6. Of Past, Present and Future Dawns
It was yet early. Even Vása, that great solar body, had not yet arisen from her short summer sleep and yet, it had been still earlier than this when the Storyteller had awoken, his sleep disturbed by the knocking at his shared rooms door. And yet for all his ever vigilance his friend, the ever-watchful Káno, had not awoken at this knocking; his sleep deep. And, though the sheets upon his pallet were rucked, he was quiet. His entirety, even in sleep, remained covered by his ever present dark cloak as though to ward off unseen eyes. His head tucked low, resting upon the pillow provided, his uninjured hand wrapped around his torso as his bandaged limb lay tightly cradled against his chest as though to ward off some unknown foe. Stifling a call as he returned to his still darkened room Falborn chuckled as he observed the still sleeping Wanderer, although the tray in his hands grew heavier he almost does not go to wake him but, remembering his own promise the day before to Eldarion, Falborn sighed. Placing the tray upon the chest of drawers that had just a day earlier been used for similar effect, he kicks the lowest drawer and places the tray down with a clatter.
Waking with a start, propelling himself upright into a sitting position, -Falborn's actions having been used to great effect and, achieving their purpose- Káno is immediately awake and alert, his eyes roving quickly about the room searching for the unknown disturbance.
Almost laughing in impish delight at causing Káno's abrupt awakening, his whiskered mouth upturned in smothered amusement, Falborn could only gesture wordlessly towards the tray beside him. His companions eagle-sharp eyes pinpoint the disturbance and stare in silence at the middle-aged -and extremely awake- culprit whose fist lay clamped between uneven teeth.
Raising himself slowly upon one arm -he had dropped back against the pillows once he had realised who had caused the ruckus- his features locked into a frown, the Wanderer eyed the tray -and its bearer- with suspicion. Falborn rolled his eyes good-naturedly at this notion of doubt. "It is food Káno. A rather strange looking frumenty. I think it's left from last night,but it's food none the less. Eat up before it gets cold. We need to be up by the citadel long before sun up. We're racing Vása this morning." His voice effectively bright in an attempt to bring some enthusiasm to his companions shadowed features.
Káno however merely raises a long suffering eyebrow at his friends effected tone seeing well through it to the tiredness that seeps from Falborn's frame. Too many late nights and early rises bringing shadows to his features. "What time does the festival begin?"
"Fourth bell, although most does not begin until the fifth. It's just after second. I thought it might be a good idea to attempt to get near the front. Especially considering your invitation." He smiles good-humouredly to himself, his back turned. Picking up the two bowls from atop the tray he walks the short distance to Káno's pallet and hands one of the pair to the latter's waiting hands -after he has sat up properly, the blankets pooling about him- before dropping down with a sigh to sit beside him. He laughs as he picks up the spoon. "It won't bite you, friend; honestly. Thick and unappetising it may be but, it is hearty and will give you enough energy to last until you break fast truly."
At this casually dropped reminder Káno appears to visibly withdraw further within himself, his gangly frame hunched around the bowl. Noticing this Falborn frowns. "You're not thinking of not going. For one, I won't let you not go, you've listened to me spin yarns for the last few days and need to see what the fuss is all about. There's one thing to be told, quite another to see. But more than that, you'll break that little ones heart if you don't go."
"I made no promise." The response was quiet, barely audible.
"Mayhap, but a word spoken to a child may as well be a promise." Falborn's tongue is sharp but his face does not belie his words, in contrast it is soft and not without some remorse, for the words needed to be spoken and when he speaks again his tone reflects this. "Come now friend, finish breaking your fast, it would not be right to keep the maid waiting o'er long; that and we'll need to move quickly to get a good spot for the festivities."
Though his features are troubled the Wanderer nods and lifts his spoon to his lips, barely noticing the taste of chicken upon the wheat, his thoughts far from the present.
Deciding the topic closed Falborn nods back, then shifts his position upon Kano's pallet. "Mid-Summer Sunrise about the top of Minas Tirith is a sight that must be seen at least once in a person's life, if it can't be done every year. I remember as a child, hearing about it from my cousins whenever they visited at harvest; on and on they would go, and on and on I would go at my parents but they refused to go. They used to say that we couldn't afford to simply pack up and leave everything behind; that we had responsibilities in Ithilien. My first time, I was about fifteen and father was called to the Citadel, I don't remember what for now, never really knew then either but, it was nothing short of magical." He smiles whimsically his spoon stopped in mid-air. "Thousands of people, an entire city in silence and then, the King speaks as Vása begins to rise upon the horizon." He shakes his head ruefully then turns to face Káno, "I won't say anymore, it'll spoil it. But magical it certainly is and then, when she has reached the point where her rays reach the White Tree, we all celebrate. Truly a wonderful sight."
Káno nodded, more in mechanical response than agreement; he had remained silent throughout Falborn's monologue, thinking it best to stay quiet and simply allow the man's words to roll out and carry about the candlelit room. That, and he had been concentrating on eating the clearly left over frumenty from last nights supper; the inn it seemed did not see the need to cook first thing on mid-summer. Either that or Falborn had pilfered from the kitchen before anyone else was awake. After some thought Káno decided that this was likely the actual reason for their rather, interesting meal, for it seemed unlikely to him that people would simply stop cooking.
Suddenly Falborn laughed, "and this year it will be even better since Eldarion invited me to stand up beside the wall." He smiles at the Wanderer's look of astonishment. "Yes," he says cheerily, "you're not the only one going to have a wonderful view. I knew there was a reason I liked going to the Citadel.
Now," the storyteller stands, lifting his bowl -he'd eaten it in between sentences- and wanders over to the chest of drawers. "Now, I would suggest having another good wash 'ere we go to the citadel but I fear we will not have enough time." Falborn smiles crookedly, tossing Káno a damp cloth, its wet folds landing heavily in his lap -he had not reached to catch it. Noting his companions stillness Falborn laughs. "I won't watch if it's prying eyes you fear, friend. Although I doubt you could be as hideous as some of those veterans I have seen from the Harad wars. But I warn you, it's going to be your turn to fetch and carry next. I'm getting too old to be wandering up and down those rickety old things ten times a day." Still chuckling the Storyteller is as good as his word, lifting their bowls and, juggling them with the empty mugs, he leaves the room heading back downstairs; his hands full.
Sighing Káno wearily slipped out from beneath the sheets that still covered him. He had remained fully dressed beneath them, unwilling to remove his clothes even before a drunk man -for Falborn had once again drunk far too much ale than he otherwise should have the night before. Walking over to the door he shuts it, its hinges squeaking noisily in distress. He leant against its wooden frame briefly 'ere pushing himself off and covering in two strides the distance across the room to pick up the damp cloth that Falborn had thrown at him and which he had simply allowed to drop onto the bed covers. Lifting it -a large wet stain being revealed beneath- Káno looks at in semi-distaste, the bowl from whence it came still resides atop the drawers but he is no mood to clean himself as thoroughly as he did the day before. Instead, simply stripping himself of his heavy cloak and tunic, leaving them to collect in untidy folds upon the colourful rug he dips the cloth back into the bowl, wrings it out and goes about having a simple, quick wash-the water is cool against his skin, neither hot nor truly cold- the water running in long rivulets down his skin. Rubbing the cloth over his face, not a little ungently, his features gaining a reddish glow he once again debates brushing his hair -a hand drifting backwards over it- but once again he decides against it. It was simply an annoyance that he had learned to live with, moreover who was he ever going to allow to see it, he thought wryly to himself. He had never been particularly vain, and that tendency had only increased over the years.
Dumping the now dirty -yet not as dirty as the day before- cloth back into the bowl, its folds coming up to float just below the surface, he picked up his tunic, fingering the hemline absentmindedly as he walked towards the window, its shutters thrown open to allow in the starlight. On the street torches flutter in the early morning breeze, if morning it can be called, and voices drift upwards from the lower level where people are beginning to waken and make their way towards the Citadel. Leaning far out, resting his hands upon the window ledge Káno stares out onto the lower ramparts of the City and looking further he is able to see out upon the plains below. Unlike when he first arrived at the City the plains are still and silent it still being too early for anyone to be journeying so far afield. The great Dwarven gates sealed shut. Looking out further across the green Plains his eyes can pick out the buildings of another city built upon the banks of a river, its ramparts surrounded by wooden scaffolding indicating the presence of construction and the start of a burgeoning metropolis.
Humming to himself, absently he tugged his tunic back over his head and ran his fingers over the creases. Walking back to his satchel he rummaged through it and uncovered a number of crumbs, which he promptly threw to the sparrows who had been attracted by his humming. Hopping down from the sill the three begin to peck, their delighted chirruping causing a brief smile to emerge upon the Wanderers mouth. Hooking his cloak off the floor he rests it over the back of his arm and, minding the birds, walks back to the window. So intent is he on watching the City life unfold beneath that he doesn't hear the door shut quietly behind him.
Falborn had huffed and puffed his way back up the staircase, he had attempted to run up the stairs -after receiving a scolding for taking things from the kitchen by the maid- but had soon given that up. Winded but unwilling to disturb his guest he had entered the room as quietly as he possibly could, wincing at the noise of the squeaking hinge, he stole a glance towards the Wanderer who stood staring out of the window while birds jumped around his booted feet, but he had not noticed. Curious, and unashamedly so, the Storyteller walked as silently as possible across the boards towards Kano whose back remained turned from him. Staring unabashedly at his friend he took in the slight form and long hair, dark and matted, once more. Suddenly understanding that Kano had truly not realised that he was no longer alone within the room, and strangely embarrassed, Falborn coughed loudly turning around and busying himself with airing out a nearby sheet.
Sensing, more than hearing Kano start in surprise and hastily throwing his cloak back around his shoulders, the hood lifted to cover his head, Falborn speaks into the unnerving silence. Kano clearly not having appreciated being caught by surprise.
"We ought to have left by now. The Lower Levels of the City are already awake according to Lirael, and I'm sure you've seen people starting to wander up towards the Citadel; and no matter if we are guests of the Royal Family the people will be unwilling to let us pass." Folding the sheet after snapping it a couple of times in the air he turns back to the frowning Kano with a bright smile. "So if you and your feathered friends are finished we should get going."
Still frowning Kano nods slowly, sparing Falborn little more than a glance as he lifted his satchel onto his shoulder and walked out of the room. Sighing heavily and looking wistfully at the bowl of water on the drawers, Falborn can only move quickly to catch up. Knowing that the other man has no true idea of where they are headed other than towards the upper Levels the Storyteller has little choice but to catch up with him. Slipping his own much lighter cloak over his shoulders and grabbing his satchel he hastily jogs out the door turning the key in the lock he looks up and stops short. Káno hadn't wandered down the corridor. Starting in shock Falborn let out a long breath and a short laugh, clapping Kano on the shoulder.
"You said the Royal Family?" Kano's voice is soft and somewhat muffled beneath his cloak. Whether the affront Falborn has caused has been forgiven is not clear, but it seems that the Wanderer has at least decided to ignore it for the moment.
Nodding, eager to forget what had transpired between them Falborn gestured for Kano to proceed him down the corridor and into the, surprisingly empty, taproom. "Yes. Although how you could not have realised that my friend, I am surprised."
"I have not been to this City before." Kano replied barely pausing to wait for Falborn to catch up as he walked through the taproom into the still darkened streets.
Snagging a torch from the wall outside the inn Falborn huffs, displeased at being rushed, he barely had time to utter a quick goodbye to Lirael, Kano having set a pace that was little to his liking. The pair disappear amongst the crowd, who appear like ghosts out of the gloom. "I thought that. Indeed I think I said as much to you the other night. All the same I did think it a bit of a question without reason; why else would those children go home in the direction of the main citadel." He smiles, avoiding some broken cobbles. "Eldarion, Elanna and Lothiel are the children of our King Elessar. As I said earlier, we have been blessed in that we are guaranteed a wonderful spot to watch the dawn. I should thank you, I think, for making friends with Lady Lothiel and so attracting her brothers attention. But now I think less talking and more walking otherwise these good people will reach the summit before us. That and if I have to pause to draw breath to speak again I will never be able to start once more, my knees are hurting today."
Ducking his head, chagrined at the response Kano muttered an affirmation and gave his companion a slightly worried glance, which was waved away immediately with the response of: "I'm not that old. And look where you're going before you walk into that cart!"
Doing as he was told, a soft smile gracing his lips, Kano neatly sidestepped the cart lying stationary in the middle of the street, its owner clearly not having thought to putting it out of the way the night before. His attention now drawn away from Falborn -although the Wanderer does keep a discreet eye upon his friends huffing and puffing form- Kano studies the City streets. Unlike the last two days he had spent in the City climbing its streets this day was unlike the others. Whilst the first he had journeyed through during midday with merchants shouting and calling, encouraging people to buy their wares and the second had been calm with the early morning business. This, the third day he had spent in the City, was quiet but hummed with an undercurrent akin to lightening, nervous excitement coursing through all the inhabitants as they all chose to awaken before dawn to watch in the midsummer sunrise. Resembling strange ghostlike apparitions, their faces picked out in craggy detail by the light of a thousand burning torches. The people talk and laugh, their voices a hushed murmur in the stillness of the night.
Hurried along by the ever increasing throng, Falborn picked an even path through them, dodging and weaving. His torch held high so as not to burn any person unlucky enough to stand too close but low enough so as to not cause him further hassle. The brand lit their way through the crowds and through the tunnels cut into the mountainside. Six levels they climbed until finally they broached the City's summit and entered the Citadel's courtyard where the White Tree flowered and they could look out upon the City to see far below into her streets and far and wide into the Plains and Valleys at her base, unfolding like a hidden tapestry. To the river where the new city was being built to the green woods and fields and yet further to the shadowed mountains. From the top of the mountain little was left unrevealed even to mortal eye. Not even the early morning mist, which clung to the summit, dampened the untrammelled view; though cold did it make the morning. Hundreds stood upon the City's summit, the seventh and highest level, and hundreds more within the sixth, it seemed that even though Falborn had declared it early to be going up to the Citadel the rest of the City had decided to move early also. For this clearly, was a celebration that the people looked forward to and thought not to be missed.
Sobriety descends, all chatter ceasing as the people reach the summit of their climb, the guards armour shining like the stars under the torchlight. Falborn, snagging Kano's cloak pulled him after him as he weaved amongst the crowd towards one member of the guard. Explaining their situation he points the pair towards the summits edge and the wall, low in comparison to all those on the City's lower levels. This wall it seemed served no defensive boundary as those of the lower levels did but rather acted to afford a safety barrier against the long drop. Standing over seven hundred foot above the plains, the highest level of the Stone City is open to the elements yet well guarded from threat, little being able to reach so high, not perhaps even the Dark One himself, although thoughts of that creature are loath to be thought upon.
Watching the dawn, Arien slowly beginning her climb above the shadowed mountains of the east Kano, as is his wont, is silent. Lost in memories of past mid-summer dawns and viewings of Vása rising high into the heavens...
"Darkness has fallen, light has come again.
We Celebrate this day as it was upon this day that both lights traversed the heavens and the darkness was driven back.
That darkness may have returned, but we know that we are not forgotten and that darkness fell and light returned. We live now to see that darkness will never reign! As was said at that time of first light; darkness has fallen, light has come again.
So will it be!"
So his brother spoke atop the walls of another great citadel, though that was much less in stature than this White City. Though of no lesser import. A fortress and a home, the Evercold, although no less homely for its name. Brothers gathered upon a wall watching the dawn, a time for family as much then as now.
The King, dark haired, silver crowned stands upon the Citadel Wall's. Although never before had the Wanderer seen the man, he knew that it must be him -and not simply because of Falborn's nudge and nod. Surrounded by his family, resplendent in the bright colours of summer, no other amongst the gathered throng could attract and hold the attention of so many with nary a glance.
As the Sun maidens' rays begin to leak out from the tops of the jagged peaks he begins to speak. His voice reigns loud and clear in the silent morn echoing off the mountain peaks.
"Darkness has vanished once more and today more than any other Arien is happiest and at her true strength. For it was upon this day that the Dark One was driven away; and so she rejoices, and we with her.
Out of night has come the day.
Darkness has fallen, light has come again!"
At these words Vása's great light paints the surrounding mountain peaks, and spilling down upon the City nestled amongst them, the light touching the Walls it causes them to shine almost as brightly as the stars of Elbereth; radiant in the new light of a new day. Stunned more by the speech than the appearance of the Sun maiden, Kano does not move as all around him, cheers and shouts of joy echo and ricochet throughout the mountainside, the City itself seeming to speak in exultation. He had not expected the speech greeting the new dawn to so resemble that one from so long ago. Joy and sadness mingled as in all midsummer dawns, first dawns. The first greeting of a new day or of a new Age of the world. Dawn is both a renewal, a birth of new things a time for great joy and a time of death and departure, as the old gives way to the new.
It is a long time before Kano becomes aware of the world around him once more. With the speeches over, the Royal Family having wandered back towards the Citadel, and the people beginning to depart, slowly -some to return to bed, others to cook for later in the day- Falborn touches Kano upon the shoulder. Bringing him out of his wistful reverie the Storyteller whispers into his ear.
"We need to move. Your friend and her parents have retreated into the gardens where they cannot be disturbed without pressing need. They will not leave there for some time yet, although they have likely placed a servant on the lookout for our arrival." His mouth crinkles into a smile. "I told you that this dawn was not to be missed. Beautiful, as always, although my father used to dismiss it and swear that it was little different to that ceremony under the Stewards. But that's old men for you."
The Wanderer nods, acting like a line for a sailor in strong winds, his gaze still somewhat lost Falborn's words ground him, and he takes in a shuddering breath. "Arien went above and beyond the call of duty, as always."
"Ah, perhaps she likes the pantomime?" The Storyteller quirks his lips, "or perhaps she is somewhat vain. I always thought she sounded vain in that old story."
Kano allows a small smile at that and ducks his face in amusement. "Last I heard, most women like being complemented."
Falborn laughs, "true! Very true. It is good to hear you joke my friend, I was not certain you knew how to. You do so little.-"
"There is little to find joy in." Kano mutters somewhat darkly below his breath, unwilling to share such thoughts with the Storyteller but needing to speak them aloud all the same.
"-Still, we should move." The Storyteller continues, unknowing of the muttered words, his focus upon moving towards their destination with the children. An invitation to break fast with company that they should not disrupt if only through forgetfulness.
Walking somewhat quicker than he had before when the pair had made their early morning rush to the Hill of Guard's summit, Falborn directs Kano with little erring and few comments, to a walled off part of the Citadel facing east towards the far off mountains and Vása had begun her early morning journey. Lost in thoughts still, his mind mulling over the events of past and present dawns the Wanderers reactions are slower than usual and he does not notice the fact that they have stopped in front of a pair of heavy wooden gates and two people stand before them. The smallest figure, easily identified as the child Lothiel throws herself into Kano, her excitement at seeing him more than slightly palpable as she giggles and laughs in joy, and relief that he had not broken her promise.
"You came!" Startled out of his reverie by the child's actions and shout, if not for inbred reactions honed by years of experience would have fallen in shock. Falborn, clearly having expected such a reaction had placed an arm behind his friend in case of such an event, an action that he was more than slightly glad had not occurred. Stepping backwards briefly to regain what balance had been lost under the girls assault, the fact that his arms wrap around the youngster in replica of her own actions; a move that is quickly retracted once he realises what he has done but not before Lothiel has bequeathed him with a smile almost as bright as Vása. Snatching his hand up in her own the young girl pulls the Wanderer forward towards the figure waiting at the gated entrance. "Kano, this is my Nana. Nana, meet Kano; he's Falborn's friend, the one Eldarion and I told you all about. He's the one who sang during the retelling of the Leithian."
The woman, revealed as the child Lothiel's mother smiles in [...] at her daughter. Her hair dark, her face pale, her eyes clear Kano's breath stops for a moment in shock; he doesn't speak for a moment, two, but before such a silence could become truly noticeable although with how little the Wanderer cares to speak such a silence may be very long indeed; the Lady herself speaks.
"Good morning." Simple words, but simple words are all that is needed to break the simplest of spells.
"Good morning, my Lady. I mean not to be rude but," Kano pauses, for a being so skilled in words as the Wanderer it would appear that finding the words he needs when greeted by such a sight are somewhat lacking in coming to his tongue; though eventually, as they and he must, he continues. "I am glad to see, unless my eyes do trick me, that the Calben still have not all yet left for the West."
"Nay, they have not; and I shall not, for that way is lost to me now. Halfelven only am I and I have chosen as was my due." The Lady continues to smile although it does not reach her eyes, instead honest curiosity can be seen tinged with a long felt pain. "Still, I wonder, you use the word Calben, Lord? It is long since I have heard that name in common usage, in script yes but in speech no. Rather they say that they are Edhil, or in the Common tongue, Elves."
Sorrowful yet soaked with a pride that feels itself stung by her words, the Wanderer speaks not in anger but with a force that he has used little of for many a year. "And yet it is what we are, were and forever shall be since we are of that group. Or we should be called Quendi, the Speakers. Those who sung at their awakening when first they beheld the stars. Indeed we sung before ever we learnt the art of speech with one another."
The dark haired lady smiles softly and not without her own amount of sorrow. "So it is said. But I know none from that time. Many years have passed since then. Neither term is used now, except by the Loremasters."
"Perhaps too many..." Kano trails off, his voice thoughtful.
Lothiel however still hanging onto his hand, gives his arm a sharp tug, unwilling for her friend -who has become strangely talkative- to fall back into introspection. Moreover, as her voice and face show she is more than a little perturbed by the fact that it is to her mother that he has chosen to speak with at length and that, from his words it would seem that they had more in common than would otherwise have been thought. Her voice is thus rather accusing. "You're like, Naneth! Why didn't you tell me? I thought we were friends, Kano!"
Falborn, standing near chuckles, whispering below his breath- "out of the mouths of babes," Then biting his tongue to stop himself from adding his own accusations along a similar line 'ere he is distracted by more of Eldarion's questions about the Sothron lands; for the young man had arrived quietly from within the garden during the Wanderer's and the children's mothers speech.
"Not all wish to announce to the world whom they are child." The Lady answers her daughters accusing questions. "Such is life, it is never without hardship even for one of the Eldar." The last is said with a sideline glance at the Wanderer before adding to all assembled. "But perhaps we should continue our conversation within the garden for no doubt everyone is hungry. Well met once more Falborn, as always you have entertained Minas Tirith and I am grateful for it. But 'ere you ask, Lord; I am Arwen daughter of Elrond, wife of Elessar whom you have seen and will soon meet for I am well aware that he wishes to break his fast shortly and the both of you have been invited to break yours with us."
Extending her hand to her youngest's free one and counting upon Lothiel to keep a tight hold upon Kano's own hand to prevent him from getting any thoughts of making a hasty exit. Although interested before in the Wanderer whom her son and daughters had spoken of at some length over dinner the last few nights, Arwen, after meeting the shadowed man who remained hidden in the folds of a ratty old cloak of a weave similar to one she knew of old has become somewhat determined to verify her own thoughts as to his identity. She had noticed the cloaked figure standing beside the Storyteller easily enough and staring at him as he stood lost in his own thoughts she had noticed a feeling of familiarity at the time, a feeling that had grown ever since. Talking quiet nonsense describing the garden and telling her children's friend and Falborn how she and the people of Lasgalen had helped it to grow lush once more after the Fall, an event she had little doubt that the Wanderer had little enough knowledge of, but the results of which could not have been missed even from one retired from the world as he.
As for the Wanderer he heard little of the woman's inane chatter lost as he was in the past once more remembering two young Halfelven twins, their voices upraised in calls to Elbereth, to battle, to each other, to him... Squeezing his eyes tight and pinching himself sharply unwilling to get lost in any memories be they good or bad at this time the action does not go unnoticed by Falborn who looks at him in concern. Kano however has only eyes for the scenery he passes deciding that now knowing from whom three of the people he walks with are of descent known to him it is safer for him to focus upon such a thing as the memories become less tangible then. It is strange he feels to find such greenery in a stone city, not that he has not seen it before, but upon so high a hill within the hither lands it is certainly...an odd occurrence. Lush grass and trees that have clearly been transplanted from far afield, this Kingdom of Lasgalen he supposes to himself, the effect is to create a haven of nature enclosed within stone, a melding of the arts of Aule and Yavanna. A place both natural and unnatural, as his eyes dart around the enclosed space lingering briefly upon palace servants nestled as unobtrusively as possible about clearly awaiting some unseen signal they fall upon the groups destination. Beneath an oak sits a table, the dishes upon it awash with bright colour still from the early dawn while at it sit two people. The man, still resplendent in his own brightly adorned robes from the ceremony that morn and a girl, not seen since his first day in the City. Elanna, elder sister of Lothiel and younger of Eldarion sits in a gleaming yellow dress talking animatedly with the man clearly her father and Lord of the City.
Eldarion noticing the fact that his sister was unwilling to relinquish her fathers attention no matter the fact that the rest of their family had returned with guests in tow interjects with a "'Lana, we all know you like him but we don't need to know the details thank you." Smiling sweetly at her as the younger child blushes up to her roots and stammers, while her father quirks an eyebrow at his elder children.
Arwen, while thankful for her son's interruption and thus allowing Aragorn to take heed of their visitors without stopping Elanna from speaking, but wishing he had managed to do so slightly more diplomatically sighs, but instead of taking him to task she smiles somewhat amusedly at her husband.
"My Lord husband, I would have you meet someone. Falborn, Master Storyteller of the Reunited Kingdoms you know of course, but this, is Kano a Lord of the Noldorin Exiles from old Tirion." Noticing the silent figure seem to withdraw and Falborn start and stare hard at him whilst her own husband pauses in stillness uncertain what entirely to make of this revelation, Arwen smiles gently at the Wanderer. "You need not worry, Kano. Though your eyes be shadowed, as is your wont, I would recognise that light in even the darkest of places after seeing it for so long reflected in the eyes of my grandmother."
The man, revealed as Aragorn, named Elessar, stares hard at the Wanderer his gaze searching for what not even he is certain. Kano holds that gaze briefly 'ere lowering his eyes, to see only a great stone of a clear green, set in a silver brooch wrought in the likeness of an Eagle with outspread wings...
"Atar!" Two young boys cry, rushing towards a whistling dark haired man.
"Hail, my sons!" He calls back as they hurry towards him to be enveloped within his arms. "Though I had not believed myself gone that long, I do believe you have grown!"
"Atar." Giggles come from the younger child.
"You have been gone so long! What did you make?" Asks the elder child in curiosity.
"Nothing for you Russandol, nor for your brother. This is for your mother." He kneels beside them, opening a small drawstring bag knocking the contents into his hands. And within his hands he held a brooch containing a great green stone set within a silver Eagle.
"It's beautiful father, mother will love it I am certain." The eldest says breathlessly, eyes shining.
"What is it called?" The younger child asks in awe.
"It is called..."
The image shifts...
"The Elessar? Father you cannot give me this!" It is the elder child, grown now and weeping, leaning over his father, grasping his hand tight. Red angry welts cover the father's body; burns that will never heal bleed freely. He coughs a wracking cough, and yet more blood trickles from his mouth.
Five other men also crouch next to the father, so alike as to be kin, of which they are. One holds their father steady as the coughing fit begins to subside; it is the younger child from before. He, like his brother is weeping as their beloved and cherished father speaks his final words before passing into ash; like all great fires must when their time has ended.
Suddenly a young child's wailing is heard close by...
"Kano! Kano, are you alright?"
Coming back to himself he finds that he has knelt upon the grass, the child, Lothiel is before him her fright almost palpable. For he has felt such fear many times before, both his own and others. Not trusting himself to speak he simply nods, for his throat is tight, his mouth tasting vaguely of bile. The memories of the stone, if the one he knew and the one before him were the same conjuring images both foul and fair to his mind; the wonder of the first unable to be thought of without the terror of the last. The memories of warmth of life both giving and departing, merging in his mind the latter destroying the peace of the former. The blood and pain, nauseating in its horror and shocking in its reality; the memory still as fresh as the day it was formed.
A hand descends upon his shoulder startles him out of his reverie, the Half-elven, Arwen, Elrond's daughter, -his granddaughter...?- crouches beside him and looks long at him before speaking quietly. "Perhaps I was wrong in saying that the grief of that time has not taken you. Perhaps I would be more correct in saying that it has not fully overtaken you, yet."
Ducking his head the Wanderer refuses to meet her eyes, knowing well enough that her time amongst the Elven kindred's will have taught her of the grief, and he has no wish for her to know all of him even though she is not of the Eldar.
"For my part I am glad that not all of the Eldar have departed Middle earth; for these lands would be much the bleaker without the presence of the Firstborn." Aragorn adds, his voice cutting into the silence. At Kano's adverse reaction at laying eyes upon the Elessar he had stood, indeed he had been rising to greet this odd person his children had discovered in Falborn's company and had so occupied their attention for the last few days. But seeing Eldarion move quicker to steady him he had stopped and stood, staring feeling uncomfortably wary of the stranger who had enchanted his children and his wife it now seemed to him; although he was not without some sympathy for the strangers plight.
"But I think we have had enough of this silence, it is Midsummer a time for joy and for our family a time for celebrating hope and it is long since past time we all broke our fast. So Ladies, and gentlemen," he adds with a slight twinkle in his eye as he sees his son stiffen at first in perceived affront. "To new beginnings! And Falborn my friend, I tell you now that I have wish to hear every tale you have of the goings on of our Sothron friends, even if you have already told most of them in those wretched inn's you insist upon staying in..."
This chapter was one of the earliest planned chapters and is must be said is one of the pivotal for introducing characters; almost all the necessary characters for this part of the story having now been introduced. The second set of memories concerning the Elessar was in fact the second part of this entire story to be written, the first being the final chapter, proof that I do indeed know where this story is heading as is the proof that the Epilogue has been written, however neither are likely to see light of day on the internet for a very long time yet.
As the story is currently planned there are another two chapters before we hit the interlude and then we begin the homeward struggle in part two which will likely consist of four chapters. Part two is partially sketched but, only sketched. This story has surprised me more than a little by the way in which it has grown, no doubt it has surprised you as well since the first chapters are little more than a thousand words each and this latest is over seven thousand, hopefully however it is detail well spent.
I will freely admit that this chapter has taken a long time to write mostly because it has also been one of the most difficult due to the fact that I suddenly have to write for characters that I have never written before, namely Aragorn and Arwen. Hopefully they have stayed true to their characters, if not feel free to tell me how I can improve their portrayals I have no wish to mutilate a character.
I do find it intriguing however that I have managed to not once mention the Wanderers official published name and yet everyone knows who I'm talking about. Then again since you're all reading this in the Silm section of FF.net (or on the SWG or HASA) if you didn't realise whom the character was perhaps I should be more worried. Hmm... note for the future, keep the readership guessing for longer...
As hopefully you cannot tell, although you no doubt can, this chapter has been written over a number of years and has been affected by rewrite after rewrite, the first outline not even mentioning Falborn for instance due to the fact that he did not exist at the time. Dialogue has been chopped and changed and more than a little has been lost since it didn't seem to fit the new version. Indeed it wouldn't shock me that if at the end of this I do an outtake post upon Livejournal as I do miss some of the dialogue between Arwen and Kano; although some may be appearing in altered form in chapter six I haven't quite decided yet if it'll fit.
But now a number of notices about the chapter contents for those who don't know the Silm. and HoMe like the backs of their hands, oh look a spot....
Kano and Arwen engage in a discussion about the names of the Elves, Kano as an old poet from before the Waning remembers the older forms of the names, Arwen, as a Half-Elven who has grown up during the Waning knows of the older forms but corrects him on their use. Those used are: Calben (Sindarin for Calaquendi) meaning Light Elves; although technically only used for those Elves who first journeyed back from Aman during the Darkening Kano is able to recognise Arwen's kinship to these Elves hence his use of the term.
Edhil pl. of Edhel. (from Quendi and Eldar) literally star folk, or the name of the Elves in Sindarin.
Quendi, literally the Speakers or those who speak. This was the first name of the Elves that was adopted when the Elves first awoke at Quivienen. The terms Calben and Edhil are taken from HoMe 12.
Initially in the story outline Kano vocally and mentally differentiates Arwen from being one of the Eldar, to me this is a natural distinction for him to make. Arwen is not an Elf she is Half-elven the same as Elrond and further more she has made her decision to join her life to that of mankind, she will eventually die. Kano, in my mind would recognise the fact that she is different and is not one of the Eldar and thus would not have the mental powers of those people but, she is descended from Melian a Maia, her daughter Luthien who was well known for such mental prowess, and Galadriel an Eldar of not inconsiderable will of her own it is quite possible that she would be of good mental prowess. Following?
Situation in the Sothron lands: at the time this story takes place war is ongoing between Gondor, Rohan and the Men of the South, at this precise moment peace talks are underway. Falborn as a Storyteller no doubt travelled with the soldiers heading down to war doing his best to keep their spirits up but also using it as a chance to gather more stories for his mental and written collections. There is a chance that this situation will affect the story, but to what extent I am currently uncertain. The situation is also not completely without precedent since I seem to recall Tolkien mentioning such an episode in the appendices.
The Elessar: Well known in the Lord of the Rings as the brooch Galadriel gives to Aragorn, the Elessar has a rather convoluted history. In the case of this story I have chosen Feanor as the creator, it in my mind making the most sense. As to how it reached Galadriel I envision something like this: Feanor created the Elessar and gave it as a present for his wife- Nerdanel, on her husband and hers final parting Nerdanel returned the Elessar to Feanor. Feanor at his death gave the Elessar to Maedhros who eventually passed it to his sister-son Celebrimbor, who in turn gave it as a gift to Galadriel. Galadriel in turn gave it to her daughter, Celebrian who returned it to her mother upon her departure. Finally as a wedding token Galadriel, representing her daughter bequeathed the Elessar to Aragorn. As can be seen, many stories lie in its history, stories that may or may not be told within this tale.
As you can no doubt guess after this chapter Journeys very much retreats to the notebooks, there will be more chapters have no fear of that, one might even pop up later this year but it will no doubt be a lot later. When it does appear it shall be named "From Sunrise to Sunset, from Sunset to Sunrise." Here's hoping that it shall make a speedy appearance but, happy new year!
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.