Author's note: Tales of Gondolin, written –hastily scribbled- while being sick and feverish from exhaustion. Currently featuring Maeglin. Excuse the weirdness of the style. Excuse the purposelessness of the plot. My brain is atrophied.
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters or the settings mentioned, they all belong to the Professor Tolkien and yes, I am very glad he invented them.
The Walls of Gold
By Le Chat Noir
- Part one
She walks in front of me, and I follow.
It would have sounded good maybe if I could say we walked in the bitter rain, under a sky gray with the endless clouds. Rain, no storm, no thunder, no wind; rain, boring and placid, the kind of rain that falls and you can't imagine it will ever stop, and you can only walk in it and hunch your shoulders and get soaked thoroughly and it lasts for days and days.
But she walks in front of me, and I follow, and in the golden Gondolin the sun can only shine.
It would have sounded good if I could say we walked together, in silence, and sorrow; we would have walked together her at my side saying nothing, and not looking at each other because of so many reasons or maybe just because. But no, she is in front, beside her father; and I am just behind them. Around me, has formed the unspoken yet forbidden circle that no one infringes. I stare at her back. For once clad in the black of mourning. The foul, dirty black. For her they should not have done it. The only black she knew was that of the dusk and of her own hair, rippling like a strange flood.
I would have taken this hair, and made into gems of dark light yet unseen and understood what means the passion with no words.
Her hair is golden, tied with a black strip of some kind of fabric. Not silk. The galvorn my father made was like silk, smooth, perfect, cool to the touch of skin and light on one's shoulders. More resistant than steel. Fearless. Invincible. No arrow pierced it, and no sword, but today he wears only those clothes they gave him, sort of whitish shirt and trousers. Alone he bears no black, it seems, alone in the whole city. The sun shines brightly, very brightly; the strong rays mirror themselves on the white and golden walls of the city and the people dressed in black hold silence and listen to the chirps of the songbirds.
Her demarche is awkward, a little, timid maybe, and she walks, simply, deigns to walk putting one of her bare feet in front of the other, than again. We progress slowly under the piercing flickers of Vàsa's light, heat overbearing every stance and stride, feeling uncomfortable with our black clothing. Wish it could be over. Then plunge into a cold river, immersed entirely under the kindly flow, and never leave again the deadly embrace.
She could have walked over a beach of broken glass and I don't think her feet would have felt the bleeding cuts of the shards.
It is slow, too slow. I rode her horse, because I had none to myself. Or sometimes when I grew up a little I took father's stallion out, in secret of course. The beast was black. Hard to manage at first, but in the end I got the hang of it. Trailing a firm hand down the neck, brushing the sable robe, even when it was unneeded.
A shimmer of light catches my eye, but it is only the sharp reverberation of a sunray of a window. Shut tightly, from the inside. And the panes, too. The curtains, dark. Her window was the only one that stayed open. I loved the air. A light fragrance. Heavy darkness. Her hair surrounding us, me on her knees, huddled close to her warmth. Whispers in my ears. Faraway words. Not really listening, but the two sweet odors mingling in my nostrils.
Shattered glass. A small rock, but not too small, well-shaped, humid to the touch. Thrown with all the strength of a child towards the windows. Always shut. Shattered glass, one by one.
Gold on black. Black on white.
Bleeding cuts and still water. The blood is washed away, slowly; the hands do not move, yet the blood is washed away by the vivid stream. The water still. Not a movement. Tall trees of summer in the lake.
Her steps are tiny on the road. Unwinding always. Far away, the white walls of the city stand, but I can't really see how far. The sun blinds the eyes of the darkness. Maybe only a few more steps to take.
Silence, and the contemptuous defiance almost as thick as the heat and the light.
Light frame. Too fragile. A sculpture of porcelain. The only reason why she never broke being that there was nothing left to break. Nothing left in pieces large enough. Only pieces here and slivers there, thorns, and cinders set aflame that burn into smoke.
Morning. Or dusk. Never know. The silence, darkness palpable. Tiptoe into her room, door locked. Soft knocking, not waking anyone. Slight creak on the hinges, but nothing stirs. And then the fresh air of the forest bursting into my face.
She is taller, and stronger. At least she seems so. Not very much. Must be the blood of another race running in her veins. The rich blonde hair, partly hidden by the black warp. Her walk awkward. Not used to staying on the ground. Used to dance, to leap, to fly. Used to run or skim the earth.
Two guards on either side. He does not fight. He walks. Stately walk of one who knows where he is going. Black braid in a mess. Backs. As we walk I see their backs, the nape of their necks. What sort of face do they belong to, I wonder.
A flight of stairs. White, marble stairs, finely carved. Could use some work.
The regular balance of their silhouettes as they climb. Very high. White walls closing around us, in a circular pattern. Rest my palm on the stone, because it gives coldness as only stone can. Not as hot inside as outside. But rest my palm on the stone, because I cannot go further. Not so high. Breath. A long, slow breath. Seek support. Open windows, black curtains fluttering with the wind. Fresh night air. Breath. Sigh. Whispers of peculiar words, unknown. Darkness. Sobs.
A hand catches my arm. Strong, steady hand.
Wrenching cries in the silence.
A murmur in my ears. Lightning in my eyes. They have stopped, and some of them turn around to watch. Concern, maybe, but I cannot say. Pain in my stomach. A want to vomit.
Steady. Pounding wild.
Jerk away. No. No compassion, no pity. I shall stand. I shall walk. A pale hand extended towards me, the palm open, inviting, repellent. My father's hand, and I could not take it. His hand. So strong, so hurtful. Seizing the javelin. A hand I knew only too well. Or maybe it was because I held her limp form in my arms?
I shall walk alone, thank you for your help. Damn you. I need no help. The child never got as far as his own window because they had caught him first. Eight. Eight panes broken already. Too late for anything. They didn't ask for an excuse, and it was well enough, because he had none to give.
A trail of blood down my face. Coming from where? I look up, but then it was the darkness all over again.
Then light. Once more. A strong gust of heat, momentarily oppressing my chest hard enough to steal my breath. Prickle in my eye, and blink. Once, twice. The sun is closer now. Someone is talking. It is her father, her brother, I see, I guess, I think. Loud, clear voice, made to sound ridiculous under the blazing fire. Such a hot day. The silence again. But he is looking at me now.
I realize. He is looking at me. Staring. Glaring. I used to cringe under this glare, a little, and fear took over only too easily in the dusk when such a pair of eyes, no, darts, so fixated on you and piercing their way without a sound nor a tear to the very heart and out the way back. But it is too hot to cringe. To think. Blank. Two slim, white hands, marked by faint green veins, pushing the door open.
A long, black sword.
A curse. Rising as a cry, a scream, a whisper; a curse of the silence and the night in the silence the day, the curse of wisdom to youth, of hatred to faith, of despair to hope; the curse of the dead to the living and of a father to a son.
They want to throw him down, but it is too easy for his strong arms to get rid of their unsuspecting grasp. He will run. He will live. He will escape unpunished. No. Too late. No. Stillness, a heartbeat, a breath, a step. It is only a matter of a step after all, the brain commanding the foot to rise and come down fifty centimeters farther. It is only the mind shutting out the truth and the reality of the death that awaits at the end of the movement, of the fall, the long fall.
One single step. Or maybe a leap. A spring.
Not even a yell.
She has turned her head away, suppressing violent shivers. Her profile against the blinding sunlight. Her hair too bright.
I would have bent and looked down, but no one else does. It would look inconvenient. No. The patch of red blood and shapeless lump of a body lying there torn by the rocks will stay a prey to the vulture and the wolves. I want to see. But no. They are starting to look at me. Fists clenched. Cannot unfold my hands.
A sharp, loud slap echoing in the room, and the red trace of a hand on her cheek.
A child watching in the corner, standing with an old book in his hands.
And then the fall.