Some say Earendil started it, although he never came there himself. And maybe it is true what they say that, on the day when Gondolin fell, he had a nice round smooth pebble in his pocket, as boys will (and girls, too), and that he carried it along with him down Sirion and eventually out to sea, so that when at long last he came to Tirion and to Valmar and to the Mahanaxar, he still had that pebble with him. And before they whisked him away to sail the skies, there was time left for a little conversation, a moment when he met Finarfin and Earwen, long-lost and late-found kin, and on an impulse he gave that pebble to Earwen. And after a while Earwen came to Alqualonde and took ship and went to the uplands of Tol Eressea and in a place open to the sky she placed the pebble on a bit of level ground so that henceforth there would be a small part of the West that would be forever Gondolin.
But the truth is that the Teleri had started it, long before. For when the swan ships were all built, before the Teleri made their farewell to Osse and set sail at last westwards into the bay of Eldamar, they assembled in that place and Olwe bid them empty their pockets. And some had pebbles and some had feathers and some acorns or seashells—all mementoes of the long march, from Cuivienen or the vale of the Anduin or the slopes of the Hithaeglir, from the Barrow Downs in Eriador or the woods of Beleriand or the shore of Belegaer—and they laid them down, neatly, as elves will, and left them there. But for a long time, now and then, when such a mood took them, the Falmari, happy as they were in Alqualonde, would return to that place, singly or in twos and threes, never many of them at once, look east and remember Middle-earth. That had ceased for a few yeni, however, until Earwen came there, bringing the pebble from Gondolin, for just as the Noldor grew restless, the Teleri had eventually turned away, looking inwards. Yet Earwen remembered the place well, and the tale, and so she chose to leave that pebble of Gondolin among the memories of the Teleri, and that choice was known in Aman.
After the War of Wrath, many came, even of the Vanyar who had fought long in Arvernien and Hithlum and before Thangorodrim, bringing this and that, memories of lands now broken and covered by the sea. And it became the custom that those who boarded a grey ship at Mithlond to sail West would carry with them some small piece—never of great size or great material value—of the wide lands they came from. Thus, in that same place in the uplands of Tol Eressea, weathered by the wind and the rain, there came to be, in time, a small patch that was all Ost-in-Edhil and one that was Edhellond and one that was Laurelindorenan, but many others of the arrivals had travelled far in Middle-earth and they chose to lay out what they left in other patterns, so that a spiral of pebbles thus formed might range all the way from Dorwinion via Nenuial to the Andustar or a trail of potsherds lead across from Forlond to Eryn Lasgalen.
By then, it was the guild of the Rememberers who watched over that space, although it needed little watching. Some memories of Middle-earth might be bitter, but few or none brought their feuds to this place, for most of those who still harboured grudges in a corner of their heart preferred to stay away.
Elrond came there, with Maedhros and Maglor, and laid down at long last a small stone that he had brought from the banks of the Bruinen where he found a space that fit, a break in a pattern that he might mend.
‘It is well, star child,’ said Maedhros to him. ‘But why did you wish us to be here? For I have not been to Rivendell.’
‘Not on your own feet, no,’ said Elrond. ‘Only as I carried you in my heart, both of you.’
Maglor, who had spoken little yet since his return, listened carefully and closely, to Elrond and Maedhros and to the patterns on the ground, walking about among them. Then again he lifted up his voice and began to sing.
And to Elrond, standing with his arms around Maedhros's shoulders and hearing Maglor's song, it seemed that he saw Imladris rise up about him anew, yet it was Amon Ereb, too, and Mithlond and Himring and the Havens of Sirion and Menegroth and Gondolin, as if it was possible to be in all of these at once and at home in all of them.
He thought then that in this he might have a foretaste of Arda Healed.
The guild of the Rememberers is my invention. They were introduced in a ficlet about Elrond and Celebrian, "Forwards and Back".
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