19. Home Sweet Home?????
They watched as the tall elf that had greeted them upon their arrival walk away with long graceful steps.
Eli sighed. “I wonder if I will ever acquire that air of cool unflappability, Uncle Ted?”
Ted grinned. “Perhaps with a couple hundred years of practice. This is really something is it not?” He nodded at the buildings that surrounded them. Looking about the courtyard they studied the graceful lines of the elven architecture as they awaited the arrival of the assistant librarian who would help them get settled in their temporary guest chambers and then escort Ted to the library and acquaint him with its organization.
“Are you not glad you came Eli?”
“Yes and no, Uncle Ted. I will admit that I am glad to see all of this and I would love to explore but I should have stayed behind with Owen. I only came because Kiril said that Lord Elrond and Lady Amarie had traveled to their summer camp and would not be here. I am not ready to run into either the gwanur or Lord Elrond yet.”
They turned to face the smiling elleth who descended the stairs from what appeared to be the main building in the complex.
“I am Ildris. Master Hebperf sends his apologies and has asked me to be your guide. There has been a slight disturbance with the young gwanur and he had to deal with it before they caused more damage. He hopes you will forgive him and he will meet us in the library shortly.”
“Gwanur?” Ted asked puzzled. “Surely the young lords Elladan and Elrohir are long past that stage.”
“Oh, not them.” Ildris laughed, “It is Lord Elrond’s youngest two, Elros and Elwing. They were not too happy to be left behind when their parents departed to their private camp for a few days. It seems they decided that if they could not go they would pretend the mountains had come to them and they went climbing using the library stacks as their substitute. Luckily their nurse caught up with them before they had done too much damage or pulled over any shelving.”
Eli hid a grin behind a hand and shook her head in sympathy and Ted chuckled. “From what I understand their older siblings were a handful, too when they were small.”
“Indeed they were, we often wondered if they would survive to adulthood. I understand you have met them.”
“Yes, they were the first elves we had ever met. Most impressive warriors.”
Ildris smiled, “And the despair of all the ellyth as well. Be warned young mistress, they break many hearts, both among the ellyth and humans.”
She indicated towards a building to their right. “Your chambers lay in this direction. If you will come, we will get you settled in and meet Master Hebperf in the library.” Turning her attention to Eli who trailed in their wake she studied her for a moment. “I understand it is your wish to study here in our Healing Hall? Perhaps you would prefer a tour of it while your uncle is talking with Master Hebperf?”
Eli looked startled then reacted with pleasure. “Oh yes, that would be wonderful, but I do not wish to cause a disturbance among the patients.”
“We have been lucky of late and there are no seriously wounded or illness that have required extensive care. Now is an excellent time for such a visit. You will have the opportunity to talk to the healers and ask questions without causing distractions. As soon as I have delivered your uncle to the library I will show you to there and introduce you to the healer on duty. I am sure they will be delighted to meet with a fellow healer from far away. Be prepared to share information on those techniques used among your people though, they enjoy discussing any new or different procedures they learn of.”
Eli smiled and nodded in agreement. “I know what you mean. Our healers are much the same.”
Their chambers proved to be comfortable but simple. Eli looked at the tub in the adjoining bathing chamber with longing determined to enjoy her first real bath in nearly a year and regretting she would have to wait until later in the evening. She also was surprised to find a flush toilet. Perhaps things were not so primitive here after all! Calling to her uncle in the next chamber she exclaimed over her findings. “Uncle Ted, this is amazing!”
Leaving his own chamber Ted joined Ildris in the hall. “We have not seen such luxury in quite some time. It will take a while to become use to it.”
With a smile Ildris waved towards the main building. “If you are ready, Master Hebperf should be finished with the gwanur by now.”
Eli joined them in the hall and the elleth noted her reluctance. “Do you wish to rest this afternoon? I can arrange your visit with the healers for in the morning.”
Eli shook her head and laughed. “No, a bath can wait until later, I am looking forward to that pleasure very much but I am also eager to see the healing hall before Lord Elrond returns. If he has not decided to let me study here, at least I will have the pleasant memory of a real one to strive for elsewhere.”
The elleth nodded and led them down the hall towards the library where an eager Ted was introduced to a serious looking elf still shaking his head over the antics of his lord’s youngest two hin. He smiled when his visitors entered the lower level of the great library and he chuckled out right when he saw the eager and longing looks that Ted sent towards the volumes stored on the open stacks against the far walls.
“Our scholar is eager to begin his work even before introductions are completed.”
Ted had the grace to look sheepish. “My apologies, Master Hebperf, I meant no disrespect.”
“And none was taken, Master Theodore. Such priorities are well understood here.” The elf gestured towards a table stacked with books. “I have selected a few items that you might find of interest.”
Ted shook his head in disbelief at the riches spread out before his eager eyes, “This will take years to go through, and I fear we only have a few days before we must return to the village.”
The elf nodded. “We must decide where best to concentrate your attention then. Do you have any preferred subject? We can….”
Eli and Ildris smiled at each other as the two males forgot all about them and lost themselves in their shared interest. Gesturing silently the elleth indicated a quiet departure from the library and both quickly exited before their mutual mirth overcame them.
“It would seem that scholars among your people share the same obsession that those among mine do. I suspect he will do everything but sleep there until you depart.”
“It would not surprise me if he slept there as well,” snickered Eli then sighed with regret. “He has truly missed his books. We could bring none with us and he found none in the village. Lord Elrond’s permission to use the library was like opening the way to Valinor itself.”
“It must have been difficult to leave the only home you have ever known.” Ildris offered as they resumed their way towards the Healing Hall.
Eli was quiet for a moment. “It was difficult to leave our family and know we would never see them again, but actually leaving our home was easy. For me there was really no other way I would have a future and Uncle Theodore has always studied and written on the customs and history of the Eldar based on what was known among our people. After my aunt passed the circles of the earth, he saw it as an opportunity to seek out the best source of knowledge of Middle Earth and learn even more before he joins her. Both my mother and he wanted to ensure that I could make the trip safely and so it became possible for the both of us to aid each other. Now that we are here, both Uncle Theodore and my cousin Owen have been able to fit in while I have found some of the adjustment difficult. I have not been able to convince the village healer to allow me to assist him and I feel like I am making little progress towards my goal. I know I sound impatient but I seek answers that I may never know and I will soon have to decide one way or the other which path I will follow.”
“Surely that cannot be so difficult?”
Eli stopped and looked at the elleth and decided she should take the risk and confide a little in her. “Ildris, my main problem is I do not know where I belong. You see, my father is an elf and while I have inherited certain elven traits, I do not know what that actually means for my future. I cannot allow myself to make any decision as to which way I will choose until I know. If I am allowed to identify with my father’s people, will I be given all that entails including eventually sailing to Valinor or just a portion and what? If I am elf that means I will outlive my family here and they understand and expect that. That is the reason I am here, to see what I can discover. There are no Eldar where we come from and my mother feared for my future if I had stayed.”
She brushed a brief tear from a troubled face and continued. “If I am not of the Elder, then I must prepare for a life among men. I am not reluctant for either path. I can build a life as a healer either way. What I do fear is the loneliness I may face if I make the wrong choice. It would be too traumatic for my family either way.”
The elleth listened without comment then placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “You should find some answers here. Do you know where your father is? He could be of great help if he were.”
Eli nodded. “Yes, he is here but he does not know of my birth. He left before my mother discovered I was on the way. I do not want to approach him before I have some answers. He has family here and I do no wish to cause them distress. I believe he has finally found a measure of happiness after a very difficult past and my presence would only hurt his hervess and hin.”
“Well, if I can be of any help, I will be glad to assist. In the meantime I will leave you in the hands of our current healer on duty, Master Maenestad, and return for you in time for you to prepare for dinner.”
“Hannon le Ildris, I appreciate your listening to me. I do not expect you to do any thing. I just needed to talk to someone. I have not wanted to tax my uncle with my concerns. He has made the adjustment so well that I did not have the heart to worry him with my concerns. Men often think women who complain are witless and silly.”
“Then they are the ones who are silly and witless. What you face would daunt the bravest of elves. I hope you find your answers, Eleiann.”
Ildris watched as the other was welcomed by the healer and smiled as the discussion exploded into a lively discourse once the possibility of a new source of information was discovered and questioned. She considered what Eli had shared with her and mulled over who the mysterious elf was who had sired her. The rough woollen and linen tunic and leggings she wore hid the slender figure and the scarf she wore bound about her head disguised both the shape of her head and the color of her hair. Certainly the color of her eyes was fairly common among the elves of Imladris. In fact they were much like those of the lord and his sons themselves. She frowned momentarily but dismissed the thought. Elrond had not left Imladris for many centuries and the gwanur had no mates or hin. Shrugging she turned away and returned to her other duties. Answers would be found when the time was right.
Gwanur-twins or brother
Elleth -elf maiden
Hebperf- -from (S) heb-keeper and (S) perf -books thus Keeper of books
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