Alternate Perspectives Challenge

Fell and Fair

35. Author's Notes


Author's Notes


Table of Contents

Commentary

Dedication

Chapter Notes:

  The Grey Havens: Early 2510 Third Age
  Cerin Amroth: Night of 7-8 April 2510
  Lórien: Morning of 8 April 2510
  Lórien: Evening of 8 April
  Lórien: Midnight of 8-9 April
  Lórien: Morning of 9 April
  The Vales of Anduin: Late Morning of 12 April
  At Camp in the Vales of Anduin: Evening of 13 April
  The Mouth of Parth Celebrant: Early evening of 14 April
  At camp on Parth Celebrant: Late evening of 14 April
  The Crossings of Limlaith: Night of 14-15 April
  The Battle of the Field of Celebrant: 15 April
  The Battlefield on Parth Celebrant: Morning of 16 April
  The Battlefield: Afternoon of 16 April
  Near the River Celebrant: Afternoon of 20 April
  The Balchoth Homelands: 2511 Third Age
  The Angle: Late December, 2930 Third Age
  Eriador: 2933 Third Age
  On the Way to Rivendell, Three Days Later: 2933
  The Angle, Weeks Later: 2933
  Aldburg in the Folde: 2995 Third Age
  The Emyn Muil: 3002 Third Age
  Firien Wood: Early August, 3019 Third Age
  The Grey Havens: Evening of 29 September 3021 Third Age
  Cerin Amroth, Late Winter: 121 Fourth Age
  Elvenhome: Fourth Age
  Nienna's Halls, Sometime After: Fourth Age
  Rivendell, morning: Fourth Age
  Rivendell, late that afternoon: Fourth Age
  The Grey Havens, A Few Days Later: Fourth Age

The Battle of the Field of Celebrant: Background

Glossary



Commentary

Tolkien, in his earlier writings, originally mentioned that the sons of Elrond fought in the Battle of the Field of Celebrant, but apparently abandoned the concept before The Lord of the Rings was published, much to my disappointment. I am still intrigued by the idea of Elladan and Elrohir fighting, and the fact that this battle apparently occurred within months after their mother, Celebrían, sailed to the Undying Lands because of her torment at the hands of Orcs.

I am also fascinated by the historical significance of that particular battle and its aftermath; the Riders of the North who came to Gondor's aid migrated to the land we now call Rohan and became Gondor's staunchest allies. Also, I imagine that the battle spawned some interesting tales among the participants that might have been handed down through the generations.

In this drabble series, I am trying to examine the actions and motivations of the twins that lead to their participation in the battle, and then the ever-widening ripples of consequences of that battle for various other persons in Middle-earth.

Each drabble is written from the point of view of a single person who interacts with the twins, or participates in the battle, or witnesses the battle or its aftereffects. By "witness", I mean see, hear about, or even just think about the battle — whether before, during, or after (possibly long after) the event.

I hope to view the historical events (canon or imagined) described in this series through very intimate, personal lenses, to make them more understandable on an individual scale.

The title of this series is taken from Tolkien's own words. Despite the fact that he was not referring to the sons of Elrond, but to the Rohirrim of Éomer's éored, I felt the description to be more than apt:
[The] foremost horseman swerved,... leading the host back southward along the western skirts of the downs. After him they rode: a long line of mail-clad men, swift, shining, fell and fair to look upon.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan
What can I say? I'm quite as fond of hunky Rohirrim as of hunky Peredhil.

Recently, I decided to challenge myself to write the drabbles in British English, just to see if I have learned enough from reading Tolkien to be successful. With the patient help of my beta reader, Tanaqui, I think that effort has been largely successful; however, these author's notes will remain in my native idiom.

Fell and Fair (1st Place (WIP), MEFA 2007)



Dedication


I dedicate this drabble-story to my friend Tanaqui, who has encouraged, supported, pushed, pulled, pleaded, cajoled, bullied, nagged, and nuzgûled me throughout the writing process, over a period of four years. Each chapter is infinitely better than it started, due solely to the persistent critiques of this beta-reader extraordinaire.

Liz, to you I gratefully repeat Théoden's words to Merry:
'Take your sword and bear it unto good fortune!'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 2, The Passing of the Grey Company

Chapter Notes

In these notes, I use the term "canon" in the very loosest sense, referring to Tolkien's own words (which, in some cases, might have undergone interpretation by Christopher Tolkien). I do include citations for all the passages that I quote here, so you may determine for yourself whether you choose to consider the excerpt as canon in one of the many stricter definitions.

Given the fact that the inspiration for this story is a passage from The History of Middle-earth that wasn't published in The Lord of the Rings, and given that I have filled in so many details from my own imagination, this series may be considered somewhat Alternate Universe, though it is my intent to draw as much as possible from both the letter and the spirit of Tolkien's words.

Many of the ideas I express in this story have been inspired by the many truly talented fanfiction authors whose works I have enjoyed over the years. Where I am aware of an influence from a specific author or story, I will gladly give credit in these notes. Recently, though, I re-read a story from many years ago, and found that a concept that I had believed to be original was likely derived from that story. Although I do now mention that story in these notes, please allow me to express my gratitude for the great joy and inspiration I have received from other fanfiction authors over the years, even if I inadvertently neglect to mention a specific influence here.

Of course, I do also recommend many excellent stories in these notes that have a similar theme, but a different approach; if I particularly enjoy a fanfiction, I wish to see it get the attention it deserves. I chose to recognize stories, rather than authors, but also give credit and thanks to the many people who have so generously shared information, assistance, or encouragement over the four years I've worked on this story.

The Grey Havens, Months before the Battle: Early 2510 Third Age

The list of family members and friends who accompanied Celebrían to the Grey Havens is purely conjecture on my part.

Glorfindel

Glorfindel was an Elf-lord and a counselor to Elrond. There is nothing in canon about his personal relationship with Elrond and his family, but I choose to portray him as a close, long-time friend of Elrond's and also part of his extended family.
[As] they sat upon [Elrond's] right hand and his left, Glorfindel, and even Gandalf... were revealed as lords of dignity and power.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

Beside Glorfindel there were several other counsellors of Elrond's household....

Ibid, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond
Glorfindel's view of Elrond's great skill as a healer is attested to in canon:
'Elrond is a master of healing....'

Ibid, Ch 1, Many Meetings
Rather than include numerous quotes from The Silmarillion, I will supply the names of the persons referred to in Glorfindel's litany of Elrond's lost loved ones:

his mother's flight from Sirion: Elwing, who fled the Kinslaying at Sirion in the form of a bird;

his father, sailing the skies: Eärendil the Mariner, also known as Gil-Estel in his role as a celestial object, traversing the sky nightly and casting light upon Arda with a Silmaril;

his brother's surrender to mortality: Elros, his twin, who chose to be numbered among Men, and became the first King of Númenor;

his foster father, mighty singer, suffering Silmaril-curst madness: Maglor, son of Fëanor and kinslayer, who rescued Elrond and Elros as children from the Kinslaying at Sirion and then fostered them;

his mentor-king's death by Sauron's fell flame: Gil-Galad, High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth, killed by Sauron just before the Dark Lord's downfall in the Last Alliance.

Celebrían, with her children

I interpret the following passage to mean that Celebrían was severely depressed when she left Middle-earth for the Undying Lands; my portrayal of her depression does not imply that I think she was a weak character overall, just very ill at this critical moment in her life:
In 2509 Celebrían wife of Elrond was journeying to Lórien when she was waylaid in the Redhorn Pass, and her escort being scattered by the sudden assault of the Orcs, she was seized and carried off. She was pursued and rescued by Elladan and Elrohir, but not before she had suffered torment and had received a poisoned wound. She was brought back to Imladris, and though healed in body by Elrond, lost all delight in Middle-earth, and the next year went to the Havens and passed over Sea.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur: The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain
This is the choice presented to her children, that Celebrían mentioned in her farewell:
At the end of the First Age the Valar gave to the Half-elven an irrevocable choice to which kindred they would belong. Elrond chose to be of Elven-kind, and became a master of wisdom. To him therefore was granted the same grace as to those of the High Elves that still lingered in Middle-earth: that when weary at last of the mortal lands they could take ship from the Grey Havens and pass into the Uttermost West; and this grace continued after the change of the world. But to the children of Elrond a choice was also appointed: to pass with him from the circles of the world; or if they remained, to become mortal and die in Middle-earth. For Elrond, therefore, all chances of the War of the Ring were fraught with sorrow.

Ibid, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Númenor
Celebrían's father is, of course, Celeborn of Lórien:
109
Elrond weds Celebrían, daughter of Celeborn.

Ibid, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age
Elladan
Celebrían's capture by Orcs appears to be the pivotal reason for Elladan and Elrohir's choice to fight Orcs from then on:
2509
Celebrían, journeying to Lórien, is waylaid in the Redhorn Pass, and receives a poisoned wound.

2510
Celebrían departs over Sea. Orcs and Easterlings overrun Calenardhon. Eorl the Young wins the victory of the Field of Celebrant....

Ibid

Elladan and Elrohir rode also in that battle. From that time forth the brethren never cease from war with the Orcs because of Celebrían.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 8, The Tale of Years of the Third Age

But [Arwen's] brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, were out upon errantry: for they rode often far afield with the Rangers of the North, forgetting never their mother's torment in the dens of the orcs.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings
Elrond

Elrond is said many times in Tolkien's writings to be gifted with foresight:
Thus Narsil came in due time to... Imladris; but the blade was broken..., and it was not forged anew. And Master Elrond foretold that this would not be done until the Ruling Ring should be found again and Sauron should return....

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

'Here... are the shards of Narsil. With these you may yet do great deeds; for I foretell that the span of your life shall be greater than the measure of Men, unless evil befalls you or you fail at the test.'

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

'Still that must be expected,' said Gandalf to himself. '[Frodo] is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings
The "clear vision" that Elrond experiences is described by Tolkien thus:
Olor is a word often translated "dream", but that does not refer to (most) human "dreams," certainly not the dreams of sleep. To the Eldar it included the vivid contents of their memory, as of their imagination: it referred in fact to clear vision, in the mind, of things not physically present at the body's situation. But not only to an idea, but to a full clothing of this in particular form and detail.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 2, The Istari
Círdan

Círdan was an ancient Elf, extremely wise, and in the counsel of the Vala, Ulmo:
Yet not all the Eldalië were willing to forsake the Hither Lands [at the end of the First Age] where they had long suffered and long dwelt; and some lingered many an age in Middle-earth. Among those were Círdan the Shipwright....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 24, Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath

As they came to the gates Círdan the Shipwright came forth to greet them. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and he was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 9, The Grey Havens

For [Ulmo] gathered tidings of all that passed in Beleriand...; and he remained also in friendship, as of old, with Círdan and the Shipwrights at the Mouths of Sirion.

Unfinished Tales, Part 1, Ch 1, Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin

... Ulmo had come to Círdan, giving warning that great peril drew nigh to Nargothrond.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

For Círdan saw further and deeper than any other in Middle-earth....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age
Círdan and Elrond had a long shared history:
'I [Elrond] was the herald of Gil-galad and marched with his host. I was at the Battle of Dagorlad before the Black Gate of Mordor....'

'[By] Gil-galad only Círdan stood, and I.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond
Círdan's reference to Elrond's family as a "House of Lore", and his view of Elrond's crucial role in upcoming events, are both suggested by one of Tolkien's letters; my thanks to Nilmandra for posting it on the Stories of Arda front page:
Elrond symbolises throughout the ancient wisdom, and his House represents Lore — the preservation in reverent memory of all tradition concerning the good, wise and beautiful. It is not a scene of action but of reflection. Thus it is a place visited on the way to all deeds or 'adventures'. It may prove to be on the direct road (as in The Hobbit); but it may be necessary to go from there in a wholly unexpected course. So necessarily in The Lord of the Rings, having escaped to Elrond from the imminent pursuit of present evil, the hero departs in a wholly new direction: to go and face it at its source.

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Letter 131 to Milton Waldman, late 1951 (estimated)

In that house were harboured the Heirs of Isildur, in childhood and old age, because of the kinship of their blood with Elrond himself, and because he knew in his wisdom that one should come of their line to whom a great part was appointed in the last deeds of that Age.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
Círdan's prediction that Elladan and Elrohir will take ship with him is my own invention... we do not know whether they sailed West nor when.

Círdan's observation that Arwen is "Lúthien's echo" is consistent with canon, both in the sense of physical resemblance and in the sense of making the choice to become mortal:
So it was that Frodo saw her whom few mortals had yet seen; Arwen, daughter of Elrond, in whom it was said that the likeness of Lúthien had come on earth again....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

But the Queen Arwen said... 'For I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him now when he departs to the Havens; for mine is the choice of Lúthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, Many Partings

Cerin Amroth: Night of 7-8 April 2510

My apologies for publishing this chapter without author's notes, but I offer it as a birthday mathom to my readers — even if slightly belatedly. I hope to write and post the notes soon, barring a recalcitrant muse.

The overall scene was inspired by this breathtakingly beautiful photograph: A Dark Sky over Death Valley, by Dan Duriscoe of the U.S. National Park Service. My special thanks go to Tanaqui for telling me of the photo and of NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day site.

Elladan
Elrohir, arriving
Elrohir
Elladan, on stargazing
Elrohir, on sunbathing
Elladan, on falling stars
Elrohir, on family
Celeborn, in Caras Galadhon


Lórien, A Week before the Battle: Morning of 8 April

I imagine that Elladan and Elrohir accompanied their sister Arwen to Lórien after Celebrían sailed, and were therefore present when Galadriel foresaw the battle.

Galadriel, at her Mirror

Galadriel was modest when she later described her power of foresight to the Fellowship:
'I will not give you counsel, saying do this, or do that. For not in doing or contriving, nor in choosing between this course and another, can I avail; but only in knowing what was and is, and in part also what shall be.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 7, The Mirror of Galadriel
She most likely allowed her Mirror to roam freely, which gave it leeway to show her the impending battle:
'[The] Mirror will also show things unbidden, and those are often stranger and more profitable than things which we wish to behold. What you will see, if you leave the Mirror free to work, I cannot tell. For it shows things that were, and things that are, things that yet may be. But which it is that he sees, even the wisest cannot always tell.'

Ibid
Elrohir, with Celeborn

The sparring ensemble is my own fantasy invention.

The fact that Celeborn is breathing hard is no slight to his endurance; he had just finished sparring with his second-in-command, Hirvegil, in a match which is rumored to be described in some of the infamous lost drabbles of this series.

[Note from the Publisher: It gives us great pleasure to announce that at least some of the lost drabbles for this chapter have been found; furthermore, they provide an explanation for Celeborn's attire and lack of armor. Please refer to the Publisher's Note in the Addendum.]

Celeborn, commander of the Galadhrim

Celeborn is not only the Lord of Lórien and an exceptional sparring partner, but also an accomplished military commander:
Three times Lórien had been assailed from Dol Guldur.... Though grievous harm was done... the assaults were driven back; and when the Shadow passed, Celeborn came forth and led the host of Lórien over Anduin in many boats. They took Dol Guldur....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age
Hirvegil, Celeborn's second-in-command

I describe my imagined back-story for Hirvegil in a later note, here.

The name Hirvegil means 'sword-master' in Sindarin. My thanks to the owners of the Sindarin name list at Merin Essi ar Quenteli!, which recommended several suitable names for original characters who are warriors.

Galadriel
Celeborn

The mist described in these two drabbles is from Tolkien's own writings:
Many of the riders turned their eyes thither [toward the Anduin], half in fear and half in hope to glimpse from afar the shimmer of the Dwimordene, the perilous land that in legends of their people was said to shine like gold in the springtime. But now it seemed shrouded in a gleaming mist and to their dismay the mist passed over the river and flowed over the land before them.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Ride of Eorl

Lórien, at Mealtime: Evening of 8 April

Arwen, arriving with Galadriel

Arwen visited her grandparents in Lórien many times, and spent many years there:
"I have dwelt for a time in the land of my mother's kin, in far Lothlórien. I have but lately returned to visit my father again. It is many years since I walked in Imladris."

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
I imagine that one of those times might have followed Celebrían's departure.

Celeborn

Elu is King Thingol, Lord of the Sindar and King of Doriath in the First Age. In these drabbles, I use the earlier version of Celeborn's descent, where he is a prince of Doriath and kinsman to Elu Thingol, being descended from his little-known brother Elmo.
The earlier story... is fairly clear: Galadriel... met Celeborn in Doriath, and was later wedded to him; he was the grandson of Thingol's brother Elmo — a shadowy figure about whom nothing is told save that he was the younger brother of Elwë (Thingol) and Olwë....

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 4, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn

Dior Eluchíl had to wife Nimloth, kinswoman of Celeborn, prince of Doriath....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 22, Of the Ruin of Doriath
The story that bowing until dismissal was required in Doriath is purely an invention of mine.

The campaign in Eriador that Celeborn refers to occurred during the War of the Elves and Sauron, which was fought over the Rings of Power in the Second Age:
As soon as Sauron set the One Ring upon his finger [the Elves] were aware of him; and... perceived that he would be master of them.... Then in anger and fear they took off their rings. But he, finding that he was betrayed and that the Elves were not deceived, was filled with wrath; and he came against them with open war, demanding that all the rings should be delivered to him....

Ibid, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
We know that both Celeborn and Elrond commanded armies in that war:
The scouts and vanguard of Sauron's host were already approaching [Eregion] when Celeborn made a sortie and drove them back; but though he was able to join his force to that of Elrond they could not return to Eregion, for Sauron's host was far greater than theirs....

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 4, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn: Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn
I posit that Hirvegil has been Celeborn's valued second-in-command since that campaign, so they know each other extremely well — and, after so many centuries together, have finally learned to tolerate each other's personal quirks.


Lórien: Midnight of 8-9 April

Arwen, with the lembas-maidens
The [lembas] was mostly in the form of very thin cakes, made of a meal that was baked a light brown on the outside, and inside was the colour of cream....

'The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings.... One will keep a traveller on his feet for a day of long labour....'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien
In this drabble, I have chosen to represent Arwen as leading the Yavannildi (whom I call lembas-maidens for clarity) in the harvest of the sacred grain and the preparation of the lembas, whereas Galadriel is the one who distributes the lembas cakes to the warriors of Lórien (probably via a supplies master).

I think that Tolkien's lembas grain is what we know as free-threshing wheat, which is very easy to separate from the stem. It is interesting to speculate whether, in describing the easy harvest of the lembas grain, Tolkien might have been inspired by this Bible verse (thanks to Tanaqui for suggesting it):
And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.

The Bible (King James Version), Luke 6:1
Though many of the details in this drabble — such as the midnight harvest — come from my own imagination, the idea that only maidens raise this grain, harvest it by hand, and prepare the lembas is drawn from Tolkien's writings. I believe that Galadriel would have passed on the secrets of lembas to Celebrían, who in turn taught them to Arwen, so that either could perform this function as Lady of Rivendell. (Note that corn is used by Tolkien in the European sense, meaning 'a cereal grain' like wheat or oats, not in the American sense, meaning 'maize'):
Now this corn had in it the strong life of Aman, which it could impart to those who had the need and right to use the bread.... [It] needed only a little sunlight to ripen; for it took swiftly and multiplied all the vigour of any light that fell on it.

The Eldar grew it in guarded lands and sunlit glades; and they gathered its great golden ears, each one, by hand, and set no blade of metal to it....

From the ear to the wafer none were permitted to handle this grain, save those elven-women who were called Yavannildi (or by the Sindar the Ivonwin), the maidens of Yavanna; and the art of the making of the lembas, which they learned of the Valar, was a secret among them, and so ever has remained.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 3, Ch 15, Of Lembas
Galadriel, a few hours later

As mentioned before, the fact that the mist lay over Lórien first, before it extended out to cover the Riders in the Vales of Anduin, is drawn from canon.

However, the idea that the resemblance between the rolling mist cloud (as seen from above) and ocean waves caused Galadriel to be overcome by sea-longing is my own. I'd like to thank Bodkin and her delightful story, Youngest Son for suggesting the means by which Galadriel's reaction was triggered: waves relentlessly erode barriers, which can be concrete, like harbor walls, or abstract, like emotional defenses against the sea-longing. Thank you, Bodkin, for the inspiration!

Celeborn, with Galadriel

The type of fëa-to-fëa reinforcement that Celeborn gives to Galadriel in this drabble is the same as what Elven fathers give to their wives during childbearing:
[The] Eldar... spoke of the passing of much strength, both of mind and of body, into their children, in bearing and begetting. Therefore they hold that the fëa, though unbegotten, draws nourishment from the parents before the birth of the child: directly from the fëa of the mother while she bears and nourishes the [hröa], and mediately but equally from the father, whose fëa is bound in union with the mother's and supports it.

It was for this reason that all parents desired to dwell together during the year of bearing.... 'For,' said they, 'though the union of the fëar of the wedded is not broken by distance of place, yet in creatures that live as spirits embodied fëa communes with fëa in full only when the bodies dwell together.'

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 3, Section 2, Laws and Customs Among the Eldar: Of Re-birth and Other Dooms of Those That Go to Mandos

Lórien: Morning of 9 April

This chapter contains the largest number of drabbles of any single scene in this series; Elladan and Elrohir's entire family in Lórien jostled for attention and the honor of seeing their loved ones off to battle.

Galadriel, greeting Elladan and Elrohir

Galadriel's mention of Formenos refers to the slaying of her grandfather Finwë in Aman at the hands of Morgoth:
[There] came messengers from Formenos, and... they told how... Melkor... came to the house of Fëanor, and there he slew Finwë King of the Noldor before his doors, and spilled the first blood in the Blessed Realm....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 9, Of the Flight of the Noldor
While the ritual blessing that Galadriel invokes over the lembas is my invention, the concept that the Lady of Lórien is the only person in the realm qualified to bestow lembas is derived from canon:
Since it came from Yavanna, the queen, or the highest among the elven-women of any people, great or small, had the keeping and gift of the lembas, for which reason she was called massanie or besain: the Lady, or breadgiver.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 3, Ch 15, Of Lembas

In using the word Lady here my father no doubt had an eye to its origin in Old English hlæf-dige, of which the first element is hlaf (modern English loaf) with changed vowel, and the second a derivative of the stem dig- 'knead' (to which dough is ultimately related); cf. lord from hlaf-weard 'bread-keeper'.

Ibid, Of Lembas: Notes, Note 1
Celeborn, appraising Gondor's situation

Celeborn's observations about the decline of the province of Calenardhon are taken from Tolkien's writings:
Calenardhon, never densely populated had been devastated by the Dark Plague of 1636, and thereafter steadily denuded of inhabitants of Númenórean descent by migration to Ithilien and lands nearer Anduin.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri

[During] the Watchful Peace [2063-2460] the forts along the Anduin, especially on the west shore of the Undeeps, had been unmanned and neglected.

Ibid, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Ride of Eorl
The "line of Anárion" is another name for the Kings of Gondor. Celeborn's reference to its "breaking" refers to the Battle against the Wainriders at the Morannon, in which King Ondoher and all his heirs — two sons and a nephew — were killed:
In 1944 King Ondoher and both his sons, Artamir and Faramir, fell in battle north of the Morannon, and the enemy poured into Ithilien.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion

"[Late] on the thirteenth day of Cermië [the Wainriders] overwhelmed Minohtar," who was slain by an arrow. He is here said to have been King Ondoher's sister-son.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Northmen and the Wainriders
A year later, the Council of Gondor awarded the crown to a distant relative: Eärnil II, Ondoher's second cousin once removed. Celeborn is therefore exaggerating slightly, as the line was not quite broken in the Battle against the Wainriders, but it was stretched nearly to the breaking point:
After the deaths of Ondoher and both his sons at the Morannon Arvedui, last king of the northern realm, laid claim to the crown of Gondor; but his claim was rejected, and in the year following... Eärnil became King.

Ibid
As I was writing these drabbles, I was struck by the many similarities supported or suggested by canon between the Battle against the Wainriders at the Morannon in 1944 and the Battle of the Field of Celebrant in 2510. (Celeborn, on the other hand, being an astute observer of history and an expert military tactician, grasped the resemblance and its implications at once.)

* Both Ondoher and Cirion faced attacks from two mutual enemies, who were induced by Sauron to coordinate attacks on Gondor:
[The] eastern Wainriders had been spreading southward, beyond Mordor, and were in conflict with the peoples of Khand and their neighbours further south [the Haradrim]. Eventually a peace and alliance was agreed between these enemies of Gondor, and an attack was prepared that should be made at the same time from north and south....

[It] was... clear [to historians] that the hatred of Gondor, and the alliance of its enemies in concerted action (for which they themselves had neither the will nor the wisdom) was due to the machinations of Sauron.

Ibid

Sauron stirs up mischief, and there is a great attack on Gondor. Orcs pour out of the Mountains... and join with Easterlings.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 7, The Heirs of Elendil: The Stewards of Gondor
* Both rulers employed a strategy of dividing Gondor's forces (in Cirion's case, out of haste), and personally took command of the northern army:
Ondoher was aware that his southern enemies [the Haradrim] were preparing for war, and he had the wisdom to divide his forces into a northern army and a southern....

King Ondoher had purposed to lead his host north through Ithilien....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Northmen and the Wainriders

[Cirion] gathered as great a force as he could, and taking command of it himself made ready as swiftly as might be to lead it north to Calenardhon.

Ibid, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Ride of Eorl
* Both northern armies were faced with overwhelming numbers and were geographically overextended:
King Ondoher had purposed to... deploy [his host] on the Dagorlad.... [They] expected the assault to come from the North....

But... [the] Wainriders... set out for Gondor from the East, moving... along the line of the Ered Lithui.... So... the head of the army of Gondor had only drawn level with the Gates of Mordor... when a great dust... announced the oncoming of the enemy vanguard. This was... far greater than any that had been expected. Ondoher had only time to turn and face the assault with his right flank close to the Morannon..., when the chariots and horsemen crashed into his disordered line.

Ibid, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Northmen and the Wainriders

Defeated in the Wold and cut off from the south, [the northern army of Gondor] had been driven across the Limlight, and was then suddenly assailed by the Orc-host that pressed it towards the Anduin.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl
* And lastly, both armies either met or nearly met disaster, placing Minas Tirith at risk of invasion:
[In] this great assault from north and south, Gondor came near to destruction....

[The Captain of the Left Wing] was to take up a defensive position... to cover as long as he could the approaches to Minas Tirith....

It may well be supposed that elated by the fall of the King and the rout of a large part of the opposing Centre, [the Wainriders] believed that... their own main army had little more to do than advance to the invasion and occupation of Gondor.

Ibid, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion

There the northern army of Gondor was in peril.... All hope was lost....

Ibid, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl
Finally, Celeborn's assessment of the gravity of the threat to Gondor is echoed by Eorl, when Cirion's messenger arrives to request his aid:
Eorl took counsel with himself in silence; but not for long. Soon he rose, and he said: "I will come. If the Mundburg falls, whither shall we flee from the Darkness?"

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Ride of Eorl
Galadriel, conveying tidings from her Mirror

It is a deliberate choice on my part that neither Celeborn nor Galadriel refers to Sauron by name. This scene is set in 2510; the Watchful Peace had ended just fifty years earlier, when Shadow returned to Dol Guldur. Though the Wise suspected that the Shadow might indeed be Sauron, that was not to be confirmed until more than three centuries later:
Mithrandir... most doubted the darkness in Mirkwood, for though many deemed that it was wrought by the Ringwraiths, he feared that it was indeed the first shadow of Sauron returning; and he went to Dol Guldur [in 2063], and the Sorcerer fled from him, and there was a watchful peace for a long while. But at length the Shadow returned [2460] and its power increased....

Now the Shadow grew ever greater, and the hearts of Elrond and Mithrandir darkened. Therefore on a time [2850] Mithrandir at great peril went again to Dol Guldur..., and he discovered the truth...:

'True, alas, is our guess. This is not one of the Úlairi, as many have long supposed. It is Sauron himself who has taken shape again....'

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
Loeg Ningloren is the Gladden Fields. I have tried to sketch out a plausible timeline for the movements of both the Orcs and the Éothéod, based upon the departure date and known speed (6 April, 55-65 miles per hour) of the Ride of Eorl given in Unfinished Tales, an estimate of the distances involved for the Orcs from Moria to reach Parth Celebrant (approximately 120 miles to its entrance, and a further 60 miles to the tip of the peninsula) and the top travel speed of the Orcs who captured Merry and Pippin at Parth Galen during the War of the Ring (3 miles per hour). These last two estimates were derived from The Atlas of Middle-earth, Revised Edition, by Karen Wynn Fonstadt. Any inaccuracies in the calculations are my own.
At last the whole host was assembled.... It was then the sixth day of the month of Víressë [April]. On that day in silence the great éohere set out, leaving fear behind....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Ride of Eorl

In nine days [the Riders] had covered more than five hundred miles in a direct line, probably more than six hundred as they rode.... [Author's note.]

Ibid, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Notes, Note 30
The foreknowledge that Galadriel refers to in this drabble is, of course, the location and disposition of both the Steward's army and its enemies, as revealed by her Mirror.

Celeborn, recommending tactics

Celeborn briefs his grandsons on practical matters in much the same way he later briefed the Fellowship of the Ring:
'As you go down the water,' he said, 'you will find that the trees will fail, and you will come to a barren country. There the River flows in stony vale amid high moors, until at last after many leagues it comes to the tall island of the Tindrock, that we call Tol Brandir.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien
Celeborn's assertion that the southern Anduin may only be crossed by large armies at the great loops, known as the Undeeps, comes from canon:
[The] great loops of the Anduin (where it came down swiftly past Lórien and entered low flat lands before its descent again into the chasm of the Emyn Muil) had many shallows and wide shoals over which a determined and well-equipped enemy could force a crossing by rafts or pontoons, especially in... the North and South Undeeps.

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 4, Appendix C, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn: The Boundaries of Lórien
As far as I know, Tolkien never addresses the inconsistency that the Ride of Eorl presumably crossed at the Undeeps without benefit of rafts or pontoons. The Balchoth, however, were much better-equipped for that crossing:
A great host of wild men... coming down out of the Brown-lands crossed the Anduin on rafts.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl

[In] that year (2510) the Balchoth, having built many great boats and rafts on the east shores of Anduin, swarmed over the River....

Ibid, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards
Celeborn's mention of Ondoher's fall is another reference to the Battle against the Wainriders at the Morannon. Also, his admonition to not underestimate the Balchoth is borne out by the later encounter with Easterlings during the War of the Ring, at the Battle of the Morannon:
But the Men of Rhûn and of Harad, Easterling and Southron, saw the ruin of their war.... And those that were deepest and longest in evil servitude, hating the West, and yet were men proud and bold, in their turn now gathered themselves for a last stand of desperate battle.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 4, The Field of Cormallen
Elladan, approaching Arwen
Arwen, having doubts
Arwen, saying farewell

Though Galadriel has the task of performing the rituals associated with the giving of the lembas as described in the first drabble of this chapter, I believe that the Yavannildi would then handle the physical distribution of the lembas to individual warriors for special missions, or, in the case of supplies for ongoing operations, to a supplies master who would in turn provision the warriors on duty throughout Lórien.

In these three drabbles, I am theorizing that Arwen is more worried than usual about her brothers' safety, as a result of her grief over the very recent loss of their mother.

In their long lives, I assume she has seen them off on many missions around Rivendell, but probably long outgrew being overly fearful for them each time they left. I also believe that Elladan is close enough to his sister to recognize that she is uneasy, despite her attempt to appear serene.

I would like to dedicate the third drabble, Arwen, saying farewell, to my dear friend Hilda, who inspired me by always looking on the world with love and delight. This world is a much dimmer place without her.

Galadriel, saying farewell

In this drabble, Galadriel moves beyond her roles as Lady of Lórien, keeper of the lembas, and interpreter of her Mirror, to simply being a loving grandmother. I think she deliberately tries to destroy any possibility that the twins might carry unwarranted guilt over their mother's attack, which could cause them to approach battle recklessly, and her quiet assurance that they will see Celebrían again is wisely meant to encourage hope for the future.

I especially appreciate the fact that she assures Elladan and Elrohir that they are loved and needed, and can't help but contrast that with the chilling send-off that Denethor gave to Faramir when he sent Faramir to defend Osgiliath:
'Much must be risked in war,' said Denethor.... 'I will not yield the River and the Pelennor unfought — not if there is a captain here who has still the courage to do his lord's will.'

Then all were silent, but at length Faramir said: 'I do not oppose your will, sire. Since you are robbed of Boromir, I will go and do what I can in his stead — if you command it.'

'I do so,' said Denethor.

'Then farewell!' said Faramir. 'But if I should return, think better of me!'

'That depends on the manner of your return,' said Denethor.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 4, The Siege of Gondor
Celeborn, saying farewell

I believe that Celeborn is not only the wise and experienced Lord of Lórien, but also a perceptive grandfather, which, in this drabble, helps him to understand and empathize with all of his grandchildren:
'[The] Lord of the Galadhrim is accounted the wisest of the Elves of Middle-earth, and a giver of gifts beyond the power of kings.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 7, The Mirror of Galadriel
Of course, this quote is from Galadriel, who might reasonably be thought to have some small bias in this matter.

In any case, Celeborn's perception about the twins' incipient desire to eliminate Orcs is accurate:
Now the sons of Elrond did not hunt wild beasts, but they pursued the Orcs wherever they might find them; and this they did because of Celebrían their mother, daughter of Galadriel.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 9, The Making of Appendix A: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
Elrohir, hours later, crossing Anduin

I imagine that there is a boat landing, with barges, on the eastern edge of Lórien, facing the Anduin, similar to the one at the Celebrant on the western side:
On the bank of the Silverlode... there was a hythe of white stones and white wood. By it were moored many boats and barges. Some were brightly painted, and shone with silver and gold and green, but most were either white or grey.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien
At this point, Galadriel's mist only covers Lórien; she will not extend it to cover the Riders of the North until they are in the vicinity of Dol Guldur. That is why Elladan and Elrohir emerge from the mist while crossing the Anduin.

I have made up the names of the brothers' horses: Suldal (Elrohir's mount) means 'wind foot', according to the Sindarin name list at Merin Essi ar Quenteli!. Narothal (Elladan's horse) means 'fire foot'; it was Tolkien's original name for Shadowfax according to The Return of the Shadow, HoME Vol 6, Part 3, Ch 20, The Third Phase: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony: Notes, Note 10.


The Vales of Anduin: Late Morning of 12 April

Félarof, Father of Horses

Felaróf, Eorl's mount, was called the Father of Horses because he was the sire of the mearas, a strain that was thought to descend from horses brought from Aman by the Vala, Oromë the Hunter. He and his descendants refused to carry anyone of less status than the Lord of the Éothéod, later the King of the Mark (with one exception for a certain wandering wizard, many generations later). Thus it was quite normal for him to expect that steeds of similarly noble heritage would carry only lords of high lineage.
Eorl rode [Felaróf] home without bit or bridle; and he rode him in like fashion ever after. The horse understood all that men said, though he would allow no man but Eorl to mount him. It was upon Felaróf that Eorl rode to the Field of Celebrant; for that horse proved as long lived as Men, and so were his descendants. These were the mearas, who would bear no one but the King of the Mark or his sons, until the time of Shadowfax. Men said of them that Béma (whom the Eldar call Oromë) must have brought their sire from West over Sea.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl
Felaróf is being exceedingly complimentary when he says that the twins' horses danced in the trail of Nahar with his own ancestors: Nahar is the horse of the Vala, Oromë the Hunter, also known as Béma by the Eorlings:
[As] a mighty hunter [Oromë] came with spear and bow..., and his white horse Nahar shone like silver in the shadows. Then the sleeping earth trembled at the beat of his golden hooves....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 1, Of The Beginning of Days

[The] earth shook beneath the horses of the host of Oromë, and the fire that was stricken from the hooves of Nahar was the first light that returned to Valinor.

Ibid, Ch 8, Of The Darkening of Valinor
Elladan

I get the definite impression that the Eorlings and later the Rohirrim distrust Elves, or are at the very least skeptical of their motives:
'The Lady of the Golden Wood is on our side, it seems,' said Borondir.

'Maybe,' said Eorl. 'But at least I will trust the wisdom of Felaróf.'

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Ride of Eorl

'Men now fear and misdoubt the Elves, and yet know little of them... [For] even [the men of Rohan], who are the foes of the Dark Lord, shun the Elves and speak of the Golden Wood with dread.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 5, The Window on the West

[Éomer] looked at them with renewed wonder, but his eyes hardened. 'Then there is a Lady in the Golden Wood, as old tales tell!' he said. 'Few escape her nets, they say.... But if you have her favour, then you also are net-weavers and sorcerers, maybe.'

Ibid, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

'[We] could find a use for Gimli's axe and the bow of Legolas, if they will pardon my rash words concerning the Lady of the Wood. I spoke only as do all men in my land....'

Ibid

'Then it is true... that you are in league with the Sorceress of the Golden Wood?' said Wormtongue. 'It is not to be wondered at: webs of deceit were ever woven in Dwimordene.'

Ibid, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall
From this I deduce that the Éothéod did not interact much with the Elves of Mirkwood, even though their lands abutted each other. However, I think Eorl's innate courtesy would kick in, albeit belatedly, after he realizes that he has in fact insulted the kin of these strangers.

Eorl, Lord of the Éothéod

Eorl can perhaps be forgiven for not (yet?) being able to tell Elladan and Elrohir apart, like most mortals, despite the introduction:
So much alike were they, the sons of Elrond, that few could tell them apart: dark-haired, grey-eyed, and their faces elven-fair, clad alike in bright mail beneath cloaks of silver-grey.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 2, The Passing of the Grey Company
The Éomund mentioned in this drabble is a canon character. He is possibly the person for whom, several centuries later, Éomund of Eastfold (father of Éomer and Éowyn) is named. All we know of him is his position, which I believe would later come to be called Marshal of the Mark:
After they had eaten Cirion and Eorl, with the Prince of Dol Amroth and Éomund the chief captain of the host of the Éothéod, sat together and defined the boundaries of the authority of the King of the Éothéod and the Steward of Gondor.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Cirion and Eorl
Elrohir, that evening

It is my idea that Éomund was originally a close friend and advisor to Léod, Eorl's father, and also mentored Eorl as he grew up; he can therefore speak plainly to Eorl, and his counsel is valued.

Yet, being of his father's generation, he probably still sees Eorl as young and perhaps somewhat hot-headed, despite the fact that Eorl is twenty-five years old by 2510, and has been Lord of the Éothéod for nine years.
2485-2545....
Eorl the Young... was so named because he succeeded his father in youth....

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl

Léod was the name of Eorl's father. He was a tamer of wild horses; for there were many at that time in the land.... [When Léod died, he] was then only two and forty years old, and his son a youth of sixteen.

Ibid
Éomund is as discerning a judge of the twins' horses as is Félarof: "war-hawks" is an Anglo-Saxon epithet for eagles. I suspect that he and the brothers, especially Elladan, will be immersed in discussing the arcane minutiae of breeding horses for the rest of the evening.


At Camp in the Vales of Anduin: Evening of 13 April

With seven thousand men, Eorl's encampment must have been an impressive sight:
On all the level spaces there was great concourse of men.... [Stretching] away into the distance behind there were ordered rows of tents and booths, and lines of picketed horses, and great store of arms, and piled spears bristling like thickets of new-planted trees. Now all the great assembly was falling into shadow, and yet, though the night-chill blew cold from the heights no lanterns glowed, no fires were lit. Watchmen heavily cloaked paced to and fro.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 3, The Muster of Rohan
Eorl

I imagine that the Eorlings are very direct; it would be natural for them to express curiosity about the sons of Elrond and to be astonished by their advanced age. I also suspect that Elladan and Elrohir have many times before encountered such inquisitiveness among new acquaintances who happen to be mortal.

Though they are all speaking Westron here, that is not the native tongue of the Éothéod. I expect that, although relatively fluent in that speech, Eorl does not have many opportunities to practice its use:
They still spoke their ancestral tongue...: and they called themselves the Eorlings.... But the lords of that people used the Common Speech freely, and spoke it nobly after the manner of their allies in Gondor;... [where] the Westron kept still a more gracious and antique style.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age: Of Men
Note that the children of Elrond are never called Elves in canon, though they are said to have an Elven lifespan, as long as Elrond resides in Middle-earth:
Then Aragorn wondered, for she had seemed of no greater age than he.... But Arwen looked in his eyes and said: 'Do not wonder! For the children of Elrond have the life of the Eldar.'

Ibid, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

'[So] long as I abide here, [Arwen] shall live with the youth of the Eldar," answered Elrond, "and when I depart, she shall go with me, if she so chooses.'

Ibid
In these drabbles, the sons of Elrond adroitly skirt the issue of their race. I imagine they do not choose to explain the intricacies of Half-elven genealogy and destiny to the Eorlings at that moment.

Elladan

The description of Frumgar as the lord who led the migration of the Éothéod from the middle vales of Anduin northward to its sources is drawn from canon. I did, however, employ significant artistic license to imply that it was the sons of Elrond who informed them of the fall of the Witch-king of Angmar:
The forefathers of Eorl... loved best the plains, and delighted in horses and in all feats of horsemanship, but there were many men in the middle vales of Anduin in those days, and moreover the shadow of Dol Guldur was lengthening; when therefore they heard of the overthrow of the Witch-king, they sought more room in the North, and drove away the remnants of the people of Angmar on the east side of the Mountains.

Ibid, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl

The leader of the migration of the Éothéod was named Frumgar; and in the Tale of Years its date is given as 1977.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Notes, Note 19

The new land of the Éothéod lay north of Mirkwood, between the Misty Mountains westward and the Forest River eastward. Southward it extended to the confluence of... Greylin and Langwell. Greylin flowed down from... the Grey Mountains, but Langwell came from the Misty Mountains, and this name it bore because it was the source of Anduin, which from its junction with Greylin they called Langflood.

Ibid, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Ride of Eorl
It is also my own invention that the Éothéod guarded the Old Ford before they migrated north; however, it is consistent with canon, since they lived in that area before migrating north, and since both the Beornings and the Éothéod are descended from the Northmen of Rhovanion, and the Beornings performed that function five centuries later:
While the Éothéod still dwelt in their former home they were well-known to Gondor as a people of good trust.... They were a remnant of the Northmen....

Ibid

The Éothéod had moved to [the sources of Anduin] in the days of King Eärnil II from lands in the vales of Anduin between the Carrock and the Gladden, and they were in origin close akin to the Beornings and the men of the west-eaves of the forest.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl

'lndeed,' said Glóin, 'if it were not for the Beornings, the passage from Dale to Rivendell would long ago have become impossible. They are valiant men and keep open the High Pass and the [Old Ford].'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings
The population of the original Éothéod is strictly an estimate of mine. Given that there are well over 7000 Riders accompanying Eorl, Elladan's comment would yield an initial population of approximately 1500 and a current population, over 500 years later, of nearly 30,000 — assuming that the Riders are roughly one quarter of the entire population.
It is said that Eorl led forth some seven thousand fully-armed riders and some hundreds of horsed archers.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Ride of Eorl
Whether the estimates above are accurate or not, Tolkien did write that the Eorlings were feeling crowded on their lands:
[The] Éothéod were, as [Cirion] had learned, restless, finding their northern lands too narrow and infertile to support their numbers, which had much increased. [Author's note.]

Ibid, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Notes, Note 26

The Mouth of Parth Celebrant: Early evening of 14 April

An Orc captain
A snaga

In these two drabbles, the "white-flag tarks" are the Gondorians, and the "red-flag tarks" are the Balchoth.

According to Tolkien, the Stewards of Gondor did use a plain white banner:
[The] Stewards... bore a white rod only as the token of their office; and their banner was white without charge....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards
However, the red banner of the Balchoth is my own invention; as far as I know, Tolkien never described a banner or emblem for any of the tribes of Easterlings. (He did write that the banner of the Haradrim was a "black serpent upon scarlet"; I decided that Easterlings might choose the same generic background color, if not necessarily the same hue nor the same emblem. In fact, in another drabble, I imagined that the Balchoth standard might be a black scorpion on a red background.)

Note that both these Orcs are using the word tark somewhat incorrectly in these drabbles:
'There's a great fighter about, one of those bloody-handed Elves, or one of the filthy tarks. He's coming here, I tell you.... He's got past the Watchers, and that's tark's work.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 1, The Tower of Cirith Ungol

[Many] indeed of the older tribes [of Orcs]... had long used the Westron as their native language, though in such a fashion as to make it hardly less unlovely than Orkish. In this jargon tark, 'man of Gondor', was a debased form of tarkil, a Quenya word used in Westron for one of Númenórean descent....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age: Of Other Races
So, tark strictly should be used only for the Gondorians; however, I am assuming that these Orcs debased the word further to refer to Men in general. (They presumably had not read Appendix F.)

Snaga is also a (relatively unflattering) term used by the Orcs in canon:
[Growled] Uglúk. 'The cursed horse-boys have got wind of us. But that's all your fault, Snaga. You and the other scouts ought to have your ears cut off.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 3, The Uruk-Hai

[The] word uruk of the Black Speech... was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs.... The lesser kinds were called, especially by the Uruk-hai, snaga 'slave'.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age: Of Other Races
The references to the Dark Lord are, of course, to Sauron. It is implied in the published form of the Appendices that Sauron had coordinated the invasion of the Balchoth and the Orcs (emphases mine):
[Cirion] could do little more than defend his borders, while his enemies (or the power that moved them) prepared strokes against him that he could not hinder.

Ibid, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards

A great host of wild men from the North-east swept over Rhovanion and... crossed the Anduin on rafts. At the same time by chance or design the Orcs... made a descent from the Mountains.

Ibid, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl
Sauron's involvement is far more explicit in his earlier drafts. I believe Tolkien did still intend that Sauron be seen as the mastermind behind the attack (again, emphasis mine):
Sauron stirs up mischief, and there is a great attack on Gondor. Orcs pour out of the Mountains... and join with Easterlings.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 7, The Heirs of Elendil: The Stewards of Gondor
The strategy of using the Orcs to push the Gondorian army toward the Anduin is canon, although the idea that the Orcs were ordered to hold back so that the Balchoth could have the kill is an invention of mine:
An army [of Gondor] marching up from the south was cut off and driven north over the Limlight, and there it was suddenly attacked by a horde of Orcs from the Mountains and pressed towards the Anduin.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards
The quality of the interactions between the two ranks of soldier-orcs in these drabbles was inspired in part by the following charming passage:
An orc-voice rose in anger..., harsh, brutal, cold. It was Shagrat speaking, Captain of the Tower.

'You won't go again, you say? Curse you, Snaga, you little maggot! If you think I'm so damaged that it's safe to flout me, you're mistaken. Come here, and I'll squeeze your eyes out, like I did to Radbug just now. And when some new lads come, I'll deal with you: I'll send you to Shelob.'

'They won't come, not before you're dead anyway,' answered Snaga surlily.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 1, The Tower of Cirith Ungol
The suggestion in the second drabble that, given an opportunity, the rank-and-file Orcs would betray both their commanders and their allies is purely artistic license on my part.

However, the implication that the spoils of battle include the pleasure of consuming the enemy is hinted at in canon:
'We are the fighting Uruk-hai!... We are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man's-flesh to eat.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 3, The Uruk-Hai

Sam... stumbled on a ring still scorched by fire, and in the midst of it he found a pile of charred and broken bones and skulls. The swift growth of the wild with briar and eglantine and trailing clematis was already drawing a veil over this place of dreadful feast and slaughter; but it was not ancient.

Ibid, LoTR Book 4, Ch 4, Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
My thanks to Tanaqui for reminding me of the latter quotation.


At camp on Parth Celebrant: Late evening of 14 April

This scene comes mostly from my imagination, no doubt influenced by vaguely half-remembered details from various historic wars. However, I am much less a scholar of "real" history than Tolkien's, so take my version of it with a grain of salt... or several.

Cirion, Steward of Gondor

We do know that Cirion personally led the army of Gondor:
He gathered as great a force as he could, and taking command of it himself made ready... to lead it north....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Ride of Eorl
I have chosen to make Cirion a somewhat accessible commander, patterned after my mental image of George Washington purportedly walking among his troops to encourage them in their winter encampment at Valley Forge during the American Revolutionary War — though I do not know whether that image belongs to the realm of historical accuracy or, perhaps more likely, patriotic mythology.

I believe that I learned of the practice of writing a soldier's name and hometown on his clothing from a book or documentary about the American Civil War. To the best of my knowledge, bodies in that war were normally interred where they lay on the battlefield, and were later moved to battle cemeteries.

However, Tolkien mentioned the use of burial mounds for battle casualties in both Rohan and Gondor, so I used that idea for the drabble:
[They] had reached the Fords of Isen and crossed them. The Mound of the Riders and its cold spears lay grey behind them.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 11, The Palantír

Dúnhere and Déorwine, doughty Grimbold...,
fought and fell there in a far country:
in the Mounds of Mundburg under mould they lie
with their league-fellows, lords of Gondor....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 6, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
Cirion, with his messengers

Cirion's reflections about his grandfather losing the province of Ithilien refer to the Morgul-war that began under Denethor I:
In the last years of Denethor I the race of uruks, black orcs of great strength, first appeared out of Mordor, and in 2475 they swept across Ithilien and took Osgiliath. Boromir son of Denethor (after whom Boromir of the Nine Walkers was later named) defeated them and regained Ithilien; but Osgiliath was finally ruined, and its great stone-bridge was broken. No people dwelt there afterwards.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards
The messengers of the Steward are called errand-riders by the time of the the War of the Ring; I have assumed they were also called that in Cirion's time:
[In] the sixth circle, outside the walls of the citadel, there were some fair stables where a few swift horses were kept, hard by the lodgings of the errand-riders of the Lord: messengers always ready to go at the urgent command of Denethor or his chief captains.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 1, Minas Tirith
Cirion could reasonably expect that the Balchoth could not interpret Quenya: among Men, only Gondorians and Dúnedain of the North speak any Elvish tongue, and Quenya was mostly found in manuscipts of ancient lore. It is unlikely that the errand-riders knew it, though, unless they themselves were noble-born youths, but, under duress, they might have been able to at least read the Tengwar script, and recognize some words that were similar to Sindarin:
The Dúnedain alone of all races of Men knew and spoke an Elvish tongue; for their forefathers had learned the Sindarin tongue.... And their men of wisdom learned also the High-elven Quenya and esteemed it above all other tongues, and in it they made names for many places of fame and reverence, and for many men of royalty and great renown.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age: Of Men
Even many Elves did not know Quenya, unless they were Noldorin loremasters:
It was no longer a birth-tongue but had become, as it were, an 'Elven-latin', still used for ceremony, and for high matters of lore and song, by the High Elves, who had returned in exile to Middle-earth at the end of the First Age.

Ibid, The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age: Of the Elves
Tegilbor, Cirion's scribe

Tegilbor means 'writer', according to the Gondorian-Sindarin name list at Merin Essi ar Quenteli!.

Mering refers to the Mering Stream, the boundary between southern Calenardhon (later Rohan) and northern Anórien; it is a strategic location to defend against an army marching southward from Parth Celebrant.

Cirion's request for forgiveness from his son is inspired by Isildur's touching conversation with his eldest son, Elendur, at the Disaster of the Gladden Fields:
"My King," said Elendur,... "Your last counsellor must advise nay command you.... Go! Take your burden, and at all costs bring it to the Keepers: even at the cost of abandoning your men and me!"

"King's son," said Isildur, "I knew that I must do so; but I feared the pain. Nor could I go without your leave. Forgive me, and my pride that has brought you to this doom." Elendur kissed him. "Go! Go now!" he said.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

The Crossings of Limlaith: Night of 14-15 April

The Balchoth was a tribe, or a loose confederation of tribes, of Easterlings, akin to the Wainriders that had attacked Gondor several centuries earlier. They were wholly dominated by Sauron:
[The] 'Easterlings' were mostly Men of cruel and evil kind, descendants of those who had served and worshipped Sauron before his overthrow at the end of the Second Age.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 10, Of Dwarves and Men: Notes, Note 60

[In] the south and in the further east Men multiplied; and most of them turned to evil, for Sauron was at work.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

In the east... well nigh all Men were under his dominion, and they grew strong in those days..., and they were numerous and fierce in war and armed with iron. To them Sauron was both king and god; and they feared him exceedingly, for he surrounded his abode with fire.

Ibid

The Wainriders were a people, or a confederacy of many peoples, that came from the East; but they were stronger and better armed than any that had appeared before.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion

In the wide lands of Rhovanion..., a fierce people now dwelt, wholly under the shadow of Dol Guldur.... These Balchoth were constantly increased by others of like kind that came in from the east....

Ibid, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards
I envision the Balchoth as having a strong warrior culture, somewhat analogous in that respect to ancient Sparta. To loosely paraphrase a loosely-translated aphorism attributed by Plutarch to an anonymous Spartan mother sending her son off to battle:
Come back with your shield or on it.
In other words: return victorious or dead. (Presumably, shields were heavy, so cowards dropped them to flee more quickly from battle.)

Durwarth, the Balchoth general

The Balchoth commander strikes me as well-versed in wartime strategy, acutely realistic in assessing the value of Sauron as a self-appointed god-king and of Orcs as allies, and supremely confident of his greatness.

What surprised me, when my muse dictated this drabble, is that he and his compatriots share with many historic cultures a compelling belief in their unique version of astrology.

Orthand, the Balchoth seer

A word to the wise: my pen name, Elena Tiriel, is a corrupted form of 'Stargazer' in Sindarin. I fully intend to wax eloquent — or perhaps garrulous? — in the notes for this drabble. If a paean to heavenly bodies (Orlando Bloom aside) isn't your cup of mocha latte, you can skip it here.

Fortunately, Tolkien seems to share my passion, in one of his most hauntingly beautiful passages:
Then Varda... looked out from the height of Taniquetil, and beheld the darkness of Middle-earth beneath the innumerable stars, faint and far. Then she began a great labour, greatest of all the works of the Valar since their coming into Arda. She took the silver dews from the vats of Telperion, and therewith she made new stars and brighter against the coming of the Firstborn; wherefore she whose name out of the deeps of time and the labours of Eä was Tintallë, the Kindler, was called after by the Elves Elentári, Queen of the Stars. Carnil and Luinil, Nénar and Lumbar, Alcarinquë and Elemmírë she wrought in that time, and many other of the ancient stars she gathered together and set as signs in the heavens of Arda: Wilwarin, Telumendil, Soronúmë, and Anarríma; and Menelmacar with his shining belt....

It is told that even as Varda ended her labours..., when first Menelmacar strode up the sky and the blue fire of Helluin flickered in the mists above the borders of the world, in that hour the Children of the Earth awoke, the Firstborn of Ilúvatar. By the starlit mere of Cuiviénen, Water of Awakening, they rose from the sleep of Ilúvatar; and while they dwelt yet silent by Cuiviénen their eyes beheld first of all things the stars of heaven. Therefore they have ever loved the starlight, and have revered Varda Elentári above all the Valar.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 3, Of The Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
The banner that I have invented for the Balchoth people sports a scorpion on a red ground. Therefore, when seeking propitious signs in the heavens, a Balchoth seer would favor the constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion, or, if that is not visible, another of the many heavenly bodies that appear reddish, whether fixed in its relative location (a star) or "wandering" (a planet).

The Balchoth constellation names in this drabble are my own inventions, with an occasional nod to their historical names in real-world civilizations.

The Stinging Scorpion is, of course, Scorpius, one of the very few constellations that actually resembles closely the object for which it was named. (As opposed to, say, Sagittarius, which, to a modern eye, looks more like a majestic teapot than an archer.) The brightest star of Scorpius, Antares, is obviously red to the naked eye, and it is located at the "heart" of the scorpion.

The Circling Wain is the asterism known as the Plough to the British, the Big Dipper to modern Americans, the Drinkin' Gourd to fugitive American slaves before Abolition, the Wain to Tolkien's Hobbits, and the Valacirca, or the Sickle of the Valar, to his Elves. It is the only prominent feature of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, a circumpolar constellation; it continuously circles Polaris, the North Star, and never sets in the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, where Middle-earth is supposed to lie:
And high in the north as a challenge to Melkor [Varda] set the crown of seven mighty stars to swing, Valacirca, the Sickle of the Valar and sign of doom.

Ibid

Only from the map did Bilbo know that away up there, where the stars of the Wain were already twinkling, the Running River came down into the [Long Lake] from Dale....

The Hobbit, Ch 10, A Warm Welcome
I believe that, since the Balchoth were closely related to the Wainriders, they might recognize the likeness of the asterism to a wain, as do the Hobbits.

The Crouching Lion is, of course, the constellation Leo, the Lion; another one that is very aptly named to this amateur stargazer.

A side note: I think that Crouching Lion is a suitably flattering name, for it is both succinct and considerably more likely to be adopted by a male-worshipping warrior culture than the male lion lounging around on his lazy ass waiting for the lionesses to finish hunting so he can gorge himself on their hard-earned kill. But, I digress.

The Blue Blaze is Sirius, of the constellation Canis Major, the brightest star in the entire night sky, which the Elves call Helluin.

The Victorious Warrior is, of course, Orion the Hunter; the blood "dripping" from his sword is the Orion Nebula. The Elves called this constellation Menelvagor or Menelmacar, which means 'Swordsman of the Sky', and it is associated with Túrin Turambar.

The Rutting Oryx is the imaginary Balchoth name of the constellation Taurus the Bull; however, I think the long, straight "horns" resemble an Oryx with its head down, as if to charge another male, much more than a bull with rounded horns. The "eye" of Taurus is Aldebaran, a reddish star in the loose star-cluster called the Hyades. The Elves gave the name Borgil to Aldebaran. (Borgil is sometimes mistakenly identified as Betelgeuse in Orion, but that theory is effectively refuted by the astronomy professor, Dr. Kristine Larsen, in a well-considered essay found here: Part 1, and Part 2.)

The "pulsing heart" of the Rutting Oryx is the bright star-cluster called the Pleiades, which the Elves call Remmirath, the Netted Stars. I suspect that any stargazer who had fasted for three days before imbibing a potent seer's draught might also become acutely aware of its pulsations.

And finally, the Blood Raider is the planet Mars, which takes on a distinct reddish hue in the night sky, and has been associated with war in real-life mythologies.

So, the Rutting Oryx yielded a double-strength omen: not only is the eye of the Oryx red, its heart is "pierced" by the wandering red warrior star... clearly strong portents that can be interpreted as solidly positive or solidly negative, according to the current needs of one's employer.

Though all these constellation names are imaginary, I have placed them in the relative sky locations that actually existed in March of 2006. The Battle of the Field of Celebrant occurred in mid-March, and I selected that particular year because of the "auspicious" appearance of Mars in Taurus, though I took some liberty in placing it specifically within the Pleiades:
March 2006:
Orion starts tipping toward the southwest on March evenings, a sure sign that spring is approaching. Aldebaran and Mars glow to Orion's right, a pair of similar-looking orange points. A much brighter white point, Sirius, is on Orion's other side. Meanwhile, the Big Dipper is rising high in the northeast, standing on its handle. And Leo is getting high in the east.

From: StarDate Online: Sky Almanac, March 2006
You can see a beautiful astrophotograph of part of the sky described in my drabble, albeit with an extremely bright but unidentified planet immediately to the left of the Pleiades, at Catching the Light — Astrophotography by Jerry Lodriguss: Orion and Taurus. (Move your mouse cursor over the photograph to see lines marking the main parts of Orion and Taurus. If you follow the three bright stars of Orion's "belt" to the left, just past the edge of the photo is the location of Sirius.) The photo (without the planet) beautifully illustrates another of Tolkien's moving astronomical passages:
Away high in the East swung Remmirath, the Netted Stars, and slowly above the mists red Borgil rose, glowing like a jewel of fire. Then by some shift of airs all the mist was drawn away like a veil, and there leaned up, as he climbed over the rim of the world, the Swordsman of the Sky, Menelvagor with his shining belt. The Elves all burst into song.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 3, Three Is Company
Well, I certainly would burst into song, too, if I were surrounded by stars... not to mention Elves.

Lastly, I'd like to comment on the Balchoth commander's techniques for obtaining the desired result from the seer: starving him for three days — knowing full well that he would be drinking a hallucinogenic seer's draught — and threatening to continue to withhold food or water until the seer conjures the necessary portents. Where I live, this commander would be showered with stock options and large cash bonuses, and lauded as a manager who knows how to get results from his employees.

Talfar, a young Balchoth conscript

Like the Spartans, I feel that the Balchoth culture would start training warriors extremely young by our standards, by having them aid the warriors in whatever menial tasks they could perform, in exchange for learning battle skills.

The nine-year-old boy feels honored to be apprenticed to the great swordsman Ulbar, the warrior whose eyes sparkle when his late son is mentioned. In the boy's limited understanding, he quite naturally assumes that the warrior's eyes sparkle in pride for his son's great valor.

This boy is doing his best to understand and fulfill his responsibilities, without entirely grasping that being a warrior is not always glorious.

Regarding the Balchoth banner: as I mentioned above, it is a large black scorpion on a red field — thus the name, Scorpion on Blood. Since I imagine Rhûn as a desert region, scorpions would be familiar, and their dangerous reputation would render them a suitable emblem for a fierce warrior culture. And the fact that it so stirred the boy's emotions is consistent with an old adage:
When the flag is unfurled, all reason is in the trumpet. - Ukrainian proverb

A.Word.A.Day Newsletter, with Anu Garg. [9 Dec. 2008].
<A.Word.A.Day wordsmith.org/awad/>.

The Battle of the Field of Celebrant: 15 April

This battle scene was heavily influenced by an especially moving passage from The Lord of the Rings:
For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and the darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 5, The Ride of the Rohirrim
The author's notes for this chapter will be extensive — well over 7,000 words so far, and only half-finished. The research is going slowly, but I hope to complete and post them very soon. Thank you for your patience; I hope they will be worth the wait.

The Battlefield on Parth Celebrant, The Day after the Battle: Morning of 16 April

Gúthbeorn, injured

I imagine that Gúthbeorn is not a lord, and therefore does not understand Westron, nor are the twins fluent in the language of the Éothéod yet:
They still spoke their ancestral tongue.... But the lords of that people used the Common Speech freely....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age: Of Men
Elladan and Elrohir appear to be experienced healers as well as warriors. It is my theory that they helped to heal the injured after the Battle of the Field of Celebrant, just as they did after the Battle of the Pelennor:
[Men] came and prayed that [Aragorn] would heal their kinsmen or their friends whose lives were in peril through hurt or wound.... And Aragorn... sent for the sons of Elrond, and together they laboured far into the night.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 8, The Houses of Healing
Serdan, a young Gondorian soldier

I see Serdan as a new soldier, without much experience in fighting; in fact, this may have been his first large-scale battle. His heart is touched by seeing comrades who were disabled, as well as those who died. He might have been one of those naïve youths who looked forward to the resolution that he expected a decisive battle to provide, but now has a more realistic view of the horrendous cost of such a victory.

According to the Gondorian-Sindarin Names list at Merin Essi ar Quenteli!, the name Serdan means 'peace maker'. I hold out hope that this young man will have a long life, despite his chosen profession — though he will never regain his innocence.

Cúfaron, a Ranger of Ithilien

In contrast to Serdan, Cúfaron (which means 'bow hunter') has become hardened, having battled Orcs in Ithilien for many years; as we have seen here, the beauty of Ithilien can be marred by jarring scenes of "dreadful feast and slaughter".

Cúfaron is convinced that he has seen every ugliness that occurs in warfare. As with many convictions, he is about to be surprised.


The Battlefield: Afternoon of 16 April

Rycharch, a wolf-pack leader

Rycharch means 'fang hound'; my thanks go to Dreamingfifi, the site owner of of Merin Essi ar Quenteli! for translating the name into Sindarin at my request.

A loyal steed

The cultural practices of wargs are entirely my own invention.

Gandalf's comments to Théoden after the Battles of the Fords of Isen shed some light on the scavenging behavior of Tolkien's wolves; by his description, I believe the remarks actually apply to wargs:
'Grievous is the fall of your men; but you shall see that at least the wolves of the mountains do not devour them. It is with their friends, the Orcs, that they hold their feast: such indeed is the friendship of their kind.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 8, The Road to Isengard
My thanks to Tanaqui for finding this quote!


Near the River Celebrant: Afternoon of 20 April

A deserter

The maps of the area surrounding Lothlórien published in The Lord of the Rings show outlying portions of the forest extending past the southern banks of the Celebrant (Silverlode) River. I envision that, at its boundaries, there are small clusters of trees somewhat detached from the forest itself, and, because of that, the deserter didn't realize that he was entering Lórien.


The Balchoth Homelands, The Year after the Battle: 2511 Third Age

There is almost no description of the various tribes of Easterlings in Tolkien's writings; the culture sketched here is entirely my own fabrication, partially inspired by real practices of various historical cultures.

Bulfang, a Balchoth chieftain
Zarchu, an old Balchoth warrior

I have devised the Balchoth name Zarchu to be similar to the Black Speech name Sharku, from which Saruman's Shire nickname, Sharkey, was derived:
It is said that the Black Speech was devised by Sauron in the Dark Years, and that he had desired to make it the language of all those that served him... [After] the first overthrow of Sauron this language in its ancient form was forgotten by all but the Nazgûl. When Sauron arose again, it became once more the language of Barad-dûr.... The... curse of the Mordor-orc in [TTT, "The Uruk-hai"], was in the more debased form used by the soldiers of the Dark Tower.... Sharku in that tongue means old man.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age: Of Other Races

"Sharkey!" [Frodo] cried.

Saruman laughed. "So you have heard the name, have you? All my people used to call me that in Isengard, I believe. A sign of affection, possibly."

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire
Tolkien states that the languages of the Easterling tribes were influenced by Khuzdul, from prehistoric association with the Dwarves:
In ancient days the Naugrim dwelt in many mountains of Middle-earth, and there they met mortal Men (they say) long ere the Eldar knew them; whence it comes that of the tongues of the Easterlings many show kinship with Dwarf-speech rather than with the speeches of the Elves.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 10, Of Dwarves and Men
I suspect that, in a similar fashion, the Black Speech was influenced by the Easterling tongues, from many centuries of association resulting in the inevitable intermingling (or "debasing", from Sauron's point of view) of languages:
[The] 'Easterlings' were mostly Men of cruel and evil kind, descendants of those who had served and worshipped Sauron before his overthrow at the end of the Second Age.

Ibid, Of Dwarves and Men: Notes, Note 60
All of this roundabout "logic" is just to establish that the old Balchoth warrior's name, Zarchu, supposedly also means 'old man'.

Mathara, a Balchoth war widow

Note that the Balchoth never use Sauron's name directly, substituting a euphemism like "The Great One"; that is drawn from canon:
'Neither does [Sauron] use his right name, nor permit it to be spelt or spoken,' said Aragorn.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 1, The Departure of Boromir
His name is, in fact, later used by the Mouth of Sauron, but I assumed that the Balchoth were a traditional, hierarchical society, where familiar forms of address were not used when referring to their betters.


The Angle: Late December, 2930 Third Age

The Angle is a region of northeast Eriador, between two major rivers and close to the Misty Mountains:
Rhudaur was in the North-east [of the former Arnor]..., but included also the Angle between the Hoarwell and the Loudwater.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur: The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain
The decision to set this chapter in the Angle was influenced by Michael Martinez, who argues persuasively in his essay Ranger For Hire: Have Horse, Will Travel that it is the most likely location for any permanent settlements of the Dúnedain of the North.
[Dírhael and Ivorwen] dwelt in a hidden fastness in the wilds of Eriador; for they were of the ancient people of the [Dúnedain], that of old were kings of men, but were now fallen on darkened days.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 9, The Making of Appendix A: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
I believe his arguments to be plausible, because of the relative inaccessibility of the Angle. There appears to be only one point of entry into the Angle from the west:
'[The] River Hoarwell... flows down out of the Ettenmoors... north of Rivendell, and joins the Loudwater away in the South.... There is no way over it below its sources in the Ettenmoors, except by the Last Bridge on which the [East] Road crosses.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford
Further, the southwestern, flat section of the Angle is bounded just north of the East Road by the Trollshaws, rugged hills which at the end of the Third Age were no longer inhabited:
A mile [past the Last Bridge] they came to a narrow ravine that led away northwards through the steep lands on the left of the Road....

As they went forward the hills about them steadily rose. Here and there upon heights and ridges they caught glimpses of ancient walls of stone, and the ruins of towers....

Ibid
Because of these physical barriers, the point of the Angle, south of the Road, seems to be both secluded and defensible, ideal characteristics for Dúnedain settlements.

Elrohir, riding with Elladan to a Dúnedain settlement

The campaign that Elrohir muses about in this drabble is, of course, their quixotic mission to rid Middle-earth of Orcs:
Elladan and Elrohir... rode often far afield with the Rangers of the North, forgetting never their mother's torment in the dens of the orcs.

Ibid, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

[They] pursued the Orcs wherever they might find them....

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 9, The Making of Appendix A: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
At this point, they have pursued this goal for over four centuries, and, in my imagination, at times feel discouraged as Orcs and other evil creatures continue to spread despite their efforts:
And later in the days of Arassuil [2719-2784], Orcs, multiplying again in the Misty Mountains, begin to ravage the lands, and the Dúnedain and the sons of Elrond fought with them.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur: The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain
I used the phrase "evil wolves" instead of "wolves" in this drabble to distinguish between normal wolves hunting for food, and beasts that had been corrupted by the servants of Sauron for evil purposes. And I did not call them "wargs", because, many decades later, Aragorn appeared to be surprised when wargs apparently arrived west of the Misty Mountains:
'How the wind howls!' [Aragorn] cried. 'It is howling with wolf-voices. The Wargs have come west of the Mountains!'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 4, A Journey in the Dark
Elrohir probably borrowed the concept of a "long defeat" from his grandmother, Galadriel:
'[Celeborn] has dwelt in the West since the days of dawn, and I have dwelt with him years uncounted..., and together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.'

Ibid, Ch 7, The Mirror of Galadriel
It is strictly my imagination that places Elladan and Elrohir in the vicinity when Arador dies, but given that they rode often with the Rangers, it seems plausible:
And it happened that when Arathorn and Gilraen had been married only one year, Arador was taken by hill-trolls in the Coldfells north of Rivendell and was slain; and Arathorn became Chieftain of the Dúnedain.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
Arador had, in fact, been Chieftain only a short time at his death: eighteen years, whereas it was normal for the Chieftains to hold that office for at least sixty years, except Aragorn I, who was killed by wolves after only eight years (2319-2327). Am I the only one who wonders why Arathorn named his son after a Chieftain with such colossally bad luck?

Elladan, at Arathorn and Gilraen's home

The harsh details of Ranger life and death are from my imagination, no doubt influenced by many of the dozens of thoughtful Tolkien fanfiction stories I have read over the years. For example, I was struck by a line in Bodkin's fine story, Awaiting the Thaw, in which a Ranger who is dying in Rivendell finds comfort in the fact that his grandsons will at least know where his grave is.

However, Tolkien did write one moving passage about a great man similarly buried in a lonely cairn:
... Thus at the last
must Beren flee the forest fast
and lands he loved where lay his sire
by reeds bewailed beneath the mire.
Beneath a heap of mossy stones
now crumble those once mighty bones....

The Lays of Beleriand, HoME Vol 3, Ch 3, The Lay of Leithian, Canto II, Lines 359-64

Gilraen is indeed "great with child" at the end of December, 2930:
The next year [2931] Gilraen bore him a son, and he was called Aragorn.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
According to the "Tale of Years", Aragorn was born on March 1, so in my timeline Gilraen is entering her eighth month of pregnancy.

Arathorn is fifty-seven years old in this chapter. Though there is no canon to confirm this, my assumption is that he has been one of the captains of the Rangers for at least two decades.

Gilraen, beside Arathorn

I see Gilraen as not only "fearless and strong", but also shrewd, dedicated, and possessed of her own foresight. It must have taken great courage to marry Arathorn despite his dangerous position and the sad prophecies of her father (detailed below).
In the latter days of the last age... before the War of the Ring, there was a man named [Dírhael], and his wife was [Ivorwen] daughter of Gilbarad.... [Dírhael] and his wife were of high lineage, being of the blood of Isildur though not of the right line of the Heirs. They were both foresighted in many things. Their daughter was [Gilraen], a fair maid, fearless and strong as were all the women of that kin. She was sought in marriage by Arathorn, the son of Arador who was the Chieftain of the [Dúnedain] of the North.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 9, The Making of Appendix A: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

"[Bitter] will my days be, and I will walk in the wild alone," said Aragorn.

"That will indeed be your fate," said Gilraen; but though she had in a measure the foresight of her people, she said no more to him of her foreboding....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
Gilraen, with Elrohir

With the extended lifespans of the Dúnedain of the North and the danger involved in a Ranger's life, Elrohir's comment about Gilbarad's healing capacity becomes poignant: he probably has had many opportunities to demonstrate it:
[Though] the length of the lives of the Dúnedain grew ever less in Middle-earth, after the ending of their kings the waning was swifter in Gondor; and many of the Chieftains of the North still lived to twice the age of Men....

Ibid, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur: The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain
Gilbarad is Ivorwen's father, so it would be natural for her to help her mother care for him. I do not believe that Ivorwen warned Gilraen against coming to help because she considers her daughter weak, but simply because she understands the dangers inherent in traveling any distance over rough roads while in the late stages of pregnancy:
A pregnant woman ought to be fully warned... against travelling; also against too much riding on horseback lest the child be born before the right time.

From Læceboc (Bald's Leechbook): as quoted in Christine Fell, Women in Anglo-Saxon England (London: British Museum Publications, 1984), 51.
Tolkien did not tell us what Arathorn's mother was called; but because I wanted her to be wise and to have a strong relationship with Gilraen, I took the liberty of naming her after a wise woman of the Edain:
Andreth was a woman of the House of [Bëor], the sister of Bregor father of Barahir (whose son was Beren One-hand the renowned). She was wise in thought, and learned in the lore of Men and their histories; for which reason the Eldar called her Saelind, 'Wise-heart'.

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 4, Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth
The herb women are prudent to recommend red meat to ensure Gilraen's reproductive health, though they would not know the reason: it contains iron, and thus prevents anemia:
The fact... that people were inadequately nourished and that many food factors such as iron were in short supply must have made the bearing of children difficult for most women. Evidence from grave sites shows that... many women died young, that infant mortality was high. If nothing else, the shortage of iron in the diet must have put women under great stress, particularly during pregnancy, so that miscarriages and premature births must have always been common.

From Pregnancy and Childbirth in Anglo-Saxon England: Mortality and Other Dangers, quoting M. L. Cameron, Anglo-Saxon Medicine (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993).
Arathorn, leaving the house with Elladan and Elrohir

It took me some time to think up a plausible scenario where slow and dull-witted trolls could ambush a patrol of canny Rangers with many decades of wilderness experience among them. However, it does appear that trolls made gains in intelligence and evil capacity over time:
In their beginning far back in the twilight of the Elder Days, [trolls] were creatures of dull and lumpish nature.... But Sauron had made use of them, teaching them what little they could learn, and increasing their wits with wickedness.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age: Of Other Races

Trolls were abroad, no longer dull-witted, but cunning and armed with dreadful weapons.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 2, The Shadow of the Past
But trolls still seemed physically slow and ungainly to me. Finally, I got the idea that a troll high on a steep slope could trigger a rockslide just in front of a passing patrol, which would frighten the horses and throw the Rangers into disarray just long enough for one or more trolls lying hidden nearby to attack. The inspiration for this came from this passage:
[Across] the valley the stone-giants... were hurling rocks at one another for a game, and catching them, and tossing them down into the darkness where they smashed among the trees far below, or splintered into little bits....

The Hobbit, Ch 4, Over Hill and Under Hill
Anderson believes, as do I, that the stone-giants are trolls:
The stone-giants are only mentioned in The Hobbit. It seems probable that they can be interpreted as a type of troll. Both are large and apparently malicious beings, and in Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien mentions as a type of troll the Stone-trolls of the Westlands....

The Annotated Hobbit, Annotated by Douglas A. Anderson, Ch 4, Over Hill and Under Hill, Note 5
I chose to ignore the fact that Tolkien referred to the trolls that killed Arador as hill-trolls, not stone-trolls; my theory is that trolls of any kind were most likely strong enough to push a boulder down a hillside:
Two great trolls appeared; they bore great slabs of stone, and flung them down to serve as gangways over the fire.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 5, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
Foreshadowing aside, I had Elladan shoot the troll in the eyes because it would be most vulnerable there; trolls appear to have impenetrable skin:
Boromir leaped forward and hewed at the arm with all his might; but his sword rang, glanced aside, and fell from his shaken hand. The blade was notched.

Ibid
Gilraen

Both of Gilraen's parents experienced foresight in regard to her marriage to Arathorn:
To this marriage Dírhael was opposed; for Gilraen was young and had not reached the age at which the women of the Dúnedain were accustomed to marry.

'Moreover,' he said, 'Arathorn is a stern man of full age, and will be chieftain sooner than men looked for; yet my heart forebodes that he will be short-lived.'

But Ivorwen, his wife, who was also foresighted, answered: 'The more need of haste! The days are darkening before the storm, and great things are to come. If these two wed now, hope may be born for our people; but if they delay, it will not come while this age lasts.'

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
I believe that Gilraen inherited the foresight of her parents, and made her own decisions regarding preparations for marriage to Arathorn.

I adapted the reference to Númenórean healing from Tolkien's own words, though I doubt that he consciously included women's reproductive medicine:
[The] medicine and other arts of Númenor were potent and not yet forgotten.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: The Sources of the Legend of Isildur's Death
Herbs have, in fact, been used to promote reproductive health for countless generations. A few examples from the Anglo-Saxons can be found in The Old English Herbarium. References to the existence of preconception sex selection occur in literature about Medieval childbearing, though I could not find names of specific herbs used then for that purpose:
Europe in the middle ages was what is referred to as a 'birth-positive' culture.... Many rules, medical treatments and stratagems are suggested in the documents for encouraging conception, especially conception of a healthy child, preferably a boy.

From Women and Medicine in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Conception, by Jennifer A. Heise
In my imagination, female healers of the Númenóreans and their descendants do not keep herb-lore concerning women's reproductive health secret for fear of religious persecution, but rather for lack of interest from male healers. One of the passages that most endeared Celeborn to me was his implicit rebuke to Boromir about respecting wisdom passed down among women:
'[Do] not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien
An issue that piqued my interest while writing the last two drabbles is the contrasting interpretations of the duty to protect the Heirs of Isildur: to the men, it means throwing themselves into the path of a charging troll, whereas to the women, it means ensuring the patrilineage that is deemed so important by the Heirs:
It was the pride and wonder of the Northern Line that, though their power departed and their people dwindled, through all the many generations the succession was unbroken from father to son.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur: The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain

'For here [in the North] the heirs of Valandil have ever dwelt in long line unbroken from father unto son for many generations. Our days have darkened, and we have dwindled; but ever the Sword has passed to a new keeper.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

Eriador: 2933 Third Age

This chapter depicts the tragic death of Arathorn, Aragorn's father, only three years after becoming Chieftain of the Dúnedain, from the unsympathetic perspective of two of the Orcs who attacked him:
But Aragorn was only two years old when Arathorn went riding against the Orcs with the sons of Elrond, and he was slain by an orc-arrow that pierced his eye; and so he proved indeed short-lived for one of his race, being but sixty years old when he fell.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
Arathorn appears to have been a close friend of the sons of Elrond:
In his boyhood Arathorn also had been fostered in [Elrond's] house, and he was a friend of Elladan and Elrohir..., and often he went a-hunting with them.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 9, The Making of Appendix A: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
Let me thank Tanaqui here for her extensive help with the Orcs' vernacular throughout this series, but in this chapter especially... my attempts would be truly pathetic without her astute suggestions.

The names of the Orcs, Lúgnuk and Ufghâsh, are purely imaginary; I tried to make them sound ugly to our ears. Ghâsh, however, is an existing word in the Black Speech, as attested by Gandalf:
'[The orc-voices] seemed to be talking in their own hideous language. All I caught was ghâsh; that is "fire".'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 5, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
My wicked muse, who is known to prevaricate at times, solemnly informed me that Orc mothers give their children prophetic names just as Elven mothers do, and that Ufghâsh, in fact, means 'fire-fart'.

Lúgnuk, an archer

The Orc captain's nervous worry that he might be watched, and his order directing Lúgnuk to aim at Arathorn, both derive from the fact that the servants of Sauron were by then known to target the Heirs of Isildur:
[The] Wise... had discovered that... Sauron... sought to learn if any heir of Isildur yet lived upon earth; and the spies of Sauron were many.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 9, The Making of Appendix A: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
I had the captain use the expression "the biggest tark", referring to Arathorn, in keeping with Tolkien's odd tendency to conflate height with nobility among the race of Men. The fact that it sounds insulting when spoken by an Orc is merely a bonus.

Ufghâsh, his brother

The sons of Elrond of my imagination are honorable, both individually and collectively. To my mind, their fearsome reputation among Orcs was gained simply by killing them with ruthless efficiency. I do not agree with the notion that they "went wild" after their mother's torment; simply put, they would never torture a living Orc.

However, I do believe that Arathorn's death struck Elladan and Elrohir especially hard, not only because of their friendship, but also because of the recent death of his father and birth of his son. In this drabble, the scene in the last line is a result of one of the brothers (perhaps Elrohir, because he was so affected by Arador dying in his arms) going momentarily wild and venting his rage on the already-dead body of the Orc archer who shot Arathorn.

Note that the sole Orc who survives to spread this tale is the same one who warned the captain about the Grey Marauders in the first place; thus do legends propagate and become embellished over time.

The reference to the world spinning was inspired by a recent personal experience with an ear infection. However, unlike in the real world, Ufghâsh has the advantage of taking an orc-draught, which appears to remedy many ills:
Uglúk thrust a flask between [Pippin's] teeth and poured some burning liquid down his throat: he felt a hot fierce glow flow through him. The pain in his legs and ankles vanished. He could stand.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 3, The Uruk-Hai

On the Way to Rivendell, Three Days Later: 2933

Elladan

Elladan seems to be surprised by (though admiring of) Gilraen's perceptiveness, but earlier we have learned that she has long considered the sons of Elrond to be harbingers of widowhood, and, because of her father's foresight, expected (but still dreaded) to receive news of Arathorn's death relatively soon.

We also know from canon that Aragorn was taken to Rivendell by Gilraen after Arathorn's death. Elrond had in fact fostered the sons of the Chieftains of the Dúnedain many times before, but probably neither so young nor under such dire circumstances:
The remnants of the Dúnedain of the North become rangers and errants, living largely in hiding.... The sons of their chieftains are usually fostered in Imladris by Elrond, to whose keeping are given the chief remaining heirlooms of their house, especially the shards of Elendil's sword, Narsil.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 7, The Heirs of Elendil: The Northern Line of Arnor: The Isildurioni

Gilraen takes Aragorn to Imladris. Elrond receives him as foster-son....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age
However, we know very little about who accompanied Gilraen and her son; I imagine that she would have an escort of Rangers, perhaps including her own father, Dírhael. I also believe that the sons of Elrond very likely also rode with her, since they were present at Arathorn's death and would also recognize the critical importance of conducting the child Heir of Isildur to safety as soon as possible.


The Angle, Weeks Later: 2933

Dírhael, at Ivorwen's grave

We do not know from canon when Gilraen's mother died, but we do know that in an early draft, Tolkien expected Ivorwen to be alive at Aragorn's birth:
[His] father gave him the name Aragorn, a name used in the House of the Chieftains. But Ivorwen at his naming stood by, and said 'Kingly Valour' (for so that name is interpreted): 'that he shall have, but I see on his breast a green stone, and from that his true name shall come and his chief renown: for he shall be a healer and a renewer.'

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Foreword: Note on the Text
I have envisioned that Ivorwen died a year or so later, so Dírhael has lost his wife and son-in-law to death, and his daughter and grandson to exile, over a period of just a few months.

Dírhael

We also know that Elrond decided that Aragorn's identity must be hidden, so that it would not become known that an Heir of Isildur still existed. I am assuming that it took some weeks to come to that decision, and that in the meantime Dírhael had returned home with the other Rangers, fully expecting to be able to visit his daughter again.

It is strictly my invention that the sons of Elrond had to return to the Angle to deliver the difficult news of Elrond's decision to Gilraen's kin. The only good news that they could bring to temper the pain was that Elrond had by then started to treat Aragorn as his own son:
Then Aragorn, being now the Heir of Isildur, was taken with his mother to dwell in the house of Elrond; and Elrond took the place of his father and came to love him as a son of his own. But he was called Estel, that is "Hope", and his true name and lineage were kept secret at the bidding of Elrond; for the Wise then knew that the Enemy was seeking to discover the Heir of Isildur, if any remained upon earth.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

But the child Aragorn... was nurtured in the House of Elrond, and there he was loved by all, and Elrond was a father to him....

But he knew naught of his own ancestry, for his mother did not speak to him of these things, nor any else in that House; and it was at the bidding of Elrond that these matters were kept secret.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 9, The Making of Appendix A: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
Dírhael's concern for his daughter seems justified. Though we know very little of how Gilraen adjusted to life in Rivendell, there is a hint that, even several years later, she was acutely conscious of the "otherness" of the Elves, and anxious not to offend her host, Elrond:
"My son," said Gilraen, "your aim is high, even for the descendant of many kings. For this lady [Arwen] is the noblest and fairest that now walks the earth. And it is not fit that mortal should wed with the Elf-kin."

"Yet we have some part in that kinship," said Aragorn, "if the tale of my forefathers is true...."

"It is true," said Gilraen, "but that was long ago and in another age of this world, before our race was diminished. Therefore I am afraid; for without the good will of Master Elrond the Heirs of Isildur will soon come to an end."

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

Aldburg in the Folde: 2995 Third Age

My thanks to Tanaqui for her suggestion to set this chapter and the next one around Éomund's death (instead of King Walda's), which allowed me to use familiar canon characters and a canon setting:
In 2989 Théodwyn married Éomund of Eastfold, the chief Marshal of the Mark. Her son Éomer was born in 2991, and her daughter Éowyn in 2995.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl: The Kings of the Mark

Here [at Aldburg in the Folde] Eorl had his house; it passed after Brego son of Eorl removed to Edoras into the hands of Eofor, third son of Brego, from whom Éomund, father of Éomer, claimed descent.... [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix
A young Rohirrim boy

We don't have a record of what informal word the children of the Rohirrim used for "father", but "daddy" and "dad" were in use by the Hobbits, and there was evidence that the original language of the Hobbits was related to that of the Rohirrim:
'And no wonder they're queer,' put in Daddy Twofoot (the Gaffer's next-door neighbor), 'if they live on the wrong side of the Brandywine River....'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 1, A Long-expected Party

'Don't let him hurt me, sir! Don't let him turn me into anything unnatural! My old dad would take on so.'

Ibid, Ch 2, The Shadow of the Past

'You see, your dad, Mr. Peregrin, he's never had no truck with this Lotho, not from the beginning....'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire

[By] the time of their settlement at Bree [the Hobbits] had already begun to forget their former tongue. This was evidently a Mannish language of the upper Anduin, akin to that of the Rohirrim....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age: Of Hobbits
Théodwyn

The folklore related by Théodwyn's midwife, that the baby's sex determines how high it is carried, is rooted in Anglo-Saxon history. My thanks to JunoMagic for so kindly finding and sharing this passage with me:
One of the beliefs about the sex of the foetus given here is still current today: if a woman is carrying the foetus high, she will have a boy, and if she is carrying it low, she will have a girl.... [There] is no anatomical truth in these assumptions.

Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Anglo-Saxon England, by Paola Cimino, University of Basle student research paper, 21 Nov 2002
The inspiration for how Éomund might rejoice at the news that his next child may be a girl came from Tanaqui's delightful drabble, The King's Summons.


The Emyn Muil: 3002 Third Age

Éomund of Eastfold, Chief Marshal of the Mark

Though Éomund was the chief Marshal of the Mark, he had established a reputation for the heedless pursuit of marauding Orcs, which resulted in his death by ambush:
... Sauron had arisen again, and the shadow of Mordor reached out to Rohan. Orcs began to raid in the eastern regions and slay or steal horses. Others also came down from the Misty Mountains.... Éomund's chief charge lay in the east marches; and he was a great lover of horses and hater of Orcs. If news came of a raid he would often ride against them in hot anger, unwarily and with few men. Thus it came about that he was slain in 3002; for he pursued a small band to the borders of the Emyn Muil, and was there surprised by a strong force that lay in wait in the rocks.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl: The Kings of the Mark
The idea of blackened orc blades is drawn from canon:
By both the doors [of the Chamber of Mazarbul] they could now see that many bones were lying, and among them were broken swords and axe-heads, and cloven shields and helms. Some of the swords were crooked: orc-scimitars with blackened blades.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 5, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
Of course, it is possible that this just refers to dried blood, which is dark, but it may also mean that the blades are darkened so they won't shine under torch-light, or even that they have been smeared with a dark-colored poison.


Firien Wood: Early August, 3019 Third Age

This chapter is dedicated to Jay of Lasgalen, for her birthday:
... I'd like anything about Elladan and Elrohir.... Angst or fluff, gen or slash — any rating, any genre is acceptable!

From: the January 2009 thread of the HASA Birthday Cards Forum.
Jay wrote an absolutely delightful ficlet for my birthday in 2008, which has a similar theme but a unique approach: The Legend of the Grey Riders is a joy to read, and I highly recommend it!

The chapter takes place along the road to Edoras as the Rohirrim, with a large contingent of important guests, travel north bearing the body of Théoden, their fallen King, to his burial. While all the details are from my imagination, the journey is canonical:
[The] kings of Gondor and Rohan went to the Hallows and they came to the tombs in Rath Dínen, and they bore away King Théoden upon a golden bier, and passed through the City in silence. Then they laid the bier upon a great wain with Riders of Rohan all about it and his banner borne before....

In that riding went also Queen Arwen, and Celeborn and Galadriel with their folk, and Elrond and his sons; and the princes of Dol Amroth and of Ithilien, and many captains and knights. Never had any king of the Mark such company upon the road as went with Théoden Thengel's son to the land of his home.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, Many Partings
This particular camp is located along the part of the West Road that cuts through the Firien Wood, the great woodlands that cover the skirts of Halifirien, the Hill of Awe, and its surrounding region. The campers are thus near the Mering Stream, the border between Gondor and Rohan:
[The Rohirrim rode south] through the Folde; and through the Fenmarch, where to their right great oakwoods climbed on the skirts of the hills under the shades of dark Halifirien by the borders of Gondor....

Ibid, LoTR Book 5, Ch 3, The Muster of Rohan

The Halifirien was the highest of the beacons, and... appeared to stand up alone out of a great wood... [Its] outer slopes, especially northwards, were long and nowhere steep, and trees grew upon them almost to its summit. As they descended the trees became ever more dense, especially along the Mering Stream... and northwards out into the plain through which the Stream flowed into the Entwash.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Cirion and Eorl

Elrohir, with the Rohirrim

I think that because of their long experience of sharing patrols with Men in Eriador, as well as their participation in the events leading to the founding of Rohan, Elrohir and Elladan would be more amenable to spending some evenings around the campfire swapping stories with the Rohirrim than perhaps some of their more traditional kin. Furthermore, I see the Rohirrim as having a strong bardic tradition, so they probably have better stories — and possibly even better drink — than the boring Gondorians and staid Grey Company members.
'[The Rohirrim] are proud and wilful, but they are true-hearted, generous in thought and deed; bold but not cruel; wise but unlearned, writing no books but singing many songs....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

To [Pippin's] face men were gravely courteous, saluting him after the manner of Gondor with bowed head and hands upon the breast....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 1, Minas Tirith

'Stout men and lordly [men of the Grey Company] are, and the Riders of Rohan look almost as boys beside them; for they are grim men of face, worn like weathered rocks for the most part, even as Aragorn himself; and they are silent.'

'But even as Aragorn they are courteous, if they break their silence.' said Legolas.

Ibid, Ch 2, The Passing of the Grey Company
Langsceaft means 'long shaft' (of a spear, for example) in Anglo-Saxon; this jocular epithet for Eorl is completely imaginary. Many thanks to Nath for helping me to form the epithet that I had originally intended to use, Langsweord 'long sword', and to Rociriel for her astute suggestion of employing 'long shaft' instead:
My OE glossary did not translate "sword" into "sweord" but rather bill, n.; ecg; guðbill, n; iren; mece. So, since "Langbill" sounds like a blue heron and "Langiren" like a Texas steer, if I had decided to refer to Eorl's manly attributes in my tale [Mother of Horsemen] I would probably have called him Langsceaft (Longshaft) or just plain Sceaft....
Elrohir, with Elladan

The Éomund that Elladan mentions is the canonical Rider of Éothéod who was Eorl's chief captain; he is described earlier.

I did not expect the young singer to stutter while speaking, until he opened his mouth; however, the muse works in mysterious ways. (Well, mine most certainly does, anyway!) I explore the real-world ability to sing despite stuttering below.

Elrohir's rudely-expressed admonition that Elladan should stop shocking mortals refers to the drabble whose notes are above; presumably, there have been other opportunities in the five hundred following years following that incident, as well.

Elladan

I assume that the primary languages of the sons of Elrond are Sindarin and Westron. I do not mean to suggest that Elladan speaks the language of the Rohirrim poorly; rather, in my opinion, it takes a near-native level of fluency to grasp double entendres in a second language, especially if they are clever enough to be subtle.

The song that Elrohir clued in Elladan about is a (made-up) suggestive ballad, but apparently, the Anglo-Saxons were very fond of suggestive riddles. For one of them, see the very funny ficlet about cross-cultural misunderstandings, The Onion Riddle, by Branwyn. There are also several other examples of Anglo-Saxon riddles copied from The Exeter Book, which can be found here. Many more Exeter Book riddles can be found here; my thanks to Fiondil for posting the link in his enjoyable Thorongil-in-Rohan story, Stirrings of Shadow.

Elladan, with the singer

The singer might have overimbibed somewhat (which is perhaps how Éomer was initially able to persuade him to sing his composition in front of strangers!). And I suspect that the Riders tend to take care of each other after they have overindulged.

Elrohir, with the singer

The banter between the brothers is imaginary, of course. Tolkien was horribly remiss in not telling us more about how they interacted with each other and with others.

Tolkien did publish several "translations" of Elven lays, however, and they are truly brilliant... and very, very long. I could imagine the sons of Elrond, when they were very young, trying to come up with shorter and livelier songs... perhaps something like this?
O! What are you doing,
And where are you going?
Your ponies need shoeing!
The river is flowing!
O! tra-la-la-lally
here down in the valley!

The Hobbit, Ch 3, A Short Rest
But I'm sure that notion was heavily influenced by Tanaqui's funny drabble trio, Like Father, Like Sons.

Elrohir's assertions about Northern Dúnedain songwriters are my own invention; from the few but grim descriptions of them, we do not even know whether they sang. Eärendur is, in fact, a canon character:
After Elendil and Isildur there were eight High Kings of Arnor. After Eärendur, owing to dissensions among his sons their realm was divided into three: Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan...

[The] line [of Isildur] soon perished in Cardolan and Rhudaur. There was often strife between the kingdoms....

In the days of Argeleb son of Malvegil, since no descendants of Isildur remained in the other kingdoms, the kings of Arthedain again claimed the lordship of all Arnor. The claim was resisted by Rhudaur. There the Dúnedain were few, and power had been seized by an evil lord of the Hill-men, who was in secret league with Angmar.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur: The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain
However, the notion that Eärendur's son gambled away Rhudaur is purely imaginary. Just imagine the shocked reaction that would cause among the strait-laced Dúnedain! But, of course, that's why it would make a good parody.

Sigebryht, Gléowine's prentice

Sigebryht is Anglo-Saxon for 'triumphant', literally 'rendered illustrious by victory'. He is an original character; in my imagination, he is the apprentice of Gléowine, Théoden's court minstrel in canon:
Then the Riders of the King's House upon white horses rode round about the barrow and sang together a song of Théoden Thengel's son that Gléowine his minstrel made, and he made no other song after.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, Many Partings
Regarding Sigebryht's stuttering: once I decided that it was his authentic voice, I did some research, and discovered that it is not uncommon for someone who stutters while speaking to be able to sing without impediment:
Certain situations, such as speaking before a group of people or talking on the telephone, tend to make stuttering more severe, whereas other situations, such as singing or speaking alone, often improve fluency.

"Stuttering". National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one of the National Institutes of Health. [23 Feb. 2008].
<NIDCD www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/stutter.asp>.

There are a few reasons why people who stutter don't do so when they sing. One is called easy onset of speech, or easy voice, or smooth speech. This describes the way you sing... you generally use a smoother and easier voice when you're singing versus when you're speaking....

Another reason why a person may not stutter while singing is because words are more prolonged (and less apt to be stumbled over) when they're sung rather than spoken. Music is an activity in which you use the right side of the brain (language uses the left), so when you sing music, you're no longer using your left brain (and probably no longer stuttering).

"Frequently Asked Questions About Stuttering". Stuttering Project at the University of Iowa. [23 Feb. 2008].
<University of Iowa www.shc.uiowa.edu/wjshc/research/stuttering/faq.html>.
Sigebryht grabbed the turf underneath him when he became queasy because I have a sense that the Rohirrim have an unusually strong connection with the land — it seems to give them a sense of rootedness:
'Halflings!' laughed the Rider that stood beside Éomer.... 'But they are only a little people in old songs and children's tales out of the North. Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?'

'A man may do both,' said Aragorn. 'For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan
Elladan, some time later

Elladan's assertion that the people of Eorl pursued their attackers across the Wold is semi-canonical:
Eorl the Young came with his riders and swept away the enemy, and pursued the Balchoth to the death over the fields of Calenardhon.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards
As mentioned above, the idea that Elrohir and Elladan healed the wounded after the battle is not canonical. But I do think that is one of the many ways in which the Battle of the Field of Celebrant might resemble the Battle of the Pelennor, even ignoring the obvious comparison of the Eorlings undertaking a great Ride to turn the tide of a great Battle. There is no mention of Aragorn taking notice of the Rohirrim from the Corsair ships, but if he had, he would have been very pleased that they had arrived.
And so at length Éomer and Aragorn met in the midst of the battle, and they leaned on their swords and looked on one another and were glad.

'Thus we meet again, though all the hosts of Mordor lay between us,' said Aragorn. 'Did I not say so at the Hornburg?'

'So you spoke,' said Éomer, 'but hope oft deceives, and I knew not then that you were a man foresighted. Yet twice blessed is help unlooked for, and never was a meeting of friends more joyful.' And they clasped hand in hand.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 6, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
Or, in other words: Is that a sword in your scabbard, or are you just happy to see me? (Sorry, couldn't resist!)


The Grey Havens: Evening of 29 September 3021

This chapter depicts the sailing of the Ring-bearers to the Undying Lands. Those who took ship include Elrond and Galadriel, Gandalf and Shadowfax, and Bilbo and Frodo. (Sam, though also a ring-bearer, would not leave until many years later.):
There was nothing more in Middle-earth for them, but weariness. So Elrond and Galadriel depart.... Gandalf was returning, his labour and errand finished, to his home, the land of the Valar.

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Letter 181 to Michael Straight, probably January or February 1956

In the autumn of this year Elrond, Galadriel, and Mithrandir, the guardians of the Three Rings, rode westward through the Shire to the Grey Havens. With them went, it is said, the Halflings Bilbo and Frodo, the Ring-bearers. Círdan had made ready a ship for them, and they set sail at evening and passed into the uttermost West.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 8, The Tale of Years of the Third Age

In the twilight of autumn it sailed out of Mithlond, until the seas of the Bent World fell away beneath it, and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne upon the high airs above the mists of the world it passed into the Ancient West, and an end was come for the Eldar of story and of song.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the waters that was soon lost in the West. There still he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 9, The Grey Havens

The 'immortals' who were permitted to leave Middle-earth and seek Aman... steered due West towards the ancient site of these lands. They only set out after sundown; but if any keen-eyed observer from that shore had watched one of these ships he might have seen that it never became hull-down but dwindled only by distance until it vanished in the twilight; it followed the straight road to the true West and not the bent road of the earth's surface. As it vanished it left the physical world. There was no return. The Elves who took this road and those few 'mortals' who by special grace went with them, had abandoned the 'History of the world' and could play no further part in it.

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Letter 325 to Roger Lancelyn Green, 17 July 1971
We know from Tolkien that Elladan and Elrohir remain in Middle-earth, as does Celeborn. In my imagination, Glorfindel also remains, though Tolkien gave us no clear indication one way or another. Tolkien also does not tell us who bid farewell to the departees, besides the remaining Hobbits of the Fellowship and Círdan; I choose to believe that Elladan and Elrohir were also present.

Elrond, at the stern

It is both sad and ironic that Elrond, as he finally departs from Middle-earth, would think of Maglor, the second son of Fëanor. The four surviving sons of Fëanor, during Eärendil's absence, perpetrated the assault on the Havens of Sirion, in which Elrond's mother Elwing fled with a Silmaril, and likely was thought to have died. Elrond and Elros, only six years old at the time, were captured by Maedhros and Maglor, who were the only two of Fëanor's sons to survive this third Kinslaying. But, instead of harming them, Maglor sheltered Elrond and Elros and fostered them lovingly, much as Elrond would later foster Aragorn:
Elros and Elrond were taken captive, but Elwing with the Silmaril upon her breast had cast herself into the sea....

Great was the sorrow of Eärendil and Elwing for the ruin of the havens of Sirion, and the captivity of their sons, and they feared that they would be slain; but it was not so. For Maglor took pity upon Elros and Elrond, and he cherished them, and love grew after between them, as little might be thought; but Maglor's heart was sick and weary with the burden of the dreadful oath.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 24, Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath
I was thinking recently that, if Maglor had not later chosen to let Elrond and Elros leave the Fëanoreans' dwelling place, Elrond likely would not have met and married Celebrían, nor would Elladan, Elrohir, and Arwen have been born. However, I was unable to find anything explicit in Tolkien's writings to confirm the idea that he did let them go, nor when — except a rather oblique reference in very early writings that otherwise do not conform to the narrative in his later writings (emphasis mine):
Yet not all the Eldalië were willing to forsake the Hither Lands where they had long suffered and long dwelt; and some lingered many an age in the West and North.... And among these were Maglor, as hath been told; and with him for a while was Elrond Halfelven, who chose, as was granted to him, to be among the Elf-kindred; but Elros his brother chose to abide with Men.

The Lost Road and Other Writings, HoME Vol 5, Part 2, Ch 6, Quenta Silmarillion: The Conclusion of the Quenta Silmarillion
Similarly, I had taken it for granted that Elrond and Elros were twins, as are Elladan and Elrohir. However, it took more searching than I expected to find confirmation of that... and Tolkien seemed to waver at times as to which one was the older (after he had finally decided to add Elros to the family, that is):
532 Elros and Elrond twin sons of Earendil born.

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 3, Ch 5, The Tale of Years

130 Birth of Elladan and Elrohir, sons of Elrond.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age
The song that Elrond imagines hearing is appropriately a lament, for Maglor's fate is indeed a grievous one:
And it is told of Maglor that he could not endure the pain with which the Silmaril tormented him; and he cast it at last into the Sea...; but he came never back among the people of the Elves.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 24, Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath
The idea that Elrond thought he could detect a song in the sound of the waters is not original; Tolkien used that notion repeatedly:
But mostly Ulmo speaks to those who dwell in Middle-earth with voices that are heard only as the music of water.

Ibid, Valaquenta: Of the Valar

'But in the spring when the wind is in the new leaves the echo of [Nimrodel's] voice may still be heard by the falls that bear her name. And when the wind is in the South the voice of Amroth comes up from the sea....'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 6, Lothlórien
So it would be quite normal for Elrond to imagine that he is hearing Maglor's singing as he puts out to sea. Or is it imagined?
[Thereafter] he wandered ever upon the shores, singing in pain and regret beside the waves. For Maglor was mighty among the singers of old....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 24, Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath

... Maglor the mighty singer, whose voice was heard far over land and sea....

Ibid, Ch 5, Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië

Cerin Amroth, Late Winter: 121 Fourth Age

This chapter is dedicated to Nath, whose birthday drabble request inspired this pair of drabbles:
I would like anything related to 'time', any characters and any rating, though my current favourites are the Northern Dúnedain.

From: the May 2008 thread of the HASA Birthday Cards Forum.
This scene depicts Elrohir and Elladan burying Arwen, after she faded from grief over Aragorn's death:
Arwen went forth from the House, and the light of her eyes was quenched, and it seemed to her people that she had become cold and grey as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Then she said farewell to Eldarion, and to her daughters, and to all whom she had loved; and she went out from the city of Minas Tirith and passed away to the land of Lórien, and dwelt there alone under the fading trees until winter came. Galadriel had passed away and Celeborn also was gone, and the land was silent.

There at last when the mallorn-leaves were falling, but spring had not yet come, she laid herself to rest upon Cerin Amroth; and there is her green grave, until the world is changed, and all the days of her life are utterly forgotten by men that come after, and elanor and niphredil bloom no more east of the Sea.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
I believe that Aragorn might have invited Elladan and Elrohir to Minas Tirith beforehand, since his death was voluntary and the timing was under his control. They might then have followed Arwen to Lórien, to discreetly watch over her from afar. The leaves were still on the mallorn trees, so they had plenty of cover, and she seems too sunk in her grief to notice that she was not entirely alone.

Elrohir

In their shared grief at her death, I believe that the brothers would take comfort in the repetition of simple tasks, lovingly done for the benefit of their dear sister.

I took some liberties to assume that Arwen owned a gray cloak made by Galadriel, which Elrohir sewed up to make her shroud:
For each [of the Company] they had provided a hood and cloak, made according to his size, of the light but warm silken stuff that the Galadhrim wove. It was hard to say of what colour they were: grey with the hue of twilight under the trees they seemed to be; and yet if they were moved, or set in another light, they were green as shadowed leaves, or brown as fallow fields by night, dusk-silver as water under the stars....

'You are indeed high in the favour of the Lady! For she herself and her maidens wove this stuff; and never before have we clad strangers in the garb of our own people.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien
The mention of a wounded Dúnedain maiden reflects the fact that the brothers often rode with the Rangers of the North. It is not a stretch to imagine that in the wake of the consternation after they carry home a wounded Ranger to tend, his family would not necessarily secure all his weapons at once. A very young boy might therefore find a hidden boot-knife... and I imagine that fighting Orcs would figure prominently in the play of northern Dúnedain boys of the late Third Age.

Elladan

Elladan is digging Arwen's grave in the shadow of the Amroth's mallorn at the top of Cerin Amroth:
To the left stood a great mound, covered with a sward of grass as green as Springtime in the Elder Days. Upon it, as a double crown, grew two circles of trees: the outer had bark of snowy white, and were leafless but beautiful in their shapely nakedness; the inner were mallorn-trees of great height, still arrayed in pale gold. High amid the branches of a towering tree that stood in the centre of all there gleamed a white flet. At the feet of the trees, and all about the green hillsides the grass was studded with small golden flowers shaped like stars. Among them, nodding on slender stalks, were other flowers, white and palest green: they glimmered as a mist amid the rich hue of the grass. Over all the sky was blue, and the sun of afternoon glowed upon the hill and cast long green shadows beneath the trees.

'Behold! You are come to Cerin Amroth,' said Haldir. 'For this is the heart of the ancient realm as it was long ago, and here is the mound of Amroth, where in happier days his high house was built. Here ever bloom the winter flowers in the unfading grass: the yellow elanor, and the pale niphredil.'

Ibid, Ch 6, Lothlórien
I chose niphredil for Arwen's favorite flower because of her resemblance to Lúthien, who is associated with that flower:
[In] Beleriand... the bright stars shone as silver fires; and there in the forest of Neldoreth Lúthien was born, and the white flowers of niphredil came forth to greet her as stars from the earth.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 10, Of the Sindar
'Sun-star' is a direct translation of elanor, but the name 'moon-bells' is my own invention, suggesting the pendulous nature of snowdrops:
I have greatly enjoyed the Cape Flower Book [Wild Flowers of the Cape Peninsula, by Mary Maytham Kidd, Oxford University Press, 1950].... I have not seen anything that immediately recalls niphredil or elanor or alfirin; but that I think is because those imagined flowers are lit by a light that would not be seen ever in a growing plant and cannot be recaptured by paint. Lit by that light, niphredil would be simply a delicate kin of a snowdrop....

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Letter 312 to Amy Ronald, 16 November 1969
The concept of Elven warriors standing vigil over a grave for three days was suggested by the postmortem rituals for a dear friend of mine.


Elvenhome: Fourth Age

Celebrían, expecting a guest

Tolkien told us nothing about Celebrían's personality, but, given the quality of the parents who raised her, the husband who esteemed her, and especially the children whom she influenced, I see her as an exceptionally intelligent, talented, and capable woman, as well as kind, witty, and devoted to her family and friends.

Mithrandir is one of Gandalf's many names. Celebrían uses his Sindarin name in this drabble, because that is how she knew him in Middle-earth; however, I assume that he has reverted to his original name after returning to the Undying Lands:
'The Grey Pilgrim?' said Frodo. 'Had he a name?'

'Mithrandir we called him in elf-fashion,' said Faramir, 'and he was content. Many are my names in many countries, he said. Mithrandir among the Elves, Tharkûn to the Dwarves; Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Incánus, in the North Gandalf; to the East I go not.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 5, The Window on the West
I imagine that Gandalf is normally incorporeal in the Undying Lands, much like the Valar, but takes tangible form whenever he chooses to interact with Elves:
[The] visible form of the Valar proceeds from their own will and with regard to their true being is to be likened rather to the chosen raiment of Elves and Men than to their bodies.

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 3, Section 2, Laws and Customs Among the Eldar: Of Death and the Severance of Fëa and Hröa

Now the Valar took to themselves shape and hue; and because they were drawn into the World by love of the Children of Ilúvatar..., they took shape after that manner which they had beheld in the Vision of Ilúvatar, save only in majesty and splendour. Moreover their shape comes of their knowledge of the visible World, rather than of the World itself; and they need it not, save only as we use raiment.... Therefore the Valar may walk, if they will, unclad, and then even the Eldar cannot clearly perceive them, though they be present. But when they desire to clothe themselves the Valar take upon them forms some as of male and some as of female....

The Silmarillion, Ainulindalë

[Olórin] walked among [the Elves] unseen, or in form as one of them....

Ibid, Valaquenta: Of the Maiar
For "spiced nut-cakes", think cinnamon buns, fresh from the oven where they were baked to golden perfection — redolent of yeast, sweet creamery butter, China cassia cinnamon, dark brown sugar, and toasted pecans... well worth the need to take on bodily form to appreciate them!

Gandalf's reference to the Song is to the Great Music, from which everything in Tolkien's invented world was derived:
In the beginning Eru, the One, who in the Elvish tongue is named Ilúvatar, made the Ainur of his thought; and they made a great Music before him. In this Music the World was begun; for Ilúvatar made visible the song of the Ainur, and they beheld it as a light in the darkness. And many among them became enamoured of its beauty, and of its history which they saw beginning and unfolding as in a vision. Therefore Ilúvatar gave to their vision Being, and set it amid the Void, and the Secret Fire was sent to burn at the heart of the World; and it was called Eä.

Ibid, Valaquenta
I think Gandalf, like Celebrían, possesses a sense of humor, and easily lapses into laughter, especially when confronted with such sensuous pleasures as warm cinnamon buns:
[Gandalf] laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land.... It fell upon [Sam's] ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 4, The Field of Cormallen

Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now close beside his own, for the sound of that laugh had been gay and merry. Yet in the wizard's face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth.

Ibid, LoTR Book 5, Ch 1, Minas Tirith
Olórin, sitting with Celebrían

In this drabble, we see that Celebrían asked Gandalf to this picnic, presumably aware of his love for her spiced nut-cakes. But who are these little-known creatures whom she persuaded to carry her invitation to Gandalf?

Súruli and their cousins Mánir are winged spirits (possibly Maiar) who followed Manwë and Varda into Eä; they are mentioned only in Tolkien's earlier drafts:
With [Manwë Súlimo and Varda the Beautiful] came many of those lesser Vali who loved them and had played nigh them and attuned their music to theirs, and these are the Mánir and the Súruli, the sylphs of the airs and of the winds.

The Book of Lost Tales 1, HoME Vol 1, Ch 6, The Theft of Melko and the Darkening of Valinor

... more strange and fair
than sylphine maidens of the Air
whose wings in Varda's heavenly hall
in rhythmic movement beat and fall.

The Lays of Beleriand, HoME Vol 3, Ch 3, The Lay of Leithian, Canto XIII, Lines 4076-4079
They are associated with the Tolkien's earliest and most poetic traditions about the origins of the stars...:
[To] each of the stars had [Varda] given a heart of silver flame set in vessels of crystals and pale glass and unimagined substances of faintest colours: and these vessels were some made like to boats, and buoyed by their hearts of light they fared ever about Ilwë, yet could they not soar into the dark and tenuous realm of Vaitya that is outside all. Now winged spirits of the utmost purity and beauty — even the most ethereal of those bright choirs of the Mánir and the Súruli who fare about the halls of Manwë on Taniquetil or traverse all the airs that move upon the world — sate in those starry boats and guided them on mazy courses high above the Earth....

The Book of Lost Tales 1, HoME Vol 1, Ch 8, The Tale of the Sun and the Moon
and also of the moon (Silpion is an early name for Telperion, the silver Tree of Valinor):
Indeed in these days darkness is no more within the borders of the world, but only night, and night is another and a different thing, by reason of the Rose of Silpion.

Now however does Aulë fill the brimming vessel of that flower with white radiance, and many of the Súruli white-winged glide beneath and bear it slowly up and set it among the company of the stars. There does it swim slowly, a pale and glorious thing, and Ilinsor and his comrades sit them upon its rim and with shimmering oars urge it bravely through the sky; and Manwë breathed upon its bellying sails till it was wafted far away, and the beat of the unseen oars against the winds of night faded and grew faint.

Ibid
Olórin

Gandalf is, I believe, perceptive in his admiration of Celebrían; however, the idea that she sailed West to protect her family is strictly my own invention, though I think it is consistent with the traits I have ascribed to her.

On the other hand, Celebrían knows from long experience that Gandalf is always willing to aid her in whatever ways he can:
In later days [Olórin] was the friend of all the Children of Ilúvatar, and took pity on their sorrows; and those who listened to him awoke from despair and put away the imaginations of darkness.

The Silmarillion, Valaquenta: Of the Maiar

2758-9: The Long Winter.... Great suffering and loss of life in Eriador and Rohan. Gandalf comes to the aid of the Shire-folk.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age
A similar view of Gandalf's concern for his friends is displayed in Larner's pleasing holiday vignette, The First Snowfall of the Season.


Nienna's Halls, Sometime After: Fourth Age

This chapter is dedicated to Imhiriel, for her birthday:
... I'd like to read drabbles starring one (or more) of the female Valar, the Valier. Feel free to choose any time, place or other characters.

From: the January 2009 thread of the HASA Birthday Cards Forum.
It is the result of Celebrían's request of aid for Galadriel from Gandalf in the prior chapter; his response is to escort Galadriel to the halls of the Valie, Nienna. Nienna is the healer among the Valar, the Lady of pity and mourning, sister to Námo (Mandos) and Irmo (Lórien):
Then Manwë bade Yavanna and Nienna to put forth all their powers of growth and healing.... But the tears of Nienna availed not to heal [the Two Trees'] mortal wounds....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 11, Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor

Nienna, sister of the Fëanturi... is acquainted with grief, and mourns for every wound that Arda has suffered in the marring of Melkor.... But she does not weep for herself; and those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope... [She] brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom.

Ibid, Valaquenta: Of the Valar
Nienna, greeting Galadriel
Galadriel, on Elrond and Celebrían
Nienna, with Galadriel

Artanis is a birth name for Galadriel, the one she was known by in Aman; Celeborn had given her the name "Galadriel" after her arrival in Middle-earth:
The children of Finarfin... were named: Findaráto Ingoldo; Angaráto; Aikanáro; and Nerwendë Artanis, surnamed Alatáriel....

Galadriel was chosen by Artanis ('noble woman') to be her Sindarin name; for it was the most beautiful of her names, and, though as an epessë, had been given to her by her lover....

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 11, The Shibboleth of Fëanor: The Names of Finwë's Descendants
The idea that Galadriel was pining away for Celeborn after she sailed to Aman is not canon, of course; I simply extrapolated from the fact that they had been together for so long in Middle-earth. I believe that Galadriel was able to withstand the separation for some period of time, but eventually began to wear down. As she mentioned, she was already in a weakened condition when she sailed. The Three Elven Rings of Power, one of which she wore, had all lost their potency:
'Verily it is in the land of Lórien upon the finger of Galadriel that one of the Three remains. This is Nenya, the Ring of Adamant, and I am its keeper....

'[If] you succeed [in destroying the One Ring], then our power is diminished, and Lothlórien will fade, and the tides of Time will sweep it away. We must depart into the West, or dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 7, The Mirror of Galadriel

'The Three... were not made as weapons of war or conquest: that is not their power. Those who made them did not desire strength or domination or hoarded wealth, but understanding, making, and healing, to preserve all things unstained.... But all that has been wrought by those who wield the Three will turn to their undoing, and their minds and hearts will become revealed to Sauron, if he regains the One....'

'But what then would happen, if the Ruling Ring were destroyed as you counsel?' asked Glóin.

'We know not for certain,' answered Elrond sadly. 'Some hope that the Three Rings, which Sauron has never touched, would then become free, and their rulers might heal the hurts of the world that he has wrought. But maybe when the One has gone, the Three will fail, and many fair things will fade and be forgotten. That is my belief.'

Ibid, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

When the Great Ring was unmade... the Three were shorn of their power....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
Both the idea that her sea-longing was increased after the destruction of the One Ring, and the reason for Celeborn's lingering in Middle-earth, are imagined.

Gandalf was indeed a disciple of Nienna in canon:
Wisest of the Maiar was Olórin. He too dwelt in Lórien, but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience.

The Silmarillion, Valaquenta: Of the Maiar
I can only imagine that Galadriel would feel at loose ends in the Undying Lands, after all she had accomplished in Middle-earth.

Nienna's reference to Galadriel's earlier years refers to the the Noldor exile from Aman:
But Finarfin spoke softly, as was his wont, and sought to calm the Noldor, persuading them to pause and ponder ere deeds were done that could not be undone... Galadriel, the only woman of the Noldor to stand that day tall and valiant among the contending princes, was eager to be gone. No oaths she swore, but the words of Fëanor concerning Middle-earth had kindled in her heart, for she yearned to see the wide unguarded lands and to rule there a realm at her own will.

Ibid, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 9, Of the Flight of the Noldor
Galadriel, on Finarfin, King of the Noldor

Finarfin, Galadriel's father, became King of the remnant of the Noldor remaining in Aman after choosing not to continue during the Noldorin Exile:
But in that hour Finarfin forsook the march, and turned back, being filled with grief, and with bitterness against the House of Fëanor, because of his kinship with Olwë of Alqualondë; and many of his people went with him, retracing their steps in sorrow, until they beheld once more the far beam of the Mindon upon Túna still shining in the night, and so came at last to Valinor. There they received the pardon of the Valar, and Finarfin was set to rule the remnant of the Noldor in the Blessed Realm.

Ibid

[No] pass led through [the Pelóri], save only at the Calacirya: but that pass the Valar did not close, because of the Eldar that were faithful, and in the city of Tirion upon the green hill Finarfin yet ruled the remnant of the Noldor in the deep cleft of the mountains.

Ibid, Ch 11, Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor
What Galadriel says about Finarfin and his court are strictly from my imagination; however, we do know that Finrod was Finarfin's eldest son, and that he was released from the Halls of Mandos after his death in Beleriand. I merely guessed that his release might have occurred before Galadriel returned to Aman, thus allowing him time to re-establish his position as heir in his father's court:
The sons of Finarfin were Finrod the faithful (who was afterwards named Felagund, Lord of Caves), Orodreth, Angrod, and Aegnor.... A sister they had, Galadriel, most beautiful of all the house of Finwë....

Ibid, Ch 5, Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië

They buried the body of Felagund upon the hill-top of his own isle, and it was clean again; and the green grave of Finrod Finarfin's son, fairest of all the princes of the Elves, remained inviolate, until the land was changed and broken, and foundered under destroying seas. But Finrod walks with Finarfin his father beneath the trees in Eldamar.

Ibid, Ch 19, Of Beren and Lúthien
Celeborn and Galadriel did, indeed, eschew the title of King and Queen in Middle-earth despite holding that exalted position, whereas Finrod did not:
To Lórien Celeborn and Galadriel returned twice before the Last Alliance and the end of the Second Age; and in the Third Age, when the shadow of Sauron's recovery arose, they dwelt there again for a long time. In her wisdom Galadriel saw that Lórien would be a stronghold and point of power to prevent the Shadow from crossing the Anduin in the war that must inevitably come before it was again defeated...; but that it needed a rule of greater strength and wisdom than the Silvan folk possessed. Nevertheless, it was not until the disaster in Moria, when by means beyond the foresight of Galadriel Sauron's power actually crossed the Anduin and Lórien was in great peril, its king lost, its people fleeing and likely to leave it deserted to be occupied by Orcs, that Galadriel and Celeborn took up their permanent abode in Lórien, and its government. But they took no title of King or Queen, and were the guardians that in the event brought it unviolated through the War of the Ring.

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 4, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn: Amroth and Nimrodel

It came to pass that Nargothrond was full-wrought..., and the sons of Finarfin were gathered there to a feast; and Galadriel came from Doriath and dwelt a while in Nargothrond. Now King Finrod Felagund had no wife, and Galadriel asked him why this should be; but foresight came upon Felagund as she spoke, and he said: 'An oath I too shall swear, and must be free to fulfil it, and go into darkness. Nor shall anything of my realm endure that a son should inherit.'

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 15, Of the Noldor in Beleriand
The simple-minded courtiers that Galadriel — and Nienna — refer to are strictly from my imagination.

Nienna

I have imagined that the Elves in Middle-earth were more focused than the Elves of Aman on survival in the face of the evils of Morgoth, thus having less time and patience for idle courtiers who chose not to contribute to the well-being of their people.

The Elwë that Galadriel refers to is Elu Thingol, King of the Sindar; Galadriel uses his Quenya name for Nienna's sake. Ereinion is Gil-galad, last High King of the Noldor in Middle-earth; and Galadriel's kinsmen include such other luminaries as Fingolfin and Fingon, successive High Kings of the Noldor in Beleriand, Turgon, King of Gondolin, Finrod and Orodreth, successive Kings of Nargothrond, and Fëanor and Maedhros, successive Lords of their contingent of the Noldor.

But, in my universe, Celeborn is especially dismissive of fools, or even needlessly servile behavior engaged in by people whom he respects. For an example of that, see this chapter. Perhaps it was even that memory of him that finally allowed Galadriel to release her grief and loneliness at their separation.


Rivendell, morning: Fourth Age

We know from canon that Imladris remained populated for some time after Elrond sailed west, and that Elladan and Elrohir remained there, joined later by Celeborn. However, we do not know how long they remained. It is strictly my conjecture that they lingered in Middle-earth well past the time that Arwen and Aragorn died:
There [in Rivendell], though Elrond had departed, his sons long remained, together with some of the High-elven folk. It is said that Celeborn went to dwell there after the departure of Galadriel....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Note on the Shire Records
Celeborn

The succession of Fourth Age dwelling places that Celeborn mentions is drawn from canon:
In... Lórien there lingered sadly only a few of its former people, and there was no longer light or song in Caras Galadhon.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

Celeborn took all the southern [Greenwood] below the Narrows, and named it East Lórien.... But after the passing of Galadriel in a few years Celeborn grew weary of his realm and went to Imladris to dwell with the sons of Elrond.

Ibid
The suggestion in this drabble that Celeborn continued to visit Gondor for some time after Galadriel sailed is not drawn from canon, but seems plausible to me; Elladan and Elrohir most likely did so as well.

Eldarion is a canon character, the son of Aragorn and Arwen; however, I made up the idea that Arwen's descendants abandoned their Elven heritage some time after Eldarion's death, which Tolkien apparently intended to be 100 years after his accession:
Then going to the House of the Kings in the Silent Street, Aragorn laid him[self] down.... There he said farewell to Eldarion, and gave into his hands the winged crown of Gondor and the sceptre of Arnor....

Ibid, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

I [Tolkien] have written nothing beyond the first few years of the Fourth Age. (Except the beginning of a tale supposed to refer to the end of the reign of Eldarion about 100 years after the death of Aragorn....)

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Letter 338 to Fr. Douglas Carter, 6 June 1972
As far as I know, the concept of spouses being able to sense each other's well-being at a distance is not canonical. However, there is a passage that I interpret as a description of silent interpersonal communication among the Eldar, though these are within reach of one other:
Celeborn and Galadriel... had much to speak of with Elrond and with Gandalf.... [They] would sit together under the stars,... holding council.... [They] did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind; and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts went to and fro.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, Many Partings
Given that ability, I believe it is possible that bonded couples have the capacity to communicate feelings, if not words, across large distances... though most likely not across the Sundering Seas after the world was bent:
For Ilúvatar cast back the Great Seas...; and the world was diminished, for Valinor and Eressëa were taken from it into the realm of hidden things.

The Silmarillion, Akallabêth

[The] Undying Lands were removed for ever from the circles of the world.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Númenor
Elladan

In this drabble, Elladan and Elrohir are prompted by a shared dream to realize that it is time to make the choice of the Half-elven: immortality (and sailing West to the Undying Lands) or mortality (and remaining in Middle-earth until death). They know that the choice, once made, is irrevocable. Each will spend some time alone to consider what his choice will be.
But to the children of Elrond a choice was also appointed: to pass with him from the circles of the world; or if they remained, to become mortal and die in Middle-earth.

Ibid
Celeborn's concern about whether Elladan and Elrohir will sail West with him is well-founded; Tolkien himself never told us whether they did so:
Elrond passes Over Sea. The end of his sons, Elladan and Elrohir, is not told: they delay their choice, and remain for a while.

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Letter 153 to Peter Hastings (draft), September 1954
However, in a hopeful note, apparently they are allowed to delay their choice past the time when Elrond sails, though not indefinitely:
The view is that the Half-elven have the power of (irrevocable) choice, which may be delayed but not permanently, which kin's fate they will share.

Ibid
I interpret Tolkien's words as indicating that although Elladan and Elrohir will very slowly fade after Elrond's departure, they can still choose to sail at any time, until and unless they have explicitly chosen to become mortal; but if they wait too long, they risk fading away completely.


Rivendell, Late that Afternoon: Fourth Age

This chapter is dedicated to Jay of Lasgalen, whose birthday drabble request inspired all the drabbles but the first:
As most people know, my favourites are Elladan and Elrohir — but I'd like a drabble about one of the twins, alone. I'll leave you to decide why, and where the other might be.

From: the January 2008 thread of the HASA Birthday Cards Forum.
Since I have also become quite fond of the the sons of Elrond (for which I blame this drabble series!), how could I possibly not respond to such an enticing invitation?

In this scene, Elrohir seeks time alone, in his own unique way, to ponder whether to sail West. He starts out in a contemplative mood, but melancholy soon overcomes him.

Elrohir, late afternoon

Tolkien's descriptions of Rivendell always struck me as extraordinarily beautiful; it seems like an idyllic place that would be exceedingly difficult to leave behind forever:
They saw a valley far below. They could hear the voice of hurrying water in rocky bed at the bottom; the scent of trees was in the air; and there was a light on the valley-side across the water.... The air grew warmer as they got lower, and the smell of the pine-trees made [Bilbo] drowsy.... Their spirits rose as they went down and down. The trees changed to beech and oak, and there was a comfortable feeling in the twilight. The last green had almost faded out of the grass, when they came at length to an open glade not far above the banks of the stream.

The Hobbit, Ch 3, A Short Rest

The sound of running and falling water was loud, and the evening was filled with a faint scent of trees and flowers, as if summer still lingered in Elrond's gardens.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings
I am not entirely certain how the idea that one of the twins would be a serious climber originated, but it was at least in part because of a documentary I saw about rock-climbing on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, a sheer granite cliff over 3000 feet tall — beautiful, but breath-taking! I admire (from solid ground, at a distance) those who have the athletic prowess to undertake feats of such astonishing difficulty.

However, just recently Jay of Lasgalen posted a new chapter of her story, Beyond the Dimrill Gate, which I recall having read quite some time ago. One of the early chapters depicts the sons of Elrond and Estel climbing a wall inside the mines of Moria. Though I had not consciously remembered that climbing scene when I wrote these drabbles, it is certainly possible that it helped to plant the imagery of rock-climbing in my mind. It is an exciting story, well worth a read — if you do not suffer from heart-pounding fear of tight spaces, dizzying heights, or underwater traps. (Much less all three!)

It seems quite natural that some Elves (and by extension, Peredhil) might enjoy challenging their bodies in such a way, for the Elves seem to develop grace and physical coordination at quite an early age:
The Eldar grew in bodily form slower than Men, but in mind more swiftly. They learned to speak before they were one year old; and in the same time they learned to walk and to dance, for their wills came soon to the mastery of their bodies. Nonetheless there was less difference between the two Kindreds, Elves and Men, in early youth; and a man who watched elf-children at play might well have believed that they were the children of Men....

This same watcher might indeed have wondered at the small limbs and stature of these [Elf] children, judging their age by their skill in words and grace in motion.

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 3, Section 2, Laws and Customs Among the Eldar
The geography of Imladris seems especially conducive to rock-climbing, as well as to admiring the panorama from the top of the cliffs:
They came to the edge of a steep fall in the ground so suddenly that Gandalf's horse nearly slipped down the slope....

Bilbo never forgot the way they slithered and slipped in the dusk down the steep zig-zag path into the secret valley of Rivendell.

The Hobbit, Ch 3, A Short Rest

'I should like to get into those pine-woods up there.' [Frodo] pointed away far up the side of Rivendell to the north.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

Sam led [Frodo]... into a high garden above the steep bank of the river.... Shadows had fallen in the valley below, but there was still a light on the faces of the mountains far above....

Ibid, Ch 1, Many Meetings

They crossed the bridge and wound slowly up the long steep paths that led out of the cloven vale of Rivendell; and they came at length to the high moor.... Then with one glance at the Last Homely House twinkling below them they strode away....

Ibid, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South
Glorfindel, that night

I subscribe to the theory that Glorfindel, the hero who died during the Fall of Gondolin in the First Age, was re-embodied in the Blessed Realm and returned to Middle-earth sometime before the end of the Second Age, when the seas were bent:
The fume of the burning, and the steam of the fair fountains of Gondolin withering in the flame of the dragons of the north, fell upon the vale of Tumladen in mournful mists; and thus was the escape of Tuor and his company aided, for there was still a long and open road to follow... to the foothills of the mountains....

There was a dreadful pass, Cirith Thoronath... beneath the shadow of the highest peaks.... Along that narrow way their march was strung, when they were ambushed by Orcs, for Morgoth had set watchers all about the encircling hills; and a Balrog was with them. Then dreadful was their plight, and hardly would they have been saved by the valour of yellow-haired Glorfindel, chief of the House of the Golden Flower of Gondolin, had not Thorondor come timely to their aid.

Many are the songs that have been sung of the duel of Glorfindel with the Balrog upon a pinnacle of rock in that high place; and both fell to ruin in the abyss. But the eagles coming stooped upon the Orcs, and drove them shrieking back; and all were slain or cast into the deeps, so that rumour of the escape from Gondolin came not until long after to Morgoth's ears. Then Thorondor bore up Glorfindel's body out of the abyss, and they buried him in a mound of stones beside the pass; and a green turf came there, and yellow flowers bloomed upon it amid the barrenness of stone, until the world was changed.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 23, Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin

[Long] after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, my father gave a great deal of thought to the matter of Glorfindel.... He came to the conclusion that Glorfindel of Gondolin, who fell to his death in combat with a Balrog after the sack of the city ([HoME volumes 2 and 4]), and Glorfindel of Rivendell were one and the same: he was released from Mandos and returned to Middle-earth in the Second Age.

The Return of the Shadow, HoME Vol 6, Part 1, Ch 12, At Rivendell
Consequently, in my imagination, Glorfindel had dwelled in Rivendell as Elrond's friend and counselor since the Second Age; he would have been present when Elrond married Celebrían, and watched as they raised their children.

For a heart-warming glimpse of Glorfindel's earliest days in Rivendell, I highly recommend Tanaqui's drabble, Welcome.

I believe that Glorfindel functioned as a father-figure and mentor to Elrohir, Elladan, and Arwen. Furthermore, as a warrior of renown, he likely guided the twins' martial training. From long familiarity, he would be attuned to how each individual tended to react in various circumstances.

The idea that Elrohir, as a child, climbed the bell-tower of Rivendell is from my imagination. We do not even know whether Rivendell has a bell-tower — except that there are several references to bells being used to mark time there:
'A feast!' said Merry.... He had hardly finished speaking when they were summoned to the hall by the ringing of many bells.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

Suddenly as they were talking a single clear bell rang out. 'That is the warning bell for the Council of Elrond,' cried Gandalf. 'Come along now!'

Ibid, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond
We know that Asfaloth, Glorfindel's horse during the War of the Ring, is white, so I inferred that Glorfindel favors gray horses — and he clearly prefers noisy tack:
Clearer and nearer now the bells jingled.... Suddenly into view below came a white horse, gleaming in the shadows, running swiftly. In the dusk its headstall flickered and flashed, as if it were studded with gems like living stars.

Ibid, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford
To me, the showy headstall indicates a sense of humor. Thus, I thought that Elfaron might be a suitably playful name for a white horse: according to early etymologies, it means 'star-hunter', and is a metaphor for the Moon:
SPAR- hunt, pursue.... Elfaron ‘star-hunter’, Moon... with the name ‘Star-hunter’ of the Moon cf. QS §76.

The Lost Road and Other Writings, HoME Vol 5, Part 3, The Etymologies

§76. Rana... first rose into the region of the stars...; but many of the stars fled affrighted, and Tilion the bowman wandered from his path pursuing them....

Ibid, Part 2, Ch 6, Quenta Silmarillion: 6 Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor
Glorfindel, with Elrohir

From long association, Glorfindel knows how to patiently draw Elrohir out when he is in a withdrawn mood, by not pushing him to speak until he is ready. Fortunately, he is not threatened by a lack of initial response to his verbal overtures.

Eärendil the Mariner is Elrond's father, who sails a ship, Vingilot, across the sky wearing a Silmaril each night. Gil-estel, as the heavenly body is called, is the Middle-earth equivalent of Venus, in its guise as the morning star or the evening star:
'Elrond of Rivendell is of [Lúthien's] Kin. For of Beren and Lúthien was born Dior Thingol's heir; and of him Elwing the White whom Eärendil wedded, he that sailed his ship out of the mists of the world into the seas of heaven with the Silmaril upon his brow.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 11, A Knife in the Dark

Eärendil... with the power of the silmaril... came to the Uttermost West, and... obtained the help by which Morgoth was overthrown. Eärendil was not permitted to return to mortal lands, and his ship bearing the silmaril was set to sail in the heavens as a star....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Númenor

[The] Valar... took Vingilot, and hallowed it, and bore it away through Valinor to the uttermost rim of the world; and there it passed through the Door of Night and was lifted up even into the oceans of heaven.

Now fair and marvellous was that vessel made, and it was filled with a wavering flame, pure and bright; and Eärendil the Mariner sat at the helm, glistening with dust of elven-gems, and the Silmaril was bound upon his brow. Far he journeyed in that ship, even into the starless voids; but most often was he seen at morning or at evening, glimmering in sunrise or sunset, as he came back to Valinor from voyages beyond the confines of the world....

Now when first Vingilot was set to sail in the seas of heaven, it rose unlooked for, glittering and bright; and the people of Middle-earth beheld it from afar and wondered, and they took it for a sign, and called it Gil-Estel, the Star of High Hope.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 24, Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath
The Valar launched Gil-Estel during the First Age. Glorfindel was indeed otherwise occupied at the time: he was most likely still in the Halls of Mandos, awaiting re-embodiment.

Eärendil's aerial assault on Ancalagon occurred during the final battle of the War of Wrath. Though I suggest otherwise in the drabble, there is no indication in canon that Elrond witnessed it:
But Eärendil came, shining with white flame, and about Vingilot were gathered all the great birds of heaven and Thorondor was their captain, and there was battle in the air all the day and through a dark night of doubt. Before the rising of the sun Eärendil slew Ancalagon the Black, the mightiest of the dragon-host, and cast him from the sky; and he fell upon the towers of Thangorodrim, and they were broken in his ruin. Then the sun rose, and the host of the Valar prevailed....

Ibid
Elrohir, with Glorfindel

Gondolin was an extraordinarily beautiful and thriving city under Turgon, its king:
[Behind] the circle of the mountains the people of Turgon grew and throve, and they put forth their skill in labour unceasing, so that Gondolin upon Amon Gwareth became fair indeed and fit to compare even with Elven Tirion beyond the sea. High and white were its walls, and smooth its stairs, and tall and strong was the Tower of the King. There shining fountains played, and in the courts of Turgon stood images of the Trees of old, which Turgon himself wrought with elven-craft.... Thus Turgon lived long in bliss....

Ibid, Ch 15, Of the Noldor in Beleriand
Glorfindel had in fact been the lord of his own house, the Golden Flower of Gondolin, during the First Age:
There stood the house of the Golden Flower who bare a rayed sun upon their shield, and their chief Glorfindel bare a mantle so broidered in threads of gold that it was diapered with celandine as a field in spring; and his arms were damascened with cunning gold.

The Book of Lost Tales 2, HoME Vol 2, Ch 3, The Fall of Gondolin
Elrohir

Turgon is Elladan and Elrohir's great-great-grandfather through their father, Elrond:
Idril Celebrindal was the daughter of Turgon, king of the hidden city of Gondolin. Tuor was the son of Huor of the House of Hador, the... most renowned in the wars with Morgoth. Eärendil the Mariner was their son.

Eärendil wedded Elwing....

The sons of Eärendil were Elros and Elrond, the Peredhil or Half-elven. In them alone the line of the heroic chieftains of the Edain in the First Age was preserved; and after the fall of Gil-galad the lineage of the High-elven Kings was also in Middle-earth only represented by their descendants.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Númenor
Since their sister Arwen chose to become mortal, Elladan and Elrohir were the only immortals of Turgon's line who lingered in Middle-earth, at least for a while:
Lúthien became mortal and was lost to Elven-kind.

Ibid

But the Queen Arwen said:... 'I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him now when he departs to the Havens; for mine is the choice of Lúthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, Many Partings
The concept that Glorfindel committed himself to protecting the immortal line of Turgon is mine; as far as I know, there is nothing in canon to confirm it.

Glorfindel

The "symptoms" that Glorfindel observes of Elladan and Elrohir's fading derive strictly from my imagination.

With his first-hand knowledge of the Blessed Realm, Glorfindel would be in a position to influence Elrohir and Elladan's decision whether to sail. However, like any good mentor, I think he would choose to provide information when asked, but would not allow his preferences to unduly sway their choice. Such even-handedness is but one aspect of the honorable Elf that I see him as... and I think the prolonged loyalty demonstrated by this extraordinary individual is truly admirable.


The Grey Havens, A Few Days Later: Fourth Age

Círdan

Círdan the Shipwright is the Lord of Mithlond, and, since the Time of the Trees, also the builder of the special ships used by the Elves to sail to the Undying Lands:
[Círdan] is the Sindarin for 'Shipwright', and describes his later functions in the history of the First Three Ages; but his 'proper' name, sc. his original name among the Teleri, to whom he belonged, is never used.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 13, Last Writings

Pengoloð alone mentions a tradition among the Sindar of Doriath that it was in archaic form Nowë, the original meaning of which was uncertain....

Ibid, Last Writings: Notes, Note 30

The 'immortals' who were permitted to leave Middle-earth and seek Aman — the undying lands of Valinor and Eressëa — set sail in ships specially made and hallowed for this voyage....

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Letter 325 to Roger Lancelyn Green, 17 July 1971

Before ever they came to Beleriand the Teleri had developed a craft of boat-making; first as rafts, and soon as light boats with paddles made in imitation of the water-birds upon the lakes near their first homes, and later on the Great Journey in crossing rivers, or especially during their long tarrying on the shores of the 'Sea of Rhun', where their ships became larger and stronger. But in all this work Círdan had ever been the foremost and most inventive and skilful.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 13, Last Writings: Notes, Note 29

It was during the long waiting of the Teleri for the return of the floating isle, upon which the Vanyar and Noldor had been transported over the Great Sea, that Círdan had turned his thoughts and skill to the making of ships....

[It] is said, he stood forlorn looking out to sea, and it was night, but far away he could see a glimmer of light upon Eressëa ere it vanished into the West. Then he cried aloud: 'I will follow that light, alone if none will come with me, for the ship that I have been building is now almost ready.' But even as he said this he received in his heart a message, which he knew to come from the Valar.... And the voice warned him not to attempt this peril; for his strength and skill would not be able to build any ship able to dare the winds and waves of the Great Sea for many long years yet. 'Abide now that time, for when it comes then will your work be of utmost worth, and it will be remembered in song for many ages after.' 'I obey,' Círdan answered....

From that night onwards Círdan received a foresight touching all matters of importance, beyond the measure of all other Elves upon Middle-earth.

Ibid, Last Writings
Círdan is thought to have lingered in the Grey Havens until the last ship sailed:
At the Grey Havens dwelt Círdan the Shipwright, and some say he dwells there still, until the Last Ship sets sail into the West.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur

'But as for me, my heart is with the Sea, and I will dwell by the grey shores, guarding the Havens until the last ship sails.'

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
The Vala Ulmo, also called the Lord of the Waters, is said to communicate with Elves and Men, and more specifically with Círdan:
Now Ulmo, by the counsel of the Valar, came to the shores of Middle-earth and spoke with the Eldar who waited there, gazing on the dark waves; and because of his words and the music which he made for them on his horns of shell their fear of the sea was turned rather to desire.

Ibid, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 5, Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië

But there came a great storm out of the west, and out of that storm Ulmo the Lord of Waters arose in majesty and spoke to Tuor as he stood beside the sea.

Ibid, Ch 23, Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin

Ulmo had come to Círdan, giving warning that great peril drew nigh to Nargothrond.

Ibid, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar
Given his communication with Ulmo, who was capable of awakening the sea-longing in Elves and Men alike, it is amazing to me that Círdan could dwell for millennia by the Sea without having developed the overwhelming urge to sail West:
Tuor made a song for Eärendil his son, concerning the coming of Ulmo the Lord of Waters to the shores of Nevrast aforetime; and the sea-longing woke in his heart, and in his son's also.

Ibid, Ch 23, Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin

At times he will come unseen to the shores of Middle-earth, or pass far inland up firths of the sea, and there make music upon his great horns, the Ulumúri, that are wrought of white shell; and those to whom that music comes hear it ever after in their hearts, and longing for the sea never leaves them again.

Ibid, Valaquenta: Of the Valar


The Battle of the Field of Celebrant: Background

This was the decisive battle in 2510 that ended the Invasion of Calenardhon by Balchoth and Orcs; Eorl the Young rode to Gondor's aid just in time, and routed the invaders that had been on the verge of destroying Gondor's northern army. Cirion, Steward of Gondor, gave Calenardhon (later called Rohan) to Eorl's people in gratitude:
Sauron stirs up mischief, and there is a great attack on Gondor. Orcs pour out of the [Misty] Mountains... and join with Easterlings.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 7, The Heirs of Elendil: The Stewards of Gondor

Cirion... could do little more than defend [Gondor's] borders, while his enemies (or the power that moved them) prepared strokes against him that he could not hinder.... In the wide lands of Rhovanion, between Mirkwood and the River Running, a fierce people now dwelt, wholly under the shadow of Dol Guldur.... These Balchoth were constantly increased by others of like kind that came in from the east, whereas the people of Calenardhon had dwindled....

Foreseeing the storm, Cirion sent north for aid, but over-late; for in that year (2510) the Balchoth, having built many great boats and rafts on the east shores of Anduin, swarmed over the River....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards

At last tidings came to Eorl of the need of Gondor, and late though it seemed, he set out with a great host of riders.

Thus he came to the battle of the Field of Celebrant, for that was the name of the green land that lay between Silverlode and Limlight. There the northern army of Gondor was in peril. Defeated in the Wold and cut off from the south, it had been driven across the Limlight, and was then suddenly assailed by the Orc-host that pressed it towards the Anduin. All hope was lost....

Ibid, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl

Then out of the North there came help beyond hope, and the horns of the Rohirrim were first heard in Gondor. Eorl the Young came with his riders and swept away the enemy, and pursued the Balchoth to the death over the fields of Calenardhon.

Ibid, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards

In the forefront of the charge they saw two great horsemen, clad in grey, unlike all the others, and the Orcs fled before them; but when the battle was won they could not be found, and none knew whence they came or whither they went. But in Rivendell it was recorded that these were the sons of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir.

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 9, The Making of Appendix A: The House of Eorl

Glossary

These are some of the less-familiar terms mentioned in these drabbles and quotations:

Anárion: The younger son of Elendil, brother of Isildur. Anárion shared the kingship of Gondor with Isildur until his death during the Siege of Barad-dûr, and his heirs became the sole Kings of Gondor after Isildur took up the High Kingship in Arnor.

Balchoth: tribes of Easterlings under the influence of Sauron; related to the Wainriders that had invaded Rhovanion and warred with Gondor centuries earlier; from Westron balc 'horrible' and Sindarin hoth 'horde'.

Battle against the Wainriders at the Morannon: A major battle fought by Gondor in 1944 Third Age, near the climax of the Wars with the Wainriders, in which its northern army was defeated, and King Ondoher and all his heirs were slain by invading Wainriders.

Battle of the Field of Celebrant: the decisive final battle of the Invasion of Calenardhon by Balchoth and Orcs, fought in Third Age 2510; the first time that the Éothéod, who later became known as the Rohirrim, came to Gondor's aid in battle; they saved the trapped northern army of Gondor from annihilation and routed the invaders.

Béma: a name used by the Rohirrim for the Vala, Oromë the Hunter.

Borondir: One of six errand-riders of Gondor who were sent by Cirion to the Éothéod to request aid; the only one who reached Eorl and delivered the message. He rode back with the Riders, but fell in the Battle of the Field of Celebrant.

Calenardhon: the province of Gondor on the northeastern side of the White Mountains; later called "the Mark" by the Éothéod (Rohirrim) and "Rohan" by the Gondorians.

Celebrant: the Silverlode River, flowing southeast from springs in Nanduhirion (Dimrill Dale) to the Anduin.

Cirion: the Steward of Gondor during the Invasion of Calenardhon by Balchoth and Orcs; commander of the northern army that was nearly annihilated in the battle; after the battle, he ceded Calenardhon to the Éothéod in gratitude for their military aid.

Dwimordene: A name used by the Eorlings for Lórien, meaning 'phantom vale'.

Eldarion: A canon character: the son of Aragorn and Arwen, and heir to the throne of Gondor.

Elu: The Sindarin name of Elu Thingol, known as Elwë in Quenya; the Lord of the Sindar, ruling in Doriath with Melian the Maia.

Endor: A name in Quenya for Middle-earth.

Ennor: A name in Sindarin for Middle-earth.

Eorl the Young: Lord of the Éothéod, commander of the Riders who came to Gondor's aid in the battle; later became the first King of Rohan.

Eorlings: the people of Eorl; members of the Éothéod (later, the Rohirrim); also called Eorlingas.

Éohere: A full muster of the cavalry of the Éothéod (Rohirrim).

Éored: A single unit in the cavalry of the Éothéod (Rohirrim), consisting of at least 120 fully-trained and armed Riders.

Éothéod: the name that Eorl's people called themselves collectively; the predecessors of the Rohirrim, descended from the Northmen of Rhovanion; at the time of the battle, they lived in the far Northwest of Rhovanion near the sources of the Anduin, a land that they also called Éothéod; after they migrated to Calenardhon, the Gondorians began to call them "Rohirrim".

Fëa: The soul, or indwelling spirit, of an incarnate Elf (plural: fëar); see hröa.

Field of Celebrant: to the people of Gondor, the narrow strip of grasslands between the lower Limlight and the Anduin Rivers.

Finwë: The King of the Noldor in Aman, slain by Morgoth at Formenos; father of Fëanor, Fingolfin, and Finarfin, and grandfather of Galadriel.

Formenos: The stronghold of Fëanor in the north of Valinor, where Finwë was murdered by Morgoth.

Garn!: An expletive used by Orcs, probably similar in meaning to the English profanity 'damn'.

Ghâsh: The word for 'fire' in the Black Speech used by some Orcs and servants of Sauron.

Glamhoth: Sindarin word for Orcs, meaning 'din-horde' or 'host of tumult'.

Grey Havens: see Mithlond.

Hröa: The body of an incarnate Elf (plural: hröar); see fëa.

Invasion of Calenardhon by Balchoth and Orcs: a great assault on the northeastern province of Gondor in 2510; Sauron orchestrated simultaneous attacks by Balchoth (Easterlings) from across the Anduin and Orcs from the Misty Mountains.

Langflood: The name used by the Eorlings for the Anduin river, meaning 'long flowing (river)' in Old English.

Langsceaft: 'Long shaft' in Old English; in this story, an imaginary epithet for Eorl.

Lembas: Sindarin name for the waybread of the Elves.

Limlaith: One of several Sindarin names for the Limlight.

Limlight: a river flowing east, then southeast from Fangorn to the Anduin; the latter portion runs parallel to the Anduin, and forms the narrow peninsula of Parth Celebrant.

Loeg Ningloron: The Sindarin name for the Gladden Fields.

Mallorn: Great trees with golden flowers that grow in the forest of Lothlórien (plural: mellyrn).

Mering Stream: A stream flowing eastward from the hill of Halifirien to the mouths of the Entwash; the boundary between the provinces of Calenardhon (later Rohan) in the north and Anórien in the south.

Mithlond: 'The Grey Havens', a port on the Gulf of Lhûn from which the Elves sail to the Undying Lands; ruled by Círdan the Shipwright.

Mithrandir: 'Grey Wanderer', the Sindarin name of Gandalf.

Mundburg: Name used by the Eorlings for Minas Tirith.

Nanduhirion: the Sindarin name for the Dimrill Dale, also called Azanulbizar by the Dwarves; the valley below the main gate of Moria on the eastern flank of the Misty Mountains; the source of the river Celebrant (Silverlode).

Nowë: The birth name of Círdan the Shipwright.

Ondolindë: Quenya name of Gondolin.

Parth Celebrant: Sindarin name of the Field of Celebrant.

Rhovanion: Wilderland, the large region east of the Misty Mountains and north of (Third Age) Gondor and Mordor.

Snaga: A derisive term used by Orcs meaning 'slave'; used by the great Uruk-hai soldiers to insult smaller Orc species.

Súlimo: A name of Manwë; literally meaning 'the breather', it is rendered as 'Lord of the Breath of Arda' in The Valaquenta.

Talan: A platform among the trees used by the Lórien Elves for living quarters or as a lookout point (plural: telain); also called flet.

Tark: A term used by Orcs meaning 'a man of Gondor'; in this series, some Orcs use it (inaccurately) to mean any individual of the race of Men, whether of Númenórean descent or not.

Úlairi: The Nazgûl or Ringwraiths.

Undeeps: Two wide loops of the Anduin, between the Brown Lands and the Wold of Rohan; the only place south of the Old Ford where the Anduin may be crossed by an army.

Wæter: 'Water' in Old English. Tolkien used ancient English to represent the native language of the Éothéod (Rohirrim).

Wainriders: Tribes of Easterlings who attacked Gondor repeatedly during the prolonged Wars with the Wainriders (1851-1944 Third Age); ancestors of the tribes later known as the Balchoth.

Yavannildi: Maidens of Yavanna, who harvest the sacred grain and make the lembas in Elven realms; called Ivonwin in Sindarin or lembas-maidens in this drabble series.

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.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Elena Tiriel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/21/09

Original Post: 04/18/05

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