A/N: Hello, friends! It's been ages since I posted anything new, and I really feel bad about leaving any potential readers hanging... but rest assured, more is coming, eventually, including the end of "A Chance Encounter" (which is finished) and a potential sequel (which is in my head). I'm also currently polishing a story about Beren in Dorthonion which I like in principle, just not in execution. Anyway, any feedback on THIS story is EXTREMELY welcome... I'm not sure if the description of Gondolin is out of place, but I wanted to give it a shot... tell me what you think! And enjoy the story :D
Disclaimer: The only thing I can claim as mine in this story is Turgon's motivation for staying in Gondolin. I always thought he got sort of shafted in the cannon. But then again, so did a lot of fine characters. Everything else belongs to Tolkien Estates.
When he heard Tuor utter the long-forgotten words, Turgon was instantly transported to that far-off night in Nevrast when he first heard the voice of the Lord of the Sea commanding him to seek the Vale of Tumladen. The boy standing before him was youthful, but behind his voice rang the echoes of the gulls, the hiss of the sea spray… and the steady beat of doom.
Turning away, he closed his eyes, and let the past wash over him, wave after wave of terrible memories well-hidden but never forgotten – the death of Elenwe, of his brother and sister, the despair of his beloved father…
"Thank you," he managed after a long pause. He still did not dare turn around, but the dismissal in his voice was clear. He heard Tuor's clear steps ringing as they left the hall, and then the snick of a door shutting behind him. Turgon was alone.
He knew Ulmo spoke the truth. He knew that the city and all of its inhabitants would perish if they did not leave. He knew that there was no escape from their doom.
Yet as he stepped onto the balcony of the King's Tower, overlooking the city whose white walls sparkled like sea-foam in the bright sun, he was certain of another thing: he could not leave. It was not hope that bade him stay, nor was it defiance of the Valar, nor even pride in the works of his hands. Turgon knew what awaited the Gondolidhrim beyond the walls of the encircling mountains – years of fruitless wandering, of homelessness, of hardship and devastation. Many would die, surely, for if Ulmo had helped him in the past and would continue to help him in the future, Turgon's rebellion against the Valar would not be forgotten, nor so easily forgiven. The choice before his feet was grim: live a short while in bliss and die savagely along with the beautiful city that had been their home for millennia; or abandon everything they loved and slowly diminish, forgotten of song and lore along with Gondolin the Fair, city of seven names. She would be raped and destroyed with none there to defend her. The Alley of Roses would become a feasting ground for orcs, and great wyrms would gather all the treasure of the king's palace and gloat over it, corrupting it until the foul, twisted result was a mere mockery of Elfdom's greatest arts.
For there could be no victory against Morgoth, not until the Noldor had lost everything they had ever gained and in their ruin were made utterly repentant. But Turgon knew that come what may, he could not, would not, regret this, his beautiful city, fairer even than Elven Tirion.
He closed his eyes and let the pulse of the city beat through him. A breeze, heavy with the scent of honeysuckle gently teased the hair around his face. Below him he could hear the laughing music of the Fountain in the King's Square, woven in and out with the dim hubbub of the market just beyond the palace. A handsome couple – one Noldo, one Sinda – strolled through the gardens and the rumor of their quiet conversation drifted lazily up to him. Summer was nearing its zenith and he could recall with perfect clarity the rich green of Tumladen, the traces of snow at the top of the Echoriath, and clusters of flowers so vivid they were like careless drops of paint on an artist's canvas; so thick that burying one's face in them was like entering the womb of Nature herself. Lothengriel, his city, the rarest flower of Beleriand.
And yet just beyond the edge of this serenity, he could feel the constant grinding and crushing of Morgoth's implacable, insatiable war machines…
With a sigh he turned away from the balcony. Perhaps he was not so different from his hated uncle. His pride would condemn him at the last – and yet, knowing the fiery fate that awaited him, he would not feel regret or bitterness.
He thought he felt a touch upon his shoulder, and his thin lips curled into a smile, his furrowed brow smoothing and lifting.
"I am coming, my darling."