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Tales of Thanksgiving: A Drabble Collection: 17. The Wanderer
Niki is fond of Finrod, and I'd once promised her a story about him during a somewhat ordinary moment in his life. The story doesn't exist yet, but I used this idea to inspire this 600-word ficlet about where Finrod might have found his wanderlust and his friendship with his two eldest cousins.
Findaráto waited and chose the perfect day for his journey, a day when he was trusted to the imperfect watch of Cousin Findekáno, who was more concerned with writing letters and gazing at the clouds.
Carefully, Findaráto put the necessary provisions into a pack. He took a lump of bread, a waterskin, and a blanket. He even took his bow because the wanderers in stories always had bows, even though he didn't have any arrows. But he liked the way that it looked, tossed over his shoulder with his favorite blue cloak that he liked to call his "traveling cloak"-at least in the secrecy of his thoughts.
He'd found a long, straight branch and hidden it beneath one of his father's topiaries, unkempt and likely a safe hiding place. As his cousin sighed at the clouds, Findaráto crawled beneath the scraggly green rabbit and saw that his father had not disappointed him: the branch was still there. He walked with it because the wanderers in the paintings in Grandfather's Hall of History always had walking sticks. And he liked the sound that it made between footfalls. Tump. Tump. Tump. He strode with a purpose through his father's gates. His father had once said that one could go anywhere without suspicion if he went with a purpose. He said that he'd heard his brother say that once and found it to be true.
"Uncle Nolofinwë?" Findaráto had asked.
"No," his father had replied. "Uncle Fëanáro."
Who was Uncle Fëanáro? Findaráto often wondered. Was he like Uncle Nolofinwë and somehow more solid than either of Findaráto's parents? With an embrace that was like being tucked into bed at night, both safe and warm?
"Rather like that," his father had answered, "yet not quite."
But the lost uncle knew that to walk with a purpose allowed one to walk anywhere, a piece of wisdom reminiscent of something that Uncle Nolofinwë would say.
Yet not quite.
Down the street he strode, his walking stick making a light tump-tump in time with his footsteps. He was stopped once by a shopkeeper, who asked where he was going and gave him a piece of sugar-candy when he answered, "To find lost people in distant lands."
He made it to the bottom of the city and across the plains where the King's riders practiced. He stopped to watch them only for a short while; they looked more impressive when seated upon his father's shoulders. The forest lay above the plains, and it was dappled with Treelight and shadows, but Findaráto easily found the road, and he tump-tumped along the road until the Trees grew dim and his belly began to warn him that suppertime drew near.
There was a clearing up ahead, and he thought it best to pause there, upon the relative comfort of the soft grass. There was motion between the trees: a flash of color and a quick laugh, abandoned and joyful, like when his mother tickled his father beneath the ribs. Findaráto strode forth, to hail the strangers.
There were two of them, and they paused, wooden swords at their sides. One had hair of a strange color, almost red; the other was dark-haired and smaller and quick to smile.
"Findaráto?" said the taller, the one with the strangish hair. He came and lifted Findaráto in his arms, like his father would have done. The silvery star at the throat of the smaller one was familiar somehow. "I have come far to find you," said Findaráto solemnly, hungry and wearied-yes-but content, "though it seems you are not strangers at all."
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