1. Chapter 1
That was the reason for this walk. He was going to volunteer to go with the Man and the King on their quest. He reached the door to Finrod’s chambers and recognized the guards as two of those who had volunteered. As he approached, they moved to bar the way.
Gildor stopped and regarded them. He met their defiant looks with one of his own. “I come to join you, please let me pass.” The guards exchanged an expression of veiled disgust but let him pass, not even deigning to open the doors for him. He smiled secretly to himself, thinking he would have done the same had their positions exchanged. Swinging the heavy doors open, he strode purposefully into the room.
He followed the sound of voices to a large receiving room. The elen were in various stages of preparing for their journey. All were armed and he could see hints of mail peeking through the dappled gray traveling clothes they wore. All turned to him as he entered the doorway and conversations abruptly halted, he even noticed a few hands reflexively go to sword hilts. Have things turned so ill that they see me as a threat? Taking in the defiant, hostile looks, Yes he replied sadly to himself.
He did not personally know most of these ners. They were mainly commoners and soldiers. He recognized a ranger from an eastern outpost that had once been under his command. He also recognized his friend, the King’s Steward, Edrahil. It was upon Edrahil that he fixed his gaze upon. Though speaking to an equal, Gildor stiffened like a soldier addressing a superior, “Sir I come to redress my cowardice, may I speak with the King?.”
Edrahil raised an eyebrow and regarded him for a moment. “Finrod is conferring with the Lord of Dorlomin at the moment.”
“Things were apparently worse than I had imagined,” Gildor noted. Edrahil never referred to the King of Nargothrond by his father name only. He was one of the King’s closest advisors and always preceded Finrod with Lord or King.
“Aye that they are my reluctant friend,” Edrahil answered with little venom but some disappointment.
Gildor winced slightly at the statement but continued, somewhat subdued, “I would speak with the King, Edrahil.”
Not wishing to further humiliate his friend, Edrahil nodded and turned to walk to a door at the back of the room. He knocked and entered. A moment later Finrod, dressed similarly to the Volunteers, appeared He looked tired and but oddly at peace. The Lord of Nargothrond strode to him with purpose. Gildor saw no accusation in his eyes, but he did see a stern resolve that he had only seen twice before. As Finrod approached, Gildor kneeled and bowed his head.
“Forgive me my king, I am shamed for my cowardice. I would redress that lack of fortitude now by begging your leave to join this quest.”
Finrod looked down at the Ranger captain before him. After a moment he gripped his arm, pulling him to stand. “I am no longer your king, Gildor, there is no need for this formality.”
Gildor hesitantly met Finrod’s eyes, “You are still my king, sire.”
Finrod gave a weary smile and the rest of the ners in the room shifted.
“As I have told those here, I am now just Finrod.” He held up a hand when Beren, who was standing a few paces behind him, began to protest.
“Please, Barahirion, we have been over that issue at length” Beren reluctantly swallowed his words and looked down forlornly.
Finrod regarded Gildor again. He studied him for a moment as if weighing options.
Abruptly, he stiffened slightly and sternly said, ”No.”
A look of confused horror crossed Gildor’s face. This was not the reply he expected. He started to protest but the King continued, “This quest shall be of twelve only, your chance to stand by my side has been lost. You chose not to come to me when I asked and by your silence stood with the Usurpers. I cannot allow you to be placed with those who would heed their lord’s call and publicly come to my aid.” There were several nods but also several looks of astonishment at Finrod’s unusual harshness. His face softened slightly “But the fact that you come here to join this expedition, knowing its probable outcome, has begun to redress your reluctance…" He looked at the group and said, "Excuse us.”
He turned and exited the room, going down a large hallway. Gildor hesitated a moment and looked to Edrahil. He slightly bowed his head with regret but gave Gildor a hesitantly hopeful look. Gildor stepped to quickly follow the King.
He finally caught up with the King and fell in step, flanking him. Finrod walked in silence, intent on his own thoughts. Gildor’s remorse only grew as they continued deeper into the King’s chambers. Finrod finally stopped at a doorway and turned. Gildor saw him hesitate and look down the way they had come, as if checking for followers. He put his hand on the latch and pushed the door open. Gildor realized they were entering Finrod’s private apartments. The room was subdued with dark paneling. The light from several lamps lit the room. There were a few wall tables of dark wood with sculptures of exquisite quality. Finrod continued deeper into his rooms until he finally halted in a round chamber. Light streamed from overhead to cast a bright circle upon one single object.
In the middle of the room was a life-size statue of an elleth. The sight of the statue made Gildor stop and gape in unabashed wonder. It was the most exquisite sculpture of the most beautiful nis he had ever seen. It was so detailed that only the alabaster color revealed it as marble. He could make out each hair in her flowing, waist length tresses. The sculpture is so lifelike, he expected to see the chest rise and fall with a sigh. The expression on the perfect face seemed to waver between forlorn hope and admonition. The grief was etched in the posture and tilt of the head. The right hand was caught in a rising gesture, as if seeking to grasp a lover’s hand.
Momentarily forgetting himself Gildor whispered, a little too loudly, “Amarie…”
Finrod turned with a start, surprise, almost anger and something else in his eyes.
“Forgive me, my lord I did not mean to…” Gildor almost pleaded.
“No need to apologize, your guess is correct, but how did you know that was Amarie? Very few here in Nargothrond ever saw her.”
“I just assumed, my lord, I have heard of the maiden you left behind. If this is indeed her likeness, she is more beautiful than… than … I can not even think of anything to compare.” Gildor replied in wonder.
A look of regret flashed across Finrod’s face. He stared into the distance for just a moment. Gildor began to apologize but a gesture from Finrod halted him.
“It is a reminder of my folly and of the time she and I shared in better days.”
Finrod gathered himself and returned to the subject at hand.
“I do not know why you did not come forward at the Great Hall. Our courage fails us all sometimes, but I am glad to see yours has returned,” Finrod said turning to Gildor.
Gildor bowed his head, “I am sorry I did not speak when called, my lord. I… I… have no excuse…”
Finrod grasped him by both shoulders, making Gildor look straight into his eyes, “I do have one command for you. I need you to take a message to my sister in Doriath.”
The King turned before he could see Gildor’s surprise at the request. Finrod walked into the shadows. Gildor heard the unmistakable sound of a sword being unsheathed. For the briefest moment fear gripped him, thinking his King would exact some retribution for his cowardice. He heard the King snort in the darkness, “Do you think my mind is completely gone Captain?”
Gildor gave a sigh of self disgust,” I continue to embarrass myself.”
Finrod spoke from the darkness, “Do not further castigate yourself Gildor. At this dark hour, I am not sure what to believe either.”
Gildor looked up to see a shining sword, almost floating in the light pouring from above. Time seemed to stop. The sword reflected the light, almost illuminating the entire room. It seemed as though the air in the room become lighter, letting him breathe easier, giving him courage.
Gildor heard Finrod reverently speak. “I wanted to look one last time at my faithful servant,” and, looking up at Gildor, “And confer it to the protection of another. Gildor, Nargothrond will not stand long and my sister will outlive us all. She is wise.” Finrod hesitated, just looking at the sword, slowly turning it in the stream of light. Gildor caught glimpses of his king’s haunted face as the reflection flashed across it.
“This was given to me with the Nauglamir… Telchar heard about the Necklace and would not be out done.” Gildor heard a slight smile in the melancholy voice.
As if breaking a spell, Finrod blinked and shook his head and sheathed the sword without a second thought. He approached Gildor with a grave look.
“Sire, your orders?”
“Take this to my sister” and in a quieter forlorn way added, “She will understand why I send it” Gildor brought both hands up to grasp the sheathed weapon of his King. Finrod did not release it and Gildor looked up, wondering at his king’s hesitation. Finrod leaned closer and in a serious, almost secretive voice said, “ You must cleave to her and her husband. She will not sit idly in Doriath forever, she will seek new lands and it is to her you must go. You swore an oath to me and to follow the banner of my house. Artanis will carry that banner alone before this age ends.”
The doom in Finrod’s voice silenced all Gildor’s questions.
With iron conviction, Gildor answered, “If she will have me sire, she commands my life.”
Finrod released the sword. Gildor saw the doom drain from Finrod’s face and a tired but fatherly smile replace it.
"Gildor, you must hurry. Pick one you trust and go. It will be a lonely, dangerous road. Your errand must remain secret. There are those who covet this sword along with my crown. Its destiny does not lie within these walls.” Gildor stood and Finrod placed a hand on his shoulder. “There are darker days ahead my Captain. My sister’s wisdom will save those who would listen.” Finrod lowered his gaze and released Gildor’s shoulder. “Hurry on your errand, and tell the others I will be along shortly.”
Gildor bowed his head slowly and answered “Yes, my King” and turned away, not wanting to see Finrod’s reaction. As he exited the room, he did turn to look back at his king. It is something he would never forget. He saw the king gingerly clutch the outstretched hand of the statue and heard a whisper, “I will be home, soon.”
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.