Lily of Gondolin - Chapter Twelve: The Border
Chapter Twelve: The Border
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair,
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn-fields,
And thinking on the days that are no more.
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The next morning, with Emeryk perched on my shoulder, I set out south to Doriath. I did not know whether Elwe Singollo had heard of Gondolin's fall. If he had not, as a messanger I could perhaps gain entrance to the Hidden Kingdom. It was well known that Queen Melian had the power of foresight, as she was a Maia. But whether she always revealed her knowledge was doubtful. As a servant of the Valar she sometimes had to let events play themselves out. Or at least that was what I had heard. I hoped that it was true.
It took some time to reach the borders of Neldoreth, Doriath proper. Although the forest of Brethil was much closer, being farther north and to the west, it was not within the Girdle of Melian. Besides simply being stopped by border guards, the Girdle was the obstacle I was most worried about. But I was not sure if any of Elwe Singollo's people ventured beyond it. If they did my chances were better, since then I could try to convince them to give me an audience with the king. If they did not my chances were almost incalculably low. I could attempt crossing Melian's barrier, in which attempt there was virtually no hope I could succeed. Queen Melian's power was formidable; she was one of the Ainur, and I was merely an elleth who could barely hold a simple spell of diguise. As far as I knew no one had ever surmounted the Girdle. And so I very, very much hoped that Doriath's marchwardens ventured beyond its borders.
They did. I found this out as, after many weary days of travel, I saw the forest in the distance. Emeryk shifted on my shoulder, slightly uneasy, and in the brief moment that I was not watching my surroundings a sword was placed abruptly at my throat. I looked up and froze instantly.
The Elf holding the weapon made a gesture, and three other emerged from the trees, with bows trained on me. Their leader lowered his sword and regarded me coldly. "What is an armed daughter of the Exiles doing on the borders of Doriath? I am the Warden of the Northern March. Speak."
"Bearing tiding," I answered, keeping any emotion from my voice. "Although your land is sequestered there are still some events of the greater lands that it would be to your rulers' advantage to know."
"Who are you and what news to you bear?" the Elf asked. "And if you mean to threaten us with idle tales you will regret it."
"I have no intention to do so," I replied. He was not bluffing. "I am known as Morien. And my tidings are for your king."
"I do not believe you," he stated. "Many have sought entrance to Doriath, and few for its good."
Emeryk croaked almost indignantly, and I unthinkingly reached up to stroke him. The bows tautened, and I lowered my hand, taking a deep breath. "I have no wish to deceive you, nor to tarry overlong in your country, nor any designs against the king. I only seek your good and mine."
"Pretty morals, Exile," the Elf answered. "But you still have given no proof of your good faith."
"There is one among you who can speak for me," I said. "Taurion, a scout. Do you know of him?"
The Elf looked at me, that though he hid it well I could see that he was suprised. "I do. He is the son of my sister."
"Very well," the Elf said. "If you surrender your weapons I will send for Taurion. If he attests to your good will, as you say, then we will see if the King wishes to hear your message. Do you agree, Exile?"
I dislodged Emeryk from my shoulder, and took off the sheath slung across my back. I handed the sword in it hilt first to the Marchwarden, and then took the two knives from my boot and sleeve, and gave them to him as well. "Agreed, sir."
He nodded curtly, and turned. The others, who had not lowered their bows, motioned for me to follow.
We stopped before we reached the border. It was briefly explained to me that no stranger could enter the realm without the permission of Elwe Singollo. Mothdur, the marchwarden, sent summons for Taurion. It would take several days for them to be answered, and for that time I waited. There were several platforms built in trees, and I was escorted to one and told to wait.
I felt restless, and knew that I was being watched. So I simply sat with my back against the tree trunk, edgy but contained, and stared at the sky while Emeryk fluttered about. His wing had healed, and he had grown a bit. His plumage had lost its draggled look, and was beginning to show the faint purple sheen characteristic of his kind. The other Elves were somewhat wary of him, even after a few days. I think they had never taken kindly to birds of carrion, who live off the flesh of creatures killed by others. I would have agreed with them, once, but after having dealt with death I found the ravens an innocent party. They had merely found a way to survive in a world of war.
All these thoughts drifted through my mind while I watched the clouds drifting in the sky. I'd not had the spare time or attention to do that for a very time, but I was too tense to appreciate it. I tried to distract myself by finding shapes in the clouds - flowers, trees, castles, animals - but it did not help very much at all. And so I waited while the days went by.
Late one evening I was sitting on the edge of the platform, knees drawn up, looking for constellations now, when I heard voices drifting up from below. One of them I knew quite well.
" --I came as soon as I could, uncle. What was I summoned for? The messanger did not say."
"There's a stranger who claims to have a message for the king. She also claims to know you, and that you can attest to her good faith."
I could hear suprise and confusion in Taurion's reply. "She? But if that's who I think, why would- "
Mothdur cut him off. "Best find out if she is, first. Then tell me. Second flet."
I whistled softly to Emeryk, who swooped down from a nearby branch to land on my shoulder.
So all right, it's a bit of a cliffie. Hardly unexpected by now, I would imagine. But anyway, if you have any questions about stuff (i.e. Melian's Girdle and why Mothdur is so hostile) please ask. And there is a map of Beleriand available at www.tolkienonline.com/gallery/item.sd?iid=449 if you need it for clarification.