1. Chapter 1
Elwing stood on her balcony, high on the white tower, seeing and hearing. A few feet away, a great white gull hovered and cried , its yellow gaze intent and cold. Further out, others of its kind spiralled and slipped on the strong, sea wind, their voices a shrieking cacophony. The wind moderated their fishy stink, which she noted and dismissed with the ease of long custom.
Below her the summer sunlight turned the flowing sea to molten silver about the pale reef that founded her home. On the northern horizon, distant even for the eyes of the Eldar, floated the dark chain of stony islands that had once been the Helcaraxë; pine-covered or barren or the homes of seabirds as the shifting climate and uncertain waters allowed. South and west the harbour curved away, sheltered from the wild Northern waters by great ramparts of rock and coral. Dark trees and bright-roofed buildings fitted themselves snugly along the arc of the shore: Hanstovanén, the northernmost city of the Teleri, the city of Elwing and Eärendil.
It was early morning, not long after sunrise. He was coming home, though still far away, sailing through the tumults of Ilmen. There would be many long summer days to pass yet, before he came home across the Walls of Night, riding the wild winds of the upper air and the sweet breezes of Aman. By the grace of the Valar she had this, or perhaps it was simply a condition of their union; the knowledge of his leaving and his return, always. A great gift, though double-edged as all gifts were for the Children of the Marred world.
On the other side of her closed door, the bell rang gently.
Elwing came back into her sitting-room through the tall glass windows and found the Captain of the Tower Guard waiting inside, having let himself in upon the bell's chime. That was unusual for Nierninwa, who was punctilious in his own easy fashion.
"Lady," he said without preamble, "the Kinslayers have come."
The Lady of Hanstovanén, who was seldom called anything besides her simple name, looked at her friend with a close eye. Nierninwa was Falathren, tall for one of his people, grey-eyed and dark-haired; he smiled often. Now his calm beauty seemed suddenly hard, as if carved from the white driftwood that washed up sometimes on the beaches. The cool, joyful fire of the Reborn that shone always in his eyes burned cold, and he held himself spear-straight and very still. His voice was perfectly even as always, but Elwing could hear the effort that made it so. He had died at Sirion, defending the sons whom she had abandoned. He had forgiven her.
Elwing answered, as calm as he, "Yes. I saw it through the gull's eyes. They have been camped at the border of the cultivated lands these three days past. They are not armed."
Nierninwa nodded, an abrupt, uncharacteristic motion. His hands were clenched on his belt, not too far away from the sheathed knife. Their eyes met, and though Elwing lacked the power of osanwë, the mindspeech of the Elves, she knew his thought, for it was her own:
She turned back to the balcony, and beckoned the Captain to join her. The air was fresh and sharp; she drew it into her lungs in deep, gulping breaths. It was only her memories that suffocated her; too many, too strong.
"Three Ages of the world since they died and now the Valar have let them loose to trouble us all again. Shall I let them wait? Shall I leave them to the hospitality of the city?"
High above the Tower seabirds screeched and circled, tumbling in the gusting wind. Elwing rested her hands with careful lightness on the shell-smooth balustrade. The solidity of her house seemed suddenly doubtful, its strength brittle and untrustworthy. The singing of the wind was suddenly ominous; in its voice she heard once more the deadly wolf-whine of a killing winter. She touched the old memory lightly, unwilling to endure it again.
Nierninwa said slowly, "We have heard the word of the King and Queen. The Teleri have made their peace with the House of Fëanor."
"And what of the Sindar? What of the people of Doriath and Sirion? Has my great-grandfather spoken? What has Elu Thingol to say of peace with the murderers of his kin?"
" He has not spoken. No word has come from over the mountains."
Dulindor over the mountains, Nightingale-land where Elu Thingol ruled alone, once more the hidden king, apart from his kith and kin in the Cities. Elwing's great-grandfather but not her lord, for she was sworn now to Alqualondë and the Teleri, not Amon Aran and the Sindar.
The voices of sea and sky offered no counsel either. The Valar left the Elves to rule themselves, giving the lie always to Morgoth's old slander. She had sympathy for that. The world must be a heavy enough weight, without the added burden of the Eldar's petty dealings.
"Shall I send the guard to bring them here?"
Elwing considered a moment more, then shook her head. She was no longer the young princess of long ago, uncertain and alone, desperately treading a deadly path, leading her people step by step into disaster. The Lady of Hanstovanén would do her duty.
"No. This time I will not wait behind walls for my enemy to come."
. . . . .
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.