Narn e-Dant Gondolin

by Elvellon Ringsbane

The Tale of the Fall of Gondolin

As seen through the eyes of Magor of the Hammer of Wrath and Aearlinn his wife.

Chapter I: Night of Memory

“For know that on a night it was the custom of the Gondolindrim to begin a solemn ceremony at midnight, continuing it even till the dawn of the Gates of Summer broke, and no voice was uttered in the city from midnight 'til the break of day, but the dawn they hailed with ancient songs. For years uncounted had the coming of summer thus been greeted with music of choirs, standing upon their gleaming eastern wall; and now comes even the night of vigil and the city is filled with silver lamps, while in the groves upon the new-leaved trees lights of jewelled colours swing, and low musics go along the ways, but no voice sings until the dawn.” (JRRT)

Magor stood upon the high, white walls of Gondolin and looked out across the wide green plains beyond. The sun was sinking into the west in a flame of red and gold, kindling the white walls of the city as the great orb of light dipped slowly behind the peaks of the Encircling Mountains. The grasses of Tumladen shimmered as emeralds touched with fire, and everywhere upon the sward white flowers like small stars sprang up in the dusk. The beauty of it smote him with a joy nigh unbearable, and he thought of the day when first he looked upon the Hidden City.

Out of the shadows of Morgoth he had come, and bitter was his hate for that evil one. Through endless years, trapped where no dawn ever came, he had worked the forges of Angband, chained to his anvil. But at last he was sent out, and too great was Morgoth’s trust in that spell of bottomless dread that he wove about the Noldor whom he enslaved. For though Magor bore away from that evil place scars never to be healed, he also bore great strength of body and of will. Thus he fled from the nameless enemy, and coming at the last through great peril over the mountains, passed into light and freedom in the realm of Gondolin. And there he was named anew Turnwálmë, Master of Torment, for he had been tried in the fires of Morgoth and prevailed.

Tall and straight he stood now, nor bent nor broken by the labors of his thralldom, and his face was stern and noble, and held no terror, but only joy. A cloak of scarlet ‘broidered with gold was fastened upon his shoulder with a broach of iron wrought in the fashion of an eight-pointed star. His hands, which rested upon the white battlements, were scarred, but the fingers were fine and long, eloquent when he gestured in speaking, and strong as the jaws of a wolf.

As he stood thus, amid the ranks of his house, a soft voice spoke suddenly at his arm. “Thrice blest be this city which freed thee from the darkness, and brought thee to me.” Magor turned, and saw that his wife stood beside him, clad in deep green like the grasses of Tumladen in summer. Her dark hair shimmered with an underlying hue of red-gold, such as he loved to forge, and the eyes which regarded him with a quiet joy were grey-green as the sea.

“Aearlinn, vanimelda (Aearlinn, fair love),” he said and smiled. “May the Valar look with favor upon this city even as they looked upon me in my bitterness, and brought such joy from all my woe.” So he spoke, and catching up a tress of her long hair he wove it through his fingers before releasing it to the gentle wind. Laughing, Aearlinn lifted his hand and placed her own in that strong palm, and together they looked out toward the east. Then a music began, rich and deep, and Magor saw that the House of the Wing had come, and Tuor now stood upon the walls and played upon his rugged harp, and Idril was beside him with Eärendil. And it seemed to Magor that amid the music of the fountains he heard the roar of the sea upon the western shore from whence he had come.

The wind of summer-eve stirred Magor’s long raven hair as he stood upon the Eastern Walls, feeling only joy and deep contentment as he hearkened to the playing of Tuor. His beloved wife was beside him, and he served a valiant lord and a mighty king. Fortune had smiled upon him as it had seldom done on one who saw with living eyes the deep places of Morgoth’s realm. The scars of Angband did not fade, and there were those of his house, like Gorwath, who would never again be wholly free. Magor did not shun that Elf as many did. He knew all too well what Gorwath had endured, and he was keenly aware that he himself would resemble that dark and brooding Elf had it not been for Aearlinn. Without her love, never would the bitter wounds of spirit that were burned upon him have been healed.

But he had found Gondolin, and Aearlinn, and now worked his anvil for the benefit of his own kin, and often merely out of sheer delight at the wonder of crafting fair things for a realm of beauty. He bent his knee to none save Turgon and Rog - lords of light whose deeds merited his allegiance.

Magor stirred and smiled as Aearlinn looked up at him, her eyes luminous in the dusk. “See, the stars of Varda!” She gestured to the deep sapphire sky. “It seems strewn with stars as a cloak upon which diamonds have been idly cast, yet great was labor of Elbereth to create them. How brilliant is their loveliness.” Magor followed her slender white hand as it gestured across the heavens, but as he turned his steel grey eyes toward the North, something else caught his gaze and drew it downward toward the earth.

A red glow had begun above the hills of the Northern Echoriath, and it grew slowly but steadily brighter, blotting out the stars. Voices began to murmur in surprise and wonder. Some said it was Arien preparing to rise even above Angband for the banishment of Morgoth’s darkness and as a sign of hope unto the Gondolindrim. Others said nay, and many were uneasy.

Magor stiffened, and his hand slipped from Aearlinn’s and strayed to his mace, but it was not there. He had seen the fires of Morgoth, and to his eyes this uncanny light glowed with the same baleful malevolence. “Magor? What dost thou see? What does that light portend?” Aearlinn’s voice was filled with a sudden fear as she sensed his unease. He shook himself and turned toward her. “Do not fear. This is the Hidden City, guarded by the Eagles of Manwë and favored by the Valar. All will be well.”

As if to confirm his words, there was a sudden hush of the murmuring voices as Turgon spoke, counseling all to remain calm and await the report of the Watchers stationed in the mountains, if any should come.

Magor looked into the eyes of his wife, and he saw fear, but greater trust – trust in him, in his words and in his strength. And a dark foreboding fell on him, even as he breathed a prayer to Ulmo, whom he knew loved this city of stone.

The red glow did not diminish, but grew ever greater, and it seemed to Magor that the snow upon the mountains was dyed as with blood. At the sight of that crimson stain, all the memory of his years of torment in the dungeons of Morgoth returned like a bolt of searing lightning – with painful clarity he saw the fire of the Balrogs, and their whips of flame with which they had tormented him and others of the Noldor. Magor was jarred back to the present by Aearlinn’s hand tightening upon his arm. “Tiro! (Look!)” she cried, pointing to the plain below.

“Riders from the Northern Watch,” muttered Magor, and his face darkened. He spun round to face the King as the messengers came up, breathless.

“I cherth Morgoth telir erin ered!” (“The Host of Morgoth comes over the mountains!”)

Magor heard Aearlinn’s breath drawn suddenly in terror, and turning he saw her eyes were filled with dread. Then a sudden rage leapt to fire in his heart. “Accursed One!” he thought, “for years uncounted you tormented me, but torment and enslave this people among whom I found hope anew, that thou shalt never do!”

Magor glanced about him quickly. The Lords of Gondolin were gathered nigh to Turgon, and many spoke of a council to determine what was to be done. He saw his own lord there and smiled grimly at the words Rog spoke to Galdor. No one knew his men better – there was no place Magor would rather be in battle than amid the fiercest fighting. He had his respects to pay to Morgoth’s jailers, in recompense for their long years of hospitality.

“Aearlinn, return home. I will follow when I may.” Wordlessly she nodded, and slipping through the crowd gathered about Turgon, left the wall. Magor watched her go, then fell in line with the others of his house, as the King began to issue orders. The lords were to meet in council with him at once; the others, to prepare for battle.

“So it begins,” he thought grimly.