Only a Game
24. Interlude: The Legends of Elladan and Elrohir
But already at noon the weather had changed; the winds had increased in strength, and early in the afternoon the piercing gusts had turned into a veritable blizzard. The children had been called back inside, and within two hours the pale sun had disappeared in the darkness of yet another winter storm.
The children, all seventeen of them, had gathered at the large mansion of the mayor, where the old story teller lived for the winter months. The adults might grumble occasionally about the weird ideas the little ones brought back home from the story telling, but in the end it was easier to put up with children believing in Elves and dwarves than having grouchy children underfoot all the time during the long winter months.
Outside the storm winds were howling with fell voices. Inside, the large kitchen was comfortably warm from the large fire place, the oven and the hearth. The overhead lights had been put out, to save on the candles and the lamp oil, and because the children insisted that the flickering flames of the fire and their dance of lights and shadows added to the atmosphere of the nightly story telling.
Every child of the small logging village was present, from three year old Ilka to sixteen years old Lynna. There were even some adults, pretending to have some work to do in the kitchen, polishing silverware or cracking nuts for a cake, which should be baked in the morning.
The old story teller sat in her customary spot in the shadows next to the fire place. She adjusted her headscarf and drew her faded grey cloak tighter around her bony shoulders.
Little Eric, the ten years old son of the carpenter had seated himself on a rug at her feet and was looking up at her with shining eyes. His older sister, Lynna, was seated on the bench, very respectably, already more a woman than a girl, but eager for tonight's story all the same, perhaps even more so.
"I want to hear of Elves," Eric announced. "Please, tell us of Elves!"
"And warriors!" That was Jens.
"And magic!" Piped up little Mary.
"I want a sad tale," Nina added, producing an immense white kerchief, which would be sufficient to deal with a flood of tears.
Lynna did not say anything, only raised annoyed eyebrows at her little brother and his friends.
The story teller smiled to herself. She knew what the girl – not yet woman, but almost – wanted to hear about.
A love story.
Every girl wanted to hear about true love at sixteen.
She cleared her throat.
"Tonight I will tell you the legend of Elladan and Elrohir, the twin sons of Elrond Half-Elven.
Perhaps you remember from the story I told you last week that there was an Elvish ship hidden in a cave under the lighthouse of Dol Amroth?
It was the last Elvish ship in all of Middle-earth, and it waited for Elladan and Elrohir, to carry them across the Sundering Seas to Aman, the Blessed.
Elladan and Elrohir were, as sons of Elrond, peredhil, Half-Elven.
At the end of the first age of the world, the Valar had given the peredhil the choice, which is known in the legends as the Half-Elven's Choice. This means that they could choose which race they wished to belong to, Elves or men."
"I would decide to be an Elf," Eric interrupted, and was shushed at once with angry hisses.
"Now, Elladan and Elrohir were half-elven. Born in Middle-earth, they took part in the struggles against the Enemy. They were rangers, too, and the bravest and most accomplished warriors imaginable. They were fierce, and proud, and their eyes were like silver stars.
But at the end of the third age the Enemy was overthrown, and the shadow was lifted from Middle-earth.
And the Valar called their children, the Elves, home, to Aman, the Blessed.
But to Elrohir and Elladan Middle-earth was all the home they had ever known. They did not want to leave yet. They said that Arwen, the Queen of Gondor, and her children needed them yet. Because they had fought so valiantly in the Great Battle, the Valar granted them their wish, and Elladan and Elrohir were allowed to stay. Their choice was put off until the day the last Elves had left the shores of Middle-earth. Only then they would have to make their final choice, between Aman and an immortal life, and Arda and a mortal fate."
A sigh went through the room. A tragic choice! Old Linna, who had been cracking nuts at the kitchen table had already forgotten about her cake and was listening raptly.
"The years went by. Peace ruled Middle-earth and slowly the ravages of war were healed. Arwen's and Aragorn's children grew up and had children of their own. Finally Aragorn died, and Arwen followed him a year later. The last Elves left Middle-earth in the following years. The silvan Elves, or Teleri, who had tarried longest in Arda in the first age of the world, were again the last to leave these shores.
And the Valar appeared to Elladan and Elrohir in their dreams, and told them that on mid-winter's day, they would have to choose, and sail for Aman or remain in Middle-earth forever.
But although they were by now alone in Rivendell, and the world around them was changing, and the great-grand-children of their nieces and nephews did not know them any longer, the choice was difficult for them.
Especially Elladan had no desire for the paradise of Aman. There were too many places in Middle-earth he longed yet to discover, and he had always desired to see the Forgotten Lands in the East. He was restless, and for the first time in his long, long life, of more than three thousand years, he was at odds with his brother. Elrohir, or so it seemed to Elladan, had already decided to go to Aman. But Elladan could not find it in his heart to make the choice. And it was spring, and the road beckoned to him, telling of adventures to be had and discoveries to be made…
In the end Elladan told his brother that he needed to clear his mind and took his leave.
Elrohir blessed him and said good-bye, but his heart was heavy with sorrow. He knew his brother did not want to leave.
Days, weeks and months went by, spring turned into summer, and Elladan did not return; and the hour of their final choice drew closer.
One day, Elrohir heard foot-steps on the silent terraces of Rivendell, and he hurried down the stairs, hoping to find his brother. But it was not his brother. He was astonished: the visitor was a young woman, clad as a ranger from the North. She had wanted to see the last Elves in Middle-earth, before the world was changed and the magic was gone. And lo! She found both Elf and magic at Imladris. Her name was Jarro, and she was a kind hearted and brave young woman. And when she heard of Elrohir's plight, she did not hesitate for a second, but offered to aid Elrohir in his search for his brother."
As the evening progressed, the story teller led her listeners many leagues to the East. Battles with orcs, meetings with dwarves, encounters with wild people from the East and mysterious Elves of the East – the children sat and listened with bated breaths.
"And so they finally reached the Eastern Shores of Arda, and looking down at the Eastern Seas, they beheld tall Elvish ships waiting to set sail."
Nina gasped at that. The story teller smiled at her.
"Oh, they were just as astonished as you are! Even thought they had seen the city of the Elves in the great forest of the Orocarni, it was a surprise to meet those forgotten Elves at last. And those Eastern Elves were not alone. As Elrohir raised his hands to greet the leader of the Eastern Elves, someone ran up to him and embraced him on the spot! It was his brother, Elladan, who had made his dream of reaching the Eastern Shores of Arda come true."
The fire was fed with new wood, and the high flames brought a star like gleam to the eyes of the story teller.
"But alas!" She continued. "The choice was finally upon them. And as it had been the destiny of Elros and Elrond in the first age, to part ways forever and beyond the circles of this world, the same fate was destined for Elrond's sons. After three thousands years of living and fighting side by side, the time had come for them to part. Both had found love and the blessing of the One was upon their souls.
One day all parents have to let their children go, as one day a different kind of love will come first in the hearts of even the most loving brothers and sisters. That's the way of the world, with Elves and men alike.
So it came about that Elladan followed Mínuíal across the sea to the Lands of the Sun, and Elrohir chose a mortal life with Jarro, the ranger from the North. And they never met again, neither in this world or the next."
"How sad!" Nina called out. And the story teller caught the sparkle of tears in Lynna's eyes, although the young woman did not speak.
The story teller turned to Nina and smiled at the child. "You wanted to hear a sad tale, didn't you, hên-nîn? But it is not sad, because their loves were great and truly blessed."
"But he died! And he never saw his brother again!" The lower lip of the small girl wavered, trying to stay back threatening tears.
"He did die, yes. But only after a life that was long and full and good. They went back to Esgaroth, the white and golden city at the Long Lake. Elrohir became the wisest teacher, who ever dwelt in all the lands of Dale. They had three children, two girls and a boy. They grew old together, in happiness and peace. And although he never saw his brother again, he knew that Elladan was happy, too, and his love for his brother remained in his heart for all of his life."
After a moment of silence, the story teller added.
"But the people of Middle-earth – if they indeed ever knew what really happened – soon forgot the true story of Elladan and Elrohir. They tell this tale differently. They say that Elladan loved Middle-earth too much to make his choice, but that he did not want to die, either. When he left Rivendell, he left to find an escape from the choice of the Valar. It is said that when he did not return, Elrohir set out to search for his brother, because he feared for him. But Elladan had reached the farthest Eastern Shores and had found no answer to his quest.
However, in the light of the morning sun he beheld a new and unknown country on the other side of the Eastern Seas, and he built a small boat, because he thought maybe this new country would hold a solution to his plight. One bright morning he set sail and disappeared into the East. He was never seen again. His brother is searching for him still, and the Elvish ship remains in its cave at Dol Amroth, waiting for Elrond's sons to bear them away to Aman, the Blessed. And in Aman their parents are waiting, looking to the East and for the white ship, which will never arrive."
"I liked the real story better," Eric announced, unconcerned by the sniffling sounds coming from the girls around him. "Did the Avari reach the Lands of the Sun? Is there a reason why the Valar have forgotten about them?"
The story teller felt a grin tugging at the corners of her mouth. "That, dear Eric, is a story for another night."
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.