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Tales from Vairë's Loom  by Fiondil

A Slight Miscalculation

Summary: Glorfindel lands in more trouble than he bargained for when a jest goes wrong. Inspired by the Middle-earth Express prompt #58, ‘Prank’.


“What’s over there?” Glorfindel asked Aragorn, pointing to another building set back from the rest. He and several others were touring the Citadel of Minas Tirith with the new King of Gondor and Arnor acting as his guide. Elrond and his sons, along with Erestor, Celeborn and Haldir were with him.

“The Royal Prison,” Aragorn said with a wry grin.

Glorfindel raised an eyebrow and there was a glint of mischief in his eyes as he looked at the unprepossessing building. There was no hint from the outside that it was indeed a prison, save perhaps the two guards standing on either side of the door. He cast a glance at the others in their group. “Shall we take a look?”

Elladan gave him a jaundiced stare. “Whyever would we want to look at a prison?”

Glorfindel just shrugged and turned to Aragorn who stood there with a bemused expression on his face. “Will you show us, Estel?”

“If you wish,” the Man said slowly, clearly puzzled by the Elf-lord’s request. “It’s not very interesting.”

“Humor me,” Glorfindel said.

“Don’t I always?” Aragorn couldn’t help replying, giving a sardonic twist of his lips.

The twins laughed and even Elrond smiled at his foster son’s words. Celeborn and Haldir exchanged knowing looks between them. Erestor merely snorted.

“We all humor Glorfindel,” he said with a smirk.

“Well, in that case,” Aragorn said, “I guess we can visit the prison. I warn you though, that if there are any prisoners, you will not be allowed to see them. I will not have them gawked at.”

“That goes without saying,” Elrond said equably. “We would not intentionally cause even such unfortunates as they embarrassment.”

“I would like to see what a typical cell looks like, though,” Glorfindel said.

Aragorn shrugged as he led them to the door. “We’ll have to ask the Warden.”

The guards saluted smartly and one of them opened the door for them. Inside, they found themselves in a short corridor where another guard sat behind a table. He looked up in surprise at their entrance, but quickly rose to his feet and gave them his obeisance.

“We wish to see the Warden,” Aragorn said quietly and the guard nodded.

“Please wait here, sire, and I will bring him.” With a nod from Aragorn, the Man left, moving down the corridor to a door on the right. Giving it a single knock, he entered and a few seconds later he returned followed by another Man.

The Elves looked upon him with mild interest as he made his obeisance to his king. “My lord, how may I be of service?” the Warden said.

Aragorn smiled and gestured at the golden-haired Elf. “Lord Glorfindel is interested in seeing what a typical cell looks like. Is there one that is empty, one that does not require us to pass any cells that are occupied? I would not wish to disturb any prisoners here with our presence.”

The Warden smiled. “Luckily, there are few prisoners here at the moment, and all are housed in one wing. I can show you an empty cell in another wing.”

Aragorn indicated his approval and they trailed after the Man who led them further down the corridor past his office and up a flight of stairs to the next floor. “Here, my lords,” the Warden said, fishing out a key from the ring on his belt and unlocking the first cell that they came to. “This is pretty much how all the cells look.”

They took turns glancing in, most only for a second or two, not really interested, but Glorfindel lingered by the door, his expression curious, his eyes missing nothing.

“Why are you even interested?” Erestor asked his friend as he stood next to him, glancing into the room.

Glorfindel gave him a wistful smile. “Just comparing it to my own cell,” he said.

Several eyebrows shot up. Erestor stared at his friend in disbelief. “Your own cell!? What do you mean? You were never a prisoner.”

Now the Elf-lord laughed and it was gay and unforced. “Indeed I was, for a whole month.”

Now they were all staring at him in shock. Elrond shook his head. “How long have I known you, Glorfindel, and only now I learn of this?”

The golden-haired ellon shrugged. “It never came up in conversation,” he said and there were several snorts of laughter from the others.

“Until now,” Aragorn said.

“Until now,” Glorfindel replied with a nod.

“So, how did you end up in prison?” Elladan asked.

“And where?” his twin added.

Glorfindel sighed. “It’s a long story. Perhaps some other time....”

“Oh no, my friend,” Celeborn said, giving him a stern look. “You’re not getting out of it that easily. Come. Let us find a place where we may relax and perhaps have some wine while you tell us this most fascinating tale.”

The others nodded. The Warden spoke then, somewhat hesitantly. “Perhaps my office?” he offered.

Aragorn smiled and clapped him on the shoulder. “An excellent suggestion, thank you.”

Thus, they all retreated back to the Warden’s office where additional chairs were brought in. Aragorn had one of the guards sent to the buttery for some wine and in a short time they were all settled, the Warden insisting that Glorfindel sit in his own chair.

“So, you were saying,” Aragorn said with a teasing smile on his lips as he sipped his wine.

Glorfindel scowled. “It was nothing really, just a slight miscalculation....”


“So, how does it feel?” Ecthelion asked, looking through the grille at his friend.

“How does what feel?” Glorfindel muttered, giving Ecthelion a scowl. He was sitting on the stone floor, his back against the wall opposite the door through which Ecthelion was looking, his arms around his knees. The room he was in was small, barely large enough to hold a cot and a clothespress which doubled as a table on which sat a single lamp, a pitcher of water and a wooden goblet and some small personal items. A chamber pot sat under the cot, though Glorfindel was allowed the use of a privy during the day so long as he was escorted by a guard. There was no window, for originally this had been a storage room which Turgon had ordered converted into a temporary prison cell, seeing as how there had been no need for one before this.

“Being locked up, of course,” Ecthelion replied, sounding somewhat exasperated.

Glorfindel stared at the Lord of the House of the Fountain for a moment and then gave him an evil grin. “Why don’t you come in and find out for yourself?” he said.

Ecthelion snorted. “Had I allowed you to talk me into joining you in your jest, I would probably be in the storeroom next to yours right now. I warned you, Glorfindel. I told you Turgon would not take kindly to you playing this particular jest on him.”

“Yes, yes, I know, and no doubt you will continue telling me so for the entire month that I’m stuck in here.”

“Me and every other visitor,” Ecthelion said with a short laugh.

Glorfindel scowled. “I told Turgon I would accept no visitors save you and him,” Glorfindel said, giving his friend another scowl. “Last thing I need is to have half of Gondolin trooping through here to gawk at the great Lord of the House of the Golden Flower behind bars.”

“Who’s taken over the lordship during this month?” Ecthelion asked.

“No one,” Glorfindel said with a shrug. “This is much the same as when we’ve been exiled from the city for a time. Gilmir will bring me any reports that I need to see and manage the household in the meantime.”

Ecthelion nodded. “Gilmir will keep things running smoothly while you’re here. He’s very capable.”

“Which is why I made him my steward shortly after taking over the lordship of the House,” Glorfindel said.

Ecthelion sighed then and shook his head. “This should never have happened, Glorfindel. You were a fool to follow through with your jest. I was as shocked as everyone else when I learned of it, for I thought that without me you would not dare to attempt it.”

“It would have worked if Idril had cooperated,” Glorfindel muttered, staring at his knees.

“Why would she have?” Ecthelion demanded in surprise. “You kidnapped her, after all.”

“But if she had agreed to it once I told her, things wouldn’t have turned out so badly.”

Ecthelion shook his head in disbelief. “Idril is her adar’s daughter, my friend. I’m surprised she didn’t pitch you over the Caragdûr.”

“Not for lack of trying, I assure you,” Glorfindel said.

“So what exactly happened?” Ecthelion asked. “I never did learn all the details, for I returned from patrol after the trial.”

Glorfindel gave him a sigh. “I made a slight miscalculation....”

“Slight miscalculation!?” Ecthelion exclaimed in disbelief.

Glorfindel cringed at his friend’s tone. “All right, maybe not so slight,” he acceded.

Ecthelion eyed his friend with narrowed brows. “So, what happened?” he repeated.

For a long moment, Glorfindel did not answer, staring at the floor. Finally, he looked up. “If you want to hear the story, you might as well get comfortable.”

Ecthelion nodded and turned to look at the guard standing nearby. “Open the door and then lock it after me,” he ordered and the guard complied. In the meantime, Glorfindel had risen to sit on the cot, pouring some water into the goblet. A quiet word from Ecthelion had the guard running to fetch another goblet for him and soon the two friends were sitting side-by-side on the cot, sipping their water.

“I had it all worked out,” Glorfindel said once the guard had locked the door and moved away to give them some privacy. “It was really quite simple, actually....”


The plan was simplicity itself, Glorfindel thought. Earlier that day he had gathered certain herbs to make a sleeping potion. In the years before Turgon spirited his people away to Gondolin, Glorfindel had had several occasions to be acquainted with such potions while being ministered to by the battle healers. Curiosity drove the young lord to ask the healers how such potions were made and how long a certain dosage would keep a person under. Now that knowledge would come in handy.

At some point during the evening meal he offered to refill Idril’s goblet, surreptitiously adding the potion to it. The wine was strong enough to mask any aftertaste from the potion. After a few minutes Idril confessed herself weary and excused herself from the gathering, taking one of her maids with her. Turgon had frowned with worry, but his daughter assured him that all was well, that she only felt tired and desired to sleep. Glorfindel, meanwhile, switched his empty goblet for hers when all eyes were on Turgon and Idril, then slipped away just long enough to rinse the goblet out, pouring wine into it and rejoining the others. An hour later, when Ecthelion desired to leave, for he would be going on patrol the next morning, Glorfindel went with him, saying he wished to take a walk before retiring. He walked with Ecthelion to the ellon’s house and bade him a good night, assuring him that he would see his friend off in the morning, which Ecthelion appreciated.

That was the easy part.

He returned to his own house and went to his study where he took out certain items that he had hidden in a secret drawer of his desk: a scrap of cloth, several strands of dark hair, and some rope that he had fashioned himself using fibers other than hithlain, for he did not wish for the rope to be seen too soon and the natural glow of hithlain-made rope would be visible in the dark. By this time the middle watch had settled in and he stole out again into the night, heading for the lowest section of the city. There, he made his way to the parapet, leaving the scrap of cloth and the hairs wedged into the stonework before swinging the rope to the outside of the wall, climbing down and deliberately making a boot print in the ground. He then reclimbed the wall, leaving the rope behind, sure that it would not be noticed by anyone strolling by while it was still dark. He then strolled along the parapet, idly singing. Twice he was stopped by the watch, identified and bade a good evening by the guards before moving on, eventually making his way down the wall and up to the king’s house. He avoided the guards and entered through one of the private gardens. There was a secret way from the garden that he knew of that would lead him to Idril’s room without being seen. Turgon had shown it to him and others whom he trusted implicitly, ‘just in case’. At the time Glorfindel had thought the secret passage a needless affectation, that Turgon was taking the concept of ‘hiddenness’ a bit too far. Now, though, it would serve his purpose well.

When he entered Idril’s room he found her soundly asleep. Even her eyes were closed. He carefully covered her from head to foot with a blanket and lifted her up over his shoulder. She never stirred. Then he retraced his route back down to the garden and out, using the twisting alleys to make his way back home, which was situated in the upper end of the third level of the city. He had made a point of making sure that none of his household were around at that hour and brought the elleth to his own room, laying her gently down on his bed.

So far, so good.

Connected to his rooms by a small sitting room was another suite of rooms that had originally been meant for the lady of his House, were he ever to wed, but it remained unoccupied by any elleth. He had sealed the door of the suite leading to the hallway, so that now one could only enter it through the sitting room, which, in fact, Glorfindel had converted into an armory. He went into the lady’s suite, which consisted of a front parlor, bedroom, bathing chamber and privy, lighting candles. He had made sure that all windows were sealed in such a way that Idril would not be able to escape through them, nor would any lights be seen from the outside. She would have to do with candlelight for the time he planned for her to be there.

Once the candles were lit, he returned to his own room and brought Idril to the other bedroom, slipping her between the covers and gently kissing her on the brow, as he had often done when she was an elfling. The strength of the sleeping potion would ensure that she would sleep until nearly midmorning, so he felt confident that he would be able to return from seeing Ecthelion off before she woke.

Indeed, it was nearly time to go, for Ecthelion would leave just before dawn. He made his way back to his own room, bolting the door to the lady’s suite, changed his clothes and made his way out of the house down to the main gate, where Ecthelion and his people were already gathered, readying their horses. Ecthelion looked up at his approach and smiled. They gave one another warm hugs in greeting.

“Stay out of trouble while I’m gone,” Ecthelion said.

Glorfindel laughed. “I’ll try, but I’ll be leaving soon myself,” he reminded his friend, for Glorfindel would be taking the southern patrol while Ecthelion was going north. The northern patrol was a longer route than the southern one so Glorfindel would not need to leave until three days later.

“I’ll meet you at Bad Uthwen, then, a week from today,” Ecthelion said.

“I’ll be there,” Glorfindel replied and then Ecthelion and his troop were away and Glorfindel went back to his house, ordering breakfast which he declared he wished to eat in his rooms as he had much to do to prepare for his own patrol. Such a request from the lord of the House was not unusual and the cooks thought nothing of it, but brought a tray laden with dishes to him in short order. Glorfindel, of course, had no intention of eating any of it, though he did steal a slice of bread to munch on as he brought the food into Idril’s suite and placed it on a table in the parlor, then went into the bedroom and sat beside the bed, waiting for the elleth to awaken, which she did about a half an hour later.

“Good morning,” Glorfindel said as he saw her stir and blink open her eyes.

Idril sat up quickly, clutching the covers around her, her eyes wide with shock as she took in the room which was not hers, finally looking at Glorfindel who sat there smiling.

“Where am I?” she said. “Why am I here? What are you doing here, Glorfindel?”

“Don’t be alarmed, Idril,” Glorfindel said soothingly. “No harm has come to you and you are safe. You are in my own house.”

Idril’s eyes narrowed. “And why am I here and how did I come to be here?”

“Ah... well, as to that, why don’t you freshen up first and I will explain over breakfast.” He quickly pointed out where the bathing chamber and privy were, explaining that unfortunately, he had no clothing fit for ellith, but he had provided her with some of his own tunics.

She eyed him with grave suspicion, but in the end went into the bathing chamber, closing the door decisively behind her, coming out about a half an hour later dressed in an ankle-length tunic of forest green. Glorfindel, meanwhile, had gone to the outer parlor and she joined him there, though she refused to eat, demanding an explanation instead.

“It’s a jest, Idril,” Glorfindel said. “I do not mean to keep you here for long, just long enough.”

“Long enough for what?” Idril asked.

“Long enough for Turgon to turn the city upside down in search of you.”

“And how is this supposed to be amusing?” the elleth demanded.

“Well, it won’t be amusing to anyone but me,” Glorfindel replied, “which is the whole point.”

She sat there for a long moment digesting what he had said before speaking. “And is Ecthelion a part of this?”

Glorfindel shook his head. “No. He wanted no part in this. Indeed, he told me I was insane to even think of it. That’s why I waited until he left for patrol, because he would have realized what had happened immediately.”

Now Idril’s eyes were blazing with fury. “And you expect me to go along with you in your madness?”

“Please, Idril,” he begged, “just for a little while. Soon it will be discovered that you are not in your rooms nor can you be found anywhere. I have no doubt Turgon will call upon me and others to scour the city for clues of your disappearance. I intend to lead them on a merry chase with a false trail already laid out.”

“You have odd tastes in entertainment, Glorfindel,” Idril said. “Don’t think I’m going to sit here meekly while you have your way in this.”

Glorfindel sighed. “I’m sorry. I had hoped you would agree to help me pull this off.”

“Perhaps if you had come to me first with the idea I might have done so,” Idril replied, “but as it is....”

There was a sudden flurry of footsteps running down the hall past the parlor and then pounding on the door to Glorfindel’s suite. Glorfindel smiled. “Ah... I suspect that’s Gilmir come to inform me that Turgon has called for me.” He stood, giving Idril a short bow. “Please make yourself at home, my lady. I will return when I can. Yell all you want. These walls are thick and none will come into this wing if I leave orders for them not to.”

Without giving her time to reply, he strode out of the room, locking it behind him, and then hurried to the door of his own parlor, opening it and effecting a disgruntled look. “Yes, Gilmir, what is it?” he demanded of his steward.

“Forgive the intrusion, lord,” Gilmir said, looking flustered. “The King has asked that you attend on him immediately. Something terrible has happened.”


“Lady Idril is missing,” the steward exclaimed and Glorfindel evinced a look of shock.

“I’ll leave immediately,” he said and, grabbing his cloak, he did just that, giving orders that the maids who usually cleaned his rooms were not to do so at this time. “For I am in the middle of cleaning my weapons,” he told Gilmir and the steward nodded. Whenever his lord was cleaning his weapons, no one entered his rooms. Glorfindel made his way quickly to the king’s house where he found all in chaos. Turgon was beside himself and ordered Glorfindel and several others to start searching for his daughter.

“Where could she have gone without anyone seeing her?” someone asked. “Could she have been taken by someone against her will?”

“Who would have taken her?” another chimed in. “Indeed, why would anyone do so?”

No one had any answers and then a guard approached Turgon announcing that the watch had found a spot on the lower wall where someone had apparently used a rope to leave the city undetected. “We found some strands of hair and a bit of cloth,” he said, handing the items to the king who looked at the strands and went pale. Glorfindel was right beside him.

“What is it?” he asked solicitously.

“Idril,” Turgon said stonily. “These are Idril’s.” Then he looked at the guard. “Show me where you found these.”

Thus, they all trooped down to the lower city and were shown where the rope was still dangling from the wall. Turgon eyed the evidence and stared out across the vale to the mountains in the distance. “If whoever took my daughter kept to a straight path they would come to Bad Uthwen.”

“Do they mean to take her out of the valley then?” someone asked. “How do they hope to pass the guards there?”

Turgon shook his head. “I do not know, but I plan to find out. The Valar help whoever has done this. If any harm comes to my daughter....” he left the threat unspoken.

Galdor, who was the Lord of the House of the Tree, then spoke. “I’ll send Legolas after them. He is the best scout we have and knows every leaf and stone in the valley.” Turgon nodded and they all went back up through the city, while Galdor went to find Legolas Greenleaf who was of his House. Glorfindel offered his own people to help in the search. Turgon agreed and so Glorfindel returned to his home and informed the household of what had happened, ordering his troops to join in the search. “I will remain here beside the King to give him comfort,” he told them and no one thought that odd, for all knew how close their lord was to the king and his daughter.

That effectively emptied his house for the most part. Pretending that he needed to arm himself, he retired to his own rooms and then made his way to where Idril was, unlocking the door and entering the parlor. He was just barely able to avoid the heavy tray that Idril was attempting to smash over his head as he did so and grabbed her before she was able to escape.

“Now, now,” he said jovially, “how unsporting, hiding behind the door like that.”

“Let me go, Glorfindel,” Idril yelled. “I promise I won’t let Ada hurt you too much.”

“Please, Idril, just one more hour,” he begged as he held her. “Just long enough for Legolas to reach Bad Uthwen and then I will let you go, if you promise to tell your adar that you were in on the jest.”

“Whyever would I do that?” she demanded, writhing in his embrace, trying to bite him.

“Because if you do, I’ll train you in swordfighting,” he replied. It was the one bribe he knew she would accept, for she had been pleading with both Turgon and Glorfindel to learn the art of the sword. Turgon had been reluctant to let her and Glorfindel had not attempted to dissuade him from his decision, but now....

Idril stopped her squirming, giving him a calculating look. “How will you convince Ada to let me train?” she asked.

He smiled. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I will use the excuse of this jest to point out the need for you to know how to defend yourself. Your ada will see the wisdom of my words.”

“You mean it?” she asked.

“Yes, but only if you promise to go along with this.”

Idril gave him a reluctant nod. “Very well,” she said.

He released her with a sigh of relief. “Then, let us seal our bargain with a kiss,” he said, opening his arms to her.

She smiled and went into his embrace. He never expected the knee in his groin. He gave a strangled gasp, clutching the spot where she had struck him, falling to his knees as she slipped out of his grasp. The pain of the tray smashing over his head was not as great as the pain in his groin but it effectively knocked him out....


“And then when I came to, it was to find Turgon standing over me with a wicked grin and Idril by his side, looking smug,” Glorfindel said with a rueful sigh as he finished his narrative.

Ecthelion shook his head. “Serves you right.”

“I really thought Idril would go along with it,” Glorfindel stated. “She promised....”

“Oaths to one’s captors are not binding,” Ecthelion said. “I would think you would have known this.”

“Well, I do now,” Glorfindel retorted with a snort.

“So, what happens next?” Ecthelion asked.

Glorfindel shrugged. “Nothing really. I’m in here for the next month, then Turgon has ordered me to start training Idril in swordfighting, as I had promised.”

“Hmm... so she gets what she’s always wanted out of this anyway,” Ecthelion commented with a smirk.

Glorfindel nodded, looking glum. Ecthelion patted him on the shoulder. “Cheer up,” he said. “Just think of all the mischief you can dream up while you’re in here.”

“Oh, I think I’m done with mischief for a long while,” Glorfindel said with great feeling.

“Pity,” Ecthelion said, feigning sorrow, “as I came up with a good jest while I was on patrol, but if you’re not interested....” He made to rise and Glorfindel pulled him back down onto the cot, his expression turning cunning.

“Tell me,” he said and Ecthelion smiled knowingly....


Aragorn and the others stared at the Elf-lord with expressions ranging from amazement to amusement as Glorfindel finished his tale.

“You never learn, do you?” Elrond said with a shake of his head, smiling wryly.

Glorfindel gave him a smirk. “What’s the fun of that? Besides, the jest that Ecthelion came up with was aimed at one of the minor lords who was an irritating bore and was constantly on both our nerves. Even Turgon laughed when he learned what we did to him after I was released from prison.”

“You said you made a slight miscalculation in this jest involving Idril,” Aragorn said. “Just what was it?”

Glorfindel gave him a jaundiced look. “Estel, were you not paying attention? The miscalculation was Idril herself. As Ecthelion pointed out, she was her adar’s daughter.”

“Ah...” Aragorn said with a nod.

“So what mad scheme did Ecthelion dream up?” Erestor asked. The others all nodded their heads, letting it be known that they, too, were interested in hearing about it.

Glorfindel gave a chuckle and began to describe what he and Ecthelion had done to a certain minor lord whom no one on Turgon’s council could stand. As he spun his tale, the laughter of the others was loud and long. The few prisoners and the many guards who heard it found themselves smiling for no particular reason.


All words are Sindarin.

Adar: Father. The hypocoristic form is Ada.

Caragdûr: The precipice on the north side of Amon Gwareth, which is the hill on which Gondolin was built. Eöl would be cast over it for the death of Turgon’s sister, Aredhel.

Ellon: Male Elf. The plural is ellyn.

Hithlain: Elvish rope, literally, ‘mist-thread’.

Elleth: Female Elf. The plural is ellith.

Bad Uthwen: Way of Escape.

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