Warnings: Nothing major.
Summary: They also serve who only stand and wait.
Notes: Thank you to Himring for a last-minute bit of help. Inspired by three challenges: Traditions, The Nature of Fear & Forbidden Lore.
Maglor knew his mind was shattered and had been for Ages. After Maedhros’ death he had flung the Silmaril into the ocean and fully intended to throw himself in as well. But Ulmo forced him back onto the beach, telling him that he was to wander the shores of the sea, to never return home and to always remember the past. No one would befriend him but none would harm him either.
He had been expecting that, he supposed. He should have known. But what made things even worse, he seemed unable to sing. Not that he couldn’t sing but when he tried, he could only hear the snaps and snarls that permeated what had been once the finest voice of the Noldor. Even instruments were denied him, for he could not play any instrument without having the scar in his hand blaze anew, causing him to fall to the ground in agony. His greatest source of comfort had become his greatest fear. Eventually he had managed to piece enough of his mind back together in order to survive.
Wandering the shores, Maglor often happened upon abandoned villages. He assumed that these were Elven villages, for they were clearly lived in yet he never saw any sign of inhabitants; only Elves could disappear so completely. The huts, boats and nets were in good repair, the cookfires were often banked yet it appeared that everyone in the village had just gotten up and walked away when they sensed his coming. Maglor imagined that his arrival had been expected and planned for since one hut always stood slightly apart from the others and in these huts he found a hot meal waiting, clean clothing and a soft warm bed.
He also knew that he was being watched – by the birds, for he could hear their cries overhead and by the smaller animals as well. He did see otters, for they seemed to have a particular interest in him and even more rarely, foxes if the moon happened to be just right. But for some reason he seldom looked out at the rocks. If he had, he might have noticed the unusually large groups of seals who gathered near those same abandoned villages.
Men, however, seemed not to see him, despite the fact their cities grew larger and more intrusive over milennia.
Elrond settled in at Gil-galad’s court at Lindon with relative ease. The High King made every effort to see that Elrond was happy in his new life, for Gil had been in much the same situation as a child. But like Gil, Elrond was happiest when he was able to study in the great library where Erestor held his own informal court. The dark elf fascinated Elrond, for he had never seen anyone with such glossy dark hair nor one who wore such unusual garments. Erestor’s robes and boots seemed made of oiled black leather but when Elrond had happened to brush his robe with his fingertips once, Erestor had shivered and pulled quickly away.
“Please don’t touch my robes, little one. The material is more delicate than it seems.”
“Of course, Erestor. It’s just that it is so different.”
“Yes, it is,” Erestor said with one of his quicksilver smiles before disappearing into the reference section, leaving a bewildered Elrond to stare after him.
“What do you know of Erestor, Gil?” Elrond asked later that night. He had stopped by his cousin’s rooms to see how their chess game was progressing. Right now it looked as if he might be in trouble, for Gil was a shrewd, ruthless opponent.
“Círdan referred him to me, saying he is a distant kinsman.” Gil was focused on the game and not too interested in conversation. There was enough of that through the day, Gil said and at night he preferred to relax and think.
“So he is Telerin, then?” Elrond questioned further. “But he looks more like one of the Noldor than Teleri.”
“Elrond…” Gil complained in an aggrieved tone. “Círdan recommended him; that is good enough for me.”
“But I – ” Elrond said, and then realized he was in danger of losing one of his Maiar if he didn’t pay closer attention to this game.
The night wore on, and the castle remained closed against the darkness. Most elves avoided walking the beach at night, fearing that the dark deeds at Alqualondë might yet be somehow seen or heard if they did.
Thus none saw as Erestor walked along the shoreline, singing quietly in a language that had rarely been heard since Cuiviénen. He paused for a moment, listened carefully, and then resumed his song. The moon shone brightly on the surface of the ocean, illuminating a path that led to the far horizon. If any had been there to look closely, they would have seen seals appearing in the moon-lit path, swimming toward the shore and then slowly walking forward to Erestor with news of the last son of Feanor.
Círdan had known him at once, for Círdan was one who had Awakened in Cuiviénen and only through chance had become known as the Shipwright.
“My Prince,” Círdan said with a deep bow. Only a handful of people knew the Teleri had later split into two branches, one becoming known as the Falmari. But even fewer knew was the Falmari had split further. One group married with followers of Ulmo: their offspring were known as the Seal People, or Selkies. “Have you come for a wife, Your Grace?”
“No, Uncle,” Erestor had replied, returning the bow. “I have come to live ashore for a time and serve the High King.”
Círdan had been puzzled by that, for Fingon lived far inland and it would be very difficult for one of the Selkies to live that far from the sea.
“But in the meantime, I will stay and help you here.” Erestor gave him a charming smile as he made his way onto the beach. “I trust you have need of someone who knows much sea lore.”
Erestor had settled in quickly and made himself at home in Círdan’s library, taking a special interest in the books and scrolls that focused on the Teleri. Before long, only Círdan realized that the dark elf had not lived at the Havens since its establishment. And it was Círdan who held the only copy of the history of the Selkies in his private study.
1. The title is from: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet
2. The summary is a quote from John Milton.
3. In the chess game, the Maiar are the equivalent of the Bishops.