Title: Golden Vanity
Warnings: Slash, violence
Disclaimer: No elves are my property. Writing not done for profit.
Feedback: Gives me a reason to write and post instead of just playing with scenes in my head.
Archive: Please ask
Summary: Glorfindel, reborn, finds himself changed, and unwilling to risk another fall for the sake of his vanity.
Author's note: Sorry, all I know about LoTR I learned from
fanfiction, the movies, and an hour or so of research on Library of
Arda. Much thanks to my Beta Nienna for making this fic a better piece than it was.
I am have deleted this story, and am reposting the corrected chapters. Thank you for putting up with me, and Enjoy.
He was their golden lord; a golden lord for the House of the Golden Flower. Beautiful as the dawn he was, and bold as the sunlight glinting off of the keen edge of his sword. Hair the color of autumn wheat spilled down his broad armored shoulders, the warm strands framing a face that none could say was less than fair, and few would say was less than perfect.
He was their golden lord, and they loved him, these scattered and frightened refugees of a dying city. They trusted him. With the red glow of Morgoth's forces coming closer, they believed him when he shouted at them to go, to flee. They trusted him, of all elves, to survive whatever would come next around the narrow pass. They trusted him to be victorious.
Blood seeped down the inside of his armor; wet and hot. The Balrog's sword had not pierced through, but it had mangled the golden protection, and with every move it cut into the flesh of his side. He could feel himself weakening, his sight dimming, the weight of his sword growing, but could not accept that he might not vanquish this creature of darkness.
The great whip cut through the air, pulling back for another strike, trailing black flame in its wake. The smoke and the stench of the creature threatened to choke him, blind him. He could hear no sound save for the roar of the creature, the overwhelming hiss and crackle of its fiery body.
The golden lord's sword flashed up and into the creature's heart. Good steel shattered from the sudden heat, a crack that echoed down the long chasm. The beast staggered, and the whip came down, hotter than campfire or hearth, hotter than the summer sun or the blacksmith's forge. The tip slashed the beautiful face, burning as it passed, so hot that flesh turned to ash at the touch. It burned even into the bone of his cheek and jaw. The flames passed a thumb's length from his right eye.
So sudden was the strike that his mind could not register the pain. As the servant of Morgoth stumbled back, began to tumble from the cliff, all the golden lord knew was that he had been struck, scarred, marred.
The blow to his face was not the worst of his injuries, yet it was the first that he reached to touch. It was the one he was touching when the fiery hand reached out, and as the Balrog fell, it was his last thought before he was pulled over the cliff's edge. And then he was falling, and burning, the creature holding him tight against its chest. He heard his own scream, smelled the burning of his own flesh. The rocks came rushing up at them, and all was blackness, quiet and stillness. There was nothing.
He woke to pain. For long minutes he could only lay there, afraid to even touch his face. He knew not where he was, curled like an infant, naked as the day he was first born. Breath by breath the hurt faded, healing as he lay there. He became aware of the chirping of birds, the cool embrace of the forest.
Trembling fingers reached up, tracing over the scar. It marked him from the outside edge of his right eye, down his cheek and into the muscle and bone of his jaw. This was no shallow wound from a sword point; it was wider than his thumb, slick-feeling and too-smooth. Around that was the burn. Most of that side of his face was dimpled, bubbled, pocked and melted.
The golden lord wept for his loss, curled in upon himself on the forest floor. As he wept, understanding filtered into him, as if in a dream, yet he knew he did not sleep.
The first that he understood was that great time had passed, time in which he should have taken some part, could have accomplished great things. He understood that his vanity, and only that, had been the cause of his fall. Had he reached for the wound at his side, he would have seen the hand that reached for him, the hand that dragged him down.
A sense of duty filled him, and his hand drew away from his scar. He knew, without being told, where he would be now, at this moment, had he never fallen. He could sense the forces of evil, the weight of it hovering in the air over the horizon, a blight upon his newly reborn spirit. He could feel the pull of his duty, of his oath of service to Turgon, drawing him there. Without the words to explain his understanding, he knew he would be standing not beside Eärendil, but beside Eärendil's son. At this moment, had he not sacrificed his immortal life for the sake of fleeting vanity, he would be guarding the back of the Perendhel as he strode to war against the re-awakened darkness.
He fingered the long ugly scar again, and he had no bitterness towards the Valar who had left him with such a mark. It was not a punishment; he understood that, but rather a warning against the re-emergence of his vanity.
"Never again," he vowed to the forest. There was no answer, but he knew he had been heard.
Barefoot, naked, unarmed, he broke into a long loping stride, moving silent through the forest. A vision called to him, a dark-haired elf, with grey eyes and the weight of duty gathered around his shoulders like a cloak. A name whispered into his mind, to call his destination by. That name was Elrond.
For hours he ran, and hours became days. He was an elf in the prime of his conditioning, and the air came easily to his lungs. He came to a place where a path cut the forest, some deer-trail, easy to miss. He followed it for a ways, since it flowed with his own direction. Trampled ground ahead of him slowed his steps for the first time.
Blood splattered the leaves, red and bright. An arrow lay half-covered by dead leaves. The fletching was elven, clean and straight. The tip was broken off, and around the shaft was smeared the black blood of orcs.
His heart pounded wild in his chest at the sight, and he continued down the path, feet moving with swift steps even as bright eyes scanned the floor for tracks. Naked, weaponless, he still could not, would not, allow elves to be attacked without acting on their behalf.
He burst into a clearing, and his heart ached to find that he need not have hurried. Bodies lay scattered around, the fair forms hacked by brutal weapons, their skin torn and bruised. He trembled, and covered his eyes with his hands for a moment, then moved to begin tending the bodies of the fallen.
Forgive me, cousin, he thought as he slipped the armor off of a tall warrior. They were all soldiers, and he imagined they had been quite handsome in their blue and silver livery. He would not leave the valiant fallen naked, but he did find enough clothing in their packs to clothe himself. He took from each a piece of armor for himself to wear, and some small token that their families may use to identify them with. The battle that he saw in his mind would not allow the time to bring the bodies home, so he did the best that he could, for the dead and for the living.
With care he arrayed the bodies together atop a mound of dry wood that he gathered, and using the flint and steel of one soldier, he lit their pyre.
They had carried no spare boots, and Glorfindel would not send the dead to Mandos' hall in need of footwear, so when he at last departed the scene, dressed, armed, armored, his feet were still bare beneath the edge of his greaves.