3. Chapter III
In which a request is considered, agreed to and thus a story narrated*******
There was a moment of complete silence, after the girl had made her request. Gimli was trying hard not to laugh outright. Both mother and father looked embarrassed and worried, while Legolas was eyeing the girl with a very quizzical look. For the first time since their arrival Rosa seemed well and truly flustered, she blushed a deep red and tried to apologise, "It’s, well, um… It’s just an old children’s story that’s been passed down the family for years", she said to Legolas, obviously worried that he would take offence.
"Please, Mama?" The girl repeated again and this time the boys spoke up in support as well.
Both adults looked even more worried, while Legolas’ look changed to a wry smile. He bowed towards the woman and spoke in his melodic voice, "Please. I too, would like to hear this tale, it sounds fascinating", and he treated both mother and daughter to a bright smile, which made the girl blush and duck her head, while Rosa clearly forgot the words to use to protest.
Instead she found herself stuttering out an agreement and soon the family was again arranged round the fire. Gimli followed them, shaking his head in amusement, ‘that Elf’! Still, hopefully whatever myth the woman knew about elves would give Gimli a chance to tease his friend.
"Many years ago, near the ford of the River Running there was a house", the woman began, the tone of her voice suggesting that this was a tale she had told many times before. "And in that house lived a man, named Farin, with his wife and two sons, Brind and Dalin. The man was tall and strong and his wife was warm and generous and they were both very kind and loved their children very much. And the family lived happily together.
One day, after they had finished all their chores the two boys were climbing the trees in a grove near their home. Suddenly, someone stumbled into the grove and fell to the ground right in front of them!
The two boys were surprised at first for this stranger had managed to enter the grove without making a sound and they clung to their tree and stared down at the stranger. But then they saw that the intruder was even smaller than they were, just a little child. So Brind and Dalin climbed down from the tree and went over to this child. But as they got closer they saw it was no ordinary child at all. The little thing had long, blond hair and pointed ears - it was an elf! The two boys stared in amazement for they had never seen an elf before, although they had heard the stories of how they lived in the trees in the woods.
Just then the Little Elf looked up. The two boys could see that his face was streaked with tears and when he saw them standing there he cried out and tried to get up. But he was obviously very tired, for he couldn’t even climb to his feet. The Little Elf sank back to the ground and cried out in a strange tongue. The words the boys could not understand but the tone was so sad that they nearly cried too. ‘Ada!’ The Little Elf cried out. ‘Ada! Nana!’"
The woman gave another uncertain look towards Legolas as she said these words, clearly wondering if they made any sense to the Elf, but he just smiled and nodded slightly. Reassured by Legolas’ smile, Rosa continued with the story,
"Brind was the older of the boys and he tried to talk to the Little Elf but the Little Elf did not understand him and continued to call out in his strange language. So finally Brind simply picked up the Little Elf, who did not weigh more than a feather, and the two boys hurried home with their strange find.
‘Mama! Mama!’ the boys cried as they neared home. ‘Come quick! Look at what we’ve found!’
Hearing her sons’ cries the woman came rushing out the house. She gasped when she saw the burden Brind carried and quickly took the Little Elf from her son’s arms and carried him into the house. The Little Elf barely moved as she laid him gently on the bed; he was silent now although the tears still came from his bright, blue eyes. The Little Elf had cuts and scratches on his arms, leaves and dirt were caught in his matted hair and mud was mixed with the tears on his face. His clothing was also wet, as if he had crossed the river.
The woman carefully cleaned all of the Little Elf’s wounds and took off his wet clothing, giving him a shirt and wrapping him in a blanket; and she spoke to him softly, asking his name, but he did not understand her. He did not even look at her, but just stared into the distance, crying ‘ada’ and ‘nana’ softly. As she began to untangle the Little Elf’s golden hair he finally looked at her, and she felt tears inside her well up at the sadness in his eyes. He did not move again until she tried to take the hair-clips from his head. His hands flew to his head and he cried out ‘Baw!’ and taking the clips out himself, he held them tightly in his hand as he glared at her through his tears.
She simply smiled at him gently and let him keep them and as she finished brushing his soft hair she began to sing to him. Slowly the Little Elf calmed down, until at last she was sure he was asleep, for even though his eyes were open they did not blink. Stroking his hair once more, she left him and went to reassure her sons, who told her how the Little Elf had arrived.
They told the story again that evening when their father returned home. Dinner that night was very quiet for the Little Elf would not eat the stew they tried to give him, although he drank some water and soon fell asleep again. After their sons had also gone to sleep, their mother and father tried to decide what they should do with the Little Elf. He did not seem to understand the common tongue and they had no idea how an elf child could have wandered so far alone.
They knew that elves lived in the forest of Mirkwood, but they did not know where and they knew how dangerous it was to wander far into the forest alone and if even an elf could get lost in the woods, they certainly weren’t going to try!
In the end they decided that Farin should ride to Esgaroth, as Lake-town was called in those days, the next morning and find one of the men who traded with the elves. The Little Elf was clearly too tired and upset for the journey and so the woman would look after him, while the man travelled as quickly as he could. This little, lost Elf needed to be returned home.
And so the next morning dawned and the man set out. It would take him all day on their poor, old horse to reach the town on shores of the lake and he did not know how long it would take to find a merchant and journey to the Elven realm.
While he was travelling the woman and her sons set about their task of trying to cheer the Little Elf up. She had cleaned his beautiful clothes and he was wearing them again: soft brown leggings and a dark green tunic, which had carefully been embroidered with the leaves of oak and ash. The leather belt he wore was studded with tiny gems.
They took him into their small garden and sat down. The woman sang to the three children and for the first time the Little Elf smiled. He listened carefully and after she had finished one song he began to sing himself, using the same tune and although they couldn’t understand the words he used he had the most beautiful and clear voice they had ever heard. But after a while he stopped and his eyes turned sad once more and he clutched the hair-clips tightly in his hand.
Then Brind and Dalin decided to climb the old oak tree that stood next to the house. The Little Elf watched them curiously and when they had climbed as high as they dared he smiled again. Before they could even blink the Little Elf was sitting on a branch in the tree, well above where the two boys had been forced to halt. They stared at him in amazement, not even their father could climb so quickly and certainly not so high! It took a great while for their mother to get all three of them back down the tree, but eventually hunger won out and the Little Elf followed them back inside the house, looking a little happier than before. But as the days wore on, the Little Elf began to stand, looking at the forest and even songs and trees could not make him smile.
Farin, meanwhile, had been travelling as fast as he could, but night had fallen before he reached Esgaroth. He took a room at one of the inns and here fortune favoured him. The innkeeper himself knew someone who traded with the elves. There was a wine-merchant called Barin, he told the man, who supplied that very inn, who also took barrels to the elves, and they returned the empty barrels via the river. He was a friend of the innkeeper’s and when Farin had told the innkeeper the story of how they had found a Little Elf he agreed to introduce him to Barin, who, he was sure, would take him to see the elves.
And so, in the morning the innkeeper introduced him to Barin. Barin was a small man, with a kindly smile, who readily agreed to take Farin to the elves, although he warned him that they were a strange folk. But they could not set out until the next day for he would need to gather his guards, for there were dangerous creatures in the forest. Once, Barin told him, on the return trip they had been attacked by spiders and had been lucky to reach home in one piece!
And so the man had to wait another day before setting out to find the elves. They travelled the whole day into the depths of Mirkwood. The forest was dark and forbidding and the horses were skittish, and nearly bolted when, in the late afternoon, a dark-haired figure, clad in green and brown, dropped from the trees in front of them and pointed a bow at them. ‘What is your business here?’ A cool voice demanded and Farin realised he was looking at another elf. The Elf looked at him with dark, hard eyes and the man quickly dropped his gaze and swallowed.
Barin spoke up nervously, ‘I’m Barin, the wine-merchant? This man asked me to bring him here’, he said pointing at Farin on his left. ‘He’s found an Elfling’.
As that word rang out more elves suddenly dropped from the trees around them, all dark-haired and carrying bows and knives. They all gazed intensely at Farin, whose fear increased as he felt the weight of their stares. ‘You’ve found an elfling?’ The first elf asked in an intense tone. ‘Speak!’ he demanded when the man at first could not find his voice.
Finally he manage to stutter, ‘Y-y-yes… Five days ago, he came out of the forest near my home further south. He’s very small and he’s got blond hair’. Farin trailed off, he had never had anyone look at him so intently before!
The Elf stared at the man a moment more before glancing upward and uttering what seemed to be a heartfelt oath. He spoke quickly to his companions in their strange tongue and some of the elves disappeared silently into the trees once more, until only three remained. The Elf then looked at the wine-merchant, ‘Thank you for bringing this man to us, Barin’, he said gravely. ‘Return to Esgaroth. You have our thanks’.
The Elf then turned to the man, ‘Come, your news’, the Elf stopped, seemingly lost for words. Finally he said, ‘You news brings us great hope, my friend. We thought our littlest one was lost’. Then the Elf took the reins of Farin’s horse and they began to go deeper into the forest, the three elves moving faster than Farin would have believed possible.
At length they arrived at their destination. There was a fortress of stone built into the hillside before them but the stone seemed barely visible to the man. There were so many trees, bushes and flowers that covered the stone that it seemed almost a fortress made of greenery rather than rock. The Elf helped the tired man to dismount and left the horse in the charge of his two companions while he led the man inside at a quick pace.
Guards challenged their entry but the Elf snapped a few words at them. Whatever he said made them stand aside and look at Farin with hope in their eyes. The Elf hurried them on, leaving Farin barely a moment to even glance at the wonderful architecture he saw as they passed through various corridors.
Then they arrived at a large room, which held many other Elves, and again Farin felt a sense of incredible sadness wash over him. Farin, however, was beginning to feel even more confused and nervous, however, for all the elves that he could see were tall, beautiful and dark-haired. Surely none of these could be related to the Little Elf? Again his guide spoke as they elves turned to look at him and this time a great cry of joy went up around the hall.
At that moment another Elf entered the hall and silence fell. This Elf had long, golden hair just like the Little Elf and Farin was sure that this Elf must be related to the lost Little Elf. The golden-haired Elf looked very sad and his eyes seemed dim and dull. He spoke a sharp sentence to the elves in the hall but it was Farin’s guide who stepped forward to answer. Their conversation was rapid and then the Elf turned to Farin.
‘You have found a golden-haired elf child?’ he asked, as if he scarcely dared hope. ‘You have found my son?’
Farin nodded and repeated the tale of how the Little Elf had been found and how he had journeyed to find the elves. Once he had finished the golden-haired Elf seemed to struggle for words and Farin could see the tears in his eyes.
‘My friend’, he said at last. ‘My friend, you bring me greater news than I possibly dared hope for. I have not the words to express my thanks. Please, can you show us your home on a map? And I know you must be weary, but are you able to travel back to your home now? We will give you food and drink, they should refresh you. I… I need to see my son’, the Elf finished in a low voice.
Farin nodded his head firmly, his fears ebbing away as he realised that he had found the Little Elf’s father. ‘Show me the map and I will point it out. I have sons of my own’, he added, ‘I understand how you must feel, I will be ready to travel, although I don’t know if my horse will feel the same’.
Once the elves knew the location of the man’s home the dark-haired elves left the hall rapidly and suddenly the man was left alone with the golden-haired Elf. The Elf led him to a smaller room where food and wine had been brought and he found that he had never tasted such good food nor drank such sweet wine before. When he had eaten his fill the golden-haired Elf spoke again, "Come, my friend, the company should be ready to leave. It is time to find my son".
With these words the golden-haired Elf led Farin back outside of the great fortress. Outside a group of at least twenty elves were waiting, all armed with bows and knives and ready to mount their horses. Farin was led to one of the elven horses and was quickly helped to mount.
Within moments the company had moved off and Farin realised that he barely needed to hold onto the horse, the ride was incredibly smooth as the horse seemed to go out of its way to find the smoothest path. They travelled long that night and only stopped for a brief rest in the darkest hours, although Farin was not sure if any of the elves slept.
And so it was that in the middle of the next day they forded the river and the man knew he was near his home. Exclamations of joy rose up from the elves as they approached the small house. Finally Farin could see what had moved them. Outside the house stood his wife, with the Little Elf held in her arms and his sons, who were staring at the elves in wonder, stood beside them.
In moments the golden-haired Elf had drawn his horse to a halt and leapt from its back. With a cry of ‘Yonín’ he held out his arms to the Little Elf. The Little Elf gave a single cry of ‘Ada’ and flung himself into the older Elf’s arms. The dark-haired elves circled the golden-haired pair all wanting to touch the Little Elf, to reassure themselves that their little one was safe. That night, the elves gave the family many gifts and spent a magical night singing songs and telling stories.
The next day the elves were preparing to leave the little house when the Little Elf went up to the woman. He looked at her solemnly for a moment and then shyly held out his hand. She took the small gift he was offering, one of the tiny, exquisite silver hair-clips that he had refused to let her take. She took the precious gift with a smile and the Little Elf hugged her tightly before returning to his father’s arms.
The elves rode away and the family never saw them again, although for many years late they would find gifts that had been left at their door during the night. They never forgot the wonders they had seen and were always proud that they helped the lost Little Elf find his way home".*******
‘Ada’ – daddy from ‘adar’ – ‘father’
‘Nana’ – mummy from ‘naneth’ - mother
‘baw!’ – no!
‘Yonin’ is Rosa’s attempt at ‘Ion nín’ – my son
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.