Bregaith and the High King's Spear by WendWriter

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Author's Chapter Notes:

 

Tip-cat is an ancient version of cricket and baseball.

I gave Lindir a job as a minstrel, though there is no canonical evidence that he was one. There's none that he wasn't, either. I have used a little movie-verse for the story. You will see why at the end.

 

 


It was a pleasant summer evening at Rivendell, and the household of Elrond was at peace. Pale sunlight streamed through the valley as twilight spread her wings over the Elven city; songs of joy broke out here and there as the Elves went hither and thither about their business. They loved to sing as they worked or rested, the music of their lovely voices rising into the flower-scented air, bringing pleasure to all who heard it.

Two small children, the sons of Elrond, laughed and played in the fading light with their nurse.

"Elrohir," said one little boy, "what game shall we play now?"

"I want to play Tip-cat," said Elrohir. "Lothwen, will you keep the score for us?"

Lothwen gave the child a patiently-waiting-for-something look.

"Please," said Elrohir, remembering his manners.

"Very well," replied Lothwen. "Elladan, please get the bat, the cat and the base-markers out of the toy box. Elrohir, go and help him."

"Yes, Lothwen," Elladan smiled, and ran at once to comply, his twin brother scampering after him.

Lothwen stood where she was and waited for them to return.

"Lothwen," called a voice which could have belonged to either boy, "I can't see the cat in here! Has someone taken it?"

Lothwen went over to the verandah where the boys were standing beside their wooden toy box. The little piece of wood they were referring to was not there. "Where did you leave it last?" she asked them.

Two little pairs of grey eyes looked at each other in dismay. They turned to their nurse.

"Did you not put it away as I bid?" Lothwen asked them.

Two little faces turned downwards.

"Have a look around the garden, boys. Perhaps you will find it sooner than you think," Lothwen instructed.

The little ones ran into the garden again, searching hither and thither until they had gone thoroughly over it. Rushing back, their eyes told the story: they had not found it.

"We can play another game," said Elrohir.

As he was speaking, Galanel the head gardener walked over to them. "Excuse me," he said, "I found this as I was looking over the lawn this morning. I thought it might be yours."

"It is! It is ours!" cried Elladan."Thank you, Galenel."

"I am happy to have helped you, little one," Galenel replied as he returned the cat, "but I think it would be wise to make sure you put your things away properly in future, in case they get lost."

"Yes, Galanel," the boys chorused as the head gardener patted their heads and gave them back their toy.

Galanel smiled at Lothwen. "I think they will be more careful of their toys now." Bowing to the young lords, he turned and walked away.

"Someone might have mistaken it for rubbish and burned it," said Lothwen. "You must be careful to put your toys away after playing."

"Yes, Lothwen," the boys chorused.

Just then, the bell for the evening meal rang. Elladan put the wooden cat in the toy box. Picking it up, Lothwen carried it to their room as their mother arrived to take them to wash and dress for dinner.


The hall was large and high-vaulted, hung with tapestries depicting the history of Elrond's family and with flags bearing the colours and devices of his House. Several metal chandeliers hung from chains strung through a series of large rings that studded the ceiling. Ropes tied to these chains allowed the chandeliers to be raised or lowered so the candles they contained could be tended. All of these burned brightly as the members of the household went in for their dinner.

The custom of Elrond was to sit in a great chair at the end of a long table upon a dais. Glorfindel sat at his right and Erestor his chief counsellor at his left. Celebrían, as the lady of the realm, sat in a chair under a canopy at the middle of the table. Noble Elves surrounded them and guests either sat further down from the lord and his lady or were seated at other tables nearby. Food was plentiful and there was ale and wine to wash it down.

The children sat on either side of their mother, Elladan on her right and Elrohir on her left. Their chairs had cushions on them to raise them to the required height, for at eighteen years of age the twins were too small to reach their cutlery and eat with the manners their mother had so carefully taught them.

The soup course, a leek broth, was quickly followed by a small dish of trout with parsley, dandelion leaves, cress, basil and rose petals. After that, the main course - roast goose stuffed with apples and quince with a variety of herbs and spices was served. Dessert was a fruit salad with whipped cream. The chief cook came to bow before Lord Elrond and the meal was concluded. Elrond then left the table and went to the Hall of Fire to sit with his family and enjoy the evening's entertainment.

As they entered the Hall of Fire, Elrond picked up Elladan while Celebrían lifted Elrohir and carried him to their couch. Taking their seats, the lord and lady held their sleepy sons on their laps and settled themselves while the musicians played sweet music. The other members of the household took their places in seats or on cushions around their lord and his family, and prepared to be entertained by minstrels and storytellers.

Lindir, one of the minstrels, stepped forward at that moment.

"Good evening, my lord and lady, and little lords. I beg leave to present you with a tale of cunning, of courage and the inspirational leadership of Candedhel Bregaith as he fought to recover Aiglos, the spear of Gil-galad at the slopes of Mount Doom."

A round of applause followed this announcement, and Elrond nodded his approval.

"Ada, who is Candedhel Bregaith?" asked Elladan, mumbling into his father's chest.

"A great Elven warrior," Elrond replied. "Be patient, my son, for Lindir is about to answer all of your questions - including the ones you have not thought of yet."

Elladan curled up in his father's lap and was silent as he waited for the minstrel to begin.

Plucking at the strings of his harp, Lindir spun a melody of great beauty, accompanied by some of his friends on their flutes and pipes. He watched as his audience was carried away on a wisp of a dream into a world of war and woe. As he began to tell the tale, they felt as if they were there as witnesses of the events as they took place.

 

"Candedhel Bregaith was a captain of the Noldor forces of Lindon, and was famed far and wide for his cunning in battle, his bravery and his ability to get his troops to follow him to whatever end. He had earned his epessë during the War of Wrath when he fought the monsters of Morgoth at Angband, holding his ground even when the dragons came to rain fire on his troops from above. As they turned to flee he rallied them, promising the aid of the Valar. In the face of death they smiled and their strength of will remained undaunted until Eärendil arrived with his ship Vingilótë, along with the Eagles of Thorondor, and there they contested with the dragons in the air, slaying most of them.

"That, however, was not his finest hour.

"The deed that caused his name to be praised in song for generations of Elves and Men was the retrieval of the spear Aiglos, which belonged to Ereinion Gil-galad, High King of the Elves on Middle-earth.

"Bregaith led his company up the slopes of Mount Doom, which was boiling clouds of Sauron's hatred of all life and light into the sky, blotting out the sun by day and the moon by night. Streams of lava flowed down its flanks, sometimes accompanied by rocks which would tumble down when disturbed by earthquakes. Orcs had taken positions higher up, but were either burned by the lava or struck and killed by the rocks. The air they breathed was a poisonous fume, and Orcs, Elves and Men alike choked on it. Fine dust filtered into their lungs, causing the most dreadful coughing among the troops; visibility was often too bad to allow the soldiers on either side to tell friend from foe.

"Many of the Elves who fought with Bregaith were veterans of previous campaigns. They trusted him no matter what he bade them do. As the battle raged, they were holding off some Cave-trolls who were stationed near an entrance high above them. Far below, they could see Elendil and Gil-galad fighting with Sauron, who was lashing out at them with his mace, sending Men and Elves flying with each swipe. Bregaith's orders were to stop the trolls from joining their master and killing the kings of Elves and Men.

"By his great cunning, Bregaith was able to creep around the mountain, evading the Orcs who were positioned there, and with a handful of his troops, he slipped behind the trolls and killed them.

"Bregaith and his troops took cover in the cave that the entrance led to, knowing that the Orcs they had evaded would come to investigate the deaths of the trolls. Pulling their bows from their shoulders, Bregaith and his troops slew the Orcs as they came and made the upper mountainside safe. As he held his spear aloft in celebration of his victory, Bregaith saw Gil-galad fall, struck by a blow from Sauron's hand.

"Orcs rushed to seize the body of the High King to despoil it, but were beaten back by Elven warriors. In the confusion, Elendil was killed and Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand.

"Bregaith and his troops were knocked off their feet by the blast of Sauron's downfall, but they quickly recovered and went rushing down to help their friends to recover the body of the fallen High King. Elves, Men and Orcs fought bitterly at the site of the High King's body. The Orcs knew they were beaten but were determined to give a good account of themselves ere they perished. One of them seized Aiglos, the High King's spear, and bore it away to keep as a trophy. Bregaith saw this and was determined to avenge this dishonour to Gil-galad.

"No-one knows the name of the foul Orc who took the High King's spear. He took it and ran as fast as his legs could carry him, pursued by Bregaith. Every time he stole a backward glance, Bregaith was there, vengeance in his eye and fury in his glance. Followed by his loyal troops, Bregaith was determined to pursue his foe until the spear was retrieved.

"The Orc-thief called to his fellow-Orcs to stop the mad Elf who was chasing him, but Bregaith slew them ere they could draw their bows, casting his spear at them and snatching it out to batter those the spear missed. It occurred to the Orc to cast Aiglos at Bregaith, but even if he killed the Elf, the other Elves would take the spear and slay him anyway.

"Other Orcs watched the Elf pursue the Orc-thief, and some of them thought to aid their fellow Orc by shooting at Bregaith. Most of their arrows missed him, but one struck him between the joints of his armour at his shoulder and he stumbled. He snapped the shaft and continued his pursuit of the Orc.

"Wounded and exhausted, Bregaith never wavered in his resolve to retrieve the spear of the High King. Why let the Orcs celebrate the capture of a great trophy? That would dishonour Gil-galad, and could not be permitted at any cost. Bregaith continued to chase the Orc until his quarry tripped over a corpse and dropped the spear. Lifting his own spear, Bregaith swiftly dispatched the Orc and seized Aiglos. Other Orcs surrounded him, for the Elven warrior had outrun his own troops and was alone. The Orcs took up their weapons and went to slay Bregaith. But Bregaith had two spears. Wielding those two spears, Aiglos in his right hand and his own in his left, Bregaith made as good an account of himself as he could, slashing and stabbing his enemies as they closed in on him. Indeed, since they surrounded him they could not use their arrows and must needs strike at their foe by other means.

"The soldiers of Bregaith's company, hearing the clamour and seeing the Orcs gathering in a circle feared the worst, and when they finally broke through the circle of enemies to him, they found their captain on his knees bleeding from many wounds. Both his own spear and Aiglos were covered in blood and Bregaith himself was barely recognisable. Indeed, he could no longer tell friend from foe, such was his confusion. Calling words of encouragement to him, his friends approached him to pick him up and carry him back to their camp where he died of his wounds. They did not take Aiglos from his hand until after he was dead, for he defended it till his last breath."

 

Wild applause broke out as the tale Lindir told ended and the music ceased at last. The minstrel bowed to his lord, then to his audience. Then Elrond rose and spoke to his household. "Thank you, Lindir, for telling this tale so well. Indeed, I have heard many accounts of Bregaith's great victories, but none of them were told as well as in your tale tonight. Thank you."

More applause followed this praise from the lord of Rivendell, and Elrond bowed and took his leave, followed by his wife, as they carried their children to their beds.


In their beds, the boys were kissed in turn by their parents and their stuffed toy squirrels were tucked in with them.

"Ada," said Elladan, "I want to be a great warrior when I grow up, just like Bregaith."

"I would be most proud of you if you did," replied his father, "though I would be just as proud if you became a scholar or a healer."

"I want to be a warrior, too!" declared Elrohir, not to be outdone.

"I am sure you will be the best and bravest warrior who ever lived," his mother told him, stroking his hair.

"Whatever it is you turn your hands to, my sons," said Elrond as he lit the lamp that hung high above their beds and turned it down low, "your mother and I will be very proud of you both if you do your very best."

"Ada," asked Elladan, "where is Aiglos now?"

Elrohir sat up in his bed, eager to hear his father's reply.

"It is in the Gallery of Kings, beside the painting of Gil-galad contending with Sauron," Elrond told them with a smile. "I claimed it as his herald and kinsman before anyone could object. My love for him was great, and I still miss him terribly."

"Will you not see him again in Valinor?" asked Elrohir.

"I am not sure how long it will be until he is released from Mandos's Halls, my son. I hope he will be there when I am called to sail," sighed Elrond. Reaching across Elladan's bed, he caressed Elrohir's face, then did the same to Elladan. His sons were treated equally. "Goodnight, my sons."

"Goodnight, my darling sons," said Celebrían, blowing each of them a kiss as she rose to leave the room.

Elrond took her hand as he reached the door, and they walked out with a final loving glance at their sons, who were already fast asleep.

The End

 


Chapter End Notes:

I borrowed from the old Irish legend of Cú Chulainn for this.



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