Menelvagor's Chase by kimberleighe

[Reviews - 2]
Table of Contents
Printer Friendly: Printer
- Text Size +

Jump to

Story Notes:

Huge thanks to the LC for their help, specifically Elleth for the Sindarin translations of the Valar names. 


 

Year One of the Second Age

 

                The silver-white banners fluttered in the wind, clapping out a brisk rhythm against the beat of the crashing waves.  Gulls squawked out their pleas for fish, lazily swooping through the air over the multitude of tents.  Part of the Western army had returned from the North to the remnant between the mountains and the sea.  They told of Morgoth’s defeat and the request for the Elves to sail across the sea.  Idhreniel found herself with a spare moment, stealing out at dusk to the seaside.  She had spent hours at Gil-galad’s side.  Elves had sworn their allegiance to him; scouts brought reports of the surrounding lands.  She had left when the Herald of Manwë requested an audience alone with the king.  She sighed, rolling her neck and feeling some of the tension dissipate. 

I wonder how many will stay when faced with the choice between remaining here in this land and going West.

So many Elves sat here beside the sea, mourning for their losses and yearning to leave these shores.  However, she could not bring herself to answer that call.  Lost in her thoughts, she did not hear her companions until they sat with her, a kiss pressed to either cheek.

                “Peredhel,” she gave each a smile, “what mischief do you seek to escape from?”

                “Mischief?  I am offended you think thus,” Elros’ feigned anger carried more dramatics than usual, perhaps offset by Elrond’s silence.

                “Yet, I have the experience to know it is usually the truth,” Idhreniel replied with a fond smile.

Elros only laughed, rising to his feet again.  Tonight, he was motion incarnate, jogging to the waves and stripping down to his leggings before diving into the chilly water.  Idhreniel only shook her head, her smile lingering as she watched his swim.  Elrond did not follow his brother, and remained seated beside her, seemingly lost in thought.  She did not break their silence, content to watch Elros and wait for his reappearance each time a wave covered his head.

                “Eonwë requested to speak with us.”

                At his statement, Idhreniel’s attention turned to the older Peredhil.  Elrond studied his hands intently, thumb rubbing at his palm. 

                “Have you?” 

Elrond nodded, his hands ceasing their anxious movement.

                “He has given us a choice.  Since we carry both Eldar and Edain blood, we are to choose one path and bind to it.”  Elrond’s gaze turned to his brother’s swim.  “Elros says we should not discuss our choice with each other until after it is pronounced.”  Pause.  “He does not seem to care.”

                “Has he said such?”

                “Well, no,” Elrond admitted after a brief silence.

                “Then remember the pitfall of assumption,” Idhreniel said, “I believe it is wise of him to ask that you each make your choice free of the other’s opinion.”

                “But I do not know what to do, Idhreniel,” Elrond whispered.  “I find my books bare of any answers and the stars remain cold and constant.  I have no guide.”

                “I must claim offense then, Elrond, and on Ereinion’s behalf.  You have guides, but you keep your questions hidden.”

                “Would you tell me what to do?”

                “No, that choice must be your own.  You must weigh the consequences carefully.”

Elrond rubbed his hands over his face, lying back in the sand.  He rested his arm across his eyes, a motionless pantomime of Elros’ earlier dramatics.  She watched him for a moment, gaze turning to his twin.  She returned Elros’ wave, smiling at his exuberance before he was knocked back by a strong wave.  Her fingers rested on her lips, smothering her laugh as she watched him flounder for a few brief moments.  It took her by surprise when a thin, white shawl fell around her shoulders. 

“You left it in the tent,” Ereinion took a seat beside her.  “I was surprised you forgot it.”

“I did not wish to intrude upon your private audience with Eonwë,” Idhreniel responded, leaning back a bit so that Ereinion fully saw the stretched out Elrond.

Ereinion caught her discreet motion, raising a brow questioningly. 

                “I believe Elrond is in need of guidance, Gil-galad,” she murmured softly.

                “I hear him asking no questions.”

Elrond lifted his arm up enough to glare at them.  Ereinion looked away, farther down the beach where some singers had gathered.  Anor had almost disappeared under the sea, clouds rising like steam on the distant horizon where she plunged.  He hummed along to the familiar tune, finally lying back in the sand, head resting in the palms of his hands.  It was not long before Elrond mimicked the pose, joining the King in his silent star gazing.

 “Tell me a story, Idhreniel,” Elrond suddenly whispered.  “Tell me about Menelvagor.”

She smiled, tapping her lips with a finger.  The Huntsman was one of the only stories she had kept to herself.  Meldilmë had freely shared the Noldorin version of Menelvagor’s tale which quickly had become Elrond’s favorite. 

              “I will tell you a different story of Menelvagor, one of his own loss.  I am sure Meldilmë never shared this with you.”

                “Itselokte?”  Ereinion asked, a small smile on the edges of his lips.

                “In time, Ereinion,” Idhreniel admonished.  “Do not ruin my story before it is begun.”

Elrond clearly was intrigued by their exchange, eyes darting between them.  Idhreniel’s eyes looked up to Menelvagor standing watch over them. 

                “He shines brightly tonight.  He has been victorious over the Dark Lord who took so much from him.”

                “Neither you nor Meldilmë have ever mentioned that Morgoth took from Menelvagor,” Elrond said.

                “Meldilmë’s Noldorin stories would never tell you this,” Idhreniel responded.  “And this is a tale only allowed to be spoken when the King is here.”

Ereinion laughed aloud then, his gaze caught with Idhreniel’s, but he said nothing in way of explanation.  Elrond waited, his curiosity aroused.

                “Long ago, before the Elves awoke beside Nen Echui, Arda was not empty of life.  The dark lord, Belegûr, lived in his black fortress to the North, intent on molding the earth to his will.  Yet, some ladies of Ivon’s service dwelt within the thick forests, seeking to care for the trees and gentle animals.  It was here that Menelvagor, one of Tauron’s warriors, came to live.  He ever loved to hunt and would run freely in the darkness of Ivon’s trees, hunting the fell creatures that dared come near.  No one, other than Tauron himself, could boast of better skills with a bow.  Many times, Menelvagor had come with his lord to hunt, but one day they became separated in the heat of the chase.  He chanced upon the wood where Ivon’s ladies sang and tended to the living things within.  There were seven and he fell in love with the youngest, Arvrennil.  They say she was neither the loveliest nor the smartest of her sisters, but she was the kindest and gentlest.  Once when a deer had fallen and suffered a great hurt, Menelvagor lifted his sword to end the animal’s torment.  It was she that stayed his blade and nursed the deer back to health.  At the moment of her greatest kindness, Menelvagor promised his sword to protect them from Belegûr while they worked.  It was this oath that kept him from ever returning to the Western shores.  For ages, it seemed, they worked together, creating a hidden paradise in the thick trees.  They readied it for some far off day when the Children arrived.  Now, though neither the hunter nor the lady swore any vow to the other, they were slow to be parted and a great love grew between them.”

                Idhreniel’s voice paused, noting that her audience grew larger as her tale continued.  Meldilmë brought Círdan to sit beside Ereinion.  Unfamiliar Elves, both from wandering parties and some who had come under Manwë’s banners, lingered close enough to hear.  Even Elros had forsaken his swimming to lie beside her feet, his anxious movements stilled.

                “Tell us what happened next,” Elrond prodded.

She could not help her smile to him, her voice increasing slightly in volume. 

“Of course, it came to pass that Belegûr found out about the ladies and their protector.  He wove deadly spells and sent bitter foes to assail them and drive them from the forests back to the West.  Menelvagor defeated each one in turn.  First, Belegûr sent yrch to set fire to the trees.  The sisters stood strong behind their protector, trying to put out the flames while Menelvagor single-handedly slew all but one of the yrch, sending that one back to the Black Gates.  The Dark Lord, in his black rage, smote that unfortunate creature to dust, screaming out his hatred for the huntsman.  Next, he sent a terrible Balrog, black and burning, reeking of death and despair.  As the demon approached the home of the ladies, he screamed out for the Maia to face him in battle.  Arvrennil begged Menelvagor to stay within the woods, to let the beast wreck its havoc upon the woods.  Resolutely, Menelvagor took only his sword, exiting the trees to face his enemy.  It seemed that they battled for eternity.  At first, it seemed neither could be the victor, swords clashing and sparking in starlit darkness.  When their weapons failed them, they wrestled hand to hand, the ground trembling with each blow.  The black touch of the Balrog burnt Menelvagor’s skin and his cries echoed for miles, yet he would not yield.  Chance smiled her favor upon Menelvagor and he grasped the broken edge of his sword to cleave the head from the creature’s body.  The Balrog was finished.  He raised the head of the Balrog to the North, a sign to the Dark Lord of the folly of the creature’s errand.  And Belegûr again screamed out his anger in his black fortress.  Over and over, Menelvagor crushed whatever beast Belegûr sent his way. 

Now, Belegûr sensed that he could not defeat the huntsman through sheer force.  He sent spies, animals he had terrified into obeying his purpose, to report to him of his enemy’s daily deeds.  Whispers of the great love between Menelvagor and his lady reached the dark lord.  At last, the Dark Lord found his vulnerability!  He created a beautiful form similar to one he had worn before malice and greed had corrupted his heart.  He sent an army of his foulest yrch to the far side of the forest to attract the huntsman’s attention.  He waited until Menelvagor had rushed off on his errand, and then he approached the lovely sisters.  They accepted him for he looked as fair as they and his words were honey coated, assuring them he came from Ivon to aid in their endeavors.  With each lie, he wove a great sleeping spell over them, for Belegûr has all the powers and knowledge of the gods.”

“But they were Maiar.  Why did they not see his deception?”  Elros interrupted.

“Even the Maiar were not invulnerable to his power,” Ereinion answered before Idhreniel could speak.  “It was Morgoth who put on a fair face and spoke corruption.”

                “It is true,” Idhreniel murmured.  “Even the wisest of Eru’s creations have been seduced by Belegûr’s lies.”

                “What did Belegûr do with the sisters?”  Meldilmë’s clear voice cut through the quiet murmurs.

                “He cast a large net around them, made of the webs of the spiders.  It had been weaved so tight and thick that no keen eye, even that of Aran Einior, could pierce it.  Belegûr took them to a secluded part of the forest, leaving them there as according to his plan.  Then, he awaited Menelvagor’s return.  Once he heard the voice of Menelvagor, he took on the lovely form of Arvrennil.  Unknowing of the deception, Menelvagor rushed to his lady, eager to share his great deeds.  As he took her in his arms, Belegûr struck and blinded the great huntsman.”

                Idhreniel paused, hearing a few gasps.  She shared a soft, knowing smile with Ereinion and the other Sindar who had heard this story since they were young. 

                “The betrayed cries of Menelvagor echoed through Arda,” Idhreniel could not help pulling her shawl tighter around her, as if chilled by the mere thought of that sound.  “Belegûr laughed at his enemy, rejoicing in his pain and loss.  He danced around the huntsman, breaking his great bow and littering the forest floor with the contents of his quiver.”  Her voice changed to a terrible tone to mimic the Dark Lord’s.  “‘At last, I, Belegûr, have bested Tauron’s great huntsman!  Wander, Menelvagor, try to find your lady before you burn.’  The dark lord set fire to the woods, leaving Menelvagor trapped in his blindness.  Now, it is said that Belegûr could not retrieve his prize, the seven sisters, for he set the blaze too hot.  The sisters awoke, feeling the heat of the fire burning their confines.  They cried out to the heavens for mercy.  Far off in the West, the Star-kindler heard their cries, but even her great power could not unmake the terrible net to save them from the flames.  She then cast the net into the skies, whispering her magic and immortalizing those sisters in her skies.  They became known as Remmirath, netted stars.”

                Idhreniel’s fingers traced Menelvagor’s belt down towards the horizon to the cluster of bright stars. 

                “You can see only six of the seven sisters.  Arvrennil hid her face, scared by the intensity of the flames.  The Star-kindler took mercy also upon Menelvagor in his blindness, hearing his cries for his lady.  She could not save him before his right shoulder was burst mercilessly.  As he strode here into the sky, shoulder still red with flame, so the first Edhil awoke beside Nen Echui.  Belegûr trembled in his dark fortress, seeing his foe set in the skies.  He cursed the mercy of the Star-kindler who took his great victory and turned it into his greatest fear.  It is said that when Menelvagor disappears below the horizon each year, he goes to Belegûr’s gates to wage his revenge.  Time is no friend of the huntsman and carries him back to the sky before his assault can be completed.  Now, he may rest knowing vengeance has been enacted.”  Idhreniel’s finger returned to point out each star in Menelvagor’s formation.  Her expression became sad and her voice quieter than before.  “Yet, his starry imprisonment is both a mercy and cruelty.  He is ever chasing his beloved through the skies, trying his best to catch up to her, but he never can.  He is doomed to spend the ages with love just beyond his grasp.”

                Her tale came to its end.  Idhreniel gathered her shawl tighter around her slender shoulders, gaze still locked on the parted starry lovers.  Menelvagor needed to only throw aside his shield and stretch forth his hand to grasp hold of the eldest sister.  Steadfastly, he continued to merely reach, never attaining.  A gentle murmur of song swept up among the grasses towards the sea, an ode to the beauty of Elbereth’s creation.  As some of the singers wandered closer to the waves, it seemed that the stars brightened in the dark sky.  The mist of the waves carried the praise up and up into the heavens in hopes that the Star-kindler listened.  Idhreniel found herself caught up in the past, remembering the multiple times her mother had uttered this tale.  One time Tirnion had boasted that, had he been Menelvagor, he would have still slain Belegûr and rescued his lady. 

 

Ninnethril had only smiled in quiet amusement at her young son’s words.  Idhreniel had sighed, shaking her head and seeking to put him straight as a younger sister should.

                “Tirnion, you would have been burnt to a crisp before you figured your hand from your rear.”

                “Idhreniel,” her mother’s voice admonished.

Tirnion had quickly turned to the boy beside him for support.

                “Ereinion, tell them we could have defeated him!”

Idhreniel remembered looking at her brother’s new friend, the reason for the upset in the balance of her power over her brother.  The Prince had sat close to her mother’s feet, regarding the two of them far too seriously.  His response had proved to be sobering.

                “If my grandfather could not do it, I doubt we have a chance.”

                “Why do your stories never end well for the lovers?”  Elrond’s voice cut into Idhreniel’s thoughts.

                His voice weighted her reflection, bringing her far away from the burning blazes and their memories back to the solid ground of Arda.  There were days she felt she merely floated along the earth, always returning to the freedom of the never ending heavens. 

                “Is this truly tragic?” Idhreniel answered his question with one of her own.         

                “Yes, it is.  I would find it terrible to spend the ages so close to the one I loved without being able to have any reciprocation.”  Elros responded for Elrond.

She remained silent, the words gathered on the tip of her tongue. 

                “What end befalls them is tragic, but their love is not,” She was surprised when Ereinion spoke, and even more so by his heartfelt tone.  “If Menelvagor accepted the folly of his endless hunt, this story would cease to be told.  It is because of his enduring love for his lady that we repeat this tale.”

                “And our King betrays himself as a romantic!”  His mother said after a brief silence.

Ereinion scowled at his mother momentarily.  Meldilmë laughed at his expression, a hand falling on his shoulder as she began to stand.  In a moment, Ereinion was already on his feet, helping her from the sand.  She kissed his cheek, wandering away from him, towards the sea.  His gaze followed her carefully, watching her path with a thousand questions clear on his face.    

                Idhreniel listened to the quiet conversation between Elros and Círdan before leaning over to the silent Elrond.  Her gaze strayed momentarily to Ereinion who had returned his attention to the group, namely her.  He held out his hand.

                “You will make the right choice, Elrond,” she whispered.  “Trust your heart.  It is the only guidance you need.”

She took Gil-galad’s offered hand, slipping away from Elrond before he could reply.  After a few paces down the beach, she looked over her shoulder; Elrond had not yet moved.  She doubted he would.  Ereinion stole her attention, keeping her hand to place in the crook of his elbow. 

                “He will be fine.”  She felt an urge to voice her thoughts, feeling them grow more certain and concrete with the verbalization.

                “You could have told a more uplifting tale.”

Idhreniel laughed, shaking her head as she looked over at her walking partner.

                “You could have interjected at any time.”

                “And miss your re-telling of Remmirath?  Never!”

She smiled fondly and for a moment remembered Eglarest’s shores and a past night so similar to this one.  They had walked like this, though more foolish and light-hearted in their steps.  It was a time of youth, and no titles, no burdens.  He had chased her along the shore, kicking up the waves in the pursuit.

                “Are you Menelvagor?”  She had laughed, glancing over her shoulder.

His slim fingers had closed over her wrist, slowing her flight as he joined in on her laughter. 

                “I am always the hunter,” he had said.

                “Will you always catch me?”

There had been no answer that night.

                “Are you still the hunter?” 

She kept her stare fixed on his face, willing him to speak an answer.  He did not look at her, his gaze drawn to tents, banners, trees, the air around her, but never quite meeting her eyes.  He stopped their walk, far from the tents and other singers.  His hands released hers and he did not close the distance between them.  It seemed he struggled to answer her simple question, mouth opening, and the words slow to leave his lips, to reveal too much, to incite more change.

                “I have always been.”  As he finished speaking, he finally met her stare.

His enigmatic answer caused her head to tilt to the side.  She struggled to keep her expression clear; she could not betray herself now.  She took a step closer to him, the edges of their clothes barely brushing.  Still, he seemed so distant as he watched her.  He needed only to reach out and take her hand, and she knew her resolve would crumble.

                “Have you caught your mark?”  The words escaped her before she could stop them.

His eyes reflected the same memories, of lost moments and one stolen evening they’d both agreed to forget. 

There was no answer this night either.


Chapter End Notes:

 

Notes:

Idhreniel: chief advisor to Gil-galad

Meldilmë: Gil-galad’s mother

Tirnion: brother to Idhreniel

Ninnethril: mother of Idhreniel and Tirnion

Menelvagor: (S) The constellation Orion; he has one red star that makes up his right shoulder.

Nen Echui: (S) Cuiviénen, the lake where the Elves first awoke

Belegûr: (S) A name for Morgoth, meaning “He who arises in might”

Tauron: (S) Oromë

Ivon: (S) Yavanna

Aran Einior: (S) Manwë

Remmirath: (S) Itselokte (Q), “Netted Stars”; corresponds to the constellation of Pleiades (commonly called the Seven Sisters)

--

Greek Mythology tells that Orion did indeed “chase” after the Sisters and the gods, in their mercy, saved the Sisters from his terrible chase by immortalizing them in the stars. 

 



[Report This]
You must login (register) to review.