Gone For Soldiers
A very special thank-you to Dawn F. for emergency beta work.
It had been an exhausting day. For several months Gil-galad had been trying to convince Oropher to join his alliance, negotiations that were prolonged by Oropher’s deep-rooted dislike of Men. But finally Oropher did agree, realizing its importance. Both Oropher and Elendil would arrive in a week, bearing any maps and scrolls that might prove helpful in their plans.
Gil-galad sighed and rubbed his forehead as he entered his private study, noting that the fire had been already laid. His big dog Roch was curled on the rug and raised his head and thumped his tail, waiting for a treat.
Oropher likes few people as it is, Gil thought as he poured himself a glass of chilled wine, but there are times when I think he dislikes Noldor almost more than he dislikes Men. He walked over to his favorite armchair, finally stretched his legs out beside the warm fire, and tossed Roch a couple of biscuits. Roch crunched them neatly and all was quiet except for the soft crackle of the fire. Gil-galad had nearly fallen asleep when Roch raised his head and looked toward the balcony. Since the windows were kept unlocked, Gil rose and pushed them slightly ajar. Then he sat down again and waited.
A few minutes later, a thin bedraggled shadow slipped inside and reclosed the open windows.
“I’ve been expecting you, cousin,” Gil said in a hard voice. “Sit, and help yourself to a glass.”
“What is this? You have no kiss of greeting for your uncle?” said Maglor in a mocking tone as he pushed the hood of his cloak back.
“Father was the one who insisted I call your elder brother ‘uncle’,” Gil managed to say in a level tone. “You are fortunate I call you ‘cousin’.”
“As you wish then.” Maglor set the wine bottle back in the ice and carried his glass over to a side table, sitting in the chair opposite the Noldorin king. “So, what news?”
“Oropher has agreed to join me,” Gil said with a sigh. “I hope that this Alliance will have some success where others did not.”
“Success is always possible,” Maglor replied after several moments of silence, but still hearing the unspoken words where others failed. “But it will be difficult, at best. Expect to spend large amounts of money, men and material – and most of all, time.”
“Thank you for your brilliant insight,” Gil said acidly.
Maglor did not rise to the bait. He merely sighed and closed his eyes in pain. At last, Gil-galad was the one who broke the silence.
“Have you spoken to Elrond yet?”
“No, and I do not intend to either. I would be a distraction and he needs to focus on what is coming.”
“Do you know what is coming then? I did not realize you had the gift of Farsight. Or will it be a new addition to your epic?”
Only if it is in my music, Maglor thought tiredly but did not say so. “I do not have that gift.”
“What did you come here for then?” Gil-galad asked.
“I am hoping you will accept some of the notes and maps I have sketched during my wanderings. Perhaps they may be of some use to you.”
“I thank you.” The High King sighed tiredly as he rubbed his forehead once more. The largest research room had been prepared by Erestor for the study of maps and any other scrolls; here, the majority of planning and logistics would take place.“I will study them later.”
“You are welcome.” Maglor inclined his head briefly and stretched. “I must leave soon. I need to replenish my supplies before returning south.”
“Would you mind telling me why you are traveling south again?”
“It may prove important,” Maglor said at last. “Or not. Is there anything else?”
“You know that I intend to make Elrond my heir?”
“Yes,” Maglor gritted out. “I do not think it wise though.”
“He is my nearest kinsman,” Gil-galad said as he stared into the fire, as Maglor refilled their glasses. “He is almost my nephew.”
“I admit that I was curious when you didn’t marry Elwing,” Maglor said as he sipped at the wine.
“She was as a sister to me,” Gil replied at last. “But there was another…” He left the remaining words wither away.
“Ah,” Maglor said but it seemed their conversation was at an end.
The fire burned to embers and Roch snored lightly as they finished the last of the wine.
“I must go now, your grace, before the house wakens.” Maglor stood and bowed before disappearing through the window.
Gil-galad watched him leave before dousing the fire and retiring to his rooms. The next weeks would be long and he could only hope they met with success.