1. Part 1
Night hung low and heavy on the shoulders of the Encircling Mountains. The wind was up, and a storm was brewing in the West, lashings of rain battering the plain of Tumladen. Amidmost, the Hidden City sparkled like a bright jewel set in the darkness of the Echoriath. Its white walls shone with the flames of many torches, and the strange blue light of the gems brought from Tirion by Turgon and his followers. Normally at this time, the city would be filled with song and laughter, the King's feasting-halls overflowing with the light of many fires and the sound of many voices.
Tonight, Gondolin was quiet in mourning. An hour had barely passed since the news of the death of the King's sister had become known, and many were given rather to tears than song. Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, the White Lady of the Noldor, beloved among her people, now lying slain in the healing chambers with poison in her blood. The Elf who claimed her as his wife now lay in the dungeons, his hands chained that they might do no more malice. The guard on the walls of the city had been doubled, for seldom one reached the great gate without being spotted, but tonight that very thing had happened, to the ruin of the high princess.
As the candles burned low and the night wore on, voices were heard murmuring below in the courtyard. The Elves sought each other, perhaps to share their grief, and dispel it, as the torches sent the darkness to flight. Yet there was one who was alone in his sorrow.
He looked down on them from his high window, elves proud and noble yet stricken by grief for the fair and gentle Ar-Feiniel. He watched for a while, silently translating the strange words in his head. Then he broke down and wept.
Maeglin had known tears before, in the dark forest where he spent his childhood. His father had always taught him that it was wrong to cry, wrong to show weakness. But had his father's teachings not been proved wrong? Tonight, Eöl was chained in the dark dungeons of the city, without his slick black armour, and his stolen sword resided with his son. It seemed that many of his counsels were proving wrong now.
Eöl had always taught his son that the Noldor were evil, and they were the reason for the return of the Black Foe. At the time, Maeglin had believed him, for he had never seen one of their kind apart from his mother. But when his father began to spend time away with the Dwarves more frequently, Aredhel had begun to teach him about her kin in the North. She taught him their secret, beautiful tongue, and Maeglin wondered if the makers of such sweet-sounding words could truly be evil at heart. She told him stories, wonderful stories, tales of great deeds and bravery in face of darkness. And here, in Gondolin, the home that Aredhel had always been willing to tell of, the secret tongue was spoken by all.
Maeglin's mind turned back to his arrival in Gondolin. He was weary, yes, after many long leagues of travel, riding in haste at his mother's side, the stolen sword at his belt. Aredhel had laughed, basking in the bright sunlight that had been denied to her by Eöl and his enchanted forest. As they neared the land of her people, she seemed to grow in height and strength until she seemed taller than any Elf-man, and a great fire burned in her eyes. Maeglin was an inexperienced rider, and soon tired, but drew his strength from her, and so they reached the hidden way.
He remembered the amazement of the guards at the gate, on seeing their princess return from the wild beyond all hope, with a son worthy of his Noldorin mother's heritage. The guards had led them down the straight road across Tumladen, beneath the six glorious gates of Gondolin.
"One day, Lómion my son, you shall build the last, and greatest." She had said as they rode side by side. As they neared the city, Maeglin became aware of the sound of many voices rejoicing, and his heart lifted to see the King's Tower, gleaming above the city in the late sunlight. I have come home at last, he thought to himself as they passed beneath the final gate and entered the city.
Gondolin had many wonders, Maeglin discovered as his mother proudly led him into her brother's palace, her home. It was quite bewildering to Maeglin, who had been unused to such great crowds and noise in the silence of Nan Elmoth. His eyes were dazzled by the brilliance and splendour of Aredhel's city. Every wall seemed to be shot with gold, every lamp was hung with crystals. And amid all the wonder and beauty, the tall King sat upon his throne with his daughter at his side.
Maeglin remembered little that was said in their first meeting. But he remembered as he bent to kiss her hand, pressing the soft white skin to his lips for just slightly too long, breathing in her sweet scent as he rose, his fingers brushing past a lock of her hair that ran loose like a river of gold... Idril. Her name was Idril, the silverfoot of her people, and now the love of Maeglin's life. Aredhel's tales of her beauty certainly never did her justice. Aredhel…
There came a soft knock at the door. The young Elf sat up, quickly brushing the tears from his dark eyes. He was seated on a long bed, dressed with a richly-embroidered red coverlet and snow-white sheets. Apart from the bed, the room was sparsely furnished - a small mirror, a table on which his father's great black sword lay, and a chair were the only other adornments. Turgon had not wished to over-awe his young guest on his first night in his city, so he ordered his servants to prepare a simple room for him. It was no doubt no less than what he was used to, living wild in the woods with his Moriquendi father...
Turgon pushed the door open, and was at once painfully reminded of his sister and the one that slew her. Maeglin bore the dark hair and eyes of his father, but his soft white skin and delicate features were more reminiscent of his mother's kin. Turgon noticed that his nephew had not changed his clothes - he was still clad in the worn green travel-cloak and dark brown boots that had served him on his long journey. From a distance, he could have passed for any wild Elf of the woods, but under closer examination his face revealed his high kinship amongst the Noldor. In the face of his uncle, Maeglin saw a strong resemblance to his mother, and turned away, lest he cry again. A sign of weakness… No, that was Eöl's teaching, and it must be wrong…
"Maeglin?" Turgon asked, almost timidly. There was something else in his nephew's dark eyes, beyond the raw grief for his mother and the sense of isolation alone in a strange city, a hard edge that reminded Turgon of shadows beneath trees, a glint of darkened steel.
Maeglin made no answer. Silence was the only friend he had made in Nan Elmoth, aside from his mother, and she was dead. Silence would protect him from unwanted questions.
Turgon took a tall crystal decanter from the table and poured himself a glass of wine. He offered one to Maeglin, but the young Elf shook his head. Turgon took a long swill of dark liquid, enough at least to clear his grief-fogged senses, and spoke.
"What is your mother-name, child?"
"Surely she had a special name for you? It is the custom of our people for a mother to name the child as her heart tells, whatever the father may think."
At these words, Maeglin's head shot up, and his dark eyes were fixed on his uncle. He spoke, for the first time since he had learned of his mother's death.
"Lómion. She called me Lómion."
"Lómion." The Lord of Gondolin mused. "Son of Twilight. That you are in looks, truly. But what in spirit?"
Maeglin looked at his uncle, confused. Turgon drained his glass and set it down.
"Never mind. I see you are tired, and weary with grief. Will you rest a while?" Turgon held out his hands. After a short time, realising what was asked of him, Maeglin slipped his cloak from his shoulders, and handed it to Turgon. The King marvelled at the lightness of it, for at first glance it appeared to be woven of heavy fabric. As he looked closely however, he saw that small strands of iron were woven into it, in such a way that it would provide light protection to the wearer.
"Who gave you this cloak?" Turgon asked.
He should have known.
It was true that Eöl was a master smith. When he had been set in bonds and led away, the guards marvelled at the fine metalwork as they removed his armour, working beneath his cold glare. Strangely, he carried no sword, but at his side hung an empty sheath where one should be. Yet Eöl's most potent weapon seemed to be his eyes, burning with hidden rage at his captors, and his son. Maeglin did not know exactly what had happened that had darkened his father's soul, but by his many scars and fear of light, he could make a fair guess. Turgon shuddered at the thought of this Dark Elf drawing his sister into his forest, imprisoning her, taking her night after night...
And now the product of this union, if it could be so called, sat before him on the bed, in his city. He did not quite know what to feel for the strange, grief-stricken Elf. When he had sat beside his sister, feeling her hand turn cold within his grasp, pleading her to stay with him for just a time longer, he had tried very hard to hate Maeglin, the son of her slayer. Yet he knew he ought to love and honour his kinsman, his nephew, the last memory of his lost sister? Besides, he found he was beginning to like Maeglin for his own sake. The young Elf was quiet, as if unused to company and large palaces, yet his eyes betrayed his marvel in all that he saw. He reminded Turgon of a young elfling, exploring the wonders of Gondolin for the first time, which indeed he was. He felt a sudden urge to show Maeglin the beauty of the fountains in spring, and the great jewel-hoards beneath the palace, and the ornate loveliness of his own chambers. Yet, from what Maeglin had said at their brief first meeting, his first love seemed to be smith-work, and the warm glow of the forge. He resolved to show his sister-son the great metalworking smithies that burned day and night in the North of the city. Although Maeglin seemed to be eager to leave his old life behind, he was talented in his father's art, there were few with that skill in Gondolin, and he could certainly be of use. Besides, by the haunted look in his dark eyes, it seemed to be one of only a few happy memories he carried with him from Nan Elmoth.
Turgon realised he had been silent for a long time, and that he was still holding the cloak. Maeglin watched him, motionless on the bed. Turgon draped the cloak over the back of the chair.
"I will send servants with some better clothes for you tomorrow. Try to rest, sister-son. Things will be better in the morning."
Maeglin stood up. Turgon wondered what he was doing until he felt the light touch of Maeglin's hand against his own. Of course. Aredhel must have taught her son some of the customs of the Noldor, in the hope that he might return with her to Gondolin. And now he had, at a high price. His skin was icy cold to the touch.
"Good night, Lómion." Turgon said, then, before his own tears for his sister came, slipped out quietly. He shut the door behind him, leaned on it, and sighed. Darkness fell within the chamber as the lamp sputtered and died.
Maeglin came to the open window, and looked down at the courtyard filled with mourning Elves and their lit candles. The sun was beginning to stain the Western sky red, and the rain was easing. The storm was passing into the East, its only memory a faint intermittent rumble of thunder over the mountains.
"Good night, Lómion." Maeglin said softly, then pulled the shutter in and made the room completely dark.
~End of Part 1...~
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.