The shouts and screams had begun to recede behind him, but still Ondollo did not stop. He could not stop, for though his forehead throbbed from the sword cut that had nearly sheared off his scalp and his arms ached under the double weight of Elwing’s two sons, he kept running.
Frightened by the commotion and sobbing for their mother, Elrond and Elros clung to him. He did not stop even to untangle Elros’ fist from his hair, but gritted his teeth against the pain of having his scalp pulled and sped across the sand. Once they reached the safety of the caves, he could set the twins down and soothe their tears.
Elwing had flung herself from the window into the sea. Ondollo had not seen it, for once the lady shoved her sons into his arms and screamed at him to run, he had gone. But he heard the shouts from above as he fled the house with Elrond and Elros, and wondered if the boys had also heard. There was no time to ask them, no time for comfort, not with the followers of the sons of Fëanor on their heels.
Down the beach he went, struggling to maintain his grasp on both boys as he tried to remember where the caves were. Long ago, when Tuor and Idril were newly arrived with the refugees of Gondolin, their young son Eärendil had fallen in love with the seashore and spent his days either among the shipwrights who came to Sirion from the isle of Balar or exploring the beach and cliffs beyond. It fell to Ondollo, whom Tuor had taken into his House with the other leaderless remnants of the Golden Flower, to make certain the boy came to no harm.
When Eärendil returns from the sea and finds his home destroyed, there must be some comfort for him. The cliffs and their pockmarked caves were close. Eärendil said that several had fresh water springs and that there was plenty of food to be had among the tide pools. Círdan’s people taught him the ways of the Teleri, and much he knew of how they lived upon both sea and land.
I would I had paid more heed to what he said of such things. Ondollo gasped and nearly lost his balance as his foot slid over the damp rocks. He tightened his grip on the children and kept going, not even pausing to look back. They were on the beach now, the warriors of the sons of Fëanor, randomly cutting down those who tried to run for the docks. Why are they killing us, why do they not stop? The lady took the Silmaril with her into the sea.
An opening appeared in the gray cliffside, a narrow gap just wide enough for him to crawl through. Inside it was dark and damp, the air cold from the water dripping down from the ceiling. Elrond and Elros were warmly dressed, but when night came and the fog rolled in over the havens even the layers of wool and fur in which their mother bundled them would not keep the chill away. Ondollo knew he might find driftwood on the beach with which to build a fire, but dared not risk having someone see the smoke and so discover them.
In the flight from Gondolin, Tuor had also forbidden campfires. As they passed under the eaves of Doriath, some of the Sindar among the company showed them where to find absorbent mosses that would keep away all moisture and keep them warm. Many stuffed it into the soles of shoes torn during the march, or into clothing to ward off the night chill. Here there are no trees where such mosses grow, thought Ondollo, but if I could find something like to that, I could keep them warm.
Shifting each twin carefully in his arms, he set them down in the driest corner of the cave he could find. “Quildë hini,” he whispered. “You are safe. All will be well.”
Elrond dried his eyes with the back of a grubby fist and looked quietly at the steward. But Elros kept sobbing for his mother; the sound might be lost in the crashing of the surf outside or it might carry and betray them. Ondollo tried again to hush the child, to no avail.
They will find us here, little one. Ai, please be silent. If only he had remembered to take one of the children’s toys when they fled, but amusing them had been the last thing on his mind. Something to distract him, something….
Fumbling at his collar, he felt the golden bead he wore upon a slender chain. The twins had clutched and murmured at the golden flower many times. He undid the clasp with trembling fingers and bent to fasten it around Elros’ neck. “Look, hína,” he cooed, “look at the pretty golden flower.”
Elros followed the bead with enraptured eyes, and his sobs subsided to the occasional hiccup. Ondollo watched him study the bead on its chain and coo over it, then winked at Elrond, who just noticed his brother had been given something and he had not.
“Not to worry, pityawë. We will find you something just as pretty.” A shell from the beach would satisfy him; he already had a great many such shells in the nursery he shared with Elros, and their mother told him that if he listened long enough he would hear his father’s voice. “As soon as it is safe, I will go get—”
Angry voices reached him from outside, startling the twins. Ondollo quickly shushed them, admonishing them to be silent else they would be discovered.
“…came this way…had the lady’s two brats with him.”
“Bring them out.”
They were coming. Ondollo heard the scrape of their boots against the rock. “Quickly, hini,” he told the twins, gently but firmly pushing them away, “go to the back of the cave and hide. I will make them go away.”
He waited a moment to make certain they would do as they were told, then slowly drew the sword at his belt and turned toward the mouth of the cave.
He emerged full in the face of a red-haired Elf who flinched in surprise, eyes widening and emptying as Ondollo jammed the sword into his throat above his mail. A howl of rage erupted from the throat of the Elf behind him as he fell and Ondollo saw him plunge forward with a sword faster than he could raise his own weapon to parry the blow.
The angry howl turned to blinding pain as the blade bit into his shoulder, shattering his collarbone on its downward sweep into his torso. Warm blood filled his mouth, spewing out onto the sand as he gasped and fell.
* * *
Once again, Maedhros kicked the corpse by the entrance, earning him an angry look from his brother.
“Leave him be, Maitimo,” snapped Maglor. “You need not have struck him so hard.”
Maedhros glared at him. “He killed Amras!” Their brother’s body lay under a cloak inside the cave. Later he would be buried on the beach with his twin, who had fallen fighting Egalmoth at the doors of Elwing’s house. As for the one who had killed him, his body lay sprawled in the pool of blood that soaked the entrance.
“He was defending the children,” said Maglor, looking at the dark-haired twins who huddled fearfully in a corner of the cave. “No doubt here they all know the tale of Elúred and Elúrin.”
“Do not throw that in my face, toronya. That deed belonged to Celegorm’s servants. I did what I could to save them.”
Many times before had they had this argument and Maglor was as weary of it as his elder brother. “You did not have to cut him in two. Look now, the children are frightened, no doubt thinking we will do the same to them.” Shedding his cloak and laying his sword aside, carefully so they would see he was unarmed, he beckoned to them.
They only stared back at them with wide, dark eyes, refusing to move. He sighed, casting about for something that would soothe their fears. At last, in his belt pouch, he found his flute. Lifting it to his lips, he winked at them and played a merry chord.
After a few moments, the music worked its soothing magic. The twins became less guarded, watching the dark-haired Elf and his flute with rapt eyes. Maglor finished the tune, then slowly lowered the flute and beckoned to them. If only Maitimo does not ruin this moment with his temper. “Come, little ones,” he said softly. “I know your names are Elrond and Elros, but you are so alike I cannot tell you apart.”
The one with the solemn face was Elrond, while the one who was toying with the golden bead on a chain around his neck was Elros. Carefully Maglor lifted one and then the other upon his knee. “That is a lovely thing you have there, pen-neth,” he commented.
Elros clutched it to him with a proprietary look. “’s mine,” he announced.
“Why, of course it is, hína,” said Maglor. “I will not take it from you.” If anything, it would help him tell one twin from another.
“’Dollo said he would find me a shell,” Elrond said quietly, “but he didn’t.”
Maglor wondered if he was referring to the one whose corpse lay by the door. Turning slightly, he gestured to Maedhros to cover the body before the children saw it. “I saw a great many shells on the beach,” he told Elrond. “When the rain stops, we shall go outside and find you one. But here, you are cold. If my brother has any sense, he will stop brooding and either build a fire or find something to keep us all warm.”
His back was to Maedhros, but he could sense his elder brother glaring at him; the twins gave him a single apprehensive glance then looked away. “That is Maitimo,” he told them, “who we sometimes call Maedhros. Do not let his dark moods frighten you. He is gentle enough, but he is unhappy now because our brothers are dead.”
“Naneth is dead,” Elrond said solemnly.
At that moment, one of his brother’s captains chose to come stomping in out of the rain, shoving before him another Elf whose hands were bound behind his back. Picking himself up off his knees, he saw the corpse under the bloodstained cloak and spat at Maedhros, who stood closest. “Kinslayer,” he hissed. And then, seeing Maglor with the children on his lap, his expression became one of outrage and alarm. “Leave them be!”
A short, sharp slap across the face silenced him. Maedhros might have done more, for the insult was enough to ignite his temper, but Maglor silenced him with a word. “Maitimo, go and sit somewhere until you are calm again. Erundil will see to it your prisoner does not go anywhere.”
He waited until Maedhros stalked off to a distant corner of the cave before addressing the captive. “The lady’s children are quite safe. I have taken them under my protection and no harm will come to them.”
“And what of the children your people slew as they hid from you or tried to flee?” the prisoner hissed. “Will you take them under your protection, too?” A sharp nudge from Erundil silenced his sarcasm, but he was not yet finished. Glancing back toward the doorway, he gestured toward the corpse with a lift of his chin. “Did you have to kill him? He was a good and loyal servant to our lord.”
“He served Eärendil?” asked Maglor. He had not noticed any badge upon the corpse’s arm.
The look the prisoner gave him was one of utter contempt. “Nay, not Eärendil,” he snarled. “Glorfindel.”
* * *
Quildë hini: (Quenya) Hush, children.
hína: (Quenya) child
pityawë: (Quenya) little one
Elúred and Elúrin: the sons of Dior, Elwing’s brothers, who were taken into the woods of Doriath by Celegorm’s cruel servants and left to die. Afterwards, Maedhros, repenting of that deed, searched the forest for them in vain.
In The Book of Lost Tales II Tolkien notes that Egalmoth, one of only three captains of Gondolin to survive the ruin of that city, was killed defending Sirion.
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.