Impendix V: The fall of Eremis

Vairos was the father of his kindred for many long years, and in his time the Färinoth grew to a great multitude; and their first abode, on the hill by the mouth of Aena, could no longer contain them. Therefore they looked to build a new home for all the people; and in this matter Telmon, the brother of Vairos, was first in zeal and in skill.

It has been told that Färon’s sons took to wife those maidens of the Díoni that came across the Sundering Sea, seeking to wed the sons of Dân. Vairos took after his mother Vaimë in looks, if not in mood, and plighted his troth to Lyessë the golden; great joy attended their union, and their house was a place of song and laughter. He was his brother’s elder, but it was not for this that his people chose him as their new lord, but rather because of his glad cheer and his open hand.

Telmon favoured his father, being darker than his brother, shorter of stature but broader of build; his wife was Pirmala, the black handmaiden of Telkon, who taught him all the lore of stone and metal that she learnt in her master’s house. The name Telmon indeed was given him by Pirmala herself on their wedding-day: for it means ‘disciple of Telkon’ in the earliest speech of the Fair Folk. He attended more to the earth beneath his people’s feet than to the people themselves, and was engrossed in his handiwork; and so he did not find favour when his father’s days ended, but yielded the lordship to his brother.

Telmon was slow to master his craft, for stone and metal are hard and unyielding, and strong hands and skilful alone can work them. He had not the power of Telkon to shape the matter of the earth, nor so hot a fire as Ión Tela for his forge; and his tools were few and simple, being of his own devising. Still he was the first of the children of Dân to essay great work in masonry or smithcraft, and a few of his works were preserved with great honour until the downfall of Färinor itself.

But to Vairos was given a new gift, unknown to his fathers: the art of enchantment and glamoury, in which all the house of the White Queen excelled. From light alone were their best works wrought, beautiful yet insubstantial, vivid to the eye but impalpable to the hand. Work scarcely less cunning they did in sound and scent, and in the appearance of movement. All these arts Vairos acquired speedily, for his mind was keen and fresh, and the craft of the mind is not hampered by want of subtle tools.

Now Telmon chose for his dwelling-place the rocky spit that divided the Lonely Haven from the wide waters of the sea. For there were quarries of good stone there, and his house was founded upon the living rock. In that place he learnt to measure the land and divide it; he bade houses be built here, and streets laid down; and across the promontory he caused a wall to be built, strong and high, and a gate of stout bronze bars, for he had heard all his father’s tales of the Destroyer and the evil that befell the house of Dân. So he wrought, and Pirmala beside him, and their children also, and many another of the Färinoth; for the people were fain to learn the crafts of Pirmala, no less than her husband, and they took delight in the shaping of these new things. So they built Eremis, first and fairest of cities, of which songs would be sung even in Mirenna and Terion.

Last of all, Telmon purposed to build a watchtower upon the rock at the head of the promontory, to guide the new ships of his people to harbour in Drath Erem; for Vaimë had taught her children the craft of the mariner. And it was in his heart to set a watch for voyagers from the North, and welcome once more the Keepers of the Light, if any should chance to come that way. But the work exceeded his measure. The plan of his tower indeed was sound, being guided by the lore of Pirmala. But in his great need for stone he delved too deep, and as he toiled at cutting stones, a great fall of rock came away from the face of the quarry and slew him at his work.

In those days, the children of Vardan still came at times to visit the Färinoth, and the Díoni had not wholly withdrawn from the outer lands. Therefore Telmon had carved signs of joy and welcome upon the wall of Eremis. Breghwir, his sister’s son, was a master of song and story, the first to gather lore for its own sake; at Vairos’s behest he devised symbols for the sounds of speech, so that the sung and spoken spells of Lyessë might be bound lastingly to the works of Telmon’s craft. That was the first writing. Few even of the Färinoth could read the new symbols, or even foresee the need of them; and of course no stranger in Eremis knew their meaning. But it was to shape the warding spell on the wall itself that Telmon inscribed a writing above the gate:

Kedh mōgon geris: wewergos Telmunen
Hār uppertaodh: memūnsadh gō-ghertah gelytān

‘The great gate of the city, wrought by Telmon:
All ye who pass under me, enter as friends and be glad.’

[This represents the oldest recorded form of the Fair Tongue, as preserved in the Gremni Meménodh. See separate post.]

After the death of Telmon, the Färinoth were abashed and their ambition lessened. The mason’s craft was slow and arduous, attended with peril; far easier was the glamoury of Lyessë. Many therefore resorted to her tutelage, and the enchanters of Eremis became famous for the cunning of their art. Some made magical tools, or instruments of music, or preserved in living image the memory of many things from the beginnings of the world. But the most part of them turned their craft to the adornment of the city; and not only in such arts as mortals used, painting and sculpture and pottery.

As Lyessë had wrought marvels with the living Light in the isle of Alenna, the Färinoth shaped light and colour into forms of great beauty, until the whole city shone with a brilliance only less than that of the Isles of Light. Some wrought upon the streets of Eremis, so that the paving-stones wore the appearance of gold and jewels. Some decked the houses in the semblance of bright glass and coloured marbles, until the meanest hovel had the outward appearance of a palace. In the gardens of the city they set images of their wildest fancies: fountains whose waters took the form of mermen or sea-horses, figures of men and beasts that danced and sang upon the green, trees with leaves that leapt from their branches to frolic in the air. And they finished in illusion the tower that Telmon had begun in truth, and set thereon a beacon to shine forth upon the sea, as he had desired; for though the stones were but tricks of the light, the light itself was real.

All these things were made for the pleasure of the Färinoth, who were not deceived by such appearances. They never failed to discern the difference between glamoury and real being; just as no mortal would mistake the portrait of a man for the man himself. But for the other children of Dân, when first they encountered the works of this strange art, appearance overthrew reason; they saw, and seeing, they believed.

That indeed was the fate of those who passed through the gate of Telmon, and found within a city of gold and a garden of miracles. First among these were the Vardéni who came down to the sea, as has been told before. Their children dwelt in the land of Ereph, and great friendship arose between them and the people of the city; though it was clouded with grief, for their blood had not received the virtue of Vaimë’s egg, and their lives were as brief candles beside the slow, steady flame of the Färinoth.

In those days the children of Vardan first learned to envy the Fair Folk, not only for their length of life but for their arts of mind and hand, and glamoury not the least. For they soon came to understand that the golden streets and laughing lights of Eremis were phantasies without substance, but they could not frame to make such images themselves, nor could their minds compass the arts that Vairos learned of Lyessë. And each generation perforce learned the lesson anew; as with the child who burns her hand, yet when she comes to motherhood her own children are not born with the knowledge that fire is hot.

Neither yet were the children of the Färinoth born with the full wisdom of their kindred. So in Eremis the careless youths of the city, for jest or sport, wrought cunning illusions to snare the children of mortals. Every generation outgrew its folly, but the folly itself remained so long as new children were born. Through many ages, tales have been told among mortals of the cruel tricks and heartless laughter of the Fair Folk; and the truth in the tales comes from this – that the young of the Färinoth gain skill in the arts of their people sooner than the discernment to use it for good. It was a careless mortal who would let his children wander unguarded in the streets of the enchanted city.

Now the Vardéni of Ereph had much ado with their kindred further off, and travellers’ tales carried the fame of Eremis far and wide; and it did not diminish in the telling. In time the rumour reached even the children of Morak. Now the Morakh from the beginning were consumed by strife, being neither docible nor peaceful. Life among them was a war of each against all, and only the hardiest survived, or those of such strength and cunning that their kin feared to assail them. This one or that would gain a following by fear, a great warrior taking females by force, or a matriarch snaring many mates; but they formed no lasting clans or tribes, and their houses did not outlast the first generation. In this hard school they were bred up, until the day when the Destroyer moved again among them, sowing the seeds of new evil.

For the Morakh, hearing of the glory of Eremis, desired to see for themselves whether there was any truth in it. Travelling alone, or by twos and threes, they came to the gate of Telmon, and were greeted as friends, for the people of the city suspected no guile and feared no evil. But to each Morak who saw the wonders of Eremis, the same thought occurred, being sown by the Destroyer in his mind: that he himself would fain possess the riches of this place, taking from the makers what he could not make for himself. But it was evident that one Morak alone could not overthrow all the Färinoth at once; not though he went laden with all the weapons that his fathers’ cruel cunning had devised. But warrior spoke to warrior, and house conspired with house; for all desired to follow the same plain path, with the conquest of Eremis at its end. What befell thereafter was of little moment. Each Morak thought merely to use the others as tools, and discard them once his ambition was gained. That they in their turn used him was a matter for regret; but the thing could be accomplished in no other way. Only a union of all Morak’s descendants could seize the city.

Now at length the union is accomplished, and the light beyond the sea brightens for the last day of King Vairos’s reign. Long have Morakh passed the gate into the city one by one, and not come out again: the bold who disdain to fear, and the greedy who will not wait upon their chance of spoil. Outside the wall, the whole strength of their kindred makes ready for war. Ghrenduz the hardy is their war leader, versed in the Destroyer’s counsel, standing at their head with blade drawn to cut down the unwise wight who moves before the signal to advance. Vletthar his brother is in the forecourt of the King, laying his spear before Vairos to do him homage. The Net of Morning sets in the west behind the throne; and as the light from beyond the Sundering Sea fades, Vletthar seizes his weapon and lunges at the King, and Ghrenduz winds his aurochs-horn to sound the attack. Vairos falls dead, and the lights of Eremis fall with him. The city is plunged into night.

Before the stars turned again to herald the brighter twilight, the ruin of Eremis was accomplished. Lyessë the Queen was slain at her husband’s side, and Pirmala in the house that Telmon built; and so that generation ended. Leaderless were the Färinoth and stricken with woe, and many perished in the first assault; for none were at hand in force of arms to contest the passage of the gate. But some took up their tools in the defence of their people: the smith his hammer, the woodman his axe, the fisher his trident, the hunter his bow; and they formed as best they could into armed companies, and fought bitterly through the night against the treacherous host. It is said that half the people of Färon died in that night, and many more in the grief and hardship that came after. The Morakh set fires in the city, either to confound the defenders or for the joy of destruction; and they stripped, as they thought, the pavements of gold, and despoiled the great houses of their jewels, and heaped the massed treasures of Eremis in the marketplace by the hall of the King.

Now the purpose of their union was accomplished, but their greed was not yet sated, and their bloodlust did not sleep. Every Morak in the following of Ghrenduz desired some especial spoil, great or small, and each coveted the claim of his neighbour. Before the night was ended, the victors had fallen out. House fought against house, brother against brother; and on the hill of treasure Ghrenduz fought against Vletthar for the chiefest share. Vletthar was the mightier in arms, but Ghrenduz the more cunning; and though Ghrenduz was slain, Vletthar was sorely wounded, an easy prey for that Morak of forgotten name who slew and robbed him in turn. Neither of the brothers lived to see the return of the light from beyond the sea: a mercy they did not deserve.

For when the light returned, the Morakh were undeceived. All the gold and jewels of Eremis, all the dancing statues and leaping trees, and the beacon of Telmon itself – all these were but illusions; and the illusions died with the night, for the ones who had made them were gone. The survivors of the sack had fled by boat, or leapt into the sea to swim for their lives, and one bold company cut their way through the host of Ghrenduz to escape by the open gate. No living scion of the kindred of Färon remained among the ruins; no adept of the lore of Lyessë stayed to keep the enchantments of the Färinoth. The beacon of Telmon was no more than the stump of an unfinished tower, and the hill of treasure that the Morakh had heaped up with labour and slaughter was only a pile of stones.


  1. I’ve been reading some Tolkien’s stuff surrounding the Silmarillion and the goings-on prior to LotR, and this has much the same epic sense of scope to it.

  2. This is marvelous. It has the feeling of deep myth to it! I can see why you call them Impendicies, but I wonder if they should be published in front of the books?

    • These are bits and pieces from books that I may not live long enough to write. I want them at least to take tangible form somewhere.

      Also, I want to do a bit of testing to see if people like the legos.

  3. Great and terrible! The mind churns with the promise and allure in bits and pieces of the lost arts strewn into the wide world, passed on in silence and in secret, awaiting their day.

Speak Your Mind