Login

Lost Password?

Create New Account

Crossroads of Time

Chapter 21: Chapter 21

by ellie

Betas: Extra special thanks to Michelle and GeorgiaPiper

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

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Since it’s been so long since the last update, here is a quick refresher on the non-canon character names: The children of Glorfindel and Ariella in order by age:
Glorfinion (son), Glorion (son), Galanor (son), Arianna (daughter), Arienne (daughter), Arlianna (daughter), Glorindir (son)
The servant elleth: Linanna
The “hot” scholar: Istadan
The elven kid who caused all of the trouble in the previous chapter: Morang Morlinion of the House of the Mole (Maeglin’s house)

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Chapter 21

Even when one has forewarning of horrible event, it is still difficult facing the days leading up to that event. Looking back, Ariella realized that she had lived almost half of her life in Gondolin and the vast majority of that time as Glorfindel’s wife. As each milestone before the fall of Gondolin passed: each birthday of one of her children and of Eärendil and each elven festival, she relished them with bittersweet tears.

The birthdays were the most difficult for her to face as her children would chatter about what next year’s party would be like and what they would do when they became yet another year older. Ariella knew these were all empty dreams, but she didn’t tell her children this. It just wasn’t fair to rob them of their joy by telling them that those next birthdays would never come. For the sake of her children, she smiled on them all the more when the fear and sorrow threatened to overtake her so they would not know the end was coming. For the sake of her husband she smiled, too, knowing that elves dwell much in memory and memories were all that her beloved Glorfindel would have when he returned from Mandos’ halls after the fall of Gondolin.

She and possibly some of their children would be parted from him until the Second Music or perhaps forever. Among mortals of Arda, at least there was the promise and hope of being reunited after death, but no such promise existed for the reunion of an alien and an elf. Would the coming of the Second Music reunite only Atani and Eldar or would other mortals be included in those melodies as well? She did not know.

In preparation for the fall of Gondolin, Ariella encouraged her children all the more in learning things that would be useful for survival of both a long journey and when starting over again in Arvernian. At the end of the last growing season before the fall of the city, she gathered seeds from fruits and vegetables and healing herbs and stored them away. She also had large strong traveling bags and durable traveling clothes made for her children.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The preparations for protecting Gondolin which started all those years ago provided so many strong ballista and so many years’ worth of arrows in store, Gondolin indeed seemed able to withstand anything Morgoth could throw at it – if he ever found out where it stood. Maeglin, who had secretly betrayed the location of Gondolin to Morgoth years before, therefore had little difficulty persuading his Uncle Turgon to reduce the watch and ward to the ancient numbers. Even after news of the fall of Doriath at the hands of the sons of Fëanor reached Gondolin, King Turgon still rested comfortably in the belief that he and his kingdom were safe from any threat.

As a result of the general sense of safety and contentment, many new babies were being born to the inhabitants of Gondolin and many other females were with child. Because a relatively pain free labor and delivery were desired by all, Ariella had to apprentice her daughters to the midwives while continuing to assist her favorite midwife herself in order to meet the high demand.

While Ariella’s daughters enjoyed their new responsibilities, her elder sons flourished under the acceptance of the other warriors of Gondolin. Even after Morang’s time of mandatory service to Glorfinion had ended, he still chose to be at Glorfinion’s side as his friend. Morang and his two companions had become fast friends with her sons, and Ariella and Glorfindel were glad to see it, for what better way to destroy an enemy than to make him your friend?

When Ariella was not busy with her medical duties, she spent time with her children and with Idril who was becoming increasingly distraught over the impending doom of the city. Idril and Ariella pestered Tuor daily about the progress on the secret tunnel, encouraging him to see to its completion.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

When the Midwinter festival arrived, Glorfindel and Ariella allowed their three eldest sons to attend the festival unchaperoned in the company of Morang and his friends. Glorfindel, in his best intimidating mighty elf lord fashion had duly threatened all six of the young ellyn to stay out of trouble that night. Because Morang had just finished serving his one year sentence of servitude, he was more than willing to not only comply with Glorfindel’s demand of good behavior, but to enforce it in the others as well. Glorfindel delegated responsibility for the other children to the servants and trusted members of his House, assigning in particular the servant Linanna’s husband and Istadan to watch over Arianna and Arienne who were both far too lovely and physically mature for their father’s own peace of mind.

Ariella had to cover her mouth and bite her hand in an effort to contain her laughter when she noted how pitiful and amazingly uncomfortable Istadan looked when he left the house that evening with one of her daughters clinging lovingly to each of his arms. In contrast, Linanna’s husband trailing behind them seemed to be enjoying himself immensely as he scowled menacingly at any male who dared to look at either of the buxom young ellith.

Arm and arm, Ariella and Glorfindel walked out into the festival. They were dressed in lavender and green as was their custom every year since that first Midwinter festival where he had proposed to her. There were other personal traditions that they observed on this night as well, but those observances always came later in the evening.

Everywhere Ariella looked, elves were singing, dancing, eating, talking, and reveling in the cold night air. For a people known for their foresight, it seemed odd to her that they would be so happy when she knew that this was the last Midwinter festival that most of them would see in Middle-earth. How could they be so oblivious? Then again, she was doing everything she could to hide her own sorrow, so perhaps they were doing the same and celebrating as if this were their last Midwinter festival, vowing to enjoy it to its fullest. But somehow she doubted it. Peeking into the minds of many of those she passed as she walked along, she realized that they really did not know that this would be their last Midwinter here.

Stopping near a group of dancers, Glorfindel put his arms around her, quietly admonishing, “My lady, if this is to be our last Midwinter festival, then let us enjoy it as such. Stop worrying about everyone else and what they feel or believe or foresee. Do not ruin our special night together with thoughts of things you cannot change. Let us make joyful memories for ourselves.”

Ariella smiled weakly in response, and nodded her acquiescence.

“Good,” Glorfindel replied then kissed her deeply in a surprisingly public display considering how conservative and prim he normally behaved.

When he ended the kiss, Ariella stared at him wide-eyed. He shook his head, laughing at her as he led her into the next dance. All thoughts and worries left her as she whirled and spun in his arms during the fast dances and snuggled close on the slow dances. When midnight approached, he led her away to the wall. They climbed the steps, glasses of wine in hand, and walked to the place where she attempted to jump all those years ago and he had saved her and proposed to her. They cuddled close against the chill wind of the clear night air, watching the party from up high, looking at the stars – she pointed out her star to him – and caressing each other while sharing gentle kisses. When their passion became too much to bear, he wrapped his arm around her waist, tucking her close under his cloak, and they made their way home.

Glorfindel quickly made a fire to warm their bedroom while Ariella lay invitingly on the rug in front of the hearth. With the crackle of the fire singing to them, he stretched out by her side, trailing his fingers down her face, neck, and shoulders. Smiling possessively, she reached out and deftly unfastened his tunic and shirt and watched as he sat up and removed them. When he lay back down, she moved her hands over the hard muscle of his exposed shoulders and chest, marveling as she always did that he was hers.

“I still remember our first Midwinter night together when I stripped you and healed you and slept in your arms.” She sighed contentedly allowing her hands to wander lower across his firm stomach and down to his leggings.

He smiled in return. “I remember it, too. It was a good thing that I was so exhausted from the healing or you would not have escaped becoming my wife that very night.” He caressed her, unfastening her dress and baring his favorite parts to his exploring hands as he spoke. “I had little care for propriety or tradition once I felt you pressed so close to me in my bed.”

One hand on one of her favorite parts of him, she began stroking, eliciting a soft moan from deep within him. “I see. Is that why we always end up here before the fire, making a fire of our own on this night every year?”

“Yes,” he whispered huskily. “But in spite of that, only three of our children were born in the autumn.” All conversation abruptly ended for the night when he captured her lips with his.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

After the feast the following evening, Glorfindel and Ariella put little Glorindir to bed early and called the rest of their children to their bedroom. The excitement of being out all night and all day at the festival apparently had taken its toll on the children. Leaning sideways into Glorfindel’s one-armed embrace, Ariella smiled and shook her head as she watched the children sprawl on her large bed, nudging and shoving each other until they each had a comfortable position.

“I guess we will be standing,” Glorfindel whispered in her ear, his voice ringing with amusement. “At least they will sleep well tonight.”

“I do not doubt that,” Ariella whispered back. “Perhaps we should not have allowed them to stay out so long.”

“No, my love,” Glorfindel quietly reassured her. “We had to let them go some time, and what other chance would they have for this?”

Ariella merely nodded in response so she would not burst into tears. There would be no more Midwinter festivals in Gondolin after this one.

Glorfindel kissed her cheek encouragingly, then addressed the children.

“My sleepy little babes,” he called cheerfully, knowing full well it would irritate the children, and was immediately met with grumbling protests and scowls. “We did not call you here so you could sleep on our bed.” He nudged Galanor in the foot. “So sit up and pay attention.”

With protesting whines and groans, the children grudgingly worked their way to slumped sitting positions and glared at their parents in annoyance.

Ariella crossed her arms and scowled. “Be mindful,” she reminded them sternly, “In whose presence you currently reside.”

With that, they all sat up straight and adjusted their clothes to a more proper fit amidst penitent apologies to their adar and naneth.

Ariella nodded her approval and Glorfindel continued. “The first time my atar allowed me to attend a festival on Taniquetil with my friends, I remember how exhausted I was when I finally rejoined my parents in their rooms at grandfather’s palace after the feast at the mingling of the Trees. Still mildly intoxicated with wine, song, and merriment, I sat on their bed much as you rest on mine now.” He paused, smiling at some memory as he walked over to a nearby table and returned with two ornately carved wooden boxes.

As he handed one box to Ariella, Arianna coyly asked, “Why are you smiling, Adar? Did you dance with many pretty ellith that day?”

“Yes, I did,” he replied matter-of-factly. “I danced with several; however that is not why I am smiling. Looking at all of you this evening brings back so many memories to me. I wish you could have known the festivals on Taniquetil with the Valar, garbed in their radiant splendor, descending to make merry among us. It was so very beautiful. I can think of no words to adequately describe the experience.”

Across their bond, Ariella sensed the jumble of emotions fighting for control of Gorfindel: joy at his memories, his worry that his children would never see Valinor, and sorrow that his atar, who did not even know that Glorfindel had wed, was not here for what Glorfindel was about to do. Ariella sent her husband comforting feelings and was rewarded with a wave of gratitude as he gathered himself emotionally.

With a sigh, he opened the box he held. “As my atar did for me, so I do for you. I am so very proud that you are my children. My house is truly blessed with your presence. As a symbol of my gratitude for this blessing, I have something for each of you. Gold rings for my sons...” He held up the three rings contained in the box he held. “And gold necklaces for my daughters.” Ariella held up the necklaces residing in the box she held as he continued. “Each made with encircling vines joined in a petalled blossom: the symbol of the House of the Golden Flower.”

The presentation of the gifts to each child was met with gasps and exclamations of awe and young faces suddenly drained of weariness, shining with pride. Glorfindel and Ariella received warm hugs and kisses, and heart-felt expressions of love from each child as its gift was bestowed.

Once the children had left for their own beds, Ariella, sensing the continued turmoil in her husband’s heart, led Glorfindel to their bed. He lay down beside her and she gathered him in her arms. She held him close as he buried his face in her shoulder and breast and wept for all that he had lost in Valinor and for the horrible loss that was yet to come.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

A few days later, Ariella awoke to something gently brushing her stomach. Without opening her eyes, she swatted at it with her hand. Something grabbed her hand and she irritably opened her eyes as Glorfindel’s amused voice admonished, “Silly elleth.”

“Stop it, Glorfindel,” she said wearily, trying to pull her hand away. “I am not an elf. I am mortal, and mortals require sleep. I am tired and want more sleep.”

“I had wanted more sleep, too, but I was awakened by the presence of another in our bed,” he said.

After a quick scan of the bed, she said, “So you calmed the nightmare or sent the overly energetic early riser to pester the servants. You are a good adar. Now let me go back to sleep.” She tried to roll away from him, but he would not release her hand. His other hand began gliding in smooth circles around her stomach again.

She sighed in exasperation and turned her head to face him without bothering to try to hide her annoyance.

He grinned at her. “You are most correct, my love,” he boasted. “I am a good adar. In fact, I am an exceptionally fine adar and I am an exceptionally fine swordsman and an exceptionally fine archer.”

How could he be so… so joyful and perky this early in the morning? She glared at him menacingly, hoping he would get the message and shut up and leave her alone so she could sleep. “I am very happy for you. Now go to sleep,” she grumbled.

But he continued. “And I have exceptional aim.”

“I do not care.”

“Ah, but I do. For, you see, if one thrusts with the steel of a great long sword and possesses the true aim of a great archer, all wielded by an abundantly virile ellon, then one ensures that that ellon increases his bounty.”

“Bounty?”

“Yes, bounty. As an adar. Increased bounty.”

Now she was confused and irritated. There were many things she wanted to say to him at this point, most involving derogatory words against sleepless elves and their boundless energy and annoying coyness. In the end she settled for, “What are you talking about?” because it required less energy to say.

His eyes twinkling with amusement and love, he stopped rubbing her stomach long enough to tweak her nose and kiss it lightly. “Silly adaneth. For the greatest healer in all of Gondolin, you can be very ignorant about your own health.”

What was he playing at? Ignorant about her own…She gasped and felt her eyes grow wide as she realized what he was saying. In dismay, she laid her own hand on her abdomen.

Oh, no...

She looked over at Glorfindel who was grinning broadly, his uncontained joy spilling over their bond and into her spirit.

Ariella gaped at him. “I…” she began incredulously. “I am…”

He finished for her, “Pregnant with twins.” Then he leaned back against his pillow, crossing his hands behind his head and gloating proudly with a contented sigh. “Yes, I am a fine adar indeed.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The winter that year passed much more harshly than any winter ever known in Gondolin. The Plains of Tumladin were covered in frost for three full months and snow lay deeper than ever upon the Encircling Hills and blanketed the city all winter. However, the season’s chill did nothing to dampen the spirits of the elves who continued about their merry ways amidst the bubbling fountains of the city, oblivious to what the summer would bring. With the arrival of spring, the melting snows brought forth a sudden burst of flowers on the Plains and within Gondolin that was more glorious than any in many decades. The festival of Nost-na-Lothion, the Birth of Flowers, was exquisite with wondrous scents perfuming every street and with every home gaily bedecked in fragrant colorful blossoms.

Heady with the sights and smells of the new season, Ariella almost began to wonder if perhaps the historians had gotten it all wrong and perhaps Gondolin was indeed doomed to fall the “following” year. However, nearly every conversation with Idril involved at least some distress of deep foreboding and fear for Eärendil’s life or concern that the Way of Escape Tuor was building would not be finished in time. In spite of constantly listening to Idril’s fears, Ariella still could almost imagine that the end was not near. Almost, but not quite, for the fear was present in her home as well.

Two nights after the flower festival, Ariella rested in Glorfindel’s arms; her head nestled in his shoulder, when she was awakened by the sound of their bedroom door opening and the pounding of bare feet running to their bed. Ariella blearily looked across Glorfindel and into the tear-filled eyes of their youngest daughter Arlianna.

“Adar! Adar!” Arlianna cried, falling to her knees and grabbing Glorfindel’s hand nearest the side of the bed. “Please! Say it is not true! I am so scared. I am so…” and she broke down sobbing into his sleeve.

Disengaging himself from Ariella, Glorfindel leaned over, gently stroking Arlianna’s tangled golden hair. “Daughter, daughter,” he crooned soothingly. “Shhh. Hush, Child. Come lie here with us and tell us what troubles you.”

Calming herself a little, Arlianna wiped her face on her sleeve and crawled onto the bed, snuggling in between her parents. Ariella and Glorfindel each turned on their sides, facing their daughter. Glorfindel grasped his daughter’s nearest hand while Ariella brushed away a few stray tears that the sleeve had missed.

“What ails you this night, my sweet?” Glorfindel asked in a gentle voice.

“Adar, I had a dream and it was awful!”

“Tell us about your dream,” Ariella said softly, fearful of what she might hear.

Arlianna swallowed hard, then shakily began. “It was a warm summer night. I heard a sound outside, so I looked out my bedroom window to see what it was. I saw all of the battalions of Gondolin standing together in their armor with their swords and their banners. I ran to tell my sisters. When I looked out Arianna’s window with her, there was fighting in the streets with orcs all around killing the soldiers of Gondolin. We were scared because we could not find adar or our brothers, so we went to look out of Arienne’s window. There we saw a dragon and I saw…We watched…I saw my uncles and my cousins and my brothers fall. Their blood was everywhere. We ran downstairs, crying for naneth, but we could not find her. We were all alone.” She paused as a few sobs escaped. Gulping some air, she visibly gathered herself and continued.

“We opened the back door to look for her in the garden and … and all of sudden we were standing on a narrow path in the mountains. Tuor and Idril were beside us and Eärendil clung to Idril’s skirts. I clung to her hand, my sisters standing about me. We were scared and holding each other close. Suddenly we felt great scalding heat and looked up. I saw a horrible creature of flame and fire, with wings like a giant bat. It had a whip of flame. Adar fought against it trying to protect us. I remember how strangely the moonlight glinted off of adar’s golden armor as he jumped from rock to rock, driving the creature up higher and farther away from us. Then…then…” She sniffled loudly and swallowed again.

“Adar pushed the creature off the cliff, but it grabbed adar and he fell too. We yelled and screamed and we cried.

Adar, we cried so hard! But you did not come back to us. You did not come back and we were alone.” Tears flooded their daughter’s eyes and voice again as she reached up and touched Glorfindel’s stricken face, quietly pleading, “Adar, why did you not come back to us? Why did you fall? Why did you leave us all alone?”

Ariella viciously fought back tears of her own as she watched and felt across their bond Glorfindel’s desperate struggle to find words to console their daughter who had just dreamt of the death he himself had foreseen for years now. How many nights had Ariella comforted Glorfindel after he had awoken in terror from similar dreams about his death? How many times had he comforted her when her fears about the fall of the city, the loss of him, and the fates of their children had become too much for her to bear? At last, she and her husband had enjoyed a few weeks of respite from their terrors and fears, only to have them awakened again now by their little girl’s nightmares.

Every night for the next month, Arlianna came to her parents’ bed in the same desperate state after the same or similar horrifying dreams. But Ariella and Glorfindel knew they were not just scary images haunting the psyche of a pre-teen girl. For all too soon, they would become reality.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Notes:
Ellith/elleth – maidens, maid; atar/adar – father; adaneth – mortal maid; Ellon/ellyn – male elf, male elves

Chapters

Jump to chapter

Chapter name
Chapter 21
Created
05 Jun 2006
Last Edited
05 Jun 2006
Hits
958
Words
4045