Lady Aredhel's Decision
In the days following the arrival of the Moon and Sun we sought refuge in the dark comforts of Nan Elmoth under our leader Lord Eöl, for Doriath had been visited by the strange elves with fire in their eyes and blood upon their hands. We sought neither war nor wrath with them but to have only peace, a chance to continue our crafts in uninterrupted silence beyond the reaches of the bitter war with the Black Foe.
Our leader was fair and good, strong and noble, and acquired the friendship of the dwarves with whom we traded and formed alliance. Often he set out on meeting with them, for they loved him and invited him often, and we remained behind. We, such as my partner in penning this and myself, worked in the smithies, tended the gardens which fed our community, looked after the young and tended to the sick, and always kept an eye for enemy, be he orc or Noldo.
Yet our doom came not by trampling of a hundred feet nor the roars of the men who often leered at our lord, envious of his connection with the Dwarves. Our doom was in the form of fair beauty, and fairest of all, for she became our Lady.
She came to us while our lord was returning from a visit with the lord of Belegost. As he would later tell the tale to us, he had caught a flicker of light amidst the dark forest, but when he had turned for a look he had seen nothing.
At first he passed it off as trickery of the eye, for his travels had worn him, but then there the light flickered back, and he peered closer to perceive a woman clad in white.
Awe settled unto him, and all thought of his weariness left him. He had felt, he described to us, as if he was seeing starlight dancing before him, far deep into the forest. Our lord was never known for rash decision, but a mad thought overcame him to meet her, where he was wont to just let passersby pass our lands, undisturbed so long they kept the same to our community.
He approached her and they spoke, and so the doom that hovered over the people of the Noldor fell on us. He invited her to his abode where his servants served a grand feast for the fair lady. His servants, they had informed us, spoke of the enchantment as a veil that clouded our lord’s judgement. He walked as if dazed, drunk with the sudden love seized by mere glance, unchecked by the logic nor detachment that normally comprised Lord Eöl. He would not be so foolish as to run headfirst into an affair, ever the meticulous analyst, but the very thing he wasn’t he displayed before us.
Stranger still was the consummation of this lustful attraction soon after the feast, for neither Lord Eöl nor the Lady Aredhel, it would seem, could endure the carnal urges of their bodies. All in the act of the doom that befell them.
Oh, it was love. We do not deny this, for I personally had witnessed the manner in which my lord’s eyes alit with mirth at the lady’s humor. I had found myself drawn to the lady for she was like the starlight Lord Eöl compared her too, alone shining bright in our somber world, her laughter and silvery voice ringing in life into our dreary yet beloved home. Impossible it was not to fall in love with Lady Aredhel!
Theirs would have been an endearing love, long-lasting and growing as old as the mighty and mysterious trees of Nan Elmoth. But the doom twisted their fate and clouded their minds so that their love would be realized too quick by any custom of Moriquendi or Noldor.
What could any of the Moriquendi say to our lord for fear of his rare wrath?
We spoke nothing of it. We would go about our business as though the lady had not spent the night in our lord’s quarters.
And it seemed Lord Eöl himself had not wished to dwell on his strange night, for the following morning he was not by our lady’s side. He walked as if confused as to where he was, as if he had been heavily drinking and only now coming back to his senses.
My lord, being who he was, took to his smithy. Lady Aredhel rode out. Her horse carried her through all of Nan Elmoth, and we had believed she would leave us forever, marking last night as a singular strange event of whimsical fancy in her life. I watched my lord’s face as he worked; the thought of her leaving did not disturb him.
But what did was her return. She had informed us that she explored all of our forests and found it more awe-inspiring than the dreadfully dull woods that dotted along the hidden city of Gondolin, the lands whence she had come.
Lord Eöl informed her, not unkindly, that she may return to Gondolin, with every intention of hoping the memory of last night would be forgotten. But Lady Aredhel was not quick to leave and insisted upon her remaining, declaring our forests a free haven from the cage she had recently fought to let herself out.
My lord listened to her speak ill of her old home and of her old abode in Valinor, having spent many years exploring until she recognized every tree and river and stone. He listened without speaking until she was done.
“If these lands were your cages, then so shall become Nan Elmoth,” he had said.
“I do not see foresee that,” Lady Aredhel had said, “for your lands are nothing like that of Valinor nor of Gondolin. You are wide open, and it is forever night here, which I do enjoy. I feel I walk among the stars!”
“You cannot pass too close to the edge where the sun may see you, for it means our enemies may as well,” Lord Eöl had warned. “You are to remain as hidden as possible.”
He had meant to turn her away, but no matter what he said, Lady Aredhel would not be dissuaded from making Nan Elmoth her home. Yet no malice shown in her eyes as the two argued. Our lands were a refuge for some horror she wished escape from, and eventually Lord Eöl could find no other reason to push her away. By elven law of Lady Aredhel’s kin, they were wed in soul by union of the body. She was now Lady of Nan Elmoth, and by rights this land was now her dominion.
After she left, we approached Lord Eöl.
“I do not like this,” my companion said. “I do not have a good feeling about all this.”
“I fear the doom of the Noldor has reached us,” I added.
Lord Eöl gave us both a slow nod. The shadows of the leaves above wrapped about his face, giving him a grimmer look than usual. “It may indeed have, but all we can do is live with what was given to us. The Doom has brought us a Lady who we love, and though we wish the circumstances have unfolded…differently…we cannot alter the past.
“Let the storm come. Nan Elmoth has endured far more before the coming of the Noldor. If it must take me in the process, then so shall it be, so long as the storm spares the rest of my people!”