1. Beyond Reach
She rose from her seat at the table, and glanced out of the window of the chamber. The city was all but deserted: there was nothing more to be done. Those who were prepared to flee had done so, cast from their homes once more. Eärendil would return to find his home in flames, and his people dead. Elwing had resolved to send her sons away, so even if she perished their father could find them. Eru keep them safe, she whispered softly as she climbed the stairs.
She entered the nursery where the twins were playing. Her breath caught in her throat as they looked up and smiled, calling her name. Elwing reached down and smoothed their hair into place. “Come now my darlings, bring your toys and we will go for a little walk. Then you shall go for a ride along the coastline,” she said, forcing herself to sound cheerful.
Elros came to her side, his bag of toy soldiers in one hand. “Will it be like a picnic, Nana?” he asked.
Her breath caught in her throat at the innocent question. “Yes,” she replied lightly, “it will be just like a picnic.”
They were so young; they would not understand why they were being sent away with strangers. She ruthlessly pushed such feelings aside; she had to, for the decision had already been made. It was to ensure their safety. Elwing slung their belongings across her back, and taking them by the hand, led them down the stairs, matching her steps to theirs.
Smoke was already rising in the distance, as the advancing army torched the outlying houses. Word had reached her that those who had chosen to stay and defend their homes had been ruthlessly slain. And she did not know what had become of the messenger she had sent with her final missive, only hours past. Those who were prepared to fight in the defence of Sirion had joined Eärendil’s guard. They stood armed and ready, but were woefully inadequate when compared to the size of the force set against them.
Elwing and her sons reached the main courtyard, where those who still remained were gathered. Elwing let go of their hands, and handed the bundle containing their belongings to one of the women who waited by the wagon. The boys stood looking up at her, clutching each other’s hands as they sensed the tension around them. As she knelt in front of her sons, the people around her found something to occupy themselves with, giving her a few precious moments to say goodbye. As Elwing looked at her children, tears she could no longer hold back rolled down her cheeks. Elrond reached up and wiped them away, his face distressed as he whispered, “Nana.”
She steadied herself, and spoke quietly, “Now you must both be good, and go with these people until Ada comes for you. Always remember that I do this to keep you safe.” My precious babes, will I ever see them again? She thought, close to despair.
Then they flung their arms around her neck, silent tears soaking her hair. Elwing slowly untangled herself from them, and stood, taking them by the hands and leading them over to the refugees. They were then lifted up, and placed amongst the bundles in the cart.
As they began to move away, they cried out, “Nana, Nana! We love you Nana,” their voices blended together in distress. She smiled and waved until she could see them no longer, although she felt as if her heart would break.
After she had composed herself, the head of her husband’s guard approached, “My lady, they are almost upon us, will you not flee while there is still a chance for you to do so?” Gelion asked, although she knew he had little hope that she would heed him.
Elwing replied, “Nay, for it is me, or rather the Silmaril that they want. They cannot be allowed to have it, and by going with my sons and people I would only endanger them. In the absence of my lord husband we will fight,” thus dismissed, he nodded and turned back to his men.
Word had been sent to Círdan and Gil-galad. The longer the invaders could be kept at bay, the greater the chance that they would arrive in time to save part of the city; although that chance was small indeed. Under Gelion’s instructions, the guards spread across the main square: protecting the path to the harbour and their lord’s home. If help did not reach them in time, she knew what she would have to do. There was now little more they could do than wait.
The sky before them grew bright with flames, and the smoke of the burning city drifted across the courtyard where they stood. Then suddenly, a group of Noldor burst from the smoke. Many were slain by a rain of arrows before Gelion realised that none of them had drawn their weapons.
He raised his voice to order, “Cease your fire, but be wary. This may be some trick of the enemy.”
One of the Noldor stepped forward, walking amongst the wounded and dead, his hands held away from his weapons. He halted in the middle of the square. Elwing stepped through the guards and, stilling Gelion’s protest, walked towards him, stopping at a safe distance.
Her voice cold, she demanded, “Why come you unarmed, ahead of the rest of your host? Speak!”
The Elf answered, “My lady, Maedhros’s host is but scant minutes behind us. My name is Helevorn and I am, or rather was, one of Maedhros’s lords. I have stood for those who would have dissuaded the sons of Fëanor from this course of action, but to no avail, for their wills are set. The last time I tried to speak to them, Amrod would have slain me in his wrath, had Maglor not held him back. We will no longer fight for those who have lead us from ruin into ruin. We will no longer fight with those who would willingly slay kin. Doriath lies heavily upon me.”
Elwing replied, “I cannot welcome those who murdered my family, and my father’s people. Yet I can read the truth in your eyes, and if you are willing to slay those you have known and followed, then so be. You may fight beside us.”
She walked back through the line of guards to stand at the rear of the courtyard, as she turned to gaze out to sea, she heard Gelion snap, “Those with bows to the rear! Fire on my command. Those without, join my men at the front.”
She turned back towards the wall of smoke. They could no longer hope for help from the sea, for neither her husband nor Círdan would reach them in time. Even now she could hear the clank of weapons and armour filter through the smoke.
Then the sons of Fëanor stepped into the courtyard, with their host arrayed behind them.
Maedhros was clearly visible, his deep red hair flowing down his back and a terrible light in his eyes. As Elwing came to stand before her guard, he bowed and said, “Lady Elwing, if you yield up our father’s jewel, we will depart from here and leave your city in peace.”
She stood, the jewel blazing bright upon her breast, lending her greater strength and majesty. Her voice clear and cold, she asked, “Who are you to lay down terms in my lord’s city? You kill without mercy. You burn the homes of the survivors of Doriath. By your deeds, you forfeit all right to this Silmaril. Turn back now and leave this city.”
”Nay,” Maedhros replied, “if you do not yield the Silmaril, we will take it by force.”
Elwing did not bother to respond, instead she drew her sword. Gelion commanded, “Archers, fire!”
Arrows rained down amongst Maedhros’s army, even as they drew their weapons. One struck Amras, and he fell to the ground clutching his chest, his twin screamed in fury and pain and the two hosts charged, meeting in a clash of steel.
Gelion, flanked by a few of his men, pulled Elwing out of the fray and down one of the side alleys near her own home. “My lady, you must go now! Flee along the coast. You can do no more here. Go quickly, for we are greatly outnumbered and cannot hold them off for long.”
Elwing stood for a moment, reluctant to leave, yet knowing she must, and then said, “You are right, I will ensure that they do not gain the Silmaril,” she paused, “I thank you for your service, and may the Valar be with you.”
She held his eyes with hers for a brief moment, before turning to go. Yet within moments she heard the ring of metal striking metal at the entrance of the alley. Elwing spun back around to find that Maedhros and Maglor and their guard had followed her. Gelion shouted, “Go! Go now, we will delay them!”
She bit off an oath and turned and fled. They would catch her ere long, and she knew there was only one choice left. She sobbed as she ran. Eärendil my beloved, my little ones, farewell. Elwing followed the path to the harbour, and felt both relief and dread as she reached the cliff path that lead to the sea. She paused briefly to catch her breath, the open sea devoid of hope before her. Then she heard the footsteps of pursuit behind her, and whirled round to find Maedhros approaching the cliff with Maglor behind him. Their naked blades dripped blood upon the earth. So Gelion and my people are dead then. She thought numbly.
Maedhros called out, his voice harsh, “Your city is in ruin and your people slain. If you give us the jewel we will spare your life, which is more than your men did for my brothers.”
“Your brothers,” she cried in disbelief, “What about my brothers, children, that were left to die? What about my parents whom you killed?”
Maedhros looked away at this, and Maglor spoke softly, “We did not mean for your brothers to die. We searched for them, but alas it was in vain.”
”What of those you slew in Doriath? Elwing demanded, “what of those you have slain today? Your doom you have brought upon yourselves, and the slaying you have wrought in lust and desire only shows that you are not fit to lay hands upon this jewel. For the Silmaril may suffer my touch, but your hands are stained with the blood of those who should never have died. In your hands, it could doom us all.”
Maedhros started to move towards her, but was stayed by his brother as Elwing’s voice rang out, “I trust that you have yet some honour left within you, for if you harm my sons, your kin, the Valar themselves will not save you from my wrath!”
As Elwing moved closer to the edge of the cliff, she knew Maedhros had realised she did not intend to flee down the path towards the harbour - that instead, she intended to reach the sea by a much swifter route. Yet even as he pulled free of Maglor’s grip, she knew that he would be too late.
For with one last look behind her, Elwing drew a deep breath and gazed out across the sea. And her final step took her beyond the reach of all that were present.
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.