Legacy of the Ringsbane

by Lothithil

Chapter One: Tol Numenn

    Randir raised his head, searching the stiff breeze with his sensitive ears.  The sound of the Shoreline Pipers' music was remote but clear, and the tune was excited.  The young Hobbit closed his book rapidly, spilling his inkbottle upon the crystal sand in his haste.  He yelped, saving the vessel before it upturned completely.  He tightened the lid firmly, then shoved everything into his haversack before sprinting back home as swiftly as his legs would carry him.
The friendly wind from the sea caressed him as he ran, and as he leapt the grass fences and skirted the shell garden.  The music grew louder and in the song of welcome, lifted upon the air by that same wind, Randir could hear many voices superbly blended, and in the answering song came a beloved voice he had much missed.

    "Loth!"  He sprang down the carved coral steps that led to the harbour shelf, and the household of Tol Numenn was gathered there, shimmering in the afternoon sun.  The ship was gently bobbing at the pier, the gleaming hawsers being only just flung to the helpful hands ashore.  A ramp was lowered and his sister fairly flew into his waiting arms.  The twins laughed and embraced warmly.

    "Look who has come with me!" cried Lothithil, turning Randir and squeezing his arm.  She pointed up at the rigging of the ship rather than the deck; Randir looked up and laughed in delight.

    Swinging down on a thin hithlain rope like a buccaneer came their friend Naugellon.  He dropped lightly onto the pier and swept his friends into a very non-elvish embrace.

    The twins had a long splendid relationship with the son of Legolas, and were used to his eccentric behaviour.  He was still young, barely more than an infant by Elvish standards.  'Gellon was grown into a rare Elf, having learned wood and sea skills from his Father and Dwarf-culture from Gimli.  Naugellon was one of the few Elves to learn the secret Khuzdul language, which had been taught to him in the Halls of Aule, were Gimli now dwelt.  The Vala had invited the Dwarf to be his aide, and serving Aule was a great joy to the Gimli, but not so great as the joy he had in his occasional visits with Galadriel in her wooded palace. 

    Naugellon hugged his friends hard and his merriment spilled out in silver laughter.  He released them suddenly and ran up the pier, to kneel humbly before Melyanna who had come and was waiting patiently to receive her daughter back from Valinor.

    "Lady of the Western Isle, the great ocean
I would sail on a raft of sugar-spun,
if only I could come to glimpse thy beauty
 'neath the rays of the Sun!"

    "Sweet has grown the tongue of Naugellon Legolasion.  Have you been schooling with the Vanyar, learning to make gifts of your words like pearls?"

    "Nay, Lady," answered Naugellon who took her offered hand and kissed it, "Yet it may seem so of any who speaks of the lovely spouse of the Ringsbane, for the slightest word of her is poetry."

    Melyanna laughed and embraced the Elf.  "Welcome!   Thank you for escorting my daughter safely home."

"It is my pleasure," said Naugellon.  "I welcome every opportunity to visit this blessed isle, and spend time with my family."

    Melyanna smiled.  'Gellon was indeed very much a part of her family.  He had matured with her children, growing in body and knowledge.  She could not have loved him more if he were of her own flesh and blood.

    There was much merriment upon the pier, until Loth asked where was her father.  She was sore in her heart to greet him, and her joy was somewhat diminished at his absence.  A search was begun and rapidly ended as Frodo was found in the kitchen of the great underground house, pulling seed cakes out of the clay oven.

    "I made your favourite, flower-lilly."  Frodo said in Loth's ear as he hugged his daughter.  "They would have burned if I had turned away!"  She laughed and hugged him again, heedless of the flour that clung to her clothes.  "I'm sorry I didn't see you on the pier."

    "Nevermind, ada."  Loth said, pinching the corner of a hot cake.  "I do love your seed cakes, 'specially when they are hot from the oven!"

    "Well, sit down and have some!  There's water on the boil.  I'll get the others."  He pulled off his apron and leaned out of the kitchen window, calling loudly for everyone to come to tea.

    "Naugellon's come, too."  Loth said around her cake.  She puffed as the hot pastry scorched her tongue.  She wiped her hands on a towel and fetched the tea set and trolley.

    Frodo set a large tray of shortbread on the cart and the platter of seed cakes.  "I know, poesy.  I could hear him warbling all the way from the Enchanted Isles.  Does he still like currant tart?"

    "He loves anything you cook, ada.  We'll be hard pressed to keep him out of the cellar.  He's gotten quite fond of your home-brewed ale."  Loth filled the teapots with steaming water.

    Frodo added scones and butter, bowls of fruit, and plates of finger sandwiches.  "All set, rosepetal.  Let's go!"

    After was a pleasant time of tea and cakes, Frodo finally put down his cup and loaded his pipe.  He passed the jar of pipeweed to Randir, who prepared a pipe for his sister first, then one for himself.  Naugellon drew out his lute and played softly a melody that had been teasing his mind.

    "So tell us, daisy-chain, of the news of Valinor."  Frodo puffed his pipe and expelled an excellent smoke-ring.  "For you have returned before your expected time, and but for your Mother's foresight would have come back unlooked-for."

    "Many things have happened, o my father!"  Loth exclaimed excitedly.  "Master Elrond and Master Gandalf have sent me here to prepare, for great movements are occurring in the world!"

    "What is this news?" exclaimed Randir.

    "Listen with patience, dear brother.  Emme, Ada; I have been given an appointment!"  Loth's excitement was such that she could not keep her seat; she stood and walked around the table to take her parents' hands.  "I have been chosen to serve the King!"

    "How splendid!  King Finarfin will let you come home occasionally, won't he?"  Melyanna asked as she picked up a cup and saucer to clear the table.

    Loth took the delicate porcelain cup from her and placed it back on the table.  "Not to the King of Eldamar am I appointed, nor to the Lord of Eressea.  To King Alderion of the Reunited Kingdom of Middle-earth am I entreated to go and offer my service."

    Naugellon's lute fell silent, and everyone looked to Lothithil in stunned amazement.

    "Alderion?"  Frodo rocked back in suprise, and Loth knelt and held his hand to her heart.

    "May I please, ada?  The council said if I have your leave I may go."

    Frodo looked from his daughter's face into Melyanna's eyes.  Understanding passed between them.

    Randir could hold his silence no more.  "You will not go alone! I shall accompany you, sister, and be your protector."

    "I do not need a protector, my brave brother, but with our parents' good will, you shall accompany me upon your own appointment."  Loth reached into her tunic and withdrew a scrolled parchment.  She handed it to Randir with ceremony.

    Randir unrolled the paper with trembling fingers.  "I am to go also?"  He let out a whoop of joy, then stopped himself, and knelt at his mother's feet.  "May I, emme?"

    Frodo spoke proudly.  "This is what you both have worked so hard for, and your mother and I are proud and honoured; how can we forbid?  You will go with our blessings, and the Valar will protect you."  He tilted his daughter's chin up with a gentle finger.  "Remember your teachings, and your family history.  And you, Randir, be mindful of yourself.  I have perfect confidence in you both.

    "Now, let us prepare a proper welcome for our wayward children!"

    The family bustled about the kitchen, and Loth filled their eager ears with the happenings of Valimar and all the things she had seen and done.  She had news from Elrond and Gandalf to impart, and also from Legolas and Gimli words to their Companion, Frodo.  She gave her father the gentle messages from Samwise and Bilbo, with a reminder that it had been a while since he had ventured back to Tirion to visit them.  Many other friends had sent words as well, and the afternoon faded to evening and the great meal devoured with ale and smoke being taken when she finally exhausted her narration.

    Frodo sat for a while, smoking and thinking.  Melyanna was brushing out her daughter's hair and braiding the tresses.  Randir was reading and re-reading his parchment appointment, as if he was afraid that the ink would fade and suddenly hold a different message.  'Gellon was softly strumming his lute, and had been strangely quiet as he listened to Loth's tale.

    At last, Frodo spoke.  "I believe that this is a very good thing.  You two are unique folk, and it is perhaps your fate to forge a relationship between the Valar and Men.  I will miss your company, my children, but I shall not worry.  You have had the best instructors that Valinor can offer, and know from my own tales how perilous Middle-earth can be.

    "The choice to go is yours."

    Melyanna smiled at her children, and smoothed Loth's hair.  "Keep your innocence as long as you may, my dears," she said with pride and sadness in her voice.  "It well keep your souls ardent, and stave off corruption.  Beware of power and the easier road.  Nothing more will I say, for the future is ever veiled in these years, and I see little."

    Much preparation was conducted, and the twins spent much of the following weeks in their parents' company.  Loth went on walks with her father, as was their long custom.  She was taller than her father, and had been since she reached womanhood.  But she was still a little girl when she was alone with Frodo, and he opened the wonders of the world for her.  She loved him massively, and as much as she wanted to go on this adventure, the thought of leaving him gave her great pain.

    When their wandering feet reached the easternmost edge of their island home, Frodo took his daughter's hands in his own, and kissed them.  "I love you, blossom.  You are everything in a daughter that a father could want."

    "I love you, Father."  Lothithil sat down and looked up into Frodo's face.  "What do you wish for me to do, ada?  I will never go against your will."

    Frodo smiled tenderly at her.  "My will is that you do what your heart directs you to do.  I know that you want to go on this voyage, but if you wish to stay, it will not lessen my pride in you, nor my love."

    "I do wish to go, but I feel that I might be unable to return to you and yanta again.  I do not want to go that far away!"

    "Do not fear.  Your mother and I will always be well.  We dwell on the edge of paradise!  Whensoever a time comes when you return, you will find us here, as always.  If not in body, then in spirit.  But we will always be here," and he touched a finger to her forehead, and then moved it to her heart.

    "Yes, ada." she said, and wept.

    Frodo dried her tears with many kisses.  "O my flower!" he said, and he held her as he had when she was a child, and they watched the Sun ignite the great sea with morning.

    Randir sat with his mother in her garden.  As she moved about her potted herbs, he rubbed at the inkstains on his fingers.

    "I am sorry, emme." he said softly.

    Melyanna stayed her motion and looked at him.  "For what, my dear?"

    "For not being someone powerful and strong, so that I can protect Lothithil and free you from worry."

    "I am not bound by worry, o my son.  That is your fear."  She sat next to him and smoothed his curly hair from his eyes.  "You are exactly who and what you should be, and I am completely confident in your abilities and your instincts."

    "Why am I so different from Loth?"

    "You are exactly like your sister, in that you are unique and talented."

    "You know what I mean..." Randir responded, half-petulantly.

    "I know that you have power like Lothithil's, Randir.  It will manifest itself in time.  And Loth has your father's hobbit-sensibility, hidden somewhere inside her, and until it surfaces she will need you to keep her feet on the ground!"  She rumpled the hair on his head, mussing up the waves she had smoothed.  "You will each help the other to find these things within yourselves."

    "Then it is all right if we go?  You don't mind?"

    "Of course I don't mind.  Have I not given my blessings, and spent years teaching you herblore and training you for adventure?"  She sighed and smoothed his hair again.  "You are so much like your father, Randir, my heart could burst with love."

    Days later a great ship arrived in their little harbour.  Naugellon called out a greeting; his father was at the helm.  Legolas returned the salute and steered the ship deftly into port.  Tethered to the white-timbered ship was a smaller sloop of gleaming wood, its sails furled.

    Legolas disembarked by swinging over the gunnels on a thin rope.  "So, that's where you learned the trick."  Murmured Loth into 'Gellon's ear.  He chuckled.

    Elrond and Gandalf quit the ship with more dignity.  Frodo and Melyanna greeted them enthusiastically.

    "We have brought a craft for the use of the appointees." said Elrond.  "Lord Ulmo will guide them safely through the shadows and enchantments, as once he did before."  The Elf's eyes twinkled merrily, and Frodo laughed and pulled Melyanna close to him.

    "Indeed he did!"

    Lothithil curtsied in duty to her mentors, then ran up to hug each soundly.  Gandalf returned the embrace heartily, but the Elf-lord looked somewhat indignant as he was squeezed.  He smiled then, and tweaked her pointed pink ear.

    "Would that I still retained the vigor and innocence of youth.  You children make us all younger.  Lothithil, where is your brother?  We have come to see him, too."

    "This way, master," She took their hands, wizard and elf-lord, and led them up the coral path to the house.

    On the step, Gandalf stopped, and called back to Legolas.  "Come up here, my good Elf, and take this lady in hand.  Go and greet your father's Companion, willful child.  Lord Elrond and I can find our own way from here."

    Legolas and Naugellon had hung back on the pier.  As Loth ran back down to them, she saw that words were passing between them, and that Legolas’ usually fair face was darkened.  Naugellon spoke swiftly and entreatingly, but his father's countenance remained closed.

    Legolas turned at Lothithil's approach, and he smiled again.  He caught her in a great hug and swept her around like a child.

    "You grow in beauty, lissome flower.  Come away with me, and on the great sea we will build a castle of pearl and cloud, and dwell there for ever!"

    Loth flushed with embarrassed pleasure at Legolas' flirting.  She had always had an enormous infatuation with the handsome Elf.

    "Come up to the house, both of you...” Loth looked around; Naugellon was no longer standing next to them.  "Where is your son, my lord?"

    Legolas sighed, and taking Loth's hand, he wound her arm in his and they walked toward the house.  "My son is jealous of you and your brother.  He desires to accompany you to Middle-earth.  He sought my permission, but I cannot give it.  It is the will of the Valar that you two should go thither, and not my place to alter the design.  Naugellon is too young..." he walked slowly, and his thoughts seemed to drag his feet to a halt.  "He is older than you and Randir, but only by a handful of years.  I cannot be as generous as Frodo and Melyanna with my treasures; I wish to keep him at my side, for he is the memory of Middle-earth for me, and the image of his dear mother whom I miss.  O that she had come away with me to sea; perhaps I could release him then.  But again, perhaps not."  Legolas smiled at Loth, and sadness crept into his regard.  "I will miss you, too!  Go not, my silken bloom.  And persuade your brother to stay, so that the world is fixed in its wandering to this wonderful day!"

    "My lord Legolas, your tongue is sweet, and a little girl is swept off of her feet by such flattery, but it will not be so!  To our adventure my brother and I will sail, and upon returning, I shall call you out to fulfill your promises to me, and we shall sail together then."