“Come my son, we have reached the Brithiack, we are not far now from the first gate.” The first gate, the gate of wood, and indeed, built out of that substance also. Which house out of the ten would be on guard? She thought to herself. When she had left all those long years ago it had been the House of the Swallow watching the gates, and Lord Duilin had been the Warden of the last gate, the Golden gate, the sixth gate; and she remembered then how it shone in likeness to the great rays of Vasa, last fruit of old Laurelin the golden. And it had shone in the bright light of mid-day and sparkled fair, when Rasa rose high above, to glisten coldly down on all and catch within the garnets and topaz and yellow diamonds upon the gates, and create an explosion of colour like never before seen. But, behind this great gateway was the true beauty, Gondolin.
Ondolinde in the old tongue, my peoples tongue, she thought, and that of my son’s also. Ondolinde where Turukano my brother is king, and Itarille his daughter dances fair within the courts and fountains; and knows little of the troubles from without.
How had she tired of this place, this city? This, home? Home, for indeed, that is what it had become over the years without her even knowing it and now, she was returning to it; and bringing with her another…
She looked behind her and smiled with pride at her companion, her son. He was exhausted now but still he followed her, trusting her to lead him rightly. She remembered when he came to her those few days past after his father had left.
“Lady, let us depart while there is time! What hope is there in this wood for you or for me? Here we are held in bondage, and no profit shall I find here; for I have learned all that my father has to teach, or that the Naugrim will reveal to me. Shall we not seek for Gondolin? You shall be my guide, and I will be your guard!”
And so he has been, my son. My son, who resembles his grandfather and my brothers. He is not stooped, or dark as his father, but rather a bright child, forced to dwell in the twilight; and if he does not speak oft, then it is rather that he listens, and hears, before, as my uncle would, demolishing the others argument. My son. He is my son of the Noldor and not that of his father. He is proud my son, and tall, like all the Princes of the Noldor. My strength is he, my son.
“Come along Lomion! Don’t tell me that you are tired.”
She smiled in tenderness at he whom she had birthed all those long years past. Hearing his mother’s words he looked up, his eyes flashing in challenge over his perceived weakness; but meeting only the gentle grin of the lady he could not help but shake his head at her.
Her dark hair hung loose about her shoulders. Contrasting as light and shadow with the whiteness of her raiment that had shone, and continued to shine, as a star descended from the heavens. My mother is she. She taught me the tales of her people, my people, our people, the Noldor. And taught me that I should not be ashamed of such heritage as my father does claim, but rather to embrace it, and be proud to be descended from such mighty princes. Father it may have been who taught me the joys and delights to be found within the heat of the forges; and the Naugrim it was who taught me to see the wonder and dazzling beauty of the earth. But it was my mother who taught me the art of words, and the longing for the far places of the world; and first showed me beauty. She who it was that encouraged me in childhood and aided me in my father’s absence. My strength is she, my mother.
Grinning impishly at he who she called her son, she called again to him, goading him onwards though exhaustion plagued him and threatened to spill him to the ground. Laughing joyously at the glowers that he did level upon her for such an act; carefully she walked back to him, her merriment echoing like bells from the cliff faces that surrounded them, to aid him in walking over the uneven ground and over the rocks that threatened, even his faith.
Smiling ruefully at his mother he shook his head again, his black locks tumbling about him.
“You’ve done this before!” He accused her. But ere her answer was given, one of the horses they had left before attempting to traverse the dry river called loudly to an unseen companion in the distance. Startled from her reply, and worried now for what such an unlooked for act might portend, she cajoled her companion swiftly on. Fatigue dogged his steps, never before had he had to traverse such a distance in so little time; and though she herself felt tired to the marrow, so exuberant was she in her re-found freedom, that still it over-ruled all other sense.
For years she had spoken to her son of the wonders of Gondolin, its light and great towers, of the fountains in the sun and the green sward of Tumladen; and now at last she was returning home. She had spoken to him of its great Lords and of the deeds of all his kin in Eldamar, and of the might and valour of the princes of the House of Nolofinwe; and in especial had she spoken of Turukano, king of Gondolin and her most favourite brother; and of his daughter Itarille his only child. And now after all the long years she had spent in the shadow with his father, she could now return home to the light, with not just herself but with a son also. A child of her own that she could look upon with pride.
Taking his hand ere he collapsed, she led him onwards towards the Hidden way, and so onwards to Gondolin. Ever onwards she went, leading her companion towards their destination; until, entering into the cliff they were halted at the first gate, the outer gate, the gate of wood.
“Stand! Stir not! Or you will die, be you foes or friends.”
“Friends we are indeed captain. For I an Irisse, daughter of Nolofinwe, sister of your king, Lord Turukano.” She called, sweeping back her hair and standing tall and defiant. “So send word on that she has returned.”
But the guards so shocked and amazed at her presence, moved not to do her bidding, but rather stood stupefied at their posts; till one lifted his lantern to glance long and hard at the Lady’s companion, who stared back, forcing the guard to look away.
“My companion is my son. Now allow us passage captain!” Annoyance crept to her voice as she addressed the captain of the gate.
“Apologies my Lady.”
Swiftly messengers were sent on to Gondolin to bring forth the joyous news of the White Lady’s return to them. While the captain asked for her to wait by and recover breath.
But she would delay for no one, and ordered him to lead her hence for home, for she wished to be with her family; with her brother Turukano, and with Itarille her niece, whom was more like unto a daughter than any other.
And so onwards they toiled swiftly past the First gate, the Gate of Wood, and after passing, no more would any stranger be allowed to pass back hence. Upwards, under the daunting shadow of the cliff, until some half-league from the Wooden Gate their way was barred by a great wall built across the ravine from side to side, with stout towers at either hand; and within the wall, a great archway rose above the road, but it was blocked by a single mighty stone. And so they reached the second gate, the Gate of Stone, and the captain of the guard thrust lightly upon it admitting them onwards into a court where stood many armed guards clad in grey.
But the Lady would not allow either herself or her companion to partake in the fare offered; for she wished only to enter again the great white walls, and her companions nerves were too frayed to permit food to be eaten.
So finding neither ready to halt, on again the captain did lead them. To the Third Gate, the Gate of Bronze, which was hung with shields and plates of bronze; and it gleamed as fire in the rays of the red lamps ranged like torches along the wall. And passing through into the court beyond, a yet greater company of guards in mail that glowed like dull fire with axe blades of red stood sentry.
“Most that hold this gate are of the Sindar of Nevrast my son.” She spoke quietly to him, while grasping his hand as she had done when he was but small. And indeed the look of wonderment upon his face made him seem but a child again. Smiling in delight at his response she wondered what his reaction would be when he saw the true jewel.
Onwards they were led once more and upwards also, for the steepest slope had they reached and achieving its summit they reached the Fourth Gate, the Gate of Writhen Iron. High and black was the wall, and lit with no lamps. Four towers of iron stood upon it, and between the two inner towers was set an image of a great eagle wrought in iron, even the likeness of King Thorondor himself, as he would alight upon a mountain from the high airs. And passing through the lines of the Iron guards that stood beyond the gate, they were greeted by white flowers that bloomed like stars caught within the grass.
“They are Uilos, the Evermind that know no season and wither not.” The Lady spoke to her companion as his quick glance stalled upon them. For never before had he seen a flower that bloomed so. Yet looking up his sharp eyes stayed not long upon them, but instead glanced upon the Gate of Silver; and suddenly the toil that rode upon his heart was lightened and he stood straighter, for he perceived that the road did not extend much further.
The wall of the Fifth Gate was built of white marble, and was low and broad, and its parapet was a trellis of silver between five great globes of marble; and there stood archers robed in white. The gate was in shape as three parts of a circle, and wrought of silver and pearl of Nevrast in likeness of the Moon; but above the Gate upon the midmost globe stood an image of the Silver Tree Telperion, wrought of silver and malachite, with flowers made of great pearls of Balar. And beyond the gate in a wide court paved with marble, green and white, stood archers in silver mail and white crested helms, a hundred upon either hand. Then the captain led them through their silent ranks, and they entered upon a long white road, that ran straight towards the Sixth and final Gate; and as they went the grass-sward became wider, and among the white stars of Uilos there opened many small flowers like eyes of gold.
At last, she thought, they had reached the final gate, the Sixth and Golden Gate. And there they halted finally, and while the captain went forward the Lady and her companion stayed together awaiting the Warden and looking upon the gate, with its wall built of yellow marble, and the globes and parapet of red gold; and six globes hung, and in the midst upon a golden pyramid was set an image of Laurelin, the Tree of the Sun, with flowers wrought of topaz in long clusters upon chains of gold. At last her companion spoke in awe.
“Never before have I seen anything like this.”
Squeezing his hand gently she responded; “this is the last gate. Beyond this is Ondolinde herself.”
“Ondolinde,” he whispered. Then spoke again, more strongly, “but gold does not make a strong gate.”
“Does it not?” She replied in feigned ignorance but delight, “what then would you make one of?”
“Steel. For it is strong, steadfast and dependable.”
“Then my son you shall build this great gate, and it shall be the Seventh, last, and greatest of all.” She spoke in conviction. Certain in her mother’s heart that this great feat her son would someday accomplish.
It was then as she finished, that the gate itself was opened and riders appeared and they were led by one upon a great white horse; and he bore a mantle so broidered in threads of gold that it was diapered with celandine as a field in spring, and his arms were damascened with cunning gold. But ere the Captain could speak, he had dismounted and had begun to stride eagerly towards the Lady.
“Lady Irisse.” He whispered in amazement. Bowing before her, but not before he had marked the younger man standing beside who looked about with the deer grey eyes of the Noldor.
“Rise Lord Glorfindel, chieftain of the House of the Golden Flower and Warden of the Sixth Gate.” She spoke imperiously, startling the young man who stood beside.
Rising, the Golden chief spoke, his eyes never leaving those of the Lady’s. “Lady. You know well the laws of the city. No stranger may enter within these walls and if they do so they must remain and never depart once again; for if they do so and are captured, then ill will befall us all.” He spoke gravely and with much deliberance; but his eyes still did not leave those of the Lady’s not even when the young man straightened in affront.
“My brother’s law I hold as ever I shall, but he who stands with me is no stranger; for he is Maeglin, of the House of Fingolfin, and my son. Now Lord of the Golden Flower I bid thee send a messenger onto the King. For the White Lady has returned home and brings with her one worthy of being accounted among the Princes of the Noldor.”
For a while Glorfindel stood silent, looking at the two who stood before him. The Lady, she whom he had known in Valinor of old, her white mantle stained with the colour of toil; and the other, her image in masculine form; yet her opposite in dress, for his clothing was black but as travel stained as her own. Both stood in defiance of all hope. That the White Lady would return was a hope not spoken of about the city but at her return was a joy keenly felt; yet that she should return with a child of her own was a feat none would have suspected, and none would have believed. Then he bowed, and turned to the gate, the last of all that guarded fair Ondolinde.
She felt her excitement mount as Glorfindel slowly laid hands upon it, and the gates opened inward spilling the bright evening light out into the Orfalch Echor. And catching her companions trembling hand she led him onwards to a high green sward that looked out upon the vale of Tumladen and there she halted, and gazed through tears, upon the white walls glistening like a jewel nestled in the valley. And she listened to the trumpets echo down and looking out she saw, high above all else, a single white tower and she knew, that finally, she was home.
Descriptions of the gates are taken from Unfinished Tales.
Description of Glorfindel taken from The book of lost tales 2.
Everything else taken from my imagination or based relatively loosely on the chapter entitled Maeglin in the Silmarillion.
Maeglin Lomion: Maeglin
Vasa: The sun
Rana: The Moon
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.