1. Ernil i Duremmen
Stars wheeled above Beleriand. In the deep hollows of the land strange creatures piped and sang. Orcs prowled on the marches of the land, and fell things issued forth from Angband, so that the elves who yet dwelled in Arda, refusing the call of the Powers, were grown timid and sought only hiding and safety.
In those times the Valar forsook Middle Earth, and the Moriquendi believed themselves abandoned to live as they might in a world over-ruled by Morgoth. But Orome, alone of the Powers, returned often to the woods of Beleriand and hunted the servants of Morgoth wherever they might be found. When the great horn Valaroma sounded in the shadows, and the hooves of Nahar, white steed of Orome, thundered and echoed amid the trees, then the Quendi would flee, but their hearts would be uplifted, for they knew no evil thing would dare come near.
Often in his journeys Orome would come to a glade of beech and birch trees in the wood of Nan Elmoth, where the slow river Celon broadened into a pool of such smoothness that to look into it was to look into the dance of stars above. There he would dismount and do off his helm, set Nahar to graze and sit at ease, plucking the white bells of bindweed and floating them in new constellations amid the reflected glory of the skies.
Now it came to pass that, on a time of bitter winds, Orome paused at Nan Elmoth as was his wont. The surface of the lake was stirred into greyness by the ferocity of the air, and rain lashed the leaves of the trees with a noise like the sea. A chaplet of white flowers, woven by an unskilled hand, lay in the centre of the clearing, and at once Orome was aware of eyes upon him.
He spun, and, beholding a leaf which trembled out of tune with the downpour, thrust his spear into the onlooker's hiding place. "Show yourself, trespasser!"
Bright steel slid glimmering through the shadows, until it passed narrowly between the watcher's hair and his cheek, and the light of the spearhead showed Orome his threat. It was a child.
Frozen with apprehension, the Valar quailed. Frozen with fear, the flat of the blade laid against his face, the child gazed up at Orome with wide green eyes, while rain slicked his long pale hair, silver as the cutting edge. For a long moment neither stirred, astonished at each other.
"You are bold to come so close," Orome exclaimed at last, "When the very warriors of your kind flee before me."
"My father said you hunt evil things," the boy replied fiercely, "And I am not evil."
Then Orome perceived that the child was wise. Drawing his spear
carefully away, he gentled his voice and put forth his hand, drawing the little one into the clearing. "And have you been hunting me?"
"You came here last year," the boy said, wiping the rain from his face with his sleeve. "I saw the light, but they would not let me come close, for they said Nan Elmoth was dangerous."
He had an uncertain look about him, as if he knew not whether it were allowed to criticize his elders to a god, "But I thought, 'how can it be dangerous if Tauron is there? Would it not be the safest place in the world?' So I waited until rumour of your horn was heard, and then I came here again."
"Yes, my lord."
"You have undoubtedly frightened your Naneth and Adar witless by this," Orome said, trying to recall how parents spoke to children. His sternness was unconvincing, for in truth he was charmed. "Was it well done?"
"I did not want to frighten them." The boy looked up and beheld Orome's face with eyes empty of all but awe, "But though I be punished, great Lord, it will be worth it."
He was perhaps - if the children of the Moriquendi grew no faster than those of Valinor - ten summers old, and Orome was moved by his frankness. "Did you wish a boon of me?"
"No, Lord," the elfling laced a wet braid through his fingers, discomforted, "I wished to look at you, and..." he fumbled in a bag by his side, "And I brought an apple for your horse."
Then Orome forgot for a time the high cares of the Powers and laughed aloud. At the sound the storm stilled in surprise, and clouds began to break overhead. "Never," he said, "Has Nahar received such a gift from the children of the Sindar. Come forth then and proffer it."
Bright shone Menelvagor between the cloud-wrack as the great horse bowed his huge head over the boy's hand. The breath of the horse blew back the child's hair like a storm. Very still between fear and joy the elfling stood poised, and the light of Nahar's mane was brilliant on his face.
Orome saw then that the child was soaked to the skin, and that he shivered, so pulling him close, he wrapped his cloak about the boy and gave him to drink from his flask, wherewith they were both strengthened. And there was silence for a while until the boy asked "Do the Valar not love us?"
"I know not what you mean."
"Do you only love the Quendi who came with you to Valinor? Is that why we are called 'the Forsaken' - because the Valar do not care about us any more?"
Then Orome was troubled in his heart and knew not how to answer, for oft he had wondered the same, and urged the other Powers to have regard for those who yet remained. "Always," he said at last, "Always are the minds of the Valar turned towards the Children of Illuvatar. It is for that reason we would see you all safe in a refuge we know we can protect."
"And let the Enemy have everything else?"
"These matters are too high for you, child," Orome said, wroth that the elfling seemed to see so clear what was in his mind. Since he could speak no further without betraying either himself or his fellows he rose and, gathering the child up, he placed him before himself upon Nahar. "Come, I will take you to your father."
They rode together through the long dusk as clouds gathered once more, grey and silver in the sky. But a short ride it was from Nan Elmoth to the spell-woven borders of Doriath, for the paces of the great horse were swift and long.
When Orome lifted the child to set him down the small hands clasped close about his own. "Why must you go? Why can you not come and dwell with us? Then we would not need to flee into the West. If you were with us we would be safe enough here."
"With us? Do you speak for all your people, little elfling?"
"I do, Lord, yes," the boy replied simply, loosing his hold, "For I am their prince."
Orome perceived upon the boy, then, the likeness of Olwe, King of the Teleri, as if the child were one of close kin. Before this forgotten scion of a royal house he felt once more the sundering of the Quendi as a thing ill done. "I will bear your words into the West, little Prince." he said heavily, "But I know not what will come of them."
Then the child patted Nahar on the neck, and bowing low in rustic courtesy, departed into the Hidden Realm.
Spurred by his words, Orome returned to Taniquetil and spoke impatiently with the other Powers, urging greater involvement in the deeds of Middle Earth. Yet in the end he could not sway their council. His visits to Arda became all the more frequent from that time, so that for many years orcs walked in fear in Beleriand.
The Prince of Doriath returned to his people. Touched by the power of Orome he grew tall and fair, almost as an elf of Valinor. But he built no hope upon his meeting with the Great One. Indeed, if he spoke of it at all, no record has come down to us from the ruin of his city.
Author's Note: The title should mean 'Prince of Tangled Shadows' if I have my Sindarin right.
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.