The love of Gorthaur
Of old there was Sauron the Maia whom the Elves had named Gorthaur. A spirit of fire and creation, and a helper of Aule the smith in the beginning, Sauron was seduced by Morgoth, his heart blackened. He soon became one of the most feared servants of the Dark Lord, and he grew in power and wisdom, but also in malice, which would be his ultimate end. But that tale is told elsewhere.
This story takes place in the Second Age of the Sun in Eregion, before the forging of The Rings of Power.
It is said that after the War of Wrath, having been pardoned by the Valar, Sauron had repented his evil deeds, if for no reason other than fear of the hosts of the West, he had turned his mind to good. After his final demise many would say that his heart was as black as ever in those days, but that wasn’t entirely true.
Ollorien was the daughter of Tindariel and Fearanur, a worthy Elven smith in the service of Lord Celebrimbor of the Gwaith-i-Mirdain. She was born at the beginning of the Second Age in Eregion; Tindariel had given birth to her on a dreamlike summer night under the stars and hence named her Ollorien.
Ollorien was fair as only the Firstborn could be; her hair was golden as the sunset on the Western Seas, though she was of the Noldor, for her mother was akin to Finarfin. Her eyes were at times like emeralds from the Earth, and at others like the clear blue sky on a summer day, but mostly they were deep and gray, like her father’s. Her pale skin glinted like mithril in the moonlight. She was small of stature for an Elf, but that did not diminish her beauty, and when she sat in the green grass of the land that men called Hollin, she resembled a flower – graceful and beautiful, yet tender and frail.
For many a year she walked the Earth and sang, joyful and careless, for she was young and had not seen the Shadow, and the devices of the enemy were alien to her. She had seen no death, no sorrow and no pain.
Ollorien had inherited her father’s gift and could subdue any metal to her will, and she made many things of beauty in her youth: brooches set with gems, made in the forms of birds that she loved, necklaces and rings, and even swords and knives of exceeding wonder she wrought. But later on she tired of working with things that were pretty themselves, so she turned her attention to stone. And it was said that under the hand of Ollorien the Fair even the hardest rock sang as she turned it into a thing of beauty beyond compare.
She worked long and hard, often deep into the night, making sculptures and fountains that decorated the streets of Ost-in-Edhil, the city of the Elves.
For herself she made a dwelling place outside the city, hewn out of a great stone that once stood there. It was a strange house, if a house it could be called. Surrounded by a tall hedge, with one gate in it, marked by two tall trees. The building itself was circular in shape, and great pillars of stone, made to look like trees, held a mighty roof attired with silver and gold. In the middle of it was a vast opening through which Ollorien gazed at the stars. On it lay a spell so that no rain came through it, but fell to the sides as if a great, invisible dome stood over the opening, and the raindrops bounced off it, creating all the colors of the rainbow. Underneath it, on the floor a great basin stood, hewn of marble. Yet it didn’t house water, but fire, for Ollorien needed it in her workings.
The doors of Ellenbar – the house of stars as it was called – were lofty, and stood on great iron hinges. Seven marble steps led up to them. The door itself was made of oak wood and set with runes of power to make all that enter joyful. At both sides of the door stood stone figures of an elf-maiden, almost life-like, which held aloft silver jugs from which water constantly flowed, following paths around the steps, to cross at a point in front of the house where a beautiful fountain stood, shimmering with delight.
Aside from the great hall, Ellenbar had two small rooms which extended from the main building out into the orchard and garden at the back. One of them was the room in which Ollorien slept, it was scarcely furnished, having only one bed, a lantern (made by Ollorien herself) and shelves full of scrolls of poetry and tales of ages long past. It had two doors, one that led in from the hall, and another that led out into the garden. It had no windows, for the door to the garden was made of glass and gave enough light to the small room.
The other room was a kind of storage chamber, and in it were all Ollorien’s works housed, before they were sent to Ost-in-Edhil, or placed in the garden of Ellenbar. It had only one door leading in from the hall, and a great window on the further side.
The hall itself had no windows, save for the henneth-galad, the window to the light, as the opening in the roof was called. Instead, tapestries portraying the deeds of the Noldor hung on the walls, vivid and colorful, they were woven by the maidens of the Gwaith-i-Mirdain, who were as skilled in weaving as their husbands were in smithcraft. They were a gift to Ollorien for all the beautiful fountains that decorated Ost-in-Edhil.
And there, in the fair halls of Ellenbar dwelt Ollorien the beautiful, alone, but not lonely.
But still, aside from when she was working, Ollorien spent most of her time outside, in her garden, or in front of the house, watching the birds that came to bathe in her fountain. Often she left the house and went wandering around Ost-in-Edhil singing. Her voice was deep and melodious, yet merry and heartwarming and she was renowned for it as well as for her masonry. All that knew her welcomed her and rejoiced to hear her sing. And for many long years she worked, and walked, and sang, and was happy.
Until there came a day when Ollorien the fair fell silent. No more could her song be heard in the streets of Ost-in-Edhil, nor in her garden. And for the first time the maiden that made even the stones sing came to know sorrow.
It came to pass that on a summer morning, warm, yet not too hot, Ollorien sat on the marble steps of Ellenbar and sang. She closed her eyes and turned her face toward Arien feeling the maiden’s soft rays on her skin. She was so deep in thought and song that she did not hear the sound of a horse approaching. Only when he came and stood in front of her, did she perceive the shadow of a horseman towering over her. She opened her eyes and looked at him. Dazzled by the sun’s light at first, it took her eyes a few moments to adjust. And then she saw him for the first time. He had dismounted and stood before her.
It was an Elf-Lord, clad in gray, his dark hair shimmering in the sunlight. His gray eyes stared at her intently for a few brief moments which seemed as all the ages of the world to her. He was tall and beautiful, and though she hadn’t seen him before, she knew who it was, for on his brow he bore a single white star – the emblem of the house of Feanor.
“Mae govannen arwen Ollorien!” he spoke in a melodious voice.
“Mae govannen.” Ollorien replied slowly still stunned by his beauty.
“I am Celebrimbor, son of Curufin. I come to you with a request, fair maiden. And I am prepared to pay all that you ask.” He continued, unaware of the turmoil that took place inside Ollorien’s mind.
“If there’s anything in my power or possession, Lord, that you ask, I shall be glad to give it to you freely. Speak your request.” Ollorien, now recovered from her shock, spoke courteously, but deep down inside her she felt a smoldering fire awaken, a fire that she thought would spring out of her and set ablaze all around her.
“I wish you to make a fountain for me. In my mind I have contrived it, but I have not the skill with stone to make it. It is to stand in the chief square of Ost-in-Edhil, so I had to come to you, the best mason of Middle-earth and ask your help.”
“Of course Lord, I will help you. Sit now, and rest thy weary limbs on the steps of Ellenbar. And pray, tell me of your fountain.”
Celebrimbor then proceeded to tell Ollorien about the fountain, and slowly in her mind’s eye she began to see it. It was to be a symbol of friendship between the Elves of Eregion and the Dwarves of Khazad-dum, and was to portray Elves and Dwarves working together with hammers and anvils, and the Star of Feanor shinning above them.
The fountain was to be a great undertaking and Celebrimbor promised Ollorien all the help that she would need. She in turn watched him as he spoke and felt that all the loves that her heart had ever known – singing, masonry, even the birds and the stars and the love she felt for her parents – were giving way to a new love, she had fallen in love with Celebrimbor, and her immortal spirit soared with joy.
And yet, Celebrimbor seemed content only to speak about work, he told her of all the beautiful things that he made and asked her many questions about her own doings. She thought how alike he was to his grandsire Feanor, of whom the tales she loved spoke so much. This made her a little sad, but that sorrow was nothing compared to the joy her heart felt at the arrival of this new love.
And so, Celebrimbor and Ollorien spoke for many long hours, and only when the Sun had already began to sink over the rim of the world and darkness crept from the Misty Mountains, did Celebrimbor again mount his steed and depart.
Although Ollorien was reluctant to let him leave, she was content when he had gone. For, she was to see him again in a few days, when she went to Ost-in-Edhil to measure the square on which the fountain was to stand.
The days she passed in excited waiting. It seemed to Ollorien that night would never come, and that in turn day would never dawn. She was restless, but joyful, and in those few days she sang with love like she had never sung before. And the beauty of her voice was so marvelous that all the beasts and birds within a day’s walk of Ellenbar came and sat in her garden listening.
Finally, the Day dawned, and Ollorien prepared to go to Ost-in-Edhil. She walked everywhere in those days, so as always, she started off on foot, early in the morning. She sang as she walked. It took her about an hour to get to the Elven city, and once she got there, she decided to pay a visit to her parents who also dwelt within its walls.
Ollorien passed the gates, bowing to the gatekeeper who knew her well. She walked up the main street, and then turned left, into a narrow lane that wound around a block of small, fair houses with bright green gardens. Stepping easily as only Elves can, she came to the door of one of them and knocked.
A tall, slender Elf-woman opened the door and smiled. She was much like Ollorien, except for the light in her dark green eyes which had beheld the Undying Lands, and her timeless face that was somewhat `softer’ than Ollorien’s.
“Mother…” Ollorien said, returning the smile.
“Ollorien, my child… it is long since you last came to see us.” Spoke Tindariel in a soft voice. “Your father is not here, but you shall stay and welcome him when he returns from the smithy, I hope.”
“Alas, mother, for I cannot, I am here on errand to the Lord Celebrimbor. I am to fashion a fountain for the main square, and shall soon be on my way, for the preparations must be made.” Replied Ollorien mournfully.
“You are much like your father. He will indeed be pleased to hear about your undertaking, but not as pleased as he would be to see you… but will you not stay a while at least and tell me of yourself, how have you been faring?” asked Tindariel, with a note of mother’s consern in her voice.
Ollorien of course stayed a while. The two Elven-women spoke much. Ollorien told her mother about all the things she had made, and about all the songs she had sung. But always, she was careful not to let on about her feelings for Celebrimbor.
Then the topic turned and Tindariel spoke of all the doings of the city. And in one instant, while she was saying something about Celebrimbor and the alliance with the Dwarves, Ollorien interrupted her. “Will the Lord Celebrimbor never marry mother? I wonder, for all kingdoms have kings and queens. Even the Dwarf-Lords have their Ladies, and yet he seems too consumed with his work to think about love.”
But, no matter how much Ollorien tried to hide her affection for Celebrimbor, Tindariel caught the shimmer in her eyes, and besides, she was old and wise, her eyes beheld the light of Valinor, she could not be easily deceived.
And yet, finding out about her daughter’s affection broke Tindariel’s heart, for she knew something that would surely devastate her. Pondering on it for a moment, Tindariel concluded that it was better for her to break the news to Ollorien, than for her daughter to find out by herself.
So, with great effort and pretending that she didn’t see through Ollorien’s question, Tindariel spoke softly: “I do not think that he will ever marry. Not in this Middle-earth at least, for the one for whom his heart cries, Imdoriel, has long departed over the Sea. And there she awaits for him.”
Hearing this, Ollorien felt her heart burst. All the good things she had seen and known in her long life seemed to turn to her ruin. A vast shadow started to engulf her mind, and all the evil of the dark times she hadn’t known smote her soul like the hammer smites the anvil. The universe spun around her, and for one brief moment all was black, and in the darkness she heard the voices of all things that she loved mocking her. That was the day that the maiden who made even the stones sing fell silent.
Tears welled up in Ollorien’s eyes, and she struggled with all her might to hide them. Then, abruptly she stood up, and taking leave of her mother, stormed out of her parents’ house.
It was still early in the morning, about nine, by the position of the Sun. Ollorien had until noon, for that was when she was to meet Celebrimbor in the square. Until that time she roamed the streets of Ost-in-Edhil, weeping at times, or cursing herself for loving one that she couldn’t have. She wanted to hope against all hope that her love would be returned, but she knew all too well that when an elven heart truly loves, that love lasts forever. So she tormented herself, seeing the image of Celebrimbor constantly in her mind, and yet out of her reach.
So she spent the hours until the appointed time. Then when it was almost noon, she gathered herself, and straightening up, she walked grim and silent to the main square. More beautiful than ever in her sorrow, clad in white robes as a spirit she looked passing quietly between the houses of the Elven city.
Ollorien found Celebrimbor already waiting for her, and when he saw her approach he smiled. Seeing him, she felt an arrow of bitter cold pierce her heart. “Will I die…?” she wondered, for Elves can die of grief.
All that happened afterward seemed veiled in a mist of sorrow. Ollorien remembered talking to Celebrimbor, taking measurements for the fountain, and telling him that she needed no apprentice and wanted to work at Ellenbar. But all of it was in a haze.
When she got back to Ellenbar, Ollorien lay down in her bed and cried. Dark thoughts stormed through her head, all hope seemed dead and despair gripped her heart. How long she had lain there, hours, days or weeks, she never found out. She just remembered being roused from her trance by two Elves who came bearing the marble from which she was to make the fountain.
When they had departed, she felt a sort of catharsis, she thought that she had cried all her tears, and so she set to work, making the accursed fountain that introduced her to ultimate joy, and endless sorrow. She thought how after this she would never love again, and she dreaded the utter loneliness that she became aware of after she had lost Celebrimbor.
Yet, she worked hard on the fountain, chiseling and hewing for hours, and when she had finished the contours of the first few faces of the Elves, she gasped in amazement. Their expressions were those of pain and anguish, they looked life-like as all the things she made, and this startled her. She had not meant to make them that way. This fountain was to be her life’s work, like the Silmarills were to Feanor, and yet there it was, hideous and wrong, before her eyes. She had ruined the marble. Ollorien dropped her chisel and hammer and sitting down beside her work, stared blankly into nothing. After some time she got up, and in a fit of anger and despair, she smashed the faces she had labored so hard to make.
Over the next few days she abandoned her work completely, and spent all her time thinking. It was only when a messenger came from Celebrimbor, that she spoke. She told the Elf that she needed more marble and more time.
When what she had requested had been brought to her on the next day, she tried to work again, but on the old, already ruined marble. Again, she could only make tortured faces, and again, she gave up, leaving the new marble untouched.
Nearly a month had passed, when the messenger came back, wanting to know how the work was going. Ollorien told him that she just needed more time.
Weeks passed, and the messenger came yet again, and catching a glimpse of the untouched marble through the open door of Ellenbar, rode back in haste, not even meeting Ollorien.
It was a warm day, neigh to the end of summer, and Ollorien sat in the garden engulfed in unhindered thought. The leaves were turning to gold, and slowly the world was preparing for winter. She sat still, as hewn of stone, pondering on her evil fate. She had shunned all that she knew once and wallowed in her loneliness. Not even the sweet chirping of birds bathing in her fountains and basins could cheer her up.
And so she sat, heedless of the world around her, when she suddenly heard footsteps. They were coming around the house to the garden.
“The messenger, yet again…” she thought, not knowing what to say to him. She couldn’t hide, there was no time to get to the house from where she was sitting, so she waited, calm as a frozen lake.
Then, around the corner of the storage room a tall, dark figure appeared. He walked into the garden and spotting Ollorien, hastily came up to her and stopping looked down on her, for she was sitting in the grass.
Ollorien lifted her eyes and looked at the tall Elf. His hair was jet-black, yet shimmering as a raven’s wings; his skin was white as milk and fitted the shape of his face perfectly. For, his face was slender and fair. As she looked at him his thin, pale lips stretched into a smile, revealing a row of beautiful white teeth. His eyes were as blue as the sky was that day, and in his gaze she perceived knowledge, wisdom and serenity, and something else which she could not quite pinpoint.
The stranger was clad in the manner of the Elven-smiths of Ost-in-Edhil, and his gray cloak was clasped at the neck with a brooch in the shape of a star.
He was, indeed quite beautiful, but Ollorien did not notice that at present. “You are not the usual messenger.” She spoke, looking at him from the ground on which she sat.
“Nor am I a messenger at all!” answered the Elf. “I am called Annatar. Celebrimbor, fair maiden, has sent me to your aid for he fears that all is not right with you. Time and time again you have sent his messenger away, and still we have no word of how your work is coming.” His voice rang in Ollorien’s ears, and she thought how good it was to hear another speak after such a long time. And the voice of Annatar, the Lord of Gifts was fair indeed.
“I am here to aid you if something is amiss.” He added looking at her intently.
“All is well with me, and I do not need your aid, nor anyone else’s, go back to Celebrimbor and tell him that all I need is time.” Ollorien snapped at him.
“A shadow troubles your mind Ollorien the fair, even a blind man could see that. But I shall not badger you about your sorrows, for that is not my purpose here. I have seen how far you’ve gone with your work, for the door of Ellenbar stands ajar” at this remark Ollorien’s eyes blazed at him, for she could not stand defeat, “and I believe that you do need my help.” He said in a soft voice, full of understanding. “And besides, I am not a messenger to run back to Celebrimbor, as I already said, what I am is a smith and a mason. I believe that I could help you. Will you let me?” he spoke slowly, locking his eyes with Ollorien’s.
Ollorien pondered on the proposal for a few moments. Indeed she needed help, but it wounded her pride to ask Annatar to stay. And yet, the job had to be done, so looking him in the eyes she just said: “Yes, you may stay here and aid me in my work.”
And thus it came to be that an alliance was formed between Annatar and Ollorien, and although a promising one, it bore only bitter fruit.
It was agreed between the two of them that Annatar would stay at Ellenbar until their work was done, so he and Ollorien immediately started clearing out the storage-chamber in which he was to sleep. The unfinished statues they piled up at one end of the hall, and those that were finished they set around the garden and the front yard. This labor was hard, for the sculptures were many and heavy, but still they worked, without tiring, long into the night. All the while they seldom spoke, for Ollorien could not quite grasp the idea of a stranger in her house, yet.
When their toil was done, the moon had already risen above the rim of the world.
Annatar sat on a small wooden chair, and rummaged through his pack – the only baggage he had. Out of it he took some food – dried fruit and wild berries for the most part – and a curiously shaped bottle. Inside it was, as Ollorien already guessed, sweet golden mead made by the Elves of Greenwood.
Annatar put forth his belongings and placed them on the low wooden table, one of the few pieces of furniture in the hall. Then he beckoned to Ollorien who stood at the door of Ellenbar looking outside into the starlit night.
“These things I have brought with me, a small token of friendship. I had thought long and hard about what gift to bestow on you, things of gold and silver I thought of, but it all seemed pointless. For, whatever I gave you, you could make yourself. And I thought it an insult to your talent. So I give you just these small things, until I think of a better gift.” And he smiled as he spoke, looking at the bright eyes of Ollorien, which shimmered, green in the light of the stars.
Ollorien in turn felt strangely touched by the small gifts of Annatar, for of all the foods she ever ate, she loved fruits the most. And it had been many a long year since she had last had a draught of the fine mead of Greenwood. So she smiled at him, and it was the first time she smiled after a long time. And she felt relieved, as though a great burden had come off her heart. Turning away, she brought forth out of some secret place in her hall two goblets wrought of mithril and set with gems. And then she sat at the table with Annatar and they drank and ate long into the small hours of the night.
Ollorien thought about how long it was since she had a proper meal, and how good it was to have someone to talk to.
Ollorien the Fair was young by the reckoning of the Elves, and though she was wise and learned in lore, she had spent all her life in Eregion and wondered at all the marvels of the world that Annatar told her of. She questioned him long, ever eager to learn more, and he answered her gladly, telling her about all the lands that he had seen.
But all the while it seemed to Ollorien that there was something about him that she needed to know, yet he wasn’t letting on. She wondered about who he was, for she had never seen him, or even heard tell of him before he showed up in her garden that day. So, at length she asked him: “Who are you Lord? You name yourself Annatar, a name that suits you well, and yet you name no father and no homeland. The light of Aman is in your eyes, I can see, for it shines brightly, but there is something about you that greatly intrigues me. Something else is in your eyes, cold and black it seems to me, though I know not what it is.”
Annatar looked at her gravely, he had remembered all the wrong that he did to her people, and for a moment he was baffled. And although he had repented his evil deeds, he felt a deep uneasiness overwhelm him at her question. He pondered for a while, and then not wanting to lie to her, he spoke softly: “Sharp are the senses of the Noldor race indeed. My name is truly Annatar, though I have been named otherwise in ages that have passed. I name no father, for I have none. And though I walk the earth in the likeness of the Firstborn, I am far older. I say that I have no father, for I have sprung from the thought of the Creator countless ages before the first spring of Arda. My home are the Timeless Halls outside the circles of the world. True, the light of Valinor is in my eyes, for I have beheld it and walked its many gardens. I was taken there to be healed of my woes, for I became a thrall of Morgoth when the world was young…” and at this he fell silent, as though afraid to speak of all that had taken place in his long life. After a pause he added, almost in a whisper: “That which you see in my eyes and cannot discern is the memory of pain and torment.” Whose pain and torment, he never said.
Ollorien looked at him intently, and to her Annatar seemed to grow transparent as he spoke, and a silver light was about him as he gazed at a spot somewhere in the gloom of the hall. And pity filled her hearth, for the pain of Annatar the Maia must have been great under the iron will of Morgoth Bauglir.
An uneasy silence fell on the vast hall of Ellenbar. It lasted a long while, before Annatar stirred, and as one weakened from a dream, smiled wearily at Ollorien. “But all that is in the past. The Shadow is gone, and hopefully, the memory of pain shall fade, and only linger as a warning against evil.”
“Hopefully. It is late, and we have a long day tomorrow. But, before I bid you good night, pray, answer me one more question Lord…” she spoke quietly, as if fearing that the mere sound of her voice would shatter his frail spirit into a thousand pieces.
“Of course Lady…”
“You are of the Ainur. The road to the Undying lands is always open for you, and yet you choose to dwell in Middle-Earth. Why is it so? Would you not prefer to walk the gardens of Valinor better, then to look upon the Mortal lands in the waning of the Elves?” she pronounced slowly, fearing that the question might be too bold.
“Truly, I do not know. I just feel that I am fated to be here, for good or for ill, time only will reveal.” He hadn’t realized the depth of his own words.
After Annatar had answered her question, Ollorien stood up and bid him good night. Then she turned and walked to her chamber, no more than a rustle of white fabric in the faint light of the stars that peered in through henneth-galad.
She never found out that after she had left him, Annatar sat alone in the darkness for a while, thinking. His face was grave and deep in thought, but then, suddenly he laughed. His laughter rang like music through Ellenbar, for it was merry, like the laughter of the Firstborn when they first beheld the stars. He then got up, and with light footsteps walked to his chamber where he slept as soundly as a child for the first time since he left Valinor.
The Sun had ridden her chariot close to noon when Annatar and Ollorien rose on the next day. The day itself dawned bright and fair, but the air smelled of autumn, and there was a chill wind from the north.
They breakfasted and immediately set to work on the new marble. Ollorien had hidden the old, ruined slab under a great black cloth, and pushed it with much effort to the far end of the hall, days before Annatar arrived. There it stood dark and ominous, as a reminder of her lost love.
Annatar wondered much about it, and with his keen eyes and deep wisdom perceived what the object was, but he said naught of it. For, he now focused on his work, which was tiresome, and yet rewarding. Side by side he and Ollorien worked, each teaching the other. And when in a few weeks a messenger came from Ost-in-Edhil, he stood in wonder and marveled at their craftsmanship.
Ollorien then ordered gems, gold and mithril to be brought to Ellenbar, for they were all to be set in the fountain. And so it was.
The making of the fountain proved to be a great venture indeed, and it was to be a marvel in Middle-Earth, to rival even the fountains of Elven Tirion in the Undying Lands. And Annatar and Olorien worked on it. The work was slow, and yet they refused any help offered to them by Celebrimbor. It was to be their work, and theirs alone.
In those days Ollorien seemed happy and content, but still, she didn’t sing. And often as she worked, Annatar caught her glancing toward the covered object at the back of the hall, and then it seemed to him that the light in her eyes diminished, and sadness crept over her. The sadness did not hinder her work however, rather it made her work harder, but still, she was strangely reluctant to carve the faces of the figures in the fountain, constantly coming up with excuses to make Annatar do that part of the work.
He in turn, found this strange and felt that there was a connection between her actions and the dark, looming object, but he kept quiet and indulged her.
Soon, or soon as it seemed to them, winter came. It was long, but mild and without snow. The occasional soft showers the two laborers watched from underneath the henneth-galad. At times like that, they would leave all their work, and just sit, silent, watching as the colors of the rainbow melted into one another over the invisible dome.
It was a day like that, gray and cold, and Ollorien and Annatar had just left the designing of the water-ways in the fountain to look at the raindrops over henneth-galad, when Annatar broke the usual, almost traditional silence.
“It is a stern will that holds the rain from entering henneth-galad Ollorien. You are great among the Noldor, and prove that more and more as the days pass.” He spoke.
“Oh, you flatter me Annatar. You’ll want me to bring you some food next, I imagine…” she spoke, a note of laughter in her voice. A great friendship had grown between the two over the long months that they toiled, and she now felt more at ease around him, than she had felt even around her parents. She smiled, but then, turning towards Annatar, her smile faded, for his face was grim and serious.
“I do not flatter you Ollorien, for your skill surpasses even the tongues of flatterers, so even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.” he said gravely, his serious tone somewhat surprising Ollorien. “At our first meal together you asked me about myself. And to you I revealed what I truly am. You are the only one who knows my secret. But now, I have a question to ask you, bold it may seem, but I feel that I know you well enough to ask.” He continued.
It was Ollorien’s turn to speak now. “Ask then, and I shall answer if I can.” She said.
“Your skill is great indeed, and I do not speak of our work alone. Under your hand stone comes to life and sings. Your statues and fountains are beautiful, and your stern will is present in all of them. And yet, now you refuse to carve the faces of our statues. My hearth tells me that it has something to do with the grief that was troubling you ere I came to abide here, and with that covered object.” He said pointing to it with his slender arm. “My question to you, Ollorien, is: why? Why do you refuse to make the faces of the bodies that you hew, and what is the grief that troubles you?”
For the first time since they met, Ollorien was left speechless. He long guarded secret was uncovered and she felt as though a hot blade had been thrust into the incurable wound in her heart.
Seeing how his question had affected Ollorien, Annatar was at a loss. He started to say something, faltered and fell silent, and his deep blue eyes filled with concern.
Slowly, Ollorien started to speak. “You have seen through my secret better than I through yours Annatar. Go if you wish and look at the covered object, and you will see why I refuse to carve the faces of our sculptures. And as for the grief, you are right as well. It has something to do with it all. For my heart is grieved, broken, cloven in half if you will, for the one that I love loves me not.”
Annatar gazed into her eyes, now gray as the dusk in Elvenhome. Slowly, it dawned upon him how beautiful she was, even in her grief, but he had seen beauty only in the objects of his craft before, and this new, simple, living beauty filled him with awe and wonder. And for the first time in the long ages of his life, for the first time since he had fallen under the shadow of Morgoth, Annatar felt pity in his heart. This strange, new feeling filled up even the darkest corners of his mind where the memory of torture still dwelled. His pity was sincere, real and tangible, and now filled with wonder he spoke as a curious child that wanted something explained to it: “But who, save a fool, could refuse the love of a maiden so fair?”
” ‘Tis the Lord Celebrimbor that I love. But sadly, he is no fool; it is just that his heart was given to another who has now passed over the Sea. He loves her and her alone, and I am left to suffer in my loneliness.”
Deeply moved by his friend’s sorrow, Annatar sat motionless for a while, and Ollorien, feeling the pain of her old wounds again, wept quietly.
Then Annatar stood up abruptly, and kneeling in front of her – the small Elf-maid sitting on the floor and weeping – he took her hands in his, and when she gazed up at his face, he smiled. “You are not alone, and never shall be. For even if all the Elf-Lords of this world were to refuse your love, you would still have me. Forever.” He spoke in a voice so soft and true, that it touched the depths of Ollorien’s grieving hearth, and she thought she felt the pain lessen, dwindle, and then leave her completely. She had discovered in Annatar something that she had not noticed before. Slowly, she felt the tides of her emotions turn, and looking into the depths of his bright blue eyes, shining with comfort and with hope, she saw his spirit in all its timeless glory and his pale face in its ageless beauty. And she smiled. Her smile was like the first ray of sunlight that pierces the clouds after a fierce storm. The rivers of tears in her eyes dried up, and she shown like a small star in the dim halls of Ellenbar.
Presently, Annatar sprang to his feet, leaving her sitting on the floor.
“Now let us see what troubles Ollorien, the fairest of all Elven-smiths!” he shouted laughing. And he strode across the hall picking up a lantern on his way. He got to the covered slab of marble, and taking the cloth in his free hand, yanked fiercely at it, uncovering that which stood underneath. At that moment he gasped with wonder.
Ollorien got up and swiftly ran to his side, only to see that the hideous images of torture had melted away, and in their places stood the fairest Elven-faces ever carved out of stone.
Gasping herself with wonder and delight, Ollorien laughed merrily and loudly, her laughter echoing off the walls of Ellenbar for the first time in a long while.
Ollorien and Annatar never tried to finish the statues in the first slab, for they thought that they would spoil them. But they did decorate them with jewels that Annatar wrought, and then they took the sculpture out and placed it in the garden, where it hence stood, forever to remind Ollorien that she would never be alone.
And so a season passed. The mild winter slowly gave way to a fair spring, full of the smells, sounds and colors of life. Their progress was slow, as before, but they had done much in the long winter months. The fountain was still far from finished, but it was taking shape quickly.
One morning in late march, Ollorien woke up early with a feeling of foreboding filling her mind. She felt that something was going to happen, not necessarily bad, but something important nonetheless. She got up, dressed and went out into the garden for a breath of fresh air, for it was still too early to start working, and besides Annatar was still asleep.
She walked among the trees and flowers of her garden, watching all the birds with sweet voices chirping away merrily as they bathed in her many fountains, basins and birdbaths. Ollorien felt all the power of spring and creation around her, and yet, something was missing. She walked, deep in thought, and then, slowly it dawned upon her. Stopping abruptly, she looked around for a second and then closed her eyes. At first in a whisper she began to hum to herself, and then louder and louder her fair elven voice rose, and she sang. She sang the songs of Valinor, mournful and yet beautiful, she sang of the sorrow of the Noldor in their exile. So beautiful and rich was her voice, that all the birds that were in the garden fell silent and listened with amazement.
When her song came to its end, Ollorien returned to the house, entering the hall through her room. In the hall she found Annatar sitting alone and eating, and she smiled at him, glowing with joy.
He looked up at her from where he was sitting, and he saw something strange about her. She was happy, truly happy for the first time since he had met her. She seemed somehow complete. And this in turn, filled him with joy. He smiled back at her and said: “You shine as the sun herself! The morning light makes you even more beautiful than the stars do…” he trailed off after that, for again, she had begun to hum to herself, and he felt the power of her words engulf him.
The song, indeed, was very beautiful, for it was a part of The Lay of Leithian, the most beautiful of the lays that had come down from the Elder days. Something had put it into Ollorien’s mind at that moment and she could not resist, but burst into song. Annatar watched her intently, wondering why this was the first time that he had heard her sing. Ollorien finished her song and sat in the chair opposite him.
“No wonder that the stones sing beneath your touch! There is no living nor unliving thing upon Arda that would not rejoice to be even the chorus to your melodies!” spoke Annatar, with a note of amazement in his voice. “Truly, Ollorien, I have heard many a minstrel sing that song, but your skill surpasses theirs by far, even if they were all to sing it together!”
Ollorien just looked deep into his eyes, and seeing his sincerity in them, felt her hearth soar.
After they had eaten, Ollorien and Annatar set to work again. The `skeleton’ of the fountain, as they called it, was nearly finished. It would be done by the end of that day. They had hewn and chiseled almost all the figures, and the next stage of the work was to drill the water ways and test them before they attire the figures with gold and mithril and set gems into the bed of the fountain.
The door of Ellenbar stood wide open and a light breeze felt its way through the vast hall as they worked. Presently, Annatar looked up with a quizzical look in his eyes. Ollorien noticed that he had stopped working, so she also looked up. “Is something wrong?” she asked wearily.
“I hear a horse approaching. One of the messengers I suppose. He will be here in a few minutes. Do you not hear?”
Ollorien listened intently for a few moments, and then she heard it as well, the sound of hoofbeats coming down the path to Ellenbar.
She got up and walked to the door, looking out toward the sound. Soon a tall fair-haired rider on a black horse appeared at the gate of the tall hedge that surrounded her dwelling. It was Hailin, the usual errand-rider from Ost-in-Edhil. For the first time since he had started coming to Ellenbar, Ollorien welcomed him with a smile. Hailin was flabbergasted at first, but he said nothing, enjoying the change that came over his hostess.
“Mae govannen Hailin!” Ollorien shouted as he halted his horse and dismounted.
“Mae govannen arwen Ollorien!” he answered shyly. “I bring an urgent message to Annatar from the lord Celebrimbor. Is he here?”
Ollorien’s spirits quailed a little, for she had expected him to ask about their work, and her eyes shined with glee, for she had wanted to boast a little. And yet, here he comes asking urgently for Annatar. She felt neglected.
Just as Ollorien was about to call Annatar, he appeared in the doorway, the bright mid-day sun gleaming in his hair. He blinked in the light, his keen blue eyes narrowing as he gazed at Hailin. They exchanged courtesies, and all the while Ollorien thought how beautiful Annatar looked…
With that thought she turned, and bidding the messenger farewell, went into the house, leaving the two to discuss the matter of the message. She busied herself around the fire, and only looked up when she heard the hoofbeats going away.
“I am summoned to Ost-in-Edhil. The lord Celebrimbor asks for me, he needs my counsel in some matter of which he didn’t speak to Hailin. I am to meet him tomorrow.” Said Annatar gravely, thus preventing Ollorien from asking about the message.
She felt her heart falter as he spoke, for she thought that she was going to lose him. Dark thoughts stormed her mind… `What if Celebrimbor sends him away on some errand? What if he goes away to Khazad-dum? And I have to stay behind and finish our fountain…’ she thought.
“How long will you stay there?” she asked trying to calm herself.
“I have no idea. I shall probably find out tomorrow when I meet with the Lord. I know only that he had bidden me come alone.” He answered absently. His mind was bent on what Celebrimbor might want with him, and he hadn’t noticed the change in Ollorien’s voice, or her mood. For she now fell silent, and worked quietly for the rest of the day, and he did not break the silence, but spent the sunlight deep in thought. He thought about all the reasons that Celebrimbor might have to ask his presence, and a part of Annatar’s mind that lay dormant since he had ventured into Eregion, stirred in its sleep. That was the part where the memory of his former self still dwelt, and doubt filled him. Did Celebrimbor somehow find out who Annatar truly was? This troubled his mind greatly, but he said naught of it to Ollorien, for even she did not know his darkest secret.
The sun went down and still there was naught but silence in Ellenbar, interrupted only by the sounds that their tools made on the marble.
Presently Ollorien put down her tools and got up. “That is enough for today. I shall walk a while in the garden, whilst the twilight lasts. Will you walk with me?”
“Nay, I shall stay here and prepare supper. I do not feel like walking.”
“There is a dark cloud over your mind Annatar, I can see it in your eyes. But if you will not speak of it freely, then I shall not inquire. I will come back soon.” She said and strode out of the hall.
Ollorien went out the door, and then turning walked around the house to the garden. In the trees nightingales were singing, but their sweet tones smote her heart like poisonous darts. She brooded in silent thought, walking on the edge of dreams, just a shimmer of gold in the twilight. She thought of herself much, and she thought of Annatar. All that they had done together in the past months came into her thoughts, and then she knew. She had fallen in love with Annatar. But this love was different than her passing infatuation with Celebrimbor. With Celebrimbor she had loved his beauty, his majesty and his kind words, but she did not know him. But with Annatar it was different. She loved everything about him, his beauty, majesty and kind words not the least, but she loved the way he would smile when he saw her for the first time in the morning, she loved the sound of his footsteps on the stairs of Ellenbar, she loved his silence while they watched the rainbows over henneth-galad, and the faces he pulled while he was working. She loved the sound of his voice and the color of his strange, deep eyes. She loved his wisdom and his skill, but she also loved his humor and laughter. And her love for him was deep, deep as the love of Thingol and Melian. She adored him with all her being ever since that day when he uncovered her stone-faces and the horror of them melted away.
And now, she was about to lose him as she thought, and just the thought itself made her blood run cold. So she walked in her gardens, Ollorien the fair, the maiden that made stones sing, silent and fearful.
Meanwhile, Annatar prepared supper for them, trying to take his mind off his doubts. He thought much about what he was to say to Celebrimbor, if the Lord had indeed uncovered his secret. And then a strange feeling of catharsis overwhelmed him. `I will tell the truth. I am changed, they need fear no evil form me.’ He had resolved to put an end to his doubts and to the fears of the Elves, if there were any. And then another thought crept into his mind `what if he sends me away?’ thought Annatar. And this thought filled him with dismay, even more then his first doubt, for there was something that bound him to Ellenbar. He had become accustomed to its Hall, and to his small room, and to Ollorien. And it seemed to him that he belonged there and nowhere else in Middle-Earth. For, ever since he came to abide at Ellenbar the remnants of his old malice had gone away. And he was happy, or maybe `happy’ wasn’t the word for it, he was content. And he hated the thought of leaving.
And so some two hours he passed in silent thought, and Ollorien had not yet returned. He waited a while longer, and then presuming that she would spend most of the night out, as she often did, Annatar ate alone and went to sleep.
When Ollorien returned, she found a meal set out for her, but Annatar wasn’t there. His soft breathing could be heard from his room. She crept over to the door that stood ajar and peered in. She could see the sleeping form of Annatar in the dim light. She also perceived his peaceful face among the pillows on the floor (he slept on the floor, for there wasn’t a spare bed in Ellenbar). She sighed and turning around, walked over to the table. After eating a little, she went to bed herself.
The sun dawned on a gray and gloomy day, unusually cold for that time of year.
Ollorien rose and found Annatar already up, preparing to leave. In fact, he had already packed all his belongings and was now pacing about the hall nervously. His doubts had grown in the night and his heart was uneasy.
Ollorien stood in the doorway of her room, wrapped in a green cloak and looked at him. “Good morning,” she said, “You look as one about to ride to some bitter doom. What is the matter?”
“I have been waiting for you to rise. I wanted to say farewell ere I leave. About the bitter doom, who knows? I fear that the Lord Celebrimbor might send me away from Eregion, to Khazad-dum maybe. That he might send me away from Ellenbar, which I have come to love as my home. I am uneasy for I fear that I might not set foot in its lofty hall for a long time. Or ever again. And I grieve our parting Ollorien, for you have been a true friend to me, the first that I ever had.”
At this Ollorien’s heart fluttered. Tears welled up in her eyes, and before she could contain herself she burst out: “Then do not go!”
“I have to, for my Lord calls for me. Maybe I will see you again soon. Who knows?”
Ollorien ran across the hall to him and grabbing his hands looked deep into his eyes. “Pray do not leave me! The vast hall of Ellenbar will be as a tomb to me. I could not bear more loneliness, I could not bear to lose you, for…” she faltered, “For, I – I love you…” Soft, silver tears escaped her eyes and ran down her white cheeks, as she looked up at his grave, beautiful face. Then, releasing his hands, she let her arms fall to her sides, and she turned her face away from him and wept silently.
And it was thus that he, who of old was known as Sauron, Gorthaur, the Lord of Werewolves, feared and hated by his enemies for his power, obeyed and held in awe by his thralls for his terror and will of adamant, the lietaunt of Morgoth Baugilr, he Sauron the Maia who had made armies tremble, Annatar the Lord of Gifts, revered by the Elves for his knowledge and wisdom came to be loved for the first time since the forging of Arda.
And as he took Ollorien’s face in his hands and looked into her eyes, sorrowful and grave, the bitter frost that had settled on his heart countless eons ago, melted. In front of him he saw this beautiful, frail creature, unaware of his past, unheeding his power, and not caring for his wisdom. This slender Elf-maiden weeping for him. And for the first time since he came into existence he felt love, not for the work of his hands, but for something different than him, something living, breathing, something that loved him for himself, not his power or wisdom. This strange, utterly new feeling filled him and coursed through his veins, overtaking his mind and cleansing it of all evil. He realized the bond between himself and Ellenbar. And he looked upon Ollorien and loved her back with all his heart.
Then, taking her small hands into his, he pulled her to him and kissed her. And then he wept. He wept for all the things that he had destroyed, for all the evil that he brought into the world under the iron hand of Morgoth. And he wept with joy for this new feeling that engulfed him. His tears flowed in endless rivers, and for the first time he was happy. And he repented all his evil deeds, but not out of fear this time, but out of love. Love for Ollorien the Fair, the maiden that made even the stones sing.
And the joy that this simple, soft kiss brought to them both seemed to flow all around them. A white light surrounded them, and the dark, ominous clouds in the sky seemed to clear, giving way to a pale sunlit morning, shinning down on a beautiful spring day the likes of which Arda hadn’t seen for an age.
Annatar and Ollorien kissed and held each other for what seemed to them a moment, but it had been some time in the `real world’. Presently, Annatar broke away and looked up at the bright morning sun whose rays streamed in through henneth-galad.
“I love you Ollorien Fair.” He spoke softly into her ear.
But then with a heaviness in his mind and limbs he added grimly: “I love you, but now I must go, for my lord Celebrimbor calls for my counsel. But no matter what his orders be, I shall return to you, in a month at the most.”
“Do you promise?” she asked quietly.
And with that he turned and lifting his pack off the floor strode out of Ellenbar. Ollorien watched him from her doorstep until he passed through the gate, and then turning waved to her and disappeared behind the tall hedge.
As it turned out, the lord Celebrimbor did not find out Annatar’s secret, nor did he indeed want to send him away. He had just asked Annatar for counsel, knowing his wisdom. He wanted to know if Annatar deemed the time ripe for him, Celebrimbor, to leave Middle-Earth and depart to the Undying Lands. And to this question Annatar answered: “Nay Lord. Not yet. I am not farsighted, but I feel that you have something to do here, in Middle-Earth, ere you set sail. And besides, you have a host of smiths to instruct, a city to rule, and many more beautiful things to bring into the world. The Shadow has passed. There may still be hope for Elves east of the Sea.”
“Hope? Nay, Annatar, not hope. We belong to the West now, for the Aftercommers have become numerous, and the Dunedain are grown powerful and teach the lesser men kindly. Our time is passing, yet you are right, I deem. Though the love of my heart awaits me in Elvenhome, I too feel that there is something for me to do ere the end. I thank you for your counsel.”
And Annatar took leave of Celebrimbor, and walked back to Ellenbar. To Ollorien’s surprise and joy he returned within a few hours of their parting. And her joy increased when she found out that Annatar wasn’t being sent away.
The two decided not to work that day, but walked merrily in the garden of Ellenbar and sang. And all the birds and beasts rejoiced to hear them singing, for the voice of Annatar was melodious and rich. And he and Ollorien sang together the songs of Valinor, and made up new songs and melodies, and loved each other.
From that day forth they spent the first half of their days working, and in the evenings they talked and sang. Annatar no longer slept on the floor.
And so, many years passed. They had finished the fountain and it was set in the main square of Ost-in-Edhil. Its beauty surpassed even the wishes and designs of Celebrimbor, and he was glad. Glad of the fountain, and glad of the love that Ollorien and Annatar shared and wrought into their work. The kingdom of Eregion flourished and its smiths and masons won renown all over Middle-Earth. And many Elves and Dwarves from afar came to Ost-in-Edhil to admire the Fountain of Friendship, Mellinnen as it was named by the two kindreds.
Nigh on a hundred blissful years had passed since Annatar walked into Ollorien’s garden, and it came to pass that Ollorien’s parents tired of the Mortal Lands and decided to set sail into the West. They beckoned Ollorien to come with them, but she was still young and Middle-Earth had not taken its tole on her spirit yet. So their parting was hard, but not grievous. Yet, the last words that Tindariel spoke to her seemed strange to Ollorien.
Tindariel and Fearnur had come to Ellenbar on their way to Mithlond, and they spoke with Ollorien for a long time. Annatar had gone somewhere, not whishing to intrude on their private moments. When all was said, Fearnur got up, and kissing his daughter went out of the house to prepare the horses. It was then that Tindariel spoke: “We leave you now, my child, for better or for worse, in these lands. We return to the West that was once our home, and forever shall be. I hope you will find your happiness here.”
“I already have, mother. And we shall meet again, over the vast Sea in fair Elvenhome, when I tire of Middle-Earth. Do not grieve our parting, but think of our next meeting, beyond fear and doubt.”
“We shall meet again, indeed. But sooner than you think, my heart forebodes.” Added Tindariel gravely. “But do not let the cares of a mother darken your days in Middle-Earth! To hope and joy we now go, and leave you in hope! Farewell my sweet child!” and with that Tindariel kissed Ollorien and left.
Ollorien spent some time pondering on her mother’s ominous words, but as time went by, they slipped her mind. And she was happy in Middle-Earth, happy with Annatar.
The years passed swiftly for them, yet they heeded them not. They lived together in bliss. Often Annatar and Ollorien went to Ost-in-Edhil and walked its many streets, and Annatar worked at the smithies, teaching and helping the Elves. His wisdom was indeed great and he had risen high in honor in the city of the Elves, and with him the Lady Ollorien whom all loved and welcomed.
And thus it was that on one summer day, when they had just returned from a visit to Ost-in-Edhil Annatar and Ollorien sat on the stairs of Ellenbar and talked.
“I love you Annatar. I love you so much, and I am happy here with you. This, indeed, must be what bliss feels like. Yet, I grieve that my parents are not here to see my happiness. Alas! That they tired of the world… I feel no need for the Blessed Realm, for I have one right here. But I feel it…” she trailed off, a look of sorrow coming into her blue eyes.
“Feel what?” asked Annatar, puzzled by the look in her eyes.
“The world has changed Annatar. Although the Shadow has passed, the power of the Elves is waning. My people are fading slowly. One day in the future I also will leave for Valinor, maybe not soon, but the day will come, lest something appear that will stop the decay, or I am slain before my time. Yet, I love Middle-Earth, all the more for its failing beauty. It changes and I do not, and there is great sorrow in that love. Were it that I could somehow stop the decay, bring back the days of the power of the Elves! Then no more of my kin would leave these hither shores, and I could heal the hurts of the world!” and a light came into her eyes as she spoke eagerly, but then it dimmed again. “Alas! For it cannot be helped. It is as it was meant to be I suppose…” she fell silent.
But her words echoed in Annatar’s mind, and long he pondered on them. In a way, he also loved Middle-Earth, and seeing the sorrow of his love, he felt that he had to do something. Ollorien’s words touched him deeply, and slowly in his mind an idea arose and presented itself. But it would still be some time before he put his plan into motion.
And then one day he rose with the Sun, and kissing Ollorien, went out. He went to the smithies of Ost-in-Edhil, and sought out Celebrimbor.
When he had found him, Annatar told Celebrimbor of his idea and his plan.
And thus began the forging of the Rings of Power.