1. Chapter 1
He loved nature and hunting, and he knew as much about being a predator as being prey. He knew that to avoid a hunter, one would have to either run away very fast or hide very carefully. And since the two young cousins had agreed to play within the radius of the Mound of Ezellohar, it had to be the latter.
And Aredhel, the clever child that she was, had hidden very well.
Of course she had hidden well. He had, after all, taught her himself.
Which brought him back to his earlier problem. Where was that mischievous dark head? Being only a few years her elder, they had always been close companions. So he knew that she liked climbing trees, that she enjoyed rolling in the grass, and that she liked to crawl under the leafy undergrowth of the forest.
In normal circumstances, he would have found her. But this time, she had deliberately changed her style.
Something was different.
Celegorm gingerly removed his head, although his cheek was scratched by one of the thorns. Paying it no heed, Celegorm once more ran his eyes over the Mound. Behind him were the Two Trees, which were currently devoid of an Elfin girl. Surrounding the Mound were several bushes and glades, and they were also empty.
Deciding that his eyes were useless, he used his nose. Sniffing the air around him, he looked for a subtle difference in the air. He sought the scent of alfirin flowers - native to Taniquetil but what she often used to scent her hair. He sniffed for the smell of leather - Aredhel was clad in a tunic and pants of deer leather. He even tried to find the smell of pears - she had recently eaten one.
But no matter how much he sniffed, he could not detect any of those scents.
Not allowing himself to be defeated, he used his ears next. Straining his already sharp ears, he sought to hear something - a breath, the creak of leather, or perhaps the snap of a twig, anything out of the ordinary.
Unsurprisingly, he heard nothing either.
Plopping down on the grass with frustration, he ran through a list of possibilities - and found that he had none. Looking up at the branches of the Two Trees once more, he vainly hoped for a sign of dark hair. But even as he was thinking it, he knew it was stupid. After all, she would stick out in a tree of silver or in a tree of gold. Artanis might have been able to hide in the branches, but not Aredhel.
Tapping his finger on the grass, he ran through his empty list of possibilities again - until he heard a noise. A slight noise, but a noise nonetheless. And with the fluid grace of a hunter, he stalked toward the sound, creeping and hardly breathing.
Only to be greeted by a bemused Vala, one with dark brown hair and merry brown eyes. "What is this, Elfling? Have the forests run out of deer that you need to hunt poor, defenseless Valar?"
Celegorm hissed in frustration. "I am playing hide and seek."
"And the seeker has been unable to find the hider?" The Vala looked very sympathetic.
The Vala nodded gravely. "Girls - they always do that." He reached forward and plucked the stray twigs and leaves from Celegorm's face, and then he gently wiped away the blood from his cheek. "Perhaps I can be of some aid to you?"
The little face looked doubtful. "Can you? She is very tricky."
"You can say that I have some experience in hunting." But he said no more on that subject. "Tell me, what have you done so far, in order to search for this elusive quarry of yours?" Celegorm listed off all the things he had done so far, and with each successive mention, the Vala's eyes grew wider. "That is certainly most impressive for anyone, including Elves, more so for an Elfling."
"But she has been even more impressive, since she still is hiding and I am still seeking!" Celegorm was becoming increasingly annoyed with himself. Aredhel was a mere slip of a girl - yet she was outsmarting him.
The Vala nodded again. "I suppose this situation qualifies as desperate," which received a nod from the young hunter, "and therefore I think we shall have to be decidedly unconventional."
Celegorm blinked. "But hunting is hunting. What else is there to it?"
"Hunting is no different from speaking or singing or dancing. There are different ways to hunt different preys. After all, you cannot hunt a deer the same way as you hunt a fox." Celegorm looked interested, so the Vala continued. "You have looked in all the places you are supposed to look. But you have not looked in the places you are not supposed to look."
Celegorm began muttering. "Ezellohar is only so big!"
"Yes, I agree. Personally, I think that Yavanna could have made it bigger." His eyes were twinkling. "But then again, she always did believe in conserving space." Celegorm's eyes widened, but the Vala was now pointing at the lake near the Two Trees. "Have you looked over there?"
"She is not near the lake. I would have seen her." Celegorm was starting to doubt this stranger. After all, unlike the Valar and Maiar, Elves could not take different forms or shapes.
Aredhel definitely could not have turned into a twig.
The Vala took Celegorm by the hand. "There is more to this lake than you can see, Elfling." He waved his hand over the lake. "You cannot see under it."
"But she cannot be under it! Elves cannot hold their breath indefinitely."
The Vala looked skeptical. "With the right tools, anyone can stay under water." He pointed again. "Look harder."
Celegorm shook his head in frustration, and then did as the Vala suggested. Again, he scanned the perimeter of the lake, as well as its surface. No Aredhel. However, just as he was about to turn back to the Vala, something caught his eyes.
A reed standing upright in the air. Moreover, this reed was isolated from the other reeds. And reeds could be used to channel air from the surface.
The Vala smiled in pride when he saw the look of understanding that had crossed Celegorm's face. "You see? You have found her."
"I did, didn't I?" said the young Elf in wonder. "What a strange place to hide."
"When the prey hides from the predator, does it matter how strange the hiding place is, as long as it is effective?" asked the Vala gently. "Now you have learned to look beyond the obvious and into the unexpected."
Celegorm looked at the Vala in gratitude. "Thank you."
The Vala chuckled. "It was my pleasure, Elfing." He gave Celegorm a pat on the head. "I admire your skills in the forest, for you have a way of the earth about you." The Vala bent down so he was face to face with the young Elf. "When you are a little bit older, come to me in my halls, and I will show you the wonders of the world around you." With one last smile, the Vala began walking off.
"Wait!" called out Celegorm. The Vala turned around with a look of puzzlement. "I do not know your name."
"I have many names, but when I am outside in the woods or in the fields, I like to be called Aldaron."
- Aldaron is another name for Oromë.
- I think Celegorm was actually a lot older than Aredhel, but I chose to make them a bit closer in age.
- The Mound of Ezellohar is where the Two Trees were. It was also called the Corollairë.
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.