Main Page ~*~*~
'Burning Bright Snippet'
Burning Bright Snippet
Erestor left in search of wood and Lindir finished rubbing down the
horses, his mind busy elsewhere. Simple tunes came easily to him,
just give him a prompt or let him hear a distinctive sound and his
mind was off down paths where colour and taste were defined by
cords. Badger would be offended by simplicity though, and quite
honestly Badger made him nervous.
The sun was going down, shadows lengthening across a land preparing
to greet the spring. The water leapt and shouted its excitement,
snow melt joining itself to the usual flood. The sky was a dusk
palette of purple, orange and blue. Giving the second horse a smack
on the rump, he stepped back and stood still, feeling the place.
Mountains rooted deep, trees sought water, heather bloomed low on
the ground, bee bereft this late in the day. Slowly the song began
The fiddle was safe in its pack, the neck jutting out cheekily,
covered against the rain. And beside it was the harp. Lindir
considered it thoughtfully, hunkered down on his haunches. There had
been nothing in the Lady’s words about not playing the harp. All
they had been bidden do was to carry it to Lindon and place it in
the hands of the King. Both he and Erestor knew there was something
not normal about the harp, even a mortal would have sensed something
untoward. Power slept within it, waiting – waiting for what? A
king’s hand? Possibly.
Lindir drew back the oilcloth wrapping and ran a hand slowly down
the harp’s neck. Smooth, smooth as a lover’s flank under his palm.
It had belonged to Maglor, she had said, which made it old, older
than any instrument Lindir had yet chanced to play. The wood had
been sanded and polished at its making, and much handling down the
passage of years had given it a soft sheen. Maglor’s harp… the words
were a song in their own right.
He supposed he should ask Erestor first, but he wasn’t here and the
music was weaving around his thoughts, urgent for expression. A
glance first to ascertain Badger’s whereabouts and then he unwrapped
the instrument and took it onto his lap, where it seemed almost to
nestle against him. It was a working harp, not for show or for
amateurs to practice on. The strings were quite new so he supposed
the Lady or someone close to her played it, but in all other
respects it was as it had been when Maglor held it as he did now.
Lindir’s fingers explored; there were carvings along it, pictures
and symbols, though no runes of making. Its first owner had no need
of those. Other than the decorative motifs, the wood was smooth and
sleek all over and glowed with age, beeswax and use.
He could feel whatever the harp was a carrier for, but after days on
the road he had grown used to the presence and he was too interested
in the shape and sound of it to be put off. It was very responsive,
just the tip of a finger set a note whispering through the sunset
air. There was a good spot under one of the trees, giving him a view
of the river and the rolling hills beyond. He settled there, his
cloak folded under him because the grass was damp, and began to play
runs and scales, as did all professionals when faced with an unknown
instrument, getting a sense of its strengths and quirks.
The strings needed tweaking to fit his ear, but otherwise the tone
was mellow and clear with no screech or sharpness on the high notes,
no buzz on the lower register. He was so busy playing, adjusting,
playing a little more, listening carefully, that he missed the
moment when the Power woke. The first he knew was a sense of
something uncoiling with the lithe beauty and menace of a snake – or
like Erestor rising smoothly to his feet in firelight, an image
Lindir carried close from previous nights until such time as he
found a song to work it into.
Startled, he paused but his fingers kept working, a skill they had
learned during interminable dinners where his attention had been
known to wander so far from his task that he almost forgot the
instrument in his hands. Whatever was stirring, it did nothing more,
just stayed close, listening, so he kept playing, sliding from
trilling runs into the first notes he had visualised for the gift
song. If this was to be the worst of it, then there was nothing to
be afraid of, his rational mind told him with Noldor practicality.
Shrugging it off, he submerged himself in the music.
Songs came from images in his mind, though poorly executed, in his
opinion, no matter the praise heaped upon him. The shape came
through and some of the shading, but so much remained behind, too
sparkling bright for his store of talent. This time, there was no
leaving behind. The river notes were the river, the sunset notes
were the sky. The first star was a high, cold thrill of wonder, the
hills tasted green and open. Even the faint tang of heather on the
air was clear etched as though outlined in light. It was as though
someone – something – had taken hold of his vision and made it real
and he was sitting somewhere within, watching his hands and the
rainbow spirals on the air around him in an awe so deep there was no
place for mundane impulses like fear.
When it was over he sat lost in a place where sound had colour and
taste had texture, until he was jerked out of it by a hand on his
thigh and Erestor’s husky-warm voice saying, “That was magnificent.
Are you all right? I think you got a little lost inside there.”
It was like looking at the world through iridescent mist. Lindir
blinked a few times till things swum into focus and tried to put
words to how he felt. “I… Lost, yes, maybe. It wasn’t meant to be
His voice trailed off as Erestor’s hand suddenly gripped his thigh
as though steadying himself, then he looked away with a set smile,
the kind you wear when someone needs to be placated and dealt with.
“I hope that was to your taste, my friend. The payment fitted the
task of guiding us?” After a moment’s confusion, Lindir realised he
was speaking to Badger.
“Can cross the water, can show the road to the long slope down to
the bright place, Prince’s home.” Badger’s voice was a dissonant in
the dusk’s calm, the accented Sindarin rough, and there was
something under the words that sent a chill down Lindir’s spine,
though he was unable to put a name to it just then.
Erestor’s response was firm. “I can find the way from here. It’s
north for half a day and then west over the watch hills and down to
the sea. We’ll be fine now, we just needed to find the bridge, which
you’ve kindly helped us with.”
Seeking balance in the familiar, Lindir turned the harp so he could
cradle it in the way of players after a song, holding it secure
against him. He rubbed the back of his hand across his eyes to clear
them, then raked back his eternally unruly hair with his fingers and
tried to pull himself together. He was leaving Erestor to deal with
Badger alone, when in fact the matter of the song and the guiding
had been between him and the Avar.
“The song was of the water and a little of the things growing here,
of the going down of the sun and the first star’s greeting,” he
said, wondering how he had sung with such a hoarse voice. “I trust
this thanks was adequate for your time and trouble, Old One?”
Badger made a sound in his throat. “The gift was good. I will return
to my tribe and share the sense of it with them. Pictures of power
grew in the air, it was a great telling. There is a strength in the
Lindir shuddered. It was getting dark. He hoped Erestor had brought
back enough wood for a really big, long-burning fire.
Beta: Red Lasbelin