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The Flame of Swords by Zdenka

Author: Zdenka
Title: The Flame of Swords
Rating: PG
Theme: Nostalgia
Elements: belong(ed)
Author's Notes: In The Lord of the Rings, Glamdring is described as the “mate” of Orcrist, implying that they were made together. But if one sword was Turgon’s, who would have been honored with the other? And since Orcrist was a “famous blade,” why would Elrond have been unable--or perhaps unwilling--to name its owner?

Title from a line in The Lays of Beleriand. Warning for foreshadowed character death and excessive footnotes.

Summary: Glorfindel knows more of Orcrist's history than he wishes to tell.
Word Count: 300

It was one thing to hear of the sword’s presence, another to see it hanging at Thorin Oakenshield’s side. Glorfindel stopped abruptly. “The sword you bear—”

“Do you know something of its history?” Thorin inquired.

“It belonged to a lord of Gondolin,” Glorfindel said slowly. Turgon had two swords made as he prepared for war. One for himself; the other—

He remembered how Turgon presented it to Maeglin beside the trees of gold and silver that recalled the lost Light of Valinor, as the city itself resembled Tirion upon Túna; the sword flashed like a white flame in Maeglin’s hand. He remembered too, how Orcrist bit deep into many foes during the terrible days of Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Maeglin was no coward—not then.

Elrond was tactful, Glorfindel thought, to tell Thorin only that this was a famous blade. But Glorfindel sensed nothing of Maeglin’s dark spirit in the sword; only an echo of its maker’s faithful heart, he who died fighting fiercely before the walls of Gondolin.

All at once, foresight came upon him, his words not his own, an echo of power ringing behind them like far-off bells. “Gondolin fell to treachery,” he said. “The sword grieves that its watch was in vain. The fortress it guards will not fall by surprise.”

Thorin thanked him with dignity. “I do not fear treachery among my Company,” he said, “but to be guarded against surprise is a fine thing. The dragon—” His face was grim.

Thorin stood proudly as any Elven-lord, his nephews at his side, and Glorfindel felt once more the pang of old grief. Thorin would not draw back from this quest at any price, and so Glorfindel did not darken the others’ hearts by speaking of what else he had seen: the sheathed sword lying upon a tomb.


“They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars. ... This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade. This, Gandalf, was Glamdring, Foehammer that the king of Gondolin once wore. Keep them well!” (The Hobbit, “A Short Rest”)

“Upon his tomb the Elvenking then laid Orcrist, the elvish sword that had been taken from Thorin in captivity. It is said in song that it gleamed ever in the dark if foes approached, and the fortress of the dwarves could not be taken by surprise.” (The Hobbit, “The Return Journey”)

its maker’s faithful heart, he who died fighting fiercely before the walls of Gondolin: I meant this to refer to Rog, lord of the House of the Hammer of Wrath, or one of his followers. Their final battle is described in “The Fall of Gondolin” in The Book of Lost Tales 2, where it also says “of these came many of the best smiths and craftsmen” of Gondolin. I have no warrant for making one of them the maker of Orcrist, except that I like the idea of it.

The idea of having Glorfindel recognize Orcrist and Glamdring is not original to me, though I don’t remember where I first saw it. That Orcrist could have been Maeglin’s sword was my own idea, for good or ill.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 30th, 2015 08:45 pm (UTC)

I'm not sure where you first saw the idea that Glorfindel might recognize the swords, but my first sight of the idea was in one of Fiondil's many ficlets, "STING: Blades of Destiny", http://storiesofarda.com/chapterview.asp?sid=5793&cid=24416 where Orcrist was made for Tuor. But I like this interpretation as well, it makes sense :) No wonder Elrond would be hesitant to speak of the sword, if it had been Maeglin's blade!

Kaylee Arafinwiel
Nov. 30th, 2015 08:57 pm (UTC)
I hadn't read that story before, so that wasn't where I personally got it from, but it doesn't surprise me that more than one person could put things together in that way.

It's a nicer idea, certainly, that Orcrist could have been made for Tuor! And it would also make sense, but somehow I was attracted to the darker version. I'm glad this interpretation worked for you!
Nov. 30th, 2015 09:12 pm (UTC)
Glorfindel sensed nothing of Maeglin’s dark spirit in the sword; only an echo of its maker’s faithful heart

I like that very much. You show us beautifully the darker side of foresight: when one sees what one cannot share.
Nov. 30th, 2015 10:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you like it.
Nov. 30th, 2015 10:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's very convincing. Well written too.
Dec. 5th, 2015 12:48 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad this idea worked for you.
Nov. 30th, 2015 10:20 pm (UTC)
I really like the idea of this and Maeglin being the other sword bearer. I also like Rog being the maker of the swords. This is a nice history that fits in neatly with the events and makes the sword even more special.

The story is well told also, and I especially like Glorfindel's foresight. I'm a sucker for stories with foresight.
Dec. 5th, 2015 12:48 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you liked it, and that it seems to fit together.
Nov. 30th, 2015 10:30 pm (UTC)
That Orcrist could have been Maeglin’s sword was my own idea, for good or ill.

For good - definitely for good! I think this works brilliantly.
Dec. 5th, 2015 12:49 am (UTC)
*g* Thank you very much!
Nov. 30th, 2015 10:41 pm (UTC)
This is absolutely beautiful!
Dec. 5th, 2015 12:49 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
Dec. 1st, 2015 03:51 am (UTC)
THis was awesome. I loved how you wrote the dialogue of Thorin and Glorfindel and used the footnotes to explain the inspiration for such a fic.
Very great job in its insightfulness.
Dec. 5th, 2015 12:50 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. I have a great enthusiasm for footnotes. :)
Dec. 1st, 2015 04:40 am (UTC)
I really do like this very much.

I've always thought it quite logical that Glorfindel would recognize a blade out of Gondolin. I recall one where he recognizes Sting as a blade that was made at the same time as Orcrist and Glamdring, I think as a dagger made to match one of them.

And I can see why he'd keep it to himself about Maeglin, as well as his sad foresight of where it would end up.
Dec. 5th, 2015 12:51 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!

I think I've read something like that too. I enjoy reading the different ways people can put the pieces together. I'm glad this version works for you.
Dec. 1st, 2015 07:09 am (UTC)
Ah, yes, that works very well!
Especially, the ending for me: seein Thorin, through Glorfindel's eyes, standing proudly as any elven-lord...
I had forgotten that bit about Orcrist warning of surprise attacks; you've made good use of that.
Dec. 5th, 2015 12:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad it works for you. I'd forgotten too, until I reread the bits about Orcrist before writing this.
Dec. 1st, 2015 07:35 am (UTC)
I've read the idea that Glorfindel might recognize the two swords--and possibly Sting as well--several times in the last decade, and this is such a plausible idea as to who first bore Orcrist and why Glorfindel would not name him. Love the support you give for your decisions as well. Thank you!
Dec. 5th, 2015 07:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you like it.
Dec. 1st, 2015 08:48 am (UTC)
Loved this! Glorfindel's prescience is both full of hope and sadness, and his memories carry a wonderful sense of nostalgia.
Dec. 5th, 2015 07:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
Dec. 1st, 2015 02:43 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! Loved this!
Dec. 5th, 2015 07:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
Dec. 1st, 2015 03:36 pm (UTC)
I like where you went with the sword's prior ownership. I also like the foreshadowing felt by Glorfindel and his forebearance at telling Thorin the whole of his vision. Wonderful!

- Erulisse (one L)
Dec. 5th, 2015 07:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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