5. Chapter Five
Visitors awaited him on the shaded walk alongside the fountain. There were four of them, dressed for riding in leather and light wool, and one had golden hair. They were speaking to two of the servants, but as Lindir came down the steps they turned at the slight noise he made and he saw that the golden-haired Elf was Glorfindel; the other three were warriors of his gweth.
For a moment they stood, staring at each other across fifteen feet of shaded pavement, then Lindir flew like a child into the embrace of the one he had not seen in three hundred years. He buried his face in the other’s shoulder, taking in the smell of sun-warmed hair and leather and wool, and the mingled scents and the feel of his foster father’s arms around him brought tears to his eyes.
Glorfindel held him in a tight embrace, quietly stroking his hair for a time before speaking. “I have come to take you home, yondo,” he murmured into Lindir’s ear.
Lindir could not speak even when, with a knowing look, his foster father tilted his chin up and said, “An le nurnen, yondo.”
He bit his lip and closed his eyes against the tears that would not stop. Glorfindel did not elaborate, did not say anything save to repeat the words with which he had greeted his foster son. “I have come to take you home.”
Drawing back, Lindir turned and looked over his shoulder toward the house where Pengolod was coming down the steps. The lore master nodded at the unspoken query. “Aye, I sent for him. There is nothing more for you here in Lindon, pen-neth. Go home now to Imladris.”
Something in Pengolod’s voice, some grim note hidden among his soft tones, gave Lindir pause. “But what of you?”
Smiling, Pengolod answered with a light shrug. “In a few years perhaps I will go to the Havens. There is not much left for me here either, child.”
Lindir paused to wipe the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand. “Why do you not come to Imladris?”
Pengolod laughed outright at this. “I doubt very much that Elrond and I could dwell under the same roof together and not drive each other mad.” His humor passed and shifted like a cloud over the sun, and his smile grew strained. “Nay, if you must know, child, I have begun to feel the sea longing, and I think sometimes that I have tarried too long in Middle-earth.”
* * *
The leaves were falling in Imladris, heralding the brief autumn before winter brought its first snows to the passes of the Hithaeglir. In the kitchens and cellars of Elrond’s house, preserves were made, berries, fruits and herbs dried and meat smoked and salted for the long season ahead. Carpenters cleared the many storm gutters and the woodpiles were stocked, while inside the house down-filled quilts were brought out of storage.
In the courtyard, Lindir and his student were enjoying the last of the autumn sunshine before the weather forced them indoors. As many of his students were, Valandil was mortal, the thirteen year old son of Isildur. He had some skill with music, having learned to play from many of the same Elves who taught the young Lindir, but he could not read music and had had no formal instruction in what was considered a necessary art among princes.
However, like most boys, Valandil was not interested in his lessons. He wanted to ride and hunt, to explore the forest behind the house, and had little patience with his tutors. Unlike Erestor, who had no experience tutoring mortals, Lindir was patient with the boy, for he saw that what Valandil truly wanted was to be with his father.
Lindir did not press him as Erestor did, but let him wander about the courtyard at his leisure while he played upon the harp or flute; his only stipulation was that the boy did not go out of his sight until given leave to do so. Sometimes this tactic worked, for when Valandil was in a quiet mood he would come and sit by Lindir and ask how something was played.
Valandil wanted very much to please Isildur by being a good student, but it was difficult when his father was not present to give his approval. Isildur had been away for the first eleven years of his youngest son’s life, first in the south with the hosts of the Last Alliance, and then, as king, securing the borders of his realm or out in the field riding down the last remnants of the Dark Lord’s armies. Only once had Valandil seen him, though he and his mother had regular messages from the south.
He did not understand why he and his mother had not been summoned to live with Isildur, and ground his fist into his palm or against his knee whenever he spoke of it. “My older brothers get to ride with him,” he complained. “Why do I have to stay here? Nothing interesting ever happens here.”
“That is precisely why your father wishes you to stay,” said Lindir, “because in a place where nothing happens, as you so eloquently put it, there is nothing to threaten you. Besides, has he not written to tell you that once the roads between here and Minas Anor are safe he will send for you and your mother?”
Elven children were not so impatient, for even at a young age they understood that there was time for all things. Valandil did not grasp this; like all mortals he felt the pull of time. What he desired he would have now, and he was not about to be mollified by the promises his mother and tutors had fed him from the cradle. Even the presence of one of his older brothers would have eased him somewhat. Lindir made a mental note to ask Elrond if such a request could be made. Surely Isildur could spare one of the three for a short time.
Gil-galad aran edhellen.
O den i thelegain linnar naer
i vedui i ndôr dín bain a lain
Athran ered ah i aear
I vagol dín and, i ech dín laeg
i dôl dín sílol palan-gennen
i ngeil ernediaid e-dalf menel
cennin be genedril min thand dín cheleg
Dan and-io e palan-rochant
ah ias e dhortha úben bôl peded
A na vôr dannant i ’îl dín
mi Mordor ias i núath gaedar.
Across the courtyard, Valandil was watching him. “What are you singing?” he asked. “Gil-galad was an Elven king? I’ve never heard that before.”
“It is nothing,” murmured Lindir, “only a small something to pass the time.” It was a song he had begun to compose in the evenings, as the urge to write slowly returned to him.
His instruments and scores he had brought home from Lindon, save the half-charred symphony still locked away in Pengolod’s cabinet. The flute he had taken back, but when Pengolod forgot to return Nolofinwë ar Moringotto to him, he did not press the matter. His feelings about the piece had not changed.
He did not know if he had made the right choice in not taking the ship of departure; Círdan often saw beyond the ken of others, but even he could not perceive all paths. Lindir returned from the Havens with misgivings that did not lessen as he returned to Imladris with Glorfindel. He felt the sea longing grow less as he returned to his old life, but a certain unease remained. Glorfindel watched him closely, and more than once he observed Erestor’s gaze on him. No one asked about his vision, if indeed it had ever been made public knowledge, although when Elrond greeted him for the first time he saw the Elf-lord’s eyes narrow and his mouth open as if he meant to say something.
He had no intention of making this new song public, for already there were many elegies composed in honor of Gil-galad, all of varying quality. There was no need to add yet another such song to the roster. This piece was for him alone, and he cared not what anyone else thought of it.
“Why don’t you sing something about my grandfather?” asked Valandil.
Lindir laid aside the flute with which he had been working out the melody; he would transcribe it later, once he was indoors. “I do not know a great many songs about Elendil.”
Valandil was aghast. “How can you not? He was as great a king as Gil-galad,” he insisted.
“Well, then, if you desire a song about Elendil, perhaps you ought to be the one to write it.”
The idea did not sit well with the boy. “I am a prince. I don’t have to write my own songs.”
“You think not? Ah, but there were many kings and princes of old who composed songs. Finrod Felagund was a renowned singer, and even Gil-galad himself could sing and play upon an instrument.”
“But those were Elven kings,” protested Valandil, whose tone clearly said he was not interested in hearing about anything other than his own ancestors.
Lindir smiled. “Ah, but there were also many princes of Númenor who composed songs. Here, I will sing you something I heard in Lindon.”
Later in the afternoon, once he dismissed Valandil and went inside, Elrond came and drew him aside. “As I walk the halls,” said the lord of Imladris, “I have been hearing bits and pieces of a new song about Gil-galad. When I ask, I am told this is your work. Is it true that you have composed such a piece?”
“Aye, my lord, but I—”
“And already members of the household are humming this tune, without your having formally presented it in the Hall of Fire?”
Elrond’s consternation was clear; he was not displeased that Lindir had composed such a work. Rather, he was unhappy that his household had heard it before he had, and a work about the High King to boot. “My lord, I had not thought to present it. It is such a small thing really, and there are already so many elegies in honor of Gil-galad.”
“I have not heard the others,” said Elrond. “And I do not believe I have ever heard any of your compositions. This one I will hear.”
On his return, Lindir had not said much of his time in the Otornassë Nyelloréva; his early letters, written during those first decades in Lindon, offered description enough of a guild life. Of his last eighteen months he did not wish to speak, and thus far no one had pressed him. He had not been asked to share his original works, though surely there were many who might have done so, for at times he had written of his various commissions.
“Other, better works I have. Surely you would prefer to hear--?”
Elrond was insistent. “That may be,” he answered, “but this is the one I will hear.”
Before giving him leave to go, Elrond extracted a promise to present the song in the Hall of Fire one week hence, whether it was finished or not.
Lindir truly did not think anything would come of it. So many such songs already existed. His would be the piece of an evening, once sung and swiftly forgotten.
* * *
Deep in midwinter, Lindir undertook the task of cleaning out his papers. It was a ritual he observed with greater care on some occasions than others, for he was forgetful when it came to putting things in order and reluctant to throw away any wayward scrap of composition or any broken instrument, whether it could be repaired or not. Erestor, ever orderly and punctilious, affectionately chided him for his lack of tidiness even as he came to assist with the cleaning.
Sometime later, Lindir realized one of his pieces was missing. His shelves were as cluttered as ever, despite the efforts of several months ago, but some intuition nagged at him that a folio had been misplaced. An evening and part of the next morning he spent searching, taking inventory and ruing yet again that he did not catalog his papers as Erestor and Elrond did theirs.
When he came to the brittle leather folio containing Nolofinwë ar Moringotto, he closed his eyes and held it in one hand, weighing it. For more than two thousand years he had ignored it, but knew his own work intimately enough to know there were pages missing from it—nay, he realized, it was not merely pages that were missing but an entire movement, Fingolfin’s challenge to Morgoth.
He searched fruitlessly, turning his study upside down until Erestor came and, rolling his eyes at the mess, urged Lindir to leave off the search. “For you have never liked that piece and I doubt you will miss it.”
The next year, word came to him of a similar work that had mysteriously appeared in Gondor. In the court of the Ruling Steward it was performed to a rousing ovation, and queries had gone out to discover the composer and commission the rest of the work, for it was clear the tenor’s aria was but an excerpt of a larger whole.
Lindir, realizing someone had filched his work and sent it outside Imladris, fumed even when Erestor reassured him that no one had claimed the piece as their own. “Elrond has had word from without, and in the lands of Men they are quite certain it was written by an Elf. In fact, I am told their critics have gone to work comparing the style to other, contemporary Second Age pieces, and a certain other called The Fall of Gil-galad.”
Some smug note in Erestor’s voice told Lindir precisely what had happened. “You did this!” he hissed. “You knew how I despised that piece and yet you—”
“My dear pen-neth,” said Erestor, laughing even as he crooked an eyebrow at the accusing finger Lindir jabbed at him, “you are so terribly hasty to assign blame. I only tell you what I have heard, and that second and third-hand. If you want better information, perhaps you should consult with Elrond, or better yet, with Glorfindel, as there is no messenger that enters this valley that he does not know of it first.”
But Lindir did not pursue the matter, for he knew then that there was not one culprit but several, and that they had acted in collusion to send his work out of Imladris. Instead, he found a stout wooden chest banded with iron and fitted with a steel lock, and into this he stuffed the remainder of Nolofinwë ar Moringotto and pocketed the key.
My works were not composed for the sake of public adulation, he thought, and the memory of the pain this symphony stirred in him had not lessened with time.
Over the next several years, messages came from Gondor seeking information about the work or its composer, anything the Elves could provide. And always the chief minstrel of Imladris gave the same answer, that he did not know what symphony it was excerpted from or who had written it.
* * *
gweth: (Sindarin) a household unit or troop
An le nurnen: (Sindarin): I mourn with you. Yondo is a Quenya word, and though it is not considered appropriate usage to mix Quenya and Sindarin, my Glorfindel is an actively bilingual speaker.
According to “The Disaster of the Gladden Fields” in Unfinished Tales, Isildur and his three eldest sons were killed in October, T.A. 2. The scene between Lindir and Valandil takes place just before word of the disaster comes to Imladris. Valandil remained in Elrond’s household for another ten years before formally taking up the kingship of Arnor.
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