1. Likeness of a Warning
Footsteps disturbed the Hall of the Falmar-- grand, heavy, ponderous footsteps that neither paused nor stumbled in any dip or rise of the floor; steps that were a precise echo of footsteps that had sounded before. They were followed strangely by lighter, erratic steps-- the steps of a dance, or a game, with many lapses and accelerations. Yet despite the difference in stride the steps always sounded together, or one closely after the other-- until they had reached near to the end of the Hall, where the tallest peak of pale-blue crystal rose from the floor. Faceted clusters of quartzite and pearl glimmered dully atop the hand-carved wave, valiantly grasping for the pale light that filtered out from the previous chamber, casting faint and tiny rainbows across the smooth, rounded ceiling.
The heavy footsteps faltered at last, and halted altogether though their echo continued through the chamber, as though the King's strange behaviour was for the present to be ignored by the Hall and the notes of his usual path maintained. Then the echoes, too, fell quiet, and the silence of the Hall of the Falmar observed that the lighter footsteps no longer sounded either.
In a rustle of white and scarlet the King crouched before the wave-- the rustle magnified to thunderous proportions in the stillness, the walls rumbling indignance that a lord should demean himself so. Yet the tall Elf-King remained close to the floor, his knees bent uneasily beneath the unyielding elegance of his cassock, his hands-- fair hands that tendered to stones as other hands would love a body-- falling forward until his fingertips rested against the swell of crystal.
A face peered back at him through the wave, blue-hued and slightly distorted so that the chin appeared long and narrow, the brow high, the eyes infinitely deep. A pale braid hung and danced as the head tilted and straightened again, eyes blinking slowly.
"What is it, Ardamírë?" the King asked, quietly and with no hint of amusement or indulgence in his voice-- the face seemed to quell all notions of the child's mind behind it.
The child did not answer at first, drawing back from the wave with mouth puckered in concentration. A small hand flattened against the pale glass, stretching toward the crest that climbed above his head.
The King watched him, trying to perceive thought from action. "It is the Sea," he said aloud, his eyes leaving the face to roam the sinuous lines of the chamber. "Or, a likeness of it. The great waters that surround all the land. We built this Hall to honour and remember the Sea, and the spirits who master it."
Again the child gave no response, though the intensity of his expression had waned, and now he stepped back from the wave, crouching in mimicry of his grandfather, hands folded between his knees.
A faint smile tweaked the King's lips, and banking forward he braced his brow against the crystal. "What do you know of the Sea, Mírënya? Do you know that the great winds of Manwë Sulimo drive it back and forth across the sand, and up into tall towers-- like this?" He glanced up, running his fingers against the glittering spire before him. "Do you know that it tastes and smells of salt-- that it seeps into your breath like a fine wine, yet leaves you unquenched and thirsty for more?"
The child leaned forward, tongue extended experimentally.
"Not this, Ardamírë," the King stopped him sadly. "This tastes of nothing."
The King drew back, moving his hands in small ripples about the base of the motionless wave. "There are fish in the Sea, like in the streams here, only greater and stranger and far more numerous. They are like gemstones-- red, gold, violet, silver-- and they swim together, like an arch of heaven."
He spread his arms wide. "Some are this big, and some are the size of your smallest finger. But not only fish live in the Sea-- there are little horses with curled tails, and creatures with tusks like the great andamunda. There are some like snakes, and others like little stars that fell from the sky. So many creatures."
The child was staring deep into the translucent crystal.
"Not here, Mírënya. Not here."
The King's head craned back, eyes tracing the high arc of the ceiling before falling half-shut, his gaze unfocused in the distance. "Do you know that the Sea has a voice? It can sound deep and harsh like thunder, or bold and sharp as a trumpet--" His voice lowered to a murmur. "And it can be as soft as a whisper, sweet as a kiss. It can be as the music of harps and flutes, and it can be like the roaring of a great beast. It does not stop. It never stops."
The child's ear was pressed to the cold crystal, but this time the King only looked on him with a heaviness of countenance, shaking his head.
Then the child spoke.
"I hear it," Eärendil said, frankly, and peered at his grandfather curiously.
A blue face stared back at Turgon from the depths of the water.
"Why do you not listen?"
The sudden question startled the Hall of the Falmar, rippling about so that it came to the King's ears again and again, until he heard nothing but that plaintive, childlike voice. For uncounted heartbeats he gazed at the child-face, his eyes struggling to bore through the water-stone and the distortion to find the features of his daughter's child, his hands passing randomly against the crystal as though he sought to wipe it away.
Then he stood, abruptly, the folds of his cassock rippling into perfect order, his black braids falling loose and straight down his back. The child rose also and the King gathered the small figure to himself, entwining their hands together.
"There are streams, in Gondolin, and waterfalls in the rocks of her foundation," Turgon was saying as he led the child from the Hall. "Come-- come, and we will listen to the rocks sing."
Eärendil followed the King from the chamber, smiling and light-footed, and with his passing the Hall of the Falmar was silent and cold once more, and when the light could stretch no more from the other chamber, it fell into darkness.
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.