Title: The Flame of Swords
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.