Gold Like Tears: 2. Steward

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2. Steward

F.A. 510 – Gondolin

“Here, Erunámo.” Glorfindel bit his lip at the sound of his his father-name as Ondollo arranged the gold-shot silk summer mantle about his shoulders. Still, he did not correct the steward, for Ondollo always pretended to be hard of hearing when his lord reminded him of his chosen epessë.

Ondollo came around to his front and fastened the dark green mantle with a brooch in the shape of a golden flower. Glorfindel’s eyes flickered to the mirror; as he turned his head, he saw more golden flowers, tiny beads threaded through his hair, glittering among his braids. He frowned at the sight of them. Forty-eight such beads there had been. Twelve had been lost with Nárello when the Balrog’s flame took him at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, and the remaining thirty-six felt like weights in Glorfindel’s hair.

Why in Arda did you have to choose these? Ondollo must have forgotten that his lord did not like those particular beads, and Glorfindel had not noticed until it was too late. To remove them from his hair and replace them with other ornaments would take hours, and the feast of Tarnin Austa would not wait for the idiosyncrasies of the lord of the Golden Flower.

“You are not wroth with me for choosing these, are you, herunya?” asked the steward. “They were Nárello’s favorite, I know, but he gave them to you and they are so fair, you should not lock them away with his other treasures.”

Glorfindel never told him of the ill he saw in those little gold flowers, for it was something he could neither define nor articulate. “Other ornaments I have in plenty, as you always insist on adding more to my wardrobe than is needful,” he replied. “I will wear these for the Gates of Summer, for there is not time to change them, but when I return I do not wish to see them again.”

* * *
The rag Ondollo used to dab the blood from the Orc scratch on Glorfindel's cheek was none too clean, but his touch was gentle, and the coolness was welcome after the stifling air of Idril’s passage. A hand carefully brushed Glorfindel’s hair back from his face, fingers combing through the tangled strands.

Such tenderness after the day and night of terror seemed out of place, but Glorfindel closed his eyes and accepted the touch; it was a luxury he had not thought to know again. All had been fire and blood and noise, and the only hands that had touched him in the last thirty-six hours had been rough, many of them the clawed appendages of Orcs or other foul creatures that clutched at him and tried to drag him down in the streets of Gondolin.

He winced as Ondollo’s fingers suddenly found a knot. “Ai, look, Erunámo,” murmured the steward. Glorfindel gritted his teeth as his scalp was pulled. Opening his eyes, he looked wearily at the speck of metal glimmering in the steward’s palm. Even in the moonlight, he recognized the flower-shaped golden bead.

Putting his hand to his hair, he felt more beads, snarled among his tangled braids, and he remembered how Ondollo had woven Nárello’s golden flowers into his hair for the festival. It has not even been two days and yet it seems so long ago.

Later, when they had escaped the vale of Tumladen, he would give the gold to Tuor. No doubt they would need whatever treasures could be had to purchase food and other necessities. Nárello would not have minded, he thought. If I were not so weary, I would tear these things from my hair now and go find the lady Idril. I do not desire to see them again.

Glorfindel let his shoulders slump as he laid his head upon the steward’s shoulder. He should be vigilant, he knew, for they were still too close to the city, but whatever haven Tuor and Idril planned to seek, a long march lay ahead of them. There would be precious little time for rest.

* * *
In the Balrog’s heat, the gold ignited and ran, thirty-five tiny flares quickly swallowed by the darkness of Cirith Thoronath. Thirty-five fireflies that sputtered in the burning mass of Glorfindel’s hair and were extinguished as both bodies crashed onto the rocks of Thorn Sir and were swallowed by the churning water.

* * *
The body Thorondor brought up from the depths of Thorn Sir did not resemble the Glorfindel they had known; it hung like a blackened rag from the Eagle’s claws as he set it down on the plain. Tuor and Egalmoth took charge of the corpse, while Voronwë set guards about their temporary camp.

There was no time to dig a proper grave. There was really no time for a funeral at all, for although the Eagles had driven off the Orcs and the Balrog who assailed them in the pass of Cirith Thoronath was dead, the survivors of Gondolin feared to linger too long in one place. But it did not seem right to leave Glorfindel’s body as they had left those who had frozen to death on the path to Cirith Thoronath or fell during the ambush.

A cairn was built over the body, at the very mouth of the pass where the Eagles might watch over it. Voronwë and Galdor, whose voices were the clearest and steadiest, sang a mournful dirge, then it was time to move on.

As the company began to move in ragged lines down from the hills, one of the rear guards noticed that one was not moving. He sent word to Tuor, who returned to the rear to see what the trouble was.

At the foot of the cairn he found a lone figure clad in mail and the tatters of a surcoat in the colors of the Golden Flower. On his upper arm was a badge of a steward. Tuor had seen him before, always at Glorfindel’s right hand, but could not recall his name. Now the steward was weeping into one hand while the other clutched something to his heart.

“What do you have there, herendur?” Setting his great axe Dramborleg upright on the ground against him, Tuor took the steward’s fist in both hands and pried it open. “Easy, nildo. I will not take it from you.”

A single gold bead shaped like a flower rested in the steward’s palm. Gold, he thought. We will need it, though I told him I would not take it and I am reluctant to part him from something he obviously holds so dear.

Then he noticed that running through the hole, snagged by dried blood and a tiny imperfection in the gold, were several strands of golden hair. And he knew that he was looking upon all that remained of Glorfindel’s hair; the corpse Thorondor bore up from the chasm had had none.

This I cannot take. It is all he has left of his lord, he realized. Behind him, he sensed his wife moving toward them. Idril peered at the ornament, then exchanged a look with her husband.

“Speak gently now, my husband.” She took the steward’s hand and gently closed his fingers around his prize. “You are a faithful servant, but it is time now to go,” she murmured. “Come with us, Ondollo. We cannot tarry, and the survivors of the Golden Flower have much need of you.”

The steward hesitated, then laid his head upon the lady’s shoulder. “Erunámo,” he sobbed into her mantle. “Pitya laurëalótënya.”

* * *
Notes:
epessë: (Quenya) a personal or use-name, usually chosen by the individual.
herunya: (Quenya) my lord
herendur: (Quenya) steward to a lord
nildo: (Quenya) friend
pitya laurëalótënya: (Quenya) my little golden flower

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: Multi-Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/19/03

Original Post: 11/22/03

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