To Snare an Elf
I II III IV
To Snare an Elf
Annatar stepped quietly into the smithy of Ost-in-Edhil
in Eregion. He felt no need of stealth but...
“Annatar. Come see,” called the clear voice
of an elf.
On the other hand, with some elves, stealth
was useless. He had hoped to find Celebrimbor here but the voice was
that of his cousin, Morfindel. These two were the last of Feanor’s grandsons
remaining in Middle Earth and great friends. For three hundred years
Annatar watched their good natured rivalry as they goaded each other to greater
and greater works. Celebrimbor came out the better nine times in ten,
but Morfindel came such a close second and in the smithing of bells he had
no equal. The thought of ensnaring one or both possessed Annatar’s
thoughts continually. Catch the lesser and use him to persuade the
greater? Perhaps, and then the rest will follow.
The elf wore a sleeveless tunic,
leggings and boots all of leather treated to extinguish sparks and hot spatters
of metal, as did most elven smiths when working at the forge. His long
black hair trailed down his back in a single braid, secured at the end with
a narrow leather thong. A wide brow band absorbed sweat and kept stray
hairs out of his eyes. Many Elvish craftsmen had the odd trait that
their hair was seldom all of one length. They used their hair for bow
strings, fletching arrows, forming designs for objects of art or as thread.
Morfindel had this trait in the extreme. His hair was of a color and
texture much in demand, and he gave it freely to any who asked him, though
he gave no more than they needed. Once Annatar had tried to serve as
middle man, but Morfindel only laughed at him, saying anyone who needed a
hair was welcome to it and he would not sell it for any price. In the
absence of his wife, Morfindel used sections of hair at random and convenience,
not caring about the effect on his appearance, the tresses around his face
being of several uneven lengths and a braid within the braid reserved for
bowstrings. And yet, Annatar observed, no one mocked him but rather
treated him with all the more affection for his generosity, and some few
even attempted to imitate him. In truth, Morfindel displayed an untamed
quality like a high bred horse gone feral, a defiance of social convention
Annatar longed to harness. His beauty was not diminished, but rather
augmented by his self assured wildness. He was Noldor, a son of the
House of Feanor, only one generation removed from Feanor himself and of all
the grandchildren bore his grandsire’s appearance most markedly, though without
his haughty arrogance.
Annatar both hated Morfindel and desired him as a vassal. If
he could snare this one, Annatar was certain Celebrimbor would follow.
What trophies would they make, to display before the Valar in mockery and
defiance! In fact, this one seemed an even better first choice, for
he was returning to Dor Luin soon. With Morfindel would come not only
Eregion, but Lindon as well. Long had Annatar sought a foothold there.
The prospect made him tremble with anticipation. So much revolved around
the snaring of this one elf. The question was, how to go about it.
Annatar walked up behind the elf
and watched him tie an intricate knot of one of his own hairs, dip it in
molten gold and place it carefully on the side of a fair goblet, forming
a lovely floweret. The elf sang as he worked, speaking to the materials
as if they heard and understood. He laid the goblet on its side to cool
and picked up a mold, opening it and extracting the object it contained.
“What are you doing?” asked Annatar.
“Finishing little gifts before returning home.
Gone too long from my lady have I been. Think you the goblet will please
“It is a fair work. What is that you
“Only putting the finish on a
guard ring.” Holding the ring in a pair of small tongs, the elf
carefully smoothed the still hot metal with a little file, again singing
as he worked. The ring suddenly flashed bright blue and glowed steadily
in the elf’s hand. Morfindel watched it intently, a perplexed look
on his face. “Strange. It should have faded by now.”
“You’ve made another ring of power?” asked
Annatar, hopefully, stepping still closer. The elf wore a gold ring
with a stone of amber which Annatar coveted to control. He watched it
intently as the elf worked.
“Cease your hovering, Annatar,”
laughed the elf. “No more rings of power will I attempt for I have
reached my limit with them. Rings will I leave to my cousin, who has
the greater skill. It is but a Beleriand guard ring, and perhaps I
will keep this last one. I made others for my lady and our children
so that when they roam they may have some forewarning of the presence of
an enemy and either make ready to fight, or fly away to safety. They
glow blue when an enemy is near, but...” The elf surveyed the room.
“No one is here except you and me.” He put down the file, removed the
browband and scratched his head in confusion, then mopped his neck and face
with the cloth and cast it onto a table. He signalled for Annatar to
remain where he was while he searched the other rooms and chambers of the
smithy. When he returned he was speaking softly to himself. “Brightest
it is in here where...” he looked at Annatar, questioningly,
“you are...” The elf cautiously moved toward the door, watching Annatar
with a light of growing suspicion in his eyes. “Annatar, why does this
ring name you an enemy? Who are you? ”
This was unexpected and unfortunate. Annatar blocked the door. He did not want to kill this elf if he did
not have to for that would ruin many years of careful preparation. He
motioned with his hand toward the ring the elf wore. The elf gasped
as it tightened on his finger and raised his hand to look at it. What
had once been an amber stone transformed into something black, then red, then
like a fiery eye. The elf tried to remove it but could not, even saying
the usual words of power. Finally he gave a command and the ring expanded
just enough for him to tear it from his finger, injuring himself in the
process. He cast it into the forge, but Annatar spoke a spell that
it should not melt. Then he moved in on the elf, cutting off his escape,
herding him this way and that until he cornered him next to where the
furnace blazed and a stack of unfinished, damaged and discarded swords
“Calm yourself, Morfindel,” said Annatar.
“I am as I told you, sent from the West to aid the Noldor in attaining their
dream of Valinor here on Middle Earth.”
“Never would a messenger of the Valar be counted
an enemy by any ring I make! Who are you?!”
“Do you not yet know who I am?” he asked the
elf and dropped his fair guise for an instant.
With sudden realization the elf reacted wildly,
seeking some way of escape. He grabbed an unfinished sword and threw
it like a javelin at Annatar. It was a mighty throw, and a lesser opponent
would certainly have been slain, but Annatar merely sidestepped and avoided
it easily. He sensed the growing fear in the elf, but it was an uncommon
sort, not for himself but for the other elves of Eregion, mixed with anger
that he had not seen through Annatar’s disguise before. Morfindel’s
only purpose was to escape, at any cost to himself, that he might warn Celebrimbor
of Sauron’s presence in their midst. This must not be allowed, but the
elf insisted upon putting up a fight. When Morfindel took up two more
unfinished swords, one in each hand, Annatar recalled how close he had been
to his uncle Maedhros whose right hand was severed when Fingon rescued him
from Thangorodrim. Morfindel took this to heart and taught himself
to fight equally with both hands. He was a tried warrior, survivor of
many battles and unpredictable in a fray. Snaring this elf without killing
him would take careful maneouvering. Annatar sidestepped again, dodging
until he perceived Morfindel had no intention of striking him, but was intent
only upon escape and had worked himself closer to the door. Facing
an opponent who knows he is in a battle he can not win always brings a certain
unpredictability to the fight, except for the outcome. In a fury, Annatar
grabbed the swords by their unsharpened blades, jerked Morfindel forward,
planting a knee sharply in the triangle of flesh just below his breast bone
and knocking the wind out of him, ripping the hiltless swords from his hands
and throwing them to the ground. Annatar grabbed him by the throat
and caught his left wrist. The elf grasped Annatar’s hand on his throat
with his right hand, struggling to wrench it away, trying the pry the fingers
loose and free himself, fighting with all his strength to escape Sauron’s
grasp, but it was no use. Sauron shoved him flat against the wall and
bent his will on total domination. Mind to mind, the silent dual began.
“Calm yourself. It is not as you think.
I truly do want to bring Valinor to Middle Earth, as I said.”
“You were not sent by the Valar, as you
said. Cirdan, Gil-Galad and Galadriel were right! We should never
have welcomed you!”
“But think of what we have accomplished
together, without anyone knowing who I am. No one but you need ever
“Think you I would serve one who has brought nothing
but suffering to my people, in your vanquished master’s name? You had
best slay me now for I will never be other than enemy to you.”
“Have you not thought Feanor, your noble
grandfather of great renown, may have been right about the Valar?”
“My grandfather was overly proud and a fool
to listen to the lies of Morgoth.”
name is Melkor, and he is equal with Manwë in power. And, he will reward
you greatly for your service. You have been of service to him already, though
unknowingly. Did you not take part in the kinslaying at Alqualondë?”
This jolted the elf and he was silent a
moment, then said, “My guilt can not be assuaged by heaping betrayal and treason
“Treason is such a relative term...”
“No! I will not submit to you!”
Annatar decided bargaining would not work.
No matter what great rewards he promised to Morfindel, the response would
be scornful refusal. At this point, Annatar turned to threats combined with
little jabs of pain here and there. He did not want to disfigure the
elf, for a beautiful slave stood a better chance of drawing in others if
he remained whole. This tactic caused the elf to sweat and writhe and
scream, but he remained defiant. Even burning the elf one layer of
skin at a time was no more effective. At last Annatar showed the elf
scene after scene of tortures he would inflict upon his wife and children.
Morfindel uttered a cry of surprise and despair. He closed his eyes
and turned his face away, as if that might stop his torment at watching visions
of his loved ones suffering. Tears slid down the elf’s cheeks and he
began to weep. Such was the usual end to a struggle with a strong opponent
and Sauron began to gloat, casting off all pretense and disguise. But
just as he thought the elf was about to succumb, with a last shred of will
and strength the elf whispered a plaintive cry. “Ai, Eru! Iluvatar!”
Now why did he have to say that? Sauron
was repulsed as if by a slap in the face. In an instant he found himself
thrust ten paces from his victim, watching the elf collapse, sliding down
the wall and lay senseless, but only briefly for soon Morfindel’s eyes opened
and focused on his tormentor. Sauron would have thought it comical to
watch an elf lord scrambling away like a wounded rabbit escaping through
a hedge from hounds, but he could not move. A hedge had indeed sprung
up between him and his quarry, as firm and impassable as it was unseen.
He hoped elves would not begin to call upon that entity habitually.
They were so much easier to defeat when they relied upon their own strength
to resist. Why had this elf called upon the only name Sauron could
not stand against?
Sauron pushed through the hedge, following the elf to the small outer door
used for removing ash and carrying in coal and water. Stumbling and panting,
his prey was out before Sauron could catch him. That elf must be kept quiet
for he was calling his kinsmen in a loud, clear voice, but such spells usually
required physical contact. As Sauron leaned on the door post, he noticed
a red mark, blood from Morfindel’s torn palms and the finger where the elf
once wore the amber ring, he supposed. Numerous drops trailed downward from
a partial palm print. A bit of blood would suffice, though the spell would
be less potent. Sauron brushed a finger across the still damp drops and
licked them off. In a deep quiet voice using the language Morgoth had invented
for his goblins, he spoke a spell of silence and watched as it took hold
of the elf, choking off his last call in mid-cry. Morfindel looked back
at Sauron with terror filled eyes, stumbling to his knees, then dragging
himself to his feet strove on toward the street at the end of the alley.
saw other elves come running in answer to the cries his prey uttered before
the spell took effect and decided it best to leave Eregion. More than will
would he need to control elves. He would make his own ring, as he had long
planned. He did indeed wish to create a form of Valinor on Middle Earth,
but one at his command with worship of Melkor at its center, to spite the
Valar. A supreme ring of power could bring his designs to fruition. He
needed gold, and Morfindel’s goblet would be enough to serve his purpose,
so he took it. Also from the fire he retrieved the ring cast away by the
elf. Sauron could make use of it to ensnare another or melt it down in
the crucible with the rest of the gold. He cared not which. The guard
ring Morfindel had dropped in their struggle still glowed blue and Annatar
picked it up and crushed it, melting it in his hand but it never lost its
glow so he cast it aside like a bit of slag. Outside, he took the form of
a huge carrion bird and flew away on a dark wind to the south.
A Silent Trap
Celebrimbor strolled the avenues and lanes of Ost-in-Edhel, admiring
the works of his people. Graceful towers rose high above well situated
homes and work places, all built of variously colored marble and
limestone quarried by the dwarves of Khazad-dum, embellished with
wrought iron and hardwood carved shutters. Gardens with trees of all
varieties loved by the elves, from all regions, housed song birds who
sang on request. Fountains with falls lent their beauty and music for
all to stop and admire. Bells peeled the hour in bright, clear tones.
For those seeking solitude, quiet places along the city walls furnished
with comfortable benches and beautiful statues provided refuge from the
city’s bustle. Ost-in-Edhel was truly a wonder and Celebrimbor was
proud of the city he founded.
A messenger from Galadriel joined step with him, delivered his message,
received his response and departed. Galadriel and Celeborn ruled the
vast open spaces of Eregion. Now, through subtlety, they sought control
of his city. Galadriel only asked for a room to hold court, as if he
did not comprehend what her small request meant. He chuckled at the
thought. He loved her, had lived unwed on account of his unrequited
love, pouring his strength into works of metal and stone rather than
children. Few requests would he deny her, but she had no part in the
construction or governing of his city. Ost-in-Edhel was his domain. He
would not surrender those reins for any love, and certainly not to the
wife of such a one as Celeborn, who spoke with such disdain of all the
lineage of Fëanor. How chigrined had the Silver Tree appeared when
Celebrimbor revealed his family to him. And they, Celeborn and
Galadriel, showed the nerve to request an audience chamber? Celebrimbor
chuckled at his courteous, but final, response. They were free to hold
court outside the gate of their choice, but he knew of no room free for
such use, although they were welcome to visit him at his hall. Humblest
apologies. Was there no wooded glade suited to their purposes?
Passing elves and dwarves greeted him as he made his way toward the
main smithy where he intended to meet his cousin. Though Celebrimbor
was counted the greatest of elven smiths remaining on Middle-earth,
Morfindel had a knack with bells that surpassed him, and he rather
enjoyed allowing his cousin this small concession. Nine times in ten,
he bested Morfindel in feats of smith craft; he begrudged not Morfindel
the domain of bell-craft.
They were going to confer with several dwarves and other elves upon the
construction of a series of walkways between three high towers which
commanded views of the mountains and the river and discuss the forging
of a few more large bells. He would meet his cousin at the smithy and
together they would join the others in the treasury. As he approached
the square upon which the main door opened, he heard voices raised in
alarm and fear.
“Mori, you look like a refugee from Angband,” said Celebrimbor, his
voice a tone of gentle reproof at first sight of his cousin. It was
considered unseemly for an elven smith to appear in public wearing only
smithy leathers. They always threw on a robe or tunic before going out
into the street and though Morfindel had often rolled his eyes and
sneered at what he considered excessive decorum and nonsense, it was
uncharacteristic of him to forget. In truth, Morfindel did look a
fright and his eyes bore the haunted look of a wild animal just barely
escaped from a deadly trap. The palms of his hands were torn and
bleeding, and his right palm was also burned, as was his left wrist.
Another burn like a hand print wrapped his throat and several
bystanders speculated that he had burned himself there, but others said
that was impossible, for the burns did not match. He struggled to keep
on his feet between two elves who supported him, with great effort
trying to speak, but only sibilant whispers did he utter. When
Celebrimbor came to his aid, Morfindel collapsed into his arms,
trembling like a newborn. He kept trying to tell them something but
could say only “ssssssaaa...” They were troubled to see one of their
most loved smiths in such distress, but knew not what to do for him,
thinking an accident had befallen him in the smithy. But what kind of
accident could rob him of his ability to speak? Healers were called
immediately and they were even more troubled.
“If I did not know it were impossible, I would say someone has cast a spell upon him,” ventured one.
“You may have been close to the mark when you mentioned Angband,
Celebrimbor,” suggested another, “for I fear there may be an emissary
of the enemy among us. Perhaps we should seek Annatar’s advice.”
At this, Morfindel summoned all his strength and barked a single “No!” then fell exhausted against his cousin.
“Be still,” said Celebrimbor as he supported his kinsman, determining
for himself that he would find Annatar and discover why Morfindel
should so adamantly rejected his counsel. He commanded that a litter be
brought to carry Morfindel to his apartment. Lachnir, Morfindel’s
eldest son who stood close by watching his father with grave concern,
ran to fetch one. He returned swiftly and together he and his son,
Ormal, carried Morfindel to their home. Celebrimbor watched them until
they were out of sight, then turned toward the smithy.
“We will meet at another time,” he said to those with whom he had come
to confer who came out to see what caused the ruckus in the square.
They quickly nodded assent and withdrew.
Standing in the main doorway and gazing about from one side to the
other, Celebrimbor could see the place was not as Morfindel usually
left it. In the main room, a sword lay shattered on the floor, broken
in three pieces from the point up. A pock mark on the wall about chest
level indicated whence had come several bits of stone scattered nearby.
A trail of dark drops led toward the small door used for carrying in
water and fuel and taking out ash from the furnace. Two other swords
were across the room from each other, their tangs marked with the same
color as the drops on the floor. A work bench was overturned and its
content scattered. Celebrimbor stepped inside and inspected each of the
other rooms but found nothing missing or out of place. He was standing
contemplating possibilities when he heard a step behind him and turned.
It was only Annatar, who also gazed in concern at the disarray of the
smithy. Neither spoke for some time until Annatar broke the silence.
“My friend, I found this,” he said, extending his hand holding a ring. “Is it not your cousin’s?”
Celebrimbor took it from him and looked at it closely. “It is. He never takes it off. Where did you find it?”
“Yes, it is strange. I also have noticed how he always wears it. Should I return it to him?”
“No,” responded the elf lord. “I will give it to him myself when I go to see about his welfare. He wishes not to see you.”
“His welfare?” repeated Annatar, his face a confused, somber mask of sadness. “He wishes not to see me? Why? What...?”
“I know not, and hoped you might tell me. Did you have a quarrel? My
cousin can be quite high strung and headstrong. His opinions are set
and he changes them for no one other than his lady, and in that he is
much like our grandfather. Why would he wish not to see you?”
Annatar shook his head in bewilderment.
“Well, it is clear he suffered some mishap here in the smithy,” said the elf lord.
Annatar gazed about the room, noting the three swords on the floor and
offered a suggestion. “Perhaps he was testing the blades. You know how
strenuously he tries a sword before counting it worthy of finishing.
Surely he can tell you...”
“He cannot speak.”
“What?! Not at all?”
“Only with the most strenuous effort, and then only a single word or
syllable.” Celebrimbor then described his kinsman’s injuries to
Annatar, who thoughtfully listened, then step by step offered a
plausible explanation as to how each injury could have happened, moving
from place to place in the smithy as he did so. As the elf listened,
Morfindel’s ring became warm in his hand, and he felt a tingle up his
arm, but thought nothing of it, being more concerned for his cousin. He
merely put the ring in a pocket of his tunic. Once Celebrimbor was
satisfied with Annatar’s scenario, together they set out to visit
Morfindel. When they arrived at his dwelling, Lachnir and Ormal met
them at the door.
“Begging your pardon, my lords,” said Lachnir with his son standing
quietly beside him, “but my father wishes not to see anyone just now.
He is very weary and sore.”
“Did he tell you this?” asked Celebrimbor hopefully. “Can he now speak?”
“No, he is not yet able to speak, but makes signs with his hands.”
“Well, we will leave him in peace for the night and hope he is much
improved in the morning,” said Celebrimbor. “But might I at least
return his ring that he dropped somewhere? Never have I known him to be
without it.” The elf lord took the ring from his pocket and held it out
on his palm.
Lachnir looked surprised at the ring in Celebrimbor’s hand and stepped
aside for him to pass, but blocked Annatar. “I beg your forgiveness,
Annatar.” He turned toward Celebrimbor, saying, “I beg of you, return
the ring and depart quickly. He has only begun to rest.”
The elf lord nodded and moved forward into the apartment, noting with
some distaste the untidiness of smithy leathers draped over a chair at
the foot of the bed with a pair of boots collapsed on the floor.
Morfindel lay on his back on a narrow couch, his eyes closed. His
children had dressed him in a linen tunic and drawn a light blanket
over him. His left wrist and throat were wrapped in soft cloth bandages.
An elf maiden, Thistledown, Morfindel and Lurisa’s youngest daughter,
sat as a sentry on a low stool beside her father’s bed. She glanced at
Celebrimbor but said nothing, neither rising nor changing her vigilant
posture, carefully wrapping her father’s right hand, flexible metal
splints along the top of each finger to prevent them from healing
crooked. Celebrimbor observed silently each movement of her hands,
nodding approval at her skill. Dark haired, though not the blue black
of her father, Thistledown bore the facial features of both parents.
Porcelain skin, grey eyes with a hint of green, the set of her mother’s
mouth, her father’s sharp glance, a true daughter of the Noldor. Since
her arrival, she had delighted all the inhabitants of Eregion, elf,
dwarf and mortal. And to think that if her parents had followed his
advice, she would never have been born. One can not be right about all
things, he thought and turned his attention back to his cousin.
“Mori,” said Celebrimbor and his kinsman awoke with a start and sat up.
“Here, Annatar found your ring and wished to return it to you.” He
approached the couch, extending his hand with the ring held in two
Morfindel gazed at it uncomprehendingly at first, then his eyes filled
with horror. He kicked Celebrimbor’s hand away, sending his covers
fluttering to the floor and the ring flying into a corner where it
ricocheted of a wall, bounced on the stone tile and lay still. “Mori,”
began Celebrimbor sternly, but Morfindel was not looking at him, or
heeding him in any way. Rather he stared at the ring, slowly edging
backward into a far corner where he crouched, wrapping his arms around
his legs like a frightened child. Thistledown moved as if to retrieve
the ring but Morfindel leaped over the couch and grabbed her around the
waist, refusing to let her go until she submitted to being restrained.
“Ada, what is the matter? It’s only your ring, is it not?” asked Thistledown.
In a hoarse whisper Morfindel slowly rasped, “No, it, is, not.”
“Lachnir!” cried the elf maiden to her brother as she put forth all her strength to keep her father from falling.
Hearing his sister’s voice, Lachnir sprang into the room and together
the siblings guided Morfindel’s slow collapse onto the couch where they
laid him out and covered him again.
“My Lord Celebrimbor,” said Lachnir turning to his kinsman imploringly.
“Let us alone a while with our father. Something is gravely amiss.”
Celebrimbor nodded agreement. “It is indeed, for Mori to renounce his
ring or even refuse to allow his children to touch it.” The elf lord
strode to the ring and picked it up, returning it to his pocket.
“Should he wish for it, I will place it in the treasury.” So saying he
departed, motioning for Annatar to follow. Ormal shut the door behind
Celebrimbor led Annatar to the treasury where he sent swift runners to
call the counsel of mirdain to an emergency meeting. When they arrived
he showed them Morfindel’s ring and asked them to discern any fault in
it that might cause its owner to reject it. As it passed from hand to
hand, each smith mentioned its warmth and the sensation of numbness or
tingling he felt, but such sensations were not uncommon among rings of
power as they accustom themselves to a new user. Annatar stood aside,
watching each smith with avid curiosity.
“If there is no fault in the ring, perhaps Morfindel suffers from some malady of the mind,” suggested one.
“Or there is an emissary of the enemy among us,” ventured Annatar. “I would volunteer to search him out if you wish.”
“I think we should pursue other options first,” said Celebrimbor and
Annatar bowed, stepping back as the elf lord continued. “We will send a
messenger to Dor Luin. Perhaps Morfindel’s people can shed light on
their lord’s distress. I also will speak with Lachnir, Ormal and
By now Morfindel’s ring returned to Celebrimbor and he placed it in a
chest with eight other rings of lesser power and snapped the lock shut.
Flight to Hollin
Scurrying here and there on a bright morning not long after the third
bell from sunrise, Lurisa and her maidens prepared for a double
homecoming. Morfindel and Thistledown would be returning soon; she
could feel it. Joyfully routine preparations sprucing up their private
chambers, checking on the stores of their favorite foods, and plenty of
ent draught for their private moments once the first welcome ran its
course kept her busy for days. So silly to take such pains for so
routine a thing as this, but Lurisa delighted in seeing her husband
again after an absence. Many married elves cooled to each other as time
passed. Her own parents ceased to live together once their children
grew to maturity, becoming estranged so that Celerin moved to
Nargothrond with Galadriel when Thaliontaur officially recognized
Lachnir as his grandson. Lurisa’s mother never forgave her for wedding
a “cursed Fëanorean.” Though the flame of her parents love
flickered and died, her love for Morfindel remained ever constant, as
did his for her. She likened it to a well tended forge, neither
consuming itself, nor abating.
This was Thistledown’s first long excursion with her father, brother
and nephew and word soon reached Lurisa what a smashing success she was
with the inhabitants of Ost-in-Edhel. Even Galadriel displayed open
fondness for her. At first Thistledown wondered if Lurisa would object,
but she assured her daughter that what tension there may be between the
two ladies need not carry over to the next generation and secretly
thanked Galadriel for her kindness to a child of the house of
Fëanor. They remained in Eregion three years and in their absence
Lurisa occupied her time tracking the mortal descendants of their
daughter Earlina and Numenorean son-in-law Ciryafin. Mortal genealogies
required so much more attention than did those of the elves, for their
generations lasted such a brief time. Earlina and her sister Hithwing
had long since departed over sea. Though Hithwing expressed her
intention to return, Lurisa doubted that she would. Time passes in
Valinor differently then it does in mortal lands. Six hundred years is
not even five yen as the elves reckoned time, but among mortals already
thirty generations had passed.
Morfindel frequently asked Lurisa to accompany him to Eregion, but she
usually declined, though she was loath to refuse him. Actually, she did
not refuse. Always he gave her the choice and increasingly she chose to
remain at home, and he understood. When he returned, he brought with
him new tales of ostentatious behavior and some new rule of decorum,
drawing gales of laughter from their Laiquendi followers.
Noldor were too proud, thought Lurisa. Even Celebrimbor, who dwelt with
them many years before Morfindel took him to see Khazad-dûm and
introduced him to the dwarves there, changed toward them. Though still
fond of them, he called them Noldorin woodelves, saying “You are too
much in the flesh,” before Thistledown was born. “Having children at
your age is unseemly. You could be great among all elves, yet now you
are masters only among Woodelves. You’re strength has diminished from
bearing so many children.” After so many years living among Laiquendi,
what did he expect from them? The Mirdain took on too many airs, which
was why Lurisa avoided Ost-in-Edhel now. She remembered the day they
laid the foundation of the smithy, the first building to be
constructed. Elves and dwarves celebrated together, feasting and giving
speeches drawing laughter from all quarters. Now the speeches were so
somber and serious and important sounding, all about creating a land
where elves and dwarves could live together in peace and prosperity
where no enemy could assail them for an entire age of the world. Fine.
Let them gather their riches and build their towers. She preferred her
mountain in the foot of Ered Luin with its forests and meadows and also
dwarves, mortals and Luindar, or Blue-elves, as she liked to call her
In the early days of Ost-in-Edhel, Celebrimbor worked side by side with
his laborers, hands and feet in the dust, building, overseeing,
celebrating. Now he was too important, high and lofty for such things.
Once Morfindel, in jest, toasted him as High King of the Dispossessed.
Now he no longer dared, for fear of offending his cousin. While
Morfindel revelled in a freedom he never knew as a child, Celebrimbor
set his sights on lordship and power. He was still affectionate, of
course, but so aloof and the friends he chose troubled Lurisa; this
Annatar, who came out of nowhere, especially. Normally, Galadriel
disliking someone tended to grant that person benefit of the doubt from
Lurisa, but for that one, the two ladies who were so often at odds,
agreed fully. Morfindel spoke of all they learned from him and her
attitude troubled him, but he did not discount it. Once in private she
asked him not to speak of Annatar to her, and he complied reluctantly,
from then on asking permission before launching into their latest
endeavor. His consideration touched her and she never refused, and he
always mentioned Annatar briefly by name, if at all.
Perusing her wardrobe for the perfect “welcome home” gown, suitable for
a husband and a daughter, Lurisa concentrated on Morfindel’s heartbeat,
regular and steady as always. She remembered what a nuisance their
combined heartbeats were at first, and how tiresome to feel both at the
same time. What ever possessed her to speak that enchangment which
joined their hearts, making them ever aware of each other, she no
longer remembered, but now she knew not how she might manage not
knowing that Morfindel was alive and well. No matter how far he roamed,
always their connection kept them close though they be too distant to
speak mind to mind. She was about to select a deep green floor length
dress when suddenly she froze under such a growing sense of dread that
caused her to gasp for breath. Gnawing fear creeping through her for a
cause she knew not. Shock and surprise sent her reeling and she cried
out, screaming so uncontrollably that her maidens instantly ceased
their singing and jesting and rushed to her aid. Clutching at her chest
the way a mortal woman might when suffering a heart attack and staring
past them as if they were creatures of air and not flesh, she stumbled
about, nearly fainting.
“What ails you, my lady?” cried Springlily, taking Lurisa by the hand
and attempting to comfort her but Lurisa shook her off and gazed around
as if seeking a dreaded enemy, ever keeping her back to a wall or other
“Something is wrong!” she breathed. “Something terrible is befalling my
lord, oh my poor beloved Morfindel! What is it!?” She breathed deeply,
calming herself, and him as well she hoped. But the horrible sensation
only intensified. “I must go to him,” she gasped and ran to the place
where the horses grazed, her maidens following swiftly behind. “Who
will bear me to the aid of my lord?!” she called. “We must make haste
A lovely gray mare trotted in Lurisa’s direction but was blocked by a
great red horse. Lurisa was surprised to see him come forward for he
usually ignored her, being accustomed to Morfindel and suffering hardly
any other rider. He laid his ears back, nuzzled the mare away gently
and stood between her and Lurisa.
“You are fleet of foot, but this journey would break you, my darling,”
said Lurisa to the mare, who tossed her head and ambled back to the
herd. To the horse she said, “Will you tolerate a light saddle? I am
unaccustomed to riding without one.”
The great horse tossed his head and snorted once, then proceeded to the
stable where all tack was kept. Lurisa ran ahead and made ready her
saddle as soon as the horse drew near. She was about to mount when she
heard the voices of her twin sons calling. No doubt Springlily had
summoned them, she thought.
“We can’t let you...”
“...ride off without knowing more...”
“...about what may have happened!”
She turned to them and said “I dare not delay, for yet this fear grows. I must discover the cause.”
“At least wait until...”
“No!! I shall not wait even another hour!” she cried and bidding the
horse to follow, she raced to her chambers where she changed into an
outfit more suitable for riding and grabbed a large bladder of ent
draught, slung the cord of the bladder over her head and under an arm,
not knowing if it would be of any use or even wanted. Ignoring the
protests of her sons and handmaidens, she sprang onto the saddle,
calling to the horse, “Fly, Caramir! I am but a passenger! Slack not
your pace for me! To the aid of our lord!!”
The red horse tossed his mane and dug in his toes. In three great leaps
he surged forward, picking up speed until Dor Luin vanished in the
distance behind them. Still she heard the calls of her children, but
heeded them not. They could not even guess what she knew of Morfindel’s
great distress and growing despair.
“Ai, Eru! Iluvatar! Keep my beloved safe!” she whispered as the
landscape blurred past. Something must have happened for Morfindel’s
fear abruptly ceased, but only temporarily. Quickly it returned, but in
a different form. This was like that of a warrior who knows the battle
is lost, but pushes himself to the limit, using his last strength to
warn his fellows that they must make a stand. Suddenly she felt his
heart beat become muffled, as though through armor.
Caramir prepared to leap a narrow stream and Lurisa raised up in the
stirrups, leaning forward, then back, then upright again. She
concentrated on riding so as not to hinder Caramir as he galloped,
shifting her weight from one side to the other when he turned slightly.
From Dor Luin to Ost-in-Edhel was more than three hundred miles and
though Caramir could run swiftly and tirelessly for hours and hours, he
would need rest and grazing time. Already the first night’s grazing
pasture lay behind them, making their journey so far more than 20
miles. A leisurly pace stretched the road over about ten days, but
Lurisa had no intention of taking that long, and obviously neither did
Caramir. After only three hours, they passed the second night’s
pasture. She figured the distance in her mind, trying to distract
herself from Morfindel’s fear. A little over one hundred miles to Sarn
Ford. South from there down the North Road to Tharbad crossing of the
Gwathlo, another hundred and fifty miles. Through winding paths
skirting the Nin-in-Eilph to the last ford, then a straight race to the
western gate of the city of elves made the remaining hundred miles.
Three hundred fifty miles. She might cut short perhaps fifty, but such
roads were treacherous for a lone woman of any race, no matter how
swift or powerful the horse.
Presently they came to the river Baranduin perhaps forty miles down
stream from Sarn Ford. Clearly Caramir’s idea was to take a straighter
path. When he bore Morfindel, this was the way they came. The great
horse slowed his pace and stepped into the current, swimming to the
other side with powerful strokes of his legs, moving slightly upstream.
Lurisa kept her head above the water and grasped the saddle with one
hand and the container of ent draught with the other until he found the
far bank and rose from the water.
“You have sped two day’s journey in a matter of hours,” she said to the horse. “There is good grazing here.”
The horse shook himself and set to grazing, walking eastward as he did
so. Though he must eat, still he kept his mind upon the journey rather
than wandering about as feeding horses usually do. Lurisa would have
dismounted but Caramir pinned his ears back and snorted, refusing to
“Very well,” she sighed. “Oft times I wonder who is the master, Morfindel or you.”
If Caramir had an answer, he kept it to himself, continuing his ambling
grazing to the east, ******** his ears this way and that. Suddenly, as
they approached the road to Tharbad, he focused his attention on a
clump of bushes to the right and shied left. Lurisa straightened her
right leg to keep from being thrown and also looked to the right just
as a group of five young men from Tharbad stepped out.
“What’s this?” said one.
“It’s a she-elf,” said another. Approaching Lurisa and Caramir, he
said, “Tell me, my lady, what would you be doing out on your own at
this time of day?”
“My husband is in distress and I go to his aid,” she replied, in a low,
cold voice. “What would you be doing out at this time of day when most
men of Tharbad are at supper with their families?”
“How do you know we are of Tharbad?” asked yet another.
“I’ve been told that if you catch an elf, she has to grant you a wish,” said the first.
Caramir stood square and arched his neck, waiting with one ear cocked
toward Lurisa, the other moving back and forth between the two speakers
as they talked. The elf lady sat still as a statue as the men
approached. “What wish would you like?” she asked. The horse tensed at
a signal from Lurisa’s heel and moved his hindquarters sideways,
shifting his front feet so that the speakers were directly in front of
“You’re horse has lost his bridle,” said a fourth.
“He never needs one,” replied Lurisa, watching as the five men drew nearer.
“Maybe I’ll wish for your horse,” said the first.
“He is not mine to give.”
At this the men approached to the point Lurisa had set as her limit and
using her feet and free hand on Caramir’s mane she guided the horse
into a spin. The horse lashed out with his hooves, barely missing the
men as they dodged and withdrew.
“His aim’s not very good,” said the fifth, who up until now had said nothing.
“That was a warning. He intended not to mark you,” said Lurisa, then commanded “Let us pass! Or he will lose patience with you.”
Two men lunged forward. At the same moment Caramir reared, struck out
and caught both of them square in the face with his front hooves,
knocking them cold. Then he turned on the others, who quickly
scattered. With a nudge of her heel, Lurisa turned him again toward
Tharbad and with a snort and a crowhop, Caramir again raced eastward.
They skirted Tharbad, crossing the ford near midnight and began wending
their way along the paths near the marshes of Nin-in-Eilph as dawn
approached. By mid-morning they reached the last ford that crossed the
River Glanduin. On the other side Caramir grazed on the good grass and
satisfied his hunger, then broke into a swift gallop, not pausing again
until they reached the western gate of the elf city. Heads turned in
surprise as Caramir bore her under the great stone arch just as the
bells chimed mid-day. He carried her right to the gate of their house
not far from the smithy.
The servant inside the gate was playing a sad tune upon his lyre, but
stopped in surprise as she stepped into the courtyard. Quickly he put
away his instrument. “My lady! Galador has just departed with tidings
not three hours ago! We expected you not for several days...”
Silently, Lurisa dismounted, unsaddled the horse and bade him rest. The
doorward took the saddle and placed it on a stand just inside,
following Lurisa as she ran up the stairs to Morfindel’s chamber where
they found him huddled against a wall, a defiant, hostile glare aimed
out the open door of their balconey, as if daring a vile intruder to
pass through it. He reminded her of a pair of wolves she once saw, when
first they began to dwell with the elves of Taur-im-Duinath. Though
Morfindel tried to disuade them, the woodelves persued them many days,
but the creatures would not leave the woods. When the woodelves
eventually killed them, they discovered the wolves were only protecting
their cubs. The Noldor, recognizing that neither parents nor offspring
were evil, adopted them and their line was preserved in the hounds of
Dor Luin. But the fate of those two wolves made Morfindel’s resemblence
to them all the more poignant to Lurisa.
He turned exhausted eyes to her and gasped. She went to him and took
his face in her hands, gazing into his eyes, seeking his mind, but
unable to reach him. The intensity of his concentration brought beads
of sweat to his brow, but it was as if a wall between them blocked even
the slightest word. At last she heard his voice, faintly but with
supreme effort, as if screaming from the bottom of a deep pit.
“You... were... right!” he cried before collapsing in her arms.
“I was right?” she asked him, caressing his face. “I was right about what, my love?”
But he could not answer for weeping. Lurisa held him tight and sang
softly a song of Valinor that he always sang to her when she felt
distressed. Lachnir, Ormal and Thistledown stepped inside the room,
surprise on their tired faces, the doorward speaking quickly and softly
to Thistledown, asking for instructions.
“Mother!” exclaimed Lachnir. “What are you doing here so soon? Father was injured just yesterday. How...”
Lurisa motioned for them to be silent and leave. Reluctantly they
obeyed. She again bent her mind on Morfindel, but could not find him
and even this close his heart beat was muffled.
“Can you hear me?” she asked.
His arms tightened around her and he sighed and nodded.
“Who did this to you?”
Morfindel mouthed the beginning of a word, but gagged and choked,
tearing the bandage from his throat, gasping for breath. Lurisa pulled
him to her again and kissed his forehead. "You can hear me. For now that is enough. Fear not, my love. I will find a way to reach you. Do not give up hope.”
IV. Loose Ends
In the privacy of his own chambers, Annatar congratulated himself on
his astute handling of that elf. Though he planned to depart as soon as
the spell of silence took hold, he soon thought how much better would
it be to leave less mysteriously. A missing goblet and elven ring on
the same day he should disappear would instantly cast suspicion upon
him. Now, with the help of Morfindel’s ring and the spell of
concealment he placed upon it, the other elven smiths thought Morfindel
suffered from some derangement left over from Fëanor and his sons,
and that marvelously tragic oath they swore. Celebrimbor had long since
distanced himself from the line of his father and now was all too
willing to discount his cousin’s distress as guilt from the past. After
all, he had taken no part in the Kinslaying, while Morfindel had obeyed
Caranthir, his father, using a sword quite skillfully for one so young.
With precision, Annatar had taken all those attributes he most admired
in Morfindel and used them against him. Was he not defiant of so many
known and accepted customs of Ost-in-Edhel? And his carousing with his
children, an embarrassment to his proud Noldorin kin? And what of this
continued bearing of children? Was it not most unseemly in an elf of
his position? These were merely symptoms of a much deeper ailment, he
had reasoned, and watched the heads nod assent.
Deftly, Annatar squeezed the goblet, kneading it until it appeared as
no more than a lump of unrefined gold, and placed it in a pouch beneath
his robes. Only one thing yet remained, but his open attempts to visit
the stricken elf were met with even more vehement refusal after
Lurisa’s arrival. So he again made his way along the narrow walkways
between the buildings to a familiar balcony near the southwest corner
of Ost-in-Edhel. He had watched the goings on within the chamber on the
other side of the balcony door, silently trying to figure a way to pass
through that confounded hedge which sprang up between him and his
quarry, and at last Annatar was convinced he knew exactly what could
remedy the situation. Still he could not enter, but that mattered not
The elf was fully clothed now, and bandaged, his hair neatly braided.
Even his demeanor was less desperate. Lurisa certainly knew how to take
care of her own, Annatar mused. Completely unsurprised, the elf merely
glared at him from his couch.
“Really, we must come to some agreement,” said Annatar reasonably. “You
realize that I can’t allow anyone to know my true identity as long as
they hold such limited views of my good will. You must realize also
that if your wife and children discover my identity, I will kill them
before they have a chance to share the news. However, if you prevent
them from discovering what you know, it will keep them safe. Therefore,
if you should stop trying to tell them, I will not harm them.”
The stricken look on the elf’s face after hearing the proposal revealed
his answer before he gave it. With downcast eyes, the elf said, “I will
be silent.” Though he used only movement of his lips to speak, Annatar
heard him quite clearly.
“You are wise,” replied Annatar.
“I am a fool!” responded Morfindel, once again glaring at his enemy.
“Come now, be not so morose. In time you will find me a worthy ally...”
“Be gone!” shouted the elf, surprising Annatar with the power and force
of his voice. Slowly approaching the doors of the balcony, speaking in
a hoarse whisper but heard in a voice that resonated through Annatar’s
mind like a bell in a closed tower, Morfindel continued, “If silence is
the price I must pay to insure the safety of those I love, so be it,
but never mistake me for your ally on that account!” So saying,
Morfindel slammed the balcony shutters in Annatar’s face.
Normally, Annatar would have been enraged at such an affront, but
recognizing it for the futile gesture it was, he merely fumed silently
and returned to his rooms the way he had come. He had what he wanted -
Morfindel’s sworn silence on the subject of Annatar’s identity, and the
elf knew he must keep his word, though he would continue to fight the
spell of silence with increasing success no doubt. The elf remembered
too well the scenes Annatar showed him of what would happen to his wife
and children if they discovered the truth. Now it was truly time to
Earlier in the day, Annatar had spoken to Celebrimbor of his intentions
and was pleased with the sadness in the elf lord’s voice. No need to
make another appearance at the smithy or treasury. As if going for
another of his strolls through the city, he ambled the byways he was
used to frequenting, making his way to the western gate. Many greeted
him as he passed and he returned their salutations. Galadriel held
court in an oaken grove not far from the gate but he did not so much as
acknowledge her. When he came to the River Glanduin, he took the form
of a great swan and with surging wings rose high into the air, beyond
the sight of even the keenest eyed elf. Turning back briefly, he cast
off all physical form, except that needed to grasp the gold, and sped
southward to Mordor.