1. Of Duiel and Taurel
Pippin followed the crowd into the hall of fire curiously. He had not been in it yet. Merry had gone to bed; he was tired and he had not had much sleep for worry over Frodo. Pippin felt awake and refreshed though, even though he too had not slept much since they had arrive din Rivendell. Pippin avoided the corner where Frodo, Sam and Bilbo sat, and instead moved amongst the elves, listening to little bits of their songs and tale. He found pictures forming in his head as he did so, even though he didn't understand the elven language. Pippin's attention was drawn to a silver haired elf who sat on a low stool near the edge of the room. The elf was surrounded by many other elves who were staring at him with rapt attention. The elf finished the story he was telling. A few of the elves listening wiped moisture from their eyes.
"The story of Beleg is a sad one." The silver haired elf said in Quenyan. "But sadder still, and less well known is the tale of Dúiel and Taurel. Yet this tale is not so sad because of its ending, but because of the actions of its characters." Pippin sat down as quietly as he could at the back of the group.
"Dúiel was a fair maiden, not even one hundred years old. Her hair was black, her eyes grey and her face shone with the light of the stars. Dúiel dwelt in Beleriand, ere the changing of the world, before even the coming of the Noldor out of the west. Her home was hidden deep in the woods of Doriath, and Dúiel and her family lived peacefully under Thingol's rule.
"Taurel was a warrior. He had become powerful and influential as Thingol's friend and advisor. He was a heru [lord], and no one said that he did not earn his place. He was strong and wise, and he learnt from those around him. Taurel was brave and tall, but not handsome. In fact, some would call him ugly. This description was not untruthful though. He was not as fair as many of our kindred our, but unbeautiful, with large, unseemly features. Taurel made up for his looks with his skill and precision with all arms. Taurel was one of the elves that first awoke by Helcar with the kindling of the stars, and he had followed Thingol since then.
"One day Taurel took a walk in the forests. He was not keen on the halls of Menegroth, fair as they were, and would take every chance he had to leave them, be it only for five minutes. This time Taurel had the whole day free to do as he wished, and he was glad. He had taken leave of the city early that morning and had been walking since. It was now mid- afternoon, and he was thin king of heading home. Taurel stopped to look at some birds when he heard a voice. For some reason he found himself drawn to it, even though the singing was not the best he had ever heard. Taurel followed the voice and it led him to a small clearing, where the fairest elf he had ever laid eyes upon lay amongst the grass, singing. She was wearing fine, silver garments, and the light of the stars shone in her face. Taurel was overcome with amazement, but as he looked upon the maiden she seemed to sense his presence, and she stopped singing. The maiden stood up and brushed herself off.
"'Who is there?' She asked the trees. Taurel stepped from where he was hidden so that she could see him and bowed.
"'I am Taurel.' He told her. 'I did not mean to disturb you.' The maiden took one look at him, her face clouded over and she made to leave, for she accounted beauty over all else. 'Wait!' Taurel cried. 'Do not leave. Who are you? I have not seen you in Menegroth before.' The maiden turned around again and looked upon Taurel with scorn.
"'I do not dwell in the underground caves. I am Dúiel of the woods.'
"'Why do you sound so cold? Have I insulted you?' Dúiel laughed, but it was not a merry laugh, one as cold and scornful as her voice.
"'Why? You stand there in front of me and ask me why you insult me. Tell me, Taurel, was it? Have you ever looked upon a mirror?' With that Dúiel left the glade, leaving Taurel bewildered. He made his way slowly back to Menegroth. In his chamber Taurel took a mirror from a cupboard and looked into it. He saw his face. Taurel knew that it did not look as fair as other elves' faces, but he could not believe that it could insult someone so.
"//Perhaps she meant something else. In fact, no doubt she did// He told himself, unwilling to believe that someone so fair could be so cruel.
"Over the next few days Taurel could not rid himself of the thought of Dúiel. His work became distracted, and so did he. When his friends noticed, and asked him what was the matter, Dúiel told them of the wood glade meeting. They would go quiet, and then tell him to forget about it. Even with the advice of his friends Taurel could not stop thinking of Dúiel. The next time he had enough free time he headed straight to the glade where he had first seen her. Upon arriving he was disappointed to find it empty. Dúiel was nowhere to be seen. Taurel did not give up, though. He began to search the area around the glade, hoping to come across Dúiel's home. He had not been searching long when he heard the clash of steel. Drawing his own sword and rushing towards the sound he found a bitter scene. A small house had been laid upon by orcs. Three family members lay dead, and a tall elf was protecting a fourth body, though Taurel could not see if the fallen elf was injured or not. Ignoring all thoughts of personal safety Taurel leapt into the fight, slaying two orcs as he reached the tall elf. Taurel battled the dozen or so orcs that still stood, moving with grace and speed, which seemed impossible for one of such stature. Soon Taurel found that only six orcs were left alive, but the last elf had fallen. As Taurel made himself ready for the last rush the orcs were overcome with fear, and fled the battle site. Taurel did not waste time going after them but attended the fallen elves. The three that Taurel had first seen were indeed, as he had first thought dead. Taurel turned his attention to the two that he had been protecting. The elf that had been fighting when Taurel arrived had a deep wound in his leg, which Taurel cleaned and bandaged while the elf was unconscious. The wound was not poisoned, luckily, for Taurel could not heal poisoned wounds. As he tied the bandage someone put his or her hand on his shoulder. Taurel drew his knife and stood up. Dúiel recoiled.
"'It's you.' She said. Taurel stood and bowed.
"'Why did you have to come? We were doing fine.'
"'On the country, I fear you would have been slain if I had not arrived.' Dúiel looked at the elf behind Taurel. For the first time a look of compassion crossed her face.
"'Is father alright?'
"'He will live, though he may limp.'
"'What of mother? And Elenion and Isilion?' Taurel looked to his feet.
"'They are dead.' He said softly.
"'Oh.' Dúiel face was a mask; no emotions were written on it at all. Dúiel's father stirred behind Taurel. Dúiel rushed to him, but he shook her off. He stood up, slowly, and faced Taurel.
"'I am Celebthôl. Thank-you.' Taurel smiled.
"'I am glad to have helped.' His face fell as he looked at the three dead elves. 'Though I fear my help came to late.'
"'Nay, I still draw breath, as does my daughter. It was not your fault that you were not here sooner. This is my daughter, Dúiel, if she had not already told you.'
"'We have met before. Tell me, Celebthôl, what happened here?'
"Celebthôl shrugged. 'There is little to tell. We were set upon by orcs and fought the best we could. We are not warriors though, and have few weapons . . .' Taurel noticed that Celebthôl's eyes did not stray from his dead wife.
"'Do you want help . . .?' Taurel's voice faded out. Celebthôl nodded, his face pale and drawn. Together the two elves dug three graves and buried the dead ones. Dúiel did not help but stood watching them, singing a quiet pray for her dead family members. When they had finished Celebthôl offered Taurel a place to rest for the night, but Taurel refused it on the grounds that he had things to early on the morrow. As he took leave of Dúiel and Celebthôl, he was told that he was always welcome in their home.
"During the next few years Taurel spent a lot of time there and he and Celebthôl became firm friends. Dúiel, however, kept her cold attitude towards him and Taurel found it hard to talk to her. She had grown in beauty, but was still as childish as ever and her father had a short temper with her. Celebthôl told Taurel of his fears that his daughter had been spoilt and she would always be as cold as she was now.
"But however much Celebthôl told Taurel of his daughter's faults Taurel always managed to ignore them. He fell deeper and deeper in love with her and spent many days when he should have been working think of her. He could no longer concentrate on things for very long, and his friends noticed that Taurel was jumpy. He couldn't eat, he couldn't sleep, and he spent more and more time in the woods. Finally Taurel's friend, Lothlos, asked his what was wrong, though she already suspected that it was the girl that Taurel had met. Her reply was short and rude, for Taurel did not want to see anyone but Dúiel.
"It was only a little while after that, after many years, Taurel asked Celebthôl whether, with Dúiel's permission, he could wed her. Celebthôl's answer was sceptical.
"'She is proud, Taurel, proud and spoilt I now see her. Her mother loved her, perhaps over much, and she knows all to well of her beauty. However, if you can gain her trust and love, then, with the grace of Elentári, you may wed her, and may you be happy for all the ages of the world. For I feel that a husband such as you would be good for my daughter, perhaps she will learn that there is more to love then beauty. But be careful, Taurel, whom I love more then a son. My heart warns me that she will hurt you, more perhaps then the weapon of any enemy, and I see that my daughter could be the cause of your death. Be weary! For courting her you will walk on the thinnest of lines, on the edge of a knife.'
"But Taurel smiled, and thanked Celebthôl for his will, but listened little to the warnings of his friend, for his heart was fully taken by the beauty of Dúiel. From that moment Taurel became as a shadow to Dúiel, staying in the forest for days, just trying to win her love. He tried giving her gifts such as he deemed would please her; fair flowers from the gardens in Menegroth, carvings of animals and people made from the finest gold, silver and even mithril, which he obtained from the dwarves for a high price. Taurel brought to her silk dresses and cloth, beautiful jewels such as are no longer found on Middle Earth, and jewellery made by the best craftsmen. Nothing he brought to her seemed to make her move him any more. He tried to sing her songs which he had wrote about her himself. Taurel brought Dúiel animals from the forest, tamed, to try and tame her. At each one of these gifts her face would light up, and Taurel's heart would give a great leap in his chest, then she would look on his face with it's grey, hopeful eyes, and her own would turn ugly.
"Eventually Taurel was at a loss as to what to give her. He went to Dúiel one day, but when she saw him come with empty arms she turned away.
"//Another song. // She thought. //Or perhaps a stag from the forest which he shall call. // But he did not sing out in his low voice, neither did he call into the forest.
"'Fairest leady, I have tried all I can, but now I am at a loss. What, pray, could I give to you, which would earn me your love? For it is your love which I desire more then all the jewels and gold in this world.'
"'Taurel, if you were any other elf in this world I would have fallen into your arms long ago. But how can one as fair as I love one as unbeautiful as you? As I asked in our first meeting, have you ever looked in a mirror? Surely you know that your face is as hideous as those orcs that you save me from. How the women of your city would laugh! I would be forced to spend my days hidden from the scornful eyes of others. "Have you seen Dúiel?" They would ask. "How did she ever consent to wed one such as Taurel?" And how do you think that I could endure waking up every morning and look at you face? Or if we had children? Would they be as ugly as you, or a mixture of both? I want to be able to look upon my children in pride, Taurel.'
"'The people of Menegroth would not scorn. They are as kind as you, if not so beautiful.' Even after Dúiel's harsh words Taurel still thought of her as kind and good.
"'Taurel! You live on a false hope! Can you not see it? I will never love you." Dúiel moved to the side. Behind her was a mirror that was lined with jewels. Taurel had brought it for her. 'You are ugly.' She said as she glided past her. Taurel halted a second and looked deep into the mirror. After carefully studying his face, wiping away tears as they blurred his eyesight he ran out of the house.
"He was never heard of again.
"Some say that he was attacked by orcs. Some say that he took his own life. Some say that he lived on in the forest until it sank with the lands around it. No one knows. As for Dúiel, she live don for a hundred years with the loss of Taurel on her heart, for whatever she had said, she had become truly fond of her little "shadow," though at times he had annoyed her. Eventually she could no longer take the pain and took her own life."
The grey haired elf leaned back, as Pippin tried to stem the tears that were flowing from his eyes. He had always though of elves as being kind and beautiful, not one or the other, and the tale had taught him the other side of the elven ways.
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.