Fandom: Lord of the RingsUniverse:
100% AU. Sorry not sorry, Professor T.Timeline:
Iavas, Third Age 2510.
Pairings: past Elrond/Gil-galad.
This chapter is longer than the last two chapters combined
, so you should probably go to the loo and/or get a drink and/or a snack before you start XD I've been writing this chapter on and off for so long that it feels really odd to have finally finished it.
<><><><><>Chapter Three - A simple question looking for an answerMithlond
Círdan woke the next morning before the dawn, as was his habit, and dressed in sturdy black breeches, a red linen shirt and a grey leather jerkin, suitable for a day on the sea. He was overseeing the first voyage of a ship that they had only just finished repairing after working on it for close to six months. It would take him out of the house for quite a few hours, and he paused in his study, still barefoot, to quickly write a note to his foster-son that would explain his absence. He blew on the ink as he quietly entered Ereinion's room, and placed the note on the bedside table, weighting it down by placing Ereinion's water glass on the corner.
Still moving silently, he crossed to the window and opened the gauzy grey curtains so when the sun rose there'd be some light in the room. He turned back around to find that Tirith had awoken and was sitting patiently on the carpet.
He crouched down in front of his faithful companion and rubbed the dog behind the ears. "Ready to go?" he asked softly.
Tirith looked at him for a few moments, then stood and padded a few steps back towards Ereinion's bed, and then looked back at Círdan once more. Círdan smiled. "You want to stay and keep him company?"
Tirith whined quietly and wagged his tail.
"Alright then," Círdan acquiesced, patting the wolfhound on the head once more. "I'll see you in a few hours."
Tirith licked the shipwright's hand in farewell, and then leapt lightly onto the bed and curled back up next to Ereinion. Círdan followed him over and held his beard out of the way as he bent down to press a gentle goodbye kiss on Ereinion's forehead. The reborn elf barely stirred in reply, too far in the realm of dreams for the brief contact to register. The shipwright allowed himself one more moment to marvel at his foster son's return to life, then went to put on his boots and left the house to go to work.
Ereinion awoke a few hours after the sun, disoriented for a moment until his brain caught up and he remembered what had happened and where he was. Movement on his left drew his attention, and he looked over at Tirith, who was watching him.
"Good morning," Ereinion greeted, his voice catching in his dry throat on the last syllable. He reached for his water glass and noticed the letter that was sitting underneath it. He leaned over to pick it up with his free hand and appraised the message, recognising the spidery hand that scuttled across the paper in uniformly straight lines.
Just letting you know that I will be out for a few hours this morning; we have been repairing a ship that was severely damaged in a collision with the headland not long ago, and it is finally seaworthy so today we're taking her out for a constitutional. (This is what I started to tell you last night, just before you went to bed.) I'm so sorry to leave you alone but this has to be done today because there's some heavy rain coming in that won't let up for a few days once it starts and we need to know whether she is seaworthy again as soon as possible. We're not going to sail very far - a little way up the Gulf and back, most likely, so I will be back around lunch time. Maybe sooner if the rain comes in quicker than we've anticipated.
Everything is in the same place it always was, so if you need anything you know where to find it. Your clothes are packed in trunks in your wardrobe, but if you don't feel like unpacking feel free to borrow something of mine and I'll help you sort everything out when I get back.
See you soon,
P.S. Tirith elected to stay and keep you out of trouble; please try and keep him out of trouble as well.
Ereinion smiled fondly at the postscript, and reached over to scratch the dog behind his ears. "Trouble? You? What's he talking about?" he teased. Tirith licked Ereinion's face and then settled down at the former King's side. Ereinion smiled and slung an arm over the dog, content to just lie there and snuggle for a few minutes.
After a while Tirith shifted out from under Ereinion's arm and leapt off the bed, moving to stand expectantly by the door.
Ereinion moved up onto his elbows and looked at the wolfhound. "Is this your way of telling me it's breakfast time?" Tirith barked and wagged his tail, taking a few steps out into the corridor and turning back to look at Ereinion, who chuckled.
"Alright, alright, I'm up." He rubbed his face and got out of bed, stretching briefly, before following the dog out of the door and down the stairs to the kitchen.
<><><>The Gulf of Lhûn
I am writing to let you know that you can disregard my last letter. All is well.
Círdan sat in the Captain's cabin of the HMS Anestáriel
, and tapped the feathered end of his quill against his lips as he contemplated how to continue.
I appreciate that this will make about as much sense as my previous missive did - which is to say, none - but let me assure you that there is no need to worry. All will be explained in due course, but it is a tale better told in person. I promise to regale you with it the next time I visit your fair valley, in Echuir.
Círdan was just about to dip the quill in the ink pot, which sat in a nook that had been built into the surface of the desk, when a voice from the doorway startled him.
"Is it wise to catch up on your correspondence now, Círdan? Your handwriting is barely legible even when you're writing on solid ground."
The quill clattered quietly onto the corner of the wooden desktop and promptly slid off as the ship crested a wave. Círdan leaned down to retrieve it, shooting Galdor a mock glare as he straightened up.
"Insolent landlubber," he muttered as he turned back to the desk and surveyed it for spilled ink. He was pleased to note that there was none: the recessed ink pot had done its job well.
Galdor grinned and moved into the room, taking the seat across from Círdan at the desk. "Who are you writing to?"
"Elrond. Telling him not to concern himself with the missing body of the King."
The younger elf's eyes widened. "Did you get to the bottom of it?"
"I believe so," Círdan replied. He could feel Galdor's expectant anticipation and glanced up at his trusted friend. He smiled ruefully. "I don't think you'll believe me if I tell you."
Galdor considered this comment and the question he had originally come to ask, and he swallowed hard as the pieces fell into place. "It wouldn't...have anything to do with the person you picked up from the beach last night, would it?"
Círdan sighed. "We were seen?"
"From a distance. No one recognised the person with you, but it was assumed that someone had drunk a little too much and passed out." Galdor leaned forward. "Círdan, was it him? Has he returned?"
The shipwright was unable to suppress the grin that spread across his face. "Yes. Yes, he has been returned to us."
His grin was infectious and Galdor couldn't help but return it. He reached out and placed his hands over Círdan's, which were folded together and resting on the desktop.
"That is wonderful news." Círdan had been more cheerful that morning than he had been in a long time, and now Galdor understood why. He had served the shipwright as confidant and emissary for many centuries, and knew how heavily the loss of Ereinion had weighed on him. That burden had been lifted, and the change was immediately visible.
"I would appreciate it if you did not tell anyone of this; at least not yet. He has not even been back for an entire day, and so much about his return is still uncertain."
Galdor nodded. "I understand. I will be as silent as the stars."
"Thank you, Galdor." Círdan moved his hands to grip those of the younger elf, and squeezed them in gratitude for a brief moment before letting go and reaching once again for his letter.
Galdor watched as the shipwright finished his letter and sanded it, glancing out of the cabin's window and appraising their distance from the heavy clouds on the horizon. "She's doing well," Círdan said. "Looks like we'll outrun that rain after all."
"Yes, I believe we will. You've done well with her, Círdan. You always do."
Círdan blew the excess sand off of the parchment and folded the letter. "Well, I better get back out on deck. It does not do for the captain to hide in his cabin on a ship's maiden voyage."
Galdor laughed and agreed. Círdan slid the letter into the inner breast pocket of his tunic and followed the younger elf up into the sunlight.
Having successfully lit a fire to dispel the chill, Ereinion fed Tirith and then ate his fill of bread and jam, relishing at the simple but divine flavours and textures.
"Jam is underrated," he said to the wolfhound, who was too busy eating his own breakfast to react. Ereinion shrugged and helped himself to another slice. Once that had been eaten he decided that three was enough, and got up to make himself a cup of tea, licking a drop of magenta deliciousness off his thumb as he went. He filled the kettle and boiled the water easily enough, and reached for the tea canister, thinking to himself as he pulled the lid off that not much had changed in three thousand years. He looked down into the canister and did a double take.
"...I was not expecting that," he murmured to himself. Instead of loose leaves, the canister was filled with tiny muslin bags. Ereinion picked one up and looked at it in bewilderment. There was a short length of string tied to the stitches at the top of the bag, and a small square of coloured paper tied onto the other end of the string.
Ereinion peered closer at the muslin pouch and noticed that the contents resembled tea leaves. After a quick olfactory test, he decided that's what they were, and placed the bag into his mug, draping the string over the edge. After all, they were in the tea canister. What else would they be?
He poured hot water into the mug, and learnt the hard way that it helps to hold onto the tag when the square rapidly travelled up the side of the mug and disappeared into the liquid. He turned away to get a spoon and, after waiting a moment to let the tea steep, fished the bag out and placed it to the side on the sink. He hadn't been watching when Círdan made their tea last night and so was unfamiliar with this new method, but it seemed simple enough. More convenient too, if one was only after one cup of tea, and involved less tealeaf wastage. He mixed in his milk and sugar and took a sip, closing his eyes in satisfaction.
He carried his mug up the stairs and sat it on his dressing table, and then quickly ducked into the bathroom to brush his hair and answer the call of nature before he faced the daunting task before him. He re-entered his bedroom and turned to face his wardrobe. He hated unpacking and was not looking forward to this at all.
"It's now or never," he muttered. Ereinion took a deep breath to brace himself, and opened one of the doors.
Instead of being full of dusty trunks, all of his clothes were...hanging, neatly, exactly where he would have hung them. Confused, he opened the other two wardrobe doors and all of his drawers and found that the situation was the same in all of them. Ereinion stepped back, frowning. This was all very weird. He grabbed Círdan's letter from his bed and re-read it, just to make sure that it said what he thought it had said.
Your clothes are packed in trunks in your wardrobe, but if you don't feel like unpacking feel free to borrow something of mine and I'll help you sort everything out when I get back.
Yes, that was what he thought.
Ereinion looked at his neatly hanging clothes in bewilderment for another moment, then passed his hands over his face and decided to not question it. 'Don't look a gift horse in the mouth', as they say.
He successfully located his favourite tunic and grabbed a jerkin and some leggings to match, and changed into them. A pair of socks completed his outfit, and he picked up his tea and drank the rest of it on his way back to the staircase. He peeked into the storage room and saw the trunks that Círdan had presumably used to store his clothes stacked up neatly on one wall, now empty.
He went downstairs and put his mug with the other dishes that were in the sink, then wandered into the front room. Tirith was lying on the carpet in front of the hearth, exactly where Ereinion had left him. With a smile the reborn elf headed straight for the bookshelf, having decided that since his morning was unexpectedly free, the first thing he should do was catch up on recent history. He found a book, predictably written by Erestor, titled In The Aftermath: A Firsthand Account of the Closing of the Second Age and the Dawning of the Third.
It sounded like exactly the book he needed. He briefly wondered if there were any more, but then decided that one would be enough to begin with, and sprawled onto the sofa to read it.
A couple of hours later Ereinion looked up from his reading to see that the clouds, which had been darkening slowly all morning, had now blocked out the majority of the daylight and were beginning to rumble quietly but ominously. Ereinion yawned and noticed that he was almost halfway through the book. It was not an easy era to read about, but Ereinion supposed that it was easier for him to read it than it had been for everyone else to live it.
"Definitely time for a break, I think. What say you?" He asked Tirith, who had tired of his position on the carpet and decided to wedge himself between the back of the sofa and Ereinion's legs. Tirith whined and yawned himself, which Ereinion took as assent. He got up and stretched, put some more wood on the fire, and set about lighting the lamps to brighten the room back up a bit. While lighting the lamp in the kitchen he caught sight of a ship returning down the Gulf, and recognised it as one of Círdan's. It looked to be about an hour out from the shore, and it would take at least a further half an hour for her to be docked and secured against the storm, not to mention the time it would take Círdan to actually arrive home. Ereinion decided that he would make lunch for his foster father. A brief search around the kitchen uncovered the ingredients he needed, and he lit the wood stove and set to work.
Círdan sighed gratefully as he walked through the front door into his warm, bright house. He waved to Galdor who continued on his own way home, Círdan's letter in his pocket to send out in the morning with other missives bound for Imladris. Ereinion glanced up from his book, and if he noticed the look of wistful longing on his foster father's face, he said nothing. Tirith wasted no time in leaping off the lounge and bounding over to his master, who shut the door and crouched down to meet him.
"Hello you," he greeted, fielding licks to the face as he rubbed the wolfhound behind the ears. "Stay out of trouble? Good," he said when Tirith barked in agreement.
"Good trip?" Ereinion asked, greeting the shipwright with a hug when Círdan straightened up.
"Yes, it was. In actual fact I think she sails better now than she did before."
Ereinion chuckled. "I saw her come in, she's beautiful. What's her name?"
Círdan gave him a knowing smile. "Anestáriel."
Ereinion couldn't help but break into a surprised and delighted grin. The ship was named after his mother. He nodded, swallowing the sudden lump in his throat. "It suits her."
"Aye. Something smells delicious," the shipwright said, changing the subject.
"Are you hungry?"
"Excellent," Ereinion beamed. "I made lunch. Fresh bread and vegetable soup."
Círdan made to follow his foster son to the table, and found that he was the one with an unexpected lump in his throat.
"What is it?" the younger elf asked when he turned and saw that Círdan had stopped. The shipwright shook his head.
"Nothing. Just...it is wonderful to come home to a house that isn't empty." His voice cracked on the last word and he buried his face in his hands, overcome with the realisation of how lonely he'd been for the last Age, and the knowledge that he no longer had to endure it.
Ereinion swiftly moved back over to where Círdan was standing and gathered his foster father into his arms. He, too, had realised how lonely Círdan must have been. All this time he had been thinking about Elrond, and it had never occurred to him that the shipwright might wish for his return just as much. He patted Círdan on the back as he rode out the wave of emotion that had broken over him. Tirith padded over to them and pressed his head against Círdan's leg, whining softly, and three of them held each other close for a few moments more. The bearded elf was the first to pull away, smiling somewhat ashamedly as he pulled out his handkerchief and blew his nose.
"No, don't be," Ereinion replied.
Círdan exhaled. "Now, lunch. I really am starving."
Ereinion laughed and they moved over to the table. He put a bowl full of soup in front of Círdan and set out the bread and butter, then fed Tirith once again and sat down to his own portion.
The storm broke just as they finished their meal, and Círdan swore quietly.
"I was hoping I'd have time to go out and make sure everyone was prepared before the rain hit," he said in reply to Ereinion's questioning expression. He watched the rain through the kitchen window for a few seconds, and then stood. "I better go out anyway, just to make sure."
Ereinion also stood, following the shipwright to the door. "Do you need my help?"
Círdan sighed. "I probably would, but it's better if you stay here. There's a time and place to announce your return, and it's not in the middle of a storm."
The reborn elf nodded in understanding. Círdan patted Tirith and told him to stay there with Ereinion. The former king handed Círdan his coat and a lantern. The shipwright slipped into his coat and took then lantern, bid farewell, and stepped out into the gloom.
Círdan returned a few hours later and, after assuring his foster son that no person or building had or would come to any serious harm, immediately disappeared into the bathroom to wash away the rain and mud that had accumulated on his person. Ereinion waited to hear the sound of the water draining out of the tub, and then got up and put the kettle over the fire to boil. By the time Círdan was dried and dressed, the tea was ready, and the shipwright sank onto the couch and gratefully drank of the warm liquid. Ereinion drank his own tea and left Círdan in peace for a moment, but after a while the thoughts that had been plaguing him since the previous evening become too much for him to hold in.
"Otaro, can I ask you something?"
Círdan looked at his foster son over the rim of his mug. "Of course."
"How much do you know about the passage of time in Arda in relation to the passage of time in Valinor?"
"Almost nothing, hâlpen; I have only ever lived on this side of the ocean. Why do you ask?"
"I am not sure how much time has passed here, but to my reckoning it has only been three and a half weeks since Celebrían arrived in Aman, and she said that the journey down the Straight Road took around sixty days. Is that the same amount of time?"
"No," Círdan answered, "Celebrían left on Ethuil 6; it is now Iavas 26. That's 150 days, almost three seasons."
Ereinion frowned. "But doesn't rebirth usually take years? I thought that surrogate parents must be found to create a body, and then that body must reach maturity before memories of the first life are returned. And yet," he continued, "here I am, fully grown, with all the memories of my past life, and no matter what timing you use, it has not even been six months. I understand that the rules of time do not apply to the Valar as they apply to us, but I would have thought it impossible to require a mature body - much less one that looks the same as my other one - within that small space of time. Even for them."
"Ah," Círdan replied. "I wondered when this would come up."
The shipwright put down his mug, caught his foster son's eyes, and elaborated in his customary roundabout fashion. "Firstly, there is no 'usual' in this case. An elf has been reborn into Arda from Mandos precisely once before, and that was Glorfindel. In his case he was literally reborn, albeit to a different set of parents - the sister and brother-in-law of his original father - and a body was created for him through the usual channels of conception and gestation. He started again, from the very beginning. I would not call what happened with you a 'rebirth', but a 'rehousing'. That's not a replica of your body, it is
your body. It's the only one you've ever had, and the only one you will ever have. But I'll get back to that in a minute.
"After you died, Elrond refused to let us build a customary pyre for you. He said that he wouldn't be able to stand there and watch you burn a second time...and that if we made him do so, he would cast himself into the flames with you."
Círdan was silent for a moment, remembering."Elrond, he is dead," Erestor had said, ever the voice of logic. "He will not feel it."
"I know that," snapped Elrond. "I am not an idiot. It is not that I don't want him to experience incineration a second time. I don't want to have to
watch him be incinerated a second time. You cannot make me watch that again. If you do,
I will be the one being incinerated and
you will be watching."
Erestor was wide-eyed and silent in the face of Elrond's vehemence.
Elrond passed a hand over his face. "He will not be cremated. I refuse to allow it."
Ereinion's only other close blood relative was his sister Eäthiriel who had stayed behind in Forlond as Queen Regent. As such, in that tent Elrond was the King's closest kin, and it was known that even though no vows had been spoken, their souls were bound together. As far as everyone present was concerned, Elrond had the spousal right to make funerary decisions. His word was final. And so it had been obeyed.
"I would not have called it insanity, but...he was not quite in his right mind, at least." Círdan added, seeing that Ereinion had raised his eyebrows in shock upon learning of Elrond's ultimatum. "It was entirely understandable, under the circumstances; and I must admit the idea of cremating you did not sit well with me either, given the nature of your death." Círdan had seconded Elrond's wishes in that impromptu council meeting, so even without Elrond's blood and pseudo-marital ties to the King, the cremation would not have happened. The shipwright had fostered many children throughout his long years, but none had felt quite so much like his own children as Ereinion and his sister. He felt as Elrond did that watching Ereinion burn once was once too many, and to witness it again, even taking place in such a commonplace ceremony, would have been unbearable.
"We did end up making a pyre of your belongings, and we performed all of the rites and said all of the words to give your spirit the necessary send-off. After the fire had burnt out and we had turned to leave, Elrond turned back, and walked into the remains of the fire. He told me later that a flash of silver had caught his eye. Out of the ashes he picked up Aeglos - spear handle included, your crown and the standard he had carried for you. None of them had burned at all, or showed any damage whatsoever. Your crown and the spearhead were not even slightly warm; it was as if the fire had remade them instead of destroying them. None of us were sure what it meant. I'm still not, although now I suppose it might have been a sign that one day you would return to us on these shores. Or perhaps it is something entirely different. Only the Valar know.
"Later that night I went into the tent where we were keeping your body and found Elrond at your side. By that stage words were superfluous, and I knew that if I asked after his wellbeing he simply would not answer, so I merely sat down on your other side and kept vigil with him. Some elves had been buried, as their remaining kin and friends felt as we did about cremation. After a while, Elrond said that he did not want to bury you either, because he suspected that in a few hundred years the marshland of Emyn Muil would spread out to what had become our burial ground. He was right, it did. The earth became soft and the bodies it concealed were dislodged, and many rose to the surface and are still visible. Men call it the Dead Marshes, and the legend is that dark spirits have overtaken the waters and the bodies of the Elves buried there, and now haunt the marsh, waylaying unwary travellers and leading them to a watery death."
Marsh-wights. Ereinion shuddered, grateful beyond words that he had not ended up like that.
"And then Elrond asked me what we were going to do, if both burning and burial were out of the question," Círdan continued. A small smile crossed his face. "He was already so wise and knew so much, but there were yet limits to what he knew of elves and the nature of our immortality."
The shipwright glanced up and saw that Ereinion had cocked his head and was looking at him with a perplexed frown. "Ah, you don't know either," Círdan murmured to himself.
"Tell me, young one: what does immortality mean?"
"It means that if we are not killed by violence or sorrow, we will live forever, free from the ravages of time."
"Free from the ravages of time," Círdan echoed. "Yes. That is an excellent choice of words.
He smiled when he saw that Ereinion was still confused. "We are constant, hâlpen. Our bodies grow to maturity and then the changes cease, and unless we are subject to injury or rare illness, no circumstances can induce further change."
Ereinion felt as though he was on the brink of a revelation. "Are you telling me...that dead elves don't decompose?"
Círdan nodded, once. "The bodies of elves, unlike those of men or dwarves, do not decay. We are, to use your words, free from the ravages of time. From all
ravages of time, regardless of whether we are living or not."
Ereinion nodded slowly, absorbing this new information. "So what happened to me? A few hours after midnight, exhaustion and pain overtook the shipwright and his young companion, and both slipped into an uneasy doze. After a while Círdan dimly realised that Elrond was saying his name and he forced his eyes open to see what the matter was.
"Círdan, look at his face," Elrond said, looking at the King. Círdan leant forward and noticed with some shock that the horrific burns were...gone. Ereinion's face was whole, his skin clear and unmarred, and it looked for all the world like he was just sleeping.
Elrond looked at the King's newly-healed face in a state of similar confusion, until a flash of light caught his eye. He glanced at Ereinion's chest to see a silver chain coiled neatly on top of the sheet, the perfectly formed teardrop pearl pendant sitting on top of the chain. His hand flew to his throat, where the necklace should have been residing, but his skin was bare.
"Did you take it off?" Círdan asked. Elrond shook his head. He picked the necklace up and slipped it back over his head, and then reached a shaky hand forward to touch the new skin on Ereinion's face.
"It's...real," he breathed. "It's- it isn't a glamour. It's as if, as if his face wasn't burnt at all."
He looked up at the shipwright, his hand unconsciously moving to his neck to toy with the pendant. "Do you think Nienna did this?"
"Yes. If not her, then one of the others. But I'd be willing to bet it was her. You have that pearl for a reason."
Elrond's mind was swirling with too many thoughts and emotions for any to be singled out, and all he could do was cover his face with his hands and try to breathe deeply.
"What are we going to do?" the half-elf asked again when he had himself under some semblance of control.
"There is something," Círdan replied. "I didn't mention it before because of his face, but now..."
"It is customary to make memorial displays in the Hall of Kings for our fallen leaders. What if, instead of a memorial, we have a glass-topped coffin made and place his body there instead?"
"A glass-topped coffin?" Elrond repeated. "Like in
Círdan smiled. "That was a rather fitting comparison to draw, given the circumstances."
The memory of the human folk tale drifted to the front of his mind and Ereinion couldn't help but return the smile. Círdan continued."Yes," Círdan replied simply. "Like
Elrond frowned. "But that couldn't work. He would-"
The half-elf paused as a breeze swept through the tent, bringing with it the scent of...smoke and dirt and blood, but it was nowhere near the stench that he would have expected from a battlefield. For the first time Elrond realised what it was that he
He calculated the amount of dead bodies there had been on the field, how many had been humans and how many had been elves and subtracted the amount that had already been buried or burnt. He then compared that number to the relatively faint scent of decay that he could detect. It did not match. Moreover, the air in the tent didn't match. He could smell the blood and sweat on his own body as well as that on Círdan's, but Ereinion's body didn't smell like anything. Sitting in front of it as he was, the stench of death and decay should have been immediately noticeable, and, for that matter, overpowering. He looked up at Círdan, his thoughts written on his face like words on parchment.
"No indeed, he would not."
"Elves don't decay," Elrond said, mostly to himself. Everything clicked into place. "We don't bury our dead because there's no point. Our bodies don't break down and therefore do not nourish the soil, and if every elf who had ever died on a battlefield was buried..."
"We would have run out of land by now," Círdan finished for him. "And the Belegaer would be overrun with displaced dead from Beleriand."
"Why doesn't anyone know this?" Elrond asked. A second later, his mind answered the question for him and he shook his head. "Stupid question. Necromancy. The last thing we need is for every person and creature to know that elven bodies can be kept indefinitely. They would start specifically acquiring them."
Elrond took a breath and looked back down at Ereinion's peaceful face. He reached out and brushed his hand over the soft ebony hair. "I don't know if having him there, visible, will make it any easier, but..." he raised his head to meet the shipwright's eyes, "I would like that. I'd like to know that I can go and see him sometimes, even if I can't
see him. I suppose that's very human of me."
"Not at all," Círdan replied. "I feel the same. Very well, I will make the arrangements. And you, young one, need to go and sleep in your cot under some furs, not sitting here on the cold hard ground. I will keep vigil."
"You need to sleep also," Elrond protested. "I am not the only one who lost him."
Círdan smiled, sadly. "I have lost my son, yes, but you have lost a part of yourself. I know you're at your limit, Elrond. It's alright, I will manage a little longer. Go."
The half-elf hesitated a moment, and then nodded. Círdan stood and embraced him, and with one last look at the body of the elf he loved, Elrond left the tent.
"Otaro? Are you still with me?"
Círdan took a deep breath and roused himself from reverie, having fallen silent after voicing Elrond's wish to be able to visit the King's body. "I was just remembering." He sighed. "So we brought you home, and put you in the Hall of Kings. The coffin was a gift from the dwarves that had fought with us, as thanks and acknowledgement of the hand we played in defeating the enemy. A few days before you arrived here, your body...disappeared. There was no sign of forced entry on the coffin, nothing to suggest foul play. It was just gone. Trying to figure out what happened kept me up at night until I found you on the beach, and then everything slipped into place. So there you have it. We kept your body, and the Valar took it to give back to you."
Ereinion nodded slowly, absorbing the information. "You said that Sauron had been defeated. So he's still gone, even though the Ring was not destroyed?"
Círdan glanced at the reborn elf in surprise, who held up the book he had been reading.
"Ah. No, it was not. Isildur kept it until it abandoned him early in the Second Age. It has neither been seen nor heard from again. At the moment, at least, all is well. But for how long, I cannot say."
"Do you think that's why they were so willing to send me back, and why it happened so fast? Because Sauron will return and Arda will need me?"
"I don't know, hâlpen. Maybe that was part of it."
Círdan was curious as to how Ereinion's reincarnation had come about, but he took in the look on his foster son's face and decided that was a question for another day. "Well, it's time for dinner, I think. What say you?"
"Sure," Ereinion replied, he yawned as he followed Círdan into the kitchen, taking his book with him. Círdan smiled.
"Good thing Erestor wrote an entire saga of Second Age Histories," he said.
"Yes," Ereinion agreed with a short laugh. "I'll be caught up and ready to go back out into the real world in no time."