Those Also Serve
Lalwen is alone.
They say it when they think I cannot hear them, when I am too far inside
of my thoughts to notice the subtle shake of their heads or their self-conscious
sighs of pity. I have no need of pity, no more need than any of the
Exiles now on Tol Eressëa. If I am alone, it is by choice.
Few know of me, for I did not stand in the great battles of the Elder Days
of which the minstrel sing. Mine was not the bright path of the warrior,
though that is what I would have chosen if circumstances had been different.
It is always left to some to remain behind, to keep the fires burning, to
stand the final guard of the home. I played my part in that battle,
but I remained firmly in the background. 'Safe', as my brother would
call it, as though there was any safety from the malice of Morgoth.
Irien my father named me. My mother, who perhaps knows me better than
anyone now in the world, called me Lalwendë. I am my parents' third
child, born between Nolofinwë and Arfin the golden, who now rules the
remanant of our people in Tirion.
Ours was not always a peaceful household, with my father's eldest son, Fëanaro,
deliberately baiting Nolofinwë to anger at every turn. Arfin,
ever the peacemaker, would always speak soft words to soothe our brother's
rage. When he was not present, it fell to me to lighten my older brother's
mood. I have not Arfin's diplomatic skill, nor his tranquil disposition.
At a loss for anything else to say, I would poke fun at Fëanaro until
Nolofinwë laughed. How often our mirth would ring through out mother's
garden in the morning of the world and the Light of the Trees. But
that time is long passed and it does no good to dwell upon it. The
memories are still painful because of all that has since been lost.
Fëanaro was proud and flawed, but he had the power of words and charisma
to make our hearts hot within us. On the day that Melkor slew our father,
he enflamed our hearts with desire to see the lands of Middle Earth that our
parents had forsaken. Our host followed him out of Tirion, determined
to forge our own free kingdoms beneath the stars. The atrocity of the
Kinslaying did not make us pause in our quest, so drunk we were on the words
of my father's heir. Not even the Prophecy of the North could force
us to see beyond his sorcery, though Arfin turned back at this time, taking
a tighe of our people with him.
Little did we know how we were to be deceived until we saw the red, flickering
light of the Swan Ships burning at Losgar.
But we persevered, under great hardship, across the cold hell of the Helcaraxë.
Our people drew their strength from Nolofinwë while he drew his from
me. We arrived in Beleriand and, for brief, shining time, it seemed
as though we would fulfill Fëanaro's promise of greatness.
With Anairë still in Aman, it fell to me to organise my brother's household
in Eithel Sirion. The daily dull but necessary tasks were my province;
the provision of the kitchens, the cleaning and maintenance of the house,
even the petty squabbles of my brother's followers. I longed to ride
with the others on patrols, but there was always some reason to keep me within
the walls of his house.
Ironically, I was not at Eithel Sirion when news of the Dagor Bragollach
arrived. Though such things are fated and we cannot change the course
of our destiny, I like to believe that events would have fallen differently
if I had been present. I tell myself that I could have stopped my brother
from riding to challenge Morgoth, that I could have forced him to listen to
reason. Failing that, I could have accompanied and died with him.
But I was not there, and Nolofinwë rode to his destruction alone.
The news of his death demoralised our people, and Findekáno turned
to me to help stabilise the kingdom. There was scarcely time for me
to think of my brother, let alone mourn his loss.
I begged Findekáno to allow me to fight at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad,
but he refused, saying that someone was needed to lead the weak to safety
if the unthinkable happened. And happen it did. My people were
utterly defeated by the forces of Morgoth and my nephew slain upon the battlefield.
Holding them together as I had seen my brother do over the Helcaraxë,
I led the refugees south to Cirdan's Havens. There we waited, hopeless,
for the final stroke to fall. By the time we learned of the War of Wrath,
it was too late to take up arms and join the fight.
With the Ban lifted and the Enemy defeated and cast into the Void, I found
my taste for Middle Earth diminished. I joined the others and
returned to Tol Eressëa. My only regret: leaving my brother's descendants
in Middle Earth.
Two ages of the world have passed and still I am upon the Lonely Isle, too
broken to truly live. Others have gone back to Aman, pardonned by the
Powers for their earlier defiance. I remain here, seemingly too proud
to ask for forgiveness. In truth I am too weak to face the empty places
where I once laughed. I will wait here, an Exile, until the end.
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