A/N: I’ll probably be away when this chapter comes up, and won’t be able to submit again till August. Ah well. Enjoy. And I do not own Middle Earth, and I don’t want to damge it, and I’m definately not making any money from this. Thanks to the usual people, particularly my lovely reviewers!
Chapter Sixteen: Melian’s Questions
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive toward such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch his wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?
—T. S. Elliot Ash-Wednesday
At noon on the day after I arrived at Menegroth I waited nervously at the entrance to the lesser court, which was far smaller and more private than the hall that I had seen.
The night before I had been shown to a room in the messengers’ wing on one of the upper levels by a quiet Elf who had no doubt observed that it was best not to ask questions of the couriors staying there, though I seemed to be the only one at the time. The chamber I was taken to was small and tidy, comforably unelaborate. But it did have a window, and I was grateful for that. Though the caverns and halls and passages were beautiful, they were still underground, without wind or sunlight. It may seem strange, but they reminded me faintly of Tol-en-Gaurhoth, and that I would rather leave behind.
Emeryk had taken off the instant I opened the window, and I’d sat on the sill, watching as he soared and flapped between the trees. He’d stayed out that morning, and so I waited by myself. I’d been told to present myself at noon, but I asked the Elf for directions and was there well before.
I was restless and nervous; I wanted to get the audience over with. I did not want to relive finding Gondolin’s ruins over and over and again. Even though, as I had told Taurion, I thought it best for me to have let go, oh Valar, it still hurt. I’d felt as though the city’s very stones had cried out in desolation for its fall.
My thoughts were broken when, at last, the door to the lesser court was opened. I was shown in, and found the court to be a small hall, empty except for the tapestries on the walls and the fairly simple thrones set at one end.
The Queen was seated, and the King standing behind her informally, his hands resting on the back of her chair. To one side stood an Elf maiden with golden hair, who despite this did not seem, somehow, to be one of the Sindar. But I did not have time to puzzle that out as I came forward and bowed before the monarchs.
The King nodded, motioning for me to straighten. “Indil of Gondolin. You have been summoned to give all information you can regarding the fall of your city.”
I inclined my head. “My knowledge is limited, my lord, but I will tell all that I can.”
The Queen spoke. “Then please describe what you found upon entering the vale.”
I looked up at suprise at her; the geographical location of Gondolin was not at all well known, and had been kept that way. She met my gaze with a mixture of compassion and amusment, and I remembered: of course, she was an Ainu. She knew more than any Elf, and my thoughts were no doubt a clearly written page to her.
I pulled back my concentration, and began. “The vale itself was burned, my lady, and most of the trees had been felled….” I went on, and with detached, clinical detail described the desolate scene, and made all the observations that I could: I had seen the skeletons of both Orcs and Men outside of the walls, as well as within. There were remains of fire-drakes, as well, which had no doubt been the breachers of the city, possibly Valaraukar had been present…..
At last I finished. Every burned tree, every fallen wall and ravaged dwelling was described. My heart ached, and my voice was ragged from speech and held-back tears.
Elwe Singollo stirred. “I thank you, Indil of Gondolin. Your tidings, though they are grievous, may help us withstand the storm.” I bowed, and he turned to Melian. ‘You must excuse me, my lady, for Mablung has brought news from the border that I must hear.” He departed, barely giving me time to bow respectfully once more.
Queen Melian rose. “Indil, there are many things of which I desire to speak with you, but this is not the place. Come.”
She walked gracefully to the door, followed by the golden-haired maiden. I fell in behind as Melian led through the hall’s entrance and to a passage that I had not noticed before. It led upward. The maiden once looked over her shoulder as if the check on me, and I met her eyes for a moment.
I swallowed hard as she looked back around. Although her gaze did not have quite the power of Melian’s, it betrayed far more might than that of any other Elf I had met.
I realized that we made a rather odd procession: The Queen, the maiden, and me, a ragged wayfarer. I felt as out of place as a stalk of nightshade among the beeches. The maiden sent an amused glance over her shoulder, and I realized that she, too, could sense my emotions. It was not exactly reassuring.
It was not long before we emerged in a small garden. There was a carpet of niphredil, and the tree-shadows hid a softly singing nightengale. In between them were several carved benches, and after sinking down on one of them, the maiden beside her, Melian motioned for me also to be seated. I did so, feeling awkward to be sitting in her presence.
Melian looked up at the sky and leaves for a moment, and then broke the silence. “What I wish to speak of first is this, Indil: how powerful is Gorthaur?”
I started in shock. Of all questions that is the one I expected least. “But, my lady,” I stammered, “surely, as one of the Ainur – “
“Some things are hidden even from my sight,” she interrupted. “But I have reason to believe that my daughter’s might will soon be matched against his, and I wanted to know – ” for a moment a mother’s worry and care showed in her eyes ” – if she has a chance.”
I bowed my head. “My lady, I cannot say. Gorthaur is strong, and his defeat of most is easy. Were it any other than your daughter I would say no. But I do not know the fullness of her powers.” I knew, indeed, very little about Luthien, princess of Doriath, but as a half-Maia she could no doubt perform deeds far beyond the might of any full Elf, even the great of the Noldor, of which I was not one. The memory of the spell being forced on me suddenly surfaced in my mind, but I pushed it away. It was not the time to be distracted.
Melian sighed. “I wish that you could tell me more.” She stared out into the distance. “I wish that Dorthonion had never fallen. I wish that the son of Barahir….but no matter. There are many things that can be wished for.”
“That is very true, my lady,” I answered softly. “I know.”
She looked at me again, that clear gaze measuring. “You have wished many things. But you are realistic, Indil.”
I was unable to keep the bitterness from my voice. “If I am, my lady, I was forced to be so. But I would rather be a dreamer.”
The golden-haired maiden spoke for the first time, quietly. “Why?”
“Because….” I struggled for words, “if you dream you can still have hope, however unlikely. You can hold on to the thought of a better end, even if the chances are a thousand to one against it.” I realized something, and before I could think better spoke. “I used to, but I don’t know….I don’t know if I can any more.”
Unexpectedly Melian leaned forward and placed a cool hand against my cheek, tilting my face upward. “But you still have hope, Indil, though you deny it.”
“I do?” I asked softly.
She met my eyes steadily. “Yes. Seek the Havens at the mouth of Sirion, child of Gondolin.”
I inhaled sharply. “Do you mean – “
She sat back. “That is all that I may say. But there are still other things of which we must speak.”
Hmmm… not that eventful. I will try to post right after I get back, though. Please review!