In An Age before – Part 35
Belfalas and Lebennin – The Second Age of the Sun
By the morn of 22 Norui, (June 22nd), Helluin was't fit to travel; indeed she was't frantic to do so. She reasoned that as the anguish she felt for the loss of her connection to Valinor had to do with the Blessed Realm, she would be best served in seeking out he who had most recently quit Aman. Thus Helluin and Beinvír made their way west to Lindon, seeking their old friend Glorfindel. With fine summer weather they kept a quick pace; indeed Beinvír hadn't found herself nearly jogging to keep up of her partner's longer strides in many years.
"Helluin, thou shalt run me to my death in thy haste," she chaffed on the third day of their journey. They had already covered well 'nigh a hundred miles and were upon the road approaching the White Downs.
"Wherefore art the king's messengers with their horses when one is needed?" Helluin muttered under her breath, but she slacked somewhat her pace.
Indeed that afternoon they were met upon the road by just such. A company mounted and riding in haste 'neath the king's banner came to a halt before them and one amongst them dismounted and approached.
"Helluin Maeg-mórmenel, thou art summoned to Lindon to the court of the High King of the Noldor. Ereinion son of Fingon commands thy presence and counsel as soon as may be. Thou art not…"
"…at liberty to refuse," Helluin finished, cutting him off, "and if that be Beinvír of the Laiquendi," here she glanced at her friend and rolled her eyes, "she too is summoned save without word of command. I know, I know. Indeed we art already headed in haste for Lindon."
The messenger nodded and remounted. Horses were provided for Helluin and Beinvír, but the Green Elf instead chose to ride behind her partner and the last horse remained unburdened. Riding hard, the company made 20 leagues a day. On the second day they came to Mithlond and there took ship for Forlond and the king's court.
Now it seemed the messengers had been picked for their errand because they had been born in the Hither Lands and had never set foot in Aman. In coming to Lindon the travelers immediately saw others who were agitated and ill at ease. These were Amanyar who, like Helluin, had come forth from Valinor in the Exile of the Noldor.
In short order Helluin and Beinvír made their way to the high king's halls and there they were ushered straightaway to the study Gil-galad favored for his close counsels. Seated there were only Gil-galad and Glorfindel. Both rose in greeting and then the high king motioned the two ellith to sit. When all were seated he poured them cups of wine.
"I am glad thou hath come," Gil-galad said, "for a matter hast arisen that affects many of my folk and I believe it hath affected thee as well." Here he examined Helluin closely as if trying to discern some change in her ere he continued. "At the noon hour upon the Re i Anaro were all those who hath come hither from Valinor stricken in various measures, yet to all it seemed some loss unknown had been endured. Then to my ears came the report of Glorfindel, the mightiest amongst us and most recently come from Aman, and he claimed thence that from the world the Undying Lands hath been taken. I pray thee tell what became of thee upon that day, Helluin, and what thou felt."
For some time Helluin was't silent. So, she thought, Glorfindel too had been affected and had discerned the same cause. Breaking her silence she said, "My Lord, upon the Re i Anaro was't I stricken indeed, driven from my feet in agony unrelenting and I was't o'erborne by a sense of loss that haunts me still. I too felt bereft of that which hast ever been a comfort and a part of my very being. I felt as if the Light of the World had been taken from my sight, leaving me in a darkness from which my fëa could not escape."
"O King, upon that day Helluin was't paralyzed and unable to move 'til after nightfall, and laden thence with such depth of sorrow as I hath not seen afflict her aforetime," Beinvír said.
Gil-galad nodded. He could only imagine the suffering of the Calaquendi. He himself had felt nothing, but he had been born in Beleriand hundreds of years after the Exile and had never set foot in the Undying Lands. Helluin's debilitation sounded every bit as bad as what his friend Glorfindel had described. And no healer in Lindon had been able to do aught to relieve his suffering. The king was't now sure that he had called upon the right person.
"Helluin, I am sorry for thy suffering," Glorfindel said. "Thy condition sounds much akin to that which I suffered. In that time I too felt a part of myself wrenched away. I should like to search for it with theFëa Hendi¹. Will thou aid me?" ¹(Fëa Hendi, Spirit Eyes Quenya)
Helluin considered the request for only a moment ere she nodded 'yes'. After a quick look to reassure Beinvír of her safety, she gazed steadily into Glorfindel's eyes. The room faded and its sounds stilled as their concentration became fixed upon each other. In the blue of Helluin's eyes a glow grew to match the golden ril in the eyes of the Lord of the Golden Flower, and between them a link was't formed that anchored their fëar to their hroar¹ as they traveled beyond the physical realm. ¹(hroar, bodies, pl., Quenya)
Now as hast been elsewhere told, for those of Elven kind, the mind at rest is free to wander upon the roads of memory, there to contemplate that which hath brought woe or to relive that which hath brought joy. Yet always in these times art the fields visited those seen aforetime in life. The pure fantasies and imaginings of mortal dreams art a gift of Iluvatar to his Younger Children. Therefore when the Eldar seek to visit some place to which they hath not journeyed in waking, an anchor is needed and a second Elf provides that grounding through a link between their fëar. It can only be achieved by those of great power and 'tis only appropriate amongst those close in friendship or kinship, for the two become as companions upon a journey unknown and must depend upon each other and coexist in harmony.
So on that day in Lindon, Helluin, born ere the Eldar came ever to Aman, and Glorfindel, twice born upon the Blessed Shores, combined their power and sought for the Light of Aman within the circles of Arda, and they found it not. In but moments it seemed, the two recoiled from their link and sat panting and blinking in horrified wonder. At first neither spoke, nor did their eyes focus upon the room or their two friends who sat anxiously beside them. Yet finally they began to recover.
"'Tis gone indeed," Glorfindel gasped.
"Whence…" Gil-galad began to ask.
"All the world hast changed beyond any dream of the Elder kindred," Helluin whispered. "The lands and the seas upon it art changed and even its form hath been transmuted."
"Valinor lies now nowhere within its bounds," Glorfindel resumed in awe, "and Arda is bounded upon all sides by Ilmen and the Void. Unimaginable is the power of the Hand of Iluvatar."
"My Lord, we upon the Hither Shores art indeed alone. Of Valinor we marked but a gate enchanted, and that far to the west, leading thence from the sea into the higher airs."
"If, as thou say, Elvenhome is indeed taken from the Circles of Arda, then art those of us upon the Hither Shores forever stranded in Mortal Lands, or is that far gate which thou marked a portal yet open to the Eldar?" Gil-galad asked.
Helluin turned to her king with an expression of shock.
"That gate one still hoping to come to Valinor might chance. I know not for sure."
"More still we marked, my Lord," Glorfindel added, capturing the attention of the king, "for upon the western seas we saw not any trace of Númenórë. Elenna hast vanished utterly and the sea hast become broad beyond where it lay. And there art lands too yet further still, empty and unknown aforetime."
"And above these unknown lands and seas art strange skies and strange stars," Helluin said. "Indeed the world lies greatly changed."
Thereafter none spoke for some time, but each sat alone with their thoughts, silently contemplating in amazement and wonder what such changes might portend.
"The world is changed; this we now know," Glorfindel said at last, "and gone from it art the Undying Lands. Gone from the Circles of Arda is the Light of Aman, yea a step further from our people than even when it lay across the Sundering Sea…" He trailed off into silence again, and then with a heavy sigh continued. "'Tis not the world in which our kindred first awakened; indeed it hast not been since the breaking of Utumno. This we knew. But now this change is greater by far than the sinking of Beleriand, and to me, it signifies all the more the quickening of the Fading."
"Aye," Helluin agreed, "time runs ever on. Bit by bit and in ever greater bites is all we knew taken from the world. The stars ever fade. The lands and seas change their forms. Someday no place familiar shalt there be, and in that world we shalt hath no place."
"Thou should call hither those of the Elendili who art in these lands and speak to them of our findings," Glorfindel softly suggested to his king. Gil-galad reluctantly nodded in agreement. 'Twas his duty and an uncomfortable one at that.
In the following days the High King spoke to those of the Faithful of Númenor who had come in exile to Lindon and great was't their sorrow. Predictably some captains resolved to sail in search of survivors, for at all times were many of their folk upon the sea. Thus upon 30 Norui, (June 30th), S.A. 3319, the ship Ráma Nárova¹ weighed anchor in Mithlond and sailed for Belegaer. They would traverse the coasts of Harlindon and Minhiriath, and then make their way to points further south, eventually coming to Pelargir upon Anduin. Aboard her went Helluin and Beinvír, seeking for tidings and survivors, for they had also begged transport to Belfalas, there to see such impact as had been upon their friends, Celeborn and Galadriel and the Men of Lebennin. ¹(Ráma Nárova, Wing of Fire =ráma (wing) + náro (fire) + -va(assoc sing suff, of) Quenya)
Once past the southern point at the mouth of the Gulf of Lune they began to see destruction. 'Twas obvious that the coast had been ravaged by a tidal wave of great ferocity. The further south they traveled the worse the damage became. They found the shoreline of Minhiriath littered with toppled trunks and uprooted trees. On 10 Cerveth, (July 10th), Ráma Nárova docked at Lond Daer Ened and found that haven deserted and washed o'er by massive waves. Stones were displaced, walls collapsed, and no work of wood remained. They resumed their journey the next morn with the tide.
From the rail of Ráma Nárova, Helluin and Beinvír watched the coastline of Enedwaith slip behind them. None of the villages of the indigenous fisher folk had survived. They passed the mouth of Sîr Angren on the 16th and the damage increased as they made their way yet further south. The two ellith could only imagine the total obliteration of the ancient city of King Lenwe and they hoped their friends had somehow survived.
Ahead they viewed with growing clarity, the westernmost arm of the Ered Nimrais, hazy in the distance and rising against the sky. It stood out upon a long cape that jutted 125 miles into Belegaer. Ere they came within ten leagues of it upon the 20th they shook their heads. Not a single tree remained standing between the shore and the mountains. 'Twas a scene of desolation. Ráma Nárova rounded the cape on the 22nd and the captain made their course due east from due south. On this side of the cape the coast followed even more closely the mountains and the land well into the foothills was't swept clean by the flood. 'Twas naught but mile after mile of barren, drying mud to be seen.
The despair of the two ellith grew as the days passed. On the 24th the ship passed the mouth of the River Lefnui and began to survey the coast of Anfalas¹, backed inland by the approaching Pinnath Galin². To their astonishment the devastation seemed to lessen somewhat as they made their way east towards the combined mouth of the Rivers Morthond and Ringlô. The rivers found the sea at the Cobas Haven where an indent in the shoreline sheltered the city of Edhellond as the coast turned south. ¹(Anfalas, Long Coast, = an(d)(long) + falas(shore) Sindarin) ²(Pinnath Galin, Green (Ridges) Hills, = pi(nd>nn) (ridge) + -ath(coll pl suff) + g(a>e)len(green) + -in(pl suff) Sindarin)
On the morning of 27 Cerveth the Ráma Nárova passed a Númenórean hull cast upon the rocky shores, but 'twas only a hulk, dismasted and riven 'neath the waterline, and it had been stripped. At noon that day they came at last to Edhellond.
Now the astonishment of all was't immense, for though there was't indeed damage to the quays and piers and a few vessels had been cast up and crushed in the surge, the city stood at least partially and much of its structure was't intact. Helluin's eyes traveled o'er the evidence before her in amazement. No, Edhellond hadn't escaped unscathed, but it still existed where by all rights it should hath been wiped from the map. The sea wall was't breached and Lenwe's tower fallen, but many other lesser buildings, particularly those furthest inland, appeared untouched. But most welcome to all to their eyes was't the sight of many Elves and Men working hard together to repair what they could and salvage what they couldn't. The city was't alive and bustling.
The first mate of Ráma Nárova hailed the harbormaster and he bid them drop anchor 'nigh the foot of an avenue that led directly to the citadel. There was't no quay as yet and any coming ashore would of needs convey themselves thither by boat, but there was't welcome to be found and tidings to be shared.
Great was the rejoicing of Helluin and Beinvír when they met in the still standing armory, the Lord and Lady of Belfalas and their daughter Celebrian.
"Welcome, friends of old, and if our accommodations art somewhat diminished in grandeur, never greater hath been our joy at meeting," Celeborn said as the two approached.
"I too hath great joy at our meeting," said Helluin when she straightened from her bow of greeting, "for o'er many days we hath sailed from Lindon seeing 'naught but destruction upon many shores. Greatly did we fear for thy wellbeing. Indeed thy land hast been blessed."
"That the Valar hath been merciful to us we hath no doubt," Galadriel said, "for many reports hath come to our ears of destruction. Much worse was't wrought upon the coast of Lebennin, and yet from that country hath come much aid. Great art the hearts of that people."
"That land enjoys not the sheltering of thy haven," Beinvír said, "and perhaps the sole blessing is that no large ports or cities lie upon the strand. Nowhere in Lebennin art large populations subject to the whim of the sea."
"What news from Lindon, pray tell," Celeborn asked, "how fare the peoples of Ereinion and Cirdan?"
For long they spoke of their concerns. Galadriel too had felt the loss of the Blessed Realm, but all were amazed at the news of the reshaping of Arda. Amazed as well were they that Númenor was't gone.
"Not seven days past did a ship come up out of the west, 'tis said," Celebrian told them, "and this a ship of Númenor badly damaged at sea. Indeed 'twas one of five and its captain beached it upon the coast to the west." Helluin and Beinvír nodded, having seen the wreckage from the deck of the Ráma Nárova. "A few of our people hath told that those who sailed in that company then scavenged from it all goods, and in their four remaining ships made their way east.
In the last day some few coming to us with aid out of Lebennin hath told that four ships indeed rode up out of the sea, greatly damaged, and barely limped into port at Pelargir. 'Tis rumored they art great lords amongst the Dúnedain. The Faithful there do them high honor…or so 'tis said."
"I must see these Dúnedain," Helluin said, "and those we came hither with shalt desire to see them all the more."
The next day they took ship again, and Ráma Nárova set her course in haste for Anduin. Spirits were indeed high amongst the crew, for these were the first survivors of whom any tidings had come. On 30 Cerveth Ráma Nárova entered Ethir Anduin and for most of the 31st rode upstream to the city that Helluin and Beinvír had allowed the Faithful to build in 2350. There in the evening they docked, but long ere the lines were tied off, the Men of the crew had marked the battered and sea worn hulls of the four ships out of Númenor. The quay was still a mile off when the first cheers broke out, for the watch had seen upon the broken foremast of the nearest ship, the tattered standard of the White Tree on its field of blue 'neath a rayed star, the heraldry of Númenor of old, abandoned by the kings and retained only by the House of Valandil and the Lords of Andunië.
To be Continued
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