6. Never the East
Elrond and Legolas spent the better part of the next hour poring over the list of about one hundred 'Evanston's that were involved in the study and teaching of medical science and drinking Celebrían's tea – a time during which Legolas grew more optimistic, much to Elrond's hidden delight. It was a slightly younger Legolas that Encirith escorted to the guest room before dinner; some of the weariness that had come to rest on his shoulders since the last time he and Elrond had seen one another had lifted, and his eyes were brighter.
"I had forgotten, Lord Elrond, my own words in Gondor ere the War of the Ring had ended," Legolas had said as they put aside the lists for after supper. "Never shall Lúthien's line fail. I have lost too much faith, I think."
"Do not be too hard on yourself, Legolas," Elrond then replied kindly. "It has seemed for a long time that there was nothing to have faith in. But we are proven wrong, and I am grateful."
"As am I," Legolas had agreed as he was led away to his room.
When Legolas had gone Elrond took a moment to consider the tax sheets spread across his desk and wondered if he should perhaps slip a few minutes of work in, as there was nothing more he could do at the moment regarding Legolas or, indeed, what he had taken to calling in his mind The Return. He decided against it, however, in favor of returning the tea set to his wife (which, he admitted to himself, was really nothing more than an excuse to be with his wife again; no matter how much time passed, it seemed to him he would never be able to make up for those 500 years apart at the end of the Third Age of Arda).
He found her in the kitchen, overseeing the making of supper – an endeavor she was aided in by two hired cooks. Here Celebrían seemed always to be in her element; she enjoyed cooking and creating recipes and testing them out on Elrond (something he did not mind at all, as her concoctions were always delicious), but she also commanded here. The kitchen was indeed her domain, but not by bigotry – merely choice.
"The soup needs a little more … hm. Rosemary will do nicely. Yes, thank you – no, allow me. … Much better! Elrond, do not think to sneak into my kitchen, for I know you are back there!"
Elrond had not thought to 'sneak' into 'her' kitchen at all, so he merely put the tray carrying the tea set on the counter and waited for Celebrían to finish whatever she was working on.
A few minutes later she turned from the cooks and came to him. "Is there something you need, my Lord?" she asked primly, but the slight arch of her eyebrow gave away her mirth.
From a myriad of reactions, Elrond chose to merely be amused. "Nay, Lady; I only wish to speak with you," he said.
Her mirth faded. "Is it about Legolas? He seemed tight when we spoke; drawn into himself. He was heavy of heart and mind, and only part of it was anticipation of your meeting with him." She paused for a moment. "How did he take the news? I suspect he will do what you ask of him, but all the matters you spoke of with him are hard to accept and harder to process."
Elrond kept no secrets from his wife. "He will be all right, I think," he said, stepping forward to enfold her into his arms. "He has agreed to search for the heir." They both knew who 'the heir' was.
Celebrían nodded against his cheek. "That is well; it will help occupy him, and give him a goal. I think all the Eldar need them, to keep from drawing inwards and separating ourselves from this transient world too much."
"So we do, and so it shall," Elrond agreed, "And it will be of great help to us, as well! I only hope I have not set him on this task too late."
"An idle concern. Do not trouble yourself with it," Celebrían advised as she pulled away, planting a gentle kiss upon his lips and grasping his hands in hers tightly. "There is nothing more you can do regarding the matter, and if a mistake has been made, we can only hope for the best."
Once upon a time, Elrond reflected sadly, she might have said we should pray to the Valar for their aid. Ai … I must banish such thoughts!
But Celebrían had perceived his mind, and she smiled sadly. "I think we mourn too much for the past and do not look ahead enough," she said, touching his face solemnly. "We have lost much, but not all."
Elrond smiled at her. "Wise words, meleth. I shall remember them."
Celebrían opened her mouth to speak again, but instead her eyes were drawn to the doorway; Elrond followed her gaze and saw Airelond as he rounded the corner almost sheepishly. "Forgive me, my Lord, I do not mean to interrupt."
"Nay. Speak on," Elrond answered, and was grateful when Celebrían did not release his hands. He relished every moment of closeness with her.
"The phone for you, Lord Elrond," replied Airelond, gesturing vaguely to the hallway where a phone was kept. "The secure line. It is Lord Glorfindel."
"Very well," Elrond sighed. "Thank you, Airelond." The Elf smiled slightly, bowed, and departed, and Elrond turned to Celebrían. "I fear we must be again parted, dear Lady – at least until supper," he pronounced dramatically, taking her hand and bending over it, planting upon it a gentle kiss. Glorfindel would have been proud.
Celebrían, however, swatted at him. "Elrond, you have the strangest turns at times! And you wonder where Elladan and Elrohir get their mischievous streak!" she cried, but a smile lit her face. "Go to the phone, unless you wish to drive our long-distance bills into the heavens!"
"As you wish," Elrond smiled, more serious now as he left the kitchen, lingering perhaps a moment too long to gaze at the smile on her face. Ai, but he did live for that smile …
The phone was not far away. "Yes, Glorfindel?" Elrond said tersely as he picked up the receiver.
"I shall have Olorin's head on a platter!" came the sharp, angry reply.
This was, needless to say, not precisely what Elrond had expected to first hear from the Elven Lord. He blinked. "Glorfindel, is aught wrong?"
"No, not precisely," Glorfindel replied, and he seemed to feel no need to elaborate further. Elrond thought he could hear the golden-haired Elf breathing heavily through his nostrils – a sure sign of utter rage.
"Then what, pray tell, has driven you to call?" Elrond inquired, utilizing his considerable patience (honed by thousands of years of coping with his sons) and keeping his voice as calm and even as possible. This could turn out to be a very long conversation indeed, if Glorfindel insisted on playing the Elven game of answering the question – and only the question. It was a game occasionally played by Legolas when he wished to be obstinate, and his sons when they desired to be irksome.
"Olórin has sent me a letter," was the response.
Elrond blinked again, but this time he had to refrain from giving a great shout of joy. "That is wonderful!" he cried. "We have been waiting far too long for this! Why are you not celebrating?"
"He knew all along!" snapped Glorfindel. "He has been avoiding me on purpose all this time! How could he have sent a letter but if he knew precisely where to find me? He has the courtesy to explain himself now, but why could he not have simply left a letter when I began this wild goose chase and been done with it!?" His voice was imposing and snappish.
Elrond could imagine what his long-time friend looked like just then, and he was so euphoric at the good news that it very nearly made him snicker in a way most unbecoming to a half-Elven Lord. "I daresay we may never know," Elrond finally said when he felt he had sufficient control over his voice. "But come now, what did Olórin have to say in this letter?"
Glorfindel let out a sullen, heartfelt sigh, and Elrond knew it meant the Lord had given up on making Elrond understand his righteous indignation. "He travels on business related to matters of great concern to us all," he said, his voice becoming serious, "but he would not elaborate further. He claims that if all goes well, we may expect him among us within the week. But do not shout for joy just yet! He leaves us a warning as well, and I shall quote it for you: 'Look not to the East, for that is what Evil wishes you to do.' I do believe he means the Middle East, for that is whence the shadow comes, but … where then would Olórin have us look?"
"Perhaps to ourselves, here in America," Elrond suggested with an annoyed tone. "Men fight Men as they have since Morgoth corrupted some of their first ancestors, but now they do it so efficiently that even Melkor must shudder – or perhaps laugh in delight! But in the current affairs of America and Iraq, both sides fight for fear of the other. We cannot merely look upon the descendants of the Haradrim."
"Indeed," agreed Glorfindel. "The source of the world's troubles does not lie in the Middle East alone, just as it did not lie merely in Mordor so long ago. But I hesitate to speak of this at length over the phone, and in a public place; who knows who may be listening?"
"Aye," Elrond nodded although Glorfindel could not see him, "and such a bill we would rack up, besides!" He smiled at the snort of laughter this comment drew from the Elven Lord. "Ah well, the matter of the search for Olórin is settled for the moment. Come visit for a while, Glorfindel, and we may discuss this in more detail."
"Very well, Lord Elrond." There was a pregnant pause. "But when 'Greyhem' comes to call, my friend, I may not be held responsible for my actions!"
Elrond did not even try to suppress the laughter that rose in his throat. "Then I shall see that you and Gandalf are kept well clear of each other! I prefer you both alive and well."
"You spoil everything," Glorfindel said pettily, but humor touched his tone; however, his tone again became serious a moment later. "He says we should not worry for him, but I do, Elrond. I pray that he comes through this endeavor of his safely."
"As do I," Elrond agreed softly. "Farewell, Glorfindel; call when you are back in New York City."
"I shall. Farewell, Elrond; may the light of your father's ship shine brightly tonight, bearing our hope."
Elrond smiled, but he did not reply as he hung the phone on its hook; he walked thoughtfully into the sitting room to gaze out the large windows and into the sky. Few stars were ever visible in New York City, where the lights never went out; it was the greatest frustration Elrond suffered in his day-to-day life. But the few visible stars were already in the early night sky.
Venus, Men called it now; it was the brightest star in the sky, appearing first in the evening and disappearing last in the morn. They called it a planet. But the Eldar called it Gil-Estel, and Eärendil; they knew its brightness was the inner flame of a Silmaril bound to the brow of Elrond's father.
Ai, Father … how I miss you at times. But I think, perhaps, you serve the greatest purpose sailing the fair skies, for you bring all the Eldar hope, which we sorely need!
* * *
The world was not the same as it had been before, so long ago now, so very long ago … Men were weak, so very weak – beyond belief. And as for the Elves … they lived on, but under the guise of Manhood; the very fringes of society was their home, if indeed they remained in society at all. The Valar seemed to have withdrawn in the most permanent manner.
So little he could see, and yet so much it told. The world was ripe for the taking. Manipulation and cunning words could destroy all or tip everything in their favor. Nothing was beyond their grasp. Nothing significant stood in their way. Men knew nothing of their own past; they forgot much in favor of speculation and lies. Elves knew, but their strength was broken, their legacy reduced to legend and myth and fiction.
It was all only a matter of time, now; only a matter of time.
* * *
What had Men done to the world!?
Maglor's opinion of Men had never been too terribly high, for they had the propensity to be easily swayed by Morgoth's sweetest words. But now they had destroyed all that was beautiful; they built monsters and called them machines; they lived in houses far from nature, and indeed, worked to separate themselves from it! Maglor shared always his father's love for craft, but this was far too much for his taste.
Even the languages of Men had gone foul! Nothing so sweet as even the Sindarin tongue was spoken; the language shared in the land he now wandered was harsh and dissonant, syllables grating upon one another like stone upon stones. And the other languages, more rare, were not much better.
Women displayed themselves like objects of glory or ridicule; they had no modesty, and nothing seemed to encourage them to regain it. Maglor boggled at the first woman he saw, wearing a strange outfit (admittedly, all the clothing in this time was strange!) that revealed her knees and dipped obscenely low upon her breast, but the Men around him seemed to not even notice. Maglor would soon come to discover that she was dressed in a relatively conservative fashion; many women left so little to the imagination that Maglor found himself blushing to the tips of his ears.
But for all the strange changes, none concerned him more than the apparent disappearance of all the Elves. Perhaps they had, in the end, all or come to the Undying Lands? Ai, sweet Valar! The Undying Lands … could he even come to live there? Would the Valar ever suffer him the grace to return to Valinor?
Nay, nay; it was not to return to Valinor that he had awoken! The threat that now lay over all Arda – that was his concern. But Men knew nothing of it – that was easy enough to see.
But how to find one who did know of the threat? Ai … he did not know.
* * *
Author's Notes: Fixed the whole 'Earendil cannot be Sirius' thing! Thanks for the correction.
"But nobler is [Aragorn's] spirit than the understanding of Sauron; for is he not of the children of Lúthien? Never shall that line fail, though the years may lengthen beyond count." – Legolas Greenleaf, The Return of the King; The Last Debate
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