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XII - Of the Noldor in Beleriand - A Forbidden Tongue

Turgon starts building his city in the secret Good Place in the mountains. He calls it Ondolindë, 'singing-water-rock-place' because of the sound of the cataracts through the canyons at its lower approach, and it promptly enters Sindarin legends as the supposedly mythical Gondolin ('a hidden rock').

Clearly Turgon is not far enough inland, as Ulmo continues to appear to him in visions and instructs him to comission a strange, sort of squat, suit of armour, to be used by a hero who will appear in ages hence when Gondolin is about to be overthrown by its enemies. This troubles Turgon, naturally enough, but he complies. This is one of very few clear-cut prophecies that occur in the Tolkienverse, and it's of note that even Ulmo cannot or will not put a name to the figure he forsees.

As Turgon is secretly stocking his city with his retainers and friends, tensions have arisen in Thingol's household. Again, the presentation of elves as non-empaths is probably consciously unintentional on the Professor's part, but the curse of factioning raises its ugly head again through a situation that would be unlikely to arise if the participants could predict the "obvious" emotional results of the information selected. Finrod did not tell Thingol about the Kinslaying or most of the Noldor being ditched by House Fëanor when speaking of their arrival from Valinor, because the latter dispute had been settled and Thingol never asked about the Western Teleri. Thingol, for his part, assumed that there was nothing to ask about, since he knew Valinor to be a land of safety.

So when Melian started to notice a bunch of things that didn't add up and started asking Galadriel pointed, specific questions, Galadriel manages to drop her entire tribe in it via speaking generally rather than voice the fact that she personally came back with ideas of carving herself out a warlord (warlady?)'s share of the continent. Her admission that the Noldor came not to help out on the orders of the Valar, but as exiles chasing Morgoth, cracks open the nest of omissions and inter-House rivalries that had covered up what Fëanor had done.

Horrified, particularly since Morgoth has had time to catch and amplify certain rumours via his spies by now, Thingol boots all Noldor bar direct relatives off his land and forbids the use of Noldorin (Quenya) by any Sindar. It must be speculated that this serves to ingrain a technological schism, since Sindarin had no common writing system and the use of the Fëanorian alphabet required an understanding of Quenya. The ability to pass information in a way other than direct speech and preserve thoughts for indefinite periods would account for Quenya becoming the language of 'lore' despite the trade language being Sindarin by necessity: presumably scientific terminology was a lot more accessible to native Quenya-speakers (i.e. the Noldor) who could then work from it and write things down.

(In case you'd forgotten the Sil was basically a book that puts a people to a language...people, place and linguistics here are so tightly woven as to be inseparable, and that is why this world and work feel real, more than any other trick. Land is: it becomes a nation and a home when its features enter the mental maps of many, gain names and stories to be told of.)

Finrod is doing well with his tunnel city, too, though when Galadriel comes over to help (/avoid Thingol) and asks her eldest brother if he plans to marry now he has a home the scribe casts his negative reply as a foreboding that this place too will pass.

Oddly enough, the same line is used to mention the Noldor's losses amidst their gains and city-founding: the girl Finrod would have asked, if they came of age together, was a Vanyar and never left the Light.


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