Story [The Silmarillion] "This Taste of Shadow", Ficlets and Drabbles, updated 9/10!

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  1. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    @Nyota's Heart: Aww, thanks! :D And now, we are on with more . . .






    Author's Notes:

    Thingol's Death: Thingol was slain by the Dwarves of Nogrod when he refused to give to them the Silmaril. (He had commissioned them to set the Silmaril in the necklace Nauglamír, and when they finished their craft, they wished to keep the Silmaril in the Dwarf-necklace - Thingol refused.) Since those few Dwarves were killed for Thingol's murder before escaping Doriath, the rest of the Dwarves of Nogrod attacked in the First Sacking of Doriath, and much blood was spilled. Beren, with the aid of the Green Elves and the Ents, later killed every Dwarf who thought they triumphed over Doriath, and reclaimed the Silmaril for his wife. This is one of the major reasons for the Dwarf/Elf feud, and a more personal reason for the hatred we see from Thranduil in The Hobbit. Thranduil spent his early years in Doriath, and was closely related to Thingol (a descendent of Thingol's brother Elmo, same as Celeborn, is my personal guess), in order to inherit the title of King over the Sindarin Elves when the crown passed from Lúthien's line with Dior's death. When Thingol died, Melian forsake her body and her spirit returned to Valinor, unable to bear life in Middle-earth without him. With her departure, her protection fell from Doriath, leading to its eventual downfall.

    A note about Daeron: It is my own fanon that he was the one to send the Silmaril to Dior in Doriath, along with news of Lúthien's passing, but it does fit what we do know about him. Also my own theory, is he being the one to save Dior's sons during the Second Kinslaying, but I do prefer that over the little ones dying when abandoned in the woods. :)

    Now, that said, I do hope you enjoy this latest set . . . :D







    Week XVIII: "who rose as the morning star"

    LXXXVI. Sing

    Lúthien's song filled the halls of Angband black.

    Once, Beren had fallen in love with the mystical and the eternal of her voice. But this was not a song of love and enchantment, but rather of power and command. The dark Vala's gaze grew heavy as Lúthien pressed closer to his throne, caressing the iron line of his crown, where the Silmarils shone brighter than even the starlight above . . .

    Where Beren had fallen in love with beauty; Morgoth instantly recognized and coveted the power of such a bride . . . but that too fell away underneath the weight of her song, until there was only silence.



    LXXXVII. Talk

    When their son was born, the tips of Dior's ears were pointed. Curiously, Beren touched one delicate tip, wondering . . .

    “He shall one day have a choice,” Lúthien answered the unspoken, “between immortality and the fate of men.”

    Beren felt his throat tighten. The hands holding his child felt as those of a thief. “Lúthien -”

    She placed one finger to his lips. “Know, beloved, that the pain you bear is yours alone. My choice is my joy in life - you and our son.”

    Beren was silent, and Lúthien kissed him, hoping that time and love would someday convince him where words could not.



    LXXXVIII. Yell

    News of the Dwarve's treachery reached Lúthien like a knife to the chest.

    A sick tempest of grief filled her as she felt Melian's spirit retreat to Valinor, lost without the anchor of Thingol's soul. Her fingers made fists, her eyes became blows; for no mortal blood could hide the uncanny in her veins then, the divine . . .

    She trembled with the urge to scream, to rage and cry out with her grief and pain. Was this a mortal weakness, she wondered? Or that of a daughter?

    "I cursed them to bury a child," she cried into her husband's chest. "Never did I think to mourn them instead."



    LXXXIX. Whisper

    The forests whispered with grief when the fairest-born laid down with her husband in the ever-sleep of Men.

    Daeron tilted his head, his vigil broken as he listened to the lament of the leaves and the ache of the deep roots. A matching pain bit at his heart as he turned the couple's grave soil, as he gently wrapped the Silmaril for Dior's care . . .

    When the earth reclaimed its own, Beren and Lúthien side by side forever to stay, Daeron bowed his head and lifted his voice in song, joining the requiem of stars and branches until he had not a song left to sing.



    XC. Ignore

    The ground was cold underneath the snowfall, but it had grown warm with the song of the Elf who led them. Walking close enough to his brother so that he could share the heat of their rescuer's cloak, Eluréd stared openly, nearly certain that he knew the voice that sang; feeling the song in his heart, matching it beat for beat . . .

    And Elurín asked in a small voice, "Why did you help us?"

    The song faltered, and the ground turned cold again. "You have her eyes," the minstrel whispered, almost too soft to hear. "And I never could ignore her pain."



    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Aug 11, 2013
  2. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Wow, how could such gorgeous poignance be encapsulated in just 500 words? =D= =D= [:D] !!!! Rapturous [face_sigh]
  3. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    @Nyota's Heart: Why thank-you! [:D]






    Author's Notes: This set is all about the Istari (or, Wizards), the five Maiar who were sent to Middle-earth to aid in the fight against Sauron - through words and inspiration rather than deeds and displays of power, for the most part.

    Curunír: Saruman, as we have mentioned before.

    Olórin: Gandalf, a Maia of Manwë. He also served Irmo in the gardens of Lórien (where he met Melian in my head-canon), and he spent time as a disciple of Neinna, where he learned compassion and matters of the heart. His sense of self-worth is canon here - he was the only Maia humble enough to ask that Manwë send someone else.

    Aiwendel: Radagast, a Maia of Yavanna. In going to Middle-earth, he had a secondary task of guarding over the forests and woodland animals for his mistress. Because Radagast was such an . . . interesting little fellow, Yavana asked Curunír to keep an eye on him. As his master's wife, Curunír could deny Yavanna nothing, but I am guessing that is where his annoyance with Radagast stems from. :p

    Círdan and Gandalf: Círdan the Shipwright was foster-father to the HIgh King Gil-galad. Before his death, Gil-galad - perhaps with insight - gave his two of the Three Elvish Rings away for safekeeping. Vilya, the Ring of Air, he gave to Elrond, who was his Herald, and former ward. The Ring of Fire, Narya, he gave to Círdan. Círdan in turn gave Narya to Gandalf upon realizing that he was Maiar - forseeing that the Ring would do much good in his possession.

    Now, that said . . .






    Week XIX: "walked the five upon tainted ground"


    LCI. Conquer

    Triumph filled him when his name was called first from Manwë's mouth.

    Curunír bowed low, his forehead touching the ground in a shape of humility while, inside, it was all he could do to keep from crying out his victory. Finally his talents were recognized for what they where, finally his strengths were acknowledge as power unsurpassed and refined . . . Finally.

    "You shall be first amongst the Istari," Manwë decreed, his voice all the might of the heavens and the strength of the winds. "And from your voice, the people of Middle-earth shall know their fight has not been forsaken."



    LCII. Dictate

    The winds sang as Olórin bowed uncertainly before his master.

    "My lord," he started. "Far be it from me to dictate the will of the Valar, and yet -"

    " - you do not feel yourself worthy of your task?" Manwë interrupted gently. On his arm, a great Eagle perched, its wings held up to the sun. "Dear one, believe me when I say: that is why you must go."

    He lifted his arm, allowing the Eagle to take flight. "Do not fear, Olórin," he bid over the Eagle's cries. "You have only to call for me, and I shall answer. Never shall you truly walk alone."



    LCIII. Rebel

    Curunír opened the door to the sight of Aiwendel hanging half out of the window, calling the winged folk in. Curunír grimaced, regretting his vow to Yavanna as he foresaw the feathers and . . . droppings that would be his to clean once the other departed.

    "Isn't this exciting?" the green eyed Maia twittered, his voice as chirping as the bird he held in his open palms. "Only five, and we two both are going. Oh, we shall have quite the adventure, to be sure. If only I didn't have to leave my friends behind . . ."

    Curunír sighed, wondering if it was too late to rebel against Manwë's decree yet.



    LCIV. Aftermath

    "You have been chosen," Melian whispered before he could speak.

    "I have," Olórin replied gently.

    "True is Manwe's wisdom, then." Melian smiled; a tired and old smile that reflected the aftermath of love and loss. For years, he had offered what solace he could, absorbing the heat of her wounds, and now . . .

    "You know fear,” she ignored his concern to give comfort of her own. “Humble Olórin, who shall advise kings and hold lords as comrades in arms. And yet . . . know that it shall be the little folk whom you draw courage from . . . They will be your strength, and your light will in turn awaken their own."



    LCV. Rebirth


    Centuries had passed since Círdan last brought in a ship from the West. Now, he could feel Manwë's presence on the wind; he could hear Ulmo's voice on the waves as five weathered men stepped down onto the dock. The last, a grey mantled man with twinkling eyes, stopped before him and inclined his head. On his finger, Círdan felt his Ring burn in awareness.

    "We thank-you, Ship-wright, for your aid," he greeted, and Cirdan's Ring sang.

    "It is my pleasure, Master . . ." Círdan searched for a name.

    "Gandalf," the man leaned heavily upon his staff. "You may call me Gandalf."



    ~MJ @};-
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  4. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    :) [face_sigh] =D= Very insightful and true set. [:D]
  5. laurethiel1138 Force Ghost

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    Oh, dear, what a lovely set, perfectly characterizing every motion, from Curunir's towering pride to Olorin's cautious humility, with some great insights into the minds of Middle-Earth's oldest powers.

    I especially liked "Dictate" for the call-back (or is it call-forward?) to Gandalf's scene with Galadriel in The Hobbit, and for the unexpected (and maybe unintended) reference to one of my favourite scenes from the movie Gladiator:
    Marcus Aurelius: There is one more duty I would ask of you before you go home.
    Maximus: What would you have me do, Caesar?
    Marcus Aurelius: I would have you become the Protector of Rome after I die. I will empower you to one end alone. To give power back to the people of Rome and end the corruption that has crippled it. Would you accept this great honour that I have offered you?
    Maximus: With all my heart, no.
    Marcus Aurelius: Maximus, that is why it must be you.

    Cheers,
    Lauré :)
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  6. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    @Nyota's Heart: Why thank-you! [:D]

    lauretheil1138: The reference was not at all intended, but that is probably one of my top ten favourite moves of all time, so maybe subconsciously my mind made the leap without me noticing. Thank-you for the honor in comparing the two! [:D]






    Author's Notes: While this is week twenty of the challenge, I am still going to use this thread to post drabbles and ficlets. I had so many drivels inspired by this challenge, and this is as good a place as any to share them. So, here we are with the end . . . but not. ;)

    [:D]






    Week XX

    XCVI. Father

    Nerdanel awakened to starlight.

    Not starlight, she realized . . . but rather an incandescent radiance, emanating from the three white jewels held in her husband's hands.

    Fëanoro.

    She sat up with a start, suddenly alert. Fëanor had locked himself in the forget for near a month, unseeing and unhearing to all around him. When she had dared to enter, he had been a white being of flame, holding raw ether over the flames, but suffering not of their burn . . .

    Now he cradled the fruit of his labour the same as he had his newborn sons; awe in his eyes, and wonder . . .



    XCVII. Son

    "That light . . ." Nerdanel stammered. "The Trees' . . ."

    "My Silmarili," Fëanor confirmed, his eyes reflecting the jewel's glory.

    Foreboding twisted her heart as she looked between him and the gems, urging her to break them - to free the light he trapped before it burned the hand that held it.

    "Do not be afraid," Fëanor muttered, he still had not to look away from the gems. Such a love shone in his eyes, as if the stones were a child of his blood as much of a child of his hands. For a moment, she feared . . .

    "For they are precious to me," he whispered. "So very precious."



    XCVIII. Husband

    The stories would say that Beren the One-handed tried to free a second Silmaril from the Dark Lord's crown out of greed. They would say that so desperate was he to be husband and Lúthien bride that he tried to capture the Silmaril's whole rather than one.

    Yet, in truth, it was the jewels themselves he thought of. Their light screamed from Morgoth's brow, a pleading voice crying from within their depths: release me, as if their creator's soul still lived long after his own breath had passed.

    So Beren struck his blade, and set to free the spirit of fire.



    XCIX. Brother

    In the end, their Oath wore them to their bones. Maedhros thought not of how Fingon's eyes would have shone with disappointment . . . Nerdanel's with shame. He did not think finally as he touched the Silmaril's hallowed facets. He did not cry at last. Instead he thought only it burns . . . Father, why does it burn?

    Distantly, he head Maglor as he cast his own gem into the sea. One to the sea; one lost to the heavens, and now . . .

    "Brother," he smiled comfortingly, release eating at his soul. "It is okay."

    The earth reclaimed the third; and Maedhros burned as Fëanor before him.



    C. Teacher

    Centuries passed. Memories turned to myth, and history to legend. The Silmarils slept in sea and earth and sky as shadow again touched the land.

    Maglor listened as the sea lamented of a new horror, forged in hate; of an old evil again reborn. The gulls cried overhead, warning of the years that would pass before the light returned.

    Heart-sore, he lifted ruined fingers to his harp strings. The future was a cruel mentor, but the past was always a silent teacher; ready to light the way . . .

    . . . and so, he would continue to hope, and sing for those who still remembered.



    ~MJ@};-
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  7. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Speechless with amazement again. =D= =D= You take our humble language and turn the mere syllables into breathtaking arias of soul-stirring loveliness. [face_love] !!!!
  8. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    @Nyota's Heart: Aww, thank-you! As always, your kind words mean the world to me. :)

    Author's Notes: To carry on with these, I am getting my prompts from the Fifty Sentence Challenge. I am going to chip away at as many as I can this winter, just for kicks, and I am already having a blast with it. The length and how many I post at once will vary, but for now, I will start with a two-fer ficlet set. Neither of these are a fixed length, though they are each around a thousand words. :)

    We are dealing with familiar faces here, but as a quick note . . .

    Arafinwë: Finarfin
    Artanis: Galadriel
    Ingoldo: Finrod
    Aikanáro: Aegnor
    Angaráto: Angrod
    Mithrandir: Gandalf
    Fëa: Quenya term for 'soul'.
    Oiolossë: The Vanyar's name for Taniquetil, the mountain of the Valar.


    Enjoy. :)







    "things, once seen"

    CI. Wall

    The Sea was an impassible distance between them. It was a wall he could not climb; with waves as brick and tide as mortar. And it stretched so far . . .

    Though Tirion was locked by land, surrounded by golden stretches of fields and embraced by copses of green leafed trees, he imagined that he could hear the waves as they brushed upon Eastern shores beyond. He imagined that he could see the infant sun above them as it set over the straight blue horizon of Middle-earth. He imagined that he could hear the gulls in his ears; that he could feel the pulse of the tide in his heart.

    She has arrived, the knowledge reverberated in his mind, settling in his heart. With the knowledge, his pulse quickened. He could not quell its frantic beat.

    "Artanis," Arafinwë whispered his daughter's name to the wind, as if she could hear him from such a distance and knew comfort from his voice. He closed his eyes, imagining each of his sons in turn before looking up again. His children had survived the crossing, and now they walked upon a shadowed land. They walked where he could not see . . . see naught but glimpses, as intangible and substantial as mist. He could see Artanis' eyes trained unmovingly ahead, looking at the wood just past the seashore. He looked, and saw Ingoldo's smile. Angaráto as he splashed Aikanáro in the surf.

    His hands fisted as he tried to seize the visions, as he tried to make them last. But it was not enough. It never was.

    Time passed, much time before the atmosphere in both Tirion and Alqualondë allowed the new King of the Noldor to journey north to Oiolossë. But journey eventually he did, seeking out Ingwë's house and walking the familiar halls to the rooms his mother and sisters shared.

    Centuries had passed since he was a small boy running with mischief in mind and trailing giggles behind him, and yet Arafinwë still felt small beneath the arch of Indis' stare when she rose to greet him. He bowed low and kissed the back of his mother's hand, even though she wore her crown not, and had been far from Finwë's side even before his death at the Dark One's hands. The young sun was setting beyond them, painting Indis' face with a warm golden light. There was a time when he had looked on her and saw only a beauty too great for words; a celestial beauty that seemed too ethereal to touch. Now, he could see only weariness on Indis' face. Her flesh seemed to be parchment, letting the light shine through her rather than upon her. There were times lately when she did not look quite real before his eyes. Aman had darkened around her, and she had not yet found her light again.

    "They arrived," he whispered his news, taking her hand in his own once they both were seated. Indis looked not at him, but out the open windows behind him. The room had been built with a wide and open plan – designed to face the summit of the mountain and the light of the Trees with a reverence that only the Vanyar could truly understand. Now, it just let in the light of the setting sun.

    "I cannot tell what horrors the Ice took from them," he admitted, and at the words, his voice ached in his throat. " . . . but they arrived. They walk upon the shores of the Hither Lands."

    Over his hand, his mother's fingers played. Absently, she traced nonsense patterns over the top of bones and skin. "And yet, you ask me a question," she said at long last. Her head was tilted delicately to the side. Her pale eyes knew the answer he sought, even when they did not glance his way.

    "I . . ." he swallowed. Setting about him, the new light was too warm. It was too bright. He blinked, and saw shadow. "I saw . . . I could see bits and pieces when I Looked, but only just. Once you offered to teach me your gift, and yet I scorned it . . . for what need was there of the Sight in the hallowed lands, in these lands of peace and light? And yet . . . now the light has been destroyed and created anew. Now . . ."

    "Now those you love travel past where you can see," Indis finished gravely. Her eyes still searched beyond the view of her balcony; as if she could see into Mandos' dark halls and beyond.

    He did not fight the twisting he felt in his lungs at her words. He had no need to. "Yes," he breathed simply. And he waited for her answer.

    A heartbeat passed. Then another. When Indis squeezed his hands, the color of her eyes was darker. For the first since his father's death, she looked real before him. She looked tangible enough to touch.

    "I shall teach you, my son," she inclined her head in answer. Her grip about his hands was strong. "And together, we shall see what we shall see."



    CII. Bridge

    The waves lapped gently against the rocks below.

    Alone, Galadriel knelt in the long grass that grew atop the cliffs overlooking the harbor of the Grey Havens below. This close to the Sea, the song within her soul was sounding with a feverish beat, pulling her towards what she could feel in the distance, calling home. Though she yearned, she could not yet give in to it's siren's call, not with the Shadow that was still growing behind her, stretching from the East. None were beside her as she took her moment to work through her grief alone. All in her family hurt that day, the grief of sundering pulling upon their spirits as a whole, but in that moment, she preferred her solitude. She needed . . .

    She took a deep breath, centering herself. Against her mind, she felt Celeborn's touch as it turned in concern, but she waved him away after assuring him that she was well. As well as she could be, at least. A matching pain bit at his own soul, and she filled their bond with warmth . . . with peace as best she could.

    When she looked below, she could see her husband's silver head amongst the workers milling on the docks. Celeborn was keeping their grandsons busy, she knew, not giving them a moment in which to think about their grief. Elladan and Elrohir were nothing but strife and discord in their bones with their mother's passing, and even across the distance their hate and anger tugged on her spirit with a rabid fervency. They wore their guilt as a cloak of fury, even though all had assured them that they were not to blame – even Celebrían herself, but still their hearts knew pain, and Galadriel feared . . .

    When she swallowed, she did so around a stone. She looked away from her grandsons, seeking out the empty dock where Celebrían's ship had been berthed not even an hour ago. On the edge of the dock, Arwen stood unmoving at her father's side. As close to Elrond as the twins had been with their mother, she had scarce left his side since the ship had disappeared over the horizon. Galadriel reached out with her senses, but Arwen looked up first. Though her eyes were heavy with grief, she reached out with a comfort of her own before she could be given comfort in return, and Galadriel felt her heart twist as she accepted the gift her granddaughter gave. The young one was a bulwark in her family's storm, and for her, Galadriel was more grateful than words could say. At Arwen's side, Elrond had not even blinked at the interchanging of power. He noticed not of Arwen's hand around his own, nor Galadriel's searching presence at his mind. Instead, he was unblinking as he stared at the horizon beyond. Galadriel felt, and knew that he was clinging to his bond with Celebrían, unwilling to let her go until the Straight Road tore her forcibly from him.

    She looked, and felt a fresh stab of pain for how her son-in-law appeared to be years older than any Elf had a right to be – for he had poured nearly the entirety of his fëa into Celebrían's soul in his desperation to heal her. He had been pulled away by force - Glorfindel and Mithrandir ending the connection only before he gave everything. Even for all of his efforts – for all of her own efforts, and Mithrandir's too – they had only been able to heal her daughter's body. Her mind . . . Celebrían's fëa was fractured and torn, and nothing but the Uttermost West and the touch of Estë and Irmo themselves would heal what was so broken.

    She had sailed, and now Galadriel was alone, and she . . .

    She took in a deep breath before letting it out again. Above her, the twilit sky was darkening. Varda's stars bathed the land in their light as they had since times long gone by, and upon the horizon Galadriel looked, and thought to see a light even greater than they. She could see . . .

    As she had not in centuries, she opened her mind to the part of her fëa that was still bound to her parents – to Arafinwë and Eärwen, each reigning over bright Tirion in hallowed Aman. Though the Sea laid between them – pale in comparison to her own stubborn pride and blatant refusal to take the pardon the Valar offered, for she had committed no crime to warrant such a gracious forgiveness - she looked with another set of eyes. She looked with the eyes of her Sight, and saw . . .

    . . . Arafinwë's surprised gaze . . . grey-blue eyes, just like her own, blinking and widening . . . a breath held . . . her father placing down both quill and parchment so that he could grasp the connection she sought and flame it higher . . .

    Artanis? She felt more than heard his voice whisper across her mind. Though she would admit it not, the merest touch of their minds turned all of her great strength to dust before the wind. Brokenly, she leaned into his mental presence like a sapling finding its roots in a storm. She did not realize the weight of her own grief until opening herself up to her father's soul, and now . . .

    She felt warmth and love consume her as Arafinwë filled her with a peace of spirit – and all of her fears about her parent's anger, their anger and their disappointment, faded when she felt love instead. When she felt a concern so strong that it rippled across her soul, even across so great a distance.

    Child? he whispered, as if fearful of her answer, What is it? What is this burden that swallows you? She could feel him search against her mind, a lifetime of dark deeds and even darker hours having taught him to expect the worst.

    "Atar," she whispered her reply to the wind. Her voice was a choked, hoarse sound from her mouth. "What I treasure most in this world comes to you, and I cannot yet follow where she goes. I would ask . . . nay, I would beg of you to . . ."

    Cherish her, she let her spirit ask what her mouth could not say. Give her a home while she is sundered from all that she has loved and held dear . . . Give her love until . . .

    . . . until I too can return home, she finally admitted the desire of her heart in her mind, and she felt her father turn as such a light in her mind. Such a warmth.

    When she opened her eyes, the connection broken, she looked to the West again. This time, she did not have to strain her eyes to see. Aman was as a light on the horizon; the harkening of a promise against the backdrop of sky and sea. She looked, and she could feel the light as it grew even warmer still.

    Not yet, she thought as she turned from the song of the Sea. But someday, she knew . . . someday soon.



    ~MJ@};-
  9. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Gasp--Bridge was a poignant symphony of glorious, sweeping epicness =D= =D= =D=
  10. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    @Nyota's Heart - Thank-you! :D [:D]






    "A Stone Upon Stones"

    CIII. Architect

    As with every building, there was a first stone laid. One, and then the next.

    "You know the sword," Findekáno said one afternoon. It was not a question, but rather an observation spoken as quiet fact. His cousin was a quiet child as a whole, his wide eyes taking in everything around him in silence before speaking with soft certainty. What had at first been an oddity when compared to his family of live flames was now a comfort to Maitimo. Bemused, he looked at the younger boy, a red brow raised in a question of his own.

    "There is no need to learn such a skill in blissful Aman," he replied neutrally. At his answer, Findekáno played absently with the quill in his hands. His letters were already neat and precise across the parchment, and sooner than he would like, Maitimo knew that he would have nothing more he could teach him.

    "But your father teaches you regardless?" Findekáno pressed.

    "Some are not as content with the stillness of these lands as others," Maitimo replied evenly. Even though not expressly forbidden, many looked on the art of steel with critical eyes. But his answer was only half where the other trusted the whole from him. He found that he did not care for the not-truth on his lips. "Yes," he answered frankly. "My father has taught me the sword."

    "My Atar," Findekáno was wont to speak even more softly when his words were about his family. Maitimo looked, and wondered how the fire of Finwë can be as smoke in the eyes of the child before him. "My Atar says that such skills are needless. That they are an insult to the peace that the Valar provide."

    "And what do you think?" Maitimo asked carefully. Findekáno pressed the tip of his quill to his mouth as he considered his reply.

    "I think that my father keeps one of grandfather's swords above his desk; one from the Great Journey, stained with the blood of Dark Lord's creatures in the earliest days. I think that he keeps it there to remember. I know too, that he practices when none can see. And I . . ."

    Maitimo waited, expectant. He knew what the child would ask next, and for some reason, the request made him uneasy. Three brothers already, and his parent's intent on another, and he had helped them all wrap small hands around sword hilts. And yet . . .

    "Will you teach me?" Findekáno finally asked. His words were frank and abrupt, the hesitation gone from his voice once his decision was made. He stared, and looked the older boy squarely in the eye as he put his longing out, stark and whole between them. Maitimo looked, and imagined that he could see, there . . .

    Finwë's fire, he thought, even as he nodded. "Yes, Káno," his reply was softer than he would have wished it to be. "I will teach you."



    .
    .

    Findekáno bruised. It is the way of the sword - of life, in truth - and yet Maitimo watched the child pull himself up from the dust each and every time he was knocked down with pride in the marrow of his bones. With affection in the soft places about his heart.

    Later, when the battle-fever had worn down to nothing, and each pain was felt for what it truly was, he sought the boy out to make sure that none of his wounds had settled too deeply.

    "It will heal," he gave his diagnosis as the boy picked at the new calluses he was developing on the palms of his hands. "For now, each mark will show you where a lesson was learned. A stone here," he touched a scrape on Findekáno's cheek, "and a stone here," next he touched a bruise on his arm, purple and angry. "And you shall have a tower before you in no time at all."

    "For now," Findekáno said, biting his tongue, "It just hurts."

    Maitimo could not help himself. He smiled. "Aye, for now it hurts." He pressed playfully at the bruise, and the child made a face before swatting his hand away. "But that too will build a wall of its own."



    .
    .

    He felt like a strong tower torn asunder in those first few months after being proclaimed strong enough to move from his bed. He was as a ruin of a fortress, with once strong stones turned to dust and its mortar to ash on the wind. The foundation was still there – his body remembered how to move, how to fight, but it was missing a piece now. It was no longer whole.

    He had to remember to fight with his left hand rather than his right. He could not block and give a blow at once now; it is one and then the other. He could not use two hands to lend weight to his thrusts. His strength had to come from his arm and shoulder now, and the difference was almost too much. His body was a shell of his former strength, the loss of his hand aside. He had gone too long without food and water and movement during his imprisonment. White lines criss-crossed his skin, telling tales of Morgoth's torments – each one more and more creative than the last when he refused to give the Dark One the reaction he sought. His body was a map of pain and ruin, and there were times when he did not care to bring it into the light of day.

    Sometimes, he could only think that it would have been easier if Fingon had put his sword through his heart, rather than through the skin and bone of his hand. Sometimes, he thought . . .

    But Maedhros had no time to think then, because Fingon was attacking, stepping to the left but striking from the right - and like a fool he fell for it. Instead of cutting with the blade, Fingon slapped his shoulder with the flat of his sword. He did not pull his strength, and Maedhros stumbled before taking a knee on the ground, his balance lost.

    "Even Idril could have blocked that – and that is an insult to the lady," Fingon raised a dark brow in disapproval. He circled his cousin's spot on the ground, casting shadows as he turned. "Turgon's daughter is a terribly fast little thing, and she delights in reminding all of it."

    "I taught you that same feint those long years ago," Maedhros muttered darkly. "My body remembers, but it is slow to answer as I bid." His breath worked too quickly to give air to his lungs. His blood pounded, not from the fight, but from fatigue. Maedhros felt his top lip draw back from his teeth, disgusted as he was with himself.

    Finwë's fire as he was, and all that flame had done was to keep him just barely amongst the living. He had survived, and yet, what right did he even have to that? What right did he have to endure when so many others had . . .

    . . . but no. He squeezed his eyes closed, forcing his heart to calm. The troublesome organ raced in his chest, and its pulse was wearying.

    A shadow fell before him as Fingon came to a stop. The sunlight glittered off the lake behind them; Maedhros could see the light as bright splashes of colour behind the dark of his eyes. For a moment, Fingon blocked the sun, and Maedhros opened his eyes to see that the other had knelt in front of him. There was concern in his eyes – his pale grey eyes, the same as his own – and Maedhros looked away. As his eyes moved down, he caught glimpse of the gold braided into his hair. Fingon had not worn it as such when he had rescued him from Thangorodrim, that much Maedhros remembered. But now . . .

    He swallowed, and his throat ached. He did not deserve such a token, he thought distantly. Such a . . .

    "A stone here," Fingon whispered, and then Maedhros felt his cousin's callused fingertips as they traced the hollow line of his cheek, much too thin as it was. "And then a stone here," Fingon's sword hand trailed a gentle caress around the ruined stump of his right arm. It was the first time anyone beyond a healer had touched him so – even Maedhros ignored that new part of his body with a childish determination, as if by pretending that it did not exist, he could make it so. The newly grown nerve endings trembled, unused to the sensation of touch. "And soon," Fingon let his hand fall away, "a tower shall be built."

    A moment passed. Maedhros swallowed, looking between the light on the lake and the gold twinkling teasingly in the black braids before him. He looked anywhere but Fingon's eyes.

    "Valiant, they call you," Maedhros finally said. His words were soft, given beneath his breath. "Better had you taken the title of Wise instead."

    "There are others better suited to the sprouting of inspired phrases," Fingon gave. Maedhros could hear the smile in his voice as he rose gracefully to his feet. "Better am I with repeating things once heard."

    Slowly, Maedhros followed Fingon's lead. He picked up his sword once more, the muscles in his arm weak as he made a fist of his fingers about the hilt. But they were strengthening. The bones there ached, but it was an ache that healed. It was an ache that promised growth, if he let it.

    "Now then, Russandol," Fingon saluted him, a playful ease to his movements as his steel caught the sun. "About that tower . . ."






    Handy Dandy Tolkien Terms:

    Findekáno: Fingon
    Maitimo: Maedhros
    Russandol: An endearment meaning 'copper-top'. Another name for Maedhros.



    ~MJ@};-
  11. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Breathtaking and touching progression of a friendship that lasts and binds hearts and lives. ^:)^ [:D] =D=
  12. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    *waves from lurker-dom* You've not lost me... I just got overwhelmed with life stuff and was utterly ignoring the fact that NaNo was happening, as I was unable to participate. Review incoming... just as soon as I finish my communication paper on aspect of communication. 8-}
  13. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
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    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Nyota's Heart: Why, thank-you! Their friendship absolutely kills me dead - but that is what Tolkien is about at the core. Close friendships like theirs, who change the course of history. [face_love] I had fun writing about them. :)

    @DaenaBenjen42: Aww, thank-you! It is so good to see you here. :D I know all about DRL, so take your time and enjoy - these drabbles will always be here when you are. :p [:D]






    Author's Notes:

    There was one stray line from the last ficlet that inspired this whole thing. It's funny how muses work like that, isn't it? :p But first! A few notes . . .

    The Helcaraxë: A shifting mass of glaciers that used to connected Valinor and Middle-earth. Fëanor, after being denied the ships to sail to Middle-Earth, and the First Kinslaying in Alqualondë that came as a result, burned the ships he did not need so that his brothers would not be able to follow him. Originally, Fingolfin (Nolofinwë) and Fëanor had patched up their differences, and they and their followers were all to go to Middle-earth together - both to avenge their father's death at Melkor's hands, and to seek out new lands for themselves. But Fëanor was mad by then, and forgot his promises and familial ties – 'laughing as one fey' as he set the ships aflame. Maedhros alone refused to burn the ships - not wanting to commit Fingon and his family to the crossing of the Ice. Fingon did not know that at this time, though, hence this drivel . . .

    The Grinding Ice was horrible to cross, and many died from the cold and the starvation and bitter conditions that came from the desolate land. It took them years to cross, at that.

    Aredhel: Iressë in Quenya. The daughter of Fingolfin and Anairë, and sister to Fingon and Turgon. She was close in friendship - and perhaps more - with Celegorm, the third son of Fëanor. Of course she would be the only one to understand Fingon's grief and betrayal here - seeing as how the rest of their families did not see eye to eye with Fëanor and his sons even before this.

    Turgon and Elenwë: Turgon's wife was one of the only wives who followed their husbands across the Ice – at least, in the arch of characters that Tolkien was writing about. (Anairë did not follow Nolofinwë. Finrod's fiancée did not follow him. More understandably, Nerdanel refused to follow Fëanor, and Maglor's wife too stayed behind in Valinor.) Elenwë's stand was doubly impressive, seeing as how she was a Vanyar Elf – the Vanyar did not join the Noldor in their rebellion, being devout to the Valar as they were, and yet Elenwë followed her husband anyway. Tragically, she drowned when falling through a weak point in the Ice, and Turgon almost died himself trying to save her.

    Itarillë: Idril
    Turukáno: Turgon
    Tyelkormo: Celegorm
    Laurelin: The Tree that was the 'sun'. Telperion, the second Tree, was the 'moon'.

    And now, that said . . .






    "things, once lost"

    CIV. Different

    She had not known that it was possible to be this cold.

    Before the Helcaraxë, she had seen snow, but only ever on the glittering white slopes of Taniquetil. She remembered playing in her great-uncle Ingwë's house as a child, lying on the ground and creating winged creatures with her arms and legs before rising to pelt her brothers with balls of the cold white powder. She remembered how Turukáno's face would turn in mock annoyance as he brushed his clothes dry; how Findekáno would scowl in mock outrage before returning her attacks with those of his own - pelting her retreating back with snowballs before dropping her into the snowbank on the side of the path, screaming out her laughter while their elders watched them with smiles on their faces.

    Now, Irissë could not remember how she had ever been delighted by the cold. Now she only knew the tightness of her stomach, groaning in hunger and in thirst. Her skin stung from where it was stretched across her bones, made thin and brittle where it was exposed to the cold around her. She could not feel her fingers or her toes, but she was fortunate that she had not yet developed the bite of frost that had already taken so much from so many. She was tired, she was weary; but she did not fall in her path as others walked over her still form, leaving her to freeze in their wake. Her blood still beat through her veins, and though its pulse was slow, it was enough to let her know that she was alive. She was alive. Alive as . . .

    She swallowed, looking ahead to where Turukáno's gait was slow and stunned at the head of their host. At his side, even cheerful Itarillë was quiet, her small and pale face drawn with her grief. Though only a child, the Ice had affected her the least – so much so that their followers had taken to calling her Silver-foot for the ease of her passing over the frozen wasteland around them. And yet, her niece had scarce spoken two words together since her mother's death. Her bright blue eyes were haunted and numb – much too young for the tender count of her years.

    Turukáno had not wanted to come, Irissë remembered, feeling guilt rise up in her throat for own role in persuading him. He had been pressured by all; and his wife and daughter had refused to be left behind when he made the decision to follow his family. Such courage was a rarity - even her own mother had forsaken the journey at her father's side, and Anairë was far from the only one to let go both husband and child. But Turukáno had pushed aside his misgivings, and now Elenwë was gone - taken by the rolling ocean beneath the endless Ice all around them. Turukáno walked as one numb, and Írissë could not imagine the light ever returning to her brother's eyes as it had been before.

    Irissë fisted her fingers, and found that her anger kept her stride from faltering. Anger kept her face warm, kept feeling to the tips of her fingers.

    Tyelkormo, she hissed within the confines of her mind. When I cross this desolate place, so help me . . .

    Her thoughts were interrupted when a soft step crunched on the snow next to her. She glanced to the side, having energy for little else, and then only blinking her greeting to Findekáno. For a moment, she let her gaze linger, taking in the tight set of her eldest brother's mouth, the stone line of his jaw, before turning her gaze back ahead. She trained her eyes on an unseen place on the horizon, and imagined she could see the far shore they grappled to reach.

    She counted out five heartbeats, and then ten, before glancing at her brother again. Something was wrong . . . something was different, but she could not put her finger on precisely what the difference was. He had been quiet since Elenwë's death, but there was a dark cast to his eyes as he stared unblinking at the never-ending stretch of the Ice ahead. He muttered beneath his breath at times, as if rehersing what he would say if he ever . . . She closed her eyes, unable to complete her thought. She knew that look in his eyes - for it was the same look she held in her own. For they were the only ones amongst both Nolofinwë and Arafinwë's children to love . . .

    Again the thought rest, incomplete within her mind.

    After thirty heartbeats, she realized what was missing from him. The difference was so stark that she stopped, letting the crowd of bodies shoulder past her, all going on by with hardly a glance. Some muttered under their breath as they walked. Some moaned. Far in the back of their group, one or two voices tried to rise in song in defiance to the chill in the air. They never made it further than a verse before faltering.

    Findekáno stopped with her, a brow raised in question. She opened her mouth once, then twice, before shutting it. She could hear the cold click of her teeth as they snapped together.

    "What is it, Irissë?" Findekáno asked. Even his strong voice was a whisper on the air. His breath frosted between them.

    Irissë hugged her arms closer to her body. Her eyes fixed upon the black braids that peeked out from the fur lined hood of his cloak. Their color was blank and dull. Snowflakes frosted the plaits with a layer of ice, but beneath . . .

    "Your gold is gone," she said frankly. Even those few words took all of her effort to speak. It was a great task - flexing her throat and passing the breath of her lungs out as words. She pressed her fingers together, seeking the warmth of skin on skin.

    "My hands are numb," Findekáno's explanation was simple and frank, but the delay before his answer was too long – even when attributed to the cold. She watched, and saw the way he flinched, he never one to hide even the barest of his emotions from those he was close with. "I could not manage the plaiting," he felt the need to elaborate. "And so I did not bother."

    Her brother had been a youth nearly grown at the time of her birth. As long as Irissë could remember, Findekáno had been close in friendship with Maitimo, son of Fëanáro – too close, their father would grumble – but her brother's friendship with their half-cousin was something she had always known and accepted for what it was. It was something she could imagine no differently. She had been young, very young, at the time, but she still remembered coming across the two in the gardens behind her grandfather's home in Tirion. She remembered staring, entranced by the red, red colour of Maitimo's hair, like Laurelin when her light fell at night to set the horizon aflame. She remembered wondering how the colour could grow from the head of any Elf, even as Maitimo flicked one of her brother's braids, fingering the golden thread that Findekáno had entwined there earlier.

    "I had only spoken in jest," Maitimo said, but she could hear the smile in his voice when he spoke.

    Her brother had shrugged, pleased with the reaction he gained, and at the memory she tried to remember the last time Findekáno had looked so at peace. So at ease. When had last he looked so . . . content in his own skin? She tried to remember, but could only remember the Ice.

    Now the braids were barren and black before her, and she felt . . . empty at the loss. Tyelkormo, she thought again, but this time his name was as a sigh. This time it was edged in grief. Why? she wondered, but even her thoughts were as whispers.

    She needed to understand, she reflected numbly. She needed to know . . .

    She would cross this Ice if it was the last thing she did, she swore to herself. She would cross the Ice and then stare the other straight in the eye and demand her answer of him. She would take it from his flesh, if need be, but until then . . .

    "When we stop tonight I will help you, if you would like," she offered. She meant for the words to come out strong, but they were only tired. Tired, and hollow.

    "Do not worry yourself," Findekáno tried to smile, but the motion was forced. Mouths could not make such shapes on the Helcaraxë, she knew. "I have no need of such frivolities here."

    "When we reach the other side, then?" she asked, taking her hands from their warm cocoon inside of her cloak to hold his – for warmth, she told herself. For neither of them truly needed the comfort. To ache would be to give them a victory, and she could not . . . she would not . . .

    "Perhaps then, sister," Findekáno whispered, but the words were forced to her ears. "Perhaps."



    ~MJ@};-
    laurethiel1138 likes this.
  14. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    =D= =D= The scene was very vivid and detailed and the emotions real and tangible. Superb!!! @};-
  15. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Nyota's Heart: Why thank-you! It was a bit of heartbreaker to write, but I enjoyed it even so. [face_love][:D]

    Although, speaking of heartbreakers, it's time for something a little more fluffy in this thread. (Even if the bittersweetness did creep in there - hey, this is Tolkien, afterall, and Arda marred was not a happy place. :p)

    For this ficlet, my notes are . . .

    Númenor: A great island, risen from the sea between Middle-earth and Valinor - a gift of the Valar to Mankind in gratitude for their courage and refusal to abide under shadow during the War of Wrath. Elros was given kingship over this new nation, as he was the heir of the Three Houses of Men through Tuor and Beren his forefathers. Later, Númenor would fall into evil through the manipulations of Sauron - its people even going as far as building temples to Melkor and offering him human sacrifices beneath Saruon's direction. Later, the last King of Númenor would even charge the shores of Valinor, seeking the immortality he and his people believed to be unfairly denied to them. Númenor would survive through Elendil and his sons Isildur and Anárion, who were faithful to the ways of the Valar. Númenor was swept beneath the sea as punishment for the evilness of its people, and its pure-of-heart survivors went on to found the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor in Middle-earth.

    Elros' Age: He made his choice for humanity at the end of the War of Wrath, when he was about 50 years of age. (The Elves' equivalent of 18.) He was then made King of Númenor when he was 119 years old. Sometime after he married a mortal woman, and 30 years after he took the throne, his first child was born. Elros would live to be 500 years old, seeing his great-great-grandchildren born before giving up his life freely. Long life was given to all of his descendants - which is why Aragorn, as Elros' many times great-grandson, had a long span of days as part of his birthright.

    Vardimir: The second king of Númenor. He was very old himself when Elros died, only taking the crown for a year before abdicating to his son. He was given the last name of Nólimon, which meant 'knowledgeable'. He build up the libraries of Númenor, and was a great scholar rather than a ruler of men.

    Manwendil and Atanalcar: Elros' youngest two sons. They were soon joined by a sister, Tindómiel, just as Elros wished for here.

    Funnily enough, when I was double checking my spelling (yes, I do not know all of these names off of the top of my head [face_laugh] 8-}), there was a note that said that Elros was cast in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Which was a head scratcher for me - I can only assume that he will be one of Sauron's illusions. But still, I am very, very curious to see how Jackson is pulling that one off. [face_thinking]

    And now, that said . . .







    "the gap between bones"


    CV. Alike

    The markets of Armenelos bustled in the mid-day sun. Though they were some leagues away from the coast, the land locked city still seemed to smell of salt and sea-wind, as all of Númenor did. Alongside the scent of brine, the aroma of spices and roasting chestnuts rose from the stalls they passed, entreating the senses as much as the bright colors and exotic wears vied to do. The shops held everything from metal-craft and wooden toys to seeds from the exotic Isle of Tol Eressëa and that season's yield from the fields. The King's City was all graceful white buildings and spiraling mosaics of colored glass, the architecture designed to capture the brilliance of the sunlight and the never ending stretch of seashore surrounding the Island-kingdom.

    Númenor truly was a gift to its people, the sons of Men made mighty as they stood up as a nation, great and strong, for the first time in their history. It was . . . pride he felt for his brother's accomplishments. All of Elrond's misgivings about his twin's choices were selfish in nature, and so, he tried not to think of them often. Instead, he pushed aside his darker thoughts and let his brother show to him the changes that had been made since the last time he had visited. Elros was all too happy to shirk aside his crown for the day in order to walk the city streets in simple garb – the sight common enough that many bowed and greeted their sire as he walked by with the practice of long ease. Elros had always been quick to smile; always ready to share both his humor and his warmth, and his people responded with love and admiration.

    While he and his brother traveled at a sedate pace, Elros' youngest two children ran through the streets with quick and eager steps, ducking into shops and dancing between the lumbering carts while trailing laughter in their wake. Vardimir, the eldest, trailed some steps behind them, his nose pressed in the pages of a book, even as he walked. Nearly sixteen summers old, a miniature replica of his father with his straight black hair and pale grey eyes, Vardimir was set apart in look from the crowd of Men around him, moving with an easy grace reminiscent of his father's once-people. The two younger boys, Manwendil and Atanalcar, took after their mother in look with their curling brown hair and sea-blue eyes. Each child was quick and bright, painfully mortal with their marching steps and eager eyes.

    "See, it is as I told you in my letters," Elros clapped him on the shoulder when his stare once again turned back to Vardimir. "He is like you to the point of being uncanny, is he not?"

    "I was not always that . . . preoccupied," Elrond protested as Vardimir nearly walked into a stall selling melons before he realized the obstacle in his path. But his protest was half-hearted, at best.

    Elros snorted. "If I had a coin for every time I kept you from walking into a wall while you were 'not preoccupied', the stores of Númenor would be double what they are now."

    Elrond raised a brow, but did not bother countering the other when he spoke the truth. He had brought with him a whole chest of tomes and scrolls from Gil-galad's library in Lindon, and Vardimir's eyes had turned alight at the gift, as if he had been giving a chest of precious stones instead. The youth had wasted no time before turning through the collection with reverent fingers, looking through one book and then on to another, unable to decide which one to look through first.

    While Elrond only needed to bring the written word to earn the affection of his eldest nephew, the younger boys had not even allowed him to make it off of the dock before asking him for stories. Tell us again, what you saw when the Blessed Mariner felled the Black Dragon from his ship in the sky . . . . Tell us again, how Gil-galad the King spoke to Ulmo himself when your ship was caught in the Ossë-storm off of the Bay of Balar . . . Tell us again, how Maedhros the One-handed slew two legions of Morgoth's Orcs to recover you and Ada from their clutches when Amon Ereb was taken . . . Again, again, again! they asked with laughing young voices, even as Elros furrowed his brow and protested that he had told them the same stories time and again and they had never once clamored for repeats.

    The little ones laughed as they fell into step with their older brother again. Each one tugged on one of Vardimir's sleeves to get his attention – rapidly waving their small hands as they told their sibling about what exciting ware had caught their eyes. Patiently, Vardimir looked away from his book to pay attention to his brothers' words, but his eyes turned back as soon as the children found something else in the market to ooh and ahh over.

    "We are praying for a daughter next," Elros said as he watched his sons interact. "Azrë has told me in no uncertain terms that this will be the last child we have, and as dearly as I love my sons . . . A daughter, with black hair and her mother's blue eyes . . . can you imagine anything better than that? Perhaps I am too pointed in my prayers, but the Valar can be gracious at times, and so I intend to be as specific as possible so that nothing is left to chance."

    Elrond nodded, trying not to give away how surreal the whole interaction was to him. He was still shy of his second century – little more than a child grown in the eyes of the Elves, and here his brother was, the same age as he, a King of Men and a husband of many years - talking about his fourth child, at that. Four, such a thing was almost unheard of amongst Elvenkind . . . his kind, Elrond had to remind himself, for Elros was of Men now, and time was moving much too fast through his mortal years. Time raced by, and he . . .

    Tell us again, how Maedhros the One-handed saved you and our great-great-grandfather from two whole legions of Morgoth's Orcs! Elrond had a flash of premonition, and for a moment, it hurt to breathe. A plunge from a cliffside and a Straight Road into the West? A fiery chasm and an Oath unbreakable? A choice of mortal-doom? It made no difference either way - all things faded and all connections proved to be for naught for the end, he knew. He told himself that he was fortunate to learn these lessons young, and yet, even for each lesson learned, he still did not quite know how to harden his heart. For he loved Vardimir dearly - loved him even though someday he too would lie down in the ever-sleep of Men. Someday all too soon. With certainty, Elrond knew that he would love each and every one of his brother's descendants as they lived and died, over and over and over again . . . no matter the distance of years and the sea itself between them.
    He swallowed, and tasted the bite of brine on the air.

    "You look as if you have seen a ghost," Elros said when the silence between them stretched. They had paused in the shade of a grocer's stall, Vardimir coming to a stop a few steps away as he flipped to the next page in his book.

    Elrond looked over at his twin, trying to assure the other that all was well . . . but he found that he could only see the streak of grey at Elros' temple, the laugh lines that crinkled the corners of his eyes. The changes were subtle, but they were enough. They were as thieves, saying: this is how he is mortal. This is how he shall age. This is how he well die - die much too soon while you live on. On and on and on . . .

    "Ah, these," Elros realized where his gaze had fallen. He pushed up at his wrinkles with an exaggerated show of self-consciousness, his mouth quirking up in a rueful grin. "I know, they are rather unbecoming when compared to the ever-young faces you are used to. And yet, we still do not look so very different. Someday you shall come to visit, and they will mistake you for my son rather than confusing you with me - but, if we are very clever, perhaps we can fool them even still . . ."

    Elrond knew that tone of voice, knew that it promised mischief with its ever syllable, but he was still caught unprepared when Elros reached into an open sack of flour and took out a handful. Unceremoniously, he reached over to smear the white powder in his hair, turning the black color there as 'grey' as his own would someday be.

    "There," Elros said, smiling in triumph as he patted his hands together to clean them of the flour. "We look alike, once again."

    Elrond blinked, first in shock, and then in amusement as he tried to brush away as much as the flour as he could. He only succeeded on getting the flour on the shoulders of his tunic. "Indeed, the resemblance is now uncanny," Elrond responded in a level tone, even as he sought out what he needed further on in the grocer's stall. Elros saw what he did the same as he, and held up his hands in protest.

    "Ah, I am sorry -" Elros tried to dodge, but he was not quick enough as Elrond picked up a jar of squid ink and dumped it over his twin's head without blinking.

    "There," Elrond said smartly. "Now we look alike."

    Elros scowled mightily, even as he brushed his wet bangs back from his face. "Ai, that was unkind. At least you do not smell like fish now," he complained. "Squid ink, really?"

    "And the great sea-faring king protests a kindred spirit from the deep?" Elrond pretended to be bewildered by the idea. "I rather thought you liked the scent of fish, brother."

    Elros' glower only darkened, and he stepped forward dangerously – his eyes looking for what else he could use in the shop, before a voice from behind stopped him.

    "Ai! You little Orc!" came Vardimir's surprised exclamation. "Adar! Manwendil poured cocoa powder on my book!"

    Elros looked over, eyes wide in surprise, even as Manwendil sheepishly put the empty jar of cocoa powder down. "He has hair like ours now," the younger boy said sheepishly as Atanalcar laughed gleefully beside him. The youngest boy's hair was white with flour too – and it clouded on the air around him as he hunched over with his giggles. Vardimir was not as amused as he tried to wipe off the books pages – his siblings were not tall enough to pour the powder on his head, and throwing the cocoa up had just splattered his face and the book in his hands with the brown dust.

    Elros' face made an odd contortion as he tried to keep from smiling, and failed. He could not keep his face stern as he choked on his laughter. Next, he tried to hide his look behind his hand. He made a face when he realized that his hands too were covered in the squid ink, and doing so brought the smell right to his nose. Of course, that just had him laughing harder. Elrond tried to school his face into impassiveness, but doubted that he was successful – the flour in his hair certainly bellied any effort he made anyhow.

    "Aye," Elros scolded halfheartedly. "Next time, do not as I do, young ones – it shall only land you in mischief otherwise. Your mother will have cross words with us all when we return home now."

    "Because you are in-cor-i-gable?" little Atanalcar chirped, the flour on his hair clouding on the air as he bounced on his feet with the syllables.

    "Incorrigible," Vardimir repeated slowly for his brother, but a smile quirked at the corner of his mouth as he worked for the bigger word for the young one.

    "Yes! Incorrigible," Atanalcar exclaimed. "Thank-you."

    Elros scowled, even as he turned to the amused shop-keeper to pay for the mess they had made. "Aye, incorrigible – it sounds like something she would say." But his feigned annoyance only lasted until he reached down to pick up Atanalcar as they turned from the shop.

    "You smell like fish, Ada," the little boy crinkled his nose, and at that, Elrond could not help himself. He laughed. He laughed and laughed and laughed - laughed as he had not in too long a time, Elros glaring mightily at him all the while.

    "Yes, yes; I hope you are amused," Elros muttered. "I shall bear your derision with dignity."

    Elrond fell into step next to his twin as they turned back towards the palace. He clapped a hand on his shoulder. "I shall miss these moments, brother," he said, with all seriousness in his voice. The words were a truth, rather than a grief, and Elros' smiled sadly upon hearing them.

    "Then we must endeavor to have as many such moments as possible in the time we have, no?" Elros said, smiling even underneath the weight of his mortal-doom.

    "I do believe," Elrond said, willing to believe the words in his heart even as he spoke them from his mouth, "that there is wisdom in that."



    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Dec 8, 2013
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  16. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    [face_laugh] [face_laugh] You are spoiling me Mira. [face_dancing] [face_dancing] Love the sibling teasing. [face_mischief] And I hope the storms sweeping the U.S. don't take you into the depths of DRL-ickness. Because I could really get used to these regular posts, and don't forget your genius of an AU that I'm lovin' lovin'!! LOL [face_love] !!!!!
  17. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Nyota's Heart: [face_laugh][:D] The snow is keeping us busy, that's for sure! I've had a cold this last week, so I've gotten out of working for the most part - much to the teasing of everyone else. :p But there is just something about this time of year that lights up my muse! The words have just been pouring out - I've even got a bunch of original work done, so, here's to hoping for a complete novel coming soon! [face_dancing]). I've been using these ficlets to warm up, and then writing my AU when my novel has me stumped. Speaking of - I already have the next part done. It just has to be proof-read. So, I will have that up sometime tomorrow. :D

    As always, thanks for being such a great reader. [face_love][:D]






    Author's Note: This week is more fluff with a side of bittersweet. And, it's season-friendly at that. ;)

    Tol Garen: A beautiful green island in the river Adurant where Beren and Lúthien lived out their days.

    Elves and Wine: Is canon. ;) According to The Hobbit, Elves can indeed get drunk - and Thranduil was known to having a liking for wine, himself. (Hence Legolas later drinking Gimli under the table. He was brought up right. [face_laugh]) I would imagine, though, that Elven wine is much stronger than our own, seeing as who knows how many tankards of ale only had Legolas' pinky twitching. :p

    Anor: The Sindarin name for the sun.

    Now, that said . . .







    "in sickness, in health"

    CVI. Catch

    It came upon her slowly, like a whisper of the wind before the rains came.

    The cold season came for the first time since their coming to dwell in Tol Galen. She sang as she passed through the woods; but no longer did her voice have the power to turn the snows to melt, to turn the sleeping winter-trees towards a blossoming of spring flowers. Her voice was clear and lovely, and somewhere above her a bird trilled in reply to her song, but that was all. She trailed her hand over the trunks of the trees as she walked, and imagined that she could feel their great branches turn towards her. But no longer did they dance. No longer did they bow.

    She had to wear boots and gloves in deference to the cold of the season, even as mild as it was. The first time she had felt the chill in the air, she had blinked, trying to decipher what the sensation she felt was. She had only ever been cold in the halls of dark Angband before. She had known the chill of spirit that came from the breath of Mandos, but this . . .

    This was mortal, she realized, this was natural in her new body. And so her dresses became thicker in reply. She wore fur lined cloaks and heavy woven wool instead of the light Elvish weaves she still had from home. Her skin prickled with gooseflesh when she walked outdoors, and her breath frosted on the air as it turned colder.

    She woke one morning to find that her eyes were warm. Her skin felt flushed and her nose ran – all terribly inconvenient symptoms that bloomed into a full blown sickness by the end of the day, with her stomach angry at her every breath and her body burning as with fire.

    This was . . .

    “A cold,” Beren explained simply, dabbing at her brow with a cool cloth. “They come often at the start of the winter season, but you should be well within a day or two.”

    How terribly . . .

    “It's a curse of Men,” Beren said softly. “One of the new perks of the body you wear.”

    Lúthien made a tired noise in the back of her throat, trying to hide just how horrible she felt from her husband. Beren still came to guilt over the smallest of things when it came to her and her new fate, and she had no wish to cause him pain now - not when she had naught of the strength to talk him out of his doubts and fears. The sheets stuck to her sweating skin as she moved. Her throat felt like tree bark as it scrapped against branches.

    “It is not . . . too trying,” she managed to croak her words out. Her voice sounded like her throat felt. She narrowed her eyes at the sound, vexed.

    “Oh?” Beren raised a brow. “Then Mandos was kind to you,” he said, humor peeking into his voice. “For it is terribly inconvenient for the rest of us.”

    She snorted, wishing that she had the energy to swat at his arm. Instead, her fingers tightened in the sheets.

    “I daresay that this is a part that will not make it to the songs,” Beren said as he stirred a combination of herbs into a kettle of boiling water. She watched him with interest as he did so – for every malady Mankind had to face, they had a dozen solutions and more. It was something that fascinated her – the perseverance of Men, the resolve . . .

    She tried to hold on to that same resolve in her own bones. She tried to make it her own.

    “There are no lovely words for a minstrel to describe this,” she agreed. “I know not what their lyric would be.”

    “Oh, I don't know,” Beren said easily, trying to distract her from just how terrible she felt. “You can rhyme 'snot' with 'mortal lot', and 'heal' with 'unflinching zeal'.”

    “Please,” her laughter came out as a raw sound from her throat. “Even the trees have ears – do not give them ideas.”

    “No? I shall have to think of something better then,” Beren teased. With only one hand, his motions were careful as he stirred honey into her cup, and then handed her the mug of tea. She took it with gratitude, taking note of the herbs he used within, and resolving to ask him about it later. She wished to be prepared next time.

    A moment passed between them. He dipped the cloth in cool water again and dabbed it at her forehead, his dark blue eyes soft with feeling – even with her nose red and her hair a tangled mess about her head. She saw a familiar curtain fall there, and before it could descend, she said, “I have been ill before.” There was something like pride in her voice with the statement.

    “Oh?” Beren raised a brow.

    “Indeed I have,” she coughed into her hand. “Daeron and I were young, very young, but thought ourselves to be quite grown up – so grown up that we stole a bottle of wine at the feast that welcomed Anor to the sky . . . Thranduil and Celeborn found us, and Thranduil took it upon himself to teach us a lesson about spirits that were stronger than us.”

    Beren covered a hand before his mouth, seeing where her story was going, but waiting for her to tell it.

    “He drank us under the table,” Lúthien revealed, making a face at the memory. “Celeborn helped me back to my rooms later, and Mother came with a potion that night so that Father would not know the trouble I got myself into . . . but it was a good lesson. I never abused the vine again.”

    Beren had a glass of what the Elves called wine once while in Menegroth – at the feast that celebrated their wedding, before realizing that his idea of wine and the Doriathrim's idea of wine varied greatly. Even half of that one glass had left him unsteady on his feet, his vision blurry – so he could only imagine what anything more than that would do, even to one of Elven blood.

    “This is not much different,” Lúthien said, a note of stubbornness to her voice as she spoke. “Not much different at all.”

    “Again,” Beren stroked a soothing hand through her hair as he spoke. “Mandos was kind to you.”

    Her attempt at laughter turned into a cough, once again. She coughed into her hand, waiting for her body's traitorous reaction to be done. She was exhausted after, and leaned back against her pillow with a sigh.

    “You should try to sleep now,” Beren said as he took the empty mug from her. “Sleep helps the sickness pass faster.”

    Whatever he had put into the tea was making her tired, she thought. Her eyes felt heavy; her limbs like stone. What a surprise that had been in those first days, discovering just how much sleep a mortal body needed, even when they had too few of years to spend so much time in unwakefulness . . .

    She made a noise in the back of her throat that was agreement, and felt herself drifting off before she felt the bed sag underneath an added weight. Familiar arms wrapped around her, and she blinked, groggy, before she turned to her husband in protest. “You should not stay,” she said gently. “If you were to catch this -”

    “ - and leave you to your first sickness alone?” Beren shook his head. “There is no choice, dear one. Not for me.”

    She swallowed, but did not have the strength to protest further. Instead she settled into his hold, her head finding it's familiar place against his chest as she burrowed closer, arms and legs tangling with the ease of long intimacy. Her heart slowed in her chest. It was a warmth she felt then, a warmth that settled bone deep, fighting away the uncomfortable heat of her sickness. She had to admit, she did feel the tinniest bit better so entwined with him.

    She would make him leave later, she thought drowsily. But for now . . .

    She waked that morning feeling much revived. Her limbs felt movable. Her nose was dry and her throat was tender, but no longer rubbed raw. She sat up, and felt at her skin, finding it warm to the touch, the bite of her fever gone. She stood – too quickly it seemed, for she felt lightheaded a moment later, but that was a small symptom when compared to how she had felt the night before.

    Well, she thought, trying to look on her body's rebellion with eyes of humor instead of anything else. That had been . . .

    She looked down to see Beren still asleep. His breath was heavy and congested in his chest, a telling sound to her ears. She bit at her lip, and reached down to touch his brow, finding it warm beneath her touch – too warm.

    “Foolish man,” she said, but there was fondness in her voice when she spoke so.

    She turned to the kettle, putting the water on to boil, even as she called to mind the herbs that Beren had used the day before. It was a process – long and slow, but she was learning. Slowly, she was starting to make a home in this new form, in this new life.

    Humanity was as a sickness, she thought, and it was catching.



    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Dec 11, 2013
  18. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    SQUEEEE! Wonderful to see such an ordinary experience made remarkable and better for the sharing, consoling, and teasing. :D
  19. laurethiel1138 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 6, 2003
    star 4
    Just a wee note to tell you I'm still reading, and loving every single one of your offerings.

    And I had to catch my breath a bit on the last ficlet, as, in my version of Middle-Earth, I'm casting our lovely Richard Armitage as Beren, so your little scene was a double boon for me. Be still, my beating heart, as I envision this tender, heartwarming moment...

    Lauré :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  20. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    Done with paper... and somehow ended up with books on Hellen Keller from the Library because Mom had sudden want to read about her while we were there working on class presentation. It was a fruitless research session, but we got books!!! (Um... eventually. Our library didn't have 'em. They had to come from other libraries.)

    Now where did I leave off? Oh! Weeks 16 and 17...

    Assume: Seriously not sure where the son is coming from or why he's not going (other than sheer stubborness), but... ouch.

    Misunderstand: I'm lost on this one, but I loved it.

    Confuse: Mama Bear! Mama Bear!!!

    Deny: Annatar? **googles** Oh... understand now. Oh my...

    Admit: Wow. Seriously. Wow. (Also... **HUGS** for that trip into Sauron's head!)

    Weapon: I had to go find a wiki to better understand the ins and outs of this, but... goodness. Whose hands would have been the right ones?

    Helmet: So telling, those nightmares...

    Shield: Boulder, meet steep hill...

    Cloak: Ack. Also... if Celebrimor felt it THAT strongly, no wonder the Nine ended up as Ring Wraiths...

    Message: Loved this moment between them, and his refusal to let anyone else go for him.


    ...and I shall be catching up some more later. :)
  21. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Nyota's Heart: Why thank-you! They were just adorable to write, and I'm thrilled that you liked it. [face_love]

    @laurethiel1138: Now, that is a perfect casting choice if ever there was one! Forgive me while I take a moment to imagine such a thing with a goofy grin on my face. That just made writing Beren a hundred times better. [face_love] As always, thank-you for taking the time to read, and I am glad you are enjoying these! [:D]

    @DaenaBenjen42: Ooh, I am glad the paper went well! And hurray for books. ;) [:D]

    Seriously not sure where the son is coming from or why he's not going (other than sheer stubborness), but... ouch.

    Ah! Curufin was under the Oath of Fëanor, and Celebrimbor refused to follow his father when his deeds turned bad due to the Oath. Unfortunately, he was Noldor either way, and his own attempts at bringing a bit of the light and beauty of Valinor to Middle-earth resulted in the Rings. :p :oops:

    Confuse: Mama Bear! Mama Bear!!!

    It's a side of Galadriel we never get to see! But I loved writing this here. I can only imagine living with Sauron for so many centuries - and the many different ways he would try to get underneath her skin. It's doubly painful, since, centuries later, Celebrían would be captured by Orcs and tortured near to death. Whether or not it was a random Orc-pack, or a band who was under Sauron's direction and looking for both the Elven Rings and an added bonus of some personal vengeance against Galadriel, Tolkien never says . . . but, it's food for thought. [face_thinking]

    And I LOVE that you googled Annatar. I love it. :p Thank-you! [:D]

    Admit: Wow. Seriously. Wow. (Also... **HUGS** for that trip into Sauron's head!)

    Sauron just fascinates me, thanks to the Silmarillion. They give him so much more depth - he's more than just the 'lighthouse from hell' ;), and it is interesting getting inside his head. [face_hypnotized]

    Cloak: Ack. Also... if Celebrimor felt it THAT strongly, no wonder the Nine ended up as Ring Wraiths...

    That's a great point! Especially since Sauron didn't lay a finger on the creation of the Elvish Rings. I can only imagine how the rest of the Rings must have ensnared their bearers! :(

    Again, thank-you for taking the time to leave your thoughts, and I hope you continue to enjoy the rest as you read them. [:D]






    Author's Notes: I apologize in advance for how wordy these notes are. [face_blush] But! We are moving into new territory here, with new characters - which is exciting! :D

    Concerning Men: The Secondborn – Mankind – awakened with the first rising of the sun, at the dawn of the First Age. They were not greeted by the Valar when they awakened, but rather, by Melkor, who left Angband for a time in order to twist the infant humans to his will. He lied to them, causing them to fear their mortality and believe that their early deaths were unnatural – a punishment from the 'gods'. He wanted for them to hate and fear the Valar and the Elves, so that there would be no union of the two races against him. For the most part, he was successful – which is why there are so many evil men aligned with Melkor and later Sauron in the hither lands of Middle-earth. But, three houses of Men turned aside from Melkor, and crossed the mountains west into Beleriand, seeking out whispers of a Light over the sea – Valinor – which they then did not know they could never reach due to their mortality.

    The Atani (which literally means Second-comers) were met first by Finrod (Galadriel's brother), and he came to love mankind. The House of Bëor (which Beren was heir of) moved even further west, and benefited greatly from friendship with the Elves, growing both in skills and knowledge. The House of Marach became fast friends with Fingolfin's people. And the Haladin settled just over the mountains, in Caranthir's lands, where they went ignored by the Fëanorians, for the most part.

    Now, the Haladin had no leaders. They were farmers and woodsman, living in homesteads far apart. In them, Melkor saw an easy target – and, seeking to eliminate the Men he could not control, he sent Orcs to destroy them. Haldad, a wise man of the Haladin, bound his people together in one place, and they lived under siege until they were rescued by Caranthir and his men. Which leads me to . . .

    Haleth the Hunter: Haleth, the daughter of Haldad, was leader of her House after her father and brother were killed. She was proud, stubborn, and 'unwilling to be guided or ruled'. Later, impressed by the valor of Mankind, Caranthir offered her lands underneath his protection, but she declined, saying that her people had no wish to be indebted to any. Her people settled in Estolad, just to the west of Caranthir's lands, before the forests of Doriath.

    Caranthir: The fourth son of Fëanor, known for his rash temper, and his vanity. Though he at first thought Men to be beneath him, he came to respect and honor them after meeting Haleth and her people.

    Caranthir and Haleth: Tolkien never says so, but I like to think that there was something more between them. Here is why: First off, Haleth and her people dwelt for many years in Estolad in peace and prosperity until, many years later, Haleth decided out of the blue to move her people on a dangerous and foolish journey all the way to the other side of Doriath – through the Mountains of Terror and the Girdle of Melian to settle in Thingol's lands. A journey 'no mortal should take without aid' and 'at great hardship and loss, with many bitterly repenting of their journey.' She settled in the one place a Son of Fëanor would never go – for Thingol hated the Fëanorians for the deaths of his brother's people in Alqualondë at the First Kinslaying, and Caranthir's life would have been forfeit if he would have followed her there.

    Why in the world would she do that? In my headcanon, if Haleth and Caranthir were together in any way, she would not want her people to know – they would need to see her as a leader, as someone sexless, almost, needing not of a husband and children, for them to continue following her. I can see her keeping their relationship a secret, and then, when she was growing old, not wanting him to see her make that last stretch of life and dying of old age, moving where he could not follow her. Tolkien did say that Caranthir was married, but never said to whom. For Elves, sex equals marriage – period, as such a union sundered together souls in an irreversible bond. You only have one partner for life, and no one outside of that. So, while Haleth may have been considered 'unmarried' amongst her people, it would not have been so amongst Caranthir's - if there was indeed any such relationship between them.

    That . . . and I am a sucker for angst and Elf/Mortal relationships. I find it hard to believe that there were only four instances of Elves and Men intermingling in such a way throughout all of these stories (if you include Imrazôr and Mithrellas from the Unfinished Tales, that is), even though there were a few unrequited and/or unconsummated bonds I can think of - like Túrin and Finduilas, or Aegnor and Andreth. Such a relationship would be hard on both and heartbreaking for the immortal spouse once the other passed on - Lúthien and Arwen each had enchanted circumstances which made their relationship's 'easier', and Idril too was blessed when the Valar gave Tuor immortality in Aman (which I firmly believe happened). Caranthir and Haleth would have been dark and obsessive and not so cut and dried, but I love the idea of there being more between them. [face_love]

    That said, they will definitely have more ficlets coming their way. I cannot resist. :p

    Now, after all of that . . . enjoy. ;)





    "from the tender earth"

    CVII. Bury

    The first time he had met Haleth, daughter of Haldad, her people were a small and wounded thing around her. And for all of the smoke and ruin, the not yet cold corpses and the mire of the battle, he had thought that nothing could touch her.

    He had known of her people for some time now - squatters in the southern woods of his lands whom he had all but ignored, even as others of his kind marveled over the arrival of the sons of Men to their world. The Secondborn were nothing but insects to his eyes - not out of any arrogant sense of supremacy on his part, but for the simple allotments of nature - for the years of Men were few, and the struggles they faced within those numbered days were many. They bruised as the children of his kind did not; they took sick easily, falling from the failings of their body even before giving their up their lives to the unmovable hands of time. They lived, they died, and they did so within the blinking of an eye.

    Caranthir did not understand his cousin Finrod's fascination with them, and for his part, he paid them no heed. Let them roam his lands – for they were few in number, and were always moving, restless in spirit as they rushed onwards toward their end. They would not last long before passing through, he thought.

    But he was not the only one to take notice of the Late Comers upon his lands, the Dark Lord too looked and saw a pocket of humanity trying to live and carve out homes for themselves. Of course, such a thing was not to be borne in Morgoth's mind, and he send a legion of his creatures through the Leaguer in the North. It was not for the Atani that Caranthir took up arms, he told himself. There were simply Orcs on his lands, and he would not stand their presence marring what he had claimed as his own. And so, he ordered his men to arms, and they put to the sword the warring party of Morgoth's filth. The Orc-band had cornered the Atani on a triangle of land where the rivers Gelion and Ascar met, the human's backs to the water and their supplies – of men and food, both - running thin. The Orcs they did not kill with the sword, they pushed towards the river, where the icy currents and white waves took them to a watery grave, just the same.

    The battle was done almost before it begun, the wide eyes behind the cobbled together stockade huge with disbelief and gap jawed wonder. They had not expected aid of any kind, he thought, especially from the likes of his kind. Slowly, the people – farmers and woodsman, for the most part – trickled out. They moved slowly, as if in disbelief that it was now safe for them to do so. They muttered beneath their breath as they looked about – mostly in a tongue he could not understand, but a few used halting lines of the Grey-tongue. Ah, they had been familiar with Finrod's people then. Or, at least, had learned the language from kin who had.

    He reigned his horse towards the few men left who wore armor – the tattered remnants of the Haladin's defenses. While he did not expect the leader of the Haladin to fall at his feet and do him obeisance, he did expect some sort of thanks for the efforts of his men.

    What he did not expect was for a soldier in the middle of the ragtag group to step forward. The man looked at him through a visored helm before crispy declaring in accented Sindarin, "You, my lord, are late."

    Caranthir felt a ripple of shock pass through his warriors, and he let a sharp grin carve his face at the mortal's audacity. He knew his own face well enough - knew the way he could hold his anger in his eyes, the fire of Fëanor rising high for all to see. And so, he let that ember breathe. He called it to flame.

    He dismounted slowly, flicking Orc-blood from his blade as if it was not worthy of his moving a hand to wipe it away. The steel caught on the midday sun, flashing bright.

    "Your leader, child?" he had said, not even bothering to look at the insolent mortal before him. "I will speak to him, and no other."

    "Then you speak to her," came the same voice, clipped and sharp.

    Her, his mind had but a moment to process before gloved – and decidedly feminine hands – rose to lift the war helm from her head. When she did so, a long braid of wheat-brown hair tumbled loose, while clear grey-blue eyes stared at him frankly from beneath long black lashes. It was the face of a woman, he realized after a heartbeat, though her features were plain for a daughter of the Atani – ugly, even, amongst the eyes of the Eldar. Though she wore boiled leather and a vest of chain-mail, he looked and could see where he had missed a woman's form before. Child, he had called her, but already she bore a crinkling of lines about the corners of her eyes. She had but a few decades before her hair would be streak with silver, her frank gaze turning dull from the hands of time.

    He looked her over once, and did not blink.

    "Haldad my father, and Haldar my brother are both dead," she announced. She did not flinch as she said so, even though their blood must have been fresh upon the ground before him. Caranthir looked, but the corpses all looked the same to him. "As I have no husband, Haleth Haldad's daughter leads this people now, and it is to her you may speak."

    "Then it is from you I will accept your people's thanks," he said slowly, his head tilted up arrogantly. As he spoke, he let the tip of his sword rest in the ground. The wet soil turned as he slowly twisted the hilt.

    Haleth only snorted in reply, raising a brow as if in disbelief. "I?" she questioned, her voice turning with a dark mirth. "I, thank you? For what? For passing through with the sword when it so happened to be convenient to you? Since the first of the winter melt we have fought these creatures. And yet, you came to these woods to hunt, not to give aid to me and mine. I thank you, Master-elf, for the lives you have saved, but I do not thank you for your condescension, nor the way you look down your nose at me."

    A moment passed. Caranthir moved his mouth, but found himself slow to form his words. "The lady thinks me both ungracious and craven of heart?" he could not help the touch of humor that leached into his words – like a cat, amused by the squeakings of a mouse. "Not many are brave enough to speak to me so."

    Not many indeed, he reflected wryly. Even his brother's were slow to cross him in anger, he having inherited the worst of both of his parent's tempers, and naught of Nerdanel's ability to call both herself and others to peace.

    "Not craven," Haleth corrected him. Her wide mouth pressed into a thin line as she said so. "Nay indeed, for I saw you with a sword in your charge. But I would call you arrogant, and I am weary from the battle. I have too few of silvered words within me to phrase my thoughts better."

    "No," Caranthir said. "I think that you said exactly what you meant to say, exactly as you wished to say it."

    He stalked forward, slow and easy with his stride, flaunting how very not human he was as he walked. Haleth watched him warily, her eyes flickering from the grip of his sword-hand to the knife-line of his mouth, but she did not back away. "But there is a truth to your words, even so," he admitted. "In your eyes, I have done wrong by your people, and I would set that to rights. Please, my lady, tell me how I may do so."

    He stopped not even a pace from her, a small smile tugging on the corner of his mouth as he imagined how they must have appeared to those onlooking. She was tiny when compared to him, the top of her head scarcely came to reach his chin. She was broad of shoulder and hips while he was lithe even within his armor. She moved like the river behind them, rushing and strong as she folded her arms over her chest, while he was like the swaying of the tall trees in the wind. His armor was a deep blue, nearly black, touched by silver at the points, and the elegant eight pointed star of Fëanor was emblazoned upon his breastplate. He wore the silver circlet of a prince at his head. As the son of the most beautiful of the Noldor, he knew that his countenance was striking – from the pale perfection of his features to the black fall of his hair. His eyes, even when shadowed by his Oath, still held the light of the Trees and Valinor remembered . . . and this mortal woman, with her tanned skin and weathered complexion, with her boiled leather and thick, mud stained boots stood before him and refused to back away.

    When Haleth spoke, her words were slow, as if an idea occurred to her even as she spoke it. Her eyes reminded him of the way sparks would jump from a stone when struck. "If you truly wish to offer us aid, then I would ask of you and yours to help us bury our dead. We lost nearly all of our strong men in the sortie, and I will ask neither old woman nor young child to pick up a shovel for their fathers and sons."

    Her words were a challenge, he saw. She did not expect him to accept, to lower himself to this lowest of tasks. She stood with her feet lined with her shoulders in a soldier's stance, her arms still crossed. She expected him to back down.

    And so, he thrust his sword into the ground between him. With an exaggerated slowness, he moved to unbuckle the first plate of his armor, and then the second.

    "Tell me where I am to dig," he answered simply. He did not have to look behind him to know that his men stiffened in surprise, each one warily eyeing the other before they too went to undo their ties. "We all will do our part to see your loved ones laid to rest."

    Haleth tilted her head towards him, wary. She watched him as one would a serpent, and for a moment he thought that she would send them away.

    "This way then," she said. When she turned, she did not look behind to see if he followed, but follow he did.



    .
    .

    He had dug gravesites for the better part of the day, and now the evening hour was nearly upon them.

    While he worked, he watched the small conclave of Atani as they went about pulling themselves together again. Haleth was right - most of their men had fallen in the raids. A chosen pocket of fighting men still remained standing, and there were even a few strong shouldered woman who wore armor over their chests and swords at their hips. Besides those few, their group was composed of the elderly and the young, and their numbers too were far from untouched by Morgoth's scurge. Caranthir had dug too many resting places for children that day, and his skin was uncomfortable over his bones for the senseless loss, even after the long years of war and bloodshed he had seen.

    But, more and more often than not, he found his eyes drawing back to Haleth.

    Seven days . . . for seven days she had been without father or twin brother, he had since learned. Seven days ago she had the burden of leadership quite unexpectedly thrust upon her, but he would have not have been able to tell just from looking at her. Haleth held her head high as she walked through the camp, as if separate from the grief around her. She touched children fondly as she passed, ruffling hair and stitching dolls when asked. She took counsel with the older men of her people, not pretending that she had every answer for her people when she herself was few of years. She directed the efforts to scavenge what they could from the settlement, looking over tallies and overseeing rations as they were made. She visited the healer's tent and comforted both those wounded and those who grieved for ones who would not live through the night. She even checked in with their cook to see how the mass preparations for the evening meal were coming – a veritable feast of rabbit stew and flat bread when compared to the rations they had been living on while under siege.

    Already Caranthir was calculating what he had on him that could be spared for the struggling group. He and his men had already felled game aplenty, and their stores would go far in feeding the people around him. His men were skilled hunters, and they would easily recover what they would give away on the way back to Lake Helevorn. His offer had been met with a crisp nod and a muttered word of gratitude before Haleth turned away from him, leaving him with an uncomfortable twisting in his gut – an unexpected, curious sensation, as he watched her walk away and wished that he could do more.

    He . . . he remembered his own father's death, even though it had been centuries ago now. He remembered how Fëanor's fire had blazed even hotter than the Lord of Balrogs before he collapsed in on himself, leaving nothing but ash in his wake. There had been nothing of Fëanor to bury, nothing of him to mourn, but Caranthir had felt the snapping of his father's fëa deep in his soul, torn like a wound, and he . . .

    He had not been able to breathe in the aftermath of that battle. Had not been able to weep as he looked down at his bloodstained hands and wondered what it was all for. Everything, from the first Teleri life taken to the last ship burned at Losgar . . . it had been for nothing. When, only days later, Maedhros too was taken from them . . .

    Caranthir had not been able to move then from the grief in his bones, the pain in his heart. How could she be so calm now, he wondered? How could she lead her people with her head held high and her mind cold and rational as she tended to what had to be done? Was this some hidden strength of men? he wondered. What ability did these with so few of years have to live and live on brightly - to persevere beneath great adversary in the short time they had allotted to them? What was he not understanding?

    The only thing he knew was that his eyes turned to Haleth time and time again as the day wore on. Once, even, he had caught her staring in return, her eyes unblinking as she took in the sight of him knee-deep in a grave (the same height now, they looking eye to eye). He did not flatter himself this time – his skin was marred with dirt, and his hair stuck to the back of his neck in graceless tangles. He had shucked aside his armor and tunic so that he worked only in his linen undershirt and doeskin leggings, but it was not the play of his body she watched. No . . . it was the grave he dug. The grave he filled.

    When she blinked and turned away, it was with an odd stinging in his heart that he wished for her eyes to turn back to him again.



    .
    .

    By the time the sun was setting, they only had another dozen graves to fill.

    Beyond them, the clearing stank where Haleth's men had dragged the Orc corpses to be burned. The black stain of smoke from their pyre was as a wound against the twilit sky. The smoke stung at his eyes until Caranthir turned away from both the funeral pyres and the freshly turned graves around him. He needed a moment away from the earth they filled, he decided. He turned to the river beyond them, intent on cleaning his hands and drinking from the depths there. His soul was troubled, and he needed a moment to gather himself.

    Caranthir walked some ways away, not wanting any to see how the day's events had affected him. He felt as a green youth all over again, making his first kill in the woods of Aman as Celegorm laughed at him for how he blanched at the sight of the deer's blood. But that had been natural, at the very least – they taking what Yavanna had given to them as gifts of the earth. This . . . this was senseless. This was needless, and he thought again of Alqualondë and its quays stained red until -

    - he realized that he was not alone.

    He was not the only one looking for privacy, it would seem - a retreat away from the grief-struck eyes beyond in order to give in to a grief of his own. Haleth herself was kneeling on the riverside when he came to where the trees parted, her back hunched and her face held in her hands as the river babbled on uncaring before her.

    She had washed from the battle, was the first thing he saw. Her hair was undone from her braid, and fell in half-damp curls around her shoulders, hanging nearly to her waist. She had set aside her armor, but still wore a leather jerkin and dark brown leggings in the style of a man. Her boots were strong and sturdy on her legs, leaving tracks on the muddy shore to where she knelt, the ground wet both with blood and snow-melt.

    She splashed at her face, and it took him but a moment to realize that she had been weeping. She was not as unaffected as he would have first thought; she was not untouchable. He could not see her face, but he could see the stiff set of her shoulders, the bent line of her back . . . She grieved and knew pain, but somehow she was only stronger for it. Her grief did not make her appear weak before his eyes.

    He stood at the line of trees, unsure for a moment. In the end, he decided against leaving, and purposefully stepped on a twig as he came up the river, letting her know of his presence. She looked up as he came near, wiping the back of her hand over her eyes before turning to face him.

    "How many are left?" she asked instead of greeting him. Her voice was a whisper, made hoarse from her grief. Already her eyes had dried. When she looked at him, he could not tell that she had cried at all.

    "A dozen or so," he answered. He made his hands fists at his sides as he knelt by the river, slowly, he uncurled his fingers in the water. The current took the grave-soil from his palms, as if it had never been.

    "My . . ." she tried to make her throat work. It afforded her no sound. "My brother? My father?"

    "They are next," he said, and while his voice was not gentle, he knew that the challenge there had gone. He could not remember why it had been there in the first place.

    "Good," she nodded sharply before turning to rise once more. She paused for a moment, but she was steady on her feet when she looked at him. "I wish to dig them myself."

    A part of him wanted to protest out of habit, as much as anything else. It was not traditional, it was not usual for a woman to have to do such a thing, but he was not sure how to find the words to say so. If Fëanor had left them anything to bury, Caranthir thought . . . if he had . . .

    "I understand," he said simply, and while it was all he said, she looked at him with a raised brow. Her eyes were darker in the twilight, the same color as the river before them, and there was something there that considered him before she nodded sharply, her decision made.

    When they returned to the now sprawling graveyard, he handed her a shovel, and none questioned her place amongst the working men as she drew that first bite from the earth. A moment later, and then a second shovelful was taken. Then a third.

    He watched her before taking his place to dig next to her. After a moment of nothing to hear but for the slide of metal against the soil, he found a lament rising to his lips – a song of mourning, singing the mortal souls to wherever it was the sons of Men partook of their rest beyond the circles of the earth. He entreated Námo, he sang to Eru himself for his undeserved mercy and kindness. His men took up his song as the sun set overhead, its last rays bathing the faces of those they buried before the soil of their graves covered them like the night. After a long while, their lament turned without words – a hum of grief without syllable or rhyme. It was a song he had sung one too many times, he thought. He knew its verses all too well.

    Haleth did not know the words he sang. She could not even begin to understand the High Tongue to try and sing along. But she did add her voice when the song became at last wordless, and her voice was soon joined with many others. While not beautiful, her voice was strong, and when she placed the last shovelful of dirt over her father's grave, her throat was hoarse. Her eyes were red, even when no tears fell.

    Eventually, the song ebbed from his lips, and yet many others in the camp carried it on - new voices picking up the refrain where others tired and tapered off until they were strong enough to join again. It was a song that went on, unbroken, long into the night.



    ~MJ@};-
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Dec 16, 2013
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  22. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    You are just so well-versed and steeped in the details of the varied races and histories and where they all settled, etc. =D= =D= Haleth and Caranthir are not as familiar as some others, but I am intrigued by them separately as individuals and as wary allies now and whatever comes later. :D @};- A very poignant and compelling scene for their first meeting. [face_thinking]

    It reminds me of Antony and/or Caesar and Cleopatra somewhat LOL The differences in perceived status changes into something altogether different. :cool:
  23. laurethiel1138 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 6, 2003
    star 4
    A wonderful evocation of Midlle-Earth...

    I admit I had not thought overmuch on the matter, but your supposition of the relationship between Caranthir and Haleth makes sense. Eru knows it would not be the first time one of the House of Feanor made an unconventional choice. Their passions, once stirred, can be all-consuming, and I could see him slowly (and most unwillingly) falling off the slippery slope of emotional entanglement, from puzzlement and curiosity to the very deep end. As for Haleth, well, only an exceptional man would do, and what a one would Caranthir be!

    And another note on Beren and Luthien: to complement the casting of Armitage as Beren, I think Amy Adams would be an ideal Luthien. She's otherworldly enough, and yet gives a strong impression of silk hiding steel, well able to stare down Morgoth himself. Connie Nielsen could also be a good fit, with perhaps Eva Green as a third (and more conventional) option.

    EDIT: I also must admit that it was almost uncanny how your Beren said to Luthien, “There is no choice, dear one. Not for me.” It echoes almost verbatim Thorin's words to Balin in Bag End in AUJ, and made my inner Armitage fangirl squee in delight.

    Lauré :)
    Last edited by laurethiel1138, Dec 16, 2013
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  24. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    I'm so very behind on these! [face_blush] But I have so very much to read, which is always fun :D

    WEEK FOUR

    Snow: “I won't let you fall,” he vowed -- So sweet! I love that little bit of love in the face of such tragedy.
    Sand: :_|
    Heat: What a brave woman!
    Clouds: I don't know that I like these sons of Feanor ...


    WEEK FIVE

    Seek: Scary! I don't like that vow (especially after reading about what they did to try to get those Silmaril back).
    Sneak: Despite that, I still feel a little bad for Maedhros.
    Sell: Finally, some good out of that man!


    “when you fall, you fall in flames”

    Seek: Interesting, Souron's start as a metalsmith.
    Sneak: And so the fall begins! And helped along, it appears.
    Sell: I find Sauron's internal conflict very interesting! And so do the mighty fall: thinking they are doing good.


    I'm excited to catch up on the rest! :D
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  25. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Nyota's Heart: Ooooh, what an apt comparison! Antony and Cleopatra. (Not Caesar, I think. Caranthir gives off the air of a bit young and reckless, imortaily aside. [face_laugh]) I am thrilled you enjoyed meeting them here - I can't wait to detail more of their story as these ficlets go on. [face_love][:D]



    @laurethiel1138: I admit I had not thought overmuch on the matter, but your supposition of the relationship between Caranthir and Haleth makes sense. Eru knows it would not be the first time one of the House of Feanor made an unconventional choice. Their passions, once stirred, can be all-consuming, and I could see him slowly (and most unwillingly) falling off the slippery slope of emotional entanglement, from puzzlement and curiosity to the very deep end. As for Haleth, well, only an exceptional man would do, and what a one would Caranthir be!

    Exactly! The idea was as a fluttering the first time I read the Silmarillion, and since then, I have thought a lot about it, and now it just makes sense. I love the idea of them together to bits, that's for sure. [face_love]

    And another note on Beren and Luthien: to complement the casting of Armitage as Beren, I think Amy Adams would be an ideal Luthien. She's otherworldly enough, and yet gives a strong impression of silk hiding steel, well able to stare down Morgoth himself.

    I would love to see Amy Adams as Lúthien. And she has quite the lovely voice too - which is an important part of the character. [face_thinking][face_love]

    EDIT: I also must admit that it was almost uncanny how your Beren said to Luthien, “There is no choice, dear one. Not for me.” It echoes almost verbatim Thorin's words to Balin in Bag End in AUJ, and made my inner Armitage fangirl squee in delight.

    I thought about that as soon as you said you saw Armitage as Beren, Ah, but that man can deliver his lines with so much passion and solemn feeling - I loved imagining his voice as Beren's when re-reading the ficlet. Now, I am looking forward to writing Beren again. [face_love]

    As always, thank-you so much for your kind words, and taking the time to leave your thoughts! :) [:D]



    @NYCitygurl: Nat!! I am so excited to see you here. And thrilled that you are still enjoying these. [:D]

    “I won't let you fall,” he vowed -- So sweet! I love that little bit of love in the face of such tragedy.

    They are one of Tolkien's best couples for that, that's for sure. [face_love]

    Seek: Scary! I don't like that vow (especially after reading about what they did to try to get those Silmaril back).
    Sneak: Despite that, I still feel a little bad for Maedhros.

    That's pretty much how it goes with the Sons of Fëanor. They have done some horrible things, but, for a long time, they did good things, as well - and you feel horrible watching their fall and knowing why it came. It's a constant tug of war with your love and hate for this family. :(

    Sell: Finally, some good out of that man!

    It's one of my favorite parts of the Silmarillion - Maglor and Maedhros raising Elrond and Elros. It hurts to read, but the children did bring the best out of them before the end, and that part, at least, was beautiful. :(

    Sell: I find Sauron's internal conflict very interesting! And so do the mighty fall: thinking they are doing good.

    I found it so interesting that Tolkien went to such great lengths to explain that Sauron did start with the best intentions - but, there is a saying about paths to Hell, and all that . . . It makes his character way more interesting than the giant eyeball of doom, that's for sure. :p

    As always, I am happy you enjoyed these, and I hope that you continue to do so! [:D]
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