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5.10.17

Now it was that seeking out his foster-son within the Lower Airs, came Thingol upon this mortal most distressed, and yet sound of mind; and with music in his heart and song, if slight, on his lips. And coming to him, kneeling, he spoke gentle to Joseph, and learned of him his purpose in pursuing a course forbidden to man; and that he had no hope of escape, and perhaps the unnatural no-death would be his lot, here in the Depths. Thingol gave him aid, and comfort, dressed his wounds, and balmed his scrapes and burned flesh. Food also he brought back, from stores long hidden, and good mead to revive the spirit, and give awakening to the body; in a short while, under this nurse-king, Joseph indeed became raised upon his feet; able to see, and to hope his guide might lead him forth of that place. Yet Thingol delayed, uncertain of this man’s fate, his purposes, and whether wisdom would lead one from here, out to spread perhaps a sickness, plague of Hell, upon the lighted lands. In giving him foods, some elvish make, others putrid and refused, and in the singing of music, and telling tales true and untrue, he decided that this man was well, his spirit clean, and his body accustomed, to his disbelief, to bread and drink fit for Eldar. Yet still the king delayed, hoping perhaps Turin would somehow wash up hither, or fearing that in delivering this man out, he might forsake the quest to recover the lost son; being forbidden by gates unbreakable, or his own will’s refusal, to enter again his own realm ruined and set at the feet of Mordor- Hell, Udûn.

Thingol sat with this man a long while, and at times would lead him about the avenues secret, and corridors known to him, ever to return to this sacred hall, where long ago he had jested in daring, another lost man; and thus lost his own jewel, espoused, and realm, along with his own body of flesh; and yet, rather than keen bitter resolution to aid no soul, nor rebel against the Powers who set as fate the Music upon him; instead Greymantle sought out weeping spirits, to cheer them in the depths; or brought together friends and kin there enmeshed, captive until he thought perhaps a hidden realm may be again built there; but at this time, only the consideration, growing about his mind, and from roots in his heart, was.

And the king was alone in the world, so again delayed Joseph’s deliverance; friendship and ancient words, lore confused was unwound, laughter and memory passed between these two, deep underneath the towers constructed of iron heaps, a new dark lord leaving too long his own house for stewards to barter privileges within, and the stewards untrustful now searched out men of Numenorean descent, concealed among all the races of the earth east of Undying realms, to make offer of high seats, dominions, principalities; or to suffer annihilation, and the burning of their people, utterly. Whilst the wicked labored to unseat or overthrow them to whom they profess allegiance, the two unlikely friends made no plots, nor devised overthrowing realms, or toppling dark thrones. They talked, explored, mapped, rescued and healed spirits of the dead, all in greatest secrecy, fearing to lose what hither had each gained.

And in time Thingol understood his foster son would not be by him, thither rescued and come to peace; and that his realm would not again be remade a second time, for kingship had truly passed to the heir, Dyacôm; and was not his to take up thither. So he and the man gathered what store of goods and weapons remained in the crumble ruin halls and quarters and at last they set out upon Esgalduin’s secret way, taken some time before by his heir, joyful in the covering arms of Izilba. But all the lands and waterways had been changed, and the river was now drawn down eastward, rather than south as Izilba’s throng had proceeded; hills had been westward thrown up, the Morgai called afterwards, and the wreck of lands and confusion of waters came mostly by the power of Ulmo’s host, beaching and crashing upon Gorgoroth, cutting deep caverns as they assaulted the balrog underneath, captured in the snare of its own jets sent upon the lands.

So the pair came in a canoe to an inland sea, still fresh, but dying and choked with grime, sulphur and weeds. Here concealed they camped, making plans to survey the new forms and paths and here we shall leave them for a time, knowing that to the subtle assault on Mordor one other would they add: Ki-Abroam, handy with an ax.


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