A Whole Buncha Drabble-Series!
First is "The Wanderer," a ficlet about Finrod. sinneahtes is fond of Finrod, and I’d once promised her a story about him during a somewhat ordinary moment in his life. The story doesn’t exist yet, but I used this idea to inspire this 600-word ficlet about where Finrod might have found his wanderlust and his friendship with his two eldest cousins.
Findaráto waited and chose the perfect day for his journey, a day when he was trusted to the imperfect watch of Cousin Findekáno, who was more concerned with writing letters and gazing at the clouds.
Carefully, Findaráto put the necessary provisions into a pack. He took a lump of bread, a waterskin, and a blanket. He even took his bow because the wanderers in stories always had bows, even though he didn’t have any arrows. But he liked the way that it looked, tossed over his shoulder with his favorite blue cloak that he liked to call his “traveling cloak”—at least in the secrecy of his thoughts.
He’d found a long, straight branch and hidden it beneath one of his father’s topiaries, unkempt and likely a safe hiding place. As his cousin sighed at the clouds, Findaráto crawled beneath the scraggly green rabbit and saw that his father had not disappointed him: the branch was still there. He walked with it because the wanderers in the paintings in Grandfather’s Hall of History always had walking sticks. And he liked the sound that it made between footfalls. Tump. Tump. Tump. He strode with a purpose through his father’s gates. His father had once said that one could go anywhere without suspicion if he went with a purpose. He said that he’d heard his brother say that once and found it to be true.
“Uncle Nolofinwë?” Findaráto had asked.
“No,” his father had replied. “Uncle Fëanáro.”
Who was Uncle Fëanáro? Findaráto often wondered. Was he like Uncle Nolofinwë and somehow more solid than either of Findaráto’s parents? With an embrace that was like being tucked into bed at night, both safe and warm?
“Rather like that,” his father had answered, “yet not quite.”
But the lost uncle knew that to walk with a purpose allowed one to walk anywhere, a piece of wisdom reminiscent of something that Uncle Nolofinwë would say.
Yet not quite.
Down the street he strode, his walking stick making a light tump-tump in time with his footsteps. He was stopped once by a shopkeeper, who asked where he was going and gave him a piece of sugar-candy when he answered, “To find lost people in distant lands.”
He made it to the bottom of the city and across the plains where the King’s riders practiced. He stopped to watch them only for a short while; they looked more impressive when seated upon his father’s shoulders. The forest lay above the plains, and it was dappled with Treelight and shadows, but Findaráto easily found the road, and he tump-tumped along the road until the Trees grew dim and his belly began to warn him that suppertime drew near.
There was a clearing up ahead, and he thought it best to pause there, upon the relative comfort of the soft grass. There was motion between the trees: a flash of color and a quick laugh, abandoned and joyful, like when his mother tickled his father beneath the ribs. Findaráto strode forth, to hail the strangers.
There were two of them, and they paused, wooden swords at their sides. One had hair of a strange color, almost red; the other was dark-haired and smaller and quick to smile.
“Findaráto?” said the taller, the one with the strangish hair. He came and lifted Findaráto in his arms, like his father would have done. The silvery star at the throat of the smaller one was familiar somehow. “I have come far to find you,” said Findaráto solemnly, hungry and wearied—yes—but content, “though it seems you are not strangers at all.”
isil_elensar is a hopeless romantic and also a hopeless Amrod fangurl, and so I give to her a hopelessly romantic series of three drabbles about a rather hopeless Amrod. (And no, it is not called “Hopeless.”)
When I was small, I asked everyone I knew: What is love?
“Love can’t quite be defined,” said Nelyo, though he gave me a list of novels, paintings, and treatises that made a decent start.
“Love licks your face and you don’t care that he was just eating rabbit scat,” said Tyelkormo.
“You die for love,” said Atar. “And gladly.”
“Love is us, Ambarussa” said Ambarussa.
Lastly, I went to Macalaurë, recently wed and poetic beside. “Love is when everything stops”—he stopped, breath held— “and you can feel the world spinning. And you know that love moves the world.”
My life never stopped, and I found myself at Doriath with little idea how I’d gotten there. The refugees were being removed, marching before me, tired eyes fixed upon the ground rather than me, part-destroyer of their homes, the sword at my side still wet with the blood of their brothers and husbands.
Love doesn’t move the world, I thought. Swords and lies and hate move the world.
But then, she was there, walking before me.
The world stopped.
Wind, birdsong, my brothers’ shouts—all stopped. My heartbeat ceased too, and I might have died there.
But she marched on.
I kept thought of her secret. Nelyo spoke of oaths and loyalty as reasons to march upon Sirion. I agreed to go, but it was not a Silmaril that had my heart or my loyalty. And when we reached the city, my sword stayed bright while others were made filthy by the blood of kin.
I found her in a cottage. She was not craven and wielded a blade with awkward determination. “I fight for peace,” she told me, and I answered, “I fight for you.”
My father’s words made sense then.
Gladly, I tossed my sword at her feet.
For phyncke is a series of three double-drabbles about Fingolfin and how one finds his way through grief, exile, and darkness. The idea came to me while listening to the Blind Guardian song “The Eldar” and considering the line about how many of the Elves witnessed the first sunrise. The symbolic implications of this event at such a dark time in their history was impossible to resist, and I was bitten!
We made a lot of clichés in Aman without much of an idea of what they really meant. “Blinded by love,” we said. Or: “Blinded by rage.” Grief, beauty, deception.
In Aman, we were always blinded by something.
We had no idea.
What was it like? I was often asked when we met the first Moriquendi, about crossing the Ice. Not the lovely, coddled people of Elwë but the Moriquendi of the cold north, who had gone so far as the Helcaraxë, seeking loved ones ensnared by Melkor, but quailed and turned aside. There was no cowardice in turning aside, I learned. They were a hardy people who feared little yet would not step upon the Ice.
The Ice? How was it?
I remembered little of it. Just a narrow vision of the east. The east, and a particularly delicate pattern of stars on the horizon. I saw only that. I was blinded to all else.
Blinded by what? I did not know.
I remembered only the sound of my breath, too loud in a land otherwise without sound, and the pattern of stars on the horizon.
And a hand upon my arm. I remembered that too. But who—?
I dreamed of it—the Ice and him, my herald.
He’d been but a boy when he’d knocked upon my door, eyes wide with hope. He was not an attractive boy; he had freckles and overlarge elbows. “I want to be your herald,” he said.
“You are far too young for that.” I closed the door in his face.
Not long after, I needed a herald, for I was king. I pondered this but how does one go about getting a herald? It seemed a job unworthy of being trusted to a stranger.
He came knocking again. He was still freckled but had grown into the awkward elbows. “You need a herald,” he said, “and I wish to serve as one.”
At times, I will admit that I wondered why I’d agreed. He was ugly and didn’t even look like a Noldo. His hair was golden and his skin too pale and his voice wasn’t quite strong enough to announce me. When we reached the Helcaraxë, I told him to stay behind, convinced that he would die otherwise.
Yet he had not. It was his touch upon my elbow, as constant as the stars that kept my course.
Turukáno had protested him the most. “He is ugly,” he said. “And he makes a fool of us.”
Yet it was for Turukáno that he’d disassembled my banner, to wrap him as he’d clutched Idril, weeping for Elenwë lost to the Ice. When we’d marched onward, he’d guided Turukáno and me. “I have two hands,” he’d said.
I saw only the stars on the horizon. Not him and not Turukáno. I spared no thought for love, to have it lost upon the Ice.
Or lost to treachery.
Do I need a herald in this dark land? I wonder sometimes. Still, he is there, at my side, as we ride to my brother’s camp. Though my brother is gone; Macalaurë’s banner flies in its place.
Upon the eastern horizon, the stars are growing faint. We stop—my herald and I—and wonder at the quivering fire that eases slowly out of the darkness at the end of the world. The light strikes him full in the face and sets his hair aglow like molten gold.
His hand—lacking the banner—clutches mine. The stars are gone but in the light of the first sunrise, I do not fear losing my course.
frenchpony once wrote a story about Fëanor that began with him stretching to reach something he thought to be unattainable. “Fire Ascending” is one of my favorite Silmfics, and through it, I discovered not only a fantastic author but a friend who unfailingly challenges and helps me as a writer.
“How to Paint a Star” is a quibble (five hundred words) reflecting the idea of a young Fëanor reaching for something that is unattainable—for the moment—and my recent fascination with the Mindon Eldaliéva.
How to Paint a Star
From where comes the light atop Mindon Eldaliéva?
This is the question I ask, the reason that I rise before the King—my father—even, to sneak atop the palace and gaze upon the Mindon. To ask: How is it possible?
The wind is brisk up here. It took a while to climb: first the lattice in the garden and then the windowsill to the loose brick that slipped from my fingers and fell a long, long way to break on the terrace below.
I feel fear, like the blink of an eye: a wince and darkness. Quavering fingers pressed to the bricks, I look at the Mindon and cannot be afraid.
From the loose brick, I move to the next-higher window; then I am at the stones, and it is a bit easier, all the way to the top of the palace. I still have to tip my head back as far as it will go to see to the top of the Mindon, where the light glows, blurry in the early-morning mist as though rubbed by a hand. The tower twists to meet it. Against the night that lies thick above the wan morning Treelight, the tower is very pale. I stretch my arm beside it until my elbow pops and hurts. My arm, too, is very pale against the darkness, and I wonder: Maybe the Mindon had been an arm like mine, stretched thin and grown stronger over the years?
From where, then, comes the light?
My father says that Varda made the light, just as she’d made the stars. Upon the shadow-side of Tirion, the stars burn so brightly in the sky that even when I close my eyes, I see their shapes, red-gold against the insides of my eyelids. I can’t sleep on that side of the city, not knowing that stars are overhead. As soon as the door snicks shut behind my father, I am out of bed and leaning from the window to memorize their shapes in the sky.
But if the Mindon is but another star, then what does that mean? Are not the stars supposed to be unattainable, destined to be strung between my fingers as I stretch my hand against the night? But the Mindon—I put a slippered toe between the bricks. For a breathless moment, it holds me. Then my foot slips away, and I fall back to the roof. My heart is beating fast, as though I’d climbed higher, risked more. My fingers curl between the bricks. If I kept practicing, climbing, stretching—
Could I touch a star?
Would the light cling to my fingertips like the glow from fireflies? Could I paint my own stars then, across my bedroom ceiling or upon the stone in my father’s circlet?
And if I captured the secret of the stars, what gifts could I give to the Eldar?
My arm stretched, pretending that my hand cups the lamp at the top of the Mindon, I can almost imagine it.