"'Tis the most ridiculous garment I have ever worn, herendur."
Erunámo studied his reflection in the full-length mirror. Ondollo had ordered green and gold for the raiment he would wear on his first public appearance as Lord of the Golden Flower, but too late did Erunámo realize that aesthetic restraint was not something for which the steward was known.
"Look at this cloak," he groaned, lifting the hem of a dark green velvet mantle stiff with fields of embroidered gold flowers. "It must weigh twenty stone."
Ondollo ignored the complaint and continued to arrange the folds of the cloak. "Aye, but you look magnificent, herunya. A true herulótë."
I do not look like myself, he thought, studying the face that looked back at him from under the elaborate lord's circlet. In the cold glass he scarcely recognized what he saw. The eyes were flat, the face with its thin-set lips and high cheekbones impassive; he did not much resemble the younger brother who came in to chide his sibling for dressing too ostentatiously. Going again to pay court to the Lady Idril, brother? Such beads and bells, you jingle more than your horse.
Nárello had glared at his brother through the glass. Ai, go toss yourself in a fountain and leave me be, quáco.
His words seemed to echo through the chamber, faint and as brittle and cold as the glass into which Erunámo looked, and Erunámo felt himself waver. He saw his reflection chew his lower lip to hold back the momentary pain. I would give much to hear him chide me so again.
I do not look like myself, but then I am no longer Erunámo of Gondolin, the child of Vinyamar, he told himself. Erunámo died with Nárello at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. He is not here, he will not weep. I am Laurëfindo, Glorfindel of Gondolin, Lord of the Golden Flower, and I will be strong this day. I will show nothing to the world.
On this day, he would put aside his father-name and take another. Already he had given instructions to change his personal badges, evading Ondollo's questions. The steward did not understand his need to step away from himself, to take on a name that would be as a mask, a shield between his private self and the public persona he was by necessity forced to adopt.
"Herunya," Ondollo protested, "you said you did not wish to be called by a pet name, and yet—"
"Do not argue with me, herendur." Already I am taking the tone of a lord with him, and I rue it. But if he cannot see for himself the difference between what I am and what others expect to see, then how am I to explain it? "I do not consider an epessë a pet name, as you call it."
Ondollo adjusted the golden flower that pinned the cloak and stepped back, his brow knotted in consternation. "Would you have taken such a name if Nárello had not called you thus?"
For a moment Erunámo let his mask slip. "Then I would have taken something else," he replied. He wanted to explain, had already tried several times, but did not have the words for it. If I cannot even articulate myself to mine own steward, how eloquent am I going to be when the King asks my counsel? Perhaps he will forget I am there, as he has done before, and I shall be spared further embarrassment.
The silver peal of horns from the courtyard roused him and drew Ondollo to the window. "Herunya," he said, "the captains are come to escort you to the King. They await you below."
Erunámo appraised his reflection a final time before drawing his mask of lordly indifference into place. He steadied himself with a breath and answered, "Go then, herendur, and tell Lord Ecthelion and Lord Egalmoth that I will join them presently."
Turning, Ondollo noted the change in his tone, the air of formality and distance between them, and he bowed. "As you will, pitya--forgive me, herunya—as you will, my Lord Glorfindel."
* * *
Notes: All terms in Quenya unless otherwise noted.
The description of Glorfindel's clothing is based on Tolkien's own description, of a mantle so covered in golden flowers that it seemed like a field in spring.
quáco: crow, a noisy bird