The tale of Sorondo

I have seen swan-ships burning on the seashore, and the snow-glittering peak of Mount Taniquetil; the star-crowned skies of Endórë ere the golden splendour of Arien appeared, the strength of Angband as the wrath of the Enemy was unleashed and the piercing light of the Silmaril. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain, if they remain untold. So hear the story of my life, as it unfolds through uncounted longyears, years numberless like the waves on the ocean:

Long ago I was born, in Aman, and I remember the light of the two trees and the shores of the Blessed Realm. Amilessenya, my mother-name was Ondo, which means 'Rock', for I was headstrong then, but true to my friends. Our family had sworn allegiance to Feanáro, who is now known as Fëanor, but this was not his name at that time. And I learned the way of the warriors, for the Noldor armed themselves then and mighty weapons were crafted, and when my time came, I swore service to Feanáro myself, and I took the cilmessë Soronwë, for my spirit flew high like the king of birds does.

And such I spent my days, until my liege swore the fateful oath to recover the Silmaril from the Enemy, and this day will remain in my memory forever: Fire-Spirit is his name, and like a spirit of fire was he when he vowed to return what was his from the Enemy. In flickering torchlight shone his face when he stood high up on Túna hill in Tirion and spoke to us in the darkness after the trees were slain. You, who have not witnessed this cannot imagine how brightly he shone and how fierce his desire burned while he lived. Truly, he was the greatest among all the Eldalië.

If you ever heard the Noldolantë sung, the great tale about the fall of the Noldor, you will know how the events came to pass after that day. Even now it pains me to tell of those events, but you should know that I was there when Elves fought Elves in Alqualondë, and the blood of Teleri is on my hands. But do not judge me lightly! It is a terrible thing to fight against one's own kin, but it also is a terrible thing to break an oath, for I was still sworn to my lord and commanded to take the ships. And after that battle, I was among those who sailed to the shores of Endor and left their kinsmen of the House of Nolofinwë to brave the Helcaraxë. None of this was my doing, but I have not spoken out against it either.

I do not remember the following days clearly, in my mind they have become a dance of swords and a whirlwind of death as we shattered the hordes of the Enemy and came at last to the border of the land that is remembered as Dor Daedelos. And here the enemy confronted us with all his might, and the fierce spirit of my lord drove us forward to fight to the end. But I did not witness his death, for an arrow found me at last and I lay in the dust of this dead land, dying between so many others.

But fate had decided that my end was not yet to come, although I believe I wished it at this time, for I could not forget the screams of the Teleri. Grey-Elves scouting the battlefield had found me and taken me with them, for at this time they still thought the host of the Noldor to be sent by the Valar to aid them. For days I lay between life and death, and for weeks fever was upon me. Finally I awoke and learned that my lord had been slain.

I could have sworn service to his sons then, but I did not - the memory of the kin-slaying was still heavy upon my mind and they all believed me dead. For a while, I stayed with the Sindar and learned their ways, and since that time I am called Thorond, for when I lay and struggled with death, I must have cried out both my names, and they had believed that I cried Sorondo which is pronounced as Thorond in the Grey-Elven tongue.

But, now as then, my heart longed for what it could not have easily. I yearned for the sound of my mothertongue, which was hateful for my friends among the Grey-Elves since they learned of the crime the Noldor had commited. But even after they knew of this, they did not cast me out - it was my own decision to leave them and search for the Noldor again.

My heart was tired of battle, and the fierce desire for revenge of Feanáro's sons held no appeal for me. Finally I sought out Turucáno, whom you might better remember as Turgon and offered my oath to him. He accepted my service, for I was an able warrior, but he would not have me swear, for he believed that my oath to Feanáro had not yet died with him. So it came to pass that I went with his host as they settled in the hidden city of Ondolindë, that is now remembered as Gondolin, the fairest city of the elves save Tirion upon Túna hill alone. And these were happy days for me, as far as happiness could be for me, because in this place the language of the Noldor was still spoken at times and I still had friends among those serving the son of Nolofinwë who is known as Fingolfin. And when tidings from the outer world reached the hidden kingdom, it was easy enough to ignore them.

But we could not forever: Finally Maeglin betrayed the city to the Enemy and darkness and fire were upon us. Few escaped, and I fought in the rearguard, desperate to delay the Enemies pursuit of the survivors. And for once, I was glad for my skill with the blade, for it served a just cause, and there are some whose lives I may have saved.

But when I finally rested, weary among the survivors gathered at the Havens of the Sirion, tidings from Nelyafinwë, whom you might know better as Maedhros reached me, and he summoned me to his presence and by the old oath he requested that I fight for him to recover the Silmaril. And my heart grew heavy, for I felt that Turucáno had been right not to take my vow and I was not yet free of my ancient oath to Feanáro. So I marched with his men until the dawn of the attack. But then I could not turn against those I had protected all the way from Ondolindë, and I could not stand aside and watch them being slain, so I turned my blade against Nelyafinwë's warriors and became an oathbreaker. And on that day, I finally earned my epessë - Vandaraco I was since then known among my kinsmen, Oathbreaker. But the day was lost, and all of us were scattered and I found myself in the wilderness. I broke my blade then and vowed never again to take up a sword. And this is an oath I have kept - for I have been a craftsman, a wordsmith, a loremaster at times, but never again a warrior.

And when finally the days of the War of Wrath had come, I flew and remained hidden in the wilderness, for my heart could bear the fighting no longer. Many of the Noldor left Middle-Earth then. I might have gone as well, but I did not find the courage in my heart to face those of the Teleri whose brothers and sisters I had killed, nor did I desire to face the Valar since I had remained hidden in this last battle for the freedom of us all. And so I remained.

For uncounted years, I have led a lonely life in the wilderness, finding comfort in the beauty of rain and snow and the splendour of a sunrise. Only when Gil-Galad summoned the Elves to join the Last Alliance against Sauron I have left my solitude and joined his host. At first, I believed me to be of small use, since I do not possess great skills in healing, and a warrior I was no more, but as the years passed and men and elves slowly fought their way into Mordor, I learned that my songs and stories where weapons as mighty as my sword, for they gave hope where despair prevailed before and lifted the spirits of the warriors. And I was there to witness when finally Barad-Dûr fell.

Then, I went back into the wild lands and travelled far through the realms of Endórë. Little part did I take in the affairs of men and elves since that time. But now my heart is longing for company again, and greatly desires to hear the sounds of the Elven tongues, the word-making that I had always loved through all those years. And so I have come to Rivendell, one of the few places where Elves still abide and my beloved mothertongue can be heard. And so I came to teach those who desire knowledge of these languages.

I have been many things in my life - a proud warrior and a coward, a wise man and a fool, a loyal ally and a traitor. I do not know how you will judge me - I cannot pass this judgement myself. Some say lá carita i hamil mára alasaila ná, 'not to do what you judge good is unwise', but I am not sure any more: Many things I had judged good turned out to be unwise in the end, and I should have done the opposite: Both keeping and breaking my oath found me crossing blades with elves, so maybe it is better said lá carita i hamil mára alasaila cé nauva - 'not to do what you judge good could turn out to be unwise'. I hope you will not come to scorn me, now that you heard my tale, for this is how things came to pass and although I have pondered many long hours, I often do not know what else I should have done.

The end.

See the Quenya version

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