Magnum Opus: 3. Chapter Three

Reader Toolbox   Log in for more tools

3. Chapter Three

In the course of five days, the malaise had spread to all corners of the city until the entire populace, both mortal and Eldar, moved under a shadow of impending dread. Even Pengolod, who held himself to be immune from most public sentiment, began to feel a certain heaviness, as though he had lost or misplaced something without knowing of it.

On the third day, Lindir was able to leave his bed but not resume work. Pengolod refused to tell him where he had stowed the folio containing Nolofinwë ar Moringotto, and threatened to lock away his instruments as well if he did not cease his protests. Hoping to occupy his patient, Pengolod brought books from his study and, when Lindir was strong enough to accompany him downstairs, showed him a glass case in the study where a handful of ancient, leather-bound texts were sealed to protect them from time and the elements.

“My first works,” said Pengolod, “and those works of my father that he bore out of the ruin of Gondolin.” Donning a pair of white silk gloves, he opened the case and lifted out one of the books. “This is a treatise on the Naugrim that I finished in Eregion around the time of your birth. And this, ai this one is very old, my work on the Certhas Daeron.

Although Lindir leafed through the books left for him without much interest, he recognized what a rare privilege he was now being given, to see the original copies of Pengolod’s work.

Lindir was given leave to explore the parts of the lore master’s collection that did not require special handling. He was permitted to see copies of the works under glass. One of these was Lambi Casarinvë, Pengolod’s aforementioned treatise on the language of the Dwarves, which included glosses on both their signs and spoken tongue, for Pengolod had been one of the few outsiders permitted to learn from them.

In a quiet voice, Lindir confided that he still remembered Dwarves from his childhood in Ost-in-Edhil. Miners or traders from Khazad-dûm frequently came to visit his parents, both of whom had been scribes employed by the Gwaith-i-Mírdain to oversee transactions between that guild and Durin’s people. Pengolod smiled and said that he, too, remembered the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm, with their delvings and gruff ways.

Satisfied that his charge would be well-occupied in his absence, Pengolod called upon Lindir’s client and informed him that completion of the symphony would be delayed indefinitely while the composer recovered from his ailment. The Man complained profusely, uttering a few choice Númenórean expletives Lindir would not have appreciated, while Pengolod sat patiently and curbed the urge to tell him what poor taste he had.

When he returned to the house, Lindir was sitting by the window overlooking the garden, watching the leaves fall. Lambi Casarinvë lay open across his lap, but he heeded not its contents. His eyes were vacant, cold as the leaded glass before him.

Pengolod gently took the text from him and laid it upon a nearby table. Returning, he took the seat opposite and took Lindir’s cold hands in his own. “This brooding has never been like you, pen-neth,” he said softly. “Always you have been light of spirit, no matter what threatens. Your father has told me you were ever thus, even in the hardship of the fall of Eregion when so many others perished.”

Lindir bobbed his head slightly at the reminder of what had befallen his parents, cut down by Orcs before they could be rescued. He bit his lip. “My father is dead,” he said in a hoarse monotone.

Atarinya né mácina. The utterance had fallen again and again from his lips in his restless slumber, pursuing him like a fever-dream. Whatever vision he had had, whatever dread tormented him, convinced Lindir that his foster father was dead. Many others had experienced such premonitions in the last few days, but the knowledge was immaterial to him.

Some, in fact, had had eerily similar visions, of a furious charge ending in immolation, which led Pengolod to wonder if there was not something to it. Still, he was not ready to admit this in front of Lindir when he himself was uncertain.

In times of war or hardship, he reflected, many claim to witness dire portents or have strange dreams, and none can really say that it is the truth.

“I have faith that Glorfindel is still alive,” he said. “You must also have faith.”

Shaking his head, Lindir bit his lip and turned his face away toward the window. He did not want to hear that he had been working too hard on material too morbid for him, or that he did not know for certain that his foster father had perished.

“You did not see what I saw,” said Lindir.

“Nay, I did not,” answered Pengolod, “but you must put aside your dread for a moment and consider the logic of your current state. You have ample reason to have had such a vision, for in dark times such things are not uncommon, but others, strangers who have never known your father, why should they see thus?”

“And yet you say many others have had visions. Are you going to tell me now that they are all mistaken?”

Pen-neth, I will not engage in rhetoric with you; it is not the time for that. I have no doubt the fighting in the south is fierce, and all of us who are left behind are burdened with uncertainty. Strange dreams and portents are not uncommon in such times, but your father is a great warrior who will not fall so easily. Whatever it was you saw, I do not think it was Glorfindel.”

Early on it had become clear to Pengolod that Lindir did not know the truth about his foster father, that Glorfindel of Imladris was the Balrog-slayer of Gondolin reborn. And the reincarnated Glorfindel did not fear death; his constant jest, shared with those few who knew his secret, was that Námo did not want to see him again in the Halls of Mandos and would not take him even if he wanted to go.

Pengolod was sorely tempted to tell Lindir these things, but he had sworn an oath to Glorfindel to keep the other’s secret until Glorfindel himself was ready to reveal it. The most he could do was to show Lindir the other treasure he had, a banner wrapped in oilcloth and locked in a box given him by the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm, of thin rock crystal that appeared nearly seamless. Pengolod showed Lindir the trick of the sliding lid, and the fading green cloth preserved within.

“Look now,” he said, carefully unfolding the cloth to reveal the golden appliqué at its heart. “This is the banner of the Golden Flower, borne out of Gondolin by one of that House and given to me as a gift.”

Lindir touched the fringe of the banner, but did not seem anymore interested in it than Glorfindel had. If anything, his grief seemed to deepen, and Pengolod wondered at his own wisdom in bringing out his treasures. Ai, if I had not sworn an oath I would tell you all. He replaced the oilcloth wrappings and closed the box. “Rest now, and do not be grim. I have known your father a long time and he is much like the hero he is named for, high-hearted and fierce in battle.”

In the late afternoon, after Lindir was helped back into bed, the steward came in bearing a letter. He wore a troubled look; there was not even a whisper of poetic presumption on his part as he handed the missive to Pengolod.

“Now why are we so silent today, Handir?” Pengolod turned the letter over and looked at the seal; it belonged to one of the regents of Lindon, who also happened to be his chief informant within the High King’s household.

Handir cleared his throat. “There are rumors in the market, sir,” he answered. “I’ve heard that a messenger of the High King came tearing through this morning. Several told me that he looked like he’d ridden his horse to exhaustion. Some news he had, but he wouldn’t answer any questions.”

“You should never trust to rumor. Now be a dear and hand me the letter opener on the desk there.”

Pengolod deftly broke the seal and unfolded the paper. It was secondhand parchment, and the message it contained scribbled in haste. Such poor penmanship was rather atypical of Galathil, and the letter lacked even the usual salutations. Pengolod squinted at the first few lines, wondering what frenzy had prompted the councilor to dispatch such a missive, then, in his frustration, stood and held the page up to the light coming in through the window.

A messenger comes from Dagorlad bearing tidings of our late High King. Late I say, as the worst has happened and he tells a woeful tale of it…. As Pengolod read on, a leaden feeling came over him; he felt detached, as though he had somehow stepped outside his body. His only thought was what an idiot he had been not to see what was right before his eyes.

Quietly, deliberately, Pengolod folded the letter in half, then made his way past the steward to tell Lindir that Glorfindel was not dead, but the High King was.

* * *
Lindir’s first reaction was horror, then disbelief, and then tears as a grim Pengolod showed him the letter. He scanned it for a moment, blinking through his tears at the frenetic script, then flung it away from him and buried his face in the pillow. Pengolod watched him for a moment, then grasped Lindir by the shoulders and pulled him into his arms. They stayed thus for a long time, the lore master gently rocking the younger Elf and stroking his hair as he sobbed into the fabric of Pengolod’s robe.

Days earlier, Galathil had told him that those servants of the High King who had been afflicted were all found clutching objects belonging to Gil-galad. At the time it made no sense, but in retrospect it was painfully clear that the royal servants, who held positions giving them the utmost intimacy with the High King’s person, had reason to have such visions. Still, Pengolod struggled to see the connection between them and a young musician far removed from the court, whose ties to Gil-galad were only superficial.

As he held Lindir, his eyes lit on the flute that lay beside the bed. Though the imprint had since faded from his palm, Lindir kept the instrument by him, holding it, stroking it with a sad, faraway look in his eyes, though he did not play it. Very old it was, but in a house where he was surrounded by many such things, Pengolod gave it little notice. Now he began to wonder.

Pen-neth,” he murmured into the young Elf’s dark hair, “tell me about the flute.”

In halting words, punctuated by tears, he had the tale. A gift from Gil-galad, the very first instrument Lindir had ever owned. It made sense now, and yet was so wild a thing, a horrific, almost improbable coincidence that led Lindir to witness what by rights he should not have.

Pengolod held him until, exhausted, he dropped off into sleep. Tucking the covers in around him, the lore master withdrew, softly closing the door and giving orders to the servants not to disturb Lindir’s rest.

Making his way downstairs, Pengolod went into his study, closed the door and, at last finding himself alone, broke down and wept for the first time in many centuries.

* * *
Lambi Casarinvë: (Quenya) Languages of the Dwarves

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.

Story Information

Author: Zimraphel

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: Akallabêth/Last Alliance

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/13/04

Original Post: 11/01/03

Go to Magnum Opus overview


No one has commented on this story yet. Be the first to comment!

Comments are hidden to prevent spoilers.
Click header to view comments

Talk to Zimraphel

If you are a HASA member, you must login to submit a comment.

We're sorry. Only HASA members may post comments. If you would like to speak with the author, please use the "Email Author" button in the Reader Toolbox. If you would like to join HASA, click here. Membership is free.

Reader Toolbox   Log in for more tools