Login

Lost Password?

Create New Account

Butterfly-Cocoon

Chapter 9: Chapter Nine

by Rous

The Dust Settles


Ela was up before light. She felt none of the nausea that had plagued her for days. She said a silent prayer of thanks for whatever it was the Lady had done. She washed up and dressed in the leggings and tunic she had found laid out. Someone had put her things away the night before. She picked up her books and let herself out of the house. It did not occur to her to let anyone know where she would be. At home, all knew where she was at this hour.

She wandered for a time, looking up into the tall mellyrn. She had never seen such great trees. Their heights spread out, creating a subdued atmosphere. It was quiet and cool below the growths. The wide road she traveled was smooth and even. It could easily accommodate three wagons side-by-side. Its width was accented even more by the fact that not many were out this early. The few she passed nodded curiously. She was forced at last to stop someone and ask directions.

“Excuse me,” she said to a man.

“What, child?” He had not caught what she said. He glanced down at the slight child before him.

“I am looking for the library. Can you tell me where it is?”

He made out her words, but just barely.

“It is towards the center more. Would you like for me to show you?”

“If it is not too much trouble. I am having a hard time finding any bearings.”

“Come, it is not any trouble. I do not know you. My name is Unimandil.”

“My name is Elrénia. I am not familiar with the city. It is so big.”

“Yes, it is. You are Lady Arwen’s sister?”

“Yes. We came last night. I just wanted to find the library and do some work.”

“It is not far, lady.”

“Please, just Elrénia. No one ever calls me lady.”

“Very well. Here we are. Will you be able to find your way back home?”

“If not, I will ask. Thank you.”

“You are welcome. And welcome. I hope you will like Lórien.”

“Goodbye.” She turned and went into the large building. Inside were a few tables and chairs. She saw books lining three walls and in two rows down the center. So many! She put her things down on a table and started reading the titles. Lord Erestor had not told her they had so many books. She reached up and reverently fingered a large tome.

“May I help you?”

She spun around.

“No. I am just looking.”

“What are you reading?” the man asked her, picking up one of her books. She reached out and retrieved it from him.

“Just an essay from the First Age. My teacher gave me the assignment to re-write it from my perspective.”

“Oh, and who is your teacher?”

“Lord Erestor of Imladris. He said I could find an adequate instructor here.”

“He did, did he?” The man laughed. “That sounds like him. He is very self-assured. I dare say you will find a more than adequate teacher here. Are you then Elrond’s daughter? I heard he was sending you.”

“Yes. Where will I find this teacher?”

“Well, there are many, but as I like a challenge, I would be happy to take over for him.”

She took in his dusty clothes and sloppy grin. She reluctantly allowed that he could be a teacher. Looks often were deceiving.

“And you are…?”

“My name is Glordinel. I spend a lot of time here. Some accuse me of living here, but I do have a house to the west.”

“That is where I am staying, I think. At Gariel’s. She graciously gave me a room.”

“As a matter of fact, I live not far from there. I have seen their house. She gave you a closet.” His eyes twinkled with amusement.

“Are you sure you are a teacher? You do not seem serious enough. I do not take my education lightly.”

“Nor will I. Why do humans always feel that elves are serious all the time? Can we not have a little fun?”

“I would not know. I am not human. And it is my experience that elves take life very seriously.”

“If you are not human, what are you then?”

“My father was Sindarin. My mother was Indrelan. As far as I know, neither are of the race of men.”

“And how do you know your father was Sindarin? Did he tell you? And your mother? What is Indrelan?”

She took in his white hair and light blue eyes. The pale skin.

“He looked like you. As a matter of fact, you remind me of him. He, too, always laughed. As for my mother, I do not know where Indra is, but it is where her people came from.”

“Well enough, child. I think we will suit each other.”

“You knew who I was. Why the charade?”

“I wanted to know if you knew who you were,” he said softly.

“Did I pass the test?”

“Emphatically.”

“Then I will accept you as a teacher. Here is my work. I will wait for your assessment.”

She handed him the papers and sat down, hands folded on the table.

“Are you going to wait like that?”

“This is what I usually do. What is wrong?”

“Nothing. Do you want to look at the books?”

“Is it required?”

“No, I just thought it might be interesting.”

She thought about it. “No, I will wait here.”

He shook his head.

----

Gariel looked up from her garden to see Ela returning. She had been worried, but had told herself that Haldir had warned them the child had strange habits. She frowned to see who was with her.

“Good morning, Gariel. This is my new teacher, Lord Glordinel.”

The woman nodded. She knew very well who he was.

“Do you still want to see my books?”

“Yes. I will wait here.” He sat down in a chair on the porch.

Within minutes, Ela had returned with her books and a cup of tea. Gariel noted that the girl was not lacking in manners.

“This is quite a collection. Books from the Shire. And Gondor. Even Dwarfish. Can you read them all?”

“Yes. The Dwarfish ones are children’s books, so not very hard. The ones from the Shire are easy. The Westron tongue is easiest. The worst one is the early Quenyan. I cannot read it much at all. I do not know where my brother found it. I think it is more just to have than to read.”

“That would make sense. Not many even know that old language anymore. What else do you do, besides live in the library.”

“I can play the lute, more or less. Most of the songs I know, though, are not suitable for singing.”

“Why not?”

“I learned them from my brothers and Dorga. Lord Erestor said they are not fit for finer company. I do not understand most of them anyway. I was told I am too young to have them explained.”

“If you want, there is a fair lute player who could teach you more. I can ask him.”

“That would be acceptable.”

“Well, thank you for an enjoyable morning. And the tea. I will stop by tomorrow and see what you have done.”

“I am used to lessons before light. Are you up that early?”

“No, but I may find the time to saunter past the library after dawn. That will have to do.”

“Very well. I will wait for you.”

“Goodbye, Ela.”

“Goodbye, Lord Glordinel.”

“You are lucky,” said Gariel, after he had left.

“How so?”

“Glordinel is not only a sought after teacher, he is a gifted healer. You could have done much worse.”

“It was not my choice. He sought me out. I am sure that the Lady had something to do with it.”

Ela went into house to put her books away. She came back out and sat down in a chair on the porch. Gariel looked up from her flowers. The child sat with her hands folded in her lap.

“Is there something you would like to do?”

“My lessons are finished. I have made my bed. What else is there to do?”

“Well, what would you do at home?”

“Read in my tree house. Or help Dalgren in the kitchen. Or Lord Erestor might take me to the village.”

“I am going to see the Lady after lunch. Perhaps you would like to join me.”

“Would it be acceptable? Would she not object?”

“No. You would be welcomed. We sew and spend time visiting. Can you sew?”

“Lady Seldala taught me. Why do you need to go there to visit? Can you not just go to each other’s houses?”

“It is just what we do. Things were different in Imladris?”

“I went to Dorga’s, or he came to my house. We would visit once a week. Caldelen came all the time, until we had our falling out.”

“Well, if you want to go with me, then we had best get ready. I will fix lunch, if you want to change.” Ela looked down at her clothes.

“Is it required? Do I need to wear a dress?”

“No, what you are wearing is fine. Come on. You can help me with lunch.”

They went to the kitchen. Gariel got bread from a box and sliced enough for six sandwiches. She then sliced meat and cheese, while Ela made tea. When they were finished, Ela looked at all the sandwiches.

“Why so many?” she asked.

“I told Rúmil I would bring up lunch. He is leaving later today.”

“Oh. Will he be gone long?”

“A few months at most. Why? Will you miss him?”

“Maybe.” She picked up the pitcher of tea. They walked to one of the larger mallorn trees. Ela looked up into the heights. Gariel looked back.

“What is it?”

“We must go up there?”

“That is where he lives. Are you afraid?”

“It is so high.”

“Can you do it?”

Ela tentatively stepped onto the stairs. Gariel waited until she had taken a few steps. She turned and trusted that the girl followed. When she was half way up, she turned back. Ela was slowly coming. Gariel waited for her.

“Are you alright?”

“I have never been this high. I do not like it!”

“Try not to look down. We are almost there.” She turned up another stairway. Ela followed. They went up one more flight of stairs.

“Here we are. Watch your step.”

Ela stepped up into the talan. It was light and airy. It was not what she had expected. The windows were wide and open. The room contained two wicker sofas covered with cushions and two matching chairs on one side. A table and chairs occupied the other side of the room. Ela set the pitcher on the table. Gariel turned to get dishes from a cupboard. She then went into the back of the talan, leaving Ela alone.

“Hello. What are you doing here?”

Ela spun around to see Rúmil.

“Nothing. I mean, we brought you lunch. I am sorry. I did not mean to intrude.”

“You are not, little one. I am just surprised to see you up here. Did you come alone?”

“No, Lady Gariel is in the back.”

“Have you seen the view? It is breathtaking.”

“I will just wait here,” she said, from the middle of the room.

“Do the heights bother you?”

“Terrify would not be an adequate word. I do not like it up here.”

“It is quite safe. None have fallen for millenia.”

“It is not falling that bothers me. It is landing. Your brother is not here to exercise his dubious skills at catching me. I will remain here.”

Gariel came into the room.

“There you are. I told you noon. I have brought enough for you and Haldir. Ela made some tea. We are off to the Lady’s as soon as we eat.” She took a seat at the table. Ela stood by her chair, waiting for Rúmil to hold it for her. He smiled as he moved to do it. She sat and waited for him to sit. Accepting the sandwich given her, she started eating. They were almost done when Haldir came in.

“Good afternoon, Gariel. Ela. How was your trip up?”

“Nauseating,” she replied.

Haldir took the remaining seat and started eating.

“You will get used to it. Everyone does.” He said this as a matter of fact. Ela looked at him.

“I am not everyone. I will stay on the ground as much as possible. I have everything I need. Home and the library.”

“Ela,” said Gariel. “Tell them who your teacher is.”

“A most untidy person. Lord Glordinel. However, he seems quite adequate. He thinks I am to be a challenge. Where would he get an idea like that?” She looked at Haldir.

“I am sure I do not know. He is a worthy teacher. The best.”

“Well, we will see how he measures up to Lord Erestor. I hope he is more serious than he seems.”

“I think you will find he will suit you just fine.”

She was quiet as she finished eating. She sat and listened to the conversation around her. The talk of the borders intrigued her. It was a life vastly different than the one she had led. She stored away the things she heard. One never knew what might come in handy.

Gariel rose to clean up. Ela helped her, then wandered to a shelf of books on the wall. She turned to the brothers.

“You have a question?”

“Who reads Westron?”

“I do,” said Haldir. “It is part of my duties to travel for the Lady. I have found the need to learn to read the common tongue.”

“Was it difficult?”

“Just time consuming. Do you read it?”

“Yes. Where do you get your books?”

“I have found them on my journeys.”

“Do you find any others?”

“I have seen other books. There is a merchant in Gondor that carries many kinds.”

“Do you think you could find one on ancient Quenya? I cannot read the one I have. I need a child’s book.”

“Why would you need to learn Quenya?”

“I do not. I wish to. Can you or can you not?”

“I will see.”

Rúmil hid a small smile. The ease with which she manipulated his brother was laughable. Just question his abilities, and he jumped right up to defend himself.

“Thank you. Do they cost much? I have no coin. I have never needed any. How does one acquire it?”

“One acquires coin by working for it. One does not expect a child to work. I am sure Lord Elrond foresaw any needs and provided for them.”

“Then I will ask Lord Celeborn. He should know.”

“Would you not rather ask the Lady?”

“No, I would not. I would rather deal with one I do not have to be watchful around. Unless you intend to ask her.”

Haldir shook his head. He did not understand her fear of the Lady.

“I think it is time to go, Ela,” said Gariel. She picked up the small bag she had carried up to the talan. Ela went to the chair where she had set her knapsack. Settling it on her back, she turned to the brothers.

“Goodbye. Thank you for a lovely lunch.”

“Goodbye, little one,” said Rúmil.

She followed Gariel back down the stairs. At the intersection where they had gone to the talan, Gariel turned to go back down.

“Are we not going up?”

“No. The Lady is in the garden today.”

“Then why was it necessary for me to come up here?”

“To help me. And I thought you might like to see where they live.”

“I am happy to help, but I am not interested in coming up here more than needed. I find the heights make me dizzy.”

“Unless required by the Lady, there is no need for you to come up. I, myself, avoid it when possible. But I did promise Rúmil lunch.” They had reached the bottom of the stairs and were making their way to the spacious and manicured gardens. Ela was impressed with how beautiful they were. Long, wide paths wove among flower beds. Trees were surrounded by lawns of soft grass. Gariel led her to a large bower. It was covered by trees that had been lashed together overhead and had now grown into a dark green canopy. There were wicker benches and a few chairs scattered in a circle. Gariel went to the one occupied chair and bowed her head.

“Lady, I have brought a visitor.”

“I see, Gariel. Come here, child.” Ela walked over hesitantly. She was not sure what a safe distance from the Lady’s powers would be. She bowed her head.

“Lady. Thank you for the other day. I know not what you did, but it is easier. The illness is not as great.”

“You are welcome. I did nothing but push things back for you. The feelings will return, but by then, I hope you will have learned to control them. How was your visit today? I was told that you ventured into the upper levels.”

“It was enlightening. I have discovered that I was correct. The trees are not for me. I will remain firmly on the ground.”

The Lady laughed. “I had discerned as much. It is not a life suited to all. I happen to know your father does not care for the trees, either. I am told you are welcome at Gariel’s for as long as you like.”
“I will remain as long as she will have me. It is pleasant there.”

“Did you bring something with you to do?”

“I have some studies and writing. A little sewing.”

“Good. I see the other ladies coming. Why do you not take a seat?”

Galadriel smiled to see her pick a seat as far away as possible. Gariel sat next to her. Ela pulled out a book and her small letter box. She began writing. She did not notice who sat on her other side, until a voice disturbed her.

“Are you not the girl Haldir brought back from Rivendell?”

Ela looked up and glanced around. She finally centered her gaze on Deladrieng.

“I am sorry, were you speaking to me?”

“Ladies,” Galadriel broke in, “this is Lady Elrénia, Lord Elrond’s daughter. She has graciously consented to join us this morning.” Ela looked hard at Galadriel. What was she doing? Consented? She had just tagged along with Gariel. She felt a soothing tendril touch at her mind. She slammed down her defenses, seeing the Lady blink.

Deladrieng took the opportunity to see what Ela had written.

“What are you writing, child?”

“A letter to a friend,” she answered absently.

“That is not Elvish. What is it?”

“It is Dwarvish. Since I have no one to practice with here, I must keep up with my writing. I have need of things that only Dorga can provide.”

“Do you mean to tell me that you actually know a Dwarf?” she asked, shocked.

“I know many people. Dwarves, men, Shirefolk. We are very enlightened in Imladris. That is what we elves call Rivendell. Imladris. Rivendell is the name men use. It is funny you would use it.” There were titters around the circle.

Deladrieng sat back and appraised this young girl. She was not as young as she appeared. Her words spoke of an age beyond her apparent twelve years.

“How old are you?” she asked rudely.

“I am fifteen. May I ask a question.”

“Yes.”

“How old are you?”

“That is none of your concern.” The woman was getting angry. The girl showed no emotion whatsoever.

“You and Rúmil seem to suffer the same affliction. Lack of control over your emotions. It is something that can be helped. Maybe the Lady could teach you. It would stand you well in the future.”

The titters were getting louder. Galadriel thought it best to defuse the situation.

“I am told you have found a teacher.”

“Yes, Lady. Lord Glordinel has agreed to be my teacher. I am told I am most fortunate. Thank you.”

“For what?”

“I am sure he did not just drop out of the air to teach me. I am not sure who is responsible, so I will thank you. You may convey my thanks to
whomever they are due.”

“I am not sure who is more fortunate, you or Glordinel.”

Ela stood. “By your leave, Lady, I would retire. I am late for my lessons.”

“Go. We will see you later.”

The girl wasted little time escaping the garden. She felt she could not breathe. That woman had not meant her any good. She almost ran all the way to the house. Looking at the ground, she did not see the body in her way. She ran into him and found herself on the ground.

“I am sorry,” she offered, not looking up. She hesitated at taking the hand offered her.

“You would do well to glance up once in a while to see where you are going.” Intrigued by the soft words, she looked at him.

“Do you remember me,” he asked. She nodded.

“Yes, Lord Unimandil. I remember you.”

“Good. And it is Unimandil, or Master Unimandil. Where were you going in such a hurry?”

“I, uh, just wanted to get home and put my things away.”

He looked at her. “How much Elven are you?”

She sighed. Was that always to be an issue?

“I am half.”

“Have you ever learned to use a bow?”

“Only a child’s. It did not fit into my studies. Nor what Lady Seldala deemed lady-like behavior. I can use a knife somewhat.”

“You should come down to the fields. That is, if you have nothing else to do.”

“The fields? You mean where they train? I could not do that. It would not be proper.”

“According to whom?”

“Well…I do not know. It is done?”

“There are many elleth who at least can handle weapons. I am sure even Gariel can draw a bowstring.”

A light started glowing in her eyes.

“I will discuss it with others.”

“Do so.” He turned to leave.

“Thank you, Master Unimandil.”

He waved his hand behind him.

She turned and fairly danced back to the house.

When Gariel arrived at home several hours later, she found things had been put away and the table set for dinner. She went into the garden to find Ela in a chair, reading.

“Did you fix dinner also?” she jested.

“You do not want to taste my cooking. It is not one of my more accomplished skills. How went the sewing?”

“You did not make a friend today. You will need to watch yourself.”

“Tell me something I do not know. Why is she so rude? Her questions would never have been tolerated at home.”

“None want her to turn on them. The Lady stops her when she has gone too far, but there are those who have actually left the city because of her.”

“I can understand that. Who is coming for dinner?”

“Haldir will join us. Since Rúmil is gone, he will probably be here more often.”

“I will set another place. May I help with dinner? There are some things I am capable of doing.”

“You may. I have vegetables to peel and tea to make. We can eat in the garden again. It was so nice last night.”

Ela went in and got down an extra setting then took all of them out to the garden. She came back in and picked up a knife and started on the vegetables. They spent an hour just speaking of small things. By the time Orophin came home, dinner was ready.

“Where are your brother and son?” Gariel asked.

“Elldar was still on the fields. Haldir is with the Lady. They will both be here any time.”

He went back to the bathing room and washed up. When he came back out, Haldir had arrived, cleaned up and hungry. Elldar was not far behind.

“How was your day?” Orophin asked his wife.

“Amusing. We went up to your brothers’ talan for lunch. Ela did not like it. We then went to the gardens. Deladrieng did not like that.” She told them what had happened between Ela and the woman. It was the first time Ela had seen Haldir really laugh, without his biting cynicism. She was amazed.

When things had calmed down, she looked from Haldir to Orophin. “May I ask a question?”

“You may,” said Haldir.

“Is it permissible for me to go to the fields?”

“For what purpose?”

“To learn. I met someone the other day who suggested I come. What do you think?”

“You are asking us? You do not need our permission. I see nothing wrong with it. You are a little late starting, but you could catch up. Who did you meet?”

“Master Unimandil. I sort of ran into him again today. He said I could learn. I told him I would ask and give him my answer. And I am not asking for permission, I am asking for advice.”

“You have a habit of meeting just the right people. He is the one who trains all of the wardens.”

“So, is it acceptable or not?”

“It is up to you. Whatever you decide is acceptable. I am not sure your father would agree.”

“He would not, but then, I do have my ears pierced. He does not like anything that was my idea. You would think by now he would have learned to let go.”

Haldir chuckled. “That is a lesson he will never learn. Ask Arwen. Or the twins. They had to fight for every freedom they got as young ones.”

“I will speak with Lord Glordinel in the morning to see if he can reschedule my lessons. I wish he would get up earlier. I do not like having them so late in the morning.”

They laughed at her. She chafed at waiting until after dawn, Glordinel chafed at anything prior to mid-morning. It would be interesting to see who won the battle.

Finished eating, Ela helped Gariel and Elldar clean up. The brothers sat down to a game of conquest. When things were put away, they spent a pleasant evening in the garden. Ela finally said her goodnights. She still had some work to do and wanted to be sure to get an early start.


“Tea”sing A New Friend

-----

The dawn broke early, but none saw it. Ela had awoken to rain, a heavy rain that traveled with the thunder that could be heard in the distance. It would be a wet day. She sighed. To have to walk all the way to the library was something to which she did not look forward. She had to admit, the last few weeks had flown by. If she was not in the library with Glordinel, she could be found down on the fields. She followed Elldar down one morning. Unimandil said not a word. Just handed her a child’s bow and some arrows, as if she had been coming all along. She spent the afternoon hours working on trying to hit the targets. Unimandil had told her that it would be hard, but once she got it, she would excel. And he was right. After two weeks of trying, she finally found her rhythm. Then it was only a matter of how close to the center could she get. Long after the other students were gone, she could still be found working on her aim. Many nights, Orophin had to go and get her for supper. He would watch as she hit a few more, but then she would pack up and go home with him.

“May I ask a question?” she asked him one night, on one of their walks back to the house.

“Yes.”

“Are you still comfortable with me staying in your home?”

“We had hoped you would consider it your home as well. But, yes. Gariel loves having you there. Do you want to leave?”

“No. But if I must, I would rather do it before I get too attached.”

“You do not have to worry. You will leave when you want to. Not before. Now, how about a race?”

“What? I cannot do that. It would not be lady-like.”

“But it would be fun.”

“Do you mean, just to run? For no purpose? Why?”

“For fun. Come on, try it.” He started running lightly down the path. She looked at him askance. Shrugging, she started to run after him. By the time they reached the house, both were laughing and teasing each other. Gariel looked out the window to see what the commotion was, only to draw back. So, the girl could laugh and have fun. She smiled. Elldar came up behind her.

“What is so amusing?” he asked. His mother pointed at his father and Ela. Both were still laughing.

They came into the house. Orophin went to the bathing room, Ela to her room. Both washed up and changed clothes. They got to the table at the same time. Elldar held Ela’s chair. When all were seated, they began to eat. Gariel noticed the girl kept glancing at her, as if she wanted to ask something, but was afraid to.

“Did you want something?” she asked.

“I do. I just do not know how to ask for it.”

“Just ask. Surely it cannot be too unreasonable.”

“I would like to have tea.”

“That is a fine idea. What is the problem?”

“I do not know anyone to invite. Except Lord Celeborn. And he has already had tea with me.”

“Wait a minute,” said Elldar. “What kind of tea? Not Dorga’s?”

“Of course not. That is for special occasions and friends. I thought you might invite someone you know.”

“I hear there is a girl a little older than you just west of the city. She is in your same predicament. Her father is a Ranger. He is in the north, so her mother returned here. She has had a hard time with some of the people here. I am sure she would welcome a friend.”

“Will you arrange it? And when should I have the tea? My schedule is so full.”

“I think we can make it for two weeks from now. I will go visit Meliel’s mother and see what she says. Do you want to invite anyone else?”

“Are there others my age?”

“Sorry, sell. You and Meliel are the only ones besides Elldar. I do not think he wants to attend a tea.”

“I will wait for one of her special friends’ teas. They are more fun.”

“Thank you, Gariel. I will wait for you to make arrangements. I am going now to finish my lessons. I do not want to fall behind.”

“Goodnight, sell. I will see you tomorrow afternoon.”

-----

Two days later, Meliel came up the stairs to her mother’s talan to see Elldar’s mother just leaving. She bowed and went past her into her home.

“Mother, what did that elleth want? I saw her leave.”

“Believe it or not, she wanted to invite you to tea.”

“Tea? Why would she do that?”

“It seems the girl staying with them wants to make some friends, and they thought this would be a good way to do it.”

“But tea?” she said. “I do not know how to act around others. I will have to wear a dress. And use manners. You did not say yes, did you?”

“I did. It is time you met others your age. You cannot hang around the sentry lines of the city. You need to broaden your horizons.”

“What is the girl’s name?”

“Elrénia.”

“Is that not Lord Elrond’s daughter?” she exclaimed. “Lady Arwen’s sister? Why, in all of Arda, would she want to have tea with me?”

“Why do you not go, and ask her yourself? You have two weeks. Learn some manners and do not embarrass yourself.”

Meliel grumbled and went to her room. Her, at tea, with a lady. What nonsense. She was not wearing a dress. That was that.

----

“What did she say?” Ela was almost breathless. She was so afraid the girl had said no.

“Her mother said she would be here. However, you will have to make it informal. Meliel is not inclined to dress for the occasion. Will that be acceptable?”

“I suppose. Tea should be formal, though. Maybe next time. Thank you, Gariel.” She paused. “Is it permissible to give one a hug when happy?”

Gariel laughed. “You may give one anytime. Just be mindful of who it is and where you are.” She returned Ela’s hug. She was startled to notice the girl came almost to her shoulders now. “I think you will need some new clothes soon. You have grown several inches since you came.”

“My clothes are still serviceable.”

“That may be, but they are getting too short. We will have to see what we can do. Meanwhile, set the table. Do not forget, Rúmil will be here tonight. He wants to see you.”

“Whatever for? Surely he has more important things to do than visit with me.”

“I only know what he said in his message.”

“Well, if he wants to waste his time, that is his choice. I have set the table. Do you need anything else? I have a few more pages to finish for Lord Glordinel.”

“Go, finish up. Have you gotten him to the library before light, yet?” she called back to Ela.

“Only once. He complained so loudly, we were asked to leave the library. I was so embarrassed. I have never been asked to leave anywhere. The man is a bad influence.”

Gariel laughed, joined by her husband, who had caught the question and reply.

When Rúmil and Elldar showed up, they sat down to eat. The conversation was filled with Rúmil’s stories of life on the wards. Ela and Elldar hung on his every word. They almost forgot to eat. After dinner, Rúmil followed Ela back to her room. He looked around. She sat on the bed. He finally took the chair.

“Haldir wanted me to tell you that he will be going to Gondor soon. He will look for the book you wanted. He also asked if you needed anything else. If you have letters for Imladris, we are sending a runner with other correspondence.”

“Thank you. I have a few ready to go.”

“Do you need anything else?”

“No. I have everything I need. I am learning to use a bow. Master Unimandil says I show some promise. Lord Glordinel mentioned trying my hand at healing. Either I can, or I cannot. He says now is the time to find out. I am meeting a new friend. We are having tea.”

“Anyone I know?”

“Yes, Deladrieng.” At his look, she laughed. “No, I jest. Her name is Meliel. Her mother is Lindelen. Her father is a Ranger. She is having the same problems I am. No one wants to befriend a half-breed.”

“Where did you hear that term?”

“I will not tell you, but she will regret it.”

“Is she that hard on you?”

“She is not as stupid as Caldelen, but she is as nasty. I am hoping that this Meliel and I can be friends. Elldar is always busy. By the time I reach the fields, he is off to do something else.”

“Let me know how the tea goes. I do wish you the best of luck with Meliel.” He rose. “I have some business to attend to. I will see you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight, Rúmil.”

Gariel checked on her later to find she had fallen asleep on her books. The girl pushed herself too hard. Something would have to give.

-----

The next morning she was in the library. Glordinel was concerned to find her asleep over her books. Gariel had expressed a fear that the girl was pushing herself too hard. It seemed the fear was well founded. He backed up to the door and dropped one of the books he was carrying. He smiled as she jerked awake.

“Good morning,” he said.

“It is almost noon. I have been waiting for three hours.”

“I am sure you put the time to good use.”

“I did. I have finished what you gave me.”

“All of it? There was quite a bit of work to do.” He was reading a paper from his stack of books.

“All of it. I have even started translating that paper from Gondor you requested. It seems silly. It is just a report of the border patrol from the southern reaches. Although I did find a reference that was interesting.”

“And what was that?” he asked, absently.

“Haran is getting ready to invade Mordor and requests the elves to fight along side them when they overtake Eregion.”

“Yes, yes. You have done a good job.”

“Lord Glordinel?”

“Yes?”

“If you are not going to listen to me, I see no point in your rising so early. I will find another to bother.” She rose and started to pick up her books.

“What? What did you say?”

“I said, Mordor is in danger and we are attacking Eregion. Is that not what you wanted me to find out?”

“Is that what you really translated?”

“Of course not. But you were not listening anyway. If I have become too much for you to fit into your busy schedule, then I will find someone else.”

“No. I was just reading this paper and did not hear what you said. Look at this.” He handed her the paper.

She read it several times.

“It is a family tree.”

“Yes, it is. Did you see whose?”

“It is for a Cera Brien. This is not Elvish. Is it human?”

“I cannot say. What do you make of it?”

“It is old. The dates do not follow any I know. It shows at least three thousand years of ancestry. It stops with this Cera Brien. Is there something else I should see?”

“No. I just wanted to see what you made of it.”

“Am I to study genealogy now? I must tell you, I have no interest in it. Other than historical value, I do not care who begat whom.”

“It may be of interest one day. Would you not like to know who you are?”

“I know who I am. I am Elrénia. I am the adopted daughter of Lord Elrond. What else is important?”

“One never knows. Can you ever have too much information?”

“Is the information useful?”

“If it is?”

“Then, no, you cannot. If it is useless, then, yes. May I ask a question.”

“You know you may.”

“What prompted this discussion?”

“Curiosity. I was sent this chart and thought it might interest you.”

“It does not. And I do not believe you. You have a reason. Either you will tell me or not. Now, can we get on with my lessons? I have wasted a whole morning and I do have other things to which I must attend.”

“You have missed the point of the lesson. You never know what is important until you need the information. You should never throw away knowledge just because you see no value in it.”

“This is the lesson? Well then, I have another question.”

“Alright.”

“Is it wrong to use your resources in a careless manner?”

“What do you mean?”

“If you have a resource, and you squander it, is it wrong?”

Glordinel backtracked over the conversation. He knew the warning signs. She was trying to turn the lesson back on him. He felt on firm ground.

“It is always wrong to misuse what you have been given.”

“Good. I will see you tomorrow at dawn. I cannot calculate the lost time I have spent waiting until mid-morning for you to show up. I am sure your time is valuable, so I would not dream of squandering it. Do you not agree?”

He stared at her for several moments. He then threw his head back and laughed.

“How long did it take you to come up with that argument?”

“About two weeks. I have studied your habits and decided that you waste the morning. It would be better spent here, with me. Then I could make better use of my day.”

“There is a flaw in your logic, child.”

“And what is that?”

“You have forgotten to factor in my penchant for rising late. That will not change. It is not governed by logic. It is governed by my love of sleeping late in the morning. But I must say, the argument was almost flawless.”

“You are unbelievable. Is there nothing that can get you here earlier?”

“I am afraid you are doomed to failure on that score. You will just have to content yourself with coming later, or waiting for me.”

“That is most unacceptable. Not only do I waste my mornings, but now I have wasted two weeks on this argument.”

“Do not give up. At least you are thinking. That is what learning is all about. Using what you have learned, and applying it to life. Knowledge is nothing, if you do not apply it.”

“I am late for Master Unimandil. I will think on what you have said. But I will be here by dawn tomorrow.”

“And I will see you mid-morning. Enjoy your practice.”


-----


The two weeks sped past. Ela juggled studies in the morning with workouts in the afternoons with homework in the evenings. She managed to keep up, but Gariel did not know how. When the day finally arrived, Ela was a bundle of nerves.

“What if she does not like me?”

“It did not bother you that Haldir did not like you,” pointed out Rúmil, down to give his reports.

“I was not looking for a friend. He just happened along. This is the first time I have ever made the first move. Do I look alright?” He took in her dark blue leggings and light blue tunic. It was bright enough to hurt his eyes. Those Imladris elves were too gaudy. She was wearing her sapphire earrings and ribbons in her braids to match. He was uncomfortably aware of how good she did look. They had better watch out. There were too many unattached males and not enough ellith to go around. Some might be willing to overlook her deficiencies; her mixed bloodlines, her stature, the color of her hair and skin.

“You look beautiful.” She blushed and bowed her head.

“You are such a liar. I am going to wait on the porch.” She had everything ready. She and Gariel had spent the morning making cakes and they had set the table in the garden. Ela was not sure now if she hoped the girl would show up or not.

She sat on the porch and read her book. Glordinel had backed off of her regular studies and given her books on healing and herb lore. She attacked it with the same fervor she did everything else. She was so engrossed, she did not hear the couple approach.

-----

Meliel balked at everything her mother picked out.

“I do not want to wear that. It is too formal. And that is too green. That one is too grey.” They finally agreed on a blue outfit. Matching leggings and tunic in a dark blue. Meliel knew they clashed with her sea-green eyes; that was the reason she had them.

She dragged her feet all the way to the northwest side of the city. They approached a house nestled back under some large oak trees. Meliel saw a girl on the front porch. She wondered who she was. Probably a neighbor. The hair was not white or dark. Her skin was too pale. And blue? Who besides her wore blue?

They went up to the porch.

“I am Lindelen. I am here to see Lady Gariel.”

“Oh.” The girl jumped up.

‘Ha,’ thought Meliel. ‘Her vocabulary is outstanding.’

“Just a moment.” Her voice barely reach them. She went into the house.

Gariel came out, followed by Rúmil. Meliel almost gasped. This one she knew. Every younger woman she had ever talked to in Lórien had tried to get his attention. Even she confessed to a slight crush on him.

“Thank you for coming, Lindelen. How are you?”

“I am doing fine. I have brought Meliel.”

“Hello and welcome, Meliel. This is my husband’s brother, Rúmil.”

“I know who it is,” she blurted before she thought. He smiled down at her.

“And this Lady Elrénia.”

“Why do you do that?” Ela asked. “It is embarrassing.”

“Because Haldir insists on it. As does the Lord and Lady. What you choose to call yourself is fine, but you will be introduced properly.”

Ela rolled her eyes. “It is Ela,” her answer almost a whisper.

The girls stood staring at each other.

“Would you like to go to the garden?” Ela’s manners finally moved her to action.

“Sure,” said Meliel.

They went through the house. Ela picked up the plate of cakes and pot of tea.

“Have you ever been to tea?” she asked, when they were seated.

“I do not move in circles that require me to attend teas.”

“Oh.” She was immediately sorry when she saw Ela’s crestfallen face. The girl was trying, which is more than anyone else had done.

“Forgive me. I am not used to anyone wanting to be with me. What do we do?”

“Are you sure?” At Meliel’s nod, she continued. “I have not attended many formal teas myself. Just what was required by Lady Seldala. Mostly we just eat cakes and drink tea and talk. My tea parties were more fun.”

“What was the difference?”

“Well, Dorga would bring some foul mixture and pour it into the tea. Then we would drink it, tell jokes and recite poetry. But I had to promise not to tell my father most of the poems.”

“That sounds more fun that this.”

“As this is our first time together, I thought this would be better.”

“I suppose. Do we need to be polite?”

“It is customary. Why?”

“I have a question.”

“Alright.”

“How did you gain permission to pierce your ears? Mother said I could, then when we came here, she said it was not done.”

“You pierce the human part.”

“What? What does that mean?”

“That is what Haldir said. It means they are my ears and I only pierced the Indrelan part of them. I left the Elven part alone.”

“Oh, I like that! I never thought of that one. I used every argument I could think of!”

Gariel and Lindelen looked out the back window at Meliel’s laugh.

“They are getting along,” said Gariel.

“Yes, but why do I feel that this was a mistake on our part?” Lindelen said, laughing.

“I have a feeling that Meliel needs Ela as much as she needs Meliel.”

“This will cause problems in some areas.”

“Then it will be dealt with. Come, I have some tea for us. I do not think there is need for us to worry.”

----

Ela ran down the path to the fields, tugging on Meliel’s hand. She wanted her to meet Unimandil. Meliel was not so sure. This was the ellon responsible for training most of the march wardens. She secretly thought that that was what she wanted to do, but had not really made up her mind.

They burst out onto the fields. Elldar turned and looked at them. Ela was actually smiling. He had not seen her do that very much. He had heard the stories concerning Meliel. Personally, he dismissed them, but others did not. He hoped Ela would not have trouble over this.

She led Meliel over to a bench. Sitting her down, she went to the weapons master.

“Master Unimandil? I have a friend who I think would like to learn what you have taught me. Her name is Meliel. Will you come and meet her?”

He would have done it for the excitement on her face. He followed her to the bench.

“Master Unimandil, this is Meliel. Her mother is Lindelen.” He nodded to the girl. He noted with satisfaction that she resembled her mother’s people more so than her father’s. She looked large and strong enough to handle a sword, which he knew Ela never would.

“Do you wish to learn?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Then be here at daylight. We will see what we have.” He turned back to his students.

“There, that was not so hard. He is very fair. He does not care who your father is.”

“I am not ashamed of my father!” Meliel snapped.

“Of course you are not. And I am not ashamed of my mother. But face it, where you and I are concerned, there are those who think we should be. I am telling you that he is not one of those.”

“I am sorry. I am just so tired of defending my bloodlines. It should not matter.”

“No, it should not, but it does. I just ceased doing it. The few who say anything to me are referred to the Lady.”

“I do not have that luxury.”

“Watch Elldar. He is going to drop his sword to the left. He does not realize he does it. If the fool he is sparring with would pay attention, he could beat him.”

Sure enough, he dropped to the left. Delinfel did not catch it. Although older by years and larger, Elldar managed to best him. This happened three more times before Delinfel finally gave up. Ela and Meliel laughed at him.

“Did you bring us lunch?” he called out.

“Do I look like a serving girl to you?” muttered Ela, under her breath. “I am sure his mother packed his lunch.” She got up and took Elldar’s lunch to him.

“Why do you get him lunch and not me?”

“He is better looking. And I have to live with him. You, I do not.”

“Are you here to practice?” asked Elldar.

“As soon as you are done playing. Your uncle is down. He will join us for supper.”

“Which one?”

“The elder. I hope he found my book.”

“If he did not, he will have a good reason. I cannot believe that you could not find a book on Quenya in the library.”

“Oh, they have them, just not what I need. I did find some in Dwarvish hidden in a back room, but they are beyond me.”

“How did the lessons go this morning?”

“I think Lord Glordinel realizes he made a mistake. I am no good at healing. I know all the material, it just is not working.”

“It takes time. You had better get going. Master Unimandil is looking this way.”

Ela pulled her bow and quiver from the bag in which she carried them.

“That thing will never be of use if you keep it in a bag,” teased Delinfel.

“Until I do learn to use it, it is safer in the bag.”

She went out to the targets and strung the bow. Two hours later, she was hitting the target, but could not get to the center. She never showed any frustration, just doggedly kept at it.

“Ela,” Unimandil called out to her. “It is time to quit. Go home.”

“But if I just keep at it, I will get it,” she said, coming over to him.

“You are wearing yourself out. Give it a rest tomorrow. It will still be here the day after.”

“Yes, Master Unimandil.” She put her bow and quiver in the bag and turned to leave. Meleil had waited for her. At least Orophin would not have to come get her tonight.

“Do you do this every day?”

“Yes. Someday I will get it. It is much harder than my studies.”

“Would you like to come for dinner tomorrow?”

“I can ask Gariel. I am sure she would not care. What of your mother?”

“She will say it is fine. She wants me to meet others my own age. That is not easy when there are only a handful of us.”

“Alright, I will come. But then you must come with me the next time I have to go visiting with Gariel.”

“Ugh. That does not sound like fun.”

“It is not. But it is expected, so I do it. If you go with me, it will not be so bad. I usually take my books, then excuse myself early.”

“I will ask my mother.”

They had reached where Meliel lived.

“I will see you tomorrow afternoon. Goodnight,” said Ela.

“Until tomorrow.” Meliel turned to go up to her talan. Ela turned and started for home. She did not see who blocked her path until she almost bumped into her.

“Hello, child. It is Ela, is it not?” Deladrieng said, a smile on her lips that did not extend to her eyes.

“It is Elrénia. Please excuse me, I am late for supper.” She could barely hide the dislike in her voice.

“I see you have met the little human girl. It may not be wise for you to become too friendly.”

“Your concern is touching. However, I feel myself of an age to make those decisions for myself. If you will excuse me, I really must be going.” She tried to get past the ellith.

“Do you think to worm your way into their affection? It will not work.”

“Are you threatened by a mere child? You are more in need of help than I thought.”

Deladrieng reached out and grabbed Ela by the arm. The girl winced at the strong grip.

“You would do well to watch your step. I do not care who you pretend to be. Lord Elrond holds no sway here. You have no one to raise a hand for you here.”

Ela looked up at the older woman. Deladrieng hesitated.

“In the future, please do not speak to me, unless in the presence of another. I would not want to be the cause of problems for you. Now, release me. You may not like who I am, but others have a care. You would do well to remember that.” She pulled her arm from the other’s grip. Glancing down the path, she could see Rúmil. She walked calmly towards him.

“What is going on?” he asked her when she reached him. He could see the tears threatening to spill down her cheeks.

“Just walk. Do not look back. I feel the need to hurry home and bathe.”

He turned and laid her hand on his arm. He could see a bruise already forming where her arm had been squeezed.

“The Lady will not like this.”

“Then she does not need to find out. I have never gone to others to solve my problems. I am not about to start now.”

“You cannot deal with her on your own. I have seen her cut down those much older and mature than you.”

“Maybe that is the problem. I am younger. And I have nowhere else to go. Besides, I have you. And Haldir and Orophin. How could she possibly stand against all of that?”

He smiled down at her.

“You have courage. I have known grown men to avoid that woman.”

“Believe me, I will avoid her when at all possible. She is not stupid, but she does allow her feelings to cloud her judgment.”

They walked in silence for a space.

“Why does she dislike you so?”

“It seems she had set her sights on Orophin. When he wedded Gariel, she decided I would do. I quickly let her know how I felt. She was cruel even back then. She then thought Haldir would be acceptable. All in all, she is a very persistent elleth.”

“How much danger is there that Haldir is lax enough to fall under her spell?”

“As you can probably guess, not much.”

“Please do not tell anyone what happened. I will take care of it.”

“I will only keep silent if you promise to go to the Lady if things get out of hand.”

“Agreed. Come on. I am hungry.” They walked home arm in arm. It did not go unnoticed.
oticed.

Chapters

Jump to chapter

Chapter name
Chapter Nine
Created
08 May 2004
Last Edited
08 May 2004
Hits
733
Words
9491