2. The First Cloak
"He who will wear this cloak has deep roots. His soul is entwined with the land of his home. Now that he has left it, he feels uprooted. He thinks that any strength he ever had was drawn from that land and his heart trembles when he remembers what he has left behind."
Lindhris folded and pinned the hem for her cloak. "And yet it is not so," she replied. "His strength comes from his country, but he carries it with him like an unquenchable fountain. I wonder at his meekness."
"Indeed he is humble," said Faenchiriel. "He does not know his own power. His life is ruled by deference to those he deems above him. Yet he has his own might, for his heart is fortified with great love. Few I have met whose love is so steady and so selfless. The vigour of it will make him stand by his friends, come what may."
"Not only does he love his friends," said Aerwing, "but he loves things of beauty, and in this he resembles our own kind. His mind is open wide to perceive all the loveliness of mountain and wood, of story and song. Much power is given to one who can love so fully. He believes himself to be a grower of crops and flowers only, but indeed he is a grower of peace and of happiness."
Salabeth run her hand over the cloth on her lap. With careful stitches she began to work on the seam. "You speak true. I sensed no greed in him and no meanness. All things that live thrive under the loving touch of his hands. He desires not possession; his whole reward is to see blossom and fruit."
"And yet he must go on such a quest ... " whispered Faenchiriel, her face filled with compassion.
"Into the barred lands he must go, indeed," said Aerwing, "and his love for his friends would not suffer any turning back. But will his strength last under the shadow? Or will he truly become like an uprooted tree and shrivel in the wastes of hatred and darkness? It would grieve me greatly, if such a thing came to pass, for even in this short space of time, he has become dear to me."
"Let that be the blessing then," concluded Salabeth, "that his strength will not leave him. May his spirit be fed by the memories of goodness and beauty, no matter how dark the shadow or how deep the despair. May hope grow in his heart like a mellorn tree, with strong roots and flowers untouched by winter."
"May it be as you say," said Aerwing. Seven heads bowed in silence, while Salabeth murmured her blessing over the cloak. The whispering of their tree seemed to echo her words.