Trickling Sand

By Le Chat Noir

He came into the city of Tirion, and it was empty.

He followed the sound of trickling water, and happened upon fountains made of white stone, which were like the fountains of Odolindë. He knelt at their side and drank from their waters, and let their placid surface mirror his visage. Calm ripples distorted his features, and strands of his hair having come loose from his braid dipped their tip into the water. There had been no fountains in the Sirion Havens, a sanctuary built in haste for hapless refugees, and he recalled his face being so mirrored only from the earliest memories of his youth, when he still dwelt within the walls of the Hidden City. He looked into the water, and half-expected the eyes of a child to stare back at him, but instead he found there the face of an adult.

They were the fine features of an elf boy grown too soon, the soul of a child in the guise of a man.

He stepped away from the merry fountain, and stared at the vacant streets. The dust of diamonds hung in the air, indifferent to his presence, slightly blurring his vision. White sunlight reflected off the tainted windows, the alabaster walls; the pavements and the roofs of gold.

And he cried out with all the might of his voice to the lifeless city.

Ainur and Eldar! Lords of the West, Powers of this sorry world!

He came into the city of Tirion, shielding in his hands the hope of the world, and it was empty.

When she had bestowed upon him the name of Eärendil, many were those who marveled within the walls of the city of stone, enclosed in the middle of the ring of tall mountains. Yet she had seen it in his eyes, she said. Blue eyes unlike the grey ones of most Noldor, telling that his soul was that one of his father, already a slave to the Ocean's call.

He walked through the silent streets of the deserted City, trailed a pallid hand upon the faultless walls, and understood the foolishness of Turgon. There had been the same houses in Odolindë, the same streets and the same fountains; there had been the same birds singing the same songs when all else was lonely. The same sun had been mirrored on the golden roadways.

Gondolin lay in ruins, Doriath lay in ruins, the Havens had been put to waste and the children of his people slaughtered at the hands of their kin. His young sons had fallen in the hands of his enemy, and his wife only barely escaped the edge of their swords; not one of the mighty kingdoms of the Elves had survived within Beleriand. Yet it all had been for a greater good, for now a Silmaril of Fëanor had found its way out of Morgoth's lair and into the Realms of the Valar, from which all faith stemmed…

Yet now…

And he cried out with all the might of his voice to the lifeless city.

Manwë and Varda! King of Arda and Kindler of Stars!

He came into the city of Tirion, nursing in his heart the hope of the world, and it was empty.

He climbed upon the top of the hill, step by step, and stood in its center; and he remembered the old legends that had been whispered to him during sleepless nights. The Mindon was behind his back, and he looked down at the great square, and thought that the Fëanaro had stood at this very same place on the night when it had all begun. Yet now the square was clear and barren, and no torch flared in the searing daylight; no face was there raised to look into his, no ear to hear the words he never knew to say.

He called out in many tongues of Elves and Men, and no voice answered his.

What Evil had then come to the Blessed Realms, and was all the hope of Endor in vain, that he had brought it upon these shores at the cost of countless lives? Had it not been the design of Iluvatar that his children would know the end of their sorrows, they who would at last come to bow before his feet, and admit the wrong of their pride?

And he cried out with all the might of his voice to the lifeless city, remembering the name of his plight.

Tuor and Idril! Son of Men and Lady of Elves!

And the hill stayed barren and cold.

He began at last to walk towards the Sea.

Near invisible particles of dust danced about him as his body cut through the stagnant air, unrested in their sleep, finally intimately clinging to the fabric of his clothing; and he did not move an idle hand to sweep them away.

The road unwound before his steps.

One last time, he turned to cast a final glance towards the ashes of his hopes, a lifeless diamond set in a thriving yet petrified vale. And suddenly it seemed to him that there was one who stood upon the hill. The Sun was in his eyes; he saw only the dark, imprecise silhouette, outlined against a sky of burning white, and he thought it was a dream.

He watched the unmoving shadow standing tall and high before the Sun, and the shadow watched him.

He stood outside the gates, yet young, yet slight, and bringing a hand to shield his eyes he shied away from the blazing light.

He stood on the dusty road, covered in the dust of jewels, shimmering in the sunshine of noon like a figure whose light was greater than light, alone und stilled. The stranger stood upon the hill, the sun behind his back, stayed in his steps like a statue of old and dark against the blinding radiance, alone and stilled.

A voice he heard, but heeded not the words.

The City was between them, evanescent.

And tears came into his eyes.

~