5. Chapter Five
The coastline of Eriador had been within sight for some days now, at least for the two Elves. Sheer cliffs looking as if they were hewn into shape by a giant battle axe, rose above rock-strewn beaches. Occasional small coves offered glimpses of the greenery beyond, and here and there small streams struggled to join a sea pushing back at them with a mighty surf. Various species of birds nestled in holes in the cliff face or soared through the air, their cries mingling with the sounds of the wind and the waves. It was beautiful enough, Glorfindel mused, yet to those who had lived in the Undying Lands, looked upon Mount Taniquetil and dwelled in the Gardens of Lórien, Middle-earth would always pale in comparison. Even to those who had never seen Valinor bathe in the Light of the Trees, like Gildor - whose verdict turned out to be 'charming'.
According to the Númenoreans who had been to Middle-earth before, the fleet was approaching the Gulf of Lune that split the country of Lindon in two. On the Ciryatur's orders, signals were sent to the ship on starboard and from there relayed to others further away. After a while the Elves, who were sanding near the prow to gaze at the shore, noticed how several vessels of the fleet tacked and turned south.
'Have you any idea where they are going?' Gildor asked.
'There is a port further down the coast,' Glorfindel answered. 'Lond Daer, founded by the great Tar Aldarion. Those ships are heading there to attack the Enemy in the flank.'
'How do you know?'
'I do not. But I looked at the Ciryatur's maps, and this seems as good a guess as any.' Glorfindel cast a glance at his companion. 'Did it never occur to you to study a map of Middle-earth? You will dwell there for a considerable time, even according to the measure of our kindred.'
Gildor laughed. 'Oh, I did look at maps, Glorfindel. I even know that Lond Daer was called Vinyalondë first, and that it lies at the mouth of a river named Gwathló. But I just wondered if you were in the Ciryatur's confidence.'
Glorfindel hid his amusement at the eagerness with which Gildor displayed his newly gained knowledge. 'You do not truly believe that, do you? This Ciryatur is not likely to trust a couple of Eldar from Valinor.'
'Confidence seems to be difficult to win... in the mortal world.'
Glorfindel slung an arm loosely around the younger Elf's shoulders. Not for the first time since they had set out from Valinor he regretted that he could not be more forthcoming towards Gildor. But the fewer people knew about his errand, the better. Or so his guide and friend Olórin thought, and Glorfindel could easily see the wisdom of it(1). The matter was grave enough to become a burden to anyone who could but wait and watch. Gildor would be better off if he remained ignorant. And he finally seemed to have accepted Glorfindel's silence.
The second, much more personal reason behind his journey was something he could not speak of at all. He thought of his conversation with his former liege lord Turgon, King of Gondolin, in the Halls of Mandos. Knowing that his period of purging and healing in the Halls would last more than one age of the world Turgon had asked a favour of the lord of the Golden Flower, whose sacrifice at Cirith Thoronath had earned him such an early release. And though part of the fallen King's tale shocked him, Glorfindel had willingly agreed to search out the person Turgon named to him, wherever he should be - and not in the last place because it was someone he, too, wished to find again.
To Glorfindel's surprise, Gildor suddenly pressed against him like a pet or a lover begging for a caress, but then he saw the Ciryatur approach and understood the younger Elf was merely being ostentateous and just a little provocative.
'The main part of the fleet will presently sail into the Gulf of Lune,' the Man told the Elves, trying not to stare. 'Owing to your keen eyesight, you will no doubt be able to assess the situation along the coast sooner than any Man could. And as it is of great importance to know beforehand if the Enemy has taken possession of the Havens I wonder, if one of you would be so kind to climb to the crow's nest and act as a lookout.'
'Of course!' Gildor cried, and before Glorfindel and the Ciryatur were aware of it he was on his way to the great mast. The admiral of the Númenorean fleet could have asked the meanest of ship-boys to convey the request, instead of coming in person, and Gildor would still have said yes, so much was plain.
The two others watched him run up the riggings like a cat rushing up a tree.
'Your kind never ceases to amaze me,' the Ciryatur said almost reproachfully. 'I would swear he has been doing this for most of his days under the Sun - but of course you are going to tell me it is merely a talent the Eldar are born with.'
'In his case you would not forswear yourself, my lord,' Glorfindel replied politely. 'Gildor has spent many years near the harbour of Alqualondë, where his kin dwells, and he is familiar with ships.'
He wisely refrained from saying that the rest was also true.
Celebrian returned to her own room, but her mother, feeling restless, decided to climb the watchtower again. Unless most of the fighting took place in the Tower Hills, she might be able to watch the battle from the top of the tower and see how things went for the King and his troops. Once, she would have girded a sword and joined the warriors. Not now, and certainly not while her daughter was here.
Celebrian... it pained Galdriel to see her only child look at Gil-galad with such hopeful eyes. He would never return that gaze. And she could not tell her daughter why not. Nor would she, even if the choice was hers.
With heavy steps, Galadriel ascended the stairs. If the King's forces were defeated and Sauron would march on Mithlond, she would have to seek out Gil-galad's secret hiding place and collect the other two Elven Rings, Nárya and Vilya. And then...
Destroy them to prevent Sauron from laying hands om them, but how? By casting herself into the Sea she could not cross? She did not think Ulmo would lift her up like he had lifted up Elwing of Doriath so long ago. Sindanóriello caita mornië i falmalinnar... (2) Galadriel closed her eyes. The steps of the winding stair fell away beneath her and it seemed to her that she could feel the spray of foaming waves against her face and see a grey ship bearing away a group of people, faint and hazy, as through a mist of ages. The figures were too vague to recognise.
Her eyes fluttered open and once more she felt the steps beneath her feet. Briefly, she thought of the silver basin Celebrimbor had fashioned for her to use as a Mirror of Times, and she wondered if it would have provided clarity. But though its images used to be more sharply outlined than those she had seen a few moments ago, not everything they showed would inevitably happen. And as the Mirror was far away in Lórien, wishing for it was futile.
She climbed on. The watchman on the roof stood leaning over the parapet, his gaze fixed on the East. She joined him. What she saw did not look good: part of the fighting took place on this side of the Emyn Beraid, which meant the Enemy had come frighteningly close to the Havens. Everywhere in the fray her eyes caught the sparks of metal, but there was only one star: the King's helm shining in the thick of battle. The members of his guard moved about him like clusters of lesser stars in ever wheeling constellations, surrounded by dark blotches of yrch and other foes. At one moment, the Captain, his sword a flash, appeared at the King's side to form a double star. If she listened carefully, her ears could hear the yells, the frantic neiging and the clang of blades.
Closer by, the thunder of hooves sent the earth trembling. More warriors on horseback left the Havens. She recognized Círdan's device, though the Shipwright himself was not at their head. So Gil-galad had sent for reinforcements. 'This bodes ill,' she said aloud. How many people would be left to defend the precious ships? Perhaps she should don armour after all and revive the Elder days.
'Yes, my lady,' the watchman said, sounding vexed. His eyes were locked on the battle raging near the Tower Hills. Galadriel could see he wanted to be there, instead of idling on this tower, as he would perceive it.
But he was here to watch, and not merely to gaze eastward. Galadriel turned the other way.
Her cry made the watchman whirl and stare west as well. He raised his horn and blew a signal of clear, sharp notes. Far away, between the promontories of Harlindon and Forlindon, the narrow entrance to the Gulf of Lune was clogged with warships. Númenor was coming.
(1)For the connection between Olórin (Gandalf) and Glorfindel, read the relevant information in Last Writings, HoMe 12, The People of Middle Earth.
(2)Quenya: Out of a grey country darkness lies on the foaming waves. (No bonus for recognising Galadriel's lament in FotR.)