Silmarillion Writers' Guild Lady of the Hunt by Lady Roisin

He had run for hours. At least that was how it felt to Beren. A strange cat-like beast had chased him from familiar territory into a place where the brush grew thick and strange. Even the scents were different here. Lost did not seem an adequate word to describe Beren’s current state. It went far beyond that. This was an entirely different world he had strayed into. Here the flowers and trees were wilder, older. They seemed to be watching him. Beren could not erase the sensation of eyes following his every step.

Earlier that night he had made the mistake of investigating the sounds of music. A strange and haunting melody played by a flute came from a nearby clearing. Beren had crouched low in the heavy foliage to watch a male elf playing a wooden instrument; a woman danced nearby. Her movements carried a sensual grace and beauty that Beren was unable to tear his eyes away from. In the back of his mind, Beren knew he should run, that this was something he was not meant to witness. Yet he felt helpless to turn away from the woman’s barely clothed figure while it swayed and her bare abdomen undulated to the notes played by her companion. Both of them seemed completely oblivious to Beren’s presence, at least until Beren clumsily tripped over an unseen tree root and crashed loudly into the brush surrounding the clearing. All music and dancing came to a sudden halt as both of the Elves gave chase to the intruder. Even after Beren had run far, he still did not stop, just in case the two Elves still pursued him.

A soft scuffle of leaves from overhead turned Beren’s attention up towards the tops of the trees. Hopefully he was not about to encounter another hungry animal in search of a meal. Beren barely had a chance to reach for his knife when something pounced upon him, bringing him to the ground. He tried to fight back with his arms yet a hand every bit as strong as his own held them fast over his head while the sharp point of a curved blade was held to his neck, resting just above the pulsing artery that carried his life’s blood.

Beren willed his eyes to look up at the face of his assailant despite the pinpricks of light still dancing in them from the impact of being knocked down. A fierce female face glared down at him, her lips pulled back in an angry snarl, much like some wild animal. Her knife bit into Beren’s skin as the rage burned in her narrowed eyes. He was faintly aware of another voice calling out. The sensual beauty was gone from her features and an enraged huntress stood in her place. There was a brief gleeful glint in her eyes, indicating she was pleased with the prey she had captured. The sight of it made Beren’s heart thud faster against his ribs and his pulse roar louder in his ears.

“Lúthien,” the voice drew nearer, louder, “Lúthien.”

The woman did not move but instead let out another snarl in response to the voice that drew closer each time it cried out. The leaves and branches crashed together as a figure emerged from them. If it had not been for the moonlight Beren might have been able to identify it at all. A man with the same black hair as the female lumbering over Beren rushed towards them and tried to pull the woman behind him, his own blade extended out in front of him. His flute was gone in place of a weapon as well. She did not obey easily though and even fought against the other man until he spoke a long string of words to her in a language Beren did not understand.

The two began to argue back and forth in passionate tones. In the course of their exchange, Beren picked up a few words he recognized. They had been taught to him by one of the Elves his clan interacted with. He said that it was the language spoken by the Elves of Doriath, although there were very few outsiders who had knowledge of it since it was quite rare for a citizen of Doriath to emerge into the outside world, and only a very small number had ever been permitted to pass through the forest’s borders. Beren listened closely, recognizing the words for kill, brother, sister, and no. The man kept his weapon aimed on Beren the entire time, preventing him from moving even an inch forwards or backwards.

“I mean no harm,” Beren finally dared to cry out. “I do not know where I even am.” The musician glared at him with nostrils flaring, although the look in his eyes softened and Beren dared to hope that he understood what he was saying. If he did not know Beren’s language then he hoped the look on his face was enough to convey his honesty and terror. The musician leaned forward to examine Beren more closely and gave an exasperated sound.

“Were there others with you?” Beren was surprised to hear the man speak in his language. He waited for a response from Beren with a hint of noticeable impatience. Beren shook his head. He had not seen his travel companions for many days and he was fairly certain none of them had followed him. However, Beren did not want to lie, not now when he was very clearly outnumbered.

“I was separated from my men many days ago,” Beren replied, keeping his eyes upon the musician’s weapon. The two Elves turned to each other, chattering quickly in their native language. They clearly seemed to be trying to figure out what to do with him. The woman seemed to have the upper hand in the argument and the musician threw his hands up n exasperation before placing his long knife back into its sheath. He reached out and grabbed Beren’s arms with a strength that warned him against fighting back and tied his hands.

“My sister says we must keep you until we are certain no others have followed you.” The two Elves lifted Beren up and forced him to walk to a cave set in the center of stones taller than Beren himself. A heavy iron door covered the opening. He was placed behind the door before it was closed and locked. Much to Beren’s horror and dismay the two Elves began to walk away. Only the woman turned to look over her shoulder and cast him a curious glance.

A low squeak of metal hinges pulled Beren from his sleep. He rolled over to see the elvish woman kneeling in front of the door. She had opened a small panel in the door to push a cloak through and was in the midst of passing a parcel of food through the opening. He finally had a chance to study the woman’s appearance up close. This time instead of the loincloth and strips of fabric covering her breasts she wore a breastplate made of thick animal hide and tooled with various designs. A pair of matching vambraces covered her arms with the same embossed design. Her legs were encased in leggings and she wore a pair of sturdy boots reached up to just below her knees. She wore her black hair in a single intricate braid that fell below the middle of her thighs. She was lovely and dangerous to behold.

“Food for you,” she murmured, “and warmth.” Beren was surprised to hear her speak in his language. But the grumble of his stomach put the questions aside as he reached for the food given to him. She remained silent while Beren voraciously tore at the meat and bread. It was the first meal he had since two days before his capture. He murmured his thanks to the women before finishing off the last of the bread and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“What is your name?” the woman asked as she handed a small water skin through the open panel.

“Beren,” he mumbled before bringing the water skin to his lips. He did not tell her he was the son of Barahir on the off chance she might be willing to feed him to the enemy. These Elves seemed more treacherous than others he had encountered, yet Beren’s apprehension was unable to fully quell his curiosity. He pointed to the woman, unsure of how much his language she was able to speak and spoke the word the musician had called out the prior night and seemed to address the woman as along with the word sister. “Lúthien?”

She smiled and nodded, “Yes, Lúthien.”

“And what is your brother’s name?” Beren asked, hoping her friendly streak would continue. The last thing he needed was to be at the wrong end of her knife again.

“My brother is Daeron,” she replied simply. “And you must not tell him I have come here to speak with you or he might tell my father you are here and he might kill you.”

Beren was sure his jaw dropped at Lúthien’s statement. However, he should not have been surprised. There were many places in this world where the people were highly cautious of strangers. Many were very protective of their kingdoms and territory and with good reason. Beren’s home had been one to fall underneath the enemy’s cruel fist.

“You are an outsider,” Lúthien began. “And if you wish to live, you will tell us everything we ask you about the outside world. Do you understand me?”

Beren smirked, slightly humored by the way Lúthien tried to intimidate him. “Of course, my lady. And once I have you will set me free.”

“I will decide when you go free,” Lúthien snarled while slamming the panel in the door shut and drawing herself up to her full height. Beren held up his hands in defense and resignation, resisting the urge to laugh. He would save his gloating for whoever it was that started these tales of demure and fair Elf maidens who dressed in elegant clothes and said little. Clearly that person had never encountered an Elf maiden in the woods that wore armor and liked to brandish pointy objects at strangers.

“Tomorrow you will tell me about the place you come from.” Lúthien threw a warning stare at Beren. She began to walk away yet Beren could not help but notice the many times she turned to look back at him from over her shoulder. Once she was out of sight, he groaned and leaned against the stony wall of his prison. All these years Beren ran from his enemies as an outlaw with a price on his head only to be captured by an Elf maiden who had no idea who he was. Things were shaping up nicely for a perfect disaster.

Author's Note

While the Tale of Beren and Lúthien gives a romantic version of their meeting reminiscent of fairy tales, I found it did not fit in realistically with my vision of Lúthien and Doriath. I do not view Doriath as this peaceful, untouched utopia cut off from the outside world. Instead I see Doriath as having its own dangers and distinct culture. Much of the original language and documents about Doriath's culture would have been lost when Beleriand sank. So it isn’t surprising that the story about when Beren met Lúthien got a bit embellished with time. In my vision of Doriath, Melian’s Girdle is both a mystical force as well as a physical one consisting of a highly secretive and elite force of female attendants. These women would have been skilled in many different areas, including tracking and weaponry. It is also my belief that Melian taught many of these women in her special guard how the magic of the girdle worked, and they would have assisted in maintaining its power. Lúthien is basically Melian’s co-leader of this elite group of female guardians, and so I naturally envision her as a strong and very powerful woman, most definitely not a delicate fainting beauty. She is able to hold her own, but she also does not wave her magic wand and instantly make all her troubles go away either. I am also of the belief that it was a not a case of love at first sight for Lúthien when she met Beren; however, he certainly grew on her.

As for the relationship between Daeron and Lúthien, in my verse they are brother and sister like they were in the early version of the Tale of Tinúviel as seen in HoMe Vol. 2, Book of Lost Play II. Many thanks to Oshun for helping me locate the excerpt.

“Lo, now I will tell you of things that happened in the halls of Tinwelint after the arising of the Sun indeed but long ere the unforgotten Battle of Unnumbered Tears. And Melko had not completed his designs nor had he unveiled his full might and cruelty.

Two children had Tinwelint then, Dairon and Tinuviel, and Tinuviel was a maiden, and the most beautiful of all the maidens of the hidden Elves, and indeed few have been so fair, for her mother was a fay, a daughter of the Gods; but Dairon was then a boy strong and merry, and above all things he delighted to play upon a pipe of reeds or other woodland instruments, and he is named now among the three most magic players of the Elves, and the others are Tinfang Warble and Ivare who plays beside the sea.”

I included this in my verse because I felt like Daeron was one of the characters Tolkien did a great injustice to, and I wanted to show him as the amazing character he really is. It made no sense to me that Tolkien envisioned him as the greatest minstrel among Elves and this talented linguist only to make him this jealous tattletale. As many of you who read my stories already know, I have a thing for redeeming characters that were dealt a raw deal by Tolkien.

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