25. An Opened Book
Iorlas sat back in his chair and stared at the stack of scrolls and books piled there on the table in front of him. He was now able to read and fully understand many of the Quenya and Sindarin writings and often spent time in the library going through the older volumes eager to understand the Eldar history. Today he was restless and would pick up an item only to push it aside. To one side lay two slender well-worn red leather volumes that he had tried to ignore for the past three months. With a sigh Iorlas reached for one. It was time to face his past and learn that of his mother’s.
He held it for some time before finally opening it. The first page was covered with a beautiful flowing script and he suddenly found himself with shaking hands trying to read the words through blurred eyes.
ivanneth 13: It has been so exciting. I love the freedom we have found here as we travel. Hador just laughs at me and says it is good that we are traveling now and not next spring just before the hen arrives since I would find it most uncomfortable. I will be as big as a warg and I am sure just as ugly.
ivanneth 16: The weather remains clear and warm but Hador says we can expect rain within the week.
ivanneth 20: He was right. It has been raining for two days and the road is turning into mud. Our fellow travelers have disappeared and we seem to be the only ones brave enough to continue. Hador says we must make the pass before the real rains begin. These are not real? They seem real enough to me.
narbeleth 1: We have left the main road for the path that will take us to our final destination. The woods are heavy now and our escort seems nervous. Hador is cautious, yet refuses to tell me what has made him so.
narbeleth 5: It is certain now. Someone or something is following us. Betas is a nervous wreak and clings to me whenever we stop. She is absolutely no help. Naneth was out of her mind to insist I bring her.
narbeleth 7: We have entered a strange mountainous area full of rocky cliffs and deep fissures. Hador is very worried. He has told me to wear my leather leggings and woolen tunic. I am to carry my weapons and if we are attacked I am to do what he says to the letter. I do not like this.
Iorlas looked up from the last entry on their journey and laid the book back on the table. Swallowing hard he placed his head on his hands and wept silently for his lost parents and all the lost years. Finally rising from the table he began pacing up and down the as his anger grew. Who did this thing? Who was responsible for the death of his father? Returning to the table he picked up the book and resumed reading.
gwirith 15: It has been nearly six months since Ingold found me clinging to the side of a fissure in a cliff. Even now my memory is clouded over those events that saw the death of my hervenn and the rest of our party. Ingold will not tell me what he found except to say that I was the only survivor and he did not think I would live either. When I pressed him he said that if his dog had not heard my whimpers of pain he would have passed me by. I had a deep wound in my side and a huge knot on the back of my head. I may never remember what happened. Can I trust him? He is such a strange man.
gwirith 21: The laes is doing well. It is only the fact he will need me that keeps my will to live so strong. I have not revealed the name of my house or that of Hador. I fear that if it is found I still live then the life of ion nin will be in danger. Ingold is puzzled by my reluctance to contact my family. I am beginning to remember.
lothron 3: I have told him nearly everything. I think he suspects that we were more than just the usual elven travelers. He understands now why I will not contact my family. The muindor of my father, how could he do such a thing? What possible danger was my hervenn and hen to him? He does not know I saw him watching from the top of the ravine nor the look of satisfaction when he thought all were dead. Poor Betas, she was wearing some of my clothes in a misguided effort to protect me. Her face was so badly crushed they mistook her for me and so flung her over the side of the cliff with the rest of our party.
lothron 10: Ingold and I have been talking about my future. He has no family and little contact with the outside world. Here in his little hidden valley we should be safe. When I am better and the laes is older we shall seek out Lord Elrond and he will protect us. His loyalty to the high king is unquestionable and surely he will see justice done.
lothron 28: Ingold must often leave me here alone to hunt beyond the confines of our little refuge for the animals that provide us with the skins and food we need to survive. This last trip he took a load of hides to the village across the river and was gone nearly two weeks. He traded them for staples and other things including a number of items I will need for the laes, soft fabrics to make little garments and swaddling clothes. He brought several lengths of fabric for me also to make some new gowns now that I am up and around more. I had been wearing some of his tunics and leggings but now I am so large they no longer fit. He was able to bring me a few of my things from the remains of the camp but left most behind. He had not even felt it safe to bury their poor remains. He said that if any of the attackers were to keep a watch over them to see if anyone had found them it was best that they appear undisturbed. He did bring me Hador’s armor crest and the silver amulet that Betas had worn in my stead. He assured me that in time he would retrieve Hador’s weapons for his son.
norui 4: Ingold has found the tracks of hunters closer to the valley then ever before. He has insisted that I take shelter in our storage cave. He does not wish any hint of my presence to endanger us. He has made a comfortable bed for me and moved all of my things there as well. It proved a difficult trip for me and I will not look forward to such a trek again until after the birth of the laes.
norui 16: The hunters were some of Ingold’s people, the Dunedine. He had little choice but to grant them shelter. Apparently one of them found one of my combs that got overlooked when I moved down to the cave. In a spark of genius he admitted to a wife and that she had returned to her family to await the birth of their child. He has provided us with both an acceptable cover and a safe future. Who would expect the niece of the high king and her child to be living with a hermit in the middle of the woods? The difference in the length of pregnancies of the humans and the elves will further protect my hen. As the child of one of the Dunedine his birth would not even be consistent with that of the child of Hador and his lady had they lived.
cerveth 22: Ingold has added another room for me and the laes to the back of the cottage. He says I will need the privacy soon and the loft is no longer safe for me to climb into. He has also built a cradle for the laes in the manner of the Dunedine. It is beautiful.
urui 3: The laes is doing well but I fear my strength may not be sufficient to last beyond the birth. Ingold tries to cheer me up saying that such fatigue is normal in the later months. We must do some serious talking about the future just in case.
urui 12: Ingold has finally agreed. If I should pass to the halls of Mandos before hen nin can be safely taken to Imladris, he will raise him as his own. Ingold knows the whole truth now but thankfully familiarity has tempered any awe he might have felt for me. When the penneth is old enough to understand he will tell him of his true parents.
urui 31: Full winter will be on us soon. Even now the snows cover the higher peaks and will soon be reaching the lower slopes. Ingold is a good provider and has laid in a goodly store of basic foods and other things we will need to survive. I am happy to say that my own feeble gardening efforts have added to the provisions as well. I have been able to gather many berries and nuts in addition. His last trip into the village resulted in a great load of wool and he has constructed me a loom with which to try my hand at weaving . Already I have completed several lengths of very simply woven cloth. Ingold finds it amusing that the niece of the high king is trying her hand at such mundane things yet I believe he is very proud of me at the same time. I know my naneth would be shocked. How I miss her.
ivanneth 5: The laes is more active and my time grows nearer. Ingold is worried, his only experience with birthing is the whelping of his hunting bitch’s pups. He wants to call for one of the village midwives but I will not let him. No word of the birth an elfling to an elf mother must leak out. I must do this myself. He is gathering the herbs I will need both for the pain and to help with the process itself. I pray that Iluvatar will grant me a safe delivery.
ivanneth 22: The pains have started but they are irregular and there is no other sign that the little one is eager to be born.
ivanneth 27: He is here and he is beautiful. He has dark hair and Hador’s eyes. I am tired but everything seems to have gone well. Ingold is afraid to hold the hen but he cannot keep away from the cradle. For safety’s sake we will call him Iorlas. I will give him an elvish name but must think upon that.
narwain 10: We are now isolated in the valley. The snows have been exceptionally heavy Ingold says but here we remain sheltered and protected from the worst of it. It is both a curse and a blessing. No one will be able to travel and Ingold must remain close. I remain weak and his presence is a great comfort. Iorlas is a health little hen with strong lungs. Ingold has finally overcome his fear of dropping him and often carries him about the cottage when he fusses. The Valar truly blessed us when they brought him to our rescue.
Iorlas sighed and closed the book. He now knew who had orchestrated the attack that killed his parents. A grim smile filled his face. There would be justice for them he vowed. It was time to talk to Lord Elrond.
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