In An Age Before – Part 37


Chapter Thirty-nine

Arnor and Elostirion – The Second Age of the Sun


After hearing the declaration of her doom, Helluin and Beinvír wandered north and then west, through that land the Dúnedain now called Calenardhon. That country encompassed the previously unnamed lands north of the Ered Nimrais and south of the River Onodló, from Anduin in the east to the River Isen in the west. Travelers making their way westward left Calenardhon to enter Enedwaith, and after perhaps a week's march, struck a road, soon much improved, that led thence to Tharbad upon the River Gwathlo. Indeed it followed an earlier track that continued on to Sarn Athrad on the River Baranduin, and thence into central Eriador and the realm of Arnor.

Now Elendil and his people had settled most heavily at first in that area bounded by the Emyn Uial, the Northern Downs, and the White Downs, yet ere long they claimed all the country between Lune and Gwathlo. These were the same lands of Eriador which had long hosted the Laiquendi, and the two peoples coexisted peacefully thereafter, the Dúnedain in ignorance, and the Green Elves with stealth. In the mid to late-3300s, the northern Dúnedain were still building their settlements. Helluin and Beinvír made their way thither in S.A. 3371 for their first visit after some decades.

Upon the Northern Downs now stood Fornost Erain¹, and this was't a true fortress in the days of its building. It stood backed against a sheer drop of a hundred feet, its northern wall a continuation of the near vertical face created by nature, making then the drop from the parapet 200 feet into the lowland that slowly rose to the next down lying to the north. The city within was't protected by its encircling wall, 100 feet in height and well, 'nigh 30 feet thick, and 'twas constructed of massive blocks hewn and fitted with a precision rivaling that of the Gonnhirrim. Even the Green Elves were at first impressed, though 'twas still a sitting target and, they deemed, t'would sooner or later be struck. ¹(Fornost Erain, North Fortress of the Kings Sindarin)

The main gate faced due south where a road led away in a curve to the west, and that gate was't not a single double-door, but rather a series of strong gates set into a progression of walls with narrowing avenues between. To break in, an enemy would be forced to win through five guarded gates, traversing the deadly avenues that zigzagged from one to the next 'neath the hail of arrows, butchered carcasses, scalding oil, stones, and flaming, pitch-soaked balls of hay that would rain down upon them from the heights of the walls to either side.

Were an enemy to succeed in breaching all five gates, they would then come to a courtyard encircled by walls, from which companies of archers would fire down upon them. This was't E-Nbelthed Tal¹. Here their hopes would fail for there was't no exit from that place save death.The true entrance to Fornost Erain led into the city from a cunningly devised gate, camouflaged amongst the blocks of the avenue between the second and third gates. There a massive counterweighted monolith could be lowered to seal the entrance like a portcullis. ¹(E-Nbelthed Tal, TheKilling Ground = en(def art, the) + beltho-(v, kill) +-ed(gerund, -ing) + tal(ground) Sindarin)

Strong as Fornost Erain was't, it had been conceived as a refuge in time of war and an outpost of the army of Arnor. Besides the King's Warriors, few dwelt there in those days in times of peace. Most of the civilian population was't spread 'cross the land or lived in the capitol city to the west.

A great city the two ellith found rising upon the southern shores of Nenuial that Men called Lake Evendim. This was't Annúminas¹, the first northern capitol, wherein Elendil had set his throne and the chief of the northern kingdom's palantíri. 'Twas a strong city to be sure, with a massive wall and high towers of watch, but 'twas also a city beautiful, filled with arches and fountains, and many fair gardens with shaded walks and sweetly scented flowers. 'Twas almost Elvish, Helluin thought as she strode a finely paved avenue, and the Tower of Sunset for which the city was named looked like nothing less than a Mannish version of Tirion; not so lofty and somewhat more robust in proportions, while'st less delicate in its ornamentation. ¹(Annúminas, Tower of Sunset, =annú(n)(sunset) + minas(tower) (gen const, of) Sindarin)

Since their arrival Helluin had been carefully watching o'er Beinvír, and she was't happy to note that the Green Elf, though constantly staring all about her, showed little of her native aversion to being in a city. For a moment, Helluin compared the Laiquende's conduct now to that first visit in Ost-In-Edhil at the very beginning of the friendship.

As if reading her thoughts, Beinvír said, "'Tis a city true, yet more comfortable in it do I find myself than ever I did in Ost-In-Edhil. Perhaps in a thousand years I shalt even prefer it to Lindon."

"Thou think that a thousand years shalt allow a span in which to grow proper trees?" Helluin asked.

"Nay, I think that in a thousand years it shalt either hath proper moss or shalt be fallen and crumbled into the earth." Beinvír allowed herself a smile. "I am jesting, Helluin."

The Noldo shook her head but a grin shaped her lips. A jest while in a strange city was't a good sign that her partner felt at ease. It had been long ere the Green Elf could keep from bursting out in tears at unpredictable times, ever dwelling upon the prophecy delivered by the Eagle. For his words of doom, Helluin was't beginning to wish she'd spitted the great bird that day and served him to the entire city of Minas Anor.

"They hath made remarkable progress," Helluin said seriously.

"Indeed so," the Green Elf agreed, "a vast improvement o'er the tent city we saw at our first visit upon our return to Lindon from Anduin."

'Twas a pointless trip if ever there was't one," Helluin agreed. "All we could tell would hath been easier and far quicker related by speech with the palantíri."

Soon they came to the throne room in the Tower of Sunset and a herald announced them to the court. Helluin found it interesting, for unlike the rectangular hall and square tower of the Citadel of Elros in Armenelos, this tower was't round and the hall 'neath it round as well. 'Twas a stark departure from the usual architecture of the Dúnedain...indeed 'twas much more Elvish in design and feel. They crossed a floor paved in mirror polished black granite and came to stand before a dais of five broad steps upon which was't set a carved throne of the same stone. They noted that 'twas thickly cushioned.

Upon the throne sat a Man, tall, dark-haired and grey-eyed, and he rose to greet his guests much as Helluin recalled Tar-Elendil had done upon her first visit to Númenor. Though he bore the same name, this Man closely resembled her old friend, Tuor son of Huor. The brief vision of him in the palantír years before hadn't lied.

Helluin deemed the resemblance poetic and fitting. Like Tuor, Elendil had fled the ruin of his home to found one in a new land, there to ensure the survival of the remnant of his people and the continuity of his lineage. And he carried in his veins the blood of Tuor and Idril, but also that of Beren and Lúthien, bearing unto future days through his heirs that precious thread of nobility that had come down from the Elder Days. In him flowed too in some measure, the blood of Elu Thingol and Melian, Turgon and Elenwe, and therefore of Finwe and Olwe; the blood of the patriarchs of the Noldor and the Nandor and the Teleri, and even of the Blessed Maiar.

Helluin and Beinvír bowed deeply to the king and he surprised them by bowing just as deeply in return. There seemed to be no condescension in him and Helluin thought it a very good sign after all the ruinous pride of the Númenórean kings.

"On behalf of my people I thank thee for the aid thou hast given my sons in the south. Greatly am I honored by thy presence and I welcome thee both to Annúminas," he said.

"And I am thankful of thy welcome, O King," Helluin said. "Thy people hath made great progress upon thy city since last we came hither."

"I too am thankful for thy welcome, King Elendil," Beinvír said. "Thy city is indeed grown beautiful and shalt grow more so in time."

A warm smile lit the face of the king as he resumed his seat upon the throne. He became then less formal in speech, though he retained his dignified manner.

"The city shalt indeed become more beautiful, though that shalt be long after I lay down my life, no doubt. I bid thee enjoy it in days to come nonetheless. I suppose even Lindon appeared not so fair when 'twas abuilding, though Lord Ereinion hast managed to remain alive to enjoy its flowering," Elendil said. "Ah well. I cannot complain. Indeed none delivered from the fate of our homeland can by rights complain."

He and some of the advisors gathered 'round him chuckled at the momentary shock on the two Elves' faces.

"We each hath our lot, do we not? Only the downfall of a nation was't needed to make thus this son of a discredited lord into a king. I am merely lucky to hath been born at the right time and place to be gifted a throne by fate and the foresight of my father," he said in self-deprecating jest. "Now, pray tell, what may I do for thee?"

Helluin gulped at the Man's candor and grace and his familiar sense of humor. He had fully accepted his fate, the good and the bad, and now he asked after her desire. She found him easy to respect, and were she in his service, an easy lord to love.

"I hath indeed a request, O King," she said, "and by thy grace perhaps thou shalt see fit to grant it. My desire is to look with thy palantír into the lost West that hath been taken from the world. The stone of Emyn Beraid, 'tis said, looks ever west across the sea, and I hath found of late that my doom is to go never back to the home of my people."

To this petition King Elendil nodded, for the use of a palantír only the king could grant. 'Twas no new tidings to him, the news of her fate. All that had come to pass upon the Eruhantalë had been reported to him by his sons. Not oft did an Eagle speak the doom of Manwe right before their eyes. And that doom he knew was't hard and yet not unfamiliar. He too could never go home.

"Helluin, I grant thy request, for I understand thy position, yet death shalt take from me that pain ere long. For thee it shalt linger, and any surcease of thy sorrow I can offer, thou art welcome to. Indeed 'tis a small thing thou ask, balanced against all thou hath done for my people aforetime. As thou hast said, the palantír of Elostirion¹ looks towards Eressëa across the seas. If thou hast the will to command it, thou shalt see a vision of thy desire." ¹(Elostirion, tallest of the three White Towers, it housed a palantír. It is said that these towers were built for Elendil by Gil-galad. They stood on the north-central heights of the Emyn Beraid, the Tower Hills, about 40 miles east of Mithlond and 165 miles southwest of Annúminas.)

Helluin bowed in thanks for the king's generosity.

Seven days later, having traveled the 35 leagues from Annúminas to Emyn Beraid, Helluin and Beinvír stood before Elostirion, the loftiest and westernmost of the Beraid Nim¹. It jutted from the green and rolling land like a spire of pearl, fair and slender, its crystalline marble dazzling in the sunlight. Nearby to the southeast and northeast, the summits of two other towers could be seen above the loose canopy of trees that speckled the Tower Hills. Neither appeared so tall, though both were as brilliant and shapely. ¹(Beraid Nim, White Towers, = beraid (towers, pl) + nim (white) Sindarin)

"Unlike the works of Annúminas and Fornost Erain art these, I deem," Beinvír observed, "for they hath a grace about them I should judge Elvish in feel."

"And I should agree, meldanya," Helluin said. "Indeed in form they art much like miniatures of Mindon Eldaliéva in Tirion. I should not be surprised to find that Glorfindel and Gil-galad had a hand in this."

Sure enough, when they stood before the doorway they found it bracketed by the symbols of the Two Trees rendered in relief upon the door posts. This design motif was't characteristic to the Noldor in Middle Earth and also appeared in Ithildin upon the Ennyn Durin of Khazad-dum. Carved upon the lintel stone was't the White Tree of Númenor 'neath the Rayed Star of Earendil, the symbols of the Dúnedain.

A custodian had met them, for the king had 'spoken' to him in advance of their coming. Within the realms of the exiled Dúnedain, it had become the custom for the king to grant responsibility for a palantír to a trusted vassal. Such a one was't entrusted with the duty of surveying, at periodic times, all that could be observed with the stone in his keeping, and thence to report any findings of note to his lord. The custodian was't also charged to protect his king's property with his life.

Beinvír found she would never be comfortable with the idea of Men able to converse in thought across distances with their palantíri. Indeed it made her skin crawl, as though it were a glamour fell or some device of Sauron's, for it seemed to her an unnatural ability at the command of mortals. Easily enough she could accept that such works had been wrought by Helluin's people long before, and she had to wonder at their wisdom in presenting such thus to the Elendili; nobly intended as the gift had been. Men, she had come to conclude through centuries of observation, tended to die and their heirs to forget things, oft important things, most notably of late, their reverence for the Valar. She shook her head.

In mildly annoying ways, the custodian seemed to enjoy demonstrating his knowledge of them and their errand.

"Helluin Maeg-mórmenel," he had said ere she introduced herself, "'tis a fine clear day at sea, not that such should affect thy far looking, I wager. Ahhh, and thou must surely be fair Beinvír, Laiquende, a lover of trees and moss."

"Indeed we art as thou doth suspect," Helluin had said, "lovers of clear days in far lands and mosses in our own. I discern that we art expected and our errand known." She offered him a smile and continued with, "'Tis past noon, my friend; hath thy foresight included perhaps the procurement of victuals? My companion hast rendered an appetite from our morn's walk." Indeed she herself was't also famished. At the mention of food, Beinvír's stomach growled and she patted it.

The custodian blinked, appearing for a moment surprised by such a mundane request. Then he realized that there was't indeed no a tavern or inn nearby, for few traveled the road to the towers. The nearest village lay some dozen miles to the east, a settlement of farmers in the flatlands beyond the hills, and that had only sprung up in the last couple decades. He recovered from his silence quickly, nodding in assent and graciously inviting the two Elves into the tower to sup.

"We hath been provisioned by the king's grace with some meats and ale, and with breads and cheeses from the nearest village," he declared. "Thou shalt hath a hearty repast indeed."

The meal was't indeed of good fare, and if a bit basic, still greatly welcomed. The custodian joined his guests at table and ate ravenously, very nearly matching the Green Elf who stood barely to his shoulder. Afterwards the three climbed a long and winding stair to the viewing chamber high in the tower.

They found there a bright, circular room paneled in finely fitted white marble, with seven narrow windows about the periphery, and in the west a wider doorway with a narrow balcony beyond. Near that door stood a pedestal of the same white marble as covered the walls, and thereon rested the palantír. This stone was't larger than that which they had seen first in the hand of Isildur, yet smaller than that set behind the throne room in the Dome of Stars at Osgiliath. 'Twas thus about a foot and a half in diameter, dark within, and laced with comet trails of gold inside its glass.

Helluin approached the seeing stone, calming her mind as she came 'nigh, and took a station standing beside the pedestal to its east. She was't thus positioned to look into the palantír while'st facing west, with the door directly ahead and 'naught but the blue of the sky beyond. Beinvír came to stand close beside her, glancing back and forth between the dark crystal sphere and her dark partner. The custodian took the single chair that sat in the center of the room and lapsed into a watching silence.

The initiation of the contact was't quick. Helluin required no preparation or search time; she had lived in Tirion with Arandil for well 'nigh a thousand years and knew the house of Enerdhil's family wherein the master stone abode. Thither now she commanded the stone, as one using a glass magnifier to study some familiar and arcane script. The image within the glass swirled not, nor took time to clear, but snapped at once to a vision of the Blessed Realm. There 'twas revealed the empty chamber in which the master stone resides upon its pedestal of clear crystal; a circular colonnade of white marble, open, light, and airy. In the cupola of the doomed ceiling a clear bell rang signifying a contact, and shortly two Eldar came thither in haste. Helluin peered at them, recognizing both at once, master and apprentice. They in turn brought their faces close to their stone and beheld her visage ere the apprentice withdrew a pace leaving the master his privacy. Looking thus eye to eye, he and Helluin spoke in thought.

"Alassein yomenie, nildinya¹," the tall ellon dressed in a deep blue robe said, his smile was't broad and the light of joy shone bright in his eyes. He nodded to Beinvír whom he didn't know. ¹(Alassein yomenie, nildinya, "A joyous meeting, my (female) friends."= alasse (joy) + -in(que) (adj on noun suff, -ous)+ yomenie (meeting) + nild(e) (friend, f.) + -i (pl suff) + -nya (1st pers poss suff, my) Quenya)

"Alassein yomenieé, Enerdhil," Helluin replied, "ar náni alassearwa cena entúlanet Mandosllo¹."¹(Alasse yomenie é, Enerdhil ar náni alassearwa cenaentúlanet Mandosllo. "A joyous meeting indeed, Enerdhil, and I am joyful to see you returned from Mandos." = alasse (joy) + -in(que) (adj on noun suff, -ous) + yomenie (meeting) + é (indeed!) + Enerdhil, + ar (and) +ná- (is, am) + ni (I) + alasse (joy) + -arwa(adj on noun suff, -ful) + cena (inf v, to see) + entúla-, (return) + -ne(v imperf past, -ed) + -t (subj pro suff, you) +Mandos + -llo(ablat suff, from)Quenya)

To this Enerdhil nodded and then gravely said, "Nánes anda lúme, amanta únás la ve anda ve mandetya, nildenya¹." ¹(Nánes anda lúme, amantaúnás la ve andave mandetya,nildenya."It was a long time, but yet it was not so long a fate as yours, my (female) friend."= ná- (is) + -ne (past perf suff, was) + -s (subj suff, it) +anda (long) + lúme (time) + ananta (but yet) + ú (neg pref) + ná- (is) + -s (subj suff, it) + la(compare) + ve(as)+ anda (long) +ve(as) + mande (fate) + tya (indp pro suff, yours) + nilde (friend, f.) + -nya (1st pers poss suff, my) Quenya)

Now 'twas Helluin's turn to solemnly nod in agreement. She was't hardly surprised that the proclamation of her doom was't known in Tirion. Little was regarded as secret, and though there were many personal things of which little was't said, many hearts were known and many thoughts easily shared in a city where all could read each other with a glance and few lied...and fewer still sought their solitude as had she.

násie," Helluin said, "ar anda lúmenáuvas tenna tye cennan at¹." ¹(É násie,ar anda lúmenáuvas tenna tye cennan at."Indeed so it is, and a long time it will be until you I see again."= é (indeed!) + násie (so it is) + ar (and)+anda (long) + lúme (time) + ná- (is) +-uva ( fut v suff) +-s(obj suff, it) + tenna (until) + tye(pron, you) + cena- (see) + n(ye-)(sub suff, I) + at (again) Quenya)

Helluin and the great craftsman of Gondolin that she had known in an Age before continued speaking, and long they communicated thus, across all the leagues of the Sundering Sea and the gulf of spirit by which the Valar had separated Aman from Middle Earth. The longer their conversation was't maintained, the more and more closely the custodian attended to it, and though he read not what they said, still was't he astonished by the simple duration of the viewing. Such focus was't tiresome and draining to the will of mortal Men and indeed 'naught but a short span could be endured, for the fatigue was't slow to pass. Yet Helluin and Enerdhil maintained their connection unperturbed for well 'nigh an hour of the sun.

To her amazement, Enerdhil revealed that the site of the stone to which she had directed her vision was't no longer the ancient home of his family in Tirion. After his release from the Halls of Mandos he had removed his household to Tol Eressëa, there to rejoin those of his friends who had returned from Middle Earth after the War of Wrath. Thus the chamber in which he now stood was't in fact in Avallónë, though he had recreated the architecture convincingly. He said this with a shrug, but Helluin was't surprised that she hadn't discerned the fact. She had visited Eressëa in the Age of the Trees to converse with her friends amongst the Host of Olwe both before and once after the founding of Alqualonde, though afterwards the isle had been well 'nigh deserted. Obviously since the return of the Exiles much had changed upon the Lonely Isle, and though she had heard this, seeing 'twas another matter. Indeed the city of Avallónë had been built where none had existed aforetime. All she could do was't shake her head in amazement at the changes. When they finally broke off, Enerdhil bowed and stood away from the master stone and by her will Helluin commanded it to survey the Undying Realm.

Though thou declined to sail to Tol Eressëa aforetime my beloved, Helluin silently told Beinvír, I shalt herein show thee the Lands of Light that art in the West, and alone of all the Moriquendi shalt thou know the noontime of the Bliss of Aman.

And in the stone it seemed then that a succession of gossamer veils were parted before their sight, and as the last drew aside, there suffusing all shone a radiance unearthly, as hast never been in the Hither Lands. Then Helluin directed their sight westwards, into the higher airs, and the brightness grew, and soon they beheld the green and bountiful plain of Valinor, and upon it Valmar, city of the Valar. Their sight descended until they saw before the western gate of the city, a mound of fine turf upon which flowered the Two Trees. The scene was't so bright they had to squint ere their eyes adjusted.

Back hath I taken thy sight, beloved, unto Ezellohar in the Age of the Trees. Behold! Thither blooms fair Laurelin, trailing nectar of brightest gold, and beside her Telperion of brilliant silver dews. Before them art the Vats of Varda which lit all the Blessed Realm in days of yore.

From the palantír's surface radiated a near-blinding ril of Holy Light. Beinvír stared into the vision as one struck still with awe, the brilliance washing o'er her features, brighter than the noonday sun. Helluin took from her quiver the nine white arrows she had fletched and held them steady in that glare. When finally she removed them, their mithril heads glowed and only slowly returned to normal, having absorbed somewhat of the virtue of the Blessed Light.

Helluin had come thus to Elostirion in part to provide Beinvír with a virtual tour of Valinor in the Age of the Trees. She'd had other goals in making this contact as well. But then to her astonished mortification a raven-haired figure walked in to stand 'neath the Trees, doffing her robes as she went, until she stood naked 'neath the falling ril of mingled silver and gold. 'Twas Helluin herself, come as she had been wont to do for a thousand years, standing thus with back arched and arms uplifted, to receive visions of Arda while she marinated in the power of the Holy Light. The expression on her face was't one of pure rapture. Helluin herself found it interesting, seeing herself thus, wholly consumed in bliss. In all of Aman, here finally is something I hath not seen aforetime, though I should not hath chosen to display such a sight so blatantly...ah well.

Beside her, Beinvír gulped and felt a surge of arousal. Her lover shone with the same Blessed Light as had later led hosts to war o'er those three scant fragments encased in the Silmarils of Feanor. Indeed Helluin's figure soon became almost too blinding to look at. Beinvír could not begin to imagine the sensations such an experience would bring, nor the potential for change that it wrought. Behind her the custodian stood panting.

With a determined command, Helluin backed their vision away from Ezellohar, rising past the Ring of Doom where now sat a Vala robed in sapphire with a Valier robed in silver. Beside her Beinvír hissed a shocked exhalation and bowed her head by reflex. Helluin resumed her tour. She half-suspected that the vision had been the Vala's idea of a joke. Helluin commanded their eyepoint to ascend as with an Eagle's flight, while time sped forward, returning them to the present.

See thou the majesty of the Pelori, and Taniquetil upon whose summit stands the domed Hall of Ilmarin wherein dwell Manwe and Varda, Lady of the Stars? And thither is Tirion wherein rises white Mindon Eldaliéva, Tower of Lord Ingwë, most noble lord of all our peoples. Behold, the Calacirya, Pass of Light, and beyond doth lie'th Tol Eressëa, the Blessed Isle. I mark that 'nigh Tirion the Fair it seems some rock falls hath recently occurred...huh.

Through all this Beinvír had been staring into the palantír with such intensity that she had leaned nose first to the stone, her eyes barely shy of its surface. Behind her the custodian had leaned in o'er her shoulder and he wept silently, unashamed and in awe of what the palantír had revealed. What he had seen therein of the Blessed Realm, none of his folk save one had seen and lived to tell¹, and even he had seen not the Light of the Two Trees. For all the days of his life, never would he forget this vision of what lay beyond the fate of his kindred. Hard pressed indeed would he be to fulfill his duty and describe this vision to his king, for what he had felt, words could scarce describe. ¹(And this was Beren Erchamion, son of Barahir, who wed Lúthien Tinúviel, daughter of King Thingol of Doriath and Melian the Maia in the First Age of the Sun. He died achieving the quest to take a Silmaril from Morgoth and was returned to life from the Halls of Mandos after Lúthien sang before Namo pleading mercy for his doom. He was returned to Beleriand, and for love of him, into mortality and death went also Lúthien, fairest child of the Eldar. The Sil, Quenta Silmarillion, XIX, OBaL )

Upon the Straight Road I command thy sight, and thence across the Shadowy Sea, back to Belegaer and to the Hither Shores; Gondor, the Ephel Duath...and Mordor, the Black Land, home of our Enemy!

It should not hath been possible, that the sight of the master stone be thus directed, and never before or since had its gaze passed not to another of the palantíri, and yet now 'twas so, for to survey in safety what she could not in reality and flesh was't the final objective of Helluin's petition to King Elendil.

Minas Ithil lay below like a toy tower and from it Helluin's sight rose, o'er the Ephel Duath to the Plateau of Gorgoroth. Thence across the choking and barren leagues of ash her eye swept, swiftly circling Mt. Doom wherefrom came a wisp of smoke, to close at last upon the Black Tower, the Barad-dúr of Sauron. To Helluin's horror she found 'twas wreathed in a Shadow that was't no vapor of the world, and from within it she felt Him! And Sauron, incorporeal but still potent in his malice, lurched around in fury as he perceived her. He was't horribly vulnerable, a naked fëa, and she was't a dangerous enemy who held a deadly Ring, but search as he might, he could not see her.

In a flash her viewpoint retraced its journey, so sickeningly fast that the custodian turned away retching and Beinvír recoiled from the stone. But Helluin held the control of the palantír and her sight clove to its course unerring, returning to the viewing chamber of Enerdhil in Avallónë. Thence to ground the stone, she slowly walked in a circle thrice around it, seeing all sides of its chamber, and then returning its focus by surveying for a heartbeat each of the other stones. When all was't done she blinked and the palantír went dark. She took a deep breath and released it with a sigh.

Sauron hath indeed survived the Fall of Númenor, and though he is for now but a shade of evil, someday there shalt again be war.

Now in Gondor the years passed and all seemed well, yet whenever Helluin came to that land and looked to the east above the Ephel Duath, the same Shadow did she see there, sometimes darker, sometimes lighter, yet o'er time she marked that it seemed ever to darken as a slowly gathering gloom. Between 3371 and 3410 she and Beinvír traveled twice betwixt Eriador and the southern kingdom, yet when the first blow was't struck against Gondor they were in Rhovanion, revisiting Greenwood the Great.


To Be Continued

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