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Crossroads of Time

Chapter 18: Chapter 18

by ellie

Author's Note: Sorry it took so long to update. I went on vacation the day after I posted ch 17 and came home to a tree on my house, but everything is fine now. Also, my usual betas all developed lives or something and haven't been around, so I had to go get a new one and a used one in order to finish the chapter. Special thanks to Fianna and Riana for stepping in to help me out!

Betas: Fianna, Riana

I used *s to denote telepathic thought.


Warnings: Mild description of child birth, swearing, and a less than mild violent situation


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True to his word, Glorfindel reassured his children of his love for and pride in them. Though he sometimes appeared to Ariella to struggle with the children’s precociousness, he encouraged the children in every way he could. It took time, but slowly life returned to what presumed to be normal in the home of the Chieftain of the Golden Flower. With Glorfindel once again available to help with parenting duties, Ariella was even able to resume assisting the midwife.

No one was more pleased about Ariella’s return to this than Idril for she was nearly 9 months along in her pregnancy. Though the normal gestation period for elves was one year, Idril wondered if hers would be less because her husband was mortal. The midwife visited Idril weekly to monitor her increasing discomfort and her unusually large baby - unusually large for that of an elleth at 9 months. Ariella figured from her own experience with bearing peredhel children that Idril would give birth any day. After three emergency visits to Idril’s house at odd times for what turned out to be false labor, the midwife wondered if this would be so.

Tired of embarrassing herself with these calls to the midwife, Idril asked Ariella if she could call on her the next time she felt such discomfort. Full of understanding and already nearly 5 months along with her seventh child, Ariella had readily agreed. Little did Ariella know at the time what that decision was going to require of her.

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Glorfindel, Ariella, and the family were part way through dinner a few evenings later when a messenger arrived requesting that Ariella attend Idril. With a sigh, Ariella rose from the table.

“I should not be gone long, but in case I am,” she went around the table kissing children goodnight.

Glorfindel rose to meet her when she reached him. Embracing her warmly, he whispered, “Hurry home to me, my love.”

She lingered in his arms for a few moments before pulling back and smiling at him. “I will. I do not expect it will take long to calm and reassure Idril or Tuor.”

Some minutes later, Ariella found herself in Idril’s house talking to a somewhat distressed couple. Idril had hugged her when she arrived and thanked her profusely for coming so quickly. Tuor embraced her in greeting, too.

“Ariella, I am sure it is probably just normal discomfort,” Idril spoke rapidly, obviously trying to downplay the situation as she drew Ariella further into the house to a sitting room. “But I do not know for certain and I am too ashamed to call the midwife over nothing yet again.”

Ariella smiled reassuringly. “Even a midwife does not always know for certain if she is in early labor when bearing her first child.”

“But that never happened to you,” Idril pointed out.

“No,” Ariella readily agreed. “But my children always made absolutely certain that they loudly announced their impending arrivals. And I am a healer and can sense when my body is in labor, so that helped too.”

“That is why I called upon you instead of. . .” Idril gasped suddenly, rubbing her swollen belly for a time before exhaling sharply and finishing her sentence. “. . . instead of the midwife.”

Ariella’s eyes narrowed. “How long have you been having contractions like that?”

Idril continued to rub her belly, taking long deep breaths. Tuor answered for her. “Since this morning,” he replied matter-of-factly. “I have stayed home with her all day. She has been having pains since this morning, but only since this afternoon have they been so sharp that it was difficult to talk through them. We considered calling you earlier, but we did not wish to disturb you.”

“You did not wish to disturb me,” Ariella repeated in disbelief. Not wanting to alarm them unnecessarily, Ariella rose and walked over to Idril, placing her hand on the elleth’s round stomach. What she discovered was most alarming indeed.

“Idril,” she urged as delicately as possible, “I think we need to proceed upstairs to your bedroom now. And I believe we should send for the midwife – immediately. She lives on the other side of the city and it will take some time for her to get here.”

Idril looked surprised and Tuor suddenly looked frightened.

“Are you certain?” Idril asked uncertainly as Ariella took her arm to assist her in rising. Tuor took her other arm and together they helped her to stand. “Are you truly certain?”

Before Ariella could answer, Idril gasped as her body responded with a gush of liquid. All three looked down at the floor and at Idril’s wet dress.

“Yes,” Ariella replied feeling a rising sense of panic herself. “I am quite certain.”

With that, Tuor lifted Idril in his arms and ran up the stairs, with Ariella moving as swiftly as she could in his wake. As he ran, he shouted for a servant to bring the midwife immediately.

Once in the room, Tuor helped Ariella prepare Idril for the birth, the contractions worsening all the while. When Ariella finally felt settled enough herself to check Idril’s progress and start numbing the pain, Ariella’s worst fears were realized. The baby was coming now!

More times than she could count, Ariella had assisted with births. Six times she had been on the pushing end of a delivery, but she had never once been the one to bring the baby forth.

Turning away from Idril for a moment, Ariella took several deep breaths in order to fight her rising panic. Could she do this? Assuming everything went normally, there was little to do but catch. But, what if something went wrong? It could change Arda’s history and it would be her fault. Newborns are slippery, what if she dropped him? What if . . .

No! She had to pull herself together. She had to concentrate. Taking one final deep breath, she turned to face Idril and the task at hand. Tuor was sitting on the bed, holding his wife in his arms.

Calmly, Ariella instructed Idril in what she needed to do and when. After just a few pushes, the air was rent with the sound of the newborn wails of the one whose cries of supplication would one day move the Valar to mercy. After cutting and tying the cord, Ariella’s hands trembled as she firmly clutched the child – the boy who would hold the fate of the Eldar and Atani alike in the clutches of his hands. Soothingly, she wiped the young eyes that would one day look upon the stars from the heavens themselves – the first among elves and men of Arda to ever do so. Gently, she cleansed the nose that would breathe the pure air of Valinor. Softly, she wiped the mouth that would beg for pardon and aid for the free peoples of Arda. Lovingly, she wrapped the body that would one day give life to the kings of Numenor and to her first elvish mentor – Elrond Peredhel.

“Your son, my lord,” Ariella said proudly as she gingerly handed the babe to a wide-eyed, bewildered Tuor.

With a confidence she did not expect to see, Tuor took his little son in his powerful arms, cradling him protectively against his broad chest.

“Earendil,” he whispered as he gazed at the baby in awe. Bestowing a tender kiss upon the silvery downy head, he carefully walked over to Idril and sat on the side of the bed facing her.

Voice choked with emotion, Tuor quietly said, “Thank you for this most precious gift, my beloved.”

Her glistening eyes filled with love, Idril smiled at him and held out her arms.

“He is as beautiful as the stars,” Idril wondered in the midst her tears as she took her son in her arms for the first time.

“Yes, he is,” Ariella quietly agreed, “Indeed he is.”

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In the months after Earendil turned one year old, scouts brought reports to Gondolin that the Plains of Tumladin were completely encircled by Morgoth’s hosts. Turgon ordered the watch and ward to be tripled in strength at all points as well as the construction of more weapons and new engines of war. Consequently, Glorfindel spent a great deal of time away from Ariella and their family both in counsel at court and in training his battalion. Though their sons Glorfinion, Glorion, and Galanor were all still quite young, Glorfindel felt they were of great enough stature and strength to begin more rigorous combat training than the simple sword play and bow work to which they were accustomed. As the boys grew in muscle, proficiency, and prowess, Glorfindel allowed them to progress to more advanced training against the day when they would need to defend their homeland.

With the increase in combat training throughout Gondolin, Ariella and her daughters received instruction in bow and sword as well. She and the girls also found themselves in greater demand as healers, although the girls were not even teenagers yet. Their healing skills brought a more immediate return to health than the remedies of the Nestadain, so many of the injured sought the ladies of the Golden Flower at their home rather than at the house of the Nestadain for fear of insulting the elvish healers by preferring the ladies’ healing services over theirs. Considering Ariella had a young son nearing his first birthday to contend with at home as well, she did not mind the injured coming to her so long as they understood that there might be interruptions from little Glorindir.

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One afternoon after putting Glorindir down for a nap, Ariella entered the sitting room on the opposite side of the house from Glorfindel’s study to meet with her latest patient. The room contained a couple of long lounges which could be covered with sheets to accommodate the injured. There were many windows as well as two fireplaces so the lighting was always sufficient for healing.

The elf she found sitting on one of the lounges when she entered the room surprised her greatly. It was Maeglin, the nephew of King Turgon. His dark hair was matted and tied back into a single braid. His dirty clothes spoke of heavy travel through mines and brush and not of combat training. She met his weary almost fearful grey eyes with a calmness that belied her inner turmoil. He was the one who would betray Gondolin to Morgoth and bring its doom. His actions would result in the deaths of thousands including her husband, herself, and most of her children. Why did he have to come to her for aid?

“Hello, Maeglin. It has been a long time since we have had the pleasure of your company in our house. How do you fare?” She tried to sound as polite and cordial as possible.

He glared at her coldly. “Not well obviously, Lady Ariella, or I would not be here.”

Dispensing with the pleasantries, she pulled up a chair and seated herself within easy reach of him. “What is the nature of your injury or injuries?”

Wringing his hands, he dropped his usually haughty gaze. He sat in silence a few moments before answering her in a rush of words. “I… I have injuries on my back and chest. I was…wounded while foraging for metals in the hills.”

She really did not want to be helping this betrayer and aspiring killer, but the sooner she did, the sooner he would be gone from her house. Taking a deep breath, she calmed herself enough to attend to the task at hand. “I need for you to remove your clothing from the waist up so I can examine your injuries.”

He hesitated, seeming a bit upset by this request. “I…I thought your healing methods were different from those of the Nestadain.” He sounded uncertain.

“They are different and you will most likely recover more quickly,” she patiently explained. “However, I require contact with the skin in order to perform the healing most effectively.”

He squirmed apprehensively in response.

Her healer’s compassion took over. “Are you in pain, Maeglin?” she asked gently.

When he did not respond, she reached out and brushed the side of his head with her hand, seeking to stifle the pain that must be consuming him for him to be acting so oddly. She felt the blood drain from her face at what she perceived in him.

His entire body ached from fatigue, nearly quivering with tension and stress. She inhaled sharply and stiffened as she deepened the contact to assess his injuries. Searing pain from deep untreated cuts in his chest and back nearly took her breath away, so she quickly numbed the physical pain she found. Yet, something else ached, too, something deep inside his very fëa. Curious, she placed both hands firmly on the sides of his head with her thumbs meeting at the top and looked into his mind and spirit. She gasped at what she perceived there.

Darkness…

Insane Hope...

Anger...

Hatred...

Arrogant Pride...

Dread…

An overwhelming bottomless dread...

Tainted blackness...

Gaping in shock, she released her hold on him. Sitting back, she trembled as she grasped fistfuls of her skirts with rapidly numbing hands.

He had done it!

She struggled to breathe, looking at the floor but not really seeing it.

He had already done it.

She blinked, her eyes suddenly dry as she continued to stare at the floor, not wanting to comprehend the truth.

The bastard had already done it.

Fury, white hot amid wrenching fear seared her nerves as the realization finally hit her.

The damn bastard had already betrayed Gondolin to Morgoth!

She shook her head as she fought back tears.

The damn bastard had …

Something gripped her hands, practically making her leap out of her skin. She looked up, utterly bewildered, to find Maeglin staring at her, his bare chest covered with the partially-healed bloody stripes of a whip. The history books said he talked his way out of death at the hands of the orcs and that he actually told Morgoth not only where Gondolin lay hidden, but how to destroy it as well. They had not mentioned that he had been tortured.

“Ariella?” he said softly. “You eased my pain, so I removed my clothes as you requested.”

What should she do? What could she do? Should she tell someone? Who would believe her? Should she say anything to him? What would she say to him?

“Ariella,” his voice was strained with exaggerated patience. “You may proceed with the healing now.”

“Yes, of course,” she mumbled half to herself.

There was nothing she could do. It was already too late. He had already betrayed them all to their deaths. Despairing defeat consumed her. Slowly, almost mechanically, she laid her hands on his body and healed his wounds. When she finished, she sat back watching him dress in his filthy clothes. Contempt welled up within her, fueled by a sudden uncharacteristic boldness.

“Why did you do it, Maeglin? Why did you betray us to Morgoth? How could you doom Gondolin?”

He froze in the middle of lacing his shirt, his face suddenly pale. He remained motionless for a few moments not looking up at her, and then continued dressing, angrily tying the laces of his shirt. “Why do you think I betrayed Gondolin to Morgoth? I told you I was quarrying in the hills.”

“Do not lie to me Maeglin.” Her voice dripped with bitter contempt. “I know you broke the leaguer of the hills against Turgon’s edict. No one was to go into the hills for any reason whatsoever.”

Maeglin angrily fastened his belt, his eyes glaring darkly. “I am Turgon’s nephew! In fact, I should be his heir! How dare you accuse me of such a thing?”

Ariella continued undaunted. There was nothing else he could take from her now that he had completed the betrayal. “I know orcs took you prisoner, Maeglin. I saw for myself the stripes of their whips upon your back and chest. I know you went before Morgoth and told him where we were hidden and how to destroy our city. Morgoth will never give you the captaincy of an army of orcs as he promised you. And he will never give you Idril when the city falls.”

Maeglin stood up abruptly and she rose to face him, catching his sleeve tightly.

“Maeglin, you are a fool to trust Morgoth. He will never give you what he promised. In the end, you will meet the same death as your father did. The only hope you have of surviving now is to tell Turgon what happened and he might pardon you. That at least would give us the chance to plan some strategy for escaping.”

Before she even realized what was happening, his hand was gripping her neck and the point of his dagger pricking her throat. She had gone too far. Why had she let her anger get the better of her? Why had she provoked him so?

“I do not know what kind of half-blooded sorceress you are that you know these things, but know this,” Maeglin snarled softly through gritted teeth as he tightened his grip on her neck. “I do not care if this city falls. I will have what Morgoth promised and Idril will be mine.”

Her vision began to blur, tinged red and brown around the edges. It became harder to breathe as his hand constricted about her throat. She gripped Maeglin’s hand, calling out to Glorfindel across their bond, begging him to come home now. She could only hope he was close by.

She struggled against Maeglin’s strength and could barely speak as his hand clamped tighter against her throat. “If you kill me like this in my own house everyone will know you did it,” she accused him hoarsely.

“You are correct,” Maeglin conceded with a wicked smile and he abruptly released her.

*Glorfindel, please! I need you now.* She called again.

“But I cannot have you telling anyone what you know, Sorceress,” he purred maliciously.

She tried to back away but he moved almost casually toward her, like some wild animal stalking his prey.

*Glorfindel, I am in trouble! I need you now! Run!*

She took several steps but then his hand darted out suddenly to grasp her arm, pulling her toward him. His other hand punched her hard in the stomach and she doubled over in pain, gasping for air that would not come.

*Glorfindel, please!*

Effortlessly Maeglin picked her up and carried her to the nearest lounge. Laying her down, he straddled her hips with his knees, an evil grin lighting his face. “If I suffocate you no one will know how you died. They will think it was a healing sleep from which you never awoke.” He shoved a pillow down onto her face as she struggled futilely, her world going dark as he laughed. “Farewell, Sorceress,” his disembodied voice gloated faintly.

She tried to inhale precious air, but the pillow blocked her mouth. Her flailing arms could find nothing to grasp, her heels drummed in panic on the cushion, but nothing made any noise. She was helpless, her strength rapidly fading as she fought to breathe. No one to hear, nothing to do but kick the lounge and that made precious little noise to draw attention to her predicament in the room.

*Glorfindel, please! I cannot breathe. I cannot see. I’m in the sitting room with Maeglin. Help me please!*

The pressure increased despite her struggles. Her lungs were burning. Her muscles seared with agony.

*Glorfindel, I love you. I am sorry.*

She fell still as consciousness faded, knowing her life was ending. Distantly she heard a door open. The force pressing on her face and body suddenly eased. Barely perceived light flooded her closed eyes. The last thing she heard before she succumbed was Maeglin’s panicked voice speaking as if from far away.

“You are just in time, Glorfindel! Your wife has fainted.”

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Note:
HoME book 2 The Book of Lost Tales Part II, The Fall of Gondolin was my source for this chapter.
Atani – humans of Arda

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Chapter 18
Created
12 Oct 2005
Last Edited
12 Oct 2005
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