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User:Narfil Palùrfalas/Fanfictions/The White Citadel part 2

The White Citadel pt 2: Blood


[edit] Intermission

The children stared in silence at Rúmil. “Is that the end of the story?” one asked.

“No,” said Rúmil, “But I fear I have been talking for hours. It is long past the time you should be in your beds. Return tomorrow night to hear more.”

Ulmondil and Anardur walked away somewhat disappointed. Ulmondil questioned Anardur.

“Are you sure you have never heard this story?” he asked. “After all, Randir is your grandfather.”

“He never speaks of it,” said Anardur. “Neither does my father, and I think he saw at least part of it.”

“But who is your grandmother?” asked Ulmondil. “If your father saw at least part of the Fall, then Randir must have married in Gondolin.”

“That’s the strange thing,” said Anardur. “Grandfather has told me before that he married after the Fall. If I didn’t know him better, I’d think there was an inconstancy. But he’d as soon lie as murder. I suppose we shall have to find out the reason. If I asked him, he would probably say the same thing.”

The next day, Ulmondil rose, wishing the time would go quickly until that night. While the day did not go as fast as he would have liked, eventually evening fell on Tol Eressëa. Again the children (and a few adults) gathered before Rúmil’s feet, awaiting the rest (or at least more of) the engaging story.

“Hmm,” said Rúmil, “I think I left off right about after Randir slew Pengacharn.”

“Are we almost to the Fall of Gondolin?” asked Ulmondil.

“There is still much more that happened before the Fall,” said Randir. “But I do not think you will find it dull. There is still much adventure to happen. But remember that Tuor’s coming was the beginning of the end. It was coming, and drawing steadily nearer, even as the elves of Gondolin forgot the dark events of the previous year, and their bliss and forgetfulness of Morgoth and the outside terror increased. But the outside was there, and the End was coming…”

[edit] Shadow before the Storm

A year had passed since Eärendil’s birth, but while Gondolin was full of bliss, at least two hearts felt the more uncomfortable. Thorondor, Lord of the Eagles had assured Turgon that no living creature could pass close to Tumladen under their watchful eyes, but the King grew increasingly uneasy. He began the construction of great war machines on the walls, which could throw fire and projectiles. Idril was the other.

One day, while the sun was bright, and babe Eärendil was laughing on Randir’s knee, Idril, who had remained grave all that day, turned to Tuor, who was whittling, an art he had found much to his liking.

“Know, my husband,” she said, “That my heart misgives me about Maeglin, and I fear that he will bring an ill on this fair realm, though by no means may I see how or when – yet I dread unless all that he knows of our doings and preparations become, in some manner or other, known to the Foe, so that he devises a new means of overwhelming us, against which we have thought of no defense. Last night I dreamed the Maeglin built a furnace, and coming at us unawares flung our babe Eärendil in, and would have thrust in us as well; but because of my sorrow on our fair child’s death I would not resist.”

Tuor was silent for a moment. “There is reason for your fear, for neither is my heart good towards Maeglin; but he is the nephew of the king and your own cousin, nor is there any charge against him, and I see naught to do but abide and watch.”

“This is my counsel,” said Idril, “That you gather in secret those who are delvers and quarrymen who, by careful trial, are found to hold least love for Maeglin by reason of the pride and arrogance of his dealings among them. From these you should choose some trusty men to keep watch on Maeglin whenever he fares to the outer hills, yet I counsel you to set the greater part of those in who secrecy you can confide at a hidden delving, and to devise with their aid – however cautious and slow the labor must be – a secret way from this house beneath the rocks of this hill unto the valley below. Now this way must not lead toward the Way of Escape, for my heart bids me trust it not, but even to that far distant pass, the Cleft of Eagles in the southern mountains; and the further this delvings reaches beneath the plain so much the better – yet let all this labor be kept in the dark except for a few.”

“The rocks of the hill of Amon Gwareth are as iron,” Tuor replied, “And only with much travail may they be cloven; yet if this is done in secret then even greater time and patience must be added; but the stone of the floor of the Vale of Tumladen is as forged steel, nor may it be hewn without the knowledge of the Gondothlim save in moons and years.”

“This may be true, but this is my counsel, and there is yet time to spare,” Idril said firmly.

“I cannot see its purpose,” Tuor said after several seconds, “But ‘better is any plan that a lack of counsel’, and I will do even as you say.”

“I shall find you some loyal elves to do your bidding,” said Randir.

“I would, Nathernil, that you could oversee the project,” remarked Idril. “I understand that you know little enough about mining and the delving of the earth, but still you are trustworthy. All you need to do is make sure it is secret, and that it is going well. I hope I am not wanting too many things of you.”

“No, not at all,” Randir assured her. “It shall be a simple enough task, I daresay. I doubt not that Maeglin’s most loyal spies are dead, and it would have to be Maeglin himself or one in his counsel. I would be sure to recognize them, and I shall guard this as I guarded you. But I do wonder where the stone will go without notice?”

“I have an idea, as I have been pondering this the entire morning,” said Idril. “We shall have the gems and precious stone from the mines sent to our house, where we shall sort them out. I’m sure my father would agree. Then we would place the stones into the boxes, and send them back supposedly ‘empty’. We could have one of our own trusted persons to deliver them. After they are shipped out of the city toward the mines, the person can dump the rocks and return the crates. It shall take long enough that no-one will be suspicious, and if need be we can send more boxes back than first came.”

“It is a plan well thought-of,” said Tuor. “Here is a logical place for the jewels to be sent, as you are the King’s daughter. But suppose someone weighs them?”

“They shall not touch the boxes marked by the King’s seal,” said Idril.

“Then you intend to tell Turgon of your doings,” said Tuor.

“I do not,” said Idril. “He still believes that the city is impregnable. I might indeed agree with him, were it not for the feelings and dreams that come often to me. My heart misgives me as to the future. We must prepare for it.”

Randir was not long in finding some of those whom Idril had spoken of. Before long there were five dedicated miners working on the project, and two more were set to watch Maeglin carefully.

Maeglin growled as he searched. He had to go farther and farther into the Encircling Mountains to find the ore he desired. Still he could find it not.

“It must be somewhere,” Maeglin said, but even as he said it, a group of squat, dark creatures leaped out of hiding, and both of Maeglin’s comrades were cut down. Maeglin only had his pick, but he swung it with such force as to kill three of the creatures before they overpowered him.

A small orc sat on top of him wielding a crooked blade. Their speech was distorted and frequented with words unknown to the elf, but he made out that the small orc wanted to kill him right then, but the others halted him with mentions of what Maeglin guessed to be some of the terrible tortures he had heard about. Suddenly, a thought struck Maeglin. Here was a solution to all of his problems. And he leaped upon the chance with both hands.

“I am Maeglin son of Eöl, whose wife was Aredhel sister of Turgon, King of the Gondothlim,” he said to them. The orcs apparently understood, for one of them came up to him.

“What is that to us?” is how Maeglin understood his response.

“Much is it to you,” exclaimed Maeglin, vexed somewhat. “For if you slay me, speedily or slowly, you will lose great tidings concerning the city of Gondolin that your master would rejoice to hear.”

The orcs held a conference, and after a while the same orc turned back to the elf.

“We will give you life if what you say merits it,” said the orc.

Then Maeglin told of Turgon’s hosts, and his engines, and the defenses of Gondolin, and of the great valor of the captains.

“Let us slay him!” cried an orc, striking Maeglin on the face. “He impudently dares to enlarge the power of his own miserable folk to the mockery of the great might and puissance of Melkor the Great.”

“Do you not think that you would rather pleasure your master if you bore to his feet so noble a captive, that he might hear my tidings of himself and judge of the verity?” returned Maeglin.

After more consultation among themselves, the orcs grunted in agreement and lifted up Maeglin to his feet, but bound his hands, forcing him to march.

Several days passed in the journey. They left the mountains, and crossed the region of Anfauglith. At last they came upon the smoking peaks of Thangorodrim, and the orcs led their captive past the many towers leading to the gate of Angband. They entered after a brief check by the guard, and descended into the stench and darkness of the cavern.

The dark was real. It did not seem just emptiness devoid of light, but living blackness. The only light was provided by red torches burning softly along the walls, but they did not seem to dissipate the darkness any.

Once Maeglin passed by a door through which streamed immense light and heat. He managed to catch a glimpse through it to see a great shaft which glowed bright red like fire, and which poured up black smoke. He could hear the sound of many hammers forging weapons of war coming from that shaft, from many forges opening onto it.

At last, after walking for what might have been days, they came to a great door opening up from the tunnel. And upon entering they came into a massive cavern, where the darkness was even more present. It was lit by a pale light that did not seem to radiate from anything. But Maeglin’s attention was immediately drawn to where the pale light wasn’t – over on the far side of the cavern, where a black form crouched on a black throne, the light glinting slightly off of metal, but otherwise completely in the dark.

Then Maeglin saw something that few elves had seen in the last five hundred years: three gems in the iron crown of the black form, held by cruel claws. They glowed faintly, but their light was not sickly, it rather seemed… withheld, or restrained, as if it could make no advantage on the overpowering blackness.

Besides the dark form there were several other persons in the room. The cavern could probably hold an army, but at the moment there were only about five orcs, and there might have been a balrog or two lurking in the shadows.

“What is this?” asked the form. Maeglin was somewhat surprised. The voice was immensely powerful, but did not sound evil, or harsh to the ears. The orcs drew him closer, though Maeglin sensed their nervousness. His heart was pounding as well.

“A prisoner, your Excellency,” said one of the orcs. “We caught him in the Encircling Mountains. He claims to be closely related to King Turgon himself.”

“Ahh,” said Morgoth. “I see. We shall have fine sport with this one, though why he should risk it for the sake of dignity…” Then Maeglin noticed that the floor was stained, and indeed sticky, with blood – some dried, some fresh as if it had been spilled this morning. It probably had. Some of it was orc-blood, but Maeglin recognized some of it as the vibrant red of elven-blood, and the darker red of Men’s blood.

But Maeglin bowed before that great throne, and as he did he saw adders hissing about the legs of Morgoth, and gigantic black wolves crouched, ready to tear him to pieces and devour him flesh and bone.

“I have come because I wish to give you some information,” said Maeglin as well as he could muster. He was dark-hearted, but such great evil as dwelt in the cavern he had never faced before. He could feel Morgoth, and could almost see the dark eyebrows raise.

“What sort of information, my son?” asked the Eternal Darkness. But even then Maeglin hesitated. At last, half in fear of the tortures that might await him, he spoke again.

“Concerning where Gondolin is, and how to reach and capture it,” he replied. Morgoth was undoubtedly surprised and delighted, but no sign of this came in his speech, and it made Maeglin very uncomfortable.

“Indeed,” said Morgoth. “And why would you dare to commit, in the words of your friends in Gondolin ‘treachery’? Do I have any assurance that you will not lead my armies astray?”

“Only my life,” said Maeglin, his courage returning. “As a prince of Gondolin I shall not only help you find it, but aid you in the siege. I seek only a reward for my services.”

“Speak, my son,” said Morgoth. “I should give you a captaincy of orcs if you prove true, even lands, but is there anything in particular?”

“I desire that one maiden of Gondolin be spared,” said Maeglin, “And that she be given to me.”

Then Morgoth laughed a great laugh. “Indeed,” he said, “You ask little for so much information. For the lust of a black heart a city is lost! I shall give you this, and the captaincy I suggested, so that you will tell me indeed all you know. But first, who is this maiden?”

“She is Idril Celebrimbor, the King’s daughter,” Maeglin replied, still somewhat shaken by the laugh. “Yet she has been wedded to a mortal, and I desire that her husband and her babe shall die.”

“Come now, this is most interesting,” said Morgoth, not thinking it necessary to rush the matter, and hoping that by Maeglin’s recounting of his tale of woe, he would be impassioned again to tell Morgoth all he knew of Gondolin. Indeed that is what happened. Maeglin started at the coming of Tuor, and came all the way to the present, Morgoth nodding his head gravely and making sympathetic comments all the way through.

“You shall not find Gondolin easy to conquer,” said Maeglin. “My uncle Turgon has built great machines of war upon its great walls. The city rests upon a hill made as if of iron. Only two gates are there: a main gate, and a smaller north gate. The host of the Gondothlim is great. Each has trained since childhood with the bow, and few there are that could not hit a pigeon a mile off, if you take my meaning. All are trained warriors, skilled in all forms of warfare. The gates are strong; indeed, Turgon would say unassailable. Ladders are no good on the smooth surface of the walls three hundred feet up from the ground. And the city is so well hidden that there are only a few ways to reach it: the Main Way, which has seven gates that you could not pass through, the Way of Escape and the Cleft of Eagles, which are useless because of the watchfulness of the Eagles of Manwë. But there is another passage…”

And so Morgoth soon knew all there was to know about the White City, and they devised a sound strategy for capturing it. Then Morgoth threatened Maeglin with the torment of the balrogs, and Maeglin shuddered, for the balrogs bore flaming whips, and claws as if of steel.

Maeglin knew that Morgoth might throw thousands upon thousands on the walls and gates, and break nothing but his own host. But a thought occurred to Maeglin that Morgoth thought good: that he would devise such dragons and snakes of fire and iron that he could, that the city would burn in flame and death.

Morgoth then commanded Maeglin to return to his home, lest the Gondolin become suspicious. But he smiled as the elf left, knowing that what Maeglin said was true, and having placed on him a spell of dread, so that the elf would not live in joy or quiet, and that never would he turn traitor on Morgoth, as he had his former neighbors.

The people were used to Maeglin’s long expeditions alone to search for ore, but noticed a change had come over him after he returned. Some believed he had softened, for he spoke less harshly then before, and was generally better-liked. But Idril still liked him not.

Eärendil grew quickly. When he was five Randir started tutoring him. The digging was still kept up as the years progressed. Turgon became more comfortable after his precautions, and his fear and foreboding lessened, or he forced it to do so.

Seven years passed since Eärendil’s birth. One morning in autumn Randir sat with Eärendil as the young lad was taught history. This particular topic was the Return of the Ñoldor. But Randir noticed that the boy was not very attentive.

“What is wrong, Eärendil?” he said at last. “You seem to have something else on your mind today.”

“Nothing,” said Eärendil, shuffling his feet a little. Then he looked up at Randir. “Is there going to be a storm?”

“A storm?” asked Randir in surprise. “No, I don’t think so. It is clear out, and the wind is clear.”

“It feels like it,” replied Eärendil. “I feel all cold inside.”

“Then it probably won’t help to tell you more about the Helcaraxë,” said Randir, smiling. “Would you like to hear more about Aman, and Tirion?”

“Oh yes, please,” said Eärendil eagerly. “I love stories about them. Tell me what it is like there.”

“It is not warm there, but not cold either,” said Randir after a moment. “And even from Tirion you can see far away the white peak of Taniquetil, where the Valar sit and watch the earth. And in Valmar there dwell the Vanyar, who have golden hair.”

“Like Glorfindel and Nana!” exclaimed Eärendil.

“Yes,” said Randir, “Glorfindel has some Vanyarin blood in him, and your grandmother was a Vanya. Anyway, Tirion is much like Gondolin; indeed, your grandfather Turgon built it in memory of that city. But there is always a fair wind blowing. And the stars are so bright, some of them as large as your fingernail. The grass is soft and green, but the sea is gray and turbulent.”

“I would like to go there sometime,” said Eärendil.

“Maybe you will, one day,” said Randir, though he hardly thought it likely. It was not the place of Men, and the Ñoldor had been exiled. “Now, little one, it is almost sunset. Go and change into your night-clothes, and your mother and father will be in to bid you a good night.”

“Alright, Randir,” said Eärendil, standing up and executing a bow graceful and remarkably controlled for his age. Then Randir embraced him and kissed his forehead, and sent him off to bed.

Then he walked out of the house, and ascended to the walls, where Tuor and Idril stood. There was a warm wind blowing as the daylight began to die. Idril’s face was beautiful, and the wind blew in her golden hair, but her face was clouded, as if some great sorrow was hanging over her.

Randir saw Tuor bend down to kiss his wife, but Idril spoke. “Now come the days when thou must make choice.” But Tuor looked at her, startled, not knowing what she meant. “Come with me,” she said, turning to him, “Let us go into our own halls to speak of this.”

And there she led him, into the house. Randir might have left them, but Idril requested that he stay.

“If fear for Eärendil our son,” she said to Tuor. “My heart bodes that great evil is nigh, and Morgoth is behind it.”

“Come now,” said Tuor, endeavoring to comfort her, “Morgoth does not even know where the city is. He cannot harm our son.”

But Idril would not be comforted, seemingly. “How is the progress on the tunnel?”

“It is a good way,” said Tuor. “We have left Amon Gwareth, and it is now about halfway across Tumladen.”

“We must hurry now,” she said, “For speed is now more important than secrecy. The time is now very near. Also, I would ask that you form your own company of lords and warriors that are true to you; your own House. Give them your emblem and your command. I am sure the king shall not deny me this request, for so were the companies of Maeglin, Egalmoth, Glorfindel, and Rog formed.”

“Very well,” said Tuor resignedly, “Since you are firm on this, I believe you, and realize your sense of urgency.”

“Tuor, Idril,” said Randir, “The youth Eärendil is in his bed, and awaits your bidding him a good night.”

“No I’m not,” said a voice, and there stood Eärendil in his white sleeping-gown at the door of their room.

“What is it, Eärendil, lad,” said Tuor gently.

“I want Randir to play for me,” said Eärendil. Randir did not look surprised at this request, but glanced up at Idril, who nodded. He reached for a harp that sat nearby, him having mastered this instrument.

“What song do you want tonight?” asked Randir.

“A new one,” said Eärendil, coming up beside Randir and laying his head against his shoulder.

“All right,” said Randir. He thought a moment, then suddenly, as if woken from the deeps of the abyss, he remembered a song from back in Tirion, when he was a boy, that his mother would sing to him at night. He had not heard it or sung it for half a millennium. But it soon came back to him.

The stars’ gentle light does play bright on the water
The gray waves do lap, the wind raps on the shutter
Fails the light of day, comes the dark
Let sweet-dreaming sleep come to thee…
Thou art a lad young and growing:
Rise, little star, drift away, drift afar
Fear not the noise in night groaning
May Eru protect thee, most precious one.
The loon in the night does hoot right through the silence
The crickets do play ere the day brings its brilliance
Nightingales sing songs in the dark
Let sweet-dreaming sleep come to thee…
Thou art a lad living, sighing
Rise, little star, drift away, drift afar
Fear not, the darkness is dying,
When the dawn comes brightly, most precious one.
Dream not of dark hate, do not wait in the shadows
Sleep thou not in fear, do not hear the wind billow
Slumber shrouds thine eyes in the dark
Let sweet-dreaming sleep come to thee…
Thou art a lad young and princely
Rise, little star, drift away, drift afar
One day thou shalt sing songs sadly
When thou art once full-grown, most precious one.
Sleep thou now in peace and deep rest
Gold dawn thou will awake, most precious one.

Randir’s hands fell to his sides. Eärendil was already sleeping against Randir’s shoulder, and Tuor and Idril sat silently.

“Thank you, Randir,” said Tuor at last, his voice breaking. Idril walked over and lifted up Eärendil in her arms, carrying him off to his bed. Tuor followed afterward.

It was then Randir noticed Alfirinel standing by the door, apparently having come in during the song.

“That was a beautiful melody, Randir,” said the elf-maiden. “Did you make it up?”

“No… I don’t think so,” said Randir. “My mother would sing it to me when I went to sleep as a lad, but the words were never quite the same as the next time, or the time before. I didn’t make up the tune, but I wish I had.”

“It makes it seem as if all our troubles are but little matters, and we shall wake up to find them gone,” remarked Alfirinel.

“I fear, Alfirinel, that we shall wake up to find them more present than before,” said Randir quietly.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“If you knew my cousin Aglaru at all well, you would know that he was one of those extremely well-gifted with foresighted, sometimes called seers or prophets. He is considered the greatest of them since Amnon perished at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. I, too, have inherited that gift of foresight, and though perhaps to a slightly lesser degree, am still accounted among the Masters of Foresight, among the seers. Idril Celebrindal is also deep in foresight, but less in prophecy and more in sensing good or ill in the near future. I believe that her dreams have been of Ilúvatar most firmly. Besides that, I, too, have felt danger approaching. Occasionally I hear voices. There are dark laughs of orcs, but among them is the laugh of Maeglin. I here the screamings of the lad Eärendil, the shrieks of Idril, and he horrified cries of Tuor. Last night I heard a great rumbling, and imagined that I saw a crown under a white monument of stone. But then came great smoke curling about the feet of the monument, so that at last it fell upon the crown, crushing it and smashing itself to pieces. Then I heard the last words of Amnon the prophet: ‘Great is the Fall of Gondolin’. And that was all.”

“Strange indeed,” said Alfirinel thoughtfully. “What is your interpretation?”

“I do not wish to presume upon interpreting easily so great a dream, yet I have thought about it much of the day,” said Randir. “But if I can trust you to tell this to none save Tuor and his wife, I would say that the crown is Turgon, and the white monument is Gondolin. But I cannot be certain.”

“Then the end of Gondolin is drawing nigh at last,” said Alfirinel.

“So my heart fears,” said Randir.

The next day Randir was approached by Tuor, who had received permission to form his own company, naming it the House of the Wing after the swan’s wings on Tuor’s helm.

“Nathernil,” said Tuor, “I would like it if you were my captain. Unless it comes to battle your duties shall not change much. Voronwë will be my lieutenant, and my aide. But I want you to rally and lead them, for there is none other I would choose. In other words, you would be second to only myself, and on occasion Voronwë.”

“I am honored, Tuor,” said Randir. “As you say, it shall little affect my duties as bodyguard, except in battle. I will gladly accept, if the King releases me.”

“He already has given me authorization to chose seventy elves from any other company, so long as their captains are willing,” said Tuor. “You and I shall hand-pick them, to make sure they are loyal and true. Idril says that haste is needed.”

“And I agree with her,” said Randir. “What shall come is coming, whatever it is.”

“I do not understand it,” said Tuor. “Anyway, the knowledge of the secret way is safe from Maeglin.”

“I am not so sure,” said Randir slowly, “Sometimes I wonder if he has indeed suspected the work that is going on.”

“How could he know?” asked Tuor. “We have been extremely careful.”

“But Maeglin, unlike the rest of Gondolin, is looking for something amiss,” Randir replied. “We have worked for enough years that it is possible he could have seen the loading, or could have picked up something from the workers’ talk when they are off duty. It is not inconceivable that he is well aware of its existence and progress.”

“I do not see how his knowledge of the tunnel can affect us much,” remarked Tuor.

“There may be darker powers and designs behind the upcoming events,” said Randir warningly. “I cannot say for certain how much evil has taken root in Maeglin. I am confidant it is enough to kill. Beyond that, I do not know.”

The winter came, and it was one of great cold. Frosty were the grasses of Tumladen, and ice sheathed the pools. But even in the winter the two trees blossomed, and the fountains still sang in the morning and in the night.

Eventually the winter passed, but even as the winter was bitter the spring was glorious, and the valley burst into flowers, while the sun caused the snow to recede up to the peaks of the Encircling Mountains. Then came the festival of Nost-na-Lothion.

It was a beautiful day. As was customary, fresh flowers were strewn along the streets of Gondolin by joyful children. It was a celebration of spring. The children all wore green and yellow, with a crown of daisies, and they danced and sang and ate throughout the day. None was livelier in the dancing than Eärendil, and his voice even at his young age was high and beautiful. And Ecthelion, who was usually stern and grave, would come out and play on his flute beautiful little tunes, seeming as merry as the rest of the city.

The adults would generally roam about the streets and meadows of the valley. It was a day of great festivity. Randir generally did not care to participate actively in such holidays, but he found his time enjoyable watching Eärendil at the request of the youth’s parents.

“Randir,” said the lad as evening drew near, though the dancing and laughing still continued. Randir turned to him.

“What is it, lad?” he asked.

“Why is this flower brown?” he asked, holding up a beautiful little blue one that had withered.

“It is dead, Eärendil,” said Randir gently.

“Why did it die?” asked Eärendil. “Why couldn’t it have stayed here?”

“I suppose it would have been very tired of staying here if it lived too long,” Randir replied. “You see, it will go to a place after it dies where it shall bloom even brighter. It would not want to stay here forever.”

“Then why was it here in the first place?” asked Eärendil.

“I believe it was here to bring joy to you and others,” said Randir. “It is much like people; they stay so that they may affect others, but when their time is over, they must be ready to go – or they are not.”

“Is there anywhere where the flowers do not die?” asked Eärendil.

“There is one place in Arda,” said Randir. “That is Aman, where the Valar dwell with the Vanyar, and the Ñoldor of Finarfin.”

“Why don’t the flowers die there?” asked Eärendil.

“I suppose it is because it is so much like the place beyond death that the flowers are not wholly willing to leave,” Randir said thoughtfully.

“Someday I will build a ship and go to where the flowers don’t die,” said Eärendil decidedly. Randir smiled.

“There are plenty of flowers still alive,” he said. “Go and find them, and take joy in them, that they might fulfill their purpose.”

“All right,” said Eärendil. He walked back into the festivities, and soon the incident was left behind.

“He is a marvelous young lad,” said Randir aloud.

“He is indeed,” said a voice. Randir turned and saw Turgon King standing there.

“Have you come to watch the festival, Lord King?” asked Randir.

“Yes,” said Turgon. “Brighter than jewels the eyes of the children are. This year’s festival was especially grand and memorable.”

“Almost like the glory of the sunset before nightfall,” murmured Randir, now deep in thought. Turgon did not hear him, or at least did not acknowledge that Randir had spoken.

That night he had a horrible dream. He saw many of those precious children lying in the streets, their blood staining the white stone, all of them dead. Also the dead bodies of many a fair elf-maiden who had danced in the green fields. While he was surveying this in horror, he turned to hear a shout on the walls. He saw Maeglin struggling with Eärendil, and threw him over the walls into what seemed like flame below. Also he was grasping Idril by her hair. He also saw Dolglin and his dark face, and he had someone thrown over his shoulder, struggling in vain. That someone was Alfirinel.

A green spring passed in Tumladen. Summer was approaching, and the people were filled with joy. There were a few who felt the chill of something coming, however, among them Idril, Randir, Glorfindel, and Ecthelion. If Turgon felt anything, he ignored it.

Summer was drawing near with the feast of Tarnin Austa. This feast was one of the greatest of the year, marking the coming of the golden days. It was custom that a solemn ceremony would begin at midnight, and no-one would speak until dawn, at which time they would gather on the east wall and burst into song.

Meanwhile, the streets were filled with silver lamps, and upon the two trees were lamps shining in all sorts of jeweled colors. After a day of waiting they assembled on the east wall even as the sun sank out of sight. A choir of elves were ready with the song welcoming the coming of Summer.

All was silent across Tumladen. Even the crickets and birds seemed to wait quietly. Suddenly, a red glow appeared on the horizon. The glow was centered to their left, in the north. Unless the sun had changed her mind about from where she came and at what time, there was something very wrong. But still none spoke.

The light slowly waxed and grew redder, so that soon the skies seemed to be emblazoned in fire, and the snow on the mountain peaks was like blood.

“That is not the sun, nor any sign of joy,” said Ecthelion suddenly, breaking the silence, something extraordinary especially for him to do, since he was so quiet. “It is devilry.”

But even as he spoke, there came up a group of riders to the gates, and as the gates were opened the riders halted and marched up them.

“The guards who are stationed in the mountains,” whispered Idril to Tuor.

“Morgoth is upon us!” they were crying. “Monsters of iron and flame have risen from the north, and will soon be here! Morgoth is upon us!”

[edit] Advancing Doom

The city was suddenly enveloped in confusion. Fear shot up like a flame among the Gondothlim. Turgon and his subordinates were shouting orders, calling the soldiers to arms. Elf-women, many of them weeping, grasped their children and hurried for their homes.

In the confusion Tuor was sounding his horn that his own company might form. Randir somehow happened to bump into Tarthalion, an archer of the House of the Swallow.

“Now it comes to battle, Nathernil,” said Tarthalion grimly.

“So it does,” said Randir. “Farewell! May we meet soon!”

Randir came up to Tuor and Voronwë. The House of the Swan was already partly formed and in formation.

“Have them go to their homes and gird on their armor and weapons,” Voronwë said to Tuor. “They will have need of it.”

“And I would suggest you have them meet back before the courtyard, along the King’s Way,” added Randir.

“Yes, of course,” said Tuor. “I must have a meeting with the King and the other lords to decide what to do. Voronwë, I want you to see to the company, to make sure that they all know what to do and are ready. Randir, you hurry to my own home, as at the moment your job as bodyguard takes precedence. Come to the King’s council room when you feel that they are safe and ready. Also, bring my armor when you do. Make sure you are there by dawn.”

“It is a good thing that you finished the tunnel recently,” remarked Randir. “We will do as you say.”

And so Randir hurried to Tuor’s home. He found Idril in Eärendil’s room, comforting him, for the boy was crying, afraid of the red lights that danced on his walls. Idril was arrayed in mail, and had given Eärendil a coat of his own made specially for his small body. But Idril was weeping.

“My lady,” said Randir, stepping forward. “Why do you weep? The city is yet strong.”

“Yet it shall fall,” said Idril, looking up at him. “All I have cherished in this city shall fail, and many of those closest to me shall perish.”

“Will Morgoth kill us?” the lad whimpered.

“You must be strong, Eärendil,” said Randir, grasping his hand. “Warriors do not weep in the time of conflict. Do you want to be a great warrior like your father?”

“Yes,” said Eärendil earnestly. “I shall not be afraid.”

“I, too will be a warrior,” said Idril, wiping away her tears. “Tuor will need my courage.”

“Can you sing for me a song?” Eärendil asked Randir. Randir hesitated; he much wanted to go to the palace and plan with the other lords of the Gondothlim.

“I shall sing a short song,” he said after a moment. “It was written by Glorfindel long ago, and it sings of sweet Gondolin.”

A Gondolin, a Gondobar
Lótë tumbë Tumladeno!
I Ostoninquë, i Ondolindë
A Men Muina, le aiyammë!
Melda Ulmo, ondo Turukáno
Osto mardo ondossë!

“That is in Quenya,” said Eärendil in surprise, for the elves of Gondolin spoke not the tongue of Aman, but Sindarin, the language of the Elves of Beleriand.

“Yes,” said Randir, “And I am glad you have learned that language. But now I must go. If you ever need me,” he said, turning to Idril, “Send me a message, and I shall return on the wings of the wind.”

“And I hope that wind is not a wind of fire,” said Idril, a note of humor in her voice. Randir smiled and passed out of the room.

As he did so he passed Alfirinel. He halted and looked at her for a moment.

“Stay safe,” said Alfirinel tenderly. Randir nodded wordlessly, and then pressed on. He put on his own armor, and bundled up Tuor’s into a sack.

Randir ran on to the palace, and into the King’s council room, where the lords were assembled. Turgon glanced up at his coming.

“There you are, Lord Randir,” he said. “We have been discussing our plans for the siege.”

“My lord, there should be no siege,” Tuor urged. “We should sally forth with the entire host, and hope to escape Tumladen before we are surrounded.”

“We could have the women and children in the center,” remarked Galdor, Lord of the House of the Tree. He was tall and broad-shouldered, with a great iron-studded club that he wielded in battle. “That way we could get out safely.”

“I would rather that we split into small groups,” said Tuor. “We would have a better chance of getting through Tumladen.”

“What you say is good,” said Duilin, Lord of the House of the Swallow. His form was slender and active, and his eye was keen. “But should we not wait for direction from the Eagles? Where are they in this? They can search out a path for us across the mountains. Or are they in fear of the monsters of Morgoth?”

“I do not know,” said Turgon, “But we have made no contact with the Eagles for some time, not since a year ago, in the last Tarnin Austa. We cannot rely on them for help.”

“If you will permit me, my lord,” said Penlod, the stern Lord of the combined Houses of the Pillar and the Tower of Snow. He was the tallest of all in Gondolin, well over six feet. “I would say to open the north gate and send forth a company or two to distract their attention. Then the rest of the companies with the women and children would mass charge out of the Main Gate, and head for the Way of Escape.”

“Nay!” exclaimed Maeglin passionately. “Surely it would be better to hold the city. It is impregnable against the orcs and balrogs of Morgoth, you have said. Well it shall still hold up against these new terrors.”

“The Lord Maeglin speaks well,” put in Salgant. “After all, why should we risk our troops out in the open field, when we clearly have the advantage in this city? What is more, we would be putting needlessly into peril the women and children.”

Turgon hesitated, pondering these words. But it was felt by Randir that he preferred the counsel of Maeglin.

“Lo! O King,” continued Maeglin, “The city of Gondolin contains a wealth of jewels and metals and stuffs and of things wrought by the hands of the Ñoldor to surpassing beauty, and all these they lords – more brave than wise, it seems to me – would abandon all this to the Foe. Even should victory be thine upon the plain thy city will be sacked and the Balrogs get hence with a measureless booty.” Turgon groaned, for his one weakness, the love of his city, had been played upon.

“But, Lord,” said Randir, “Surely it is better to heed the advice of Penlod and Tuor, and fare thither across the valley. Gondolin cannot stand against the immeasurable might and power of Morgoth Bauglir. But if we flee, and come in time down to the land of Círdan, we may find rest and safety, for a time.”

“Until Morgoth attacks us there, where we are even more invulnerable,” argued Maeglin.

“King,” said Tuor, “You must understand that we must flee, it is the only way to save the people.”

“Dare you say, Mortal, that Gondolin shall fall?” asked Maeglin. Tuor was silent. “You see, my lord, that we cannot be sure at all, or even suggest that Gondolin shall indeed fall in the end. We do not know the might of Morgoth…”

“And therefore cannot remain in the city to risk the wrath of his beasts,” said Glorfindel. And Penlod added his assent.

“Lord King,” said Ecthelion quietly, and as he spoke all eyes turned to him, “Gondolin and its wealth is a little thing if the people perish. Many shall die in this siege at the least. But remember that hope lies in the West, and the Valar shall not suffer the Children of Ilúvatar to perish.”

Randir saw that Turgon was swayed somewhat by the quiet but wise words of Ecthelion.

“The King needs time to think,” said Saelgûr, a captain of the House of the King. “This decision cannot be made lightly. But I would advise you to lead the host forth, for the people trust him. Go with sword and spear and force your way out to the Way of Escape.” Then Maeglin spoke, and fire and passion was in his voice.

“Lo! Hast thou for naught labored through years uncounted at the building of walls of impregnable thickness and in the making of gates whose valor may not be overthrown; is the power of the hill Amon Gwareth become as lowly as the deep vale, or the hoard of weapons that lie upon it and its unnumbered arrows of so little worth that in the hour of peril thou wouldst cast all aside and go naked into the open against enemies of steel and fire, whose trampling shakes the earth and the Encircling Mountains ring with the clamor of their footsteps?”

Randir saw Salgant quake, and add quickly “Maeglin speaks well, O King, hear thou him.”

Then the King sighed, and his voice seemed inflicted with tiredness. “I fear that I must side against many of you, and go with the counsel of my nephew. Gondolin is yet strong, and so long as we can defend her wealth and her beauty, I would stay by her side. Rally the soldiers to the walls, and let us prepare to repel the attacks of Morgoth.”

Then the lords saw that the King’s mind was made up, and they bowed and left the council chamber. Tuor and Randir left together, Tuor pulling on his mail and armor as he did so.

“The House of the Wing should be assembled,” said Tuor. “Let us hurry.” But Randir saw that he was in great sorrow at the decision of the King.

Suddenly Randir noticed how greatly hot the city was; already he was sweating. The red glow was fiercely bright, and the were the hissings and growlings of many evil beasts at the foot of the hill.

Then they hurried up the main highway of Gondolin, the Way of the King, which extended from the Main Gate to the Palace. They found Voronwë standing with the House of the Wing on the ready.

“I shall return in a moment,” said Tuor. “I wish to look over the walls at Morgoth’s devilry. Hold them ready for action.”

They ran up to the walls, where the archers of the House of the Swallow (those of the Lord Duilin), and the House of the Heavenly Arch (those of the Lord Egalmoth) were at work shooting down arrows.

They looked down several hundred feet to the ground far below. They saw to their wondering eyes great beasts that appeared to be made of fire, and others of iron or bronze, trying in vain to climb up the glassy and steep sides of Amon Gwareth. Cheers were coming from the archers as they slipped back down each time, hissing in anger at the water flowing from its sides each time it touched them. But the arrows did no good against the terrible beasts. Beyond them was a vast black hosts of orcs, numerous as the sands of Anfauglith, all bathed in the red glow of the dragons and serpents.

They also saw Balrogs, great beasts of shadow and flame, some as high as twelve feet, others as short as seven, but each equally terrible. It did not take long for Randir to spot Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, towering even over those of his own kind. The monster appeared to be surveying the walls, planning an attack or something. Suddenly his terrible eyes rested on Randir. How did Randir know that the eyes were on him, when from their distance they appeared only specks of light? He knew, and he stared back into them. As his elven senses sharpened, the eyes grew nearer and nearer, and he could see the hate in them, and the immense power. But Randir did not turn away, but gazed defiantly into them. After a moment Gothmog withdrew his eyes and nodded in salute at Randir, knowing that they would meet with swords crossed. Randir did likewise. They both respected but hated the other.

“Come,” said Randir, “We have no more use here.” But a slight shudder passed through his body, a sign of weakness, after the contest of wills.

Passing along the streets there came word that under fire from bow and trebuchet, great monsters of iron were advancing up to the North Gate. They appeared to be piling themselves against it. But the gates were strong and would not budge to their blows.

“We may be need there,” said Tuor to Randir and Voronwë. Then he sounded his horn, and the House of the Wing moved northward past the Square of the Folkwell.

As they neared then north of the city they heard a great crash that filled the air, and caused a slight trembling in Amon Gwareth. They hurried, and found Galdor standing there with his company, and near him was the mighty house of Rog.

“The gate is fallen,” Galdor called to them. As he spoke orcs poured through the broken gate, but Rog with a great shout hurled himself forward, his company following, and Galdor sounded his horn. Penlod’s companies were behind Rog, along the road headed southeast of the North Gate to the Great Market, but they did not move forward. Though orcs fell from arrows on the walls and by the weapons of the elves, still by numerical superiority they were beginning to bear the elves back from the gate.

“The North Gate must be held by Galdor and Rog,” said Tuor. “My heart leaps at battle, but I must bid Idril and my child farewell, and send them down the secret way with a bodyguard.”

“Glorfindel is at the Great Market,” remarked Voronwë suddenly, “And Ecthelion holds the Way of the King. The House of the Harp is guarding the north entrance to the palace courtyard, and the House of the King is in reserve. But where is the House of the Mole?”

Suddenly Tuor caught his meaning. “Maeglin,” he cried. He turned southward. “They may be in peril,” he said. “Let us hurry thither!”

“I should not have left them,” groaned Randir. But Tuor sounded the horn, and Randir called out a few orders. Breaking formation, the House of the Wing began to run southward.

“Make all haste!”

It was a long run, for the dwelling was on the opposite end of Gondolin, which was very large in width and breadth. What is more they were caught in the turmoil of citizens fleeing the north side of the city. But after a while they neared Tuor’s house. To their dismay they found it surrounded by elves of the House of the Mole. Maeglin had come there first.

Maeglin cursed. “Will you not aid me? I must first cast the babe into the fires, and then I shall force the Lady Idril to show me this passage, that we may leave in safety from the sack.”

But the soldiers of the Mole, dark-hearted as they were, hesitated. At last one spoke. “We will not restrain you, but neither will we take part in this deed.”

Maeglin snarled, but ran into the house, very few behind him, among them Dolglin. Idril was in her room with the door barred, but he broke it open. He found Idril standing in terror with Eärendil at her side. He rushed forward, seizing the lad, and grasping Idril by the arm.

With Dolglin’s help he began to pull them from the room and out of the house, then up onto the walls. As soon as Dolglin saw that Maeglin had things under control, grasping Idril by the hair, he with an evil smile returned into the house.

Tuor glanced up onto the wall and shouted with horror. Maeglin was struggling with Idril, who was fighting wildly and in vain. Eärendil was trying to get loose from Maeglin’s strong arm.

“Now,” said Maeglin to the frightened Idril, “Behold the death of Tuor’s son.” And he laughed, and made ready to hurl Eärendil over the walls into the flame below.

But Tuor gave a great shout that filled the night air, so that even far away the orcs quailed. Maeglin looked at Tuor in disbelief (apparently something had been planned for him to prevent his return). Randir gave a shout, and in a moment the soldiers of the Wing were among those of the Mole with drawn blades. But Tuor fleeter than a deer charged up the steps.

Maeglin released Idril and drew a knife from his belt. He raised it menacingly, and, though Idril cried out in terror, brought it down toward Eärendil’s chest. Tuor and the lad’s mother were helpless.

But Eärendil bit the Dark-elf’s left hand, and the blow came down weakly, the hidden mail that the lad wore turning the blade aside. Maeglin dropped Eärendil, who landed safely on the battlements and ran to his mother.

Then Tuor was upon Maeglin, and his wrath was terrible to see. Followed by Voronwë and Randir he charged the accursed one, and grasped the knife-hand. He then wrenched Maeglin’s arm so that it broke, and Maeglin shouted in pain. But then Tuor reached out and lifted up Maeglin by the waist in his strong arms, hurling him far out from the wall. The Dark-elf gave a shriek of terror in his fall, and struck Amon Gwareth thrice before plunging in to the midmost of the flames three hundred feet below.

Then Idril ran to Tuor and caressed him, and Eärendil shouted for joy. But Tuor as he embraced his wife and his son looked down to his house, and saw that the House of the Wing was being borne backwards by the superior size of the House of the Mole. Some of that house had indeed charged up onto the walls at Tuor, who released himself from Idril and drew out his axe, Dramborleg. None could stand before him, and they cut their way towards the house, where a plunder was going on. Randir threw himself forward, through the door, and cut down several of the black-hearted elves with his feared strokes.

Then he saw Dolglin struggling with Alfirinel. Randir had feared as much, remembering the looks of that elf during the past seven years. Dolglin started at Randir’s approach, but dropped his prize and drew his sword. Randir pressed forward, hoping to end the combat quickly, but Dolglin sprang forward and to the side, giving Randir a cut along the side of his head. Alfirinel gave a cry of dismay, while Randir fell back, holding the side of his face with his hand. Dolglin was upon him a moment later, and Randir, recovering from his rash act and the resulting pain, threw himself forward, and through the blood and sweat in his eyes directed his sword directly into Dolglin’s heart. The elf dropped to the ground in a pool of blood, while Randir knelt next to the body and whispered a prayer.

“Nathernil,” said Alfirinel, still breathing hard. As Randir rose she embraced him, though Randir drew back.

“I am bloodied,” he said. But she smiled.

“I must tend to your wound,” she said.

“No time,” said Randir, wiping the blood off of his face. Before Alfirinel could object, he hurried out of the house. He found things under control. The House of the Wing had lost eleven good elves, all warriors, but Maeglin’s elves had fled.

“We must go now to the battle at the Gate,” said Tuor, panting. “There is still hope that the city might stand. Voronwë, I want you to stay with Idril, until return or send word.”

“But, my lord!” exclaimed Voronwë, about to protest this decision.

“No, Voronwë, it is best,” said Tuor. “I shall need Randir with me; I know it in my heart as well as my head. But I shall leave a few of my swordsmen with you. If I do not return, and the city is in great peril, take the secret way.”

“I shall await your coming,” said Idril.

“I shall be glad to return,” said Tuor. Alfirinel looked at Randir, and a meaning passed between them. Randir nodded, and then rallied together the elves of the Wing.

“To the North Gate!” he cried, and Tuor sounded his horn. Then they marched northward, the banner of the Wing still floating in the sky.

Idril and Alfirinel looked after them, their bright silvery armor shining under the reddened night sky. The wings on each of their helms gleamed, while their shields with the device of the wing reflected the terrible light.

“I hope that they shall return in safety, and that the city shall stay whole,” said Alfirinel. “Now my heart is truly with Gondolin, though I was reared by the sea.”

“And our hearts are with those who defend the city,” said Idril softly. “Mine is with Tuor Faenalph. And I know with whom your favor rests. Let us pray that they are protected from the storm which surrounds us, the storm that would devour us all.”

“No-one shall eat me,” said Eärendil determinedly. Idril smiled, but she was too strained to laugh.

Tuor turned one last time, and saluted Idril with his sword. Then the company disappeared into a doomed city.

After some time they reached the North Gate, where battle still raged back and forth. Galdor and Rog were holding the main part, but the enemy was also fighting on the walls elves of the Swallow and the Heavenly Arch. Also Penlod was now fighting hard. Randir, when he saw how desperate was the battle, hoped that Turgon would send in Ecthelion, who had been held in reserve.

“How is the battle?” Tuor asked a panting and gasping Galdor, who had stepped back from the melee at their approach.

“There are too many of them,” he said, his chest heaving up and down. “Duilin was stricken from the wall by a balrog-bolt, and two of my captains are dead. The Balrogs have not ventured into the thick of the fray, but continue to loose darts of flame, which is nearly as devastating if not more. The bravest man cannot stop one of their bolts, no matter what his skill.”

“Is Rog still alive?” asked Tuor.

“I think so,” said Galdor. “But we shall soon have to retreat. Have the people been evacuated?”

“I hope so,” said Tuor. “We are only seventy, but we shall do our part, and more.”

“Where is the House of the Mole?” asked Galdor. “They should be up here to help us?”

“They are dispersed,” said Tuor simply. “Maeglin is dead.” Galdor looked surprised that Maeglin could be killed so far from the fray, and it was hardly possible his entire company was scattered due to a few well-placed balrog-bolts. But there was no time to ask questions.

Then Tuor sounded his horn, and the Men of the Wing charged into the melee, swords singing. Dramborleg flashed beside Cellagar, and Galtog and Orcrist shone together. The mace of Rog was singing, and the club of Galdor was flying. Randir could not see Tarthalion among the men of the Swallow, and hoped he was guarding the walls at some other place.

Randir noticed the orcs pushing the archers from the walls. The elves of the Heavenly Arch were also accustomed to use with swords, but were having immense difficulty. Their shields bore a boss made of many gems of many colors, and an opal was on each of their helms. Rî-ereg, Duilin’s lieutenant, had taken over, but the House of the Swallow was dwindling in number. The soldiers in dark blue, white, purple, and black were falling regularly as they used their knives in close combat, while their heads arrayed with fans of feathers were bloodied.

Then Tuor sounded his horn, and called his soldiers to the defense of the walls. With Tuor at their head, they cleared the walls to the west of the gate, then passed on through the gatehouses to the east side, and there proceeded to fight the orcs there.

But Tuor, who was in the lead beside Randir, stumbled in avoiding an orc-slash. But Randir stepped forward, and kept them off of Tuor with another elf of high status named Gladhacrist.

“My thanks, Nathernil,” said Tuor as he rose. “And to you as well, Gladhacrist. I won’t forget it.”

But hardly had the orcs been cleaned off the walls, when there came up a cry from below. One of the fires from the bolts that had landed among the houses of Gondolin had combined with other fires and set up a great blaze. The soldiers fighting in the streets around the North Gate would soon be overwhelmed by the flame if they did not pull back.

Suddenly there arose above the tumult a great voice that shook the hearts of the orcs. Thus did Rog speak.

“Who now shall fear the Balrogs for all their terror? See before us the accursed ones who for ages have tormented the children of the Ñoldor, and who now set a fire at our backs with their shooting. Come ye of the Hammer of Wrath, and we will smite them for their evil.”

Then he raised his mace up toward the heavens, high above the conflict, and the elves bearing the emblem of the Stricken Anvil, with great shouts, rallied around him. Then Rog gave a great shout and charged forward. His soldiers formed a wedge with him at the point, and drove the orcs before them. The streets of Gondolin were filled with blood, illumined by the red light about the walls. But Rog drove ever into the orc-host, though elf after elf fell about him. They came even to the gate, and despite the shouts of Galdor and Penlod went right through it, right at the serpents and balrogs.

The orcs were in utter terror, fleeing from the north of the city. Randir managed to reach the wall and climb to the top, watching the amazing and horrible event below.

Rog’s soldiers attacked the balrogs. The demons’ whips and swords were going, and with each stroke half a dozen elves would fall. But they would grasp the burning whips in number. They would leap upon the balrogs and be burned horribly, but twice they brought balrogs to their knees by sheer number and strength. Many perished.

But Gothmog called all the balrogs about the city to him, and attacked. They and the serpents moved behind Rog’s elves, cutting off their escape. But soon it became clear that Rog had no intention of returning. But the orcs, more in terror of the balrogs and their own captains, charged again. They were surrounded, and numbers were slain, though each of the men of the Hammer of Wrath took seven with him. At last Rog, who was fay, turned up toward the walls of Gondolin, and spotted Randir there. And he raised his sword in salute to Gondolin and the King, and then hurled himself with others at a balrog, bringing it down. And there was the balrog killed, for Rog brought down his mace into its fiery chest. But then he disappeared into fire and smoke, and was never seen again by elf or man in Middle-earth. Neither did a single one of his company escaped. But yet their deed was valorous and marvelous, for they had slain a balrog.

Randir tore his eyes away. The Gondothlim, most of them having not seen the heroics, were greatly dismayed at the death of Rog, and they were giving ground faster and faster.

Then Randir shouted and threw himself down into his foes, and cut his way back to where Tuor fought. Tuor saw Randir’s eyes, and knew that none of Rog’s company would ever return.

During those street battles, Randir saw Penlod separated with a portion of his company and forced to a position with his back to the wall. The walls were retaken and overrun by orcs. There were virtually no elven archers left on the northern walls. Randir saw Penlod fall with many of his soldiers, and ever they were headed backwards.

At last they were forced into the Square of the Folkwell, or the Place of the Well, and there defended its northern entrance. But in that moment they heard the playing of beautiful flutes, and turned to see the folk of the Fountain marching toward them, looking magnificent in their crystal and silver amidst the blood and ruin. Ecthelion their chief was arrayed in somber silver and sparkling diamonds, and a great spike came up from his helm. Then Ecthelion raised his sword and shouted out a command to draw swords. Then the orcs looked in dismay on the new arrivals, grim of face and sharp of sword. Then the House of the Fountain hurled itself upon the forces of Morgoth that remained there, and the orcs were slain before them like wheat before a flashing scythe.

Then those of the Wing joined them, and they began to win back the northern part of the city, nearly to the gate. But at that moment there came a terrible rumble that shook the city. Turning they saw to their utter surprise and dismay that the wall was beginning to crumble. Serpents of iron and bronze had coiled up one on another, so as to reach the foot of the walls two hundred feet up from the ground, and had torn apart the marvelous masonry of the Ñoldor with their fiery breath and claws of iron, while the dragons were beating a path in the stone of Amon Gwareth up toward the walls.

Then Tuor attacked, and Randir was beside him. And they struck the orcs mightily, where amidst the confusion of fallen masonry they battled with the survivors of the House of the Swallow and of the Heavenly Arch.

Even as Tuor charged, one of the bronze serpents smote the masonry so that a great breach opened. As the white stone fell, there appeared behind it a fire-drake, a monster of immense size and terror. And behind it were balrogs.

The streets were bathed in the flame of that dragon, and everywhere it was men withered. The fire seemed to burn through even metal, for it was the Fire of Angband, and its smoke caused elves to choke and cough, so that their eyes grew dull and watery. The wings of Tuor grew black, and from that beast the elves pulled away.

But then up came orcs about the balrogs, and Tuor was slowly pushed back, though Ecthelion and the House of the Fountain fought beside him to his right. Randir was weary, but the light of battle was in his eyes, and he did not grow faint. Cellagar sang with Dramborleg and Dagnaur beneath the faded stars.

Then a great orc-warlord whose name has come down to us as Othrod advanced on Tuor, and their weapons, silver and black, clashed among the ruins of the wall. Randir and Ecthelion were engaged in their own battles, and could not aid Tuor in this fierce struggle. Othrod was no ordinary orc, but a demon-orc, embodied by Morgoth as lesser spirits in his following.

Tuor was wounded twice, but he could not seem to harm the demon-orc, who was light on his feet, and cruel smile, a delight in battle and bloodshed, was across his face. Othrod managed to push Tuor back. Tuor was bleeding in the arm and the side now, but he fought on. At last Othrod came on, believing his victory assured, for as mortal men do Tuor fell into great weariness. But Tuor, summoning up his strength, leaped aside, and clove Othrod’s skull with a chop that came down on the demon-orc’s helm.

Then the balrogs seemed greatly frustrated that the orcs were making no gain on those of the Fountain and the Wing. Tuor slew two more orc-captains of great repute for various acts of evil, while Ecthelion slew two captains, as well as a mighty orc named Orcobal, who was the greatest of the orc-champions in Morgoth’s service.

Then the balrogs charged into the thickest of the fight, their whips and swords snapping. All melted before them, save Tuor, Ecthelion, Randir, and three others of the two houses present, all knotted together. And Ecthelion slew a balrog on that day with Dagnaur, as did Tuor, each with the help of the other. But Randir found himself fighting one of those demons, and never had he before engaged in such a contest. Much of it was not in sword but in spirit, as their wills strove against the other.

Randir was pushed back against the ruined wall of what was once a large house. But he could not gain the upper hand against the monster. The whip then curled up about his leg, and he stumbled. But then Tuor was there, and knocked away that whip. Then did Randir spring onto his feet, and attacked the balrog, and at last ended the contest by running it through the fiery chest.

“That is your first balrog, Randir,” said Tuor.

“Aye,” said Randir, “But it is part yours.” Tuor just smiled.

The battle continued. Soon Tuor, Randir, and Ecthelion were the only ones in the thick, the others fighting many yards behind, and Randir was separated from the other twain.

But they could not fight for long against so many, and Randir saw a balrog’s whip slash across Ecthelion’s arm, so that the elf-lord dropped his shield, leaning heavily on Tuor. And then the fire-drake advanced on them, Ecthelion cried out “Leave me, Tuor! This shall be your death if you stay here!” But Tuor did not move.

Then as the dragon tramped forward to destroy them, Tuor threw himself at the monster, striking the foot and hewing at it with Dramborleg, and blood like fire spouted forth. The dragon gave a scream, and its fire and tail cleared friend and foe from the surrounding area for many yards, as it writhed in pain. But in that moment of confusion Randir saw Tuor lift Ecthelion up onto his strong shoulders, and pulled back with the rest of the Ñoldor. But Randir was surrounded and trapped, unable to fight himself free. He backed up against a wall desperately, and was determined to fight to the end.

Then Gothmog came.

[edit] Great is the Fall

The Lord of Balrogs surveyed the destruction of that area, and saw his folk hurrying off in pursuit of Tuor and Ecthelion’s companies. But then he saw Randir standing alone.

He surged forward as the orcs surged back to make room for him. Randir saw him coming, and readied himself for the conflict which he knew he could not win.

In the few seconds he had he searched with his eye for any way of escape. He could not find one.

Gothmog’s whip cracked, and Randir dodged it. He attacked the balrog, but Gothmog parried with his great fiery sword. Randir was straining against the great will of Gothmog, and felt himself losing. He was pushed back again, and almost closed his eyes as the conflict continued. The whip was coming dangerously close.

Suddenly he fell to the ground with a cry of pain as Gothmog’s will began to crush him. He twisted and landed on his back. Instead of the bite of a sword in the heart he had expected, he felt a great fire cross his chest as the whip of flame snapped across it. He shouted in great agony, and knew then that Gothmog intended to torture him first.

He rolled over, managing to miss the next snap. He forced his eyes open, and felt sure that he was going to be killed.

He reached for Cellagar, but the whip caught him around the wrist, and he cried out again in pain. Randir suddenly raised himself to a kneeling position, and saw Gothmog towering above him.

“Death is nigh, doughty one.” There came a whisper above his head. “Turn to me, and ye shall be great among my servants.”

“No!” Randir shouted, and he received another whip lash across his back, bringing searing pain and the feel of burning flesh. He threw himself forward and grabbed his sword. His mind was paining him as much as his wounds, as he felt the presence of ultimate evil very close. He struggled against the will of his adversary, and shouted out in a loud voice “An-nin, Ilúvatar! With me, Allfather!” And suddenly his voice burst into Quenya “Valar ar Eru, maurë haryan restalyo!

Suddenly a bright light filled the blade of his sword, and even Gothmog stepped back as to not look into its holy brilliance. But Randir raised himself to his feet, and instead of attacking Gothmog cut his way through the terrified orcs, and escaping the wrath of the balrogs passed into an alley, through which he made his escape, the balrogs’ whips snapping after him.

Thankful for this miraculous escape, he limped back toward the Square of the King. Once he met a band of nine orc-marauders, who had blood on their swords. The bodies of an elf-woman and two children were about them. Randir was filled with rage, and attacked them so that none escaped, fly though they did. He looked in sorrow at the two bodies, remembering his dream, and pressed on.

Death was all about him. Bands of orcs were filling the streets, killing those men, women, and children who had not fled. But many they dragged forth and bound with iron ropes, from the youngest to the oldest, and brought them out of the city in chains as slaves.

Randir came across one such chain. There were three men, five women, a boy not yet fifty, and another about Eärendil’s size. If it had been almost any other elf, Randir would have had no chance. But he hurled himself forward, cutting down the orcs until the last fled.

He then turned and with his sword Cellagar cut free their bonds. They looked at him thankfully, but said nothing.

“Go south,” he said. “Go to the House of Tuor instead of the Square of the King. You shall be safe there, for hidden deliverance lies with the Lady of that house.”

The elf-men bowed, Randir only nodded, and sped them on their way.

He met with several other such bands. He was able to free them in a few cases, but sometimes the orcs killed their captives upon sign of rescue. He was glad that he never saw one of his friends lying dead. But many were not so fortunate.

At last he neared the Square of the Folkwell, and found the orc-army already there. The trees were burning, and the deep and beautiful well was filled with corpses.

He avoided the main force and came by a roundabout way to the Square of the King. There he found Tuor and Ecthelion, and Glorfindel’s company greatly diminished after battle in the Great Market. Small pieces of all the companies were found there, except of the Hammer of Wrath, and Tuor and Ecthelion sat beside the fountain, apparently resting. Tuor looked up at Randir’s approach.

“Nathernil!” he exclaimed. “I believed you to be dead!” He grasped Randir’s hand, and then looked him up and down. “You look nearly so,” he commented. “You are covered in wounds. How did you escape?”

“I managed to fight my way out,” was all of Randir’s answer for the moment. “How long can we hold out?”

Tuor shook his head. “We have lost a good two-thirds or more of the Gondothlim. Some of the women and children are gathered in the palace, but I fear that most of them are dead or else being carried away as slaves to Angband. The south of the city is still free, but it may not long be. The only company we have in whole is the King’s House, which has remained in reserve.”

Then there came a fierce roaring, and flame came up from the direction of the Alley of Roses. One of the dragons was there.

Tuor sprang to his feet, leaving the wounded Ecthelion to lie by the fountain. “Can you fight, Nathernil?”

“Yes,” said Randir.

But as they spoke the fire-drake that had come along the Alley charged into the square, and Tuor and Randir moved to the attack, with Egalmoth and the folk of the Heavenly Arch, as well as the few survivors of the House of the Wing. Gothmog came in, as did other balrogs. They were forced back to the center of the square.

Tuor was fighting Gothmog, and Randir knew that he didn’t have a chance. Tuor was beaten down in weariness and heat. Randir could not help as Tuor collapsed onto the stone.

But suddenly there stood Ecthelion with a drawn gray face. He attacked the demon, but received a wound across the arm that caused him to drop his sword. Then Ecthelion leaped upon Gothmog, so that the balrog did not have time to move, and drove the spike of his helm into the balrog’s breast, twisting his legs around the balrog’s thighs. They both tumbled into the deep fountain of the King, sinking down to the bottom, where Gothmog’s fire was quenched. But Ecthelion was not seen again.

The host quailed at the death of so great a captain. And Tuor, rising off the ground weeping, charged them again, and the House of the King was behind him. And that host, with Turgon at their head, slew even two balrogs, and hemming in a dragon, forced it into the fountain, where it perished. But the fountain became steam, and the fountain dried up, loosing a vast column of vapor into the sky, floating above the land like a cloud.

In that confusion elves killed each other as well as the enemy, but at last they fell back to the two trees Glingal and Belthil.

“Great is the Fall of Gondolin,” said the King, and the elves shuddered, remembering the words of Amnon the prophet. But then Tuor spoke wildly, rather in ruth and love of the king than in actual belief, “Gondolin stands yet, and Ulmo will not suffer it to perish!” The king was at this time standing on the stairs, and Tuor by the trees. Randir remembered that was where they had been before when Tuor delivered his message. But Turgon said “Evil have I brought upon the Flower of the Plain in despite of Ulmo, and now he leaveth it to wither in the fire. Lo! hope is no more in my heart for my city of loveliness, but the children of the Ñoldor shall not be worsted forever.”

Then the Gondothlim clashed their weapons, but Turgon added “Fight not against doom, O my children! Seek ye who may safety in flight, if perhaps there be time yet: but let Tuor have your fealty.”

“Thou art king,” said Tuor, but Turgon replied “Yet no blow will I strike more”, and cast his crown of garnets to the roots of Glingal.

Galdor reached down and picked it up, but Turgon refused it, and climbed into his palace, even to the great white tower, and called out like a horn in the mountains, and all below him heard it. “Great is the victory of the Ñoldor!” The orcs yelled in derision. At this time it was midnight, and the siege had been going on for four hours.

“We must sally forth,” said Glorfindel then. “It is our only chance of escape.”

“Impossible to break through,” said Egalmoth. “We should stay and die about the king.”

Then there was some arguing at this point, Galdor and Randir siding with Glorfindel, while Rî-ereg agreed with Egalmoth. Tuor was silent.

“What would you have us do?” Glorfindel said at last to Tuor. Tuor spoke with some reluctance.

“In secret my followers have labored, at the advice of my wife Idril, to construct a tunnel that leads out of the city and to the edge of Tumladen,” he said. There was a murmur of surprise and excitement. “It has been finished after years of labor. But it is very small, and it would take nothing but a miracle for our entire company, with the women and children, to pass through it unnoticed. If we were noticed, all would be lost, and yet it would take a great length of time to get through it.”

“Wise is your wife, and foresighted,” exclaimed Glorfindel. “This is desperate indeed, but now we have a hope of survival. If the Valar are gracious, we may be able to escape with the survivors.”

“Let us convince the King to come with us,” Tuor said. “We must hurry if we can get there before the orcs are finished plundering the north.”

Then Rî-ereg ascended the tower, and returned with a message that the King refused to leave his city, and would burn with it. But he wished that the Gondothlim would follow Tuor, for there was hope in his words.”

But then Rî-ereg again climbed up to the pinnacle with a message from the lords, saying “Sire, who are the Gondothlim if thou perish? Lead us!” But he responded “Lo! I abide here.” Rî-ereg persisted for a third time, but Turgon still refused. “If I am king, obey my behests, and dare not to parley further with my commands.”

Then they gave up all hope of saving the King, but made ready to head south.

“I shall not go with you,” said Rî-ereg. “I shall die beside my King, and my company with me. We will stay if Turgon goes not forth.” And all of the House of the King affirmed this, and would not be moved by the pleas of the other elves.

“Let us be off,” said Randir, but he saw Tuor hesitate. “A mighty end will do nothing for the good of anyone, especially not for a grieving wife and son,” he said. “Do not let the love of your King withhold you in this matter.” Then came the march of orc-feet preparing to renew the attack, and the weeping of elf-women. Then Tuor nodded wordlessly.

The women and children were removed from the palace, and placed in the center of the host. Tuor decided to fight their way down the Road of Pomps to Gar Ainion, and from there down the Way of Running Waters to his home.

And so they moved southward, crossing down the broad road. After a while they neared Gar Ainion. Tuor stopped in amazement, for there stood Idril before him, her hair unbraided, as it had been on the day of their wedding. Beside her stood Voronwë to her right, and to her left was Alfirinel. But Idril did not appear to notice Tuor, but looked straight forward toward the palace.

Then the host of the Ñoldor halted and looked back. There was a great drake coiled on the steps of the palace, and the orcs were hurrying in and out, bearing forgotten women and children, and killing the elves of the House of the King. Glingal was withered, and Belthil was blackened. Atop the great tower could be seen the figure of the King, looking down mournfully in resignation of his fate. Then many of the Ñoldor wept at this destruction, and the last brave stand of the House of the King.

“Woe is me whose father awaiteth doom even upon his topmost pinnacle,” said Idril; “but seven times woe whose lord hath gone down before Morgoth and will stride home no more!” He voice was filled with agony.

“Lo! Idril, it is I,” cried Tuor, “And I live; yet now will I get thy father hence, be it from the Hells of Iron!” He turned to make down the hill, for Gar Ainion was the highest spot in the city, but Idril fell down and grasped his knees, crying “My lord! My lord!” Even as she spoke there came a great noise, and the tower leaped into flame and tumbled down to the ground with a great rise of smoke. In that mighty fall were the dragons at its base crushed, but now was Turgon King dead, wisest of the Kings of the Ñoldor.

“Sad is the blindness of the wise,” said Idril heavily.

“Sad too is the stubbornness of those we love – yet ‘twas a valiant fault,” replied Tuor, and he lifted and kissed her, though she wept for the death of her father. Then Tuor turned to the captains assembled there. “Lo, we must get hence with all speed, lest we be surrounded.”

Randir glanced at Alfirinel, who wept as well. But she glanced up at him, and through her tears she smiled slightly to see him alive. Randir noticed that both she and Idril bore light swords stained with blood.

Then the remnant of the Gondothlim continued along the Way of Running Waters, past the Fountains of the South. Occasionally they met plundering bands, but no army. They were hoping to get into the passage before the orcs tired of sacking the palace. Randir stayed near Idril, but was well able to hear the conversation between Tuor and Voronwë.

“My wife is in no condition to answer my question,” Tuor was saying, “So I wish to ask you for tidings. What has been happening in the south of the city?”

“The Lady Idril waited before the doors of the house, while the noise of battle grew and shook our hearts,” Voronwë replied. “Idril wept for lack of news of you and the battle, fearing that you might be dead. At length she ordered most of her guard and all her maidens save one down the tunnel with Eärendil, constraining them to depart imperiously, yet she was greatly grieved to leave her son. She said that she would abide there, and if you died would not seek life. One of her maidens, Alfirinel, stayed by her. Then I, four others, and the ladies went about rescuing womenfolk and wanderers, sending them down the tunnel. But once we fell in with a far larger band than ours, and all were killed save myself, Idril, and her maiden. We returned to find the house was burned, yet the secret way had not been found. I begged her to depart with me, but she refused, and I would not take her by force.”

As he said so, they came near Tuor’s house, and it was indeed cast down. But Tuor, listening, believed he heard the sound of approaching orcs.

“Quickly,” he said, “Down the passage.”

It was indeed narrow, and it was with grief that the exiles said farewell to Gondolin. Then Tuor hurried them down. It took a long time, nearly half of an hour, for all to enter the tunnel. Idril was among the first to go. Tuor went in last, and it was only by the luck of the Valar that all could have entered without being sighted by the orcs.

Then Tuor, lighting a torch, entered with Randir beside him. Several miners were left to close the entrance from within. It was black in that tunnel, and it was not long before their torch went out because of the fumes. So they journeyed in the dark, stumbling and grasping. Occasionally a tremor would come from above, and a stone would fall. They would stumble, to their horror, over the bodies of persons that had come before and perished, either from the falling rock, or from the fumes, or from stumbling in the dark and hitting their heads.

Tuor was in great fear for Eärendil, but could not tell if he was there. Randir had to hold his breath at times, or duck low to his great discomfort. He, fortunately, had no brush with death. But he often shuddered when he touched the bodies of elf-maidens or young children.

But once he stumbled and fell completely over with a grunt, over the body of a young child by the feel.

“Are you all right, Nathernil?” asked Tuor.

“Yes,” said Randir. As he raised himself up he touched the face of the child by accident, and suddenly he exclaimed “Tuor, this young lad is alive!”

“Have you found someone, then?” asked Tuor.

“Yes,” said Randir, feeling the face. “It is a young boy.”

“Eärendil?” whispered Tuor.

“Nay,” said Randir, “For this lad wears no mail, nor is his shirt torn in the front.”

“We must hurry on,” said Tuor anxiously.

“Wait,” said Randir. “I shall try and save this lad if I may.”

“Will you carry him?” asked Tuor. “You are strong, but with the extra weight you might be overcome by the fumes. And if the lad has been lying there too long he will probably die soon anyway.”

“I shall take that chance,” said Randir, heaving the boy up onto his shoulder.

They continued on for a long time, what must have been about two hours. Near the end it was especially narrow and low. At last, however, Randir stepped with a sigh out into fresh air.

They were in a large basin where water had once lain, but was now bedecked with thick bushes. The last of the Gondothlim were there. Idril was there, but she was weeping.

“What is the matter, dear wife?” asked Tuor, coming up to her. “Surely you have grieved enough for the king and the city, and we must be away.”

But Idril looked up at Tuor with tearful eyes. “Eärendil is not here,” she whispered.

Tuor looked in horror at his wife, then turned to look back in the tunnel. But he knew there was nothing he could do.

Randir walked over to Idril and Alfirinel, and removed the boy from his shoulders, laying him down on the ground.

“I found him in the tunnel,” he explained. “He is still alive, or was when I lifted him up.”

He could now see the lad’s face. He was a young boy about Eärendil’s age, with dark brown hair and grey eyes. And he was still alive, though the color was drained from his face. The crown of his head had blood on it.

Idril bent down by him. “It looks like he was hit on the head by a falling rock, but he damage is not serious. He should recover quickly out of the fumes of the tunnels.”

As she said this the boy moved slightly, almost in a shuddering way. Randir touched his forehead, and let some of the power in his hands pass through him. The boy stirred and opened his eyes. He drew back at seeing Randir kneeling above him.

“It is all right,” said Randir softly. “You are out of the tunnel.”

The boy sighed and scratched his head. “Where am I?”

“We are in Tumladen, just outside the tunnel,” said Randir. “I found you in there and brought you out.”

“Who are you?” asked the lad, looking up at Randir.

“Randir Nathernil of the House of the Wing,” Randir replied.

“Lord Randir!” exclaimed the boy, starting up. “I am Erellont son of Lhossûl.”

“Do you know where your parents are?” asked Randir. Erellont nodded his head sadly.

“They were killed by orcs.” Then he began to cry. Randir glanced up at Idril, who nodded.

“Erellont,” he said, “This is the Lady Idril. I shall be back in a moment. She will take care of your for now.”

Tuor climbed up to the edge of the basin and looked southeast. There was a burning Gondolin, surrounded by dragons, and orcs that had never even seen combat. It was a great relief to be out in the cool night air, as opposed to the stifling heat of the besieged city. He then looked back down at their followers, many of them weeping in sorrow and weariness.

“Randir,” he called. “Galdor, Glorfindel.” The lords he named hurried up to where he stood at the rim. Egalmoth was too much wounded to come.

“What is it?” asked Galdor.

“We must now decide what to do,” said Tuor. “We are not out of danger yet. There are probably many more of his beasts in the mountains in case we attempt escape, but we are fortunate that the army is not scattered throughout Tumladen, and is centered around Gondolin, or we would be caught in an instant. It is only a few hours till daybreak.”

“Now,” said Galdor, “We must get as far hence toward the Encircling Mountains as may be ere dawn come upon us, and that gives us no great space of time, for summer is at hand.”

“Then let us make haste,” replied Tuor. “We shall discuss our plans further as we march. Glorfindel, I want you in the rear. Make sure no one straggles, and they keep up a good pace. Anyone overcome with weariness or wounds should be borne if possible, but left behind if not. Then we shall march on to Cirith Thoronath, Cleft of the Eagles.”

“I have an elf in my train named Legolas, which is Greenleaf,” said Galdor. “He is one of the few survivors, and escaped the sack. He knows the plain day and night, and has eyes like a cat’s in the dark. He shall be able to lead us with speed and accuracy straight to the pass.”

Then they went down and informed the elves of their plan. But there were a few dissenters.

“The sun will be up long ere we win the foothills,” objected an elf named Aegnem, a lord of the House of the Fountain, “And we shall be whelmed in the plain by those drakes and demons. Let us fare to Bad Uthwen, the Way of Escape, for that is but half the journeying, and our weary and our wounded may hope to win so far if no further.”

“Besides,” added another, “Its magic has shielded it from discovery thus far. It will be greater protection.”

“Nay,” said Idril suddenly. “Trust not to the magic of that place. It is without the protection of the Eagles, and what is more my heart knows that evil lies in that direction. No, trust it not, for what magic stands if Gondolin be fallen?”

Then there was a brief dispute, but while most were convinced, a large body of men and women under Aegnem departed from Tuor’s company. Tuor looked after them and wept. Never again were those who departed thither seen again, and it was said later that Morgoth at Maeglin’s suggestion had put a monster there, and all were devoured.

Randir went back to the youth, who was now standing with his head bandaged by Alfirinel. Indeed, he was talking to Alfirinel quiet merrily, forgetting his sorrow.

“We must move on now,” said Randir gruffly. Alfirinel and Erellont looked up at him, while Idril said “Very well. Alfirinel, since the boy has taken a liking to you, take care of him for the present, if you will.”

“Gladly, my lady,” said Alfirinel.

“Stay up near Tuor,” advised Randir. “We mustn’t be separated in the dark.”

With Tuor and Legolas at their head, the host moved quickly across Tumladen, despite their great weariness. At last, after a great march, they halted for a rest. Morning was just coming over Tumladen, gray and soft. But their amazement was great when they found that the valley was covered in mist. Neither mist nor fog had ever come there before. It must have been because of the vapors of the fountain.

It was at this time also, when there was light in the sky, that they began to look to one another’s wounds. They had only a little food, but some bandages, and water. Randir was still covered in blood and grime, as was Tuor and most of the other soldiers.

Idril dressed Tuor’s wounds, while Alfirinel saw to Randir’s. She gasped when she saw the long mark of the fiery whip across his chest. Almost as bad was the cut across his face, which had stopped bleeding but was still very deep. He had several others in his sides and arms.

“I can’t believe you continued to fight after receiving these wounds, and carried a young boy to safety amidst the fumes of the passage,” said Alfirinel as she washed them off and bound them. “Some would have near died from those wounds.”

Randir smiled. He had almost forgotten about the pain in his wounds until he had sat down to rest. But now he was very sore and tender, and it would have been hard to recognize him after the bandages were put on, though he looked much better.

Tuor was not so badly wounded, though he had a deep gash in his side and several more or less serious cuts. But all felt much fresher after washing their faces, and their hurts grew less so.

Also during that time a count was taken as to how many had escaped Gondolin. To their grief they found that only eight hundred had escaped out of the many thousands. Of them, five hundred and fifty were men, about seventy were children, and only about a hundred and eighty were women and maidens.

Then, shielded by the mist from the eyes of Morgoth’s watchers, they continued on for a league or so, coming near to the foothills. As they walked, the fog began to lift. Suddenly Tuor gave a cry, and pointed off to their right and ahead. But a few furlongs off was a group of men on foot, pursued by orcs mounted on great wolves.

“Lo! there is Eärendil my son,” exclaimed Tuor; “Behold, his face shines as a star in the waste, and my men of the Wing are about him, and they are in sore straits. Randir, take fifty of the least weary and follow me.”

Randir rapidly pulled out two and a half score of elves from the host, and they drew their swords. Then they moved forward across the plain toward the knot of men.

“Stand, and flee not!” called Tuor to the fugitives. “The wolves shall slay you as you disperse.”

Randir saw then that Eärendil sat upon the shoulders of one of Idril’s house-carles named Hendor. Then the group stood back-to-back, with Hendor and the child in the center.

There were only about twenty wolfriders, though about Eärendil there were but six still alive.

“Form a crescent one rank deep, and prepare your weapons!” cried Tuor. “None must escape to bear news of our passing hither!”

The wolves nearly ran into the formed elves, but they wheeled in surprise. Nevertheless those that had bows loosed arrows, and a number fell. The wolfriders foolishly chose to attack. They moved in, but not a single elf did they kill. They created a wall of steel, and the wolves shied. Tuor’s axe Dramborleg chopped off the head of one of the leaders, while Cellagar passed through the body of his wolf. The wolfriders broke and fled, pursued by a volley of sharp-pointed arrows. Only two escaped, but wounded, and their wolves were killed.

“They shall not bear tidings back in time,” said Tuor. “Let us hurry on.”

But Eärendil climbed down from Hendor’s shoulders and ran to his father, exclaiming “I am thirsty, father, for I have run far – nor had Hendor need to bear me.”

Randir smiled. They had not any water, using what little they did have in aid of the wounded. He saw that Tuor was thinking of the same thing.

“’Twas good to see Maeglin die so,” continued Eärendil, “For he would set arms about my mother – and I liked him not; but I would travel in no tunnels for all of Morgoth’s wolfriders.” Tuor smiled, and pulled Eärendil up on his shoulders. Eärendil spotted Randir.

Gollada!” he exclaimed. “You have a bandage on your head. Did you hurt yourself?”

Randir laughed. “Yes, I did.”

“With what?”

“With Dolglin’s sword and a balrog whip,” said Randir. Eärendil looked at him in wonder.

“Did you fight a balrog?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Randir. “Your father killed one as well.”

“I would have killed one too, methinks, if I had a sword,” said Eärendil.

At this moment the rest of the host came up to them. Idril was weeping in gladness at the sight of Eärendil, and she embraced him dearly. But Eärendil pushed back her embrace, refusing to let her carry him.

“Mother Idril,” he said, “Thou art weary, and warriors in mail do not ride among the Gondothlim, save it be old Salgant!” Idril laughed, for Salgant always rode into battle. “Nay, where is Salgant?” queried the lad. Randir remembered that occasionally Salgant would tell Eärendil tales, or played drolleries with him.

“I do not know, Eärendil,” said Idril. “He did not come out with us.”

“Then where is he?” persisted Eärendil.

“He was probably killed,” said Idril quietly, “Or enthralled.” Eärendil was silent for some time after this, as they walked on toward the hills.

But his gloominess did not last long. He spotted Erellont walking beside Alfirinel. “What’s your name?” he asked.

“Erellont,” the other boy replied. “Are you Eärendil?”

“I am, good lad,” said Eärendil. He peered at Erellont’s wound. “Did you get that in battle?”

“No,” said Erellont. “A rock hit me on the head when I passed through the tunnel.”

“Hmm,” said Eärendil. He proudly showed his ripped tunic. “Maeglin tried to stab me, but I bit him, didn’t I, Nana?”

“Yes, you did,” said Idril.

“Let us leave all that behind us,” said Tuor. “We still have a long ways to go before we reach the pass.”

At length they came to the foothills. The sky was cloudy and gray. Eventually they came to the beginnings of a road that led up the mountainside, up toward the Cirith Thoronath. There was a little dale fringed with trees and hazel-bushes, and there, despite their peril, many slept out of utter exhaustion. Tuor kept a strict watch, however, and did not sleep at all. There was a little brook flowing through the dale, and there they quenched their thirst. Eärendil and Erellont were soon playing by the streamlet together, tossing in stones and looking for frogs and salamanders.

“Mother Idril,” said Eärendil presently, “I would we had good Ecthelion of the Fountain here to play to me on his flute, or make me willow-whistles! Perchance he has gone on ahead?”

“He battled with Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, and perished in the fountain,” said Idril. “It was a brave end, though, for he slew that monster there.” Then tears came into Eärendil’s blue eyes.

“I care not ever to see the streets of Gondolin again,” he wept.

“You will not again see those streets, lad,” said Tuor solemnly, “For Gondolin is no more.”

Eärendil was silent for a while, sniveling. Then he looked up at Randir. “Master Randir, will you sing me something?”

“I have no harp, Eärendil,” said Randir.

“That’s all right,” Eärendil said. “Your voice is enough, and I would listen to it.”

“Very well, lad,” said Randir. “What would you have me sing of?”

“Make a song for Ecthelion,” urged Eärendil. Randir nodded, and began to sing.

O noble head, O piercing eye,
O light that burns in soaring wind
O song of waters, eagle’s cry
nevermore seen in Gondolin.
A demon claw, a phantom black:
Gothmog the dark with heart of sin;
thou died in glory in that sack,
why didst thou leave sweet Gondolin?
The Fountain helm, the pointed crown,
thine flutes played bright in field and fen;
thou fell to ruin, tumbled down,
yet great were deeds in Gondolin.
Tuor the White-winged, Idril Fair,
Egalmoth, sharp-eyed Duilin,
Glorfindel with his golden hair
thou recalled in great Gondolin.
O Ecthelion, grave but bright
with the light in the battle's din,
Calináro, thine father white,
thou left, to die in Gondolin.

While Randir sang, a group of elves gathered about him in a circle. Randir sang many more verses than are recounted here, or could be recounted here without deserving a chapter or book of their own. In Randir’s voice was the flowing of the river, and the beauty of light on a green vale in the summer. Randir was not accounted among the greatest of the singers in Gondolin, but so many had perished, and his song had seemed to come straight from the mouth Oromë or Ulmo, that many gathered to listen.

“It reminds me somewhat of the singing of your cousin, Aglaru,” said Alfirinel after he had finished. “But it is different; graver, perhaps, but lighter in style. If Aglaru’s voice could be compared to the sea, yours would be that of a river flowing solemnly.”

Randir bowed his head as several others added their praise. But he did not smile, and Eärendil said nothing. Randir guessed what he was thinking about, and drew him closer.

“Eärendil,” he whispered so that none could hear, “Do not grieve overmuch for the fate of Ecthelion. Remember that hope lies in the West, where all will be made new.”