The Fellowship of the Palantíri | Prologue 0.3

The Grey Havens

Across the Shire, though none saw them go, the group of Fair Folk rode, passing then about the south skirts of the White Downs; they came to the Far Downs, and to the Towers, and looked on the distant Sea; and so they rode down at last to Mithlond, to the Grey Havens in the long firth of Lune. There, at the Havens, a ship lay at anchor, and upon the quay, the party spoke their final words on the shores of Middle-earth.

Many mounted the fine vessel until all who remained still ashore were Saelind, long-time defender of Mirkwood, and his companion, Galenion, second son of Oropher, brother to King Thranduil of that realm. “You will not come, my lord?” Saelind asked.

Galenion shook his head, speaking not a word—for this conversation had already played out through the long journey to the Havens—but rather clasping his dear friend’s arm in a farewell embrace.

Nan lû i agovaded vîn,” Saelind said, “until next we meet.” Then he joined the other elves on the great ship, and all was made ready for its departure. The sails were drawn up, and the wind blew.

Sŷl gîn bain, Saelind, may your winds be fair,” Galenion called as the ship slowly slipped away down the long grey firth. “Give my love to Duinelleth and Nauriell!” As the ship passed over the horizon to the West, Galenion sensed movement behind him. And though long-used to the wilds and the dangers they contained, he did not startle, for here was safety and peace in this Middle-earth, here, where Valinor seemed so nearby.

“Someday I shall watch this harbour disappear to the east, from a deck wrought by mine own hand. But the Sea-Longing is not grown that strong in me and though the land fades, yet there are many who need ships built for them. But I see you are still not one of these, are you, Galenion?”

Galenion turned to Círdan the Shipwright. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and he was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars. A weary smile spread across Galenion’s face. “Not yet, my lord. In truth I dearly miss my wife and daughter, but there is still much to do in this Middle-earth to secure it from Shadow.” He chuckled, and continued, “Besides, we have waited long for this King Elessar, have we not? I would see him before I take the journey to Valinor.”

Círdan dropped his head in agreement. “Indeed, Elendil’s heir has done much to rid this land of Shadow, but his work is far from done.” He turned away from the horizon, where no ship was visible, even to keen Elf-eyes. “Telo na nin, Galenion, come with me.” And Galenion followed.

As they approached the buildings by the port, Círdan spoke again. “You wish to see what Elessar can do for Middle-earth? It is not mere chance that has brought you to my shores at this time.”

“What do you mean, lord?”

Círdan led Galenion up a spiral staircase to the top of a great tower. There stood a door, across from a window facing the West. Círdan stood silently, waiting patiently a few minutes until light from the setting sun illuminated runes on the face of the door, sending a golden glow flowing through them. Círdan spoke low, and the door opened. Inside, on a pedestal, a spherical object rested under a shroud. “Since the fall of Arthedain, since the death of Arvedui Last-king—for sadly my ships could not carry him to safety—I have held this in safekeeping until one who could assume the throne of Gondor should make himself known.”

Galenion stared in wonder, murmuring, “Man sa?

“What is it? It is the palantír of Elendil, from the tower Elostirion in Emyn Beraid. None know it survived the fall of the Northern Kingdom. But it is not ours. And the time has come for it to be returned to Aragorn, Elendil’s heir.”

Nan gaer ar in elin…” Galenion breathed, amazed at what stood before him. “By the sea and stars…”

“Galenion, I would ask that you do this thing. Our brethren are leaving these shores, now in greater numbers than ever. With the loss of the Three, the world diminishes even faster than before, and I needs must build the ships to carry the First Ones to the White Shores.”

Galenion gave pause, and Círdan turned his gaze from the cloaked palantír to his companion. After a while, Galenion, too, pulled his eyes from the covered stone, looking then back at the ancient Shipwright. “What would you have me do?”

“King Elessar and a contingent are due to survey Arnor this season, starting with the ruins of Annúminas, formerly a seat of one of the brethren of this very stone. I would have you bring this to him, either there or wherever you may encounter his company. But take heed, these lands are not made safe yet, as you well know. This seeing stone is ancient and if the lore holds true, not even Aragorn may be able to bend it from its course. Many times have I desired to pull back this cloth and gaze on the Tower of Avallónë upon Eressëa, but by grace have had the will to resist. Perhaps Aragorn will have no use for this palantír, but that is for him to decide. It must be given him, but it must be transported with care. I know not what might be accomplished through this stone in the wrong hands.”

“If this thing can be done, I will do it,” Galenion resolved. “I have traveled far in this worlds-realm, and would travel farther yet. You are wise and learned, Círdan. If you believe I am fit for the task, I shall gladly bear this burden to the new King. And if shadow falls across my path, I have Galacharn to light the way.” He placed a hand upon the weapon’s hilt.

“You will need to travel fast and light, for orcs and other foul things are still a blemish upon Eriador. Annúminas itself is no safe haven. Still, if you will bear them, I have some items that will aid you on this journey.”

Círdan carefully drew up the palantír, keeping it concealed and wrapping it more closely in the velvety cloth. Galenion furrowed his brow a bit and held out his hands to receive the palantír, though take it from the Shipwright, he would not, until the other deemed it ready.

Círdan handed the heavy bundle of the stone over to Galenion and cracked a smile. “First, I think, we shall get you a bag.”

“You are indeed a generous host, my lord,” Galenion replied with a grin.

The Shipwright grew serious again as he led Galenion down from the tower and to a storeroom. “I shall say again, speed and safety are ever important. Take not the time to gather food along the way. Take rather this lembas and this skin of miruvor. They shall nourish you well. Your cloak will hide you well from the eyes of whatever Enemy is to be found. Take this rope, made of hithlain, for no straight road will lead you to Annúminas, and many are the drops and rises in Emyn Uial.”

Finally, Círdan picked up a small, sheathed dagger and handed it to his companion. The knife gleamed as Galenion drew it from the black leather set with many green stones. It was long, leaf-shaped, and keen, of marvelous workmanship, damasked with serpent-forms in green and silver. He looked quizzically at the Shipwright. “I know your own Galacharn to be more than able for this task. And yet I foresee you may find a use for this blade on your journey. It was forged many long years ago by Men of Westernesse. If for no other reason than that, bear it hence, for such things belong to Elessar.” Galenion nodded and sheathed the blade anew.

Anor sílatha erin râd gîn, Galenion. May the sun shine on your path.”

Gen hannon. I thank you.”

“And now, be away!”