The Old Ways
2. Map Biography
Erestor and Elrond visited Maglor every day over the winter. Erestor happily took up the role of talking with Maedhros, keeping him occupied and otherwise out of the way while Elrond stole a brief moment to snuggle on Maglor's lap. As the shiny newness of Balar started to wear off, Elrond began to miss the quiet family afternoons he and Maglor had once shared. He missed their spending time together, and longed to return to that old closeness. Even if they did nothing.
Elrond and Maglor sat in the rocking chair by the window at one end of the room, and Erestor and Maedhros stood at the other. Maedhros was shouting and pacing. It was difficult to tell, from Elrond's standpoint, whether he was shouting abuse at Erestor or merely shouting because he wanted to shout. Erestor spoke back in a low, calm voice. The louder and more rapid Maedhros' shouted words were, the slower and quieter Erestor's replies came. Eventually, it seemed to work. Maedhros stopped shouting. After another minute, he even sat down in a chair. Soon he and Erestor were laughing together.
"I guess Mada likes Erestor," Elrond said. He spoke mainly into Maglor's shirt.
"Mm," said Maglor. He hardly ever spoke any more.
Once Elrond and Elros learned the way, they were free to go to Glorfindel's farm whenever they liked. It was a long walk, so they often made a day of it. Sometimes they stayed overnight, though they had to sleep on the floor of the tiny house.
On Glorfindel-visiting days, Elrond went to see Maglor in the morning as soon as he woke. After a brief sit by the window, he ate breakfast with Elros, then the two of them took off down the road. Elros always wanted to race, and he usually won. Elrond preferred to take his time, looking at plants and clouds along the way.
Sometimes there was farm work to be done at Glorfindel's house. Even in the middle of winter, gardens on Balar still grew. Elrond and Elros helped water the rutabagas. They pulled up the ones that were ready, and sorted them into piles. Big, nicely-shaped ones went into a pile to sell at the market. Small, crooked ones went into a pile for Glorfindel to eat himself (as he cared only about the taste of the rutabagas, not the shape), and cracked or broken ones went into a pile to feed to the donkey and goat. Then there were other vegetables to pick and sort: beans, cucumbers, carrots, onions, cabbage, and more things that Elrond only knew the name of because Glorfindel told him.
But if they came on certain days, there was no work to do, because the grassy part of Glorfindel's field was full of people. Elros called it the People Garden, and confided in Elrond that he secretly hoped Glorfindel was growing an army. They seemed, though, too calm to be an army. They sat on little mats, looking westward, while Glorfindel alternately sang in Quenya and told them about Manwë in Sindarin. So Elrond knew they were not army people, but religious people.
When Elrond asked what they were doing out in the field, Glorfindel explained as best he could, in a way that a pair of eight-year-old twins would understand:
Many Elves were frightened by Morgoth's power and string of victories so far. They were afraid that Balar would be next to fall. So in these dark times, they took comfort in the grace and goodness of Manwë. Most of the gatherers were Sindar who had never known the glory of the Valar. They felt protected by prayer, and the strict order of religion helped them live their lives. Glorfindel told them histories from Valinor, and gave them lessons and guidance. While the Noldor believed that people should not marry or have children in difficult times, Glorfindel told them the opposite. They should marry and have many children, because the joy of family might be their only joy for a long time to come. He conducted an unusually large number of weddings and baby-naming ceremonies.
Glorfindel himself was not married, but there was a Doriathren woman, Hedhin, who frequently came to visit and always ended up staying the night. She had divorced her husband after he lost all his money gambling on the foot races in town. In fact, she had joined Glorfindel's religion so she could get a divorce. Divorce, Glorfindel said, was sanctioned by Ingwë, on Manwë's approval. The first case was hundreds of years ago, when Ingwë's second daughter married a man who turned out to be lazy and a bit homosexual. She argued that he was not the man she thought he was, and that their marriage had been poorly thought-out, therefore their fëar had not properly united. So she was allowed to divorce him. Many of the marriages Glorfindel performed were also poorly thought-out, between hot-headed young people. He authorised a good number of divorces. Better to divorce and move on, he said, than to be locked in an uncomfortable, unwanted marriage.
Elrond did not fully understand this all, but he thought the parts he did understand made enough sense.
Maedhros always started off shouting at Erestor. There was something new to shout about at every visit. But Erestor accepted it, and the noise did not bother Elrond so much any more. He ignored shouting Maedhros in the corner and concentrated on making himself comfortable on Maglor's lap.
Elrond did all the talking during their visits now. Maglor sometimes replied, or sometimes stared blankly out the window. His eyes were dull, and his skin was pale and papery-thin. Elrond could see blue lines of veins on his forehead and neck. With the tip of his finger, he traced one as he spoke.
"I had a dream last night that Elros found a dog and we were allowed to keep it. Then when I woke up and told Elros he was so upset that the dream wasn't real that he said he's going to find a dog for us today. If he finds one can we keep it?"
He paused to watch for any sort of response from Maglor, but none came. He continued speaking nonetheless. "If he finds a dog maybe it can stay in here with you. Then you'd always have somebody for company. Dogs are good company; they're always happy to see you. And I bet Elros would come visit more often if we had a dog here."
Maglor's gaze darted to meet Elrond's at the mention of Elros' potential visit. A bright blue vein stood out prominently in the creases at the corner of his right eye. Elrond raised his finger to trace it.
"Do you even think there are many dogs on this island? I've hardly seen any so far and the ones I see always look like they already live with somebody."
The blue vein ran from Maglor's eye to his hairline. It ended in a blue bruise, hidden under dirty black hair. Elrond touched the bruise. "What happened, Malo?"
Maglor turned back to the window.
Timidly, Elrond lifted up the curtain of Maglor's hair. His ear was mottled blue and purple, with an ugly red gash where the skin had split. Directly beneath, four little round bruises extended in a line down his neck. Elrond put a finger on each of them, stretching his small hand to touch them all. His thumb came to rest on Maglor's throat. Just past the tip of it, he saw a faint fifth circle of a bruise. If his hand were a bit bigger, adult-size, he would have been able to touch all of them.
"Malo?" He lifted the fall of hair on Maglor's left side to look for more bruises.
"Elrond, what are you doing?" Maedhros' voice carried sharply across the small room.
"Nothing," said Elrond. He jerked his hand back and sat down quickly on Maglor's lap, ducking out of sight of Maedhros' harsh eyes. Almost as an automatic response, Maglor tucked his arms securely around Elrond's shoulders. Elrond snuggled closer and buried his face against Maglor's shirt. But the smell he smelled on the fabric wasn't Malo, but Mada. Maglor's shirt smelled like Maedhros. Sour sweat and metallic blood. It made Elrond's skin crawl and his stomach churn at a sickening, unknown fear. For a moment, without knowing why, instinct took over and he panicked. A terrible trickle of some lost memory pricked the back of his mind. Fire. Terror. Death.
He squirmed off Maglor's lap, or at least tried to. Maglor suddenly held him tightly in an iron embrace. He twisted his body until he felt his feet touch the floor, and he sank heavily to his knees. Maglor was not quick enough to catch him. But as he scurried backward, Maglor's hand shot out to touch his cheek and catch his gaze. For the first time, Elrond saw the extent of the damage in Maglor's eyes, haunted and desperate. And he heard a single word echo like a clear memory in his head.
When Maglor's hand dropped, Elrond ran as fast as he could.
Círdan came that night to take Maglor away. Maedhros screamed and hissed, but there was nothing he could do once the door to his room was locked with him inside and Maglor out. Maglor was moved to a room on the other side of the house, one with a door that could open onto the King's private garden.
"He'll like that better," Elrond told Erestor. "He'll like being able to go outside."
"Hmm," said Erestor. "But your uncle Maedhros will be lonely."
By the end of winter, Glorfindel's hair had grown enough to touch his shoulders in nice, loose curls. Elrond thought it looked far better when it was long. He went out of his way to tell Glorfindel this, several times, until he was sure Glorfindel knew. He had a growing fear that Glorfindel would cut his hair off again, and it would return to being ugly and short for the party.
The party was for Elrond's ninth birthday, and of course the ninth birthday of Elros as well. But it was also Erestor's birthday. By some wonderful coincidence, which made Elrond grin every time he thought about it, he and Elros and Erestor had all been born on the same day. The first day of spring. Three birthdays on the first official calendar day of spring warranted a grand party.
"Please come!" Elrond pleaded to Glorfindel. He tugged at Glorfindel's sleeve. "Please please please, you have to. I want you to come and Elros and Erestor too, and it's our birthday so you have to do what we say. Please just one day!"
Glorfindel hemmed and clicked his tongue against his teeth. Elrond tugged more urgently. He had promised Erestor he would convince Glorfindel to leave the farm and return to the city for one day, and he refused to give up hope.
"Please, Glorfindel, please please come..."
"Will your uncles be there?"
"Maedhros will. The King said he could come for a while. But Maglor never wants to leave his room."
"Well, I don't know..." Glorfindel said slowly. But he was beginning to smile.
"You have to!"
Glorfindel laughed. "Are you the king now, to order me around like that?"
"Yes!" said Elrond.
"Ah, I see," said Glorfindel, in a very serious voice. "In that case I guess I can't refuse. Your highness."
Elrond grinned and bounced around the room like a rabbit.
"When is this magnificent royal party of yours again?"
"In twelve days," said Elrond.
Elrond worried about three things over the next twelve days. First, that Glorfindel would show up at the birthday party with chopped-off hair, wearing his awful button-up outfit. Second, that he would bring his Doriathren friend.
It was not exactly that Elrond disliked her. She was a good lady, and always nice to him. She fussed over his wind-tangled hair and mended his clothes that tore when he played or dug up rutabagas. She acted exactly as Elrond had always imagined a mother would act. Still, Elrond usually found it uncomfortable to be in her presence. Living with Maglor and Maedhros, he had seen very few women. And the ones he had seen were just like the men, wearing armour and carrying swords. It was nearly impossible to tell them apart when they had their helmets on. But Hedhin acted very much like a woman. She moved gracefully around Glorfindel's little house, long, dark brown hair flowing down her back. She always spoke in a soft voice and wore clothing made from delicate fabric that clung to her ample breasts in an alarming way. It made Elrond wince when she hugged him.
Living with Maglor and Maedhros, Elrond had also never seen adults kissing. He had only seen Maedhros kiss Maglor on the forehead, and that was hardly the same. Glorfindel and Hedhin kissed each other on the mouth. It gave Elrond an unpleasant, squirmy feeling to see them. But worse than the kissing was afterward, when Hedhin started arguing with Glorfindel over when they were going to get married. Glorfindel always said he would consider it. Elrond knew better.
Glorfindel would never marry her, because she was Doriathren and not Vanyarin. Elrond had asked about the possible marriage too, though for a different reason. He was hoping it would never happen. Glorfindel had explained that, while it was fine to get Sindar to join his religion, it was something else entirely to marry one of them. No respectable Vanya would ever do that. Also, at nearly four hundred, she was far too old. For a first marriage, it was very unlucky to have a bride who was older than fifty. Therefore, Glorfindel said, he would marry when he could find a nice, respectable Vanyarin girl, ideally between the ages of thirty-four and forty-three. He then admitted he was probably on the wrong side of the ocean to fulfil that desire.
For this reason, Elrond remained relatively hopeful that Hedhin would not be coming to the party. He was less optimistic about Glorfindel's horrible clothing, because Glorfindel never wore anything else. He had two equally hideous outfits: one red-brown and one green-grey. Both were made in the same style, with tight sleeves that reached just past his elbows and a fitted top that flared out to a wide skirt that hung below his knee. Both were made from wildly coloured fabric, and both were worn over dull grey or beige breeches that tied around the waist. Possibly worst of all, he always had bands of dirty rags bound about his wrists (for reasons that Elrond could not even begin to guess). Elrond had never known any Elf ever to wear such terrible things. Even Maglor's clothes, which were old and dirty, must have been new and nice at one point. Glorfindel's green-grey outfit, even new, was fit to be thrown away.
Elrond had been with Glorfindel when he purchased the fabric from the market earlier in the winter, and though he made a valiant effort at recommending some shiny blue, Glorfindel went ahead with the garish green-grey pattern in the end. Elrond also suspected that Glorfindel made the outfit himself. That would explain why it looked too small and was already falling apart after only a short time's use. He knew Glorfindel made the tie-up breeches; he had seen him roughly stitching the oddly-shaped pieces together. He remembered thinking to himself at the time that he ought to try to convince Erestor to give Glorfindel some good clothes for once.
His third and worst worry, though, was that Glorfindel would not show up at all.
The evening before party-day, Círdan and Ereinion found Elrond pacing around the kitchen table, ignoring his supper and looking out of sorts. "Too excited to sit still, aren't you?" Círdan asked.
"Mn," said Elrond, and he shrugged in a wiggly sort of way. He picked up a bread roll and put it down again after only one bite. He felt complicated. Excited and worried and anxious and uncertain all at once. But, all the conflicting feelings disappeared the moment the words "birthday" and "present" passed Ereinion's lips. So he allowed himself to be led through the house to Ereinion's room. Inside, Elros was sitting on the carpet by the fire, playing with a little brown puppy.
Elros' face broke into a silly grin when he saw his brother. "Look!" he said proudly. He shuffled back, letting Elrond approach and sit. "He's our present. From Círdan and Ereinion. His name is Howler." On cue, the puppy lifted his head and let out a high-pitched howl. "He does that a lot," said Elros.
Elrond held out his hand for Howler to sniff, then scratched the little dog under his chin. "His fur is so soft."
"Try picking him up."
Gently, Elrond lifted the puppy into his lap. Howler squirmed, wagging his tail, and bit Elrond's shirt.
Elros laughed. "He's great!"
"Don't bite me, Howler..." said Elrond.
"Maybe he's hungry." Elros turned around to look at Círdan. "Has he had any food yet?"
"Not in a while, no," said Círdan. "You could take him down to the kitchen and see if there are any scraps he might have."
With a nod, Elros took Howler from Elrond's lap and stood. "What do puppies eat?"
"Anything they can find, I think," Ereinion said with a smirk.
"Leftover meat and vegetables, Elros, if there are any," said Círdan.
Elros made a face. "I'll let him choose. Probably would rather have meat."
Elrond followed Elros and Howler, and made it as far as the door when Ereinion said, "Elrond wait." Elrond waited, watching Elros disappear around a bend in the corridor. He turned back to look at Ereinion.
"I have another gift for you," Ereinion said. "This one just for you." He sat down on the edge of his large bed and patted the quilts beside him.
Curious, Elrond came back across the room and hopped up onto the bed beside the King. He watched as Ereinion reached his hand under his pillow and pulled out a worn-looking, green-bound book. "What's that?"
"A very famous book," Ereinion said solemnly, but he winked as he placed it into Elrond's small hands.
"What's famous about it?" Elrond asked. He flipped the cover open, and looked down at the front page. "Words from the Secret City," he read. "For Ereinion, on his... on his ninth birthday! This was yours!" He grinned up at the King, a proud flush of kinship running through his body.
"It was mine," Ereinion said with a nod. "When I was exactly your age."
"But what's famous about it?" Elrond asked again.
Ereinion pointed to the wall. "You see that picture over there?"
Elrond followed the gesture until his gaze landed on a framed painting, one of only two in Ereinion's bare bedroom. He slid off the bed and went closer, to better see its detail.
"My Ada wrote this book for me. It was the only book he ever wrote in Sindarin. And on my ninth birthday, he also had a portrait done of me and him together. You can see in the painting, I'm sitting in his lap. And what do you see in his hand?"
Elrond's eyes met a green cover. "The book! It's in your painting!"
"Indeed it is," said Ereinion. "It's a very famous book, to have its portrait painted with a king."
Grinning, Elrond lifted his fingers to touch the delicate, shimmering surface of the paint, but thought better and pulled his hand back. Instead he stared curiously at Ereinion's painted father. The old King was wearing plain clothes, like he might wear around the house on any day, and his hair fell unplaited over his shoulders. He had no crown. His sharp but noble face was tilted down, toward the little boy in his lap, as he smiled softly. The boy, Ereinion, had a hand clutched around his father's wrist as he looked upward. The smile on his face was bright and open. He looked so small sitting there with his legs dangling over his father's knees. Not even six years old, Elrond guessed.
At that thought, he frowned and stepped back. "Ereinion," he said. "You told me this painting was from when you were nine. But you don't look nine."
Ereinion coughed. "Ah," he said. "Well, I was nine then..." He stopped and cleared his throat again, as if trying to work out what he had to say.
Círdan stepped in to the rescue. "You see, Elrond, Ereinion looks very small in the painting to you because Elven children grow more slowly." He tried to smile reassuringly, but his smile wavered as he saw the look on Elrond's face turn from confusion to fear.
A small but terrible feeling, like a crawling snake, was starting to turn in Elrond's stomach. The back of his neck tingled, and his legs tensed. He knew, somehow, that something was very wrong. This feeling had come to him before. It was always followed by things Elrond wished had never happened. It was the same snake and prickle he had felt before the orcs came and Maglor told him they had to leave Amon Ereb.
He took a breath. "More slowly than what?" he asked carefully.
Círdan opened his mouth, but closed it again silently, like a caught fish. He and Ereinion looked at each other.
"More slowly than what, Círdan?"
"Elrond..." Ereinion said. "When you lived with Maglor and Maedhros, there were other children in the fortress?"
Elrond nodded. "A few."
"And they were... they were children of Men?"
Elrond nodded again.
"The ones that were your age- how big were they?"
Elrond thought back. "About... about as big as I am, I guess." As soon as he said the words, the snake in his stomach became a stone and dropped right to the floor. "Ereinion..." he gasped.
He remembered that once, when he had been much younger, he had asked Maedhros how to tell the difference between Elves and Men. Maedhros had laughed at him and said, "Men have rounded ears." Now his hands shot up lightening-quick to touch the tips. He could feel gentle points under his fingers, and the reassurance of Elven ears. But the stone-snake in his stomach refused to leave. It was still wrong, somehow. He was still wrong. His body was wrong.
Ereinion came to kneel and place strong hands on Elrond's shoulders. He tried to speak in a reassuring voice, saying, "Elrond, listen to me, there is nothing worth worrying over here..." even when the worry was clear enough in his own eyes.
"Am I..." Elrond started, though he could not finish the thought.
Ereinion looked at the floor. "I'm sorry, Elrond, I thought you knew... Your parents. They... ah..."
"They weren't Elves," Elrond whispered. "Not like you."
Both Ereinion and Círdan fell silent. "No..." Círdan finally said. "They..."
Elrond refused to hear. If he did not know the truth, he wildly reasoned to himself, there would be nothing to worry him. If he did not hear what Círdan had to say, he could pretend it never happened. He could convince himself it had only been a terrible dream, and wake up tomorrow still an Elf like everyone else, like he had been for the past nine years. So he shrugged off Ereinion's hands, which fell easily and helplessly to the King's sides, and ran. He left Ereinion's room behind, and the corridor, and burst through the garden door with a violent shove.
He kept running through the garden, away from the house. As far from Círdan's truth as he could be. To the town centre and the market, where around him, people swarmed to buy their supper foods before the farmers closed their stands at sunset. All of them were Elves. No-one was different. No-one grew too quickly, or had unknown parents. The sight of them, happy and certain in their normal Elven bodies, squeezed at Elrond's chest. He leaned back, sagging against a mount of vegetable sacks. Why him? Why did this error of fate have to be his?
"Are you all right, little boy?"
Elrond felt a hand on his shoulder, and he looked up into the worried face of the farm lady who owned the vegetable sacks. He tried to speak, but his words were cut by a shaky sob rising from the tightness in his lungs. Gently, the woman used the hem of her apron to wipe the tears from his cheeks. He had not even realised he was crying.
"Are you lost?"
Elrond shook his head. "N-no," he managed to say. He hiccupped through his tears, which seemed to be coming more quickly now.
"What's wrong?" asked the woman.
"I..." Elrond began. He hiccupped again, and wiped his nose on his sleeve. "How old do you think I am?" he asked quietly.
"Oh," she said, "I'd say you look eighteen, at least. Maybe twenty? Why?"
"It's my birthday tomorrow," Elrond mumbled.
"Well that's no reason to be so sad," said the woman. She took an apple from one of her baskets and gave it to Elrond. "Here you go. Maybe this will make you feel better. Where do you live? Do you need help finding your way home?"
"No... I... I know my way..."
The farm woman smoothed down his hair. "You should be getting home, then. It's nearly dark. Your mother will worry about you."
His mother. His non-Elven mother. Elrond screwed his eyes shut and rubbed his hands over his face, wet and raw in the cool night wind. His head was too full of thoughts. "I'm going now," he said into his hands.
"Hurry home," said the farm woman. "Don't lose yourself, now."
Elrond would not lose himself. He was a day short of nine years old, but he still knew the way in the dark. He would go to the place where he knew he could get simple answers with no careful words or roundabout phrases, answers that could clear away the spinning questions in his head. He was going to Glorfindel's house.
Hedhin was boiling a pot of tea after supper by the time Elrond finally made his way down the road to Glorfindel's door. Glorfindel picked him up immediately, wiping away the dusty tear-lines from his face, and carried him to a chair by the fire. He leaned hard against Glorfindel's shoulder, burying his burning eyes.
"Elrond, what happened?"
"I want you to tell me about my parents," Elrond sobbed. "I know they weren't Elves. Not like you. I want to know who they were."
For a long moment, Glorfindel was quiet, and Elrond feared he too would weave around the subject. But he finally spoke. "They were Halfelven, Elrond, and so are you. Descended from both Elves and Men. Did Maglor never tell you about them?"
Elrond shook his head, still pressing into Glorfindel's shoulder.
"It's too late for the whole story now," Glorfindel said with a sigh. "But if you stay the night here, I'll tell you in the morning." He sighed again, and kissed the top of Elrond's head. "You never knew?"
Again, Elrond shook his head.
"I guess... that must be a shock to you. I'm sorry."
"Tell me about them now," said Elrond. "I want to know now."
"There's no use telling anything when you're so upset. You need some sleep first, and tomorrow I promise I will tell you everything I can.
Elrond sniffed. "It's my birthday tomorrow." The sudden thought of his ruined birthday made him want to cry almost as much as the dishonesty of his family. New tears formed in his eyes.
"I know," said Glorfindel.
"The lady at the market thought I was twenty."
Glorfindel looked down at him. "That would be about right."
"But I'm not right," he said.
"That's not what I meant..." Glorfindel hugged him closer, rocking him gently for a long while. "Come on then," he said at last as he stood. "You need some rest. You'll feel better in the morning after sleeping. I'll make you up a bed."
Hedhin, who had so far remained silent as she minded the tea, suddenly raised her voice. "Oh no no," she said. "The floor is too hard here, and it's cold tonight. He should stay in our bed."
"Um," said Glorfindel.
But Hedhin was already crossing the floor to stand close to Elrond and cup his chin in her hand. "You don't want to stay out here by yourself, Elrond, do you? Not on a cold, windy night when you're so upset. You should be with us. Why, we like to think of you as our own child, you're here so often. We're just like a family."
Glorfindel made a soft growling sound as even Elrond caught the rather pointed hint. But Hedhin had her way, and Elrond wound up positioned awkwardly between the two of them in Glorfindel's small bed. They were just like a very strange family: Vanyarin father, Doriathren mother, Halfelven child. It was some comfort, Elrond found, to have been given a proper name for what he was. Though he still found it difficult to sleep.
Elrond woke up the next morning snuggled close to Hedhin. Only a very thin layer of flimsy fabric separated his cheek from her bosom. Blushing terribly, he quickly slid out of bed and, when he was sure she was asleep and not watching, pulled on his clothes. In the other room, he could hear Glorfindel moving about making breakfast.
"Good morning," said Glorfindel as Elrond stumbled into the bright main room, rubbing his eyes.
"Morning," Elrond mumbled.
Glorfindel handed him a cup of hot tea. He quickly took a sip, before Glorfindel could remember that nine-year-olds should not be drinking tea. Erestor never let him have any.
"Feel any older?"
"No," said Elrond. In truth he did, mostly because he was drinking tea, but he was still certain Glorfindel would take the cup away if he drew attention to the fact.
"Círdan came by late last night, when you were asleep," said Glorfindel. "He was worried about you running away like that. Why didn't you tell him you were coming here?"
Elrond shrugged. "I don't know... I didn't think I would come here when I left."
"You shouldn't do that," Glorfindel said quietly as he sat down at Elrond's side. "They were very worried about you. You could have been lost or hurt... Círdan was so relieved when I told him you were here. Promise me, Elrond, that you'll always let them know when you come out here. I don't want another talking-to if they think it's my fault you're running off. I'm already enough of a pariah, believe me."
"Sorry," said Elrond, and he was: sorry that Círdan and Ereinion were angry at Glorfindel on his account.
"Are you feeling better, at least?"
Elrond nodded. "I think so." He felt less like crying, at least, which was an improvement. An aching sadness still beat in his chest, but it had dulled with sleep.
"Then come here," said Glorfindel. He crossed to the table. "I want to show you something."
"What?" Elrond asked, and he followed Glorfindel. On the table, he could see a map drawn on a large sheet of heavy cloth. "A map?"
"It is a map. And when we write names and places and histories on it, it becomes what's called a 'map biography'. This map biography will be yours. I thought it might help you better understand your ancestry." Glorfindel dipped a pen in a little pot of ink, handed it to Elrond, and asked, "Do you know where you were born?"
Elrond shook his head, no.
"Here," said Glorfindel. He pointed to the mouth of a wide river in the south-west of the continent. "The Havens of Sirion in Avernien. Write your name there, and your brother's."
Elrond hesitated, unsure of whether Glorfindel really wanted him to ruin the map with his childishly printed name, but Glorfindel only smiled reassuringly at him. So he put the pen to the map. It made a small blotch, but Elrond still wrote, "ELROS, ELROND".
"Now your father and mother," Glorfindel continued, "were born further away. Here, for your mother." He pointed to the middle of a large forest to the north. "Her name was Elwing. You can write that here. This is the realm of Doriath- yes, right there, good- where her father ruled for a short time as king. His name was Dior. And he was born... way down here. Elwing's mother, Nimloth, was also born in Doriath, so you can put Nimloth right beside Elwing."
As Glorfindel listed the names, Elrond wrote them all over the forests that made up Doriath: Elwing, Nimloth, Galathil, Lúthien. Then the names that came from Cuiviénen, which was off the eastern edge of the map. Elrond had to write them down the right-hand side: Thingol and Elmo. According to Glorfindel, Melian had no birthplace. Elrond wrote her name over Nan Elmoth, where she first met Thingol. Beren was another problematic name. Glorfindel had no idea where he was born, so Elrond wrote his name in the middle of large blank area, and drew a tiny house next to it. "There," he said. "Now Beren has somewhere to live."
"That's perfect," said Glorfindel. "Now should we do your father's side?"
Elrond nodded eagerly.
"Your father was born up here, near the top of the map, in Gondolin. His name was Eärendil."
"How do you spell that?" asked Elrond.
"You'd better give me the pen. It's written in the Quenya mode. There- Eärendil. But his mother, Idril, was born all the way over here." Glorfindel pointed to the far side of the map, where, on the other side of the wide sea, a shoreline was drawn. He gave the pen back to Elrond. "Write Idril here, by Tirion. Her parents, Turgon and Elenwë, were also born there, and Turgon's parents, Fingolfin and Anairë. Finwë and Indis, Fingolfin's parents, can go on the Cuiviénen list. I'll write the Quenya names."
"And Eärendil's father?" Elrond asked when the names had been written.
"He's another problem," said Glorfindel. "His name was Tuor, but as for his birthplace..." Glorfindel made a vague poking gesture to the mountainous lands west of Gondolin. "Somewhere over here, maybe?"
Elrond wrote, "TUOR" and drew another tiny house. The two lone mortal Men in this sea of Elves had their own houses.
"Now," said Glorfindel, "we can add a few more names."
They added Glorfindel's name in Valmar, south-west of Tirion, Ereinion's name in Eithel Sirion, north of Gondolin, Erestor's name by the lake west of Eithel Sirion, and Círdan's name in the Cuiviénen column. Maglor and Maedhros went to Tirion. They filled in more names. Ereinion's father, Fingon, in Tirion, beside Fëanor, father of Maglor and Maedhros.
"Now you see," said Glorfindel, "how you are related to the King. Your grandmother Idril was his cousin. Maglor and Maedhros may not be your true uncles, but they are cousins to Turgon. So they are blood relatives."
The next while was spent drawing spidery dotted lines all over the map, connecting cousins with uncles with daughters with grandparents and adding more names. They drew little pictures beside the names to remind Elrond who was who. Elwing had a bird by her name. Eärendil had a little boat. Ingwë had a great crown. Beren had one shining jewel, while Fëanor had three. Glorfindel, who was a very good artist, told more and more about each name as the pictures were drawn. It seemed to Elrond, looking at this map, that he was somehow related to every important Elven ruler that ever lived- a fact that Glorfindel verified.
"You are a descendant of all three Kings, Elrond," he said, "plus great warriors of Men and the Maia Melian. I think it's easy to see that you have nothing to be ashamed of in your ancestry. You should be proud of it. No one in this world but you and your brother has such a rich family history."
The map was not perfect. It had ink drips and a splatter from where Elrond had dropped the pen, the dotted lines were uneven, and one misspelled name had been crossed out and rewritten. But in spite of the flaws, it was still a wondrous thing to behold. And, staring down at it, Elrond could not help but feel the rush of pride. All of these great people, all the marks on the map, were part of his family. All of these fantastic names were his grandparents, uncles, and distant cousins. It would be a crime to be ashamed of any one of them.
Glorfindel smiled down at him. "Do you feel better now?"
Elrond traced a finger over the dotted line connecting him to Eärendil. "Yes," he said. It was true; he did feel better. He smiled back at Glorfindel.
"Happy birthday." Glorfindel rolled up the map carefully and tied it with a big of ragged orange fabric.
"Glorfindel..." Elrond began, "can we make a map for Erestor too? It's also his birthday today. Elros can maybe share mine, but Erestor should have his own."
"Of course. But it'll be far less crowded... I don't know anything about his family."
"We can put his friends on it, though," said Elrond. "You and Ereinion and Círdan, Maedhros and Maglor..."
Glorfindel nodded. "He'd like that." He crossed to a basket in the corner and pulled out another piece of heavy cloth to lay on the table. "However," he said as he began drawing the coastline of Valinor, "we won't make it as big as yours. Wouldn't want silly old Erestor to get a better present than you, would you?" He grinned at Elrond.
Elrond, holding his map, grinned back.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.