04 June 2013 @ 07:20 pm
The Valinor Trail, chapter twelve.  
Chapter Twelve in which our intrepid twosome head into the mountains...

Chapter Twelve 'And Did The Earth Move For You?'
Rated 15
Length 2330 words.
Comma wrangler; Speaker to Customers
Disclaimer as chapter one.


Previous chapters are here.






Chapter Twelve; And Did The Earth Move For You?

Two more days of riding and they were definitely picking their way between mountains. Each pass they rode along opened onto the vista of more, and higher, mountains. The horses were sure-footed, even though the terrain was something new to them, but, despite it now being late Ethuil (Sindarin; spring – modern calendar equivalent would be late May), this high up it was cold as soon as they were out of the sun.

Making camp for the night was now a case of spreading out bedrolls and blankets with only their cloaks for protection as there were no trees. Tindómë commented that it reminded her of the High Pass between Lothlorien and Imladris.

“At least it isn’t raining,” she said, “although, if it was, I guess we could go off-piste – uh, off the obvious route – and look for a cave. I remember Elrohir saying that if it was stormy, and we didn’t find a cave without the smell of orcs or bears, then we would just end up huddled against the rocks with the horses between us and the prevailing wind. On the whole, though, I think I would prefer it to not be wet or stormy until we get through these mountains!”

Although she had mentioned the sons of Elrond before, Haldir had not realised that Tindómë had ever travelled to Imladris. The conversation for the evening, therefore, was about Tindómë’s visits to Imladris, especially her first one, and how her sword had been made for her by the Noldorin smiths to replace one that she had brought from the other world. Haldir realised he had never even looked properly at the shortsword she carried. Part of him did not want to acknowledge any interest but, in the end, his curiosity won out and he admitted he would like to look at it.

“The Els and Glorfindel were determined that I should practice my swordsmanship,” she said, “especially as the balance was better with this sword than my old one, which hadn’t been made just for me. Before I left, that time, Glorfindel said I had, truly, earned my swordsman’s braids and plaited them in for me.

“Then, not that long after, we moved to Eryn Ithil and when the warriors were away fighting, Eldroth put me through my paces and declared I was good enough to have a swordsman’s braids, and put them in again – ‘cos I hadn’t liked to boast that Glorfindel had awarded them to me!”

There were so many things to question in that statement, from who was Eldroth to what were the warriors doing away fighting, that it had been dark for some time before Haldir suggested that Tindómë sleep and he would watch.

As he sat, alert, he considered that she must really be well able to wield her sword for, even if he thought the Ithilrim warriors were not as well trained as were the Galadhrim, if Glorfindel thought she had earned those braids then indeed she must be capable with her weapon. He thought of what she had told him of the attack on the Elven settlement, whilst the warriors were away, and the ridiculous belief some Men had that to break an elleth’s gweneth (maidenhead) would make them immortal!

There was more to that tale, he knew, for she had said that when Orophin had first heard that he had amused them all by observing that, had he known, he would have made a fortune by selling his own. But the impression had been that that was on an earlier occasion. He would ask her tomorrow…

The tomorrow in question saw them climb higher yet, so that the horses were walking in snow, albeit fairly light snow that seemed to be melting. They rode on towards the setting sun, until it was almost fully dark, so that they were below the snow-line before they stopped for the night. There was scrubby grass and a few small leafless bushes; just enough for a small fire. Valinor might be as all Arda should have been, had evil not marred it, but cold winters still left the grass pale and lifeless.

There was little sign of game, and nowhere to fish, but at least they could make a hot drink and they had lembas. There was little for the horses but hopefully, as they now seemed to be descending, there would be better grass tomorrow. His companion looked tired; perhaps best not to engage in too much conversation tonight. Haldir suggested she settle and sleep and he realised he had been right when she simply agreed.

…………………………………………………

It was dark when Haldir woke her. She was glad that he had so easily accepted she was capable of taking a turn on watch, even if it was a shorter turn than his own. She felt warmer than she had been before she slept – and she realised his blanket was thrown over the top of her own.

“You are still young,” he said as she handed it back to him with a grateful nod, “even if you are bound and have elflings of your own. You feel the cold more than an older elf would.”

As he lay down and crossed his arms on his chest she found herself amused that he recognised that she felt the cold more than he did – but did not acknowledge that it might be to with her being not-quite-an-elf.

It took longer for the sun to rise this morning; the higher slopes were now between them and the east. A positive point in their journey. Although they had to climb upwards a few more times, to find the passes between mountains, by late afternoon it was clear that, although two or three more ridges of hills were still ahead, and they could not see past them, they were leaving the mountains.

They found a small stream with a few trees and grass growing beside it which the horses fell to cropping. There was little sign of fish big enough to eat, but Tindómë recognised the watercress growing in the shallows, and Haldir took very little time to produce a hare to roast to go with it; a feast.

It was a better evening for conversation and Haldir asked her more about the strange Mannish belief she had mentioned regarding elven virginity. And so Tindómë told him about the second occasion that she spent time in Minas Tirith, the unrest being fomented by someone who turned out to be an Umbari corsair, and how Rumil had worked this out before anyone else – then she told Haldir how Rumil had pointed out to her that Aragorn and Arwen were to Gondor what Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel had been to Lothlorien in an earlier age.

“If he hadn’t been a warrior, or an artist, I think Rumil would have been an excellent loremaster, or a diplomat, because he thinks things through so well,” she said. “But he is a warrior first and foremost… and I guess he wouldn’t have really wanted to do either of those things because he is so not big on the standing up and talking in public thing.”

She wondered if Haldir had ever thought of his youngest brother as a deep thinker; he didn’t comment one way or the other but asked her, again, what this corsair had to do with the odd belief? And so she described how she had been kidnapped.

“Totally stupid! I was just so annoyed at managing to get myself kidnapped. ‘Course I knew Rumil and the others would come for me, it was just a question of time. But I did the big doe-eyed, frightened, young thing bit and he was just so predictable. You know? Let me tell you all my evil plans to impress you?”

Haldir actually smiled as he agreed that he knew exactly what she meant.

Tindómë had been told about the events on shore that led up to her rescue and, at her description of Éowyn trying not to stare at naked ellyn, Haldir laughed out loud.

The moon was high in the sky before she finished her tale and she wanted to laugh when he, too, asked the question that Orophin had, all those years before.

“But what would have happened if the Man had seen your ears, Tindómë, and realised that you are not quite an elleth? Would that not have caused him to change his plans? Did it worry you?”

And she gave him much the same answer she had given to Orophin back then.

“I reckoned that the only other elleth he might have seen was Arwen. But he only arrived when she was out of the public eye being very pregnant and then with a tiny baby, so he probably hadn’t even seen her. Then I thought that, if he had noticed my ears are round, I would have told him that pointy ears are only a male thing – and to make it seem more likely I was going to tell him that there’s a whole macho thing involved – like the pointier the ears the bigger the grondithen…”

She was rewarded by her husband-brother running his fingers up the points of his ears and, just as Legolas had all those years before, he said “That seems quite likely, really…” before laughing out loud.

grondithen - Sindarin slang for penis

…………………………………………………

Some time in the early hours of the morning, Tindómë awoke. At first she thought it was Haldir, shaking her to wake her for her watch, but then realised that he was standing a few yards away, alert, bow in hand. The horses had not moved but they, too, were wide eyed and were swishing their tails.

She realised that the ground itself had shaken.

“Oh – earthquake!” she exclaimed.

“Pardon?” Haldir replied.

“Well, more a tremor, as I don’t think any trees or rocks seem to be falling around us,” she corrected herself.

“I do not understand,” he said. “It felt as if the very world itself was shifting!”

“Yeah… a tremor, maybe a four or so…” answered the ex-Californian, wondering if she could get back to sleep.

“A four?”

“M’kay, maybe a little bit more, but probably not.”

Then she realised her companion had no idea what she was talking about.

“Sometimes the earth just gives a bit of a shake,” she said, “It used to do it where I lived before and we rated it on a scale of one to ten. It might shiver another once or twice, I guess, but it’s no big deal, honestly.”

He didn’t look fully convinced but the very fact that she then asked if she had time to sleep a little more, or was it her watch yet, seemed to reassure him and he spoke gently to the horses, told her to sleep a little longer, and sat down again.

In the morning he asked her more about the concept of ‘earthquake’ and she tried to explain the idea of the earth moving against itself, fault lines, tectonic plates…

“Ah,” he said, after a little thought, “when the Valar bent the world, and yet left a straight road to Valinor, there is sometimes a dissonance between the straight and the bent?”

That seemed fair enough, so she simply agreed that that was it. But, inside, it confirmed for her that Valinor really did seem to be an alternative North America just as Middle Earth was like another version of Europe.

As the earth seemed to have settled back to sleep they ate breakfast and then followed the stream, as it made its way down through the last of the foothills, until the terrain began to support pines and thicker undergrowth. Finally they rounded a bend in its little valley and found the hill dropping away, their small stream forming a waterfall, and spread in front of them was open land.

In soundless agreement they stopped and simply looked.

There were soft rolling hills; grassland dotted with trees in small woodlands; light glinting off a couple of distant patches of water; and in the distance were snow-capped mountains.

“Elo!” Tindómë broke the silence.

Haldir was doing the ‘thousand mile stare’ thing.

“I had expected deep forest,” he said. “I had always assumed that Lord Oromë hunted in a great forest that would make Mirkwood seem little more than a hobbit’s garden.”

“Eryn Lasgalen,” Tindómë corrected him automatically, “and I thought the same. But the ellon at Her Ladyship’s did say he ‘skirted the forest’ so I’m guessing it’s further away…”

Haldir looked around again.

“There seems to be thicker woodland both to north and south. The maps did suggest that Lord Oromë’s forest is to the south… this must be the plain of Yavanna. I would like to see Lord Oromë’s forest. Perhaps we should turn to the south?”

“M’hm. But before we think about that, just look straight west again. How many days do you think it would take us to reach those mountains? Just wondering.”

“If we are to simply continue due west and not detour to look at the forest, then it would take no more than two days, probably less. So I am sure that we can spare a day or two to go south, and then, perhaps back through this spot and further north.”

“But they should be further away,” Tindómë said. “The ellon at Her Ladyship’s said the journey would take us three or four weeks. But we’ve only spent what? Nine or ten days on the road? So unless it’s going to take us an awfully long time to get to a point in that range from which we could glimpse the sea, like he said he did, then they are too close…”

Haldir seemed to consider what she had said for a long time before answering. “I would have expected Lord Oromë’s forests to be bigger, and the plains of Yavanna. But the mountains are where they are…they cannot have moved.”

Tindómë thought of that tremor in the night, and wondered.


 
 
I feel: busybusy
 
 
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Nath: waterkuikenmrowe on June 4th, 2013 07:37 pm (UTC)
But... but... they're only travelling across Valinor... What could possibly go wrong?
curiouswombat: Hmm 2curiouswombat on June 4th, 2013 07:51 pm (UTC)
What indeed? :)

Marcus L. Rowlandffutures on June 4th, 2013 08:10 pm (UTC)
There are volcanos in Middle Earth, why should a tremor be so unheard-of?
curiouswombat: Haldircuriouswombat on June 4th, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
I always think of Lothlorien being sheltered from almost all normal change in the outside world by the combination of Galadriel and her ring - enough to prevent them noticing minor tremors. Haldir will know his history of major cataclysms and tragedies but think of them as being the specific work of the Valar. And I don't think he ever strayed far from The Golden Wood for any length of time.

So volcanic induced tremors would not be part of his previous experience except as the forerunner to almost legendary changes in the lay of the land.

Also - there don't seem to be any obvious volcanoes on those maps of Valinor they found, so even if he did know of small tremors being related to volcanic action, he would be rather worried about the whereabouts of an unexpected volcano...

Anyway - that's my reading of it for purposes of the plot!
Marcus L. Rowlandffutures on June 5th, 2013 06:05 am (UTC)
Fair enough.
myrhiannmyrhiann on June 5th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
Where does their path lead next?
curiouswombat: Haldircuriouswombat on June 5th, 2013 08:34 am (UTC)
Well at the moment, on my hard-drive, they are discussing the point...
(Anonymous) on June 5th, 2013 04:52 pm (UTC)
Reshaping Valinor
Some how I don't think they are as close to Orome's Forrest as they think they are. If the terrain had changed as much as they think it has they would have needed a much bigger quake than a mere 4.0!(Unless, the Valar have been tweaking things a bit!)

Haldir seems to be slowly thawing towards Tindome, he might even end up liking her!

I believe most of the volcanos in M.E. are a lot further east in Ennorath, way beyond Mordor and points east.

Ah, well onward and upward, or should that be downward and southward!

Huggs,
Lynda
curiouswombat: Roadcuriouswombat on June 5th, 2013 05:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Reshaping Valinor
Some how I don't think they are as close to Orome's Forrest as they think they are.

You could well be right... and as to whether they go onwards and upwards, outwards and westwards or downward and southward is currently a point for discussion between the two of them!
Winterwitch: Ardathe_winterwitch on June 23rd, 2013 09:26 pm (UTC)
Changing tack again... I thougth I'd stick with faerie for the reviews of the other stories and try to do them in the order I read them, but chime in here with your current WIP which I just finished. I confess it was quite a shock - at the beginning of the week, there was still so much to read, but in the heat wave here the reading pile seemed simply to melt, and now I'm done, and have to wait for you writing more! I fear very bad withdrawal symptoms starting tomorrow in the latest. ;o)

I really loved the Valinor Trail so far (and will talk more detailed about it chapter by chapter), and am thoroughly amused by your Haldir! :o) He is quite different than my own head-canon one, but he is so adorable in his ways, and just perfect for your whole setting. This trip together is a great story you're telling in your trademark, terrific way, and I've enjoyed your take on Aman immensely while reading it.

Now to this chapter: It's really nice to see how Haldir gets a little more approachable as well accepting of Tindómë with each travelled mile, and the two of them get a little closer while we get to see more and more of the country. Quite the road movie! ;o) The additional layer of Haldir learning not only more about Tindómë, but also about the life of his brothers after his death adds a very intense layer. You're dealing brilliantly with this aspect of elven immortality and the rebirth after the halls of waiting. Once again your ideas and thoughts about the problems this brings for close ones, friends, and relatives, as seen in Haldir's story here, are very similar to my own on the subject.

She was rewarded by her husband-brother running his fingers up the points of his ears
Males can't possibly resist, can they? *ggg*

“Yeah… a tremor, maybe a four or so…” answered the ex-Californian, wondering if she could get back to sleep.
*lol* Of course, this would be nothing unusual for her. A cool idea to give her this advantage to him in experience. I AM very curious about the meaning of this earthquakehiccup or whatever, considering how you end the chapter... most fascinating! *steeples fingers in the Spock way and raises eyebrow inquiringly*
curiouswombat: Haldircuriouswombat on June 23rd, 2013 10:30 pm (UTC)
I was as surprised to get this review as you were to get to the end of the whole series! And very flattered - I recognise that feeling where you spend all your spare time reading your way through someone's stories and it is such a compliment to think of you doing that through all of mine.

Haldir has had a lot of adjusting to do - and he retreated into wishing nothing to have changed as a default as this was where he was most confident. But then, he is not stupid, and so I reckon that if he has to look at how things have changed, he will.

It is fairly clear that the road trip is really as much for him as it is for Tindómë - and that he now feels he has at least something to concentrate on. More than one thing when you remember that glance between Haldir and Legolas when the trip is being planned - whether they spoke about this as an exploratory mission for Haldir at great length or not we don't know, as Tindómë didn't - but she knows there is some hint of it if nothing else.

And as for the male elves being happy to go with her invented-on-the-spur-of-the-moment idea that there is a correlation between the size of the ear-point and the size of the grondithen - I think it amuses Tindómë as much as it does us, really!

Eventually that earth tremor will get another mention... honestly.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )