, not ready, yet, to go and prepare.
Finally, letting their hands slip, Elrond moved away.
Then he walked down the terrace, forbidding himself to look back. Elrond silently thanked Gil-galad for interfering.
Returning after changing, only half an hour later, Elrond found the doors widely opened, and three ladies busily crossing the room to and fro. One of them smiled at him, before bowing her head shortly.
'My Lady will be finished soon, my Lord.
Elrond smiled, leaning against the doorpost. Content even here, knowing she was near. The deep velvety green of his outer robes brightened up under the faint yet persistent rays of the winter sun, colouring the fine embroidery of the blue-grey tunic he wore underneath. Elrond closed his eyes, enjoying the warm light.
A hand on his chest forced him to open them again, and he could not help but think they were still closed.
'You are early, my Lord.'
Her silver hair was loosely twisted and ingeniously interwoven with strands of shining snow-white lace, bringing out her eyes. Her elegant white dress was sewed with such skill that it was hard to say where one layer of material started or another ended. The garment reached just short of her neckline, and the green stone of Celebrimbor's making was hanging there. But even without it all, she was wise and queenly, flawless. With an elegant movement she enveloped her neck and shoulders with a white shawl.
Catching her hand, Elrond folded it under his arm and rested his own over it.
'I wished to show you something.'
Harps and soft singing already drifted through the Last Homely House, a sad sound. It made both Elrond and Celebrían intensely mindful of premonitions.
Nearing the most outward terrace of the house, Celebrían released Elrond's arm.
Despite the day-time light, hundreds of fires could be distinguished, down there, just outside the valley. She rested her hands on the banister.
'I recall seeing this before.'
Elrond moved beside her.
'After all those years, almost full circle…'
Celebrían turned towards him.
'If you want me to go back to Lindon…'
He looked down at her. Then he raised his hand, touching her hair for a moment.
'Would you listen to me?'
Celebrían looked away.
'I realise… My coming here has made things more difficult.'
Elrond smiled, moving his fingers across her cheek, barely touching the skin.
'For the remaining days, we shall cope.'
Celebrían looked up at him again, touching a strand of his hair, then averted her gaze from his face. Gently, Elrond raised her face with his hand and bent towards her, as he had in Lindon, and for a moment, both were tensely awaiting an interruption. It did not come.
Their lips met only briefly, and only once, but in the touch lay centuries of longing, waiting. The subsequent embrace a cling to something that could not yet be. Her arms were around him, underneath his own which rested on her back. One stroking the arch of her spine, the other exploring the curve of her shoulder blade, underneath her hair. He felt her voice when she spoke, resonating in her chest, so close to him.
'They will be waiting for us.'
Elrond smiled mischievously.
'Let them wait.'
Celebrían smiled, catching his hand.
Last to arrive, most eyes were on them. Celebrían bowed shortly to Gil-galad and Elendil, nodding at the others. Initially she prepared to take the seat between Círdan and Erestor, but Glorfindel smiled broadly and surrendered his, on Elrond's right side. Elrond didn't need words to express appreciation, as he looked at Glorfindel.
'You have arrived only barely in time, my Lady. In three days you would have found us gone.'
Celebrían smiled understandingly at Elendil, who had spoken, shifting her eyes to Elrond.
'Thankfully I travelled fast.'
Due to last preparations, the following days were extremely busy. But Gil-galad seemed to have instructed Erestor and Glorfindel, to take some of Elrond's burdens, now that Celebrían was there. Still, there was too little time.
On the morning of their departure, an hour before they would head off, Elrond was in his chambers, getting into his riding gear. Walking across the room in his trousers and mithril chain mail, he was handed his leather chest armour that went over it, when Celebrían entered. Relieving the attendant, she carefully helped fasten the last leather straps that held the front and back together.
'You have everything?' She asked, as he fastened his dark purple cloak; the High-king's colours.
Elrond nodded; the chest holding his metal armour and other clothes had already been taken away. Celebrían caught his hand with one of hers and turned the palm upwards, placing a small silver pendant, shaped like a star, in the centre, which hung from a leather band. Elrond smiled.
'What is this?'
Celebrían blushed slightly, which made him laugh.
'It is a palan-rîn*, something to remember me by when you are away. I had it made for you in Lindon.'
Elrond fastened it around his neck, then found Celebrían's hand with his own, and pressed his lips against the palm.
'I will wear it close to my heart.'
Having taken his leave from Celebrían, asking her not to come with him to the stables, Elrond entered a private part of his garden. A simple statue of the Lady*, her eyes closed, yet all-seeing, stood there alone; the sparse light that came through the branches of the overhanging trees lighting up her face.
Elrond rested his hand upon the statue's platform.
'Protect her, Lady of the Stars, protect her for me. And protect my Lord Gil-galad.'
Elendilmir = the symbol of High Kingship, a diamond bound to the brow by a mithril fillet
Hithaeglir = Elvish for the Misty Mountains
palan-rîn = literally 'palan-' is Sindarin for 'afar' and 'rîn' is Sindarin for remembrance
the Lady = Varda, wife of Manwë, Lady of the Stars, Elbereth Githoniel etc. etc.
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.