1. Prologue: Betrayal
He was betrayed.
She had betrayed him. The enormity of what she had done had paralyzed his mind with fury and it did not satiate his rage that he had seen her die by his own hand. She had succumbed too easily for her crime. He wanted to make her suffer. He wanted to make her pay for daring to leave him and compounding her crime by attempting to steal his son away from him, the boy whose mind she had spent years poisoning, in preparation to commit her foul crime upon he, her lord and master. How dare she? He would have killed both of them if he could but fate had seen to it that only one would know the taste of his justice. It stung bitterly that he would not have opportunity to let his son know his displeasure as he had shown his dear, departed wife.
Now there was no time to do anything as he was escorted up Caragdûr by Turgon’s guards who were to execute him for murdering his Aredhel, who was Turgon’s sister. He knew Turgon disliked him, having accepted him only because he had no choice in the matter. Aredhel had bore him a son and that made them kinsmen no matter how he might have acquired her in the first place. He was certain that Turgon knew he would attempt to leave the Hidden City; in fact he was sure of it. Turgon knew that he could not remain in the light, that the need to return home to Nan Elmoth would drive him to escape at any costs. Turgon was waiting for it just as Aredhel was he was certain, both of them, plotting and conspiring their vengeance against him.
Turgon had never forgiven him for making Aredhel his wife. In truth, it was more of abduction than any real effort on his part to court her. A Noldor elf, she was one of its noblest daughters and a great beauty that had no peer. With long waves of mahogany hair and sapphire colored eyes, she gazed at him with all the beauty of the sea. How was he supposed to resist such a creature that had strayed from the city of Gondolin beyond the protection provided by Melian’s Girdle? He had taken Aredhel for his wife even though she had resisted most vehemently. He took her the night he returned home to Nan Elmoth and knew that eventually, she would warm to him by his insistence in making her understand that she was belonged to him now. By the time he had filled her belly with his son; she had more or less relented in her efforts to escape for the child occupied her time.
Little did he know that she was only quiet because she had acquired another accomplice for her betrayal.
This was not the end. He did not intend to end his life now and certainly not by the hands of Turgon. It may appear that his list of options grew short as he was being marched up the black precipice that was Caragdûr but in truth, he had something of a plan for escape. Unfortunately, it was as drastic as any that might be attempted and its results were mixed because he would almost certainly lose the existence that he knew here. On the other hand, if he did not do this, he could be assured of having Turgon hunting him down for the rest of eternity, not simply for the death of his sister but because he knew the location of the Hidden City.
If it were not for Turgon’s relentless desire to ensure the protection of his city, a simple spell of illusion was all that he would use and he would return home to Nan Elmoth. However, he could not risk that news would not reach Turgon and the elven lord of Gondolin would not resume his pursuit. The unfortunate reality of his situation was that there was nowhere in Beleriand that he could hide and going to Middle earth was out of the question, not when Melkor still ruled there. He could probably seek protection from the former Valar but Melkor’s aid often came at a terrible price and he was not about to beholding to the dark enemy for anything.
No, there was only one way to escape and he had no choice but to take it.
They reached the top of Caragdûr and the height to the rocks below made him swallow thickly at how painful a death it would be, to be dashed upon them if his spell failed. Caragdûr was protected by Melian’s Girdle and any spell he attempted before this would have failed. Once he stepped off its edge, he would slip beyond that protection and be free to perform his necromancy. Unfortunately, he had a rather narrow margin for error to ensure that it succeeded and fatal consequences if he failed.
The guards had said nothing to him during the journey here and he had said nothing to them because he had been in deep thought. However, now was the time to speak.
"Is this justice then?" He looked at them.
"More justice then you deserve," the captain of the guard hissed. "You are not only a murderer and a coward but also a violator of women. Death is the least you deserve."
"But it is death that I shall receive!" he shouted and broke free of them.
They started to give chase until they realised that he was not attempting to leave Caragdûr but rather closing the distance to the edge of the precipice. Pausing in confusing as he neared the edge, they could not discern what his thoughts were as he leapt off the cliff and plunged downwards, silent in his final moments. Looking at each other, they completed the journey he had taken to the edge and gazed upon the rocks below, expecting to see the body of the prisoner, but there was nothing.
Nothing at all.
It was so cold. He could not breathe. There was blinding pain and his body felt as if it were torn apart in agony before the whoosh of air in his ears disappeared and was replaced by icy, cold water. He opened his mouth to cry out but ice-cold salt water rushed into it. The darkness around him was all consuming and he knew not how deep he was in water. All he knew was that he had performed his spell in order to escape the death of plunging into rocks from a great height, only to be drowned in an ocean he did not know. Keeping his wits about him despite his panic, he followed the direction of the bubbles that came out of his mouth. Swimming faster than he had ever done before, his lung bursting with the need for air, he sought out the sun on the surface of the water but could see nothing of it. This struck cold fear into his heart and swam harder and harder, praying that he was not so deep that he would never find it.
He did not know how long he struggled to reach the surface, aware only that it could not be very long because he would have drowned otherwise. After what seemed an eternity, he finally saw the shimmer of its surface and when he broke through to reach air, he was almost near death. Taking greedy gulps, one after the other, his limbs exhausted from the ordeal to reach the surface, he was able to compose himself enough to look about him. What he saw drove home the true nature of his predicament. Where there should be the lands of Gondolin, all he could see was miles of ocean. It was night and the moon illuminated his surroundings to give him some measure of clarity in his situation. He was threading water in the middle of a frozen ocean for there were sheets of ice lying scattered on the waves.
However, there was no land, there was no Gondolin and no Beleriand.
Terrified and confused at how such a well thought out plan could have come to such decay, he swam to the floating islands of ice and rested his limbs finally. Sleep took him soon enough and he slumbered until morning. The first rays of dawn awoke him and he face the ocean with the full light of morning to explain how far away he was from all. The spell had drained him and because of his circumstances, it did not appear that he would be replenishing his strength any time soon. He saw no sight of land and wondered what could have happened to Beleriand. Had Melkor finally committed some act of evil that drove it under the sea?
Not knowing drove him mad with fear for he wondered if he was all that was left of Beleriand or the Eldar for that matter.
He remained on his sheet of ice for days, surviving on raw fish that he managed to catch and drinking water from with what little magic he had strength left to perform. What terrified him the most was the eventuality that he would still be trapped on the ocean when he had no more strength left and he would starve or freeze, whichever came first. He could not believe that he had escaped Caragdûr to end his days like a piece of driftwood. Perhaps it was Iluvutar’s way of meting out justice. He did not know for certain but in the height of the day when he panicked that his island of ice would melt, such thoughts filled his mind.
It was almost a miracle when he saw the ship and the ship in turn saw him.
The vessel was a fishing boat and its purpose was to seek out delicacies of the sea only to be found at this frozen edge of the world. The crew was composed of the Edain, though the men that they were did not appear to be Numoreans or call themselves such. He thought that they might have been the kind who served Melkor in Middle earth but they seemed to know little of the dark lord. When he told them he was of Beleriand, they thought him to be mad for there was no longer such a land in existence. He knew that his spell had sent him beyond the clutches of Turgon but he had not considered how far he had traveled until faced with the fact that Beleriand, where Gondolin, Nan Elmoth and all the other realms that he had known were now known as the Sunken Lands.
The captain, a learned man, had spent much of the voyage back to land apprising him of the state of the world that he knew nothing of. As far as the man was concerned, he was an elf who had most likely fallen overboard in the exodus his people were making from Middle earth. He listened intently, sometimes in astonishment as he learnt that the Eldar were departing for Valinor in large numbers, leaving the Middle earth to the ministrations of the Edain, who in this instance were the descendants of Numenor, following the War of the Ring. The captain explained this war in great detail, having fought in the Battle of Pelennor. He spoke of Sauron and the land of Mordor who for so many ages had been a blight upon Middle earth.
He recalled vaguely one of Melkor’s lieutenants being called Sauron and supposed that it was all possible that this Sauron could have gained ascendancy over the land in his master’s absence. It mattered little to him though he wished to know more about the fate of Beleriand and what had precipitated its sinking beneath the sea. The captain advised that if he wished to learn about the ancient times then it was to Rivendell that he should go. Rivendell was one of the oldest elven cities and if it was answers he sought, then the captain was certain that as a fellow elf, he would be welcomed since not all the elven cities were entirely abandoned yet.
They arrived in Pelargir and he found himself in a new world composed of Edain, Eldar, dwarves and even some strange creatures that were rumored to be called hobbits. It did not take him long to find his way to Rivendell. Attaching himself to a caravan of peddlers who were traveling to a place called Bree, they were more than happy to point the way with the adequate amount of coinage. It was an easy matter for him to conjure a feat of illusion to make them believe they were being well paid for their troubles. By the time they discovered the swindle, they would be in Bree and he would be in the company of the elves of Rivendell.
The journey to Rivendell took some weeks and it was only because of his elven senses that he was able to find it hidden in its valley. Those who had built the city had taken care to ensure that it was not easily discovered, possibly as a guard against Melkor’s servant, Sauron. While the protection around the city was nowhere as formidable as Melian’s Girdle and had weakened considerably since its lord had departed, the barrier was formidable and ensured that no one who did not know the way could simply stumble upon it.
Upon arriving at Rivendell, he was welcomed as one of them though they thought his speech was archaic. He explained that he had been travelling the world for many ages and that this was the first time that he had returned to Middle earth. Whether or not they believed him was uncertain but they accepted that he was one of their own and gave him shelter. He learnt quickly that Rivendell was in actual fact called Imladris, named so after the valley that the city had been constructed and that its lord before his departure to Valinor, had been Elrond. Elrond was one of the twin sons of the mortal hero Earendil and the elven princess Elwing, born in Arvernien and was of Beleriand.
At Imladris, he learnt what had become of Beleriand, how the ruin of all the great kingdoms had come to pass with the relentless assaults by Melkor and the demons he spawned in Angaband. The destruction he wrought in the eleven cities of Gondolin, Nargothrond, Himland and so many others had brought the intervention of the Valar themselves, in what was known as the War of the Wrath. As a result of the conflict, Beleriand was broken up and swallowed by the sea.
He had sat there for a long time, reading the books that explained all this, in something of a stunned silence. He could not believe that the world he had known had ended so tragically and that Nan Elmoth, the place he wanted to return to so badly was no more. He had hoped that perhaps it existed somewhere but supposed he should have guessed the truth when he had first found himself in the depths of the ocean. For a time, he was uncertain what to do and wandered the slowly emptying halls of Imladris, trying to discern what course was left to him.
He had wandered through the halls of what was once Lord Elrond’s home when he caught sight of something that made his heart stopped beating. For an instant, he dared not breathe as he basked in the vision of beauty that had been immortalized on the canvas of a portrait. She stared at him with sapphire eyes, wearing the face of the only woman he had ever loved. It was like looking into a reflection of the past and finding that the image still living and breathing in the present. He was just as lost as the day he had first looked into the woods of Nan Elmoth and saw the gleaming white figure that was Aredhel. This time, it would be different. She would love him as he loved her and he would not be betrayed as he was by Aredhel, he would see to it. For the first time since finding himself a drift and alone in the sea, his mind was clear because he knew his course and he would do anything to acquire it.
And what Eol wanted was Arwen, Queen of Gondor.
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.