Wassail, traveler, and welcome to The Gable Grey -- a place of retreat, of renewal, and of resistance: a tree-shaded refuge in Dark Times. Now pass the threshold, and rest from journeys! For a cold wind is blowing; and here, if you wish, you may hear tidings of the world without...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The First Ship

So it was that for the first time in over two thousand years, a ship left Valinor, bound for Middle-earth. Its Telerin crew busied themselves with their work, and little heeded their two charges, who sat huddled together, gazing ever eastward. They did not look back.

They found the Straight Road soon enough; and as the roiling waters of Belegaer lashed the coasts of Middle-earth, the Teleri and their passengers at length beheld dark islands. The Noldor knew them not, though indeed they had seen those forested slopes long ago, in their adventures in the land now beneath the wave: Beleriand. Thus they passed Tol Morwen, and Himling, and at last beheld a line of low, mist-shrouded peaks on the eastern horizon. They were come to the Firth of Lune, an arm of the Sea that split the Blue Mountains in twain. The ship passed the forested flanks of the mountains, an Elvish country still in this Fourth Age of Middle-earth, the Age of Men. It was the month of Gwaeron, and the new green of Spring had not yet come to the North; a hard rain fell as the vessel weighed anchor at the quays of the Harlond.

No other ships could be seen; and there waited two only to greet the travellers as they disembarked. One was a tall Elf, clad entirely in grey garments. The wind off the Firth whipped his long fair hair; his sea-grey eyes lowered only slightly at the approach of the Noldor. He grasped a long, leaf-bladed glaive as a staff.

At his side stood a shorter Elf, clad also in grey, though he wore a shirt of shimmering scale-mail. His hair was red.

"Welcome, lords," said the tall Elf. He did not bow. "I am Galdor, and am appointed to speak for Cirdan. Your errand is known to us, and we will aid it as we may." He nodded at the red-haired one beside him. "Seregon will be your guide, for a little while. Some store of provisions has already been prepared for you, and some other things that may aid you, should you cross paths with Men or Dwarves. But you should avoid them if you may, and shun the roads altogether. Indeed, Seregon will take you over the wild lands to the south-east of here." Then he spoke in hushed tones to Seregon for some moments before turning to the Noldor again. "You will meet a Dunadan, one of the dwindling race of Numenor who still dwell in the North: Hallatan, son of Halbarad. He will know more of your first task than I." He studied them a moment more, frowning; then he said, "May the grace of the Valar go with thee." Then he was gone.

"My lords Celegorm and Gwindor," Seregon said, almost eagerly. "Follow me!"

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Whiles carried o'er the iron road,
We hurry by some fair abode;
The garden bright amidst the hay,
The yellow wain upon the way,
The dining men, the wind that sweeps
Light locks from off the sun-sweet heaps --
The gable grey, the hoary roof,
Here now -- and now so far aloof.
How sorely then we long to stay
And midst its sweetness wear the day,
And 'neath its changing shadows sit,
And feel ourselves a part of it.
Such rest, such stay, I strove to win
With these same leaves that lie herein.

-- William Morris, from
"The Roots of the Mountains"