by Lothithil, A DarkElf Adventure
Chapter One: DarkElf Delayed
She calls to me, running down the path behind me, shouting though she
knows that I can hear her perfectly well. "Morlothiel! Wait! Please…"
I turn, and looking back am struck again not so much by her resemblance
to her father, but by her startling beauty. Her hair is
ravenwing-black, and her face an oval of porcelain, delicate and fine.
She runs after me, holding up her skirts so that her long legs flash
beneath the fabric, heedless of propriety or grace. I resettle the pack
against my back, hoping that she was not going to ask me to stay in the
"Don't go," were the first words from her mouth, and I cringed inside
hearing them. She saw my face, and the hurt in her eyes pinched my
heart. "I know you want to be away. I try to understand, but you do not
make it easy…"
I don't make it easy. Well,
no, I suppose I don't, but how can I make my purposes clear when I
cannot speak? I sigh, setting my heavy pack down and leaning my bow
against it. I want her to understand, so I will stay for a little; I
can at least make an effort to communicate.
"Thank you. Just hear me and then make your choice."
What choice do I have to make? I shook my head.
Jacinth took my arm and drew me to a seat on a fallen tree that had
been carved into a bench. She set next to me and smoothed the fabric of
her gown over her knees, hesitating to begin. At last, she began to
speak, "I miss you when you go away, Morlothiel. You have spent so
little time here that you seem like a stranger to most of the folk,
even the ones who dwelt with us in Gondolin. I wish you would stay, a
season at least, and spend some time with Idril and I. She misses you,
I cross my arms over my aching heart. Jacinth misinterprets the
gesture, "I know she reminds you of Glor…" I hold up a hand, touching
her lips with a warning finger. Do not say his name.
"Why not? May I not speak of my own father?" She hesitates, frightened
a little by my wrath. She can always hear my thoughts if I am angry
enough to project them strongly. "I miss him, too," she continued, now
twisting the hem of her skirt.
We sat silent while she mourned. I could feel it coming off of her in
waves like heat, but chilling and bitter. Carefully, I cleared my mind
and thought, This is not why I am leaving. Jacinth did not respond. Maybe she did not hear.
I picked up her small hand. I opened it and with my fingertip I drew a
picture there, of a tree. Then I wiped my fingers across her palm and
drew a deer with antlers crowning. I pointed at the new homes that had
been constructed to house the families still joining our small kingdom.
The planted fields needed time to grow, and the sea could not provide all the bounty that our people required. I made a sweeping gesture, as if gathering things to myself, and then offered them to her.
She looked at me with liquid eyes, and nodded her head sadly. "I do
understand. Go if you must, but know that I will not be here when you
return." She stood and twisted the small silver band that ringed her
finger. "Cirlin has spoken for me, and Tuor has given his consent after
finding him acceptable."
At my shocked expression, she tosses her head in exasperation. "Well,
how are you supposed to learn these things, when you slip into the
village at night and out again before the morning is old?" The tears
leaking from her eyes detract from the spectacle of her anger. "I would
have told you last year, when he first gave me the silver, but you were
busy guiding the way to the hardwood grove you located, for Cirdan to
find suitable wood for his ship-keels. Cirlin is a good suitor, and a
provider. I want to go with him to Belar. I will dwell with his people
there. He is a shipbuilder. He must live near the ships. And I must be
near him. I know you understand that." She was weeping freely now.
I place my arms around her, feeling awkward. I was never very good at
expressing my affection for her. But I had been selfish enough, and she
needed to know I loved her. She clung to me and cried for a time. I
merely sat and waited. I could not leave now.
Jacinth sat up and sniffed, drawing a sleeve across her face. Even in
her distress, she was still lovely. I carefully placed a lock of her
hair behind her ear. She smiled and dropped to her knees, holding my
hands. "Stay for a week, please? Our joining will occur tomorrow night,
and there will be feasting and music! There is plenty of food; Cirdan
is coming and Ereinion, too. They will bless our joining. I would like
you to be there."
Why? Idril is your mother now. She has been always. I sigh at the sadness that this brings into her face. I am poor at such gatherings. I do not dance or sing, and I cannot play. What would you have me do?
"Just be there for me, and be my mother, just one more time. We will
see each other very infrequently when I go to Belar, unless you take to
hunting across the waves." Her smile is a teasing thing, for she knows
that I cannot abandon her nor ignore her request. To do so would be to
deny our relationship. That I could not do. I was hard enough to give
her to another to be fostered the day she was born.
My immobility made her laugh with delight, and she grabbed my pack and
bow in one hand, and my elbow with the other, and half-drug me back to
the dwelling she shared with Idril and Tuor.
As we drew near, a tall figure stepped out of the house and bowed,
accepting my things from Jacinth. With his strong arm he embraced me. I
wanted to melt when he whispered in my ear, " 'Lothiel, thank you for
Eärendil always could capture my heart. He was a man near grown,
now, and I knew he had hopes for the hand of Elwing. She was older than
he, and sad, but his beauty and love touched her as it touched all who
knew him, and she was his even if she had not yet admitted it to
herself. It was obvious to this hunter, who knows the look of the deer
who sees the compassion of the predator.
Idril came to me at the door, and pressed her cheek against mine. I
returned her embrace. I found that I have missed her, now that I was
allowing myself to think about it. She was as regal as ever, her
bearing queenly even in the humbleness of their small house. "Tuor is
down at the harbour but will be back soon. Come and eat some of this
meat you have brought us, which Jacinth has prepared so perfectly. You
are skin stretched over bones! Why, I think I could break you like dry
bread, if we were to spar as once we did."
I smile broadly in response; it hurts only a little to recall. I shake my head. It would not be as easy as it looks.
Jacinth echoed aloud my thought, and Idril laughed. "Perhaps you are
correct! Let us not test the theory at all! Eärendil, would you
bring some wine for our guest?"
We spent the day in idleness, Idril and Eärendil speaking of small
matters, and Jacinth providing my responses when they could not be
easily read on my face. How she could sometimes hear my thoughts and
not the thoughts of others, I do not know. When I wanted to ‘speak' to
her, she could not hear me unless I was angry or very earnest. Often I
believed it a trait of her father's heritage, a prince of the Noldo,
with gifts of wisdom and magic from across the Sea.
The joining was a sweet affair, attended by all the Elves who had come
to dwell here where the mouth of Sirion opened to drink the seawater.
Comprised of the survivors of Doriath and Gondolin mostly, with a few
refugees that came from the smaller kingdoms as they were one by one
destroyed, the folk here were of mixed heritage, and pretense of
nobility were left behind with the burning ruins of their former homes.
Also attending the parties were many of Cirdan's folk, who called
themselves the Shoreline Pipers. They loved the sea and dwelling near
it. They were always hungry for wood for their shipbuilding, but were
careful not to over-harvest the woods. Often I had scouted on my long
treks for new groves of the strong, light hardwoods that the wrights
asked for. Tuor used what I found to strengthen our settlement; he
traded with Cirdan's folk for many things; small boats, food,
smithwork. The many elfmaidens who had escaped Gondolin attracted the
single males who were bedazzled by their beauty and tenacious
willpower. Many shattered dreams and broken hearts were mended with the
wind-torn sails as we wove our peoples together.
Cirlin was one such Elf. I had seen him, of course, during the brief
visits I spent in the village. I knew him to be worthy and attentive,
and I knew that he would care for Jacinth. When she accepted his gold
and offered her own token in the ceremony that bound them, I could see
by the glowing light in their faces that she had found her mate. I was
pleased for her and also sad. What pain would she endure, now that her
heart she no longer fully owned? I had known no greater torment, before
I allowed myself to love.
Felegund, Glorfindel, maybe even Celebrimbor; my trust and love I had
offered them, in fealty, passion, and friendship. I had grown tired of
death, but such was the nature of the world. Some must die that others
should live. Did not my hands slay to bring food to my people? Had I
not drunk blood to led speed to my feet, to be the swift, deadly
No Elf have I ever slain, nor any orc since Gondolin fell. Far and
wide, I ranged in restlessness but never did I venture into the north,
where the shadow-creatures ran amuck. It was as if the eyes of Morgoth
could not see past the mist of Ulmo's breath, the salt-smell that
touched the lands of our new homes and hid us from him.
South I could wander and I did, deeper and wider in curiosity and need.
A great forest I had seen on my latest and longest journey. On the
bitter ridge of a hump-back butte I saw with straining eyes a carpet of
green that spread like the sea before me, covering all the land from
the shore of Belagaer to the jagged reaches of a range of mountains
that reared like blue clouds across the eastern horizon. I longed to
lose myself in that leafy ocean, and maybe find a rest in my heart from
the urge to wade into the saltwater and disappear beneath the waves,
where the conch horns called an endless decant of invitation. That was
where I was bound when Jacinth caught me and garnered my delay.
I stood beside her with Idril, and around her neck I placed the wreath
of flowers I had wove. I looped it also around Cirlin and kissed his
forehead. Then with a strip of fabric I had long saved, I bound their
hands together. Once white and broidered with threads of gold, I had
saved this from the scorched cloak of Glorfindel. I knew that one day
his daughter would wed and since he would not be there to see, his
crest would bless their union in his stead.
I sat back and listened to the music, watching the dancing and the play
of lights on their faces. The music was different than the melodies of
Gondolin to which I had once danced. I could hear the occasional rift
of a measure of grace, played by a mourning heart, but the strong
passionate tunes of the Pipers would seize that melody and make it a
new, hopeful sound.
Cirlin came to me as I sat apart. He had a small wooden barrel with
scraped doe-skin stretched thin and dry across the open head, bound
with sinew. He handed me the drum and set another before himself. He
applied his hands, strong and rough from the handling of wood and
mallets, to the taunt skin, and the booming rhythm licked the dancers
into a new beat. As he deftly played he smiled at me, his eyes urging
me to accept his gift.
I caressed the leather and smooth wood with my hands. Once this had
been two different living things. Even after their lives had ended and
their meat or fruit was spent, still they could serve the Folk. I
touched the drumhead and began to play my reverence with breathing
I don't remember the other music dying out, nor the small fire flaring
into a great blaze. I recall only the beating heart that I held in my
hands, played with my hands, and that seemed to speak as I no longer
could. Feet stepped in the shadow of my wooden heart, and faces gleamed
with sweat and tears as they danced around the fire and celebrated with
me my love for life and death.
I stopped playing when my hands began to sting, and the Elves sighed in
appreciation and weariness. They had danced for hours seeming, and they
bowed to me and drifted to their homes, leaving the cooling coals of
the fire smouldering. Tuor took my hands in his and led me back to the
I was still entranced by the music that played aloud no longer, except
inside my head. Jacinth and Cirlin had long ago departed, to spend
their day in contemplation of one another, beginning their life as one
heart. A cup of wine was put in my hands and I drank it woodenly,
feeling a drowsiness creep over me that was unrefusable. For the first
time in many long years, I lay down and slept. No dreams did I recall,
but soft warm darkness and peace I had hitherto not known.