Anthology for short pieces that don't fit anywhere else.
Now posted: "Under her Feet" (Tuor/Idril)
For the equivalent previous anthology (containing pieces written from 2012 to 2016) see Taking Readings I.
1. Darkest Time by Himring
2. But There Was Tea by Himring
3. In Taur-nu-fuin by Himring
4. Last Light and First by Himring
5. Three Mariners by Himring
6. Hearing the Music by Himring
7. The Second Dawn in Middle-earth by Himring
8. An Honourable Leader by Himring
9. Under her Feet by Himring
The Vanyar experience the darkness after Melkor's attack on the Trees.
Double drabble (2 x 100 words in MS Word).
Teens for some angst.
Sparks from Nahar’s hooves flew up, slicing through dense black fog. Ingwion followed them with his eyes. The proud, the high-hearted, the brave among the Vanyar had clung together like frightened children as the darkness fell on them, all their senses numbed by the sudden attack, except that of touch. Now Ingwion sighed and, easing his death grip on his father’s hand, felt him stir.
‘Light!’ said Ingwe.
‘Light!’ Ingwion took up his call and heard it repeated by one voice after another.
‘Light!’ cried the Vanyar.
And all along the streets of Valmar went that cry: ‘Light! More light!’
Elemmire stumbled about his house, fumbling for his tinderbox, for left-over candles that had only ever served as decoration. One by one he lit them, filling candlesticks and chandeliers, sticking lit candle-stumps in saucers, until there were small flickering flames all around, on every windowsill, warding off the encroaching dark.
Blessed momentary relief—but another, terrible thought struck him: Who knew how long this unnatural dark might last? He was wasting candles!
It was the hardest thing he had ever done. One by one he killed all those little flames again, except one—that he cupped reverently in trembling hands.
In Himring 'verse, Elemmire, the author of the lament for the Two Trees, is male.
For a prompt: Decoration - Candle/Light.
Posted to the Tolkien Weekly community on LiveJournal on 1 January 2017.
Celebrian's first encounter with Este in Lorien.
Written as a gift for FandomStocking 2016 for DeCarabas, who had requested a story about Este.
Rating: Teens, for references to what canonically happened to Celebrian.
'The pain came between me and everything', said Celebrian. 'I knew I was loved but could not feel it. I could not reach out to those who loved me. I was left alone in the dark.'
Celebrian had been afraid of going to Lorien. She had feared Irmo or Este might do something Valarin--major and incomprehensible--that removed all the pain and fear as simply and quickly as a wizard waving a staff and muttering a spell. The idea should have been appealing, but she could not imagine how she would recognize herself afterwards.
She had shared her fear with her uncle and he had promised to come with her and watch over her as long as she needed him to. He had made good on his promise, too. He was sitting behind her, by the window, silent, discreet and observant as a hawk.
But Este, so far, was not intimidating or had made herself not to be so, for Celebrian's sake. The elegant, but simple grey dress, the long single string of pearls, the room that was furnished almost like a private parlour in Tirion--it could almost have been a select tea party. Not quite, of course.
But there was tea, in a black iron teapot. Este poured a cup and handed it to Celebrian. Celebrian accepted the cup and saucer, bowing her head, inhaling the scent and wondering what kind of tea it was and what to say next. She could not identify the scent, but it smelt of home. Suddenly, she was very homesick. That should have felt bad, but it didn't. Missing Imladris so violently, so purely, came as a kind of relief.
'We'll talk about what happened to you again, later,' said Este. 'Tell me about yourself, about the ones who love you.'
'Yes,' agreed Celebrian. 'Yes. Elrond...'
The uncle referred to is Finrod Felagund, Galadriel's brother, who has a special relationship with Celebrian in Himring 'verse, as is explained in my story "Taking the Bruise".
The resemblance between Celebrian's first sentences and what Frodo says to Sam in Mordor (Return of the King, chapter: Mount Doom) is intentional.
Other of my stories featuring Celebrian:
Forward and Back
Taking the Bruise
Before Mirkwood, there was another great forest that fell under nightshade and Sauron himself, who was in those days but the servant of the Black Foe in the North, invaded it with fire and darkness and corrupted it. Treebeard knew it, before its fall, and sings with regret of the pine trees of Dorthonion. It was here that Beleg, who had once wandered freely in all the forests of the land, found Gwindor, who had only just escaped from thralldom in the Iron Hells of Angband, and, aiding him, persuaded him to turn around, in an attempt to rescue another man from the threat of the same thralldom.
Here is a conversation between them.
Written for the B2MeM 2017 prompt: “It was the possibility of darkness that made the day seem so bright.” Stephen King
I was originally aiming to follow the spirit of the prompt quite straightforwardly, but I ended up giving it a bit of a twist.
Rating: PG (Teens) for references to darker canon background
'I'm glad you are with me, Gwindor', said Beleg. 'I used to know these woods well long before they fell under deadly nightshade. It is sad too see them now.'
He spoke truth, from the heart--seeing the the land so changed was like seeing the face of a friend, disfigured, after long separation--was indeed as disturbing as seeing Gwindor's own face utterly changed by his imprisonment in Angband. But nevertheless his words were chosen deliberately, also, for he hoped that Gwindor's resolve would be strengthened if he felt more clearly that he was lending support as well as being given it.
'I, too, used to know the highlands well, if perhaps not so well as you,' said Gwindor, lifting his head where he sat drooping with exhaustion. 'In the days of the long peace, I was often sent to Dorthonion. I remember the resinous scent of tall pine trees and the water of the tarns shimmering under the open sky. I even spent a winter up here once--days of snow and whiteness and a harsh, clean wind sweeping among the branches...'
Briefly, his memory seemed to have carried him away. But then he looked around, at their present surroundings, and grief and fear settled back into the lines of his face.
'Thinking of all that whiteness does make it seem darker,' said Beleg, sympathetically. 'But the oldest trees still remember those winters, I feel it. Only, the memory has retreated deep inside...'
And indeed he felt that although outwardly the woods seemed to have utterly succumbed to the onslaught of the enemy, trees black and grim, roots tangled and groping like claws, the land had not quite given up the desperate struggle against Sauron even now, although its last defender had long fled.
'The memory of whiteness may make it seem darker,' said Gwindor. 'But, Beleg, even night in the forest of deadly nightshade seems very bright, compared to the darkness in the depths of Angband. I know I seem much changed to you and you perceive the shadow of fear in me, but I am not as afraid, now, here, as you think. I was dying under nightshade, when you found and aided me, but--to me, it seemed I was dying happy, having escaped into the light.'
Taur-nu-fuin (an Elvish name also given to Mirkwood) is translated as "Forest under Nightshade". The forest also has the Elvish name Delduwath, which is translated as "Deadly Nightshade". These are Tolkien's own translations of the names, although in the glossary to the published Silmarillion text, Christopher Tolkien has rendered them as "Forest under Night" and "Horror of Night-Shadow", which is apparently more literal (and avoids association with the name of the plant).
Some of the description of Dorthonion and Taur-nu-fuin in the text above draws on Tolkien's own words.
Vana the Ever-Young learns from a child.
A vignette set during the events surrounding the Creation of the Sun and Moon.
Gen (no warnings)
This ficlet was inspired by a lovely artwork created by Mithrial for B2MeM 2017, linked with her permission: "Again Yavanna Sang and Nienna Wept".
The Creation of the Sun and the Moon also featured among this year's B2MeM prompts:
"The gods were gathered on guarded heights, of doom and death deep they pondered. Sun they rekindled, and silver Moon they set to sail on seas of stars." JRR Tolkien, Völsungakvida en Nÿja
Vana sat and wept until she felt she had out-wept Nienna, almost. Above her bowed head, stark and black, loomed the branches of the Trees--her sister's work that would never grow again. Vana had had such high hopes--but in the end, all their efforts had yielded but one more fruit, one more flower. And what was one fruit, one flower against a whole living, growing tree?
Dimly, through her sobs, she heard a shout, a clap of hands. Was that--but how could it be--the sound of applause?! She lifted her head, almost in outrage, and peered through tears and gloom, seeking the source of the sound. And at the edge of the crowd that hovered at a respectful distance, she caught movement, a voice--a small child, a toddler almost, among the Vanyar, jumping up and down as if for joy while her mother tried to shush her.
Vana stood, shook her tears from her face--they fell about her like rain--and approached the mother and her child.
She cut through the mother's hasty apologies and said: 'No, let her speak!'
Crouching down low and putting her hand on the child's shoulder, she asked: 'Little girl, why do you shout? What do you see?'
And the child, nothing shy, although she was being addressed by a Valie, answered: 'Lights! The pretty, pretty lights! Look! Oh, look! I've never seen anything like them!'
And Vana, still crouching and holding the girl by the shoulder, turned around and looked up and up, trying to see what the little girl did, from the same angle as the little girl saw it.
And she saw, shining on the bare branches: the last fruit of Laurelin, the last flower of Telperion, silver and gold. And seeing them so, against the darkness of the sky above, she recognized that they were things of beauty in their own right, not pitiful remnants. The little Vanya, who was young enough to have been born during the Darkening, had seen that and so Vana now saw it, too.
The Valie rose up and bowed to the little girl and said: 'Thank you for showing them to me.' And with that word, at once all the birds round about Ezellohar--who had long been silent--began to sing again.
In HoME, Vana is much involved in the tale of the creation of the Sun and Moon.
In the Silmarillion, no role is explicitly assigned to her, but it does not follow she was not involved and certainly not that she had no interest.
The three mariners that accompanied Earendil and Elwing on their voyage to Valinor were ordered by him to stay behind on Vingilot and are bewildered by subsequent events.
An older plot bunny originally from the Waiting challenge at LOTR community), which was finally written taking up a Legendarium Ladies April prompt suggesting that Falathar and/or Erellont could have been women. Apparently, in these two names the second element is not etymologically analyzable (says Tolkien Gateway) so that, unlike with Aerandir, the gender is not evident from the name. I have made Erellont be female. (Falathar's gender isn't specified and, although that wasn't deliberate, I don't feel I want to specify it independently either, at present.)
Also for the Tolkien Weekly Taking to the Water challenge (prompts: boat, craft, ship, raft, log, adrift).
They sat in the boat, shaken, clutching its sides, for Eonwe had plucked them from the deck of Vingilot like ripe plums out of a tree, without answering any questions, and set them into a boat as a boy might set his toys on a craft made of folded paper, launching it onto a pond. And now the three experienced mariners were become mere luggage as wind and current drove the boat irresistibly eastward, away from the shore of Valinor.
At last Erellont spoke--she was the oldest of the three and had been with Earendil in all his voyages:
Far have I followed Earendil over the deep, as he sailed his ship through the Shadowy Seas where the waves sigh over rocks shrouded in mist. The storms of Osse and the sea's tumult harried us from north to south and back again. We set foot upon untrodden isles, where the sun burns hot as a glede; we barely escaped the crushing embrace of pack ice. And stranger sights still have we seen together, survived much danger and horrors unguessed. He bid us stay himself, awaiting the outcome, but it comes hard now that I can follow him no farther.
Falathar responded: What shall we report to those who await--if any remain to await our tidings? Who was alive after the fall of Sirion? May not Morgoth have swept in to kill who was left on land? Perhaps, even now, the last of elves and men eke out their lives on ships and rafts... And we have no news of any outcome to give them, for the Maia answered no questions! Can we not turn this boat around, demand to be given a message?
Erellont answered: We are adrift on this current, no more able to navigate than logs.
Hush, said Aerandir, look. He was kneeling in the stern of the boat, gazing back toward the shore. The others looked up, as he bade, and, stunned, breathless, saw high in the west, rising slowly above their heads, the ship they had sailed in for so long. But she was utterly transformed so that they barely recognized the Vingilot they had known, those white timbers that had once been hewn from the familiar woods of Nimbrethil.
Aiya Vingilot, said Aerandir reverently.
Aiya Earendil, sighed Erellont.
Aiya Gil-estel, elenion ancalima, cried Falathar. Now indeed we have a message to bear.
I wrote this as quadrabble, using an online word count tool (https://wordcounttools.com/), which claimed this was 4 x 100 words.
At Cuivienen, the first Eldar hear the echo of the Music of the Ainur in the waters.
Ficlet for the sub-compilation "Subcreation" for Silm40.
General - no warnings.
It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance that is in this Earth.
‘Listen, oh listen!’ cried Enelye.
‘The sound of flowing water?’ asked Tatie.
‘It is a world,’ mused Enel.
‘But is it this world?’ asked Iminye.
‘Or another one?’ asked Imin.
‘Can we make it?’ asked Tata.
Tolkien describes the first rising of the Sun, Himring imagined his elves waiting for it to rise again.
Characters: Turgon, Idril
Turgon opened his eyes. As always he looked immediately for his daughter and caught sight of Idril's hair, gleaming pale in the dark that was lit only by a star or two. She was sitting up. The furs he had wrapped her in had slipped down to her shoulders.
"Go back to sleep, my dear!" he coaxed her. "You need rest!"
"I want to see whether she comes back," said Idril. "The Fiery One", she explained, tilting her head skyward.
"The Silver Wanderer returned," he said, reassuringly. "Eight times he has passed! Surely she will return as well."
Idril's chin was firmly set. "I'm waiting for her."
"Then I will wait with you," promised Turgon. He held out his arms and Idril crept into them. He settled her against his chest and tucked the furs back around her.
They waited together, unsure even whether to gaze east or west.
"Look," said Idril suddenly.
"I see it," said Turgon and only then did he realize how relieved he was.
They watched the seam of light on the horizon. Brighter it grew and brighter still, unlike the Moon.
"Yes," cried Idril, clutching her father's arm, "it is! There she is!"
Double drabble written for the prompt "dawn" at Tolkien Weekly on Livejournal.
According to Tolkien, the moon had passed seven times before the first rising of the sun and one more makes eight.
Both the Sun and the Moon are said to have first risen in the West.
The names used by Turgon and Idril are roughly based on the translations of later Elvish "Anar" for the Sun and "Rána" for the Moon.
Finarfin has assembled an army from the remnant of his people left in Valinor and led it to Middle-earth to help defeat Morgoth, who has so killed many of his family and his people.
On his arrival in Middle-earth, he encounters Gil-galad, his great-nephew, for the first time.
Rating: Teens. Warning for references to canon-typical violence.
"I've come to save you", announced Finarfin, trying to appear confident.
It had taken so many negotiations to get him to Beleriand. He had had to convince his own people. Then he had to ask the Valar for leave, and then he had to persuade the Teleri to let Noldor set foot on their ships.
When he finally arrived with his army, nobody knew the whereabouts of his daughter. The only one Finarfin had managed to locate was his great-nephew on Balar. To his bewildered eyes, Gil-galad did not look very Noldorin.
"Thank you", said Gil-galad politely, a little stunned.
"Well, I must be going now," said Finarfin.
They had won. It had not been as he had imagined it, despite Valarin approval: fifty years of horror, destruction and far too much death, both among those he had led here and those he had come to save.
He had tried to keep them alive, fed, and talking to each other, everyone who was meant to be on their side, fighting the same enemy. As it turned out, his great-nephew had been right to be sceptical.
But Gil-galad surprised him, embracing him suddenly on the jetty. "Thank you, Uncle," he said.
Written for the "Honour a Warrior" challenge at LOTR Community Challenges (on LiveJournal).
The individual prompt given me was: “It is so much easier to honour the leaders who are honourable,” by Gift Gugu Mona
Technically, the War of Wrath apparently lasted less than fifty years, but more than forty.
Bear with me, please, this ficlet is fixed-length and "fifty" seemed more concise.
Also, Finarfin is too weary to bother with exact numbers!
A short exchange of letters beween Tuor and Idril during their courtship.
A bit of flirting and banter alluding to Idril's nickname.
Could be read as mildly kinky, if you really want to.
What a wonderful day yesterday was, as indeed any day I am permitted to see you! I confess I am haunted by the flash of your white feet among the grass in the sunshine.
I am yours to walk all over with those feet, whenever you like, Silverfoot!
I hate to tell you but you are not the first to make that suggestion. Generally, I much prefer to walk around people rather than all over them. You, however, are a special case and, yes, I am seriously considering making an exception for you...
"Celebrindal" means "Silverfoot" .
She is said to have been called that because she liked to go barefoot.
This was written for a fixed-length drabble challenge (Tolkien Weekly on Live Journal, Body Parts series) and the specific prompt was, of course, "foot".
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
This story archived at http://www.silmarillionwritersguild.org/archive/home/viewstory.php?sid=3040