41. The Gur Uin Hil
The crowded chamber grew quiet as the eight members of the gur uin hil filed into the Hall of Fire and took their places at the tables arrayed in a shallow V at one side of the room. Many elves had gathered to observe the first formal gur uin hil held in nearly two millennia involving the selection of an heir to such an important holding. There were five apparent contenders but only one appeared to be a serious candidate. They were sitting towards the front on one side of the room.
Lord Carenthir looked disdainfully at his fellow competitors and smiled with satisfaction. None looked either well-educated or strong enough to hold the lands if successful. They were merely opportunists who thought a miracle just might award them a great prize. Dismissing them he turned back to the councilors and waited quietly for the process to begin. He was to be the last of the five to present his case and he was looking forward to walking from this chamber having finally reaped the fruits of his plotting. He carefully looked through the group of papers he held in his hands and did not notice the entry of Lord Elrond’s ionnath and another warrior who stood stonily at the back of the room watching him with cold hatred. Glorfindel moved towards the doors that opened onto the terrace and other warriors likewise took up their places at the other doors around the room.
Lord Erestor entered the room carrying a velvet wrapped object and bowed to the council and then nodded to the waiting candidates. He walked to a small table to one side and placed it down carefully unwrapping it to reveal a great Golden Dragon helm that had been the original symbol of the House of Hador. A great sigh sounded across the room and all leaned forward to capture a look at the long hidden great treasure. (See A/N below for more on this.)
Erestor noted Iorlas standing with Elrohir and Elladan and lifted a brow in acknowledgment. If anyone noted it they merely thought it acknowledgment of his lord’s own heirs. He cleared his throat and called the gur uin hil to order.
“My lords, you have agreed to hear the claims of several ellon for the lands of the House of Hador. With the tragic loss of Lord Hador and his lady without any apparent heirs, Lord Elurin a distant cousin agreed with great reluctance to hold them until such time a new legitimate heir could either be located or appointed. Sadly this has not occurred and no trace of the lord and his lady was ever found during the ensuing searches after their disappearance.”
“We can ask no more of Lord Elurin and Lord Elrond has called this gur uin hil to order so that a new heir can be selected and allow Lord Elurin to sail for the Undying Lands. It his wish that you members of the council choose this heir as it is too painful a choice for him to make given his friendship to the former Lord Hador and the Lady Silanor and her family. Lord Elrond asks that you do so showing no preference, only selecting that one which is the most valid and who will protect the people and lands of the House of Hador to the best of his ability. Each of the candidates will present their claim and you will judge the one most worthy.”
A low murmur rose from the audience and Erestor bowed once more and withdrew from the proceedings. He crossed to the doors and joined Elrond on the terrace where both watched from the shadows.
“I had forgotten we had the Dragon Helm. It does add a rather nice touch, do you not agree?” Erestor grinned at his friend.
Elrond chuckled. “Did you see Carenthir’s face when you revealed it? He must be salivating more than he ever has. With that in his hands he will truly think he successfully fooled everyone.”
“I saw Iorlas at the back with your ionnath.”
Elrond nodded. “He is well prepared for what is to come.”
“What name did he finally decide on?”
Grinning Elrond looked at his friend and shook his head. “One, which will do his house proud.”
Both leaned back against the stone balustrade and settled in to silently await the next stage of their carefully arranged plan.
Back in the Hall of Fire Lord Mablung rose slowly from his seat among the councilors and waited until the crowd grew silent once more.
“I have been chosen as leader of the gur uin hil. Each of the candidates will present their case in the order previously indicated. At the completion of the presentations, custom dictates that one final call for claims be presented. Then we, of the counsel, will withdraw and consider the merits of each of the claims we have heard. None will be allowed to leave the chamber until we have returned with our final choice. If one attempts to do so before then they are disqualified from the selection process. Do you all understand?” He swept the row of claimants with a stern glance and waited for their acknowledgment before sitting down and gesturing to the first claimant to begin.
One by one the claims were presented and as each was completed Carenthir grew more and more euphoric as it was obvious they were totally ineligible either by family ties or experience. Finally it was his turn. Arranging his features into a serious but sad look, Carenthir rose and strode to the center of the space before the council.
“Thank you, my lords for the opportunity to present my reasons for claiming the lands of the house of Hador. Now that Lord Elurin has made it clear he will finally make the journey to the Undying lands it is imperative that a new holder be appointed so that those lands will remain in friendly hands. While I am not a member of the Hador line, my niece the Lady Silanor was wed to Lord Hador and disappeared when he did. I believe that it is my duty to assume this responsibility in their memory.” He lowered his head in the appearance of humility and waited.
One of the councilors coughed then studied the elf silently. “You would be willing to assume this responsibility as holder and surrender it if a legitimate heir should appear?”
Carenthir gritted his teeth and assumed a sad expression before once more lifting his head and answering painfully. “My lords, no trace has ever been found in all the years since their disappearance and Hador was an only hen. I would have welcomed with all my heart such an heir but if such a one existed he would have come forward by now. But this raises another concern; I can see many spurious claims being made in the future. This will surely continue to cause unrest and if done when there is trouble boiling up it could cause great discord when it is least needed for the welfare of all Middle Earth. I believe it is imperative that I be given the Hador name so that there will be no question as to the legitimacy of my claim and help maintain the stability of the land and its people.”
Lord Mablung looked at his fellow counselors and rose to his feet collecting his papers. “The five claimants have made their case and we will take them under consideration. But in accordance with tradition we must make one final call for any others who feel they may have a legitimate claim as heir.”
He paused and looked about the room. “Does anyone wish to do so at this time?”
From the rear of the room came the firm, deep, voice of a young warrior. “Aye, my lords. I so claim the Lordship over the lands of the House of Hador.”
“By what right do you make this claim young sir?” Mablung struggled to contain his relief.
“As Turin, son of Lórindol, Lord Hador and Lady Silanor, daughter to Galathil, sister to Gil Galad, High King of the Noldor.”
The hall erupted into bedlam. “That is impossible.…I thought he was called Iorlas….An heir?....Where has he been?....Why has he waited until now?”
Glorfindel was watching Carenthir’s face and chuckled at the mixture of rage, disbelief and frustration as he faced the possible loss of the prize he had plotted and worked for so long. “Well done Iorlas, well done.”
Elrond and Erestor grinned at each other and turned back to watch once more as the plot continued to unfold inside.
“”What proof do you have to support this claim?”
Iorlas strode forward and stood feet firmly planted in front of the councilors. “I offer my father’s armor crest and signet ring, his weapons, my mother’s journals and her necklace with a lock of her hair. I also offer the remains of my father, the Lady Betas, companion to my mother, and those warriors who accompanied my father.” At that the doors to the rear opened and a group of warriors entered carrying camphor wooden boxes which they placed gently on the tables in front of the counselors then withdrew silently.
“If he is indeed their ion, then I will gladly welcome him with all my heart.” Carenthir smiled at him through thin lips. “But I would urge caution my lords. This could be one of those spurious claims I alluded to before. He could have found the remains of my dear niece and nephew-in-law and removed these items from their dead bodies.”
Iorlas turned and smiled coldly at Carenthir. “You would welcome me Uncle? I find that strange since it is you that arranged for their disappearance and murder.”
Once more the room erupted in bedlam. The chaos slowly quieted as Mablung shouted for silence. “You have proof of this…Turin?”
“Oh yes, my lords. My mother survived the attack and was rescued by Ingold the hermit. She names Carenthir in her journal as their attacker and saw him rejoicing over the perceived success of his dark plot. Further witnesses have watched as Carenthir’s associates have visited the site of the ambush repeatedly to see if it had been located. There are witnesses that watched Lord Carenthir even more recently when he himself showed up to gloat and overheard his mocking delight that no one had found his “dear” niece’s final bed of stone. He was so sure it was just what she needed.”
Carenthir stared into the steel grey-green eyes of the younger elf. He remembered how the older Hador had once studied an enemy before he destroyed the unfortunate with the same sword he saw at the younger elf’s side and knew that this one would be just as cold and unmerciful
Iorlas smiled coldly again. “It is just too bad that your henchmen were as careless as you have been dear uncle. They have been most helpful in revealing just what happened and your part in the atrocity you directed. Now you have a choice. You can accept my challenge or you can face the gur uin baudh. Which will it be?”
Carenthir swallowed hard. He saw death.
Gur uin hil –counsel of the heir’s choosing
Gur uin baudh – judgment counsel
Hil – heir
The great dragon helm had not been seen by any outside of the House of Hador since Turin had slain Glaurung the great dragon. Shortly after Turin’s line had died out, another more distance branch of the house had arose to claim leadership of the Hador line and adopted the symbol of the clasped silver hand as their household totem in deference to their family and the helm’s history and put the helm away. In the unsettling times before and after the death of the High King Gil Galad and shortly after the last Lord Hador had married the Lady Silanor he asked Lord Elrond to take the helm into his keeping where it could remained safely hidden until such time as the true heir should reclaim it.
The following entry in the Encyclopedia of Arda is found the under the listing “Helm of Hador”.
The immense Dwarf-helm crowned with the image of Glaurung the Golden, was made originally by Telchar the Smith for Azaghâl of Belegost. Azaghâl sent it as a reward to Maedhros, and Maedhros in turn passed it as a gift to Fingon. None in Fingon's kingdom could bear the Dragonhead except Hador Lórindol and his son Galdor, and so it became an heirloom of the House of Hador. First kept in Hithlum even in the years after the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, his mother Morwen sent the Helm after him, and he received it from King Thingol in his youth.
Hador's great-grandson Túrin was sent away to be fostered in Doriath. When he had grown in stature enough to bear arms and wear the Helm, Túrin bore the Dragonhead to battle on the borders of Doriath. It later became famous as the 'Helm' of Dor-Cúarthol, the Land of Bow and Helm. In later years, after the fall of Dor-Cúarthol, Túrin was present at the Sack of Nargothrond by Glaurung the Dragon. Thus Túrin finally met the monster whose form had been sculpted on his famous Helm, and whom he was destined to slay.
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