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Narya
10/21/18 12:08 am
She does sound like a force of nature.
Spiced Wine
10/20/18 10:32 pm
Oh, bless her, she sounds like an amazing person.
Ysilme
10/20/18 01:24 pm
until the end, still driving herself, living independently, going to choir practice and her church groups. It was sad to lose her, of course, but TBH it sounds like a good way to go.
Ysilme
10/20/18 01:23 pm
my MIL's birthday, so we're spending most of the day with her. I'm also just back from the funeral of a member of our choir where we sang. She had a stroke at 92 but hat been fit and activ
Ysilme
10/20/18 01:21 pm
I hope your brother arrives safe and sound, Spiced, and you have a lovely time together! I'm busy catching up with housework before going back up the ladder for painting, and tomorrow it's m
Spiced Wine
10/20/18 12:13 pm
That sounds lovely :) Yes, same with my family, now, Narya, all over the place here and abroad
Narya
10/19/18 10:36 pm
I'm going to try and get out in the country for a nice walk - maybe Ingleton or Aysgarth, to see the waterfalls.
Narya
10/19/18 10:36 pm
Sounds lovely, Spiced. I miss my family like crazy, we're all scattered to the four winds these days. Hope he gets here safe.
Spiced Wine
10/19/18 10:04 pm
My brother’s over from Spain for a couple of days so I’ll be seeing him. If he ever gets here! Flight delayed by storms in Spain!
Spiced Wine
10/19/18 10:03 pm
I hope you’re able to relax, Narya, after a busy week.
Shout Archive


I Will Wait by lotrfan

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I Will Wait
For the SWG April/May A Woman's Sceptre Challenge.
Prompt:
“Some say cavalry and other claim infantry or a fleet of long oars is the supreme sight on the black earth. I say it is the one you love.” Sappho.

Turgon, in the Halls of Mandos
The last thing Turgon remembers is the sound of voices raised in fear and a thundering, rumbling cataclysm. Then darkness. And silence.
The darkness still surrounds him. He tries to open his eyes but no sensation comes to him; the darkness persists. He tries to move but again there is no feeling of limbs or body.

He wonders if he is unconscious and slowly returning to himself. But that would not explain the silence. There is no question in his mind that Gondolin fell. Turgon saw the sack with his own eyes, those remaining falling back to the Tower with him as the city burned around them.

If he has survived and is a captive of the enemy the circumstances are far too quiet and much too serene. His ever-logical, orderly mind catalogues the possibilities rapidly, realizing the only viable reality is that he is dead, a denizen of the Halls of Mandos now—formless, a naked fëa, no more than that.

He can tell no passage of time but gradually he realizes the gloom around him is fading. Black shifts to gray, gray to almost white. It reminds him of that first sunrise, so long ago, following their journey across the Helcaraxë—the slow brightening on the horizon dispelling the darkness that had followed them for so long.

But this isn’t like a sunrise. It is brighter but now images are starting to appear, like figures emerging from the fog.

He assumes he cannot feel pain but something very much like pain ripples through him as the visions coalesce around him and he sees the brilliance of the Two Trees and the Tirion of his past.

He would weep if he had eyes. His mother, father, Fingon—from so long ago, when he was still a child. He aches at the sight of them, the beauty and the safety of that time so distant now.

He had taken it all for granted, not knowing what the Exile would truly mean.

Time has no meaning here, he realizes. These images are his memories; with so many it is almost like living his lifetime again, as they flash past him with an immediacy he does not expect.

Aredhel. Argon. Young, carefree, laughing as they chase after him.

It hurt. How could anything still hurt when he is dead? He can’t look away---there is no way to close eyes he does not have anymore and make the images stop.

They keep coming, moments from his past returning to him, ones he scarcely remembers and some he has sealed away as too painful to recall.

His first glimpse of Elenwë sears through him. They had met when he had accompanied his father to Taniquetil. He can see her brilliant hair, her dazzling blue eyes, as her father introduces her.

He can’t do this. It has to stop. He can’t face seeing her like this again when she is gone from him. The visions of their early courtship burn.

The images slowly fade, retreating into the mist as the low light surrounds him again.

A soothing coolness envelops him and a woman’s voice whispers.

“Turukano. You are strong enough to do this.”

It is not a voice he knows but he lets the words wash over him. Strong enough to do what, he wonders.

The voice comes again. “You must relive the past if you are to have a future.”

He would shudder if he still had a body. Relive the past? There is so much that had been hard enough the first time. How can he go through it all again?

Elenwë, Argon, his father, Aredhel, Fingon.

This is his punishment then. For Alqualondë. For leaving his family to hide in the valley of Tumladen to live out his dream of recreating Tirion in Beleriand. For Aredhel. For coming too late to help Fingon.

Maybe he doesn’t deserve a future. Perhaps he can just stay here, houseless and formless, until the end of the world. That would be far easier than reliving this life of his.

The name “Elenwë” drifts into his consciousness. Is there a chance he can be reunited with her?

He can endure anything if it means he can see her once more.

_________________________________________

There is no marking of time in the Halls of Mandos, where he surely is. There are times he is in darkness, with only his memories keeping him company, while at other moments the images surround him and he relives his life in agonizing detail.

When the pain of those memories becomes too overwhelming the soothing voice comes again and the visions fade to the blackness he finds more comforting now.

The voice has to be Vairë’s, he decides. It is unfamiliar to him and Vairë is the one who weaves the memories of Arda into her tapestries. She must be bringing the visions to him.

He wonders why. Do all the dead have to relive their lives in excruciating detail before they are deemed worthy to return?

It must be Namo’s judgement, who leaves these halls and who remains. The memories can’t be enough. There must be something more required, to earn the privilege.

But Namo does not come so Turgon must not be worthy.

Scenes from Tirion fade to black as he sees the light of the Trees falter again, almost more distressing than the first time since he knows the cause this time.

It all comes back. Fëanor. The Silmarils. An Oath taken by his uncle and cousins in the flickering torchlight. The trek to Alqualondë. The fleet of swanships, gleaming in the light of their torches, far less beautiful than he recalled them as he thinks of the blood shed for them.

He craves the darkness as the slaughter on the shore fills his vision, the sounds and smells surrounding him again.

______________________________________________

The bitter cold of the Helcaraxë. He wishes to never feel that sharp, frigid air again. It had tainted his dreams up until the end. Dreams where he heard the ominous, snapping crack of the ice and watched Elenwë thrusting Itarillë into his frantic grasp before she disappeared under the unforgiving brutality of the ice itself.

He has seen it time and again in his nightmares but is makes it no easier to visualize this time.

Is she here, he wonders or has she escaped the Halls to return to the warmth and safety of Taniquetil, returned to the family that never wanted her to leave in the first place.

Does he want to return to the world of the living if she is not there? That is easy to answer: better to stay here, where she lingers than face eternity without her.

Mithrim. Barad Eithel. Nevrast. Vinyamar. Gondolin. The lands he had lived in bring their own reminiscences.

He recalls the ranks of cavalry under his command at the Dagor Aglareb. The gleaming armor, bright pennants, the restless horses pawing at the dirt below.

It had all seemed possible then. They had thought there was a chance to defeat Morgoth. A delusion that was shattered by the Dagor Bragollach—the realization that had brought his father to despair.

He has buried these feelings for many long years, since Fingolfin’s broken body was brought to him by the eagle. He had sublimated the guilt of abandoning his father—he focused on the safety of his people but now so far removed from that time, the knife-sharp grief ravages him.

He watches the eagle arrive, feels the weight of his father’s broken, blood-stained body as he carries him down to his final resting place. It is too much. Far too much. The darkness comes around him and he wishes it would never leave this time.

_____________________________________________________

So many mistakes. How had he misjudged so many times?

He should have let her go, doubled her guard, given her the freedom she so craved. She had never wanted to hide. He played on her love of Itarillë and somehow she had agreed to leave with him.

It would have been better for her to have lingered in the lands of the sons of Fëanor, far better than the fate that befell her.

He watches her toss her dark hair, hears her words to him, wants to stifle his replies, make himself reach out and hold her. Let her know he understands how caged she feels, how trapped, despite the beauty of this place. Understands now that the walls that made him feel secure weighed her down.

But the images keep passing by. The coming of Eol. The bitter end to all her hopes and dreams.

Is she here? Father? Fingon? Are they crushed under the weight of might-have-beens and paths not taken, as he is?

He knows what is coming—the Union of Maedhros. His disciplined Gondolin infantry marching in secret to join his brother, their spears sparkling in the morning light, their orderly ranks an unlooked-for hope, raising such a roar from Fingon when he sees them.

“Utilie’n aure! Aiya Eldalië ar Atanari, utulie’n aure!”

Even now his brother’s words break his heart, knowing Fingon’s end is near and that they will never see each other in life again.

Fingon. His valiant, reckless, joyous brother. How had he left him for so long, abandoned him to rule alone over their people, with none but the sons of Fëanor to support him?

Alone all those years in Barad Eithel. Alone at the end as well, crushed and burned under the maces of the Balrogs. Gondolin seems a selfish dream, paid in the blood of his family, as he thinks of it now.

The battle images still rage around him, the forces of Morgoth overpowering them. He watches his decimated infantry return to Gondolin, proclaiming him the High King of the Noldor—a title he does not want. The price has been far too high.

He can feel Itarille’s arms around him, her tears of relief at his return drenching his sleeve. He buries his face in her hair—Elenwë’s golden tresses—and remembers. Remembers it had all been for her—the safety and the isolation—all for her.

To no avail. Evil still found them, even in the hidden valley. He had understood his father then, in those moments of despair, falling back to the Tower, the city in flames all around him.

He had thrown his crown aside, cursing Morgoth with his last breath, understanding that even here, in hiding, he could never escape the Doom.

He hears the rumbling again now, sees the stones quake and shatter around him and then he is back in the utter darkness, the silence washing over him.

He sees the paths then, each choice in his life branching off, each decision bringing a different set of circumstances, a different end, each trail splitting into more and more and more.

He had done what he thought best at the time. Reliving the memories has reinforced some choices while others bring him nothing but regret.

He cannot rage at the past. It is gone beyond his grasp and nothing can change it. He can own up to his errors, the moments when he put his own wants and needs ahead of those he loved.

Little by little the darkness lifts, not to the full brightness of the first time but into a half-light that reminds him of the Mingling of the Trees. It had a beauty he had not fully appreciated at the time.

“Turukano.” A voice reaches out to him—not the soothing voice that had welcomed him here. He knows this voice. He can still hear Namo intone the Doom of the Noldor; it is his voice that addresses him now.

“My lord Namo,” he thinks, wondering if the Vala can hear the words he says to himself.

“You know you are in my Halls.”

“Yes, my lord.” It appears Namo can hear his thoughts.

“You have visited the moments of your life. Is there anything you wish to say?” Namo asks.

Turgon hesitates. Is there a correct answer? What does one say, confronted with their life like this? Does he want to linger in this half-light forever, alone with his memories? Or does he dare to try again, return to his body and make choices for a different path—one that might lead him back to those he loves perhaps?

“I have loved and I have lost, my lord. Some by chance, much by choices made by me,” he finally answers.

“And what of those choices, Turukano? Would you take them back, retrace your path and choose differently?” Namo questions.

This is more difficult. For the choices may be different but the path they lead to is not clear. Different decisions, different fates but no guarantee that any would be better—except for the choice to leave in the first place, he thinks. He would never have lost Elenwë if he had chosen to stay.

He does not know how much time passes before he answers. “I think at each stage I was not who I would become as the result of that choice. Each decision built on the past—changing fate but also changing me and how I would choose the next time.”

He pauses, thinking back over what he had seen. “I would say now that had I stayed I would still have what I hold most dear.”

“Sundered from your family?” Namo asks.

“I was sundered from them with either choice,” Turgon replies. “From my wife by choosing to leave, from my father and siblings by choosing to stay. One separation is not easier than the other but I deem the heartache would have been less had I stayed.”

“You would still have lost them.”

“I would have. But I would not have lost them by my own poor choices. I would not have witnessed their ends. The loss would be as crushing but the responsibility for it would have been lessened.”

“You seek to assuage your guilt then?” Namo states.

He isn’t explaining himself well, Turgon realizes. The guilt is part of it, of course. He has always felt the weight of his decisions on the fates of those he loves. But he has tamped it down, immersed himself in activity to distract his mind and deflect those thoughts.

But now they are in the forefront and he is unable to bury them anymore.

He tries again. “I regret the choices I made that contributed to the destruction of my family.”

“Their choices were of no consequence to their fate?” Namo queries.

The Vala keeps twisting his words around, Turgon thinks. “That’s not what I mean.”

“Enlighten me then, Turukano. What do you mean?”

“My choices were my own. But I did not give enough consideration to how those decisions would affect those around me and their own decisions.”

“You believe you could have changed their fates?”

This is becoming irritating. “No, not exactly,” Turgon tries to clarify. “Their own choices played a role in their destiny, I know that.” He pauses again, searching for the right words. “I suppose it still makes me selfish,” he finally says. “I made the choices in my life for me, not concerning myself with the effect on them. Now I would make the choice to stay, so as not to be complicit or a witness to their ends. It is still a selfish choice—to shield myself from their pain and shift the blame for it from me.”

“That would be your decision then—to never have left Tirion?" Namo asks.

"It would.”

“And how many of your people would have turned back with you?”

“What?” The question surprises Turgon. “How is that relevant?”

“No choice exists in isolation. Your decision to stay would have influenced others. That would have altered many things. Each choice opens a new path. Each path branches with new choices. None is a dead end.”

“So, there is no choice I could have made that wouldn’t have resulted in tragedy? Is that what you are telling me?” Turgon is getting angry now. “No matter what decision I made, our fates were already determined?"

“Your fate is tied to Arda, that is the only constant. What occurs between your birth and death is the sum of many things but never determined until the end.” Namo says.

“What is the point of this debate?” Turgon is definitely angry now, his temper threatening to get the better of him, even with a lack of a corporeal form.

“What do you think?”

Turgon clamps down on his words before they burst from him. He wants to rage at the Vala. He is convinced he would rather eternally flit through the Halls of Mandos than continue this conversation but then he would be eternally confined with Namo. He briefly wonders how this sort of conversation had played out with his uncle; he feels a grim satisfaction that Fëanor would have tolerated it with far less courtesy than he has. It would almost be worth lingering here, to see his uncle match wits on this subject with Namo.

But Turgon is no Fëanor, something he has always considered a blessing. “What will you have of me, my lord Namo?” he finally asks. “It seems my answers are sorely lacking.”

“Have you learned nothing from this exchange?” Namo questions him.

“Other than it being a pointless waste of my time, you mean?” Turgon belatedly realizes that their entire conversation is in thoughts and that there is no way he could have kept that last one to himself. A soft laugh catches his attention. “I am glad one of us is finding this diverting,” Turgon states.

“I am not laughing at you, Turukano. You have the answer right in front of you. Again, I ask you: would you choose differently, if given the chance?”

“I would.”

“Why?”

Turgon has already answered this but perhaps there is a deeper answer than what he has already offered Namo. “I would choose differently to spare Elenwë,” he finally says.

“That is your response then?”

“It is. I should have stayed to spare her dying on the ice.” Turgon is satisfied with this answer.

“Very well.”

The darkness descends again and Turgon realizes he is now alone.

He stands by his answer. When he strips it all away he realizes his actions had resulted in many different ends. But the one end he regrets the most is Elenwë’s death. She had made the choice to come with him because she had not wanted to be parted from him. It had directly impacted her fate, far more than any other choice he had made.

He senses a brightness forming ahead, a small sliver of light. It is joined by a second sliver, then a third. He soon realizes he is seeing the outline of a door.

A rush of frigid air washes over him and then a crushing weight presses onto him. He desperately wants to take a breath, a ludicrous sensation considering where he is and the fact that he has no body.

He doesn’t think he can tolerate this overwhelming feeling any longer when suddenly he feels himself gasp and air fills his lungs. The crushing weight is lifted and he finds himself panting, his heart thudding rapidly in his chest.

He blinks and then shakes himself. None of this is possible—he has no heart to beat, no lungs to breathe, no eyes to see. He is a fëa, nothing more. But even as those thoughts cross his mind he notices the feel of cold stone below his feet. The door ahead of him disappears and reappears as he blinks.

He reaches up and feels hands on his face. His hands are touching warm skin, tracing the contours of his jaw, his cheeks. What is this?

“You have one more choice, Turukano.” Namo’s voice comes from behind him. “If you walk through that door you return to the world of the living. Do you choose to walk out and live or will you stay here to remember and regret?”

Turukano feels a laugh rise in him. This is the easiest choice the Valar have ever given him. There are no guarantees, he knows that, but there are possibilities beyond that door.

The possibility of seeing his mother again. His father, brothers, sister. His Elenwë. He may not be able to change the choices of the past but he can be wiser about the choices of his future.

He doesn’t hesitate, stepping towards the outline of the door, pushing through to emerge into the sunlit garden on the other side.

He blinks, his eyes watering from the brightness, unable to clearly see all that surrounds him.

But he feels a soft hand brush his arm and a voice he has longed to hear for centuries whispers his name. “Turukano.”

The tears are coming now, not from the brightness of the sun at all, as he falls into the arms of Elenwë, burying his face in her golden hair, breathing in the scent he remembers from so long ago.

Long moments pass and then he pulls back to look into her eyes. There is nothing in Arda he would rather see than his wife in his arms again.
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