"The Small and Secret Things"--6 through 10
The Small and Secret Things is my daily-drabble project on SWG. Because I really should have these things saved somewhere other than SWG (as, indeed, I preach to SWG members about their own work), then I am putting them up here as well. Hopefully, every few days, I'll be able to catch up and post a few more.
Nerdanel remembers life before the Darkening and her estrangement from Fëanor. This is a weird tribble (300 words) with some darker themes but nothing graphic. It was inspired by Noliel's much brighter Swinging in the Rain for Seven in '07.
There Was Long Ago a Tree
There was long ago a tree that held a swing and upon it, love was kindled. Fëanor's hands upon her back, pushing her, warming skin cold and unloved.
Daily, she sat in the swing and closed her eyes and
were those hands?
let the newborn Sun still so strange in the sky--so painful, so wrong--warm her back.
In place of his hands.
The breeze pushed her gently upon the swing, upon the tree that had grown old and died without the Light of the Trees to grant it life everlasting, until it was a gnarled husk, angry branches scratching the sky.
Long ago, he'd pushed her here. Long ago, he'd gone too far, too hard, not understanding when her screams of joy turned to fear and gravity seized her and dragged her to the earth. You do not belong here, in the sky, amid the clouds and Light. Long ago, she'd bled and wept and his hands caught her tears and stemmed her blood, and she knew, no matter what the others said--among them her father--that he could set aside his own desires to love her as she supposedly deserved.
But now, the tree was dead and dried, and the hands that had pushed her/healed her/loved her had been reduced to ash and borne upon the west winds to the halls of Mandos.
Feet firm upon the ground, she pushed herself.
Higher and higher she arced, and she never knew when sobs turned to screams of laughter.
The dried-dead bough of the tree broke. Sent her sailing into gravity's embrace, yanked back to the earth.
This time, there were no tears.
And with a lap of her tongue and a swipe with the hem of her tunic, yes, that was gone too.
Maedhros on acclimating to Himring after life in Tirion.
The acclimation should have been more difficult: from Tirion to Himring in fewer years than--once upon a time--it had taken my father to complete a commission. Stepping onto the balcony in the morning, where once was a balmy breeze (in Tirion), I am slapped across the face with a whiplash wind. So cold it burns.
It should have been difficult, leaning upon the railing with my hips, my skin already frozen fast to the steel.
But with time, I grow numb to all feeling. Happiness and love. Sadness, grief. Pain.
It should have been difficult.
It was not.
Finwë considers Míriel's sacrifice for Fëanor. This loss--a husband's loss of his wife on an occasion supposed to be joyous--has always been to me one of the most tragic tales of The Silmarillion. My stories never quite do it justice … but I keep coming back to it nonetheless.
How it must have been: an exchange of life, like pebbles passing from one hand to another. He was born. She died.
I sit beside her in the garden on the night she has chosen. I call all her names and plead to her with every last bit of the persuasion and charisma that has landed me as king. Her hand is cold in mine.
Her eyes stretch open to slits. "You would choose him over me. You know that."
I open my mouth but cannot lie. I shudder at the chill in her touch.
Her hand slides from mine.
Maedhros gives Rochallor to Fingolfin. This particular detail is not canon, but Maedhros did gift horses to the people of Fingolfin:
Of those horses many of the sires came from Valinor, and they were given to Fingolfin by Maedhros in atonement of his losses, for they had been carried by ship to Losgar.
-"Of Beleriand and Its Realms"
This piece consists of six hundred-word drabbles.
The Gift Horse
He was the youngest colt brought from Aman. I had weaned him bare days before the Darkening, before my grandfather's death, before the fate of the Noldor changed irrevocably. In the days that followed, as we made slow progress in the dark back to Tirion, it seemed that his bleating for his mother had portended all of this. For otherwise, he was strong and steadfast--proud--like his master.
Long ago, his dam had been a gift to my father from Nolofinwë, something of an attempt at reconciliation that--like so many things in our family--soured and went awry.
That was the New Year's festival: Nolofinwë gifted my father his favorite brood mare and my father gave his half-brother a gem that had been counted as one of his greatest before the Silmarils. Smiles enlivened their faces--genuine too, though more caused by drink than honest affection--and they'd clasped hands. Named the other brother. Not half-brother, for once.
I waited in the days following our exile (our first exile) for Atar to return the mare to Nolofinwë. He did not. I waited too for a messenger bearing back the stone Atar had given Nolofinwë.
But none came.
The colt was the first that Atar named in the tongue of the Elves we met here. Watching the colt frolic in the make-shift paddock, a rare smile upon Atar's face, he spoke in the language that was becoming almost familiar to us now, though rich and throaty where our tongue was lighter, musical. "Rochallor," he said. "He will be a good horse for a deserving rider."
Rochallor was gray--almost silver--like pale steel. A fitting horse for my father, I thought. But two days later, the Battle-under-stars began, and Atar fell.
And I won't speak of what followed.
Nolofinwë still wears the stone, I see. He wore it across the ice, and I can imagine him--when? with the light of the burning? Elenwë's death?--thrusting it over the ice-choked sea, meaning to drop it in, but his fist frozen tight around it. Trembling.
How does one atone for such loss? I give his people all I can spare. Few will humble themselves to take it. None will look into my eyes as they do.
But Nolofinwë nudges them towards me. It is a gift, comes a whisper borne on an icy breeze, for it comes from kin.
But what of him? It is the first day of the New Year, and already, I have knelt and sworn my fealty to the new king. But what sort of gift does one give to such a king?
The people are mingling again--mine and his, simply the Noldor now--and gifts pass from hand to hand. The stone sparkles at Nolofinwë's throat as he approaches. He hasn't much to offer me. He apologizes, unloosens the clasp. I stay his hand.
To remember him by.
No, I say. I will remember him better with the gem right where it is.
And in the paddock behind us, Rochallor runs with a joy that we--exiled and damned--have forgotten. Nolofinwë's eyes trace his movement.
My father's beloved colt, a good horse for a deserving rider. Who is more deserving than a king? Fog has rolled off of the lake, and Rochallor might be mist congealed, slipping through the cold winter air with supple grace.
"Half my herd," I say suddenly, "I will give to your people," and Nolofinwë's eyes wheel to meet mine, and despite his collected demeanor, I detect surprise in his eyes.
And I add, "And for you, Rochallor."
Turgon contemplates the building of Gondolin. I have tried for an archaic, slightly overwrought style in this one because, well, today's word is archaic! It seemed fitting. Since I will soon be writing Turgon, it seemed the perfect opportunity to test his voice, which, in my mind is (you guessed it) archaic and slightly overwrought.
This piece is a quadrabble: exactly 400 words.
A City in Light
I will credit the skill of our craftsmen and our engineers for the city called Gondolin--nay, it does not yet exist--but the true architect of the secret city will be Memory. Memory: that omnipresent artisan, constant as the stars in the sky so unchanging that one may plot a course between worlds by them and err by not a foot. I sit upon the walls of Vinyamar, overlooking the sea. I stretch my hand to the west, toward Aman, where the sky blushes from the light of the setting Sun.
I close my eyes.
Memory does her work, and gone is the inferior light under which we now endure; gone is the bite of Winter just-arrived and fast to set his fangs into my suddenly damp cheeks. I sit now upon a different wall, as oft I did in days not so long past, and it is the Mingling. I am pretending to work. I came to Ezellohar often in those days, under the pretense of study, while in fact the pages of my book lay unturned with my palms flat upon them. I gazed across at a white city, its edges traced in light, until it was as though every rooftop, every spire had been etched inside my eyelids by stylus borne in Memory's masterful hand.
I used to stretch my fingers to trace the shape of Tirion. And she came once, laughing, to find me there, and caught my hand before I was fully aware of her presence; surprised me with a kiss to the palm, startling my eyes open. She was heavy with child, and in the Light, her hair was as spun gold. Beautiful.
That place on my palm bears still the memory. I trace the shape of Tirion, my eyes closed, seated upon a wall in Vinyamar with my city at my back--not Ezellohar, not the Trees--and wait for the kiss that does not come. My hand burns, waiting.
And then, something lands, something feather-soft and cold. My eyes spring open, and I watch the snowflake melt upon my palm.
On the horizon is a mass of clouds still gilded at the edges by the light of the departed Sun, piled in the shape of Tirion. And I know what I must do to keep my people from Elenwë's fate.
I will go to Gondolin betimes, before it is too late.
And that's that for tonight. I'm tired and I'm sure my flist is quite full of Spam™ done drabble-style. :)