This tale I could not compress into poetry in a self-satisfying manner, so I will present it as a short tale, and even as I write this, I wonder if the next segment will not also follow this format, for how can I write poetry about the Valar in their Ring of Doom, and the utterance of destiny upon fair Eärendil?
Well, I shall cross that bridge with I arrive at its gate! For now, please read and enjoy...
DarkElf and Elwing Meet in Alqualondë
The sun is gleaming on the wave-crests that comb at the white sand beach. The bay is gently unquiet, not with weather, but the presence of many, many boats, cleaving through the water that is eerie blue-green in the mid-day sunlight. Far out in the waters, not even within the bay of Eldermar, a large ship rocks at anchor, her white timbers seem grey as if with exhaustion. Her sails are proud, and yet limp; the wings of an albatross wrenched by a storm.
Tiny figures I see on the deck of that ship. It appears that many of the Grey Elves have gone out, offering food and comfort to the weary crew. The glare of the sun on the waters blurs my eyes, and I cannot see the faces of the mariners.
I walk down the path to the shore, my feet scuffing in the crystalline sands. So near the breathing sea, I feel a strange attraction; a desire to wade out into those inviting waters and dive down into the cool depths, where that magnificent city of shell and pearl waits, music easing the ears like alien birdsong.
I do not subcumb to this adamant call. A gathering of Folk on the sands await, and amid the cluster of their fair faces, one shining figure stands. Her face is burned with wind and sorrow, but she is still fair to my eyes, as fair as she had been when last I saw her, standing on the cliff in Avernien, bidding me ward her children in her stead.
"Elwing," I speak, and my tongue seems to cleave to my mouth. "Forgive me, Lady! I have failed to guard your children, as you commanded me."
Elwing turns her eyes toward me, blue-grey as the twilight sky I once viewed between the branches of the great oaks of Doriath. I can see in her clearly the blood of her kin; the beauty of Tinuviel and Dior, with the strength and determination of Beren foremost.
"You are the one called Morlothiel! How come you here, in this place? Where are my sons? How could you so easily renounce the oath you offered, when I trusted you to keep them safe?" she speaks with the fear of a mother of children lost.
My heart is wounded to see her despair. "Never would I have renounced such an oath, my lady, were I left in flesh and life! I strived to keep thy sons free and whole, and with the dying breath of my body did I charge Maglor to heed his heart and preserve thy children. He stayed Maedhros's hand and swore he would cherish them. I saw in him great regret for the deeds he had done, driven by his own Oath." I kneel in the sand, the surf that lapped our feet soaking my clothes. "Forgive me! Though Mandos has released me from the chambers of his House, I feel yet imprisoned by my failure, and can only be freed by thy word!" I bow my head, knowing that she could not possibly forgive such a transgression.
"You suffered death, and yet you grieve not for yourself, but for me?" Elwing kneels in front of me and takes my dark face in her white, white hands. Her fingers caress with the touch of a swan's wing. "Do not despair, Morlothiel! My sons live, and you have not failed. My husband Eärendil will bring the Valar to save Elves and Men, so that our sacrifices will not be wasted; neither those given nor those which we are asked to make in the future. Do not kneel, but stand beside me! Aerin, Calafalas; help me care for her. She is weary and in need of food."
The Elves stepped forward and took me in hand, gentle and insistant. I was led to a comfortable place and offered food. Elwing sat beside me, urging me to drink deeply of the pure, sweet water that was brought to me in shell-gobblets. When I had been refreshed, she spoke to me again.
"Tell me of my husband when he was a child," she bid me. "I have asked him many times, and he shares small tales with me, of his life in Gondolin and the persons he knew. Ever you are present in these tales, and as a wife of a beloved man I could be jealous, but for the easy love and obvious devotion I hear in his voice when he speaks your name. He will not speak of all of his days there, but bids me ask another who might tell. You are the only one now who can sing this tale, Morlothiel. You are the only one who yet lives who survived the fall of Gondolin."
"Nay, Lady, not the only one," I answer. "Yet I will tell what I can, for those who could share this tale are far away. Someday I will rejoin them, across the wide Sea. But for now, I will speak."
I did tell the tale then, of Glorious Gondolin and the birth of the son of Idril and Tuor. All his happy days of childhood I did recount, and I was surprised that I remembered so much without pain. Those fair and fine days in the City of Stone, where I dwelled in bliss with my own dear Lord. As I spoke, I felt again the fire within me to cross the Sea and find him again. I knew not how I would do this, only that I must.
I did not stop with the fair tales of Eärendil's youth, but recounted also the terrible day Morgoth invaded; the betrayal of Maeglin; the fall of the mighty king in his tall tower; the flight of the Folk to the wilderness. All the Teleri gathered 'round and harked to my words, and there were tears and murmurs of prayer, directed to Those Who might Hear, Those Who See all.
Behind us, unobserved while I spoke my long tale, stood a figure robed and cowled. When I wound down my story with the finding Avernien and the Folk of Cirdan, he moved and spoke at last.
"Elwing, spouse of the Blessed Mariner! Morlothiel, swordmaiden of Beleriand! Be comforted! I am Eönwë, the herald of Manwë. Eärendil comes soon to greet you, and after a time ye will all come to the Ring of Doom, there to hear the words of the Valar."
Elwing takes again my face into her fair hands, and slowly she bestows with me a kiss upon each cheek, murmuring her thanks. Together we wait with eager hearts to see Eärendil again.