“Oh, Telperion, you look frightful,” Glorfindel said in a teasing tone that masked the fullness of his concern for his friend. “You should have at least cleaned up before coming to see me.”
"We should stop using those names," Ecthelion said in a flat tone. He took a seat by the fire. It seemed dinner would be delayed for a while yet. "Did you hear the news?"
Glorfindel became serious. "Of course. I'm sorry for your loss."
Ecthelion stared into the small fire, but there was no luster in his eyes. "Finwe Noldoran was but the first."
"You did what you could for him.”
“But it was not enough.” Ecthelion closed his eyes and sighed heavily. “I told his parents earlier today. The look on their faces...”
“I heard you dove in after him, that you fought the icy cold waters to try to save him.” Legolas had not been close by, but he had seen the whole incident clearly because of his keen-sight even in the dimness of Helcaraxe.
“He’d already lost the strength to yell for help even,” Ecthelion recalled. The muscles of his jaw tightened as he fought to control himself. “When I finally pulled him ashore, he’d already stopped breathing.”
“It was dangerous, Ecthelion,” Glorfindel said softly. He put an arm around his friend. “We might have lost you too.”
Ecthelion sniffled, and his lips tightened and brow furrowed. “I have failed my people. I do not deserve to be the Lord of the Fountains.”
Glorfindel sighed and pulled Ecthelion’s head to his shoulder. Ecthelion rested his head there for many moments. At last, Glorfindel’s embrace warmed Ecthelion and the Lord of the Fountains broke and began to weep softly.
“Ehtele entrusted the House of the Fountains to you, his son, and I doubt that he regrets that decision now,” Glorfindel said after Ecthelion had wept on him for some time. “He could not have done more had he been the Lord of the Fountains. Indeed, he might have done less, for it was foolish of you to leap into the water so. Had you been in the water for a moment longer, the cold might have taken you, and you might have lost the strength to swim to shore. As you said, Finwe was but the first, but this boy will not be the last. He is but the second, and more of our people shall we lose before we have crossed the Grinding Ice. Once we reach the land beyond, still more of our people will perish in the war against Morgoth. So Mandos foretold: ‘For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death's shadow. For though Eru appointed to you to die not in Ea, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be.’”
“Laurelin, are you trying to comfort me or drive me to despair?” Ecthelion demanded through his waning tears.
“Dear Lord of the Fountain, of course I meant those words in comfort!” Glorfindel hugged Ecthelion tightly. “But I spoke plainly, for those of us who undertook the Great Journey remember the hardships beyond Arda, though none of us speak of those dark days. You must be more careful henceforth. You are the lord of the House of Fountains, and all those people look to you for protection. If they had lost you, how much more would you have failed them, for then they would be lacking in your leadership and guidance.” Glorfindel hushed Ecthelion’s protest. “I do not mean that you should not try to save those of your people who are in danger, but I am saying that you should judge each situation rationally and keep your own welfare in mind as well.”
“Perhaps you’re right.” Glorfindel felt the tension slip from Ecthelion’s body as he deflated.
“Of course I am,” Glorfindel said with a lighter tone now that Ecthelion was in a less dreadful mood. “After all, I’ve been through this before, or rather something similar.” Glorfindel dipped a washcloth into the water that he’d been heating originally for soup. Then he wiped Ecthelion’s face with the hot washcloth. If he wasn’t careful, the Lord of the Fountain would find his tears frozen to his cheeks! “Have you spoken with your father about this yet?”
“Not yet,” Ecthelion admitted.
“Well then,” Glorfindel poured the rest of the hot water from the pot above the fire into a basin, “as I said before, you’re a frightful mess. You’re lucky that your hair hasn’t become one big block of ice after your ordeal.”
“I did at least dry myself afterwards, you know,” Ecthelion said indignantly.
“I’m glad to hear you did at least that much,” Glorfindel said cheerfully. “You’ve had a long day. Come.” He set a cushion before the basin of hot water and patted it. “You deserve relaxation and reward for surviving such a day.”
“You’re being ridiculous,” Ecthelion protested, but even as he did so, he allowed himself to be coaxed onto the cushion. Glorfindel pulled Ecthelion’s long mass of hair into the hot basin, and the water alone was enough to reveal the silver that should’ve been his hair color.
As Glorfindel began to lather the to-be-silver hair, he said, “Well, Ecthelion, son of Ehtele, it’s the least you can do before you face your father about this matter, but as I said before, I’m sure he will understand and will refuse to let you resign from the Lordship of the Fountains. After all, Ehtele also lived through the Great Journey.”
“Perhaps you’re right,” Ecthelion said with a contented little sigh. In truth, the Lord of the Fountains probably would’ve agreed with anything that Glorfindel said at that moment. Having his scalp massaged and hair properly cleaned totally undid him, and Ecthelion might as well have been in the Blessed Realm rather than upon the Grinding Ice.
“Of course, you’ll have to bury the young man’s body,” Glorfindel said in light tone so that the matter did not seem as grave as it really was. It worked. Ecthelion accepted the situation without getting upset. Or maybe he was incapable of becoming upset as long as Glorfindel was washing his hair.
“I loathe to do so, but I suppose I have no choice,” Ecthelion said. “I wish I could somehow better honor his death though. He was no king, nor son of a king, nor even the son of a Lord of the Noldor, but he is the second to have died since the Eldar first found bliss in Aman.” Glorfindel noted that Ecthelion did not in his words account for those lost in the Kinslaying of Alqualonde.
“What was his name?” Glorfindel asked.
“Uilos,” Glorfindel repeated. Perhaps his mother had unknowingly received foresight at his naming. “Upon the Ice, I have seen small white flowers that grow despite the biting cold. I have not seen them before, not even in Aman, and I think they have no name in our tongue. We will gather some of these and plant them over his grave. And henceforth, they shall be known as iilos, in memory of this second, untainted death of the Eldar.”
Notes: Yeah, I never bother translating names and such to Quenya in my Gondolin stories. Author’s choice. Uilos is a small white everlasting flower and is otherwise known as simbelmyne or evermind.
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.