Burning Bright - Part 6

My Fanfiction  ~*~*~  My Livejournal  ~*~*~  Main Page ~*~*~  My Links  ~*~*~  Email

'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 to form.

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 so…”

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 music-maker.”

Lindir shuddered. It was getting dark. He hoped Erestor had brought back enough wood for a really big, long-burning fire.

~*~*~*~*~
 

Beta: Red Lasbelin