Silmarillion Writers' Guild What Would Socrates Say

"The Bar Joke"

by Oshun

Originally written in response to the prompt: "If you could pass on three pieces of wisdom to future generations, what would they be?" Some might call this modern AU/crackfic. As the author, however, I consider it a seriously geekish philosophical exploration of the world views and the relationships each with the others of the Fabulous Four of the Finwean cousins. It is written in the ubiquitous format of "The Bar Joke" (e.g., "Two men are sitting in a bar slowly sipping their drinks when . . ."). The narrative devise usually includes either a talking dog, a blond in a red dress, or an elephant in tweed jacket, etc., etc. But we don't need any of those cheap ploys here—we've got the flower of the Noldor.

* * * *

Four guys were sitting in a bar, two brunettes, a red head, and a blonde (actually, Fingon, Turgon, Maedhros and Finrod).

Turgon asked, "If you could pass down three bits of wisdom throughout the Ages, what would they be?”

Grinning, Fingon lifted his glass. “I do not believe in conventional wisdom.”

Maedhros clicked his glass against Fingon’s, answering, “I’ll drink to that.”

Finrod said, “You’re right. I’ll drink with you.”

“Wait a minute, Ingo,” Fingon said. “You wrote that Athrabeth thing."

“I admit it,” said Finrod, slurring his words. “But that wath before I wath killed by a werewolf.”

“You are all a bunch of miserable cynics. I expected better of you, Finrod,” Turgon choked.

Fingon said, “You’re such an ass.”

Maedhros slapped Turgon on the back. “S’alright, Turvo. I forgive you. You didn’t live long enough to hear yourself called Turgon the Wise by the historians.”

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Excerpt from "A New Perspective on Love"

by Lady Roisin

“Five children?” Arwen asked with a raised brow.

“Yes, my lady, five children.” Daeron replied simply while carefully winding the peg that held a brand-new string upon his instrument. “We had three girls and two boys.”

Elrond’s daughter looked at Daeron wide-eyed with disbelief as she held out the tool Daeron pointed to. He chuckled softly at her dumbfounded look. Elrond had entrusted Daeron to give his daughter music lessons, even though the two of them had somewhat different musical tastes. However, Arwen’s questioned turned more to conversations about Daeron’s rather unconventional family.

“Isn’t it unusual to have such a large family?” Arwen asked carefully, her head tilting to the side slightly.

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Excerpt from "Chronicles of the Fifth Voyage of the Númerrámar: The Loremaster Arrives"

by Pandemonium_213

Toanehtë himself wrote of his studies of the plants and animals of Númenor with infectious enthusiasm. More letters were exchanged between the king’s heir and the naturalist. With a fascination that surprised him, Anardil read Toanehtë’s detailed descriptions of sea stars found in the many tide pools along the shores of the island:

In the company of my dear Uncle Ránetan, I have wandered the shores, studying the creatures of the tide pools, especially sea stars of the kind indelicately named Uinen’s Nipples by the common folk. Most curiously, I have noted that the sea stars of the coast of Forostar, although quite similar in form to their southern kin of Hyarnustar, are nonetheless subtly different in color and shape. Furthermore, even within these regions, groups of these sea stars isolated from one another vary, their coloration taking on that of the habitats. It leads me to wonder if these creatures, which (according to the writings of Tar-Minyatur’s chief scholar) were of uniform type when Lord Ossë raised our fair land from the sea, have somehow changed, perhaps adapting to their environment?

Included in this letter were exquisite drawings of the sea stars and other creatures and seaweeds that Toanehtë  had observed.

Anardil was enthralled. He wrote to inform the young loremaster that his company would be welcome on the voyage of the Númerrámar, but that it might be some years before the ship returned to port. He also wrote of the rumor of a cluster of islands where strange animals dwelt.

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Excerpt from "The Understanding of a Father"

by Ellie

“My king and atar,” Finrod said for all to hear, “I apologize for the injury done to one of your lords and closest advisors, but I knew of no other way to begin to teach the lessons our warriors need to learn. I know what it is to be held prisoner by one of Morgoth’s minions. I know the agony of binding chains which ate my flesh while I waited in the dark for a werewolf to come and devour those most loyal to me. I was forced to listen to their struggles for life and their dying screams while I waited all the while for my own death in a deep dungeon under the earth. So I endured Edrahil’s death before I faced my own.”

Finrod turned back to us. “My lords and men, Morgoth would savor the deaths of every one of you just as he delighted in the deaths of your sons, brothers, kin, and friends. You must change the way you fight. You must listen to us, and you must learn to be fierce. You must learn to fight as cunningly as your enemy if you would have your fates be different from those of us who went before you.”

I shall never forget the shiver down my spine and the shock I felt at what I had just experienced. I looked on my son at that moment as he stood alongside Edrahil and Ecthelion, arms folded defiantly in front of their chests as if daring any one of us to challenge what the Prince had just said. I believe I will always remember the mind-numbingly painful realization that we did not understand all that had transpired in Ennor since our kin had abandoned Valinor. We knew little of what they faced, and in some cases continued to face. We truly did not comprehend what we were going to be up against in this war.

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Excerpt from "The Elendilmir, Chapter 6: Beasts of Yavanna, Children of Ilúvatar."

by Pandemonium_213

That elicited another collective chuckle from the onlookers, the women now interspersed among the men and enjoying the sight of one of their own taking on the haughty male loremaster. Manendur’s face flushed from pink to red. I struggled to maintain decorum but not successfully since a grin pushed up my cheeks. A debate on the nature of Elvenkind with two dogs coupling as a backdrop was absurd beyond belief. The audience was torn between watching the dogs and two Noldorin masters exchanging barbs.

“Istyanis, with all due respect, we are the creations of Ilúvatar. We are not the same as the lamani – the beasts of field and forest. They belong to Yavanna. Thus the Valar have taught the Eldar how we should comport ourselves properly as Eru’s First Children. Witnessing such beastly lust is not appropriate for us. It inspires fire in the heart and loins.”

Mélamírë shrugged and then turned to see that the dogs had parted. 

“That is your belief, Master,” she said, again eyeing him with her arms crossed. “That does not mean it is the truth.”

“It is the truth. How could it be otherwise?” Manendur retorted. 

A hush fell over the crowd once more. They shifted their full attention to another spectacle, but an intellectual one rather than sexual. We Noldor loved argument as much as song.

“Your truth comes from tales filtered through the minds and beliefs of others,” Mélamírë replied, placing her hands on her hips and letting her cloak waft around her.

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Excerpt from " A Song of Love and Steel ~ The Power and the Passion."

by Spiced Wine

“Petty tyrants !” Finrod declaimed. “Get hence!”

There was movement in the doorway, the glitter of swords, armor, the sway of plumes. Finrod had no weapon of steel here, and his song seemed to have no effect upon these newcomers. Manwë must have called his warriors from Valmar.
He stood his ground.
In the moment that his attention was withdrawn, Námo reached into his robe and drew forth a blade.
Finrod's hand blurred as he grasped the other's wrist.
And then, silver swords were at the throats of the two Valar. Striding into the chamber Oromë said, iron-voiced: “We die not, but I promise thee that wounds can still hurt – or hast thou forgotten our ancient battles,brothers?” He dropped the last word at their feet like worthless coin. “It is enough. Thou art bested.”

The room swayed and darkened before Finrod; he felt some-one seize him. The breath labored in his lungs and explosions of light danced in his vision. With an effort, he remained on his feet, and the floor became solid once again. The one who had steadied him drew off his helm with a swirl of hair the color of frost. Cobalt-blue eyes burned into his.

“Too long have we slept, kinsman,” said Ingwë, High King of all the Elves. One gauntleted hand still held a sword, the other slipped to cradle Finrod's neck. “Lord Glorfindel showed us what passed here.”


“How long...?”

“It was a long battle.” Ingwë threw a look that would have cut ice at Manwë. “Where wouldst thou go? I am at thy service.”

Very far away, the Noldor on the beach and the ships had lifted up their voices in exultation, and Glorfindel said, softly, knowing his brother could hear him: “Well done, beloved. Very well done.”

Excerpt from "The Burden of Truth"

by Rhapsody the Bard

What was she to do, here standing at the cliffs in the distant west, so close to Qalmë-Tári’s halls? Could she repent for her son’s actions, no she would not dare to ask for forgiveness of her husbands deeds? Could the Mistress of Death teach her how to endure, be patient so that she could handle her future amongst those she shortly before had called her own kindred? She knew that her life was not over yet, there was still strength in her left and there was that faint memory of what once was, times that there was nothing she would not dare. Would she dare to embrace tomorrow? Could she create a life for herself on her own, where her memories of the past would serve as nothing more as stories from yesterday? There was so much work to be done and that she had to forge ahead to start anew.

Suddenly the wind picked up, tugging at her clothes as she stood there. The cold caress of air awoke her from her thoughts and with her eyes wide open she perceived the grey sea. As the waves pounded upon the cliffs relentlessly, Nerdanel felt as if she awoke from a bad dream where the aftermath of the tides of the sea left no choice. Had those same waves carried away her family to the other shore and away from her? Without giving it further thought, she stepped closer to the edge of the cliff and knelt down. Once her hands hit the rich soil, a sense of clarity washed over her.

It was their choice, not mine, she suddenly realised.

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Excerpt from "Lady and Captain"

by Lady Roisin

Isildur lifted a hand to his temples and shielded his eyes from the bright early morning sun. His gaze followed the tall masts of the ships at anchor, towering over the docks and quays of Rómenna like trees that grew canvas sails instead of leaves. Isildur’s father sent his sons to assist Tarion, a local mariner and merchant, in a cargo voyage to western Númenor. There they would meet an elvish ship from Lindon and exchange messages and wares before heading off to Andúnië to deliver their documented cargo. It was a dangerous mission, one where they risked being spotted by other ships or searched upon reaching their destination. The very thought of it made Isildur’s blood pump a bit faster.

“It’s about time you two showed up,” a familiar female voice barked over the noise of the busy dock. Isildur turned to see Tarion’s daughter, Tindalómë, stride towards him, and his eyes went wide upon seeing the garb she wore. Instead of a gown or chiton she wore a man’s tunic and leggings. The straps of her leather sandals reached up to the middle of her calves. Tindalómë looked from Isildur to his brother, Anárion, but allowed her gaze to linger upon Isildur for an extra moment. “I was beginning to think you wouldn’t show up.” She turned on her heel and motioned for the two brothers to follow her. “Come along, we should have left port a half an hour ago.”

“Where is your father?” Isildur asked while stepping onto the gangplank leading up into one of Tarion’s ships. His eyes scanned the docks, looking for the familiar tall man he had been apprenticed to.

“He is back in his storehouse, conducting business as usual.” Tindalómë did not bother to turn around as she spoke. “He entrusted the ship and this voyage to me. Now get a move on while the winds are fair.”

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Excerpt from "Unweaving the Rainbow."

by Pandemonium_213

The fractured song of the sun’s light, parsed by hundreds of crystals, lashed the stark walls of the workshop. The servant of Nienna, still unaccustomed to the corporeal, squinted at the cacophony of hues thrown forth by suspended geometries.

Sensing his presence, the servant of Aulë turned to his peer. He smiled and beckoned.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Aulë’s man, gesturing to the fragmented light.

“Yes, the colors are lovely, but there is much to be said for the pure light of the sun.”

“That is so, but I wish to understand the light’s order from its spectrum.”

Harmonics from a remote plane entered the discomfited thought of Nienna’s servant, and he recited the words: 

There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine—
Unweave a rainbow...

The servant of Aulë immediately countered:

Did ever poet image aught so fair,
Dreaming in whisp'ring groves by the hoarse brook?
Or prophet, to whose rapture heaven descends?
Ev'n now the setting sun and shifting clouds,
Seen, Greenwich, from thy lovely heights, declare
How just, how beauteous the refractive law.

“Your curiosity will be your downfall,” said Nienna’s servant. “He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."

"And he who does not seek to discover the order of a thing will never comprehend it."

Aulë’s servant turned away, resuming his measurements of the white light that unraveled into vibrant tones of soprano violet to basso red. Nienna’s devotee reconsidered the uncompromising beauty of the refractive law, his foresight informing him this was only the beginning of the debate.

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Excerpt from " Silver Light ~ Lords of the Light."

by Spiced Wine

~ Tindómion felt blood rising to his face. "I have not..." he began and then choked on his own words. "I have done nothing shameful, Lord Baesel."

"It would not be shameful, Maglorion." The way he spoke the name was not laden with despite. "That it is looked on so isourshame, and yet it is said that among the Moriquendi who never saw Aman, and were never given Laws by the Valar, such relationships are not uncommon. Think thou that there were not more loves between men than Fingon and Maedhros, and Glorfindel and Ecthelion? They were kept secret because of the Laws. I am wed to a woman I love deeply, but I honored Fingon. Yes, by our laws it is wrong and doubly, for they were close kin, but the love was still fierce and pure as flame. I think love surmounts all laws."

"Why dost thou tell me this?" Tindómion wet his lips.

"Because Rosriel was right in one thing: thou doth indeed look at Gil-galad as Maedhros looked at Fingon. And he too tried to hide it for a long time." Baesel set his hand on the door, watching the Fëanorion's discomfiture, hearing vellum crumple under his fingers.

"I am kin and his loyal Companion..."

"What dost thou see when thou dost look at our King?" Baesel asked. "Just that? A King? I still see the youth who lost his father too young, who loved so deeply grief is engraved in his soul like the runes on a blade. Gil-galad needs thee more than thou canst know. Remember that." ~

Excerpt from "Chasing Mirages"

by Russandol

“‘Light it is, not darkness, that casts shadows to lead one astray. Light can unveil truth or mask lies behind its beauty.’ His speech lilted into a chanting rhythm, as if reciting a tale unfolding before his eyes.

‘Wrapped in lulling swirls of silk, as soft and tenuous as dreams, one chases wondrous mirages, wrought by a gentle glow that promises wisdom and power. He runs and reaches out to touch these tempting visions, but they fade, one by one, before his eyes, revealing a barren waste. A cry of despair dies in his throat when he finds himself crushed under the glare that laughs at his plight. Deceived and bereft by the brightest, most implacable light; bound by irons too strong to cleave.’ His whisper was drowned in bleak pain; his gaze now gleamed with shards of consuming rage, and with unshed tears.

When the sun’s last ray sank below the horizon, he tore his eyes away and unclenched trembling hands from his horse’s mane. I saw him blink, blush in chagrin and bite his lip lightly, then he busied himself with the girth buckles of his saddle. I was too startled for words, having glimpsed the truth that lay behind his mask. My heart thumped with useless regret at Melkor’s betrayal and with hope that Mairon might yet be swayed to seek forgiveness.

The silence hung tensely between us, until it was mercifully broken by the passage of a creaking cart. We hastened back through the gates, as the trumpets blared the call warning of their closure into the darkening dusk. When we arrived back at the house, Mairon hurried to his workshop, curtly pleading an urgent matter of business.

I often recalled the words he spoke that day, even many yéni later.”

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