THE LAY OF ZHERA’
[7 April 2017]
In the beginning of Days upon Arda, when the land was yet young and the Airs glittered, Man came forth, it is said, in the Eastfold. Never has any tale confirmed this speculation, and we do not pretend now to settle the matter, being buried as it is in the lies of Melko, to whom these men made offerings and prostrate supplication. What is known among us Noldo is the following, of which now in your After-Days upon Arda’s meadows little has been told.
Mankind being first brought by Eru as a host, was both lettered and mastered spells, and books of lore did they keep, and of all speaking things they did learn much regarding the Early Days. Not content to record, nor in their mastery of spells, Mankind began to murmur against their dominion, and to seek the aid of stray elves that knew not the light of the Trees; nor assured they, neither vouchsafed, their loyalty to man, whom they mistrusted. Thus it was that Song of Elda came to Men, in which was spoken the summons of Vala to come and partake of the glory and be at one with their powers; and the beauty of these songs broke upon the men, and their writings they now regarded with disdain, being enamored of the song of words, though little liking what they revealed: that here on Arda they had been left to wander without invitation, and without permanent abode, forgetting the lore set down in their First Days, when parting from Eru; giving promises to await and abide his coming. Yet forbidden were they to write these, set them into letters of any sort, nor to speak of his coming to any not present that day.
In time passing, some seemed to forget, or to begrudge the prohibition, though fearing to break it: first of all the commands Eru bestowed. And they revealed some part of the promises-taken new as “oaths constrained,” to their children, and in turn these children expanded upon the tales the constraints imposed; and to these misconceptions their own children mingled the songs of Elda, attributing to us the command to stay and await, while whither we sought.
In those days Man had not been brought to Death, and some of the First Host corrected the children of their children, while others sat silent, curious of the confusion, beguiled by invention; for until then, these men recorded the words spoken by other beasts or plants, ^and without embroidery or interpretation.
You were among those elves that settled near these First Men, and hearing their tales misguided, and attributed to your house, it was your intervention therein that brought Men to a divide among themselves; some hating Elda and Vala; others repenting for the breach of Eru’s command. Too late was their turn to his law and its wisdom. Harshly you spoke in their councils, and grievous were your words to hear, and secret combinations hunted for you afterward, as if to seek understanding when they would on you and your house set spells of allegiance and of forgetting.
Thus driven forth, you and many others forsook these earliest men, and taught likewise all beings nearby to suspect their inquiries, and to share no longer their own lore. Hearing the world entire had forsaken their friendship, all men came against any stray elf, and would slay him, if they could devise it.
Never could they, for death had not entered into Arda yet, but in bonds they might set captives, and subject them to spells and torment, being enamored of pain; which to them promised a way out of what seemed Arda-prison.
You were brought in bonds – secretly according to your will – and set outside a man’s walls, left before his gate, that you might investigate these men, and to them offer final instruction. Touch you none would dare, however, nor to take you in to their place of torment; neither would you stand nor move thence. But your allegiance they sought, appearing to repent and to desire the wisdom of elves in the matter of their un-making the stories set loose by them. To every advance you refused, saying this:
None may unmake what in words has been set, and loosed upon the ears of unwary and never now may you return to the promises forsworn, though all mankind turned to this task; for you have fallen from your glory. Eru you say is forgiving, and so he is; but his law also states in your books of lore that to you he would not come, in time or hereafter hence ever, if his first command you violate. Depart hence, and leave to your young children the hope of Eru, being yourselves exiled that they may be by him taken back into favor, and light.
Instead of your counsel, these men carried you far therefrom, telling all their houses to forsake the folly of elves unrepentant and do as the Powers, heeding not their confusion, but leaving them to linger.
In time passing, your words came to Nevrast, reaching Turgon, himself a lore master that would save and restore every knowledge then discovered in his land’s domain. So he brought you to Fairest Gondolin, and there you remained with your house until that city was betrayed and ruined by the fire-hosts of Melko: Dragons, machines, Balrogs, and orcs in their vanguard.
Because these tales and those told by others of our kind, Fingolfin sought to discover the lives of men and to aid them, when found apart from the Satanic cities of the East, westward wandering. Of his long labors, in shadow and by stealth of songs in night, of dream and insight upon mind, we cannot here speak.
Dyacôm yet lives, as does Izilba, and to them you must return, or else all our labors fail of their purposes, and our residency awaiting and abiding in the mountains that before our minds recall Gondolin, all be in vain.
“Go now,” counseled the Onodrinlim, to Zhera’ with his twins, “Alone if you must, but overwatched by our vigilance.” So the man set out along the coast in his throng of sea-wains, first northward for a brief span of days, then back east and south, awaiting the coming of his beloved, or sight of his firstborn son. To his aid was also committed a helpmate to attend the twins in their nursing, accommodating herself (a woman by these elves trusted) to sea-travel and recently being bereft of spouse and child. Zhera’ loved her not (thus was she chosen), but steadfast and dutiful was she to all children. Umma was she called, and she received the gratitude and care of Zhera’ not unwillingly, though without overdue praise, neither. To her the elves of these mountains were wise and sure allies, and it was for them that she agreed to nurse and attend; though her mind and tongue was strange, and foreign to Zhera’ (the second reason she was chosen).