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The Prisoner of Dol Guldur
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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6
Part 6

For disclaimer, rating, etc. see Part 1.

Author’s note:
The opening quote below has caused a great deal of misunderstanding in this fandom. Some people seem to think that it means Wood-Elves would be somehow inferior to their Noldorin cousins. I happen to have a contrary opinion, as it probably can be seen in my stories.


~~~

PART 6

“The feasting people were Wood-elves, of course. These are not wicked folk. If they have a fault it is distrust of strangers. Though their magic was strong, even in those days, they were wary. They differed from the High Elves of the West, and were more dangerous and less wise. For most of them (together with their scattered relations in the hills and mountains) were descended from the ancient tribes that never went to Faerie in the West.”

The Hobbit, Chapter 8: Flies and Spiders, p. 162.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Someone was speaking to him, not with worlds but from mind to mind, waiting outside the shell into which he had withdrawn so long ago, summoning him wordlessly to come out. It was not Ada, nor the old Elf – they never spoke to him this way. Naneth used to call out to him – to all of them – while they still were little. And sometimes, just sometimes, she had taught them things from mind to mind. Secrets that no-one else should know. Spells that better remained unspoken, unless in terrible need.

The Questioner had tried to tear those spells from his mind. But all he could have offered were the small ones. The ones that protected the orchard from being taken over by the forest again, without the need to build walls or tear out saplings. The ones that summoned the birds and the squirrels so that the elflings could play with them. The ones that charmed the bees into revealing one where the honey was hidden. Only Naneth and a few older women knew the great and powerful spells that could hold evil forces at bay.

And yet the one summoning him now seemed to have that power. It was not Naneth, he could feel that, but the presence was familiar. Comforting, even, like the sweet scent of apple gardens and honey. Like the sound of a lullaby.

Who are you, he asked without words, it was so easy to speak this way; unlike speaking up loudly, this cost no effort and did not hurt.

You know me, she answered the same way; yea, it was definitely a she, although not Naneth. Someone he should know. Someone he used to know.

I cannot see you, he complained.

Nay, she agreed, and he could feel her smiling. You are hiding from me… from us all. You are in a place hidden too deeply.

‘Tis safe here, he said, child-like and trusting. Somehow he knew he could tell her that much.

I know, she replied, but you do not need to hide so deeply any longer. You can peek out a little bit. Then you can see me… and all the others.

I can see Ada, he offered, uncertainly. Indeed, Ada was the only one whom he could truly see. The only one he knew.

I know you can, she said, and it makes him very happy. But you need to come out a little more, my squirrel. You have been hiding too long. ‘Tis not good for you to remain in that deep, dark place. You might lose your way entirely, and what would happen to your Ada then?

That worried him. He did not want Ada lonely or lost. He needed Ada, and apparently, Ada needed him, too. That thought had not occurred to him before, but if Ada needed him, he would try…

Yet the thought of leaving his hidden place frightened him.

I cannot… cannot come out, he stammered, near to panic.

Nay, not yet, I know that, she replied, soothingly. But you can look out of the window a little…can you not? Just long enough to see me, to know who I am?

This surprised him. Did she not know that there were no windows in his dungeon, no light, no warmth, just chilly darkness, fear and dirt?

There is no window, he said bitterly.

Are you sure? She asked smiling, and indeed, it seemed to him as if he would see some soft, far-away light falling through a shaft in the dark walls, golden-shimmering like the reflection of a long-gone summer evening. He was drawn to it, irresistibly, longing to see.

What he saw was a clearing in some great forest he knew he used to know but the name of which he could not remember. Tall, ancient trees were standing around the clearing, with tree houses high among their strong branches, and between them small elflings were playing in the grass, under the watchful eye of their mothers and older siblings.

One of the women seemed so familiar to him. She was sitting under a tree, working on her spinning wheel and singing in the Old Tongue to make the thread strong and yet soft to the touch. He could see his younger self, sitting at her feet, his knees drawn up to his chest, his chin resting on his knees as he was listening to the song.

Can you see me now? Her voice in his mind asked. He nodded, knowing she would see it and understand. Do you know who I am? She asked again.

His eyes – not the ones of his mind but the real ones – opened slowly, and he saw her wise, ancient eyes watching him with love and concern. And he knew her for who – and what – she was.

Amme,” he whispered hoarsely.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sitting just a few steps away, so that they would not disturb Cordophel’s efforts, Celeborn and Thranduil were watching anxiously the Avari woman trying to cajole Enadar back into the outside world. Celeborn particularly was baffled by her ability to reach the mind of the much-suffered young Elf with such relative ease. Certainly, mind-speak was not uncommon among Elves – he was capable of it himself, and so was Thranduil, to a lesser extent – but it usually required the willing participation of both sides. Somehow he doubted that Enadar would welcome any intruders in his mind.

“She is not intruding,” said Thranduil quietly. “She never truly entered his mind. She was… knocking on the door, so to say. And Enadar came out to her, if only for a moment.”

“’Tis still amazing,” said Celeborn thoughtfully. “He would not let you in… or anyone else… but he opened up to her.”

“Not so strange as you might think,” replied Thranduil. “Lálisin used to bespeak our children all the time; and so did Cordophel herself often enough. ‘Tis a custom among the Faithful. They think it is safer for the little ones to call out to them from mind to mind in need.” He gave his silver-haired cousin an amused look. “Why are you so surprised? Did you think one has to be born in Valinor to be capable of such things?”

“I do not know much about the Avari,” Celeborn admitted.

“The Faithful,” corrected Thranduil. “They do not like the names the Golodhrim gave them, and neither do I. You seem to forget that my wife was one of them… and my children, though they bear my likeness, have always been more like the folk of their mother in their hearts.”

“Save Celebwen,” said the Lord of Lórien. Thranduil nodded.

“That is true. And yet, though my sons had a much harsher life, and some of them died young, they were happier Elves than their sister. They had a home under the trees, and their roots in the soil of the forest were deep.”

“Do you believe it was those roots that kept Enadar alive?” asked Celeborn.

“I hope so,” answered Thranduil, “for his bond with the woods is the only thing that may heal him again. Given enough time.”

“Did you never regret your choice then?” asked Celeborn. “Did you never wish your father had chosen differently? To lead a life more fitting a prince of Doriath, instead of becoming the King of the rustic Silvan people?”

Thranduil shook his head. “My father thought that it was wrong for our people to abandon their roots and become involved with the affairs of the Golodhrim. I agreed with him then, and I agree with him still. Lálisin and her people taught me to live with the trees in a manner that I did not even now in Doriath. We may be a rustic people in your eyes, cousin, but we are one with our woods. You, Galdaran, are called the Lord of Trees – and mayhap you are. I am part of the forest, and that is more than enough for me.”

“And yet you dwell under the hills like a Dwarf,” said Celeborn teasingly.

Thranduil laughed. “You never saw my home, how can you tell if it is like a Dwarf-den or not? There is a difference between a house and a fortress. As the King of a beleaguered realm, I needed a fortress, and the Dwarves of the Ered Mithrin helped me to build it. We had no magic trinkets to protect us, you know. We had to use all the help we could get.”

He rose, stepped to the edge of the talan and looked down at the beauty that was the Golden Wood. It was a wondrous forest, ancient and hale, unlike the tainted and tormented one that he called his home. And yet he would not change with Celeborn for a moment.

“Your forest is beautiful, Galdaran,” he said softly, “but it is an illusion. Once the magic protecting it is gone, would it be able to prevail? I do not think so. It has lived outside the time for too long. But you… you are still one of us. You are a son of the forest yourself. If you still can hear the trees call out to you, the Greenwood is large enough for the two of us. There is so much to do. So much to heal.”

Celeborn did not answer right away. He knew Thranduil was right. His lady would be leaving for the West, soon, leaving Lothlórien behind like an empty shell. And with her, the magic that had protected the Golden Wood so long will be gone, too. He did not want to stay here alone and watch the once magic forest wither and die around him. Maybe Thranduil was right. Maybe it was time for him to become Galdaran the forester again.

“We shall see,” he said. “It seems strange that just as it was Amon Lance where our paths parted, almost two Ages ago, ‘tis the same place where they have met again. Perhaps it is meant to be.”

“Perhaps so,” Thranduil agreed. “When you are on your own again.”

“Just like in old times,” said Celeborn, and it was hard to tell whether his voice was wistful or laden with sorrow. “We have come to full circle, it seems.”

On another talan, high above their heads, the lady Galadriel was listening to their conversation, her noble face unreadable.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Recognizing Amme had been a mild shock for him. It had also brought back an entire flood of memories his poor, tormented mind had a hard time to cope with. It was almost too much – he had not been prepared for that. It almost sent him back to hiding.

Easy now, her voice in his mind said soothingly. Go back to sleep, my little squirrel, and just watch for now. You do trust me, do you not?

He nodded in agreement, without truly moving his head, but she knew it nevertheless. She gave him some more water; it tasted still as wonderful as ever, and said something about cutting his hair. He had no objections, the hair was so heavy and he still felt so terribly weak and tired. It was a nice feeling to rest in Amme’s arms again, not as nice as it would be with Naneth, but nice nonetheless. It was safe, almost as safe as with Ada… and he could feel Ada nearby, too.

He remembered her calling him little squirrel, back when he was very small and lived in the trees with Ada and Naneth and his siblings. There were four of them, three boys and that silver-haired girl who was always speaking of the Sea. He still could not remember their names, names were hard to keep, but he knew now that they were his siblings. He could remember sitting on the grass, all of them, and listening to Ada playing his silver flute, enticing melodies that were wild and sweet at the same time. He wished Ada would make music again, but he knew he was no small elfling any longer and Ada had other concerns now.

He accepted some more water from Amme – he could never have enough water, and it did not seem that that would change any time, soon – then he curled up in her arms, warm and comfortable and safe, and fell asleep again, knowing that no bad dreams would disturb him this time. She could always keep the monsters away.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Is he all right?” asked Thranduil in concern. He knew, of course, that Enadar needed much undisturbed sleep in his weakened state, but he could not help worrying.

Cordophel smiled. “He is fine, my King. As fine as he can be, after his terrible ordeal. He remembered your music, just a moment ago. Mayhap we should have brought your flute.”

Thranduil shook his head. “I have not played much since… since Aiwë’s death.”

“I know,” she replied, “but Enadar does not. He cannot know how you sought refuge in your music after your little bird had been so cruelly taken from you – and how you abandoned it after the grieving. In his mind, the music is still part of which makes you his father. Remember, he is closer now to the small elfling he used to be in Oropher’s city than to the warrior you lost in the Battle upon Dagorlad. You might need to go back and become who you were then, if you want to help him.”

Thranduil sighed. “I shall try. I only wish, Legolas were here with us.”

“I believe not that would be helpful,” said Cordophel. “Enadar was a grown Elf already when Legolas was born. Right now, though, he has retreated to the safety of his childhood memories. He would not be able to bond with Legolas at the moment; to recognize him as his baby brother. ‘Tis better that he has some time before Legolas’ arrival. He is barely able to deal with the flood of memories as it is.”

“But he will be able to sort them out, will he not?” asked Thranduil.

“Eventually,” she nodded. “But it will take time, a lot of help and much patience. To rush anything would do more harm than help.”

Thranduil shrugged. “We are Elves. We have time.”

“We do,” she agreed. “And it would do good if you used the time to get yourself a flute, my King, ‘til you can send for your own.”

The King grinned at her. “You never give up, do you?”

She grinned back. “After three Ages, it would be a little late for me to pick up new habits, would it not?”

“Lálisin always said that you had been famous of your stubbornness back in Nurwë’s times already,” said Thranduil, still grinning.

“She should know,” replied Cordophel. “After all, I was the one to help her into this world.”

“You were?” said Thranduil, only mildly surprised. She laughed.

“Why, do you think, have I been chosen to follow her to Oropher’s court? I have been with her family as long as Galion has been with yours.” She stood, arranging Enadar comfortably on his bed. “I shall see now that our little squirrel can be taken to the hot spring when he wakes up. And that he gets that haircut he so sorely needs.”

“I shall take over for you,” offered Thranduil, sitting down at his son’s bed already. “Can you see that I get that flute, too?”

She looked at him with eyes sparkling with mischief. “I knew you would give in.”

~~~

Amme is not a genuine Elven word. In fact, it is German and means wet nurse. I promoted it to an Avari pet name for one’s nursemaid because it sounds nice.

Nurwë was one of the two main Avari leaders (canonically, in fact). I made him to Queen Lálisin’s grandsire.


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