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Postcards from Arda by Elleth

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Author's Chapter Notes:

As per usual, my thanks to GG and the Lizard Council. 

The cuisine of the Shire is unsurpassed. Write a story or poem, or create a work of art, featuring food.

For B2MeM 2011, Day Fifteen: Breaking Bread: Shortly after the attack on Sirion, Maglor and Maedhros endeavour to win the trust of Elwing's sons.

MEFA 2011 Nominee. Thank you, Himring!

Maglor picked himself up from the mossy spot that had served as his bed for the night, although sleep had been long in coming and brief in duration before the blood spilled at Sirion had drowned his chances for a peaceful rest. It had been three days, and they had made good their escape from the coast. No pursuit had followed them inland - Gil-galad and Círdan's strength lay in secret landings, swift attacks and swift retreats, entirely unlike the Noldorin style of dogged pursuit. It was well-nigh impossible in the densely forested area of Taur-im-Duinath where they had made camp.

Maglor recounted names again as he walked to the brook to wash - the dead themselves would have to serve as a lament. He had no heart to compose a song.

"Amrod, Amras, Idhlinn, Tatharim..." The line wound on and on, although he ceased naming them aloud when branches cracked behind him, and, with a hand on his dagger, he turned to look. "Nelyo," he said softly, spotting his brother, and threw another handful of water in his face. Maedhros had agreed to keep watch while Maglor slept, and now he looked tired and distraught. "What is it?"

Maedhros turned his anguished gaze upon him and tugged on the mess of hair that had been a braid three days ago. "I am searching for the twins. They have hidden from me, and I cannot find them."

A pause hung heavily between them as Maglor wondered. His brother had been known to walk in nightmares ever since his recovery from Angband, and often it was hard to tell whether he slept or was awake. And ever since Doriath, and the loss of Eluréd and Elurín, the hauntings had been worse. Now, with Amrod and Amras also lying dead, and Elwing's twins their charges, he could not say which twins his brother meant, and asking - if he were awake - would invite nothing but a fit of rage at the helplessness the question would reveal.

"Why don't you show me where you last saw them?" he said at length. "We will see if they left any traces and try to find where they went."

In truth, the loss of Elwing's twins would be no detriment, Maglor thought as they walked toward the centre of the camp, only two mouths less to feed. They were worth nothing as hostages, for neither he nor his brother, nor any of their remaining handful of men, would have the heart to threaten children. They were all heartsick and would not harm the little ones if the situation arose. But he refused to let his brother suffer and have yet more innocents die at their hands. Briefly, he ducked into the one tent they had set up to keep their few spare provisions dry in case of rain, and emerged with a bundle that he took along.

After some searching, Maglor found a faint trail of footsteps and stirred-up leaves that ran away from the camp and deeper into the forest.

"Here," he called. It was easy to follow, and he could feel his brother's presence behind him like a shadow as they searched. At last, a whimpering sound alerted them to the presence of the twins. Maglor had to admit that they had hidden well, tucked out of sight behind a cluster of blueberry bushes and overhanging tree roots.

Maglor paused. He knelt and unwrapped the loaf of dark bread he had retrieved before their departure, breaking it in half to share with his brother, earning a confused look.

"What do you seek to do?" Maedhros asked quietly, but he knew to keep his voice down.

"It is a ritual among the Sindar," Maglor said, his voice pained, although he tried to hide it. Losing Lasbaneth still haunted him as much as Fingon's death haunted Maedhros. "Lasbaneth taught it to me at the Mereth Aderthad when I sought to speak to Daeron of Doriath and met with disdain at first." He drew a satchel of salt from his pocket and sprinkled a measure into his cupped palm, indicating to his brother to do the same. "It is a gesture of respect, hospitality, goodwill, even a blessing and a rejection of evil. And as their mother came from Doriath, I think they might be familiar with it."

Ducking, he crept forward to the twins' hiding place, and met with two wide-eyed stares brimming with tears. The older of the twins - Elrond, Maglor reminded himself - had pushed himself in front of his brother and tried in vain to scowl at his suspected attacker.

"I do not seek to harm you," Maglor said. He took care to speak slowly and give his voice a reassuring tone. "Here, look what I brought. It is not much, but I hope it will serve."

"Bread and salt?" Elrond asked in a thin voice. He was already reaching for it.

"Bread and salt," Maglor agreed. "We mean you no harm." From the corner of his eye he could see his brother creep closer, hand outstretched, and the younger twin looking up.

He felt more than saw Elrond dip a piece of bread into the salt on his palm.

Chapter End Notes:

The ritual of bread and salt was approximated from a wide-spread tradition in our primary world. Although it is presented slightly differently here, I tried to maintain the same spirit and did not intend to step on anybody's toes. If I managed to do so after all, please let me know so I can make amends.

Lasbaneth, in my personal verse, is Maglor's wife. She is a Sinda from the north with distant ties to Doriathrim royalty, who married Maglor early in the First Age before any news of Alqualondë and abandoning Fingolfin in Araman reached Beleriand.

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