3. Part 3
I draw the bowstring back farther and the arrow shaft no longer slips from between my fingers but is held steadily until he gives the command.
The arrow streaks through the clearing until with a solid clang, it meets with the designated silver plate hanging from the lowest tree branch my instructor could find.
That is, it meets with the very top rim of the designated silver plate, far from the centre circle.
I shift my stance on the mossy ground, gloved fingers drawing another arrow from the quiver strung to my back. Laying it against the bow, I peer over my shoulder before raising my arm and drawing the string taut.
"Hold," says the instructor sharply, for an Elf in the dress of a page passes by the edge of the clearing, his face apologetic as he calls to my instructor with news of a summons.
I hold but I do not put the bow down, scanning in and out of the trees spread around me as the page and my instructor converse in low voices. There is a brook nearby, I hear it ripple and bubble against rocks. There is the laughter of elf-maidens, which the birds are silent to listen to, fair as the clear ring of glass bells. I hear the voice of Idril and it drives me mad. But I see nothing, nothing but trees, leaves, fallen branches, insects crawling over stumps.
A bird flies into view with grace, perching on the stump, its head tilted toward the ground. It is a small, dainty bird, brown and cream-coloured. A nightingale, whose song rivals the fairest of Elven voices. They are treasured in Gondolin for they delight the King, and it is forbidden to try to capture one, lest its singing be halted. But this one is silent, for it is day and it seeks only for food.
It is silent, and Idril's voice carries through the clearing, winding slowly around me until I feel I will suffocate.
The arrow flies from my bow and strikes the bird, pinning it neatly to the ground.
The page has abruptly ceased speaking from behind me, and sharply I slant my gaze to where he and my instructor stand, their eyes upon me in shock. My heart pounds wild within me and I do not wince away from their stare.
When I do not speak, my instructor says but quietly, "Maeglin, the king wishes the session cut short so he may talk with you."
A sudden fear washes cold over me, and the bow falls from my hand. The nightingale lays motionless on the forest floor, its unblinking black eye fixed on me, and my knees are weakened so that I must lean to a tree for support.
"I am sorry," I say to the pair of Elves. "My fingers are yet weak. You will not speak of this to Turgon." I hesitate. "I will tell him."
Idril's singing carries on, and I am fearful of when it will stop, for then I will hear the silence of the nightingale.
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.