Silmarillion Writers' Guild Five Things

Their first meeting Indis was not yet as tall as her brother’s waist; not old enough to go out to gather, still less to hunt.  She had spent the day scattering seeds with other children, under watchful older eyes, knowing from her elders this was a new thing yet still too young to remember the days before the first tilling.  She was tired, as always at the end of the day, and her fair hair was slipping loose from its bindings so she had to keep pushing it away from her face, as she returned to the family cooking fire. 

The food was never shared out before all were there, but Ingwë had broken the rule.  He was kneeling beside a girl with a torn dress and dirty face, older than Indis but not fully grown.  She was swallowing the bread soaked in broth with her eyes fixed on the ground.  Indis sat down cross-legged, fighting the wish to just take a bowl and ladle out broth for herself, which she knew would get a rebuke. 

“This is Míriel,” Ingwë said, “We found her in a thicket, near where the larch encampment stood.”  Although he had chosen his words carefully Indis saw the strange girl flinch.  Ingwë and some others had left for the larch settlement the day before, wary of the thick smoke that was rising where it should stand.  Indis had been pushing fear from her mind since they had left, remembering a mother killed by wolves and a father who had wasted away from grief.  Her brother was the only close kin she had left, but she guessed now the strange girl might have no close kin at all.

“Míriel,” she said, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

The girl turned to look at her then, and Indis saw her eyes were silver, like her tangled hair.  Pinched and dirty though she was it was one of the most unforgettable faces Indis had seen, or would see.  Míriel did not speak, she only shook her head. 

Míriel stayed with them for three days, until kin among the Noldor took her in, for the larch folk had been of the Noldor despite the Telerin silver of the girl’s hair.  Neither girl forgot. 


Indis was limping still from the fall when a piece of rock had splintered beneath her feet.  Her shoes, once as stout as their craft could make, were worn through, and the sole beneath her good leg had a hole she could put two fingers through.  It was as well a time of rest had been decided on, the elves who had crossed the towering, mist-covered mountains were gathering in the foothills to recover and look for more food.  The peaks towered grimly behind them, higher than anything they had pictured when the three returning messengers told of the ranges that must be crossed.  Three elves had died in the same rock-slide that lamed Indis, one of them falling silent just before a party from above at last managed to reach the spot where he had been crying out in pain and fear.

Indis sat down on a hummock, looking down at the lands spread out below the stars.  In her head she was hammering out lines, putting together a song of the lands ahead for the next stage of the march.  Her gift was song, and the sister of Ingwë should do what she could to help the elves along the rough path they had chosen.

Míriel had always been light-footed; she had come up almost alongside Indis, before Indis turned her head.  Míriel looked weary, the bones of her face standing out almost as sharply as they had when Indis saw her first, after her family had been killed by the orcs.  There was a large rent in her cloak she had not been able to mend with her right hand still bandaged from being frozen; her group had groped their way along an ice-covered precipice in howling wind with the stars covered by cloud.

“I know you lost your kerchief,” Míriel held out a square of cloth with a stitched design of trees and deer.  Indis took it, for a moment wordless.  In a group who could carry so few possessions such a gift was astonishing, yet protest would have been graceless.  She could only make inadequate thanks.

“Finwë says the next stage should be easier, there are few orcs and killing animals west of the range.”

“Ingwë says that as well.”  There had been some in the host who spoke of staying in these safer lands, but the elves returned with the strange fire in their eyes had overcome these arguments with their tales of a far better land ahead.  Indis had not been one to speak or think of staying; her eyes were on the lands ahead as she reached up to tie Míriel’s gift round her hair. 

Long after she would keep the gift still, although the figures were crude and the cloth coarse when compared with the works the Broideress had made in Aman. 


Leaving the garden would be the hardest part.  She would carry with her from Tirion the joy she had first felt at growing things for beauty and for pleasure, rather than for food alone; of calling growing things by song, inviting them from the earth.  It was the thought of dwelling near the Trees that had made her support the plan to move to Valmar, to live where she could walk and see them every day if she chose to do so.  Although all the land was fair beyond dreaming the Trees were fairest of all, and of all things in this still new land she loved them most.

Walking in farewell through the garden she had helped to grow Indis let mind and memory move back to the past, recalling the days by Lake Cuiviénen and the hardships of the long journey, almost as if she lived through them again.  There was no sorrow in this, retracing the hardships of the past indeed made the present all the fairer, when she recalled the days of hard toil and fear that was never quite absent and compared them with these days of joy, when there was leisure to grow and to make, to sing and to dance, and there was no dread of pain and loss.  Recalling the harsh past kept the happiness of the new lands ever fresh.

As memory ran forward to the joyful first sight of the light of Valinor she caught voices.  Finwë and Míriel were walking together down one of the paths, their eyes turned towards one another.  Before Indis could speak Míriel had seen her, and broke from Finwë’s side with her characteristic swiftness of movement.  “Indis!  I was beginning to think I had missed our meeting.”  She turned to smile at Finwë.  “I will see you on the morrow, as we arranged.”  Finwë, being the courteous elf he was did not neglect to greet Indis gracefully, and she did not know whether to be glad or sorry when he at last took his leave. 

Míriel was radiant in the gown that she herself had stitched, her silver hair caught back with finely worked combs of agate. Indis guessed Finwë had made them, for Míriel had never worked such materials. No words of betrothal had yet been spoken between Míriel and Finwë, but Indis would have been unobservant indeed not to see it in their future.  That way lay a double loss, yet if it seemed hard her friend would wed the one man she wished to join with, she must admit she could think of none more worthy of either of them.   

 “Why could you not stay in Tirion?” Míriel asked now in half-jest, for she had accepted the choice long since. 

“Why could you not come to Valmar?” Indis asked in like spirit.  The Noldor were too tied to their own works of hand to leave Tirion, and Míriel, even without her love for Finwë, was too much a Noldo to depart alone.  Regret at the parting of friends was mingled for Indis with relief, that she would not have to see the wedded happiness of friend and secret love before her eyes each day.  She did not think that Míriel knew of her love for Finwë, certainly never by word or look had Míriel shown the slightest sign she guessed it. 

“You will keep a watch on my gardens?” The slopes below the house she shared with her family had always been open to all, yet Indis had had the chief share in shaping the gardens to be what they were; a home of wild beauty designed with such care it almost seemed not to have been designed at all.  Gardens she knew could never be kept unchanged, yet that was all the reason more to ask this.  “I trust all the elves who remain to care for them, truly, but I would still like for you to come here.” 

“I would have come without your asking, indeed,” Míriel assured her, “but you will visit Tirion and you will see your gardens again.” 

“I will visit,” said Indis, “but it is not the same as dwelling here.” 


Míriel’s silver hair was unbound, and fell loosely across the grassy bank.  Her hands seemed no more substantial than the petals of the white flowers that sprinkled the glade.  Indis found it hard to look. Wasting of the spirit was something that should have been left in the past, in the far lands they had journeyed from.  It should never have touched Míriel, so strong in her fragility.  Míriel had always survived, how could an act as good as bearing a child have taken her strength?

Embroidery that might have hemmed a gown lay abandoned on the grass; Míriel had not set more than a dozen stitches in it since Indis had come to Estë’s gardens at her friend’s request.  Nearby lay the basket of fruits she had sought and picked in Valmar, Míriel had sampled them, but confessed that even eating wearied her sadly. 

“You will keep a watch on Fëanáro for me?” Míriel spoke for the first time in some while.  “Finwë adores him of course, but I would like you to see him from time to time.  I know it cannot be as easy as if you still dwellt in Tirion.” 

“I will see him,” Indis assured her, “but I do not doubt Finwë will make sure he grows to love his mother as well as if you were with him every day.”  As she spoke she accepted at last that Míriel would die.  Even here, even in the Blessed Realm, she would die, with no hurt on her that the eye could see.

Yet surely she would see her child again one day. It was not yet a year as they now reckoned time, since the Vanyar had feasted the return of Lauriel, the wife of Ingwë who had perished on the Great Journey.  Not quite time enough for Indis not to feel surprise when she saw again the one long lost, nor for her to cease comparing the woman who had returned with her own memories, observing how Lauriel was both herself and changed, though no less perhaps than those who completed the Journey had been changed by Valinor itself.

Lauriel had been the first, and though it was promised she would not be the last none other had come forth as yet.  To those who longed to see their kin again, and there could be few who had not lost where they loved, the only answer given was that those who had died beneath the Shadow found it hard to grow into renewed life in the Realm of Light. Yet Míriel would pass from life here, in the Gardens of Estë, after years of life beneath the Tree Light.  Surely the strange weariness that burdened her would be healed and allow her swift return. 

“Will you sing to me?” It was not the first time Míriel had asked that since Indis had come.  Before she had always given songs made on these shores, but this time Indis sang one of the oldest, a simple piece made to praise the stars on Cuiviénen’s shores.  Before it was ended Míriel was asleep. 

The living did not enter the house of The Weaver.  Indis waited beyond the gates, where a quiet stream ran through a broad swath of grass with a few grey willows and birch trees.

She had no plan of speech.  Míriel’s living presence confounded the belief she had held when wedding Finwë, that her friend had died indeed forever and not all the power of the Valar could restore her within the span of Arda.  If she tried to speak of her good intentions towards Míriel’s son, the true belief that through the marriage she could care for him as his mother had wished, the knowledge of how that had ended would cut off her words.  Yet she could not speak of regret, could not word any wish that her children and their children had never been born.  So she merely waited in the shadow of the trees. 

Míriel came from the gate with a quick, light step that was so like the Míriel of old that Indis for a brief time thought death could not have changed her at all.  Only when she came closer could the passage of Mandos be seen in her eyes as it was in the eyes of all Restored.  Indis met Míriel’s eyes steadily, with silence still between them, and saw those eyes grow bright with unshed tears.  Still Indis had no words.

Then Míriel held out her hand. 

Leave a comment.

<< Previous Page | Next Page >>