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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Two AinA Writings: "Seek the Horizon, Numenor's Sons" and "Brothers"

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Two AinA Writings: "Seek the Horizon, Numenor's Sons" and "Brothers"

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For those of you who don't know, Akallabeth in August is going on at the SWG with at least one new story/artwork/poem/thingy each day, following the chronology of the Akallabeth. And I will gladly vouch for the fact that some awesome stuff has been posted.

But, in the course of putting the project together, not all of the topics we wanted entries for were claimed, so I've been sort of filling in the blanks on an as-needed basis and thought I might as well post my AinA entries here as well.

"Seek the Horizon, Numenor's Sons" was meant to be an ancient Numenorean sea-chant. "Brothers" is a fixed-length piece about the division of the Numenoreans into King's Men and Elf-friends. Neither is adult-rated, although "Brothers" discusses death, so I gave it a Teens rating on the SWG archive.

Seek the Horizon, Númenor's Sons

Above all arts they nourished shipbuilding and sea-craft, and they became mariners whose like shall never be again since the world was diminished; and voyaging upon the wide seas was the chief feat and adventure of their hardy men in the gallant days of their youth.

Seek the horizon, Númenor's sons!
Was the blessing Manwë gave.
Seek the horizon--but not too far,
Was what he really said.

Seek the horizon, Númenor's sons,
On a sea of silver glass,
As smooth and clear as thunder-struck sand--
The hue of dirt and grit surpassed.
Seek the horizon!--but not too far.
Lest o'er the brink you pass.

To the east, to the east! Númenor's sons,
Let the scythe-curve of your keel
Cut the sea to where the new-born Sun
Makes land and mountains weal.
Where deathless kings enshroud themselves
In towers of powd'ry stone.
Return to the sea, Númenor's sons!
This land is not your home.

Seek the horizon, Númenor's sons!
Was the blessing the Powers gave.
Seek the horizon--but not too far,
Was what they meant but did not say.

To the west, to the west! Númenor's sons,
You must be cautious where you tread
For if you let familiar shores under horizon slip,
You'll pass soon into dread
Disguised as comfort and concealed as light
Crowning the top of every wave,
A beckoning hand, extended to Man
Down a path by Elf-light paved.

Seek the horizon, Númenor's sons,
But when the stars begin to fade
And from the horizon darkness flushes
Remember the warning the Powers gave--
Seek the horizon but not too far!
For when the darkness creeps too high
Too late you'll know you're on Aman's shore
Where the mountains gouge the sky.

Seek the horizon, Númenor's sons!
Mastering the perils of the deep.
Seek the horizon--but not too far,
Whence under mountains your Kings sleep.



Eastward they must sail, but ever west their hearts returned.



Brothers

Then Tar-Ancalimon, son of Atanamir, became King, and he was of like mind; and in his day the people of Númenor became divided. On the one hand was the greater party, and they were called the King's Men, and they grew proud and were estranged from the Eldar and the Valar.


He walked with a heavier foot than most; in the lot of the dead, people tended to step carefully, lightly because of the plants. He didn't. There came a faint whiff of crushed vegetation: basil.

"You could've come to your father's own funeral," gaze fixed upon the apple tree Mother had planted there. It had three leaves, still curled upon themselves, like small green fists.


Father had always been proud of him, for he was quick-witted and diligent, and I might have sworn that he kept a store of sharp retorts beneath his tongue. He was an unlikely librarian, but perhaps that was why the King favored him. Father liked the way he looked--his first-born son!--in the line of servants behind the throne. He wheezed with delight when the King spoke at festivals and my brother (his first-born son!) stood smirking in the blur of faces behind him. He didn't have the sword then, or the heavy stride. He was just my brother.


"You know why I did not."

The sword at his side said why he did not. And the heavy-buckled belt. And the traipsing feet of one favored by the king.


I never amounted to much. Most of our parents' income went to his college; I worked on the docks, unloading ships. Sometimes there would be a glimmer in the west that would unfold, as it came nearer, into a ship: oarless and silent upon the waves. My Quenya was awkward ("like you're choking on your teeth, you nunce!") but I spoke it. Some of the Elves came to smile in greeting when they saw me. Once, they brought my small daughter a pendant. They said it was a seashell, but it looked like they'd cut a slice from a rainbow.


I brushed the dirt from my hands. The tree would send its branches into the sky and plunge its roots into the earth--into my father's flesh--and deliver him to--what? Immortality? "Elvish sentimentalism," my brother had pronounced, when I'd told him of Father's wishes. "He's still dead."


How did the boy who'd mocked and comforted me as a lad become one of the King's Men? It didn't evolve and there was no "sparking point" (as he would say of tavern-fights); the sword and the belt and the heavy stride just happened upon him. Our father looked uneasy, watching his firstborn son behind (nearer to) the King at festival last. "It is not that we fear more but accept less!" I heard someone shouting in the streets that night. I looked out but couldn't tell if it was my brother. It could have been any one of them.


I left him--my brother, now one of the King's Men--beside the grave until I heard him leave, then dared look back at the tiny tree, nearly lost amid a turbid snarl of vegetation planted upon the longer-dead, expecting to see it crushed, broken. But in a moment of Elvish sentimentalism, he'd left it intact.


Afterword.

This story is a drabbunculus, which is, to the best of my knowledge, a form of my own invention. Each time I write one, I swear that I never will write another. The basic idea is that you write a drabble (or, in this case, a double drabble) and then fit several more drabbles inside of it. It's really a ridiculous form, and I doubt I'll ever write another. I hope I won't. We'll see.

A lot of my inspiration for the underlying concept of this (double) drabbunculus comes from the American Civil War. I live in Maryland--about five miles from the Mason-Dixon Line that divided the Union North from the Confederate South--and my state fell in a gray area allied to neither (and, indeed, under martial law for fear that we, too, would secede from the Union). Frederick Douglass was enslaved near where my husband and I take our seaside holidays; Union soldiers camped overnight in what is now my hometown the day before the Battle of Gettysburg. In the midst of these conflicting traditions come the stories of families split apart by differing allegiances; of "brother fighting brother." Perhaps because it is a part of my home, because I can walk, whenever I please, on the land where these people fought and slept and died, then this notion has always haunted me, and when it fell to me to write a story for the topic "division of Numenorean people into King's Men and Elendili/Elf-friends," it came immediately to mind that Numenor under Tar-Ancalimon must have been much the same, that differing allegiances also estranged loved ones even before the division became more violent under Ar-Pharazon.

  • I love the background you put into "Brothers." It may just have been that I loved studying the Civil War when I was a kid, but I recognized that influence before I even read your note. It's always a poignant theme.
  • Both of these were gorgeous, but really, the "drabbunculus" was wonderful!

    Because of the way you wrote the form, and within its restrictions, you managed to really pack a punch. Having to watch word count means every single word *counts*.

    And you show,little by little, bit by bit, before it ever got to the "point of no return", the divisions, the memories, and the way in which families fell apart in a time like that.

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