Main Page ~*~*~
'A Little More
Part Nine -
The courier had to take
shelter along the road and spent several days waiting out the bad
weather, but the mail arrived none the worse for that. Thank you for
your letters, both of which I will treasure for what they tell me of
your life in Imladris and your memories of the past.
We only met once,
briefly, shortly before you left. You had been to see the scale
model of Eregion and Eriador that His Majesty is so pleased with,
and later he stopped to introduce you to Thalahir, who they
originally planned to have deal with matters relating to Imladris. I
was called over briefly and introduced as Lord Pathenien’s
assistant, but only had time to say ‘Welcome to Mithlond’ or
something equally clichéd before you were whisked off to meet
someone else. In case that isn’t enough of a reminder, I was the
short elf with the straight black hair and brown eyes who couldn’t
stop staring at you.
The only other time I
saw you and know for certain that you saw me was at the event to
mark Lord Elrond’s begetting day. You were with a crowd of
admirers, and I was looking around for a familiar face, not certain
why I had received an invitation. Our eyes met and you smiled at me.
I recall thinking you looked as lonely as I felt, and I wondered how
that could be when you were the centre of everyone’s attention.
After, I realised that had been unthinking of me – how else should
you feel, surrounded by strangers who were more interested in what
you had done than in who you are? I am sorry now that I lacked the
courage to go over and greet you, but you were in such exalted
company it hardly occurred to me.
It’s early morning
here. I am sitting on the public terrace overlooking the gardens and
the sea, shivering a little from the chill air. This is my quiet
time, the only part of the day that is truly my own before
nightfall. When I finish writing to you, I will change into work
clothes, have breakfast in the main hall, and then go to my work
area and diarize my day. With luck I will manage to avoid His
Majesty while I am doing all this, as he seems to have decided I am
good company on the hunt. Somehow, after your letters I have little
taste for chasing down poor, defenseless animals for sport.
Sometimes your letters
remind me so much of home that, if I close my eyes, I can almost
smell the forest greenness behind me. I loved how the air felt back
then, especially in summer, the sounds of the insects, and the smell
of growing things. We lived on the edge of farmland, and I liked
going to look at the animals and crops, and seeing all the new
innovation Men were forever experimenting with. At sunset, when the
day’s work was over, we would sometimes hear them singing on their
way home and maybe give them a song back in response. We seldom
mingled, but we got along well enough. Like us, they had lost
everything during the War and had to start over again and being so
short lived meant hard work over many generations.
Miss it sometimes so
badly, but it does not do to say so here, as country life tends to
be disdained by those more at home with stone walls around them. I
have been asked more than once if I am Sindarin.
I love the woven seat
you gifted me with. Thank you. I like the way the colours fade in
and out, naturally blending and contrasting. I like more that you
made it, because it’s almost as though our hands touch across the
distance. After some thought, I threaded a leather thong through it
and hung it on my wall, in the open space near the window that was
begging for – something – to fill it. Looks nice. I think that if
you made one a little bigger and attached it to a wooden frame, you
would have a very attractive indoor screen. Have you experimented
with dying the fibres yet? That would work well for a screen or wall
hanging --- or even a mat for the floor. I assume you are making
You would like the
goats I told you about in my previous letter, the ones with the long
hair. They look really shaggy before they’re sheared and they really
have quite good natures. Also, goats have interesting personalities
and are far more intelligent than sheep. I suppose it would take a
fair number to be useful, I can find out if you wish? They farm with
them to the north of here, up near Lake Evendim. Lady Galadriel is
very partial to shawls made of the yarn spun from their hair and
sends yearly with her order. Apparently this is a tradition that
began when she lived there before they moved to Eregion.
I don’t know that I was
exceptionally persuasive with His Majesty, I just explained why I
thought it was a good idea to let the warriors have their families
there and smiled a lot. He was quite interested and asked a lot of
questions, and it’s my experience when someone does that they
eventually end up feeling the idea is at least part theirs. If that
person is the King, it means whatever was being discussed will
almost certainly get done. Not that he has a name for acting without
regard to the wishes of his Council, of course, but he has a great
deal of charm and a reputation for being able to talk anyone into
Something you mentioned
almost in passing roused my curiosity. You said you would have
helped Lindir learn the harp had music not changed so much over the
centuries. Does this mean you were a proficient harper yourself? I
know they speak of Lord Ecthelion as a musician, and I have also
heard that a well-bred elf back in the first age was taught a love
of music and poetry along with sword skills. How dramatically has
music changed? Traditionally elves are said to be slow to embrace
new ideas, something I previously doubted, but not since trying to
explain why more vegetables and less lembas would provide a better
diet for the navy.
It must have been so
strange to be exposed to all that light after years of darkness.
Moonlight on snow can be harsh and almost sinister at times, and I
imagine it must have been eerie and not at all comforting that first
night. I always wondered how the plants grew, and how the animals
survived and stayed healthy without sunlight, but I suppose that
would be one of my more pedantic questions. I asked our tutor once,
and was sharply reprimanded. He said that the ways of creation were
as they were, and all things are possible by the power and will of
the Valar. Which raises more questions than it answers, but I had
enough sense to keep them to myself.
The way you involve
yourself with everything that affects Imladris and her people, even
something you have no part in like hunting, is very true to who you
are, I think. What you told me about the way permission is asked
for and thanks given before and after the hunt sounds exactly right.
It shows respect for the animals, the land, and the Shining Ones
themselves, and I am quite sure nothing else would be necessary. Of
course the Silvan elves would be the best people to ask about this.
They know far more about such matters than we Noldor who came late
to Endor, more even than the Sindar who were less inclined to roam
the land as they did.
I never thought of
Gondolin as a trap, but reading your letter makes the lesson clear:
always make sure you can get out, no matter where you are or what
you are doing. I recall there was once a suggestion that all but one
exit from Imladris be blocked off, and how strongly you spoke out
against this – that was in correspondence between yourself, Lord
Elrond and Lord Pathenien, of course, but the letters somehow ended
up in my Imladris file. At the time I wondered, but now I understand
why you were so tenacious on the subject. We hear the things people
tell us, listen to the songs, and often overlook the obvious.
I was in two minds
about asking the following question, but as you opened the subject I
have to assume you will not be averse to discussing it, at least
superficially. Therefore – I keep wondering why you were so eager to
avoid marriage when you were in Gondolin. Did you perhaps leave
someone special behind in Aman, as they say King Finrod did? Or am I
right in thinking it was rather a more personal preference?
Perhaps we could
combine fishing and mountaineering when the war is over? I could
introduce you to rock climbing, then we could find a stream to camp
beside and you could teach me how to catch our dinner. There were no
edible fish in the local river where I grew up, so I never learned
this skill. We could count the stars, listen to the trees, and talk
about important things like finding Háran a friend and the merits of
goats versus sheep. And of course dragons. That conversation is
already long overdue.
You did far more than
your duty, you faced death to protect those you love, and that goes
well beyond any requirement to king or city. Thinking of you alone
on that pass, preparing to face death, makes me long to have been
there to tell you so before you fell. Trying to picture you now,
sitting in your tent with the rain falling outside, writing by
lamplight, sharing your thoughts. Want to be there, hear the words,
ask the questions.
I am very proud to know
you, Fin. Your friendship honours me.
My love to Háran.
PS. I have a book you
might like - something you could read beside the fire while everyone
else is talking and playing games. It’s called Gods and Goddesses
of Harad and is by Athradon, a merchant who trades with the mortal
cities to the south. He has made several trips into the east to
purchase silks and spices from the Haradrim. This book was the one
that first sparked my interest in their culture and beliefs. The
illustrations are a little exaggerated, I suppose, but the artwork
is very well done. The artist has accompanied him on several of his
ventures and has a wonderful eye for detail. Just thought you might
like to read it.
My mother used to call
To Do list
1. Avoid pre-breakfast
2. Confirm travel arrangements to Forlond naval base
3. Present request for budget increase re naval rations to his
Majesty. Triple check motivation!
4. Encrypt request for confirmation of whereabouts: Balien, Celeborn,
5. Include enquiry Balien re request for engineer. What happened
6. Short note to Gildor, request information re orc movements.
Enclose letter for Brennil
7. Final edits, essay, 'Haradaic Customs with Reference to the Role
of Women in Society'.
8. Make peace with housekeeper re kitchen scraps for cats.
Not very tall. Eyes the
colour of mountain water flowing over stones. Shining black hair.
Yes, I remember you. I understand now why His Majesty was so easily
persuaded to make his ruling about families moving to Imladris; you
mentioned that you smiled a lot while explaining it to him, and you
have an irresistible smile. We were introduced and then I was
dragged off elsewhere before I had a chance to ask you to repeat
your name. All this time I have been getting to know you without
even realizing it. How very strange.
Strange in a good kind
of way, of course.
There are few gifts
more meaningful than a book that has been loved and well read, so
thank you very much for sharing this with me. I like that I can
guess at a few of your favourite parts, or possibly your favourite
illustrations because the book falls comfortably open to those
pages. I look forward to reading it over the next few evenings, but
intend to ration myself carefully to make it last. There are very
few books in Imladris, and I am already receiving hopeful glances
from several directions. I enjoyed the introduction; they sound like
a very interesting couple. I think I would like to travel some day.
Music, in answer to
your question, was part of our education. We learned to read and
write, we were taught the history of our people, we were exposed to
art and music and trained to appreciate both and practice whichever
came easiest. We were also free to pursue mathematics or the smith’s
craft, and to study plants and trees. Alongside that, we had
physical training, things like running, wrestling, archery, and
swimming. Not sword work. Not when I grew up. We bore no weapons in
Aman, not until shortly before the King was killed. Once we crossed
the sea though, that became a major part of life. Once we settled in
Vinyamar, everyone learned a defensive skill, and those of us with
any aptitude trained intensively. We moved from paradise to war in
a matter of years, from possessing eternity to knowing that life
could be snuffed out at any time. Some adapted faster than others,
some never adapted at all.
Poor Res. You asked
about music and received a lecture on education in Aman. Yes, I play
the harp, not brilliantly but with competence. However, our taste
was more formal back then, nothing like the intricate, emotive tunes
I have returned to. I suppose I could give Lindir the basics, but he
will manage that well enough without me. I confess I prefer the
current style to the extent that I would rather not risk imposing
the structures of a bygone age on a boy who looks up to me and might
be inclined to assume something is right simply because I say so.
Could you find out more
about the goats for me? Despite Amalek’s growling on the subject, I
feel that if they would do well here we should consider it,
especially if the yarn is as popular as you imply, We need to be
thinking beyond simple survival to having goods to offer for trade
with Lindon and possibly other places in a few years from now. I
asked Sael’s wife about it, and she says she has never owned
anything made from goat’s hair (she used another name, which I now
forget), but that it is wondrously soft and warm and takes dye well.
Talking about crops and
livestock makes you a little homesick, doesn’t it? I noticed it in
your letters occasionally and wondered if it was the place you
missed, or being with your family? The way you describe it sounds
rather as I hope Imladris will seem in a few summers from now.
People can be unthinking sometimes, hence the less than sympathetic
comments which you need to put down to ignorance and misplaced
humour. I really like Mithlond and suspect I am a city person by
nature, but Imladris has very quickly become my home. I miss
Gondolin and Tirion purely for the people I loved and lost.
Actually Tirion feels such a long time ago, it is almost like
looking back on a beautiful but unlikely dream.
It might also be
sailing a little close to the wind to make jokes about Sindar versus
Noldor considering His Majesty’s family history. I find I am
learning a very different way of looking at life and the world from
my Sindarin companions, one which makes me a little less assertively Noldor these days, a lesson those who tease you would do well to
trap went against my personal inclinations and nature, which is why
I avoided it as best I could. I enjoy female company very much, but
not in the way that would eventually lead to an eternal bond. I find
attitudes have changed quite dramatically in the last thousand and a
half years; at the time this type of honesty would have been
I can only hope the
above in no way embarrassed you or left you feeling uncomfortable.
Your own feelings on the subject are naturally unknown to me, but I
have shared so much else about myself with you that I suppose it is
only right that you have the full picture.
How did things grow in
the dark before sun and moon? This question made me smile. My dear
Res, I have no idea. Like you, I have to assume all things are
possible through the power of the Mighty. Or something along those
lines. All I can tell you is that we arrived in a land with plants
and animals and a thriving elven population, many living within
Melian’s girdle in Doriath, and at the time it never occurred to me
to ask how this was possible. I do know that the Sindar told us the
plants changed with the coming of the sun, and many things that had
previously slept or not been visible, particularly insects, appeared
There was a theory that
the world had been bathed in light before, and that when it was
withdrawn for whatever reason the flora and fauna that had depended
upon it did not die but simply became dormant until the sun roused
it again. Would that make any sense, do you think? It was
fashionable in Gondolin and even before to mock at such concepts as
Sindarin superstition, but perhaps they half-understood things we
knew nothing about.
I went out with one of
the patrols earlier in the week, crossing the Ford and riding almost
as far as the nearest abandoned mortal settlement. We kept an eye
for signs of Orc or other outriders of the Enemy and found nothing
to cause concern save for a few wolf tracks that our Silvan tracker
was quite convinced were unexceptional. We always include at least
one Silvan elf with a patrol because their eye and sense for
anything out of the ordinary in nature is far more accurate than our
own. They have a connection to the land and all things in it that is
almost uncanny. On the way back we stopped off at the winter pasture
we have found for the cows, which offers a deep cave to give them
shelter at night. They are all doing fairly well though they are a
little thin due to the lack of grazing. The dry fodder that was
stored up during autumn has all but run out, although their
guardians did the best they could, and spring cannot come fast
enough for them.
I came back to a scene
of near disaster. The snow is melting, and the Bruinen has been
flowing exceptionally fast for days, making enough noise to keep the
lighter sleepers amongst us awake at night. While I was away the
bridge, the only connection between the two sides of our settlement,
was completely flooded. I barely had time to see to my horse before
I was taken down to the crossing point, where the water had risen so
high that it reached almost up to the first houses. We need to
rethink how close we have built to the bank, perhaps use those
houses for some other purpose and build further back and a good deal
higher than the river.
You mentioned you were
writing your letter on the terrace, and I quite enjoyed being able
to picture you there. I am currently sitting on a fallen branch
overlooking the water and watching Háran bark at a group of off duty
warriors who are trying (with limited success) to anchor a simple
rope bridge across the river. This will serve as a temporary measure
until the waters subside, after which we can use the normal bridge
again while Sael gets on with building a more permanent stone
structure. I made some pretence at overseeing things for a while,
but it was obvious that what I know about this work is probably
dangerous so I retired gracefully, probably much to everyone’s
I was thinking about
your idea of combining fishing with me learning something about
mountain climbing. I suppose anything too adventurous is out of the
question while the war continues, but fishing on its own and a
little exploration are easily arranged. Despite the terrible events
unfolding about us, Imladris is still a haven of peace and safety. I
look around and cannot believe we are in territory largely overrun
by the Enemy. The snow still lies thick in the more sheltered
corners of the valley, but otherwise it is beginning to melt. The
mess is unsightly and will no doubt get worse as the mud spreads,
but the sounds of voices calling one to the other and of children
laughing underlines the all-pervasive sense of peace, confidence,
and optimism for the future. Our warriors watch for us from the
heights, all is well here in our hidden corner of Eriador.
What I am nervously
building up to is a tentative invitation to you. If you are able to
take time off from your work, would you consider coming out here for
a visit? I can wax on about the wonders of Imladris for another two
pages in an effort to persuade you, but there will be little you
have not heard before and it can all be summed up in two words:
please come. Partly because no one has a greater right than you to
see what we have wrought here, so much of it having grown out of
your interest and advice, and partly because Háran and I would so
enjoy the chance to spend some time showing you all the things I
have been writing about, and getting to know you better in person.
Think on it, let me know. Please.
Finally, your closing
words. Thank you, I will hold them in my heart. As I find I do you.
Beta: Red Lasbelin