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29
Tree Song

MEFAs, 2009:

First Place-Races: Elves: Elrond and Family


This is for the B2MeM09 prompt for Day Seven

The prompt is:
Imagine this! You are walking in the woods and sudden a tree whispers to you ... What does it say? What is your reaction?

My answer is a sidebar from Captain My Captain. In Chapter 28, Elladan, Elrohir and Hethlin take refuge in Fangorn Forest with a critically ill Imrahil. Elrohir goes out into the forest to look for deadfall wood and water. He takes a long time to come back. Here's why:


~~~

Elrohir went carefully into the darkness under the trees, following the scent of water. Fangorn was no longer a forest that even a First-born could tread without impunity, and he kept his senses keen and his bow ready. But after a short walk, he found what he sought-a freshet of water that rose from a split in the rocks and made a small dark pool before it trickled away through the forest. Tasting the water and finding it good, he was unslinging the water skins from his shoulder when he heard it, slow and creaky, as if waking from sleep.

Silver Tree?

Looking up, he noticed a huge oak across the pool. Old and gnarled and lightning-seared in more than one place, its branches nonetheless thrust proudly upward through the forest canopy. Surprised, for trees did not often speak to him, Elrohir went around the pool and laid a hand upon the trunk.

Not Silver Tree. One of his…saplings.

There was a long pause as the tree digested this. Elrohir waited patiently, though he was needed back at the camp. This tree was a rarity, his age or perhaps even older, and he did not wish to disrespect it and then remain under Fangorn's eaves. That did not seem wise.

Oh. Do you sing? He sang to me once, came the slow, deliberate answer. I was much smaller then. He sang to me of growing, of striving upward. So I did.

Despite the seriousness of his current situation, Elrohir smiled. His grandfather Celeborn had a beautiful voice, but he never raised it in public song. Whether from shyness or because song was something very private for him, the only people he had ever sung to were Galadriel, his children and grandchildren when they were small, and the trees.

I am sorry, but I do not sing. Not like the Silver Tree.

Another long pause, then, plaintively-I wish you did. I remember Silver Tree's song even now. The tree fell silent, and thinking the conversation over, Elrohir returned to the spring and began filling the water skins.

Sapling, are you in need? came the unexpected question. Elrohir remained where he was and stretched his little used tree-talk.

Yes. I have need of firewood that I might take without offense. One of my…grove…is ill and needs warmth.

More quickly than before, as if the tree were waking up-In memory of the Silver Tree's song, then…go downhill to the left. There are a couple of long dead brethren there. And mushrooms. Silver Tree liked mushrooms.

As does his sapling. I thank you. There was no further answer. Elrohir went downhill to the left as directed and found the trees and the promised mushrooms. He limited himself to the wood and water for his initial trip back, leaving the mushrooms for later.

He told Elladan of the encounter and showed him the oak when they returned together for the mushrooms. Of the two of them, Elladan was by far the better singer. "I will come back later," his brother said, "when the Prince has been settled."

Elrohir stood watch as Elladan did so, after Hethlin and the Prince had fallen to sleep. His keen Elven ears could just hear the hymn that his brother sang, a song of maturity and fruition, strength and endurance. And though he was not close enough to hear the oak tree's reaction, as the song progressed, he felt a lessening of watchfulness in the wood, a lightening of the anger that seemed to emanate from the darkest parts of it. He knew that they were perfectly safe under Fangorn's boughs now.

We should not ever forget that Grandfather's blood runs in our veins, he reflected. And that like the trees who were our first friends, our roots run deep in Arda.

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