1. Lalme, Alalme
The Tree-herd positions himself beside an elm. It is one of many in the grove, neither the youngest nor the oldest, neither the highest nor the smallest of the trees. In this grove, in happier days the Laiquendi walked singing—singing each to each, the elves and the trees. Here, on Tol Galen, for a time Beren and Luthien dwelt and the grove was illuminated by the light of a Silmaril. The trees remember. They remember the Ent, who stands in their midst, the Ent who stirs and begins to utter a name.
And in the meads of Nan-tathren salt water is seeping into the pools, driven up the river Sirion by the pressure of the sea upon the land. Where Tuor and Idril once rested after their escape from Gondolin, the willows find themselves struggling to survive on brackish water. Then an enormous tidal wave rushes up Sirion, and the willows are uprooted and swept away. There will be no more springs in Nan-tasarion.
The Tree-herd begins to say the name of the elm. He begins with the story of the first tree. Then he tells of the growth of the first of its kind; he recounts all the generations of elms that went into the making of this particular tree, tall ancestors with serrated leaves each in turn releasing their light round fruit to be borne upon the wind. He reaches the moment when, in the spot where he stands, a seed fell to earth and began to sprout.
And on the highlands of Dorthonion the mountains are beginning to slide. First comes a shower of pebbles, then boulders begin to roll downhill, great rocks topple after them, and finally, one after the other, the mountain peaks break apart and descend into the valleys, with a noise like giant claps of thunder. The aftershocks reverberate throughout the range. In the cool, airy spot where Aegnor once met Andreth, the pines are shaken loose from their tough grip on the cliff face and fall with the rest. It will not be winter again upon Orod-na-Thon.
He is the last Tree-herd to remain here, so far west. All the others have gone, herding those trees that were limb-lithe eastward, towards safety—those they could reach in time. The Laiquendi, too, have retreated all the way into the Blue Mountains. Some left their possessions behind, choosing to carry tiny saplings in tubs with them instead. But this elm is too large and too old to be transplanted by the hand of others. The Ent goes on saying the elm's name, reminding the tree how it grew, how it put out its first twig, its first leaf, its first flower, survived its first seasons, grew taller and strained upwards towards the sunlight.
And through the heart of the wood of Neldoreth a fiery fissure opens, a wide chasm, and lava erupts. Where Luthien danced and Daeron played, beeches crack and go up in flame, red and gold for the last time, but not with the harmless fire of autumn. For it will never be autumn again in Taur-na-neldor.
The Tree-herd feels the death throes of Beleriand twisting and wrenching his own body. The pain intensifies until he can barely form the words. But he is an Ent, stubborn and patient, and he continues to speak to the elm, telling the tree all that it has been since it began, all that it has experienced, the burrowing of a mole under its roots, the tock-tock of a wood-pecker knocking against its bark, the bound of a squirrel taking off, leaping to the neighbouring tree... Finally, a shiver runs up the tree-trunk all the way to the topmost branch, and slowly, shudderingly, the elm begins to pull its roots out of the soil.
Now all Beleriand lies under the wave. Nan-Tathren is buried fathoms deep. The waters have swept over Dorthonion; they have swallowed Neldoreth. The seven rivers of Ossir, too, are drowned; none now will know the light and the music of another summer in Ossiriand.
But the Tree-herd safely reaches the slopes of Ered Lindon, followed by a single elm.
It's probably obvious, but perhaps I should state explicitly that the text in italics contains numerous quotations of Tolkien's (or Treebeard's) own words in The Two Towers, too many to list them individually.
The tree in the story is an elm, because Tolkien had Treebeard sing about the elm woods of Ossiriand. It adds an extra twist to the story, however, I find, that since Tolkien first wrote about Ossiriand, the elms of Europe have been heavily decimated by Dutch elm disease.
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.