Halls of Mandos, Second Age
Glorfindel knelt before the dais, his eyes lowered to shield them from the blazing faces of Námo and Elbereth. After so long, it was strange to be aware of his body again, to feel the discomfort of cold, unyielding marble against his knees, and the chill breeze whisking around his naked skin, raising gooseflesh.
“You choose this course of your own free will?” Námo’s stern voice echoed about the vast, pillared hall.
“I do, my lord.”
“No others from your house now remain in Middle-earth. You could be a great lord here in Valinor; across the sea you would be required to serve another.”
“I do not wish to be a great lord.” Glorfindel raised his head to look directly at the shining figures. Although the dazzling light made him blink, he did not look away. “I would rather be a servant in Middle-earth, fighting against the darkness, than a lord living here in comfort and safety while those in Middle-earth suffer and die.”
The light dimmed somewhat, and Glorfindel began to be able to make out the features of the two Valar. It seemed to him that Námo smiled faintly.
“Of course, you realise that we can offer you no guarantee that you yourself will not suffer and die?”
It was on the tip of Glorfindel’s tongue to retort that death held no fear for one who had already passed once before into Mandos, but before he could speak, Elbereth stepped forward.
“Peace, brother. As you can see, he is quite resolved.” The echo also picked up Elbereth’s voice, but when it returned, it seemed to chime like distant bells.
Elbereth walked down the steps and laid a hand on his head. “Such dedication should not go unrewarded.”
“I do not do this for reward.”
“Then look upon it as a gift.”
The sound of chiming grew stronger. Elbereth cupped her hands in front of her; a glowing amber light appeared between them.
“This is the spirit of one not yet born.” With a gesture that looked like a blessing, she sent the light forward until it rested against Glorfindel’s heart.
Glorfindel gasped as he felt the unborn spirit touch his own. He was instantly flooded with feelings of profound joy and love. The spirit’s song resonated through his being, blending in perfect harmony with his own. He was so overcome with the experience that it took a while for him to notice that Elbereth was speaking.
“This is your soul-mate; the one destined for you from the beginning of time. It will be many years before this Elf is born to Middle-earth, but at least you can hold this memory in your heart, to help you through the lonely times that lie ahead. When the time comes, you will know one another.”
Glorfindel swallowed, so shaken by emotion that he could scarcely talk. “I thank you,” he managed at last. “I shall strive to be worthy of such a precious gift.”
Elbereth beckoned to the spirit, and Glorfindel felt bereft as it gradually withdrew. In the last moments, before the link was completely severed, he sent out his thoughts to his soul-mate. ‘I will wait for you, and look for you every day until we finally meet. Until then, I will fight against darkness, doing everything in my power to create a world free from Shadow. And when I do meet you, I will hold you in my heart and cherish you forever.’
He felt one last fleeting surge of warmth and then he was alone once more.
Eryn Galen, 214 TA
Thranduil closed the book and smiled at his son. “I think we should leave it there tonight. It’s time you were asleep.”
“Oh, but I’m not tired! Can’t you read me just one more story, please?”
Thranduil could never resist Legolas when he fixed pleading eyes on him in that way. “Very well, just one more tale, but then you must go to sleep.”
Legolas nodded and snuggled down deeper into his bed until all that could be seen of him were his wide blue eyes and tousled mop of pale gold hair. “Can you read the one about the dragon and the goblin king?”
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Your mother will get very cross with me if I give you nightmares.”
“I won’t get nightmares. I’m not scared of monsters; Shadowslayer would never let them hurt me.”
Thranduil chuckled. “Of course not. Silly me. No monsters could get past that big, shiny sword of his, could they?”
He eyed his son with an indulgent smile. Ever since he had learned to talk, Legolas had spoken of an imaginary friend called Shadowslayer. Apparently Shadowslayer was a warrior of light, who easily overcame any foe, no matter how powerful. Legolas would spend hours playing games in which he and Shadowslayer fought dragons, spiders and orcs, while rescuing prisoners and unearthing treasure troves. Some of the members of the court were heard to wonder why Thranduil and his queen allowed the little prince to indulge in such nonsense, but Thranduil paid them no heed. He was inclined to agree with his wife, who was sure that there was no harm in it. She was of the opinion that Legolas had made up Shadowslayer after hearing his two older brothers and grandfather were in the Halls of Mandos, watching over him. He would grow out of it in his own time, she said.
He opened the book again and found the right page. “Very well, you can have the tale of the dragon and the goblin king, as long as Shadowslayer promises he’ll keep any monsters away and guard your sleep.”
Legolas nodded. “He will. He says he’ll never let anything hurt me.”
Thranduil had to pause for a moment before beginning, for the words on the page blurred as his eyes misted over. He couldn’t help but think of his two other sons. He bent down and kissed Legolas on the brow.
“I pray you are right, little one.”
Long after he had finished the story, he watched his son sleeping. If only there was a real warrior of light who could keep Legolas from harm. He couldn’t bear the thought of losing another son.
“Sleep well, my son. I hope Shadowslayer will keep you safe from monsters, now and always.”
To be continued