When Legolas fears the Sea-longing may take him sooner than he’d hope,
Glorfindel offers a solution.
Glorfindel stepped outside
the guesthouse in the pre-dawn darkness and made his way along the silent
street to the ramp leading to the seventh level. He was not sure what
had induced him to leave his bed and come out when the city still slept
but he had long ago learned to trust his feelings. If there was a reason
for him being there, he did not doubt it would manifest itself in due
time. He had eschewed staying at the Citadel this time around, deciding
he wanted a little peace and quiet. Between Estel and Arwen’s growing
brood, now augmented by little Eldarion, and Elladan and Elrohir playing
the doting uncles, he needed the peace and quiet.
“Getting old, are we?”
Estel had quipped when Glorfindel had told him of his decision to stay
at a guesthouse. He had refused to justify that outrageous question
with an answer, but he had to chuckle at the thought. Perhaps he was
getting old... and weary.
He smiled to himself as he
reached the top of the ramp and made his way to the Fountain and the
White Tree. It had grown into a fine tree in the intervening years since
it’d been planted. As always, it was guarded. He gave the two guards
facing him a gracious nod in greeting as he went between them to greet
the Tree. Neither guard moved, not even their eyes; they may as well
have been statues. He hid a smile at the absurdity of Mortals feeling
a need to guard a tree, but his amusement fled at the thought of two
Trees that should have been guarded and were not.
Shaking off that morbid thought,
he bowed to this daughter of Nimloth, Gilthilion and Telperion and gave
it a silent greeting. The Tree answered with a gentle swaying of its
branches, though there was no early morning breeze as yet. It was while
he was greeting the Tree that he felt another presence. Turning from
the Tree he spied a dark figure standing at the prow of the great ship-keel
of stone that gave Minas Tirith, now renamed Minas Anor as of old, its
distinctive character. The figure was cloaked in Lothlórien grey and
looking over the ramparts, or rather, Glorfindel amended as he recognized
Prince Legolas, looking southward.
Moving with preternatural grace,
Glorfindel approached the younger Elf who stood still as the stone surrounding
them. “Thranduilion, what do you here? Wait you to greet Anor this
For a long moment Legolas did
not respond and when he did it was with a question of his own, spoken
barely above a whisper. “Do you ever feel it?”
“Feel what, child?” Glorfindel
retorted, though he suspected he knew to what Legolas was referring.
The elven prince finally turned
to look at him. “The Sea-longing. Have you ever felt it?”
Glorfindel gave him a sympathetic
shake of his head. “No, I never did, though I have met those who have.”
Legolas nodded as he looked
back over the rampart towards the south and the Sea. “I promised myself
I would stay for as long as Aragorn lived, but it’s hard, so very
hard at times not to give into it and make my way to the Grey Havens.”
Glorfindel sighed and took
a couple of steps toward the younger Elf. “It is a very dangerous
thing to love the Secondborn. It only leads to grief.”
Legolas gave him a puzzled
look. “Yet, you stay.”
“For Arwen’s sake, and
yes, for Estel’s, too. But my first duty is to the Elrondionnath.
I stay because they stay. When they are ready to leave, I will leave
“And if they decide never
Glorfindel smiled. “Oh, they’ll
leave all right. I’ll make sure of that.”
Legolas raised an eyebrow but
did not comment. Instead, he let his gaze drift southward again. “It’s
been fifteen years and yet....”
“You will be heading North
with us when Estel and Arwen go to Annúminas later this month.” It
was more a statement than a question, but Legolas nodded. “The time
spent there may help ease the longing. Sometimes I think you made a
mistake coming to live in Ithilien.”
Legolas gave him an elegant
shrug. “I fear no matter were I am I would always hear the song of
the Sea whispering in my mind, haunting my soul, calling to me. Perhaps
in Eriador the call will be weaker, but it will still be there.”
“What you need, then, is
another song to counter it, to ward your fae with it, a song that will
keep Lord Ulmo’s call from invading even your dreams, which is why
I suspect you are out here rather than in your bed sleeping.”
Legolas turned to him with
a skeptical look. “And what song do you suggest I sing to counter
“I said nothing about singing,
child,” Glorfindel retorted with a smile. “I said ‘ward’. What
you need is a Song of Power, or rather, a specific Song more ancient
even than the Sea.”
“And you just happen to know
“I know where to find it.”
Glorfindel pointed to Legolas’
chest. “Here,” he said.
“You speak in riddles, my
lord,” Legolas said coldly, giving the older Elf a scowl.
Glorfindel did not answer immediately.
By now the sky had brightened to blue and Anor would be rising above
the mountains soon. Somewhere a cock crowed and there was the sound
of a shutter being opened. He could see the elven prince’s face more
clearly now. Legolas’ expression was a conflicting mixture of doubt,
hope and longing that smote the older Elf’s heart. He gave the prince
a sympathetic smile.
“The city awakes,” he said
unnecessarily, even as four men in the livery of the Guard approached
those standing sentinel around the Tree, relieving them of their duty
and taking their places. “Come. Let us seek out Estel. There is something
I wish to ask him.”
“Let us first speak with
Estel,” Glorfindel said firmly, taking Legolas’ arm and leading
him toward the King’s House behind the Citadel. Legolas knew better
than to offer any more protest and allowed himself to be led away.
Aragorn stared at the Elf-lord
who was both friend and mentor. “You wish to do what and go where?”
he asked in disbelief.
“And the sooner, the better
for all concerned.”
“For how long?”
“Well, it’ll take us a
few days to do the construction and then how much time after that...”
Glorfindel shrugged. “However, do not change your plans for us. If
we’re not back before you are ready to leave for Arnor, go on without
us. We’ll catch up with you once we are done.”
Aragorn stole a glance at Legolas.
“And is Gimli going with you?”
“Valar, no!” Legolas exclaimed.
“This is something no Mortal
can know about,” Glorfindel said smoothly.
Aragorn raised an eyebrow and
gave them a sly smile. “So I assume I’m not invited.” Neither
Glorfindel nor Legolas deigned to answer that statement. “What if
I do not give you my permission? What then?”
“Would you truly deny me
or Legolas anything?” Glorfindel asked.
Aragorn’s eyes narrowed.
“I’m just wondering why you of all people are even bothering to
ask a lowly Mortal such as myself permission to do anything.”
“Never lowly, Estel,” Glorfindel
said in all seriousness. “And I ask because we are your guests. I
am only being polite.”
“I see,” Aragorn replied
with a skeptical look. “Well, you indeed have my permission, my lords.
I wish you well in your endeavors. I’ll have Faramir see that you
are supplied with all that you need.” With that, he gave them a brief
bow and left the two Elves staring after him.
“He’s angry,” Legolas
said with a sigh.
“He’ll get over it,”
Glorfindel said dismissively. “Come. We have much to do.” He began
walking away, never looking back, confident that the elven prince would
Faramir led the two Elves down
a short alley between the King’s House and the wall surrounding the
seventh level until they fronted a small carpenter’s workshop and
gestured them inside. “Here is all that you will need, my lords.”
“Thank you, Faramir,” Glorfindel
said graciously. “Now are you sure you can keep certain people occupied
while we work?” He gave the Mortal a sly grin.
Faramir laughed lightly. “Do
not worry, my lord. I will inundate his Majesty with so much paperwork
he’ll think it’s snowing.” — both Elves laughed —
“And I have Gimli happily consulting with our engineers on a bridge
project. I doubt he’ll come up for air anytime soon to wonder where
Legolas has gotten himself to.” He gave them an impish smile.
“That is well,” Glorfindel
“Then I will leave you to
your own tasks.” Faramir gave them a respectful bow and left.
Glorfindel looked around at
the neatly laid out workshop and nodded in satisfaction. “Let’s
“What exactly are we making,
again?” Legolas enquired as he followed Glorfindel to the worktable
where a number of planks of white spruce were laid out. Legolas eyed
them approvingly, for he could see they were well-seasoned and would
make excellent sound boards.
“Well, in Aman we called
them súrinandi. They were created by the Teleri. I suppose you would
call them gennil-e-hûl.”
“And what purpose do they
serve?” Legolas asked.
“Does something need to serve
a purpose to justify its existence?” Glorfindel asked mildly. “For
the Teleri they serve no purpose but to allow the wind to make music.
For us, though, there is a specific reason for their use, but that will
become clearer later. For now, let us just concentrate on making them.
We need three of different sizes, one about three feet long, another
twice as long and the third in between.”
With that, he began selecting
various pieces of the wood, sorting them out by length. “I’ll cut
them and you glue them together. Here is a sketch of what they should
look like. They’ll all follow the same pattern.”
Legolas glanced at the scrap
of parchment Glorfindel handed to him, and nodded. Moments later, the
two Elves were busily creating the first wind harp ever seen in Middle-earth.
It took them nearly three days
of working more or less straight through to finish all three harps that
looked like no harps Legolas had ever seen. Essentially each was a long
wooden box, including a sound board, with strings stretched lengthwise
across two bridges. Each harp had strings that were identical in thickness
but tuned to different pitches, with the strings of the largest harp
thicker than the strings of the smallest. In spite of their plainness
of design, or perhaps because of it, they were really quite beautiful.
Glorfindel ran a finger down
the length of one of the harps, smiling in contentment. “Now let us
wrap them carefully in these blankets Faramir so kindly gave us and
after we’ve rested for a time, we will leave. We can set out at dawn
Legolas nodded and bent down
to grab one of the blankets and began wrapping the smallest of the harps
Dawn saw them on their way.
Legolas was leading a donkey carefully loaded with the three harps and
their provisions while Glorfindel strode ahead. They walked in silence,
enjoying the newness of the day. Legolas had been glad to find out that
Gimli was still too busy with the bridge project to be importuning him
with awkward questions. In fact, the Dwarf was not even in the city
but in the South overlooking the construction. That had left only Aragorn
to deal with, but he had been busy with a delegation from Rhûn and
had barely spoken to them, except to assure them that the porter guarding
the Fen Hollin had been informed of their intent and would not impede
them. So now, having made their way along the Rath Dínen past the silent
tombs of Kings and Stewards, they were making their way to the High
Hallow that overlooked the city, the last resting place of Elendil the
Tall. It did not take them long to reach it and Legolas looked about
him with interest. The Hallow was essentially a wide oval place of level
turf, unfenced with the path at the southwest end. Before them was a
low mound and lying on the grass before it and yet unmarred by weed
or weather, was a black stone.
“This place has the virtue
of never being visited,” Glorfindel said quietly, “and this high
up it’s bound to be windier than in the city, especially at dawn or
dusk. We’ll set up camp here by the path. Let the donkey graze at
will. We’ll put the harps by the tomb.”
Legolas said nothing, but followed
Glorfindel’s directions. Soon the camp was in place though they made
no fire, for this was hallowed ground, at least to the Gondorians, and
the Elves respected that. Glorfindel then unwrapped the three harps,
picking up the largest one and instructing Legolas to bring the other
two. Together they headed for the mound and Legolas looked with curiosity
at the slab of black stone that reflected nothing. On its surface were
engraved three letters: lamba, ando, lamba.
“Elendil,” Glorfindel said
quietly, his expression momentarily sad and distant. Then he shook himself
and placed the harp upon the midpoint of the stone, directing Legolas
to place the other two at either end but on the grass before the stone.
“You will sit here between these three harps with your back to the
largest one,” he told the younger Elf.
“And this will do what exactly?”
“That remains to be seen,”
Glorfindel replied unhelpfully. “At the moment, there is little breeze
but eventually I suspect the wind will pick up again as it always does
around mountains. I would have you be already in position. Try to clear
your mind of extraneous thought, much as you might do before weaving
yourself a waking dream, but do not go that deep. Stay on the surface
and try to relax. You may be here for a while.”
This last was said with a wry
grin and Legolas snorted in amusement as he settled himself on the grass
with the small of his back touching the stone. Glorfindel had stepped
away, lowering himself gracefully upon the ground, facing Legolas who
still had questions.
“What is so special about
these particular harps, other than the fact that no one plays them but
“On the surface of things,
there is nothing intrinsically special about these harps. However, you
may recall that while you helped put the boxes together, only I strung
them, though I know you are quite capable of stringing harps.”
“I had noticed that and wondered
why you sent me off to find blankets to wrap them in,” admitted Legolas.
“Yes, well, it was best that
you weren’t present for that. While I strung the harps I imbued the
strings with some of my Power as I was taught to do by the Maiar.”
“Oh,” was the only thing
Legolas could think to say, and if he thought to say more, he forgot
for almost at that instant, the wind suddenly picked up and first one
and then the other of the harps began to vibrate, producing harmonics
that seemed to resonate through Legolas’ body. He stared at Glorfindel
in surprise, his eyes wide, while Glorfindel merely gave him an enigmatic
smile. Then the wind shifted and the harmonics changed slightly, becoming
deeper, blending into a single glorious chord that wrapped itself around
Legolas’ very soul and then....
Reality shifted in a way that
Legolas could never afterwards describe even to himself. The air shimmered
with incandescent light, a very rainbow of colors, some of which he
could not have put a name to. Glorfindel and the High Hallow disappeared
into the shimmering light but before he could respond to that, the light
shifted even more and he found himself... elsewhere.
Stars were all around him,
and he had the sensation of floating in nothingness, yet there was a
sense of others nearby, though he could not see them. And everywhere
was that one deep eternal chord and Legolas had the oddest feeling that
even the very stars around him resonated with it. Slowly, almost imperceptibly,
the chord changed, growing louder and deeper until it was almost painful,
an interminable pressure that crescendoed until suddenly there
was a flare of light and he cried out in shock and wonder as the light
coalesced into a dark globe floating serenely in the everlasting night.
Somehow he found himself standing
upon that globe on which nothing lived and watched with awe as mountains
rose up before him, spewing out fire and ash that touched him not. There
were quakes and deep rumblings that forced him to his knees and rains
came with a display of thunder and lightning the likes of which he had
never before experienced. Rivers flowed and the land which had been
bare rock now was covered with grasses. Trees, towering higher than
the mellyrn of Lothlórien, grew before his wondering eyes.
And all the time he could ‘hear’
the music that each thing made as it came into existence: mountain and
fire, water and wood, each but a single note of that First Chord, yet
blending harmoniously with it. But one song drew him more than the others
and without having consciously moved Legolas suddenly found himself
standing on the shore of a Sea, its dark waters shimmering with the
light of the stars, the surf pounding the black sand. He shuddered as
the Sea’s music took hold of him, bringing forth a deep ache within
him and he knew that he had not the strength to resist it, not anymore.
He felt rather than heard another
Song, slower and deeper than that of the Sea. He struggled to hear it
more clearly, somehow knowing this was needful. At first, all he could
hear was the incessant chatter of the waves endlessly calling out to
him, but underlying that was the other Song. But no. He suddenly realized
that he was hearing the Song, that which had brought forth all,
even the Sea. He struggled to hear it more clearly, listening with all
his being, hoping to capture it in the air around him, but it seemed
to elude him and he cried out in frustration. Then, he seemed to see
himself with Glorfindel standing together in the Court of the Fountain
and Glorfindel was pointing at him, at his heart, and he suddenly understood
what he needed to do. He looked deep within himself, listening, not
with his ears, but with his mind and heart and very soul and...
The chord that he had heard
in the beginning still resonated through everything: earth and fire,
wood and water... and himself. He could ‘hear’ that eternal chord
singing within him and as he listened, it seemed as if the sound of
it grew louder, crescendoing into an overwhelming wave of sound that
would surely drown him....
Legolas found himself staring
up into a cerulean blue sky, an eagle lazily floating on the air high
above him. He realized he was lying on the grassy turf of the High Hallow
and the wind had died down.
He turned his head to see Glorfindel
still sitting on the grass, a serene smile on his fair face.
“Wh-what happened?” Legolas
asked, struggling to sit up, feeling slightly disoriented, wondering
at the blanket that covered him and the other that had been placed beneath
his head as a pillow.
“You tell me, youngling,”
Glorfindel said, rising gracefully and giving Legolas a hand up.
Legolas stood, looking about
uncertainly, clutching the blanket. The wind had died down and the harps
were silent, or so he thought. He listened carefully and yes, there
was the song of the Sea, it had not gone away as he had hoped, and he
felt a sense of despair and defeat at first, but then, he listened more
closely, realizing that the Sea’s music was but a calm hum, for overshadowing
it was another Song, or rather Songs, for he recognized the music of
fire and air and wood and, yes, even earth, and their blended chords
eased the incessant ache within him.
He gazed on Glorfindel in wonder
and the older Elf smiled in satisfaction, nodding. “Let us go, then.”
He bent down to pick up the blanket that had been used as a pillow and
began wrapping the smallest of the harps with it.
Legolas looked up at the sky
and realized the sun’s position was all wrong. “How long....?”
“Two days and the night in
between,” came the surprising answer.
Legolas could only stand there
in disbelief even as Glorfindel was wrapping another harp. The older
Elf gave him a sly look. “So are you going to stand there all day
or can we leave? I’m sure Estel is wondering what happened to us.”
Legolas shook himself and silently
handed the blanket he’d been clutching to Glorfindel who then wrapped
the last harp. Together they carried them to the donkey and in a few
minutes they were packed and heading back down the path. This time Glorfindel
took the donkey’s lead, leaving Legolas to follow. The Sindarin prince
stopped and gazed around the Hallow one last time, closing his eyes
and listening. Yes, the Sea song was still there but so were the songs
of air and fire, wood and earth, especially earth, and he knew only
wonder at that. He also knew that as long as he held those other songs
within him, as long as he kept in mind the First Chord, Lord Ulmo’s
call would remain muted until it was time for him to heed it for real.
“Legolas!” he heard Glorfindel
calling from further down the path.
“Coming!” he cried out
and with a lighter heart he turned and made his way down the path towards
the city and his friends.
Words are Sindarin unless
The sons of Elrond, i.e. Elladan and Elrohir.
(Quenya) Plural of súrinandë:
Plural of gannel-e-hûl: wind harp.
1. The wind harp, also known
as an Aeolian harp (after the Greek god of winds) has been known since
ancient times. It is also called a spirit harp.
2. Lamba, ando, lamba:
L*ND*L, Elendil’s name without vowel marks which he used as a badge
and a device upon his shield, according to Tolkien [UT: Note 40 to ‘Cirion