Dusk in Mithlond, and the high king and his herald arrive in a clatter of hooves. They ride within the protective shield of an escort of experienced warriors, their lives too precious to risk lightly on the road in this time of rising dark.
Removing his helmet, Gil-galad looks impatiently around the reception area of the main dwelling. He is a practical elf; his life has involved swift decisions, clear responses to situations and he is not over-fond of mystery. “Well?” he asks his foster father, Cirdan of the silver hair, rain-clear eyes and downy beard. “What did you have us ride all the way out here for? You said you had something to show us?”
“The message said there was something we needed to see,” Elrond corrects him. “The two do not necessarily mean the same…”
Gil-galad throws him a glance that says he has not relished the long, hard ride and would appreciate it if Elrond were to rein in his implacable tongue and keep hair-splitting to the minimum.
Cirdan, undismayed – for after all he had raised the king from childhood – gestures for them to follow him through winding passageways and out into the small protected garden kept for his personal use. “Why did I urge you to ride out here with haste?” he asks mildly. “As Elrond Eärendilion has said, there is something you need to see.”
With a nod he indicates an elf who is sitting on a bench beside the pool. He is watching the brightly-coloured fish which are of a type unknown in these waters and about whose origins Círdan tends to be somewhat reticent. The elf is tall and lithe, with a wiry frame and the hard muscle of a warrior. His face appears flawless; high cheekboned with a firm chin and perfect nose, shadowy eyes under winged brows. His most noteworthy feature is his hair – pure gold, as though the metal has been beaten and spun to hang in a fall of sunlight down to his thighs.
Gil-galad gives Cirdan a puzzled look. The elf is unknown to him. “I don’t understand,” he says. “Does he come from Eregion? Did Celebrimbor send him?”
The elf, aware that he is no longer alone, glances up from the pool and they receive the full impact of his eyes, blue as summer skies under dark gold lashes. Eyes that should dance with laughter, just as his mouth looks to be made to curve with mirth. A mouth that currently rejects laughter. Haunted, fathomless eyes, carrying shadows of things best unseen, places best unrecalled.
“Not from Eregion, sire,” Elrond says, bowing in greeting. He has a sense of recognition, something beyond the prescient guidance of his Maian blood. “This lord has travelled a far greater distance.” Holding the blue gaze of the elf who is rising to his feet with slow, careful movements as though uncertain in his skin, he adds, “Not precisely a messenger, either, I think. More accurately – a harbinger.”