Only a Game
19. To Aman?
On a low table was a plate with some fruit and white bread, and a jug of water with two beakers. I ate some breakfast, and then ventured out off the tent to have a look around.
The large structure of the party tent of the previous night had already been pulled down again. Indeed, I thought that there were fewer tents around than when we had arrived yesterday. Every Elf in sight was busily running here and there, carrying large bundles or wooden planks or ushering animals along towards the beach. The small rowing boats, which I had already observed the day before, were again going back and forth between the tall ships and the beach.
They were getting ready to leave. I frowned. I remembered the song about the Avari's origins from the party. But they had not told us anything about their destination.
Yet another mystery of these mysterious Elves of the East.
A riddle I probably would not be here to solve.
I wandered off towards the North, away from the coming and going between the ships and the shore. I needed time to be alone. Time to think. Time to remember who I was and where I came from, where I belonged.
After walking for about ten minutes away from the general mêlée at the beach, the noise of the goings-on at the tents subsided slowly and the sound of waves and wind became predominant. The beaches of the Eastern Seas were white here and soft with finely grained sands. There were lovely dunes, too, grown with long grasses. The day was tinged in grey, and the wind chilly.
I found a hollow between two dunes, which reminded me of another set of dunes, many miles away from here. I smiled to myself and sat down in the hollow. It was fairly deep and hidden from view by some gorse bushes and a sheaf of marram grass, but the sand was soft and dry, and I could see the waves rushing to the shore at the right hand edge of the hollow.
I don't know how long I sat there, breathing and looking, thinking about nothing but the salty taste of the wind and the softness of the sand under my fingers.
I had, of course, not been able to hear the Elves approaching my hiding place, and the plants which hid me from view, had also obscured them. I only realized that I was not alone anymore, when I heard a familiar voice speak in the beautiful Elvish tongue, Sindarin, which I understood fairly well by now.
"And yet, brother, there are many things you have not told me." Elrohir said.
"Well, you have not told me everything, either", Elladan answered.
Silence fell between them.
Should I draw their attention to me? Just step out and say, hi, where did you turn up from?
For a moment I considered trying to simply get away unnoticed. I bit my lower lip.
With their ears no less keen than their eyes, there was no way to just slip away and leave them to their talk.
"Much has changed during the last months, muíndor-nîn." Elrohir said slowly.
"That is true", Elladan sighed.
"Where do the Avari sail from here? Why do they leave Arda now, when there is peace? If they love their home so much that they could not consider following the summons of the Valar, why leave now?"
I raised my eyebrows. That was a hell of a straight question for an Elf. In my limited experience with Elves, there were a lot of things left unsaid in any conversation, a lot of polite waiting for the other person to take the next step.
"You cut right to the point, brother… but I am not sure if it is my place to tell you this."
I could hear that Elladan dreaded something about what he would have to say. His voice sounded haunted.
"If you go with them, I think it better be you to tell me about it."
I swallowed dryly. Somehow I had a bad feeling about where this conversation would lead. I knew I ought to get up and walk down to them, acting as if I had not understood anything they had said up until now and get the hell away from them, but I could not bring myself to it. I remained where I was, hunched into my sandy hollow, hardly daring to breathe.
"Oh, Elrohir! I cannot even say that I am sorry, although my heart aches for you. I never expected to find love, to find a true bond! When I left you, I was torn up inside with this evil curse they call the Half-Elven's choice. Now I am whole and love has found me, but pain flies in its wake. You are right; they will not go to Aman. They will sail across the Eastern Seas to reach the lands of the sun, the plains behind Kalórmë, the Sun-rising Hill, where no child of Ilúvatar has walked before, a land, which was never touched by darkness. And I will go with them, even if I do not know how this will affect my choice."
I gritted my teeth just in time to suppress a gasp. They were not going to Aman? Whatever was this Kalórmë? Where ever were those sun-lands? And what did he mean, when he said he did not know how this would affect his choice?
"Father was right" Elrohir sighed. "You are very much like our grandfather; this world was too small for you from the beginning… I will never understand how you manage to always discover even stranger paths, leading even farther away.
But as to the choice – I think the choice is bound to us remaining in Arda or travelling on. If we remain, we have to choose a mortal life. If we go on – and I don't think they literally said, go on to Aman – we remain Elvish, immortal."
Elladan laughed softly. "You always were the philosopher, Elrohir. If I am the image of grandfather, you are like father, more the thinker than the fighter."
"I have seen enough fighting in my days."
"As have I, brother, and most of them at your side."
"Indeed. But you have not told me why they leave. Don't you know it, or don't you want to tell me?" Elrohir returned to his original question.
This time it was Elladan, who sighed. The silence stretched. The Elf was either staring out to see, trying to gather his thoughts, or rubbing at his temples, not knowing how to explain…
By now any thought of drawing attention to my presence had vanished from my mind. I just wanted to know the answer to Elrohir's question.
"The world is changing." Elladan finally said, and then fell silent again. Yeeesss… and…???
What the hell did that mean? "The world is changing"?! The sense of foreboding I had experienced yesterday evening returned, sending an icy shiver down my back.
"The world is changing." Elladan repeated. "The Avari feel it. Something in the structure of Arda is changing; the very bones of the earth are changing. Our time here is over. The fourth age belongs to the children of men and not to us. The Avari agree with the Valar on that account. But the West is not for them. Their songs belong to the East, where the sun rises."
I felt tears in my eyes. I hated the way Tolkien had ended the story of "The Lord of the Rings", making the Elves, beauty and magic leave Middle-earth, taking away everything, which was special and wonderful… it had always made me cry, and hearing those words spoken by a beautiful Elvish voice and referring to another direction did not improve them.
"You are right." Elrohir agreed. "I feel it, too. The world is changing. But I am not sure if you draw the right conclusions, if even the Valar draw the right conclusions. I keep thinking we are missing an essential detail… But that is neither here nor there; the ships are almost ready to leave. When do you plan to set sail?"
"In three days." Elladan said. Then he uttered a sound somewhere between a moan and a sob.
"Brother! Come with me! Please! Let's sail together and discover these new lands to the East! It would be just like the old days!"
I felt choked, and hot tears were running down my cheeks. I hoped Elrohir would say yes, because I knew just how much he loved his brother.
I heard the soft rustling sound of silken robes on the sand, two bodies meeting in a tight embrace. Elrohir's voice was muffled against his brother's shoulder, when he spoke next.
"The old days were over, brother, when you left Imladris months ago. The time has come for us to choose our own paths beyond the circles of this world."
"Is it because of this mortal?" Elladan asked, painful denial in his voice. "Take her with you! I am sure Doron would not mind! And Mínuíal finds her fascinating!"
I heard Elrohir sigh, and thought he would probably be holding his brother at his shoulders now, looking him straight in the eyes, forcing Elladan to see and accept what he wanted to ignore.
"That is not possible, brother, and you know that well. She does not belong with the Avari. I may not know much about her, but that much I can see."
"Do you love her?"
"Do you love Mínuíal? – Then do not ask me such a question!"
Did he mean to say? Did he – had he just said – fuck, fuck, fuck, I should have run away when I had first noticed them!
"But what will you do, Elrohir? Will I ever see you again?" I could hear tears in Elladan's voice, and my own tears kept running down my cheeks as well.
"I don't know yet what I will do." Elrohir's voice was husky with emotion, too. When he continued, his voice was rough, as if it was difficult for him to speak.
"And I don't know whether we will see each other again. But you know, Elladan, that it matters not. Our love will last forever, brothers we will remain, beyond time and space. Life and death, Arda, Aman or Kalórmë, they have little meaning when it comes down to love such as ours.
Lift your heart, Elladan, and dry your tears; you have found love and a family, and a future, which holds everything you ever dreamed of – a whole new continent to discover."
After a moment's silence Elrohir chuckled softly. "Do you know, big brother, in olden days it was always you, cheering me up! The world must be really changing."
Elladan responded with a shaky laugh.
"Ai! Indeed. You must have grown up when I wasn't looking."
They joined in soft laughter, but quickly fell silent again.
After a long moment of silence, it was Elladan, who spoke again.
"I promised to be back at the ships at noon. There is still much to do. Will you come with me?"
"No, if you don't need me, I think I will remain here for a while… I need time to think."
"Don't let the time grow too long." Elladan cautioned his brother, and I thought that he referred to mid-winter and an Elvish ship waiting at Dol Amroth and not today.
"Should I say, don't worry, brother, I won't, to soothe your mind?"
"I would not believe you, if you did."
"Then I won't say it."
I heard a rustling sound of Elvish gowns, and then the sound of one or two light steps on the sand; Elladan had walked off, back to the ships.
As I tried to determine if Elrohir had gone away, too, the shrubbery in front of my hollow parted and I was looking up at Elrohir's tear-stained face. He did not look at all astonished to find me there.
"You knew I was here?" I asked, feeling ashamed.
He nodded, and sank to the ground next to me.
"Why didn't you say anything?"
He sighed, locking his arms around his knees. "I needed you courage."
I stared at him. My courage?
His eyes were black with sorrow and grief.
Gingerly I reached out to touch his hands, gripping at his wrists so hard that the blue veins stood out in sharp relief. His fingers were icy.
"How do you feel?" I whispered, not really wanting to know.
"What is it you call it in your mind? Bloody-fucking-goddamned-awful." He said, laid his head against his knees and cried.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.