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User:Narfil Palùrfalas/Fanfictions/The White Citadel part 1

The White Citadel part 1: Intrigue


[edit] Introduction

This is my second book in the Noldorin Cycle. The first book, Wind of Fire, Oath of Blood, concerned the Oath of Fëanor and the Exile of the Noldor, was set from the time of the Oath to the Mereth Aderthad. Three primary characters were in this book: Alcawë and his two cousins, Turotulco and Ranyar. As well, there were other fictional characters such as Mistatelmë, nephew of Noldofinwë, and Andúmir, a Noldo of Fëanor’s train that befriended Ranyar, as well as the “historical” characters of Noldofinwë, Fëanor, Arafinwë, Fëanor’s Sons, Artanis, and numerous others. This book will expand upon certain characters, but most remarkably upon he who was called Turukáno in the last book, but in this book is called Turgon.

The names of the Noldor in Aman were in Quenya. During the Flight of the Noldor from Aman, they slew many of their Telerin kindred in Alqualondë, Haven of the Swans, including Alcawë’s fictional uncle Lalawë. After the Noldor reached Beleriand, Elu Thingol of Doriath banned the Quenya tongue being spoken in his realm, because those who spoke it had slain many of those whom he had been friendly with. Because of this the Quenya tongue quickly died out among the Noldor in Beleriand as a primary tongue, and the tongue of the Sindar, called Sindarin, took root among them. Then many of the characters changed their names into Sindarin. Some of the most notables were Noldofinwë into Fingolfin, Findekáno into Fingon, Findaráto into Finrod, Nelyafinwë into Maedhros, Canafinwë into Maglor, and Turukáno into Turgon. When I speak of “fictional” in this introduction, I speak of characters invented and developed by myself rather than Tolkien. My fictional characters must change their names also. Alcawë must change his name to Aglaru, and Ranyar into Randir or his chosen epessë of Nathernil. If you are wondering what happened to some of the other characters, you must read the first book.

Of the three fictional characters above, this book is primarily devoted to Ranyar, or Randir as he is now called. While Alcawë, or Aglaru, had a special relationship with Fingolfin, and accomplished great deeds both in the Helcaraxë and in the Battle of the Lammoth, Randir did not have a major role save in witnessing the treachery of Fëanor and gaining credit in the Battle under the Stars. He had a relationship with both Turgon and Maedhros, and it is the former he followed after the Noldor came to Beleriand. To where? To Gondolin and the White Citadel. And this is what this tale is about.

Most of my information came either from the Silmarillion itself, or the Fall of Gondolin, found in the second book of Lost Tales. The Fall of Gondolin is extensive, and had been written perhaps the earliest of any of Tolkien’s Middle-earth works, and revised over the course of many years. It is told in full here, and the names of many great lords are listed. From this primarily I draw my account. I do not claim all of this to be canon. I have primarily defaulted to the Silmarillion where the two sources contradict each other, due to the later date of the writings within it. I am holding that except where contradicted in later works, the Fall should be considered canon.

[edit] Preface

Note: This preface is unsatisfactory, and not final intent. For suggestions, write on the Talk thread. Check back for updates.

Ulmondil walked eagerly through the door entering the hall. Rúmil, his wise face deep in thought, and his beard resting on his chest, was sitting in the wooden throne-like chair. His face was ancient, yet young, and his eyes were extremely wise, though spry. No wrinkles were in his face, and he sat up straight.

Rúmil glanced up at Ulmondil. “Good,” he said. “I believe we are all here.”

“What is the story this time?” asked Ulmondil, sitting down with the other children.

“Let me think,” said Rúmil, tapping his chin. “Last time what did I tell you of?”

“The Return of the Noldor,” replied one of Ulmondil’s friends, an elf-boy named Anardur.

“Ah, yes,” said Rúmil. “Good. I was just hoping to make sure that you remembered. Today we have a story filled with adventure, and rich in the history of Arda. You have probably heard it before, but not as fully as I shall tell to you today, for many speak of this tale in fear, and dread remembrance.”

“The Kinslaying at the Mouths of Sirion?” guessed a girl.

“No,” said Rúmil. “That shall be saved for another night. But this is the tale of the Fall of Gondolin. Who were the characters of the last story?”

“Alcawë and Ranyar,” replied Ulmondil quickly, before any of the others could speak. Rúmil nodded slowly.

“Alcawë, who was renamed Aglaru Bregolharn, is at the time of this story away in his southern fortress by the Bay of Balar,” said Rúmil. “But Ranyar, who you remember chose to follow Turgon, is at this time a prominent lord of Gondolin. This happens several hundred years after our last story, and by this time Ranyar, now named Randir, is no longer a young warrior, but a great and courageous lord who has seen many battles, and is one of the wisest in Gondolin.

“This story is important for several reasons. But the primary is that it forms the groundwork for the Tale of Eärendil, which I am sure you have heard dozens of times.”

He turned to the back, and said “Randir, bring it forth.”

A tall elf who looked as ancient as Rúmil, though he, too had no signs of the aging of mortals. He produced a curious horn made of white silver, of beautiful workmanship beyond what is seen in mortal lands. It was engraved with many figures, but most were those of swans and wave-shapes.

“This is the Horn of Tuor,” he said, handing it to Rúmil, who looked long at it and closed his eyes. Then he opened them. “Show them, Randir,” the loremaster said.

Randir pulled open his shirt, the threads having already been loosened. There was a long scar across his powerful chest. Some of the children gasped.

“It was honorably won, that scar, a testimony to the valor of its bearer,” said Rúmil. “And you shall hear of it and many other things. Now, it was early summer when our story opens, just eight years before the birth of Eärendil…”

[edit] Song of the Birds

Two elves walked side by side across the white stone courtyard, passing amidst the most beautiful of sights, sounds, and smells west of the Sea. The elf on the left was tall and handsome, with a smile that showed self-confidence and imperturbable spirit. The one on the right had a face more solemn, and at first glance seemingly wiser and more intelligent. There was a light white scar above his left eye, and his left hand rested upon his jeweled sword-hilt as naturally as that of a born horseman upon the reigns or that of a scribe upon a pen.

They passed two guards wearing shining silver mail, with silver-white tunics, standing stern and solid as the white stone of the walls. They came to the edge of the courtyard and looked down across the city. Archers wearing similar garb to that of the guards lined the walls. The wide streets were paved with stone and curbed with marble, and fair houses and courts were set amid bright gardens filled with flowers. Many slender white towers of great beauty rose toward the heavens. The squares were lit with fountains and many birds sang among the trees. Behind them was the palace. It was of cut white stone smoothed so that no cracks showed, and built around a great square courtyard of stone. On the front of the palace a great white tower raised up on a stair rose like the finger of a slender goddess, immensely tall. On each side of the doors of the tower was a great tree, one bearing gold blossoms and one bearing silver. These were Glingal and Belthil, shoots from the Two Trees. And in the courtyard were seven fountains arranged in a semicircle around the tower and the trees, and they seemed made of crystal, shooting up twenty-seven fathoms and returning back to their pools like crystal rain.

A great sound hovered about them like a thousand elven voices bursting into joyful song, ringing like the heavens. And in response there was a sound like the shimmering of many fair instruments in accompaniment. It was often repetitive in theme, but never quite the same as before. It was the most beautiful song those in the city had ever heard, and they would never hear anything more beautiful again, unless it were in the presence of Eru Ilúvatar himself, hearing the Second Music of the Ainur when the world is renewed. Never could any who heard the song could remember the tune later, save that it was beautiful, and when asked about it they would be at a loss for words. It was fair and strange beyond compare. Yet there were no singers, elf or Vala, for the music came from fountains themselves and the birds, which were numerous, and from the reflected light of the trees. Much of the song was felt or seen rather than heard, for if any spoke in that court they heard themselves as clearly as if the song was not there, but if they concentrated on the song, it filled their minds and their hearts, so that naught else seemed fair to them.

There stood nearby an elf-lord, tall and proud. He wore blue robes embroidered with silver star. His sword was curved – a design which none of the other Ñoldor used. The elf on the left bowed at the waist, and the elf-lord imitated his action.

“You are looking well today, Randir,” said the elf-lord.

“As are you, Egalmoth,” said Randir, smiling.

“Life is good in the White City,” said Egalmoth.

“It is indeed,” Randir replied. “But now I seek the Lord Glorfindel. I have a message for him from the King.”

“You needn’t look far,” said Egalmoth. “He is just across the courtyard. You can see him over there.” Then he glanced at the other elf. “What is Tarthalion doing here?”

“He was off watch,” replied Randir. “He was given leave for good service. They evidently have him mixed up with someone else.”

Egalmoth laughed aloud, a deep, flowing laugh from the depths of his being.

“Well, I hope your message is pleasant,” he said. “It is too grand a day to have a fire in the fields of the south, or an accident in the mines. It sort of feels like that day when we first came to Tumladen, and began work on Gondolin. How our souls soured within us!”

Randir closed his eyes at the memory. A silver bird just smaller than a dove landed near him, and sang. He was flooded with thought and memory.

It was long ago that Randir had followed Turgon. He had said farewell to his friend Aglaru, and left the one who was as a father to him, Maedhros. But he looked ahead to bright days. The horns of Ulmo drew them at last to the valley of Tumladen, hidden deep in the Encircling Mountains. There they had built a great city of white stone, and the farmers grew in the green valley about, while folk mined and delved in the mountains. They had lived in peace and joy, creating works of art and music and power to match those in the Undying Lands. Morgoth had never found them, for Thorondor and the Eagles watched over them, and none passed near.

After the building they had lived in peace, until one day…

Turgon leaned down from his throne. “Tell me truly,” he said. “Speak it to me again.”

“Maedhros of Himring has called all the nations of the elves to himself, to destroy Morgoth, and throw him forever into the void,” said the elf. “I came hither as soon as I might, but the scouts of Morgoth have come close in recent days, and only barely did I several times escape with my life.”

“But they detected not your coming?” asked Turgon anxiously.

“Nay, lord king,” said the elf. “They never saw me enter the hidden gates. If you would take my counsel, lord, I would say march to his aid!”

“How long ago did he send out his summons?” asked Turgon.

“He declares that he shall join battle on the morning of Midsummer’s Day,” said the elf.

“That is only four days from now,” said Turgon, rising. “I shall go, but we must hurry. One day to prepare… three days to march… too soon. It would take us seven days at least to reach Angfauglith.”

“And even more if we went by Himring,” added Ecthelion, who stood near.

“We must not lose a day more,” said Turgon. “Rouse the people, Ecthelion. The Gondothlim are going to war.”

Randir smiled as he remembered this. It seemed so long ago. They had hurriedly prepared, and ten thousand Ñoldorin elves had marched swiftly across the plains. By the time they reached Maedhros four days after Midsummer, battle – and death – was waiting for them with open arms.

Randir looked down into the hills. Before them was an army entrenched in the hills. Men and dwarves and elves, among them the sons of Fëanor, and Fingon, son of Fingolfin.

Fingon looked upon them. He gave a great shout.

Utúlie’n aurë! Aiya Eldalië ar Atanatári, utúlie’n aurë!” he cried, and his voice rang through the hills. “The Day has come! Behold, people of the Eldar and Fathers of Men, the Day has come!”

And in answer the host cried out as if with one voice, “Auta i lómë! The Night is Passing!”

Suddenly a lookout ran down, crying “Morgoth is coming! He is coming!”

Fingon turned forward. Turgon and his lords were not far behind, and they placed themselves in the fortifications. They looked across the dusty plain of Angfauglith. There was a great host, innumerable, all in dun brown raiment. “Quick, friend Turgon,” he ordered. “Go south to the Pass of Sirion.”

“Willingly,” said Turgon, and he departed.

“Let us assail them as they come!” cried Azaghâl, King of the Dwarves of Belegost.

“Nay!” cried a man, tall and broad of shoulders, with the face of a warrior. His name was Húrin. “Stay, and let the orcs break themselves upon our outworks.” For many fortifications had been thrown up upon those hills.

The orcs came near. They halted before the hills. Great taunts there rose from the plain. The dwarves growled and put their hands to their axes. Some of the men seemed ready to break. But their captains held them back. Until something happened.

In sight of one part of the wall a great orc marched forward, staying just out of bowshot. He was dragging something with him, and three more orcs followed, carrying black spears. Though most could not tell what it was, as they drew near Randir realized it was that of an elf. Even nearer the orc came, until it was just on the edge of bowshot. Randir did not know who the elf was, but gasped at the signs of torture. His eyes were put out. He was dressed in rags around the waist, and great scars and open wounds were upon his body.

A tall elf stood not far off, within sight of the prisoner. He cried aloud.

“Who is that?” Randir asked Turgon.

“The man to our left is Gwindor, of Nargothrond,” said Turgon. “I cannot tell who the prisoner is. Yes, I can. It is Gelmir, Gwindor’s brother. Ecthelion, make sure the captains restrain their men!”

The orc raised up a great sword. The prisoner was shoved onto the ground. The orc cried out in a loud voice that all could hear “We have many more such at home, but you must make haste if you would find them, for we shall deal with them all when we return even so.” And he raised up his sword. Down it fell, first upon the wrists, then the ankles of the elf. Randir turned away as the elf was first mutilated, then beheaded.

Gwindor suddenly leaped upon his horse, and blew his horn. He reared up. “To me!” he cried. “Avenge Gelmir, my brother, my friend!”

Randir raised his bow slowly, and loosed an arrow far. It struck the great orc in the neck, and the orc fell.

“A magnificent shot!” cried Turgon. Then he added “But let us not worry about that now! We can no longer restrain our elves.”

Gwindor suddenly rode forward, and the waiting cavalry followed. The dwarves leaped up, and soon they were running after the cavalry. Fingon sounded the trumpets, placing his helm upon his head, and all of the host of Hithlum leaped forward. Spears and arrows flew, and the heralds of Morgoth fell pierced through many times. The rest of the host of Morgoth turned and fled in terror. But the elves of Gondolin were restrained, and though fire rose in their spirits, they did not leave the outworks.

Randir learned later what had happened. Gwindor and his followers went even to Angband, and beat upon the gates. Fingon could not come to their aid, and all but Gwindor were slain, and he was rendered a captive. Many of the men of Brethil were slain, and Haldir of the Haladin, ere Fingon retreated.

It was then that Turgon arrived, for he had come later. Randir saw that the army was greatly decreased. Their phalanx broke through the ranks of the orcs, and they reached Fingon and Húrin fighting side by side.

“Glad am I to greet you, my brother,” cried Fingon.

“Glad am I to fight beside you,” responded Turgon. And they hurled themselves again at the orcs with renewed strength. Many times did Glamdring, sword of Turgon, rise and fall.

In the third hour of the morning the Sons of Fëanor came. The orcs wavered, and a retreat began. The elves and men and dwarves cried aloud in victory as Maedhros drove back the orcs.

But the Gates of Angband opened again. Wolves and balrogs and dragons poured out. At their head was one who was great than the rest. Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs. And there was also a great dragon, Glaurung.

Suddenly the cry came to them “Ulfang has betrayed us!” Ulfang was the chief of the Easterlings. The Easterlings sudden turned and fled. But Ulfang and his sons turned and attacked the Sons of Fëanor from the rear. They came near to the Standard of Maedhros, but Maglor, second son of Fëanor, leaped forward with his bodyguard. They cut their way through the host, and came to Uldor son of Ulfang. Uldor parried Maglor’s first blow, but then Maglor ran him through the heart.

Also the sons of Bór slew Ulfang’s other sons, Ulfast and Ulwarth. The lines of the Sons of Fëanor were broken, but the Naugrim (Dwarves), wearing masks of iron, stood beside them, and Maedhros was rallying a retreat.

But Glaurung pushed forward, and fell upon Azaghâl. Down came his mighty foot, and Azaghâl was crushed. But then there was the glint of sun off a knife, and Glaurung screamed in pain, for Azaghâl’s knife had found his stomach. The dragon fled. The dwarves solemnly picked up their dead king, and departed, singing in their deep throaty voices.

Suddenly Gothmog was come. He fell upon Fingon, whose guard lay dead, and attacked him. Fingon withstood him, and Gothmog could not overcome him, nor Fingon overcome the balrog.

Suddenly Turgon shouted a warning, but before Fingon could move the whip of another balrog who had crept forth from behind curled around his leg, and he fell. Then down came the black axe of Gothmog, and Fingon’s helm was cloven as white flame sprung up. Gothmog licked the blood off his axe, and the orcs trampled the body and banner of the elven-king into the dust.

Randir stood by Turgon, and also near him were Húrin and Huor. Húrin had a chance to say to Turgon “Go now, lord, while time is! For in you lives the last hope of the Eldar, and while Gondolin stands Morgoth shall still know fear in his heart.”

But Turgon responded “Not long know can Gondolin be hidden; and being discovered it must fall.”

Then Huor spoke. “Yet if it stands but a little while, then out of your house shall come the hope of Elves and Men. This I say to you, lord, with the eyes of death: though we part here for ever, and I shall not look on your white walls again, from you and from me a new star shall arise. Farewell!”

Even as Randir sat and remembered he pondered these words. Turgon had retreated, Huor had been slain, and Húrin captured. That had been eighteen years ago. Randir was already over five hundred years old, which was considered a good age for an elf, about four hundred years beyond maturity. Though he was not ancient as many elves, he had survived longer than many others. But rarely did the elves age beyond the equivalent of thirty, save in wisdom and beauty.

He was well-off. Because of his proven bravery, he was a great lord in the House of the King, and was placed as a special bodyguard to Turgon’s daughter, Idril. He was a great friend of the King’s, and of many of the lords of the various houses of Gondolin, especially Ecthelion, Egalmoth, Glorfindel, and Galdor. Besides his work as Idril’s bodyguard, he was also an excellent sculptor, and had carved many of the fair statues in Gondolin.

He was pulled from his thoughts as he saw two elves talking to each other come near him. One was tall and slender, wearing a mantle so embroidered in threads of gold that it was diapered with celandine as a field in spring. Also his arms were damascened with cunning gold. A great rayed sun was upon the center of his tunic, and it shone like the sun above. His hair was like a river of gold, showing that he had Vanyarin blood in him. The second was one bare-headed, dark of hair, and black of garments. He bore a strange dark sword at his side. His face was darker also in hue than most of the elves in Gondolin, and his eyes did not shine like those of the Calaquendi, but glittered darkly like light trapped in black diamonds. He was younger than Randir, but not young. Not quite two hundred years, Randir might have guessed. He knew who they were. The one wearing gold was Glorfindel, chief of the House of the Golden Flower, and Maeglin, nephew of King Turgon and chief of the House of the Mole. As they came, more memories filled Randir’s mind.

It had been quite a shock when Aredhel, the King’s sister, came back into court. She had been missing, believed killed, after a foolish trip to visit the Sons of Fëanor. She seemed somewhat cured of her pettiness. Even more amazing what who walked beside her one whom she called her son.

She came before the King, and bowed. But the king lifted her up and embraced her.

“Now, he said, “Tell me where you have been.”

She told him how she had been lost in the woods, and had been imprisoned by a Dark Elf whom she eventually agreed to marry. She had a son, Maeglin, who had agreed to run away with her back to Gondolin after her husband, Eöl, forbade her from ever seeing the light outside the forest again. But she had longed to see her own people, and Maeglin was of like mind. So they had fled, and were now here.

“Tell me,” said Turgon when she finished, bending down to look her hard in the eyes, “Did you reveal to him where Gondolin is? Is the secret still safe?”

“I swear that I did not reveal where it is,” she replied firmly. “Now we are safe.”

Randir saw Turgon examine Maeglin, and instantly take a liking to him. Maeglin was handsome, and looked worthy of being a Lord of the Gondothlim.

“I rejoice indeed that Ar-Feiniel has returned to Gondolin,” he said using his sister’s nickname, “And now more fair again shall my city seem than in the days when I deemed her lost. And Maeglin shall have the highest honor in my realm.”

Maeglin bowed and swore the sacred oath on Turgon’s Staff of Doom, that he would be true to his lord and the Ñoldor who dwelt there, and never would reveal the location of the Hidden City. But as he finished Randir noticed his eyes rest on one who stood beside him. One who was his cousin.

Eöl had followed them, but was killed by Turgon’s men, though first he slew Aredhel with a poisoned javelin intended for his own son. Randir shook his head as he remembered.

“Eru’s blessing, Nathernil,” said a voice. Randir shook himself out of his thoughts and saw Glorfindel looking at him.

“Good morning,” said Randir. “I have a message for you from the King.”

“What is it?” asked Maeglin.

“It is for Glorfindel,” said Randir.

“I am the King’s nephew,” said Maeglin haughtily. “I am privy to all the affairs of Gondolin.”

“I shall speak with you later about this,” said Randir sharply. “But do not use your mother’s name to use authority, or I shall speak of your father’s name to nullify it.”

Maeglin growled and walked away.

“I don’t see why you and him don’t get along well,” remarked Glorfindel. “He is stubborn, and perhaps a little conceited, but I can see nothing else wrong. I have never seen him be anything but politeness when he is in the court, though I must admit his words stung as we argued just now. He was wanting to take some persons onto his House that I was objecting to.”

“Still, I would deem it a pity that one of such great potential has such ancestry. His father was a thief and a murderer,” added Randir.

“The accursed elf was thrown over the Caragdûr,” said Glorfindel, and he growled.

“He is dead, and let us forget of his dark deeds,” said Randir. Glorfindel’s face came out of its frown, but still he looked troubled.

“Some may never forget,” he said softly.

The silver bird trilled again. Glorfindel turned to the bird, and it perched upon his shoulder. It was rumored among the people that he knew the speech of birds gold and silver, and could distinguish the words of their song. At any rate, he could tell one from the other, and had given them all names.

“O Geilodon,” he said, stroking the sparkling plumage of the bird. The bird sang several notes and settled down.

“I sense something,” he said presently. “Something or someone is coming.”

“Does thou indeed?” asked Randir. “For I feel it also. Something is about to happen.”

“I wonder,” remarked Tarthalion, “If our feelings are truthful? I have felt anticipation long.”

“By the way, what is the message?” asked Glorfindel.

“He says that he wants the 3rd company of the Golden Flower recalled from guarding the mines,” Randir replied. “They are no longer needed there.”

“I’ll send one of my couriers right away,” said Glorfindel. He glanced off to his right. “There’s the Celebrindal. It seems like she’s bracing herself to have a few words with Maeglin.”

Randir saw the dark-faced elf walk with confident strides toward the golden-haired Idril. He instantly walked toward where she stood, coming up behind her.

“Ah, Lady Idril,” said Maeglin smoothly, “It is good to see that you are well and fresh.”

“It feels good as well,” she replied indifferently. “But I do not know that I have been feeling badly lately, and I am better and fresher than before.”

“Yes, of course not,” said Maeglin hurriedly. “I merely meant to say that you appear very beautiful standing there with the wind in your hair, and the birds singing in the trees.”

“I do not see that the wind makes me seem as beautiful as the songs of the birds,” she said shortly, noticing how his dark hands were moving slowly closer. “Now, if you will excuse me.” She began to turn away. He reached out as if to grasp her arm, but he stopped suddenly as he saw Randir come up behind Idril.

“I would say, Lord Maeglin, to put your hands back where they belong,” said Randir quietly. As Maeglin stepped back, he removed his hand from his sword-hilt.

“You may go, Idril,” Randir said. “I shall join with you shortly at the Arch of Ingwë.” Idril nodded in understanding, and walked away silently. Randir drew Maeglin aside under the shade of the trees so none would overhear their conversation.

“If you ever touch my charge, I shall not hesitate to draw my blade,” Randir said in a low voice, but it was firm, and his eyes were hard. Maeglin glared at him.

“You are an insolent fellow,” he said. “I have as much right to speak with her as any other.”

“Yet you make sure that your speech is with respect for the King’s daughter,” said Randir. “I know the intentions of your heart. She is your cousin, and for that reason and others the King has refused to give her to you, not least of those reasons that she does not wish to even associate with you.”

“You think that you can do anything because you are the bodyguard of the princess of Gondolin,” snarled Maeglin. “I am no fool. I know how skilled you are with the sword. You know I cannot challenge you.”

“There has never been a blade drawn on a fellow elf in this citadel yet,” said Randir coldly, “And never here has an elf of Gondolin been killed by his brother. I suggest you make sure that it does not happen, and stay away from my charge.”

“You think I don’t know what you truly believe?” asked Maeglin with a bitter laugh. “I know your true motives for your protection. You want her for yourself!”

With that last challenge he spun on his heel and marched off. Randir stared after him in anger and pity.

He met Idril by the Arch of Ingwë, on the borders of the Square of the Folkwell, where there were many beautiful trees and a sparkling fountain. She rose to greet him.

“Nathernil,” she said, using his epessë (a name chosen by an elf as the common name for himself), “Thank you that you came when you did. I began to fear he would go too far.”

Randir laughed. “He is vain and selfish, but cowardly. He will not dare approach you while you have protection about you.”

“Yet even the coward may find a motive that drives him to rash deeds,” said Idril steadily. She put her hand on his arm. “I still remember when your cousin Aglaru saved me and my father in the Helcaraxë,” she said softly. “But I also remember when you slew the demon-orc and saved me. That is probably why my father chose you as my bodyguard; that, and that you are the most skilled swordsmaster in Gondolin.”

“You think too highly of me, my lady,” said Randir, shaking his head. “I cannot do many things.”

“You have protected me thus far on numerous occasions,” Idril replied. “But I do fear for you. For my sake you have earned Maeglin’s hatred. He might take it into his head to kill you.”

“I doubt he would go so far,” said Randir, “And he would have a hard time indeed to kill me.”

“But the greatest swordsmaster in the world cannot prevent a knife in the back,” Idril responded. “You are a good friend, Randir, and I would not see you dead.”

“I shall not be killed,” said Randir firmly. “I know that I shall live until I fulfill my purpose. I need fear neither arrow nor sword, for the time of my death is the business of Ilúvatar. I leave it to him to concern himself with that.”

Idril nodded in silent agreement, and looked out over the city. She was, as Maeglin had said, very beautiful. Her hair was gold, something rare among the Gondothlim. She wore a simple white garment, and always went bareheaded as well as barefoot, earning her the nickname “Celebrindal”, silver-foot.

“Maeglin accused me of protecting you so that I could take you myself,” remarked Randir, deciding it was best that she know. He did not know how she would react, but she simply smiled.

“He said that in rash anger, but he may have convinced himself of its truth to keep a prejudice against you,” she replied. “You and I have known each other for hundreds of years. I’m sure my father would not refuse you if you asked for my hand. But of course neither of us feel that way.”

“No,” said Randir. He paused. “Though I am rather surprised that you have not married yet. You would be safe from Maeglin if you did so, and most elf-maidens marry by the time they reach your age.”

Idril smiled again. “I have met none with whom I would wed,” she replied. “But even then,” she added quietly, “I do not believe I would be safe from Maeglin.” “I shall keep you safe,” promised Randir.

“Even you cannot do that entirely,” Idril said.

Randir stood near Idril and his friend Tarthalion as they walked along the walls leisurely.

“Have you crafted any sculptures recently?” asked Tarthalion presently.

“No,” Randir replied. “Ever since I shaped that Ainu I have not laid my hands on a tool.”

“You are the finest sculptor in Gondolin, Nathernil,” Tarthalion said. “You should sculpt more often.”

“I sculpt only when I am moved to do so,” Randir responded. “I have found no new subjects that inspire me to sculpt. I have done the Lords of the Eleven Houses. I have done Turgon King, and the Eagles of Manwë.”

“Yet it seems you create nothing for yourself,” said Tarthalion. “Your own room in the palace is almost unadorned. You have given all your statues to various persons and gardens. Your finest sculpture, that of Ulmo, rests in Gar Ainion.”

“What do you suggest I sculpt for myself?” asked Randir impatiently. “What are you trying to say, Tarthalion?”

“Nothing,” said Tarthalion, shrugging. “But sometimes I think it would be a good idea to sculpt the Lady Celebrindal.”

“Her I have sculpted before,” said Randir, laughing, while his charge smiled. “Indeed, her statue sits beside that of the King in the palace.”

“I meant,” said Tarthalion quietly, “When you had killed the demon-orc.”

Randir started. “Tarthalion, that was no great deed. Idril herself might have killed it if I had not stepped in.”

“She had only a dagger, and the demon-orc carried a great mace with a head as large as hers,” replied Tarthalion. “You have portrayed many of the greatest deeds of the elves. Your act was one of the highest-praised by Turgon, and yet you fail to sculpt it. There is an empty place in the statues of the deeds of the Ñoldor. I noticed that you have done the picture of your cousin, Aglaru, saving them from the Grinding Ice. Yours is at least as much credit as his.”

“I am sure, Nathernil, that there is not an elf in the city who would think you did it out of pride,” said Idril.

“There shall be another sculpture,” said Randir in a strange voice. “Small, yet the greatest to ever be made in Gondolin. And it shall have thee, Lady Idril, and two others.”

His friends looked at him closely.

“Are you speaking from foresight, or guessing?” asked Tarthalion. Randir only shrugged.

“I do not know,” he said.

Suddenly they heard a silvery horn echoing across the valley. They started and turned to look across Tumladen toward the Gates.

“That is Ecthelion’s horn,” said Idril.

“Someone is come,” said Randir. “Yet they sing welcome rather than warning.”

“Who has come?” wondered Tarthalion. “Huor is dead, and Húrin must be very old if not dead as well. It cannot be a messenger, for they did not give the customary call for such a circumstance.”

“Nay,” said Randir so quietly the others could not hear him. His ear had caught what sounded like far-off music, barely audible. “I believe it is a messenger. But not of elf, nor mortal man, nor any living being in Middle-earth.”

[edit] Herald of Ulmo

After some time the watchers could distinguish three figures came striding down the great white road toward the white city. Their leader Randir recognized well. It was a great and tall elf-lord, whose face was like the stone of the mountains, and whose stature was like that of the trees, but his eyes were like rayed stars, keen as those of the Eagles of Manwë that circled above. He was robed in white and blue, and his belt was silver. A great sword hung at his side, which had a hilt inlaid with the clearest and most sparkling diamonds. The second was an elf wearing a sea-green cloak that seemed old, but his face also Randir recognized.

“That second elf is Voronwë, one of the mariners the King sent to search for passage to Aman,” said Randir in amazement. “He has not been seen in many years.”

Then he examined the third. He appeared to be a mighty elf-warrior clad in shining silver armor. He was immensely tall; taller even than the Gondothlim. His shield bore the device of a white swan’s wing. His helm had beautiful silver wings set with gems, and his stride was mighty; each step strong and resolute. Then, as they came closer, Randir realized that the person was actually a mortal man. Then he knew the armor, though he had not seen it in hundreds of years.

“That last one is a man,” he said. There was a noise of exclamation from Tarthalion.

“There has not been a man here since Húrin and Huor,” he remarked.

“And the armor he wears,” continued Randir, “Is that of the Herald of Ulmo!” After Turgon had left his original city of Vinyamar, he had, by the direct order of the Vala Ulmo, placed in it armor. Ulmo had told him that if ever Gondolin’s fall was imminent, that he would send to him a messenger dressed in such armor, and by that would Turgon know that he was the one sent.

“It cannot be,” said Tarthalion.

“It is,” said Idril. “I remember the armor well.”

“He shall shortly be brought before the King,” said Randir. “Tarthalion of the House of the Swallow, go and warn King Turgon of the approach of Ulmo’s messenger.”

“We shall be there shortly,” added Idril. While Tarthalion hurried off, she and her bodyguard walked down from the wall and across the city toward the palace. By the time they reached it, there stood King Turgon by the fountain.

Turgon was a man of great stature. His face showed wisdom and justice, his eyes age and experience. His robes were of white, while there was a gold belt around his waist and a crown of garnets upon his head. In his hand was a staff, the Staff of Doom.

“Idril,” he said as he saw them come. “Is this message from you indeed true?”

“It is, father,” Idril replied. “I have seen him.”

“My lord,” said Randir quietly, “It is a man.”

“A man?” asked Turgon in surprise, and he frowned.

“Voronwë the mariner walks beside him,” continued Randir. “And Ecthelion of the Fountain.”

“Ecthelion is great in judgement,” said Turgon. “I shall believe what he says. See, they come at the head of a procession up the street.”

An elf ran up. “He names himself Tuor son of Huor, sent by Ulmo himself with a message for you, Lord King.”

“Is the end nigh indeed?” wondered Turgon. “Let him come!”

The three persons marched up the street toward the palace, followed by many of the curious and awed Gondothlim. The man stepped ahead as they came to Turgon, and bowed.

“Welcome, O Man of the Land of Shadows,” said Turgon. “Lo! thy coming was set in our books of wisdom, and it has been written that there would come to pass many great things in the homes of the Gondothlim when you fared to this place.”

Then the man who called himself Tuor spoke suddenly and loudly, so that all could hear. “Behold, O father of the City of Stone, I am bidden by him who makes deep music in the Abyss, and who knows the mind of Elves and Men, to say unto thee that the days of Release draw nigh. There have come to the ears of Ulmo whispers of your dwelling and your hill of vigilance against the evil of Melkor, and he is glad: but his heart is wroth and the hearts of the Valar are angered who sit in the mountains of Valinor and look upon the world from the peak of Taniquetil, seeing the sorrow of the slavery of the Noldor and the wanderings of Men; for Melkor rings them in the Land of Shadows beyond hills of iron. Therefore have I been brought by a secret way to bid you number your hosts and prepare for battle, for the time is ripe.” His voice was deep and rolling, and filled with great majesty.

Turgon looked at the man in surprise and wonder, but then he frowned. “I will not do so, even if it is the words of Ulmo and all the Valar. I will not adventure this my people against the terror of the Orcs, nor imperil my city against the fire of Morgoth.”

Randir glanced at Idril, and saw that she was watching the man closely. Suddenly he felt a strange feeling in his heart, and guessed what would come to pass.

Tuor looked at the High King full in the face. “Nay, if thou do not now dare greatly then the Orcs will forever dwell and possess in the end most of the mountains of Middle-earth, and will not cease to trouble both Elves and Men, even though by other means the Valar shall contrive to release the Noldor; but if thou trust now to the Valar, though terrible the encounter then shall the Orcs fall, and Melkor’s power be diminished to a little thing.”

“I am King of Gondolin,” said Turgon firmly. “We have worked for hundreds of years to build a great city, impregnable, and almost as beautiful as Tirion across the Sea.”

Tuor sighed. “Then I am bidden to say that men of the Gondothlim repair swiftly and secretly down the river Sirion to the sea, and there build them boats and go seek back to Valinor: lo! the paths to there are forgotten and the highways faded from the world, and the seas and mountains are about it, yet still dwell there the Elves on Tirion and the Valar sit in Valinor, though their mirth is diminished for sorrow and fear of Melkor, and they hide their land and weave about it inaccessible power that no evil come to its shores. Yet still my thy messengers win there and turn their hearts that they rise in wrath and smite Melkor, and destroy the Hells of Iron that he has wrought beneath the Mountains of Darkness.”

“Every year at the lifting of winter have messengers repaired swiftly and by stealth down to the river that is called Sirion to the coasts of the Great Sea, and there built the boats to which swans and gulls have been harnessed or the strong wings of the wind,” replied Turgon, “And these have sought back beyond the moon and sun to Valinor; but the paths to there are forgotten and the highways faded from the world, and the seas and mountains are about it, and they that sit within in mirth reckon little of the dread of Melkor or the sorrow of Middle-earth, but hide their land and weave about it inaccessible power, that no tidings of evil come ever to their ears. Nay, enough of my people have for years untold gone out to the wide waters never to return, but have perished in the deep places or wander now lost in the shadows that have no paths; and at the coming of next year no more shall fare to the sea, but rather will we trust to ourselves and our city for the warding off of Melkor; the Valar have been of only scant help before.”

The man’s face took on a sad look, one of failure, while his companion Voronwë wept openly. Many of the elves turned their faces away, and gradually shifted off.

Tuor sat down wistfully by the fountain, seemingly listening to some far-off music. His eyes turned up, and suddenly met Randir, who instantly took this moment to probe into his mind. He saw truth in the eyes, and suddenly felt that his fate was bound to this man’s. He knew with the eyes of the foresighted that this was not the last he would see of Tuor. He also saw a strange longing, and seemed to catch glimpses of a music playing in the man’s soul that he could not quite distinguish.

The Turgon stepped down and laid his hand on Tuor’s shoulder.

“You are weary,” he said kindly. “I see that the favor of the Valar is on you, mortal though you be. Come, rest and bide in my fair city, even in the royal halls.”

Tuor nodded slowly, then stood up and looked the king in the face. “I will, Lord King.” And suddenly his eyes strayed past Turgon, and caught those of Idril. Perhaps Randir only of all the Gondothlim, and Idril, knew then that Tuor would stay for a long time.

Tuor was given fine quarters next to Randir’s, and after he was settled the King drew Randir and Ecthelion aside, while Idril stood nearby.

“What do you think of our guest?” he asked. “He spoke with the voice of Ulmo, that I could tell.”

“He is more like to one of the elven kindred than of men,” said Ecthelion.

“Do you believe it is wise, then, to not take Ulmo’s advice?” asked Randir.

Turgon was silent for a moment. “Randir, you of all people know how much work we spent on this city. Its beauty is unmatched in the Realms of the Exiles. What is more, the defenses are unequaled. I believe fully that it is unassailable. Our gates cannot be battered down. Our walls provide protection from enemy archers. There are only two ways to reach the city, and that is through the great staircases up to the Main Gate and the North Gate. It would be next to impossible to go up them under fire from our archers. There is no way to climb the hill. Its rock is like iron, and no foothold does it leave. No, my friends, I shall risk trust in my own wisdom in this matter.”

“I am just remembering an uncle of yours, my lord, who suffered to go against the Valar, and caused nearly all the Elves in Aman to pay for it,” said Randir quietly.

“The Valar cannot see all ends,” said the King. “They are not Ilúvatar. Fëanor disobeyed them. I am not taking their advice. There is a difference. And I do believe in the hopelessness of the attempt anyway. Many mariners have perished at sea searching for the Undying Lands. Why should I believe that the Valar will be exceptionally gracious in our case? And as to sallying out, I do not think that the Valar could strengthen us to defeat them if they themselves sit on Taniquetil and do nothing against Morgoth.”

“The time for their intervention, my lord, is not ripe,” said Randir.

Turgon looked at him thoughtfully. “Randir, you are a wise and foresighted man, as well as knowledgeable about the history and customs of the Eldar. I fear no harm to Idril. If you could be relieved of your duties for a time each day to train this Man in our ways. I have seen the power of his voice, and know there is the spirit of an elven king in him. But he is a man, and must be taught the histories and the arts.”

“I will do my best, my lord,” said Randir, bowing. “But who should replace me as your daughter’s bodyguard while I am away?”

“There is no-one who would harm her,” said Turgon with a wave of his hands. “I appointed you bodyguard in the days in Vinyamar, when there might well have been treachery and bloodshed. But now you have become more of a companion than a guard. I do not believe it would imperil her. Of course, she would have to give her consent.”

“I give him my leave,” said Idril. She hesitated. “Also, father, I would that you give me leave to speak with him as well.”

Turgon smiled, and his wise face that had seemed so grave took on the look of a quiet morning, when the sun is just coming up from the mountains of the east.

“You have my leave,” he said.

Randir knocked and walked into the chamber of the man Tuor. The man had taken off his armor, and was now dressed in clothes of bearskin that made him seem less and elven-lord and more a hunter of the forest.

“I am Randir son of Erwaheno,” said Randir. “I am an elf of the House of the King, and the bodyguard of his daughter.”

The man stood up and bowed. “I am Tuor son of Huor. Long have I journeyed to find this hidden city.”

“I have been given the assignment to train you in the ways of the Noldor,” said Randir. He glanced over his shoulder. “I would have you meet Idril Celebrindal, the king’s daughter.”

Idril entered, and Tuor stood looking at her, still as stone. Randir touched him on the arm and Tuor shook himself and bowed. Idril blushed and turned away. Randir wondered at this, but motioned that Tuor follow him.

“Where are we going?” Tuor asked.

“To the Grand Hall,” replied the elf-lord. “There I shall teach you the History of the Noldor.”

They entered the Great Hall, a massive room of white stone shaped like a regular decagon. On each wall there was a great painting in rich colors, portraying the history of the Noldor. Or rather, the entire wall all the way around was a single ongoing painting, with breaks only where the round buttresses rested in the corners.

There Randir began to teach, starting with the creation of the Ainur by Ilúvatar. He worked around to the right, and many things did the amazed Tuor see. At last Randir reached the last image: the building of Gondolin.

“You must know this, for your father perished in that battle, but the Nirnaeth Arnoediad is not included,” said Randir. “The painter had only worked it out up to the building of Gondolin.”

“Though there is one depiction of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad,” interjected Idril. Randir turned red while she took Tuor’s arm and led him into an adjoining room where there were many statues. But one of the central ones was a life-sized sculpture of several figures. The most prominent of these figures were two men and an elf. They stood facing one another, the hand of the foremost man gesturing in a “leave” motion toward the elf.

“That is my father, Huor, and my uncle, Húrin,” said Tuor in astonishment. “And they are speaking with King Turgon. Their swords are drawn, and I recognize the insignia of the two retainers behind my father.”

“Yes,” said Idril. “Randir, who we call Nathernil, sculpted this on a time. Many of his other sculptures may be found in this hall.”

“How do you know it is them?” asked Randir. “You were born after your father and uncle were killed.”

“They could be no others,” said Tuor. “I know from that man’s face he could be none other than my father. How real it seems!”

“There are few in Gondolin so gifted as Randir in the art,” Idril remarked. Randir wondered at Idril’s speech, for she seemed less quiet than usual.

“I would give much to paint and sculpt, and write music as do the Noldor,” said Tuor wistfully.

“I shall teach you such,” said Randir with a smile. “You are a Lord of the Gondothlim now, Man though you be. You shall find your skill. A weapon you have.”

“Yet it is not the one of my choice,” Tuor replied. “When I hunted in the wild I bore a great axe.”

“That can speedily be made,” replied Randir. He drew out his own sword. “This is Cellagar, Running Blood, who was one of the Seven Swords of Gondolin. The others were Glamdring, which Turgon bears, Dagnaur, which Ecthelion bears, Orcrist, which Egalmoth bears, Galtog, which Penlod bears, Belegdram, which Salgant bears, and Umgûr, which Saelgûr bears. Your axe shall be the finest, which shall compare to the mightiest blade in Gondolin, save only Anguirel sword of Maeglin.”

“It is a fine weapon,” remarked Tuor, touching the blade. Randir returned it to his sheath.

Later that day Randir and Tuor went across Tumladen to the forges of the House of the Hammer of Wrath, where they met their commander and chief armorer, an elf tall but bent over, with an arm of iron. He had a long whip-scar across his face, which he had received being tortured by Morgoth’s orcs. His name was Rog, an ancient name of primitive Sindarin that he still bore proudly, despite its uncomeliness in the speech of the Noldor.

“What can I do you for you, Lord Randir?” asked Rog.

“I wish for a hand-axe of the finest quality,” Randir replied. “It should be made for a strong man, yet I wish that it be light and curved, ready to deal a slash as well as a blow.”

“It shall be done,” said Rog, bowing. “Who is this to be for, if I may ask?”

“Tuor son of Huor,” said Randir, motioning to his companion. Rog bowed again, this time to the man, and turned to the forge, where he was crafting a sword.

“The people of Gondolin are getting careless,” he called to them as he pumped. “They have neglected the practice of weapons, and laid aside their weapons to rust in a corner. They no longer increase the size of the arsenal.” He drew the blade from the coals and began hammering the white-hot metal. “No, mark my words, one day all shall have need of weapons. They shall find their arrows spent, and the number of swords inadequate,” he said prophetically. He raised the sword up to make sure it was straight, then placed it in the cool water. Randir bowed to the smith and departed, Tuor at his side.

“You must also wear clothes befitting a lord of the Gondothlim,” said Randir. Tuor looked at Randir with an expression of distaste. “You shall not find it hard, I think,” remarked Randir, “To change from your rough bearskins into fine cloth. What is your favored color?”

Tuor looked a bit embarrassed, then said quickly “Sea-blue, if it pleases you, my lord.”

“You needn’t call me such,” said Randir. “We are equals now.” His eyes caught Tuor’s and held them. “I see, you feel that you are inferior to the Lords of the Gondothlim. Do not feel so! When the elves fade from the earth, and are remembered no more, then will man still remain, and take his place appointed him since the Music of the Ainur.”

Tuor looked curiously at Randir. “Are you one of the foresighted, then? A mystic of Gondolin, and with magic in your blood?”

“‘Magic’ is a strange word, Tuor of the House of Hador,” Randir replied. “You may call it magic. Others call it ‘power’. But in its uncorrupted form gifts of foresight, of strength, of healing, and others are skills and abilities brought about through the Flame Imperishable. The elves are blessed only for a short time. We are not made to populate the world, but prepare it for the coming of Men, or such is my wisdom, though many of our elders believe otherwise. But we fear not death. The souls of Elves fly to Mandos, the Halls of Námo, where we shall be re-embodied, or wait until the Last Day when all will be made new, and the Ainur shall sing into existence another world. But where the souls of Men go we know not. Is it spoken of among your people?”

“The way across the River of Death is shrouded in dark mist,” said Tuor. “We cannot see what lies on the other shore. Shall our kindreds be sundered, do you think?”

“We the Elves believe that Death is a turning point, and the years shall be ‘larger’, so to speak,” said Randir thoughtfully, looking out across Tumladen. “I have never tasted death personally, though others have died around me. Men go not to Mandos. But I do not believe that our paths shall forever be apart. Perhaps at the remaking of the World.”

“Are you certain, then, of Life beyond the River of Death for Men?” asked Tuor.

“Do you know, Tuor son of Huor, anything beyond what you see, smell, taste, feel, and hear?” asked Randir. “Even the Valar cannot see the uttermost outcome of the passing called death. Ilúvatar has graced Men with death for a reason. Why would that be if it were not Life after Death?”

“But do you not ever doubt that Ilúvatar exists?” asked Tuor. “After all, He gave the Valar charge over the earth. And why would He permit such terrible suffering as the peoples of Middle-earth endure?”

“Ilúvatar exists,” confirmed Randir. “You must believe He does before you know He does. You must feel Him. You cannot know whether a chair is safe until you sit down in it. Permits suffering, you say? I believe that ‘permits’ is a good word. He is not the instigator of suffering. By his own laws, the laws of Free Will, there is by necessity some danger of falling from glory, and further His grace. But I believe that in the end all wrongs will be righted. Death is no punishment for those who are cleansed of evil, but a reward. Torture is temporary; it only lasts a little while, and in the end will be compensated for. The suffering will only last for a little while. You shall see Him in the end, and the stars behind his eyes will shine in yours.”

“What about Morgoth?” persisted Tuor. “What will happen to him and his followers?”

“The soul is imperishable,” said Randir. “Though he was in the bliss of the utmost, he fell from it for the wish of power; powers that belonged to Ilúvatar alone. It is proud indeed to believe yourself equal to or greater than your creator. He shall not turn, but will be condemned. He will be shut out from bliss by his own choosing, and where Ilúvatar is not, there Good is not. There is no peace there, for peace and happiness are of Ilúvatar. He shall dwell with only the creation of his hands – and that is pure discord. If I can speak indeed for Ilúvatar, then I would say he shall not be given yet another chance. He has proven he shall not turn.”

“Then are you indeed one of the foresighted and the wise?” asked Tuor, amazed at Randir’s vast knowledge. Randir smiled.

“They call me a Loremaster, and a Keeper of Wisdom,” he responded. “I am a councilor of the King. But do not think I am the greatest in Gondolin. For none is greater in wisdom than Turgon King himself, and then beside him Golmaethor.”

“Yet has either of them foresight as thou?” asked Tuor. “Surely, if all of Gondolin’s lords know as much as thou, Gondolin must be the greatest city in the world.”

Randir smiled again. “It is true I am gifted beyond most in Middle-earth, though the greater part of the High Elves possess a small degree of foresight. It is said that of the Masters of Foresight there are now east of the sea but four: Aglaru Bregolharn of Caras-Giliath, Círdan of Balar, Glorfindel of the Golden Flower, and Randir of Gondolin.” He did not speak boastfully, but as if it were just a fact. The elves believed that one talent was of equal worth to another, and it was neither arrogant nor thought arrogant to speak of one’s own accomplishments. “Of old there were many more, but their voices have been silenced. Doriath is destroyed. Nargothrond is sacked. The Falas is deserted. Hithlum is burned. Of the High Elven realms there remains but three: Himring, the settlements by the Bay of Balar, and Gondolin.”

“Can you foresee things by your own choosing?” wondered Tuor. Randir shook his head.

“I see only what is given me to see,” he replied. “But this I see shall come of you: a light rising over the waters of the west, and a star to shine in the morning. What it means I know not.” Then Tuor looked at Randir in amazement, but said no more for a long while.

Several weeks passed. Tuor’s training was conducted primarily by Voronwë, the elf-mariner that had helped Tuor find Gondolin, and Randir. Also Tuor was taught weaving and spinning by none other than Idril herself. It was not looked down upon when learned by men, though oftener the women were the more skilled in the art. But Tuor soon showed remarkable talent in these and many other fields, including music, art, and architecture, all fundamentals of education in Gondolin.

Randir also found great skill in him with weapons. Tuor had the strength and the eye for it, all he lacked was technique. This was taught by Randir, the finest swords-master in Gondolin, and Tuor caught on quickly.

“Sometime, I fear, you shall be the swords-master of Gondolin rather than I,” said Randir laughingly as they sheathed their weapons after a heated exercise on a grassy spot in the Square of the Folkwell. “If you keep going at the rate you are improving, in hardly a month you shall be a dangerous warrior.”

“I have hunted birds and beasts before, but never men,” Tuor replied. “I have not seen battle or the shedding of another man’s blood. Yet I know what it is to hate. Yes, I have hated Morgoth ever since I first heard his name. My father and uncles were killed by him, as was my grandfather, and my mother of grief. I know not the fate of my cousins, but rumors of horror came to my ears when I still wandered in the woods and fields of Middle-earth.” A faraway look came into his eyes. “By the conches of Ulmo was I called to Gondolin, Nathernil, my friend and master. But now I hear his music, and long for the sea. At times I think of slipping away, leaving Gondolin, and finding the sea. But…” he broke off.

“Something holds you here,” said Randir understandingly. “And I believe I know what it is.” He looked beyond Tuor, and Tuor turned as well. There was Turgon walking toward them – and Idril at his side, her golden hair streaming out behind her, and her bare white feet stepping noiselessly along the clean white stones. Randir and Tuor stepped off the grass and strode over to where the newcomers approached them.

“Lord Randir, Tuor,” said the King, bowing to each in turn. They returned the bows, and Randir saw Tuor’s gaze stray to Idril, who saw it, flushed, and turned away. Turgon either did not notice, or pretended not to do so.

“How has the Lord Tuor been coming in arms, friend Randir?” asked Turgon.

“He has been doing most excellently,” Randir replied. “Someday I daresay he shall pass me in skill.” But Turgon’s sharp eyes moving quickly over Tuor caught something.

“Come now, Tuor,” he said. “You should know better than to hang you scabbard at such an angle!” Tuor corrected it with a smile, and Turgon, who was nearly as tall as Tuor, laid his hand on the Man’s shoulder.

“You’ll do well, my son,” he said. He turned and walked away. Idril hesitated a moment longer, watching Tuor, and then followed, the Man staring after her.

“He is a great lord of the elves,” commented Randir. “I have seen many, and few so wise and mighty as he.” Tuor seemed to wake from some engaging thought and voiced his assent.

A few more days passed, and Tuor began to settle well into his life in Gondolin. But then something happened that would not quickly be forgotten by the Gondothlim.

It was evening, and Randir was walking with Tuor and Voronwë. He had been quite distracted from his duties of guarding Idril in the education of Tuor. Voronwë, Tuor’s companion, had been a great help in relieving many of the studies, particularly those pertaining to navigation and music. Voronwë also was an interesting, if quiet, companion; the sort of person who did not hold a lot of presence, yet the sort of person it felt good to be around.

“I do not remember ever seeing the stars so bright as looking up from Gondolin, even sitting by the sea,” remarked Tuor. Voronwë stirred.

“Yet the shadow of Morgoth grows in the north,” said Randir, and as he said it a chill went up the backs of his companions. As if to illustrate his point, a dark cloud – coming from the north – enveloped the moon in its thick blackness. Tuor shivered.

“Voronwë, have you found your lodging in the south of the city pleasant?” asked Randir.

“Yes,” said Voronwë. “Most comfortable.”

“We must part here,” said Tuor. “Farewell, Voronwë my brother. I shall see you tomorrow, or so I hope.”

“And I you,” Voronwë began to say, when Randir’s keen elf-ears caught something, and he motioned that Voronwë be silent.

They were at this time very near the palace. Two voices came drifting to their ears. They were speaking softly, but the streets were silent enough, with only the singing of the night-birds and the splashing of the fountains, that Randir and Voronwë could hear what was said, though Tuor could barely make out their voices.

“I don’t believe it,” one was saying. “That bodyguard is the finest swords-master in the city. If he catches us, we will both be killed.”

“Look,” said the other, whose voice was calm and confident, yet had a ring of evil in it. “This Randir is not expecting anything. If he comes back, we shall have Heledir stab him in the back.”

Randir gripped Voronwë’s arm, and loosened his sword-belt.

“But what if the alarm is raised early?” asked the first.

“The diversion should be enough,” said the second. “Hush, now! We are nearly to the palace.”

Randir turned to Voronwë and hissed in his ear. “What do you think they are going to do?”

Voronwë shook his head. “Whatever it is, they want you out of the way.”

“I think I know the first voice,” said Randir grimly. “I could be mistaken, but it sounded like that of Dolglin, one of Maeglin’s retainers.”

“Then we must hasten,” said Voronwë. The same thought had occurred to both their minds.

“What is going on? What did they say?” asked the bewildered Tuor.

“It appears as if Idril is about to be abducted,” said Voronwë coolly.

“Should we call in the guard?” asked Tuor.

“Nay,” said Randir. “Voronwë, I want you to go to Turgon and have him ready his company, but not to attack, as to ensure that none escape. Tuor and I shall find Idril and wait for our opponents.”

“Be careful,” said Voronwë simply, then he dashed off into the night.

“Keep your weapon sheathed,” said Randir to Tuor. “We don’t want any moonlight shining off swords or axes in our hands.”

They approached the palace, and soon spotted the two dark forms under the shade of the trees.

“No guard,” murmured Randir. “I daresay Turgon will post a guard after this!”

The abductors crept slowly through the palace gate, which was, for some strange reason open. Randir guessed that they had a confederate inside who had opened the gates for them. They hurried forward, watchful, and entered after the others.

Randir saw them head for Idril’s room, walking quicker now. He moved stealthily closer. He suddenly saw four other dark shapes waiting around the door. At a signal from the leader of the two, three of them dashed off to somewhere else in the palace. Randir had no choice but to let them go.

Now there were only three left. One waited by the door – the others burst in.

Randir decided that this was the time to act. He drew his sword and charged, cutting down the startled door-guard in a single stroke. He entered the room to see two persons tying Idril’s hands behind her back. She had already been gagged, and a sack had been thrown over her head. They stood up, startled, as Tuor and Randir entered with naked blades.

One of them cursed. “It is only two of them. Cut them down!”

They charged forward. Tuor met one, parried a blow, then gave his opponent a stroke that split open the elf’s head. Randir, despite his skill, found a trained adversary. The elf exchanged several blows, then stepped back and blew what looked like a small flute or whistle.

Tuor turned around and gave a cry of warning. Randir leaped out of range of his adversary’s sword, turned, and saw three other dark figures charging them.

But before Randir could think, the elf with which he had already fought leaped out of the doorway and dashed off toward the palace gate.

“The guard will catch him there,” remarked Tuor. He raised his axe and decapitated one of the new attackers. They halted, but before they could flee Randir’s sword found the heart of yet another. The last turned in terror and sprinted away.

“Voronwë will have raised the palace guard,” said Randir. “Let us see to the Lady Idril.”

He went back, and leaned down over where she was set. He untied the knots, threw the sack off her head, and undid the gag. She was breathing heavily, but unhurt.

“Randir,” she said. “You came in time, my brother.” Randir smiled. Then she looked past him, up at the still-standing Tuor. Tuor managed a smile, and Idril returned it.

“Could you identify your attackers?” asked Randir.

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “But I think they were miners from their speech.”

“Maeglin’s men,” thought Randir, though he did not express his feelings out loud.

It turned out that the abductor that had challenged Randir had escaped the hands of the guard, though the second was caught.

“His name is Cabtaur,” said the sword-wielding Turgon. “He is of the House of the Mole.”

No sooner had he spoken when an arrow flew from the shadows and landed in the kidnapper’s breast. Cabtaur slumped in the arms of the guard, dead.

Some ran toward the place from where the arrow had come, but found no-one.

“How queer,” remarked Turgon. “Why would anyone abduct my daughter? There has not been a crime, from grand theft to pick-pocketing, in over sixty years. The perpetrators must die for this.”

“It appears that most of them already have,” Randir remarked.

“I am grateful, Randir,” said Turgon. “You have already done much for me, and I shall never be able to pay you back fully for you services.”

“What other things has he done indeed for you?” wondered Tuor.

“Rescued my daughter, been one of my foremost councilors and friends, and failed an errand when he was but a young lad and my errand-rider,” said Turgon, smiling at the memory. “I might have given him authorization to form his own house. But he would rather stay attached to the House of the King. I could have given him all the mines in the south of Tumladen, or the watch of the Seven Gates. But he would rather be a simple soldier, though with the esteemed position of Idril’s bodyguard. Yes, he has done much for me, and I daresay he shall do much more, if he does not give up his life indeed for me and my daughter.”

All of Gondolin frowned when they heard of the incident, but one person frowned deepest of all, not from sorrow or fear but because of failure, though a light glinted from beneath dark brows.

[edit] Messenger and the Plot

The search for the last abductor was unsuccessful. Randir remembered the voice, and suspected someone indeed – Dolglin. But he could not prove it. So one day he walked directly up to Dolglin, who had been in the city at the time of the abduction.

Dolglin was an elf shorter than most, with no skill in music or art, but an excellent swordsman. His father was a miner of Maeglin, and an overseer. Dolglin looked up in surprise at Randir’s approach. He had been walking leisurely along the Alley of Roses. Randir motioned him aside.

“What do you want with me, Dîr en-Aran?” he asked in a sneering tone, but Randir noticed the slight twitching that wanted escape in his eyes.

“Just this, Dúath en-Sabar,” replied Randir. “Do you deny that you were involved in the near abduction of Idril Celebrindal the King’s daughter?”

The elf’s eyes widened, and Randir thought he glimpsed fear. But they hardened instantly. “Yes, I do deny it.”

“I cannot prove your guilt, to myself or to any other,” said Randir. “But if you did have anything to do with this recent incident, be sure that you shall not be spared from my sword entering you heart.” We that he turned and strode away to where Tarthalion awaited him.

“What if you are wrong?” asked Tarthalion as they walked back toward the palace.

“The warning will still do him good,” said Randir. “Yes, I cannot be entirely sure that he is the one, but I believe in my heart that he is. His mind is strong; I cannot probe it. He nearly gave himself away by showing fear, and if he were considered an honorable elf I would think this proof of his guilt. But he has been involved in… incidents before, that were covered up by Maeglin. Secretly I believe that Maeglin thought up this scheme, and Dolglin was given charge of carrying it out.”

“Just don’t mention this to the King,” said Tarthalion nervously. “He thinks the world of his nephew, to borrow the colloquialism.”

Meanwhile, Dolglin entered a house not far from where they walked. A dark figure stood waiting for him.

“You did an impeccable job last night,” said the figure sarcastically. “I do not know what I shall do with you. It is a good thing you shot that one they captured, or it would be our necks. And I stood waiting at the foot of the stair with the horses, waiting almost all night for you. I might have been caught.”

“That Randir arrived,” whined Dolglin. “He was too strong for any of us. And he had that Tuor with him.”

“I have noticed that Tuor is slowly taking over the affections of the King, who never had a son,” said the figure after a pause. “We may need to remove him.”

“But, lord,” protested Dolglin, “Won’t there be questions asked? And why do you go to such lengths? Even if you succeeded, you would no longer be allowed to enter Gondolin and enjoy your prize.”

“On the contrary,” said the figure, “I could keep her in that abandoned mine, where it is known I go often. I could return just as bewildered as any at the strange disappearance of the Lady Idril. And I am sure that after I had bided my time, I could beg leave of the King to depart from Gondolin for a short while, for some thing or another. I cannot remember the last time he let an elf out of Gondolin, save for the mariners and a few trustworthy scouts. But I shall be able to convince him. Then, I would leave with the Lady Idril, and we would go east, beyond the mountains of the dwarves, and be married. We could start our own city in the mountains, and she could never return.”

“So should we try it again tonight?” asked Dolglin.

“No!” said the dark figure sharply. “They will be on their alert now. We must wait a while. And Randir will be on guard. We must wait. If it takes two months or two years, or even two decades, we must wait until we can be sure of success.”

Then the figure laughed a dark laugh, and the King’s nephew turned away from his retainer.

Some years passed uneventfully. As Randir had predicted, Tuor soon became exceedingly skilled with his axe, and it was said that he was next only to Turgon, Randir, Maeglin, Glorfindel, and Ecthelion. He also came to write his own music, and Voronwë often remarked that they reminded him of the sea.

“They do indeed,” remarked Randir one of those times, as they sat in the Square of the Folkwell. “I have seen the sea only once, and that was in the desertion of Fingolfin in Aman. Yet my heart cried out Alatairë! Alatairë!, which is the Quenya name for Belegaer, the Great Sea. My cousin Aglaru dwells now by the sea, or did last I heard from him many years ago.”

“You have taught me much of music, Randir, though Voronwë has been my primary instructor,” said Tuor. “But I have never heard any of your compositions. You have sat and spoken with Maglor himself as a friend. Surely you have written something.”

Randir smiled. “I have indeed written several songs. I must admit that Aglaru writes better music than I, but I shall sing my best.” He stood up and began a song in his deep voice, one that seemed both sad and longing.

From Cuiviénen we walked
Across the lands of Middle-earth
Guided by the bright stars that shone
Like flashing diamonds of great worth.
O Cuiviénen! by elven eye
Shall thee no more be seen, we sigh.

From Aman’s white shores we did sail
And did reach green Middle-earth’s strands
Passing on from the fairest place
The fairest of all beauteous lands.
O Aman fair! We left, did roam
Across the sea, from our one home.

Randir halted and looked at his listeners.

“That was fair indeed, Randir,” said Tuor. But before he could say any more, they heard the horns of Ecthelion sound, much like they had on the day Tuor had come. And they had the same notes – notes not heard since that day.

“A stranger who is a friend,” said Voronwë quietly.

“How could two find entrance to Gondolin?” wondered Randir. “I fear that mayhap the Eagles have relaxed their watch.”

“Remember, I had lived in Gondolin once,” Voronwë said.

“Ah, yes,” said Randir. “Well, let us see who it is. It shall probably take them a while to cross Tumladen. I wonder if the king knew about this. It is apparently not one of his scouts or his mariners, or they would use their codes.”

“Hopefully it is not another mariner dragging in a mortal prize,” came a voice behind them. They turned to see Maeglin, and Randir saw the malice in his eyes.

“Leave, Maeglin,” ordered Randir quietly.

“I am a relative of the King’s,” Maeglin challenged. “I may go where I will in the city. And the Square of the Folkwell is a public place.”

“I do not believe, Maeglin, that he intended this square for use by slanderers and cowards,” said Randir. Their eyes met and engaged in a fierce contest of wills. At last Maeglin drew his eyes away.

“Well what are you doing here?” he demanded. “Where is your charge?”

“The safety of the Lady Idril is no concern of yours,” said Randir icily. “And I believe, Dark Elf, that you would take every opportunity to ensure the opposite.”

Maeglin laid his hand on the hilt of his sword with a exclamation of rage. Randir stood with his arms crossed, as solid as a statue.

“Do not draw your sword on me, Maeglin,” said Randir, his eyes still fixed on Maeglin’s face, though the elf’s eyes avoided Randir’s. Maeglin scowled, but removed his hand from the hilt of his sword.

“Do not think, Randir son of Erwaheno, that because of your fine skills with the weapon you are safe,” said Maeglin coldly. “There are other means of disposing of an enemy.”

“And I am sure you would be base enough to try any of them,” said Randir. Maeglin glanced once again into Randir’s eyes, then turned and marched away.

“He gave himself away there,” said Randir to his comrades, “By mentioning that he could kill me.”

“That was a grand battle,” said Tuor. “You beat him there.”

“It was hardly a skirmish,” Randir replied, and his shoulders relaxed. “Come now, let us see what friend knocks on our door.”

They left the Square of the Folkwell, also known as the Place of the Well, and walked up to the balcony of the gatehouse. They stood with others, looking out across the green plain.

The eyes of the Gondothlim were sharper than Hawk’s eyes, and they soon spotted a solitary rider, hooded and cloaked, coming up the paved white road, headed for Gondolin. The gates of Gondolin were unbarred and opened, as the horse strode with a little difficulty up the steep stair, and onto the streets of Gondolin. The guards soon gathered around, and were speaking in hushed tones with the rider. Then they motioned the rider forward.

Randir stepped down from the walls and went with the crowd to follow the rider to the palace. Turgon had come out to greet the rider.

“Welcome to Gondolin,” said the King. “Yet your coming is unlooked-for. Who are you, rider, and from where do you come?”

The rider threw back her hood, revealing the face of a noble elf-woman with long dark hair. She was probably about five hundred years old, as fair as the women of the Gondothlim, who were exceedingly beautiful. Men would probably think she was as young as twenty-one, were it not for her regal bearing, but that was the way with elves: only other elves could tell their age, and then it was not by signs of aging so much as signs of ever-increasing maturity and wisdom.

“I am a messenger from Círdan of Balar,” she replied. “I was guided by one of your own Gondothlim scouts who was resting at Caras-Giliath. He perished during our journey, but not before he had told me how to get here. Círdan sends a message, requesting you send soldiers to his aid. A large army of orcs at least seven times the size of his army is marching on the Havens of Sirion. He fears that he cannot hold them off long.”

Turgon was silent for a moment. “No,” he said at last, “I cannot leave my city again, after the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. If I do so the city shall be discovered, and that could prove fatal in the end.”

“Does Círdan indeed send his women for messengers on perilous and doubtful missions?” asked Egalmoth. “He must be sore pressed indeed!”

The woman frowned. “Círdan could not spare a single warrior. I am related to him, and he chose me.”

“You must rest,” said Turgon. “You are undoubtedly tired from your ride. We have few horses in the city, but the best of stalls. The grooms will take care of your beast. But we do not know your name, brave lady.”

“I am Alfirinel, who once dwelt in Doriath,” the elf-woman replied. “But can you not send help, troops and equipment, down the Sirion?”

“I cannot,” said Turgon. “It may be that the Valar will be gracious, but if the enemy is strong enough to defeat Turgon I cannot see that my army will help. And I would endanger the lives of all in my city.”

The elf-woman looked dismayed. “Then I must return to him and deliver your response.”

Turgon hesitated. “I am afraid that you must stay here. By our laws any who enter this city must not leave. You cannot help Círdan in any manner, and a journey so dangerous might lead to your capture. And forgive me, lady,” he said, bowing, “But I do not think that you could withstand torture for your information.”

Alfirinel opened her mouth in disbelief, but before she could speak Glorfindel spoke in a gentle tone.

“Surely your comrade warned you of this,” he said. “And I do not think you shall find life unpleasant here. In time the King may see it fit to release you, perhaps when the roads are safer.”

“They will only be made safer by the King of Gondolin, who seems to forget that he is also High King of the Ñoldor,” said Alfirinel. Turgon frowned.

“I will not risk thousands for the sake of one,” he said. “Ill came of the last time I broke this pledge. You do not have to stay in the city, if you wish. But I will warn you that escape is impossible. You are free to go where you will, but you must not leave Tumladen, or, woman though you are, your life will be forfeit.” So saying he began to turn, when Idril touched his shoulder.

“Father,” she said, “It may be that this noble lady from the south would find it a lighter duty to serve me as one of my maidens.” Turgon raised an eyebrow, but turned back to where Alfirinel stood angrily.

“You are without protection here,” he said. “By being under the protection of the Lady Idril, you would be able to live at the palace, and your wants be taken care of.”

“I will accept your offer, my liege, though with the greatest reluctance,” said Alfirinel.

Turgon walked back into the palace, but Idril stepped forward to the elf-woman.

“I am the Lady Idril,” she said. The crowd had dissipated some, but Randir, Tuor, and Voronwë stood there still. “This is my bodyguard, the Lord Randir Nathernil, and the Lord Tuor, and the Lord Voronwë the mariner.” Each bowed as he was named.

“You say you have come from Caras-Giliath,” remarked Randir. “I have a cousin there. You may have met him.”

“I did not meet many there,” said Alfirinel. “I was just delivering the call to arms to the lord of that city.”

“Who is indeed my cousin,” said Randir with a smile. “My cousin is Aglaru Bregolharn.”

“He is doing well,” said Alfirinel, though her eyes widened. “He is second only to Círdan in the defense of Balar. But you are one of the Gondothlim, so surely you have not seen him in…”

“About four hundred and fifty years,” said Randir. “He was not at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. I never got to see him before the retreat.”

“If you were anywhere near him in the Battle of Eglarest, you would have seen him,” said Alfirinel, excitement rising in her voice. “He and Círdan stood together in that battle. Círdan was dressed in blue that did not seem to grow either mud-caked or blood-spattered. His silver hair shone under the sun by day and the moon by night. And ever beside him was Aglaru like a white flame. He bore the Alcarmir, the gem of Fëanor, on his forehead, and none could stand before him. I did not see it, but many described the sight of those two warriors fighting side by side, though the enemy pressed thick around them, and all others fell back.”

“When I left him, he was but a lad of hardly seventy years,” said Randir, falling back into remembrance. “But he had endured the Helcaraxë, and the Lord Fingolfin himself predicted great things for him. I am glad to hear he survived the destruction of the Falas, for many fell there.”

“He nearly didn’t,” said Alfirinel. “He held the enemy at bay as the ships were loading, and Círdan himself could hardly persuade him to leave the doomed. They could not wait for stragglers, or else they would be overcome. Many perished that day, but Aglaru Bregolharn was not among them.”

“What is he like?” asked Tuor, now very interested. Even to him rumors had drifted. He also had a special interest in Aglaru, him being the cousin of Randir.

“He is tall, stern, and noble,” said Alfirinel after a moment. Randir was glad to see she was forgetting her troubles. “He is wise, and handsome, and though he has received several scars in battle they do not make him seem less so; indeed, if anything, fairer. He dresses usually in white, sometimes in a light green or blue. They say there are only three who can equal him in battle – Maedhros, Maglor, and Turgon. Círdan is accounted as the fifth, but we have no knowledge of the Lords of Gondolin, and cannot judge them in comparison to ours.”

“Tell me of the Isle of Balar, and of Caras-Giliath,” urged Randir. “I have not seen either.”

“I have never been to the Island,” confessed Alfirinel, “And I only passed through Caras-Giliath.”

“Yet I have been to both places,” said Voronwë, stepping in. “Balar is strong, and will not fall easily. It is beautiful, large, and green. Círdan chose well for his home. Caras-Giliath is the fairest city left in Beleriand – unless it is Gondolin. And it is strong as well. I cannot quite put it into words.”

“Yet darkness may soon fall upon it,” said Randir, shaking his head. “What are five cities compared to the might of Morgoth? Gondolin, Himring, Mouths of the Sirion, Balar, and Caras-Giliath – they are strong, but in the end they shall not be able to stand.”

“Well, enough talk of troubled lands to the south,” said Idril, but she smiled. “Come, Alfirinel. I shall show you Gondolin. You must have been too tired to notice the sights, sounds, and smells. We are, after all, about the same age, and it is pleasant to have someone to talk to who is not a chattering young maiden of hardly forty or fifty years.”

Alfirinel smiled, and followed Idril. Her horse had been taken by the groom, and she worried no more about that. Randir and Tuor watched after them. Randir did not know yet how much this event would affect his life.

More years passed. Things did not change for the most part. Tuor’s training was soon completed, and was as the son of the King in the eyes of the people. One change was first noticed by Randir, and soon noticed by others. Tuor and Idril appeared to be falling in love.

While Randir played his part as Idril’s bodyguard, he watched Maeglin very closely. He decided soon that Idril’s suspicions were valid, and that Maeglin might go so far as murder a lord of the Gondothlim. Seven years after Tuor’s arrival, he spoke with the Man on the subject.

“Tuor, I fear for you,” he said. “We can speak frankly with one another, for we are friends and brothers. I know your attention has been captured by the Lady Idril.” Tuor blushed, but did not deny it. “Yet I have not come to speak to you about that,” he continued, “But what may result from it.”

“It is foolish,” said Tuor after a moment. “I am a Man, while she is an Elf. Whoever heard of a Man wedding with an Elf?”

“It is said that your relative through your mother, Beren, married Lúthien Tinúviel in the since-fallen kingdom of Doriath,” remarked Randir. “But it is not even about that I speak about. I speak of Maeglin.”

“Yes,” said Tuor, and he frowned. “We have exchanged polite greetings, but he seems cold toward me indeed. And I fear what blackness lies behind his sharp eyes.”

“Blackness indeed,” said Randir. “I have reason to believe that Maeglin has eyes for Idril. I see from your face you guessed as much. He has asked for her hand once since your arrival, but he had stopped after he saw his requests to the King were doing no good. She has despised him since he came to Gondolin. While it is quite obvious that you are not the cause of this disposition, Maeglin would be blinded, and not believe otherwise. He may try and get you out of the way – perhaps go so far as to kill you. This does not surprise you?”

“No,” said Tuor after a pause. “I believed it might be so. If it were not the Lady Idril that you guarded I should wish that you were my guard. It would not be easy to catch you unaware.”

“Yet it can be done to the greatest of warriors,” said Randir. “I fear for your life, Tuor. He has grown blacker since your arrival than I have ever yet seen him.”

“Do you think he would knife me in my sleep?” asked Tuor. “Or shoot me on the walls? And what makes you so concerned now, and not six or seven years ago?”

“Even if he is vile, he is still a lord of high birth,” Randir replied. “He would have to drive himself to it. His will is strong, but not strong enough that I cannot get some hint of his feelings. His look is murderous now, and enraged. Be on your guard. In the meantime, I shall try and pull something from one of Maeglin’s folk.”

“May the Valar under the One be with you,” said Tuor.

Randir strode across the city, hoping to see one of Maeglin’s captains. He found one pretty quickly – none other than Dolglin, who was walking with another elf named Pengacharn, a captain of the House of the Harp, a favorite of Lord Salgant.

“So, the Lord Randir breaks from his duty to speak to me,” said Dolglin with a sneer. Randir felt the urge to strike the elf, but resisted it. Pengacharn turned and walked away from the conflict nervously.

“My protection of the Lady Idril involves seeing to her protection,” said Randir coolly. “And my duties to the King are pressing. Especially about the Lord Tuor.”

Dolglin looked startled, guilty even. But he regained his composure. “What is this duty?” he asked cautiously.

“It is not for you to know what business I have with your master,” said Randir sharply. “After all, Dolglin, you are but a lowly retainer of his. You have no right to be involved in his affairs.” Dolglin flushed haughtily.

“I am in the high confidence of the Lord Maeglin,” he said. “He trusts me in all he does!”

“I am sure,” said Randir. “That is why you were recalled from overseeing work in the mines.”

“He has matters for me here of great importance, that is why,” said Dolglin angrily, glaring at the insinuations.

“Of course he called you several weeks before the task, so as to make sure of your loyalty,” said Randir.

“Nay,” said Dolglin. “Tomorrow morning, in fact.”

“Really, these matters must not be of great importance,” said Randir, secretly pleased at the amount of information he was receiving.

“They are, Lord Randir, they are,” Dolglin sneered. “He would trust none other. And I cannot imagine a task so important that you have ever embarked on in your life.”

“You do not consider protecting the King’s daughter a task of importance?” asked Randir cautiously.

“Not when he forsakes his post at the time of danger,” snorted Dolglin.

“And how, pray, did you come by that information?” he asked. Dolglin suddenly stopped short. Randir leaned forward.

“I would warn Maeglin on how far your tongue runs, Dolglin,” said Randir mildly, “If I did not think that he would have you strung up in the city square for the various crimes you have committed. Or perhaps a disappearance at night would be more fitting?”

Dolglin paled, but finding no more words to say, ran off anxiously.

“He won’t be saying anything of our meeting to his master, unless he is grilled, which I doubt,” said Randir to himself. “Well, so the time is early tomorrow. Let us set the trap.”

He came up to Tuor, and told him all he had learned. The Man was amazed.

“What? Tomorrow morning?” he exclaimed.

“It is known that you often go to the walls to see the dawn,” said Randir. “Few people are awake at that time, and the streets are not crowded. It would be easier than a break-in at night, and with less chance of detection than a murder in the street.”

“So should I not go up there?” asked Tuor. Randir hesitated.

“I think you should go up, but wear mail under your clothes,” Randir said. “Also, keep your axe by your side. I shall have twenty men of the House of the King at my call, armed with bows and swords. We shall surround the area, and make sure that none who advance on you shall escape. Anyone who draws a bow on you shall be shot, while we can halt the movements of any who draw close to you.”

“It is a plan well thought-of,” said Tuor. “Let us do it!”

As usual, Tuor went up to the east wall to watch the sun rise. Randir chose twenty lightly-armed soldiers. They formed a semicircle around where Tuor stood, staying hidden and on the ready.

Tarthalion had come along, and Voronwë. During a time of that vigil the latter touched Randir’s arm. Randir nodded. He had also been watching the four figures with faces hidden in some way or another, moving causally toward Tuor from both sides.

One of them suddenly strode forward toward Tuor. Randir’s men raised their bows.

Suddenly there was a cry, and Randir saw in horror an elf armed with a bow and quiver plunge from the roof of a building with an arrow in his back. It was not one of his own soldiers. But Randir noticed that there was a bow in his hands, and an arrow fallen beside him. One of the assassins.

Those on the wall whirled in surprise. Tuor drew out his axe. The man closest to him drew out a dagger and sent it spinning through the air, hitting Tuor solid in the chest. It bounced off the concealed mail.

The would-be assassins stood in shock at this apparent miracle, and then began to flee. Tuor’s axe cut the back out of one of them, but the others managed to run down the steps from the wall.

Those of Randir’s archers within range shot their bows, and two more fell. Others came hurrying from their hiding places from where they could not see what was happening.

“After them,” Randir shouted. The Gondothlim poured on in pursuit. The two assassins were fleet-footed, and still Randir could not distinguish who they were.

Tuor soon joined the pursuers. “Where do you think they are headed?”

“Probably, in their fright, they head to their nearest refuge,” said Randir. “I’m not sure where that will be.”

But instead they hurled themselves toward the Square of the Folkwell. The scene was so unusual in the peaceful city of Gondolin that those who had woken stood in amazement. Among those surprised were Idril and her maidens taking an early-morning walk in the grass.

Suddenly the assassins turned, seeing that flight had become useless. Tuor’s long legs caused him to bound ahead of the others. He raised his axe. But one of his opponents drew out a knife and leaped forward. He stabbed it into Tuor’s shoulder, drawing it out to strike again.

He never got the chance. As Tuor sank to the ground, Randir’s sword flashed, and the knife-hand was sliced off at the wrist. Another stroke and the assassin was headless.

The last was startled, but leaped in an effort to get away. The bows of the Gondothlim sang, and three arrows passed through his back into his heart.

Voronwë fell to the ground beside Tuor. Randir was down a moment later, seeing to his wound. Tuor groaned.

“What has happened, Nathernil?” cried Idril, approaching and throwing herself down beside Tuor.

“An attempt of murder,” said Randir grimly. “He is wounded, but not to the death. I shall bind his wound and—”

“No,” said Idril firmly, “You may be a healer, my brother, but you have said yourself that I am far more advanced than you in the art.” Randir smiled.

“Tuor,” he said. Tuor groaned again. “It is bad?” Randir asked.

“It pains dreadfully,” said Tuor. He reached up as if to feel the wound, but his arm went limp as the shoulder-muscle was strained.

“You had better not move,” advised Idril as she reached to tear off one of her sleeves. But Randir quickly threw off his tunic and began tearing it into strips, which Idril accepted as bandages. Tuor smiled his thanks, and closed his eyes.

Idril had him carried to the House of Healing in Gondolin, a white building almost the size of the palace, and almost as well furnished. But Randir stayed behind with Tarthalion to examine the bodies. First he looked at those in the Square, then went back to the street and the wall. After looking at the last body he turned grimly to Tarthalion.

“Two of them are of Maeglin’s house, two others I recognized as ruffians, and the other I did not know,” said Randir. “None of them were Dolglin, though.”

“He may easily have been watching, or waiting to lend support,” suggested Tarthalion. “I daresay there might have been others watching to make sure it went well, who did not dare step in after they saw it was a trap.”

“You could be right,” admitted Randir. “If I find any proof of Dolglin’s part in this, I shall bring him before the court of Turgon. But if I find proof that he is one of Idril’s abductors, I will kill him like the dog he is. The King may have forbidden duels because of private quarrels, but this duel would be concerning the princess herself, and the entire city of Gondolin. I am sure the King would have no objections after I had given the murderer a fair chance in battle to prove his innocence, and his blood ran in the square.”

Under the care of the healers of Gondolin, Tuor recovered rapidly. Idril was ever at his bedside, while Voronwë and Randir stopped in frequently, as well as the regretful Turgon.

Tuor could walk again in two weeks. One early morning Idril roused Randir before the regular time and walked out toward the southern walls.

A wind had begun to blow, a warm, south wind. The flowers in the Alley of Roses were in bloom, and the birds sang seemingly sweeter than ever before. Randir was glad he was awake to feel the joy and peace vibrant in the air, and in the stirring wind.

But Idril had not come to feel the wind. She walked directly up to the wall, where they found Tuor waiting.

“Idril, I would talk with you about what was said in past days,” said Tuor anxiously, not seeming to notice Randir. “My head is clearer now than it has been. What we both want is impossible. The King would never hear of it.”

“The King is my father, and has become like one to you,” said Idril. “He will hear us.”

“But I am a man, a mortal, and you are of the elven race,” said Tuor, turning in desperation. “We should not shrink from these issues. I shall be dead by the time another fifty or sixty years rolls about, while you shall still be as young and fresh as you were four hundred years ago.”

“I do not care,” said Idril. “I have made my decision, no matter what comes. I did not realize how much I loved you until you were almost killed.”

“And I felt the same way,” said Tuor. He turned back to her. “Do no think I do not feel the same.”

“Than there should be nothing to keep us from that which we desire,” said Idril softly. “What comes shall come. Ilúvatar has laid the before us where we shall walk.”

“Yet hate is great, and Morgoth is its incarnation,” murmured Tuor, looking northward as he said so. “And we may soon be sundered until the Restoration. The King will refuse us.”

“Randir,” said Idril, turning to him. Randir looked up in surprise, for he had politely been trying to go unnoticed.

“Yes, my lady,” he replied.

“You are a dear friend of my father,” she replied. “Tuor agreed with me last night. We wish for you to speak with the King in our behalf. And I believe you know what I mean.”

“I do, my lady,” Randir said, bowing. “And it shall be done.”

Tuor turned, and embraced Idril long. “Everlasting bliss shall not be ours, perhaps; yet joy overflowing shall be in our cup forever.”

[edit] Sapphire Eyes

Shortly after the midday meal, Randir went directly to the King, who sat in his throne, pondering something of which Randir knew naught.

“Lord King,” he began. Turgon glanced up at him.

“Randir, my friend,” he said. “Come, sit beside me.” He motioned to the empty smaller throne at his right reserved for a lord of honor during council times.

“I have been considering adding on another storehouse for the gems produced by the miners,” said Turgon. “We have only two, and they are rather small. Now over here is a large house that is unoccupied, ever since its master was slain in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Since we are in need of no more houses, we can simply convert it to a jewel-house. Enough of storing them in the little communities near the mines, where few can see them.”

“I have come to speak with you about a jewel you love dearly,” said Randir. Turgon glanced at him quizzically.

“Idril, you mean.”

“Yes, Idril,” he said. “And Tuor, the man who came from Ulmo.”

“What would you tell me about them?” asked Turgon, though Randir thought he glimpsed a hint of understanding behind the wise, impassive eyes.

“They love one another,” said Randir, deciding that a direct statement would be best with Turgon, whose wits were not eluded easily or for long. He expected Turgon to say something, but the King did not.

“I knew it,” he said finally. “I love them both, and have watched how they gaze at each other, and spend time together. Yet why have you told me this?”

“Because they have decided, with your permission, to be married,” said Randir simply. Turgon leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes.

“She is an elf-lady of high birth and noble race,” he murmured. “He is a Man, of nobility among men, but still far lower. Much grief I see ahead for them. Yet I see bliss also.” Suddenly he opened his eyes and looked at Randir.

“Do you remember the last words of Huor son of Galdor?” Turgon asked.

“I would not forget them, my liege,” said Randir, and he repeated them. “‘If Gondolin stands but a little while, then out of your house shall come the hope of Elves and Men. This I say to you, lord, with the eyes of death: though we part here for ever, and I shall not look on your white walls again, from you and from me a new star shall arise. Farewell!’ Long have I pondered their meaning.”

“I cannot be sure of their meaning,” said Turgon. “But I think it was meant that Idril and Tuor would find one another. Even the grand city of Gondolin is, perhaps, only a little thing in the whole scheme of the earth.” And Randir wondered at these words coming from the mouth of the king, who had greater right than any other to look with pride upon his city, and the kingdom he had kept. But Randir fully agreed with him.

“This union may be the fulfillment of Huor’s foresight,” said Turgon. “If not, I know it is the right thing. Bitter shall be their union, but bitterer still if they were parted.”

“I am glad to see, my master, that thou had made up thy mind before I spoke to thee,” said Randir.

“Somehow, Randir, I am glad as well,” the King replied. He smiled softly, then rose and strode over to a window in the palace, looking out. “I have lost much, Randir, my brother. My wife… my sister… my father… both of my brothers… I do not know how much more I shall lose. But my city is strong. Gondobar shall not fall. Since the Nirnaeth Arnoediad I have not slept, but remained vigilant to the defenses of the White City. I carry a sword with me everywhere I go, and mail in my sleeping hour.” Randir noticed how tired the noble elf-lord looked. Turgon was the last of Fingolfin’s house, except for his daughter. He was acclaimed as the wisest of the elves, save Finwë his grandfather. Tall and proud, majestic, kingly, and stern as stone. But now he showed weariness, weakness even. Suddenly he turned toward Randir. “You sang for me a song before that battle. You said it was written by Maglor son of Fëanor.”

“It was,” said Randir.

“I ask you to sing it to me again, as a friend,” said Turgon, sitting down once more, while Randir stood uncertainly. Then he began to sing.

The red blades flash, the sky darkens,
swords sing in the desolate land;
the ravens croak, the lord hearkens
to watch the growing shadow’s hand.
Then fire from Taniquetil high
comes down to fill his stricken eyes;
the shield is split, black death in nigh,
and hearts are pierced by darkness’ lies.
The horns are blowing in the deep,
the elves are singing to Varda;
unbroken rows of steel they keep,
shield upon shield defend Arda.
“To war, my lords,” the captain cries
the trumpets sound, the host moves forth;
while still as elf falls down and dies,
they fight and war to prove their worth.
The beaten helm, the downfallen sword,
the arm that broke, the shield that was crushed,
the bloody elf, the brave toppled lord,
the black laughter, the joy now hushed.
Then white silver rings the swords again,
the banner raised up to touch the sky,
the great war-shout of a thousand kin
raises up to the immortal cry:
“To death! To death! And Morgoth’s dark fire!
To life beyond our deaths we now go!
May our swords the hosts of darkness dire
cut down, and bring the light we did know!”

To death! To death! And Morgoth’s dark fire!” repeated Turgon, seeming very far from the room. Then he seemed to wake, and turned to Randir.

“The elves are passing,” he said. “The free world is falling piece by piece into the grasp of the Ghastly Hand. All lies beneath it groaning. True were the words of Maglor that you recounted to me, that one day all would be singing the chorus of that song. Death is upon the Ñoldor. It is at our doorstep. Great is the Fall of Gondolin.”

Randir looked at his lord in amazement, and knelt before him.

“Nay, Turgon, my father, my friend, and my lord,” he cried. “We shall stand strong against Morgoth’s tide, and we shall trust to the interceding of the Valar, and the deliverance of Eru, even if only in death. If death comes, let death be our sign; let us hope in death, life after death, and the life we give in death.”

“Your words are wise, Randir,” said Turgon. “No, I am weak. I shall stand by Gondolin. Morgoth may hurl all his demons of fire, all his witchcraft, all his devices against the white walls, and yet we shall stand.”

“Then what is the fall you speak of?” asked Randir.

“The ultimate loss, the ultimate defeat,” said Turgon. “Though my city last a thousand millennia, it shall not halt Morgoth. We are safe here, but in our hearts is what would wear us down whether we will it or not. It is fate.”

“Yet fate is bound to Eru, and what he wills is good,” said Randir. “Though the elves fade, we shall fade from a world that can last without us.”

“The fading has already begun,” said Turgon solemnly. “Yet I would rejoice to find the peace that even this city brings me not.”

“One day you shall find it,” said Randir.

They sat in silence for what seemed like a long while, but suddenly Turgon spoke, and strength and cheerfulness was again in his voice.

“They shall be wed at Gar Ainion,” he said. “A wedding like that which I will prepare will not have been seen ever in Gondolin.”

“I shall convey your answer to them,” said Randir, bowing. Turgon smiled and bade him be off.

The wedding was held several days later, on Midsummer’s day, when the sun was high in the sky, and the birds were singing. Gar Ainion was located at the highest point in the city. It was a beautiful building of white stone, with golden pillars, and all inside was white, gold, and blue. In the Place of Wedding, at one end there were two great trees wrought of fiery gold, one on each corner of the wall. And they stretched up to the open roof, and the sun shone through their gold-green leaves. And all was filled with light.

The betrothal of elves usually lasted a year or more, but in Gondolin usually they were usually married on midsummer’s day, so the betrothal could last anywhere from a day to a year.

And that day was full of joy, and light. Great was the wonder of the Gondothlim at a Man wedding and Elf-maiden, but none save Maeglin protested this, for Tuor and Idril both had won their hearts.

Turgon would have let them live in the palace as they had been, but instead they chose a home on the south wall, which was fair but of less grandeur than the royal dwelling.

Randir was pleased. He offered to give up his position as Idril’s bodyguard, but Tuor and Idril both urged him to stay on, not only as a bodyguard, but as a friend and counselor. Therefor Randir refused Turgon’s offers of high position, and remained in the service of the two whom he loved best.

But, while all Gondolin rejoiced, he warily marked Maeglin and his actions. Maeglin refused to join the festivities, and gave no sign of pleasure. But by this time all of Gondolin had seen his jealousy, and from that point his heart was hardened, and the change was noted by all.

Two years passed in joy and happiness. Maeglin was seen less and less, and the people did not suffer for it. At the end of the second year Idril gave birth to a son. Randir at the time of this happening was gone to the forges of Rog to oversee the production of a new weapon Turgon had devised for the walls. He had expected the birth, and was not surprised when he returned to Tuor’s home to find Idril sitting in the main room with an infant in her arms. Her face was radiant.

“Randir,” she said. “Come. This is my son, Eärendil.” She extended him forward, and Randir took the bundle with trembling arms.

Randir looked at the infant in wonder. His face was shining white like alabaster, and his eyes were wide and blue like sapphires. Randir had never seen any babe so fair and beautiful, like the son of a god. As Randir looked into Eärendil’s eyes, the infant stopped all movement and looked back into Randir’s. Then Randir began to speak.

“A star is rising over the waters of the west,” he said. “Behold, the fires of the Trees caught in the gems of Fëanor have returned to the skies in the morning. So shall he be, blessed above man or elf, favored by the Valar, and by him who brought him into existence from the depths of the Land Eternal.”

“Yours is the voice of one foresighted, Nathernil,” said Idril softly. “What you say is strange, yet I believe it.”

Suddenly Tuor came through the door and welcomed their visitor heartily. Randir could see the joy in his face.

“He is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen, and I daresay I shall never see another like him,” said Tuor.

“No, you shall not,” said Randir. “There will never be another like him.”

“Nathernil, my brother,” said Idril, “He seems to love you already. He is quiet, and watches you closely.”

“Randir, I want you to henceforth act as a guard, and godfather, of this child,” said Tuor. “If you will accept the responsibility, I would have none other to protect him.”

“I am willing,” said Randir, handing the boy back to Idril. “I swear that henceforth the young lad is in my protection, and to death will I bear this charge, if death is what comes.”

“You have no need to speak of death, Nathernil,” said Tuor. “The city is fair, and we have a son to rival those of the elf-lords across the Great Sea!”

Seven months passed, and the boy Eärendil grew amazingly quickly, taking rather after his father than his mother. Eärendil, even at that tender age, could walk with a little difficulty, and he seemed to love the fountains. Ecthelion took a liking to the boy which had won the heart of the Gondothlim, and often would play tunes on his flutes for him.

Tuor had asked him to act as Eärendil’s tutor once he was old enough. Time enough for that, Randir frequently saw the young lad, and both thoroughly enjoyed his long visits.

But Randir grew worried about Maeglin. He saw him speaking with Dolglin, as well as with Salgant’s favorite, Pengacharn. The latter was a tall elf, with a scar across his face as testimony to an accident during the building of the city. Yes, he had been there… born in Vinyamar. Randir also noticed a change come over Salgant, and Randir wondered if this were Pengacharn’s influence, or Maeglin’s – or perhaps Maeglin through Pengacharn. The elf-lord became less apt to speak. One thing extraordinary about Salgant was that he was “broad in the middle”, as the other elf-lords put it, and “fat in the stomach”, as the street-urchins put it. This was extremely rare among elf-lords, but Salgant appeared none the worse for it at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, when he had cut down rows of orcs with Belegdram. Still, Randir wondered. He also wondered if he himself had grown too suspicious.

One day, while Tuor was spending the night in the palace due to a council with the King, Randir felt the curious urge to follow an elf whose face was covered in a dark hood. It was nearing evening, and Randir had just passed the elf on the way back to Tuor’s house, were he had been given a room in return for his “services”. He hesitated, then turned and followed the figure down the streets, staying just out of sight.

Suddenly the elf halted before the door of a house, and knocked twice, then once, then twice. The door opened, and the dark figure went in. Randir crept over to under the window, and listened carefully.

“Are they all here?” asked someone whom Randir assumed to be the one who had just entered.

“Yes,” replied a hushed voice. “All twelve of them.”

“Good,” said the first with satisfaction. “That meddling guard has not returned, they say, but that is usual according to our reports on him. He likes to stay out late. When he returns, there shall be a surprise waiting for him.”

“But remember our true objective,” said another voice, harsh and unmistakably evil. “The alarm must not be raised until the infant is dead. We should have no problems – Tuor is gone, and the bodyguard shall not live to pass through the door.”

Randir’s heart almost stopped beating. He knew in an instant their plans. They must be Maeglin’s men, and either by Maeglin’s orders or on their own accord they were about to murder Eärendil.

He considered dashing off to call in the palace guard. No, by that time they might reach the house, and Eärendil’s throat might be cut before they got there. He could remain and fight them in the streets and hold them off there until help came. No, they could easily go around him, or surround and kill him. Then he realized he must run back to the house, and stand guard in the doorway while someone went for help. Just as he leaped up from under the window, the door opened, and an elf stepped out. The person stood, startled, to see Randir there. Randir took off at a sprint, the elf yelling and gesturing wildly to the persons within.

The door swung all the way open, and Randir saw out of the corner of his eye a large group of men leap out of the house and charge after him with naked blades. He could not take on twelve at once.

Randir ran down the sleeping streets. The sun had gone down by now. Few were awake. Once he passed a craftsman, a shoemaker.

“Run!” he shouted. “Call soldiers to Tuor’s house on the south wall. A murder is being planned.”

But the shoemaker was so bewildered that he did not move. The men ran up, and the innocent craftsman was killed where he stood. Then they resumed their pursuit.

Randir was now worried. If he started yelling to attract attention, it would be thought that he was a criminal of some sort escaping the watch. His progress would be impeded. He would have to run into a friend.

And luck, or fate, favored him. He saw Voronwë approaching from the opposite direction.

“It is me, Voronwë,” Randir shouted as he ran. “They are after the prince! Call the guard!”

Voronwë said not a word but disappeared into a dark alley. The men apparently did not notice him, but kept their eyes on Randir.

Suddenly Tuor’s house loomed up before him. There was only one door on the front. Randir threw himself against it. It was unlocked, waiting for him to return. He considered bolting the door, but decided that it was weak enough so as to break down in an instant under the blows of the men. A figure leaped at him from the corner of his eye, bearing a knife that reflected the stars. With a single movement he cut the assassin nearly in half with Cellagar. He called out to awake the house, then drew his sword, standing the doorway.

The men nearly halted at the sight of the drawn blade, but their leader urged them forward. Two fell by Randir’s strokes. But even the doorway could not keep them from forming a semicircle around him. He found this swordplay difficult, as four could fight him at the same time. He put out of action three more. But his strong arms were already wearing from fighting four opponents at once. He began to move back through the doorway. But he took a long, deep cut across his forehead, and the blood and sweat spilled into his eyes.

Then he threw himself forward quickly, landing almost in their midst and felling three more. There were only six of his opponents left, but he was tiring indeed.

Suddenly he received a gash across the arm. He stumbled, dropping his sword. The leader moved in as if to finish him off. There was a laugh, and Randir glanced up to see a great figure looming above him. He recognized that face, but this information did little good at that time. He tried to rise and attack again with the shining Cellagar. But it was out of his reach. He rolled aside as the blade descended once. But the second time struck him in the chest. He felt a fierce pain in his shoulder as the point bit into him.

He heard, now far-off, shouts of “The guard! The guard is upon us!” before he passed into pained sleep.

The guard indeed had found him. Voronwë and Tuor led them, and they came in amazement to the door of Tuor’s house, now strewn with bodies. Six men still stood upright, but they panicked and fled.

“After them,” Tuor ordered the guard, but he dismounted.

Idril came running out to him holding Eärendil, her face white with shock. Her maidens followed, in like condition to their mistress.

“I heard the warning of Randir, but there was no-one in the house besides me, the baby, and my maidens,” she said. “I snatched up Eärendil and took him into the back room, but they never came into the house.”

“Randir? Where is Randir?” exclaimed Tuor. “He is not in the house?” Idril shook her head, and her face grew even paler.

Tuor, however, despite the dark was going among the bodies. They seemed to form a ring around one corpse in the center. He peered intently at the face, squinting because of the dim light. It was Randir.

Idril gasped, and Tuor drew back in horror.

“He was a mighty man,” Tuor said finally. “He slew eight when they attacked him all at once, and held off many others. If he had not sacrificed his life, Eärendil might be dead.”

Idril began to weep, and setting Eärendil down she bent over by Randir’s motionless form. But then she gave a low exclamation, and raised her head slightly.

“He lives,” she whispered.

The leader of the assassins growled darkly. They had failed again. And Maeglin would not be able to replace the men they lost. They had been separated. As far as he knew he was the only one left. Maeglin had thrown in his last resources. It would be a long time before Maeglin would have power over life and death in the city again.

He glanced over his shoulder. Yes, he was confident that he had evaded the guard completely. He rapped on the door with the code, and Maeglin opened it.

“Is it done?” he whispered. The assassin looked away.

“Eight of my comrades were killed,” he said. “But we never entered the house. The others were hunted down by the guard. I may have been the only one to escape.” Maeglin’s face turned a ghastly pale.

“Fool!” he nearly shouted, pulling the assassin inside. “The child still lives, and I have lost perhaps my entire secret force?”

“I do have some good news, though,” the assassin said hurriedly. “The one they call Randir is dead, or soon will be. I gave him a mortal wound in the chest.”

Then Maeglin did an unexpected thing. He smiled, a grin of evil delight.

“We have not lost completely, then,” he said after a moment. “Randir has foiled my schemes. I would gladly lose eight of my loyal elves in return for Randir’s death. We shall build up our arm again, and then we shall strike. Tuor and Eärendil shall die, and Idril will be mine forever.”

Randir did not realize he was awake for a moment. He felt a slight throbbing in his shoulder. He opened his eyes slowly.

“My lady! He awakes!” exclaimed a woman’s voice. Randir groaned slightly, turning his head slowly to see Alfirinel and Idril near him.

“Where am I?” he asked.

“You are in the House of Healing,” said Idril gently. “Do you not remember what happened?”

“No,” confessed Randir. “I think I remember… yes, there was a man come to Gondolin several days ago… his name was Tuor, I think. He bore a message from Ulmo.” The color drained from Idril’s face.

“Nathernil,” she said softly, “That happened almost eight years ago.”

Randir was shocked, and began to sit up. He felt the pain in his shoulder.

“What happened to me?” he asked. “Have I been asleep these eight years?”

“No,” said Idril. “Two weeks ago you saved my son, Eärendil, and nearly perished in doing so. You had a wound in the head, and in the shoulder.”

“You have a son?” said Randir in bewilderment. Idril hid her face in her hands, and Randir thought he heard her weeping softly.

“Eärendil,” she said. Randir repeated the name.

“Yes,” he said after a moment. “I do think I remember that name. But it seems so far-off, as if I dreamed about it. So you are married?”

“To Tuor, Ulmo’s messenger,” said Idril. Suddenly she left the room with an inspiration, Randir staring after her. But she returned soon, carrying a little boy with alabaster skin and sapphire eyes. Randir reached out to touch the infant, and he hesitantly took the boy in his hands. He stared into the blue eyes for a long while, while the innocent blue eyes stared back. Suddenly Eärendil’s white hand reached out and touched his forehead. Randir suddenly sighed and went limp.

Idril gave an exclamation of fear, as she lifted up her son and drew back. “Nathernil!” she cried.

“No,” he said, and his voice seemed more relaxed. “It is all right. I remember now. Your wedding, your son. I remember that night… part of it. What happened?”

“You slew eight of them, Nathernil,” said Idril. “But you were wounded yourself. The guard came, but some escaped. We took you here, where you have been in the care of my maidens and I. But few know that you are still alive, for we feared they might try and kill you where you lay between life and death.”

“Who were the attackers?” asked Randir weakly. Idril shook her head.

“They were all elves of various stations and positions,” she said. “We do not know who led them.”

“How long until I may rise?” asked Randir.

“You have mended slowly,” said Idril. “But now you are rapidly recovering. I would say that you may be able to rise in two more weeks.”

“Two weeks!” exclaimed Randir. “But who will you use as a guard? They may strike again.”

“I doubt it,” said Idril. “But for the present we have moved to the palace, just for safety.”

“Good,” said Randir, relaxing and closing his eyes. Suddenly they opened again, and he touched his bandaged forehead.

“There was something. . .” he murmured. “I think I saw the face of their leader. But who was he? I cannot remember.”

Idril bent down over him. “Try. If you did not kill him, than he escaped, for of the two we caught both denied being the leader, though they refused to implicate him.”

“I cannot,” said Randir helplessly. “I cannot remember.”

The two weeks passed slowly for Randir. Twelve days after he had awaken, he was able to walk about, if he took it slowly and easily. He was still bandaged in all three places: head, shoulder, and right hand/arm. Tuor insisted that Randir stay close to the palace, so that his attackers would still think him dead. Once Randir saw Maeglin, but hid before the half-Dark elf saw him.

His shoulder-wound healed first. It was still a little sore, but he could move it about freely now. At the three-week mark, the bandage was taken off of his head. The wound in his arm was still very tender. He was not completely bored. Tuor and Idril often would come in to talk with him about various matters, and sometimes the latter brought little Eärendil.

But twenty-five days after his waking, Randir decided to dress fully, and take a short walk about the city. He put on a heavy jerkin over his light tunic, and girded on a belt and sword. He threw a red cloak over his shoulder. All that was left of the head wound was a scar and a sore spot. The pain in the shoulder was nearly completely on. And Randir’s hand was bandaged but far better.

He walked out of the House of Healing, and instead of taking his usual course to the palace, decided to stop at Tuor and Idril’s house.

He was greeted by Tuor at the door, who was surprised to see him.

“Come and eat with us,” he said. “We are about to have the morning meal.”

“Thank you, Tuor,” said Randir, his voice husky.

“So you are not afraid of the assassins finding out about you and getting revenge?” asked Tuor as he brought Randir to the table.

“No,” said Randir. “I do not fear them. It would be too great a risk to kill me now. It would be different if they had murdered me while I lay unconscious. Now I can defend myself.”

“Randir,” said Tuor, “I know I have said this, but I am very grateful to you for saving the life of the lad Eärendil.” They sat down at the table, Randir somewhat gingerly.

“I did what you keep me on to do,” said Randir. “I have not regretted it.”

“When Eärendil gets to be a young man he shall be grateful,” said Tuor.

“Tuor, my brother, one day all shall be grateful to him,” Randir replied quietly.

After the morning meal, prepared by Idril herself, Randir and Tuor strode about the city. Many looked in amazement at Randir, for the rumor had circulated that he died protecting Tuor’s precious child. But he was there, in flesh and bone, returned from the very brink of death. Soon they met up with Glorfindel and Ecthelion.

“Ah, Nathernil,” said Glorfindel. “I see you are feeling better. Some believe you are a ghost arisen from the dead.”

“And others say that you cannot be killed,” said Ecthelion with a smile.

“Alas, both are not true,” said Randir, laughing. “But still…” He stopped short, and turned to gaze after an elf that had just passed him.

“What is it?” asked Glorfindel anxiously.

“Wait for a moment,” said Randir. He turned and followed the elf, then came up boldly and tapped him on the shoulder. The elf turned, then turned as white as chalk at the sight of Randir.

“Pengacharn,” Randir said sharply, and his brows lowered. Suddenly the events of that night flashed back before his eyes. He saw the leering, murderous face of an elf…

He drew his sword, while Pengacharn gasped “It can’t be! It is his spirit!”

“Spirit I may be, but my sword is not that of a ghost,” said Randir grimly. “I know you.”

Pengacharn might have fled, but Glorfindel and Ecthelion leaped forward and grabbed the elf by both arms.

“What is it, Randir?” they asked.

“I remember now the face of the leader of the assassins,” said Randir. He pointed at Pengacharn.

“He lies!” Pengacharn almost screamed. Elves were gathering about them. Salgant rushed up, as did Maeglin. The latter’s eyes widened in amazement to see an armed Randir, with bandages on his left hand and arm, and a fresh scar across his head.

“We shall have a trial,” said Glorfindel as calmly as he could master.

“No need,” said Randir sternly. “He or I shall be dead within the hour, in single combat.”

Pengacharn broke free. “I must have council with my lord and master,” he said, turning to Salgant, who looked nervously about, not wanting to get involved in so grave a matter. But Maeglin spared him the trouble, stepping forward.

“Fight him,” he urged. “He is wounded, and you are a master swordsman.”

Pengacharn grew even paler, but seeing Maeglin’s look told him that if Pengacharn refused to fight, Maeglin might take it into his head to have him erased. Yes, others had escaped the guard, and two of them remained fiercely loyal to Maeglin. The unhappy elf nodded, and turned back to Randir. “I accept your challenge.” Glancing at Maeglin he added “Now, in the courtyard of the palace.”

Randir nodded, and marched away, the crowd of elves following, none daring prevent this duel. They reached the courtyard, and Turgon came hurrying out to see what was the matter.

“It is against the law,” he said firmly.

“Lord King,” Randir replied, “I am representing not myself, but the Prince Eärendil. For my wounds I would forgive him. But death shall be his reward for daring to impose upon the life of Idril’s son.” Then Turgon looked into Randir’s eyes, and saw that Randir would not be moved.

“So be it,” he said. “He who slays the other is absolved of all blame for the other’s blood.”

Randir threw off his cloak with a single movement, and stepped forward ready. But Idril suddenly came forward from the crowd.

“This should not happen! Randir is wounded,” she exclaimed.

“It shall make the battle more even,” said Salgant, who was a just man. “Everyone knows that Randir Nathernil is the best swordsman in Gondolin.” He glanced at Maeglin, as if to make sure he had said the right thing.

“I shall fight for you,” said Glorfindel, and Ecthelion stepped forward as well.

“No,” said Randir, his face like stone. He awaited the challenged to strike the first blow.

Pengacharn suddenly thrusted forward, sending his sword for Randir’s chest. Randir suddenly twisted his arm around, striking Pengacharn’s hand with the flat of his blade, knocking the sword away.

Randir might have slain him there justly, but he just nodded with his head toward Pengacharn’s sword, and the elf returned to pick it up again, looking very fearful.

The swords flashed again, and this time the metal rang. Randir parried three of Pengacharn’s strokes. He dodged the stroke of the fourth, but somewhat stiff from his wounds, narrowly missed having his right arm cut off.

Randir then gave Pengacharn a slash that cut a long incision in the elf’s chest, but it was not deep. The elf fell back, his hand touching the wound. He drew it back sticky with blood. Randir waited patiently for Pengacharn to resume the contest.

Pengacharn now saw his advantage: his agility. Randir could not move extremely fast. Pengacharn hurled himself forward, but stopped just out of reach of Randir’s sword, and dashed to the side, slowly circling Randir, who watched him like a hawk.

Suddenly Pengacharn stabbed forward toward Randir’s neck. Randir fell back, and the thrust passed just inches above his head. But he felt a sudden pain, and almost stumbled to the ground. He guessed that he had re-opened something, or had nearly done so.

Pengacharn kept his advantage. While Randir dizzily tried to regain his footing, he sent in blow after blow meant to wear Randir out, and at last bring him to his knees. It looked certain, now, that Randir would soon be killed. His foot was on the edge of the fountain, which was very deep. He could not retreat any more, he could not buy any more time.

But then Randir hurled himself away from Pengacharn, and managed to take a bearing before Pengacharn rushed him again. Randir backed up against Belthil, the Silver Tree, and parried Pengacharn’s blows.

Suddenly Pengacharn slid his blade around and struck Randir’s right wrist. Fortunately it was not a direct blow, otherwise Randir might have lost his hand. But he dropped his sword, grasping his wrist painfully. It seemed as if Pengacharn had won his victory.

He stabbed, much like the night before, and Randir dived aside. He knew he could not escape Pengacharn’s blows for long, but he hoped that some new inspiration would come to him. But fate interceded.

Pengacharn’s thrust entered the silver bark of Belthil. What happened next was astounding. Like a horizontal geyser, a burst of silver liquid flowed forth, striking Pengacharn’s hand. To the amazement of the onlookers, Pengacharn howled in acute pain, releasing his sword and falling down. Where the liquid had touched his hand the skin was black, as if burned.

But Randir sprang up from where he lay, and lifting up Cellagar with his left hand, stabbed Pengacharn to the heart.

“Thus is the fate of the traitor,” said Randir grimly, without a hint of joy, or of sadness. He drew his Cellagar out of the dead body. Then he reached over and drew Pengacharn’s sword out of the silver tree. Then all saw that the blade had apparently melted away almost up to the point that it entered the tree. All that was left was the smoking hilt, and only about five inches of blade. Randir hurled it aside, then reaching down touched the blood of the tree. It did not harm him, but instead he smeared it along his limp right arm and wrist. The bandages fell away, and Randir’s arm was exposed. And it was healed.

“So, by the will of Ilúvatar, the traitor is revealed, and his just reward awaits him in Mandos,” said Turgon solemnly. “Bury the body, but let the sword be carried to the palace, where it shall rest as a testimony to the fate of those who would betray and murder their neighbors. Well done, Randir.”

“Yes,” said Tuor, and there were tears in his stern gray eyes. “You are now truly my brother, if you were not before.” And they embraced. Idril kissed him on the cheek, as if he were truly her brother, and Voronwë laid a hand on his healed shoulder. But Randir’s eyes were on the infant Eärendil, and looking into the sapphire eyes, it was as if he could already see the glorious future ahead of him. Perhaps he really did.