Forum: 2010 - HASA Birthdays

Discussing: July 2010 Birthday Cards

July 2010 Birthday Cards

Birthday folk: Is your birthday in July and you would be delighted by a little story gift from your fellow HASA members? Then state your request here in this thread. Create a birthday workshop story to collect your birthday cards in one place, and enter it into the July Challenge.

Authors: Let yourselves get inspired by the suggestions - a chance to be creative and to make a fellow HASA member happy at the same time! And don't forget to add your birthday cards to the birthday workshop story the recipient of your birthday card has - hopefully - created.

In case you need help or have a comment or suggestion, please post it here or e-mail me privately - I'll do my best to help.

July, 4th - HASA: One birthday in July is HASA's own birthday on July 4th! Because a birthday wouldn't be a birthday without a story request, we're asking authors to write a birthday story to entertain our readers. The theme is "giving" because that is what makes HASA run. People giving time, donations, ideas, stories, feedback - giving themselves.

July, 15th - Maeglin: What I'd like to see is a story featuring 'nonstandard' sentient beings of Tolkien's world; e. g. dragons, vampires, werewolves, eagles, horses of the Mearas, etc. - but not Men, Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Trolls, Maiar, etc.  Any setting (either in place or time) is fine. If that doesn't suit you, what about this?  Consider that until the end of Second Age, Elves could freely journey from Valinor to Middle Earth.  Did any, aside from during the rebellion of the Noldor and the War of Wrath, do so?  I imagine at least a few did.  If so, why?  Glorfindel doesn't count

Write about any aspect of giving that appeals to you, in any era of Middle-earth, with any characters. (Extra applause if you can work in the number 8.)



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

One birthday in July is HASA's own birthday on July 4th! Because a birthday wouldn't be a birthday without a story request, we're asking authors to write a birthday story to entertain our readers. The theme is "giving" because that is what makes HASA run. People giving time, donations, ideas, stories, feedback - giving themselves.

Write about any aspect of giving that appeals to you, in any era of Middle-earth, with any characters. (Extra applause if you can work in the number 8.)

(Go check the news for your present, if you haven't already found it...)



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Hi, all.  My birthday is the 15th.  What I'd like to see is a story featuring 'nonstandard' sentient beings of Tolkien's world; e. g. dragons, vampires, werewolves, eagles, horses of the Mearas, etc. - but not Men, Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Trolls, Maiar, etc.  Any setting (either in place or time) is fine.

If that doesn't suit you, what about this?  Consider that until the end of Second Age, Elves could freely journey from Valinor to Middle Earth.  Did any, aside from during the rebellion of the Noldor and the War of Wrath, do so?  I imagine at least a few did.  If so, why?  Glorfindel doesn't count .



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Nonstandard sentient creatures, eh, Maeglin?  Why do I keep finding the Mountain Giants involved in my stories?  Here!

Thanks to RiverOtter for the beta.

A Favor Asked

            Barggh ignored the Small One who was approaching him.  After all, such creatures were (physically) beneath his notice, always hurrying through the rocky slopes the Giants considered their home, and where they entertained themselves by tossing boulders one at the other or bowling them down the mountain passes.  The Small Ones tended to be very fragile—Barggh had managed to crush two or three by accident before he'd finally accepted his mother's warning that they did not make good pets or playthings.  Not, of course, that they appeared to like being caught in a blind canyon for purposes of study by young Giants—they were like to lecture one and demand their freedom, and to turn up their noses at a fine mountain goat or yeti offered for their sustenance.

            No, best to let them be, Barggh had decided about the time he was judged able to hold his own in boulder tossing with his father's friends.  As sentient beings, or so his father insisted, they weren't considered proper prey for meals any way, and particularly as they would protect their own fiercely and objected so strenuously to being so used.  Barggh's friend Yonnit had acquired a good number of scars on his thumb and ankles when he'd thought once to seek his sundown meal among the hairiest of the Small Ones—not a good idea, that one!  Barggh could have warned him….

            Although the absolute worst were the dark, swarming ones that spawned in the lightless places within the mountains themselves.  No one liked such creatures at all, not the hairy ones, the tallest ones, or even the Great Eagles, who nested on the crags above the Giants' heads.  The swarming ones tended to come out of their caverns and tunnels only on the darkest of nights, ordinarily, and were apt to mischief toward anyone they came across.  They'd savaged Barggh's little sister once, assaulting her feet.  As a result, she would seldom agree to come down the slopes toward any of the lower rifts going east and west, and was self-conscious about her scars.  Even Barggh's mother agreed such creatures should be stepped on without compunction when they managed to come along one of the ways of the Giants, although their ichor tended to cause the soles of one's feet to burn.

            Barggh noted the current Small One primarily because he was climbing the steep slopes in an apparent attempt to approach the level of Barggh's own face.  He was the only Small One Barggh had ever seen doing such a thing, actually.  His attention caught, the Giant watched with fascination as the creature climbed.

            It was dressed all in grey, save for the enormous construction it wore atop its head, which was blue.  Barggh crouched down some so as to see it more clearly.  Like the hairy ones, its face was obscured by a great beard, although this one did not appear to be as harsh as those of that much smaller folk.  Nor was it carrying the great shining axes that the hairy ones tended to prefer to use to protect themselves.  No, this one wore a long stick of metal hanging from its waist, and carried what appeared to have been the stem of a tree bound to its back.  He eyed that stem with interest, as it appeared just the right size to serve Barggh in cleaning between his teeth.  Not, though, that he was likely to offer said item to the Giant, he realized.

            "You!" it finally called, being not much lower than Barggh's face now.  "Would you mind helping me pin some orcs within the mountains?"

            "Orcs?" Barggh grunted.

            "The creatures that come from within the mountains.  They've broken through into the pass, and are assaulting travelers, seeking to take them for slaves and the odd meal now and then."

            Unwilling to enter the quarrels of the Small Ones, Barggh started to rise and turn away, but then noted a few of the swarming ones coming his way, apparently following the scent of the Small One who'd addressed him.  He grunted his displeasure, and moved forward to where he could stomp on the lot of them as they came into a clearer place.  There!  A few less of the foul creatures upon the mountainside.

            "Hooray!" called the grey Small One.  "Oy, you!  That was well done!"

            He turned toward the Small One.  "You don't like those?" Barggh asked.

            The Small One was shaking his head.  "Of course not!  No one who is sensible likes Orcs!" he shouted.

            "Those you call Orcs?"


            Barggh thought for a moment.  "You want to keep them inside the dark?"


            Barggh gave a great smile.  "You show me where—I will bring stones…."


            His father and several of his friends helped in the end, and one rift from which the swarming ones had been issuing lately was filled with great blocks of stone not even the cleverest of their kind would be able to move with any ease.  And on hearing the nature of the project, Barggh's little sister came down from the heights, herself arranging several of the greatest stones so that should any of the lower ones was disturbed, others above would come crashing down to crush those that sought to move them.  The Grey One assisted them as he could.

            As they were finishing their task, he noted the scars on the feet of Barggh's sister, and he paused.  He caught Barggh's attention.  "They did that to her?" he asked.  On learning this was true, he gave a great sigh, for such a small being, at least.  "I will do what I can for her," he said, and approached her carefully.

            With the encouragement of Barggh and their father, she stayed still, although her brother realized she wanted nothing but to either stomp the thing flat or flee high up the slopes.  The Small One freed the tree stem from its back, and gently held it to the clearest of the scars.

            "Ooh!" she squealed.

            The Small One winced, but held the stem steady----

            At last he pulled away, and the glow that had gathered about him faded, but with it had faded the scars on Barggh's sister's feet.  She was looking down with amazement, then turned to look at the Small One, her face splitting in a smile of relief.  "Better!" she said.

            "Good!" said the Small One.  "It was little enough I could do to thank you all."

            But Barggh, his hand on his sister's shoulder, watched after the creature as it hurried away down the slope.  He noted that it was following the way that the last party of hairy ones he'd seen had taken.  At last he and she turned to follow their parents back upwards, satisfied that no more of the swarming ones would be coming out of that rift, at least.


            "And where were you during the night?" asked Bilbo of Gandalf.

            "I was convincing a friendly giant to help stop up the exit the goblins have been using lately, as I explained I would try to do when we came this way before."

            "You can speak to such creatures?" Bilbo asked, intrigued.  "Remarkable!"  But it was with a strong feeling of relief he followed the Wizard back down the slope of the pass as they continued their journey homeward.



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

All I can say, Larner, is wow!  Exactly the topic I wanted - and a full tale, beautifully drawn!  "As sentient beings, or so his father insisted..." - hilarious!  The Stone-Giants are just barely there in the canon, but you made them come completely alive.  Almost detached from the troubles of Middle-earth, but fortunately not completely..





Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Happy birthday, Maeglin! Continuing the rocky theme, I give you this double pebble...ehm... drabble:

Living rock

A stone has no heart, no feelings, it is said. Perhaps not, and yet...

I may have been before I became aware, but the first I know is change, separation… being.

Then becoming, changing again. Edges, slivers, grains of loss, and when it ends, I am yet somehow more than plain rock. I am also aware of not-me, for it is not-me that changes me. The not-me is also aware, I know, but unlike me. It makes others like me, and we are placed together.

Approval from the not-us, and then warm air and cool wind, and so we sleep.


We are woken by a swaying.

Then heat.

Too much heat.

Something in me cracks along a deep fault, yet I am still whole. Then a tearing away.

I am alone.

Cool air around me, until I strike something harder than I am, and the fault gives way. Parts of me break loose, scatter and are gone.

Cold liquid seeps over my surface, and widens the cracks of my fall, and I lose even more of myself.

Yet I still am, and I remember.

Deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they builded us; but they are gone.

(The last line is of course a literal quote from The Fellowship of the Ring; the Ring goes south.)



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

So glad you've enjoyed it, Maeglin!  Joy to you!



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How perfect this, to explain how it was Legolas could recite the grief of the stones of Eregion!  Lovely, Nath!



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Wonderful, Nath!  And a complete surprise - I love it.  Stones that are aware - in the canon, but so easy to forget!  I wonder (thinking of SpaceWeavil's "Take the Little Ones"), what your stone would have to say to any surviving Elves of Eregion that happened to pass it by.  Such stones have seen a lot in their 'lives' ...





Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Maeglin, Larner, glad you enjoyed it; I had intended to write something about the Watcher in the Water, but then the end quote caught my eye when I opened the book.



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

I hatched, yes, so nice that, I hatched.  It was the most perfect time, my hatching, and I knew right then the rest of my life would be as naught to this wonderment.  But then I scented aphids and I was off on the hunt.  Days and days I crawled and gobbled them, the delectable ones, until, too full, I fell into a sleep so sensual, I must make a shell about myself so as not to be disturbed and I was so supremely happy in my quiet!

But I awoke again, and what is this hard case one me?  What has happened to my legs?  I move my legs and they put me up in the air!  But there are more juicy aphids everywhere I turn, I am a blessed thing. 

Ladybug, the big ones call me.

It was Samwise Gamgee named me that first, Samwise the Great, long gone now as we insects measure time.  Samwise Gamgee named me Ladybug as he lifted me from my foolish perch on a blade of grass and took me to the aphid covered plum tree.

And such good days were those on the plum leaves, my prey ever-present.  So long ago now, the bright days.

I try to remember how the darkness fell, what the first sign was.  I suppose it was the spiders.  Certainly the centipedes came later.  Well, it doesn't matter.  We fight on.



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Hi, Maeglin - your request for a story featuring the other sentient beings of Tolkien's world reminded me of a story I wrote several years ago about the Eagles of the Misty Mountains.  It's not new, but I hope you like it.  It was originally inspired by a poetry challenge.

High Flight

The young eagles gathered on the Story Rock, a high, lonely pinnacle accessible only to the most daring flyers.  Currents and slipstreams of air buffeted them as the wind whistled and moaned through the high peaks of the Hithaeglir.  The unwary could be blown sideways by a sudden gust just as they landed on the rock, much to the amusement of others.  They gathered to share tales and stories, to brag of their prowess in flying – how high, how far, how fast – or to boast of the rabbits and sheep they had caught single-talonned.  Sometimes one of the older eagles would join them to tell tales of his youth – but that was rare, the old ones seldom risked the treacherous crosswinds.

There was much jostling for position on the rock, and more than once one would be pushed from the summit, tumbling downwards to a chorus of jeers, only to spread his wings and circle in graceful spirals on an updraft to land again on a less-favoured perch.

Today, one of the old veterans was there, more grey than golden, casually preening his feathers as the youngsters around him gossiped and whispered.  They fell silent as he raised his head and stared at them with clear, golden eyes.  "I was young once, you know.  Oh, you may laugh now, my feathers may be grey with age and I may no longer fly high – but I was young once."

"That was a long time ago!" one called out.  The speaker ignored the interruption, and continued.

"As an eaglet I was considered daring and dashing – I could fly higher than all others, so high I felt I could touch the sun.  I could fly the fastest, would chase and race the wind – and win.  Sky-Dancer I was called, and Silver-Wings.  But all that was before."

Something  in the old eagle's voice halted all the murmurs and restless movements.  They were silent now, listening avidly.  "We had been aware of orcs and goblins multiplying in the mountains for some time.  They infested the slopes, crawling over the ground like ants.  Although they tried, they seldom troubled us, for they could not reach our eyries – we nest far too high.  But they fought and killed the elves, who were our friends.  They set snares to catch the unwary – and sometimes they came across a fledgling, fallen from the nest.  You do not want to hear what they did to those poor young birds."

The silence was broken only by the whine of the wind.  All knew of the cruelty of the orcs and goblins.   All could imagine. 

The greying eagle shook himself and ruffled his feathers briefly.  "Where was I?  Ah, yes.  Gwaihir spoke with Mithrandir, the wizard, and we agreed to help one another.  We watched their movements in the mountains as they mustered, and word was passed among all the eyries in the Hithaeglir. We too gathered in great numbers, ready for battle, and waited."

"When the call went out, we came – swooping and riding the wind, sweeping down on the goblins and their wargs.  We could do nothing about the creatures in the valley – the press of battle was too close for us to fly – but there were many, many orcs swarming over the slopes of the mountain and hills.  We scratched and tore at their faces with our talons, and fell on them, picking up the orcs and casting them over the precipice.  Our wings knocked them aside, off  cliffs and walls, down into the valley – where those that survived the fall soon fell to the spears and swords of the bright elves."

There were many comments now.  "Did you kill all the goblins and wargs?" 

"The eagles won the battle for the men and elves, didn't they!" 

"Were any eagles hurt?"

On the wings of this remark, one young bird, scarcely more than a fledgling, asked "Were you hurt?"

The veteran preened himself briefly.  "Did we kill them all?  No, not nearly.  But we cleared the mountain slopes, and elves and men who had become separated from their main forces could rejoin them.  We didn't win the battle alone, but yes, we helped.  We were already allies with Mithrandir and the Elvenking, but that day we swore friendship with the dwarves and the men of Esgaroth as well.  The dwarves even gave Gwaihir and his chieftains gold – though what they expected him to do with it, I do not know." 

"Were any of the eagles hurt?"  the young eagle insisted.

In answer, the old one stretched out his wing.  There on the underneath was a patch where the feathers grew white.  "The goblins had archers with them.  They were poor shots, and we soared and wheeled above them.  But sometimes their arrows hit.  My wing was broken, and I fell from the mountain to the valley below.  I was lucky – I fell among the elves, not the orcs.  They took me to one of their own healers, who told me he feared I would never fly again."

The silence this time was horrified.  To never fly again?  To be an eagle was to fly – wheeling and soaring, hovering high above the land; dancing through the sky and tumbling down the wind.  To never fly again was unthinkable, unbearable – death would be preferable.

"But – you flew here, didn't you?  How?"

The elder eagle spread his wings.  "How?  Because I would never listen to advice.  When told my wing would never heal, I did not listen.  When told I would never fly again, I would not listen.  This is how I flew here."  With that, he stretched his wings wide, and leapt into the wind.  He swooped low over their heads, and they glimpsed a golden collar encircling his neck.  Then, catching an updraft of air, he climbed up, up, higher than the mountains, higher than the clouds, until he was a mere speck in the sky.

The young eagles watched until they could no longer see him.  The youngest, who had been questioning the veteran so intently, sighed.  "I wish I could take part in a battle.  Do great deeds.  Be heroic.  Can you imagine the cries – 'The Eagles are coming!'  But the battles are over now – there is nothing left for us to do."  He sounded forlorn.

"Take heart, Meneldor.  You are young and swift – you may yet have chance to do great things.  Wait and see."

With a rush of wings, the eagles took to the air, soaring high, then slowly wheeling down towards their eyries.  Far above them, the veteran slipped away from the bonds of Arda in his high flight.

The End

High Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence.  Hovering there,

I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air.


Up, up, the long delirious burning blue

I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or even eagle flew –

And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand and touched the face of God.


John Gillespie Magee




Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Thanks, Jay!  I'd actually already read this story (several times ) and enjoyed it very much; definitely one of the best Eagle-stories!  Quite beautiful..




Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Hey, Cuinwen - I hadn't thought of a sentient ladybug, but why not?  She (?) has a pleasant attitude - perhaps this ladybug is Vanyarin?





Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Thank you!  I'm glad you like it, and hope you had a good birthday.




Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Hi Maeglin - I added a little to my story, hope you enjoy it   My ladybug might well be Vanyarin in her own modest way, though she lives in Bagend's gardens. 



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Hey, Cuinwen..  Great addition - it really fleshed out the story!  Now I'm interested... the ladybug must be very old if she remembers a time before the spiders and centipedes (even though she might have gone a very long time without a name).

Thanks for writing this, I appreciate it.





Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

So much inspiration on nonstandard beings, so I came up with this as a sort of "stony thank you"

Nameless, Named

I cannot remember ever not-being.  Only being-within-stone, at the beginning.  It seemed good to me, cool and safe.  But after what I suppose would be considered a very long time by the few other speaking-beings I've met, I began to feel a strange emptiness.  So great it became, and with it my anguish, that I gnawed some of the stone.  This eased the emptiness, and so I understood what it had been.  Hunger!  The few other speaking-beings I've met were hungry indeed - they withered quickly, spoke no more, and returned to the stone.  Except for two, but I stray ahead.

After satisfying my hunger, I discovered something wonderful.  The stone I had eaten did not return!  I had only to eat more, and I could move!  At first only slowly, for I found I 'tired' easily.  The few other speaking-beings I've met also 'tired' as they withered. Sadly, the stone that fed me could not feed them.  Though a few claimed to love stone itself, and even to be able to speak with it, they regarded me with great terror.  Only when they wearied could I approach and speak with them.   

I suppose many Ages have passed in the world above, which I have never seen, since I last felt hunger or weariness.  But again I stray ahead.  Forgive me, I understand this thing called 'time' not-well.
Two speaking-beings I've met did not fear me.  

One I knew long.  A strange fellow, he was a spirit of fire and did not eat anything at all.  Nor did he wither, although he did tire.  He seemed to expect me to fear him.  This was ridiculous; his flame was far too weak to harm me.  The only reason I knew I could be harmed is that once I'd come upon a place where the stone grew soft and too warm for my liking.  That I did fear - the only thing ever to set the feeling in me.  But once was enough to understand it - fear of ceasing-to-be.

The spirit of flame thought far too much of himself, expecting me to fear him!  I shook with great breaths.  Laughter, it was - yet another new thing!  It pleased me, but it did not please the spirit.  His flame diminished somewhat, and he fell into sleep. 

Many times I passed him by.  A strange sleep it was - he remained 'aware', and seemed to be waiting for something.  Whatever it was, must have happened, for when once more I passed the place where I'd met him, he'd gone.  Somehow he had made his own 'tunnel', leading upwards.   I saw him only once more, long afterwards.

That was the time I met the other one who did not fear me.  He had been harmed by the spirit of fire, which I did not understand, since he was a spirit of fire himself.  I asked him how this could be, but he was in a great hurry to pursue the other, and did not seem to like being asked questions.  So he departed, saying only "Rockbiter, I have no time to explain things beyond your understanding.  I pursue my foe.  Farewell!"  

Afterwards there was great tumult in the stone.  The two spirits battled, I suppose.  'Battle' I've been told of, by some of the weary ones, before they withered; it was what had driven them into my tunnels. 

The hasty spirit of fire should have been more patient.  Had he told me of the deeds of the 'Balrog', I could have done him a favor and crushed it.  For I can move very quickly, if I wish.  And I'd long since grown stronger than any stone.

But all that came to my ears long afterwards.  That and more.  Perhaps the hasty spirit knew what he was doing, though the tale I heard was strange.  A lot of trouble over a small bit of shaped soft-stone, which the weary stone-lovers call "gold."  The world above must be a very different place than the one I know.  I do not think I shall visit it.

Yet I do think on the hasty spirit at times, for he gave me a great gift.  Rockbiter he named me.  I'd never thought to name myself, but his suits me, so I've kept it.



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Ooh, nice... very stony



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

And getting quite close to the end of the month, I offer a little something on 'giving' for HASA's birthday (it also doubles as my entry for this month's Nuzgul of the Month Wink )

Happy Birthday, HASA!


"I don't know," the Dwarf said as he looked at the ring the stranger held out. "The value far outstrips..."

He is mad. A bejewelled ring for my hospitality? If he wants to avoid obligation, a copper penny would suffice for the bread and cold meat we shared. Yet his madness may be my luck. He started to reach out for the proffered jewellery, but stopped. Unless he wants me beholden to him. But the gold is fair, as are the opals set in it. And does not gold beget gold? This ring could further the fortune of my house…
Just take it, rock mole of Aulë, Sauron thought, smiling kindly as he tried again. He must still appear both benevolent and harmless, at least until the trap was sprung. "It is a mere bauble, but it is a sincere token of my gratitude for your kindness to a wayfaring stranger." If the other six are as hard to give away... Are not Dwarves supposed to lose all sense when they see gold?

He attempted a weary sigh. "Had you not aided me, Master Dwarf, I would surely have perished. What is the value of gold against a man's life?"



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

I love how suspicious and calculating the dwarf is here!  Who'd have thought Sauron had to work so hard to give away those rings?



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What a wonderful, unique poing of view, Cuinwen!  And the ladybugs also fought?  Oh, so right that these humble creatures also fought against the dark!



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I agree, Jay--this was truly magnficent!  Definitely wonderful!  And at least Meneldor in his time was also able to strike against evil!



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Oh, Maeglin--this is wonderful!  Love the creeping stone-devourer and his estimation of both the Balrog and Gandalf!



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Definitely a gift with strings attached, Nath.  Delightfully suspicious, the Dwarf.



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And here is my tribute to HASA's birthday.  I'd hoped to post it before now, but better late than never.

The Gift to the Servant of the Secret Flame

            The problem with voyaging the Sundering Sea accompanied by Ossë and Uinen was that one saw little of the sky and the sun, as Ossë preferred to gather about him colorful storm clouds.  By the time his small boat came into sight of the queys of Mithlond, Olórin was feeling quite starved for simple sunlight.

          He and Tilion had both been close to Arien, and had worshiped her golden beauty.  How often had the three of them danced together in the Light and Breath!  But after the destruction of the Trees, Arien had taken the assignment to guide the Sun's bark through the Seas of Heaven, while Tilion had agreed to do the same for the Moon.

          He remembered his last sight of her, newly crowned with the flowers and leaves rescued from Laurelin, a gem filled with its Light upon her breast.  She had smiled at him….

          He looked up as the Elven sailors of Mithlond leaned down with gaffs and lines to guide his craft into a slip.  There was a time of controlled chaos as ropes were passed here and there, and a thick grass mat was set into place as well as bumpers of soft wood wrapped with rope to protect the strafes from impact with the quey itself.  It had been so long now since he'd seen so many others—he found himself somewhat overwhelmed.

          "You have done well, friends," said an authorative voice.  "Now, go, and let him come to himself.  I will take charge now of our guest.  You—see to it that suitable quarters are prepared and that a filling meal is made ready for him.  And have water heated that he might bathe if he so desires."

          And now the quey was as peaceful as it had been busy but a moment before.  Only one was left, a venerable Elf, bearded to denote he was one of the eldest of the Eldar race, his eyes filled with memories of the time before the light of aught but stars.  "Welcome, Lord," said Círdan.  "Will any others follow you, do you think?  Or are you the last of your kind?"

          "I am, I believe, the last to be sent."

          "Can you rise to your feet?"

          Olórin snorted, and his companion smiled to hear the undignified sound.  "I am not that decrepit in my looks, surely!"

          "No, Lord, that you are not.  However, many find it difficult to rise and walk properly after many spending days in cramped quarters at sea."

          As he rose to his feet with the aid of his gnarled staff, Olórin smiled.  "The quarters here have not been all that cramped."  He accepted the Shipwright's assistance to step across onto the stone of the wharf, and paused, surprised to realize that it seemed that the solid surface of it was heaving beneath his feet.  His surprise must have shown on his face, for the ancient Elf's smile grew even wider.

          "Your body is new to all of this, I suspect," Círdan said.  "It will take some time for it to readjust to the fact that you no longer must ready for the motion of the next wave.  Merely stand and lean on your staff until you are ready to move."  Having assured himself that the newcomer was heeding his advice, the Elf leapt aboard the small craft as lightly as any of the much younger Elves who had been there so shortly before.  In moments he had the tall blue hat in hand, and was gathering up what supplies could be found into the pack with which the newly come Istar had been outfitted.  These he passed over the side to Olórin himself, who settled the hat upon his head and slipped one strap of the pack over his left arm.  Having assured himself the mooring lines were properly tied, Círdan returned to the quey himself, and offered Olórin his arm.  "If you will come with me, Lord, I will show you where you might rest for the night."

          The clouds overhead had gone from silver grey to purple with hints of flame here and there as the almost hidden sunset passed and it grew darker.  Now the purple dimmed into dark grey, save for a faint rift in the clouds to the east where a glimpse of starlight could be discerned beyond the outline of the Elven city.

          Círdan noted the direction of his guest's glance.  "The stars are beautiful, there beyond the clouds," he commented.

          "But it is the Sun I would rather see now," the Istar noted, drawing his grey cloak more tightly about him and shivering in the cool evening air.

          "You are cold, Lord?"

          "I fear I have spent too long a time at sea," the Istar commented wryly.  "The cool of the waves seems to have filled me.  I would wish to bask in the Sun's light, is all."

          The Elf smiled.  "I can understand."  But his face grew more serious, and he stopped once more, gently drawing away from the Maia-turned-Wizard.  "Perhaps this is the time for the gifting I have envisioned," he said quietly.  So saying, he held up his hand, and placing the fingers of his other hand about the base of one finger he gave a slight twist----

          ----And Olórin suddenly saw that he wore there a ring, a ring with a great red stone—although not for long.  For Círdan was drawing said ring off of his finger.  "It is my hope that this will warm you then, my Lord," he said with a profound bow.  "For I foresee that you will need this as I have not.  For there will be hearts to kindle during your time here.  It is said that as he wrought this in the smithies of Eregion, Celebrimbor invoked Arien herself and the flame she bears."

          Olórin looked at the ancient Elf with surprise.  He remembered Círdan well enough from his days serving in the War of Wrath, and the competence that the Shipwright had ever shown.  And he could see that the eye of Círdan had pierced the veil drawn over his true nature, and that he had been recognized from that time.

          "You followed our Lord Manwë, second only to Eonwë in his service," Círdan murmured.  "The Secret Flame is bright within you, and all of Middle-earth shall need that ever at your hand if we are to survive to see a better beginning when at last the Fourth Age comes.  Accept this, Lord, that you not forget fully your beginnings and your mission as the cares of life seek to overwhelm you."

          Olórin searched the earnest, steady gaze, and at last held forth his hand.  The Elf dropped the great Ring into it, and he felt the sudden, unexpected weight of it, the solidity of it that somehow felt more real than did the weight of his robes or the apparent solidity of his staff.  He closed his fingers about the Ring, Narya the Great, and felt the thrum of power it enclosed.

          Potential!  So much potential!  And so different in nature than the power held in his staff….

          "I am not an Elf, however," he finally stated, testing the Shipwright's determination to gift him with this.  "It was not intended to be utilized by such as I."

          The bearded lips facing him smiled confidingly.  "Perhaps all the better in the end.  I am sworn to the service of Ulmo, as much his vassal as is Ossë.  Narya and I are often at odds, as my own bent dampens its power.  But you, as akin as you are to Fire already—you will have far less difficulty than I in gaining its cooperation; and not being an Elf, you will be less likely to be able to compel the service of those whom it was intended to dominate.  And what need have I of it?   I would not rule out of compulsion, and do not wish to hide my lands using such power as it holds.  It is but a small sacrifice on my own part I offer.  Accept it, my Lord."

          The gift was given, and in earnest.  What choice had he but to accept it?  He bowed to the humility of his host, and at last set it upon his finger….

          And he saw her again, Arien, smiling at him as she had as she accepted her new commission, leaning forward to kiss his forehead with burning, life-affirming lips….

          Her warmth filled him!




Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

LOL, Larner, that was my intent, exactly, that the insects of the Light fought their own unsung war against the Darkness, unnoticed by the great folk about them.  No doubt the microbes battled, too, but I'm not sure how to write their POV



Re: July 2010 Birthday Cards

Indeed, Cuinwen!  Except the mosquitoes and midges - those are most definitely servants of Morgoth



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