Veiled Light, A: 16. Chapter 15

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16. Chapter 15

Chapter 15 Ereinion tipped his wine glass up for a long drink and then resumed gazing out the window of his study. In the yard below a breeze ran its fingers through the autumn-faded grass, the swaying blades painted golden by the brush of the late afternoon sun. Not even nature’s subtle flirtation, like the lazy seductive wink of a temptress, could capture Ereinion’s attention - unusual considering his normal appreciation for her enticements. His major concern of the moment was convincing himself it was not too early in the day to be drinking. His wooden stare did not falter when the knock came, not even to look toward the door as he called over his shoulder. “Go away. The king is not receiving any visitors today.” The door opened and he heard someone enter the study. Ereinion leaned forward to rest his forehead against the cool glass pane. Only one person would ignore the king’s orders. “Well then, I am thankful that does not apply to me.” After retrieving a glass from the wine cabinet, Círdan went directly to Ereinion’s desk and picked up the decanter of red wine sitting there. Ereinion turned away from the window and watched Círdan fill his own glass with the ruby liquid. “I believe most rules apply to everyone but you, Círdan.” “Drinking too early in the day can make you testy, Ereinion. You should know better.” “Yet you do not let that admonition stop you.” Círdan took the large leather chair behind the desk and turned it to face Ereinion before sitting down. He raised his glass and said, “Drinking alone can make you testy as well. Perhaps if I join you it will improve your mood.” When Ereinion turned back to the window without commenting, Círdan added, “Perhaps if you told Ilmarë the truth it would improve your mood.” “And what truth would that be?” Ereinion asked before taking another drink. “That you waited for her in these lands, not Elrond.” Ereinion hesitated briefly, then said, “You do not know that.” Círdan tapped his finger against the side of his wine glass as he studied his friend’s somber profile. “There is no point in attempting to mislead me, Ereinion. I have known you far too long. I saw you in the weeks before Ilmarë’s arrival – your anxious mood, the constant distraction. It was impossible to have a conversation with you; and Haleth complained to me on different occasions of your pacing and prowling around the house half the night. You told me of the dreams you were having before you stopped talking about them all together.” When Ereinion did not answer, Círdan continued. “And what of the messages you sent after her arrival? They began the morning after she arrived – before I even sent word she was in Lindon. You knew, and you were beside yourself to meet with her. Yet when the time came you sent Elrond in your place. That was your first mistake.” “Calling it my first mistake implies I have made others as well. And what else do you count among my numerous mistakes?” “Not telling Ilmarë of your love for her is the most glaring mistake you have made, in my opinion.” Ereinion forced himself not to flinch at the blow Círdan’s words delivered. He took another long drink of his wine before he answered. “I said nothing of being in love with her.” Círdan’s concern softened his tone. “Do you honestly believe you must speak of it? I saw it in your face the night she became ill, and you talked of little else as we waited for Elrond to bring her downstairs.” He took a long sip of his drink and shook his head as he swallowed. Now he just sounded exasperated. “It has been many years since I thought of you and Elrond as youths, but I must say, you are both behaving like children now. I am disappointed in the both of you, and the decisions you seem intent on making.” The corner of Ereinion’s mouth lifted in a smirk. “That we do not need you to school us in such matters any more is what upsets you, and you are annoyed because we do not follow your counsel without question.” Ereinion could feel Círdan’s glare and it made him smile. But the smile faded and he said, “I have already made my decision in this matter and Elrond is very wise. He is capable of making his own decisions as well.” “One cannot truly be in love and retain any sense of wisdom. That is the nature of the condition,” Círdan said with a shrug of his shoulder. “Why do you suppose there are so many tales of all the foolish deeds people do in the name of that emotion? And the stronger the love, the greater the folly.” He shook his finger in Ereinion’s direction and said, “That is how I know you are truly in love with Ilmarë – because I have never seen you show such poor judgment before.” Ereinion looked down into his glass to avoid meeting Círdan’s perceptive gaze. “No, Círdan…this is the best decision for all involved. Elrond is my friend…he is dear to me, and if I must make this sacrifice for him then I will do so. I do not expect you to understand…” and for the second time that afternoon, Ereinion regretted his words when he saw their effect. Círdan stood from his chair and sat his glass on the desk, then marched to the window. Finally Ereinion forced himself to turn around and meet the anger in his friend’s eyes. “I understand sacrifice. I look to the past and I see the years of it behind me like a spreading wake. I look to the future and I see the years awaiting me, like an endless horizon on the sea.” Círdan gave an expansive wave of his hand and he shook his head. “My family has gone, one by one. They now await me in lands I have longed to see for years – so many they are beyond my reckoning, but my sacrifice is to remain here in Middle-earth. I freely give it to those who asked it of me for I know there are reasons...yet I paid a price.” Ereinion turned away and looked out the window again. He well knew what Círdan was saying to him and did not wish to think on it at this moment, but Círdan was nothing if not persistent. “I allowed the weight of my sacrifice to burden me; to cause me sorrow. I accepted the sacrifice, but not the pain that came with it. It was many long, dark years before I came to realize I only added to my unhappiness. But you know all this, for I shared that understanding with you when you came to live with me.” Círdan stood close behind Ereinion and looked out the window as well. “I remember the frightened youth standing on the shore, watching my ship arrive to take him to his new home. I had but to look at your face to know already your grief made you weary of life. You had seen your home destroyed, your family killed…you were little more than a child yet already a king.” Círdan sighed and rested a comforting hand on Ereinion’s shoulder. “More than 1600 years ago you came to me, and I shared my hard-bought understanding with you. You have lived by it all these years, although now you seem to have forgotten what I taught you.” Ereinion bowed his head and said, “It is not so much that I have forgotten the lesson, Círdan; I have found it difficult to hold to recently.” He closed his eyes. As Círdan began to talk, Ereinion felt as he had when the words were first spoken to him – as an inexperienced child compared to the ancient wisdom beneath Círdan’s jovial and light-hearted manner. “We all face unhappiness at some point, Ereinion; it matters not if it is caused by the loss of a loved one or something so mundane as tearing a favored shirt – it is only different levels of the same thing,” Cirdan said and gave Ereinion’s shoulder a squeeze. “Unhappiness always presents itself in one form or another; it is no great task to find it.” Círdan looked at Ereinion and said, “But happiness – now that involves work. Unhappiness must be pushed away, and happiness found and invited in. This world holds so much beauty and joy; we need only look for it. Deal with the unhappiness; do what must be done to get past it, and do what can be done to ensure it does not return – yet once you are beyond the unhappiness, leave it behind. Find the beauty again and leave the regrets and sadness in the past, where they belong. They are of no use to anyone. ’ Círdan removed his hand from Ereinion’s shoulder and sat down in the leather chair again, picking up his wine glass as he did. He wished to give Ereinion a few moments to take in what had been said before he continued. “Do not make a sacrifice unless you can bear the pain that comes with it.” Círdan paused to take a long drink and when Ereinion remained silent, he added, “For we Elves this is especially important. Our lives last a very long time, and if you allow the weight of your unhappiness to consume you, you will become harping and judgmental – like your newly arrived houseguests, those obnoxious Elven lords from Harlindon.” Círdan did not bother to hide the shudder or the grimace brought on by the thought of those visitors. “Or even worse, you will become sad and defeated – like….” “Like Elrond,” Ereinion finished for him when Círdan fell silent. “But you hesitate to say his name because Ilmarë changed that in him. He is happy now and no longer seems sad and lonely…” “No, he does not,” Círdan said, exasperated again. “You do. You have taken to being somber and morose all the time. Although I must say, you do a far better job of it than Elrond did. He could be cheerful and pleasant from time to time…that is more than I can say of you these past months.” “I am better suited to accept this burden than Elrond. I have faced greater defeats than this and put them behind me. Given enough time, I will overcome this defeat as well.” “Will you?” mused Círdan. “I am not so certain of that. Nor am I certain Elrond would be as crushed as you imagine. He has also faced many things and he is a good deal stronger than you give him credit for. Ereinion…” Círdan waited for Ereinion to look up at him and then said, “You are not required to take on responsibility for everyone, my friend. You are an admirable king, yet there are times when you must remember you are just a man as well.” Ereinion turned his head away and Círdan at last noticed how close to tears his friend was. Rising again from the chair, he took the wine decanter from the desk and refilled Ereinion’s glass as well as his own. “No more of this sort of talk. Come and sit with me, and I will find a more pleasant topic of conversation.” Ereinion followed Círdan to the couch and they sat. Círdan placed the wine decanter on the table in front of the couch and then raised his feet to place them on the table as well. He leaned back into the cushions and let out a deep sigh. ‘I would not let Haleth catch you doing that,’ Ereinion said, nodding at Cirdan’s feet. ‘You will only be bringing unhappiness upon yourself.’ The thought of how Haleth would upbraid Círdan for putting his feet on the table brought a smile to Ereinion’s face. Cirdan frowned and snorted, but when Ereinion looked away to take another drink, he quickly lifted his feet and glanced at the table to make certain no dirt had collected. By the time Ereinion lowered his glass, Círdan had his eyes on the fire burning in the hearth. They both sat in silence, staring at the flames, until Círdan’s laugh drew Ereinion’s attention. “Ever since my earlier mention of Aldarion, memories have been flying through my head like a flock of gulls at low tide.” Cirdan smiled as he turned toward Ereinion. “Do you remember the time Aldarion convinced us to sail with him to Vinyalondë?’ Círdan’s eager question caused Ereinion to choke in mid-drink. He caught his breath and said, “I do not recall ‘us’ having to be convinced, - I recall ‘me’ having to be convinced. And it was not only Aldarion who worked to convince me.” “Well, yes, if you have to be specific about it; I suppose that is what happened,” Cirdan said with a long-suffering sigh. “But you were being very difficult. And the trip proved to you that Lindon would not fall apart without your direct presence.” The memory brought a dreamy smile to Círdan’s face. “Oh, but I did enjoy Vinyalondë. Mortal mariners are so boisterous and uninhibited.” He raised an eyebrow and added, “And so are mortal women if I remember correctly.” Ereinion could not help but laugh at that. “I suppose you are referring to the red-haired woman you focused your attention on during the entire visit. And after spending the journey there ensuring me our only purpose was to inspect the Númenórean haven.” Ereinion shook his head and said, “I do not believe all mortal women are like that, Cirdan.” “No, I suppose they are not. I was surprised she paid any attention to me at all, considering your behavior.” “My behavior?” Ereinion repeated in disbelief. “I did not realize your memory was so poor. Sometimes I forget how old you are, Círdan. I was the one who warned you not to listen to Aldarion.” “That you did, but even in my present decrepit state I seem to recall your warnings were earlier in the evening, well before you drank more than a few bottles of wine. Apparently you changed your mind by the time we reached the water, considering you were the first to shed your clothes.” Ereinion began to speak but stopped and thought for a moment, then gave his own long-suffering sigh. “Well, yes…if you have to be specific about it.” Círdan laughed heartily and bantered the memory back and forth with Ereinion until they at last reached the point where the mariners patrolling the harbor arrived and found them. The guards’ interrogation had been very threatening – until discovering Aldarion led the group, who was not only their Captain but heir to the throne of Númenor as well. Ereinion laughed uncontrollably by that time, and Cirdan held his own laughter briefly, long enough to take a breath and pose a musing thought. “I always wondered if word ever got back to Númenor of Aldarion almost being hauled out of the Gwalthó River by his own men for swimming nude with women and Elves. And those Elves being the Noldorin King and the Lord of Lindon, no less. That episode might have cast a different light on our respected standing in the Elven community.” ‘Well I, for one, am very glad the story never made it back to Lindon,’ Ereinion said, shaking his head and still laughing. ‘Now that I think on it, Aldarion could have chosen a more remote spot.’ ‘That he could,’ Cirdan agreed. As his laughter tapered off, Ereinion noted that for the first time in many weeks his pensive mood had lightened and he felt more like himself again. He looked at Círdan, who was still laughing and wiping the tears from the corners of his eyes. Círdan’s guidance sometimes seemed more like interfering, but Ereinion was always grateful for his friend’s concern. ‘Thank you, Círdan,’ Ereinion said with a nod. Círdan clearly understood, for he simply replied, ‘You are welcome, my friend.’ He sighed and sat his glass on the table. “As much as I would like to stay, I have been away from home for several days now and I must return.” Ereinion stood when Círdan did and asked, “Will you be back tomorrow evening for the dinner party?” “Of course. You do not think I would let you stray into that den of wolves alone, do you?” “I will not be alone, Ereinion; Elrond will be there and he is adept at dealing with our unpleasant Noldorin guests as well.” Ereinion walked with Círdan toward the door. “Yes, he is; yet Elrond will either remain upstairs with Ilmarë if she is not well enough to attend, or he will be distracted by her presence all evening. Either way, I doubt he will be of much help tomorrow evening.” “Hmmm…yes, we will see,” Ereinion said, distracted himself now and apparently considering something. “Círdan, wait just a moment…I have a message for you to take back to Harlond. Have one of your men deliver it after you reach home.” “All right.” Círdan watched curiously as Ereinion returned to his desk and withdrew a piece of parchment from the drawer. Ereinion wrote the short note quickly, folded and sealed it, addressed it, then returned to hand the message over to Círdan. Círdan looked at the name on the front and frowned. “I see my talk with you was of no use. You intend on continuing down this path and it will lead to more sorrow. Not only for you, but for Elrond and Ilmarë as well before this farce has been played to its end. I expected you to make a wiser decision than this, Ereinion.” “It is my decision to make, and this is what I will do. In order to be rid of these feelings I have for Ilmarë, I must resume my life as it was before she came. There is no other way, Círdan.” “There is another way, but you are either too foolish or too cowardly to take it, and I would never have believed you capable of either failing,” Círdan snapped at him, his patience abandoning him at last. “You will not be rid of love. Though you seek to lock it away, it will continue to grow. But it will grow as all things do when they are removed from the light and hidden in the dark – twisted and unhealthy. Yet I forget, you are no ordinary man like the rest of us; you are a king and kings will see their commands carried out.” Círdan glared at Ereinion before stuffing the folded paper into the pocket of his robe and jerking open the door. “Who am I to question your decisions? Some doddering old Elf who took you in and raised you, who provided you lands for the kingship you inherited…” “Who may as well have given birth to me, for all the motherly nagging you do.” Ereinion smiled as he leaned against the door and watched Círdan storm through. “I do appreciate your concern, Círdan…smothering though it may be at times, I know it is always well meant. Will you arrive early tomorrow evening? I would like for you to be here well before the guests have all arrived.” “As you command, my King,” Círdan returned testily and started down the hallway. “Have a safe trip, Círdan…and thank you.” Círdan did not look back, but raised his hand in a dismissive wave before disappearing down the stairwell and heading back to the second floor. Ereinion frowned, thinking of Círdan’s warning. His convictions are firmer than mine. What if I am wrong? He thought of Ilmarë and Elrond and their happiness together and decided he was not wrong. Taking a deep breath and squaring his shoulders, Ereinion closed the study door behind him and walked toward his bedroom. It was time to ready himself for the evening’s plans before he thought better of it and changed his mind. ~*~ NOTES: Tar-Aldarion was the sixth king of Númenor – He was born in the year 700 and died in the year 1098 of the First Age. So Círdan and Ereinion knew Aldarion during the years he was sailing from Númenor to Midde-earth, and his last voyage was made near the end of the first millennium of the Second Age. The chapter above is taking place about December of 1587 or so, Second Age. Ilmare arrived in Lindon about the end of September, stayed with Círdan until mid-November and has been sick and unconscious for about a month. That would make Ereinion and Cirdan's trip to Vinyalonde about 750 years previous. Vinyalonde was the Numenorean haven originally built by Aldarion at the mouth of the Gwaltho in Southern Middle-earth, south of Tharbad. Vinyalonde was also known as Lond Daer. It later fell into disrepair but was important for the defeat of Sauron later in the Second Age. Ereinion came to live with Círdan, though when it was depends on whose son you believe he is. I think he’s Orodreth’s son, so that would mean he came to live with Círdan after the fall of Nargothrond, one of the hidden cities of Beleriand in the First Age. I don’t know if Círdan gave Ereinion the lands of Lindon or not, but Círdan had always ruled lands near the sea and had many Elves who followed him. After Ereinion arrived, Círdan seems to have stepped aside and let Ereinion rule the new lands near the sea as king, and later as the High Elven King of the Noldor.

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.

Story Information

Author: Andreth

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: Multi-Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 11/08/12

Original Post: 09/18/03

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