'"But behold!" said [Ulmo], "in the armour of Fate (as the Children of Earth name it) there is ever a rift, and in the walls of Doom a breach, until the full-making, which ye call the End. So it shall be while I endure, a secret voice that gainsayeth, and a light where darkness was decreed... Yet... I am diminished, until in Middle-earth I am become now no more than a secret whisper..."'
JRR Tolkien, 'Unfinished Tales'
I have no lack of time for reminiscence now. There is all the time in the world, here at Mithlond. Of course, I spend many hours watching the busy progress of life in the harbour and the shipyard. There is a painful satisfaction to be found in seeking sights that recall Alqualondë. I always look out for Círdan at such times - dear Círdan, who treated me with such kindness when I first came to Middle-earth, unresponsive shell that I was. Would it not astonish him, now, to learn that I dwell under his protection once more?
It is of no moment what he would think. He will never know me; so greatly am I changed from what I was when a young girl I used to wander the shores of Aman, feeding the swans and listening for the song of Ulmo in the waves, as I still do constantly. It has been the one great constant of my life. Mithlond is not the Bay of Eldamar that is closed to me, yet still I find consolation in the voice of my lord.
Many of the Teleri love Ossë. He is a comprehensible being, the maker of our beloved birds, all too familiar in his frailties. Any interested party is free to visit his house in Valmar. Ulmo has none.
Ossë's storms will tear body from soul. His tidal waves will obliterate the little coastal town that means no harm. He will stop at nothing to ruin, drown, destroy. Those who revere him take for power what is only rage, for Ossë is shallow. Oh, the Children of Ilúvatar he can destroy, but we are no more than floating bubbles. Any fool can break them; what skill is needed to make of them a pattern of beauty and endurance?
But below the waves, below the turmoil of Ossë, at depths beyond our thought, there is stillness. Even here at Mithlond, this gathering place for the dregs of the Sindar, I hear the promise of that stillness in the motion of the water. It is deep, deep as the purposes of Ulmo, for it is of him. It is him.
All my life I have been fascinated by Ulmo, ever since my mother told me tales of him when I was a child. I wanted then to devote my life to him, as the Noldor who name themselves the Aulenduri serve their lord. Of course I was never permitted any such direct intercourse with Ulmo. Truly, it was ever my crowning desire to be granted a sight of him, but I never really expected him so to honour me, once I had reached adulthood.
I certainly never accorded him such honours as Men sometimes do Morgoth, with temples and bloody sacrifices. That is not the way of my people. Indeed, it never occurred to me that I could do anything for my lord. The idea would have been ludicrous. What could I, insignificant creature that I am, do that could be to his advantage, when such glory and power are his?
Mine was the worst of all possible worlds. There was no place for my strange obsession. I could neither speak to its object face to face, as two created beings, nor pour out my devotion in worship. And so, though Ulmo has possessed my imagination always, I have never been able to do more than pray to him in my troubles.
Prayer is a dangerously uncertain thing, like searching for messages in the sea-music. The listening ear, the answering voice – who can say whether they are present in the world or only in our imaginations? That gap faith alone can bridge. But how to draw the line between faith and delusion?
There have been times in my life when I have almost hated Ulmo for his distance. Why was he so far superior to his brethren, that he should conceal himself thus from the world? Did my devotion deserve no better reward? Or why had I been cursed with this strange predicament, perhaps alone among the Eldar?
Worse than these were the times when I doubted that Ulmo had ever heard my prayers. I had never seen him – what proof did I have of his very existence? Perhaps my many petitions had simply vanished, lost without trace in the uncharted depths of the sea.
These crises are passed now. I believe my story would still any doubts as to the power of Ulmo, if it were ever known in its entirety to any but myself. He is, and will ever be, far removed above my childish questions and anxieties.
So when my attention wanders from Círdan's progress with his latest ship, I can count on the companionship of the old, ever-new song of the waves. But they do not protect me from my memories. On the contrary, so many of my most powerful recollections are bound up with their music that the relationship between present and past sometimes seems to become confused, as if the very concepts are terrestrial constructions, alien to the unchanging kingdom of Ulmo.
It is in the nature of the Eldar to fall back upon our memories more and more with the passing of the years, but it is not always what we would wish. My own experiences have been more often miserable than joyful. There are times when I would cry for mercy, if I could, from the constant reverberation of those ancient losses and questions against the battered shore of my heart. The questions are especially painful. I still sometimes torment myself for days on end with wondering why I did not marry Ulmondil when I had the chance.
There are particular moments that stick in the memory with the vividness of present experience. When I look back now, my life seems like a necklace strung with such moments, some of which I find almost unbearable to recall, though I do have happier memories with which to ward off such painful associations. Against the silent pines of Dorthonion, I set the gloriously golden afternoon when I met Damrod beneath Hírilorn. Sometimes it is enough.
Tonight, my soul is possessed by the recollection of the visit I made to Brithombar a few months after Arothir's wedding. It was Galadriel's idea; she had declared, one evening, that I looked pale and needed a holiday. I remember she called me sister. How I hated to hear that word from her lips!
She knew the reason for my pallour, of course, for she finds out everything sooner or later. I believe I did not intend to take her advice at first, but her will is irresistible. I soon found myself being hospitably welcomed by Círdan.
It was no great comfort to me, that holiday: not immediately, at any rate. Truly, it was good to see and hear the sea again, on the first day. After all, it was the first time in years. I ran out into the waves and generally conducted myself childishly. When I lay down to sleep, it was an inexpressible delight to feel myself coccooned once more in the protecting hands of Ulmo.
Alas, I woke before dawn, my previous feeling of well-being replaced by a distressing sense that something was wrong. I tried to work out what it might be as I lay awaiting the return of sleep, but it never came. The wave-song seemed louder and less soothing than it had on the previous night. The effect was like that of the buzzing of some insect; it frightened away the shy approach of drowsiness.
At breakfast, I felt an utter lack of appetite, which persisted throughout the week that I spent there. It was to have been longer, but what could I do but curtail my stay, when, for the first time in my life, the sight and sound and smell of the sea had become only weariness to me?
I was shrouded in a headache fog almost all the time. When I tried to talk to my hosts, that ceaseless noise seemed to come between us, distracting me and making me speak wide of the point, as it came also between me and rest. Every night, I snatched no more than a couple of hours of troubled sleep. In dreams I wandered an endless shore, where the dark waves seemed to speak with elven voices, but in no tongue that I had ever heard.
I returned to Doriath brokenhearted, convinced that I would never again be able to seek comfort in the sound that had been my cradle-song. The catastrophe was utterly beyond my comprehension. What reward was this for my faithful devotion to Ulmo? How had such a thing come to happen to me, to me?
My cradle-song? Yes, and more than that. When I hear that music, a tumultuous train of memories painful and poignant is stirred up in my breast; so many of the most significant events of my life have taken place to its accompaniment, from the very beginning - for I count that meeting as the beginning of my tragedy -, when I heard Ulmondil singing on the shore of the Great Sea.
I had never heard a voice like his before; I have never heard one since. It was unique in expression and range. After Arminas' birth, a terrible thing happened: I began to forget the contours of Ulmondil's face. But his voice I will always hear in the waves.
Ulmondil was my second love. My first was a Noldo named Ambarauto whom I had met in the house of my Aunt Eärwen and her Noldorin husband, a close friend of my cousin Angaráto. In my youth, I had very close relations with this family, especially with Aikanáro, the third son, who was like a brother to me.
I would never have consented to marry Ambarauto if I had not truly loved him. I could have been happy as his wife, though he knew nothing of Ulmo, if – but what what is the use of imagining what might have happened? After Ulmondil and I found each other, my betrothal to Ambarauto had to be ended immediately, and I rode to Tirion to do it.
I will never forget the calm endurance with which he faced the destruction of his hopes. Patience and a great immovability were indeed his most fundamental characteristics. He was not beautiful as Ulmondil was beautiful, like a starlit statue, or as his people can be beautiful, like the sea in a storm of Ossë. He was strong and solid as an evergreen tree.
I have said that I will never forget how he took the news; so deeply did it move me at the time. And yet I sang all the way back to Alqualondë and Ulmondil.
Alqualondë, home of my heart, fairest of harbours! I can still recall every detail of the sight that met my eyes when I reached the great arch of living rock, the view from which was our pride and joy in the time of our glory. The bowl of rock that held the city was spread out below me with all its lights, appearing small and delicate, so that I wanted to cup it in my hands and protect it.
They were of many hues, those myriad points of brilliance; but the town was girdled round with a great ring of golden lamps that was broken only where a long finger of the sea crept beneath my vantage point, its surface so unbroken that I could see my own face in it, a tiny pale dot amidst the reflected light and colour of the Swanhaven.
The house of Olwë - not a palace, merely a house not very much larger than other houses - was directly opposite the arch, at the head of the shining inlet. Here I had been born and still lived with my family: my paternal grandparents, Olwë and Falwë; my parents, Falmarion and Solonel; my bachelor uncle, Elwelindo; and my little brother, the darling of my heart, my Teleporno.
I loved all of these, and all of them loved me. But Teleporno was more dear to me than my own life. Perhaps because of the wide age difference between us, there had never been any jealousy or rivalry there. He was the apple of my eye, as dear as a child of my own, and I know that he placed as much trust in me as if I had been a second mother to him. Indeed, he confided some childish secrets to me that not even our mother ever knew.
That was the full-point of my happiness. Why - oh why! – could time not have stopped for me at that moment? What crime had I ever committed, that I deserved to lose everything I loved?
I did not see Ambarauto again until Finrod held his great feast in celebration of the foundation of Minas Tirith. His name had changed with the times; he was Damrod by then; but in face and manner he was the same. Not so I.
Craving invisibility, denied death, a pale shadow of what I had been in Alqualondë, I had been fortunate at least in the company available to me. I attached myself to Galadriel always, for in her mesmerising presence, who would look at me?
He said little to me at the time, after offering me his condolences, but a few months later, he came to Doriath to see me. I believe I was glad of his company, in so far as I was ever glad of anything. He must at least have seen something encouraging in my manner, for he came again the next year, three times.
I grew to look forward to his visits, which soon settled into a regular pattern. He never stayed for more than a week or so. We would spend every day walking in the forest and talking, sometimes of his life in Dorthonion, more often of the past.
It was pleasant to be able to discuss my youth with one who had shared it. Needless to say, I could never exchange reminiscences with Celeborn or Galadriel! Even Damrod and I, in our conversations, were always very careful never to stray into painful territory. We often recalled the happy times we had had staying with Arafinwë, Eärwen and their family, but we never mentioned Galadriel any more than if I had not been living in close proximity to her in Doriath.
After the Dagor Aglareb, Angrod's son Arothir took it into his head to marry a bright dark little Sinda of Mithrim. I mention this because it was after their wedding that Damrod proposed to me for the second time.
"I still love you," he said. "I have never loved anyone but you. I don't expect you to return what I feel with such intensity. Only let me look after you; let me be the father of your children-"
I think I laughed at that. I had no wish to hurt him, but was he blind? Could he not see, could he not perceive the deadness in my eyes? Did he not understand how the Kinslaying lay between us, between our peoples, a dike fit to withstand the passions of Ossë?
Besides, I could never love again.
It must have been a surprise to our friends that Ulmondil and I did not marry as soon as the required Year of the Trees was out, being so very deeply in love, but we were in no hurry. Indeed, I must admit that I put Ulmondil off a number of times. It was not that I did not love him! It was understood that we were going to become one soon, but in the meantime, there seemed no need to hasten my departure from my family home.
There was also the question of where we would live. My new love had not been born in Alqualondë, but in the northernmost of our settlements on the shore of the Great Sea. These reasons for delay appeared sensible at the time, though they seem scarcely sufficient now.
So we walked by the sea and listened to Ulmo and fed the swans and sang together, though my voice was never more than thin and reedy in comparison with his, while the Years slipped through our fingers like the soft white sand on the shore of the vast expanse of blue-shading-into-grey that is the Bay of Eldamar dotted with white swans.
For many years, I lamented this delay with unspeakable bitterness. Now I do not know what to think. I still feel agony for the fullness of love that we were never permitted to share; but how can a mother regret the existence of her child?
During those Years, Teleporno grew from a gangling adolescent into a young paragon of tallness and beauty, with an exceptional skill in shipbuilding: I loved him more every Day. He was fifty-two when Artanis came.
Artanis was the youngest of my Aunt Eärwen's children, the golden-haired baby of the family, my senior by thirty-five Years. In the Days of my first betrothal, when I spent at least half of every Year in her parents' house, Artanis and I were much together. I can still remember finding her fascinating and perfect in every way.
My intimacy with this family was dealt a severe blow by the dissolution of my relations with Ambarauto, who was after all not only Angaráto's friend but much loved (rightly so) by the entire family. I do not blame Aikanáro for choosing to retain his friendship rather than mine. He was very close to Angaráto. As for my friendship with Artanis, we drifted apart - no, there was no drifting involved. Drifting is a thing of Ulmo. Artanis tired of me, as the Noldor do, and turned her deadly attention to other things.
She did not trouble to give us any warning of her arrival on that fatal Day, but simply rode into Alqualondë, never doubting her welcome. And we did welcome her. Teleporno above all took to her on sight. He had never met her before, or not since he was a very small child. That he admired her tremendously was obvious to all the House of Olwë. Mother indeed feared that she might be a bad influence on him, for her presence seemed to inflame his naturally passionate nature, but none of us ever suspected for a moment the true nature of their attachment. What would I not give to reclaim that innocence!
In any case, they soon began to spend long Hours together every Day. She had begged him to teach her the building of ships, which must have seemed a cunning way to kill two swans with one stone. At other times they would try to match each other in archery, Artanis radiant with her golden hair braided and coiled around her head. It was on one such occasion that he gave her the epessë by which she has become known throughout the northern world. Her true name is all but forgotten now. Only consider the Sindar of Mithlond: how many of them have ever heard the name of Artanis? And which of them does not revere the mention of Galadriel?
And we his family stood around and smiled upon these innocent tokens of cousinly affection!
For Ulmo's sake, Alatáriel, how did you sleep in those Years? Can you really have been already so hardened that you never suffered a moment of remorse, as you planned to steal a young boy away from his home and kin?
She never named a date for her departure, though we all assumed at first that it would be fairly soon. When the Days of her stay began to lengthen into Years, I know that my grandfather, for one, began to feel considerable irritation. But there was nothing he could do about it. He could hardly have turned out his own granddaughter, Teleporno's bosom companion!
She had lived in our house for eight Years when the darkness came.
There was no warning. At one moment, I was walking to the dockyard, everything as normal. I hoped to find Teleporno and Alatáriel, who had been working on a ship together for over a Year. It was now practically complete.
Suddenly, the lamps of Alqualondë seemed to brighten all at once as the world was enveloped in shadow, as it were a black cloak thrown over us. The streets were thrown into terrible confusion. People ran about in distraction; women went into hysterics. As for me, I could think of nothing but Teleporno. It did not even occur to me to go back to the lighted house and there seek shelter from the unknown darkness. I had to find Teleporno. He was my little brother.
The docks were deserted. I had never seen them so lifeless. It occurred to me that Teleporno and Alatáriel might have returned home, as all the other shipwrights must have done, missing me in the half-light. None the less, I began to search for them in the various buildings of the dockyard. Finally I came to a derelict shed, whose windows had been boarded over. I suppose they must have done this themselves, in order to enjoy their unclean pleasures without danger of discovery; but their foresight meant that they had no idea of the fatal change in the world until I burst in upon them.
They sprang apart at once, of course, but I had seen their shame. The scene is seared into my memory forever: the image of the lovers entwined, mouth on shameless mouth, thrown into clarity by the light of the lantern that stood upon a table in the corner of the shed.
She forbade me to tell a soul. She threatened me and laid hands on me while my brother, my own Teleporno, stood by and did nothing. It was for his sake that I did not go straight to our grandfather and have them disowned and exiled. If she imagines that I acted from fear of her, she is a fool.
When we arrived home, Ulmondil was there. Wandering the shores at the onset of darkness, he had immediately hastened to Alqualondë, to ensure my safety. I threw myself into his arms and wept: he thought he knew why. Alatáriel was watching me like a hawk. She need not have troubled. I would not have betrayed Teleporno for anything in the world.
Ulmondil and I held each other's hands as we listened to Fëanáro's speech, that we might not lose each other in the darkness. My love had his bow with him, as did others; the darkness had set all our nerves on edge. When the mad prince's followers set their hands on our ships, he was one of many who acted to save them, climbing onto the roof of that very accursed shed, whence he sent arrow after arrow into the ranks of the Noldor.
I watched the battle from the lee of another warehouse. Ulmondil had ordered me to return to my grandfather's house, but of course I could not. I will not relive what I saw and heard then. I have not forgotten it - the memories remain, waiting to be let in - but I refuse to remember.
Yet there is one most horrible detail that sticks in my mind to this day. At first I believed that Teleporno and Alatáriel were taking no part in the struggle, for I could see them nowhere, but gradually I became aware that some archer had taken up his station on the great arch. The Noldor were being cut down from above. Every so often one of them would fall in the middle of his bloody work, all unsuspecting, and some of his intended victims would be saved, perhaps, until a comrade stepped into the breach.
I imagined the bowman to be one of ours, until I looked up and saw them, standing side by side, elevated as Manwë and Varda on Taniquetil, her hair shining. Teleporno did not have his bow with him. All he was doing was handing her her arrows. But she - oh, Ulmo, how shall I ever banish the vision of her calm face, her perfect intentness on her aim, as she sent death winging through the air to her father's kin?
I do not know what premonition made me withdraw my horrified gaze from the sight, but when I looked back to Ulmondil, there was a dark figure behind him. The Noldorin murderer must have climbed up the far side of Ulmondil's shed. He heard no sound, for the cries of battle and the great roar of the sea, which threw itself against the shore like a thing possessed. When I saw, it was too late to cry out.
The Kinslayer threw his body to the ground, where it lay still, a starlit statue on the dark sand. I ran to him. The combatants let me pass, a woman unarmed - Ulmo save us from the nobility of the Noldor! Many times, before I met Damrod beneath the trees of Doriath, I wished that they had done me the great kindness of killing me then.
There I crouched, on sand slippery with the blood of him who was dearer to me than life, cradling his lifeless body. I wept until there were no more tears in me, and then I was still. The fighting had ceased by then. The Noldor took the ships at last, though those of my people who still breathed cried out to Ossë for vengeance. Oh, the fools, the fools, to beg anything of him!
At last Teleporno and Alatáriel came and led me away to their ship. Now I understood why that sweetest and most natural of kinswomen had wished to know the art of shipbuilding. It was not for its own sake, for that accursed people cannot conceive of learning or doing anything except as a means to an end. That was all that the Teleri were to her.
Alatáriel, just like her uncle, had always wanted to see the Middle-earth. She had no difficulty in taking advantage of Teleporno's youthful restlessness to make him share her dreams. He in turn had corrupted two friends of his, who would have completed their little crew, if circumstances had not added me to their number as an unwilling fifth.
I was so dazed and broken, I could not even think of offering resistance, nor do I know to this day why they decided to take me. All I can think is that perhaps she feared Teleporno would not leave me in that state.
My mind was an empty beach. There was no sand there, only pebbles, pale and rounded. The sea sighed out a simple song of weariness and regret, for the name of that strand is Desolation. To this place should be given the name of last shore, not to Alqualondë, let alone the beaches of Tol Eressëa. Alqualondë was my first shore. In the grey twilight of Middle-earth, when Círdan's people retire to their warm houses, before the rising of Eärendil, I sometimes begin to see that place of the mind in Mithlond.
At such times, my great fear is to be left alone. They will all sail at last, even Círdan, but the Straight Road is closed to me. My last company will be the swans, which flock here in their thousands, as in fair Alqualondë.
It was our voyage that brought swans to the Middle-earth. I do not know how Alatáriel made them leave their home and fly into the darkness, but she had studied in the house of Yavanna. She knows almost more about animals and plants than it seems decent to know; and she has strange powers over them. At any rate, there they were, an entire flock of them, for it took the strength of many to draw our ship along when there was no wind. They landed on the deck when they were weary, and Alatáriel fed them with crumbs of coimas.
This was the time when a swan's wings could carry her across the Great Sea. It is grown since.
At the time, I did not wonder at the birds' obedience to my cousin's will. I was so far lost in Desolation that I looked on the world with uncomprehending blankness. I had no appetite even for food. I think I was beginning to die the death of grief.
It was Alatáriel who kept me alive. I wish I knew why. The image of her sitting by my side, all but forcing food down my throat, her extraordinary eyes boring into mine as if this contact would form a bridge to bind me to life, is one of those that still return to haunt me here at Mithlond. Defenceless, reduced to the state of a confused child, I was curiously affected by the spectacle of her beauty, as if I had never seen it before.
And truly, her loveliness is supreme. I, who have dwelt in the shadow of Lúthien, still tremble at the thought of Alatáriel's beauty. It is filled with a fierce life, so very different from the half-formed dreams of the Third Kindred. Her great throat is that of a golden animal.
So we sped through the Great Sea, which is infinite and grey, as my tears, until we came to Brithombar and to Círdan. I remember the look on his face when he first saw the swans and heard the beating of their wings, as if they were a greater wonder than our strange clothes and stranger speech, more beautiful than Galadriel's glistening hair.
After that, there are no more vivid memories for a long time, where many years seem to have slipped away leaving hardly a trace. We lived on Círdan's hospitality, the three of us, until Finrod had come to Middle-earth, when he invited us to come and live with him in the north. Later, we took up residence in Doriath, fifteen years before Arothir wedded his dark Sinda in the sixty-seventh year of the First Age.
As for Celeborn's two young friends, they remained with Círdan, for both of them had found lovers there. One still abides at Mithlond; I see him almost every day. He does not recognise me.
Of course I never saw any of my family again. I have heard, as one hears these things at Mithlond, where everyone comes in the end, that my father and Uncle Elwelindo came to Middle-earth at the time of the War of Wrath, and that they asked everywhere for me. Of course, no-one could give them any information, beyond that of my disappearance and presumed death. Even Celeborn thinks of me as a casualty of the Dagor Bragollach.
I returned to Doriath from my strange holiday at Brithombar a few days before my cousins - my brother's brothers-in-law, Ulmo help us all! - arrived on one of their occasional visits. If their coming had been known to me, and still more if I had learned of Círdan's intention to tell Thingol of the Kinslaying, I would undoubtedly have remained in Brithombar. Is this accident?
Thingol confronted his nephews in private, behind closed doors, but I was there. I was of the family. I sat silent as my cousin spoke of blood and despair, but Ulmo help me, it was the lamps that undid me. The little lamps were smashed. I had forgotten.
Not even Celeborn noticed my departure. Galadriel saw, but her face was blank of emotion. I remember Thingol once turned to her, asking her for confirmation of some horrible detail. She shook her golden head in refusal.
Beyond the shadowy half-light of Menegroth, a delicious late summer afternoon was spread over Doriath like honey. Galadriel's hair looks well in sunshine. Mine, silver as it is, prefers the starlight.
The stars were bright in Alqualondë.
But never mind that now. When I saw Damrod standing beneath Hírilorn, all such considerations vanished from my mind. It seemed right that they should do so. Oh, it seemed right that there should be sunshine in the world - sunshine and love!
I should have known that he would have come, inseparable from Angrod as he was, though he told me later that he had been unsure whether to remain in the north. Yearning to see me again, he yet feared that the sight of him would cause me pain.
But I was not the same woman who had refused him. For Ulmo does indeed speak in the music of the sea: I was only a little out in my reckoning when I used to listen for his words as a girl. My mistake was to be foolish and arrogant enough to expect to recognise them.
He dwells in the deeps, and it is not his way to reveal himself plainly; but how could he have been unaware of my naïve devotion, when I revealed it in countless prayers to him? It was his way of rewarding me to send me a hidden message of love and forgiveness in the noise of the waves. It was my own stubborness that kept me from hearing it.
Ulmo had told me to seize my chance of happiness while it was open to me. When I accepted this, everything else became clear. I must have lost my way in the darkness, to fall into the mad grudges of Ossë. Ulmo had forgiven the Noldor; who was I to do otherwise?
What need to say more? Suffice it to note that Damrod and I were betrothed before he returned to Dorthonion. The sun shone every day of that summer.
Again, after our marriage, much time passed without leaving traces burnt into my brain that still wake me in the night, rigid with long-vanished terror or ecstacy. My time for strong passions was past; the hour of contentment was come.
We made our home near the roof of Dorthonion, miles away from any other habitation. I could never have borne to live so far distant from the sea, if it had not been for Tarn Aeluin. That water is - no, was smoother than a sheet of blue glass. There, more than in any other place, I have felt the still presence of Ulmo. I walked there, to meditate, almost every day for 400 years.
Arminas was our only child and the darling of our hearts, little as he took after either of us in character, resembling Celeborn in his enthusiasms. I tried to tell him of Ulmo, but he preferred Galadriel's tales of her cousin Turgon, who had disappeared in the night with a host of his followers. They were more exciting.
I have a great deal of time for thinking now. Is not that supposed to be a cause of madness? I do not know. Sometimes it seems to me that although the purposes of Ulmo are deep indeed, there must be limits to his perception of the future.
And yet the thought remains and will not be forgotten: if I had married Ulmondil in my youth - if Arminas had never been - the Evening Star would not shine over Mithlond tonight!
No, it cannot be so. It was of my own free will that I put off our wedding for those fourteen Years. I would have known if any external force had been prompting me.
But would I? I was slow enough to recognise his voice when he urged me to marry Damrod. Might it not be possible for a young and impressionable mind, a mind that had brooded constantly on one subject from childhood, to be influenced unconsciously by that subject, when I spent so very many long Hours letting the sea-music fill my ears?
I do not know!
I think I knew, when they rode with Angrod against the dreadful onslaught of Morgoth, that I would never see my husband or my son again. Certainly it was not surprise that I felt when the news came.
There was so little time for farewells! We were summoned from our beds in the deep night by a messenger who gasped out the hideous tale. Angrod needed Damrod urgently; was he not one of his most trusted captains? There was scarcely time for me to kiss my dear ones and say a few simple parting words before they must be gone. The messenger took no notice of me, but Angrod told me to ride to the nearest town. Was this only his native caution, or did he too expect the worse?
I did not go, though I sent the servants, because I needed to be alone as much as for their safety. It was the only time I ever disoboyed my husband, though indeed as a general rule he was swayed by my will in all things. I was simply in too much anguish of heart to bear the company of others. Instead I sat in the dark through the rest of the night, rigid with terrror, my mind almost blank of thought.
It was soon after dawn that I looked out of the window and saw a figure among the trees. It was a man of the Edain. When I called to him, he started violently, as if his nerves were as bruised as mine, before approaching the house.
I came out to meet him, for I had recognised him as one of the force of Noldor and Edain under Damrod's command, though he was utterly changed from what he had been when I saw him last. I have never seen such exhaustion and remembered terror marked in a living face. There was a long cut on his cheek, but he did not seem to be wounded otherwise. His slow, groping progress I attributed to exhaustion and to his mental state. He did not try to conceal the fact that he had run away from the battle.
I have said that it was not surprise I felt when he told me of Damrod's death. I do not know what it was - yes, I do. It was the opposite of what lived and breathed in the depths of Tarn Aeluin. I have never managed to copy that serenity, fragile bubble that I am. I have tried, but on that day I lost control of myself. Damrod was my rock.
And yet I made my voice very calm when I told the runaway to leave me; it must have been the expression on my face that so alarmed him. I remember he advised me to flee before stumbling away into the chill of the winter morning. I wonder if he had the shadow of an idea where he was going, or cared any more than I did.
After he had gone, I could not stay in the house, so I went out and walked through the silent pine trees. Was this worse than the death of Ulmondil? I could not decide. I could not think. Arminas lived, but for how long?
Flight? What was the use? Why should I live on? Better to stay here, where I had been happy. The water was calling to me, but silently. This was no voice of Ulmo, only my own imagination. It spoke of peace and no more losses.
I stood on an outcropping of stone, the very shoulder of Aulë, and looked into the face of Ulmo. Then I jumped. I seemed to fall for an age, but it cannot have been more than a few seconds before the cool water closed above my head.
Burning agony as the water filled my lungs. I screamed silently, forgetting my resolve, trying to swim for the surface, but something held me back. I was enclosed as in a giant's fist.
And then the pain was not. Oh, my lungs were full of water, but for those precious seconds, water was my natural element. And I heard the voice of my lord!
He was telling me not to fear, as if I could ever have feared him. Many other words he spoke also in a short time. I know he told me secrets that I had dreamed of knowing from childhood. It seemed that all the mysteries that had bewildered and pained me were made clear. If only I could remember all that was revealed to me then!
And I was in him and he was in me, and it was the culmination of my life!
I wanted it never to end. Oh, how I yearned for it to go on and on, forever! But almost at once I felt myself thrust towards the unforgiving air. I wanted to cry out in protest, but only a strange harsh cry issued from my throat. And all too soon I floated, white and pure and voiceless, not a feather out of place.
The narrator, her parents, her grandmother, Ulmondil and Damrod are all OCs. Angrod's son Arothir and his Sindarin wife are not, but are mentioned in 'The History of Middle-earth', where Olwë's son 'Elulindo' also features. Since this name is clearly Sindarin in form, I have attempted to create a Telerin form for it.
In "The Silmarillion', Celeborn is a Sindarin kinsman of Thingol whom Galadriel meets in Doriath. However, in this story, I retell a different, later version of their history (given in 'Unfinished Tales'), which makes him a Telerin grandson of Olwë.
Also, in 'The Silmarillion', the exiled Noldor are referred to by Sindarin names. Most of these are adaptations, made by the exiles themselves, of their original names in the languages of Aman, which I use in this story. All of these come from 'The History of Middle-earth'.
The name Alatáriel or Galadriel was originally, as I describe in this story, a nickname (epessë) given to her by Celeborn. Her father-name was Artanis.
Coimas is the Quenya word for lembas.
The Aulenduri, described in 'The History of Middle-earth', were usually 'Noldor who... entered Aulë's service, and who in return received instruction from him'. It seems that the word, which literally meant 'ones devoted to Aulë', could also carry a more general application.
Elves reached maturity between the ages of forty-nine and ninety-nine. According to 'The History of Middle-earth', betrothed couples were required to wait for a year before marrying.
1 Hour of the Trees=7 hours of the sun
1 Day of the Trees=12 Hours of the Trees=3.5 days of the sun
1 Year of the Trees=1000 Days of the Trees=9.582 years of the sun
All opinions are the narrator's, not mine (obviously).