Glorfindel sat in an empty stall. The night was dark, but a few lanterns with harsh tallow candles lit the place well enough. It was a good stable. Large, with a constant supply of fresh river water running through a specially made trough system. And new straw every day for the horses. And plenty of food and company and attention. The pastures were nice of course, and the training ring was fun, but the stables were home.
This stall had long been kept by a very special horse. A plaque hung above the doorway, and the blankets within were fit for a king.
But this night, the stable’s sole occupant was a blood-spattered Elf with golden hair, who clutched to his chest a bridle and wept. He sat in the straw and rocked forward and back, sobbing. Sometimes he sang, and this primitive, wailing sound chased away all who thought to comfort him. All but one.
Erestor slowly pushed open the stall door, purposely creaking the ancient hinges. As he had surmised, Glorfindel had not heard his heavy feet, and the warrior stilled at once.
Glorfindel turned reddened eyes up to see Erestor looking sadly down at him. The counselor, usually so proper in form and dress, wore only his sleeping shirt and trousers. His feet were bare, and the long hair was bound in a simple braid that fell over his shoulder.
Standing perfectly still, Erestor waited.
When Glorfindel curtly nodded, the Counselor entered, his movements slow and deliberate. He knelt in the straw and waited.
Glorfindel collected himself, wiping away his tears and clearing his throat with some little embarrassment. But still he kept a death grip on that bridle.
“My heart is with you,” Erestor promised in a low, soothing tone as he laid a firmly gentle hand on Glorfindel’s shoulder.
The sobs began again.
And ignoring the blood, Erestor wrapped strong arms about the quivering form, holding Glorfindel tight, as though to keep him from just crashing apart.
The warrior returned the embrace, alternatingly fierce and weak in his grasping. Erestor rocked him slowly and the song that he sang was far more comforting and mellow than anything Glorfindel was capable of.
= = = = =
By the time the morning’s light filtered in through the cracks in the various shuttered windows of the place, the candles had died out and the two figures in the stable lay entwined in the hay, quiet and still.
Glorfindel finally spoke. “He was a good horse.”
Erestor nodded at once. “Yes, he was.”
= = = = =
That night there was a funeral pyre for the majestic horse that had bore Glorfindel so loyally and bravely through so many years and so many battles.
A great number of Elves were in attendance, and each of them threw fresh flowers into the roaring flames.
Glorfindel stood and accepted their words of mourning. He tolerated the embraces.
But Erestor was the only one to stay through till the morning and wait till the fire finally burned itself out in the mid afternoon. Alone, the two Elves turned over the ashes into the dirt with their shovels.
Glorfindel had collected a few ashes in a handkerchief, however, and he looked to Erestor and he said, “I want to take these to his favorite place.”
“I will go with you.”
= = = = =
They walked long hours up the trail into the Valley hillside until they reached a great meadow with a view of the House and the Bruinen running through it.
Glorfindel led Erestor to a birch tree and they moved aside some dirt and Glorfindel deposited the ashes and they covered it up again.
Then, they sat side-by-side, solemn and silent, looking out over the Valley that had become their home.
Glorfindel started crying again. He wiped irritably at the wetness that would not leave his face, leaving dirty streaks across his pale cheek. “I’m being silly,” he tearfully sniffed.
“Silly,” Erestor gently echoed him, wiping away the dirt with a sleeve. “Of course not.” He gathered Glorfindel into his arms and held him tight.
“You always know just what I need,” Glorfindel whispered. “You always take perfect care of me.”
“Someone has to,” Erestor told him quietly. “And I drew the short straw.”
Glorfindel playfully clapped his shoulder. “You old liar,” he sniffled.
Erestor chuckled gently. “Yes I am,” he responded fondly, with a kiss to the fevered brow.
Then they reclined in the waving green grasses. Glorfindel pillowed his head on Erestor’s shoulder and they drowsed the afternoon away.
Eventually, as the sun began to tuck itself away for the night, Glorfindel broke the silence. “Do you think there’s a place,” he tearfully asked, “for horses, in the Halls of Waiting?”
“For horses like Asfaloth?” Erestor sighed. He looked straight up at the crimson streaked clouds and he said, “I think not. I think there must be . . . Fields of Waiting.”
“Fields?” Glorfindel asked.
“Yes. Did you ever see any horses keeping company with Mandos?”
“No,” Erestor confirmed. “So there are no horses in the Halls. Why would a horse want to live in a place of Halls, anyway?” he asked, with another kiss to Glorfindel’s forehead. “You were comfortable enough there, but I’m certain that Mandos gives them fields instead. Great big ones, full of grass and flowers, with a cheerfully sunny blue sky overhead. And for great big horses like Asfaloth who like to jump, there are conveniently placed logs, in a long line, so he can canter and gallop and bound impressively over them, remembering his life of battle and glory.”
Glorfindel looked up at him, wide-eyed, drinking in every word.
So Erestor continued, “And next to the field is an orchard, but it isn’t like any kind of orchard we have ever seen. There grow apples on the trees, yes, and pears too, for the more discerning of horses. But there are also trees that bloom with sugar cubes, and trees that bloom with carrots. There are trees for every sort, and the bark is made of salt as well, for between meals of course.
“Then there are woods for exploring, and even great sandy shores so that they can run together in huge herds and splash through blue waters on white sands. They love to run together like that, you understand. And Asfaloth would be at the head, leading the great herd of them through the soft tides of the ocean.
“And always back to the fields they would go, to roll about in patches of dry dirt as they love to do. But these are the Fields of Waiting, so they would never get dirty. And there are friendly spirits there who love the horses and feed them special treats and keep their manes and tails from getting snarled. And they take care of the stables; there are stables of course.
“At night, when the stars come out, all of the horses in the Fields of Waiting go to the stables, where there are mounds and mounds of golden straw to sleep upon, and blankets made by fairy weavers, blankets made from rose petals and rabbit fur, so that there is always something soft to lay upon.”
Glorfindel shifted his head to look curiously up at Erestor. “Do they dream?”
“Oh yes. But never nightmares. Only good dreams,” Erestor assured him.
“What else?” Glorfindel desperately asked.
“In Valinor,” Erestor breathed like whispering wind. “In Valinor, we all shall meet again. Those who have Waited shall wait no longer and be reborn among us. We all shall live together in Elvenhome. And the horses from the Fields of Waiting shall join us. You and Asfaloth will ride once more. Not to battle, no, for Valinor is a resting place. You shall simply ride.”
Glorfindel smiled and wept. He kissed Erestor and clung to him. “In Valinor,” he whispered.
= = = = =