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3
Littleheart

Disclaimer: see the Foreword.

Author’s Notes:
I took some liberties here both with “Laws & Customs” and concerning Voronwë’s family. I still do not consider this story an AU, though that is debatable. Let us say this is my free interpretation. :)


~~~

3. Littleheart

The crowd that greeted her upon the quay was not very different from the people of Mithlond – or even those in Edhellond, if memory served her well. Fishermen were strolling towards their barges, with uprolled nets on their shoulders, mariners were readying other ships, docked in further away, for departure, various craftsmen were going after their own business, all of them giving her a welcoming smile but addressing her not.

She was beginning to think that no-one had truly taken notice of her arrival, when she finally detected him who seemed to wait just for her. He was rather small for an Elf, not even reaching her own height, and very slender; and he had a weather-worn face that always pointed out mariners – even Elven mariners – among their own kin, and blue eyes full of merriment, but his hair was of the same changeable auburn colour than that of the Silvan folk. This surprised her, for Wood-Elves rarely knew the call of the Sea and she had not expected to find one of them here, right at the beginning.

‘Twas hard to tell if this particular Elf might be fifty or then thousand years old, for though his face showed the traces of much joy and also much pain that he had known during a long life, there was an air of utter, childlike innocence about him, as if he had been reborn. He approached her with a joyous smile and bowed before her deeply and spoke in a clear, lyrical voice:

“Welcome, my Lady, on the Isle of endless summer. Ilverin, son of Voronwë is my name(1), and I was sent to escort you to our Queen(2).”

“You knew that I was coming?” she asked in surprise. Ilverin nodded as if that were the most natural thing.

“Word has come from Aman, from Lord Ingwë. The High King hears much what is happening in the Outer Lands from the Powers themselves. And our Lady has other means to learn of events that happen far away, even in the lands that are affected by the Shadow. Would you not come with me? She is waiting for you.”

She was still a little confused, gazing in awe at the merry face of that strange Elf who seemed ancient and yet so young at the same time. Somehow, he looked familiar nevertheless, and after a moment she understood why – he had a fleeting similarity to the dark-haired Elf who had just gone aboard the Alqarámë and was greeted by Galdor with such a heartfelt hug.

As if he could hear her thoughts, Ilverin smiled at her and nodded. “Yea. That was my father.”

“But how can he then be with Galdor?” she asked, forgetting even tact in her confusion. “What of your mother? How can the Valar allow your father to take another bond-mate?”

Barely had he spoken, she felt ashamed already for her tactlessness. But Ilverin seemed not offended at all.

“My mother was slain when Gondolin fell,” he replied, and now there was deep sorrow in his merry eyes. “She was one of the Hisildi(3) and refused to follow the summons of Mandos, for she could not leave the lands of her birth – and now that they are gone, she, too, is lost forever, just like our home of old. The bond between my parents is no more, and I am grateful that my father found such love and support in his friend, or else he would have withered away from grief.”

This made her think of Elrond again, and she was worried once more, for Elrond truly had been devastated over her departure, no matter how hard he tried to suppress his own despair for their children’s sake. She remembered the love that still bound them with great fondness, hoping and wishing with all her heart that he, too, might find some comfort, enough to save him from fading – until they could be reunited.

Ilverin left her to her thoughts and they walked through the harbour and out of the haven in companionable silence.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Long was their way from Avallónë to Koromas, for the main city of the Isle lay in the very heart of Tol Eressëa – fifty leagues as the birds fly did it take, and even more on foot. But Ilverin proved to be good company, and though he spoke little, he sang a lot, mostly songs about Elvenhome, songs so ancient that Celebrían had never heard them before, and their journey seemed to her swift and light, even though it lasted a day and a half. For they walked during the night, too, under the starlit trees of Alalminórë, with few and short rests in-between.

“I would not find the burning domes and sounds
Where reigns the sun, nor dare the deadly snows,
Nor seek in mountains dark the hidden lands
Of Men long lost to whom no pathway goes;
I heed no call of clamant bell that rings
Iron-tongued in the towers of earthy kings
Here on the stones and trees there lies a spell
Of unforgotten loss, of memory more blest
Than mortal wealth. Here unfated dwell
The Folk Immortal under withered elms,
Alalminórë once in ancient realms,” (4)


Ilverin sang softly, bursting into song once again when they rose from their resting place for the last march of their journey. And though his song had an underlying sadness like all the others before, Celebrían felt a slight easing of her burdens. She was not in Aman yet, not entirely anyway, but it seemed as if her healing had begun already.

“Are you a minstrel?” she asked Ilverin, for though the small Elf came no-where near Lindir’s unique gift, it still seemed that song and music came straight from this heart. But Ilverin laughed merrily as if it had been the funniest jest she could have made.

“Me? Oh no, my Lady, I am but the Gong-warden of Meril’s house. Once I sailed in Wingilot with Eärendil in that last voyage(5) when we sought for Aman – and I was kept there when we found it, for I was too young to go to war, being but a ship’s boy aboard the vessel of the evening star.”

“And yet you have the brightness and ancient wisdom in your eyes like those who had seen the Light of the Two Trees themselves,” she said; “even though you were born in Middle-earth and not even from the greatest of the Eldar.”

“’Tis true that I come from the lesser Elves,” Ilverin nodded, not offended at all, “yet birth is not all that counts. I dwelt in Irmo’s gardens for a long time and was taught much that not even the Wise of the Eldar know; and when the Exiles returned and settled on Tol Eressëa, I was sent here to teach them what they had forgotten among their labours and sufferings: the joys of the heart and the songs about things old and simple that once all the Quendi had known.”

“But how can lost innocence be regained, unless one goes to Mandos for healing and is remade?” she asked anxiously, for ever since that ambush at the Redhorn Past she had been in fear that she might never be completely healed, not even in the Blessed Realm.

“It takes time, like all healing does,” Ilverin replied, giving her a compassionate look, “and the help of a draught that can make our hearts young again, without the need to shed our hröar first. Yet I am not allowed to tell more of this, for Meril alone may give it those who require. Once you have met her, all decisions are hers to make.”

To that she had naught else to say, and they walked in silence once again, and leaving the shadow of the trees at last they came to the white city of Koromas, the very heart of the Lonely Island, and to the house of Meril-i-Turinqi in her korin of elms(6).

Now the house of the Lady of Tol Eressëa was in that very city, for at the foot of the great tower which Ingil had built was a wide grove of the most ancient and beautiful elms that all that Land of Elms could offer. High to heaven they rose in three lessening storeys of bright foliage, and the sunlight that filtered through was very cool – a golden green. Amidst of these was a great green sward of grass, smooth as a web of the finest Lothlórien fabric, and about it those trees stood in a circle, so that shades were heavy at its edge but the gaze of Anor fell all day on its middle.

There stood a beautiful house, and it was built all of white and of a whiteness that shone, but its roof was overgrown with mosses and with houseleek(7) and many curious clinging plants that of what it was once fashioned might not be seen for the glorious maze of colours: golds and red-russets, scarlets and greens.

Birds unnumbered chattered in its eaves; and some sang upon the housetops, while doves and pigeons circled in flights about the korin’s borders or swooped to settle and spun upon the sward. Now all that dwelling was footed in flowers. Blossoming clusters were about it, ropes and tangles, spikes and tassels all in bloom, flowers in panicles and umbels or with great wide faces gazing up at Anor. There did they loose upon the faintly stirring airs their several odours blended to a great fragrance of exceeding marvellous enchantment, but their hues and colours were scattered and gathered seemingly as chance and the joy of their growth directed them. And a hum of bees there went among those flowers: bees fared about the roof and all the scented beds and ways; even about the cool porches of the house.

Ilverin now led her to climb the hill, and it was late afternoon already, and Anor shone brazen upon the western side of Ingil’s tower. Soon they came to a mighty wall of hewn stone blocks, and this leaned outward, but grasses grew atop it, and harebells and yellow daisies.

A wicket they found in the wall, and beyond was a glade beneath the elms, and there ran a pathway bordered on one side with bushes while of the other flowed a little running water whispering over a brown bed of leafy mould. This led even to the sward’s edge, and coming thither Ilverin halted and said, pointing to that white house:

“Behold the dwelling of Meril-i-Turinqi; and this is where I must take my leave from you. For I have to tend to my other duties now. But fear not, for lo! Evromord, the door-ward of our Lady is coming already to escort you before her presence.”

And indeed, looking up she saw the tall and solemn figure of a dark-haired Elf, undoubtedly of Noldorin descent, approaching across the sunny lawn. Unlike Ilverin who wore the simple garb of the Sindar in the old-fashioned custom of Beleriand (which she only knew from Elrond’s memories but recognized at once nevertheless), this one was clad in white and wore the Emblem of Fingolfin’s House upon his breast, as it was done among the servants of the great Noldorin Houses in the Elder Days.

The Emblem showed a winged sun in bright golden and white and red colours, positioned before a square of sky blue. This was the device of Finwë of old, of whom all Kings of the Noldor descended, and its sixteen points signified his position as one of the eldest of the Quendi and the High King of the Noldor. At the same time, it was the symbol of High Kingship itself, and it was reached over from Finwë to his son Fingolfin and then to Fingon and Turgon, even though they all created their own emblems as well when they came to power (8).

It seemed strange to her that this old emblem, which she knew only from Elrond’s history books (as Elrond considered himself but the Master of Imladris and no King) would be worn here in Tol Eressëa, more so since the High King of the Noldor was Finarfin now, her own grandfather, but she thought better not to ask. Surely, there will be time enough to learn the rules by which life in the Blessed Realm was led.

“Well met and welcome in Koromas and to the house of Meril, Lady of the Isle,” the Elf, whom Ilverin had named Evromord, said with a deep, formal bow. “I shall bring you to our Queen now, if you would follow.”

Then, turning to Ilverin, he added: “Your presence is required in the Hall of Songs and Tales, Littleheart. For many tales are about being told and many songs are to be sung soon, and Rúmil the Sage(9) has come to share them with you and choose the proper ones.”

Hearing this, Ilverin’s face lit up in joy like that of a child’s, and hurriedly he took his leave from Celebrían, running up to the house at once in joyous expectation. Evromord, however, led her to the porches of the front door, where the sound of music came from, a music mayhap sweeter even than what young Lindir was able to share, back in her home that she would never see again.

~~~

End notes:
(1) Ilverin aka Littleheart, the son of Voronwë (called Bronweg in the early mythology) was an important character of “The Lost Tales” who did not make it into the later versions.

(2) Usually, Meril-i-Turinqi is simply called “the Lady of Tol Eressëa,” but on at least one occasion Lindo and Vairë call her “our Queen.”

(3) The twilight people: Dark Elves.

(4) See: “The Book of Lost Tales 1”, p. 37. This original Tolkien poem is called “The Trees of Kortirion” and I quoted here but the last verses that have the title “Mettanyë”.

(5) An idea that was later rejected.

(6) The description of Meril’s house is quoted more or less directly from “The Book of Lost Tales 1”, pp 101-102.

(7) A fleshy plant that grows on the walls and roofs of houses, according to the glossary of obsolete, archaic and rare words in “The Lost Tales 1.”

(8) Device found on the “Emblems and Heraldry” website by Máns Björkman.
www.forodrim.org/gobennas/heraldry/heraldry.htm

(9) A forerunner of the great Elven lore-master of the later mythology.


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