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Of Voronwe's Parents

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Their house was right up against the city walls. On the evening before Voronwe's departure, they went up there together with a hamper, Voronwe and his parents, for there were many places where the way on top of the walls was broad enough to sit and gaze and still allow passage. It was chilly, up there, being early spring, but they had brought cloaks and blankets. They spoke little, for a while, sharing fresh bread and pickles and dry fruit, looking out across the plain of Tumladen towards the Echoriath, where Voronwe was to go, although Voronwe found himself, as well, casting glances around and back, across the familiar streets of Gondolin and toward the Tower of the King.

The sun had just dipped behind the mountain peaks. Long shadows fell.

'It will be strange to see you go and stay behind,' said Aranwe, finally. 'After all, it was as much for you as for ourselves that we chose to come to Gondolin, at the time.'

'And because we thought it wise to follow the counsel of Ulmo,' Halven reminded him.

'I need you to be here!' said Voronwe. 'I am undertaking this venture as much for you as for the King and for Gondolin!' He put his arm about his mother's shoulders and squeezed it, a little.

They were, all three of them, well aware the journey would be perilous. Others had been lost at sea, on previous attempts. All necessary arrangements had been made for his departure with his fellow travellers and Voronwe had settled his own affairs as well as he could, knowing that he might not be back. Even if they succeeded, against odds, he might not be able to return.

'Greet my uncle Cirdan and wish him well from me,' said Halven. 'Tell him we are flourishing in Gondolin and that we are happy here.'

That was not, thought Voronwe, entirely true perhaps. Leaving Nevrast had gone hard with his mother and, although she was liked and respected in their circle and had established a reputation for her skill in the making of ropes and cords, he knew she sometimes chafed at her confinement in the valley and being far from the sea. She did not say so, might even deny it when asked, but it came out strongly sometimes in the tales she told, of the early days of Nevrast and of life among the Falathrim before the coming of the Noldor. She had shared all her sea lore with him, over time, as best she could, with little chance of any practical exercise, after those early glorious times in Vinyamar when she had taken him sailing, in her own skiff and once on one of Cirdan's large ships. He had been very young.

'Tell him,' repeated Halven.

'I will,' Voronwe promised. He had met Cirdan, as a boy in Nevrast, but only two or three times.

'You will find out more of what happened, at the Fall of Eglarest and Brithombar,' said Halven. 'Enquire after the rest of our kin, even if you cannot let us know.'

'I will.'

'And you may also learn more of the fate of Hithlum,' said Aranwe. 'Although I fear we know what happened to our kin there, well enough.'

They fell silent again for a bit. Aranwe had taken the death of Fingolfin hard, harder even than others, much as he had been mourned. He had been one of a group of five fosterlings that Fingolfin had gathered to himself, having them brought up in his own household as they had lost all of their kin on the Ice. When Fingolfin fell, Aranwe had promised at his tomb to avenge him, if he could. But when they had finally had a chance to raise their weapons in battle against his foster father's foe, all had gone ill... The bitterness of that defeat was still with all of them, like a freshly bleeding wound.

It was why Voronwe was going, to bring hope to his father's kin and to his mother's kin, both. Dear as Middle-earth was to them, what hope there was left now lay in the West.

'You have not really had a chance to see much of Beleriand yet, my dear', said Halven, after a while, on a determinedly happier note. 'I know you will be going straight to Balar, to the ships, but look about you as you go...'

'I will do that.'

The dusk had deepened. Voronwe shivered, under his cloak, and his mother felt it.

'It is getting cold up here,' she said. 'Let's go home.'

They stood. His parents looked one more time towards the Gates, Voronwe at the great white city below. Then they descended and shared a last cup at home by the fire, hot tea fortified with spirits to warm themselves up.

Voronwe left early in the morning.

'Ulmo bless you and Uinen,' said Halven, on the door step. 'And may Osse look the other way, for you...