MOON LETTERS : CREATIVE WRITING
How the Eagle King won his Crown - by Vison
How the Eagle King won his Crown, the tale as Told by the Eagles.
Long have been the years, numberless the Birds that have flown from Egg to Fall, yet still is this tale told, nestlings falling silent to hear it
The sky was high and clear, the keen, cold wind raced down from the high peaks and poured out over the great winter-pale plain. They circled, wheeling in great loops that took them up beyond sight, then they swirled down like leaves borne before the gale. Their voices were various and wild, piercing as the wind, sweet as the spring rains that bring the green grass, gentle as the Moonlight that gleams on the wide sea.
From all over Middle Earth they came, called by the Eagle King, to sing the praises of his father Gwaihir, who was now dead, his spirit soaring from his shrunken old feathered frame and rising to the realm where Eagles spread their wings between the stars.
Here they were then, Birds of all races, even Birds who had never flown these skies, called by the Heir of Gwaihir, Gwaihir again, taking the name to himself, the next in the line of Eagle Kings. This was his home, the skies above Middle Earth, above the Ered Luin, the Ered Nimrais, above The Misty Mountains, above all the peaks that sliced up into the sky from the kingdoms of Men below.
From the far unknown lands of the West came Thunderbird, and Raven. From other lands unknown came Quetzalcoatl, he of the beautiful tail, the Feathered Serpent. From the desert skies of Khand and Rhun and Umbar came the mighty Kondors, from the white frozen North came crystal Falcons with wingspans of two fathoms and talons sharp as shards of ice. From the Ocean lands came the great Frigate birds, snowbreasted, and the grey Gulls crying. From the fields and gardens of all the lands came the little birds, Doves and Wrens and long-tailed Swallows, little grey birds and brown, bright-eyed and soft feathered. From the throats of jungle flowers came the magical fierce Hummingbirds, they whose tiny wings bear them on the longest journeys of all who fly. All the birds of the air were come. Black Crows and yellow Canaries, jewel-bright Parrots and stilt-legged Storks. Apart, aloof, unlovely, riding the unseen rivers of air came even the Vultures with their naked necks and blood red heads, to the funeral of the Eagle King. Thus came all the Bird people, for Gwaihir had been their ruler, chief among chiefs, greatest among the great lords of the air, the Eagles.
For it has been ordered, by those who order things, that the Bird Kingdom is ruled by the Eagles, and all those creatures whose nature gives them flight acknowledge the sway of the great pinioned Raptors, since the days of Thorondor. And of the Eagles, the children of Gwaihir the Windlord are the mightiest. This is not as the kingdoms of Men, where unbridled passions and covetous ambition lead to enslavement and war. No, among the Feathered ones the Kingship is honour and honour only, it is not given to the Eagle King to impose his will or desire upon his folk. Long had Gwaihir ruled in wisdom and peace, until his courageous heart ceased beating, and he sank his mighty head upon his breast, and his children and their children circled his eryie in awe and sadness and knew that he would fly no more.
Gwaihir son of Gwaihir summoned his kin. "Dead is my father the King. We will soar in his sky, and sing of his beauty. Great was he among Birds. Great were his deeds. We will praise him." For it had been the fate of Gwaihir to do mighty deeds, and even the Walkers, the Flightless ground dwelling Men, knew of Gwaihir. The Walking ones honoured Gwaihir, and one of them of old employed him as no Bird had allowed before.
For on a time word came to the Eagle King that his friend the Walker Lord Mithrandir was in need. It suited the mood of Gwaihir to succor his friend Mithrandir, carrying him even on his neck. Then up spoke Gwaihir's brothers Meneldor and Landroval, saying that even such a great Walker Lord as Mithrandir should not so use a Bird. "For is it not so, brother," said Meneldor, "that these two-legged walking folk pierce our kin with sticks fletched with our own feathers, and make sport with others of us? Why should we aid them?"
Then it was that Gwaihir showed his wisdom. "My brother Meneldor, you speak truth. The walking ones do so use us. But worse evil than arrows and jesses there be, and this evil has arisen in the lands below us, and if we do not aid the Walkers, it may be that the evil will seize us, too." He rose soaring on his great wings and the Eagles followed him and looked below and saw the smokes and fumes of Wickedness, and saw that Death rode on the very wind. They then ceased speaking against the wish of Gwaihir and indeed Meneldor and Landroval his brothers took his part so fully that they took upon themselves the task of speaking to all the Birds of the world, saying that it was the earnest desire of the Eagle King that the two-legged Walkers should be aided as might be in the days to come.
A second time the call came that Mithrandir needed the wings of Gwaihir, but the word came not from his own lips, but from the Walker Lady of the land of the Golden Trees. She it was who summoned the Eagle King in some way suited to her nature, and she named Mithrandir as having become Gandalf the White. (It is so with these Walking folk that they sometimes bear several names.) It is believed that this change of name was of great significance to the Walking folk, showing that the Lord Mithrandir had been raised to greater heights, and given new duties. It is also known that these folk are not only bound to the Earth by lack of Wings, but that their forked bodies are naked and unfeathered, requiring to be covered against the cold Wind or the water that falls as Rain. The Lord Mithrandir had thus changed not only his name from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White, but he changed his body's covering from some Grey substance to a White substance, signifying his altered nature, rather as does the fledgling who sheds his first feathers when he leaves the nest.
Twice then had Gwaihir King of Eagles spread his wings in flight to aid the Walkers. Came the third call, and again it was from the Lord Mithrandir, calling for three Eagles, as soon as might be. The Eagle King rose, on his right wingtip his brother Landroval, on his left wingtip his brother Meneldor. They flew with Gwaihir who carried upon his neck the Walker lord Mithrandir into the very eryie of Evil where even the rivers of the Air were befouled and burned. Lost in the wreck and chaos of the land below were two Walkers precious to Mithrandir and his King. The Eagles swooped down into the midst of ruin and searched with their keen farseeing eyes and found them near to death covered in grey ash, in peril of fire, and they carried away the two Walkers, carried them up into the high clean airs near the stars and so to the Walking King himself, who bent his knee to the Eagles.
"Hail, King of Eagles!" the Walking King cried. He wore upon his head a shining helm, white Mithril in the sunlight of the day. "Praise be the wings and talons of the Eagle King. In token of your deeds in the war against Sauron, this Helm I give you to put upon your head. Come now, and receive it from my hands."
Gwaihir settled himself upon the earth, the realm of those who walk, and of those who crawl. He bowed his head to the Walking King. Elessar Telcontar, for that was the name of this Walking King, lifted from the hands of Mithrandir a helm of Mithril, fashioned so that it would fit the noble head of Gwaihir. He suffered the helm to be placed upon his shining feathers and it glistened white and pure as snow. He raised his head and regarded the Walker King Elessar and his wild yellow eyes were alight with laughter. "Is it fit, King of Walkers, that a Bird be thus adorned? Still, I thank you for the honour, cumbersome though it be." Always has it been a matter for amusement for the Feathered Ones to consider the ways of the Walkers.
Now stepped forward the Walker lord Mithrandir. He bowed his head to Gwaihir and raised his old, long hands. "My friend," he said. "Do you bend your neck to me, and I will mend this matter and so please both you and my King."
Gwaihir arched his gleaming neck and spread his wings and all there were struck with awe, so great was his beauty and nobility. The Walking lord Mithrandir spoke Words and the air between his hands and the head of Gwaihir sang with power. The helm of Mithril was altered in its substance by the power of Mithrandir's hands; it shimmered and became feathers of white that crowned the head of Gwaihir. The great Bird lifted his head and spoke. "Thus will I wear my honour. I and the heirs of my body, until the land and the sky are become one, and Walkers and Birds are no more."
So it was, indeed. Even yet, in the skies of Middle Earth, even now after the lands have been changed and changed again, Eagles ride the wind and their white helms gleam in the Sunlight.
The funeral song of Gwaihir the Windlord was sung:
Still his wings are.
His great heart stopped,
Golden eyes glazed with Death.
Well was he loved,
High was he lifted
On wings of honour.
While he was King, still in the fullness of his great power, Gwaihir the Windlord took under his wing his sons and his sons' sons, singing to them as the rays of the morning Sun first struck the high peaks where was built his Eryie--
Rise on the Airs,
Seize life in your Talons.
Master the Wind.
So sang the Eagle King in the morning. So sings the Eagle King still, for those who have ears to hear.