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B2MEM 2011 fics
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Prompt: Mirkwood: The words West and East are often used in the works of Tolkien. Write a story or poem or create an artwork that uses these words as the central focus, whether as cardinals, regions, or as metaphors.

Double-drabble response, one for East, one for West.



Anduin whispers greyly beneath overhanging willows. In half-light, Ailos stumbles over uneven ground, stomach aching.

So he pauses to eat – only a little, wayfare's not plentiful. 'Twill last longer now...

But jerky's tough: his mouthful scrapes down, burning – won't pass!

Anar tops the mountains as Ailos gulps riverwater. He feels sick afterward. Gluttony's thieving ruins savor – old Lebennin wisdom.

It's not gluttony, but my life! Besides, Sunny might make it...

But the Lebennin shepherd's lad knows better: Mercy keeps lambs or kills them.

Sunny's no lamb, though: Pelennor looms; Ailos moans. 'Tis gorge finally that wins: cursing, Ailos turns back.


Thankfully, Sunny's sleeping still when he returns. Ailos prods him with a new-cut willow branch, waits through namesake ritual, then turns west.

Green wood helps some, but not enough. During their midday pause, Ailos peels the staff's grip; Sunny wraps his raw-scraped hand in shirt-rags.

Come evening, the road's nigh. They camp hidden under brush.

Dawn brings a shock: “Your hair!”

'Tis but ragged tufts: Sunny fingers shorn-off locks, then, pressing one into Ailos's hand, lays his head tearfully in his lap.

Na jhanar soha zenan dhola'osh.

Ailos doesn't understand, but Sunny feels heavier, somehow, when they rise.


The timing of the last four drabbles is a little difficult to parse, if the geography isn't clear. Which it probably isn't – the Crossings of Erui are pretty obscure. Castamir died there (sounds like a great postcard line for this year's B2MEM!): on this map, you can see the Erui river in Lossarnach – the crossings are where the road intersects the river.

So to get to the location of “Heaven in the meantime,” Ailos and Sunny would already have had to leave Anduin. The “Mirkwood” and “Misty Mountains” drabbles are actually back-fillers to get them moving toward the crossings.

I'll confess, I was kind of hoping readers wouldn't notice, so they'd get to have that moment of suspense as to whether or not Ailos actually abandons Sunny somewhere along the river or not. I know it's a cheap trick, but never let it be said I'm above them! ;-D


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