3. Chapter Three
All day Lindir had been busy in the kitchens, helping with the food preparation. When the messenger came for him, he was in the thamas naur, helping one of the women drape the tables.
Norno led him into a part of the house he had only seen once before, while it was being built. Now that it was finished, it was beautifully decorated with carvings and murals, and flowing draperies billowed in the open windows. This was the part of the house in which Lord Elrond lived. “Where are we going?” he asked.
Before the messenger could answer, Glorfindel himself came out. He was not wearing his armor today, but his sword was girt around his waist as always and he wore a green tunic with white flowers set like jewels on the collar and hem. Lindir’s parents had only worn fine clothes on very special occasions, but Glorfindel was always richly dressed, even when he rode out on patrol. Erestor said that was because he was a great lord.
“He does not own anything that does not cost a small fortune,” sniffed the advisor. “As for my own meager wardrobe, I suppose it cannot be helped. Scribes simply are not paid as well or appreciated as much as they used to be.” He sighed and rolled his eyes in mock distress before smoothing out the folds of what Lindir thought was a very fine robe.
“Ah, pen-neth,” said Glorfindel, hugging him close, “have you been busy today?”
“Yes, ada, I’ve been helping in the kitchen. Hathol and Alagos are there, too, did you know? Sáredhel has them peeling vegetables for the stew.”
Glorfindel chuckled at that. “Does she now? And how do my warriors like attacking carrots and potatoes?”
“Not very much,” answered Lindir. “They tried to sing songs, but then Eruvanye came and said they weren’t fit for the kitchen and swatted them.”
Another chuckle greeted that remark. “I should have liked to see that, yondo. Now do you know why I called you?”
As Lindir shook his head, he looked past Glorfindel’s shoulder and saw two dark-haired Elves standing in the wide doorway. One was Lord Elrond, but the other, dressed in a plain brown robe, Lindir did not recognize until Glorfindel whispered in his ear that this was Ereinion Gil-galad.
He started to kneel, but Glorfindel’s hand on his shoulder and a chuckle from Gil-galad stopped him as he lowered his head and bent down.
“Pen-neth,” said the High King, “kneeling is only for show, during parades and ceremonies. Has your foster-father shown you what to do for a private audience?”
Staring at the floor, afraid to look Gil-galad in the eye for fear of being thought rude, Lindir shook his head. He felt Glorfindel’s hand clasp his shoulder in a paternal way, and then his ada was whispering that he should make a little bow from the waist. Still looking at the floor, Lindir made a bow, which was not so difficult a thing because his parents had once taught him what he should do if he should ever encounter Celebrimbor or one of the great lords when they came to the house.
Afterward, Glorfindel patted his shoulder and all three lords made sounds of approval. He learned that his ada had sent for him because the High King wanted to meet him.
At this, Lindir was so amazed he nearly forgot his manners. “You want to meet me, hir daer?”
“You address the High King as aran daer,” Glorfindel gently corrected.
“Nay, it is all right,” said Gil-galad. “Your foster-father has written much of you in his letters. I would have sent for you last evening, but you were already asleep. I sent for you now to ask how you like the gift I made you.”
Lindir did not understand what he meant, or why anyone as important as the High King would give him a gift until Glorfindel bent to his ear and whispered, “The flute that I left by your bed, pen-neth.”
His eyes widened and, briefly forgetting his manners, he looked up at the King. “You gave me the flute? I-I mean, you gave me a gift, aran daer?”
“I assume you like it?” asked Gil-galad.
All day the flute had been his prize. He had never owned anything so fine, that was new and his alone; his parents had been very careful with their money and rarely bought anything that was not secondhand. Even though Lindir could not play the flute, for it was not quite like playing a bone whistle, he showed it to Hallacár and Norno, who said he would teach Lindir when he had a moment. The only ones to whom he did not show it were the other boys, for fear they would be jealous and take it away. A boy in Ost-in-Edhil had once roughed him up and stolen his wooden hoop, and he had not told his parents for fear they would be angry at him for losing his plaything. He did not want Glorfindel to be angry with him.
Lindir nodded and, remembering his manners, answered, “Hannon le, aran daer.”
Later, as Glorfindel carried him away from the feast and put him to bed, Lindir asked why the High King had given him a present.
“Because you are a fosterling,” Glorfindel answered, “and remind him of when he was young. He did not tell you, for he did not want to stir any unhappy memories, but he also lost his mother and father to war when he was very young. He was taken in by a great Teleri lord named Círdan who then became his foster-father. The Teleri make such flutes, and play them with great skill.”
Lindir was too sleepy to ask all the questions he wanted, or remember them all. He merely pillowed his head on his ada’s shoulder and asked, “Does he know how to play?”
“Aye, and perhaps he will play for us once before he leaves here,” said Glorfindel. “A clear, strong voice he has also, but it is only for those near and familiar to him that he sings.”
“I would like to see that, ada,” Lindir murmured. His eyes were losing their focus, and he could barely hear himself speak.
“Perhaps, pen-neth, but now it is time for you to sleep.”
* * *
The forest behind the great table of rock on which the thamas naur and its adjoining buildings stood was an ideal place to explore. Tall pines reached toward the sky, carpeting the forest floor in green needles that pricked Lindir’s arms and legs whenever he sat down, and wildflowers and mushrooms grew in the hollows and mosses between the trees. He went sometimes with Eruvanye and her daughter to pick berries, and knew from them never to eat any of those mushrooms or anything else he did not know.
This was something he already knew, for in the hard, cold months he had lived and hidden in the wilderness with his parents and the other survivors of Ost-in-Edhil, one of their party had, in his desperate hunger, eaten of a strange patch of mushrooms and died. After that, Lindir was wary of all mushrooms, even those that were cooked and obviously safe to eat. Another had eaten of the holly berries from the bushes that grew everywhere in Eregion, even though everyone knew those berries were poisonous.
After living so long in fear, with the specter of death and the horror of losing one’s home always upon them, his father said, some wanted to go to Mandos. And another time, one of the other refugees, a carpenter with fevered eyes and a split lip, took Lindir aside and told him not to be afraid to answer Námo’s call, that Mandos was a good place to be.
“It’s a good place, a safe place, pen-neth. No yrch can go there, no shadows can touch it. And you’re so young,” said the man, pawing at his cheek and shoulder with dirty hands, “so clean of sin, they would give you a new body very, very soon.”
Talk of Mandos frightened him, and the man was standing too close, his breath foul on Lindir’s cheek. He pulled away from the other’s grasp and ran back to his parents. He did not see what happened to the carpenter after that, but of his party only he and one other were rescued, and the woman had since faded.
In a hedgerow he found some early blackberries and ate them, licking the purple juice off his fingers. He knew where to find berries and nuts, and even where to dig to find edible roots. Squirrels skittered in the branches above him. They hibernated in the winter and were difficult to hunt in that season; his father had gone out a few times with some of the others to bring back meat, but they could not build a fire to properly cook the meat and so they ate it raw. Lindir remembered gagging on the thimbleful his mother made him eat, and how she told him to keep it down.
He was sad sometimes, walking alone through the dark eaves of the forest. Sometimes he expected his father to emerge from the trees and scold him for wandering, or to hear his mother call after him to make sure the grass he stuffed into his shoes was properly dry so it would keep him warm, but no one ever came save for the woodsmen who came to fetch timber for building and kindling or the women gathering herbs and berries.
His new ada he loved very much, for there was no one else like Glorfindel, no one who glimmered in the twilight like he did or made Lindir glow inside when he smiled. But there were days when Lindir felt particularly despondent, either because he had had a bad dream or something reminded him of his real parents or how they died. And when that happened, he slipped away from his chores and went into the woods as if his family was there.
No one at Imladris ever asked him about his parents, but most of the people in the valley were refugees like he was and already knew what it was like to lose loved ones or go cold and hungry; even the soldiers knew what it was like. Some of the warriors in Glorfindel’s gweth affectionately referred to him as maethor-neth and asked if he was ready to join their ranks, but he knew he was not going to grow up to be a warrior.
Norno was going to teach him how to play the flute and maybe the harp. He liked music very much and had been sad when he lost his bone whistle during the flight from Ost-in-Edhil; he had wanted to ask Glorfindel for a new one, but was afraid to ask for anything because it was very rude to ask people for gifts and his ada had not asked him if he would like one.
His parents had taught him that when somebody gave you something for a gift, they should be thanked in return. By this, they meant giving a reciprocal gift, though they were rarely able to afford anything beyond a few very simple items. After each begetting day, whether he liked the present or not, he always gave his parents little items he found or that one of the servants showed him how to make, and his father had had a small shelf built where these haphazard treasures might be displayed.
The flute was the nicest thing anybody had ever given him, but he had nothing to give the High King in return. Surely now Gil-galad would think he was an ungrateful child, even though he had thanked the King in the politest way he knew how and Glorfindel told him he had done very well. His parents would be very embarrassed if they knew.
Sitting down in a patch of green earth with his back to a log, he brooded over the sort of gift one might possibly give the High King. Glorfindel had said it was not necessary for him to reciprocate, and even Erestor said so when Lindir showed him the flute.
“Sometimes,” said the advisor, “people give gifts simply for the pleasure of seeing someone else’s joy, not because they desire like gifts in return. Do you truly think the King gave you that flute because he wishes or even expects you to give him a gift? Jewels and other things he has in plenty, pen-neth.”
“My parents said one should always give something,” answered Lindir.
“And did you take this to mean you had to give a thing, some material object?” Erestor raised a dark eyebrow. “Such a literal child you are, no? Nay, there are other ways of giving that they apparently did not teach you. Did the King not tell you to find joy in his gift?”
“Ah, I did not give you leave to debate with me, silly aiwë. If you wish to make a gift to Gil-galad, then find someone to teach you to play the flute and learn with all your heart. Think on him and his generosity whenever you play. That, child, is a great gift and one that cannot be bought.”
“But how will he know what I am thinking or how much I truly enjoy the gift?”
“When the King returns for another visit, as I am sure he will someday, you will ask Glorfindel if you might play for him, and you will say you learned your lessons well and now wish to give him the joy of them. The King is very fond of music, you see, and would greatly enjoy such a gift as hearing you play.” Then, Erestor’s brow furrowed and the corners of his mouth crinkled in what was obviously mock consternation. “Unless, of course, it turns out that you cannot play worth rodent droppings.”
* * *
hir daer: (Sindarin) great lord
aran daer: (Sindarin) great/high king
hannon le, aran daer: thank you, great king.
maethor-neth: (Sindarin) young warrior
aiwë: (Quenya) little bird
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.