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The Writhen Pool by pandemonium_213

[Reviews - 54] Printer

Summary:

When the Istyari of Second Age Ost-in-Edhil deny her a place in an important new initiative to be taken up by the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, a young master smith struggles to make her mark in the man's realm of the forges.   An opportunity arrives when the smith is offered a commission that will present challenges of both mind and heart.

Pandë!verse-centric.

Rated Adult.  Specific advisories will be posted per chapter as needed.

Two — count 'em, two — new chapters posted!

Chapter 10, In the Bright Light of Morning

Summary:  The morning after arriving in Ost-in-Edhil, Elrond and Erestor each suffer from the aches and pains of the long road from Mithlond as well as from other sources.

Chapter 11, The Path's Heart

Summary: Elrond finds a nearly comatose Mélamírë in dire straits.  She resists his attempts to reach her through sanwe-latya, until, with her permission, he gives her a bitter medicine that allows them to share a dream, called the lugnolossê by an ancient shaman of the Unbegotten.


Rated: Adult
Characters: Celeborn, Celebrían, Celebrimbor, Dwarves, Elrond, Erestor, Galadriel, Gil-galad, Original Character(s), Sauron
Challenges: Strong Women
Genres: Drama
Warnings: Expletive Language, Mature Themes, Sexual Content--Moderate, Violence--Moderate
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 11 Completed: No
Word count: 58859 Read: 8983
Published: April 18, 2013 Updated: September 20, 2014

Story Notes:

Right then.  So I'm reposting this, probably at risk in the larger Tolkien fan fiction milieu that clearly favors male canon characters, but I'll resist another primadonna pique.  The Writhen Pool is an integral part of my out-of-control story arc so back it goes.

Many thanks to Aeärwen, Darth Fingon, Drummerwench, Elfscribe, Elleth, IgnobleBard, Kenaz, Kimberleighe, Kymahalei, Lilith, Marchwriter, Oshun, Randy O, Russandol, Scarlet, and Surgical Steel for feedback, flogging, and encouragement along the way.

~*~

By way of real life background, Lawrence Summers' remarks at the NBER conference on diversifying the science and engineering workforce caused a tremendous controversy. Many women on the Harvard scientific faculty and staff were incensed. Although Summers' words were couched in a scholarly tone, they stung, and the inside scoop from my friends and acquaintances at Harvard verified that there was indeed a gender disparity at work in the sciences there.

With regard to personal experimence, in 1980, one of my spouse's professors said — with me right there — that "It is a waste for women to go to graduate school."  As my career progressed in a discipline of science then (still) dominated by men, I experienced plenty of sexism and witnessed worse.  The anger that my protagonist feels in the first chapter takes inspiration from something that happened to one of my colleagues, a talented organic chemist.  

So, when I later read Tolkien's reflection on the roles of men (neri) and women (nissi) among the Eldar (cf. The History of Middle-earth, vol X, Morgoth's Ring) Summers' words came flooding back:

It is the neri and nissi of the Eldar are equal - unless it be in this (as they themselves say) that for the nissi the making of things new  is for  the most  part shown in the forming of their children,  so that  invention and  change is otherwise  mostly  brought  about  by  the  neri.  There  are,  however,  no matters  which among  the Eldar  only a  ner can  think or do,  or  others  with  which  only  a  nis  is concerned. 

This is often trotted out as evidence of Tolkien's "progressive" attitude toward women's roles, but the bolded text speaks otherwise.  Claims of equality in the passage cannot negate that. 

Anyway, all that bloviating is to say that whereas this novella is not a polemic (far from it), it is, in some ways, a ficcish commentary on women in science and engineering.

1. Chapter 1: Not Suitable for a Woman by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 10] (4427 words)

Mélamírë feels the pain of rejection when the Istyari deny her a place on an imporant — and mysterious — project and does not take it well.

2. Chapter 2: Opportunity Knocks by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 3] (5950 words)

After some contemplation and advice from Celeborn, Mélamírë waits for a new opportunity, which arrives in the form of a letter from the Lady of Lindórinand.  

3. Chapter 3: Eagle of Iron by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 4] (6488 words)

Told from the point of view of the boy whom Mélamírë met outside the gates of the city in the previous chapter.   Polkincë screws up his courage and goes to the House of the Míretanor as the lady smith requested, and he regains his name.  

Heads up for corporeal punishment of a child and bullying.

4. Chapter 4: A Scent of Distant Lands by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 4] (6646 words)

A young Dwarf guides Mélamírë into the depths below Zirakzigil in search of a rare element; the dwarf-girl makes a surprising request of the elven-smith, reminding Mélamírë of a secret shared with Dísa, the girl's grandmother.  Meanwhile, in the land of Nurn, Mairon, while writing a letter home, is interrupted so that he may provide a cruel lesson of consequence to rebellious slaves.

Head's up for fleeting sexuality and for not-so-fleeting violence/torture.

5. Chapter 5: The Laws of Eä by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 5] (7274 words)

Meanwhile, back in Mithlond, Erestor brings reports to King Ereinion and Elrond of a mysterious and troubling new project among the Gwaith-i-Mírdain.  Ereinion attempts to recruit a talented smith excluded from the project, and disturbing rumors of a powerful warlord stirring up rebellion in the South make their way North.

Thank you a thousand times over to those who provided valuable feedback in the development of this chapter (you know who you are ;^)).  More acknowledgments are provided in End Notes.  A special thanks to Russandol for allowing me to borrow her concept of the ESS*.

*Elrond's Secret Service. Heh.

6. Chapter 6: Welcome Arrivals by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 4] (3682 words)

Erestor takes a detour on his way to Uinen's Quay, where a Númenórean trade ship docks, bringing welcome arrivals.

Thanks to Scarlet, Randy O, Russa, Kymahalei, Kenaz, Drummerwench, Elfscribe, and Oshun for feedback and encouragement!  And a shout out of thanks to Elleth for giving me permission to the nod to her intriguing OFC, Estëlindë.  

7. Chapter 7: Ballain's Tale by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 4] (5564 words)

Erestor, Elrond, Ereinion, and Círdan listen to Ballain recount his adventures in the South:  how he and Helevair disguised themselves and traveled to Umbar, their journey to Mordor, and the horror they encountered in the Nameless Pass.  Ballain tells of his brush with death, his rescue by an extraordinary people from Far Harad, and his healing by an even more extraordinary being.  Astute guesses are made, thanks to what Ballain's healer tells him, and Ballain gives a name, a single word that Elrond recognizes, causing him to make a dreadful connection. 

Warning for the arachnophobic:  here be spiders.  Big ones.  Evil ones.  But a good spider, too.

Thanks to my keen-eyed pals (see Chapter 6) for nitpicking.  Special thanks to to Surgical Steel for the use of "conjure-women" and her vision of Umbar (a Middle-earth nod to ancient Carthage), to Russandol for the name Brûn Hobas, and a big, huge, massive thanks to Elleth for her assistance with speculative Primitive Elvish. 

8. Chapter 8: The Poisons That Lurk in the Mud by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 8] (4435 words)

Revelations are made in the Sammath Naur and in Ost-in-Edhil. The first scene of this chapter might be considered a sequel to Till Fire Purge All Things New.

Many thanks to Drummerwench, Elfscribe, KyMahalei, Randy O, Russandol, Scarlet, and Spiced Wine for their feedback and encouragment.

9. Chapter 9: To the Brink by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 6] (2673 words)

Mélamirë seeks an end to her pain and a means to prevent the risk that she might turn to evil herself.

Warning: Heads up for graphic suicidal ideation.

Acknowledgments in End Notes.

10. Chapter 10: In the Bright Light of Morning by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 0] (5308 words)

Summary:  The morning after arriving in Ost-in-Edhil, Elrond and Erestor each suffer from the aches and pains of the long road from Mithlond as well as from other sources.

Acknowledgements in End Notes.

11. Chapter 11: The Path's Heart by pandemonium_213 [Reviews - 6] (6412 words)

Elrond finds a nearly comatose Mélamírë in dire straits.  She resists his attempts to reach her through sanwe-latya, until, with her permission, he gives her a bitter medicine that allows them to share a dream, called the lugnolossê by an ancient shaman of the Unbegotten.

Warning for potential triggers of self-harm and suicidality.

Extra thanks to Elfscribe for excellent critique that resulted in a minor "post-publication" revision of the opening bit of this chapter.