Mortal Shores: 1. Chapter One

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1. Chapter One

MORTAL SHORES

A Second Age story

Disclaimer: Most of the characters and much of the setting are Tolkien's, and I plundered many of his works to write this. Tárion, however, is entirely mine.

This is a tale of Glorfindel, Gil-galad, Galadriel, Gildor Inglorion and several more, some of them OCs. Every now and then, AU elements may pop up. It will come to contain slash (m/m interaction), though not in the first chapters. Do not read if you think this is offensive and against the spirit of Tolkien, etc. etc.

Tar Minastir, Eleventh King of Númenor, stood on a balcony, overlooking his great fleet in the harbour of Romenna. Tomorrow it would sail, and not a day too soon. Yesterday, he and his people had offered up the Erukyermë, the Spring Invocation of the One, adding an extra prayer to ask for favourable winds and a speedy voyage to Endor. If the Númenoreans came too late to break the siege of Lindon, the whole of Middle-earth would fall to Sauron. Their fair island, Elenna the Starward, would be an isolated patch of earth between a West that was inaccessible to mortals and an East inhospitable to all haters of the Shadow, mortal men, as well as Elves.

Though in a way he loved them, Minastir also envied the undying elder children of Eru Ilúvatar. And while he did not quite understand them, he suspected they did not quite understand him either, and held them in little esteem. Gil-galad's plea for assistance had been as formal as the High King of the Noldor of Endor could afford under the circumstances, and the King of Númenor answered it mainly for political reasons, and for the sake of his fellow Núumenoreans in Middle-earth. The Elves had an escape; they could sail West - and they did, draining the strength of their remaining kin. At least Gil-galad had the responsibility to stay. If that was his reason; Minastir did not know the man - elf - nor would he make his acquintance, for the King did not leave his island.

With the wails of the gulls in his ears the King watched the breeze pull at banners and pennants. At present, it blew from the South, which would be well enough for tomorrow. If the Lord of the Breath of Arda had any sense at all, he would give it a further tug towards the west. But he doubted whether Manwë Súlimo cared about the affairs of Middle-earth, and of Men in particular.

A sound on the marble tiles in the room behind him made him turn. A servant entered to announce an important visitor to the King, who left the balcony and told him to show the man in.

But it was no man. It was an Elf.

A striking, golden-haired Elda he was, with the piercing eyes of his race, and the glow that marked him as one whose had dwelled in the Undying Lands while the Trees were alive. Yet there seemed to be more to him, as if his glow merely served as a veil for a still brighter radiance that might blaze forth any time he chose. It was slightly unnerving, even though he bowed to the king and his behaviour was in no way overbearing. He requested passage on one of the ships bound for Lindon, for himself and a companion. His name was Glorfindel. They had referred him to the King, judging him to be a person of importance.

Tar Minastir was surprised. It was not uncommon for the Eldar of Valinor to visit the Island of Númenor, but until now they had always returned to their home in the West. What would an Elf of Aman seek on those mortal shores? This one looked to be a warrior, though he did not wear mail, or bring a sword into the King's presence. Had Gil-galad's cries for help reached the ears of the Valar? Were there more to come?

Not so, Glorfindel told the King. He had a quest of his own to fulfill, and companion came along out of curiosity. No others would follow. Their requirements were modest: space for two on a deck or in a hold, just enough to lie down. No demands, no airs, and not quite the aloofness Tar Minastir had learned to expect from the Elder People - though prying into the Elflord's privacy met with courteous evasions.

The fleet bound for Lindon was large enough to carry a moderate number of fugitives, so there was indeed space for two Elves. The request was granted.

***

Gil-galad, High King of the Noldor stood on the great tower of his palace outside Mithlond, looking East. Far too soon, his sharp Elven eyes met with the dark hosts that had engulfed most of his realm. In many places, Sauron's armies had reached the foothills of the Ered Luin. Only the lands around the Grey Havens west of the river Lune were still free of them, though the Enemy had reached the Tower Hills. The enemy scouts roamed the slopes to the South and the far North, searching for passages to cross the mountains and come upon their rear, and not all of them were caught. Lindon was a fortress under siege, with no escape but the sea.

Yet at least a shimmer of hope remained for those who dwelt here. In the new stronghold of Imladris, to the East, his friend and kinsman Elrond was entirely surrounded by enemies, as was Celeborn in Lórien. Fortunately, every single Orc Sauron needed to keep those two in check meant one foe less in Lindon. Still, how many of Gil-galad's own people would have a chance to leave these mortal shores? Though the King had urged Cirdan to provide as many ships as possible, the shipwrights could only build so many vessels in so many months, and the woods were growing thin. Nor would they have many months left, if no help came.

He turned from East to West, gazing across the Gulf of Lune to the sea beyond the promontories of Harlindon and Forlindon. Today, grey-blue waves covered what once had been Beleriand, his home of old in an age gone by. There, his father and sister had left their bodies behind, and Gil-galad found himself wondering if their spirits still dwelt in the Houses of the Dead. Where he would also go, should the Dark Lord prevail. Even if there was a ship for him left, he knew he would not embark.

The sea was empty, lying dull and sullen beneath a heavily clouded sky. Not a single ship to be seen. He was not sure whether the Men of the West would heed his plea, or whether they would arrive in time if they did. Several years had passed since he had sent his letter, but if they had deigned to build up their navy, they tarried in launching it. He trusted the minds of these mortals but was less certain of their hearts; sometimes they seemed to shut the Eldar out for no other reason than the difference between the fates of the two Kindreds. He sighed.

'You fear they will not come.'

Gil-galad turned towards the other two Elves standing on top of the tower. It was his kinswoman Galadriel who asked the question. Tall and proud, with a head of gold, she stood outlined against the grey sky, crowning the palace like a younger sister of Anar defying the clouds. Tárion, the Captain of his Guard, was standing beside her. He was a willowy, raven-haired Noldo who had survived both the Fall of Gondolin and the treacherous attack on the Havens of Sirion, to enter the service of the new High King at the beginning of the Second Age.

'I don't know if I dare hope,' Gil-galad replied gloomily.

'But do we need hope to persevere?' said Tárion. 'What else can we do when surrender is no option? Do you know, my lord king, that the day before yesterday, when I had a few hours to spare, I began a painting on the wall of my room?'

As if he expected to occupy that room for many more centuries to come. Gil-galad smiled briefly. 'I stand corrected. Hope or no hope, we will defy the dark.'

'We will,' Galadriel spoke in that deep voice of hers, looking from the King to the Captain. 'As my brother Finrod never wearied of saying, there are two kinds of hope. One is Amdir, looking up: an expectation of good which has some foundation in that what is known. The other is founded deeper. This is Estel, the naked trust that does not come from experience but from our nature, a hope even against all hope that ultimately the One will not suffer to be deprived of his Children by any Enemy.'(1)

Tárion bowed to her. 'If those were your brother's words, gracious lady, he was rightly named wise among the Eldar. And equally wise is his sister, for reminding us of them when they are truly needed.'

As indeed they were, especially for Galadriel. She was still exiled from Valinor and would not be able to sail West even if she wished to - as both Gil-galad and Tárion knew well enough.

The lady captured the Captain's gaze. He had the strength of mind to withstand it, as Gil-galad had known he would. 'I thank you both,' the King said. 'You have actually succeeded in lifting up my spirits.'

Again, he stared at where the vast expanse of the sky met the undulating plains of the sea, and he imagined he saw the tip of a mast rise like the morning sun.

(1)See the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, HoMe 10, Morgoth's Ring, p. 320.


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: vorondis

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 2nd Age - Rings

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/08/05

Original Post: 07/29/02

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