1. The Swansong Epistles
I write these words with a mixture of great joy and anguish. During your too-infrequent visits to my lands, you have had chance to meet the fair lady, Nimrodel. She has graced many of our feasts and celebrations. Our minstrels delight in crafting music for her to dance to, for she is as swift and bright as the waters she is named for. She and her maidens, in their shimmering garments, are like flower petals drifting on the breeze over the green, green grass of Lórien.
My love for Nimrodel is deep and abiding, enduring even the darkest times of this world. Though she returns my love in full measure, she has refused to wed me. The Sindar, she says, brought war to these lands, and much sorrow and suffering to her people. She will not bind herself to it.
I confess, I cannot fault such wisdom, though it brings me great pain. (Yes, Celeborn, I know...wisdom is born of such pains.)
Some small hope yet remains. We went walking together, not long ago, she and I. The light of the stars and Moon glazed all in pearl and silver. We walked along a small stream, a silver ribbon that threaded through the trees. Night-flowers bloomed in the grasses, and the songs of the nightingales sounded sweet in our ears.
I stopped, and took her pale hands in mine. Looking into her eyes, I again asked her to be my wife. She stood silent while the Moon sailed on above us. Her dark hair, freed from her braids, rippled past her shoulders, just reaching the embroidered sash about her waist. At last, she met my eyes. If I could but take her to a place where the ravages of war could not touch us, she said, she would live with me as my wife.
In great joy, I told her of the lands in the Uttermost West, under the protection of the Valar. The Straight Road can now be traveled even by those who never finished the Great Journey. We can sail from Belfalas, where my people have often taken ship, when all is made ready.
And now I come to my full purpose here. Unwed, I have no heir, and not one of my direct kin still lives in Middle-Earth. I cannot leave my people leaderless. So I ask you, Lady Galadriel, and you, Lord Celeborn, if you will consent to take my place here. I offer you a home, and land to call your own. You are both already known and loved here, the people would welcome you with joy.
I know you must consider the matter, but do not, I beg, take too long. Fewer and fewer of our people linger on these shores. If I have hope to take ship at Belfalas, it must be soon.
I await your reply.
May the Valar keep you, and no Shadow trouble you. I remain your devoted friend,
Amroth of Lórien
Girithron, in the 1979th year of the Third Age
From Galadriel Eärweniel, to Amroth, son of Amdir, king of Lórien, good greetings.
My dear friend,
We have received your letter, and have given much thought to your request. My lord and I grieve at the thought that we may soon be deprived of your company and wise counsel. More, we are concerned for Lórien, and its people.
Under the wise rule of both your father and yourself, Lórien has prospered, its people content and at peace. Alas, we know this peace must be short-lived, however long it may seem to the Edain. Evil stirs again in the East.
The Shadow has fallen over what was once the Eryn Glasen, and the fortress of Dol Guldur stands strong. Orcs roam boldly through the Hithaeglir, making war on Aulë's children. The North Kingdom of the Dúnedain is shattered, and sickness and death devour Eriador and the Southern Kingdom. There are no longer High Kings to govern and protect either Elves or Men.
My friend, I would not wish the pain of a solitary life upon you--but must you leave your people now? I foresee we will have need of an Elven stronghold to keep the Shadow from stretching across the Anduin. Such strength can be found in Lórien, but only if its leader holds fast! The Silvan Elves who dwell there are a hearty folk, but greatly fear the Shadow. Without a strong leader to hearten them, they will flee, Lórien will fall, and the Shadow will grow stronger.
There will never again be so great an Alliance of Men and Elves such as the one that overthrew the Dark Lord at the end of the Second Age. We must see to our own protection. Is your love for the lady Nimrodel so great that you will abandon your people?
The mantle of leadership cannot be set aside because it has grown confining, or limits personal happiness. I implore you, reconsider your plan! You are needed here!
Yours in friendship,
Galadriel, daughter of Eärwen
Narwain, in the 1980th year of the Third Age
To the Lady Galadriel Eärweniel, from Amroth, son of Amdir, king of Lórien.
I have borne the weight of rulership since my father's death on the Dagorlad. From childhood, he taught me to consider the welfare of our people above my own. 'No king's life is worth more than the lives of his people,' he told me, just before he died. 'And so a good king will take up sword and shield in their defense, will lead them through storm and darkness, fire and cold. He will suffer hunger and thirst before he allows others to go hungry. From their strength comes his own.'
That is why I made the request of you and the Lord Celeborn. I know of no better choice for my successors than the pair that led so many to safety from the ruins of Eregion. I cannot remain in Lórien, kinswoman. My foolish words to Nimrodel have woken the sea-longing that slept in her heart. The call of the sea, and the call of our love bring her a torment I fear she cannot long endure. She must take ship now, else she will fade from grief and longing.
This is my doing. Through my selfish desires, I have brought pain to my beloved. I must make it right. If this means I must leave my people, the land that has been my only home, and face the dangers of an overland journey, so be it. I will have to face my father, grant that Mandos give him swift release and rebirth, with the truth of my failure.
Nimrodel never caused the slightest harm to any living creature. The birds of the skies sing to her, the creatures of the Wood feed from her hand. The waters sing her name, and the land rejoices at the touch of her feet.
I cannot bear her suffering. She has not sung, or spoken, since that night. Three days ago, she ceased to eat, and will take only water. I must take her to the havens at Belfalas, and from there, we will sail to the West.
I pray for your understanding, Lady Galadriel. Yet whether I have it or no, I will sail.
Give your lord my regards, if you think he will receive them, for he is of great value to me. Your friendship has always been one of the chief blessings in my life.
Until the Valar and the One see fit to reunite us, námarië!
Amroth of Lórien
Gwirith, in the 1980th year of the Third Age
To the Lady Galadriel Eärweniel, and Lord Celeborn Doriathian, from Círdan of Mithlond, my greetings.
It is with great sorrow that I pen these words to you. Just over a month ago, a messenger-bird sent from the havens at Belfalas arrived, bearing sad tidings. Forgive me, my friends, that it took me so long to relay this news. I dared not pass on word until I could verify the tale as true.
Amroth of Lórien came to the havens at Belfalas, alone, and much worn by his journey. He sought passage West. Only a small number of our folk still resided there, hardly enough to crew the one remaining ship, so they were glad to receive him. At once, he asked for word of his betrothed, the lady Nimrodel, and her companions, for they had become separated from each other. Alas, she was not there, nor was there any report of her anywhere in those lands.
The lord Amroth persuaded the Elves there to delay just a little longer. They agreed, with reluctance. Since the Elves there were all but prepared to sail, the settlement had been stripped of all items of use and comfort. They all boarded the ship, with Amroth still insisting they wait but a day more, for Nimrodel was sure to arrive with the dawn. That night, a fierce wind sprang up, churning the waters. The Ship broke free of its moorings, and began drifting out of the bay.
By the account sent to me, Amroth rushed up to the deck and out into the storm. When he saw the distance between the ship and the land, he cried out in despair.
What happened next, I can scarcely bear to tell. Amroth stood, his dark hair a tattered banner in the wild wind, his face wet with sea-spray and tears. He demanded the ship be brought about, but once it has begun to seek the Straight Road, no Elven ship, not even of my crafting, can turn back.
A madness seized him then, a darkness of the spirit I would have recognized, having seen it in the early days of the Siege. He stood transfixed, staring at the disappearing shore. Then, in a terrifying voice, he called out his beloved's name in a voice that could be heard even over the shriek of the wind. Before any could lay hands on him, he leapt into the sea.
Those aboard the ship could just discern his head as he struggled in the raging water. Then, the waves closed over him, and he was never seen again.
Amroth's forsaken shell rests now in the Lady Uinen's keeping. His spirit, I hope, has passed to Mandos' halls...but it is a very small, dim hope. More likely, he refused the summons, and his spirit wanders, seeking his lost love.
Of the lady Nimrodel, I have little to report. I, myself, went to Belfalas, to lead the search for her. It is a sad and empty place, now. The small houses are already being claimed by the wild creatures they were left for, and the paths are growing over green. No word of her has reached my people, nor can I scry out any trace of her. She is, I think, lost to us twice-over.
If, as I have been told, the Silvan Elves know precious little of Tol Eressëa or the Blissful Lands, they may, in fear and ignorance, refuse the Summons, and the rebirth they might enjoy.
I do not think it an empty coincidence that the storm sprang up before the dawn of Nimrodel's hoped-for arrival. I believe it was Manwë's work, and the lord Ossë's, for they knew already her sad fate. Nimrodel herself, I believe, wanders Houseless, but perhaps not alone. Perhaps...just perhaps...she called to him, and he went to her.
Wherever they are, may their spirits find rest, and may they one day return to us, to resume the lives cut all too short.
I offer my condolences to you, and the Lord Celeborn, for I know Amroth was as a son to you. May Nienna's tears wash away your grief, and bring you comfort.
Yours in trust and friendship,
Círdan, called the Shipwright, lord of Mithlond.
Notes and translations:
* "The North Kingdom is shattered..." The Tale of Years says in 861 of the Third Age, Arnor became divided into three separate kingdoms. By 1974 (TA), the last of them, Arethedian, had fallen to Angmar (the Witch-King's realm).
*"My foolish words have woken..." The Unfinished Tales state that the Silvan Elves lived in a state of sea-longing that never fully left them. At times, it grew so strong, it drove them to wandering. (UT, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," pg. 259)
*"Silvan kindreds..." The Green Elves abandoned the Great Journey, and never saw Aman, or were taught by the Valar.
*Eärweniel: daughter of Earwen.
*Doriathian: person of Doriath. (Since Celeborn's father's name is unknown, and using the sobriquet, 'the Wise' seemed overly formal, I gave him a place-name to avoid over familiarity. It seems to me the few survivors of Doriath would take the name to honor the lost--especially Celeborn, who loved and lost his kinsman and king.)
*Hithui: "Misty," the eleventh month in the Imladris calendar. Corresponds to November.
*Narwain: first month in the calendar of Imladris. Corresponds to January.
*Girithron: 'Cold-tide,' the twelfth month of the calendar of Imladris. Corresponds to December.
*Gwirith: The fourth-month of the calendar of Imladris. Corresponds to April.