Login

Lost Password?

Create New Account

Crossroads of Time

Chapter 22: Chapter 22: The Fall of Gondolin

by ellie

NOTE: This is the chapter you either have been waiting for or dreading for a long time, and it is the longest chapter I have ever written (more than 11,300 words so you might want to take a potty break and/or go get a drink and a snack before you start reading. Grab the tissues while you're at it. You'll need them, according to my betas.


Warnings: Character death, Descriptions of battle and childbirth

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Many thanks to my betas for their help on the many iterations of the scenes of this chapter: GeorgiaPiper, Michelle, Chrissie, Ghettoelleth, and Vicki

This is dedicated to all of my abundance of betas over the last two years or so who helped me get this story to this point in the telling (listed in no particular order): Fianna, Julie, GeorgiaPiper, Marcia, Vicki, Riana, Michelle, Chrissie, Ghettoelleth, Alex. Thanks folks!


Author’s note: As faithfully as I could, I tried to follow the details of the Fall of Gondolin found in HoME: The Book of Lost Tales Part II.


**denotes telepathic communication.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Chapter 22: The Fall of Gondolin

In spite of what the history books said about the fates of Glorfindel’s wife and children, Ariella had carefully planned how she and her children would survive the fall of Gondolin. Now that she was pregnant, she realized that her survival on the grueling journey to safety after the fall was in doubt. If she were only carrying one child, then she knew the travel would be very difficult, but most likely not impossible. However, she was pregnant with twins, and she had nearly died in the fifth month of her last pregnancy when she had carried twins.

Even though she knew that the city would be destroyed in her sixth month of pregnancy, Ariella was driven by her need to protect all of her children. From the beginning of the pregnancy, she took an extra nap or two every day. She ceased all healing work, ate only the healthiest foods, prayed daily for the safe deliverance of herself and her family, and took walks each day to help build her own endurance. In addition to that, she regularly drew strength from Glorfindel or from one of her older children in order to keep the babies strong as well. Both Lhûnedhel and the midwife were amazed at how well she was doing with this pregnancy. Ariella was greatly encouraged by her own progress, desperately hoping against hope that somehow she would cheat history, cheat fate, and cheat death. Unfortunately, history has a way of fulfilling itself even without the willing participation of its guests.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The week before the festival of Tarnin Austa, the Gates of Summer, the city bustled with a flurry of activity, preparing for the wondrous celebration. In spite of Ariella’s best efforts, the stress of what was to come finally began to catch up with her. Fatigue came easily and unexpectedly, making her feel almost as if the very life were being drained out of her. Keeping up the pretense of enjoying herself and having hope for the future had become too much to bear, especially when her eldest son would talk of the plans for his birthday party to be held the afternoon of the festival. Unfortunately, Ariella knew that in all likelihood, he would not live to see his birthday just as she most likely would not live to see her wedding anniversary on that same day.

Looking at her children each day became a bittersweet treasure as she drank in as much time with each of them as she could. She tucked them into bed each night, knowing that some of them would never see that day of the week again. Each night she cried herself to sleep in Glorfindel’s arms, no longer able to keep her sorrow or her terror at bay. Glorfindel did not even try to offer her words of comfort. Across their bond, Ariella sensed that the impending doom was slowly tearing Glorfindel apart as well, for neither of them knew if they would ever be reunited again after their deaths. She realized that he too was cherishing every small moment, every glance, every smile, every touch, for very soon there would be no more.

Still driven by her dwindling hope for their children, Ariella spent time preparing her family’s traveling bags for the long journey. She also made certain that the winter store room was filled with bags of travel essentials and food for the servants and their families as well. Every account of the Fall of Gondolin that Ariella had ever read had lamented that the refugees of Gondolin were ill-prepared for the long journey, so Ariella wanted to make certain that the members of her House at least could support themselves on the road to Arvernian.

On the eve of the festival, Ariella’s children spent the day flitting around, jovially anticipating the festival’s fun while Ariella prepared as many provisions as she could fit into the travel bags. When she felt that her packing was done, she walked through the house with Glorfindel and the children, insisting that they indulge her whimsy, lingering in rooms, savoring old cherished memories, touching the things that held special meaning but could not be taken on the journey. Although reliving the memories was painful, she and Glorfindel both had to smile when they heard Glorfinion quietly advising his siblings to indulge naneth without question because pregnancy often made her overly emotional and sometimes very irritable if her will was crossed.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

That evening just after dark, Ariella and her family gathered together in silence on the walls of the lamp-lit city along with the rest of the inhabitants of Gondolin. Ethereal music mingled with the song of the fountains, filling the air with starlit joy. Ariella leaned back into Glorfindel’s strong embrace, his arms wrapped comfortingly around her swollen belly, trying to calm the unusually restive babes within.

Speaking telepathically, Ariella advised him, **Turgon will call his lords to council soon. You need to take Lhûnedhel aside beforehand and tell him that the Nestadain need to set up a healing ward in the king’s halls instead of in the House of the Nestadain. **

**Why? ** Glorfindel asked, clearly puzzled.

**Because the Square of the King is where the army will make its last stand. Everyone will eventually be sent there before Turgon calls for the evacuation of Gondolin down Tuor’s secret tunnel out of the city. **

**How do I justify this to Lhûnedhel without revealing too much and so that he can justify this to the King? **

She pondered this for a moment, and then replied, **Tell him that the palace is more easily defensible, it is bigger than the House of the Nestadain, and it will also more easily house refugees in addition to the injured. It also would provide Turgon with updates on the battle from those who have been in the middle of it, namely the wounded. So, strategically, it makes sense and for the safety of the civilians, it makes sense as well. **

**I will do what I can, my love, ** he responded. Sighing deeply, Glorfindel then kissed the top of her head, and trailed gentle kisses down her neck. Breathily he whispered aloud, “I love you so very much.”

Ariella nuzzled him in response, whispering, “I love you, too.”

They were both startled to receive a nudge in the side and looked over to see Glorfinion who was blushing as he quietly pleaded, “Stop that. You two are embarrassing us.”

Glorfindel smiled mischievously and replied, “Oh, are we?” Then he turned Ariella in his arms and dramatically gave her a deeply passionate, lingering kiss. His tongue caressed hers in a most seductive dance which took her breath away. Pulling away at last from her lips which pulsed with the memory of that joining, he looked directly into his son’s scandalized face and panted, “Now that, my son, was a kiss worth being embarrassed about.”

Ariella and Glorfindel laughed at the horrified expressions on their children’s faces, but were soon interrupted by exclamations from folk further up the wall. An unusual light blossomed eerily on the northern horizon. They both tensed and looked at each other in shocked realization.

The fall of Gondolin was at hand.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The ever-increasing glow stained the snow of the surrounding mountains a bloody red, turning the excitement of the throng of people gathered on the walls and battlements from wonder to dread. Glorfindel ordered his family back to their house as riders arrived from the watch on the hills, bearing tidings that Morgoth’s forces approached the city.

Summoning servants and members of the household along the way, Glorfindel and Ariella fought their way through the masses of confused people in the streets. By the time they reached their house, chaos ruled with children crying amidst the shouts of ellin, weeping ellith, and parents desperately trying to keep their families together while hurrying back to their homes. Soon the sounds of the crowd included the ring of arms as the battalions of the 12 houses of Gondolin began to muster in the squares.

Ariella’s stomach was cramping and she struggled for breath as she stumbled into the house armory, clinging to Glorfindel. Esquires already waited to gird him and his sons with armor. Soothingly rubbing her belly with one hand, Ariella held on to her overly excited youngest son with the other to keep him out of the way. Her nervous daughters stood around her, looking on in stunned silence. By the time the last straps were tightened on Glorfindel’s glimmering gold armor, and his golden mantle had been fastened about his shoulders, a messenger from the king had arrived, bidding Glorfindel to join the lords in council with the king immediately.

After giving orders for the ellin of the household to join the battalion upon his departure, Glorfindel paused at the door of the house, looking appraisingly at their sons. In her mind, Ariella heard him say, **I have led the sons of many ellin into battle many times. Never have I led my own. They are so very very young. I can only hope they are ready. **

**You have done all you could do to teach them, to make them ready for this day. You need to be strong for them and let them know you are proud of them and that you love them dearly, **she responded, knowing it was small consolation, but unable to think of anything else to say.

Ariella desperately fought back tears as he hugged and kissed each of their children, expressing his love and imparting words of encouragement to their sons who were about to see battle for the first time. By the time he turned to Ariella and pulled her close, she saw that his eyes had grown quite moist as well.

Again his thoughts touched hers. ** I realize we have known this was coming. But, never before have I had to leave my wife and children to go into battle. This is so much harder than I thought it would be. Will I ever see you again, my beloved, my lady? **

**I do not know, ** she replied. ** I do not plan on giving up so easily. Look for us in the halls of the king. I will gather our bags and everyone I can from the House. We will be with the Nestadain where we may be of some use. I know you will survive this night. I believe we will see each other again before the end. **

He nodded, seemingly unable to speak. After giving her a last passionate kiss, he removed one of his gloves and wiped her tears with his fingers, then briefly wiped his own eyes. “Keep the children safe,” he whispered, his voice breaking with emotion. “I love you so very much.”

“I love you, too,” was all she could manage to say before she felt him steel himself and turn away. Replacing the glove upon his right hand, he set his high helm upon his noble head, and left the house.

Ariella watched him stride swift and purposeful to his waiting horse and ride away toward the palace through the press of elves which parted before him.

When he was out of sight, Ariella looked on her sons standing before her tall and proud in their burnished armor. She sensed the nervous fear mixed with giddy anticipation at the chance to finally prove themselves in combat. Lovingly, she hugged and kissed each of them, her heart wrenching all the while, and sent them on their way as well. When they too had disappeared from view, Ariella fell to her knees and wailed aloud for the impending loss of her husband and sons.

As all of the ellin of the household took up arms and left their loved ones, Ariella was oblivious to the tearful farewells taking place around her until she felt hands on her arms and then the sounds of crying ellith came to her. Carefully she was pulled to her feet by a red-faced, equally tearful Linanna, and led away to a nearby sitting room where the other ellith and children of the household were congregating.

“My . . . my lady,” Linanna trembled amidst her tears as another servant pressed a cup of tea into Ariella’s shaking hands. “What can we do? We . . . we cannot sit idle and just wait. Tell us how we can help."

Drinking deeply of her tea, Ariella gradually gathered her wits enough to face the task at hand. Looking around at the tearful occupants of the room, she saw some desperately dab at their eyes with handkerchiefs while others quietly whimpered clinging to each other. The fear and worry in the room were almost palpable. But Ariella was the Lady of the House of the Golden Flower and now her household was looking to her for guidance.

Ariella finished her cup, then gazed into the expectant eyes of those around her. Taking a deep breath, she told them about the provisions she had assembled in the winter storeroom for each of their families. She then began giving orders for the evacuation of her house, instructing everyone to quickly change into traveling clothes and pack those things that would be useful on a long journey, such as weapons, blankets, and extra clothes both for themselves and for their families, including things for the ellin who had gone to the battle. Additionally, she demanded that every empty waterskin and wineskin stockpiled in the storeroom be filled.

Immediately, a barrage of angry protests began.

“But we are safe here in this house!”

“Gondolin will stand as long as Taniquetil or the Mountains of Valinor will. Our city will never fall!”

“My lady, how can you doubt the might and skill of our soldiers when your own husband leads them?”

“There are arrows and ballistae enough for our soldiers to fight for years!”

“It is too dangerous out in the streets! Our children will be lost!”

“Our ellin will not know where to find us if we leave!”

Ariella was shocked. Never before had any of them questioned an order. Reigning in her own anger and dismay at the servants’ behavior, she rose to her feet.

“I have given you an order!” she sternly exclaimed. “By the end of this night you will understand why I have asked these things of you. If you have any respect or love for your Lord, then you will honor him by respecting his Lady and doing as she bids you!” The room grew silent as a few heads bowed in shame, while the defiance slid off the faces of others. Ariella’s tone softened as she was once again struck by the realization of just how deeply these people loved her husband. “Once we are packed,” she quietly continued, “We will go to the king’s halls where we will assist the Nestadain in their treatment of the wounded and in helping others find refuge. This is the best way we can assist our ellin during this battle. Now go make the necessary preparations and join me back here as quickly as possible.”

There were a few mutinous glares, but no one argued with her further as they rose and left the room to comply.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Ariella’s daughters joined her in her room after they had changed clothes. Glorindir, already dressed and his hair braided back out of his face, sat on the bearskin rug, playing with a toy. She met her daughters’ rash of complaints that the things they wanted to pack had suddenly gone missing by handing each daughter a bag containing the things she had already packed for them.

As Arianna knelt on the floor rummaging through her bag, she stopped abruptly and looked up at Ariella. “Naneth, you knew this was coming.”

“Yes,” Ariella admitted as she sat down on the bed and massaged a persistent pain that had spread itself across her lower back.

Arlianna secured her pack over her shoulder and said simply, “It is all as in my dreams. Gondolin will fall tonight.”

“Yes,” Ariella quietly agreed. “Yes, it will.”

Suddenly thoughtful, Arienne looked up from rearranging the contents of her pack to suit her, and commented, “Naneth, the sounds outside have changed.”

Almost as one, her daughters arose and ran across the hall to Glorindir’s room and looked out his window. The discomfort subsiding, Ariella arose and joined them.

“Look,” Arienne said, pointing down to the street. “The soldiers are marching.”

“Come,” Ariella said. “It is time to go.”

They all gathered their packs and those of Glorfindel and her elder sons as well. With Glorindir in tow, Ariella called for everyone to meet for immediate departure. After reminding the breathless assembly that they were going to the king’s halls and why it was the safest place to go, Ariella dispatched a few servants who had no young children of their own to go to Glorfindel’s sister and sisters-in-law and try to convince them to come to the palace as well. Once out of the house, the whole group of ellith and children held hands so none would be separated in the trek through the city.

Over the confused cries of the people in the streets, Ariella could clearly hear the din of battle already begun about the gate. Despite the initial coolness of the night, the temperature of the air seemed to be rising steadily. As best she could, she hurried everyone along, encouraging those they met on the way to come to the safety of the king’s halls. She only slowed when the pain returned to her back, bringing cramps to her front as well. Giving Arlianna a handful of skirt to hang on to in place of her hand, Ariella rubbed her belly trying to sooth the restless babies within. After a few deep breaths, the discomfort left again, and she was able to grasp her daughter’s hand and move more quickly.

The journey took at least four times as long as it ordinarily would have because of the great mass of panicking people blocking the streets, and the mad press as the crowds were parted and shoved this way and that whenever battalions, sweating in their heavy armor, marched past to aid in the fighting. Soon the heat grew stifling and even the fountains began to steam in the swelter, creating an ever thickening mist.

When the bedraggled household of the Golden Flower reached the king’s halls at last, Ariella instructed them to set aside their bags and assist the Nestadain in any way they could. She took her family off to a relatively cool, quiet corner on the far side of the great hall where they would be out of the way, yet available if the healers needed their aid.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The Nestadain had just completed setting up the area that would be devoted to healing the injured. Looking up from laying out the final cot, Lhûnedhel beckoned to Ariella from across the room. Dragging an overly excited Glorindir along behind her, she made her way to the chief healer.

“My lady,” Lhûnedhel greeted them, wiping his sweaty brow before bowing elegantly. “And young master Glorindir,” he added with a wink as he straightened.

Ariella heard Glorindir giggle from somewhere behind her skirts as he hid from Lhûnedhel. Hiding from adults who politely addressed him seemed to be one of Glorindir’s favorite games of late, often to his parents’ consternation. Tonight, however, Ariella did not have the strength to care about decorum.

Lhûnedhel smiled briefly in Glorindir’s direction, then continued, “Lord Glorfindel said you would know to come here when we discussed setting up the healing ward in the king’s halls. I am relieved you found us. I must admit, with the panic in the streets, I was beginning to worry that you would not make it.”

“It was difficult getting here,” Ariella admitted. The twinge in her back started again, spreading more rapidly this time. Wincing slightly, she automatically moved her free hand to ease the pain as she continued. “But, we made it. I have dispatched what remains of my household to assist your healers. My daughters are at your disposal as well, though I do ask . . . ” She paused for a couple of deep breaths, rubbing the place where all of the little hands and feet inside of her seemed to be concentrating their attack. “I ask that you not call on them unless the need is great. They are young and will tire more easily than they realize once they start healing battle wounds.”

Concern clouding his eyes, Lhûnedhel placed his hand on the spot she had been rubbing. His healing touch brought some relief and settled the babies, but the rest of the pain took its time departing. “How long have you been having contractions like that?” He asked.

Ariella looked down unable to meet his gaze. She did not want to be weak right now. She needed to be strong for her children. She needed to be able to lead them to safety when the city fell. But she knew he was justified in his concern.

He moved his other hand to her swollen abdomen as well. “Ariella, when did your pains begin?”

Ariella renewed her grip on Glorindir who was attempting to escape, then looked up again, wearily replying, “I do not know. Perhaps when Glorfindel was donning his armor after we left the walls. I do not know how long ago that was.”

Nodding to her, he asked, “How often are the pains occurring?”

“I . . . I do not know. I have not paid attention.”

Calmly turning her to face the corner she had claimed for her family, Lhûnedhel put his arm around her. Taking Glorindir by the hand, thus relieving her of that energetic burden, he accompanied them back to their corner.

“No healing others tonight, my lady,” Lhûnedhel said sternly. “I want you to stay over here out of the way and concentrate on easing those contractions.”

When they reached her daughters, Lhûnedhel commanded them, “Do not allow you mother to perform any healing tonight. She is experiencing some pains and needs to rest. Watch over your little brother for her and keep him out of trouble.” He helped Ariella to sit down. Crouching down to look her in the eyes, he said “I will be over there if you need me.” He glanced at her daughters and gestured to the makeshift healing ward on the other side of the grand hall. “Come get me if you need me.”

Ariella’s daughters gave their assent and Lhûnedhel turned his attention back to Ariella. “Please rest, my lady. My heart does not bode well for this night, but it would be greatly eased knowing you are all right. If you will not do this for yourself then do it for me and do it for your husband, too. He has enough to worry about right now without the distraction of sensing your distress across your bond.”

The possibility of troubling or distracting Glorfindel had not even occurred to Ariella. She resolved right then to do as Lhûnedhel had asked; see to her own healing and rest.

Lhûnedhel patted her cheek lovingly. “Regain your strength and be at peace, my lady. I will be back in a while to check on you.” With that, he arose and walked briskly back to the ward.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

After a short while, the first wounded began to arrive from the fighting about the gate. Ariella dutifully sat in her corner, resting against a wall, directing her daughters in assisting the healers with pain relief, and occasionally giving her 6-year-old different toys to play with to keep him occupied and out of the way.

“Lady Ariella!” a breathless, vaguely familiar voice called to her.

Ariella looked up to see one of Tuor’s soldiers, garbed in the livery of the Wing, approaching her. “My lady, please. We need your help,” the soldier of the Wing called again. The ellon, sporting a splash of blood most of the way down his left leg, staggered awkwardly beneath the weight of one of the soldiers of the House of the Mole. Lhûnedhel came running to the soldier’s side and helped him lay his bloody, moaning burden on the floor near Ariella.

A young elleth from Ariella’s household beckoned Glorindir out of the way to come play with her so Ariella could see to the task at hand. The elleth pointed to where she would be sitting with Glorindir, and Ariella nodded her approval.

Ariella looked carefully at the soldier who had addressed her and recognition finally dawned. It was the former captain of the march wardens who had rescued her sons years before after the disastrous bear hunt.

“Captain Sindedhel!” she exclaimed. “I had heard that Lord Tuor had chosen you for the captaincy of the Guard of the Wing. How do you fare? How is Lord Tuor?”

Sindedhel nodded in acknowledgement as he helped Lhûnedhel remove the wounded soldier’s helmet and armor. “My lady. My leg is injured, but that is not why I am here. There was fighting at Lord Tuor’s home, and Prince Maeglin and many soldiers of the House of the Mole were slain. Lord Tuor has sent Lady Idril and young Lord Eärendil to a way of escape accompanied by some of the Guard of the Wing. Lord Tuor has gone to the fighting about the gate to aid as he might there. I am here because my Lord Tuor bade me bear this young one to you for healing.” Sindedhel paused, reaching out to take Ariella’s hand. Pressing his lips together, he nodded toward the crimson mess of the warrior’s chest and slowly shook his head in defeat, acknowledging that he saw no hope for his survival. “My lady . . . ” he forlornly began again, his voice cracking, betraying his inability to continue speaking.

Ariella nodded and moved to kneel beside the injured ellon. She released Sindedhel’s hand and reached out to turn the bloodied face toward her, gasping as she saw who the young one was.

“Morang,” she whispered. Fiercely blinking back tears, she looked into the pain-filled eyes of her sons’ dearest friend. “What happened?”

She extended her hands to assess his condition and begin numbing the pain, but Lhûnedhel grabbed her hands, preventing her from establishing healing contact. As she glared at him angrily, she heard his voice in her mind.
**It is too late, Ariella. Mandos calls him. I can hear it. When you take his pain away, you will remove all that holds him to his body. Let the young one say what he needs to say. Then you can take his pain and help him to pass to the Halls of Waiting where he can join his parents in honor. **

At first Ariella made to protest. Morang had grown so much in the time she had known him. He was such a good young ellon, almost like one of her own sons for his having been at her house so much in the last year and a half. She could not just sit back and let Morang die!

Firmly taking Morang’s nearest hand in hers, she made to defy Lhûnedhel when she faintly felt and heard the clear encompassing beautiful voice of Mandos in and around Morang. Lhûnedhel was right after all.

“My lady,” Morang weakly said.

She tried to smile at him. “Yes, Morang.”

“I . . . I stood aside when Prince Maeglin ordered us to help him take Tuor’s house and the Lady Idril. After Lord Tuor cast Maeglin from the walls for attempting to kill little Lord Eärendil, the soldiers of the Mole attacked the Guard of the Wing.” Morang paused and gripped her hand tightly as he coughed wetly. Blood showed on his teeth as he struggled through a few breaths before he continued speaking. “I . . . I refused to fight. I remembered Arianna and I could not bring myself to raise my weapon against another elf. I tried . . . tried to stop . . . to stop the fighting and . . . ” He turned his head and coughed again, deeper and more painfully than before.

Sindedhel quietly continued for him while Lhûnedhel gently wiped the blood and spittle from Morang’s face to help him preserve his dignity before the Lady of the Golden Flower. “A comrade in arms had fallen beside me at the hands of two of the Mole. My leg was injured in the assault. Morang bravely stood protecting us, refusing to join the soldiers of the Mole in fighting against us. Two of his house called him “Weakling” and “Coward” as they tried to shove him aside. But Morang steadfastly held his ground, giving me time to regain my feet. The two then stabbed him repeatedly to get him out of the way so they could finish me. Morang’s righteousness and brave courage saved my life. I dispatched them, and then Lord Tuor ordered me to bring Morang to you in all haste.” Tears slid down Sindedhel’s face. “I brought him here as quickly as I could.”

Ariella squeezed Morang’s hand again and he sluggishly met her gaze. The light was rapidly draining from his eyes and the song of Mandos’s call was much louder. A thought came to her, whether from Mandos or somewhere else, she knew not nor cared, but she knew it was the right thing to do to ease his passing.

“Captain Sindedhel,” she ordered. “Give me Morang’s sword.” Sindedhel obliged, unsheathing it and handing it to her. She placed the weapon in Morang’s right hand over an uninjured part of his chest, the point of the bright sword resting on his legs.

Wrapping her hand around his, she gathered herself up as regally as she could, wishing for Glorfindel’s noble bearing, and addressed the dying warrior before her. “Morang Morlinion, the House of the Mole is no more. Lord Glorfindel is not here, so I ask this in his stead. The House of the Golden Flower implores you to add your true heart and noble courage to our ranks. Would you so honor us?”

The light in Morang’s eyes shone brightly again for a moment as he inhaled raggedly and whispered, “I would, my lady.”

The music of Mandos sang loudly through Morang as she bent and kissed his forehead. “Go to Mandos’ halls in honor, son of my House and dearest friend of my children,” Ariella said amidst her tears. “Your parents will be so very proud of you as I am proud of you.”

Morang sighed and a sudden silence echoed in Ariella’s mind and spirit.

He was gone.

Ariella bowed her head and began crying in earnest, but a twinge of pain started in her side and spread across her abdomen, drawing her back to awareness. She inhaled sharply and pressed her hand calmingly on her belly.

Wincing in pain, she looked up through her tears and saw Sindedhel salute Morang before closing the sightless eyes. After whispering a prayer of his own in Quenya, Lhûnedhel arose and came over to Sindedhel, helping him to stand.

“Captain,” Lhûnedhel said. “Lady Ariella is in no condition to heal anyone right now or she would gladly heal you herself. One of my healers will see to your injuries. I do not believe that anyone else could have eased the young ellon’s passing as you and the lady have done. Thank you for all you did for him.”

Sindedhel bowed awkwardly to Ariella. His sorrowful voice resonating gratitude and respect, he said, “Thank you, my lady.” Then he limped away, leaning heavily on Lhûnedhel.

Lhûnedhel returned presently with a cup and two other healers. The two healers respectfully covered Morang’s body and removed it as Lhûnedhel knelt in front of Ariella.

“Drink this,” he ordered, handing her the cup. “It should ease the contractions.”

Ariella nodded her thanks and drank the mildly bitter draught. “Thank you,” she said as she handed the cup back to him.

“I will return to check on you as time allows. I have asked your daughters to take turns staying with you to further ease your pain and also to keep them from tiring themselves too much.”

“Thank you, Lhûnedhel, for everything,” she said with heart-felt gratitude as she took his hand and squeezed it.

He smiled, squeezing her hand in return, then rose and went back to his other patients.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

A few minutes later, the young elleth returned with Glorindir accompanied by Ariella’s favorite servant who was quite bedraggled and soaked with sweat. Linanna told the young elleth to take Glorindir for another walk around the hall, then sank to her knees in front of Ariella.

“My lady,” Linanna said solemnly, taking Ariella’s hand. “I went to Lady Elianna’s home to speak with her as you had asked. I spoke long with her but could not persuade her or her servants to leave. The other servants you dispatched spoke with the wives and servants of Celoril and Elindir. No one would believe us when we said they should leave. They said they trusted to the might of this fair city and would not leave their homes. “My lady, we . . . we have failed you. I am so sorry. We are so very sorry.” Linanna paused, bowing her head in shame. “It . . . It took us a long time to make our way here afterward for the battle goes ill. I apologize for speaking against leaving our house earlier this evening. I had not realized you were so foresighted when you bade us pack our belongings and leave. Please forgive me. Forgive us.”

Sighing deeply, Ariella squeezed Linanna’s hand, then reached out and lifted her dearest servant’s chin. Ariella looked steadily into her tear-filled eyes. With all of the gratitude and reassurance she could muster, she said, “Linanna, you have not failed me. You and the others advised me this evening with what you believed to be the best course of action and you at least tried to convince our beloved sisters to come here to safety. I do not fault you or the others in this. There is nothing to forgive. I thank you with all of my heart for trying.”

Linanna looked up, smiling weakly. She gently brushed Ariella’s cheek with her fingertips and tucked a few stray hairs back into Ariella’s sweaty braid. Then Linanna’s expression suddenly changed, and she smiled oddly at Ariella, almost as a mother would look upon a beloved daughter who had grown into a woman worthy of her pride.

“From the time you arrived here in Gondolin, you have watched over the members of the family of the Golden Flower. Thank you, my lady, for the joy and blessings you have brought to Lord Glorfindel. Thank you also for what you tried to do for Lord Glorfindel’s kin and for what you have done for the members of his household tonight. Whenever it shall come to pass that I shall again see my Lord and Lady in Tirion, I shall sing your praises to them for the healing, aide, and joy you have brought to their family and especially to their eldest son.”

Ariella tried to smile at the thought that she might please the in-laws she never met, but tears came to her eyes instead. She may have brought their son his greatest joy, but she was going to bring him his greatest sorrow as well, and she did not think they would ever be able to forgive her for that. She was not so sure that she could forgive herself for it.

The pain began again, so Ariella bade Linanna to go fetch her a drink of water, knowing that the contraction would subside before Linanna returned. She did not want anyone else to know how badly things were going for her. It was enough that Lhûnedhel and her daughters knew.

The water and little Glorindir both arrived at the same time, accompanied by her eldest daughter. A few splotches of blood stained her daughter’s dress and her golden braids were fraying a bit from the heat and activity.

“Naneth,” she said breathlessly as Ariella drank. “The wounded say the battle goes badly. Naneth, they . . . they say there are dragons in the city! They say the air is hot and the fountains steam because of them. And I have heard that Lord Duilin was shot from the walls, Lord Penlod is dead, and the entire battalion of the House of the Hammer of Wrath is no more.” She desperately clutched Ariella’s free hand. “Naneth, I have not . . . ”

The song of flutes, terrible and lovely, suddenly filled the air. Ariella and her daughter looked over toward the windows and saw that hearts and eyes were raised at the beautiful sound as the harmonies mingled and reverberated off the walls of the hall. Her daughter arose, straining to see around others who also had abandoned their tasks to catch a glimpse.

“I want to see. I want to see!” Glorindir said, running over and tugging on his sister’s dress. His big sister stooped and lifted him high in the air so he could see out the windows.

“Lord Ecthelion leads the soldiers of the Fountain to the battle!” He excitedly exclaimed.

“Naneth, perhaps the tide will turn now in our favor,” Arianna said hopefully.

Ariella forced an encouraging smile for her children. But she knew that things were only going to get worse.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Ariella’s daughters had dutifully been taking turns easing her contractions and watching over Glorindir, at Lhûnedhel’s behest. One daughter was always at her side while the other two were busy aiding Lhûnedhel with the wounded. The hall was growing quite crowded now with refugees and a startling number of wounded. Periodically, more ellith and children were being sent in by Lord Egalmoth and his soldiers who were faring about the city rescuing stragglers and bands of captives. The smells of blood and sweat pervaded the air, punctuated by the moans of the injured and cries as families were reunited or the wounded died.

Arienne had just finished helping Ariella through a particularly nasty contraction and was repacking the toys that Glorindir had discarded while searching for something new to hold his attention. Glorindir bounded about, calling and waving to everyone he knew as if the commotion in the hall was some grand party held for his amusement.

His weary mother sat back, resting against the cool wall, when a sudden pain seized her in the chest, driving the breath from her. She gasped and fell over sideways.

“Naneth!” Arienne panicked, scrambling back in her direction. “Naneth, what is it? It is too soon to be another contraction. What . . . ”

Ariella lay there panting for a few moments, then cried out and rolled as a second burst of agony shot through her chest. Tears flowed freely down her face. Half blinded by emotion and pain, she glimpsed her other two daughters pushing their way over to her as well.

“Naneth!” Arienne called again. She placed her healing hands on her mother then withdrew them immediately. Instead, she reached out and gently stroked her mother’s shoulder and arm. Tears filling her frightened eyes, her voice cracked, “Oh, Naneth . . . Naneth. Which of my brothers was it?”

When Ariella could finally breathe again and the ache subsided enough for her to speak, she whispered, “I do not know, my child. I do not know.” She could not focus her thoughts enough to find out, and, she realized, she really did not want to know.

“Naneth,” Arianna said as she knelt at her mother’s side, “Lhûnedhel wants us to give you sleep. He said you need to stay calm or the babies will come.”

“No! I have to stay awake,” Ariella protested. She wanted to remain aware for as long as possible. She wanted to see her husband again one last time.

“I will lie here and be as calm as I can,” Ariella reassured them. “But please, please do not give me sleep. I beg you. Please.”

Her daughters looked at each other for a few moments, then nodded. “Very well, Naneth,” Arianna said sternly. “But you must be still and rest.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The din of battle grew ever louder over the noisy chaos of the crowded hall. The weeping and the screams of agony seemed to grow louder with each passing moment. Ariella was calmly breathing through another contraction when her daughters became distracted from helping her yet again and the full force of the pain assailed her. Moaning, she curled up on her side clutching her belly.

Suddenly the girls sprang to their feet, waving their arms and yelling, “Adar! Adar! Over here! We are over here!”

As the pain in her abdomen and back subsided, Ariella slowly rolled over and pushed herself up into a sitting position with her back resting against the wall. She didn’t want Glorfindel to know how bad off she was. Looking in the direction in which the girls were waving, her heart sank at what she saw. Glorfindel, sweaty and covered in black and red blood, approached, half carrying Glorfinion. Galanor and Istadan staggered right behind him, supporting Glorion between them. Lowering their burdens to the floor, they propped each youth’s back against the wall almost within reach of her. The boys’ breastplates were drenched in red blood. Her sons’ beautiful faces were masks of pain.

Lhûnedhel and her elder daughters rushed to the brothers to assist them as best they could. Glorfinion, obviously unable to speak through his pain, looked at his father with pleading eyes and a face much too young to have even seen battle much less taken part in it. Glorfindel weakly gave him an encouraging, reassuring look. Glorfinion clung to his father even after being helped to the floor, so Glorfindel sat beside him. He carefully removed the boy’s helm and breastplate, then tenderly rested Glorfinion’s head against his shoulder while Arienne worked to heal him. Two tears escaped Glorfinion’s eyes before his sister mastered the pain and healing rest calmed his features. Glorfindel gently kissed his son’s head, fondly stroking the sweat-soaked golden hair as if he could cure the mortal wound with a hug and a kiss.

Galanor similarly held his twin to him, removing armor and helm after his father’s example, while Arlianna and Lhûnedhel worked to expose and heal the wound. Ariella saw Glorion’s body relax immediately under the pain-relieving ministrations of both his brother and sister. With so many healers helping him at once, hope surged through her that maybe he would be in good enough condition to be able to escape the city. Maybe the history books were wrong about his fate. It looked so promising that he at least might survive.

But Istadan had written the account of the fall that Ariella held to be most accurate, and he was here now receiving Arianna’s ministrations for some less severe wounds of his own. He would have known the truth about what happened and he dutifully would have recorded every damn heart-wrenching word of it.

Ariella could not hold back the tears that assailed her. Despite knowing that this moment was coming even before she had married Glorfindel, the pain at seeing her own sons suffer so was almost more than she could bear. She could sense the helplessness in her husband, slowly tearing him apart as it rent her own heart. She wanted nothing more than to hold her little boys and heal them of everything that was working to destroy them and would ultimately bring their deaths before this battle was over. But there was nothing she could do. The desolation of her own helplessness threatened to consume her as she looked over at her other children who would be bereft of both of their parents and at the least their eldest brothers before 48 more hours had passed.

Her youngest son brought Glorfindel a water skin, which he gratefully accepted. Glorfindel removed his own helmet, setting it aside. His beautiful silky hair was darkened and stringy with sweat. After several longs pulls of water, Glorfindel put the skin aside. Wrapping his free arm around little Glorindir, he pulled him onto his lap and began to talk breathlessly.

“We were ambushed in the market. I kept sending messengers to the king, begging for aid, but none came. We held our ground for a long time. A dragon came upon us. We escaped and made it here. Tuor has taken command of my battalion for me. I just . . . I needed to be here with you and the children for a few minutes.

“Glorion was stabbed by an orc. Glorfinion came to his aid and tried to heal him enough to get him out of there for the wound was quite serious. Two more orcs came upon them. Glorfinion dispatched the first one, but the second one pierced his armor. Galanor fought his way over to them and managed to ease the bleeding in both of them, but their wounds reopened as we fled.”

Glorfindel closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. He swallowed hard, took a deep breath, then slowly let it out.

The pain Ariella felt in her husband’s heart overwhelmed her with a far greater grief than she had ever known before. She knew what he was about to say.

When he opened his eyes and continued again, his voice was hollow with ache. “My brothers are dead, Ariella. Their sons died in their arms. Then a short while later they died in mine. First Celoril with an arrow in his neck and then Elindir was run through by two orcs. I just could not get to them in time. I could not protect them.” His voice cracked. “I could not save them as I could not save my own sons, and now they are gone. My little brothers are gone.” He buried his face in little Glorindir’s hair and wept.

Ariella shut her eyes against the agony she felt in her husband as everything he loved was slowly being taken away from him and destroyed before his eyes. His heart was rent and bleeding in sorrow and it tore hers as well. When she opened her eyes again, she saw her youngest son turn in his father’s embrace. The boy stood and wrapped his arms around his ada’s head, resting his head on his ada’s. Gently stroking Glorfindel’s tangled hair, he said, “It is all right, Ada. Nana and I love you.”

Glorfindel’s shoulders racked harder with powerful sobs despite his son’s tenderness or perhaps because of it.

Reaching across their bond, Ariella’s fëa embraced Glorfindel’s. She felt his fëa desperately cling to hers in return. It was the only comfort she could give him as he sat there and wept.

After a few minutes, Glorfindel regained some semblance of control. He kissed Glorindir’s wet head where his tears had soaked his son’s hair and turned his little boy so he sat in his ada’s lap again. Glorfindel took Ariella’s hand tightly in his.

**We used to hold them this way, ** Glorfindel said telepathically, nodding toward their older children. **Do you remember? **

**Yes, I remember, ** she replied.

**Whose fate do you think the Valar will allow them to choose? Do you think any of them will choose my fate and be with me in Valinor? But I guess it does not really matter, does it? Because either way, our family will be divided forever. ** He took a deep shuddering breath, blinking at tears that refused to stop flowing. **It is unfair, my love. It is so unfair that we are allowed to be together now, but must be parted forever. Why is this so, my Ariella? Why is this so? Why were you allowed to come here? What have we done? Why was this allowed to happen? **

**I do not know, Glorfindel. I do not know. **

In the distance, she vaguely heard a male voice asking for the whereabouts of Lord Glorfindel and someone else answering.

**I do not think I have the strength to go back out there, Ariella. **

**Yes, you do. You must go back out because history says you did. **

**Lady, I do not give a damn what your history books say. **

She gave him a bland smile. ** I tried that attitude and look where I am now. Your people need you, Glorfindel.**

**Will you be here when I come back? **

**Yes. **

**Promise? **

**Promise. **

**I will return as soon as I can, my love. **

He gave her hand one last squeeze, then set Glorindir on his feet. Ariella carefully leaned over and wiped her husband’s face with her sleeve. He weakly smiled his gratitude then donned his helm. After carefully disengaging himself from his dazed eldest son, he stood up stiffly.

“Children, it is very dangerous outside. There are too many people crammed into this hall and everyone is frightened and confused. Stay here!” He pointed to the floor in emphasis. “Stay here with Lhûnedhel and Istadan and stay together. Look after your naneth and brothers until I return,” he ordered, his voice strong and commanding once again. They all watched as he strode off to meet the messenger and disappeared into the chaotic crowd.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

A short time later, sad news spread through the halls heralded by wails of sorrow, telling of the heroic death of Lord Ecthelion who fell in battle with a balrog at the fountain just outside the palace. Ariella sorrowfully listened to the impromptu laments melodiously rising here and there in praise and memory of Ecthelion, when yet another vicious contraction seized her. She curled up on her side, trying unsuccessfully to breathe through the pain. She was so tired now, so drained and worn. A warm hand gently encompassed hers and a small amount of healing strength passed into her. She slowly looked up to see who it was.

Lhûnedhel, anxiety clouding his handsome face, gently said, “Ariella, squeeze my hand if you need to, if it will help you through the pain.”

She gripped his hand tightly, focusing on it until the pain finally subsided.

With his other hand, he rolled her onto her back and she slowly uncurled herself.

“The herbs are not helping, are they?” He quietly asked, his slumped shoulders and weary eyes betraying his exhaustion.

She meekly shook her head no.

“Ariella,” he desperately whispered. “Tell me what to do. Tell me how to help you.”

Taking a deep tentative breath, she managed a weak smile. “There is nothing you can do for me. I will not make it out of Gondolin alive.”

He looked horrified. “Make it out of Gondolin? Gondolin will not fall! Our city is strong. You need to rest my lady. Everything will be fine.”

“Everything will not be fine! Look around you, Lhûnedhel!” She gestured around at the innumerable wounded whose bodies covered most of the marble floor which was now slick and sticky with blood, and the teeming masses of frightened refugees spilling out from the hall and into every available space in the palace. “The city is going to fall. I know it is. Everyone who can evacuate should make ready to do so.

Watch over my children, Lhûnedhel. Keep them safe. I had thought before that I would be able to last, that I would be strong enough to get them out of the city myself. But now I know I cannot change history. I will not make it out of this city alive.”

Lhûnedhel looked at her oddly, clearly thinking that the herbs he had given her were impairing her thoughts. Suddenly Istadan spoke, curiosity ringing in his voice.

“Ariella what do you mean by you cannot change history? That makes no sense.”

She had forgotten Istadan was there receiving Arianna’s care and had not realized he had been listening. But, Ariella no longer had the strength to care about what damage she might do in letting anyone else know about her true past. With the city falling and her children soon to lose their parents, perhaps it would be best if her two friends knew the truth so they could protect her children.

Sighing deeply, she looked first into the expectant eyes of Istadan and then into Lhûnedhel’s. “I have known you two for all but a few short months of the time I have been in Gondolin. Throughout that time, you have questioned me about my background, my past, my family history.

Lhûnedhel, you constantly questioned what race my mother was, accepting that my father was mortal, but doubting my elvish heritage.”

Ariella paused, feeling the eyes of both her healthy and her injured children on her as she spoke.

“My mother and my father were both of the same race, a race of Atani, but my race did not originate in Arda as did the elves, the Atani you know, and the dwarves. My race originated elsewhere. More than six thousand years from now, members of my race will come to Arda to save its inhabitants from an enemy against which Arda will have no defenses. Some members of my race will travel to Arda regularly after that to see to this world’s continued safety. Before I came here, I was one of those training to protect Arda.”

Istadan stared at Ariella and slowly shook his head as he laughed, “Lhûnedhel what did you give her? She is delirious.”

“No, Istadan,” Ariella spoke reassuringly. “I am quite sane. Lhûnedhel gave me the proper dosage to help an elf, but I am not an elf, so the herbs are not working as they ought to.”

The smug look of ‘HA! I knew it!’ which appeared on Lhûnedhel’s face was almost comical. Ariella could not help smiling at him in amusement.

“So you have no elven blood in you at all,” Lhûnedhel stated. “Which is as I believed from the beginning. But,” he looked quite puzzled now. “You also have no maian blood. So . . . so you . . . Are you suggesting that you are a full-blooded mortal?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“I do not believe that you are a full-blooded mortal,” he said flatly. He probingly trailed his fingertips down the side of her face from forehead to chin. “The years have not touched your beauty. You know no illness. You can close your mind to me as few elves can. You move with an elven grace. You can heal yourself and others as neither elves nor Atani can.”

Speaking matter-of-factly, Istadan interjected, “You also read with exceptional speed and retention. Your facilities of the mind surpass many elves I know. You question and seek to know more. These are not the abilities of mortals. I do not believe you either.”

Ariella was momentarily stunned at the prejudices of her two friends before her, then she remembered that they had met very few mortals and even fewer aliens. Gathering her patience, she further explained, “Long ago, my people developed the ability to change and improve themselves as a race such that they increased their intelligence, their powers of the mind, and their abilities of the body. They eradicated sickness and the physical detriments of age, and grew intellectually, far surpassing their ancestors of old. My children and I are a product of this.”

Fighting through his obvious bewilderment, Istadan said, “But, that cannot possibly be true. Not from Arda? But . . . From where do you come? Why did you deceive us?”

“I had to let you believe what you thought to be true if I was to survive. Idril has known the truth all along and told me to continue the deception. Glorfindel has known for a few years and my children have known for less time.” She paused, looking into the bright Calaquendi eyes of her friends, and seeing the last traces of doubt begin to vanish. “Eä is far far greater in size than you can possibly imagine. I am from a world far away from here and outside of your current conception of Eä.”

Ariella was silent for a few moments, letting these words sink in before she continued. “My brother was a man of science and lore. He built a machine that could manipulate time and location, allowing someone to travel many years into the future or into the past while at the same time traveling to another world. I came to Arda in this Age as part of an experiment to test the machine. Something went wrong and I was trapped here. Instead of staying for four hours, I have been here for 23 years. I am actually from a time more than 6 thousand years in your future. So, when I said I could not change history, I really meant it. In my history, in my past, Gondolin fell and Glorfindel’s wife and much of his kin were lost.”

Identical looks of stunned shock consumed the faces of the two ellin as they stared at her, mouths agape.

Arienne’s shaky voice broke the silence of the moment. “Naneth, so this is what you meant when you told us about your past and Arlianna said that one day we would lose you. Why did you not tell us? Why have you let us persist in dreaming and learning new things when we are going to lose you . . . when we are going to die, too?”

Ariella reached around Lhûnedhel to take her daughter’s hand. “Arienne, my sweet, I told you that Glorfindel’s daughters would survive and escape Gondolin. I also told you that I did not know the fate of his sons because the history books were very vague in their description of what happened to Glorfindel’s family at the fall of the city. Your father and I have endeavored to teach you all that we could to ensure the survival of our children. I did not know what would become of me or how I would meet my end. The history books do not even mention my name, nor do they give that of Glorfindel’s wife.”

She looked straight into Istadan’s eyes. “History books that you wrote, my friend.”

Ariella looked back at her daughter. “I tried to see to my survival and to yours. I tried to thwart history, but I could not. I . . . ”

Ariella suddenly gasped as a contraction claimed her once more, spreading pain tightly across her abdomen. She squeezed her eyes shut against the pain and released her daughter’s hand. Ariella tried not to cry out as she curled over on her side, gulping air and fighting nausea.

A hand gently began stroking the side of her head while another hand caressed the side of her swollen belly. The pain receded immediately, but the nausea remained until the tightness in her abdomen dissipated. A warm gush of liquid slowly began soaking her dress.

“Naneth,” Arienne softly called from her new position beside Lhûnedhel at Ariella’s side. “Naneth, I believe your water has broken.”

Ariella rolled onto her back and protectively wrapped her arms around her stomach. “The babies are restless.”

Arienne moved her hand further around her mother’s belly. “They are in distress, Naneth. Something is wrong.”

Ariella glared at her daughter. “Of course something is wrong,” she snapped without meaning to. “My water has broken and they are going to be born soon!”

“Bend your knees, Ariella,” Lhûnedhel ordered as he moved to her feet. He slid his hand inside her dress to examine her. “Everything is progressing quickly. It should not be long now.” His face grew pensive as he withdrew his now wet hand. “Perhaps if you deliver soon, then Istadan or I could carry you while your daughters carry the babies.” He glanced over at Istadan. Ariella looked over at Istadan, too, and saw that he still sat with his back to the wall, his own blood drying on his armor where the wounds had been mostly healed by Arianna. Ariella noted that Arianna, her lovely face pale with worry and fear, clung to his right arm and hand, but he did not seem to mind. Her daughter leaned her head against Istadan’s shoulder as he nodded his agreement to Lhûnedhel.

“Lhûnedhel,” Ariella said, reigning in her emotions and quietly mustering the courage to face reality herself. “The babies will be at least three months premature. They will not survive. When you evacuate the city, you and everyone else will have to run in order to reach safety in time. There will be no way for you to safely carry or support me.”

“Ariella,” Istadan said angrily. “We will not leave you here to die!”

“There is no hope for me,” she quietly replied in acceptance of her plight. “Please save my children. Protect my daughters. Save my sons. They will need help, too.”

“But Naneth,” Arlianna said from her place at Glorion’s side. “We cannot heal Glorion enough for him to be moved. The wound is deep and we will need to rest for a long time if we continue much longer.”

“Glorfinion is no better off,” Arienne softly stated matter-of-factly.

“No,” Ariella whispered, shaking her head as tears began to stream down her cheeks. “No. Not my sons . . . Not my sons.” She turned her head away from her family and her former suitors, unable to bear to look on them any longer. She had failed them. In spite of everything she had done to try to save them. It had all been for naught. It was not fair! It just was not fair! She covered her face with her hands and wept aloud until the pain and the tightness began once again.

Arienne eased the unpleasantness of the contraction while Ariella’s dress was soaked even more. When the discomfort subsided, Ariella felt herself lifted into strong arms. She uncovered her face and looked up into Glorfindel’s defeated eyes.

“Why did you not tell me you were having pains, my love? Why did you not tell me you were in labor?” He asked, his voice steeped with desperate sadness.

“I did not want to upset you any more than you already were. This is the night your atar warned you about when you would lose everything you had gained. You were already so distraught over the loss of your brothers and nephews, I . . . I could not add to that.” She finished lamely.

“You could not add to it?” He choked. “You knew this was coming and yet you . . . ” Tears washed lines in the grime on his cheeks.

“My beloved,” She gently reminded him, wiping his tears with her thumbs. “You knew this was coming, too. And you have foreseen what is still to come.”

“Yes, but . . . ” he gasped, taking a few steadying breaths. “But I cannot do this alone. You cannot leave me. There is no one to care for the children if you . . . ” He closed his eyes breathing deeply through his nose, his lips pressed tightly together. When he opened his eyes again, he said, “We are to evacuate the city. I cannot leave you . . . I will not leave you to be slaughtered by the orcs and the balrogs. You cannot . . . ” He visibly struggled to gather himself to continue speaking.

“Lhûnedhel, Istadan,” he ordered. “Take my sons. I will carry her. We should be able to make it.”

“Glorfindel,” Ariella desperately said. “Although Tuor finished his secret tunnel all the way out to plain, it will take you two hours or more to pass through it. The way is narrow and the end of the tunnel is very low, barely finished. There simply is no room for you to carry someone in your arms through that tunnel. And I cannot walk.”

Ariella looked at the determined faces of her silent family and friends as they obviously tried to think of another alternative.

“Adar,” Glorfinion weakly called as he and Glorion shook off the healing hands that still sought to aid them and painfully crawled over to their parents. “Naneth is right; you cannot take us with you.”

With great effort, the two brothers drew their swords. “Adar,” Glorion said in a stronger voice. “We will watch over naneth. We will protect her. They will not harm her while we draw breath.”

Galanor joined his brothers, drawing his sword as well. “Adar, I am wearied from battle and from healing my brothers. I have not the strength to run. I will stay with my brothers and protect naneth as well.” He looked over at Istadan and Lhûnedhel. “Protect our sisters and little brother for us, . . . Please,” he asked.

Istadan and Lhûnedhel’s faces were white with shock and sorrow as they looked from Glorfindel to his sons.

Ariella thought her heart would burst with pride and love for her sons and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for her. But she could not allow them to do this and she knew Glorfindel would never allow it.

Glorfindel kissed Ariella deeply, then whispered, “I love you so very much,” as he gently laid her down on the floor. He moved to each of his elder sons, kissing their cheeks and cautiously embracing each in turn, mindful of injuries. “Words cannot express the love I feel for each one of you,” he said as he released the third one. “I am more proud of you than I have ever been before. But I cannot leave you behind. I will not.”

Ariella watched her sons stiffen in defiance at those last words when suddenly Glorfindel looked around.

“Where is Glorindir?” he asked. Istadan, Lhûnedhel, and her daughters rose to their feet with him, pushing through the crowd, looking for the six-year-old and yelling his name.

Ariella was calling for him as well when another contraction started. Her three elder sons turned to her when they heard her gasp and all three laid hands on her to ease the pain as best they could. Blessedly, Glorindir chose this moment to return, making a dash to his mother’s side and wiggling in between his brothers to grasp her hand.

“Adar, we found him,” Galanor called loudly in relief. “Or more truthfully, he found us.”

Ariella looked over as Glorfindel and the others began to make their way back. The room suddenly seemed to be growing hazy. Ariella blinked several times, trying to flush away the fog. She had no memory of this side effect of the herbs Lhûnedhel had given her. Thorough the growing haze, she watched as her former suitors, her daughters, and her beloved husband abruptly halted, their faces awash with fear and dismay. She looked around as her skin began to tingle while a white brightness grew. Her sons, still grasping their weapons, gripped her more tightly as well.

What was happening?

She felt her eyes grow wide as realization dawned on her. With her free hand, she reached toward Glorfindel who stood rooted to the ground as those around him clung to him and to each other in fear.

“No!” she cried. “I do not want to leave you! I love you! I love you!”

“Ariella!” Glorfindel shouted, shaking himself free of the others and desperately lunging toward her.

But the whiteness engulfed Ariella and her sons as the room vanished in a nauseating whirl of rainbows and sudden silence.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

To be continued . . .

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Chapters

Jump to chapter

Chapter name
Chapter 22: The Fall of Gondolin
Created
22 Jul 2006
Last Edited
20 Jun 2007
Hits
1054
Words
11493