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Sador and Alassiel, Helyanwë and Beren’s great-grandparents, arrived in Alqualondë a week later, after Olwë sent word to Sador requesting his presence. Both were naturally concerned and wondered why Olwë had summoned them specifically rather than Helyanwë’s parents, though in truth, that would have been impractical, since Castamirion and Rían were presently visiting their older son, Herendilion, who now resided in Vanyalondë.
Thus, when the couple arrived in the Swan Haven via Gil-galad’s own ship, Olwë was on hand to greet them as they stepped onto the quay.
“How is she?” Sador asked quietly as he and Olwë greeted one another with kisses as between old friends.
“Well, she’s stopped weeping at the drop of a hat,” Olwë answered ruefully as he gave Alassiel a hug and a kiss. “Beren’s been with her, talking to her, and I think that’s helped, but she obviously feels as if she’s let you down and fears your…um… wrath.”
Sador gave Olwë a shocked look. “Wrath? When has anyone seen me wrathful? Finrod, yes. Glorfindel, definitely. Even Alassiel, but me?”
Olwë and Alassiel both laughed at his affronted tone. “Come and see then,” was all Olwë said and with a nod to the guards, they set off for the palace.
Deciding to table any discussion of his great-granddaughter for the time being, Sador said, “Gil-galad told us about Ingwë calling an All-Aman Council. He was rather surprised and not a bit put out. Kept going on about the inconvenience of it all just as he was about to escape to his private haven away from the, and I’m quoting here, ‘damn orc-brained idiots whom I laughingly call my court’.” Sador flashed Olwë a wicked smile and the High King of the Teleri laughed while Alassiel snickered.
“That sounds like Ereinion,” Olwë said. “Well, he’ll have to postpone his escape until later, I’m afraid. This Council is of vital importance if we’re to survive as a race.”
Sador sobered at that. “That serious, is it?”
“Yes, it is, but we’ll discuss it later. Here are your grandchildren waiting to greet you.” Olwë gestured to where Helyanwë and Beren stood in the plaza before the palace. Beren had an arm around his sister, comforting her, for her expression was beyond bleak at the sight of them. Sador and Alassiel exchanged looks and his wife gave him an imperceptible nod before going straight to Beren while Sador went to Helyanwë.
“Beren! I’m so glad to see you, child,” Alassiel said, holding out her arms to her great-grandson. “I’m sorry we weren’t able to see you when you and Falmaron came into Avallónë, but we were visiting friends in Tavrobel and by the time we heard you’d already left for Alqualondë.”
“So we were told,” Beren said as he hugged his great-grandmother, giving her the winning smile that often had the ellith swooning at his feet, though he paid them little heed, being more interested in planning his next adventure with Falmaron, Vondo and Calaldundil who was his great-uncle and one of the best navigators known to Elda-kind.
Sador, meanwhile, was giving Helyanwë a hug. “Your parents are visiting Herendilion and his family else they would’ve come,” he said softly.
“I’m sorry,” Helyanwë said sorrowfully.
“Shh… do not fret, child,” Sador said gently, giving her a kiss on her forehead. “Now, why don’t we go inside and you can tell me all about it. Olwë, do you still have that Aramalina Reserve you’ve been hoarding like a dragon? I think this calls for something other than the swill you usually foist on us whenever we visit.”
Helyanwë and Beren both goggled at their great-grandfather’s tone and goggled even more when Olwë laughed as they all entered the palace and headed for the royal apartments with servants and guards trailing. “I’ll ask my steward where he’s hid it. Eällindo refuses to let me down in the wine cellars. He says I have no taste.”
Sador gave his old friend a smile. “You don’t, but Eällindo definitely does.”
“Is this any way to speak to the Lindaran?” Olwë asked, trying to look stern but the twinkle in his eyes gave him away.
“Of course,” Sador rejoined airily. “I’m only doing what Glorfindel told me to do before he left.”
“Oh?” Olwë gave the Sinda a skeptical look.
“Yes, he said, and I quote, ‘I’m relying on you to keep the royals humble as only you can, háno, since I won’t be here to do it myself.’ I promised him I would and I take my promises seriously.”
Olwë laughed. “And you’re doing a splendid job. I’m sure even Gil-galad appreciates your efforts.”
Sador snorted. “Gil-galad? Are you kidding? That Reborn terror on two legs puts the ‘nu’ in nucumë.” That statement set all of them laughing, for they were well familiar with the Reborn king who ruled Tol Eressëa. Sador continued, “I’ve never met anyone so humble in my life. He doesn’t take himself half as seriously as everyone else does and he’s the bane of his steward’s existence.”
“That steward being you, as I recall,” Olwë said with a knowing smile. “You two were definitely made for each other. I’m glad you agreed to remain in his court and help him integrate himself back into elven society. Ereinion has not had an easy time of it with all the strong personalities he has to deal with.”
“You mean Morcocáno and Galadhwen,” Sador retorted shrewdly.
“Not to mention Meril,” Alassiel interjected heatedly. “I swear that elleth is worse than all the others put together, though thank Eru Gildor is able to reign in her more outrageous enthusiasms.”
“Meril likes to stir the pot on purpose and then sit back and watch everyone else run around like brainless orcs,” Sador said. “Gil-galad says she’s a one-elleth army. He finds her highly amusing and likes to make bets as to which way people will react to her latest… um… schemes.”
“Meril is crafty and Gildor has my sympathies,” Olwë said.
“Gildor ignores her for the most part and spends his days writing poetry and wandering about the island,” Sador said. “Frankly, I’m surprised he stays on Tol Eressëa. I was sure he would hightail it to the Southern Reaches as soon as he could and spend his days with the Ranyari.”
“Meril won’t allow it,” Alassiel said with a smug smile. “She let him have his way once, but not again. Actually, I think he’s grateful to be sitting in one spot and he seems content to spend his days working in the gardens around Cormë Alalvëa. They’ve become a wonder under his careful management and people come from all over the island to consult with him.”
By now, they had reached the royal sitting room where Lirillë and the rest of the family waited to greet them and they spent time catching up on each other’s news. Olwë ordered the Aramalina Reserve to be decanted and for a time all worries of the past and the future were put aside as they visited, the room filled with laughter and love. Even Helyanwë relaxed long enough to enjoy her great-grandparents’ presence and the wine.
Later, Sador invited Helyanwë to join him for a talk. She did so reluctantly, but Alassiel gave her a kiss and an encouraging smile. “You have nothing to fear from us, child. We love you.”
To Helyanwë’s surprise, her great-grandfather, whom she was wont to call ‘Daerada’, led her away from the palace and along one of the major canals to where a celmavenë painted a lovely shade of green awaited them. Apparently Sador, or possibly Olwë, had made previous arrangements, for he greeted the luntequen politely as he helped Helyanwë into the boat. Once they were settled, the boatman shoved off and began to pole them into the canal.
For a time, the two just sat and admired the city as they floated along. Finally, though, Sador looked at the elleth sitting next to him and brushed a loving hand through her hair. “Do you want to tell me?” he asked quietly.
“I failed you, Daerada,” Helyanwë said with a hitch in her voice.
“In what way did you fail me, child?” Sador asked.
“I couldn’t… I couldn’t stay… not after what I did.”
“And what did you do? Hush now, no tears, child,” he said, giving her a hug as she began to quietly weep. “Tell me. Take your time. I’ve hired the boat for the next hour and I can just have him take us around the city again if necessary.”
In spite of her tears, Helyanwë smiled. “I think it will take more than two trips around the city to tell all.”
Sador just smiled, giving her a hug. “Then our friend behind us will be well paid.” He looked back at the boatman competently poling the boat along and exchanged a smile with the ellon before turning back to his great-granddaughter. “Now, just start from the beginning and leave nothing out.”
Helyanwë sighed and after a moment began hesitantly telling her Daeradar everything that had happened: meeting with her first Mortals, the confusing sights and sounds of a modern town, even one as remote as Wiseman, the kidnapping and subsequent court, the holidays and the impromptu court held by the mortal judge when Glorfindel had attacked Finrod, her growing feelings for Glorfindel and his for her, the words that had been spoken between them that led to his mugging and all that followed from that…
“And then, the kings showed up, along with Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn, and I was suddenly homesick and no longer wanted to remain,” she ended mournfully. During her narrative, the boat had indeed made a circuit of the city and they were on their second lap around.
Sador had listened without interrupting her, save to ask a clarifying question or two. His heart went out to this child who had left so bright-eyed and eager for new experiences, following in the footsteps of her two brothers, one an explorer, the other a diplomat. He had thought the experience would do her good and even hoped that she would find happiness and a purpose in her life. Now all that was over, or so it seemed to her, though Sador had his doubts.
“You did not believe Glorfindel truly forgave you for what you said to him,” he said, making it a statement rather than a question.
Helyanwë shook her head. “I wanted to believe it, and I think he did, but, no. Every time I looked at him all I could think of was that he almost died because of me, that I drove him away with my words.”
“Words that you still believe to be true,” Sador persisted, hoping to reach the root of the child’s problem.
She gave him a slightly puzzled look. “I suppose I do,” she said pensively. “I guess I just couldn’t get past the fact that Glorfindel isn’t Findaráto’s equal.”
Sador actually laughed. “No one is, my dear, not even me. Findaráto is in a class all his own, as is Glorfindel.”
“You are a prince!” Helyanwë protested.
“I am a potter,” Sador corrected. “Gil-galad gave me the title of prince because he needed me to stay with him, else I would have happily left Tol Eressëa and returned to Tirion or gone to the Southern Reaches.”
“I have to wonder how Glorfindel would fare in Gil-galad’s court,” Helyanwë mused. “I doubt he would survive the protocol.”
“Good lord, child! Do you not know your history?” Sador exclaimed in shocked amazement. “Glorfindel lived in Lindon for over four hundred years and knew Gil-galad intimately. They’re old friends. According to Gil-galad, the two of them would go off with Elrond and spend a week fishing off one of Círdan’s smaller boats built for that purpose or hike in the Ered Luin. I do not understand where you acquired such snobbishness, certainly not from Gil-galad, who is likely to sneak out of Kortirion on occasion to spend an evening at Cormë Alalvëa getting uproariously drunk with Gildor Inglorion while they play chess, the two of them thick as thieves plotting mischief. Glorfindel would fit right in.”
Helyanwë blushed slightly at the reprimand.
“Well, the damage is done, so to speak,” Sador said after a moment, sighing slightly. “I am sorry it did not turn out well for you, child. I suppose it was asking too much for you and for that I ask your forgiveness.”
“My forgiveness?” Helyanwë exclaimed in surprise. “Why my forgiveness? You did nothing wrong. I am the one who made a mess of things and now everyone will laugh at me and whisper behind my back about what a failure I am.” Her tone was bitter.
“Let them,” Sador said, “but we who are your family, who know you, know the truth and the truth is that we love you and only wish you well. If anyone messed up, it was I. I should have just told Gil-galad to find someone else to be his steward because I was going to join my brothers in Endórë. I should have gone, not you.”
“What about Daernana?” Helyanwë asked. “Would you have left her behind?”
“Oh we talked about it,” Sador admitted, “and Alassiel would have gladly come with me if Gil-galad had allowed it. Well, water under the bridge because it didn’t happen that way. Helyanwë, what happened, happened. Nothing you do or say will change it. You’re here and not there and whatever happens next is no longer your concern, however, you still have a role to play in all this if you wish.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, you spent six months in Wiseman, watching the Mortals and our friends. You have a unique opportunity to be able to speak authoritatively about the conditions there, what the Mortals of this age are like, good, bad or indifferent, and how our kin interact with them and to what extent. This is information that not even the kings really have for they were only there for a short period. If you can put aside your own… prejudices and view your experience in an objective manner, you can be of tremendous help to me and to Gil-galad, indeed to all of us. You know about the All-Aman Council that Ingwë is calling.”
“Well, Gil-galad has to attend as a matter of course and I told him in no uncertain terms that I would be going with him, but I think you should be part of our entourage, if you are willing.”
“Me? Why me?”
“For the reasons I stated. We need your intelligence. We need to know what is happening in Endórë and unless and until we can communicate directly with our people there, you are our one source of information, information that will not come from any of the Valar.”
“You don’t trust the Valar to tell you the truth?” Helyanwë asked in disbelief.
“I didn’t say that. I said that you were a source outside of the Valar. So, are you willing to help me, help all of us to know the truth of the matter as it stands now? I’ll understand if you feel you’re not—”
“I’ll do it! That is, if you’re sure you want someone like me around.”
Sador gave her a tight hug and kissed her gently on the temple. “Oh child, I can’t think of anyone else I would rather have.” He looked about and recognizing where they were, said, “I think we’ve seen enough of the city, don’t you?”
Helyanwë actually giggled. “We haven’t even looked as we’ve been too busy talking.”
“Well, in that case…” Sador turned to look at the boatman, giving him a brilliant smile. “Once more around, if you please. This time we promise to actually take in the view.”
The boatman’s silvery laughter floated across the water. “In that case, good sir and lady, permit me to entertain you with song.” And with a nod from Sador, the ellon began to sing a popular sea chanty in praise of Lord Ulmo known even to the citizens of Tol Eressëa. Sador put an arm around his great-granddaughter’s shoulders and together they joined in the chorus as they boated around the city a third time.
“So everything settled with Helyanwë?” Olwë asked Sador when the two of them had retired to Olwë’s study the next morning after breakfast. “She seems to be in a better mood.”
Sador nodded. “Once she realized that Alassiel and I still love her in spite of what happened, I think she calmed down a bit. I’ve convinced her to join us as an advisor of all things pertaining to Endórë when Gil-galad and I attend the All-Aman Council.”
Olwë raised an eyebrow. “Speaking of which, how do you think it should be handled?”
“Depends on what the goal of the council is, I suppose.”
“The goal is to motivate our people, to begin bringing back estel into our lives,” Olwë replied. “Have you seen the picture of the triplets yet?”
Sador grinned. “Oh yes. Lirillë showed it to us and Alassiel got all maternal and began talking about babies with your wife. If we’re not careful, you and I will both end up being atari again.”
“As the Mortals are wont to say, ‘when hell freezes over!’” Olwë exclaimed.
“A place of punishment where people go after death if they have been less than sterling in their behavior while alive from what I understand.”
“How odd,” Sador stated and then shrugged, not interested in Mortal theology. “At any rate, to answer your original question, I need to talk with Gil-galad first and I want him to hear what my great-granddaughter has to say about Endórë and the conditions there.”
“Will she be able to give an unprejudiced report, do you think?”
Sador nodded. “I warned her that her personal feelings are not to be factored in. She must speak objectively and without emotion. I am sure she will be able to do so. She’s been trained as a courier, after all, and you know they are taught to divorce themselves from the message they are relaying.”
Olwë nodded. “Then perhaps she will prove of use to us after all. She lived there long enough, I think, to be able to give us details neither I nor anyone else who accompanied us to the wedding would be able to speak on, though we obviously have our own impressions and these we will share with everyone else.”
“Well, if you have any questions you would like to ask Helyanwë, now is the time to do it.”
“When do you return to Kortirion?”
“We’ll be here for another week,” Sador answered.
Olwë nodded. “Then, with your permission, I would like to have Helyanwë attend my next privy council meeting to answer whatever questions I and my people might have.”
“I will let her know. I assume I’m invited as well.” Sador gave his friend an imperious look that did not fool either one of them.
Olwë sighed. “Well, if you insist, but only if you behave yourself.”
“And when have you ever known me not to behave myself, Olwë?”
“That’s a trick question, right?” Olwë quipped and then the both of them were laughing.
Words are Quenya unless otherwise noted:
Nucumë: Humility, derived from the verbal stem nucum- ‘to humble, humiliate’, which is supposed from the attested adjective or past participle, nucumna.
Ranyari: Plural of ranyar: Wanderer [ranya- ‘wander, stray’ + -r (agental suffix)], i.e. the Wandering Companies, one of which Frodo, Sam and Pippin encountered that was headed by Gildor Inglorion.
Cormë Alalvëa: ‘Garth of Many Elms’, the name of Meril and Gildor’s estate outside Kortirion.
Daerada: (Sindarin) Hypocoristic form of daeradar: Grandfather, literally, ‘great-father’. The word is unattested (though the elements making up the word are) and it’s considered neo-Sindarin. The (neo)Quenya equivalent is anatar.
Celmavenë: Small canal boat [celma ‘channel, canal’ + venë ‘small boat, vessel, dish’.
Luntequen: Boatman, cf. the attested word ciryaquen ‘shipman, sailor’.
Daernana: (Sindarin) Hypocoristic form of daernaneth: Grandmother.
Atari: Plural of atar: Father.
Notes on original characters from previous stories mentioned but not met in this chapter:
1. Vondo (Vorondil) Herendilion is the reborn brother of Aldundil, the father of Vorondil (see next entry); he first appears in Elf, Interrupted: Book Two and later in A Long-Expected Wedding.
2. Calaldundil, son of Vorondil Aldundilion and Marilla, appears as an elfling in The Last Messenger: A Tale of Númenor. He is the older brother of Laurendilion, who is married to Ninniach Sadoriel, daughter of Sador and Alassiel. Ninniach’s son, Castamirion, is married to Rían and they are the parents of Herendilion, Helyanwë and Beren.
3. Morcocáno is a Noldorin Returnee, residing in Avallónë. He appears in Elf, Interrupted: Book Two and makes a cameo appearance in In Darkness Bound.
4. Galadhwen is a Sinda who Sailed and now resides in Kortirion on Tol Eressëa. She appears in Elf, Interrupted: Book Two.
5. Meril of Cormë Alalvëa is a Noldorin Returnee who is the (non-canonical) wife of Gildor Inglorion. She appears in Elf, Interrupted: Book Two and A Long-Expected Wedding. She originally appears as Meril-i-Turinqi ‘of the blood of Inwë [Ingwë]’ in the Book of Lost Tales 1.
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