The grinding ice - The flight of the Noldor
He could see the lights from the burning clearly against the dark skies. His gaze lingered on the light for a while but then slowly turned up to gather some solace from the stars. But they too seemed to be dim, devoid of their usual luster as if they too mourned for the rape of the trees in Valinor.
Fingolfin the lord of the forsaken Noldorin host had a fire burning in his heart greater than that of the burning ships at losgar. He had been beseeched by his people and son Fingon to take the road into exile defying the will of the Valar. He would have gladly turned back with his brother Finarfin after the kin slaying at alqualonde but had been unable to tear himself away from his people who had taken part in the massacre even if in ignorance. So he had endured the wrath of the Valar and the curse of Mandos to stay on the road knowing it led to doom. But now he was most determined to come to middle earth, however great the penalty. The great prince and son of Finwe was a man of great pride and ill bore the desertion of his step-brother Feanor. He wanted to confront his step brother who had so betrayed his own kin even though they had followed him and become enmeshed in the doom upon his house.
There was only one way now to cross the great sea into middle earth and though he knew this, still hesitated thinking of the horrors of this path. He looked up a final time towards the stars looking for some sign from Varda, but they were still cold and distant boding ill upon the coming journey. A sound disturbed him out of his thoughts and he found his eldest son Fingon the valiant in front of him asking for instructions though he too knew what it must be. Fingon too had been keen to begone at the assembly in Tirion but had said naught against his father. Now he was deeply wounded as he thought of the one on the shores of middle earth who had been his best friend in the days of the bliss of Valinor and who had forsaken him. He did not know that his friend, Maedhros too grieved at their estrangement and who had been powerless against the wishes of his father.
Fingolfin looked at his great host to whom were joined the hosts of Finrod, Galadriel, Angrod and Aegnor of the house of Finarfin. He saw the hurt in eyes of his forsaken people and the pride, of being a prince of the house of Finwe, and as the most courageous of the Noldor rekindled the fire in him. So he gathered all his lords and gave them the orders to march through the frozen hell of Helcaraxe.
The wastes of Araman slowly started to gove way to the icebergs and glaciers of the Helcaraxe, the coldest place on earth. The host shivered and shook as the icy gusts of winds tore at their bodies. Only the firstborn and mightiest of the children of Eru could endure such a journey and even then just barely made it.
As foreseen great were the calamities suffered by the host. Just the second morning after starting the march, the lady Urien of the house of Finarfin and one of Galadriel's intimate confidants was found her body stiff from the ice and her spirit already in the halls of Mandos. That evening Balan a counselor of Fingolfin unable to continue laid down his life.
Thus they continued on this cruel route. At night they would huddle together in crude camps made of their spare clothes and have their one meal of some lembas and a sip of mirovar. They herded the children and women into the camps when they had to rest or when dark clouds would obscure even the light of the stars. All the men who could be were also sheltered in the tents unwillingly. These were the Noldor whose pride was great and they would not suffer having their brethren suffer outside while themselves in the shelter, however meager, of the tents. It was only at Fingolfin's orders that they relented. Thus only the lord Fingolfin along with his mighty sons, nephews and niece along with a few tough chieftains sat in the open without protection against the icy chill that bit like invisible poison nearly turning their blood. It was only these few who could have thus endured such punishment day and night and still carry on. Their minds and hearts still grieving from the ills of the past few days tormented them at such halts. Their only solace then was the stars which they ever adored and the songs which someone would sing sometimes to forget the chill and warm their hearts at least by memories of better days.
On the seventh day after they set out, a personal tragedy stuck the house of Fingolfin. Elenwe Tergon's spouse was walking with her daughter Idril at the front of a group of women of her house. The steep glacier they walked on was smooth and slippery. It has some rough steps hewn into it by the men in front. As Idril climbed onto one of them, the ice gave way and she stumbled, jerking her mother walking beside her. For a moment Elenwe teetered on the edge and even as her horrified daughter looked up from her fallen position, fell to her death in the chasm below. Turgon who was walking with the host ahead stopped immediately and felt his heart skip a beat and. Further ahead Fingolfin and Fingon who were leading the van, felt also a deep premonition of ill and halted immediately. As thry looked back towards Turgon, they also saw a figure from further back come running towards him. As soon as Turgon saw Idril running towards him, he sensed the reason and a empty feeling grab his stomach and a wave of sharp pain numbing his head. He heard his daughter's words and hugged her as the tears rolled down her cheeks already turning into ice. As his father and brother rushed towards him, he gave them the message managing to stop his tears but only just. Fingolfin looked into his son's eyes and discerning the hidden pain and sorrow cursed the fate which had brought them to this doom.
The host continued to suffer these calamities but each loss did nothing quicken their pace with added to their determination to reach middle earth. The hard ones hardened even further and the lesser ones became as strong as steel. The host would never again encounter such suffering even in battles thereafter and no hardship seemed insurmountable to them. Even the fire of Glaurung would not dismay them or the fiery whips of the Balrogs conquer their will.
Thus on the 21st day after starting from Aman, they encountered the first traces of land and life as they crossed fields of snow covered grassy plains. Even though pale and weak from the journey, there was a clear light that shone in their eyes. At the front of the host was as ever Fingolfin along with his two sons and his nephews and niece. As he set foot upon the grassy glades, flowers sprouted at his feet as if to welcome this mighty son of Eru and rejoice at the arrival of those who had seen the light of the trees. Then Fingolfin took his great horn and blew a single great blast on it so that the earth shook and the sound carried by the winds echoed through the lands and those who heard it thought that Orome himself had come just as they did when Fingolfin rode out to battle Morgoth. And as if on cue, Anar rose in the east filling the skies with a brilliant light under which al creatures and trees rejoiced. The light from the sun shone upon the noble faces of Fingolfin and his kin and they seemed as if the Valar themselves had stepped onto the hither shores.