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Unwilling
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Unwilling

Unwilling the others named my people; we called ourselves Faithful.

Tauron's summons we refused, to abide in the welcoming woods of Ennor. Long ages we wandered freely through endless expanses of wilderness, honouring its bounty, singing to our stars in peace.

But Men felled our forests, disfiguring the lands with monstrous dwellings, stone pathways, and raucous noise. They defiled the water, befouled the air, and stole our beloved stars from the night.

My people have faded. I follow.

~~~

Men hurrying by the lone yew never noticed the single dewdrop that clung, trembling, to the tip of a leaf.

It fell.

~~~

This drabble was written in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of my father's birth. Over his lifetime, he saw his home evolve from the Valley of Heart's Delight, peopled by fruit growers, to Silicon Valley. The last commercial orchard in the city of my birth was cut down just a few years ago, and replaced by a shopping center named, in apparent seriousness, "Cherry Orchard".

I thought an Avari might also be disoriented by the changes wrought during an unimaginably-long Elven lifetime:
Then befell the first sundering of the Elves. For the kindred of Ingw, and the most part of the kindreds of Finw and Elw... were willing to depart and follow Orom; and these were known ever after as the Eldar.... But many refused the summons, preferring the starlight and the wide spaces of Middle-earth to the rumour of the Trees; and these are the Avari, the Unwilling, and they were sundered in that time from the Eldar, and met never again until many ages were past.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 3, Of The Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor

Elsewhere in Middle-earth there was peace for many years; yet the lands were for the most part savage and desolate.... Many Elves dwelt there indeed, as they had dwelt through the countless years, wandering free in the wide lands far from the Sea; but they were Avari, to whom the deeds of Beleriand were but a rumour and Valinor only a distant name.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

As ages passed the dominance of their far ever increased, 'consuming' their bodies.... The end of this process is their 'fading', as Men have called it....

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 3, Section 2, Laws and Customs Among the Eldar: Of Death and the Severance of fa and Hra
I deliberately selected yew as the species of the tree mentioned in the last lines of the drabble, for its unique mythological and practical attributes. It is considered sacred by the early peoples of the British Isles:
No tree is more associated with the history and legends of Great Britain than the Yew. Before Christianity was introduced it was a sacred tree favoured by the Druids, who built their temples near these trees a custom followed by the early Christians. The association of the tree with places of worship still prevails.

"Yew." Botanical.com. 14 Jan 2008.
<http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/y/yew---08.html>.
In addition, individual specimens may be truly ancient:
[Evidence] based on growth rates and archaeological work of surrounding structures suggests the oldest trees (such as the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, Scotland) are... likely to be in the range of 2,000 years [old]....

"European yew." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 14 Jan 2008.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxus_baccata>.
Lastly, I associate Elves with archery, and yew is a wood favored for making strong bows. Tolkien mentions this association repeatedly:
[They] laid Beleg in a shallow grave, and placed beside him Belthronding his great bow, that was made of black yew-wood.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Trin Turambar

The Lord of the Eagles would not take them anywhere near where men lived. 'They would shoot at us with their great bows of yew,' he said, 'for they would think we were after their sheep. And at other times they would be right.'

The Hobbit, Ch 6, Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire

Yew is the wood of choice for longbow making; the bows are constructed so that the heartwood of yew is on the inside of the bow while the sapwood is on the outside. This takes advantage of the natural properties of yew wood since the heartwood is able to withstand compression while the sapwood is elastic and allows the bow to stretch. Both tend to return to their original straightness when the arrow is released.

"European yew." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 14 Jan 2008.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxus_baccata>.
In this drabble, I originally intended the yew to be simply a venerable tree surviving in the midst of a city, perhaps in a churchyard, and sheltering the fa of the fading Avari. However, in a comment, Marta thought it might, in fact, be an ancient Ent. I very much like the idea and hereby adopt it. Thank you, Marta, for your astute suggestion!
'The trees and the Ents,' said Treebeard. 'I do not understand all that goes on myself, so I cannot explain it to you. Some of us are still true Ents, and lively enough in our fashion, but many are growing sleepy, going tree-ish, as you might say.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard

'Some of my kin look just like trees now, and need something great to rouse them; and they speak only in whispers.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard
We know little of the language of the Avari; I chose to represent the two Elven proper names in this drabble in their Sindarin forms, rather than in Quenya.

Tauron means 'the Forester'; it is a Sindarin name for the Vala, Orom the Hunter, who discovered the Elves at Cuivinen and led many of them on the Great Journey to Aman. I thought that the Avari would prefer an epithet that recognized his connection to their beloved forests.

Ennor is Sindarin for 'Middle-earth'.

For the Remembrances Challenge, January 2008.


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