1. Lá Hrívë, Neverwinter
Morning was glorious in that wood, for it was nearly midsummer indeed, and the mallorns were in full bloom. Their great silvery green leaves reflected light in every direction. The heavy dew rose from the warm sodden ground in shining mists and several parts were wholly covered in fog. The moon could be seen still sitting low in the sky, even though day had dawned: it was as if she was loth (“unwilling or reluctant to do something”) to the skies over the wood, and lingered there like a sad lover. Birds were exceedingly noisy, calling to one another, ‘admire me, admire me!’ Deer paused in their feeding to look up at the passing company, then returned unconcerned to their moist greens. Squirrels clucked at unseen enemies still crouching in the ferns, or returning silently to their holes and caves. A nightjar (“a nocturnal bird that has a short bill, a gaping mouth, and dark plumage, or feathers”) passed, the last until evening, and nestled into its nook drowsily. It blinked slowly and ruffled, backing into bed. Far from the center of the forest there were still a few narrow pines and white-barked birch, eyeing the company with its strange markings. Nevertheless, the mallorns predominated. What the mallorns lacked in size, compared to the ronde-limbes of Fangorn, they made up with beauty. Whereas the ronde-limbes blocked or filtered the light, these mallorns enhanced it. The already rosy morning light was softened further with a blue-green sheen, and the water vapors also dispersed the beams, turning the air into something tangible (“able to be touched or perceived through the sense of touch”). The saturated colour of everything around them was a delight in itself, no matter what it was of itself. An ordinary rock, that one would never have noticed in another place, here became a translucent (“glowing appearance, as if light were coming through”) shimmering creature, almost seeming to breathe. One would expect it to rise up and swim away, like some cerulean turtle in a deep pool. The whole forest seemed to swim in a current of colour and mist, ferns swaying in the morning breeze like seaweed in the tide.
After travelling for many days, the fair company stopped for breakfast. Fires were lit in a twinkling and a lovely cloth spread upon the ground. Airy cakes, fresh berries, thick cream, and a hot drink steeped from some subtle herb. It seemed to evaporate immediately from the tongue, rising through the nose and all of the hot drinks like the fog around them. It was like drinking mist; like drinking a sweet steam distilled from mint and honeysuckle.
The company consisted of seven elves of close kin, and different are they, but all the same, descendants of the Fire Spirit Lord Faernor and Nerdanel the Wise were they. Their robes were of deep blue and green that shimmered in the morning light, like thickest taffeta (“stiff shiny silk”). All had hair the color of a vibrant red flame and wore copper circlets, but six of them had chest-length hair, without wave or curl, and the youngest one had hair that fell to their knees, shiny and full of luster in the morning light. That colour contrasted strangely with their alabaster skin, not reddened by the sun but for a patch of light vermilion on each cheek. Their ears were likewise of the same hue, when these could be seen through the hair, and their lips were a madder lake, crimson as fresh blood. Seven wore their hair in one long plait down their backs, and the seventh one wore theirs loosely, letting it cascade down their backs and frame their angular face tinted with silver. The eyes of the seven were the colour of a vivid emerald with flecks of golden glints. Their shirts were white and high-collared, worn tight in the chest and waist. They each had a fair necklace of mithril chain and on it hung a grey-blue jewel and their buckles and studs were marvelously wrought. Each bore a long curved sword in a leather scabbard upon the horses’ withers and their bows and arrows on the decorative breastplate of each horse. The majestic white steeds were equipped with quilted numnahs, but no saddles, stirrups or bridles were used.
When done with their meal the elvish company continued on through the wood. The day warmed quickly, and the mists retreated as the sun rose higher. The fog was replaced by high clouds, soft and slow against the very blue sky. Butterflies emerged and began fluttering about. Many wildflowers decorated the heavy underbrush of the forest; the trees and rocks themselves were covered with hanging and creeping flowers, or with colourful mosses and lichens. All about them was the smell of oncoming summer. A smell of wet earth and fragrant herb and rain came down from the mountains. The great horses of the elves kicked up muddy clods of rich soil as they walked. Little pools of fresh water lay about them, flickering in the cups and saucers and concavities of rock and root. Often they crossed streams or little dancing rills, chattering through stony channels, fresh and clear. The hooves of the horses sent echoing knocks through the woods as they clicked across stone and pebble. At last, the fair company came to a road. The path ended and a wide straightway opened up, canopied with ever-larger mallorns marching north. After less than a league upon this straight road a bridge appeared ahead, a narrow arch of white stone. Beneath it ran the Celebrant or Silverlode in the common tongue. The elves took their horses alongside of themselves and mounted, riding over the bridge into the Naith of Lorien. Underneath the bridge were the rushing white waters, with the spring runoff from the Misty Mountains. In the Naith the company met with many other elves, alone or in-groups, passing both north and south, and as they progressed North and East (the road curved in a great arc, going further east as it advanced) the traffic increased, and soon the road was well-nigh full of travelers making their way to the great city as it neared as dusk approached. The trees about them had become one great mass of mallorns of an infinite height, since their crossing of the Celebrant. No end of them could be seen, not on either side, nor upwards. With twilight, the fantastic light of the dusk had returned rosy and palest blue at the same time. The vermilion in the cheeks of the elves became lavender and their lips took on a violet cast in the deepening shadow. Moths began to replace the butterflies of the morning, and a few bats and nightjars could be seen flitting through the evening, looking for the choicest insects.
Near the gate, Curunarfin (“sindarin for skillful flamed hair, or skillful noble hair”), the eldest of the seven, traded words with a tall elf coming from the city; but he was not the gatekeeper, but only a citizen of Caras Galadhon. The elf of the city pointed back to the north, making signs that they would have to climb a hill, and then an intersection of two different roads. The eight elves thanked him, and passing through the gate, rode north. The way was paved with large white stones, marble brought down from the Misty Mountains at the end of the First Age. Its surface was worn into smoothest concavities from the light step of countless travelers, and the cart path nigh was also worn from long use. Ahead the light from the lanterns, shining like silver moonbeams from the many trees, reflected the surface of the path as from the surface of a mountain lake. Soon, another road came into view, and the seventh one traveled it, going further north as their kin went eastward.
A fair garden came into view where the white marble path ended, and as they dismounted, a familiar silver haired elf emerged from the silver leafed flowers. Hastening to meet them, they extended their arms, later encircled in an embrace, as doves and nightingales flew above in the mallorn’s canopies. “Mae Govannen, Narilvrin (“sindarin for translucent brilliance of fire”) my beloved gwanur (sister by blood from afar), how do you fare? They asked, stepping back to look at her. “I am quite fine Celeborn, nothing would be more better but to visit Lothlorien once again during midsummer, but I do have some things that I would ask of you.” She replied. Celeborn smiled. “That is good to hear. Come, let us walk into the garden, and as you have said, you do need my assistance, so indeed I will provide it.” Leading Narilvrin through the silver light lit gardens filled with white niphredils and golden elanors, Celeborn pondered on what his cousin could be speaking of needed assistance. ‘Quite a bafflement’ he thought. Moments later they came to a white marble bench near a great waterfall, both surrounded with silver barked mallorns. The Lord of Lorien turned to Narilvrin, thinking of what to say. So alike, yet different, Celeborn thought while gazing into his cousin’s emerald and golden flecked eyes. Like a flash of lightning, Celeborn perceived the brooding aura emanating from Narilvrin, and it saddened him. The female elf sighed heavily and smiled ruefully, though it came out as a grimace. Facing him, they conversed through their thoughts, hearing or seeing things that need not be said aloud. Celeborn tried his best to find the ailment within as visions of life, love, grief, and death flowed throughout Narilvrin’s mind. This however, is what dealt the painstaking blow to her and broke the intense gaze. She stood abruptly and strode near the waterfall, her head in her slender hands. The silver haired lord regretted what he had done and came near to her, and placing his hands upon her shoulders, brought her into a different part in the garden. Silence hung dangerously in the air until Narilvrin spoke. “I do not know what to do anymore. I am fully drawn to him but he is a mortal, and so I am torn between what I desire the most.” The usual calm but fiery voice of Narilvrin had dwindled to become soft and quiet; for the first time, her calm deadpan countenance betrayed her true feelings, even though her emerald golden eyes still held the light of a great fire. “You should do what your heart tells the more of.” “That is good to hear then, for I am now contemplating my plans for the future, Hannon lle (Thank you).” “As it is to me my cousin…as it is to me.” Celeborn agreed.
Narilvrin had found her brothers, either talking or pulling pranks on their fellow elven friends. Taking leave from the Lord and saying farewell, she immediately saw hidden in the bushes her two elder twin brothers, Celegfin (hasty skill) and Amarthfin (fated skill), sneak up behind Galadhlór (tree-golden, referring to his height and golden hair), one of their friends. The twin’s sister watched, hidden by the mallorns, as the brothers poured cold river water over the elf’s head. He had been deeply in thought and did not realize his friends behind him that is until the water fell. Galadhlór quickly whirled around to see Celegfin and Amarthfin running off, laughing crazily; he swiftly took off after them, yelling something obscure but funny nonetheless. The rest of the elves laughed at their humorous antics, but one voice stood out, rich and melodious amongst the rest. The flame haired elleth espied a blond haired elf with sapphire eyes attired in dark green and brown conversing with Amfin (high skill), her brother. Narilvrin whistled softly and harking to her whistle was a tall silver haired elf with bright blue eyes. “Why hello Anglin (song of steel), it seems that you are doing well.” Narilvrin whispered to Anglin and gestured to the blond haired elf. The Elf silently bounded off into the bushes, towards the groups of elves. The Elf watched in anticipation, chuckling at the obliviousness of the group. Later on, a rustle in the bushes caused one to turn around, “What’s wrong Legolas?” Amfin asked, frowning. In that moment, a silver blur jumped out, and landed on the Mirkwood Elf, who was both surprised and almost frightened at the sight before him. “Aye, Anglin, well met my good friend,” he said. Amfin started laughing, and soon everyone else joined in, even Narilvrin. She stepped out and strode towards the big hill full of elves. Curunarfin saw them and said “Quel undome Narilvrin my sister. I expect that this has something to do with you.” Pointing towards Legolas and Anglin, now wrestling, but the silver-haired Elf kept pinning the other elf down.
And so, they talked for a time of things that came and went until Narilvrin took leave and left, Anglin accompanying her, while the rest stayed under the cover of mallorns and of Ithil’s shining light.