9. September 2004
Arwen’s Birth Day–Jay of Lasgalen (also for Bilbo and Frodo)
"Will you pass me the wine, please El? Thank you."
Elladan passed the bottle of wine to his brother, who refilled both their glasses. Taking a sip, he lay back against the grass, gazing upwards at the night. Another burst of fireworks arched across the sky, fountains of gold and silver fire drifting silently downward.
Beside him, Elrohir raised his glass. "To our beautiful new sister," he said proudly. "I wonder if they did this when we were born?"
Elladan sat up, touching his glass against his twin’s. "One hundred and eleven years ago," he mused. He took a bite of the birth-day cake, baked in celebration. "To Arwen," he repeated.
The knife's silver-shod hilt is old Dale-work, and after the custom of Men, it has two sockets to receive gems as trophies of victory. These there has been no opportunity to fill. But what of it, should the lords in Imladris observe it? Would they mistake this for the weapon of an untried youth? It has been well employed since the winter I girded it on him. We are Wood-elves, and our foes do not carry treasure. We are Grey-elves, and our house has never gone to war for jewels, nor will it ever. We learned that vanity long past.
Even Elf Boys Will Be Boys–Vistula the Dúnedain
Laughter trickled below the ledge. Legolas carefully gripped a filled water bladder in his small hands. A determined smile lit his bright face. On tiptoes with arms raised, he awaited his quarry, tongue pressed between his lips.
A moment away from mischief a strong hand circled his wrist. Glancing up he looked into stern eyes — a stern face.
Silence flowed between them. The child swallowed with lower lip trembling.
Gently the Mirkwood King took the ersatz weapon from his son. Winking conspiratorially he pitched it toward its mark.
Ducking below the railing Thranduil chuckled.
"Hand me another one ion-nin."
"Perhaps somewhere else, people have different legends for each star," said Elrohir pensively. "Just like we do."
Elladan laughed lightly.
"Even the Orcs?"
"Why not?" asked Elrohir.
"See that? That’s Urfak the Inebriated, that is. Nar!"
Elladan snickered, a very un-lordly sound that would not have pleased his father.
"How about that one?"
"That, dear brother, is Lugdush the…Very Confused."
"Very confused?" laughed Elladan. "What — "
"It’s very simple, dear brother. You see, when he was but a young Orc…"
And Elladan gazed at the stars, and for a swift, irrational moment, wondered what they were made of.
It cannot be!
Surely they lie, these foolish messengers; surely Melkor's foul darkness has addled their wits. Surely such scum as that lying thief could never harm an Elda so noble, as wise and strong as the great King Finwë!
But their eyes, the messengers' eyes; something in their eyes fills my heart with horror . . .
. . . No, no, Ilúvatar, no!
Their eyes say they speak the truth.
Why? Why did the Valar let the enemy Melkor loose? Why did they not stop him as he fled?
The Valar, curse them! Curse their summons from my father's side!
Melkor and his fellow Valar have stolen my most valued treasure. Even should my Silmarils be regained, and their light restored to me, my world shall lie forever in darkness.
For Finwë, my beloved father, is dead.
"Then Fëanor ran from the Ring of Doom, and fled into the night; for his father was dearer to him than the Light of Valinor or the peerless works of his hands; and who among sons, of Elves or of Men, have held their fathers of greater worth?" - Of the Flight of the Noldor, The Silmarillion
September 22 - "Today is my one hundred and eleventh birthday!"
FOTR, "A Long-expected Party"
Yes indeed, it’s Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday on 22 September. We at Challenges have a very special gift for Frodo and Bilbo. We’d like all intrepid drabblers out there to try their hand at this:
Write a drabble featuring 3 of the following: a bottle of wine, a birthday cake, the number 111, fireworks and pipeweed. You have to make 111 words exactly.
A Long Awaited Party–Gwynnyd
Sam glumly inspected the Party Field behind Bag End. Everything was ready: sun shining, warmer than expected; canvas taut, and banners flying; squibs and crackers from Dale; fireworks; birthday cake. One-hundred-forty-four invitations accepted, but more would come. There was food and drink in plenty to serve them all.
"Speeches, " he groaned.
He heard a bottle of wine being poured behind him and a glass was thrust into his hand.
"Cheer up, Sam, at least there will be no surprises."
"I wouldn’t count on it, Master Merry, and I’d rather a mug o’ beer."
"What?" Pippin breezed up, livery gleaming. "Toast the King’s 111th birthday in beer? I should think not!"
Not Just Any Celebration–Vistula the Dúnedain
"Eleventy one bottles of wine on the wall, eleventy one bottles of wine…" Pippin crooned, lying on his back eyeing Gandalf’s wagon behind the tent.
"Pip, me lad, me thinks yer drunk!"
Merry stumbled, pitching forward, and narrowly missed the large birthday cake that someone had so thoughtlessly placed in his path. "Whoa! Where’d that come from?"
"And you think I’m drunk?" Pippin asked scowling. Searching his pockets and coming up empty he huffed, "Oh bother! Now where’s that pipeweed off to?"
"See, told you. You’re drunk as a Mirkwood elf."
"I am not."
Glowering at each other, suddenly common mischief flared in their eyes. In unison they turned, crying, "Fireworks!"
A Vintage Year–Branwyn
"A very good year, young Frodo, for babies and for wine," Bilbo said with a smile, as he reverently brushed the soft, grey dust from the bottle. The label had browned to the color of tobacco, the writing faded to a tracery of spiderwebs. "I remember that harvest. While they picked the grapes, the sky grew dark, and they feared a storm was coming. So the neighbors stayed to help the farmers bring them in."
Late into the night, the weary hobbits had cut the heavy clusters, gently setting them in baskets; beside the vines, torches sputtered and flared in the rising wind, sending a trail of fireworks into the sky.
Natural History–annmarwalk (also for Liz)
"Look, just there." Grandfather whispered. Barahir shifted slightly, rustling a dry leaf underfoot. A shimmer of emerald and gold, and the bird was gone.
Number 111. Bee-eater. Three days tramping the woods of Ithilien with his grandfather — what a treat! Grandfather knew the names of all the birds, and the flowers, and even the stars. He had given Barahir a small leather-bound journal, just like his own, to keep his notes and sketches and a list of all the birds he saw.
As the evening grew chill, Grandfather warmed some spiced wine, treating Barahir to a well-watered mugful. Nestled warmly together, they watched shooting stars streaming like fireworks across the sky.
The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship–Elana
Such curious creatures. Newcomers to Bree since last my wanderings led here. Most like Men in appearance, yet shorter than Dwarves, beardless and Elven-eared.
This evening I was relaxing at the Prancing Pony, enjoying a bottle of wine, when a group of them took the table beside mine. They began to engage in the oddest practice — burning dried leaves and inhaling the smoke! Despite myself, the fire in my nature was fascinated, and I asked if I might partake. They were suspicious at first, but when my enjoyment of the experience became obvious, they welcomed me as one of their own.
Perhaps tomorrow I shall see how they like my fireworks.
Gone but Not Forgotten–Celandine Brandybuck
The old Hobbit pushed aside the plate scattered with birthday-cake crumbs and stirred his tea. He lifted the acorn-handled spoon from the cup, stared at it, and said, "Do you know, I had four dozen of these before I went on my adventure."
Frodo knew what Bilbo would say, but nevertheless asked obediently, "What happened to them?"
Bilbo set down the spoon and leaned back. "The Sackville-Bagginses, I think. Otho and Lobelia were so annoyed that I returned to Bag End." He grinned. "At least, my boy, it was only the teaspoons that went missing; losing one hundred and eleven bottles of Old Winyards would have been far harder to bear."
A Long, Unexpected Drabble–Elena Tiriel
"Self-indulgent twaddle," mutters the struggling amateur to herself, though she only uses words like "twaddle" when earnestly endeavoring to write top-notch Tolkien fan fiction.
"I love birthday cake!" she muses, "Wonder if chocolate cake with rum buttercream frosting is in canon?" She shakes her head. "But I never developed a taste for wine. And pipe-weed stinks!"
"Concentrate!" she admonishes herself. "Make it Tolkien-related! And canonical!"
Adding up word counts nervously -- must have exactly 111! Cut ten here, two there. Counting and re-counting, getting different totals each time... What a silly obsession!
"Fireworks! I almost forgot fireworks! How odd... I've always loved Gandalf's fireworks!"
"There!" she yells triumphantly. "Finished! One hundred and"
Liz:/Tanaqui: I would like drabbles set in Ithilien: any time from when it was first settled at the end of the second age through to the resettlement after the War of the Ring.
Or you could always just write a drabble about my favourite Captain of the Ithilien Rangers/Prince of Ithilien and his relationship with the place.
The faint scent of flowering trees drifted over the ruined walls. "Almond or apple," Faramir thought drowzily; trees of the lineage of the rose, with their sweet, five-petaled flowers. Long ago, Ithilien was laid out in fields and orchards and well-tended woods, a chessboard with squares of brown and bright green. Apricots, apples and pears were sent to the markets of northern Gondor and south to Belfalas. He tried to imagine all those fruit trees in flower, acre after acre of shining, white branches. "How beautiful it must have been," he thought as he drifted to sleep in the farmhouse.
Dead and despoiled. Faramir made a deep ‘tchaa" of disgust and walked away from the downed tree that had shaded the hillside. The marauding orcs could not strew poison everywhere but they took delight in seeking out beautiful places to hack at the soil and sow their filth. Hungry despite the devastation, he pulled a peach from his pack. The heady scent promised sweet summers and full harvests as he slowly savored it. Licking the last of the juice from his fingers, he tucked the pit under a flap of uprooted turf and smoothed it back down before moving on.
With care the elf brushes earth around roots, his soft words encouraging the delicate flower to grow. Sitting back, he runs a light touch over its petals, remembering his recent words to Ithilien’s Prince. Green things will grow here again, Faramir, it shall be my gift to you and your Lady. These gardens will drive the memory of the Shadow away.
He reaches into his bag, gently pulling out another tender shoot. "Mae gala," he whispers, planting the flower.
He glances up, seeing the Prince approach. The man smiles, his eyes scanning the burgeoning landscape around him.
"Hannon le, Legolas."
mae gala Literally "well grow" My hopefully correct Sindarin interpretation for "grow well"
Faramir in Ithilien–Forodwaith
Once this was the garden and glory of Gondor. Now the stones of the farmhouse are buried in long grass combed by wind on the hillside. If there are bones here, they lie quietly under years of leaf-mould.
The chill wind pushes the unbearably sweet smell of rotting fruit toward him. Fallen apples, riddled by squirrel and bird, lie rolled under the knotted shadows of ancient trees. In the valley below the silver-scaled stream flashes on its way to the Great River. Faramir twists one nearly unblemished apple from the bough and bites into it, juice dripping from his fingers.
Welcoming the Lady–Marta (double drabble)
Ducking through the waterfall, Éowyn let Faramir lead her the last few steps of the long path. Deft fingers loosened the knot in the blindfold. Secrecy was no longer strictly necessary, but she guessed Faramir had wanted to surprise her.
Slowly she spun round, taking in the cavern: once full, now populated with barrels of salted meat, wine, and other provisions, but not by men. They were alone.
As Éowyn turned to face the watery veil she sucked in her breath, the air whistling through her teeth. A song like that from a thousand harps rose from where the waterfall met the pool far below, and the setting sun glistened through the curtain, more brilliant than Meduseld's tapestries.
She felt Faramir's fingers entwine between her own. Reluctantly she turned from the waterfall and looked upon his face. Was that a smile on his solemn lips? 'Twould seem so!
He took a step forward, and she did not move back. He lifted his free hand and caressed her chin for a moment before slowly raising her lips to meet his own.
Aye, what a kiss! How could she have ever loved another, she wondered? But those days were gone.
Seconds that lasted an age passed, and yet the two lingered. Finally he pulled back. "Ithilien welcomes her lady," he said, "as do I."
Cause for Celebration–Arandil
"Come, Faramir, let us celebrate!"
Faramir’s reverie was broken by the Elf who suddenly appeared beside him. He looked once more at the forest, so transformed from merely a year ago.
"Yes, Legolas, for we have much reason to. A year’s hard work and the Garden of Gondor nearly restored to its former glory."
The Elf’s eyes twinkled and he smiled secretively as Eowyn approaced. "Faramir! There is something I must tell you."
Faramir did not notice the Elf’s departure, concerned as he was over Eowyn’s anxious manner. Her news quickly dispelled his worry. He would soon be a father!
The Air of Ithilien–Celandine Brandybuck
It is odd, I have always thought, that simply crossing a river should make so much difference. Yet whenever Éowyn and I return from visiting Minas Tirith, the first breeze from the eastern shoreline carries the scent of home with it. Ithilien — there is a fragrance there, hard to capture in words: a subtle blend of grass and flowers, wood and water, and just a hint of tang from the bitter air of Mordor over the mountains. I inhale it like a drowning man come ashore. Éowyn laughs at me, but admits that it breathes home to her as well.
He had been a lad of fifteen when he first stepped on Ithilien’s soil as a soldier. His crisp shirt crackled as loud as the leaves under his feet, but it blended so well with the colors of the forest; the wind hummed softly, speaking to him. Its beauty was of a peaceful, simple sort, quiet yet compelling. What wouldn’t he give to keep it so, to preserve even that small hope? Young though he was, he vowed to protect it with all his might. Someday, Ithilien would bloom again.
Today, 22 years later, his promise is at last fulfilled.
Ambush in Ithilien–Elena Tiriel
We stand alert, tense, hidden in shadows above the deep-cloven road-cutting, awaiting my bird-call.
On this very road in ancient days, the last living heir of the newly-slain King fell to in-swarming Wainriders, stirred up by Sauron. Kingless, Gondor staggered, but did not fall.
Now 'tis accursed Southrons, red-clad and red-bannered, who march toward the Black Gate, seeking to swell the ranks of those sworn to Sauron. Silently, we watch the sanguine horde crowd heedlessly into the narrow. Unwary. Never to depart alive.
Our longbows creak under the strain. Once again will crimson slaughter befoul our beloved Ithilien.
In 1944 III, during the disastrous Battle against the Wainriders at the Morannon, King Ondoher of Gondor and both his sons Artamir and Faramir (who had been ordered to stay as regent in Minas Tirith, but sneaked away to join the battle in disguise) were slain. His sister-son (and last blood heir) Minohtar led the rearguard defense of the retreating army on the North Road of Ithilien; he was also slain. The spot where Faramir ambushed the Haradrim in 3019 was farther south along the same road.
Land of the Moon–nrinknrink
For a long while, he watched the leaves fall; red and gold they were, glistening in the rain. He caught them in his cupped hands, then let them drift away on the dark swirls of the Forbidden Pool. Here, he had watched their windy dance; here he had listened to the roaring of the waters, first as a Captain of Rangers, now as Steward and Prince.
Sometimes, he listened still for the comings and goings of men, the murmur of voices, footfalls lighter than a leaf. But only the water spoke to him, for the men had gone long ago.
Reunion–Vistula the Dúnedain
"‘Tis a fine garden, Prince Faramir, no mistaking that."
"I hope, Master Samwise, that you find this visit to Ithilien more pleasant than your first."
The hobbit gazed thoughtfully at his host, sharing a bittersweet memory. "Aye, ‘tis that. Would that I could repay your hospitality in kind. My garden ‘taint so big but I do say it’s fair to look at."
"If it is half as fine as these flowers you bring to gladden my house," Faramir gestured to where Rose and Elanor laughed with Eowyn nearby, "then I imagine it is beautiful. Shall we join them?"
Ithilien–powzie (double drabble)
Anduin, mother of waters, carries within her all of our world. Snow melt from the roof of the world has gathered to her heart the heart of all the lands she washes as she journeys South. She flows broad and bright by the time she reaches the Garden of Gondor. Ithilien greets her at the border of Anorien with moonflowers, craving her blessing.
Next the banks bloom in variegated thyme, symbol of courage and persistence; then lemon balm and peppermint spread the scent of healing as they run rioting over the paths. Meadowsweet twines the fragrance of happiness where clover and chamomile promise the redemption of love. Sweet grass , whose scent clears the mind, joins wild dianthus to open the heart.
For awhile Anduin goes more slowly, hiding in the reeds, before surging forward again as she catches the scent of the sea and runs onward to meet the sun. But before she leaves the lands of the moon, fennel and yarrow will add to her song — protection, sweet mother, for all the lands within reach of your cold, swift flowing tears.
I kneel and drink deeply of the waters of the moon. Then, rising to go, I drop the green sprig I have been holding in my right hand into the dancing gleam.
Rosemary — that’s for remembrance.
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.