1. 'Of Pride And Penalty'
I pulled him closer and gripped my hand around his shaking shoulders. His father had been thrown off the cliff by my orders. His father, who had slain his mother... I grit my teeth as vivid images of the accursed Sindar throwing his weapon at my sister rose in my mind. I was unable to quench the flow of memories just as I was then helpless to save my sister’s life.
“My Lord.” A ragged whisper.
I looked down into his charcoal black eyes, the eyes of my sister. Would he always remind me thus, of my failure to protect her?
“Yes, Lómion?” I asked quietly, dabbing the tear tracks on his pale face with my fingers.
“Do you hate me?” he whispered softly, his eyes boring into me with an intensity that struck my core. Had he inherited this from his father?
“Why would I?” I asked him as I averted my eyes from his hypnotic stare.
“Because I am of my father’s seed,” he said flatly.
Curious, there was no sadness or fear in his voice. It was just coloured by resignation. It irked me. It would not do for one of the House of Finwë to embrace resignation. Like my slain uncle, I abhorred that quality in one of us. We were meant to be what we are; cursed, doomed but fearless.
“You are of your mother’s womb. That is how I shall always think of you. Your father is dead as he thrice deserved to be. And I shall allow no further utterance of his accursed name in my halls.”
My words rang out harsher than I had intended them to be. Like a true descendant of Finwë, I regretted my words after I had finished speaking them. How could I let myself forget that he had lost both his parents? How could I forget that I was meant to be his support and not his judge?
He flinched at my words and said quietly, “I shall obey your command, My Lord.”
“Father!” It was my Idril, the only consolation of my existence in this walled realm. She came forward to meet us and placed her slender hand on Lómion’s shoulder. Her fair features were set in a frown as she glared at me.
I felt a surge of ecstatic pride at her fearless pride. She was of my house indeed.
“How dare you chide Lómion now, Father!” Her voice was hot with her righteous anger, “Come, cousin, let me take you to your chambers.”
I relinquished my grip on my nephew and she led him away with gentle force, her voice immediately mellowing as she soothed him.
“They are close, My Lord.” It was Glorfindel.
“Yes. I see not why they should not be close. They are cousins. Even now,” I spoke defensively, “I am close to my cousins.”
“In more ways than one,” he stated quietly, his sapphire eyes fixed on a point above my head.
I drew myself to my full height and said firmly, “My Lord, I would not have you judging my personal affairs. A good day to you.”
He bowed and left me alone. I went to the balcony that looked over my gardens. My daughter was playing with Lómion. She had dispelled the clouds of grief from his features by her charm. Now he was as happy as every elf should always be.
I smiled tenderly at their childlike games and retreated to my lonely chambers vowing, once more, to bring him up as my own son.
I watched them grow in wisdom and age, their childish amusements giving way to pursuits of the arts and the written word. Their closeness had increased with time and one could not be found without the other. I was glad of this since my daughter had been a lonely, motherless child. It was wonderful to see her laughing and dancing without reserve in her cousin’s company; a far cry from those days when she did little else than to stare at the portrait of her mother. Lómion was her self-designated charge. I think his arrival gave her the much-craved chance to serve a purpose in life.
Being older than him, she was the leader in all their activities together. She was extremely protective of him, shielding him from the commoners’ insinuations about his parentage. She was equally adept at making me apologize when I made her cousin an unfortunate object of my rash temper.
“It is not fair that you love your father less than you love your cousin,” I would exclaim when she was taking me to task over one of my bouts of rash temper.
“Oh, but is!” She would laugh and say, “For my father is not half as handsome as my dear cousin!”
I would pretend to scowl at her remarks. And she would laugh again and come to me. With a chaste press of her lips to my cheek, she would say, “You are my father and I love you above all.”
That simple statement always sufficed to make everything worthwhile.
“Pay attention to your footwork, my lad,” I advised my nephew as I sparred with him, “Your build is too slender and it shall prove hard to ever gain the upper hand if you lose your footing.”
He nodded seriously and then started again, his moves clean and efficient. I knew it was my sister’s blood that rose in him then. She had been an excellent swordswoman. Growing up with our cousins had taught her to hold her own in any battle. If Eöl had not enchanted her with his Sindar magic, she would have slain him. I shuddered, losing my attention completely.
A neat thrust disarmed me and I raised my hands in eloquent defeat. Lómion was grinning as he rushed to pick up my sword, victory and the physical exertion he had put in aiding to bring a charming shade of red to his pale cheeks.
He was excellent with the sword. It made me proud. My sister’s son, my foster-son, he was growing up to be a true Prince of the Noldor. How I wished that my cousin, Atarinkë, was here so that I could show him my nephew! He boasts too much about his son and it has rankled on my nerves many a time.
“IDRIL!” he was calling out excitedly as my daughter walked towards us, “I won!”
She laughed happily as he rushed to meet her. They embraced as they usually did when they met after a time apart from each other. I sheathed my sword as I watched them with happy languidness.
Perhaps it was the sun playing on my nephew’s bared-to-the-waist form, or the sweat of his toils that played spoilsport with my daughter’s grip around his body, she pulled back suddenly. I frowned as she stepped back trying to will her eyes away from his torso. It was not as if she had never seen him thus.
“Idril?” the loving, over-protective father surfaced in me, “What is the matter?”
She willed her features into a relaxed smile as she said calmly, “Nothing, Father. Come, Lómion, you need a bath. You stink, honestly.”
Lómion, who had looked hurt by her sudden withdrawal, now nodded quietly and followed her as faithfully as he always had done.
I was disturbed though. I am no stranger to desire. And I am equally not a stranger to the sudden pangs of lust that strike us at the most innocent of moments that we share with a companion. I could swear by my right hand that what I had seen in my daughter’s dark eyes then had been desire.
It frightened me.
I spent the better part of two weeks spying upon my daughter and my nephew. My observations did nothing to comfort me. My daughter’s smouldering glances and daring touches directed at my nephew were enough to drive me mad with worry. He seemed to be blissfully ignorant of all this, his actions were as innocent as ever.
“You should listen to Salgant, My Lord.” Glorfindel drew me back to my court affairs in a stern voice, “Your preoccupation with your charges is not helpful to the city council.”
I sighed and turned my back to the window. I had been worriedly watching them feeding the pigeons. My senses had revolted at the nuances that my daughter had added to the simple act of throwing the grain.
“She has a strong will,” Glorfindel said quietly as he sifted through the scrolls on my desk.
I swallowed uneasily and poured myself a goblet of wine wondering if I was that transparent to him.
“They are well matched. What ails you in this matter?” Glorfindel looked up at me before returning his gaze to the scrolls.
“They are not! She is older than him. He follows her like a faithful dog! Do you think this blind devotion can give way to a lasting relationship? I would not want my daughter to love him simply because he worships the ground on which she walks. I would not want my nephew to learn to love her in that manner merely because he is devoted to her and is likely to do what she wants from him!” I shouted at Glorfindel, the full extent of my fortnight’s brooding surging forth in my veins in a gush of fury.
He leant back in his chair and said soothingly, “My Lord, they will learn to love each other and move on past these feelings of devotion and lust. Love at first sight is a rare happening. It rises mostly through devotion and lust.”
“That is what my father said.” I conceded quietly as I drank down the wine and slumped into chair across him, “Though in his case, it was sprinkled liberally with my uncle’s madness.”
“If you could forgive Lord Nelyafinwë for the Ice, you can certainly forgive your uncle for his madness which was definitely a gift from Morgoth,” Glorfindel said carefully, probably not wishing to risk my wrath.
I exhaled wishing that I would not lose my temper with him, “I didn’t have to forgive Maitimo. He had volunteered to stay back and wait for the ships with my father. He was forced by my uncle to board the ships. And he had nothing to do with the torching of ships. The rest of my cousins had no choice but to follow their father’s orders. I forgive my uncle, yes. Atarinkë told me that Fëanaro’s reasoning was that we would return to the peace of Aman if he torched the ships. He did love my father deeply after all.”
“As your daughter does love Lómion,” Glorfindel made his point with his usual suavity.
It did not assuage my worries on the matter. I was reckless enough to separate them. I sent Lómion to the outskirts of the city where a new mine was being built. He thought of it as a chance to prove himself and left in high spirits. My daughter, though, suspected my intentions and barely deigned to speak with me. She was increasingly found in the company of Glorfindel. I did not call my nephew back to court, remaining as stubborn as the blood in my veins commanded me to be.
It was then that the outsiders came. When Ulmo had spoken of them, little thought had I given to the havoc one of them would wreak on my peaceful household. I liked Tuor, for he was a valiant man. In a fickle moment I would always regret till the end, an idea dawned on me.
Not too indirectly, I told Tuor that my daughter would be pleased if he wished to court her. And he began wooing her. He was mortal, yes. But I had assurances from Ulmo that it would not be Tuor’s fate to accept the Gift of Men. I had only to begin plotting his suit. I should have heeded my father’s words that little love has the Gods across the sea for a people that had defied them.
She spurned him with an icy coldness that I had seen before only in my proud cousin, Artanis. He did not take well to her scorn. I was outraged by her willful defiance. It was a clash of wills; and being the more powerful, I won. She was married to Tuor by the end of that year.
Lómion had come to celebrate the nuptials. He was most concerned about her wan features and bloodshot eyes that clearly spoke of weeks of desperation. But her face did light up in a smile when her eyes fell on his form.
It was the last time that I would see her smile.
Tuor was an ideal husband. Being born into a family where two wrongs make a right, I began to encourage his ascent at my court. My daughter remained silent, doing my bidding and her husband’s bidding without qualms. She barely spoke even to Glorfindel. Sometimes I wished that I had torn out my wretched heart when it had first begun plotting. But always, my pride would stop me from going to her and begging forgiveness.
“WHAT IS THAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED, MY LORD, IF YOUR OWN DAUGHTER SPURNS YOU?” Glorfindel was shouting at me as we had one of those arguments that seemed to increase in frequency over time.
I shook my head numbly. I did not know what I had achieved. All I knew was that I deserved to die painfully. My eldest cousin had once spoken of it. I could remember his harsh words as we stood arguing in the midst of the carnage of Nírnaeth Arnoediad.
““Your brother was brought down by flails of fire and equally by the price of betrayal;” he murmured harshly, “And so shall you be. In fire and betrayal shall end your vows and my oaths, cousin.”*
“You must end this, cousin!” My nephew’s voice was tinged with true fear, “Your health deteriorates and I grow worried each time I leave you to continue my work at the mines.”
I stepped back into an alcove as they passed me by. They were walking hand-in-hand; his sharp profile was etched with concern as he tugged her with him towards a window that overlooked the gardens, the same window from where I had watched them play many a time. Regret and repentance rose in my veins, twisting my wretched hard but not allowing it to die and be at peace. I hated myself for what I had wrought.
“You are still ignorant, Lómion.” Her voice did not hold the barest traces of the happy melody it once had.
She turned to face him; the sunlight threw her gaunt features into radiance. Nothing was concealed in those haunted, dark eyes as she met his bewildered gaze. I flinched as realization dawned on his handsome features, fast followed by a stricken horror as he involuntarily leant against the window frame in bid to support himself.
“Idril,” he whispered as he raised his trembling fingers to her shoulders, “Idril,” he whispered again.
She closed her eyes but the sunrays lit up those drops that escaped her will. They shone as my uncle’s Silmarils against her cheeks. With a wretched sigh, she buried her face against his neck, her fingers gripping convulsively on the front of his robes even as once he had gripped mine.
His arms came around her and they melted into one, their curves fit against each other in harmony that even the most foolish of souls could have realized that they were meant to be so. The soft sunrays caressed their entwined frames leaving them haloed in golden perfection.
I bit down on my lips to stifle my cry of pain. What have I done to them?
I welcomed the inevitability of death. In fact, I had often prayed for it. It was with grim satisfaction that I looked upon my burning city. Lore would probably say that I did not desert my city and wished to be buried along with its ruins. It could not be any farther from the bleak truth. I deserved to die.
My nephew had betrayed us and the legions of Morgoth came with flails of fire. Fire and betrayal, I reflected ironically. To think that my eldest cousin seemed to have a talent of predicting the future was interesting. Not that it has ever served him. His life was undoubtedly a disaster wrought by the recklessness of his kin and the cruel hands of fate. Unlike mine.
I have willfully brought this down upon myself.
I saw Lómion rushing to Idril’s side as they made a frantic bid to escape. Tuor set upon him in fury. I could hear Idril’s cries of fear even as the fire began slowly consuming the ends of my robes. Lómion could be careless, I thought worriedly as a stench of burning flesh pervaded the air.
“Have a care, lad. You are too slender to regain the upper hand once you lose your footing!” I shouted to him from my tower window.
He fell into the flames even as his father had fallen off the cliff. I cried out in agony as the flames began their way up my body.
Facing death was easy. But experiencing it shall never be so, I discovered as my howls drowned out everything else.
And thus it was that Turgon the Wise, Ruler and King of Gondolin, met his death in his high tower looking over his beloved city.
*The words quoted by Maedhros were from one of my running Work in Progress stories to which this forms a sequel.
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.