My Aragon Stories
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Father's Wish, A: 8. Chapter Eight
It was a very rainy day when Glorfindel arrived in Doriath. Since Finrod was busy with the construction of Nargorthrond, he had requested his golden-haired friend to come and see to his sister.
The golden-haired friend had been most pleased to do so.
Surprisingly, Thingol had made no objection to Glorfindel’s presence in his kingdom, but that mainly had to do with Glorfindel being part Vanyar. Apparently, Glorfindel’s father had been a close companion of Ingwë, as well as a good friend to Finwë and Thingol.
“So this is where you stay, hmm?” asked Glorfindel. Currently they were standing in Artanis’s suite. “It is unfortunate that Thingol gave me my own room.” He frowned. “I would rather have stayed with you.”
“The Sindar are unaccustomed to our ways,” was her only comment.
He turned to face her. “Will you not show me around? Finrod has been continuously babbling about Menegroth, and now he is bent on making a Menegroth of his own.”
She chuckled as she took his hand. “I never did imagine he would grow so fond of living in caves.” Leading him to a courtyard, she went towards a bench under a tree. “How long can you stay?”
Glorfindel stretched out his legs. “Not very long, I’m afraid. Two weeks at best.” He gave Artanis a sorrowful glance. “Turgon needs me.”
“Sometimes I think that you love Turgon more than me.” She playfully hit his shoulder.
“Good afternoon,” came a cultured voice from nearby. Artanis and Glorfindel turned to regard Luthien walking through the garden.
Artanis gave her a welcoming smile. “Luthien, I have someone I would like you to meet.” Gesturing to the man at her side, she introduced them to each other.
“I am very pleased to meet you, Princess.” Glorfindel looked at Luthien closely for a few moments before he released her from his gaze. A slight blush stained Luthien’s cheeks as she greeted Glorfindel in turn.
Once she had gone, Artanis turned back to Glorfindel. “You should not have flirted with the princess,” she chastised.
He smirked. “Are you jealous?”
“No,” she said impatiently. “But Thingol considers all princes of Middle-Earth to be beneath his daughter.” She gave him another look of warning. “So be careful, lest she begins to admire you.”
He shook his head. “I have no plans for that, so do not fear.” He smiled at her meltingly. “I have come only to see you, meleth.”
Two weeks later, Glorfindel did depart, and Artanis found that she was alone again. If it were not for Melian’s pleading, Artanis would have gone to her brother Finrod. But the queen was persuasive, and Artanis felt sorrowful for her, since Melian was in a self-imposed exile in Middle-Earth. However, Artanis did benefit from Melian’s tutoring. Melian was a repository of much knowledge, which she eagerly imparted to her young friend. From Melian, Artanis learned enchantments, as well as more complicated mind reading.
Nevertheless, Artanis grew impatient in the caves of Menegroth, and when she told this to Celeborn, he offered to show her the entire realm of Doriath.
“I have things I need to discuss with the council of one of the southern settlements, so if you wish, you can accompany me.” The offer had perhaps been offered only out of politeness, but Artanis accepted anyway.
They traveled south, although the journey progressed slowly, mostly because Celeborn took his time in showing Artanis hidden settlements and places of beauty. “But I was not born here, in Menegroth,” he mentioned one day as they journeyed yet to another town.
“Where then?” she asked with curiosity.
“Near the sea. She was of the sea-people, my mother. Her name was Eliriel.” Celeborn’s voice drifted off, and Artanis gave him a sympathetic look. Celeborn’s mother, who had been traveling to the Falas, had been the victim of a hungry wolf pack.
Artanis ventured forth with another question. “After your birth, did your mother come to Menegroth?”
He shook his head, the fine silver strands moving about in the breeze. “No, for she would not suffer to live in the caves for very long, even though Menegroth is very fair. So my father built a house for her in the eastern part of Doriath, near the Sirion River. She wanted to be near the water.”
“Is her house still there?” The questions were painfully personal, and under normal circumstances, Artanis would not have asked them. But the quiet forest around them seemed to lend an intimate atmosphere.
“My mother left her house to me, and when I grow tired of Menegroth,” and here his eyes twinkled at Artanis’s upraised eyebrows, “I dwell there for a time.” He gave Artanis a thoughtful look. “Perhaps, when we are done, you would like to see it?”
The prospect intrigued her, for this house was a place of Celeborn’s childhood. “I would be most delighted to,” she said in return. She thought that a pleased look crossed his face, but it was too brief for her to be sure.
After a few more days, Celeborn finished his business, and so they turned back east and headed to Celeborn’s house. It was hidden away in the forests, but since it was within the Girdle of Melian, it was well protected. Periodically they would cross paths with deer or other forest animals, and often it seemed as if the trees themselves would sway to make way for them.
Soon, Celeborn led her to a clearing. “There it is,” he said proudly.
Artanis looked around and saw no dwelling of any sort. “Are you sure this is the right place?”
“Yes,” he said as he gave her an amused look. “I have lived here for many years. This is my home, as Menegroth never was.”
“Then where is it? Or have you made it invisible, so that trespassers cannot disturb you?” The smug look on his face was beginning to annoy her.
He pointed to the trees above them. “Look up there, stone dweller.” Artanis gazed upwards and was greeted with the sight of an entire house built in the trees. “It is called a flet,” he answered in response to her unspoken question. “And it is very sturdy.”
She gaped. Somehow, in all her years here so far, she had missed seeing a flet before. “And you feel comfortable living up there?”
“Yes, for the trees provide a certain amount of safety that is missing when you are on the ground.” He placed her hand in the crook of his arm and led her to the base of the tree that housed the flet. “Would you like to see it inside?”
“I need to climb the tree?” She sounded slightly tremulous, a contrast to her normally firm voice.
Celeborn laughed. “How else will you get on top of it?” At her stricken look, he laughed even more. “Oh ye stone dwellers of the west!” He led her around to the other side of the tree. A narrow ladder made of some type of twine fell from the top. “We can go up this way.”
After a few minutes of climbing, they reached the top of the tree. The entered through a doorway on a sturdy base of wood, and once inside, Artanis realized that the house actually encompassed four trees. Celeborn, noticing her amazement, added in a fond voice, “Just because she dwelt away from the city did not mean that she would live in squalor.”
“I was not thinking that,” she added defensively. “I just did not imagine the enormity of this complex.” Her voice softened. “But it is very lovely, Celeborn. I can see why she would wish to dwell here.”
“Do you?” He sounded pleased again.
Artanis toured the house. It was large and airy, with several rooms and even a small kitchen. “But she never lit fires here,” Celeborn later explained. “She only ate fruits and vegetables.”
She gave him a rueful smile. “And this is why the Noldor would not be able to bear living in trees. We need fires for our meat.”
The two of them remained in the flet for several days before finally leaving. Artanis spent much of that time wandering around the woods, and she was content to have Celeborn show her the way of forest life. Under his instruction, she learned how to walk steadily on the branches of trees, which she had done a bit of in Aman, but not on trees as large as the ones in Doriath. She began understanding the language of the forest, and she learned how to understand animals. Later on in her life she would reflect on how strange it was dor her to find such communion with nature in so short a time, while the rest of her family save Celegorm was still struggling to master more simple tasks.
Upon their return to Doriath, Thingol came running out to greet them, and she began to see how deep the relationship was between the king and his advisor. At times she saw herself in parallel to Celeborn. For had she not also grown distant from Finarfin and had instead followed Fëanor?
Yet unlike Finarfin, Galadhon did not mind Celeborn’s bond with Thingol. Indeed, the hunter seemed to welcome it. Later Galadhon had confided to Artanis that he was glad Celeborn had found a father, even though it had not been his natural one. “He never found what he needed in me,” he admitted to Artanis one day. “Thingol is a stronger presence, and that is what Celeborn needed. Galathil is the more charismatic one, but he is also the weaker one.”
“Strange, that two brothers are so unalike,” she mused. They were currently in one of Thingol’s gardens, slowly touring the intricate maze of hedges.
Galadhon raised his fine eyebrows. “Not so strange, for it is well known that there is discord between the sons of Finwë as well,” referring to the fact that Finarfin had not followed his brothers and that Fëanor had arrived before Fingolfin.
Artanis almost laughed, for Galadhon had no idea how much discord there had actually been. “Yes, there was,” she said carefully. “But in retrospect, my father and my uncles were more alike than they cared to admit. It was only a difference in degrees of philosophy among the three of them.”
Nodding thoughtfully, Galadhon took Artanis’s arm and started leading to her back to the palace. “I have some news for you,” he said suddenly.
“News is always welcomed,” smiled she.
“In most cases, yes, but in this instance, I find myself concerned.” Galadhon stopped and looked toward the palace. “Galathil has decided to wed Linneth.”
Understanding came to Artanis. “And you fear that they are ill-suited?”
He looked sorrowful. “Galathil is a good son, but I do not think that he will make a good husband. At times, he can be impatient and flighty, both traits that can lead to the downfall of a marriage. And Linneth – I do not think she understands what she is getting into. For her, marriage is like a romantic story, not at all filled with any hardships. She would be like a reed in the wind, too vulnerable to stand on her own.”
“But love can be a strong ally,” suggested Artanis.
“Perhaps,” nodded Galadhon, “but it is certainly not enough. Love and understanding must be hand-in-hand for a marriage to succeed. And while marriages can function without love, it certainly cannot function without understanding.”
Artanis was slightly reluctant to agree, so Galadhon continued. “If I may use you as an example?” at which Artanis inclined her head in agreement. “Do not take offense at this, for I say this with no malice. You and Glorfindel share love, that is evident to my eyes. Yet neither of you have taken steps to further your relationship. Why is this so?”
Slightly defensive, she answered, “The times we dwell in are harsh-”
He cut her off with a wave of his hand. “You are an intelligent woman, Princess. And you know as well as I do that things will only become worse with time, not better.” He gave her a piercing look. “But you know, deep in your heart, that you and Glorfindel are unsuited for each other. That is why you are able to accept such long distances and partings, without even a mental bond to comfort you. You both are holding yourselves back from each other.”
“You are right,” she finally admitted. As stubborn as she was, she would not deny the truth. “But the relationship serves us well for now.”
“There is nothing wrong with that,” said Galadhon. “For spiritual unions are not for everyone, and certainly not for every time.” He smiled at her sincerely. “And I do hope you find happiness, Princess, in whomever fate chooses for you.” His smile turned wistful, and it was apparent to Artanis that he was thinking of his long deceased wife. They began walking again, except now a peaceful silence had descended upon both of them. She strangely found herself missing her own father. Often they had engaged in discussions similar to the one she had just had with Galadhon. But now vast lands and the punishment of exile separated her from Finarfin.
When they approached the palace, they were intercepted by Celeborn himself, who seemed to be very weary. He bowed formally to both Galadhon and Artanis before speaking. “The king has summoned you, Father.”
“Then I must take my leave of you, Princess,” said Galadhon regretfully. “Celeborn can take you back.”
“I can get back on my own,” she said dryly. “I would rather not trouble Lord Celeborn.”
Celeborn shook his head, the silver strands catching the sun’s light. “It is no trouble, Princess.” Bowing again to his father, Celeborn took Artanis’s arm and led her inside. “I see that you have spent quality time with my father.”
Seeking for malice in his tone but finding none, she agreed with a nod of her head. “He is a very pleasant companion, your father.”
“Indeed, although I have not discovered this on my own yet.”
Seeing that this subject was not comfortable for Celeborn, she changed the subject. “I have heard of your brother’s impending marriage to the Lady Linneth.” But as soon as she said this, she cringed. This subject was not comfortable for Celeborn either. Inwardly cursing herself for her tactlessness, she sought a safer topic.
But Celeborn answered as politely as always. “It is good to see my brother getting married,” and although there was something sad in Celeborn’s eyes, he smiled anyway. “At least my grandfather’s blood will still continue.”
“Not through you?” she asked.
“Perhaps one day,” shrugged Celeborn. “But not now.” He gave her a small smile. “At any rate, I rarely have time for courting. I am always never here.” Stopping in the courtyard, he looked toward the sky. “I have only been back a few days, and already I am being sent out.”
Artanis, not fooled by his melancholy voice, gave him a fond glance. “You prefer it that way.” Allowing a more serious demeanor to slip into place, she questioned him further. “Where will you be going now?”
He arched his brow. “That is a secret.” He leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially, “But it involves going north – near Himring, actually.”
“What will you be doing there?” At the expression on his face, she waved her question away. “Never mind – I can tell it is another one of your secrets. How many will be going with you? Can I also come?”
Celeborn shook his head regretfully. “I am afraid not, Princess. It is an information-gathering mission, so I must go alone. And to be frank, you would not fit in with the role of an intelligence-gatherer.”
“In other words, you are going to be a spy?” She gave him an incredulous look. “And who will you be spying on? And please do not tell me that it is a secret.”
“Our Silvan kindred. Thingol suspects some of them to be aiding Morgoth. Too many of our war parties have been ambushed as of late.”
Her eyes grew in alarm. “But if they discover you…Celeborn, you may die!”
He chuckled sadly. “Death is but another path that we must take.”
“At times, I would prefer you to be more foolish than wise,” she muttered. “I find that your words do not give me much comfort.”
“If it is comfort you seek…” his voice trailed off for a few seconds before picking up again. “I will be much reassured knowing that you will be thinking of me.”
Squeezing his hand, she only said, “Of that you have no doubt.” And when he left two days later, she sent forth a special prayer to Varda, that the light of her stars would guide the footsteps of her friend.
Finrod came back from Nargothrond – still being built – and with his new kingdom came a new name. Felagund he was called now, which he preferred to Finrod. Sitting with his sister, they had spoken softly of future plans, and she desired to go back with him and see his mighty halls. In addition, he told her about the Nauglamir, of how the dwarves had created a necklace of surpassing beauty for him. The necklace itself was set with stones that he himself had brought from Valinor. But another part of her wished to remain until Celeborn returned, so that she could see with her own eyes that her prayer had been answered. Finrod, who found this news to be unsettling, decided to wait with his sister.
Celeborn did return, and he was filled with new information that was eagerly relayed to King Thingol. Thingol, in turn, welcomed Celeborn back with wide-open arms. Artanis too was pleased to see him unharmed and was quite anxious to hear the stories of his travel from him, mainly because the idea of Celeborn as a spy was an intriguing one.
Thingol, pleased at Celeborn’s success, had a celebration in Celeborn’s honor. The celebration was especially merry, and both Finrod and Artanis would secretly laugh to themselves, for Thingol was fond of many large gatherings while Fingolfin was not as inclined.
As guests of honor, Artanis and Finrod sat near Thingol, with Melian, Luthien, and Celeborn seated nearby. Galadhon was also near, but Galathil was not even present, for he had chosen to remain near Linneth. But the conversation flowed as freely as the wine, and it was during one of these moments that Thingol turned to Artanis.
“Artanis, you never did tell me what you think of my kingdom.” The conversation around them stoppes, as all heads turned toward Artanis to hear her answer.
“You must be a great king, Lord Thingol, to have so many subjects, as well as the loyalty of so many good men,” she replied honestly, allowing her eyes to pass over Celeborn.
Thingol leaned back, a delighted smile on his face. “An excellent answer, Artanis. I can see why King Fingolfin does not wish to part with you.” Then Thingol’s attention was diverted elsewhere as someone else addressed him.
Finrod leaned forward to whisper to his sister. “What does he mean, that Fingolfin does not want to part with you?”
“What game is Fingolfin playing now?” asked Artanis in reply. “For it is obvious that he and Thingol have had discourse with each other.”
“Perhaps they are attempting to strengthen their alliance without losing supremacy,” suggested Finrod. “In any case, after we leave Doriath, we need to pay a visit to Fingolfin, and then we can find out what new plot is hatching in that clever mind of his.”
- The Noldor primarily dwelled in houses of stone, and they preferred the open fields (Silmarillion). The Silvan Elves, and many of the Sindar as well, were the tree dwellers. Remember Lothlorien was primarily composed of Silvan and Sindar Elves. Rivendell, Lindon, Gondolin – these were Noldorin settlements, and they were actual buildings.
- Felagund – the title of Finrod. Dwarvish for “hewer of caves.”
- The Nauglamir was created by dwarves. Later Thingol would set a Silmaril in it, and the consequences of that were disasterous.
- There is no actual timeline for the events in this chapter, so I’m a little free here. It is after Finrod and Turgon traveled down the Sirion but before the Dagor Aglareb (I found the references to when the Nauglamir was exactly created a little shady. Was it before or after the completion of Nargothrond?).
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