3. Lasselanta Mittatta, Autumn Equinox Part 2
It was Narilvrin, as promised, smiling brightly and, as Boromir was learning, characteristically. Trays and bowls of food covered every inch of her open arms and seemed to drape across her chest even as an earthenware pitcher dangled from one dainty pinky finger. She nodded to the Steward’s son in greeting and then brushed past him as he moved to divest her of her burden. Almost before he had turned around, she was laying her provisions out on a small table he had all but ignored on his balcony.
There was fresh fruit, small oatmeal-like cakes, soft butter and jams along with a sweet yellow bread – thick and spongy at the center – heavily flavored with honey and spices. The pitcher turned out to contain a brewed herbal drink softened with milk that Boromir found palatable and warming. After a short period of much eating and very little talk the Elf maid and the Man both pushed back their chairs and stretched out their feet in the morning sunshine.
“So,” Narilvrin was the first to break the satisfied silence, looking over the edge of a book “What shall it be? I can only think that your unhappiness here must spring from your ignorance of our ways and our valley since all others who visit or dwell here are joyful. Therefore, I have planned an extensive tour to broaden your view. But it is you must choose the starting point, take the first step, as it were. What will you have? Indoors or Out? Choose well, Mortal, for my continued company depends on your satisfaction and I would see more of you.”
The ancient pride of the Steward’s son rose up in Boromir at the Elf’s imperious tone even as its owner leaned abruptly forward in his chair. However, there he was met by a mischievous smile dancing over Narilvrin’s delicate crimson lips, forcing them from a mock frown and back to her usual look of merriment. Boromir could not help but smile himself, then and sat back to consider his invitation more closely.
“Indoors, I believe, My Lady Elf. We will leave outside for the full warmth and blossom of the day. What say you?”
Across the table the Narilvrin smiled happily and nodded her head as she rose from the table. “I would not have known a Man could have such fair words and well-measured thoughts.”
Boromir felt his spirits begin to lift even as he followed Narilvrin out his door, along many corridors, through the House of Elrond and beyond. He was finding the company of this Elf to be unlike any other; since crossing the Gap of Rohan and leaving familiar country – could it have been over two months before? – he had felt as though he were walking among legends and dreams. At her side, he was beginning to get his footing again.
And, perhaps more important, thanks to her he was no longer waiting about Rivendell for Elrond’s summons like an errand boy in an antechamber. The farther Narilvrin led him away from his room the more his nobility return. His back straightened, his head rose, his stride lengthened. Still he had to work to keep up as Narilvrin strode longer before him, the diffuse light of morning shining along the full length of her freely flowing red hair.
Before long the Elf maid had brought Boromir to what he could only guess was the very bottom of the gorge that was Rivendell. There, along the banks of the Loudwater they came upon several clusters of buildings. Some were low, some tall but all clearly of Elvish design and purpose. Through their open doors Boromir glimpsed Elves hard at work, though to him their work appeared very similar to their play as they joked and argued good-naturedly amongst themselves.
Narilvrin recaptured his attention with a broad gesture. “Here dwell and work many of our finest artisans: glassblowers, potters, weavers, gold- and silversmiths as well as many others. Here we create all we need to live amongst ourselves.” Indeed, along the Loudwater Boromir saw representatives of all the trades he had ever known from Minas Tirith or the Pelennor surrounding.
He raised a brow in surprise. “I was not aware Elves performed labor at occupation or engaged in commerce of any kind.”
“No,” Narilvrin’s answering laugh echoed off the nearby buildings. “Here we do as we please! Some take pleasure in exercising their minds, some in working their hands in steel or clay. Is it not so where you come from?”
Despite his good mood Boromir could not stop a darkening frown. “Where I come from we do as we must,” he growled. The thought went unfinished that fulfilling his duty was all that stood between their pleasure and the Enemy’s.
However, Narilvrin’s hand alighting gently on his own hand roused him again. “Here is our destination.” She pointed upland to another grouping of workshops. “Come.” She spoke calmly, and when Boromir looked up he was surprised to see concern in her emerald-gold eyes. They held the gaze until the Elf maid turned away, a hint of a blush upon her cheeks, now hidden by waterfall of fell fire. “Here I believe you will see much to delight you.” Narilvrin finally said softly yet firm.
The Elf maid turned and led Boromir upland to a group of buildings somewhat larger and darker than the rest. Black smoke pushed its way out of their chimneys over windows set high in walls that otherwise had no feature. There strange sounds came to Boromir’s ears – the ring of hammers, breath of bellows, whine of sharpening wheels – sounds of industry almost forgotten in the more than 100 days he had passed since leaving Gondor.
Without announcement his Elf guide pushed upon a heavy oaken door and gestured for Boromir to proceed. Inside, the warrior recognized a forge, an armory even, though it was unlike any he had ever seen. The light filtered in from above to illuminate an airy and orderly workspace and reflected, to Boromir’s wonder, off countless pieces of burnished arms and armor. As he stepped in his eyes landed on a long curved blade that dangled near the door; but they couldn’t rest there. In a few short moments he glutted his sight – in each blade he thought the maker to have found the perfect marriage of artistry and deadly strength until he beheld the next. He felt rather than saw Narilvrin slip past him, her feather-like hand barely brushing his back. She disappeared into the shadowy depths of the forge, and a few moments later, the Elf maid returned with the swordsmith.
He was very tall, flame red haired and sharp featured. Though his skin was luminous and perfect, the lines of his jaw and nose were not at all feminine. His eyebrows were full and low and slightly arched, continuing well beyond the outer edge of his eye. The face was wide at the light grey eyes, tapering to the chin, his cheeks with a slight hollow. He wore a dark blue tunic with traces of silver and gold, bearing the tengwar inscription of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain. From a fine chain of mithril hung a grey-blue stone of some source unknown by Boromir. Though it was obvious to Boromir he could not have said how he knew the Elf was young even among elves. There was something in his eyes, his sharp featured face, and his very bearing that bespoke of many years spent on this earth. He looked at Boromir for a moment, then grinned slightly, even though he had been disturbed rather abruptly. “This is Angmir (Jewel of Steel) my nephew, I will leave you two to yourselves.” With that Narilvrin strode away and took a seat on one side of the forge, leaving Boromir to face the smithy.
Frowning somewhat Angmir the Swordsmith reached down a particularly deadly looking piece, with the image of a dragon riding down its blade that glowed red in the firelight. “Would you use this for a game?”
Boromir, recognizing an invitation, stepped forward and took the sword from the Elf’s long hand. It was surprisingly heavy, but finely balanced and seemed almost to vibrate as if waiting impatiently in his hand. He stepped back and swung the blade a few times and then held it out again to marvel at its craftsmanship.
“No, indeed!” he almost crowed. “This I would use to carve a path to the Black Tower from the gates of Minas Tirith itself though all the hordes of Mordor stood about me. It is a fine blade!”
“Fine! ‘Fine’, he says, and such bold words.” Frowning, but not totally displeased, the young Elf turned and made his way to the back of the room muttering to himself. “Such brave words! No, Steward’s Son,” he turned back to his guest. “For such a battle you would not use that, you would use this!”
So saying he produced yet another blade, more finely carved and fashioned than the last for Boromir to try. Thus through the morning the swordsmith brought out blade after blade, each one eagerly and tested by the soldier until they came to sit, Angmir spinning stories, telling of each blade’s making, for whom it was wrought, the meaning of each symbol, leaf and whorl, Boromir listening intently.
Thus the morning passed quickly and unnoticed. Through it all Narilvrin sat back listening, her eyes sparkling with the firelight of the forge and the risen flame of Boromir’s happiness; a flame of spirit she seen in him from the first; a smoldering flame left dangerously unattended. But now it glowed brightly and steadily and Narilvrin was pleased to share in its warmth.
Too soon, it seemed to Boromir, his Elven guide gently extracted him from the forge and the old smith’s company to continue their tour.
As they left the forge, the Elf Maid addressed him. “Well, my friend, I think we have succeeded in feeding your spirit somewhat. What say you we feed our bodies? Are you not hungry after so much talk and good company? I myself am starving and I have only watched and listened this whole morning. Come!”
Narilvrin brought Boromir out of the valley and back into the depths of the last Homely House. Here the smell of fresh-baked bread, roasting meats and sweet things assaulted him and the soldier found his stomach rumbling and his mouth watering most uncontrollably. Narilvrin guided him to a small refectory table standing empty in a sun-drenched alcove not far from the kitchens and left to gather their lunch.
When she returned the pair eagerly tucked into a tray full of cold roast chicken, cider, pears and a fresh loaf of the honeyed bread they had so enjoyed with breakfast. Between mouthfuls, Boromir grunted happily.
“Narilvrin, you make me feel young again. When I was small, my brother Faramir and I roamed our city freely, but most often spent our mealtimes tucked into a corner of the great kitchen of the King’s House not unlike this. The cooks and servants spoiled us most satisfactorily.”
His remembrance made Narilvrin laugh becomingly. “This place is dear to me; I am pleased you share my feelings. Nevertheless, I am surprised that you were allowed such freedom as a youth, even in your own city. I would have thought the Steward’s Sons too precious to go unguarded.”
Then a shadow fell over Boromir’s fair countenance and reigned in his speech grown full and easy with the morning’s company. “It was the year my mother fell ill; the attentions of many were elsewhere. She died at high summer and my father grieved for her most sorely. Faramir and I …” he paused to choose his words; “preferred to absent ourselves in those long days.”
For a long moment silence settled in between them, the Elf and the Man. Then Narilvrin spoke quietly.
“Indeed, even in Rivendell is the beauty and kindness of the Fair Finduilas remembered. The loss of such a soul is often felt far beyond its dwelling.”
Her words brought Boromir back from the world outside their window to find Narilvrin’s eyes glinting again. He reached across and covered her small hand with his for a moment, but chose not to withdraw it.
But in another moment the Elf-maid’s customary lightheartedness returned. She leaned forward with a teasing smirk. “And what of your brother, Faramir? Into what manner of man has that errant youth grown?”
Boromir grunted again, and shared her smile. “My little brother?” Then he sat back and Narilvrin was pleased to see pride growing in Boromir’s mind’s eye. “He is a valiant leader and much admired by his men, and by rights he should be sitting here instead of me. But Faramir’s heart lies more in books and old scrolls than in steel and hard living. He has oft been a pupil of Mithrandir the Wizard, much to my father’s displeasure. Sadly, there is much enmity between them.” Then a thought brought him forward again, a proud and cocky smile teasing his lips. “I do not think it is his fate to rule Gondor!”
“O Boromir!” Laughing, Narilvrin reached across the narrow table and tapped her companion’s forehead with a warm and gentle finger. “Such sensitivity! Such prescience! You have been too long among Elves, my Lord! I feel we must leave this place at once!”
After dispensing with the detritus of their meal Narilvrin brought Boromir to the stables of Rivendell, selected a mount for him and the two spent the afternoon exploring the slopes of the Misty Mountains away from Rivendell and Elven kind. They contentedly kept the warm sun, sharp air and clear day only to themselves.
Nevertheless, before long Boromir’s gentle mood began to give way. Even the rocky slope of the Misty Mountains near Rivendell had an orderliness that Boromir found disquieting. Over frequently he and Narilvrin would happen on a diminutive glade or patch of wild flowers, which bespoke of the meddling hand of the Elves, had been at work. As they continued to ride, Boromir thought more and more of Mount Mindolluin and the White Mountains of his homeland. Their treacherous scree, sudden storms and barren rock faces showed the had had their own way in the world for many an age. Boromir found he missed them acutely.
Before long he suggested to Narilvrin that they turn back, and when they returned the sun had set and lamps were being lit in the many halls and chambers of Rivendell.
Still, as they walked the halls together back to his room Boromir found he was well and truly tired for the first time since his arrival and he looked forward to a quiet, simple meal, perhaps even a bath. He suspected he would sleep well and uninterrupted for the first time since leaving Minas Tirith.
When they reached his door Narilvrin turned to address him.
“Well, My Lord, have you enjoyed your day?”
Boromir inclined his head in gratitude. “Yes, Narilvrin, I thank you I have.”
“Then will you permit me to attend you again tomorrow? We have put your body at ease, I think. Now it is time we exercised your mind, and to that end I have planned several indoor pursuits.”
And Narilvrin gave him a slight grin. “Yes” She lifted her hand toward his balcony and the sky outside. Boromir’s eyes followed to see stars just beginning to show.
“Tomorrow it is going to rain!”
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.