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'A Little More
Part Seven - Sing
Majesty – pre-breakfast hunt. Find excuse!!!!!
Report for P. Enclose family letter.
3. Compare tenders, dried fruit supplier - Fleet.
Meet with working group, re: supply list
Report from lord Elrond – edit undiplomatic comments re.
6. Military council meeting: take notes for P. Present report – Lord
7. Letter to Glorfindel – also mention:
Sheep, goats, BULLS
8. 2 kittens to new homes: after work. b/w and grey striped.
9. For essay - read: Haradaic Rites for the Dead, by Irig Khenjet
It was good to hear from you, out there in the cold, wet,
malodourous east. I fully agree with your remark about the
dedication of the members of the courier service to their work -
they manage to keep our communications lines open even under the
most trying of circumstances. I know Aereth quite well, her husband
is serving in Eregion with Lord Elrond’s forces, so she has a most
personal understanding of how much regular letters mean to the
warriors and their families.
On that point, I spoke with Lord Pathenien before he left on a tour
of inspection across Harlindon, and he was doubtful about the
likelihood of families being permitted to join warriors deployed to
Imladris. However, as I am acting in his stead while he is away, I
took it upon myself to place the request before His Majesty. He
thought it an excellent idea that would give the settlement
stability as well as strengthening both the resolve of the garrison
and the attractiveness of the posting. The formal notification is
included in this package, complete with a copy of the request for
volunteers signed by His Majesty.
Those personnel who wish to take advantage of the opportunity must
undertake to remain attached to the Imladris garrison for ten years,
but His Majesty feels this will be less of a hardship for career
soldiers than it might first appear.
I had no expectation of finding a Midwinter gift included with your
letter, so the trinket box was a wonderful surprise. It is the
perfect size and shape for hair ties and the like, and the holly
sprig on the lid is a lovely seasonal touch. Please convey my thanks
to Sael’s son for his help. How old is he, did you mention? It was
also really interesting to see an example of the basket work you
mentioned in your letter. You seem rather more expert at it than you
imply, and I liked the pattern effects the different colour reeds
create. How does one make a chair seat? Is it a square fitted into
the open frame of the bottom of the chair? I would really love to
see some of the things you describe. Perhaps when you are a larger
community, Imladrian basket work will be exported across the
kingdom, rather like lace work from South Haven?
I remember how simply we were forced to live during the winter
months when I was growing up. I suspect here in the city we risk
losing touch with the cycle of life. Hothouses provide us with food
that would otherwise be unseasonable, and there are craftsmen whose
sole employment is to manufacture their wares in answer to our
needs. Were it not for the snow on the ground, I would hardly know
it was winter, although I was intensely aware of it this morning. An
invitation to one of His Majesty’s early morning hunts in the woods
above the city is regarded as a social coup, but personally I am
less than convinced of the joys of galloping through the snow at
sunrise, as I was called upon to do in Lord Pathenien’s absence. I
know that for His Majesty these excursions are mainly about fresh
air and exercise, but I have uncertainties about hunting for any
reason other than seeking food for survival. Was this why you
stopped eating meat, I wonder?
Thank you for your interest in my additional duties. Briefly - well,
I’ll try to be brief - there has been an ongoing dispute within the
Fleet regarding significant differences in the rations received by
sailors in the three main ports. Someone mistakenly believed this
fell within my area of responsibility, which it most definitely did
not. However, in my eagerness to make this clear, I made the mistake
of raising it with Lord Pathenien, who as I told you thought it was
a very good idea. So, despite my best efforts, I have been forced to
catalogue the differences, eat sample meals, discuss nutritional
needs with a healer and am now trying to draw up a uniform menu. I
also have to find suppliers in the various ports who have the
capacity to fill high volume orders while meeting a specific
A Fleet problem, a monumental waste of my time, but I suppose
someone has to do it, and they seem singularly unable to come to any
kind of agreement amongst themselves.
Thank you for sharing your Midwinter gathering with me. It sounds
like a wonderful evening, and far closer in spirit to the original
intent than most of us experience. I love the idea of sharing
memories of other people and places and truly hope it grows into a
tradition there. I think telling them about your mother was quite
the perfect choice - Men say that no one is lost whose name is still
remembered, and I think that should count for us as much as for
them. I noted your comment about perfectly manicured gardens. I
suppose there is a vast difference between public gardens with not a
single blade of grass out of place, and a loved and cared for
private garden such as I am sure your mother had. Will Imladris have
gardens one day, do you think? On your side of the river, I mean.
Your reference to Gondolin as somewhere you could build up the
strength necessary to confront the Enemy was something that had
never occurred to me before. It has always been this wonderful city,
hidden away from the world, but whose purpose I had difficulty
understanding. You had all gone through so much horror to reach this
shore, it seemed strange that you would then go and hide yourselves
away. However, your explanation is something I can understand. It
was a very big city, I imagine? Stupid question – it must have been,
to be able to raise an army of ten thousand to fight in the battle
of Unnumbered Tears.
I heard you were on some kind of a ledge or pinnacle of rock, and
lost your balance when the balrog caught your hair – you can surely
not believe it was your own fault that you failed to see it or react
in time? I remember when I was a child, everyone who came to Sirion
from Gondolin said had you not held off the Enemy’s servants, there
would have been wholesale slaughter on the pass. As it was, your
actions gave people time to move further along, and for the Lord of
Eagles to arrive and bring his kindred. I always hoped you had time
to be aware of that.
You said I could ask questions – did you often see the giant eagles
while you lived in Gondolin? That must have been amazing! And…
something that is a complete liberty, but I have always wondered –
how was it, when the Moon first rose? I always thought I would have
been afraid, not awe-filled, as we are told was the case.
I read your thoughts on why so many Men may have joined the Enemy’s
ranks with a great deal of interest. I had not considered they might
want to build something for their children, or that the Giver of
Gifts would seem almost god-like to them. If I am honest, I suppose
in their place I might be tempted by such things, but so far as I
know they, like us, believe it is never right to take what is not
yours, or to kill unless it is in defense of your own.
I am studying Haradaic customs at the moment, and their gods require
a great deal of propriety from them in their dealings with
'outsiders', as they term everyone who does not live under their
rule. There are strict religious laws governing things such as
declaring war – both the actions that justify such a course, and how
warfare should be conducted. Very little of this bears any
resemblance to what has been happening in Eregion, which has led me
to wonder if they take their gods less seriously than their writings
would seem to imply. Does that seem likely to you?
Originally I thought that learning Haradaic would be useful if we
managed to intercept their communications lines, and that if I
learned a little about their customs, I could contribute something
to strategy discussions, but I admit I find what I am discovering
about their culture fascinating in its own right. They have a very
rich history (bloodthirsty, too) and a satisfyingly extensive body
I have not yet finished the saga of the Hero and the crocodile. It
deserves a book in its own right (and possibly has one) as it covers
a number of adventures including a quest for the pomegranate that
will bring eternal life, and there are at least two love triangles.
I would be happy to write an outline for your amusement later,
should you still be interested.
I am told goats will eat almost anything, including vegetables,
young grain, and – whatever their teeth can manage. Of course, there
is a breed of long-haired goat, the coat of which makes a
wonderfully soft yarn – I think I might have mentioned this before?
They could be very useful, and if they were persuaded to live in the
lower part of the valley, there would surely be less disruption. As
for those goats that might currently be in the area, I think so long
as they are not actively dissuaded they would almost certainly seek
to make a sheltered, food-rich place like Imladris their home.
As for the bulls, I agree with the Silvans. Spring should be
interesting. Bulls that get along amicably during winter see one
another as bitter rivals when the season changes. I think you will
have to keep them apart later. because otherwise each will think all
the cows are his, and feel obliged to prove it.
Sheep always look miserable to me, even when they are content. I
suspect an undiscriminating dislike for all two-footed creatures.
Poor Háran, he is not having a good time at all. Rain, wind, snow
--- it is difficult being a dog, I think. My personal dislike right
now is for snow, but that would be due to this morning’s hunt.
Normally I think It looks quite beautiful. I liked what you said
about him being confused at your sitting still for any length of
time. It adds to my picture of how your life is normally lived. Do
you go out regularly on patrol with your men? I have never thought
to ask, but suddenly it seems very likely.
Finally – as you will have discovered, I have sent a design for a
second style of loom, this time a flat one, not an upright.
Something to keep your convalescent warriors busy and properly
supervised. And I will try to send more cloth when the terrain is
less treacherous – currently the courier felt the less he had to
carry, the better for the horses’ safety.
I hope everything is going well for you all, and look forward to
hearing from you soon.
Before anything, I need to thank you for your help in getting
permission for family members to join the warriors stationed here.
You give no details of your conversation with His Majesty, but you
must have been very convincing to get this passed so quickly. On
behalf of the men (and women) involved, I thank you for your good
offices. Ten year contracts seem a minor detail to most of those
intending to take advantage of the opportunity; they all feel it is
a small price to pay to have their loved ones close by.
When the weather lifts, we will start building family accommodation
on this side of the river, loosely attached to the garrison. We did
something similar at Vinyamar, and it was very successful. Of course
back then the idea of people dedicating themselves to fighting was
very new, so there was far more pressure not to separate families,
which might be why it has always felt right to me.
I am delighted you enjoyed your gift. I wracked my brains for
something to send you, but in the end all I could offer was my best
effort at something a little more intricate than the usual product
of my leisure activity. I wanted to put a dried flower on the lid if
I could find such a thing, something that would represent Imladris,
but there was nothing suitable, and young Lindir said it would fall
apart eventually anyway. I have, of course, passed on your thanks to
him for his aid.
I wonder if you would be interested in hearing how we spend our
evenings. We still rise with the sun, of course, (even if we can't
see it), but as night falls so early we need to find ways to fill
the dark hours between late afternoon and bedtime. Most of us
eventually find our way to the community hearth and either seek out
a quiet corner to read or write letters, or else look for some other
means of entertainment. The sewing circle I mentioned previously is
still very much in evidence and has not yet run out of cloth
(although they will be thrilled to hear they can expect more later
in the year). Several are currently sewing rabbit skins together to
make bed covers, and I believe deerskin will soon be available for
coats and pants. They all leave before dinner to see to children and
other domestic concerns, but they come back to occupy their place
for at least a part of the evening.
Most people like to spend their leisure time talking in small
groups, or playing games like Red Stone or Balefire. For those who
prefer a quieter, more considered alternative, we now have two chess
sets carved by Celaran, who has just finished inlaying and staining
boards for them. There are also some who pursue more solitary
interests while enjoying both the company and the warmth of the
fire, in fact I am writing this from the spot not far from the
hearth which has informally become ‘my’ corner. And then of course
there is always a bunch of off-duty warriors near the back, sitting
along the wall drinking and swapping (unlikely) stories. Those on
duty are to be found either deployed above the valley, on watch in
the cave where we cure skins, or guarding the few remaining access
Why was I telling you all this? Oh yes, I wanted to explain about
Lindir, who is around thirty-five years old (I must remember to ask
his exact age) and already shows a great deal of promise as a singer
and musician. About an hour after dinner, when everything has been
cleared away, the music starts. Nothing formal, of course. We have
no trained musicians in our midst, which is a pity but is as it is.
Perhaps later. Instead we take turns to share a song or a poem as
the spirit moves us, or a tale of times past with some kind of
(occasionally appropriate) background music. We have two lap harps,
a couple of flutes, some interesting looking pipes, one large and
one very small drum, and a contraption of metal strips of varying
size on a wooden frame, which are struck with two sticks. The sound
is unexpectedly melodious. And something they tell me is called a
Of the regular singers, Lindir is the most noteworthy, and often
brings conversation to a temporary halt. He has one of those pure,
immensely clear voices that carry well, and he has an exceptional
range for one so young. He is also quite good with the flute, can
beat quite an intricate rhythm on the drums and is trying to teach
himself the harp. He needs proper training to hone his skill, of
course, and were it not that time has wrought such dramatic changes
to music, I would offer to do so myself. I hope someone with the
necessary expertise eventually finds his or her way to Imladris,
because Sael seems intent on settling here for at least as long as
the army will allow.
Your question about the chair seat amused me for some reason,
therefore I include one for you to examine, assess, and even
possibly use as you think best. Yes, I made this myself. There are
three standard sizes, of which this one is medium, and they are tied
securely to the chair frame, forming quite q comfortable seat. I
have doubts about how long the reeds will last, but a sealant has
been created, (I have no idea from what), which is painted on as a
preserver, after which they have to be rubbed with lavender oil to
disguise the smell. It all seems like rather a lot of extra work, so
I hope it adds substantially to the chair’s lifespan.
How many long-haired goats do you think we would need before they
would produce enough fur to make it worth our while? Do you shear
them like sheep? I am familiar with neither the animal nor the yarn.
Amalek says he will teach a few of the more sensible civilians to
shear sheep, which is a relief. He currently has Lachol producing
the correct implements for the task. You are quite right about the
sheep, of course. They do always look miserable. Perhaps they will
seem happier without their thick coats.
Another voice telling me the bulls are going to fight. Someone
thought it would be an excellent idea to bring one of them plus half
the cows down here. If anyone can find a way to do so without
endangering either their own life or that of the cattle, I am more
than happy to give my permission. So far, no one has come forward. I
suppose we will just have to wait and see, and hope for the best.
I do that rather a lot, you might have noticed. Hope for the best.
So far it seems to pay off more often than not.
We should hunt to eat, yes. I was taken on one such social jaunt
before I left Mithlond, although I have never been at ease with the
idea of hunting for pleasure either. The need to get out in the
fresh air and take some exercise is something I recall from Gondolin,
where fortunately someone in my position seldom lacked the
opportunity to do so. Currently we hunt mainly deer and rabbit. I
have no part in this personally, but I know the traditions are
adhered to: the spirit of the animal they seek is greeted in
brotherhood, the hunting party explains that we need meat to help us
stay strong in the cold months, and older animals are always the
preferred target. After the kill, thanks is given, both to the
animal's clan and to Lord Oromë and Lady Vána for their bounty. That
should be sufficient, shouldn’t it?
Since my rebirth I find I am loathe to take life without good
reason, which is why I now avoid meat although I still eat fish. In
fact, I quite enjoy fishing. It is a very restful way to pass the
time, and they somehow seem less 'sentient' than four-legged beasts.
Some might find that a little hypocritical, I suppose. I have no
problem with anyone else eating meat, by the way, but just feel it
is no longer for me.
Yes, I go out on patrol with my men. I used to do that in Gondolin
too, even when not strictly necessary. They need to see I do not
think myself too good for the work I set them, and that all duties
are shared fairly. This way they know there is nothing I am not
prepared to do myself, and have in fact done at least once. As our
primary duty is to keep the valley secure and protected, we do not
stray far from Imladris. Decent skirmishes with orcs are few and far
between, although I have been involved in two. On both occasions, we
saw tracks and I insisted we chase them down. That is slightly at
odds with my standing orders, of course, but no one seemed to mind.
Gondolin was a large city, but seemed less so when you were
approaching from the mountains. I think the fact that it was built
up on the rock made it seem smaller, but of course the buildings
spread down almost to the plain. City might be too strong a word,
but it was a fair sized town, in fact it was larger than really
necessary because a lot of the buildings and open spaces were
modelled on those we had left behind. It made some people happy,
made them feel more secure. And of course it was very beautiful,
very like Tirion at a glance. White marble and such. Very tidy.
We used to see the eagles when we were on guard in the foothills,
keeping watch in case something somehow managed to slide in through
the gates. You could scarcely miss the creatures, they were immense.
Occasionally one of them would bring messages. I was present when
the Wind Lord brought the High King's body to his son for burial. It
made some of us realise how very far we had cut ourselves off from
what was happening beyond the mountains.
The Moon was a gift from the Valar, a promise we had not been
utterly deserted. Or so we chose to believe. It seemed very bright
after so much darkness.
I had little time to assess how successful my fight with the balrog
had been, but I was conscious of having done my duty, of course,
which is all any of us can reasonably expect to do. This is
something I tell my warriors regularly. No one should expect the
impossible, just that everyone will do his best.
Learning about the Haradrim must be, as you say, fascinating. I
would also like to read something about their country and way of
life someday. I think when people write about their gods and the
duty owed to them, they probably reflect an idealised situation;
there are often vast differences between how we know we should
behave and what happens in practice. Premarital chastity springs to
mind. And of course, rules can change with time. It might depend too
on how their religious laws are interpreted to them by those whose
place it is to do so. Perhaps their actions under the Dark Lord's
flag seem justifiable to them, though how that can be I am not sure
as Eregion is a far way from Harad.
And yes, I would love to read a summary of the Epic once you finally
have time to finish it. After your brief description, I find myself
even more curious. Everything including love triangles? Excellent.
Thank you very much for the second loom template. I am informed this
one is good for rug making, which might have to take its place
behind other more pressing needs, but some faces still lit up at the
thought. Apparently it will be better for wool too. When we have
wool. At any rate, the loom builders seem quite pleased with the
design, as they say it will be far simpler to put together and less
demanding with regard to the type of wood used. I do not pretend to
understand one word in five on the subject, so I just nod my head
and try to look intelligent.
I know you are completely inconvenienced and put out by your new
duties, Erestor, but I think you have been paid a large and almost
certainly well-deserved compliment by being asked to see to this. It
sounds quite complicated, requiring research into several normally
unrelated topics plus the ability to find and motivate the right
people, something I tend to regard as a gift. Sadly, I have no self
control. I have to ask how the sample meals taste? No need to spoil
the Fleet after all, now is there?
I hope the weather is improving for you. Háran is sitting here with
me (and pretending not to be inside where people can point at him
and say 'out'). I am sure if I were to ask he would want me to send
greetings to you. After all, you are always careful to ask after
him. He is, by the way, very well, just sleeps rather a lot because
there is little for a dog to amuse himself with at this time of
year. I suspect you were right, as usual, and that he would love a
few canine friends.
PS. Later. Just finished a second letter, imaginatively labeled Part
Two. Thoughts, memories, random self-pity. Please feel under no
obligation to read past the first paragraph.
Beta: Red Lasbelin