Firiel Waits for the Packet

by Firiel
This is the first major post I ever made on the boards, as I was a major lurker in the early days, as I am (unfortunately) now. It was written after we had joined as charter members, and were waiting to find out what our "grand packet" was that we were supposed to receive for joining. And didn't get for ages. It's a little long-winded, but I don't have it uploaded anywhere else...

In a land of rocky hills and dry valleys, a rough, half-tamed land filled with stunted trees and thorny shrubs, dwelt a maiden. Firiel, she was called. She was only an ordinary maiden, with ordinary duties and pleasures, but her mind roamed lands filled with people and places of her imagination. She loved ancient fantasies and tales of love and honour, sacrifice, valour, and loyalty.

Years ago she had heard legends of a land called Middle Earth. Many wonderful stories had she heard of the struggles of the inhabitants of this land - Men, who watched over the innocent, protecting them from harm, unthanked, and yet content; Elves, immortal beings who remembered with longing the Undying Lands, and mightiest in battle against Evil; Dwarves, skilled in battle with the ax, staunch in friendship, and masters of stone and metal work; Wizards, mysterious beings with power to help or hinder the Right; and Hobbits, astonishing creatures, who, although they loved comfort and the simple things of life, when threatened were surprisingly good fighters, and were loyal companions. These were the legends she loved best.

She had grown up with these legends as a child, and when she grew older and discovered books filled with the history of Middle Earth, she was captivated, and read with delighted eyes all of the ancient volumes she could find. After a time, however, she could find nothing more of that fair land. News from Middle Earth was no more.

Or so she thought.

The legends slipped slowly to the back of her mind. She didn’t forget them - she loved them too well for that, but she didn’t think of them as often. Deep in her heart they stayed alive, growing unbeknownst to her into a deep longing to see Middle Earth, to know if there were others who loved it as she did.

Then there came the day when Firiel heard The News. She had been in the midst of normal chores when it came - someone was taking a legend of Middle Earth - The Lord of the Rings - and transforming it so it could be seen - bringing it to life, as it were. She could hardly breathe - Was it possible? Could it be true? And then she found a place with information about it. Her life began to revolve about the weekly proclamations, and life passed in a blur of anticipation.

It was a little more than a month before the first showing of the Lord of the Rings when she discovered another place, a place where people who passionately loved Middle Earth gathered. Timidly, she asked if she could possibly join them? Certainly, they replied. And if she joined, she would get a Packet filled with wondrous things. Eagerly she signed up. They told her the Packet would come in a month - at the most two months. In the meantime, she could meet new friends at the Prancing Pony, Rivendell, the Fellowship, or Middle Earth rooms.

Being somewhat shy, she settled in a dim corner with a mug of hot tea and a bowl of herbs and stewed rabbit. Silently she watched and listened to everyone else. As days went by, this became her established custom. From time to time she would offer an answer to a question, or ask one herself, and once she made a short speech telling why she liked the Lord of the Rings too much. She never really introduced herself, but immensely enjoyed the lively discussions filling the rooms.

When at last she was able to see the Lord of the Rings, she laughed and cried and wished for it to never end, just like so many others. In some ways she was disappointed with it, but on the whole, it exceeded her wildest dreams, and she returned to the Prancing Pony with shining eyes, paying closer attention to the discussions than before.

Time slipped by. Among the members of the Fellowship (fondly called Ringers by some), Firiel began to notice a growing unrest - indeed, began to experience it herself. Something was wrong. The Packet they had been promised had not yet come. The Ringers began to question those in charge. Be patient, they replied. We have had some difficulties, but all is well now. You should receive it soon. Satisfied, the Ringers returned to their discussions. More time passed, however, and the Packets still had not come. Disturbed the Ringers returned with more questions. Gravely they were told that there would be a danger to the Packet if it were sent now. They had learned that unless precautions were taken, the Packet could be injured, perhaps even destroyed, by the careless messengers who bore them. The utmost care must be taken to package them in such a way that even the most careless messenger couldn’t harm them.

Firiel listened intently from her corner. She hadn’t complained as of yet, for she too knew of the dangers of sending things by messenger, but her patience was being tried sorely. All at once from the other side of the room a cheer went up. The others were talking excitedly. A present! they were saying, A present to make up for the Packet being late! Someone started dancing, and a moment later nearly everyone had joined hands in a wild dance of joy. Firiel smiled to herself. A present, indeed!

Firiel went about her work blithely after that. True, it had been a long wait, and she still knew not when the Packet would arrive. But she would be patient - this would be worth it.

At the Prancing Pony that evening, Firiel sat silently in her dim corner, hands linked around her silver mug of tea, waiting.