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Akallabeth in August
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Now Elros and Elrond his brother were descended from the Three Houses of the Edain, but in part also both from the Eldar and the Maiar; for Idril of Gondolin and Lúthien daughter of Melian were their foremothers. The Valar indeed may not withdraw the gift of death, which comes to Men from Ilúvatar, but in the matter of the Half-elven Ilúvatar gave to them the judgement; and they judged that to the sons of Eärendil should be given choice of their own destiny.

Never Look Back by Independence1776


I continued staring into the swirling water as my brother climbed up the hill. He plopped down next to me, but I ignored him until he poked my right arm. “What do you want?”

He drew back slightly. “We need to talk.”

I tossed the stick I had been absently twirling in my hands into the stream. “What is there to discuss? You chose mortality; I did not.”

“The Valar--”

“The Valar! Don’t talk to me about them-- you know what Father said.”

“I don’t give a damn what Maglor thinks. Thought.”

I turned to him, furious. “He isn’t dead! Don’t discuss him like he is.” I bolted up and dodged around my brother, heading further up the hill. Elros caught up with me and I stopped and stared at him. “Yes?”

“This isn’t about Father.” He sighed and sat down on a nearby log. "Yes, it is. It’s about Father, and Mother, and our sire. It’s about the fact that you will have no family left once I leave.”


He patted the log, and I sat next to him. “Yes, leave. The Valar have granted us an island-- they’re calling it Andor. It will be formed by them, and once it is habitable, the Edain and I will leave.”

“And I won’t see you again,” I said, lowering my gaze to the leaf-strewn ground. Elros said nothing, so I just listened to the wind rustling the leaves in the forest canopy, the birds singing, and the stream flowing downhill.

He finally spoke. “You will not, unless the Valar choose to--”

I snorted and looked up at Elros, his dark brown hair that matched mine blowing in the breeze. “The Valar will never do such a thing. How long did they wait, letting all the inhabitants of Beleriand suffer under Morgoth? They showed no mercy to those who committed no wrongs. Their inaction decimated the Eldar and the Edain. They will never listen to me, an adopted son of Maglor.”

“They honored me enough to make me king.”

I shot upright on the log, nearly overbalancing enough to fall backwards off it. “King? At our age? We barely fought in the war! What experience do you have?”

He shrugged and ran his hands through his hair. “Enough, I suppose. Andor won’t be inhabitable for years, so I have time to learn. And I guess that our mortal lineage from all the Houses of the Edain makes me acceptable-- barely-- to the remnants of each. Which could be why I was chosen instead of one of their leaders.”

“Is that what the meeting--”

Elros nodded. “I wish you would have been there. Elrond, even Gil-galad attended, along with the lords of the Eldar and the Edain. You were the only notable who wasn’t.”

“Notable? How am I notable? Being one of the last of the House of Fëanor?”

“By virtue of who our biological parents are. The Elder King wondered where you were.”

“If he wants to talk to me, he can find me. I have no desire to converse with him. And I was not ordered to be there.”

“Which is why no one is upset.”

“Save for you.”

Elros stood up, facing me. “I want you to be happy for me! But you can’t manage to ignore your misery long enough to even congratulate me.” Before I could respond, he shoved me, sending me into the pile of rotting leaves behind the log. I landed on my back and by the time I regained my breath, Elros was no longer in sight. I heard him crunching leaves as he ran downhill, but I brushed the debris off my clothes and hair and returned to the log.

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“I don’t understand Elrond,” I told Eönwë, pacing around the tent he was still using from the war. “I thought he’d be happy that I’m able to do something with my short life.”

“You have already done much,” he said, standing up from his camp chair and placing his hands on my shoulders. “But right now, you must worry about other things than Elrond. Several Edain have approached me in concern that you may have absorbed Fëanorian beliefs about the reliance of Men.”

I shook my head. “Neither Maglor nor Maedhros taught us to hate them. But I take your point that the Edain do not accept me as leader just because the Valar stated so. How will I earn their trust?”

“By learning from and by living with them. Your brother and you have separate paths now-- it is time to step onto them.” Eönwë tilted his head slightly. “Why did you not call Maglor Father?”

I shrugged and the Maia removed his hands, stepping back a pace. “I’ve never chosen one versus the other. He raised us, and in that way, he was our father. But he was not our biological father.” I took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “The name Elrond calls us-- it’s another point of contention, isn’t it?” Eönwë nodded. “I have no particular attachment to it. From here on out, I shall call myself Eärendilion. I think that will be more acceptable.”

“It will, though you will have to explain that to Elrond. And emphasize to him that he may continue calling himself whatever he desires.”

I half-smiled. “Hopefully he’ll believe me. But as you said, I think I need to move into the mortal encampment. They are my people now.”

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I didn’t come down from the hill until dusk, and when I tried slipping unnoticed into my room, one of the servants caught me in the hallway and informed me that the king wished to see me. I rolled my eyes and went to find Gil-galad. He was in his study, so I knocked on the open door and waited to be acknowledged. He put down the paper he was reading and smiled at me before standing up and coming out to the hallway, closing the door behind him. “Walk with me, Maglorion.”

I silently followed him down the hallway and outdoors to the veranda overlooking the wide expanse of land down to the sea. We both leaned on the wooden railing and watched people going about their daily lives, most heading home from a long day helping the city to thrive. He turned to me.

“I know what it is to have lost family, Elrond, though I know I will see them again if I ever travel to Valinor, if they have been released from Mandos. But that is not the same as mortality, and I cannot help you with that. What I can help you with is the Valar’s choice to name your brother king.”

“He’s too young, your majesty. Uncle Maedhros and Father taught us as best they could, but we weren’t leaders.”

“And was I much different when I was named High King?” I stared at him, just now remembering he hadn’t even been sixty. “If the Valar take as long as they say they will to create Andor, your brother will be older than I was when I became king. And we will make sure he has the training and knowledge to be a good one.”

“Good. He’ll need it.”

Gil-galad snorted. “You are no better. Do not discount your foster family’s teaching, for it is solid. It takes loyalty to command men to--”

“Become Kinslayers,” I quietly said. “I know you would have put it more delicately, my lord, but it is the truth. They never hid it from us.”

“And you still consider them family?”

I turned back to the view. “They were better than the family I was born into. I do not remember Eärendil save that brief glimpse at the final battle. Mother I remember little better. Why do I need to be loyal to them if one left us to sail and the other abandoned my brother and me to the care of people she knew had a good chance of killing us? Why did she refuse to hand over the Silmaril and prevent the bloodshed?” I shook my head. “Maglor raised us. He sung me to sleep so I didn’t do that by crying. He never once assumed that because my brother and I are Half-elves that we were incapable. Yes, we matured faster than full-blooded Elves, but that was something else he learned to quickly work with. With, my lord, not against, not forced. Elros learned swordwork earlier than I did, while I concentrated on lore and song. It was less than a year later before I began seriously learning the sword as well, but I had the maturity then.”

I saw Gil-galad nod out of the corner of my eye. He said, “And now?”

“I have lost too much in too short a time. I need space, my lord.”

“Then have it.” He walked off. I heard his boots clicking faintly on the wood before the door closed behind him. I shook my head and followed him indoors, hoping to find Elros in our suite. And I did, sitting in one of the chairs next to the fireplace, with a bag at his feet.

“Elros?” I looked around the room, noting the knick-knacks he tended to collect whenever we settled in one place longer than a couple days were missing. “What are you doing?”

“I’ve moved to the Edain’s camp. They are my people now, and I need to learn how to live with them.”

I stared at him. “And you just decided to do this today?”

“Lord Eönwë suggested it. Right now, you’re a liability to me, Elrond. I need to distance myself from you until you regain some perspective.”

“Regain perspective. And what perspective will that be? The common belief that the Valar saved us out of their generosity? That I dislike you choosing mortality? What, Elros? What perspective?”

Rather than answer, he stood up and slung the bag over his shoulder. He stormed to the door, yanking it open, and said, “I can see there is no point in talking to you. Good night, Elrond.” He stepped into the hallway and slammed the door behind him.

I gaped at the wood. He truly had betrayed me. First mortality and now he wouldn’t even live with me. Damn Valar! Why did they have to give us a choice?

I grabbed my cloak and left the suite as well. Rather than follow my brother, I headed to the shore, ignoring the wind and the salty water spraying into the air. I sat down on the sand and wrapped my arms around my knees, contemplating the dark water and the darker sky. Too wrapped up in my misery, I didn’t notice Círdan until he stood in front of me, beard and hair whipping about.

“It is a wild night, Elrond. What brings you out here?”

“I need to think in private.”

“Ah. Why here?”

I glared at him. “It’s the only place I thought of that people would avoid on a night like this. Gil-galad gave me leave to be alone.”

“Did he restrict your movement?”


“The shores further south may offer some comfort.”

Before I could respond that he made no sense, Círdan left me. I shook my head, telling myself I would not age like him. Cryptic comments would never be my style. Still, few, if any, people currently lived south of here. Time alone in the wilderness would be wonderful. I would take enough supplies for several weeks, but still travel as lightly as possible. Maybe Elros would listen to me upon my return.

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“I don’t know why Elrond will not listen to me,” I complained to Gil-galad, a few minutes remaining in my lesson on kingship. “He seems to think it’s self-explanatory.”

“As self-explanatory as your choice of mortality is?”

I sighed. “I thought it-- point taken.”

The Noldo leaned forward. “He thinks you’ve abandoned him. Which is why I am glad he will spend several weeks scouting, as that is what his journey will turn into if he pays attention. He assumed that you would spend the rest of the life of Arda together, as family. Now he has no one. His dreams and hopes have been destroyed. And you?”

I shook my head. “I never saw him as being happy with anything but immortality. I grew up with him among the Elves, you remember, and he fit in better than I ever did or will. His decision did not come as a shock to me, like mine did to him.”

“Ah. So you are happy for him?”

“Ecstatic, though he refuses to see it. He has greatness in him, I can see that much. But it is hidden now, and will be for a long while. Keep an eye on him, Gil-galad.”

“I will, Elros, for both of your sakes’.” He glanced out the window and studied the sundial placed outside it. “Time for you to go to Eönwë.” He smiled sympathetically at my groan. “Soon you won’t have any lessons, as you won’t need them. Leadership comes naturally to you.”

I raised my eyebrows, bowed, and left the room, closing the door behind me. Was Gil-galad truly right, or was he trying to reassure me? I did not know, and knew it would continue to bother me until I figured it out.

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Frustrated because I had yet to come to peace with anything, I kicked the nearest stand of sea grass and continued my way through the forest near the shore, trying to find a place to sleep for the night. It was easier walking on the border rather than in the loose, gritty sand or the thick underbrush. I brushed a stray strand of hair out of my face after leaping over a small stream and froze when I smelled smoke. Orcs I did not have to worry about-- they had scattered and gone to ground-- but Men still wandered these parts, and not all were friendly. I crept closer, using every bit of stealth my father and the years of war had taught me. I peered out of the trees and saw the silhouette of lone man who had set up a sparse camp near the eaves of the forest, roasting a plump rabbit on a spit over a small fire.

“Come and sit down, Elrond.”

I almost dropped my quarterstaff that doubled as a walking stick. Father. I struggled out of the underbrush and sat down next to him. “How did you know it was me?”

Maglor smiled and turned the spit with his left hand. I glanced down at the filthy bandage wrapped around his right hand that he held unmoving in his lap. If he would let me…

“I spotted you several hours ago. An orc can be quieter. I thought I taught you better.”

“You did. I just have things to work out.”

“Which is why you left Lindon and followed the shoreline. What gave you the assumption I was here?”

“Nothing. I just needed to get away and think.”

I think you need to return. Elros will be worried.”

“Elros has more important things to worry about,” I snapped, glaring at the rabbit, trying to ignore the smell of cooking meat. I hadn’t eaten anything save lembas since I had left Lindon.


“Father, I have some some clean fabric. Your burn--”

He tore his gaze from the roasting meat, eyes weary with pain clearly showing through. “I deserve to suffer, Elrond. The burn will not heal.”

“Of course it won’t with the way you’re treating it. Do you really want to lose all use of the hand at best? It will make life difficult if you do.”

He shook his head. “I know. And--”

“And what? If you’re living alone in the wilderness, you’re going to need every bit of mobility.”

He blinked and turned back to the rabbit, pulling the spit off and letting the meat cool before we could eat. I in turn grabbed my small pot and went to a nearby stream to get water to boil. When I returned and put the pot near the fire’s edge, Maglor said, “You do not want me to return?”

I shrugged and started eating. I wiped my mouth on a sleeve and said, “There is no point in my asking. You know where Lindon is, but you have made no effort to even approach.”

“My rights are forfeit, Elrond. It is better for all that I live in exile.”

“I know.” After I rinsed my hands off in the stream, I took a small jar of salve and a clean shirt out of my pack, tearing several strips from it. I unwrapped the bandage from Father’s right hand and winced when I saw the burn. I carefully examined and washed it by the firelight, ignoring his quiet moans. After I covered the burn in salve and wrapped it up in more fabric strips, I said, “I’m leaving you my supplies. You need them more than I do. And clean that burn every day.”

He studied me and finally nodded, pulling his hand back and carefully placing it in his lap. “Now, tell me why Elros has more important things to worry about than his brother.”

I sighed and stared into the flames. “The Valar are making an island for the Edain. And they’ve made him king. He chose mortality, Father. I’m going to lose him as I’ve lost everyone else.”

“Including me. But you know why I cannot return.” I nodded. “Elrond, look at me.”

I turned my head, blinking to remove the dazzle from my eyes. As they readjusted to the dark, Maglor shifted, sand squeaking under him, and leaned forward, his forehead nearly touching mine.

“This is why I remained here, in hopes that someone would find me, tell you both that I was here, and let me say farewell to you. I would not leave you as your parents did-- you deserve that much from me.”

“If it would have been a hunting party who captured you?”

“I risked it, Elrond.” He half-smiled. “That, too, would have let you see me.”

“And then you would have been dragged before the Valar. That is not the best of results.”

“Which is why I am glad you found me.” He glanced over my shoulder at the Sea, grief coloring his expression. “And why I am leaving in the morning. Do not follow me, Elrond.

“As for your brother… He has his own life to live. He was always the more impulsive one. More distractible by Elven standards as well. I do not think he would be happy with immortality.”

I whispered, “It would be a burden to him, to see the world change around him.”

“Precisely. Talk to him, Elrond. Actually listen to what he has to say. He has reasons for his choices. Stop assuming that you know what is best for him.”

“I’m just tired of being hurt.”

“It will hurt less if you reconcile with him. Use the most of the time you have together, for you will never get it back.”

He pulled back and straightened up, reaching for the harp case at his side. I smiled, lay back in the sand, and closed my eyes, listening to the last songs my father would sing to me, trying to ignore my problems for the moment.

I woke in the morning to a brief kiss on my forehead. Knowing Maglor would feel better if he thought I was asleep, I didn’t move. When I finally sat up, he was no longer in sight, though a trail of footsteps led away from the campsite. I glanced around, noting that Father had taken my pack and quarterstaff, leaving me only my waterskin. And he left one other thing: his traveling harp. I opened the worn leather case, running my hand over the small silver instrument, and closed it before sand could sneak in. I stood up, quickly washed in the stream, and headed back to Lindon.

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I walked into my suite after a long soak in the bathhouse to find Elros staring at the harp I had left on the table.

“Where did you get that?”


I walked into my room, dropped my filthy clothes onto the floor, and returned to the outer room. Elros was still staring at it. I sat down on my favorite seat by the fireplace and turned to look at my brother. “I found him, a week south of here. He’ll be gone now. He just wanted the chance to say farewell to at least one of us.”

Elros slowly moved across the room and thumped into the seat across from me. “Why? How?”

I smiled. “He had no use for it.”

“That isn’t what I’m talking about, Elrond!”

I sighed and studied my hands. “I know.” I raised my eyes and met Elros’. “I’m sorry for the way I have been treating you. Will you please forgive me?”

“As long as you listen to me.”

“I will.”

He straightened, not removing his gaze from me. “Elrond, I know this is hard for you to hear, and Gil-galad offered me a partial explanation why you have been acting as you have, but I do have reasons for my choice.” He raised a hand, and I shut my mouth. “I need you to listen, not to speak.” I nodded and he continued. “From the time we were little, you enjoyed the slower pace of life among the Elves. I didn’t. I am not content to watch the world change around me. I don’t want to see friends die because they’re mortal and I’m not. Frankly, the thought of living until the end of the world terrifies me.

“I understand why you chose as you did. You cannot imagine a life of such shortness without the time to understand things. You are prepared to watch the world change and take delight in it while remembering the past. You are terrified of mortal death and cannot understand the attraction of a reward for a life well lived.

“As we’ve always insisted to people who think identical twins are alike in everything, we are different people. This is just the most radical manifestation of that. I am a bonfire, brilliant while it lasts. You are a lampstone, steady and long-lasting.”

“I know.” I bowed my head and whispered. “I know. I had just hoped that we would be able to spend time together.”

“We have time, Elrond. Andor will not be ready for decades. I will not leave you before then.” He leaned back in his seat, finally looking away from me. “There are a couple of important things you need to know. I am dealing with a heavily political situation involving the Edain. Not all are happy that I have been chosen to be the leader. It is a combination of inexperience and those who raised us. To the former, I spend my mornings in lessons with Eönwë and Gil-galad. My afternoons are spent helping the Edain build ships under Círdan’s instruction. My evenings are spent at the mortal encampment.”

“And the latter?” I whispered, knowing he was right to be concerned but dreading what he would say.

“I am calling myself Eärendilion. It’s helped. And you do not have to do the same. If you are happy with Maglorion, be happy with it. This is my choice alone. I must distance myself from the Fëanorians, Elrond. It is a simple fact that they are a liability right now.” He half-smiled. “This does not mean I do not appreciate what they did for us. On the contrary. But it is a connection I have to minimize at this time.”

“I think I had better sit in on your lessons, then. I am not the most diplomatic person.”

Elros laughed, breaking the serious mood just a little. “You have made enemies by being too vocal. Talk to Gil-galad.”

“I will.”

He smiled. “I’m glad you’re home, Elrond. Now, tell me about Father.”

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When I walked into Gil-galad’s study the next morning after breakfast, he smiled at me as usual and then his jaw dropped when he spotted Elrond behind me. “What can I do for you, Maglorion?”

I stepped aside and let Elrond stand nearer the desk. He softly said, “When I traveled, I found Father. He gave me his harp and said that he would never return to live amongst the Elves.” Gil-galad nodded, his neutral expression giving away nothing of his own thoughts about our foster father. “More importantly, as my brother’s recent actions have reminded me, I need to learn more about diplomacy and leadership. If I may sit in on court?”

Gil-galad grinned. “Feel free to join your brother’s lessons as well.”

Elrond bowed and settled himself in one seat while I grabbed the other. I mouthed “I told you” at Elrond and listened to the king set out the problem I had to solve today while he handed a book on leadership styles to Elrond, clearly intending on letting him read about things before setting him problems. That had always been the better way to teach him rather than my jumping in, I mused, tapping my quill on the parchment in front of me, before I began to solve the rather tricky problem.

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The years passed, and while we drifted apart in many things, Elros and I still spent as much time together as possible. His lessons had ended only a few years after Uncle Maedhros and Father stole the Silmarils, the same number of years from my farewell to Father on the seashore. My lessons-- with Gil-Galad alone-- had only just begun. It was then I truly began to understand the differences between the Firstborn and the Secondborn: I had the time for an in-depth study long before I would be called on to take any sort of leadership position. Elros did not have it, and he had to suffice with learning what he was able before being forced to do the actual work. He spent more and more time with the Edain and I began to become entangled in Gil-galad’s court. Still, we spent as much time together as possible. Until one day, the Star of Eärendil showed in the daylight and we knew it was time.

It had been a long night, and I was exhausted, but I did not regret spending the hours talking. For I now stood with Elros on the dock, near the gangplank that led to his ship. We simply looked at each other, with nothing left to say. He pulled me into a hug and I embraced him, memorizing what he felt like in my arms. If this was to be the last time I would see him, I wanted to remember every bit of it.

He finally pulled away, met my eyes, and said, “Elrond, may the stars shine upon the end of your road.”

“And may Eärendil guide you until the end of your days.”

He smiled, turned, and walked up the plank. He was the last aboard and sailors started removing the ropes tethering the ship to the dock. I retreated to the headland to watch the fleet sail. Elros, I noticed, had taken the wheel rather than let anyone else sail his ship away from here. As he sailed out to open water, he never looked back.

I remained there until his ship passed beyond the horizon, only then turning toward home.

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