1. Promise Unfulfilled
Disclaimer: The characters are Tolkien´s, the quote, Virgil´s.
Hunc ego te, Euryale, aspici? tune ille senectae sera meae requies,, potuisti linquere solam, crudelis? nec te sub tanta pericula missum adfari extremum miserae data copia matri? heu, terra ignota canibus data praeda Latinis alitibusque iaces!
(Virgil: Aeneid, book 9, 481- 486)*
I have failed.
How is it that I cannot cry? My aching body lies over frozen stones in the so- called safety of a cave, and I hear many whispers around me, of people who do not know where we will rest tomorrow, and who in spite of this try kindly to avoid my eyes. When dawn comes, they will have to look at me for guidance, and I will guide them as I can, but now I am in mourning, and they respect it.
But, the Valar forgive me, I cannot cry.
* * * * * * * *
I remember you in those painful last months of your short life. You were like a ghost, for to none you would speak or answer, and your eyes saw nobody. Your feet moved when we told you to walk, and stopped when we paused, but you never made a sound except to cry each time that your unborn child moved inside your womb. And you always looked up at the sky, leaving us to wonder why you did so.
I know now.
Each time your eyes were turned to the sky, it was because you prayed. You asked to be delivered soon of the last remnant of life that tarried there inside your body, not to heal and take care of him. How could you even have thought about that? You were dead.
Yes, you were, dead, and we failed to understand it. To the last moment we all tried to heal you, to save you, to make you survive, while you only looked at our efforts confusedly and already out of reach. Your afterlife had only one purpose: to give birth to Huor´s son, and, when he was born, the last words fled your mouth.
"Tuor. That was the name his father wanted for him."
The next morning, you were gone.
* * * * * * * *
Perhaps I have no tears left for this. Perhaps the shame of my broken promise to you that burns my insides prevents me from crying.
Or perhaps it is still too soon.
* * * * * * * *
What more could I have done? How was I supposed to act? Eru knows how much I loved him, he was so like you! Though golden haired, he possessed your strength and yet your weakness, and that dark glance that once, in your eyes, caused our bright eyed people to fear. He grew swiftly, surrounded by the love and care of the whole tribe, but still he only took my hand and called me father.
Do not call me so, child, I told him. I am not your father.
Forgive me for saying this, Rían, for surely you would not have wanted him to believe himself the son of a proud ally of the Noldor. But I could not take Huor´s place. He was mortal; soon, he was bound to find out, and who had ever seen a son being buried by his own father?
Still, when Lorgan´s men began tracking us and we retired to the shelter of the caves, I supposed that this did not matter much anymore. Anybody could be buried the next day now, and many parents had to bury their young sons and daughters.
And even then, nobody was going to bury the son of Huor, the nephew of Hurin the Steadfast. At the age in which most Elven children were still afraid of the dark, he looked already as a grown- up man, and burned with the desire of wielding his sword and his bow against the allies of Morgoth. He was stronger than us Grey Elves, he could have helped us well, and yet I forbade him to fight remembering you and the promise you asked of me. There was nothing I did not do to teach him what you once taught us, to hold life dearer than stubborn pride, to prefer the bed of the beloved to the field of war, and to hold in check the selfish desire of glory when he knew that there were people who needed him. I even told him about you and your tragic end.
But that only resulted in an oath of revenge.
What else could I have done? I, the leader who left his people scattered around the land to risk his life and win renown at the Nirnaeth, was unable now to teach your son wisdom.
* * * * * * * *
I feel the gentle touch of a hand in my shoulder, and the sound of a soothing voice caresses my scorched soul.
"Do not worry, Annael. I am sure he is alive, and will find us in time."
"I hope so, Quissel" I answer. She is a mother herself, and her son is Tuor´s age, although of course he is still a child while Tuor is not.
She could be you.
"He will find us tomorrow." The lie leaves my lips naturally, and she believes me.
* * * * * * * *
The day I decided to leave, we had already lost a great number of our people, some of them killed and the others kidnapped by Lorgan´s men. I made that decision, to forsake our land, partly to keep the survivors safe elsewhere, but I will not deny that what I pretended the most was to keep us away from a war. My people, your son, myself. Being chased and slain by monsters is terrible enough, though not as terrible as becoming one of them, and this again I learned from you, even as I was a survivor of the Battle of Unnumbered Tears and should have known from before.
Sometimes we are so blind.
Your son had heard from me about Turgon, and he wanted to swear him fealty, as Huor did. To see generation after generation making wrong choices is surely the worst curse of an immortal Elf! But, at least, he agreed to flee with us in the hope of finding him, instead of remaining here to fight as he had thought at first. Yes, things could have indeed gone well.
If only we had succeeded.
Why must we suffer so much, we children of Ilúvatar, as if our Almighty Father did not love us at all? Our hopes of escaping unnoticed were soon dashed when, at the second day, the air rang suddenly with war cries and black arrows, and one of us, the wife of a friend, gasped and fell dead to the ground. Others were wounded, and I ordered them to flee before the men could close the trap around us as they had intended. Some of the best warriors were left behind to fight the Easterlings in the rearguard and give the others the time they needed to leave.
And there he was, fighting at my side at last as he always had wanted; a fiery sparkle lurking in his eyes, and his movements swift and deadly. A warrior, son of a warrior, and you or I had been no more than obscure beings that chanced to cross his path for a while.
Then, I saw him no more.
"Tuor! Tuor, come back!"
Clattering of swords, reek of blood. A death cry, in a tongue that was not my own.
"When I am done with these foul creatures that did harm to your people and mine, we will meet again, Annael, but not before."
He was surrounded, I had to stay with him or go to the others, who were waiting for me. Should I have done otherwise? Was it a crime to leave him alone, after he had refused to obey my command?
I still think it was not, even as the pain of loss fills my heart now, as I am sitting in the cold shelter of the cave that we found. I had a duty towards my people. I could not afford to be killed, for they trusted me to guide them through the dangers to their -our- new home. Moreover, I realised in that same moment, watching him fight, that nothing I had ever said, or nothing I could do, would change his destiny, whatever it might be.
So I turned away. Do you think I have murdered your son?
Tears come to my eyes at last.
* * * * * * * *
He was strong, he was brave, he was rash. His father would have been proud of him, for even a part of me, the part that fought at the side of the High Elves in the Nirnaeth, felt proud of his skill and his ruthless cry of war. At the nobleness of his sacrifice.
But then, I cannot help it, I have to remember you. I see you in my memories, dead and still going on, saying those terrible things in a despairing voice, and I recall my promise to you, the promise I did not fulfill.
I loved you, Rían. And I know that, wherever you are now, you must be crying your eyes out for that second loss of which I bear all the blame.
*"Is it thus, Euryalus, that I see you? How could you, the last rest of my old age, leave me alone, you cruel? Your wretched mother had not even the chance to bide her last farewell to you, sent to so many perils. Alas! you lie now, a prey to Latin dogs and birds of carrion." (or whatever) This was said by the young warrior´s mother, when she saw his head on a spike.
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.