Finrod was sitting down to dinner when the captain of the guard entered.
"What is it?"
"Your majesty, there's someone at the gates. He's an outsider, i don't know how he found us."
"Are you sure he has, and isn't just taking shelter in a random cave?"
"He's calling for you, your majesty, asking Findarato Ingoldo to provide shelter for his beleaguered cousins."
"Bring him to the throne room. He likely has news, possibly an explanation of what those earthquakes were about."
Finrod left his meal for the attendants to clear away and donned again his crown and robes of office.
The elf who was brought to him was dressed in muddy clothes, worse than expected for a traveler. His hair had been chopped off unevenly, and though he had once been powerfully built, he had clearly not eaten enough for months.
"Turko? What are you doing here?" Were there more Noldor with his cousin’s hair, Finrod would likely not have recognized the huntsman.
"The pass of Aglon has fallen. The survivors are two days travel away. I am scouting ahead, as the one with skills best suited and in best health."
"In best health?" Finrod broke in.
"I am not bleeding and have all my limbs and both my eyes. We would appreciate it greatly if we could stay at Nargothrond, at least until winter has passed."
"Of course you can stay, for as long as you wish. Nargothrond is well supplied. But what happened? When did Aglon fall?"
Celegorm stared at him. "You really don't know? Are you so blind to the outside world you have no idea what's been going on across Beleriand these last four months?"
“There were earthquakes four months ago. Some of the main supports in the eastern market developed cracks, and I’ve closed off the district until we can be sure the ceiling won’t collapse. Quite a few people had to relocate.”
“What, three blocks away?”
“Some had to go across the city to find appropriate forges for their work.”
“I have spent the last four months walking from Aglon with the five hundred people who are all that remains of Himlad - it was closer to six hundred when we started out. My sympathy for anyone outside Angband with a roof and food is limited.”
“Why come all this way? Surely Himring is closer, or Dorthonion, if there were that many badly injured?”
Celegorm let out a sigh. “You really don’t know. I’ll tell you from the start then; there’s no one left for whom an hour either way will make much difference. Four months ago, Morgoth poured rivers of fire across Ard-Galen and Lothlann. He sent orcs everywhere that didn’t burn, with balrogs and monsters accompanying them. We couldn’t hold the pass. Himring appeared to be an island in a lake of fire; there was no reaching it. It must still stand, else we would have seen more pursuit, but I have no news of the East. Southwest was the only path other than charging into a balrog’s maw. Doriath stands, but refused us entry, so we continued west until the Mindeb, Nan Dungortheb keeping us safe from Morgoth’s armies. That’s where we joined the survivors of Dorthonion.”
“Dorthonion?” Finrod asked weakly.
“The survivors told of a terrible creature, a lizard larger than a house that spewed fire from it’s jaws and broke the minds of warriors, leading an army of balrogs and orcs. There are perhaps a hundred left of your brothers’ people - Angrod and Aegnor are not among them.” Celegorm paused, then said, “I grieve with you; they were strong warriors and Beleriand is worse without them. Hithlum and Tol Sirion likely stand, as there was not an army of orcs waiting for us across the river. We were too few to aid them though, so we followed the river. Maedhros told Curufin your city was along the Narog, though not where, but we couldn’t risk being seen across the plain. We followed the Andram Wall to the Narog, and the rest you know.”
“That’s all you have to say? My brothers are dead, and the continent nearly overrun, but ’the rest I know?!’”
“If you wanted a lament made of it, perhaps Maglor still lives and will write one. Though given he was lord of Lothlann, I doubt it.”
“How can you be so calm, when half our family is dead and orcs may be approaching my very doorstep?”
“Orcs have been on my doorstep for years. I have told you all the news I know. Do you have more to ask of me? I would tell my people the way here as soon as possible.”
“If you stay until morning I can find horses - we don’t have many, being underground but there’s some. You truly have no word of Orodreth or Galadriel? Or the King?”
“Doriath is still impossible for anyone, even those who followed Thingol’s nephews, to enter; Galadriel is safer than you. Tol Sirion and Hithlum must stand, else Talath Dirnen would be overrun, but their lords I don’t know.”
“When Curufin arrives, I want to talk with both of you. I need to plan a trip north.”