"Gwanûn Gîl: The Star Twins"
Gwanûn Gîl is an award-winning short fanfiction story about Elrond and Elros, Half-elven twins from the world of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Following the story is a more complete biography of them based on Tolkien's writings about Middle-earth, plus links to other webpages with portraits or fanfiction about them.
Gwanûn Gîl was written for a short story contest on The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza in which we were challenged to write ten posts of 1000-5000 words each, no more, no less, in a few days' time. I started writing with no idea where it was going! It's strong on characterization but a little weak on plot. Nonetheless it won first prize!
The story is G-rated: a fictional character study of two intriguing figures from The Silmarillion for whom we have only a few fleeting references. Why did one choose mortality, the other the fate of the Elves? That was the question I set myself. You must judge whether I provided a plausible answer.
Photo Credit: lyle58 on Flickr, "Twins," Creative Commons: Some Rights Reserved.
Elrond and Elros: A Brief Timeline
- Born to Eärendil and Ewing: 532 First Age
- Captured by Sons of Fëanor: 538 First Age
- Elrond and Elros given Choice of Half-elven: 590 First Age
- Elros reaches Númenor, becomes King Tar-Minyatur: 32 Second Age
- Elros dies in Númenor: 442 Second Age
- Elrond founds Imladris: 1697 Second Age
- Elrond weds Celebrían: 109 Third Age
- Celebrían's abduction/rescue: 2509 Third Age
- Elrond leaves Middle-earth for the Undying Lands: Sept 22, 3021 Third Age, and so the Third Age ends.
Photo Credit: Pensiero on Flickr (some rights reserved)
Fanfiction: GwanÃ»n GÃ®l ~ Star Twins
(Spoken by Tinw, Elf-friend, in the dawn of the Fourth Age)
Did you ever dare look into the eyes of Elrond Peredhel? Three Ages of this world has he seen, but at birth he could not have dreamed of more than one-- nor have desired it.
He was born long ago in the twilight of Elder Days, when Melkor's fell servants and his pitiless tyranny held suppliant all of Beleriand, the western lands of Middle-earth. Melkor, Morgoth, the greatest Enemy of Middle-earth: Sauron was only his lieutenant, a paltry figure of malice in those days. No less of a menace were the Sons of FÃ«anor, so bent on reclaiming the Silmarils, Jewels of Light made by their father's hands, that they would stain their hands with the blood of their own kindred to reclaim them. So the sons of FÃ«anor, greatest warriors of the Elves, hastened the defeat of their own kind.
Gondolin had fallen. Doriath had fallen. Nargothrond had fallen. In the destruction of all three realms, betrayal had played a part. At least it was not the Sons of FÃ«anor who had told the Enemy the secret ways into Gondolin, craving the king's daughter Idril as prize. No, they had only tried to rape LÃºthien the Fair, daughter of the King of Doriath. They had only convinced the folk of Nargothrond to forsake their own king, good Finrod Felagund. They had only come swooping like vultures upon Doriath in its waning years, where LÃºthien's son Dior ruled with a Silmaril over his heart, won by his parents' sufferings. They had only slain him and hundreds of their own kind, condemning his sons to perish in the wilderness.
Yet Elwing Dior's daughter had escaped to the Mouths of Sirion with some of the survivors, seeking refuge with the fugitives from all three fallen kingdoms. Under the healing power of Idril's Elessar, the Elfstone, many hurts were healed. Under the holy light of Elwing's Silmaril, many hearts were healed. In the mingling of the embers of three great kingdoms, hope was rekindled. EÃ¤rendil the son of Idril wedded Elwing the daughter of Dior, and to them were born twin stars, Elrond and Elros, deemed mortal although only time would tell.
They had not much time.
Their grandparents Tuor and Idril saw them born but soon departed for the Uttermost West. Their father EÃ¤rendil followed. The boys were weaned by the sound of breakers hurled against the shore, the horns of Ulmo and the crying of gulls. That mournful music reminded the Exiled Elves of the paradise to which they could not return, and the Sindar Elves of the paradise they had refused to seek. What tide would wash them from the land, or what menace would drive them into the sea?
Their own kind.
The Sons of FÃ«anor bided their time. When mighty EÃ¤rendil was gone and his sons yet boys, they came against the havens. Terrible was the third Kinslaying, as terrible as the others had been, and yet worse, for Morgoth now held almost all Beleriand under his hand. By this act of madness the Shadow's victory was assured. Blood stained the waters. Into them leapt Elwing, a flash of white fire upon the darkened waves, and that was the last glimpse in the Hither Lands that anyone ever had of the granddaughter of LÃºthien the Fair.
That also was the last time she was seen by her sons, who had already lost their father to the call of the Sea. Elrond and Elros were taken captive and carried away from the coast where they had been born. By some accounts, they were still babes in arms, but that at least I do not believe-- how could infants, even those of the Firstborn, have faced the choices they were soon to make when these bloody events had run their course? Still children, at any rate, they were carried into the wild like Dior's sons before them and abandoned. By mere luck they had a happier fate. Or did they? At my tale's end, you must judge for yourselves.
In Imladris, I have heard a song said to have been written by Maglor the Minstrel. He was one of the greatest singers the world has ever heard-- or hears, for none will say when or whether he has died, or if he still wanders the world singing laments of those terrible days. In the Common Speech, it goes something like this.
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Two stars, born of blood and fire
One cool wisdom, one fierce desire
Thou in the cave with mist on thy face
Thou diving fearless in the swirling place
Where the waterfall breaks. The prophet reads chances
In the fall's jewelled curtain, while his brother dances
With foam in his hair. There they are found
In cave and in pool, to different fates bound.
As ever, mortal words cannot encompass immortal memories. But so it was. Maglor son of FÃ«anor called the quiet brother Elrond, "star-dome", in memory of that vaulted grotto; what name he held before I do not know. The other boy was called Elros, "star-foam", from the freshet where he sported without fear of being dashed against the rocks, young as he was. It was Elrond who insisted on Ãªl, the ancient word for star, by which he and his brother were to be linked and severed forever. I wonder if, when it came to naming his last-born child, Elrond knew in his heart of hearts that Arwen would not have a share in that star's blessing.
But I am telling the beginning, not the ending of this family's story. Elrond's parents were gone. His brother still lived. But the twins were hostages of one of the Sons of FÃ«anor, and could not have expected any better from him than their folk had received at Sirion and Doriath. It would take time for Maglor to show to what extent he was willing to stretch the chains of the oath that bound him.
Maglor kept them among his own company, riding back towards Himring whence he had come. The host was subdued. They had not found the Silmaril they had sought, only blood and death and slaughter. They had damned themselves a third time and come up empty-handed. Surely they now knew themselves accursed. They had left the bodies of many of their number rolling in the long-enduring waters of Sirion. What prize had they to bring home from their struggle? Two freakish boys, born of mixed parentage, the peredhil. I do not think that name was first bestowed as an honorific.
Maglor, however, shielded them. He had never married or risked bringing the curse of his family on the heads of children, but the curse had already touched these two boys. Yet they almost seemed not to know it. Their innocence, when he found them playing by themselves beside the river, had profoundly moved him. He was determined to do what little he could to atone for his crimes against their family. Unfortunately, he had not counted on the stubbornness of Elves redoubled by that of Men. Elros, at least, would not make it easy for him.
Riding in the company of the Noldor, the peredhil were not shackled or confined; there was no need. Marauding orcs often attacked or prowled behind the host, spying on the movements of the Sons of FÃ«anor at their master's bidding. Stragglers would be dealt with swiftly. Young Elros was of a mind to ride out and fight them, knowing he would die but wishing to shame his kin's murderers. But his brother was able to dissuade him. Elrond would not leave his side, nor would Elros lead his beloved twin to his death. So he suffered to remain with the host. However, he would not touch their meat or food. Day by day Elros grew weaker, albeit slowly, for his strength was more than that of other mortal Men.
At length, Maglor came to Elrond in despair. "Your brother will not eat! Make him see sense. The fire is leaving his eyes. I do not know what you are, mortal or immortal, but I know that even the blood of a Maia is not proof against death in these accursed mortal lands. Can you not do something?"
"You cannot wash away the blood from your hands by saving him and me," the boy pointed out gently. "My brother will do as he will do. We miss our parents very much. If they are mortal, as your soldiers say, then there is only one way to find them. If they are not, this way will suffice."
And from that Elrond would not be budged, but neither was his heart more or less troubled to see the thin shadows touching his brother's cheeks. He was waiting.
"For what?" Elros demanded of him, watching him break bread with Maglor, who seldom left them alone.
"For a star."
The star came when they were almost back to Himring. Elros was strapped to a grey horse, since he could not walk. His brother was walking beside him. Suddenly, Elrond whispered a single word, and the horse stopped still. Elrond gripped Elros' shoulder and cradled his chin gently, lifting his head. His brother stared towards the horizon and then went rigid, eyes widening in shock.
Maglor came running. "What is it?" he asked, reaching to take Elros in his arms and fearing the worst.
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But the boy pulled away and pushed himself up with his hands. He turned the horse's head to face the west and sat up straight, tall and erect, black hair streaming behind him. "Alive!" he crowed, flinging out his arms. "She's alive! Mother is coming back to us!"
Elrond's lips had twisted into a wan smile. "I believe it is our father," the thoughtful boy murmured. "She has found him. Yes, they are alive, gwanur."
Only then did Maglor look away from the boys, and so he was the last of the host of the Noldor to see the fiery speck of bluish-white light on the horizon, the news of which had already flown from lip to lip all through the company. Murmurs and cries of wonder and alarm drifted upwards in the twilight. Some raised their swords.
In the shadows of rocks and copses, the skulking minions of the dark powers heard their fearless cries and paused. Red eyes turned westwards and were afraid. The menace of their presence lifted from the Elves' hearts, for the pursuit melted away when they continued onward.
A little while later, Maedhros came striding towards the trio. "Surely that is a Silmaril that shines now in the West?" he said, not meeting the twins' keen eyes.
Elrond kept his gaze fixed upon the star. Elros turned on his mount's back and looked at Maedhros and Maglor expectantly with something that was not quite hate; his heart was greater than that, but not above pride.
"If it be truly the Silmaril which we saw cast into the sea," Maglor said slowly, painfully aware of the boys watching and listening to his every word, "then let us be glad; for its glory is seen now by many, and is yet secure from all evil."* He glanced at his own hands.
"A feast," Elros said suddenly. "We should have a feast to celebrate! For a Silmaril is restored to all Elves and Men, and the Sons of FÃ«anor, who may gaze upon it freely whenever they wish. That has not happened since this Age began."
Maedhros had not spent as much time with them as had his brother, but he was neither hard-hearted nor close-minded. "No, it has not," he said gravely. "Very well. We will halt here at the eaves of Nan Elmoth and hold a celebration, the Mereth e-GÃ®l."
"GÃ®l-Estel," Elrond whispered. "The star of hope."
"Maglor, will you break bread with me?" Elros asked impulsively, a grin lighting up his gaunt face. "For I am glad. It seems that there is no use seeking my parents in the Halls of Mandos quite yet."
*(Maedhros' and Maglor's exchange quoted from The Silmarillion)
The star blazed bright in the western sky. Many torches were kindled all along the eaves of Nan Elmoth, which was deserted since EÃ¶l had left it seeking his fugitive wife and son and set in motion the events that had wrought Gondolin's fall. The trees were tall and dark as ever, looming like a great black wall, but among their ebon pillars flew the last of the nightingales of Melian. Here they sang sweetly and sadly under the light of the new star. For in this forest when the world was young had Thingol met his Queen, and magic lingered there still, blended now with sorrow as in all parts of the world. The star's light pierced deep into the dark wood and painted its columns silver.
Such was the hall which the Noldor chose for their feast, although they did not venture far into it, for they knew it was a place of the Moriquendi, not for them. In the waters of Celon they washed their hands. Then they feasted under the boles of the trees, dining on roast meat of speckled kine and the last of the bread they had brought with them from home. For the first time since setting out, Maglor sang for them.
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His voice could match even that of the nightingales when his heart was moved, and now it was so moved.
He sang of the forging of the Silmarils in Aman, before his father's heart was darkened by Morgoth's whisperings and betrayal. He sang of the Mereth Aderthad, the Feast of Reuniting held by High King Fingolfin twenty years after the rising of the Sun, to which he and Maedhros had come while their brothers skulked in the east. He sang of the Two Trees and the depths of the Sea over which the Noldor had been borne Ages past and back again, towards hope and towards revenge as yet unquenched. And he sang of blood upon the waters of AlqualondÃ« and Esgalduin and Sirion. At his words the company wept, save for the sons of Elrond, who ate and listened in guiltless silence.
"You sing of sorrow in the midst of celebration," Elros said, reproaching him as the night wore on. "This feast is for my father and mother."
"So are the tears," Maglor observed, his own still glimmering on his cheeks. "I am a bard and must sing the truth."
"Can you never be happy?" Elros asked in amazement.
Maglor blinked. "Yesterday you would rather die than dine with me, lad, and now you are trying to cheer me."
"I forgive you!" Elros smiled, although he also showed his teeth. "When I am older, perhaps we will be enemies. But for now, let us be friends. If I and my brother are saddled with you as our guardian, we must make the best of it. For I see now why he said you were different, although you are still of FÃ«anor's brood."
"You also are different," Maglor said fondly. "Peredhel -- no, do not scowl! There is something of the Sun in you, whereas we are born of the Stars. Fitting that your parents should carry the Silmaril, in which is blended the light of both." He looked around, suddenly realizing Elros' second shadow was missing. "Where is your brother?"
"Looking for the sea," replied Elros with a laugh, helping himself to the wine. "Or some such nonsense-- you know how he talks. I think he has gone off by himself to be alone."
"My songs disturbed him."
Elros cocked an eyebow. "This surprises you?"
Maglor sighed. "No, but I hate my gift as much as I hate my oath. Excuse me." So saying, he rose from the torchlit circle of faces and ventured among the trees, guessing Elrond would have gone into the forest and not the field.
Nor was he mistaken. The boy stood with his back against the trunk of a tall, straight pine, staring upwards. Maglor paused, uncertain whether to approach, but the slight figure waved a hand towards him and smiled. "It is beautiful, isn't it?"
Maglor craned his neck to catch a glimpse of the new star burning between gaps in the branches of the dense trees. "You think your father has it now."
"I am certain." The stargazer sighed. "Our Silmaril: the work of your father's hands. I didn't know he loved Galadriel. I suppose that's not surprising; all who look upon her do. How much of the history of the world would be different, do you suppose, if Elves and Men were not moved to do great deeds and terrible by love?"
"Doriath would not be, nor LÃºthien, nor EÃ¤rendil, nor would Gondolin have been betrayed or the Silmaril saved."
A nightingale broke into song somewhere nearby. Tears rose in the grey eyes of the youth. "Melian and Thingol fell in love here, didn't they?"
"So it's said."
"I wish I had known them."
Maglor shook his head, coming close to the young one. "You are a strange lad. They are your own blood, to be sure, but it strikes me that you spend so much time pondering what has been, or what will be, that you care little for what is now. Unlike your brother."
"He is the future," Elrond said laconically. "I am the past."
Maglor threw back his head and laughed. "You are a poet. Or mad. I'm not sure which. Come, boy, I had promised I would let you have a go at my harp tonight. Let me show you a thing or two, and doubtless you shall show me more before the night's ending."
The silver harp of Maglor was usually outshone by the voice of the one who played it. Not this night. Elrond's fingers were smaller than his teacher's, but he was nimble and a quick learner, his hands moving as swiftly as his thoughts. But first he sat on a stump watching the minstrel ply his trade, and when the older Elf set the instrument into his hands, Elrond held it thoughtfully for a while in heavy silence.
"Go on, lad," Maglor urged gently. "Not everything you do need be perfect. Just try."
"I will make mistakes," Elrond said absently. Still he waited, until those Elves who were nearby grew bored and resumed their conversations. Finally he arched his hands against the strings and drew forth a rippling scale, repeated it, varied it, held it and sent it flying, like the everlasting rhythm of waves against the shore, and the gulls flying out to sea.
His spirit circled the mouths of Sirion, seeking his father and mother, and one by one the Elves grew quiet
Image Credit: Ship/Photomanip by Tinw,
Harp from jm casanueva.
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as they listened to the quieter of the two brothers spilling out his heart.
He had said little to them on the journey, preferring to keep his own counsel. Even now he addressed no one present, calling out instead to those who were lost over the sea. And in the way of his people, as when Finrod Felagund first came upon the fathers of Men, Elrond's forebears, he painted pictures with the silver strings.
They saw a ship filled with clear light like a phial of purest liquid, and its hull was of mithril and of beryl, its hawsers and pennants of silk woven on VairÃ«'s own looms. A dust of stars and jewels sprinkled the deck, and on it stood a tall man motionless as a figurehead, reduced to no more than shadow by the very brilliance of the shining gem upon his brow, compared to which all else was black. His hand rested upon a tiller of glass. The cloak that billowed behind him was the night sky etched with the dim blue bars of twilight clouds cast over the horizon. The dolphins and birds that rose before him became affixed to the sky and hid themselves within the heavens as glimmering nets of stars. Silent, he sailed past the assembly, and few could look upon his face or meet his eyes. He would not meet theirs, but gazed upon things which the Eldar themselves would never know, beyond the confines of this world.
They saw a tower of pearl rising in the north like a distant cousin of Illuin, gleaming a pale gold in the coming light of dawn. Gulls circled it endlessly, blending their cries like the sounds of the strings which held notes for minutes or more if one had Elven-ears to hear them. A white silhouette stood upon the apex of the tower and suddenly leapt outward onto the air, but did not fall. She was carried aloft with the beating wings of a cloak the color of Thingol's, and rising on the currents of air came to the great ship. Together EÃ¤rendil the pilot of heaven and Elwing the lady of birds descended into the west and disappeared beyond their son's gifted sight.
They saw a city which wrenched at their hearts, for it was achingly familiar. Those Exiles born before the Flight of the Noldor remembered well every shining wall of white stone, every door damasked by delicate filigree, every leaping fountain and blossoming tree. They could hear the birds of Tol EressÃ«a and the silver bells of TÃºna.
The Exiles stared at the boy in their midst, with his Sindar and mortal and Maia blood, and were suddenly afraid. They had assumed that he and his brother were Men, born and bound to mortal lands. But how did anyone know? Had the Valar in fact set a Maia among them to observe all their deeds with those impassive grey eyes? His brother had seemed mortal enough!
Elrond handed the little harp back to Maglor and smiled. "Hennad. I will have to have a Hall of Fire for song and tale, when I have my own house." He rose and went to find his brother, who was resting at last.
They reached the Hill of Himring in autumn, and there were hosted royally by Maedhros as if they were a part of the family. This did not entirely please Elros nor the people of Amras and Amrod, whose lords had been slain during the attack at the Mouths of Sirion. Now only two Sons of FÃ«anor were left, sick at heart with the oath that bound them still. They were ringed round by foes, and had no friends. The only light within the March of Maedhros during those dark days were the sons of EÃ¤rendil, captives to Maedhros' hospitality and his brother's kindness.
Needless to say, the twins
Photomanip of Elves/Stills
from Uruviel's Argonath
would not stay long in the fastness of Himring itself. Maglor had been dwelling with his brother since the Dagor Bragollach, but now at the urging of Elros and his brother he removed with a part of his people to the ruins of his great hall in the undefended open lands east of Himring, there to make a last stand of defiance against the orcs that had overrun most of Beleriand. His new hall was of stone, not wood, and its walls were high, and for a while Maglor's Gap was swept clean once more of enemies. Morgoth was brooding away north and west in Angband, pondering a new light in the sky, and made no hostile moves towards them.
So the boys grew to manhood under Maglor's tutelage, riding out on errantry against fell beasts and orcs. Elros proved a great hunter, fearless even as a youth, and Maglor was torn between worry and pride. For Elrond he had fewer concerns, since he took fewer risks, and his talent was ever in words and counsel more than warcraft. Also in healing. Elros did not always emerge unscathed from their forays into the Gap, and everyone soon learned which of the pair had inherited the healing gifts of their forebears.
"You should not hunt at night," Maglor scolded them one time, when Elrond had brought his brother home with orc-arrows embedded in his side.
"We see better by the light of our father's star!" Elros said impenitently, closing his eyes to mask the pain while his brother silently cut the arrows free. Maglor, holding the young man's head and singing to soothe him while his brother worked, wondered for the hundredth time to which kindred belonged the red blood that spread out beneath him staining the coverlets.
"He will not die this side of the sea," Elrond remarked, his hands gentle and his movements unhurried as ever.
"There!" Elros said through gritted teeth. "What did I tell you? We will see our parents again, before we die."
But to that Elrond would not speak.
The sun and moon shone as before, now joined by a bright star in the evening and morning sky. The people of the Sons of FÃ«anor licked their wounds at Himring, and far away south and west the people of EÃ¤rendil rebuilt their ships and their havens and gazed westward in gladness and longing. They had a sign. But of what? The final years of the Age were passing swiftly. All Beleriand was holding its breath. They no longer had the power to defy Morgoth. The next move and the next victory would be his, unless EÃ¤rendil's embassy succeeded where all others had failed.
Like a rising wave of thunder crashing down over the land, so the Host of the West came up out of the Sea. The ringing of the trumpets of EÃ¶nwÃ« the Herald of the Valar came rolling to the very feet of the Hithaeglir. The sky blazed with the light of the Valar and the glory of the Vanyar, the Elves of the Uttermost West. White were their banners. The Edain came to the battle, and the remnants of the Noldor of Beleriand, but Maglor and Maedhros did not come. Yet they heard the tumult of the War of Wrath from afar. From their fiefs and lands the people of the Sons of FÃ«anor
looked up in wonder, hope, and terror, as the sky itself writhed with seething clouds, for little of the northern part of the world could escape the chaos. At night, dragons boiled on the horizon, spilling out curtains of red flame that set the forests ablaze, but they did not come east. Flashes of white lightning flew to meet them, and one by one the great Worms were struck from heaven and cast down into the rising Sea. The land was broken and the mountains shook. Many hapless souls were lost even in the hour of victory, for a land far greater than NÃºmenor was buried beneath the waves.
Standing on the wall of Maglor's keep, the brothers gazed westward. Tears spilled without abating on Elrond's cheeks, and when his twin asked him why, he could only say, "Sirion." At the mouths of that great river had they been born.
Watching a sunrise tearing through a cloud-wracked sky, they could see in the distance that Gelion, the closer river, had broken its banks and was flowing backwards. On the horizon, the tongue of fire which they saw lapped beneath the sky was actually the rising ocean driving inland. Its heaving surf caught and scattered the ruddy light of dawn like frothing blood.
"I hope our father's people are not under that," Elros said, unusually subdued. "How will they escape? And what of the wild creatures?"
Elrond shook his head and turned away from the sun, leaning his elbows against the lip of the battlements. "Drowned," he sighed. In his mind's eye the wave was always sea-green, not red, and it was the towers and homes of Men that were engulfed, not the sweet wild lands and the ruined kingdoms of the Elves. For once in his short life, he was utterly at a loss to reconcile what his eyes and heart were seeing. "I have seen enough," he said abruptly, and made for the stair spiralling around the inner curve of the wall.
Elros nodded and made to follow, but his eye was caught by a dark speck between the clouds and the ocean, speeding towards them. Puzzled, he turned back and watched until at last he was certain: a bird of size immeasurable with wings spread in the kingly span of the greatest of Eagles. With astonishing swiftness it arrowed towards them, but its destination was not the foothills of Mt. Rerir; instead, it circled thrice over the Hill of Himring some leagues to the west of them, then dropped from view. "Telling them to flee?" he guessed, for if the Celon and other rivers were rising too, Maedhros would soon be cut off and his fastness an island in the maw of that angry Sea.
Somehow the ocean had a fascination for Elros even at this distance, too far away to hear the yearned-for music of surf and breakers that the boys had missed for so long. He vowed to see it again when the waves had calmed. If they calmed. Had Morgoth been defeated, or was this the world's ending? No one yet knew.
It was Thorondor King of Eagles who had brought the summons, first to the Hill of Himring and then to Maglor's Gap. All Eldar were to join the encampment of the Host of the West, which had removed ahead of the rising waters, and with them take ship back to Aman when the Seas had calmed. News of victory had enheartened Maglor's people, and what had been an evacuation of despair became an exodus of euphoria. They could go home! Yet some continued to speak against the Valar, believing forgiveness unattainable; others stared longingly at the mountains to the east and wondered if they might dwell a while longer in the land where they had fought and suffered so much to defend.
The sons of EÃ¤rendil were two who went with the larger group, heading for the great camp of the Valar at Thargelion. Maglor had come to the twin brothers first, before he gave his own people the news of Morgoth's defeat; he wished to see his foster-sons one last time. Not that he told them what lay within his heart. He spoke only of the victory and the summons. "I do not know whether you are beholden to EÃ¶nwÃ«'s command, Peredhil, or whether you are free to wander as you choose. But for my part, I have kept you too long. If you wish to go, then go with my blessing and my love."
Elros was dismayed to learn that Maglor was not coming with them, but said no word. Elrond, leaning on the parapet where they stood looking out over the marshy lands at the Sea's edge, spoke for both. "You will not obey EÃ¶nwÃ«'s summons, even now?" he asked. They could smell salt on the wind.
The singer bowed his head. "My brother and I have not yet taken council yet on what is to be done," he replied. "You see, the Silmarils have been recovered. They are in EÃ¶nwÃ«'s keeping."
Elros' laughter was incredulous more than angry. "So they are safe, even from you. Oh, uncle, will you not come with us, and forget that wretched oath? It will kill you!"
"An oath cannot be lightly set aside," Maglor said, and ruffled the young man's hair fondly. "Come, lad, I have taught you better than that."
Elros, eager and earnest as ever, could not persuade him otherwise, and Elrond did not try. Not all Melkor's chains had been broken when he was vanquished; so much was clear. But Elrond wished to part with Maglor in friendship, even if afterwards they met again as enemies, so he said little.
His wish was granted. Maglor insisted on sending an honor guard with them, gifted them richly with horses from Valinor and swords from Belegost, and bound fair jewels upon their brows. At Elrond's shoulder was Maglor's silver harp, which he promised to play in his Hall of Fire when it was built. But more precious than all these treasures were the many songs and stories the greatest living minstrel of Beleriand had given them the night before at their farewell feast. So the sons of EÃ¤rendil rode forth as princes with a great following in their train of the very Elves who had borne them away into captivity, many of whom had thrice sought their kin's deaths.
Safely the twins fared across the broken and battered land, having nothing save their father's star and Elrond's instincts to guide them. When after many days they came to the encampment of the Host of the West, flung wide across many spurs and vales in the foothills of the Ered Luin, so great was the rejoicing at their return that the Kinslayers who accompanied them were welcomed too. In high state the twins were brought before the Valar and the lords of the Vanyar. Elros was captivated by the minstrels' accounts of the battle and his father's own part in it, delivering the very heavens from the dragons' curse. "I wish I had seen it!" he exclaimed. "I wish I had seen him," his twin echoed. Yet their joy and grief were mingled, since EÃ¶nwÃ« told them beyond doubt that their parents lived and would live forever, while the boys themselves might choose to join them-- but must choose.
None would give them counsel, neither the Valar, who had learned to their sorrow what happened when they urged the Firstborn to do this or do that, nor the Eldar, although they were distressed at the thought of losing the beloved twins a second time. The most that any would speak were these words from Galadriel: "The choice is behind you, not before you."
To which Elros replied in exasperation, "Go not to the Elves for advice, for they will say both no and yes!" and stormed off, leaving smiles and a proverb in his wake.
The brothers sought council instead with one another, sitting on a ridgeline above the glittering camp, the bright torches, the countless banners rustling gently on the night wind, the sea of canopies and pavillions clustered in orderly regiments like the sails of a vast fleet tugging at anchor beneath the bright moon. Their father's star climbed high, and still they talked.
"I do not believe we will ever see him again," Elros was saying, irritated because his brother would not stop looking at the star to face him. "They say he and Mother are accounted Eldar. But it is not so. They are Maiar, and they are bound forever to the sky and the Silmaril. And this EÃ¶nwÃ« calls a gift!"
"Or the Doom of Mandos," Elrond pointed out.
"A better name. Oh, brother, I will not drag out my life forever, dwindle and pine as the world changes and I do not. Better by far to live quick and short and do great deeds. Did you mark that man, Heledir, and the other leaders of the Edain? True-hearted and brave, they fought as equals with the Firstborn, mortal as they are! They are fearless."
"I marked them," Elrond smiled. "And they marked you, a prince whom the Valar esteem highly, yet whom the Edain consider one of themselves."
His brother exhaled. "They are right. I begin to understand the Sons of FÃ«anor better. I have no wish to be ManwÃ«'s tame lapdog and sit forever in the halls of Mandos-- or of Aman, however fair. They say that to Men alone is granted the ability to shape their own destiny, separate from Eru's designs. Well, I will! My boat will be of ordinary timber from these mortal lands, not Elven-glass and imperishable crystal. My crew, when I sail West, will be of Men, whoever will follow me, not knowing where it is we sail."
"They will follow you, gwanÃ»r," Elrond said fondly, although his eyes were sad when at last he dropped his gaze and turned to his twin. "But what of our children? If mortal we are, mortal they will be. It is cruel to deny them that choice. If they wish to remain among Men, so be it. But if they tire of this world, they can seek healing and bliss in Aman."
"Cruel to give them that choice," Elros countered. "The gods are cold, my brother; I see that now. If I choose this road, I will be parted with you, and I will never see Father and Mother again." He swallowed, a dream dying in his eyes. "I will always doubt, always wonder, always look westward, half-wishing I could follow. No, my sons will enjoy the homes they have built and earned by their own labors. They will be happier so, than if there is always dangling before them the promise of a bolt-hole where they can flee rather than face what the world gives them, a place where they cannot die, but can never live."
"So be it," Elrond said with equanimity, embracing him.
Elros shook his head, grinning. "Oh, brother, you don't change."
At that moment the fair singing of the Elves rising up from the camp before them was suddenly broken off. Cries and shouts of uproar, anger and dismay reached their keen ears. Elros set a hand on his sword-hilt, leaping to his feet.
"Nor do they," Elrond murmured with a sigh, trailing after his twin.
So it was that the Sons of EÃ¤rendil were the first to stumble across the Sons of FÃ«anor trying to slip off unnoticed into the hills, while the cries from the camp below came to them as the baying of hounds. Maedhros and Maglor had bundled the Silmarils away in their cloaks and were creeping upslope like hunched, misshapen creatures -- or so it seemed to Elrond's keen eyes when he spotted them first -- but Maglor cast his cloak aside and drew his sword with hopeless despair when Elros stood forth to meet them, eyes blazing. The Silmaril threw light across the twins' fair faces so that they were too bright to look upon. Maglor's own face was twisted in anguish, since he would not let go of the Jewel which he held in his other hand. Nor would Maedhros, who was one-handed, for which reason his brother stepped forward to defend him.
Maglor groaned when he saw who it was that confronted them. "Make an end of me if you must, my sons. Perhaps it is better so. You are not Eldar; the curse of Kinslaying will not fall on you as it has upon us."
But at that Maedhros set his own Silmaril upon the ground and stepped forward, drawing his own sword. "They will not," he growled. "Go, children. I would rather not add your blood to that already on our hands, but you will not touch my brother."
Elros did not waver, although Maedhros was known to be a fearsome swordsman. Elrond stood beside him with his own blade drawn, a parting gift from Maglor, and gazed impassively at the two thieves.
"Go!" Elros said softly, his eyes suddenly full of more pity than revulsion. "You are not Eldar either, to do such things. But my brother is! He has earned the gift of the gods, and he will live forever. Yet seeing what you have become -- more worthy to be called Peredhil than we -- I rejoice that I rejected the gift and will not be accounted one of you."
"You had best hurry," Elrond said sadly, glancing down the hill. There were other figures running towards them, now that the Silmarils had been unveiled. "They will be here in a moment."
Maedhros snatched up his Jewel again, giving them a curt nod, for the pain that smote him when he held it again stole words away. Maglor put his sword away and set a hand on Elrond's shoulder before they took off running. The brilliant light of the twin Silmarils was veiled once more. In the sudden darkness, the boys stood blinking and blind, and could only hear the rush of the wind as the hunters and trackers reached their position and swept past them.
"Are you hurt?" It was an Elf's voice, knitted with concern.
Elrond blinked, finding his sight returning, and looked up into the compassionate face of Ereinion, the King whom some called Gil-galad, whom the twins had not yet met. Elrond's face was distraught, nearly as anguished as Maglor's had been a moment ago. "Maglor. He-- he will never die," Elrond whispered, stunned.
Elros sighed and stepped to his side, slipping an arm around his twin's shoulders. "He will if those hounds reach them," he muttered. More loudly he addressed the king. "My brother has taken no hurt save that of betrayal, with which you are familiar. Maglor was as a father to us."
Ereinion was staring at the silent one of the pair. "As I will be," he said gently. "Come. We will await news of the pursuit at my pavilion, and you will be safe there."
Elros grimaced. "No, I am going to my father's people... his real people. The Edain. Are you coming with me, brother?"
When Elros entered the camp of the Edain, head held high, he was alone. They received him in wonder and awe, and his news to them seemed greater than the matter of a few stolen jewels. One of the Eldar, with the beauty of LÃºthien in his face, had chosen to give up immortality to be accounted one of them. The revelry in their camp continued unabated, while the Elves sorrowed.
Meanwhile, Elrond sat in the tent of the High King and heard the distant sound of the singing of Men, full of raucous joy. It was new and strange to him, and to his ears uncouth. Elrond smiled up at his new lord, setting his harp upon his knee. "He will be a good king."
Of Elrond and Elros: The History of the Half-Elven - A Biography of the Sons of EÃ¤rendil
Elrond and Elros were raised in the last dark days of the First Age, when Sauron's vastly more powerful master Morgoth had destroyed the Elven realms, driven the the Edain, mortal men who aided Elves, to near-extinction, and held nigh all Middle-earth under his iron crown. Two of the Silmarils, the great Jewels of Light, were locked in that crown. A third lay in the keeping of the twins' mother Elwing, granddaughter of LÃºthien and Beren who had recaptured the Silmaril at great cost.
Elrond and Elros were barely weaned when their father EÃ¤rendil the Mariner set sail into the West, seeking the hidden land of Aman where dwelt the Valar, the angelic custodians of Middle-earth. From them he sought aid and pity, for the doom of Elves and Edain seemed near at hand.
Doom came quicker from the hands of kin. The Sons of FÃ«anor, who had sworn a great Oath to retrieve the Silmarils their father's greatest work, turned swords against their own kind. If they could not take Morgoth's treasure, they would have Elwing's. So slaughter came to the Havens, Elrond and Elros were captured, and Elwing cast herself into the Sea bearing the Jewel. But she did not die. It is sung that she came to Ãarendil on the wings of a sea-bird, and the flame of the Silmaril shone out like a Star in the Shadowy Seas. With its aid they found the Undying Lands.
Nor were Elrond and Elros slain, as their parents believed. It is said that Maglor, second son of FÃ«anor, was sick at heart for the bloodshed caused by his brothers' Oath. So he took pity on the two young boys. He found them -- Elros playing in the foam of a waterfall, Elrond in the cave behind it, as one account goes [Tolkien Letters #211] -- and raised them as foster-sons. (Some accounts say they were so named from this incident, for their names mean star-vault and star-foam. Other records say that these were their birth-names. One late writing -- perhaps a fleeting guess by its Author -- speculates that Ros was from a Mannish tongue, given by Elwing in her foresight for the boy who would become King of Men. Perhaps so, but ros is also a word in Elvish.)
They grew to manhood under Maglor's care, some fifty years. Then came the host of Elves and Valar out of the West to overthrow Morgoth. EÃ¤rendil, whose ship was hallowed by the gods and set in the sky, soared above with the Silmaril on his brow fought the dragons of Morgoth, casting them from heaven. In that climactic war all of Beleriand, the western part of Middle-earth, sank beneath the sea. Morgoth was utterly defeated and banished beyond the Walls of Night. Maglor and Maedhros, the surviving Sons of FÃ«anor, learned the Jewels had been saved and were constrained by their Oath to take them by force. But the Jewels burned their hands as kinslayers, and they realized in despair that they were accursed. Maglor cast his prize into the Sea; his fate is unknown.. Maedhros threw himself and his jewel into the cracks of Earth, so that the Three Jewels were divided between Sea, Earth and Sky.
At this time the Valar called the Elves back to the Undying Lands, and many heeded their summons. EÃ¤rendil and Elwing were forbidden to return to mortal lands, although EÃ¤rendil soars above Middle-earth at night with the Star on his brow. To their sons and their sons' children were given this Choice: to remain mortal, but have a lifespan many time that of ordinary Edain, or to be accounted Elves, and someday answer the Valar's summons and leave Middle-earth forever.
For reasons we can only speculate, Elros chose mortality and became the First King of NÃºmenor. This was a fertile island given as reward to the Edain for their part in the War. Long line ruled the Line of Elros, until at length they repented his choice, made war on Valinor in hopes of wresting immortality from the Powers, and so were overthrown. NÃºmenor foundered and sank beneath a great green wave. But from the Line of Elros sprang the Kings of Gondor and Arnor, two realms founded in Middle-earth by survivors of the Downfall. So Aragorn Elessar claims distant descent from Elros by some sixty-four generations.
Elrond remained in Middle-earth and became renowned as a great Master of Lore. In the Second Age he was herald and esquire to Gil-galad, High King of the Elves, and his chief lieutanant in the wars against Sauron. During that struggle Elrond founded the hidden refuge of Imladris in the foothills of the Misty Mountains. After the War of the Last Alliance, Elrond wedded CelebrÃan, daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel, and raised a family in the peaceful years that followed.
Their bliss was shadowed, then shattered, when dark powers began to stir, and unknown to all, orcs began to delve deep into the Misty Mountains. So it happened that CelebrÃan and her entourage were ambushed on the way to visit her parents in LÃ³rien. Her sons Elladan and Elrohir delivered her from torment in the orc-caverns, no small deed. But Elrond, accounted the greatest healer in Middle-earth, could mend only his wife's body, not her spirit. Grieving, he sent her over the Sea for the healing the Blessed Lands could give her.
So he endured at his lonely post, secret Keeper of one of the Three Rings of Power, keeping Imladris as a refuge of light and memory against the growing shadows, aiding and fostering the chiefs of the Rangers, the last remnant of Elros' heirs in the north. He raised Aragorn as his own son, since Aragorn like he had lost a father too young to remember him. During that time Arwen had abided a while with her grandparents in LothlÃ³rien; upon her return, Aragorn fell in love with her, and eventually won her heart. This was another grievous blow to Elrond, but he did not forbid their union: he only demanded that Aragorn prove himself worthy of her sacrifice by winning his crown.
When the One Ring went into the Fire, the Three Rings also failed, and their Keepers felt the full weight of the world. Then Elrond took to the Havens, leaving Arwen, his last precious jewel, behind. The records do not tell when the Sons of Elrond followed him, only that they delayed their choice a while. Perhaps they stayed to finish off the orcs of the mountains to avenge their mother. When they followed their father over the sea-- if indeed they followed-- the sorrowful yet glorious history of the Peredhil in Middle-earth draws to a close.
Elrond and Elros Links - Fanart and More Biography
Sorry, no links to fanfiction yet -- it's oddly difficult to find G-rated stuff! Due to the fact that my work is seen by a lot of younger Tolkien fans, this page needs to remain suitable for all ages and eyeballs. Feel free to suggest G-rated, non-slash in my guestbook, though!
- Tolkien WIki Biography: Elros Tar-Minyatur
Detailed encylcopedia article on the Tolkien Gateway's Middle-Earth Wiki, with a good fanart portrait. Click Elrond's name or any other links for their portraits, other entries.
- Fanart: Maglor and very young Elros by Kasura
A bit rougher (scroll down on this page for link to drawing) portrait of them.
- Shadows of Twilight: an Elrond fansite
A fansite for Elrond Halfelven, Master of Rivendell in The Lord of the Rings.
I hope you've enjoyed this "Star Twins" page. Feel free to leave a note!
Guestbook for Fans of Elrond and Elros
Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on November 29, 2009:
Hey, you won! That's great! And thank you for adding this to the short stories on Squidoo collection. It's a long short one, but a really good one!
badmsm on July 20, 2009:
Great Fan Fiction! Congrats on winning the contest, you did a great job! 5 stars & a Squid Angel Blessing!