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Crossroads of Time

Chapter 20: Chapter 20

by ellie

Betas: Extra special thanks to Michelle, Fianna, and GeorgiaPiper

Warnings: Blood and death in this chapter

Disclaimer: Most of this is Tolkien's and I'm only borrowing it for a while. I make no money from this.

Asterisks (**) denotes telepathic communication.

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For four days, Ariella flitted from bed to bed and room to room. At each one, she worried that she had not spent enough time, yet feared that she had been away from the others too long. But, for the last two days, she remained in one room beside one bed.

In all of this time, there had been no discernable change in this patient. She, two of her daughters, and a couple of the Nestadain, including Lhûnedhel, had examined him daily and given him strength, but to no avail. She had reached out to him telepathically, perceiving his dreams and the level of his unconsciousness, yet even she could not reach him. Such was the depth of the recovery sleep of a healer who had over-extended himself to the brink of death. And there was nothing Ariella could do to help him.

In her frustration, Ariella paced the room, pondering the events of the last few months, wondering what she or Glorfindel could have done differently and whether it even would have mattered.

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It had started long before the night that the children learned of Ariella’s people and past. Her children were physically and intellectually advanced well beyond their years as far as the elves were concerned. Elven youths who should have been her children’s peers had singled them out and rejected them for their differences, as children will often do. Rather than being helped by the news of their mother’s highly gifted alien heritage, Ariella’s offspring, particularly her sons were even more unsettled than before.

Whenever she asked them about their brooding silence at home or their obvious public discomfort, they brushed her aside with angry words or hurt-filled glares. All of Glorfindel’s attempts at getting through to them were met with a scathing silence as their sons shut him out as well, while their daughters wept about it behind closed doors. Glorfindel kept telling Ariella that the children needed to work through this and that they would be back to normal soon. However, the children’s scorn hurt far more deeply than either of them could have imagined.

Fortunately, as Glorfindel and Ariella saw it, the city gates were shut to those wanting to wander the hills, so the children couldn’t run away. However, their sons were becoming more impetuous on the practice field, throwing themselves into their training with reckless abandon. Their spiritual and emotional unrest was so evident that they consequently became more frequent targets for taunts whenever the warriors of the Golden Flower were not present to stick up for their lord’s sons. Unsurprisingly, the tormentors were almost all from the House of the Mole, Maeglin’s house.

The primary antagonist, as far as Ariella and Glorfindel had been able to determine, was a youth called Morang, a trainee from the House of the Mole. His favorite pastime appeared to be making sport of goading their sons, particularly their eldest, into contests of strength or arms that they were inevitably doomed to lose. As dark of hair as he was of countenance, this young Noldo was her sons’ nemesis, constantly harassing and antagonizing them at every turn. When his parents died in the Nirneath Arnoediad, he had been taken in by kin who were nobility of the House of the Mole and close friends of Maeglin their lord. Lately come to his majority, Morang was held in high regard by Maeglin, whom the young ellon practically worshipped and followed without question: liking those who Maeglin told him to like and scorning those Maeglin told him to scorn.

Whenever a lord other than Glorfindel or Maeglin was in charge of training young warriors, invariably that lord ended up in Glorfindel’s study that evening complaining to him about his sons and the multiple incidents that had occurred that day between the young lords of the Golden Flower and the youths of the Mole. Whenever Maeglin was in charge, their sons returned home late and extremely weary. Ariella’s connection with the children was so strong that she knew when they were injured no matter where in the city they were. She therefore knew that her sons’ weariness those days sprung from the extensive healing they had to perform in order to be able to walk home again. Each night they silently accepted reprimands and punishments from their parents or stoically brushed aside offers of comfort.

All too aware of what was happening on the practice field Ariella was not surprised to discover that her sons’ unrest spread to other areas as well.

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A few weeks after “The Discussion,” as Ariella and Glorfindel had taken to calling it, Istadan came to the house, requesting a meeting with Ariella. Garbed in scholarly browns (which hid the ink stains the best, he had once confided to Ariella), Istadan sat in a chair beside Glorfindel’s desk. Glorfindel was away at council for the day, so Ariella occupied her husband’s usual seat. After exchanging pleasantries over tea, Ariella steered the conversation to Istadan’s reason for requesting the meeting.

“My lady,” Istadan said, sitting up straight and placing his tea cup on the desk. “Your children confound me. For years they have been some of the most eager and talented pupils I have had the pleasure to instruct. However, now…”

Ariella propped her elbows on the desk and buried her face in her hands. “Oh, Istadan,” she interrupted him, her voice muffled by her hands, “Not you, too. Please, not you too.” First the practice field, then problems reported by Lhûnedhel during the healing lessons. Not this too, oh please, not this too.

She slid her hands into her hair and peered sideways at Istadan.

Biting his bottom lip, he raised his eyebrows and nodded his head almost apologetically.

She swore under her breath, pounding the desk with her fist in frustration as she sat back in the large chair.

“My sentiment exactly, my lady,” he quietly agreed. “It is not so much your daughters as your sons. They constantly question my sources. They challenge my authority and knowledge, especially in the areas of science and studies of the Atani.” He rose from his seat, gesturing and pacing as he slowly spoke.

“Ariella, I learned much of what I am teaching them from the Valar themselves, yet those ellin have the audacity, the brazen audacity, to question the veracity of my words. They have even suggested that the Valar have hidden information from us, claiming that we the Firstborn of Arda were too primitive to be able to handle the whole truth about some matters.” Sitting down heavily in his chair, he put his elbow on the desk. He ran his fingers through his loose dark hair, then rested his head on his hand.

She felt her stomach clench at the thought of what her sons might have said. It must have sounded like blasphemy to Istadan.

“Ariella, the last person I heard claim that the Valar had hidden information from us was Feanor when he told us what he had learned from Melkor of the coming of the Atani.”

Ariella bowed her head and cringed. When an exiled Noldo compared someone to Feanor, it could not be a good thing.

“And he was correct,” Istadan continued.

Ariella looked up in surprise. “What did you say?”

“I said Fëanor was correct. The Valar did withhold information from us. And, I had to agree with your sons that the Valar may well have chosen not to disclose some other information to us. However I think it is for our own good that the Valar withhold teachings, especially if we are not ready for the lessons and experiences that might accompany such knowledge. And I told your sons this.”

Ariella sighed in relief.

“But for some reason, your sons persist in doubting the wisdom of not only the Calaquendi, but of all of the Firstborn. And they no longer to care to learn anything more of the Atani - not even of your kin of the House of Hador.”

The relief instantly died.

“As if that were not enough, your daughters seldom say anything at all during lessons. Instead, they…” Sitting up, he paused, taking a long drink of his tea, and looked away fidgeting with his cup. “Thank the Valar I do not have to say this to Glorfindel,” he said under his breath.

Ariella sat forward in her chair, leaning her arms on the desk in front of her. “You do not have to say what to Glorfindel?” She asked alarmed.

Still not looking at her, he continued nervously. “Ariella, you are an elleth. You understand these things. I never had any sisters and have had few female friends, but I do not believe I am misinterpreting what I am seeing and experiencing. Then again, I misinterpreted your own behavior so, I could be wrong. I do not know. I just…” He finished his tea then fidgeted with the cup more violently.

“Istadan, you are not making any sense. It is not like you to babble.” She rose to her feet, and walked around the desk. Taking his cup, she set it on the desk, then grasped his hands and knelt in front of him. Speaking gently and, she hoped, reassuringly, she said, “Istadan, tell me what has you so troubled.”

He squeezed her hands and then met her gaze with his piercingly bright blue-grey eyes. “Ariella, your elder daughters argue over who will sit beside me during lesson. Glorfinion always sits to my right as is his due as the eldest and heir of my lord, but Arianna and Arienne practically come to blows over who will occupy the other chair. Then whichever one gains the seat for the day, sits so close to me that I could write on her parchment almost as easily as I could write on my own. I feel so uncomfortable, that I have taken to standing during lessons.

“These young ellith also stare at me constantly. And it is not the gaze one would expect from a student paying rapt attention to a tutor speaking on a fascinating topic, either. I have perceived some of their thoughts on these occasions and …” He looked away, his face flushed bright red.

“To make matters worse, your peredhil daughters are also developing physically much more quickly than full-blooded ellith of their same years and…” He paused, swallowing hard, still not looking at her. “Their more feminine qualities are ah, becoming rather apparent. In fact, I dare say that Arianna … ah … shares many of your more notable attributes and to the same proportion to which you yourself … exhibit them.”

Ariella valiantly fought down the urge to laugh out loud. She took his hands more firmly in her own; donning what she desperately hoped was a sympathetic expression as he met her gaze again.

“Ariella, I do not deny that I was and am still in love with you. Nor do I deny having looked upon your children as my own in many ways. I am trying my best to teach them what I would have taught my own. But … Ariella, stop smiling at me! It is not amusing! It is not at all funny!” His exasperation was clearly evident in his voice now. “Your daughters are too young to look on an ellon that way or to have such thoughts about one. And they especially should not think such things about me. I mean, if they only knew how I feel about you…”

At least she had not laughed out loud at him. Yet. Much as she wanted to. The smile was stuck on her face, however, and refused to leave.

“Istadan,” she spoke matter-of-factly. “Their behavior is quite normal for mortal girls of their years, as is their physical development. I think that even if they knew of your feelings for me, they still would … shall we say, “admire” you. In fact, they would probably “admire” you all the more, thinking that because they do look so much like me, they might have more of a chance of gaining your affections. You are handsome, tall, nicely built, highly knowledgeable, and have a lovely voice. I am not at all surprised that they are attracted to you.”

He looked abashed, but then quietly pointed out as he squeezed her hands again, “It was not enough to win you.”

“No, it was not,” she conceded, “But if I had not had Glorfindel, your chances with me would have been rather good.”

Smirking, he asked, “So are you suggesting that since I cannot have you, I should take comfort in the affections of your daughters?”

“When my daughters are grown, you may, as you say, take comfort in their affections,” she clarified. “Until then…”

“Until then, I will have to endure their revolting adolescent glances and annoying giggling while desperately hoping that Glorfindel never learns of their fascination with me.”

“Exactly,” Ariella said as she leaned forward and kissed his cheek, much to his obvious surprise. She rose to her feet still holding his hands. “If only the solution to my sons’ problems were so easy.”

“My lady,” he admonished rubbing his thumbs over the backs of her hands. “Your solution to your daughters’ problems could hardly be described as “easy” from my perspective. You have no idea how uncomfortable this situation is for me.”

“Then why not teach them some history that might appeal to their romantic girlish fancies while still incorporating the other lessons you may wish to teach?”

He looked at her curiously and asked, “How so?”

She released his hands and walked across the room to a table sporting several glasses and a large decanter of fine red wine. Pouring two glasses, she brought him one, most of which he immediately gulped. She returned to her seat with the other glass, while explaining, “Teach them the story of Beren and Luthien. You could incorporate into your story information about the Maiar, the Sindar, mortal men and the House of Bëor, as well as Doriath and Nargothrond. Or you could teach them about Aegnor and Andreth which could encompass Noldorin history as well as that of the Atani House of Bëor.”

“Aegnor and Andreth?” He repeated. “Aegnor son of Finarfin? He died in the Dagor Bragollach I did not know that he had wed. Who is Andreth and what are her ties to that house of men? I have never heard this tale. Did they have any children?”

Ariella felt the blood drain from her face as she nearly choked on her sip of wine. She had read that story in Imladris from a book passed down through the ages. Only Andreth, Aegnor, and his brothers knew about this unconsummated romance before the book recording it was passed on through the lines of men to finally end up in Elrond’s possession. Of course no one in Gondolin would know anything about it.

“Ah,” she stammered, trying to decide what to tell him. “Aegnor was in love with a mortal woman named Andreth of the house of Bëor, but since elves do not wed in time of war, he never pursued her though she loved him in return. He died in battle, but she died not long after of old age. It was said by Finrod that his brother most likely would not choose to return from Mandos’ halls because of his great love for Andreth and that they would have to wait until the Second Music to be reunited again.”

“How very sad,” Istadan said quietly. After seeming to ponder this for a few moments, he asked. “My lady, what of your own parents? Do you think that your mother will wait in Mandos’ halls for the Second Music so she can be reunited with your mortal father?”

Ariella looked at him in surprise. “My mother?” Her mother was mortal. She would never go to Mandos’s halls! And she almost said as much before remembering what he believed to be true about her past. “Yes, yes, I believe she will wait for him.” She bowed her head and exhaled loudly, not realizing she had been holding her breath. Istadan was so easy to talk to, that she kept forgetting just how little he knew about her.

“I am sorry I mentioned your parents, Ariella. I can see that the memories still trouble you greatly. Forgive me.”

She raised her head and was met by his gentle compassionate gaze. “It is all right. I do not think of my family often. The memories are still difficult to cope with.”

“Have you told your children of your kin, Ariella? Perhaps it would help encourage them in their studies of the Sindar and the Atani.”

She smiled at him weakly. “Yes, I recently told them. But, they take no pride in what they have learned of my kin. I think that the knowledge was too much for them to handle with so much of their mortality showing in their early development and marking them as different from everyone else in Gondolin. I think perhaps I should have waited to tell them the stories of my past until they were more comfortable with what they are and their role in society in Gondolin.”

“I have heard of the problems they experience on the training field and the difficulty that Lhûnedhel is having with them. Do you believe that this knowledge is what has caused their behavior to change so much of late?”

“Yes, it is the cause,” she admitted.

“Oh Ariella, this must be very difficult for you. Yet, I do not understand how knowing your heritage could be anything but a source of pride for them. Is there anything I can do to help this?”

She thought about it for a moment. “Yes, there is something you could do. Remind the children that they have a duty to their father and his people to listen to you and learn what you have to teach. Remind them of their high heritage through Glorfindel and their responsibility to the House of the Golden Flower. That way, though they have no pride in me, they can be proud of something.”

He smiled warmly. “I have tried to instill in them a pride in their Sindarin and Atani ancestry. For you, I have done this. But I will turn the focus more to their Vanyarin and Noldorin heritage, if you think it might help.”

“Yes, I think it might help.” It certainly could not make things any worse.

She smiled at him in gratitude and relief as he finished his wine.

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Istadan did as she had requested and though her daughters seemed to settle and behave more appropriately, her sons did not.

One evening some weeks later found Glorfindel and Ariella seeking solace in their bedroom on the bearskin rug in front of the fire. They had just endured yet another exasperatingly long complaint from the training captain and doled out yet another punishment to their sons. Glorfindel sat staring into the flames, his arms wrapped securely around Ariella, holding her close.

Sighing heavily, he whispered, “My lady, news of our sons’ difficulties has finally reached Turgon’s ears.”

Ariella jerked her head from Glorfindel’s shoulder in surprise, but he pressed it back in place and rested his cheek against her hair. “Be still, my love,” he softly admonished. “It is all right. I spoke long with Turgon today. He wants this situation resolved soon, but he wants it handled very carefully. He fears that any outcome to this situation will have lasting repercussions for his grandson. It is very fortunate for us that Earendil is peredhel like our children. Otherwise, I fear our House would be harshly punished for our sons’ poor behavior of late.”

“Glorfindel, what are we to do?”

“I do not know. Turgon suggested that we speak with Tuor and Idril about this situation. We are to meet with them tomorrow.” Suddenly Glorfindel lifted his head, obviously hearing something she did not. Then there was a knock on the door.

“Arlianna!” he called. “Come in, daughter.”

Ariella looked up in surprise as her youngest daughter opened the door just enough to slide around it and into the room, her rose-colored dress swishing against the door as she turned to close it behind her.

Ariella held out her hand in invitation. “Come and sit with us.”

Arlianna looked at them timidly before rushing over to plop down on the rug in front of Glorfindel and snuggle up against his chest. He put one arm around her drawing her and Ariella into a tight hug. They both smiled at him and he relaxed his hold, bestowing a kiss on his daughter’s forehead.

Looking into her eyes, he asked, “Now what brings my little elleth to my arms this evening?”

She gave him a small smile which quickly faded to a frown and bowed her head. “Adar, I want to help my brothers get better. But I do not know how.”

Ariella answered, “Your father and I have talked to them about their behavior many times, but they no longer seem to hear us.”

“My sisters and I have talked to them, too, individually and together,” Arlianna said, nodding sympathetically. “The twins tell us that they wish for all of the taunting to stop, but whenever they try to ignore it, Morang and his friends turn their insults upon Glorfinion and provoke him until he responds.

“We told Glorfinion that if he keeps on reacting in violence then no one will respect him. But he said he does not care any more what people think of him. He said that no one will respect a peredhel anyway, so why not return unkindness with anger? His reaction will make no difference in the outcome of the situation anyway or in others’ opinions of him. We told him his responses do make a difference and that many people no longer think that any of us are mature enough to handle any adult tasks because of his constant fighting. He said he does not care. We told him he is selfish to mar our reputations so. And we also told him that if he does not respect himself, then how can he expect others to do so?

At that point, he threw us out of his room and slammed the door and locked it.”

Ariella took a deep breath and slowly let it out, hearing Glorfindel do the same.

*Oh, Ariella,* he whispered across their bond.

Ariella lifted her daughter’s chin, and, looking into her eyes, quietly said, “It was very wise of you three to go talk to your brothers and very kind of you try to understand their problems and desire to help them. Do you have any thoughts about what can be done to help your brothers – especially Glorfinion – feel good about themselves again?”

Arlianna chewed her lip, making her “thoughtful” face before finally saying, “I think they need for their peers to praise them for something and genuinely mean it. Naneth, it is so very difficult for all of us not really fitting in physically or intellectually or emotionally with any one group.”

Ariella bowed her head, trying not to cry. She felt so horrible. She never should have told the children the truth. They truly did not belong anywhere and they never would.

“What do you wish for us to do?” Glorfindel asked, gently caressing his daughter’s cheek with his finger tips. “We have tried for so long. We truly have, but I fear there is nothing we can do to remedy this.”

“I fear for my brothers and sisters,” Arlianna whispered, her maturing, pre-teen face suddenly melting back into that of a frightened little girl. “My sisters intend to stop our brothers from fighting any more. But…” Her voice grew quieter still. “But I have had dreams, Ada. Bad dreams. And I am so scared. So very scared.” She put her arms around him, curling up as tightly against his chest as she could. Glorfindel’s arms automatically encircled her protectively as muffled sobs rose from her now shaking form.

Ariella rubbed her daughter’s back consolingly, staring dejectedly at Glorfindel. The sorrowful helplessness on his face echoed across their bond. Neither of them knew what to do or what to say, so they just sat there, comforting their little girl in a silence broken only by her weeping and the crackle of the fire before them.

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Early the next evening, Ariella and Glorfindel met with Idril and Tuor while little Eärendil and Ariella’s youngest son Glorindir played in Eärendil’s room under the watchful eye of one of Idril’s servants.

One arm comfortably draped around Idril who was sitting beside him, Tuor asked, “Ariella, do you know if any of the other peredhil have had this much trouble coping with being a peredhel in an Eldarin society?”

Glorfindel was holding her hand to stop her fidgeting, so she rubbed the back of his hand as she spoke. “I do not believe that any of the other peredhil have had problems with being accepted by others. However, my children and your son are among the first. My children suffer so because we hid the truth about their heritage from them for so long and also because Maeglin does not like me. We suspect that he is encouraging Morang and the other trainees of his house to antagonize our children.”

“I believe you are correct about Maeglin’s suspected influence. He does not like you any more than he likes my husband,” Idril said. “I have warned you in the past to be wary of my cousin.”

“I have been wary of him,” Ariella replied in exasperation. “But there is nothing I can do about the way he encourages others to treat my children.”

“Ariella, do you know if he or anyone else will cause trouble for my son when it comes time for Eärendil to begin training?” Tuor asked concerned.

This was one portion of the future about which she knew she could safely comment. “I know for a fact that Maeglin will not be troubling your son when your son reaches an age where he can begin training.”

“You seem very certain about that. So, will Glorfindel get so disgusted with Maeglin that he kills him or will I beat him to it?” Tuor asked.

Ariella knew that Tuor’s words were spoken in jest, but she did not think he realized how near to the truth he had come. Tuor would be the one to kill Maeglin during the fall of Gondolin. “I think it best I not comment.”

In her mind Ariella heard Glorfindel ask, *Will you tell me later? If it is to be me, then I want to start sharpening my sword now.*

Eyes wide, Ariella turned and looked at Glorfindel in surprise. *I cannot believe you asked me that!*

“I can believe it,” Idril observed aloud.

Ariella and Glorfindel both whirled on Idril, and Glorfindel said, “Stay out of our private conversations, Cousin. It is rude to eavesdrop.”

Tuor laughed and said, “Glorfindel, from your expression even I could tell that you probably commented to her about hoping to be the one to, shall we say, end Maeglin’s negative influence on your family.”

Glorfindel scowled and said nothing.

Leaving her husband to brood alone, Ariella got up and began to pace. “There must be something we can do to convince Morang and his friends to leave our sons alone. I just wish I knew what.”

“Has anyone talked to Morang about this?” Idril asked.

Ariella replied in irritation, “We have already been over this, Idril. Yes, all of the lords who have led training have talked to him and his friends and to our sons.”

“Yes,” Idril patiently replied, “But have you and Glorfindel spoken with him?”

Ariella stopped and looked at her. “We –“

Ariella inhaled sharply at a sudden sharp pain in her abdomen. Clutching her stomach, she doubled over and fell to her knees. She gasped for air as the pain vanished just as quickly as it had come. Glorfindel, Idril, and Tuor were out of their seats and kneeling on the floor by her side in an instant. Ariella blinked and looked around confused, trying to figure out what had happened.

Glorfindel gently put his hand on her arm as Idril worriedly asked, “Ariella are you all right?”

Ariella hesitated a moment, waiting to see if any more pain would come before slowly answering, “I do not know.”

Quietly, Glorfindel asked, “Is one of our sons injured again? Maeglin led the training and the practice should be over for the day.”

Reaching out with her mind as she straightened her posture, Ariella reported in bewilderment, “No. It is not one of our sons. It is… It is Arianna.”

Suddenly a burning sensation ripped clean through her from belly to spine. Ariella jerked and collapsed to the floor. She lay there panting, clutching her stomach against the horrific agony.

Reaching out telepathically, Ariella’s mind immediately filled with her daughter’s perceptions. She saw the shocked horror on Glorfinion’s face as he lowered her to lie on her back. A large crimson stain covered much of his shirt. Glorion and Galanor looked equally terrified as they leaned over her. Amidst the blinding pain, she felt the healing contact of all three assessing her condition. Suddenly the pain and all other sensation left her even though her brothers had not begun the numbing so they could heal her. Everything gradually faded to white as Arianna faintly whispered to her mother in her mind.

*Nana I tried to stop them. I do not know what happened. I am so sorry. I tried. I love you. Tell ada I love him, too.*

Before Ariella could reply, a gentle yet powerful male voice, encompassing all of the pleasant sounds of the world and awash with the colors of the rainbow, engulfed her mind, resonating in her body as it softly commanded, “Arianna!”

Then she was gone.

As Idril’s sitting room and Glorfindel’s face came into focus, an emptiness filled Ariella’s heart as if a part of her spirit physically had been ripped from her. The place in her mind and soul where her eldest daughter’s thoughts and presence had resided was empty.

Ariella lay on her side pounding the floor with her fist, screaming in silence before sound finally came out with uncontrollable sobs. “No! Not my daughter! Not my little girl! No! No! Nooooo!!!!!”

Glorfindel lifted Ariella to a sitting position and gathered her in his arms. Holding her close, he rocked her, gently commanding, “Shhh. Shhh. Ariella, hush. I need you to calm down and tell me what has happened.”

“I…I think I heard Mandos call our daughter. I know I heard him.” She blurted out angrily. “I cannot feel her thoughts anymore. Arianna is dead!” Ariella rested the side of head against Glorfindel’s shoulder, wailing, “My baby girl is dead! She is gone!”

He silently pressed her closer to him.

“Glorfindel,” Idril quietly said, “I cannot feel her thoughts either. You need to go find your sons. I sense their fear, but they have not given up on Arianna yet.”

Glorfindel did not respond.

“Glorfindel,” Idril urged more forcefully, “Go to your sons. I will take care of Ariella.

Glorfindel!”

Glorfindel still did not respond. He just sat there silently clutching Ariella to him and rocking her.

Highly exasperated, Idril asked, “Tuor, please.”

Tuor and Idril positioned themselves on either side of Glorfindel. Together, they both unpeeled Glorfindel’s arms from around Ariella. Tuor pulled Glorfindel to his feet as Idril put her arms around Ariella and held her close.

“Come, Glorfindel. We must find out what has happened. We must learn the truth and bring your children home. Little Glorindir can stay here tonight. Idril will see your wife safely home. Come.”

Amidst her tears, Ariella watched Glorfindel’s shocked overly pale face as Tuor straightened her husband’s tunic for him before taking him by the arm and slowly leading him from the room.

Ariella did not know how long Idril held her there on the floor while she cried. At last she calmed enough to pull back. Gradually she became aware of a warmth and lightness filling the empty places inside of her. But, it made no sense to her. Her daughter was dead. She knew she heard Mandos call Arianna and knew her daughter was dead.

“Ariella,” Idril quietly commanded, placing a cup of water in her hands. “Drink this.”

Ariella shakily took the cup and drained it.

“Good,” Idril soothed, handing the cup to a servant Ariella suddenly noticed kneeling beside her. Each grasping one of Ariella’s arms, Idril and the servant stood as Idril said, “Now get up. Tuor has contacted me saying we are to meet your family at your house immediately. They are bringing Arianna and your sons home. Your sons have made a miracle, my friend. Arianna lives again.”

Ariella looked at her stunned. As the words sank in, her sudden joy and relief were so great, she was on her feet and racing for the door faster than she would have thought possible. Reaching out with her mind, she was so overcome at the renewed presence of her daughter that she stumbled and nearly collapsed. Fortunately Idril had caught up with her and was able to steady her before urging her on.

Arianna was alive!

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The sound of the door opening jarred Ariella back to the present. Turning swiftly, she watched Glorfindel enter their son’s room.

“Has there been any change in him?” he asked hopefully.

“No,” she replied shaking her head, her eyes dry with no more tears left to shed after so many days of crying in fear and helpless frustration.

Kneeling beside the bed, he lovingly stroked Glorfinion’s pale, nearly lifeless face. “Oh, my son. My beloved son,” Glorfindel whispered. “Please come back to us. Please come back.”

After a few moments like too may others in the last 6 days, there was still no discernable change in Glorfinion. Ariella watched her husband kiss their eldest son’s forehead and rise. She walked over and embraced Glorfindel, holding him close.

After a time, he pushed back and said, “Turgon expects us to be at court when he judges the case. We need to leave now.”

Ariella shook her head at him, taking a step back. Though she had dressed for court to appease Glorfindel, she had never intended to accompany him to the palace. “No, Glorfindel. I will not leave him.”

“It is all right, Ariella,” came Lhûnedhel’s voice. She turned and saw him standing in the doorway. “I will be staying with him while you are away. I swear I will send word if his condition changes at all. You need to be there. You need to go.”

Casting a longing look at her son, she tore her eyes away at last and took Glorfindel’s hand. “Very well. If I must.”

Squeezing her hand reassuringly, Glorfindel thanked Lhûnedhel and led her out of the room.

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Her hand formally tucked in her husband’s arm, the lady of the Golden Flower, bedecked in green and gold finery similar to her lord’s, walked to the palace in silence, accompanied by her nervous twin sons. The family had already discussed this whole affair among themselves and with others so many times that there was nothing left for any of them to say. Before departing, Glorfindel had briefed their sons on the conduct expected of them while in court, no matter what was said or what the outcome.

When they finally entered the throne room, Ariella heard her sons gulp and was stunned herself to see just how many of the lords of the different houses of Gondolin were in attendance.

She heard Glorfindel’s voice in her mind and knew the children heard him in theirs as well.*Many have witnessed our sons’ unrest over the last few months. Turgon requested that these lords attend. Take courage and do not be afraid. I love you all very much. Be brave and we will get through this together.*

Ariella squeezed his arm in response. Glorfindel led them to the head of the assembly before Turgon’s throne where they all paid their proper respects to the king before taking their place to his left.

Maeglin entered a few moments later accompanied by Morang and the rest of the youths who usually antagonized the sons of the Golden Flower. After paying their respects, they took up their position to Turgon’s right.

Turgon’s voice rang out over the now silent court. “You have been summoned here to hear my judgment on the incident between Morang Morlinion of the House of the Mole and Glorfinion Glorfindelion of the House of the Golden Flower: an incident which resulted in severe bodily injury to Arianna Glorfindeliel. All present already know of the continual strife between Morang and his comrades and the elder sons of Glorfindel. I have spoken at length with each lord who has witnessed the conflicts between the two parties as well as with the lords of the Mole and the Golden Flower. None of you have been able to resolve the conflict which has ultimately led to this grievous end.”

“My king,” Maeglin asked indignantly. “How can we proceed with this when Glorfinion Glorfindelion is not present to receive your judgment for his crimes? Does Lord Glorfindel think he can protect his reckless son from your wrath by keeping him home?”

Glorfindel immediately responded. “My king, I beg your forgiveness and understanding in this. My son has not yet regained consciousness from the healing he performed on the evening in question.”

“But is not the Lady Ariella a healer of great renown, indeed the most gifted healer in all of Gondolin?” Maeglin asked, his voice dripping sarcasm. “Why has she not restored your son to health so he could attend?”

Ariella calmly replied, trying very hard to keep her growing ire in check. “My son lies in a healing sleep from which he may never awaken. It is possible for a healer to put too much of his strength into a patient in order to accomplish a healing. If your lordships will recall, I myself, the most gifted healer in all of Gondolin, nearly died after healing Lord Maeglin of the injuries he received in the mine collapse. I have known of healers who have died after performing particularly difficult healings, such as the healing my son performed. If there were anything more I could do for my son, believe me I already would have done it.”

Turgon gave her a penetrating look, then glancing briefly at Maeglin, formally stated. “Given the circumstances, Glorfinion Glorfindelion’s absence is excused.

Morang Morlinion. Come forward and tell me what happened on the evening in question.”

Morang, garbed in black and brown velvets similar to Maeglin’s, nervously stepped forward from Maeglin’s side and addressed the king in a shaky voice. “My lord, I… I was on the practice field with some of the other trainees. My Lord Maeglin had led our instruction for the day. Our last session had just ended and many of the trainees had departed when Glorfinion came up to me. He was angry with me for some things I had said to him earlier in the day. We usually wait until the last session has ended before we settle our differences.”

“I have heard much of this ritual in which you, Morang, and Glorfinion daily take part. What said you to Glorfinion earlier that day that troubled him such that he felt that there were differences to be settled?” Turgon asked curiously.

Morang fidgeted, rapidly withering beneath Turgon’s powerful gaze. “I… I strongly criticized his mother’s half-blood heritage. I told him that because he and his brothers were her sons that made them even lesser beings than what she was. I laughed at their mistakes during practice. I told them they were too weak and slow and would never belong among pure-blooded elves.”

Turgon’s eyes narrowed. “Morang, why did you feel it necessary to say these things to young Glorfinion?”

“My lord,” Maeglin interjected, “Teasing and taunts are common among warriors on the practice field and on the field of battle. If a potential warrior cannot handle hearing such jests as a trainee, then he has no business on the practice field, let alone protecting our fair city. If the little lordlings of the Golden Flower need to have their feelings coddled like precious babes in order to keep them from temper tantrums, then perhaps they are not mature enough for combat training.”

Ariella was furious. She glanced at her husband. Glorfindel’s face remained impassive, his demeanor regal, yet inside she could sense he was seething with suppressed rage. She had a new and greater admiration for his self-control. However, she would have been willing to bet money that upon returning home, he would be sharpening his sword until the blade could split hairs, hoping he would be the one who would end Maeglin’s life. She just didn’t have the heart to tell her husband that Tuor would be the one to have that particular honor.

“The question is for Morang to answer,” Turgon rebuked with a glare at Maeglin.

Wringing his hands, Morang replied, “My lord, the differences between the children of Lord Glorfindel and the rest of the inhabitants of Gondolin are very obvious and difficult to overlook.”

“Why do you feel the need to champion these differences? Do you perhaps think that Lord Glorfindel’s children are not aware that they are different from everyone else?” Turgon asked.

“My lord, I … They … they are very young. And yet, they seem to think that just because their bodies appear to be as mature as those of us who have seen many more years and have reached our majority, that they should be treated as our equals in intellect and ability as well; something of which I have heard many say they are undeserving,” Morang said.

A long silence settled upon the hall, occasionally disturbed by nervous shuffling. Despite the lack of audible murmurs, Ariella could sense a flurry of telepathic activity as everyone discussed what Morang had just said. From what Ariella could determine, many of those present obviously agreed with Morang.

“Istadan Istadirion, come forward,” Turgon commanded.

Istadan’s dark blue form strode forward confidently and bowed deeply before the king. “My lord,” Istadan said upon rising.

“You are tutor to the children of Lord Glorfindel, are you not?”

“Yes, my lord, I am,” Istadan replied.

“Long have you been a tutor of choice among the nobility of the Noldor, teaching many pupils both here and in Valinor. Tell me about the children of Lord Glorfindel. What is your assessment of these sons and daughters of the Golden Flower?”

“My lord, I began teaching each of these children at the age of 8 years, far earlier than any full-blooded elf I have ever instructed either in Endor or in the 2000 years that I taught in Valinor. Lord Glorfindel’s children are ready and capable students, exhibiting exceptional skills in language, lore, literature, mathematics, and science. Their reasoning abilities and retention of knowledge acquired is exceptional as well. I attribute the advanced abilities that these children demonstrate to their mortal blood. Most elves, in my experience at least, seem to require a minimum of 35 years before even beginning to show the aptitude these children have possessed since their early teen years. I also know from my experience as the tutor to Hurin and Huor during their brief stay here, my work with Lord Tuor, and discussions with Lady Ariella, that such a demonstration of intellectual prowess in ones so young is not to be wondered at in mortals of Hador’s house.

Intellectually, I would say that the four eldest children: Glorfinion, Glorion, Galanor, and Arianna are at least the equivalent of an elf of like gender who is near to or has reached his or her majority.”

“Thank you, Istadan,” Turgon said with an odd smile.

“Yes, my lord,” Istadan replied with a bow and resumed his place in the crowd.

“Morang, tell me how Arianna came to be involved in your dispute with Glorfinion,” Turgon demanded, his face once again impassive.

“My lord, Glorfinion approached me in anger.” Morang recited in a flat practiced tone. “We always settle our differences by sparing with swords or by wrestling. We had decided beforehand that this time it was to be with swords. Glorion and Galanor were going to match blades with my friends Brenin and Dorlin.

“Arianna came running up and put herself between us and her brothers. She argued with her brothers, condemning their actions. I sheathed my sword and stood with my arms crossed, waiting for her to be silent so we could continue. Surprisingly, the twins acquiesced and sheathed their swords. Then she rounded on Glorfinion and would not be silenced. I could tell he was done with her and wanted to get on with settling our differences, so I drew my sword in preparation. He finally yelled at her, telling her to go home, and pushed her back to get her out of the way. She stumbled and … She…She stumbled and she …” His voice broke and his face began turning red. He cleared his throat and pressed his lips together. Shifting his stance, he looked down at his empty hands as if seeing something that no one else could.

“Morang, finish your statement,” Turgon commanded. “She stumbled and then what?”

Shaking his head and blinking rapidly, Morang quietly said, “I did not mean for it to happen. I never ever intended for anyone to get hurt like that. Glorfinion and his brothers get injured often, but it is never anything serious. They always heal themselves and go home. Then they come back the next day and it starts all over again. I swear I never meant for anything to happen to her. I swear.”

“Morang, look at me and finish your statement,” Turgon reminded. “She stumbled and then what?”

Morang looked up. “Glorfinion did not realize I had unsheathed my sword, he was so busy arguing with her. He would not have pushed her that hard if he had. Arianna stumbled backward and fell on my sword.” Tears sprang from Morang’s eyes and slid down his cheeks as he spoke.

“It went right through her back and out her front. Blood was everywhere. I have never seen that much blood before. I…” He swallowed hard, tears dripping from his chin. “I knew not what to do. I stared at her for a few moments. Then I pulled the sword out of her and watched her begin to fall. Glorfinion caught her and held her close. Blood was spurting from her front and spreading across her back as he lowered her to the ground. I looked at my sword… it was covered in her blood so I dropped it. I turned away, fell to my knees, and threw up. When I looked back up again, she was limp with unseeing eyes. The blood was pooling beside her and she was no longer breathing.” He paused, wiping his face with his sleeves.

After a few deep breaths, Morang continued. “I… I stared at her unable to believe Arianna was dead. I watched her brothers try to heal her. They refused to give up, especially Glorfinion. They just… they refused to accept that she was dead. Glorfinion talked to his brothers about some things about healing or something. I did not understand. I know nothing about healing arts. Then one of the twins started breathing in her mouth and the other pushed on the center of her chest. They kept doing this while Glorfinion laid his hands on her wound and went into his healing trance. I have watched him and the twins heal themselves many times.

“I do not know how long I knelt there watching them. But, finally the twins stopped what they were doing and started helping with the healing, too. Lord Tuor and Lord Glorfindel came running and I realized there was now a crowd watching. Then Lord Tuor came over and grabbed me by the front of my tunic and lifted me to my feet, demanding I explain what had happened.” Morang looked deeply ashamed.

“I… I told them everything, fully expecting Lord Glorfindel to kill me right then. I deserved it. Even though Glorfinion was the one who pushed her, I had provoked him and it was on my sword she fell. I closed my eyes and waited, but nothing happened. When I opened my eyes, I saw Lord Glorfindel kneeling beside his daughter, holding her hand to his lips. There were tears on his face. Lord Tuor told me I would answer to the king and threw me to the ground. I stayed where I landed, too scared to move, and just watched. A short time later, Glorfinion passed out. Glorion and Galanor finished up and removed the blood from her and from themselves and their brother. They told their father that she would live and then they passed out too.

“I do not remember who helped carry Lord Glorfindel’s children home. Dorlin and Brenin took me home.” Shoulders slumped, arms hanging limply at his sides, Morang bowed his head and took a few deep steadying breaths.

Seeing Morang standing there so pitifully, Ariella actually felt sorry for him and she sensed across her bond that Glorfindel did too.

Looking up again, Morang continued, “I… I went to Lord Glorfindel’s house the next morning. Judging from the looks I received from the servants and from Lord Glorfindel’s kin, I think any one of them would have slaughtered me gladly if they had been armed. I was scared, but I knelt before the lord and lady and apologized, begging for their forgiveness. I also expressed my sincere admiration for what their sons did in healing their sister. I had underestimated and undervalued Glorfinion and his brothers and I told the lord and lady as much.

My king, I was wrong and I am sorry for what I have done to this family.”

“Lord Glorfindel told me that you apologized and begged forgiveness for your actions in this. Did Lord Maeglin command you to do it?” Turgon asked, his tone cold and authoritative.

“No, my king. I laid awake that night and wondered what my parents would have thought of my behavior of late and what they would have told me to do. I realized I had shamed them greatly and resolved to try to make amends as best I could. It was difficult, but I made myself rise the next morning and go to the lord and lady and apologize.”

“That was a very noble gesture, Morang. You should take some comfort that you are making good choices at last,” Turgon said, gentleness creeping into his voice.

“Thank you, my lord. I cannot change what I have done and what has happened, but I offer my sincere apologies to the lord and lady once again. I apologize to you as well for bringing this discord into your kingdom.”

Ariella and Glorfindel nodded their acceptance to the young ellon.

“Thank you, Morang.” Turgon said. “Glorion and Galanor, come forward!”

Morang returned to his position at Maeglin’s side, and the twins in matching blue robes took his place before Turgon’s throne.

A brief look of confusion crossed Turgon’s face as he obviously tried to figure out which twin was which. Instead of asking for clarification, he resorted to talking around the problem. “Sons of Glorfindel,” he began.

“Do Morang’s descriptions of the events leading up to your sister’s injury match your own memories of those events?”

“Yes, my lord,” the twins answered at the same time.

“Did you sister really die?”

“My lord,” Glorion said, “If you mean did her heart stop beating and breathing cease, then the answer is yes. However, mother taught us that depending on the cause, sometimes it is possible to restart these functions and the patient can be revived. We tried using the methods she had taught us. Glorfinion had already established a healing link with Arianna’s body, so our starting the methods right away enabled him to keep the contact and heal her injuries until she was able to breathe on her own. After that we helped him finish healing her wounds. He was already tired from training all day, and then he put the rest of his strength into maintaining her body and healing her wounds.”

Ariella felt a great amount of pride in her sons for what they had done to save their sister. Hearing them talk about it so made her feel even more proud.

“Lady Ariella, where did you learn these methods of reviving the body? I am told that none of our healers have ever even heard of such a thing as what your sons did.”

Ariella hadn’t expected Turgon to ask her about this. Glorfindel’s sudden nervousness flowed across their bond, fueling her own discomfort. He subtly slid his hand into hers and she gratefully squeezed it as she gave her standard evasive reply, “I learned it from my mother.”

“So, she learned this from Melian the Maia in Doriath. I am constantly amazed at the things Melian has taught her subjects in Doriath, that the Maiar and the Valar in Valinor never saw fit to teach the Calaquendi,” Turgon commented dubiously.

Ariella sensed the twins growing frightened at this and saw them start to shift nervously.

*Naneth, what will happen when Turgon learns we are aliens? Will he have us put to death?* One of the twins asked fearfully.

*Hush,* she commanded.

Glorfindel squeezed her fingers tightly, his fear pulsing within him, but she was not worried.

“My lord,” she said confidently, “the experiences of the elves in Endor and the needs driven by these experiences differ greatly from those of the elves in Valinor. The Valar and Maiar instructed those in Valinor as they saw fit, given the circumstances and quality of life in Valinor. The circumstances and quality of life here in Endor are quite different. Death and injury are common occurrences here where they are rare in Valinor. It is therefore no wonder that Melian instructed the elves here in healing arts to a greater degree for the need was far greater.”

*Beautifully stated!* Ariella heard Idril’s voice in her mind.

“Well said,” Turgon conceded, with a nod. “I had never before considered that the Maiar and Valar might teach us each to our needs. I must admit that I am very thankful that one who has benefited so much from Melian’s teachings resides within the walls of this city and has seen fit too pass this valuable knowledge on to her children.”

Ariella sensed a great swell of pride and relief from her children at that, and saw pride in her sons’ faces as they looked on the king.

“Thank you, my lord. We are glad to be of service to you and the people of Gondolin,” Ariella replied humbly.

“Thank you Glorion and Galanor,” Turgon said with a nod and the boys returned to their places by their parents.

“There has been a great deal of suffering on all sides as a result of the grievous events described here today. I believe that the sons of Glorfindel have bitterly atoned for their actions and behavior. I will administer no further punishment to them.

“Morang Morlinion, your punishment shall be thus: You will provide encouragement, instruction, and positive reinforcement to the sons of Glorfindel on the training field and in all other matters. You will suffer no one to criticize them in your presence for being peredhil. Should Glorfinion survive, you will act as his personal servant in the daylight hours, accompanying him to all lessons, assemblies, and training sessions for the duration of one year, beginning tomorrow. In the event of Glorfinion’s death, then you will serve his twin brothers in like manner for the remainder of the one year term. Morang, do you understand what is required of you?” Turgon asked.

“Yes, my lord,” Morang replied, “And I thank you for your mercy.”

“The court is dismissed,” Turgon pronounced. “You may go.”

Morang bowed low before the throne accompanied by his friends and Maeglin, who was scowling, and the group departed.

“Thank you, my lord,” Glorfindel said, his family following suit with expressions of gratitude and proper respects before the throne.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

That evening, the family was gathered in Glorfinion’s room, sitting on and around his bed when at last he awoke. Waving her two youngest children off the bed, Ariella gave her eldest a little bit of water to drink, then she and Glorfindel sat on the bed to Glorfinion’s right. They both held their son’s hand.

“Welcome back,” Ariella said, gently smoothing the hair back from her son’s face. “How do you feel?”

“Terrible,” Glorfinion rasped. “Where is Arianna?”

His sister came and sat on his other side, taking his other hand in hers.

“I… I am so sorry for what happened to you,” he whispered emphatically. “I never meant for it to happen. I never wanted you to get hurt.”

“I know,” Arianna whispered in return, a tear glistening on her cheek. “Thank you for saving my life.”

He smiled weakly. “I am so tired.”

“Rest so you can get better, big brother,” Arianna said, kissing his hand.

“How much trouble am I in?” he asked quietly.

Glorfindel answered with a smile, squeezing his son’s hand. “None. None, that is, provided you choose to behave in the future. The king has absolved you. Your naneth and I are very proud of you for what you did to save your sister.”

“Wh- … the king?” Glorfinion asked, confusion vaguely registering on his weary face and in his tired eyes.

“Yes,” Galanor piped up. “We had to go before the king today and answer to him for what happened.”

Ariella glared at Galanor shaking her head.

“And we will tell you all about it later after you rest some more,” Galanor hastily added. “But the king said he is glad to have healers such as us in Gondolin. He is pleased with our special abilities.”

“You need to rest, my son,” Ariella said, caressing Glorfinion’s surprised face. “It is very important that you regain your strength. You have been unconscious for 6 days.”

“We feared for you,” Glorfindel continued, his voice filled with emotion. “After Mandos called your sister, I was afraid that he would call you as well. I do not know what we would do without you, my son. Your naneth and I love you so very much.”

“He did call me, Adar,” Glorfinion whispered, a far away look in his eyes.

Ariella heard Glorfindel gasp and felt him tighten his grip on their son’s hand and hers.

“But then he told me that my body would heal and I must go back. I asked him when we will be asked to choose under which kindred we will be judged – elf or mortal. He smiled at me… His smile was so beautiful… and said that the Valar have not ruled on the fates of the peredhil yet, so my siblings and I need to behave and be more careful because he does not know what to do with us. I told him that I would.”

“He told me the same thing,” Arianna said, smiling weakly. “And he smiled that beautiful smile at me too.”

Glorfinion’s voice grew weaker as his eyes began to glaze over. “You are weary, too sister.” He squeezed her hand. “You should rest as well.”

“I will,” she assured him.

“Naneth, Adar, please stay with me,” Glorfinion softly pleaded, his strength rapidly fading. “I do not want to be alone any more.”

“They have hardly left your side since you were brought home,” Arlianna pointed out, bringing a ghost of a smile to Glorfinion’s face.

“We will stay as long as you like,” Glorfindel said, leaning forward and kissing his son’s brow.

*I love you both very much,* Glorfinion said telepathically.

“We love you too,” Ariella replied. And then he was asleep.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

To be continued…

Author’s Note: This chapter was very long and difficult to write. Please tell me what you think.

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Chapter 20
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