In An Age Before – Part 36


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.

Ere they had lowered their gangplank to debark, a company of the Guardians of Lebennin was drawn up and the mariners were hailed, but as friends, for they sailed 'neath the banner of the High King in Lindon. Then the captain answered, saying that they had come indeed from Lindon in search of survivors of their native land which they believed had ceased to exist, and would meet if they could with those who had sailed upon yonder ships.

The captain and his officers, along with Helluin and Beinvír, were ushered by the Guardians to an inn near the docks, and there they were bid to wait while those they sought were summoned. After about half an hour a party of Dúnedain entered the common room and were directed to their table.

Two Men there were amongst them, one a century in age, the other a decade older, and both were lordly of bearing though careworn from many hard days at sea. Dark haired they were and grey-eyed, and tall and hale as the great sea captains of old. Helluin swallowed her surprise, for they reminded her of none so much as the young Peredhil, Elrond and Elros, though they were indeed mortal Men. They greeted the captain of Ráma Nárova as old friends long sundered, but the captain and his officers bent upon one knee to them and bowed their heads.

"My Lords Isildur and Anárion," the captain said, "we art thankful for the Valar's mercy and blessing upon thee and our hearts sing to find thee safe."

"Come, my friends, rise," Isildur said, the smile still bright upon his face, "never did we think to find such welcome faces here in the south. I had thought thou sailed for Lindon when thou left Romenna five years past. Pray tell, hath thou instead made thy homes hither in Lebennin?"

"Nay, my Lord Isildur, for indeed to Lindon did we come, and there we hath enjoyed the welcome of the Elven King since. But through some enchantment the High Elves hath discerned great changes in the world, and more, they say Númenor is no longer. We hath seen great destruction upon the coast 'twixt Lindon and Anduin, the result of some mighty cataclysm at sea, yet we know not what it might be. We hath come south searching for any who might, like thou, hath been spared and come thence to these Hither Shores."

"Indeed a cataclysm at sea there hath been, and greater than any I could hath imagined aforetime. And indeed we hath been spared and much do I hath to tell. It should come to the ears of the Eleven King, but as thou hast come hither from his lands, tell me first, hath thou had any tidings of my father, Elendil, or even of my grandfather, Amandil? Lord Elendil too set sail, but from us his ships were separated early in the voyage."

The officers remained silent and some looked down, unable to meet the brothers' eyes. But the captain said, "Nay, my Lords. No word or sighting of thy father, Lord Elendil, had any known when we left upon 30 Norui. I can only pray that he hath come since to Lindon, for it hast been a month since we left. Never hath we heard aught of the Lord Amandil."

Isildur nodded and Anárion said, "We ourselves came hither but five days ago for our way was't hard, and perhaps our father hath fared likewise upon the sea. We shalt keep hope that he and his folk art safely landed elsewhere. I thank thee for thy tidings."

"We hath much else to speak of," Isildur said. "Let us speak now of what hath befallen our homeland across the sea and what the Eldar hath learnt of Arda since."

For some time he had cast glances at the two Elves and most at Helluin. Now when he and his party took seats with the officers of Ráma Nárova, he found himself across the table from them. Helluin gave the two brothers a nod of respect, remaining with her head dipped for a beat ere she looked up again. Beinvír offered a smile to each of the Men.

"I should swear thou bear a resemblance to one known long aforetime to me," Anárion said to Helluin, "though thou art much younger than she was't in the days when I knew her…"

At his words Helluin raised a brow in question. Beinvír grinned having heard the like more than once aforetime. Isildur gently elbowed his brother, drawing his attention.

"She is of the Elder Children of the One, not one of the Elendili of Lebennin," he said gravely. "No guess of her true age may such as we make."

Anárion looked more closely at Helluin, now noting the pointed tips of her ears and the light in her eyes. He gulped. Having been born o'er a hundred years after the Eldar were forbidden to come to Númenor by Ar-Gimilzôr, he had never before met an Elf.

"Forgive my impudence, my Lady," Anárion said.

"I hath heard such aforetime and perhaps such a claim even hast grounds in blood," Helluin replied. "There is nothing to forgive, Lord Anárion. Pray tell, with whom doth thou feel I a share a resemblance?"

"He speaks of the late Queen Inzilbêth," Isildur reported. His brother nodded in agreement.

Helluin recalled with the clarity of Elven memory the beautiful and doomed young woman she had comforted in the garden of Lindon 324 years before.

My poor, precious, distant daughter…how I wish to free thee. How I long to forestall thy doom. For thee and the Faithful of thy house, upon this day I would sink the Isle of Fallen Kings 'neath Belegaer if I but had the power. I fear I am less merciful than the Lords of the West.

The Lords of the West had laid the same doom upon Númenórë, but for different cause. Helluin had to blink and swallow ere she could again speak.

"I knew the Lady Inzilbêth in her youth, in Lindon ere she returned to Númenor to wed Ar-Gimilzôr. I know not what befell her after save that it could not hath all been bad, for thou art here."

The two brothers nodded in acknowledgment of her compliment. For one of Faithful heart like their great-great-grandmother, marriage to the king had been a long and distasteful sentence. They had known her for only a few decades ere her death, and those were in the years after Ar-Gimilzôr had died. To the young brothers she had always seemed so strong of heart and so unshakable in her beliefs.

"Tell me, I pray thee, how art thou related to the Lady Inzilbêth?" Helluin asked.

"We art her great-great-grandsons through maternal blood, for our great-grandmother was't Lady Almiel, the Lady Inzilbêth's third child and only daughter. She married the 17th Lord of Andunië, our great-grandfather Númendil. My Lady…?"

Anárion had stopped and now stared uneasily at the tear that made its way down Helluin's cheek. He marked that her eyes now seemed focused far away.

Lady Inzilbêth had known, Helluin thought, or ere she named her daughter she had learnt her history. Beinvír laid a hand on Helluin's thigh 'neath the table and gave it a comforting squeeze ere she answered for her partner.

"Fear not, Lord Anárion, for thou hast committed no trespass. Only is it that long aforetime was't Almiel the name of her granddaughter. I hath no doubt that name was't given in tribute by the Lady Inzilbêth, and perhaps in token too of her hopes for better times."

At this Anárion sighed with relief but his elder brother looked again at Helluin with a more acute glance.

"My Lady, might I know thy name? I wager thou dids't indeed share a tie of blood with the Lady Inzilbêth, but that tie is far more ancient than I deemed at first."

"It is indeed, Lord Isildur," Helluin said, "and I share too a tie in blood with thee and thy brother, perhaps more than one. I am Helluin Maeg-mórmenel."

"Far more ancient indeed," Isildur whispered. "The name of Almiel hath graced the House of Elros but twice, and the first time was't almost 2,600 years ago. We art indeed related upon at least two counts. Thy blood hath long infused the noble houses of the Dúnedain." He turned thence to his brother, saying, "As I said aforetime, 'no guess of her true age may such as we make'. Indeed if I recall my histories aright, her life began long ere Men ever awakened in Hildorien when the sun and moon were yet young. She hath succored our houses ere Elenna rose from the sea." He then turned back to Helluin and bowed his head, and his brother did likewise.

"Honored and fortunate do we count ourselves to hath met thee, distant foremother," Isildur said, "and much do we desire to speak with thee, for now we art come to Middle Earth and it hast long been said that none know it better than thou. Likewise we would give an accounting of ourselves to thee for the knowledge of thy king. Great evil came to pass in Númenor and a great doom fell upon it for incurring the wrath of the Valar and the One. All that is past, 'tis true, but one enemy remained in Armenelos and we know not his fate. He was't thy enemy too. Will't thou harken to our rede?"

Helluin and Beinvír both had a sinking feeling at the Man's words. So, the Isle of Kings had been destroyed because of some wrath of the Lords of the West? Helluin thought it had been a long time in coming. But what straw had broken thus the horse's back and brought down the doom of Númenor at last? The two ellith nodded their interest in hearing Isildur's tidings and the captain beckoned the inn keeper o'er to order drinks.

"Ar-Pharazôn brought Sauron the Deceiver to Númenor as a prisoner?" Helluin asked after listening for some time to the brothers. Her incredulity knew no limit. "What upon Arda was't he thinking? 'Tis a wonder Sauron waited for his old age ere he contrived to estrange thy people totally from the West." She shook her head in amazement.

"All who hath welcomed him he hath destroyed," Beinvír added. "Knew thy people not of Gorthaur's deceit of Celebrimbor? He hath undone Númenor as he undid Eregion aforetime. Whyfore thought thy king that he had such resources to resist that which the grandson of Feanor could not?"

"'Tis done for whatever reason," Helluin sighed. Across the table the two Men hung their heads even though they'd had less than nothing to do with Ar-Pharazôn's blasphemy. She could see only one excuse for coming within a thousand leagues of Sauron, and that was to slay him as quickly as possible.

"Doth thou think such a cataclysm hath slain him?" Anárion asked hopefully.

'Twas an interesting question. Helluin had her hopes yet her heart misgave them. In her opinion water could not quench the Imperishable Flame of which the Ainur, Vala and Maia alike, were endowed. She wondered if a flood could even destroy the body in which Sauron had cloaked his spirit. And if it had, would he not then simply form another with his will? In her experience his werecraft had been great, and now he had the One Ring.

"In truth I know not," she said after consideration, "yet I hath my doubts despite my hope. Perhaps his flesh perished indeed, but his spirit? In my heart I feel that he shalt trouble us yet again someday."

Now after long consultation 'twas decided that Ráma Nárova should make her way back to Lindon bearing tidings of the safe landing of the company of Isildur and Anárion at Pelargir. The brothers would also send upon that ship an embassy to the High King of the Noldor. Later regular communications would be established up and down the coast. As for Helluin and Beinvír, they would stay a while in Lebennin to counsel the brothers about the Hither Lands.

'Twas two weeks after their first meeting when Helluin and Beinvír ushered a company of Elendili from Pelargir. In that company went Isildur and Anárion and many Men of their houses and of the Faithful of Pelargir. North up Anduin they rode, and on the third day came to the foot of Mindolluin where the Emyn Arnen to the east forced the river close to the Ered Nimrais in a bend to the west. There they stopped and made camp.

All about them lay the tilled lands of northern Lebennin, bountiful and green in early autumn. Crops neared their time of harvesting and fruit was't plentiful upon the trees. The weather held fair and in the mornings Anor blessed the snowcaps of the tall peaks to the west with a blush of rose.

Ere the dawn of their second day the two ellith led the two brothers by the ascending path, and after two hours' climb they came to the hallow where aforetime Helluin and Beinvír had come upon the morn when Helluin's time in Middle Earth had equaled her time in Aman. Now Valinor was't gone from the world and Númenor was't gone forever. They sat and gazed out to the east and marked another sunrise o'er the jagged peaks of the Ephel Duath.

Anor rose and the Men were struck with awe at the beauty of that land. They watched in reverent silence. Beside them Helluin and Beinvír sat side by side, arms wrapped around each other, speaking silently their thoughts.

'Tis a beautiful land and well blessed, Beinvír said, and yet so close by that of the Enemy, and should he return indeed from the wreck of Númenor, then into jeopardy shalt it fall.

Aye, indeed it shalt, Helluin agreed, and yet long aforetime did I imagine here a great city that should be a strong guard against Mordor for the lands behind.

And now thou feel at last hath come those whom thou would entrust to build it, meldanya? The time is certainly right.

Indeed so, anamelda¹. The Númenóreans art great builders and the sworn enemies of Sauron, and these art lords amongst their people. They shalt raise someday a city and strong place of refuge for their realm that is to be. Now, while Mordor is empty and Sauron absent 'tis indeed the proper time. ¹(Anamelda, "Dearest", = ana- (adj superl suff) + melda (dear) Quenya)

Beinvír nodded in agreement. For the realm of Lebennin that she had helped establish, she could think of no better custodians and rulers. All the Elendili of Pelargir would soon take these two or their father for their lord. Once the majesty of their realm developed, the other Men of Lebennin would probably accept them as o'erlords of the realm. Isildur and Anárion had been born and bred for this role, nobles of lineage and subtlety who claimed kinship with the Kings from Across the Sea.

Thou art wise, beloved, the Green Elf said stealing a quick kiss, thy will shalt come to pass. I feel it in my heart. Now what is Isildur doing?

The two ellith turned to watch as the elder son of Elendil drew from his travel bag a compact, shrouded object that he handled with great care despite its considerable weight. Anárion stood beside him as he drew off the cloth covering and revealed a sphere of black crystal striated with gold. Helluin sucked in her breath sharply and Beinvír caught her glance.

'Tis a Palantír of Enerdhil, yet none was't brought to the Hither Shores in the Exile, she answered. At Beinvír's questioning look she added, 'tis a seeing stone which hath the virtue of gazing far and may cleave in its vision to a stone akin to itself. Yet they art to be mastered only by those with a will strong enough to direct the stone's sight with their thoughts.

To Beinvír 'twas yet another object of wonder and a reinforcement of her knowledge that in Aman the Eldar had ascended in knowledge and craft far beyond what had been achieved in Middle Earth. In particular the Noldor, Helluin's people, had created works undreamed of in the Hither Lands.

Now the brothers had bent their thought to the palantír and were staring deeply into it, and the Elves came to stand behind them to view this wonder. Within the depths of the dark glass there grew a light, and quickly that radiance filled the sphere. Then in the midst of the light there came a clearing, and a vision of someplace far off soon filled the palantír, leaving but a corona to illuminate the faces of Isildur and Anárion. The face of an older Man appeared.

'Tis the likeness of Tuor come again, Helluin silently said to Beinvír in surprise, yet I recognize behind him the furnishings of Ereinion's study.

The two brothers had bowed their heads in respect and received in return a nod of acknowledgement coupled with a look of love and relief. Then Isildur held the sphere aloft and the Man seen in the palantír turned in a slow circle as he walked around the matching palantír he no doubt held. He was viewing the panorama the two ellith and two Men saw. When Isildur lowered the sphere the older Man was smiling, seemingly well pleased with what he had seen, and he nodded in approval to the question in his elder son's eyes. After a few more moments the brothers again bowed their heads and then the palantír abruptly went dark. Isildur covered it with the cloth and returned it to his bag. He then turned to the two Elves who stood close by watching him

"We rejoice," Isildur reported, "for Elendil, our father, is safe in Lindon with thy king. He hast seen this land and approves it, and bids us settle hither while he remains in the north. It seems we art to establish ourselves in Lebennin." He shrugged.

"Thou seem quite accustomed to receiving communications thus," Helluin said, "and I am surprised to see hither such a work of craft. Whence came thy palantír, Isildur?"

"'Tis one of seven gifted unto my grandfather Amandil in the days of Ar-Pharazôn, after the Eldar were banned from sailing to Númenor. The Eldar of Tol Eressëa brought them for to maintain our ties as the days darkened and we could no longer meet in person. They hath been a great source of comfort to us. When we made ready for our flight, two each did my brother and I take aboard our ships, and our father three."

Helluin nodded. The other five no doubt still resided in the Blessed Realm, for originally they had numbered twelve. She had to wonder what other treasure lay in the holds of their ships. She spoke then of things to come ere they made their way again down from Mindolluin.

"My Lords, unto this land hath the Valar delivered thee from the sea, and hither now art thou resolved to raise thy kingdom. For 'nigh 1,200 years did we ourselves administer this realm of Lebennin, guarding its safety and insuring within it the peace. Thou art the right lords of those Faithful to whom we long ago granted charter to settle at Pelargir, yet to rule this realm thou must appeal to all the Men of this realm, not just those of Númenórean descent. Long hath they governed their own affairs and sought happiness and prosperity, and thou shalt usurp neither in thy rule, for thy sovereignty is a sacred trust, sanctified by thy fair justice and their fealty.

More than this, it hast been of old the special charge of those who rule this realm to keep and defend it against Sauron and the enemies yonder in Mordor. The realm thou raise shalt be the bulwark of the west. 'Tis a heavy burden, though thou hast for a time a respite in which to build. Therefore make strong thy realm while thou can, for I feel in my heart that thy Enemy shalt come again, and with him, war.

Last I shalt counsel thee; this place in which we stand I deem a Hallow unto Eru like unto that which was't upon the summit of the Meneltarma, for in spirit it faces Taniquetil upon which the throne of Manwe is set. Keep it sacred. Build nothing here, not even an altar. Yet come thou hither, and in their days thy descendants, at proper times and with proper reverence, to give thanks and offer prayers. As we hath seen, our world stands at the whim of the One, and under the Blessing of the Valar shalt a people prosper or come to ruin."

When she was't done Isildur and Anárion stood for a time silent with bowed heads, and then they looked about them, taking in the Hallow, ere they cast again their gazes out o'er the lands beyond. They had been given a blessing and a just charge, and as they looked out to Anduin and beyond, the love of that land grew in their hearts.

"We shalt not fail," Anárion said softly as he gazed into Helluin's eyes. "We shalt not fall."

"We accept this responsibility," Isildur added, "though for long we expected to rule 'naught save our own house, and that only upon the passing of our father."

"There shalt be many to aid thee in bearing the burden of rule," Beinvír told them, "and at need thy call shalt we answer."

"Indeed we shalt," Helluin added, "for league of kinship from afar binds us in blood."

Now that which Helluin had hoped for upon that day came swiftly to pass. Isildur and Anárion named their joint realm Gondor¹, and not one city did they build there, but three. 'Neath the Hallow upon the slopes of Mindolluin rose Minas Anor, Tower of the Sun. Astride Anduin was't built their capitol,Osgiliath, Citadel of the Stars, while upon the feet of the Ephel Duath in a sheltered vale stood Minas Ithil, Tower of the Moon. ¹(Gondor, "Land of Stone" Sindarin)

In truth Helluin though the placement of Minas Ithil ill advised, favoring herself the uplands of Emyn Arnen, but the brothers felt a threat upon the shoulders of the Black Land to be a gesture of faith and strength. With Mordor deserted its peril was't only a potential. In any case their intention was't good and Helluin held her peace.

Now Minas Ithil was't in the beginning the city of King Isildur, and there in the courtyard before his citadel he planted the White Tree, scion of Nimloth of Númenor that he had rescued from Armenelos. There it throve and flowered. There too was't set a palantír.

Minas Anor was the city of Anárion, and with the walls of Mordor always in view, he built there the strongest fortification ever seen in those lands. Indeed the walls were thicker and taller than those of Umbar, the primary stronghold of the Númenóreans in Middle Earth aforetime. Here too was't a palantír set.

At Osgiliath, the city of many bridges, there was't concentrated the greatest population of Gondor. There was't the Court of the Kings, and 'neath the Dome of Stars were their thrones set side by side. This marvel of engineering, depicting the night sky of Númenor, was't inspired by the tales Beinvír and Helluin told of the Hall of Lenwe that had stood ere the flood in Edhellond. In a chamber behind the throne room was't kept the third and largest palantír of the southern realm, and there most frequently did the kings hold converse with their father in the north.

T'would be some years ere the fourth palantír of the south realm was't housed, but when the Men of Gondor raised the Tower of Angrenost¹, called also Orthanc², at the feet of the Hithaeglir, they created a fastness to withstand the ages. ¹(Angrenost, Iron Fortress, Sindarin Called later by the Rohirrim in their own tongue, Isengard) ²(Orthanc, Forked Height, referring to the four curved pillars that supported the tower. Sindarin)

In the early years of Gondor Helluin and Beinvír visited often, and they rejoiced to see the prosperity the two brothers brought to the people. Much trade came up and down the river, and Osgiliath united those folk to the north with those in the south. Likewise many benefits did the Númenóreans in exile gift to their people; improvements in tools, in planting, in fishing, and in the making of ships and buildings. Much lore did they teach to those whom they called the Men of Twilight, those not of the Houses of the Edain who were also not under the Shadow of Sauron and worshipped not Morgoth and the Darkness. Arts and crafts of many kinds flourished 'neath their tutelage and patronage, letters and music as well. But perhaps more than anything else, a factor that endeared those from across the sea to the Men of Lebennin was't the knowledge of healing brought out of Númenor. Great lore of herbs and surgery they had and they valued the health of their people. Many lives were saved, whether in childbirth or from accidents, and even the ravages of disease they assuaged, for the virtue of healing lay in the hands of the kings. Old age they eased too, and for the short-lived upon the Hither Shores, 'twas a blessing dear to many families whose elders could now better enjoy their failing years. So the Men of Lebennin, in their own time and of their own free will clove to the rule of the Kings, and indeed they swore thus their fealty to the two brothers in S.A. 3370, the 50th year of their reign.

Upon the morn of 31 Narbeleth in that year, when the harvest was gathered in with plenty, Helluin and Beinvír awaited the kings in the darkness of the Hallow. Ere dawn two came in silence up the path from Minas Anor, and each carried produce in token of thanksgiving for the bounty of their people. Isildur stopped when he marked the presence of others where no Man was't wont to come. Anárion too looked closely at them. Helluin was't surprised they had been marked at all, wrapped as they were in their Elven cloaks. She let flare a soft glow of sapphire from her eyes and the two Men relaxed.

Together the four stood in silence facing the east as Anor rose upon the morn of the Eruhantalë. The kings made their offerings of thanksgiving for the harvest and spoke their prayers in Quenya, for of old had that tongue been esteemed for ceremonial and formal uses, and though long banned in Númenor, both Men spoke and read it fluently. Soon Anor lit the landscape with brilliant light; the river a snake of living silver whose flickering scales glittered amidst the white city of Osgiliath, the fallow fields stretching wide in earth tones comforting to the spirit, while orchards blazed orange, yellow, and red with their autumn foliage at its peak. Helluin sighed. Across all those miles o'er the land of Mordor she sensed a Shadow returned.

Use well thy days and value thy peace, she thought, for I feel that soon shalt come again a trial.

By the tightening of her beloved's hand in her own she knew that Beinvír saw it too ere her eyes were drawn south to the sea. In the high airs above the undulating curves that led down to Pelargir a dark speck was't approaching. At first foreboding seized them, but soon the sharp eyes of the two ellith discerned that 'twas a bird, but one of great size.

Then as they watched, up from the sea came a great Eagle flying, and the span of his wings was't 'nigh 30 fathoms, for he was't of the kin of Thorondor of old. Swiftly he flew inland from Belegaer, for he had tarried not upon the coast but came directly thither to where they stood. There he alighted facing them and gravely did he gaze upon the four as they bowed before him.

"Áye¹, OAireráma²," Helluin said to the once familiar Eagle ere she raised her head. Ever had he been one of Manwe'smessengers in the Blessed Realm. ¹(Áye, Hail! Quenya) ²(Aireráma, Holy Wing,= aire (holy) + ráma (wing) Quenya)

"Áye, O Heldalúne Maica i móremenel. Long hast it been since we spoke together upon the Pelori 'neath the Light of the Trees. I bring thee words of doom from He who is most exalted upon Arda, and though perhaps difficult to bear, still 'tis for a purpose high and was't declared in the Song. Think it not a punishment, for 'twas not intended thus by the One, but fulfills a purpose in the unfolding of Ea that shalt bear fruit ere the ending of days."

Then the great Eagle preened his feathers and settled as to roost, and when he spoke again, his eyes glowed with a ril of sapphire and the great voice that came forth from his beak was't not his own. Isildur and Anárion flung themselves down upon their faces in reverence for this manifestation of the Elder King. Helluin and Beinvír knelt upon one knee with their heads bowed.

"Long shalt be thy abiding upon these Hither Shores, for thy doom was't wrought 'neath the undying stars ere the sun and moon. Yet one day Men shalt see those holy vessels halt their paths across the heavens. When that time draws 'nigh, then shalt thou find thy blood reborn, and thy beloved's as well.In that time, when those of the Younger Children shalt first see the stars in their glory undimmed, as did thy kindred aforetime in Cuivienen, then only shalt thou find thy way to thy people's long home beyond the Curved World, and thence upon the Straight Road, come thither unto the Ancient West at last."

At the declaration of her fate, numbness spread like the frost of Morgoth's breath within Helluin's heart. All whom she knew, all her kin and friends would hath long ago taken ship into the West. All the Noldor, all the Sindar, and all the Nandor would be gone from Middle Earth. The words held no hope that she could discern. Never would a Man see the stars as they had been, bright and unblinking, for already they were faded. And when Tilion and Arien ceased their journeys across the heavens then the end of the world would be 'nigh.

"Then indeed I am forsaken upon these Hither Shores," Helluin replied, "for never shalt the Fading be set aside nor the stars again shine undimmed. Ere a thousand years of the Second Age had passed did I mark their diminished fires, and since then it hath but proceeded apace."

"Nevertheless, despair not, Heldalúne Maica i móremenel, keep thy hope."

If thou say so, she thought, though the conditions were all but impossible. With 'naught else to do she bowed again to the Eagle in acknowledgement that she had indeed received his errand. Beside her Beinvír was just progressing from shock to heartbreak.

Aireráma blinked and his eyes lost their unnatural glow. He ruffled his feathers.

"Namárie¹," Aireráma said ere he flapped and launched himself from the Hallow. Helluin noted that for the first hundred feet he fell like a stone. ¹(Namárie, Farewell Quenya)

"Namárie," Helluin whispered to his disappearing form, wondering for a moment if this apparition had not been Sauron come in yet another fantastical guise. She shrugged. Either it was't or it wasn't and either way there was't naught that she could do about it. She resolved to put it from her mind. For the present she would concentrate on comforting Beinvír, who was't now sobbing uncontrollably. She wrapped her arms around the Green Elf and held her tight.

Later, when she thought positively about the words of Aireráma/Manwe, she took it as a promise that if nothing else, she would never die in battle. That thought led briefly to a brooding mood. Finally though, Helluin decided a course of action and as she traveled thereafter she would at times work to craft a set of fine arrows for her bow. These she shafted of white birch, light and straight, and fletched with white feathers from the wings of snow geese. And upon their fore-ends she mounted the nine mithril arrowheads gifted to her aforetime by Gotli of Khazad-dum. 'T'would be many a year ere they would fly.


To Be Continued

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