Silmarillion Writers' Guild Who? A Celebration of Minor and Original Characters

Excerpt from "The Apprentice"

by Pandemonium_213


"Yes, nails. Why? Is this task beneath you, Sámaril?" The Istyar's tone is drenched with condescension.

"No, not at all. I just thought..."

"You must start with simple work. Your knowledge is impressive, especially for such a young man, but there's a huge difference between acquiring theory as opposed to applying it."

So nails it is.

Dejected, I melt the common iron ore, cast the banality that is a nail, and proceed with its shaping. I assumed that I would begin work on more technical projects, such as an elementary machine with gears, or perhaps something decorative like an arm cuff or a torc, or even a knife blade, but no. Nails. I, Sámaril, one of the most knowledgeable of the junior apprentices in the House of the Mírëtanor, am crafting nails. I spend a month working on them.

The Istyar examines them not only for strength but also aesthetics. He holds the latest iron nail between his thumb and forefinger, turns it over and over, and hands it to back to me, his frown transmitting unambiguous dissatisfaction with my work.

"You are Noldorin, Sámaril. If you wish to join the Guild of Smiths, you must aim toward both solid function and graceful form. Even the most mundane tools must have a pleasing quality. My cat could do a better job than this."

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Excerpt from "An Intense Dislike of Elves"

by Himring

‘So you took the fact that Morgoth’s messenger had impersonated you in his attempt to turn your people against us as a personal insult to yourself’, he summarizes. ‘And now you wish to fight Morgoth, whereas before you had advised against it? I understand. But pardon me for asking—that does not quite explain why you are here. Those of your people who have opted to take part in the war against Morgoth have so far moved west, not north. It was my cousin Finrod whom you first followed to Estolad, after all.’

‘I was told that you had chosen to build your fortress here, in the north, so as to be in the forefront of the battle against Morgoth.’

‘So now you have had your mind changed for you, you’re impatient to join the fighting? But I hear your Uncle Aradan has established himself at my uncle’s court at Eithel Sirion, with others of your kin. Himring is not closer to Angband than Barad Eithel. Why not join your uncle?’

I hesitate. His gaze meets mine. Steady grey eyes. The sons of Feanor, they said. They are not like us. They are proud and fierce. And their voices implied other things as well. Estolad was supposed to be quite close to their territory, the territory of Amrod and Amras, that is, but if Amrod and Amras also came and inspected us, I never met them.

‘I wish to fight Morgoth. I still do not particularly like elves.’

He does not look surprised or offended. He looks as if he’s waiting for me to continue. But what else can I say?

‘You may have heard—my people call your cousin Finrod Nom. It means Wisdom.’

Now his eyes widen slightly.

‘I see. You came looking for someone less wise.’

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Excerpt from "Elegy for Númenor"

by elfscribe

“One game, perhaps.” Sûla flopped down next to Tigôn and picked up one of the bones, weighing it in his hand. “What’s the wager?”

“Do you want to play for money? In any event, I don’t have any,” Tigôn replied. “I thought we could just play for the glory of winning.”

“There are things other than money we could bet.”

“What d’ye have in mind?”

“Too bad we can’t play for switching duties for one night.” Sûla grinned at him. “I think I’d like your job, running around camp relaying messages. T’would be an easy night for me.” He stretched.

“You think my work is easy?” Tigôn snorted. “Try finding Lord Azgarad when the army is on the move, or remembering some long message from the King that he’s changed several times, or having Lord Rothîbal argue with you about one of the King’s edicts, as if I have any say about the matter, or waiting outside for hours in the sleet. Besides I couldn’t do your . . .” He stopped abruptly.

“Couldn’t do my job?” Sûla looked at him from under his lids, hoping his expression was innocent. “You couldn’t pour out the wine at banquets? Help the King dress?”

“That’s not all you do,” Tigôn said.

“What exactly are my other duties?” Sûla cooed. “What is so distasteful that you couldn’t bring yourself to do it?”

Tigôn wouldn’t look at him. “I’m not having this conversation with you. What do you want to wager, then? He dug into his vest pocket. I have three silver buttons here, newly acquired so I haven’t had time to sew them on. What can you offer?”

Sûla leaned forward with a smirk. “I could offer you the best time of your life.” He ran his tongue across his upper lip.

Tigôn nervously rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand, as if wiping away the very thought. “I, no, uh, I’m not like that, Sûla.”

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"Myth and Legend"

by Aria

He had stayed o'er long and so would always mourn; leaving the isle of the ever-young.
But there was no future in that land for him; for a mortal in an immortal land.
The stern bows beneath the waves.
Swift, threatening, a warning thrown up to warn him well what would happen should he dare try to return to that fair isle.
He sails home, to hearth, and kin, to dark unknown, to spin tales of lands and people long forgotten. Of friends lost beneath darkening skies.
Of a world that is little more than myth and legend...

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Excerpt from "Magnificat of the Damned"

by Spiced Wine

The wolves jumped –

– And Coldagnir became.

He roared up in the night like furnace. Those who saw him said that great red-gold wings clapped outward like an eagle's, and that his face shone with a terrible, radiant beauty.

The grey wolves ran, mute and mad. The Fell-wolves tumbled back, then turned, tumbling and fled in a torrent.
In the wrong direction.

Glorfindel heard Daeron's warning cry to the twins even as he sent out his own. There were many things he could do; it seemed there were always things he could do, if he did not care what damage he caused. He had people to protect.

I know, Vanimórë said wryly, then, on a grin, We will just have to use the old ways, Golden One.

They have always served us well enough, Glorfindel agreed.

Maglor saw the wolves come like a swarm. Off to his right, the Silmaril was a dropped star. He raced toward it, Tindómion following him, crying, Celegorm!

Tindómion saw the thing from the corner of his eye and wheeled. The wolf looked as big as a pony, and it's stretched maw seemed to laugh as it gathered itself on it's haunches and sprang.

Time ran like honey...

And Vanimórë hit it at the apex of it's leap, twisting in midair, one booted foot cracking out to impact on the animal's skull. It hit the snow in a heavy, sprawled tangle of limbs even as Tindómion watched Vanimórë spin gracefully and land like a cat. He glanced back with a smile and wink, snapped out his swords and sprinted away. By Eru, he can move, Tindómion thought with unstinting approval.

"The Ladies of Andúnië"

by Lyra

The Ladies of the Andunie by Lyra

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Based on characters created by Lady Roisin.

Excerpt from "Moonlight and Midnight Sun"

by Lady Roisin

I stopped counting the years long ago. The days and nights had already melted into one by then. My feet took me far in my grief, further than I thought possible. Time no longer mattered underneath the veil of grief and guilt. It is strange how far one will wander when their heart breaks, how far they will go to try and escape the pain only to find it already a step in front of them. My torment chased me over the mountains and into dark, dry, places where the stars were strange. I had not even taken notice of their odd positions in the sky until the night I felt her pass.

The birds and insects fell silent. Even the wind that blew sand and dust into my eyes and clothing suddenly ceased. I remember when I looked heavenward that the stars themselves seemed to have gone dark. In that moment I knew. All that I feared for her had come to pass and I wished to die as well. I tried to follow her. But alas, her spirit fled far beyond my grasp. My beloved morning star journeyed beyond the circles of the world and was gone from me forever. Time became insignificant. Even though the sun bore down upon me and burned my skin until it blistered I saw nothing but darkness and felt for the first time the chill of midwinter within my limbs.

In time the shadow of grief began to lift. I cannot say how many years had passed but I felt clearly that the world had changed.

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Excerpt from "The Far Side of the World"

by SurgicalSteel

It had been two and a half damned years since they’d set out from Tol Uinen, and they kept sailing east. East, and then south to go around Ras Morthil, and then east again and south again, and east again and north for a while and east. Why in the name of the stars Captain Hendinaer kept sailing east, Cullasso didn’t know…

Well, that wasn’t quite true. He at least suspected. Hendinaer was noble, but he was a mariner, and goodness knew the Queen wasn’t fond of mariners, and she was least fond of the one who wanted to marry her eldest granddaughter. Princess Quindelótë had committed the nearly-unpardonable sin of speaking her mind to the Queen, advising Tar-Ancalimë that the Queen was a wretched excuse for a human being and if this was what ruling Númenor did to a person, she could toss the Heirship into the sea. In an unfortunate bit of timing, the princess had promptly fallen in love with a man who might otherwise have been barely suitable – he was a descendant of Tar-Minyatur’s daughter Tindómiel, and hence of the right bloodline. The fact that he was one of the Uinenedili made the Queen take an instant dislike to him – and coupled with what Cullasso suspected was a mean-spirited desire to revenge the insult given by Quindelótë, the Queen had denied them permission to marry.

And so Hendinaer sailed. Cullasso had sailed with him before, down to those lovely lands north of the Bay of Belfalas where the elves had built a haven, and down as far as that westward-facing firth which seemed to have been designed by nature to be a harbor. Hendinaer tolerated Culasso’s desire to wander in the woods and the deserts and make sketches of every plant and animal they encountered, to expand on the notes taken by Tar-Aldarion’s naturalist, and gave him more time than any other ship’s captain might have given a ship’s surgeon to pursue an interest that wasn’t strictly in keeping with his duties.

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Excerpt from "Mereth Aderthad"

by Oshun

"Do you still want to come with us, or shall we walk you home?" Maitimo asked, his tone one of the courtly deference that would not have been out of place with a noble maid of Tirion. "Did you tell us where you are staying?"

Findekáno reflected that Tadiel was unlike most of the sheltered and feckless girls that Maitimo had once been notorious for pursuing in his youth. Although, she was easily as pretty of any of them. A good friend and ally, a grown Sindarin woman, she might have been carefully reared in Doriath, but certainly since leaving there had not led a sheltered life. She had nursed warriors with grievous injuries, both physical and of the spirit, suffered in a long, dirty war--Maitimo himself in fact.

"I stayed with Mablung and Pilimor last night. I used my cousin Daeron's cot. I set up my own in their tent this morning before we left. I'm not in a hurry to go back there yet. I have nearly two months more to catch up with Mablung's and Daeron's gossip of home. And who knows if I will ever have an opportunity to corner the two of you like this again."

"We were thinking of more than just conversation," Findekáno warned.

Maitimo exhaled loudly and raised an uncertain eyebrow. They had not discussed if this was the right moment to raise the issue. But Findekáno figured that the longer they delayed the more he would dread it and the less willing he would be. It might indeed be now or never for him.

Tadiel laughed. "Your methods of seduction need a little refinement, Finno. That's hardly a romantic way to put it."

"Oh, I assure it will be though," Findekáno insisted solemnly. "Maitimo is an incorrigible romantic."

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Excerpt from "A Dragon Tale"

by Pearl Took

Yew sighed. "Now, young Pippin, you know the story of my kind. It is part of my instincts to know all this, although I think the peoples of Middle-earth reckon this all as myth. It is the tale of who and what I am."

The lad slowly nodded his head. "Yes. I can see that and yet there was the dragon I told you about that worked with the faeries to clear the Orcs from their lands. He wasn't evil . . . well, not totally evil. He wasn't tricking them. If . . ." Pippin shivered. "If Morgoth made the dragons, shouldn't you all be as evil as he is?"

Yew pondered this. "Perhaps, it is because we retained the ability to breed on our own. The Elves he corrupted into Orcs could not do this. He used only males to make the first Orcs so there are no females of their kind. All of the dragons now alive were born in the natural way and are not of his making. We are tainted but I think not wholly evil. Perhaps, Pippin, as time has passed and we are no longer born in his realms under his watch, something of our original nature is able to show itself. But to what degree, I do not know. I readily stole treasures from your family and the desire to obtain and hoard such things is growing stronger in me. If I did not know your family values the creature, I would have roasted and eaten your wretched cat last week as the infernal beast loves to walk around my cage and taunt me. I fear there is evil within me, my dear friend."

Pippin nearly chuckled aloud as the image of the cat taunting Yew in his cage was funny to him, though it obviously wasn't to Yew.

"Perhaps there is, but I think you're a very good dragon." Pippin said as he stood up.

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Excerpt from "Ossë's Gift"

by elfscribe

The Captain’s name was Azra Armalak. He was Númenorean-born and had spent most of his life at sea. He was lanky except for a large belly, wore his hair in a queue, and sported a long mustache. Even on land, he walked with a rolling gate. He claimed kinship with the royal house of Númenor, in the distant past through a sister of Tar-Súrion. His talk was salty and his manners atrocious, a fact that Glorfindel enjoyed and Erestor tolerated. The important thing is that he was one of the Elendili, the elf-friends, and as such was loyal to Gil-galad.

When they entered the cabin, the captain was awaiting them with outstretched arms. “Greetings my lords, Glorfindel, Erestor. How fine to see both of ye back aboard. The wind’s abaft us and we’re off to Lindon on a wing and a prayer, Mandos be cussed.”

“Good evening Captain Armalak,” Erestor said with a bow. “And you may ‘cuss’ Mandos as you say, as long as prayers are offered to Ossë and Ulmo.”

“Is he always this damn formal, Findel?”

“Usually worse,” said Glorfindel. “I do believe he’s loosening up.”

“I am merely cautious,” said Erestor. “I have no desire to wash up on the rocks somewhere through offense to the Valar.”

“Ah the Valar will do what they will, eh? I’ve learnt that after sixty years asea. Still Counselor Erestor, I’ve never been washed up anywheres yet. And you Findel, gone native, I dare say.” Stroking his chin, he walked around Glorfindel eyeing him appraisingly. “You look like a damned brigand.”

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Excerpt from "Risk Assessment"

by Pandemonium_213

“Midhel, what is wrong? Did we say something to upset you?”

“Yes, we did or rather I did!” Mélamírë said. “Midhel, please don’t be offended. What you have been chosen to do is an honor. Your skills will provide a valuable provision to those who must travel far under harsh conditions, no matter what the secret of lembas is. I apologize if I overstepped my bounds in my questioning. Teretion can tell you that I am inquisitive, and that I tend to challenge the ideas of others. That doesn’t mean I do not respect another’s beliefs.”

Midhel met Mélamírë’s eyes then, the fire in them now soft and warm, no longer intense with questions and retorts.

“Thank you, Mélamírë. Becoming an Ivonwen has been a dream of mine for so long. I have always loved ritual so part of the appeal is the mystery of the harvest and the making of the bread. I find that to be a beautiful concept. I have faith in Ivon’s love for the Firstborn, too. That is why I find it hard to believe that a poison lurks in our most sacred food.”

“You have hit on the complexity that is life,” said Mélamírë. “There’s no one thing - plant, animal or person - that is entirely good or entirely evil. Ivon knew that the benefit of the grain far outweighed the risks taken to harvest and consume it. You believe the mysteries of lembas are connected to the Belain. The mystery to me is why did lembas develop such a toxin? How does it help the plant? I wonder if this plant even came from Arda!”

“That is a strange thought! Do you always question our people’s teachings like this?” Midhel asked.

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by Olorimë

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Excerpt from "Survivors of the Downfall"

by SurgicalSteel

Nemir shrugged and set to work – it wasn’t as if she was asking him to do something that wasn’t his job, after all. First would be to debride the burns – to remove the bits of what looked like some sort of ceremonial robes that were burnt into his skin, to remove the bits of skin that hung from him like shredded rags, and for that he needed clean water and clean rags and he worked on the limbs first, trying to pull fractured bones back into alignment even as he worked on the skin with a sort of scrubbing motion, removing as much dead skin as possible, removing the ash, pulling away bits of what must have been richly embroidered fabric.

His patient gasped, and opened his eyes for a moment, and called a name that Nemir didn’t recognize – but the eyes, oh, gracious, his eyes… “He’s an elf, I think,” Nemir called to Zamîn. “Poor bastard, wonder what they’d have done to him… do you think he was in the Temple?”

The man coughed, and spat out a clump of what looked like blood mixed with ash, and said, “Mercy, please…”

Poppy would be a mercy, and Nemir pulled the man up to half-seated long enough for him to choke down a bit of poppy tincture, and continued to work. The only part of his flesh that seemed intact was underneath a gold ring on the man’s left forefinger. He thought to remove it, the hand might swell, and swollen tissues underneath a ring could lead to gangrene, but the man got such a pained look on his face when Nemir touched that area that he decided to leave well enough alone. There would be time enough to cut it off, if need be – and so Nemir continued to work as the captain questioned this man.

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Excerpt from "Illuminations"

by Dawn Felagund

The third day of the week was his day off from the scriptorium, and Pengolodh always spent that day looking for the long flight feathers from gulls that made such suitable quills. Even when the sky poured rain; even on the one occasion when the snow piled to his knees (and feathers would have been impossible to find anyway), he went. He ached to hear the sound of the sea, loud enough to drown all but his most insistent thoughts; repetitious enough that his ponderings skittered lightly on the surface of the sound, never plummeting into the deeper and more painful introspections to which he was lately prone.

Pengolodh liked climbing on the rocks. He was terrified of it. Everywhere he saw surfaces angled to upset his balance, crevices waiting to snatch and snap his ankle, slick spots that would send him face-first into the rocks, catching himself and abrading his palms. His blood roared in his veins as he carefully picked his way across the rocks. He held his body so tight, so afraid, that when his feet touched the sand again, his shoulders ached like they did after a day bent over a desk. He quivered. He felt alive.

His careful gaze appraised danger at every point. He leaped, and expected to fall. Teetered. Outstretched arms held his balance. In this way, he made his way to the farthest rock and, there, settled to watch Nevrast.

From afar, he liked Nevrast. It might have been a pile of beautifully shaped rocks, something dumped there by the Valar when the light still came from the Lamps and they lived in peace on Almaren. Even his keen eyes couldn't catch the movement of individual Noldor along its streets and walls. His imagination filled the empty windows and doorways with people very much unlike the people who lived there.

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Excerpt from "The Jinn"

by Pandemonium_213

She made herself useful on their eastward journey: she helped the women with their cooking; she milked the goats; and she pitched the tents. When they camped at oases, she collected firewood and drew water from the deep wells. She sang their songs under the vault of the night sky, her voice resonant with the stones of the earth and the wind over sand.

One day, she watched his men polish and sharpen their curved swords. She stepped forward and asked if she might help them with their task. One of his men laughed.

"What does a woman know about a sword's upkeep?"

"Women are fit for this sword," said another man, grabbing his crotch.

All of the men guffawed, some of them looking at the jinn with hunger but with a little apprehension, too. She remained still, her hands held out in offering. Sharif, wary, touched the hilt of his own scimitar, nodded to his tribesman and watched him give her the sword. She sat down on a rock and set to work, humming while she slid stone over steel with precise movements. She returned the sword to its owner.

"Let's see how sharp your blade is now," she said and reached under her robes to tear away a piece of silk from her clothing. She held it aloft in the evening wind and released it. Sharif’s man sliced the fabric to fluttering shards.

“You have given my blade the magic of the jinn!” said the warrior, his eyes wide and amazement in his voice.

She bowed her head with modesty. “You might call it such, but I only know it as my craft.”

The other men no longer laughed or made rude gestures; all asked her to sharpen their weapons.

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Excerpt from "Before Thangorodrim--The Last Fall of Himring Hill"

by Anna Wing

The parley stretched on to mid-day. It grew a little warmer, though no brighter. The Easterling accepted tea in the end, after her voice had become too hoarse in the foul air to be comprehensible. She refused food, though whether this was due to suspicion or pride Finarfin did not know. Despite close questioning, they were unable to elicit much information about the mysterious Grandmother. She was a woman of their race, yes. She had ruled them from the beginning. Had, indeed, been born among them.

“But your Grandmother does not die as mortals do?” Finrod had taken over the questioning. “Does she change her appearance?”

“How you mean? Grandmother is always same.”

Edrahil said out loud in Quenya,

“Not a devourer, then.”

Finarfin shuddered inwardly. The Amanyar had learned to their horror that the stuff of children’s stories in Aman was reality in the Marred lands. There were Houseless spirits, and they did indeed steal the bodies of the living.

“It would be easier to deal with if it were a Houseless One,” Finrod said. “But it does look as if this Grandmother is one of the Uvanimor, walking in mortal form. In which case, do we want to let it go?”

Ravendë said,

“What do we speak of here? Two thousand mortals at most, some of them children and old, more than half of them wounded. We have driven the greater part of their kin out of Beleriand. One spirit, of unknown strength, but it appears not one of the Enemy’s greater servants. Even did the two hosts unite, their increase in strength would not be much. And a later field might perhaps be more to our advantage.”

Both Meneldis and Vanamirë nodded. Even when, or if, the walls fell at last, it would be an uphill fight, over impeded ground, against an enemy with nothing more to lose and powers whose limit they did not know. No one had forgotten that this was not the last battle that the Host of the Noldor would have to fight.

Finrod said, under his breath,

“Any one mortal is capable of changing the Fate of the World.”

He had been called Friend of Men, had died for a Man’s sake. It had wounded them all, but him most deeply, to see Men, their Secondborn kin, corrupted and deceived to the Enemy’s side. To slay them when they would not accept mercy, as most would not.

“The greater Uvanimor can change their shape,” Vanamirë said at last. “This one could surely escape us as it chooses anyway. The Lady Lúthien bound Sauron himself, but we have no goddesses here for the moment. If we can take these hills now without further bloodshed, why not do so?”

“We do not know what cost there might be, later.” Meneldis was unconvinced.

Finarfin looked at his brother’s sons. The Fëanorioni had been silent for hours, watching the Easterling with concentrated attention, much as the Lord of Ravens might have eyed some tasty piece of soon-to-be-carrion. Maedhros answered the unspoken question without shifting his gaze.

“They are asking for mercy. Will you grant it?”

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"Vanimórë in Sud Sicanna"

by Esteliel

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Based on an original character created by Spiced Wine.

Excerpt from "A Light In The East"

by Spiced Wine

Elrond could not have looked more appalled had Glorfindel physically struck him in the face. He swayed back, his face gone blank, then turned, throwing a glance over his shoulder as he walked away.

Thou wouldst judge me, thou? slave of Sauron! Thinkst thou I would leave my son, and he who carries him, with thee? His fingers had unraveled his braided hair and he thrust his hands into the mass of it, breathing hard as a warrior after a battle.

Did he teach thee sorcery, slave, for thou shouldst not be able to communicate with me thus, not from so far away unless thou art Aman-born.

Thou couldst never see whom I was, couldst thou? The question was sinuous with black mockery. Didst thou never wonder why?

Sauron was in thy mind like dark fire, barring all else.

Oh, thou wouldst still see that in me, Golden One. Then Vanimórë abruptly ended the game like an executioner bringing down the death blow. I am not Aman-born. I was born in Tol-in-Gaurhoth. My mother was kept alive, insane while her womb nurtured me. To my father, I was simply a slave to use in whatever way suited him.

Glorfindel felt anguish as deep as a crack in the world in Vanimórë's soul.

I know how Legolas feels better than thou canst imagine. Thou didst name me Vanimórë. That is my name in truth. Thou hast penetrating sight, or did. Vanimórë Gorthaurion. The son of Sauron holds and will protect Legolas Thranduilion, and thy son, Glorfindel. Is that not wonderfully ironic?


Vanimórë looked down at Legolas, who had not moved and took both his hands.

“You spoke to Glorfindel? He could hear thee?” the prince asked, his voice shaking.

“Yes. For some reason, he was not overjoyed.”

Excerpt from "Elegy for Númenor"

by elfscribe

Dolgu felt his Master’s wrath like knives cutting his undead flesh. He hated him so thoroughly it felt like love. Hardly able to move from his position pinned against the wall, he hissed through lips drawn up in a rictus of pain, “Your Excellency, you know that my loyalty to you is absolute. I will drive your forces from behind. Dread shall make them invincible. They shall throw themselves upon the enemy and vanquish them. I swear it!” The final words were wrung through a howl of anguish.

But Tar-Mairon was now fully possessed by the tantrum. Dolgu had only seen the like a handful of times as usually his Master held himself in tight control. The shadow grew, absorbing the light. Books and candles and maps flew in ever-tightening circles. The wolf ran howling into the other room as His Excellency’s wings appeared, tearing through his robes, and, with a shriek, he soared upward into the gloom. By Utumno, Dolgu loathed it when Tar-Mairon pulled that stunt.

“Excellency,” Gron cried above the tumult, “When military force is insufficient, I counsel . . .” his voice rose into a wail, “I counsel . . .guile!” At that moment the gale plucked him from the candelabra and smacked him into the wall.

There was a sudden calm. With a ping and a thud, objects rained out of the air. Both Dolgu and Gron slid down the wall, landing unceremoniously on the floor. They glanced at one another. Gron rolled his eyes.

Excerpt from "The Elendilmir"

by Pandemonium_213

“Oh, now that was simply brilliant, Sámaril!” Thorno, holding two full goblets of wine, was at my side. “Very well done. You have set your sights on the impossible.”

A scorched tingling suffused my face. “What in Utumno's blazes do you mean by that?”

“I haven’t seen you that taken with a woman for ages. Do you know who she is?”

Much to my chagrin, I realized I had not asked her name, but then neither had she introduced herself. It was as if she assumed I knew who she was.

“I only know that she is the distracted mother of Valandil, the Dúnadan child I pulled off the rocks today. And I am a widower, Thorno. A married man. Of course I do not linger around women, especially mortal women. She merely wished to thank me for rescuing her son.”

Inwardly, I winced at my self-righteousness since I had succumbed to my hröa’s demands on numerous occasions after my wife's death. Knowing this, Thorno cocked his brow at my protest but said nothing. I took the goblet of wine from his hand and drank long from it.

“From what I observed, you accepted her thanks ever so graciously.” Thorno smiled wryly.

I groaned. “Varda’s stars! I am hopeless when it comes to manners.”

“You also have a blasphemous mouth!” He laughed, savoring his remark since he swore as often as I did. “Sámaril, honestly, you spend far too much time in the forges.”

I ignored his assessment of my work habits and the implied impact on my social skills or lack thereof.

“So do me the kindness of enlightening me, Thorno. Who is she?” I took another gulp of wine, my racing heart steadying.

“Her name is Elerína. She is Isildur’s wife – one of the Queens of Gondor.”

The wine sprayed from my mouth, punctuating with vulgar exclamation my appalling lack of control.

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Excerpt from "By the Light of Roses"

by Dawn Felagund

Nearby, beneath an apple tree, three of the other assistants sat, swapping meals and laughing. One--the apparent ringleader--kept glancing my way. He was pale and slight in form, easily ignored and even more easily disregarded--it would seem--with dishwater gray eyes and pale brown hair as fine as flax that had a habit of escaping any restraint that he attempted to impose upon it. Yet he dominated the group, the courtyard, with his presence. He had a breathless voice and cheeks that tended to flush with laughter. I kept from looking in his direction.

Soon, a shadow slipped over me, and a hand extended in front of my face. “Join us?” Startled, I glanced up at the pale boy and--against my better judgment--extended my hand to his. He was stronger than he looked--I would learn that many aspects of his appearance were deceitful--and he dragged me easily to my feet. I stood almost a full head taller than him. My hand already in his, laughing, he turned the grasp into a handshake. “I am Ornisso,” he said, and I stammered, “Er-Eressetor.”

“It’s a pleasure, Eressetor. We’d like you to join us for what remains of luncheon, if you would?” He bowed and indicated in the direction of the other two boys--watching me with wide-eyed, blank stares--as though it was his place to make concessions to me.

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Excerpt from "The Last Day of Our Acquaintance"

by SurgicalSteel

Zamîn had never expected that things would come to her meeting this man, of all people, under these circumstances.

The arrival of refugees from Númenor in Umbar had been difficult enough. The news that some of these refugees seemed to be setting up kingdoms in the North had been distressing. The announcement that Elendil was claiming to be ‘High King’ had led to debates in the Assembly which began with ‘High King of where?’ and ended with ‘High King of whom?’ and had led to a politely worded ‘request’ that Zamîn re-enter political life and deal with the Situation In The North.

They’d suggested a meeting in someplace called Osgiliath, which Zamîn hadn’t heard of before, but which her contacts advised her was the new capital being built for one of the kingdoms these people were creating. She’d countered with the observation that the climate was far more pleasant in Umbar this time of year. The response to that had been a stuffily worded letter suggesting Belfalas as relatively neutral ground with a more personal note scrawled at the bottom of the page.

Much as I would personally enjoy visiting Umbar again and seeing the monument to the victory over Sauron in person, my advisors will skewer me if I accept, it read, and was signed with the runes ‘L’ ‘ND’ ‘L.’

Well. Belfalas would be acceptable, and Zamîn had always been curious about Elendil.

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