The Noldor had resumed their march when they found them, and they were greeted with shouts of joy. “They have returned!” the people cried. “What news of the east? Did the breezes blow truly?”
“They did indeed!” Calion cried. “There is land, open land, and in that land we found this!” He pulled his waterskin out, and poured a splash of that precious yet ***ed water onto the Ice. Cheers erupted, and Elves surged forward to embrace the scouts. Nariel, Calion, and Inglorion soon found themselves propelled before Lord Nolofinwë himself. Not sure what to say, they knelt, and Calion offered the water. With a wordless smile the Elf-Lord took it, swallowed a small mouthful, and passed it to Lord Findekáno, his son, who in turn passed it to Lord Turukáno who handed it to Lord Findaráto.
“Well done,” Lord Nolofinwë said, gripping the young Elf’s shoulder, and congratulating each in turn. “We’d begun to fear you were lost.”
“Not lost milord,” Inglorion spoke with cheer, “but resting, for the land is warm and fair, and it was difficult to convince our feet that we should return to the cold Ice.”
Findaráto, standing near, laughed, “Then your feet shall be eager to lead us onwards, Inglorion.” The scout blushed and the others laughed gleefully. The waterskins were passed around. There was not enough of course, but no grudges were held, so joyous was the prospect of leaving the Helacaraxë behind. Calion went to the head of the column smiling, yet watchful. The heaviness of heart Nariel had found in the water had affected him as well. He did not feel the depth of despair that she did – he’d long since learned to turn his emotions aside. Besides, he did not disbelieve her dreams as easily as she did. There was despair in the water, but there was life there as well, and in that life there was strength. To live so long under Melkor’s hand, and yet resist him still…the land might be forsaken, but all was not lost, not with the valor that the Moriquendi had to possess. Not while there was still the will to resist. And, as Inglorion had pointed out, the power of Aman was in them. That power had kept them alive in these horrible, frozen hills. That power would bring aid to the Moriquendi, and doom to the Dark.
Nariel went back to the healers, bringing water to her patients. Of all the Elves, she alone wore a grave face, but none seemed to notice amidst the joy. Just as well. She felt horrible, given the forsaken water to those already suffering, but water was water, and they might as well get used to it, for they would soon be living in a land the Valar had given over to evil. Inglorion was up at the head, along with Calion. How she envied them that hope! Their spirits were so strong. They did not need to cling to wispy dreams to survive – they seemed to know in their hearts that the Noldor would triumph. A mere sip of water would never tear their hearts like gossamer. Nariel closed her eyes against another spell of tears. She’d known hunger, fear, pain, thirst, and cold. Now she was coming to know loss. Alone among the Noldor, she seemed to know that the Valar had forgotten them, and Arda. Alone among the Noldor, she’d lost hope.
“You sorrow,” a voice said behind her as she walked in the line, using her body to shelter a battered Elf being borne on a litter. She glanced over, and was astonished to find Lord Turukáno pacing beside her.
“My lord, I thought you were in the van,” she cried in surprise. He smiled slightly.
“I have been up front yes, talking your brother, and Inglorion.”
“Findaráto also had a word with me before we set out. You’ve not been yourself of late and we’re worried. I told them I would see what I could do.”
“I am sorry, my Lord. There is naught you can do,” she demurely replied, head down.
“Olorínel, look at me,” he softly bid. Startled at his use of her mother-name she looked up. “The Valar remember us. We have sent too many to Mandos already for them to forget.” He spoke without bitterness, yet the words clawed at her. She had not forgotten the death of his lady, or the grieving that followed. “Do you not remember who the lord of the winds is?”
“Manwë,” she answered softly. “Manwë sends the winds, and the Eagles.”
“And how did you find the land?”
“We followed a breeze…I see.”
“Then you see why now is not the time to lose hope? It is hard, I know, after drinking the water. I tasted it too, but Nariel, we can do it. We can bring Moringotho to his end. If we can cross the Grinding Ice, we can meet him in battle, and Curse or no Curse defeat him. Despair not Olorínel.” He left her then, and Nariel continued, her heart lightened, but only by a little.
Inglorion and Calion marched in the lead all the way to the edge of the land-bound glacier. There they stood aside, and let Lord Nolofinwë take the first step into Arda. He nimbly stepped onto the rocks of the moraine, walked twenty paces, and stood, turning to face the long line of Elves stretching into the west. His eyes were wet with tears as he felt the warm breeze off the land behind the ridge, and looked up at the unchanging stars. Findekáno followed his father, as did Turukáno, and they stopped and stood beside him, waving the others on past. His daugher Aredhel, and grand-daughter Itaril joined the group as they came past. Findaráto was in the rear with his sister. Nolofinwë stood as the Elves gathered silently around him, weeping tears of joy. The Ice was behind them. The Ice was behind them.
Calion and Inglorion remained at the edge, waiting for the last of the Elves to cross into Arda. The Elf Lord saw Nariel pull from the ranks of the healers to stand by her brother and friend. All the Noldor were worn and weary, but Nariel seemed more so than most. Her head was bent and hair escaped her dark, coiled braids. Her shoulders seemed to slump in fatigue and sorrow, and Nolofinwë saw Calion wrap a supportive arm about her. He frowned, concerned. What could trouble a spirit so fiery? Then something else caught his attention – a faint silver glow in the western sky. Like the light of Telperion…
He shook his head, trying to dispel it as his imagination. The Trees are dead, he reminded himself. The Darkness took them. But the Light grew brighter, and more Elves were seeing it, seeing it and pointing as the last of the column scrambled off the Ice. He watched Findaráto and Artanis lead Nariel, Calion, and Inglorion from the cold glacier and the other Elves silently parted as his niece and nephew brought the brave scouts to his side. Calion had released his sister, but both he and Inglorion stood protectively near. She walked straight and tall, but there was an odd grimness in her face, and obvious concern in the eyes of her friends. Nolofinwë wondered at this. Nariel was ever the strongest – he’d often depended on her spirits to maintain morale when no one else could bear the misery on the cold and shifting Helacaraxë. What could be wrong now, at the end of the journey, that she should be so sad and in need of support? He took a step forward, but both Turukáno and Itaril, who knew the maiden well, shook their heads discreetly. He caught Findaráto’s eyes as the group approached. From the look in them he saw that Arafinwë’s son knew what ailed the lady and that there was nothing he, Lord Nolofinwë, could do. Yet it blunted the happiness of being off the Ice, to see her in such sorrow, and he wondered what could have come over her. She’d dreamed such beautiful dreams of Arda. Now she was here, and she found no joy?
They stood silently, watching as over their heads, on the western horizon, a silver globe rose. The light on the horizon had not been the product of fevered imagination. Here was new Light in the world, shining as Telperion once had, its cold light bathing the frozen glacier. Grey ice sparkled and reflected silver – horror became beauty and the jagged teeth of the distant mountains no longer looked so threatening. Breathless, they turned their faces to the sky, wondering at this new working of the Lords of the West. Though the three scouts remained silent, around him, Nolofinwë heard murmurs of wonder. “Look! It blots the light of the stars!” someone said, pointing up.
“What is it?” another asked.
“Light you fool! It is Light,” someone else replied.
“I can see that but how…”
“Don’t question a good thing!” Aredhel barked and her brothers nodded in whole-hearted support.
“A Elbereth! It is beautiful!”
“But what is it?”
“And what does it mean?”
“It is Tilion of the Maiar, and he bears the last fruit of Telperion,” Artanis announced, her piercing blue eyes perceiving what the others, in exhaustion and pain, could not. Nariel’s head jerked up at this, and with her face to the sky she stared with terrifying, burning intensity at the new light.
“Tilion?” A dazed whisper rippled through the company as the cool silver light bathed the moraine, chasing shadow from the rocks.
“With Light of the Trees?”
“How can this be?”
“IS it not clear? The Valar have not forgotten us!” Turukáno and Findekáno cried as a one just as Findaráto announced “The Light of Aman has risen to brighten every corner of the world!” Nolofinwë heard his own voice joining the cheers he saw Nariel’s eyes lock on his sons, her face one of numb shock and relief. Someone took up a trumpet and blew, and the sound was echoed by others as they gave wind to their joy.
“The Valar have not forgotten us!” The words rang in Nariel’s ears louder even than the trumpets as she met the eyes of Lord Turukáno, and he smiled at her, a brilliant smile, as bright as the Light itself. “The Valar have not forgotten us!” There was still cause for hope. In spite of everything, there was still cause for hope. Tears streaking down her face, sobs of long held fear, guilt, and despair tore from her as she dropped to her knees. Not forgotten. They were not forgotten! Inglorion and the rest were right! Aman came eastwards with them, and she cried the tears of joy. We are not forsaken. We travel not to our deaths, for in our war for Light, Light has followed. Moringotho might hold the Silmarils, but he no longer holds the world in Darkness.
She felt Inglorion gather her in his arms, holding her gently, speaking softly, though she didn’t understand a word he said. His braids hung past his shoulder and dangled in her face. The silver light played off his dark hair, and when she’d wiped her eyes she saw the stains of travel on his clothes, felt the gauntness of him through his layers of shirts, tunic, and cloak. They were all dirty and thin now, but they’d made it. They had come to Aman, and though the trumpets had been placed away around her the Elves still cheered. Slowly, Inglorion raised her to her feet, steadying her, Lady Itaril came forward and embraced her, and she felt Findaráto’s hand on her shoulder. Wiping away the tears still coursing from her eyes, she looked for her brother. He was nowhere to be found it seemed, and she turned about wildly, looking for the quiet one.
It was then she, and the rest of the Noldor, heard it. A soft line of melody that wafted above through, and around them, gathering volume as a hush feel over them and they became ensnared in a spell of beauty, hope, reverence and praise. The voice singing was fair, and strangely familiar. She should know it – she’d heard it before, and never expected to hear it again. She looked about some more, and saw the outline of a young, too-thin Elf standing a top a large boulder, his face lit by moonlight as he gave his voice to the sky. It was Calion, giving praise to Varda, and singing a song of joy.
Afterword: Pledged to Lord Turukáno, Calion and Nariel went with their Lord first to Vinyamar and then Gondolin. Though Calion earned himself a place among the singers of Beleriand, he earned far greater renown as a scout, and as the sorrowful tales of Arda unfolded before him he became the wrathful warrior his sister never imagined he could be.
Before Turukáno, later Turgon, removed his people to the Hidden Kingdom, Calion would often go to Falas, and mingle among Círdan’s people, who were kin to the Teleri and adopted the Sindarin name Faramir. He took a Falathrim woman as his wife, and she came with him to Gondolin. She bore him a silver-haired daughter whom he named Ironwë. Calion died in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears.
Nariel’s hope would be sorely tested ever after the arrival of the Exiles in Arda, but she clung to the Moon and Sun as symbols of the Valar’s remaining presence in the tormented world, and her Sindarin name “Estel” was not so much her choice as her assignment. She was among the healers who tended Maedhros when Fingon carried out his daring rescue, and she occupied her spare hours on scouting mission with her brother. She often claimed that between the sickroom and the wild she never found time for marriage, though her brother rather suspected that her heart was given to Inglorion, but she could not leave Gondolin, nor were either of them of the mind to form a bond during wartime.
She was among those who escaped Gondolin when it fell, and came with Tuor and Idril to the Mouths of Sirion. She was there in the third Kin-slaying. Personal safety was never a great concern of hers, and she paid a bitter price for it, for as in the Kin-slaying at Alaquondë, she did not flee but instead took up her healer’s kit and tended the wounded in the streets, and as in the Kin-slaying at Alaquondë an Elf, consumed in battle-fury, came upon her unprotected back with his sword. This time, there was none to save her.
Inglorion remained with his Lord Findaráto, who became King Finrod Felagund of Nargothrond. He took the Sindarin name Gildor. He visited his friends often while they were at Vinyamar, and even after they removed to the Hidden City he thought often of Calion and especially Nariel. His value as a scout was such that he was oft abroad, and though he was among those who met Beren and brought him to the King, he was not in Narog the day his Lord was left forsaken, and he mourned when Finrod died by Sauron’s hand. He did not go to the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, and he mourned again when he heard that Calion had fallen. He would have gone then, to comfort Nariel, but the gates to Gondolin were shut.
So it was that Inglorion was in Nargothrond when Túrin came, and he was among those that escaped to Sirion when Glaurung took the kingdom. He met Nariel with joy when she too came at last to this last refuge of the Elves, and he was the injured one she was tending when she fell, her healer’s blood staining the streets of Sirion. For this he never forgave himself, though the wise informed him that he bore no blame in the matter.
It is said that Faramir Calion and Estel Nariel were released from Mandos on the same day, for his spirit could know no healing without her, and that brother and sister stood at the quayside when the Grey Ship bearing the last of the Noldor and the Ring-Bearers docked in Valinor. Then and only then did Nariel pledge herself, and the one to receive that pledge was Gildor Inglorion.
Author’s note: Once again, the List of names with their Sindarin translations. I could not find a translation for Aredhel. If anyone knows it, feel free to tell me.
Finarfin = Arafinwë
Fingolfin = Nolofinwë
Maglor = Makalaurë
Fëanor = Fëanáro
Finrod = Findaráto
Fingon = Findekáno
Galadriel = Artanis
Idril = Itaril
Turgon = Turukáno
Reviews are appreciated. I find fanfic to be a somewhat guilty pleasure, kinda like chocolate cake. Great to consume, annoying to make, and not healthy at all (but that doesn’t meake in unenjoable!!). Thanks for “suffering” along with me!