Glorfindel in Imladris

by Lothithil

Chapter 1:  Salute the Sun

If you rise before the Sun, and climb to the top of the tower in Elrond’s Observatory you will find a balcony that runs from below the sweeping turrent to the wall of the mountains, anchoring the graceful structure to the bones of the hills that hold Imladris cradled in strength. Walk along that railed terrace until you can go no further, and you will find a shelf of stone, hewed by the axes of ancient ice and polished smooth by the laving wind. Sit upon that stone and look out when the sun raises Her head over the mountains behind, and you will be overwhelmed by the beauty of a hundred rainbows scattering over the countless falls. The light of morning is gilded ere it touches the ground. Here one can feel the spray of the water on their face, and feel the kiss of the wind and the golden embrace of the sunlight all at once. This is Glorfindel’s favourite spot.

He was sitting there of a morning waiting for the Sun’s debut, when he heard the horns blowing in the valley, hailing some new arrival. He paid little heed for the golden moment was approaching quickly, and though all news lately was full of dread and import, still a sunrise was not to be dismissed. Even having lived for as long as he had, and even for having passed through Mandos and returned, still Glorfindel, Prince of the House of the Golden Flower did not take such things for granted. He turned his blue-grey eyes upward and watched Elbereth’s last lamp fade in the greying dawn.

Sounds behind him; the soft tread of elven feet on the turrent stair. Glorfindel kept his eyes on the rising mists over the falls, but he called a greeting blindly over his shoulder, "Good Morning, Elrohir! What news cannot wait for Ariel’s assent?"

"Lord Glorfindel," Elrond’s son, brother of Elladan and Arwen Evenstar, bowed toward the back of Glorfindel most respectfully, though a smile was playing upon his face. This Elf always knew the difference between the twin’s, though they looked so closely alike. "My father asks will you please come to Council? Tidings from the West have arrived in the darkness of the night, and it is gravely important."

Glorfindel sighed and turned reluctantly away from his meditation. The morning would still come withou his regard, but how many more sunrises would there be, if the rumours and portents that had been already discussed proved prophecy? "Last night they came, you say? To whom then do the horns of morning sound a greeting?"

"I know not, Lord. I have been searching for you."

They descended the tower and he followed Elrohir to the chamber where Elrond was waiting, already attended by most of the household. Erestor was there and Finarato, and here was Gildor Inglorion speaking softly and urgently to the Edain. Elrohir took his place standing behind his father, ready should there be any need of his swift feet or hands.

Glorfindel greeted Gildor warmly. Not often did these two elves meet; Gildor prefered the wild halls and wooded paths, and he wandered endlessly covering the lands between Rivendell and Lindon and bringing news or interesting tales when he did return. Thought his face showed his delight in greeting Glorfindel he looked grim still, as if some heavy news lay upon his heart.

Bells pealed from the towers, and with the ringing the Sun was saluted by the Elves in welcome of the Day. Glorfindel raised his eyes to the light that was now streaming down and gleaming off of white stone and polished wood, sending warmth that could not penetrate the coldness that now gripped his heart.

Elrond was listening attentively to a page who had run up and was whispering in the Half-elf’s ear. He rose and gestured, and all present fell respectfully silent. He spoke and his voice was low and solemn, "Thank you for coming so swiftly. Many tidings have come to us, and they should be heard by all of you. We wait now only for another arrival..."

And as he spoke Elladan appeared and with him was Bilbo Baggins. Dressed hastily and sleepyeyed yet, the hobbit had a woolen scarf draped over his shoulders against the dawn chill. Elladan joined his twin flanking Elrond’s chair. Bilbo came to Elrond’s side with the briefest nod to the gathering of Elf-lords there and laid his small hand on his arm.
"What is this news, Elrond, that your son has brought me to hear? Is it about Frodo? Where is Gandalf?"

Elrond seated the old hobbit on his chair and standing before all he spoke calmly with a note of solemn urgency in his voice. "Word has come from the west in grim tidings. Gandalf is minssing, and the servants of the Dark Lord arer riding through the land, searching for something he hass long thought llost forever. Gildor has come to tell me that he has seen your nephew, Bilbo, wandering out of the Shire, and fears that he is closely persued. He advised him to seek Rivendell, and I think that this is likely to be his course, but the journey will be more than one or two travellers can manage alone if they are harried by the Enemy. If Gandalf did not meet him on the road, then he is in need of guidance and protection."

Guildor spoke, "The Dunedain are alert to Gandalf’s absence, and it is possible that Estel has joined Frodo Baggins and is guiding him, thought this is but guesswork; he is no longer watching the Road and Frodo and his companions have all disappeared into the wild. The Travelling Companies have not heard a word nor seen a sign of them since they left Bree-Hill. It is to be hoped that they have found each other, and are bound hither. I would that I had discarded our custom, and brought him hither myself. I did not realize the darkness of their peril, nor recognize the urgency of his errand." The Elf was so distraught that Bilbo climbed down from his chair and comforted him with forgiving words.

"You are not to be blamed, Gildor!" added Elrond. "Gandalf promised that he would be there, and he yet may be... yet we cannot assume this." The tall Elf paced a few steps, his face was creased with concern. Glorfindel knew what it cost the Edain in worry; Estel was his fosterchild, like a son he had raised him, and he had grown into a noble and skilled Man. Even though he was loing past the need of fathering, Aragorn was dear to Elrond. Glorfindel recalled the years of Aragorn’s growth, when his name was Estel and he had no knowledge of his ancestry. He had himself taught the sensitive young man how to catch fish with his hands, and which plants that grew beside the road were best to eat when travelling light. He remembered clearly the nobility that the boy had shown even then. Now the years had flown past and the boy had become a man, and proved himself in battle and wisdom many times over. Glorfindel know and trusted his skill, abut also he knew the fell strength of the servants of the Enemy. He stood and gave Elrond a bow.

"Lord, give me your leave to search for them! Perhaps we can find them and give aid, and help them to reach the safety of your valley. I will depart at once..."

"Hold, Glorfindel! You foresee my intent, and I thank you. Remain long enough for us to organize a search. I would have those who are willing search north, south and west. Any who have the strength to face the wraiths... I shall go myself, as well."

"Nay! My Lord Elrond, you should remain here." Erestor exclaimed, and Finarato stood beside him, and both of their faces were set. "We shall ride forth, and you should keep the borders of your land. We will go, and with us others who are able."

"Go then, and comb the land for the halflings. Gildor says that he had at least two companions with him when they met. If Aragorn is discovered not in their company, perhaps he can employ his abilities to aid you in tracking them. Bring them all swiftly to Rivendell, when you find them. Most importantly, Frodo should be kept from the hands of the wraiths... at all cost." Elrond swept them with a long gaze, and paused as he looked down at Bilbo, whose eyes were dark with worry and anxiety. "Ride now with speed and wisdom."

Bilbo came to stand next to Elrond and they watched the horses file out of the stables and down the paths that threaded the valley. The broadening light caught flashes of gold and silver off of hair and headstall, and over the endless murmuring of the waterfalls the creak and slap of leather was heard. Sparks flew from hooves upon flint-shale, and in the distance, horns called like the voices of strange birds.

"Elrond, why is this happening?" Bilbo asked. The years he had spent here in Rivendell had passed peacefully, and he had hoped that someday Frodo would come and visit him, but not under such strange and dangerous circumstances. "Why are these horrible creatures after my nephew? Where is Gandalf?"

Elrond looked at the hobbit, and he placed a hand on his shoulder. "I do not know yet, Bilbo. I do not know."

Glorfindel hastened to the valley floor where the horses were housed, and he whistled sharply while buckling his weapons securely. Elrohir had helpfully prepared his kit; the clever half-elf had acurately guessed the course of action that Glorfindel suggested. A touch of the father’s foresight the twins had, perhaps. Glorfindel was grateful that there was no need for delay.

Asfaloth was ready, his riding gear was oiled and supple, as Glorfindel had the custom of riding in the morning after observing the Sun, and the grooms had prepeard for his ride. For a parade or ceremony would the jeweled harness have been more appropriate, perhaps, but Glorfindel would not take the time to change them now. He felt the need of haste as he had not for many long years. He leaped onto Asfaloth’s back and they were flying away, before any other Elf was mounted or ready. As he rode past Erestor and Finarato, and Fereveldir and a handful of others who were preparing their steeds, he shouted, "The Road west I shall cover, so seek ye north and south! They may have turned far aside to throw off persuit. Safe journey to us all!" and then they were riding into the fading mists as Rivendell Valley warmed and unwrapped its foggy garments.

Asfaloth’s paces were sure on the familiar path, and he caught his rider’s mood and neighed his willingness to Glorfindel’s whispered urging, and ran with great heart and so fast that his very shadow might have fallen behind.

The Elf leaned forward, lying low on Asfaloth’s neck, lessening the break of the wind and lending speed to the horse’s passage. White as unstained snow was Asfaloth; like adamant his hooves and silken webs his mane and tail. Glorfindel and Asfaloth had long been friends, and the horse bore him ever willingly, and obeyed all of his words, and they loved each other as is the friendship that exists between elves amd good beasts ever.

Asfaloth whinnied and tossed his head, and Glorfindel looked behind to note the twins riding hard on his trail. Asfaloth eased his speed to allwo them to catch up. Riding abreast, they grinned at the Elf-lord and flanked him until they reached Mitheithiel.

Glorfindel called a halt upon seeing the bridge. Three dark shadows stained the landscape, leeching the light from the very air. Glorfindel firmly restrained Asfaloth, who belled a challenge and sought to charge; the great horse was trembling with fury. He turned to Elladan and Elrohir, and they could see the dangerous light shining through him, and his eyes were dark as a starless sky. He spoke to them, and his voice was cold and sharp as his naked blade. "Ride back now to thy father, and report this! I will persue them and see where the others lurk. If they are watching this road, then Frodo is still free at the moment. Perhaps I can drive them off and make his passage safer. I will ride even to Amon Sul, and check every path between. If Gandalf returnes before us, send him to Elrond to aid in strenghtening the Ford. They will come this way, I feel it!"

The twins did hastily ride with this message, and Glorfindel released Asfaloth to make his charge, and added his own bellow to challenge the wraiths; their horses danced nervously, then turned to bolt into the trees beyond the river. As they rode fast over the Last Bridge, Glorfindel let fall a stone he had prized loose from Asfaloth’s fair headstall, a token the sharp eyes of a Ranger might locate and take as a sign.

The wraiths fled before his fury, and Asfaloth followed hard; Glorfindel’s sword glowed forge-hot in his hand. They pressed on for nine days, through sunset and rise; neither moonsoar nor starfall stayed their search nor slowed their pace, all the way to Weathertop and back to the bridge, through rain and wind until Glorfindel saw at last what he sought: faint prints upon the damp ground of small bare feet, and to his delight, the light prints of a booted foot were there to be descried, cleverly masked in a technique he had taught a young Ranger long ago. The stone he had let drop was gone. Aragorn was with them!

He did not slow his search, but charged forward with renewed energy. Across the bridge and into the trees again; now that the trail was found, Glorfindel would not lose them again. He was aware of the tainted wind and the feeling of evil; the wraiths were not far away.