2. Chapter Two
“Forgive me,” he murmured, and began to back away. Glorfindel, ignoring the displeasure of his two companions, swiftly called him back. Imrazôr ducked back into the tent with a little bow no doubt intended to mollify his hosts, two of whom did not bother to hide their annoyance.
“I will not stay long,” he said. “I was sorry to hear about the loss of your banner. I’ve spent the evening searching the camp for something—” He chewed his lip nervously under the unrelenting scrutiny of the two brothers. “Here, it is not much—the color is not quite right and I could find only paint such as sailors use to decorate their sails—but it is colorfast and will serve until you can acquire better.” In his anxiety, Imrazôr all but dropped the bundle of cloth, clay jar and brush at Glorfindel’s feet.
“And what of the standard-bearer who fell with the banner?” one of the brothers asked sharply. “You have not said anything of him?”
“Elrohir, speak gently,” Glorfindel warned. He turned to the mortal. “Imrazôr, we thank you for the gift. Your generosity in this time is most appreciated.”
Imrazôr’s eyes darted nervously to the brothers. “Forgive me, I am sorry for your loss. It’s a terrible thing when one of the Eldar falls, but….” He cleared his throat before continuing, “We had losses as well. We lost two spearmen, three Rhovanion horsemen and one of their mounts.”
Glorfindel nodded. “In our grief we neglected to ask how your host fared.” He spoke before Imrazôr could state the disparity himself and further inflame the brothers. “Would that your captain had offered similar condolences, you might have found better welcome.”
“Eärnur said nothing to you?”
“Aye, he spoke, but his words—” began Elrohir. Glorfindel gestured for him to be silent, prompting Imrazôr to wonder what Eärnur could have said to agitate the Elves so.
“He did not think we should have lavished so much care upon Artano’s burial,” explained Glorfindel. “It is true that the enemy will return, and they are foul enough creatures to seek carrion, but it is not our way to leave our dead lying.”
Imrazôr was visibly troubled. “Nor ours, I assure you. Again, forgive me, but other duties call and I must leave you. If you have need of anything, send one of your people to my camp. We fly the banner of the white swan.”
Glorfindel watched him leave, recalling a distant memory of a white swan’s wing on a field of blue. Imrazôr reminded him somewhat of Tuor. If only his captain and prince, who is of Tuor’s line, were as humble and willing to serve.
“You did not tell him all,” said Elrohir.
He turned at the twin’s accusing tone. “Nay, I did not. He means well, and there is no reason to burden him with the knowledge. For all that you find Eärnur’s words offensive, there is a certain brutal truth to them. In the wars of the last Age, we saw such horror, and at the Dagorlad as well. Artano’s fëa has gone to Mandos; he no longer has need of his hröa.”
The brothers looked at him in amazement, wondering how he could say such a thing. He answered them with a sad smile. “You have not spent much time outside the valley of Imladris, you do not know how savage war can be. When you are fighting for your life, you cannot dwell on those who have fallen or what becomes of their hröar.”
They had wrapped Artano in the shreds of Elrond’s banner, for it was damaged beyond repair and none could bear it again. There was no time to dig a grave, for the host must move on, but at the foot of the hills of Evendim the Elves raised a cairn for their dead. The Men who stood nearest kept a respectful if curious distance; only Eärnur did not seem to think such courtesy was necessary, and stood behind the Elves on his snorting destrier as they sang a lament.
“The enemy will likely come back,” he said when they were finished. “Our men, they are nearby, but in such times you ought not expect their graves to remain undisturbed.”
His words brought a chilly silence from the Elves. Glorfindel knew what Eärnur spoke was only a grim truth and not meant to offend—indeed, Turgon himself might have said such a thing in one of his darker moods—but the Man’s inherent tactlessness left him as cold as his companions were angry.
“Some mortals do not think on what they say,” Glorfindel told the brothers. “Their hearts are where they ought to be, yet their words fall short of the mark. Were he of lesser rank I would not hesitate to put Eärnur in his place, yet your father would tell you even as I will that in this time you must be calm and gracious, for we are no longer in a position to dictate to the lords of Men.”
His eyes dropped to the fabric that Imrazôr left and Elladan retrieved. Elrohir held the paint pot and brush as if debating whether or not to dump them in the refuse heap outside. The wool was the wrong shade of blue and would not take paint well. He sighed, regretting not having had enough foresight to pack a replacement. Nay, it will not serve for a banner, but it was a gift given in the right spirit and I shall not refuse it.
* * *
Slowly they crossed the low hills of Evendim. On the morning after the skirmish, a Rhovanion scout rode back to the camp with word that the hosts of Angmar were encamped upon the plain between Lake Nenuial and the North Downs. Eärnur was baffled by the news, for the walls of Fornost were said to be impregnable.
“The lord of Angmar is impatient,” said Mardil, who was one of Eärnur’s captains. “No doubt he wishes to engage us directly and sweep us back to the Lhûn.”
Eärnur clenched his fist against his thigh. “Then we shall make his impatience our gain.”
Although he was present for the council, Glorfindel was not consulted about the placement of the Imladris regiment until after the captains of Gondor and Rhovanion had laid out their strategies and decided the placement of the various companies. With two companies from Ithilien, the Elves were to circle around the hills to the north and surprise the enemy upon the rear.
For all his arrogance, Eärnur was a solid tactician and knew what he was about. Grateful he did not have to protest and thus embarrass the captains of the West, Glorfindel was content to do as he was bid. He left the Gondorian encampment with a nod to his hosts and returned to prepare his soldiers for battle.
On the way, he met Imrazôr, who was busily marshaling the men of Dor-en-Ernil as they armed themselves and scrambled to take their positions. “They’ve put you in the best position to rout the enemy,” he told Glorfindel. “Your archers will pick them off easily once they’ve been put to flight.”
Since their arrival at Mithlond, the Elves had heard little praise for their skill at archery, this because the steel bows for which the Númenóreans were so famed were so much more powerful than the wooden longbows of Lórien or Imladris. Nor was much heard of their resilience in battle, and their ability to bear weariness or wounds that would have incapacitated or perhaps killed an ordinary mortal, for though they and the Men of the West were of a height, the Eldar were of slighter build and were no doubt considered physically weaker.
“If you are in need of more archers,” Imrazôr was saying, “there is a small company of them from the lands of the Baranduin. A strange sort of half-Man they are, as children to our eyes, but they tell me they are subjects to the king in Fornost.”
“I have seen them,” answered Glorfindel. On their way to Mithlond, they had passed close to the fords of the Baranduin and glimpsed from afar the folk of which Imrazôr now spoke. Many among the gweth were fascinated, for such beings they had never seen before, but Glorfindel urged them to leave these periannath in peace.
“They heard word that the host of the king had come, but apparently they did not know that Arvedui is dead and the kingship of Arnor broken,” continued Imrazôr. “They know little of the doings beyond their own land, and the captains of Gondor and Rhovanion largely scorn them, but they shoot well for their small size. I’ve not heard of a place being made for them.”
Glorfindel had already witnessed the scorn and jibes shown to the creatures of the Baranduin, and it irked him that Men would judge others thus. He had no knowledge of them save what lore Mithrandir brought to Imladris; the Istar was apparently fond of their good-natured, rustic ways. “If they are competent enough with the bow, they may be of some use. How disciplined are they?”
“From what little I have seen of them, they are not professional soldiers,” replied Imrazôr. “Still, they have heart and seem more than willing to be directed. I would have them ride with us, but they have no mounts and cannot keep pace with us. Children they’re not, as they keep reminding us, but I’m loath to put them where they will almost certainly be killed.”
“If you send their captain to me, I will find some place for them.”
In his tent, Glorfindel pulled out the heavier of the two saddlebags he had brought. Wrapped in a protective layer of wool were several pieces of light but sturdy plate armor, packed against the likelihood of a major engagement. He had given orders to all his warriors to pack such armor, and in several tents he passed he glimpsed them assisting each other with the ties and buckles. The vambraces he could manage on his own, but he would have to get someone to help him with the breastplate and spaulders.
Once the armor was unpacked, he was surprised to find a small bundle still remained at the bottom of the saddlebag. Lifting it out, he undid the ties and unfolded the burlap to reveal another folded square of cloth, this one a faded dark green. I do not recall packing a cloak or aketon in this color, he thought.
Shaking out the folds, he found himself staring at the worn appliqué of a golden flower picked out in metallic thread. By now, he was trembling, his hands unsteady as they retrieved the note that had fallen to the ground when he unfolded the banner.
A grey bird came to me and told me you might have need of this. The letter was unsigned, but Glorfindel knew the handwriting as that of his foster son. And he knew perfectly well who Lindir’s “grey bird” had been. I had wondered at Mithrandir’s absence and his lack of counsel in this time.
Tucked within the note was another, this one written in a vaguely familiar hand. Glorfindel opened it and read it. If you are reading this, then it has come to pass that you have come to the very door of the enemy. I know well the mind of Eärnur, but to you I credit the greater discretion in this strait. It may come to pass that a certain shadow will fall upon you both, yet now is the time to pay heed….
When he was done reading, Glorfindel reread the note then carefully folded the note away. Why did you not come yourself, grey pilgrim, rather than leave me to this task? He looked at the banner half-unfurled across his lap, at the four-rayed flower that stared back at him like an eye. It was one of the last relics of Gondolin, borne out of the ruins of that city and preserved at Imladris; Glorfindel wondered if Lindir had had Elrond’s permission to take it down from the library where it was displayed with other such relics, or if his son had done it by stealth.
If I bear this now before me, I reveal to all of Arda the secret I have long harbored. His eyes fell on the blue fabric spread across his cot, where the carefully applied white paint was drying. The result was passable, but to his eyes was more akin to graffiti than a heraldric device properly displayed. Is it by your own design that no spare was sent with Elrond’s banner, or is it some cruel chance that forces my hand thus?
Crushing the aged fabric between his hands, he brought it to his face as if trying to breathe in the air and memory of old Gondolin, and with it the memory of his past life.
* * *
Mardil is the same character who later becomes the first Steward of Gondor when Eärnur, then king, challenges the Witch King and disappears in T.A. 2050.
According to the prologue of The Lord of the Rings, hobbit archers were present in the campaign against Angmar. Glorfindel certainly would have known of them long before his encounter with Frodo and his companions at the ford of the Bruinen.
Why Gandalf was not present during this particular conflict is a source of mystery. What was he doing at the time that he could not give direct aid against the Shadow’s greatest minion—or did he perhaps render aid by more indirect means not mentioned by Tolkien?
The idea of Lindir being Glorfindel’s foster son is a fan invention and based on an earlier story.
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.