1. Conquering the Helcaraxë
He could feel the bite of the cruel Northern winds even through his heavy gauntlets and fur-lined cloak. Heavy fog hung over the snowy hills. Before him stretched an ice-field that seemed to go on forever. It was as smooth and shiny as glass. And like glass, this surface could break beneath the feet of the brave!
His steps slowed. And a large, familiar hand took his own in a firm but gentle grip. "Barahir, what ails thee, lad?" Barahir looked up at his grandsire. The Steward of Gondor laughed softly. "'I know thou art unused to the weather here, but 'tis not the Helcaraxë before thee; only Lake Evendim covered by ice."
Barahir clenched his grandsire's hand tightly, and fought back the urge to take off the gauntlet and chew his right thumbnail. Grandsire's other hand held four of the special shoes he had called skates, hanging by their long lacings. Barahir knew the Helcaraxë from the Quenta Silmarillion. Grandsire must not go out there! Grandsire could perish just like the Elven lady Elenwë, mother of Idril Celebrindal!
"Grandsire, you should stay on the shore!" Barahir pleaded. "'Tis dangerous. What if the ice breaks?"
His grandsire gave Barahir the Look. Grandsire could make a boy and even grown men quail before it; but oft-times, like now, the Look was kindly. "I am old but not decrepit, Barahir; and the ice is thick enough to bear a horse-drawn sledge." Grandsire answered. "It has been cold for many days and nights, Barahir; so the lake is well-frozen. The King's servants cut a small wedge in the ice each day to assure that it is strong enough to bear as many as would skate. Thain Peregrin and his son Master Faramir are out there too, as are many from Annúminas. And see, the King and Queen skate on the lake; and await us."
Barahir watched Queen Undómiel glide across the ice, her silvery cloak flaring in the wind, like a fair seabird. She saw Barahir and his Grandsire, and waved merrily at them. Barahir felt warmer; for he loved the Queen well. And there was the King, racing one of the Lords Peredhil, both of them laughing.
"The weather can bring blessings as well as burdens, Barahir," Grandsire said. "We should not shrink from either prospect."
Barahir's heart swelled. He remembered a line from another tale of the old days; it reminded him of Grandsire. "The old that is strong does not wither," Barahir said proudly.
"Deep roots are not touched by the frost." Grandsire spoke softly, then raised his voice. "Very good, Barahir. Now, let us go to down to the ice and put these skates to good use. Thou wilt have many new tales to tell thy father and mother when we return to Ithilien."
"And Grandmother too, when she comes back from her ride!"
"And thy Grandmother too," Grandsire replied. "Now come along, my lad. We will go out on the lake, put on our skates, and I will teach thee how to fly across the ice."
"Yes, Grandsire!" The wind blew around Barahir again, but no wind, however cold, could gainsay him. He stood up high, stuck his chest out and his shoulders back, like a White Guard on parade. He thought again of all those Elves. How bold they had been to cross the Helcaraxë! Barahir wondered if the Eldar had used skates. He would ask the Elves who had come with them from Imladris. Some were old enough to know!
Barahir of Ithilien strode forward to conquer the frozen lake, pulling impatiently on his Grandsire's hand.
The Helcaraxë was the expanse of "grinding ice" between Aman and Middle-earth, crossed by the Noldor and Vanyar hosts before the rising of the Sun - narrow, dangerous, and deathly cold by all accounts.
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.