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The three High Kings of Aman set out with their respective entourages the next day with Ingwë heading north and Arafinwë, along with Celeborn, Galadriel and Turgon, heading east. Eärendil offered to drop Olwë off at Alqualondë on his way back to Aewellond and Helyanwë went with him. Only Eönwë, returned from his mission, and Salmar were on hand to see them depart, offering them the Valar’s good wishes for safe journeys.
“We will see you in a month’s time,” Eönwë said as he escorted Ingwë through Eldamas while Salmar was escorting Arafinwë along the Rómenya Tëa to the eastern gate that was made of mithril and pearls.
Ingwë, being the closest to home, arrived before noon, joyfully greeted by the populace and his family. For the first time since the debacle with the Mortals and Daeron getting shot, Ingwë actually relaxed and smiled, glad to be back among his family and friends. Elindis, giving her husband a kiss in greeting, whispered in his ear a single word that sent frissons of delightful anticipation through him. She stepped back, giving him a coy smile that set his pulse racing and it was only stern discipline that kept him from throwing her over his shoulder and running to their bedroom right then and there. She laughed, having picked up the image through their bond, and he felt himself blushing for some reason.
“So, did you bring me anything?” Ingwion asked his atar, giving him a playful smile.
“No, I didn’t bring you anything,” Ingwë said with a laugh, which was echoed by the others who were on hand to greet the king. “I did bring some things for us all, though, and when I’ve had time to unpack I will share them with you.”
“Then, why don’t we get out of your way and let you at it, Atar,” Ingwion said. “I am sure you and Ammë have a lot of catching up to do.” He gave them a bright, knowing smile as he and his wife Olwen herded their children and grandchildren and the courtiers away, leaving Ingwë and Elindis alone with the ubiquitous servants and guards as they made their way to their private suite.
“So, what was it like?” Elindis asked as they went up the stairs.
“It was… frightening,” Ingwë admitted, speaking softly.
His wife gave him a startled look. “In what way?”
“In every way,” Ingwë answered. “Oh, my love, I do not know how they stand it, living among the Mortals as they do, yet most of them seemed genuinely happy.”
“Especially Glorfindel,” Ingwë corrected with much feeling as they entered their apartments. Elindis took a moment to direct the servants as to where to place the king’s luggage while the guards took their positions outside. A few moments later, the servants giving the royals their obeisance before leaving, Ingwë and Elindis were finally and completely alone.
“You seem upset at the notion that Glorfindel is happy,” Elindis said, picking up the conversation where it had been left off.
“No, of course not,” Ingwë protested as he poured some Aramalina, a yellow wine produced by the Teleri, into a couple of goblets for himself and Elindis before settling beside her on the settee that was their favorite spot. “At the same time, I must admit that I’d hope that he and the others would wish to return with us.”
“And none of them did.” Elindis made it more a statement than a question.
“Helyanwë did,” Ingwë said.
Elindis raised a delicate eyebrow. “Indeed? Well, I for one am glad.”
“Why?” Ingwë gave her a puzzled look.
“She just wasn’t the right person to go,” she replied. “Oh, I know Sador wanted someone from his family to be there if he could not at this time, but really, I think it would’ve been better if he’d sent someone else. Helyanwë’s younger brother, for instance. I can never remember his name.”
“Beren,” Ingwë supplied, giving his wife a smile, “who could not go because he was off exploring the eastern landmass with Falmaron, Vondo and the others of that expedition. Which reminds me. Have they returned, do you know?”
Elindis nodded. “Yes, actually. Word arrived just yesterday that their ship sailed into Avallónë, though I imagine they’ve since continued to Alqualondë.”
“Good. I will send a courier and have them come to me. I wish to hear what they have to say. As for Helyanwë, well, I am afraid she had some… issues.”
“Issues? What kind of issues?”
“It hardly matters now, my love,” Ingwë said with a shake of his head. “She is back home where she belongs. I just wish the others were too. You should know that Amarië, Elrond and Celebrían remained behind along with two ellyn who turned out to be the sons of a couple who once resided in Imladris with Elrond. I admit that I was not sanguine about allowing any of them to remain, but I have no authority to deny them and apparently the Valar granted them their permission to remain.”
“I think they are where they need to be, Ingwë,” Elindis said softly. “The Dagor Dagorath is not something that will be fought solely on Valinórean soil. The Mortals have a stake in its outcome as well. Those of our people who remain in Endórë are not there to enjoy themselves but to help organize the Mortals and ready them for the battle that is to come.”
Ingwë sighed. “Yes, I know, but—”
“No buts, my love,” Elindis said firmly as she drained her goblet and stood up. “Now, let us forget about all that for the nonce.” She leaned down and said seductively, “I feel a need to bathe in perfumed water with my husband. Would you happen to know where he might be?”
Ingwë gulped as his body responded to her words and the light scent of her jasmine perfume that filled his nostrils. “I think I know where he can be found,” he whispered hoarsely.
“Good. I’m so glad. Do tell him when you see him that I’ll be waiting, but best not to tarry or the… water will cool.” And with that she floated out of the room toward their bathing chamber. Ingwë sat for a couple of minutes, slowly and deliberately finishing off the wine in his goblet, giving Elindis the time she needed, before standing and unlacing his tunic, undressing as he went.
Arafinwë gave a sigh of relief as the towers of Tirion came into view. His daughter and son-in-law, riding on either side of him, gave him knowing smiles.
“Glad to be home, Atto?” Galadriel asked.
Arafinwë nodded. “Though, mind you, I did enjoy the holiday. I only wish your amillë could have come with us.”
“It was probably better that she hadn’t,” Celeborn said. “Endórë is still a dangerous place, as we saw.”
“Yes, though there was much beauty as well,” Arafinwë rejoined. “I could see that our friends were genuinely happy to be where they are and Findaráto appears to have integrated himself well in the short time that he’s been there.”
“I hope Amarië will be happy there,” Galadriel said as they rode through the western gate with the gate guards saluting them.
“She is with Finrod,” her husband said. “That’s all that matters with her.”
And then there were no more words, for they were now reaching the plaza fronting the palace and Eärwen and their other two sons were waiting for them along with Nolofinwë, his wife Anairë and their sons . There was small fanfare, for only the family had been informed of their imminent arrival and Arafinwë found that he preferred it that way. He kissed his wife chastely, for they were still in public, and gave his sons and nephews hugs. He clasped his brother’s arms in a warrior’s grip which was returned.
“I see you survived your time in the wilds, Brother,” Nolofinwë said with a laugh as they all entered the palace and headed for the royal wing.
“And wilds it was,” Arafinwë retorted. “If I hadn’t known better, I would’ve sworn that I was in the middle of Beleriand. Parts of the land reminded me of the area around Mithrim where we camped for a time as we pushed north towards Thangorodrim during the War.”
Nolofinwë, who had once ruled from Mithrim as Fingolfin, nodded in understanding. “Well, we’re glad you’re back and in one piece. So, did you bring me anything?” He flashed his younger brother and liege a knowing smile. Arafinwë laughed along with the others and threw an arm around his brother’s shoulders as they walked along.
“As a matter of fact, I did,” he said. “Wait until we’re alone, though.”
Nolofinwë gave him a searching look but finally nodded and changed the subject. “And did my son behave himself?”
“Atto!” Turgon exclaimed in embarrassment. “Please stop treating me as if I were still an elfling or newly released from Lórien.”
“Yes, my brother,” Arafinwë interjected before Nolofinwë could respond, “Turucáno behaved himself and we’re all very proud of him.” He gave his nephew a bright smile and a wink which seemed to mollify the ellon, who gave him a shy smile in return.
“And Glorfindel?” Nolofinwë asked, well aware of the byplay between his brother and son.
“Glorfindel has renewed his oath to me and continues to watch over my family,” Turgon answered before Arafinwë could. “I am glad that he is there for them. I fear that the future will prove difficult for them all.” He sounded much like the king he once was at that moment and Nolofinwë raised an eyebrow, giving Arafinwë a questioning look. Arafinwë just smiled.
“Well, when you’re rested and all, you’ll have to tell us all about your adventures,” Nolofinwë said, speaking to Turgon, though his eyes were on Arafinwë.
“Oh we can do better than that,” Arafinwë said as they entered the main sitting room where the royal family was wont to gather. “But first, if you will excuse me, I wish to spend some time with my wife. I will meet with you all in an hour—”
“Make that two hours, my love,” Eärwen interjected with a secretive smile. “We have much to… um… discuss.”
Arafinwë raised an eyebrow, taking in his wife’s suggestive look, while the others grinned widely.
“We can always meet in three hours,” Nolofinwë suggested slyly.
“No, no,” Arafinwë said, never taking his eyes off his wife. “Two hours should be plenty of time.”
“Come, Fingolfin,” Celeborn said in Sindarin. “Let us leave our lieges to their… um… discussion, while Galadriel and I tell you how it is in Ennorath. Do you think we can scare up some Carnimiru? I could wash the dust of travel from my mouth right about now.”
Nolofinwë nodded. “We will retire to my suite. You know where to find us when you’re ready, Brother.” With that, he and Anairë left along with the others, leaving Arafinwë and Eärwen alone at last.
Two hours later, freshly bathed and dressed, Arafinwë sent a page to inform his brother and Celeborn that he would see them in his office. They arrived quickly, settling in chairs before Arafinwë’s desk.
“So why do you wish to speak to me privately?” Nolofinwë asked. “What are you two up to?”
For an answer, Arafinwë pulled out some sheaves of thin paper of a kind Nolofinwë had never seen before and handed them to him. He took them somewhat gingerly. “What are these?”
“Open them up and see,” Arafinwë said.
Nolofinwë hesitated for a second or two before giving them a shrug and complying with the command. At first, he had no idea what he was seeing. There were drawings of things he did not recognize along with text he could not read, though he saw that the drawings were neatly labeled in tengwar.
“What am I looking at?” he finally asked.
“Schematics for making something called a ‘computer’,” Arafinwë replied. “An ellon named Gilvegil was kind enough to acquire the information for me along with other schematics for designing a power source and creating the necessary ‘software’ as it is called.”
“And what is this supposed to accomplish?” Nolofinwë asked, glancing through the pages, trying to make sense of them.
“We need to be connected with our friends and family in Endórë,” Arafinwë replied. “The Mortals have something called the ‘internet’ which can be accessed through ‘computers’ and other devices. They are able to communicate instantly across the globe. They can search out information from sources that are not always readily available otherwise. With the ‘internet’ we wouldn’t need to rely on the Valar’s benevolence in allowing their Maiar to relay messages between kingdoms.”
Nolofinwë looked up and caught his brother’s eyes, seeing something in them that made him blink. He glanced at Celeborn, sitting beside him. “And what do you think?”
“I think we should not tell Olwë,” Celeborn replied cryptically.
Arafinwë barked a laugh, which surprised Nolofinwë. “No, indeed not,” the High King of the Noldor said. “At least not until we know for sure it will work.”
“Yet how?” Nolofinwë asked.
“We need to speak with our smiths and other craftspeople,” Arafinwë answered. “We need to have them look at these schematics and see if they can create the necessary tools. Our technology is different from that utilized by the Mortals but I think it can be adapted. We need the connection, Brother. I do not wish to have to constantly rely on the Valar for everything. For now, though, I prefer to keep this between us. I have not even discussed this with Ingwë.” He gave his brother a piercing look and Nolofinwë recognized it and knew without a doubt that Arafinwë had ceased to be his younger brother and now spoke as his liege lord. “It’s time for the Noldor to fire up their secret forges once again.”
Nolofinwë could only stare at his brother in disbelief. “The Valar save us,” he whispered.
Celeborn chuckled, obviously enjoying seeing the usually cool and collected Fingolfin looking so flustered. “Not likely.”
Arafinwë merely smiled a cold smile.
Olwë tried to convince Eärendil to stay in Alqualondë for a day or two and visit, but the Mariner shook his head even as he was bringing Vingilot to the quay that had been specially built for it in the Haven. “Elwing awaits me,” he said, “and I do not wish to tarry. I’ll bring her down the week before the Council meeting and you can tell us all about your adventures.”
Olwë reluctantly agreed. “Then fair journey to you, child.”
Eärendil nodded his thanks, then glanced to where Helyanwë stood, looking somewhat forlorn. “I can detour to Tol Eressëa and drop you off there, my dear, if you wish.”
Helyanwë shook her head, not looking up. “Thank you, Lord Eärendil, but I wish to delay my meeting with my family for a few more days.”
Eärendil raised an eyebrow and gave Olwë an enquiring look. The Lindaran merely smiled, though it was somewhat brittle. “I will send word to Kortirion and have Sador come here. I think explanations will be easier to hear away from Gil-galad’s court.”
The Mariner just nodded and glanced around the harbor, admiring the swan ships. “Ah, I see that Falmaron has returned,” he said, pointing to a ship that was moored near the royal quay. “Now that’s a tale I would love to hear. Please tell Falmaron I want a copy of his report along with maps. If my own duties to the Valar did not take precedence I would gladly be on the next expedition.”
“As would I,” Olwë said with a laugh, “but you’ll get there before I do at any rate once the Valar authorize the aerial reconnaissance.”
“And as soon as they do, I’ll swing by and sneak you aboard,” Eärendil whispered conspiratorially, glancing about in a furtive manner as if fearing to be overheard. Helyanwë, as sunk into misery as she was, found herself giggling at the two Elf-lords acting like elflings planning a forbidden adventure and both Eärendil and Olwë grinned at the sound of it.
“Well, we’d best be on our way,” Olwë said briskly, nodding to his chief guard, Eäralato, who bowed to his liege and began bellowing orders to the servants and other guards and the unloading commenced while Olwë waited with Helyanwë. It did not take long, especially with dockworkers lending a hand and soon Vingilot was aloft again and sailing away.
“Why is no one here to greet you, Uncle?” Helyanwë asked confusedly, addressing Olwë with a term reserved for older male members of the various royal lines by anyone of a younger generation who was not directly related to them.
Olwë smiled benevolently at the child as they walked through the harbor with their entourage. “Because I told them not to bother. They’re most likely waiting impatiently for us in front of the palace since I have no doubt that they were alerted to our arrival even before Eärendil brought the ship into the harbor.”
All along the way, people stopped to greet the king with a degree of familiarity that frankly shocked Helyanwë, more used to the stricter protocol of Gil-galad’s court. She was further shocked when Olwë not only returned greetings but addressed some of the people by their names, yet it was obvious that these were commoners and not nobles of his court. Her musings were interrupted by their arrival at the palace where, true to Olwë’s prediction, his family awaited them, though Falmaron was not among them.
Lirillë, Olwë’s wife and queen, was the first to welcome them, giving Olwë a passionate kiss, patently ignoring everyone around them. Helyanwë noticed that rather than being shocked and offended by such a public display of emotion, those standing about the courtyard just grinned and not in any malicious or salacious way. Lindarion, Olwë’s oldest child and heir, and his wife, a sweet elleth named Teleperiën, who was the daughter of one of Olwë’s nobles, greeted her warmly, for she was well known to them.
“Your brother is here,” Teleperiën told her, giving her a hug. “They arrived last night and he’s fast asleep, but he’ll wake in time for dinner as always.”
Helyanwë chuckled, well aware of her younger brother Beren’s propensity for never missing a meal if he could possibly help it.
“You did not find Endórë to your liking, little one?” Lindarion asked gently, giving her a teasing smile.
Helyanwë sighed and then tears began to fall, much to everyone’s dismay. Olwë and Lirillë had since ceased kissing and Olwë was busy greeting his youngest son, Salmar, and his wife Faniel. Olwë had been hugging Faniel but now turned with a sigh. “Here we go again,” he muttered. Lirillë raised an eyebrow at his tone, then began ushering everyone back inside, taking the distraught Helyanwë with her.
“Come along, child, and you can tell me all about it.”
“And what about me?” Olwë demanded, sounding somewhat petulant, though those who knew him well could tell it was merely an act for Lirillë’s benefit. His wife stopped and turned, her face lit with a wicked look. “Oh, don’t worry, dear. I’ll get to you later.”
There was a sudden onslaught of coughs and fake sneezes as several people around them attempted to mask their sniggers. Olwë just sniffed. “You’d better,” he warned and was rewarded with whoops of laughter from his children and grandchildren as they made their way inside the palace.
Much later, when everyone gathered together for the nightmeal, Olwë regaled them with tales of his adventures in Endórë, telling them all about the wedding and the election and its aftermath and meeting the Elves who had remained behind in Arda Marred. Afterwards they gathered in the royal sitting room where Olwë showed them some items he had brought with him from his trip, including what turned out to be a photo album.
“The Mortals have discovered a means of capturing images with something they call a ‘camera’,” he told his appreciative audience. “Several people apparently took it upon themselves to take… um… ‘photographs’ and then placed them in this book. We each got one. Look! All the ‘photographs’ are neatly labeled. There’s Glorfindel and this is where most of them live. The house is known to the Mortals as Edhellond.”
“And these are Mortals?” Lirillë asked, pointing to one photograph of the wedding as she and the others poured over the album, softly exclaiming at what they saw.
“Yes,” Olwë said. “Let’s see. Oh! This is David Michaelson and his wife and children. David is their chief of police, rather like Eäralato as my captain of the guards, only his remit is for the entire town. He and his people help keep the peace and solve crimes that might be committed. Oh, and here are Nicole Lord and her children. They are special friends of Glorfindel.”
“They look so… different,” Falmaron said as he stared at the photographs. “They are not very lovely to look upon, are they?”
“By our standards?” Olwe asked, shaking his head. “No, of course not, but their fëar shine bright and they are as beloved of the Valar and Eru as we, perhaps more so, for their lives are so very short and they are beset by many ills that never touch us and yet they have the one thing we do not have, the one thing we need to have if we are to survive.”
Everyone gave him surprised looks. “What?” Lindarion asked. “What do they have that we do not?”
For an answer, Olwë flipped through the album until he found one particular photograph. He pointed to it and everyone leaned over to view it. It was a photograph of Glorfindel at the wedding surrounded by several children of various ages, one of whom could not have been more than two or three sitting on his lap. Glorfindel was laughing, apparently at something one of the children had said. The children themselves were wreathed in smiles and three little girls off to one side were even holding hands in a circle dancing.
“Children?” Lirillë asked, giving her husband a shrewd look.
Olwë shook his head. “Something more basic than that.” He stared down at the photograph, a fond smile as he remembered that day gracing his lips. He looked up to see everyone looking at him expectantly. “Hope,” he said. “The Mortals have hope.” He stabbed a finger at the photograph. “And there’s the proof. Each child you see here is a sign of hope, hope that there is a future, hope that Eru loves us and wishes us well, hope that tomorrow may be better or if not better than no worse, hope that Life is stronger than Death.”
He paused to look at his audience, his family, hanging onto every word. “The Mortals live in a perilous world fraught with dangers that we have long put behind us in the peace of the Blessed Realm,” he continued. “They have suffered greatly, and yet, they go on. Some would tell you, if you asked them, that in the end they have no choice in the matter, but they do. They could take the same route as we and allow despair and apathy to lead them to extinction, and they certainly have reasons to think that might be the wiser course, but they do not. Oh yes, there is much evil in the world and there are many who have joined with Evil to their destruction, but there is also much good and these people, these Mortals of Wiseman, for the most part, are on our side and are willing to fight with us, but we have to do our part.”
“And what is that, Uncle?” Helyanwë’s brother, Beren, asked. He and his sister had been quiet throughout the evening. Beren, when the two had been reunited, being ever perceptive of his sister’s moods and having been warned by Lirillë earlier, had simply whispered ‘I love you’ to her when they hugged and she had smiled tremulously, though to Olwë’s relief, she had not dissolved into tears again. Now, they sat together with the Telerin royal family, enjoying the company of those who were to some extent ‘family’.
Olwë gave the young ellon an approving look. “We need to find hope again. We need to regain estel and we start by encouraging the adding of children unto us.”
Everyone looked at him with various degrees of skepticism. “And will you and Ammë lead the way and give us another bundle of siblings to play with?” Lindarion asked with a quirk to his lips.
Everyone laughed. “No, my son. We’ll leave that to the younger generations.”
“Well most of them are not even bonded,” Lirillë pointed out. “Should we not encourage them to marry first?”
Olwë shrugged. “The Mortals don’t always bother when they wish to bring forth children,” he said and everyone gave him shocked looks.
“Well, as I see it,” Lindarion said after a moment or two, “our first task is to instill estel in our people, in all our people, and then hopefully, the rest will follow.”
“How do we do that though?” his wife, Teleperiën, asked.
“Well, I have an idea,” Olwë said before Lindarion could answer. He stood and went to a desk where he retrieved a manila envelope, opening it and drawing out a sonograph. “The Mortals have something called ‘ultrasound’ that allows them to see inside their bodies. Women who are pregnant have it done as a matter of routine to ensure that their child is well and they are able to tell what its gender is. This is a picture of triplets, though only two are clearly visible.”
“Triplets!” more than one person exclaimed as Olwë handed the picture to his wife who held it up to the light the better to see it.
“Twins are rare enough, but triplets!” she said. “No wonder Mortals are so prolific.”
“Oh, these are not Mortal children, my love,” Olwë said with a laugh. “These children are elven.”
“What?! You mean…”
Olwë nodded. “Eru has seen fit to add three children to the house of Amroth and Nimrodel, once of Laurenandë. I have it in mind to show this to our people, to show them that our kin in Endórë still cling to hope, still believe in a future. Elrohir Elrondion and Serindë have married and I do not doubt that in due time children will be added unto them. Our niece, Nielluin, has been betrothed to an ellon who was born in Endórë and has never known elven society. They too, in time, may add children to their house. And there are others. We need to show our people that not all is lost, that there is indeed hope in the world and in Eru’s love for us.”
He took the sonograph from Lirillë’s hands and held it up.
“This will show them the way.”
Words are Quenya:
Rómenya Tëa: Eastern Road.
Carnimiru: Red-wine, also known as Carnitirion or Tirion Red, a popluar wine produced from the Noldorin royal vineyards.
Lindaran: King of the Lindar, Olwë’s title. While non-canonical, it is based on the canonical titles Ingaran ‘High-king’ and Noldóran ‘King of the Noldor’, Ingwë’s and Arafinwë’s titles, respectively. When speaking only as King of the Vanyar, Ingwë’s title is Vanyaran, which is also non-canonical.
Laurenandë: An earlier form of Lothlórien, it means ‘Golden valley’.
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