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'A Little More
Part Ten -
To do list
delivery dried fruit, Forlond
2. Private note Cpt Balien re bridge building, ref Turin.
Meeting - Thalahir - after lunch.
Order oil for Imladris
Create schedule, start sorting files.
6. Rosemary and black pepper hair oil.
7. Price body lotion.
Take boots to be re-heeled.
9. Remember catnip!
10. Language exercises, 231 - 245. Irregular verbs, list 3,
Where to start? I am so glad you liked the book. I hoped you
wouldn’t think it strange that I sent my own instead of having a
copy made, but there was no time – you would still be waiting for
it. What you said about being able to see my favourite sections
makes it more personal anyway, doesn’t it? Almost as though I was
there to point them out to you (look, there’s the narwhale, and
here’s the temple to the war god, decorated with skulls…)
I know you are interested in faraway places and was not surprised
when you said you would like to travel when the opportunity
presented. Since getting to know you, I have tried to imagine what
it must be like to have a second chance at life, and I think I would
want to experience as much as possible and try to make every minute
count. Is that how it is for you?
The first group will soon be leaving for Imladris, all related to
members of the garrison. Seven wives, eleven children, someone’s
parents, in fact I think there are two sets of parents. (list will
be enclosed) After a great deal of begging, combined with promises
that Thalahir will keep my work up to date, I persuaded His Majesty
to let me go along with them. For security reasons they will
naturally have a well-armed escort, and he has seen fit to give me
command of this. The warriors will join your force until Lord Elrond
has decided where to deploy them, whereas I have permission to stay
for a month, returning with the next courier. I would have liked
longer, but I was grateful for what I could get. Pathenien is not
very happy about it, but can hardly argue with the king.
When I made my case for being allowed to visit, I was careful to
emphasize how useful it would be were I familiar with Imladris, and
only mentioned your invitation in passing. However, His Majesty gave
me a very long look before saying “You and Glorfindel have been
corresponding for nearly a year now, right? Probably time to share a
cup of wine, yes.” He has a reputation for being very perceptive,
though I had no idea I was so transparent. I think I blushed, which
is not a habit of mine.
We leave in just under a month, which should give me ample time to
bring my work up to date, delegate various responsibilities,
complete the requirements of the current section of my studies, and
– possibly the most difficult – find someone to look after the three
cats that live with me. We need to keep our luggage to a bare
minimum, obviously, as we cannot risk passing through enemy
territory with something resembling a trade caravan in size, but if
Imladris has any urgent needs, we can transport far more than the
regular courier can manage. That applies to any personal requests
you might have, too. Send me a list.
It never occurred to me before that of course there was no enemy in
Aman, no need for weapons. That’s fascinating. How did weaponry
begin, how could you know where to start, what to make, how it would
work? We are introduced to the sword, spear and bow when we are very
young and concentrate on whichever best suits us, but your only use
for knives or bows would surely have been hunting? To make the leap
from that to using them as offensive weapons, and from the knife to
the sword – how was that done? And I suppose the next obvious
question would be - who taught the first elf to fight? And why?
I should warn you that I ask even more questions in person. You
raise some interesting ones yourself, though. Dormant vegetation?
Like spores and seeds, you mean? Buried in the ground, just waiting
for heat and light to bring them to life? That sounds a little like
something I had to learn by rote as a child, about how flowers
sprung up beneath the feet of the Noldor as they marched into
Middle-earth. Did that really happen? I always wondered. There is
even a famous painting that purports to depict it, except the Noldor
are all armed to the teeth and wearing really modern-looking
I suppose the insects that pollinate the plants slept too. And the
bees, bees don’t come out when there is no sunshine, or at least
they seldom do so because they use the sun to check their direction.
Are there beehives in Imladris? If not, you really should look into
doing something about that.
I have written to the head of the settlement at Lake Evendim, asking
if they would be able to supply you with a few goats. I thought
perhaps two males and six or seven females to start with? I took the
precaution of first raising this with His Majesty, who suggested I
send the letter in his name. This makes it somewhat less a request,
and means you should have goats arriving as soon as is practical. He
thinks it is a very good idea, and has even given me an item made of
mohair to send to you. I think it must be a knee rug, but many
people would drape it decoratively across a chest or over the back
or arm of a chair.
When trade with the rest of the realm is finally possible, both this
and basket work could prove very profitable for Imladris. I could
easily have sold that chair bottom you sent me, and which I am
passing off as a wall hanging. It has already received a great deal
of interested comment. Of course, I would never part with it, for it
is a gift from you and precious to me. My earlier idea of dying some
of the reeds different colours still stands - I think it would prove
I wondered how the cows fared during the heavy winter you
experienced, and was glad to hear they came through it well and that
safe winter pasture was found for them. Did the elves who normally
care for them remain out there as well, or were they left to fend
for themselves? I suppose it would have been difficult for elves to
find adequate shelter from the weather.
I recall you mentioned Sael thought it best not to start work on a
permanent bridge until he could see the effects of the spring thaw
on the river. Was there much damage? This seems to have been an
exceptionally severe winter, particularly in Eriador, so perhaps
flooding is not usual for the Bruinen. Hopefully, all will be well
next winter. How long does Sael think it will take to build the
stone bridge? Which reminds me – we will somehow need to get our
carts down into the valley and possibly across the river. Will this
be a problem?
I never expected you to notice me. I grew up thinking myself
imminently forgettable, mainly due to the way I was teased about my
hair being so dark. And of course I longed to have grey eyes like
most of my friends – I suppose we all need to feel we fit in,
especially when we are very young? Over time I realised some people,
for good or ill, found my looks exotic, but l certainly never, ever
expected you to notice, much less remember me. And thank you for
what you said about my smile, I am smiling again now as I reread it.
When you get to know me better, you will find I do not embarrass
easily. His Majesty feels very strongly about all kinds of
intolerance, and his attitude has encouraged many people to rethink
opinions they often took for granted all their lives. It gives me
such pleasure to realize you finally have the freedom to live in the
way that is truest to your heart. I know enough about the way things
were in the past to be aware that I was truly blessed to grow up in
a time and place where prejudice is officially frowned upon.
Of course prejudice still exists, and many elves, especially the
older ones like my uncle, tend to be rather conservative. If, as
often happens, I am asked when I plan to marry, I normally say I am
still looking for my soul mate and leave them to draw their own
conclusions. Courtesy aside, people are probably happiest not having
to listen to the details of my mainly disastrous love life.
Looking forward to being in Imladris soon, and hope to hear from you
before I leave. This will be a very long month.
Dear Res, with the beautiful smile and endless questions,
Háran and I are making a list of places and things we think will
interest you during your visit. So far, we want to show you the
looms and our first attempts at spinning and weaving, introduce you
to the sheep, the cattle, our family of chickens that someone found
wandering around a deserted farm, and take you to look at our
beehive. Actually, beehives in the plural, as the bees
swarmed and we now have two groups plus a wild colony at the far end
of the valley. I notice you write about them with a great deal of
warmth, so this news should give you pleasure.
Probably one of the first places you will see is our communal
gathering place, grandiosely named the Hall of Fire (there was
alcohol involved, of course), but more personal to me is the spot
overlooking the river where I often go and sit when I write to you.
We have a fine pool amongst the rocks if you are fond of swimming,
and Háran will also want to point out his favourite vantage to watch
for squirrels --- in other words, all those places I have spent
months wishing I could share with you. To say I am thrilled that you
will soon be here is an understatement
We spent the past month creating terraces on the north side of the
valley, hard work but immensely satisfying. The north gets the best
of the sun and is protected from the worst weather, plus it is
relatively tree-free and covered mainly in little shrubby bushes and
grass. The process has been fascinating to watch. First, steps had
to be carved into the slope, then the sand had to be held securely
in place with barriers made from split logs and the smooth, flat
stones found along the river bank. The ground that will serve as
paths separating the crops had to be stamped down, and then the
earth in the future beds had to be turned over and cow manure, bat
droppings, and the like dug in. Nothing containing leaves though.
Leaves are bad. I have no idea why.
Water is a problem because it has to be brought up from the river in
buckets, but an irrigation system is apparently next on Sael’s list.
Whether or not all this effort proves successful is something we
will only discover next year, which is when Amalek says the soil
should be ready for us to start planting. He sends you his best
regards, by the way, and looks forward to seeing you again.
If that all sounds rather detailed, perhaps you can guess how I
spent the last few days? The division of labour is simple, civilians
supply manure, sticks, stones and water, warriors dig. We were told
with great sincerity that this was because no one wanted the
valley’s protectors to feel they were being taken advantage of by
having to haul water or chop wood. More likely, I suspect they
thought digging was the kind of task best suited to the average
warrior; uncomplicated and offering little room for confusion.
I put the list of those who will make up your party on the notice
board in the Hall of Fire, and was almost trampled in the rush to
read the names. You might be surprised at how many people look
forward to making your acquaintance, not just Háran and me. Your
part in making this all possible has resulted in you being thought
of as quite a hero here. The fact that you will have charge of the
escort has even served to reassure those concerned regarding matters
of safety. Personally I feel it would have been wiser to set out
during winter, taking advantage of reduced enemy activity, but that
would have raised other, more practical problems. As long as your
numbers are sufficiently intimidating, I am sure all will be well,
and I have every confidence in you and those under your command.
The greens and blues in this knee rug (or throw, or whatever you
feel it should be called) are quite beautiful. I had no idea it
would be this warm, and Sael’s wife says it is strong and wears
well, too. I need to ask around and see if I can find someone who
knows about dyes. No matter the question, someone here usually has
an answer. I liked your suggestion of wall hangings, screens and
mats to trade, and of adding colour to the natural shade variations.
When you are here we can talk more about this, and you can see for
yourself what we have made for our own use thus far.
We are moving the cows down here from the high ground, and had to
use branches and sand to give the trail a more secure footing. It
seems to be working well, so we can do the same when you arrive with
the carts. The project was unplanned, but two cows wandered off and
were later killed by orcs who, as you will know, have a streak of
gratuitous cruelty. This was very evident from what remained of the
poor animals, and their caretakers were devastated. After some
discussion, I decided we should try and bring them all down here. I
suspect Sael thinks I lost my mind, but I think this is what you
would do in my place.
So far there have only been minor mishaps, but the cows trust their
minders and seem willing to follow them, and they are being moved in
small groups of no more than four at a time. Once down the trail, we
send them across the river into the safety of the valley. The
much-discussed stone bridge is still a long way from completion, but
the current one has been suitably reinforced with extra wooden beams
and careful use of the rope you sent us earlier, and is more than
adequate for carts and the occasional (rather confused) cow.
Talking about animals, we are having a problem with mice in the
storage areas. None of us likes the idea of traps, and Lord Elrond
said some time back that the best solution would be to bring in a
few cats. That is how we managed things in Gondolin, although the
method favoured there to control the size of the feline population
would certainly never be employed here. Would you consider allowing
a couple of yours or their extended family to join our community?
You have my word they would be extremely well cared for, and I am
sure Háran can be made to understand not to chase them. I have no
idea what would be involved in transporting cats to Imladris, so
please tell me if the idea is unworkable (or downright stupid).
Your questions are always unexpected and insightful, and I really
enjoy them. Weapons in Aman? Well yes, we had spears and bows for
hunting, though knives were more for carving wood or for skinning a
carcass. Feanor it was who perfected the sword, and I can only
assume he was moved by one of the Valar, perhaps Aulë, to do so. As
the days grew darker, some of the highest born began to wear them as
symbols of strength and status, although there was no thought of
using them to bring harm to another. At least, so I believe.
Certainly my friends and I had no thought of killing back then, it
was outside of our experience.
It was probably a different matter for the Valar. I believe they
better understood the approaching darkness, but lacked the terms
that would explain it to us, prepare us. It was only after
Alqualondé that we all knew just how much damage a sword could
cause. As for fighting, once we had crossed the Ice, those with
natural talent taught their skill to those who were willing to
learn. And so it went on.
Flowers springing up under our feet? So they say, yes. But if I
answer all your questions, there will be no need for you to visit.
That one can wait for a time when we are sitting under the trees
with the fish not biting. Remind me then, and I will tell you about
our arrival in Endor, how it really was. Including the flowers.
Travel? Oh yes, one day when the war is over I would love to see
Harad, and to visit the ice lands in the north that I hear so many
strange tales of. Those two extremes are at the top of my list. I
know you are curious about Harad, so perhaps I can persuade you to
share that adventure with me? Something else to discuss one
afternoon beside the river when we finally have the pleasure of
sharing thoughts and wishes without the barriers imposed by distance
and carefully chosen words on parchment. It might also be a good
time to expand on your reference to romantic disasters. I admit to
having had one or two of my own.
What would we like you to bring, besides our families? Well, more
cloth if you can. Good needles for sewing. Vegetables, either seeds
or young plants, would be very welcome. More oil, please, our
supplies are running low again. And books, any books, would be
greatly appreciated. What do I need? Another question perhaps best
left to be answered in person.
Háran and I will be counting the days till we finally meet. Travel
safely, Res. Take care.
Beta: Red Lasbelin
Grateful thanks to
Erfan_Starled for detailed advice about terraced farming.