In An Age Before – Part 67

Chapter Fifty-seven

Calenglad i'Dhaer – The Third Age of the Sun

Now while'st Helluin was't watching Bobo recount the sorcery of Dól Gúldúr, 55 leagues to the northeast, Beinvír had come before King Thranduil. She had walked the Men-i-Naugrim after parting from her beloved, and upon the fourth day of her journey, had met a company of the Nandor of Calenglad. These received her warily at first, but soon warmed to her and accommodated her desire by conveying her to their king. She came before him in the same grotto in the foothills of the Emyn Duir whereat she and Helluin had brought dark tidings to old King Oropher ere the War of the Alliance.

Beinvír approached the same carved throne 'neath the same great oak, but now 'twas Thranduil who sat thither rather than in the chair to its right. She marked that the Heir's seat was't unoccupied. When she had come 'nigh to a fathom and a half she bowed deeply, and just as his father had, Thranduil stood and offered his greeting.

"Mae govannen, Beinvír Laiquende. Non meren govannad cin ad. Gara nant ennin limb. Garech nant mae?¹"¹(Mae govannen, Beinvír Laiquende. Non meren govannad cin ad. Gara nant ennin limb. Garech nant mae? Well met, Beinvír Laiquende. I am glad to meet you again. It has been many years. Have you been well?= Mae(well) + govannen(met), Beinvír(fair Treasure) + Laiquende(Green Elf). No-(be, am)+ -n(subj pro suff, I) + meren(joyous) + govanno-(meet) + -ad(inf suff, to) + cin(dir obj pro, you) + ad-(again). Gar(o-)(have) + -a(3rd per pres ending, he, she, it) + n(o-)(be) + –ant(past v ending) + ennin (periods of 144 years) + limb(many). Garo-(have) + -(e)ch(2nd pers subj suff, you) + n(o-)(be) + –ant(past v ending) + mae(well)? Sindarin)

"I am well, O King," Beinvír replied, "and great is my thanks for thy welcome. Indeed many years hath passed since last we met. I hope thou hast found a measure of peace in the days since."

Thranduil nodded. Despite the clarity of his memory, the passing of time had been a balm to his heartbreak. He and his people had suffered greatly since his last meeting with the Green Elf, but he had continued to abide in Middle Earth. Yet of late, things had not been so fair 'neath the trees.

"As thou say, peace in some measure hath been gifted unto me since those dark days of yore. Yet now it seems a Shadow renewed hast taken refuge hither to the detriment of all. The Enyd hath taken their leave, thou know'st, and many of evil mien hath made hither their homes. Yet worst, all hath heard tell of the coming of the Sorcerer to the south. He hast driven hence Lord Oldbark from his home and usurped the same for the building of his tower."

"These things hath been suspected yon Hithaeglir, O King," Beinvír said, "and for the sharing of the tidings of such things hath I come hither to thee on behalf of Elrond Peredhel and the Council of Imladris. I should say also that my meldwain, Helluin Maeg-mórmenel, seeks tidings of this Sorcerer in the south. Even now she makes her way hence to scout out Amon Galen¹." ¹(Amon Galen, Green Hill, = amon(hill or head) + galen(green) Sindarin translation of the Quenya name, Laiquadol)

King Thranduil and many who stood 'nigh blanched at her news and a background of muttering was't heard. In the days since the coming of the Sorcerer, none had ventured 'nigh Amon Galen, which they now called Amon Lanc, for fear of the creeping terror that dwelt thither. The king silenced the murmuring of his courtiers with a sharp glance.

"My friend of old, if 'tis true as thou say, and Helluin hast indeed gone thither, then greatly I doth fear for her. Shadow and terror fill those woods and even the name of that place hast been changed. None speak now of the Green Head, but rather of Amon Lanc, the Bald Hill. Thither dwell'th darkness and malice in such measure as it were from another Age gone by. Might none change her counsels?"

The Green Elf sighed. She had tried to do just that. Thranduil saw the look in her eyes and gave the ghost of a nod in understanding. Having made up her mind, little in this world could cause the Noldo to gainsay it.

"I shalt offer a prayer to the One for her safety," he offered.

Beinvír accepted his sentiment with a grim smile. In no way did Thranduil seem to hold her beloved to blame for the outcome of the war in Mordor. There had been no condemnation of her; much to the contrary, he had expressed concern for her wellbeing. After a moment, she blinked and met the king's eyes again.

"Thou should know, O King, that Helluin blames herself solely for thy losses aforetime in battle and for the diminishing of thy people. Though she knows well that many fortunes rise and fall in war, she is wracked with such guilt as hast caused her to foreswear any contact with thee and thy people. She deems her presence both a focus and a reminder of sorrows unassuagable, and this she is determined not to visit upon thee. Long aforetime her actions brought her guilt and no sooner had she done what little she could to amend the plight of the Avari than tidings came to her of the fall of thy father. She hast substituted the one for the other, the new for the old."

"Say thou unto her, my friend, that no ill-will doth I bear her, nor blame doth I set upon her. Helluin did what she could for the benefit of my people ere the war. 'Twas not her fault what later came to pass. My father was't not sound in his strategies and atop his temperament such contrived his downfall. As thou say, many fortunes change in war."

As thou remember, she did all the counselors would allow, Thranduil silently said to Beinvír eye to eye, 'twas by their own prejudice that they curtailed her aid and thereby hampered their people.

Beinvír nodded her thanks and bowed her head. Thranduil's absolution of her beloved meant a lot to her. Yet when she raised again her eyes, she noted the grimmer and harder expressions upon the faces of some of the counselors gathered 'nigh.

Not all feel as do their king, she thought, and Helluin doth share her self-condemnation with some of Thranduil's house. 'Tis hardly to be wondered at. As the king said, the same sentiments stayed her hand in aiding the Nandor ere the war. Ahhh well.

"Gladly shalt I convey thy judgment to my beloved," the Green Elf said.

Thereafter the gathering spoke long of all that had come to pass of late in the forest and much that had come to pass in the west and south as well. The king's counselors spoke their peace, adding details and impressions. Some called for action, others for increasing the safety of the people by moving north. They spoke of the increased boldness of the spiders, the influx of eastern Men, and the sightings of Yrch. The succession of the kings of divided Arnor and the waxing might of Gondor was't told.

Now amongst the courtiers Beinvír marked the presence of one who said little, yet was't the only one who asked after her lover's mission to the south. 'Twas an elleth, handsome of face, dark-haired and dark-eyed, who seemed young for her station at court, yet who was't held in some esteem by the king, if the Green Elf's observations as he harkened to her words and repeatedly cast subtle glances in her direction spoke true. Indeed, Beinvír thought, King Thranduil seems eagerly poised to hear more from her.

"Howsoever be it that thy beloved dares seek the abode of yonder thauron¹?" she had asked Beinvírwith sadness and curiosity weighting her eyes. "Fey she must be to go thither by choice, and for thy torment I doth feel heartsick for thee, for so I woulds't be myself, were one dear to me to undertake such a jeopardy."¹(thauron, an abhorrent one, Sindarin)

"Inthuiril¹, Helluin is Calben and lived upon a time in the Blessed West that lies 'cross the sea," Thranduil told her, "yet more than any other of her kindred, and of all who art known to me, she might chance such an act with hope of safety." ¹(Inthuiril,Thoughtful One = In(d)(thought(inner),meaning) + -ui(-ful,-y) + -ril(fem. agent) Sindarin)

The elleth said 'naught in response, but dipped her head to her king to acknowledge his words. Still an expression of some doubt showed upon her features.

"Helluin is she whom many hither call the Mórgolodh," the king added. "Thou hath heard somewhat of her tale."

At this, Inthuiril cast a look of great curiosity at Beinvír but again held her peace. Thereafter she looked repeatedly to the Green Elf as the council continued throughout the day. Indeed she dwelt upon Beinvir's words with the attention of a hawk.

That evening Beinvír was't led to that same grotto wherein Thranduil had provided supper to her and Helluin so long before. Thither, o'er goblets of wine, the king and his guest could speak less formally.

"As thou saw, many at court mistrust thy beloved," the king admitted with an expression of sorrow, "and many others know her not. Yet there art some besides myself who hold her in esteem. When thou speak next to Helluin, assure her of my goodwill."

"I shalt do so," Beinvír said, "and for that thou hast my thanks."

The king looked down into his cup for a silent moment, but then raised his eyes to meet hers. He drummed his fingers upon the table, then stilled his hand. Beinvír cocked an eyebrow at him, deeming that some topic festered in his mind which he was't reticent to broach. At last he sighed and spoke.

"Thou marked Inthuiril, I wager, for she alone offered thee sympathy even ere she knew 'aught of Helluin."

"Aye," Beinvír nodded. In truth she was't somewhat curious about the elleth, but already felt some regard for her warmth, as well as surprise that she hadn't recognized Helluin's name when it had been spoken early in the conversation.

"She is young to be an advisor," he continued, "yet she hath a clear view of her own heart and this doth give her wisdom beyond her years. Her adar is Nandor, her naneth Sindar, and her maternal grandsire came with my household out of Eregion. Alas, he was't lost in battle upon Gorgoroth in the company of my father. A sister too she hast, (though little like her in temperament, being high-strung and flighty, though a great beauty), who hast chosen to abide for a time 'cross Anduin in Lórinand."

Beinvír regarded the king's words. They explained much but said little.

"Inthuiril hast importance to thee beyond her role as an advisor, I wager," the Green Elf said softly, a faint smile playing upon her lips, "for I marked that 'naught amongst the others of thy counselors did thou look to so oft, nor grace with such a measure of thy attention."

In the lamplight of the grotto, she was't sure that Thranduil blushed. For some moments he looked only into the depths of his cup, his golden hair falling to shadow his face. A sigh escaped him ere he returned his gaze to his guest and nodded in agreement.

"Wise thou art, Beinvír Laiquende, for thou hast seen in an afternoon what hast escaped most hither in this darkening wood for many years. Thy words art true. Inthuiril hast a measure of my attentions unclaimed and unclaimable by my other counselors. Indeed I find myself contemplating her oft in idle moments. Think thou that 'tis odd for one of my age? I fear I hath become enchanted in my heart, and she so young in years." He trailed off and his eyes focused upon some picture in his mind. For once it seemed not to be some dark memory out of the war, or some concern for the present troubles within his realm. His eyes brightened and a fugitive smile shaped his lips. Beinvír smiled with happiness.

"O King, I hath found none so old or so dour as to make their heart untouchable to the stirrings of love if they but let it. I would rejoice in thy happiness, my friend should thy desire be returned. Think thou that thy feelings art held in kind by the lady?"

Thranduil actually shook himself from his reveries and gave Beinvír an apologetic and sheepish grin.

"In truth I know not for sure," he admitted. "Mostly I feel that I may be foolish in my infatuation, for many art the young ellyn who pay her attention. Yet she hast declined the courtship of several already and so I fan the embers of my hopes, I suppose, seeking to prove with negative evidence a positive desire. And here am I, a king who hast lived o'er 5,000 years, reticent to confess my heart to one barely two ennin¹ of age. I know 'tis foolish and none art more surprised than I to be caught so. Still, whatsoever can'st I do?" ¹(ennin, years(144) pl. Sindarin equivalent of Quenya yen, (sing.) a period of 144 years of the sun and yeni, (pl.) Both reflect the "long year" as accounted by the Eldar in Middle Earth. Thus Inthuiril is somewhat less than 288 years of the sun in age.)

"I deem thou shalt do as thy heart bids thee, O King, and in thy proper time," Beinvír said, "yet such counsel as I would give urges thee to speak thy heart's desire if 'tis to join with Inthuiril, whether in an aur¹, or an ín², or an ennin. Life is long, my friend, yet time passes and cannot be reclaimed." ¹(aur, a day of 24 hours Sindarin) ²(ín, year of 365 days Sindarin)

The king nodded slowly in agreement. Even were his suit embraced by Inthuiril, to wait would mean to lose that time together ere he spoke and declared his heart. He looked 'cross the table at the Green Elf. For o'er 3,000 years her heart and Helluin's had been one. Though both ellith were commoners and homeless wanderers, a part of Thranduil felt envious of them…of their love. To never be alone in his heart; the thought warmed him more than he would hath thought it could.

"I shalt speak to her," he said softly, "for though the days darken, I would make sweet such time as is left."

Upon the Green Elf's face a smile shone clear as the twinkling lamplight. Unlike Elrond and Celebrian, Thranduil would not set aside his heart even though duty called. He would not face the coming darkness knowing not if the one who held his heart felt the same. And if the days were numbered and the years grew short, still he would make of them the best he could. Beinvír wondered for a moment what would hath come to pass had the Peredhel fallen in the war in Eriador, or upon Dagorlad, or in Mordor during the Last Alliance. At the very least, Celebrian would hath wasted from heartbreak, while'st Elladan, Elrohir, and Arwen would never hath been born. She wondered thence what her life would hath been had she not sought Helluin when her company had been imprisoned in the house of Iarwain-Ben-adar. The thought left her cold and she looked to the ring upon her finger. With a shudder, she realized that she could no longer conceive of being happy alone, for having been joined fëa to fëa with Helluin, the loss of that connection would be untenable. Indeed, no joy or hope would bind her thence to the Hither Shores.

"I shalt hope for thy bliss, my friend, for having felt it myself I shalt forewarn thee that never after shalt thou be whole alone, and yet if such be a loss, still the coming of such a joining shalt bring thy heart 'naught but joy."

Now they spoke further of many things, but the night grew old and they parted in warmth and friendship. Beinvír spread her ground cloth of pangolin pelts about her in a small copse 'nigh the grotto and placed her travel bag 'neath her head ere covering herself with her cloak. Thence she let herself wander upon the roads of her memories, revisiting scenes of happiness to rest her mind.

'Twas sometime later that she marked a figure approaching her resting place with stealth. From bole of tree to deep shadow did the figure advance in Elven silence, hooded and cloaked, as one stalking or coming to an ambush. Being that 'twas in her own nature to move unseen and unheard, the movements of others were the more easily discerned, especially when their skill was't lesser than her own. The Green Elf sighed softly in exasperation; her repose had been pleasant. When at last the figure came 'nigh it found thither an empty cloak, with 'naught but a travel bag 'neath its still warm folds.

Now the figure looked about in confusion and for a heartbeat sought after the one so recently present. She had marked 'naught of movement during her approach. 'Twas but a moment later that the telltale stretching of a bowstring coming from o'erhead made her freeze in place.

"Ai ceri cin thíri an no i-ngelaidh¹," came a whisper from above and slightly behind.Pedo! Connoncin.²" ¹(Ai ceri cin thíri an no i-ngelaidh, Whoever doth thou(you) seek(look for) 'neath hither(these) trees? = ai(rel pro, whoever) + ceri-(do) + cin(2nd pers sing dir obj pro, you) + thíri-(v, look) + an(for) + no(under) +i-ngelaidh hin(these trees) Sindarin) ²(Pedo! Connoncin. Speak! I command(order) thee(you).= Pedo(imp., speak!) + conno-(order) + -n(1st pers sing subj pro suff, I) + cin(2nd pers sing dir obj pro, you) Sindarin)

To Be Continued

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