4. The Way of All Flesh
For the rest of that season, I met you faithfully under the tree after dark. Some nights we rode to the grove and made love under the stars; other nights we simply sat and talked. It seemed your mortal flame had lit a devouring fire within my own flesh; my people live our lives by a slower rhythm, and a night or two of lovemaking in a season would be accounted passionate, but I could have joined with you every night without tiring of the pleasure. Even in Aman I could not remember a time when I had been so content. But such contentment is not meant to last in Arda Marred, I now know, and slowly the clouds began to cast their shadows over our happiness.
Our problems began when I asked you why you were so insistent on meeting me only after dark, and always returning before dawn. I was now your husband, I said in confusion, were you ashamed of your marriage to me? Your reply both bewildered and angered me.
"No, of course I’m not ashamed of it," you had replied softly, lying in my arms after our lovemaking. "But my people will not approve of this relationship I have with you. You did not ask my cousin Forhend for permission to wed me, or pay a bride-price. They will not see you as my husband, but merely as my lover – and decent women are not supposed to take lovers."
"Who are they to cast such judgement on your actions, or to decide whether or not you are married? You are a grown woman, capable of making your own decisions, not some child!" I replied hotly.
"Hush, Caranthir," you soothed me. "I know you do not understand, or approve – I’m not sure I do either, but that is the way things are, and we cannot change them. My people see things differently than yours do – they believe what they will, and all your arguments will not convince them to change their minds. They will not approve of our union. And if you had asked my cousin for my hand, he would have denied it to you – for you are not one of my kind, but an Elf."
"And he doesn’t approve of Elves ravishing mortal women, even if they are lords?" I said, my voice deliberately light, but my heart filled with rage against Forhend.
"Especially Elf-Lords, love. And it’s not just Forhend; most of my people would agree with him on this."
"I don’t understand," I said, and now there was no disguising the anger in my voice.
"During our wanderings, my people were taught much by the ones you call Dark-Elves; we saw how much more they knew than we did, and the contempt that many of them held for my kind, and were ashamed. And your people are greater still, Caranthir. Many of my people feel insignificant when they compare themselves to your kind. And they resent it. My people wish to be independent, love – they will not accept the direct leadership of any Elf, ever. Alliances, yes, but not actual leadership. And if they were to see you with me, they would assume that I, a woman, would be deferring to you in matters of leadership. It would cost me my position as leader of my people, love – and in all likelihood it would be Forhend who would take my place."
"And why would that be so terrible?" I replied. "You would be free, then - free come with me to Thargelion and live with me as my wife." I felt your body stiffen in my arms, and now your voice was the angry one.
"Would you not think it terrible to be exiled from your kin, from everyone you’ve ever known and loved, never to see them again? Do you think it such a small thing to give up everything that has made up your life and go off to live with strangers, most of whom will not approve of you, and some of whom are openly contemptuous of your kind? I do not hear you offering to give up your leadership over your people to stay with me, Caranthir."
"You have already said it would do no good in any case, as your people would not accept me as your husband," I equivocated. "And in any case, I have sworn an oath of vengeance before Ilúvatar Himself, which I dare not break."
"And were things otherwise, would it matter? If you had not sworn that oath, and if you could live with me openly as my husband here in Estolad, would you give up your position as Lord of Thargelion to be with me?"
I said nothing, for in truth I did not know how to reply. I had never considered the question before. I was born a prince of my people, and none of my family has ever refused the duties their inheritance demanded. Indeed, I did not know whether such an abdication would be acknowledged even if I were to attempt it. Can one unilaterally cease to be a prince? Can a king step down if his people demand that he rule? Besides, it is only natural for a woman to leave her home to live with her husband, it is the way things are meant to be.
"Your silence is an answer itself, my lord. You would be unwilling to give up your lordship; why should I be any different? The welfare of my people is just as important to me as the welfare of the Noldor is to you. I take my position as my people’s leader seriously, just as you do," you said firmly.
I leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on your forehead. "I know you do, dear heart. I’ve known that from the first moment I saw you, standing there among the warriors holding a sword covered in orc blood," I replied tenderly. "I only wish that we could be together openly, instead of hiding our love from others’ eyes."
You sighed, and reached up to run your hand through my unbraided hair, and when I looked into your eyes they were sorrowful. "I wish it also, love, but it’s simply not possible - and it never will be. We just have to accept that, and find what satisfaction we can in these secret meetings, and in the union of our spirits."
My response was another kiss, more passionate this time, and a movement of my hand between your thighs to touch your hidden places. You may accept it, I thought as I began again to pleasure you, but I do not. Watching you cry out in joy as your body suddenly shuddered in release, I said to myself, Haleth, you are now my wife, and you should be at my side. Someday I will find a way to take you to Thargelion with me, where you belong, and we will at last be happy together.
* * * * * * *
All too soon late fall arrived, and it was time for me to return to my duties in Thargelion. We both knew there was no alternative, but that did not make our parting any easier in the end. You walled yourself off in an armoring silence, unwilling to give voice to your pain, while I tried to sublimate my own through the intensity of my lovemaking on our final night together. When the dreaded dawn finally came, we parted in silence, broken only by my promise to return to Estolad as early in the spring as I could manage. As I rode sorrowfully home to Lake Helevorn, I found myself repeatedly reaching for the slender bond I could feel deep inside me as proof that I had not lost you forever.
That winter was hard; I fretted and brooded, desperately anticipating the arrival of spring and my return to your arms, and my normally quick temper was stretched to the breaking point. This had the fortunate consequence that people began to avoid me; fortunate because for the first time I began to see that it was not only your people’s intolerance we would have to deal with in our marriage - it was also that of my own kind.
A trading party of Naugrim had arrived at Lake Helevorn late in the season, only to be trapped there when the winter snows fell unusually early and the mountain pass they had traveled from Belegost was blocked before they could return to their homes. Consequently, they were forced to spend the winter with my people, waiting for the thaw that would allow them to depart safely.
No one was overtly rude to them; the Naugrim were our allies, and I would not have permitted open disrespect. But whispers of derision were voiced when they were not present to overhear; their different manners, their ugliness, and their supposed inferiority as a mortal race were all regarded as cause for mockery by some of my subjects. For the first time, I wondered how my own people would treat you were I to bring you home with me. Your body was no longer young, and even the most beautiful of your kind were scarcely regarded as fair by those of my race. And compared to your short-lived people, the Naugrim, though also mortal, were longeval indeed. Would you be the object of my subjects’ scorn as well? Would my people see you merely as an ugly, frail mortal, unworthy of marriage to their lord? Would they even recognize our marriage bond as valid? I had never thought about such things before I joined with you - my desire for you had been so strong that I had not considered the full implications of our union, so desperate had I been to lie with you, and bond with you, and make you my own. But how was our happiness to be achieved if we could not be together as husband and wife, as we were meant to be? I could not leave Thargelion permanently; but I was unsure of what your reception would be if I finally brought you home. Could it be possible that you had been right, and that our secret trysts in the forests of Estolad were all we could ever aspire to? It seemed so unfair - we would have so little time together as it was before your death forever separated us! I begrudged every instant we were forced to spend apart, and yet I could see no solution to our dilemma.
And then there was the matter of our bond. It gave me great comfort during those long months apart, that delicate touch of your fëa on mine, but it was also perilous. For the marital bond between two Quendi can be sensed, not only by the spouses in question, but by others as well. A woman of my kind who was seeking a husband would be able to tell that I was bound to another, should I speak overlong to her or let her study my eyes. And because of my position, I would not be able to keep the identity of my mate a secret - truly private lives are a luxury not afforded to nobles. I was not ashamed of our union - far from it! But as I did not know whether my people would accept it, or you, and since you were mortal and our time together would of necessity be short, I thought it best that our union should remain a secret until such time as I could solve our dilemma. And that meant avoiding unmarried women, and as a supposedly eligible lord, that was not an easy thing to do. By the time late spring had arrived, and I was at last able to ride out to Estolad, I had managed to insult nearly every nobleman with a marriageable daughter in northern Thargelion through my persistent refusals to meet their lovely offspring. If things continue as they are, I thought sourly as I rode east to my much-anticipated reunion with you, I will not have to worry about my subjects’ reactions to our union, for I will be deposed by popular acclaim!
But to my delight, these cares melted away like frost on a spring morning during the time we spent in each other’s company that year. I found you little changed - perhaps there was a touch more grey in your hair, but the fire in your eyes burned as brightly as it had when I first met you, and you were even more passionate and sensual then you had been the year before. When we rested together, sated and sleepy after spending ourselves completely with our lovemaking, lying naked in each other’s arms under the silvery light of Varda’s stars, I thought, this is what it must have been like to awaken at Cuiviénen - to lie together in innocence in a world yet unmarred by evil. All too quickly the summer passed, a progression of warm nights of passion which slowly morphed into sharp frosts that only served to heat our bodies further against the chill to come. And then the end of autumn arrived, and once more I was forced to depart for Lake Helevorn, there to endure another winter of misery without you in my arms.
* * * * * * *
And so the pattern continued for another three years. Spring through fall I spent with you in Estolad, and winter I spent raging against the cruel circumstances that prevented us from remaining united forever - for I was becoming increasingly convinced that you were indeed right, and there was no way out of our dilemma. As I saw the years begin to take their inexorable toll on your mortal flesh, I became ever more desperate not to waste what little time we had, and increasingly resentful of the duties and obligations and prejudices that conspired to keep us apart. More and more often, I found myself begging you to return with me to Thargelion, so we could be together always - I would find a way around my subjects’ bigotry, and force them to accept you. But as always, you refused to even consider leaving your people, and the more persistent I became in my appeals, the angrier you grew in response. Inevitably, though, the hurt in my eyes softened your mood, and the sorrow I saw reflected in yours quelled my pleas, and the arguments always ended with us frantically coupling, as if our lust could drive away the sorrow in our hearts. Ironically, it would not have hurt so much had we not truly loved one another. I had always thought of love as a balm to soothe the heart; until then, I had not realized its terrible power to wound.
I had known from the first that our time together would be short, and both grieved over the knowledge and dreaded the day that would inevitably arrive to separate us. I had thought the end would come as a result of sickness or world-weariness, bringing the terrible fate Ilúvatar has given to your people (for I refused to think of it as a gift - how could something which would separate us so completely ever be accounted a blessing?). But that end arrived far sooner than either of us had expected, and was far more terrible than either of us had imagined even in our bleakest moments.
I will never forget that night - it was a beautiful spring evening, with just a touch of chill in the air, and a gloriously bright moon hung overhead. I had arrived in Estolad only two weeks earlier, and our long winter separation had as usual left us desperately craving each other’s companionship. Our lovemaking that night was long and leisurely; so intoxicated by your presence was I that I paid little heed to our surroundings, for there were no dangerous creatures in these woods (or so I then believed). As we joined together I attributed the faint, brief rustling I heard to the movements of deer, and in my eagerness to love you I promptly put it out of my mind. I did not know then that this was to be the last time I would ever lie with you.
You did not meet me in our usual place beneath the oak tree the following evening. Although unusual, this was not overly concerning, for there had been times before when your responsibilities to your people had interfered with our trysts. But then another evening passed, and another, and when you still did not come I began to grow concerned. Over the years I had continued the pretense of hunting as an explanation for my presence in Estolad, occasionally riding to your homestead during the day with a gift of game, pretending to be exchanging greetings and pleasantries with you as befitted one lord visiting the lands of another. When over a week had passed with no word from you, I decided to ride to your homestead again, ostensibly as a courtesy and to share my quarry with your family but in reality to check on you, for by now I was seriously worried.
When I arrived, I was relieved to see that you appeared healthy; your expression was bright and cheerful, but there was a tension in your eyes I had not seen before. We sat in the garden with Forhend and his wife, and the four of us conversed about trivialities (or rather attempted to converse, for neither Forhend nor Hiril spoke good Sindarin), and at the end of the day I left, simultaneously relieved that you were apparently well and frustrated that I had not managed a single private word with you during the entire course of the afternoon, and was no closer to understanding what was wrong.
Nearly a month passed before we met again. I had not given up my nightly vigil under the oak tree, but was beginning to despair of ever meeting you in private again; it was perhaps three hours before dawn, that quietest time of the night, when I spotted you quietly moving across the grass. When you reached me, I threw my arms around you and began to kiss you frantically; your lips met mine eagerly for a moment, but then you firmly pushed me away. Confused, I stepped back, and my heart sank when I saw the sorrow in your eyes. "Caranthir, we need to talk," you said quietly.
"Must we, love? I know it’s growing late, but we still have time enough if we leave now, and I’ve missed you so much..." I said desperately; from the look of pain on your face, I sensed I did not want to hear what you had to say. I reached out with my hand to stroke your cheek, but you pulled away.
"Caranthir, they know about us," you whispered. "Hiril followed us to the glen; she watched us making love. Fortunately for me, she is a fool; had she said nothing, returning instead on another night with impartial witnesses, I would have been disgraced and my cousin Forhend would now be leading our people. But instead she has openly accused me, in front of our people, of taking you for my lover. Her testimony by itself is not credible, for everyone knows her ambitions for her husband, and most of my people view her accusation with disbelief, if only because they cannot possibly imagine an Elf-lord such as you desiring me. Most are skeptical, but not all. I wasn’t able to come to you before now because I feared I was being watched. I shouldn’t have risked coming tonight, but I care about you too much to leave you without at least an explanation."
"Leave me... But we are bonded, Haleth, you are my wife! We belong together; surely you will not allow this nonsense to separate us," I protested weakly, too numb with shock to feel the pain of her words yet. "You said yourself that people don’t believe Hiril; all we need do is wait a while longer, and it will again be safe for us to meet." But even as I said the words, I saw you shaking your head sadly.
"I’m sorry, Caranthir, but I can’t risk it. It’s too dangerous." And now I saw the tears begin to well up in your dark eyes as you whispered, "Ever since I was a young girl I’ve known that the one thing I could not have was a man’s love. But when I met you a part of me refused to accept that truth, and now we are both paying the price of my foolishness. I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you."
"You really mean it," I whispered in astonishment. "You are willing to walk away from me, your husband who loves you, and never see me again, and for what? Just so you can continue to lead this foolish tribe of people who treat women as if they’re property, or misbehaving children to be disciplined? Let your cousin lead them, since he desires the position so badly, and come away with me to Thargelion! Haleth, you belong at my side! Does the power and authority you wield over your people really mean more to you than my love?"
"Forhend distrusts your people; if he assumes the leadership of my tribe, he will lead them back over the mountains, back into the dark lands we struggled so hard to leave. I can’t, I won’t, allow that to happen - even if it means losing you. I do love you, Caranthir - but I love my people more. I’m sorry, but that is the truth. And besides, I am not an Elf-woman; you always knew that you would lose me eventually." You tried to smile, but the sadness in your eyes belied the lightness of your expression as you uttered those last words.
"Yes, to death," I whispered, "but I never thought I would lose you like this. Please, don’t abandon me, Haleth! I can’t bear it! Please come back with me to Thargelion, I beg you!" The numbness was beginning to wear off, and silent tears had began to flow down my cheeks.
You had also begun to cry, but shook your head at my pleas. "Goodby, Caranthir," you finally whispered. "I will never forget you." A sudden kiss on my cheek, and then you were turning from me and running towards your small house.
"Haleth!" I cried out desperately, but you never looked back.
* * * * * * *
I do not clearly remember the rest of that night; I recall only riding heedlessly through the dark forest, raging ceaselessly at you, at the Valar, at Ilúvatar Himself for so cruelly separating us. When I finally collapsed in exhaustion, long after sunrise, my rage finally gave way to tears, and I wept as though my heart would burst.
The next few weeks were a blur. I spent them riding aimlessly through the great forests of my twin brothers’ lands, knowing in my mind that I would never see you again, never hold you in my arms again, but unwilling to accept in my heart that you were lost to me now. I was very young when my parents separated, but I remember vividly my father’s black moods shortly after my mother had left our household to rejoin her kin; his rages had frightened me then, but I understood them now. Father, is this what you felt when Nerdanel left you? I wondered. How did you stand this agony? How can anyone bear so much pain and continue to live? I felt I finally understood why he had turned his love so completely to his crafts; in the end, the Silmarils were the only things he knew were safe to love, the only things he knew would never abandon him, for they were not alive.
Eventually I found myself headed in the direction of Thargelion; although I do not remember choosing to ride home, I must have realized on some level that I could not mourn this way forever, endlessly drifting through the greenwood. That summer, I alternated between numb despair and towering black rages so intense they frightened even me. I did not need to concern myself with avoiding the company of others, for they quickly learned to stay away. The bond between us persisted, of course, for it is broken only by death; its presence was a cruel reminder of my loss, mocking me with the empty promise of your love, the futile hope that one day I would ride out to Estolad and things would be as they were before, and you would again fill my empty arms.
By autumn I could stand the torture no longer, and in desperation I returned to Estolad, determined that this time I would make you see reason; if necessary, I would throw you across my horse and carry you to Thargelion willing or no. Surely the bond between us was causing you as much torment as it did me! I was hoping desperately that you would relent when you saw me again, that you would finally agree to resign your leadership and accept your place by my side, where you belonged. For all your fire and resolve, you were a woman, after all - and a woman needs her husband. I tried very hard not to think of Father during my journey.
I was not expecting what I found when I reached Estolad. Your people were gone. It took me several days to accept the truth of my observations, days I spent roaming the woods in search of you, returning each evening in desperate denial to your small homestead. The house and the outbuildings still stood, but the buildings were empty, and the garden was thickly overgrown with weeds. Finally, it became clear even to me that you were not coming back. You had lead your people away, and I did not know where to find you - as you no doubt had planned.
I did not look back when I finally rode away from your small house. I never returned to Estolad.
I never saw you again.
* * * * * * *
Eventually I learned that you had settled your people in the forest of Brethil, after leading them through Nan Dungortheb. Only you, my love, would have thought that dark road less dangerous then returning to the east across the Ered Luin! You had managed to cut yourself off quite effectively from me, far more so than I expect you realized, for Brethil was one area where I could not journey even had my brother Maedhros permitted me to venture so far west. No son of Fëanor would have been welcome in any portion of Thingol’s realm. I would never trouble you again.
Over the long years, I slowly became resigned to our separation. The bond between us persisted; eventually this ceased to be a source of pain, and instead became a gentle reminder that once I had loved a woman made of fire, a plain woman with earth-brown eyes and hair the color of wheat. I wondered occasionally what you made of that lingering, delicate tie between us - did you come to treasure it, or would you have broken it if you could? Sometimes I tried to imagine how your appearance must have changed during the course of the years, but I was never successful; in my mind I always pictured you either as you were on the day I first saw you, standing resolute before me with sword in hand, or on that night when we first made love, your face hovering above me as we coupled, framed by the stars.
Then one morning just before dawn, a little more than five years ago, I suddenly awoke from dreams, jerked to full awareness by an abrupt, sharp ache deep inside me. Our bond was broken, and I knew that you were gone. Your mortal fëa had finally departed Arda forever, in search of whatever strange destiny awaits your kindred outside its bounds. And once more I found myself mourning your loss, more quietly this time, but no less intensely. A private grief - for no one outside ourselves had ever learned of our marriage, and so I could not share my pain at this, its final ending.
And now I stand here in my great Hall, before my brothers and my kin and my subjects, the only one of my family to follow Grandfather’s example, though none but I am aware of that. Meril is soft and demure and soothing, with hair the color of a raven’s wing and gentle grey eyes - utterly unlike you. I find her presence strangely comforting; she calms my rages and my black moods, and I draw her out of her shyness. I am told we suit one another. She is the daughter of one of our most valiant commanders, from a family that has always been loyal to our House. My brothers seem pleased for me.
My eldest brother Maedhros is standing in for our dead father; soon he will be finished speaking, and it will be time for Meril and me to recite the Blessing. Tonight, after the celebratory feasting has concluded, I will lie with her, and then we will be bonded. Perhaps the soft touch of her cool and limpid fëa against my own will soothe my suffering spirit, still scorched so badly by your hot fires. I plan to lie with her often, in the hopes of fathering a child. For as the passing years have made clear, it now falls to me to insure the continuation of our line; Maedhros thinks of nothing but war, Celegorm and the twins think of nothing but hunting, and both Maglor and Curufin are sundered from their wives by a wide and hostile sea. Of all of us, only Curufin has fathered a child, in Aman before we departed for these shores; and I would have more than Celebrimbor’s frail shoulders on which to rest the fate of our House, for these are dangerous times.
I am not willfully cruel; I am deeply fond of Meril, and would never wish to see her hurt. She will never know that when I close my eyes while I couple with her tonight, in my mind I will be picturing a woman with hair the color of a wheatfield at harvest and earthen eyes filled with fire. I will never tell her that the heat in my loins has a source other than her charms. She will never learn that she will always be but second in my heart.
My foolish cousin Finrod counts philosophy among his many useless hobbies. I have never had any patience with it myself, for what is the point in indulging in such idle speculations when there is practical work to do? He has done much philosophizing about the differences between the Children of Ilúvatar, and the ultimate fate of our two kindreds; he says some believe that after the end of all things the two kindreds of Men and Elves will be reunited as a single people, to dwell together in Arda Healed. I do not know if this is true, but I will hope. I will hope that when the world is finally made new, I will walk again with you, Haleth. And in Arda Healed our bond will last forever, and our passion shall be a fire that will never die.
Caranthir, Haleth, and Canon: In the Essay "Of Men and Dwarves" (The Peoples of Middle-Earth, History of Middle Earth vol. 12), Tolkien states that Caranthir is married. And in The Silmarillion, Tolkien says that Haleth never married; after her death, the leadership of the Haladin passed to her nephew Haldan (see the chapter "Of the Coming of Men into the West"). So how can I get away with writing this story without claiming it to be AU? Simple, really. Caranthir’s marriage is mentioned in exactly ONE sentence: "Others who were wedded were Maelor (Maglor) and Caranthir." (The Peoples of Middle-Earth, History of Middle Earth vol. 12, p. 318). Nowhere does it state when he married (although Tolkien probably intended for him to be wedded while in Aman, nowhere does he actually state this). Since this relationship was secret, the historians writing about Haleth would have indeed regarded her as unmarried; and Caranthir’s marriage, alluded to in "Of Men and Dwarves," would be the one between him and Meril at the end of this tale. So even though this story probably has Mr. Tolkien spinning in his grave, it’s technically (if not in spirit) within canon!
Elf Marriage: In "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" (Morgoth’s Ring, History of Middle Earth vol. 10, p. 210), it states that the Eldar marry "for love or at the least by free will upon either part." So the fact that Caranthir feels no great passion for Meril is not a bar to their marriage; as long as they both consent freely to the union, the marriage will be valid. As for Caranthir’s view that he was married to Haleth, see p.212 of Morgoth’s Ring: "It was the act of bodily union that achieved marriage, and after which the indissoluble bond was complete. ...it was at all times lawful for any of the Eldar, both being unwed, to marry thus of free consent one to another without ceremony or witness (save blessings exchanged and the naming of the Name); and the union so joined was alike indissoluble."
Remarriage after the death of a spouse: According to "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" (Morgoth’s Ring, History of Middle Earth vol. 10), Elf marriages last until the end of Arda. However, there is one exception - if one spouse dies and either chooses or is forced to remain in Mandos until the End of Arda, such that there is no chance of reunion with the living spouse, the marriage is deemed ended and the surviving spouse can remarry. (See "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and the sections on the Doom of Finwë and Míriel in Morgoth’s Ring). Since when Haleth died, her mortal spirit left Arda completely, and there was no chance of her ever returning to reunite with Caranthir, their marriage ended with her death, and he was free to wed again if he wished.
The bond between married Elves: "...for the Eldar can read at once in the eyes and voice of another whether they be wed or unwed." ("Laws and Customs among the Eldar" (Morgoth’s Ring, (History of Middle Earth vol. 10), footnote #5, p. 228). Caranthir was assuming that only unmarried women (who might be interested in knowing if he is married, for obvious reasons) would have a reason to look for a marriage bond in his case (which may or may not be true).
Fëanor’s grandchildren: Celebrimbor is the only grandchild of Fëanor mentioned in The Silmarillion, and apparently the only grandchild of Fëanor in Middle-earth (it is unknown whether there may have been descendents who remained in Aman, not partaking in the Rebellion and Kinslaying, though it seems doubtful). So despite poor Caranthir’s hopes, his marriage to Meril will remain childless.
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.