Speak, Friend, and
Two stories in three parts
Part One- Elves
friends were not unearthly beautiful.
Erebor, Fourth Age,
The Elf leaned back in the chair, leather-shod feet crossed on the nearby
desk. Long pale fingers idly twirled an exquisitely formed chalice, its contents mostly imbibed.
Close to the Elf's shoes there was an equally intricate jug with wine should the drinker care for
more, but the immortal's interests were currently focused on a book cradled in his lap. Legolas
focused on the runes, alternately staring, then turning pages, none of it making any sense
whatsoever. He lifted the silver cup to his lips and drained the last of the wine, then placed it
gently on the table, lowering his feet and the front two legs of the chair to the floor. His pale
eyes lit on the ewer, and he leaned in to pour himself a half-chalice full, resituating the
ancient text on the wooden surface. After another swallow, he rested his elbows on the desk, index
and middle fingers pressed against his temples, gazing incomprehensibly at the yellowed
The combination of wine and warmth from the nearby fire had little effect on the
Elf, and he turned to greet the visitor whose steps he had heard approaching for some time down
the stone corridor.
"Gimli!" Legolas smiled warmly in
"Legolas?!" Gimli replied, his eyes wide in shock. "What are you
doing? This is, this is - " He tripped over the words until he saw the book on the table.
"Who showed you to my library? And where did you find that?" He jabbed a sturdy finger
at the leatherbound tome. "That is the only surviving copy of Narvi's original writings. You
had best be careful."
Legolas raised his eyebrows and then gazed at his arms and
hands, which were not actually on the pages. "Though nothing like Lothlorien, we do have some
ancient texts in Mirkwood, my friend, and I know how to read a book without abusing
Gimli's dark brown eyes looked at the book, currently untouched, then at his
friend. A small smile caused small creases to form at the edges of his mouth, barely visible amid
his thick auburn beard. "Yes, I am sure you are right. I apologize for assuming
The Dwarf moved in closer to look over Legolas' shoulder, his eyes
scanning the writings.
"What does it say?" Legolas asked, perplexed, waving his
fingers above the brittle parchment. "These stick-like symbols are incomprehensible. Does
each figure stand for a letter, or a-" he said a two-syllable word in Elvish that sounded
like a sigh of wind, "or an entire word?"
Hearing the Elvish word, Gimli raised
his eyes from the book. "A letter or a what?" he queried. "I did not understand
your word. And those are runes, they are not like-sticks."
Legolas corrected him, then found himself under the brunt of an accusatory glowering stare. He
said the Sindarin word again, but its translation remained elusive. Leaning back into the chair,
Legolas repeated, "Techtar. Vowel." Looking quickly around him but not finding
what he wished for, he gazed back at Gimli. "Do you have paper and ink?"
course," Gimli replied. "Are you going to try and teach me Elvish? I thought you wished
to be able to read the words in front of you. Though even if you master that, you still would not
be able to understand all that is spoken around you here in the Mountain."
normally taciturn face bore a thinly veiled haughty expression. "No, Gimli, the lessons in
our language would take a lifetime. And all of the Dwarves with whom I have met during our time
here have spoken the Common Tongue, or your Dwarf-speech. I have not heard any secret whisperings
in a third language, and my hearing is far greater than that of mortals."
surprise, Gimli laughed, an unexpected throaty sound which filled the small room.
"Come, Legolas!" he chuckled, taking the Elf by the elbow. "We need not
come to blows over words you could not begin to hear." Still smiling, he nodded his head
toward the door. "There is a royal feast going on and your absence has been noted."
After walking a few steps, he turned his head and said, "Bring that wine with you, should you
care for it. We will be having ale."
Legolas took one last quizzical glance at the
ink scratchings on the pages, sighed, then picked up his chalice and jug and followed the Dwarf up
a stone passageway, leaving the merrily cracking fire behind him.
Khazad-dûm, Second Age
Dwarf leaned back in the chair, leather-shod feet crossed on the nearby desk. Short stocky fingers
idly twirled an exquisitely formed gold snifter, its contents mostly imbibed. Close to the Dwarf's
shoes there was an equally intricate decanter with cordial should the drinker care for more, but
the engineer's interests were currently focused on a book cradled in her lap. Narvi focused on the
runes, alternately reading, then turning pages, assessing the writings that had been penned by her
own hand. She lifted the delicate cup to her lips and drained the last of the zhîkomir, then
placed it gently on the table, lowering her feet and the front two legs of the chair to the floor.
Her peridotic eyes lit on the decanter, and she leaned in to pour herself a half-goblet full,
resituating the newly-bound text on the wooden surface. After another swallow, she rested her
elbows on the desk, index and middle fingers pressed against her temples, gazing intently at the
stark white pages.
The combination of liqueur and warmth from the nearby fire made her
rather sleepy, and she turned in shock at the visitor whose silent steps she had not heard
approaching down the stone corridor.
"Celebrimbor?!" Narvi's eyes grew wide in
shock as she welcomed the visitor.
"Narvi!" The Elf smiled warmly in
"What are you doing here?" The Dwarf exclaimed, almost knocking over
the cordial. "The other engineers have gone to bed hours ago. Who showed you to my
Bright teeth gleamed in the fireglow as Celebrimbor smiled, his hair neatly
combed, intricately braided plaits falling over his shoulders. "I am here to find out why our
chief Rockwright is not at the celebrations. There is but one who can appreciate both song and
stone to such great depths, and his absence is missed keenly."
The Elf's eyes, a most
disconcerting shade of amethyst, looked fondly on the Dwarf, then to the book on the desk.
"Though it is but short time to us, I know that these two years have been a challenge at
times. You have kept writings?"
Narvi shut the book, blushing slightly, grateful for
the relative dimness of the room. "Of course," she replied, gruffly. "I cannot
speak for the Elves, though my Elvish has improved since our first meeting." The Dwarf stood
at full height, hands defensively placed on hips. "This project has been one that comes along
only once in many generations." A passing look of regret traversed her features, though none
but another child of Mahal would have recognized it. "We Dwarves have a long history of
writing, and the intricacies of these doors warranted the details being put down for those who
come after me."
Celembrimbor stepped softly toward her, his gaze still focused on the
brown leather cover, its branded runes painted in with gold, an external indicator of the value of
the contents within.
"May I look at it?" he asked, reverently.
ambivalent. That she felt a deep respect for this Elf who had worked with her day upon day, month
after month, for over two years, was unquestionable. But they did not - could not - see eye to
eye, in any sense. The Dwarf wavered, Celebrimbor gracefully towering over her. For all of the
famed farsight of the Elves, there was still a staggering amount to which this Noldo was
Pride, however, won out.
"You may," Narvi replied. "I do not
expect that you can read any of it, though the drawings I am sure you will recognize." She
chuckled, running her skilled, calloused fingers over the familiar etchings. "But perhaps you
would care to pore over it tomorrow. You say that your errand was to come and find me. Here I am.
I would be glad to join you and the masters of the moonlight-mithril."
The Elf bowed,
then waved a long arm toward the door. "We artisans of the mountains need to raise our voices
together. These seamless doors should be lauded by all craftsmen, whether Elf or Dwarf, who have
brought them into being."
Narvi smiled as she reached out for the small snifter and
tossed back the cordial. "To the craftsmen who brought them into
Celebrimbor was unsure why that statement was funny, but he placed an
affectionate hand on the Dwarf's shoulder, which was shaking with mirth. The two walked up the
stone corridor to the blazing bonfires outside under the stars.
Part Two- Dwarves
I keep to myself
measures as I care for,
daily the rocks
Eregion, Second Age, Two Years
Narvi had never felt cold like this. Though wearing layers of leather and wool,
much less the self-insulation of warming body hair, the Dwarf was chilled to the bone. She was
grumbling to herself every other step, teeth chattering in the frigid wind, sure that the King had
sent her not because (as she knew) she was by far the best engineer in Khazad-dûm and,
therefore, the most logical choice to send to look for an Elvish counterpart who would be both
competent and tolerable for months on end. No, Durin had sent her because he felt that she would
"Proxgróg!" she swore, remembering her appearance with King
Durin. His manners had been impeccable, to be sure, but deep within herself, Narvi knew that he
was getting his vengance because she had shown no interest in his son, and Durin had wished for
exactly such a match. Pulling her cloak more tightly to her, the Dwarf contemplated other choices
that she could have made. It wasn't that Thwalin was unattractive, nor was he unskilled. Truth be
told, his bronzeworks seemed to be half-alive, his very breath somehow pounded into each cup and
shield. It was more that he was a poorly cut gem. She knew that in the right hands he would be
fiery indeed, but she was not interested in being the tools involved to hone him.
mulled this over, Narvi also acknowledged that she had been sent because her knowledge of
Elf-speech was at least passable. But now, her bright orange braids full of ice and her eyebrows
freezing even under her tawny hood which signified that she was a high-ranking member of the
stonemasons, she wished she were back in her workroom, the feel of silver under her fingers. Her
ability to plan out large, carved structural projects was second almost to none, but when she
could, her passion was to work with silver. Not as pure as mithril, but silver was more pliant,
less resolute. It responded under her delicate hammers and incessant humming, almost as though the
metal could hear her love for its substance. From time to time the Dwarf discovered that she was
jealous of the Longbeards who wore hoods of dark green, the Silversmiths, but she had made her
Looking up, Narvi could see the houses of Ost-in-Edhil not far in the distance, and
was grateful. The Dwarf's glance journeyed briefly upward to the darkening sky, her gaze captured
momentarily by a sickle-shape of stars newly blooming in the heavens, Durin's Crown. The evening
hues seemed cold and brittle, like ill-tempered iron which would crack with the first resolute
hammer-blow. She lowered her head again against the bitter wind and plodded forward until she
reached the tall gates of the Elvish city.
Standing guard were four Noldo Elves, their
hawkish gazes focused on her. Despite the cold, they wore the same garb as they did in summer, at
least that was how it appeared to her. "Unnatural," she thought to herself,
though on second glance, their capes did seem to reach further down than those she had seen on the
few Elves passing through the Dwarvish kingdom when the weather was warmer.
cursory look would deem the doorwards unarmed, Narvi knew much better. Relations between the
Dwarves of the Misty Mountains and the Elves of Eregion went far beyond civil; it was positively
accepting. And yet, the cultures of the two remained somewhat shrouded in mystery despite their
goodwill, and no one worth the iron in their axe or the steel of their sword travelled defenseless
between the two realms. Narvi shuddered against the nipping winds as she opened her cape to show
that her hand rested on her axe, then bowed to the gatekeepers.
"I am Narvi, of the
house of Oban, messenger of King Durin, here to attend the presence of the King Silverfist of
Eregion," she said in stilted Sindarin, mostly to the frozen ground. As she stood upright,
all four Elves strode forward two steps, and placed their hands to their left hips. Their capes,
the color of moonshadow, fluttered in the chill breeze, making immediately visible the previously
hidden sheathed knives at their waists and daggers buckled to their thighs.
expected, Narvi Longbeard."
The Dwarf narrowed her eyes, but none of the guardsmen
before her had opened their mouths. Then another Elf, clad more warmly against the cold in a thick
brown cloak, stepped between the two gatekeepers to her right and walked toward her, then
Narvi blinked. Twice.
The Elf stood, his plaited silver hair tied behind his
neck. "The chill is biting. Please follow me to Celebrimbor's study; our evening meal will
soon be served." Looking at the Dwarf's axe, still resting under her hand, he said gently,
"You may retain your weapon while we walk the streets, but once we reach the inner city I
must ask that you entrust it to our keeping."
Narvi stared at him, her olive-colored
eyes seeking subtle warning. Finding none on his calm face, she nodded, gathering her cloak around
her again for warmth.
"My name is Hithuldîr."
"I am Narvi,
though you know that."
As they passed down the uncharacteristically quiet street in
silence, Narvi absorbed the organic shapes of the buildings, the artisan within herself
trying to commit every curve, every terrace, every serpentine turret to memory. While they walked
toward the town center, the structural craftswoman within herself rioted, drawing her vision far
beneath the exteriors of the houses and public buildings. Within her mind's eye she saw the living
skeleton of the city as a whole, the unexposed rock thrumming with joyous life as blood in the
vein. The carvings and curvature, so Elvish, were unfamiliar to her, but she could read the beauty
of the underlying bases, so inherently Dwarvish in the way that the rock had been treated; not as
something dead, but a substance which could whisper hidden mysteries in the night.
found herself on the verge of tears. Embarrassed at such a show of emotion, she rationalized to
herself that it was the knife-sharp wind which caused her eyes to water.
Soon they climbed
several steps to the king's dwelling, and two more guards appeared. Their light eyes raked over
the Dwarf, focusing on her axe clutched under her chin, hidden under her cape. Coming to
herself, she stood straight and withdrew Gormgloine, turning it until the blade was horizontal and
parallel to the ground. "May he reside faithfully in your care." Narvi handed it to the
Elf who walked forward, ensuring that he had looked her in the eye before relinquishing her
After passing under an arched doorway, the frieze ornately carved with figures of
birds and tree limbs, Narvi found herself in a chamber more beautiful than any the Dwarf had seen.
Hithuldîr motioned Narvi toward a door with more scripted markings above
"Celebrimbor is still at work, but he assured me that you were welcome in his
Narvi stood stock-still, horrified. "But that is
The Elf didn't seem to understand.
Unacceptable. We don't show such things to outsiders!"
Hithuldîr patiently shook
his head. "Our lord awaits you." He turned and went down a side corridor, leaving Narvi
no other choice than to enter the silversmith's private domain. She walked to the wooden door,
then paused, her hand fisted, intending to strike it, but unable to do so.
custom, artisans were given the widest of berths. It was not out of lack of respect, but rather of
awe. Only if one chose to take on an apprentice, or if one had a child, did a dwarf share his
workspace with another. Tools, always handcrafted, and metalworks in progress, were held in
highest esteem, not to be used or seen by anyone other than their creators. To walk into the
sanctum of even a fellow smith, or forger, was unheard of.
Narvi hesitated, swallowed, then
beat on the door.
"Enter, messenger of Durin!" A melodious voice carried through
the sturdy closure, and Narvi opened the door.
She walked through, her eyes taking in every
detail of the warm room. An Elf sat on a well-made bench, his upper body curled snail-like over
his work, an apron draped appropriately over his blue tunic. Long braided auburn hair lay flat
between his wide shoulders, his gaze fixed on an impossibly delicate silver brooch. As she heard
the resonant tang of hammer on tracer, the silversmith in her knew that the pattern he imbedded
came from within an inner vision, and not from something previously drawn. The Dwarf sank to her
knees and closed her eyes, her heart throbbing with the sound; repetitive, and yet each stroke of
the hand unique.
She sat for awhile as the Elven-smith worked, then there was
"You are Narvi, I take it?" The Elf arched backward, stretching tired
back muscles, loosening his head, and wriggling his aching fingers.
The Dwarf scrambled to
her feet, then bowed as low to the floor as possible. "Yes, Lord Silver-fist." Raising
her bearded face only slightly, she added, "Your work sings, Elf of Eregion."
her surprise, Celebrimbor began to laugh, husky and deep.
"So why has Durin sent you,
if you know such of silverwork? In his letter he said I should expect an engineer, not a
Narvi knew a lot of Sindarin, but she was unsure of exactly what this
silver-singer had just uttered. She was sure only that it was uncomplimentary, based on the
"I was sent to secure an overseer for the project of the Doors," she
replied crossly. "I am not included in Guild of Silverworkers, but the material is not
unfamiliar to me."
The Elf smiled, all intrigue fleeing from his features. "Then
you shall not mind if I take just a few moments more to finish this? It begs for
The Dwarf allowed a shimmer of a smile to cross her face. "One would
be strong, indeed, to resist the song of an unfinished work."
Celebrimbor raised an
eyebrow. "Do Dwarves truly sing, then?"
Narvi walked to a bench and sat down,
mouth twitching. "Perhaps King Durin should be the one to answer such a diplomatic question
She quickly memorized each of the Elf-lord's gestures, his furrowed brows,
fingers cradling his tools, a lone tear of sweat making a long trail from his temple down to the
hollow of his neck as he began to hum a tune of unspeakable
The guest engineer from Khazad-dûm was held in
high esteem and sat at the right hand of Celebrimbor at the rather light evening meal. She spoke
as well as she could, and embarrassed no one of either race, at least not that she knew of.
Afterwards, she was shown to a room with a bed of proportions appropriate to her kind. She bowed
low to the chamber-servant, thankful that she could cleanse herself alone. Narvi soaked in the
scented warm waters, clothed herself in her usual sturdy jerkin and trousers, and slept
During her morning appearance with the Lord Celebrimbor, she was astounded to
learn that he had decided to take on the role of co-engineer with herself in fashioning and
installing the Doors. She had made the original designs, and there had been no doubt that they
would be followed, but Narvi was sure that all involved, Dwarf and Elf, had assumed that someone
of lower rank would have been the actual representative from Eregion over what was sure to be a
But Curufin's son would entrust no one but himself to oversee the work.
He knew the Dwarves of Dwarrowdelf to be extraordinary artisans; yet this had been his idea
proposed to Durin; his symbolic open gate for such historically sundered peoples.
His potential failure.
He could not bring himself to be the bearer
of an unsuccessful message to the other ruling Elf who had been able to see the naugrim for the
honorable race that they were.
Narvi the Dwarf returned
triumphantly home, buoyant in her steps despite the midwinter cold. She met briefly with King
Durin, who was as shocked as she had been that the Elf-Lord would oversee the project himself.
Then she returned to her room, had a celebratory swig of zhîkomir, and sat at a small table
carved by her father. Narvi unearthed some blank pieces of parchment found under a teetering pile
of sketches, cursing as her fingers knocked over a small inkpot which she recovered before its
contents ruined the unblemished pages. Finally, with quill in hand, she dipped it in, letting it
rest for a moment as she remembered the sounds of Celebrimbor's fine hammer hitting against the
tracer, and hearing again the quiet melody which seemed to flow more from his fingers than through
his lips. With weight of exquisite memory, the quill touched the paper, deftly marking short lines
and cross-hatchings, giving angular voice to such liquid song.
Erebor, Fourth Age
With weight of exquisite
memory, the quill touched the paper, deftly marking long curves and short flourishes, giving
rounded voice to such fluttering song. Then the quill was set down to rest for a moment, as the
Elf remembered sounds of wind-caressed leaves turning in autumn's breath, delicate whispers of
deer tracks seen when he was only a child. Suddenly inspired, Legolas leaned in, then cursed as
his elbow knocked over the inkpot which he recovered before its contents ruined the embellished
pages. Once he reestablished order to parchment, ink, and wine-filled chalice, he continued to
write, humming faintly to himself.
After a while he stopped, taking a moment to glance at
the phrases on the page. Feeling rather pleased, Legolas took a congratulatory swig of the wine,
then gathered up his pieces of parchment, tucking them into the front page of Narvi's book. He
pushed back from the writing-desk and paused before leaving the room, still amazed by the number
of tomes organized neatly on the shelves. He had made the mistake of saying so out loud, soon
finding himself on the accusatory end of a rather long lecture by Gimli, given enthusiastically with indignant tone and zealous gesticulations.
Moments later Legolas was striding
purposefully toward the Great Hall. He entered and quickly scanned the room for Gimli, who was
noticeably absent. Flames smouldered in a large fireplace at the wall opposite the entryway, and
there a few Dwarves stood, drinking a steaming beverage of something that Legolas had not quite
been able to determine. They stopped speaking as he approached, not that Legolas would have
understood what they were saying. Even Gimli did not speak Khudzul around him, aside from his
battle cry, which Legolas knew well.
"I am looking for Gimli, my friends,"
Legolas said, smiling.
There was a silence as the Dwarves looked at him, then to each other
and back again.
"He is working," one replied, running his fingers through his
russet-colored beard as he gazed thoughtfully at Legolas.
"Where should I find
Legolas endured another round of meaningful glances among the Dwarves before
receiving an answer.
"He is in his workroom. Does he expect you?"
question seemed to be asked more to the book in the Elf's arms than to Legolas, as the Dwarf who
had just spoken was staring focusedly at it.
Legolas shifted, cradling Narvi's book
protectively to his chest. "No," he replied, "but I do not believe that he finds my
company an intrusion."
More unspoken messages passed among the trio as the fire popped
and crackled cheerfully behind them. Finally the Dwarf with the reddish beard gave Legolas a
steely, disapproving look, and Legolas was a bit surprised to realize how well he now could read
the Dwarves' expressions. "He is on the corridor with the silversmiths. It is up to him to
decide whether or not to let you into his chamber, but the request is most unheard of."
The conversation appeared to be over. Legolas bowed slightly, then turned and left the room,
trying to remember the locations of the different paths that Gimli had indicated to him when they
had first arrived. Having been raised in Mirkwood, Legolas was familiar enough with caverns, but
the dimensions of things in Erebor were, not surprisingly, Dwarf-centric, and he found himself
stooping even when there was a comfortable distance between the top of his head and the ceiling.
The corridors were hushed, though not silent. Following instinct and memory, Legolas
eventually found himself in front of a wooden door with a rune on it that he recognized as a
"G," and rapped soundly on it. There was no reply, although Legolas could hear noises
He knocked again, vigorously.
Seized by impulse, with a
cheeky grin he called to the door, "Mellon!," then stepped back a few
He heard pounding steps, then Gimli threw open the door.
the Dwarf roared. "Haven't I taught you anything about Dwarvish manners? You don't simply
" Gimli's rant trailed off as he stared at Legolas, who was beaming and
clutching Narvi's book in one arm.
Gimli shook his head in resignation, then looked up at
his friend and nodded, backing against the door and gesturing for Legolas to enter. "You look
like Meriadoc or Peregrin after finding an unexpected barrel of pipeweed," he said
suspiciously, closing the door behind Legolas. "What have you been up to?"
Elf made a quick tour of the room, his long fingers about to trace a pattern on a helmet when he
heard Gimli speak in a quiet, authoritative way he had never heard before.
don't touch that."
Legolas whirled around, placing his errant hand back on the cover
of the book, then looked for a place to sit. "I have been writing, and thinking," he
replied as he leaned against a mostly-empty counter. "I would like to invite you to join me
in Greenwood in a few week's time for a feast of cleansing and renewal."
puttered around another counter, hanging up some tools and wrapping others that were more delicate
in small pieces of cloth before placing them gently in an unornamented
"Well?" Legolas queried, as he watched Gimli take off his work apron and
hang it on a hook on the door.
The Dwarf huffed and sat down, playing at one of the plaits
in his beard. "Yes, alright," he agreed. Raising his gaze, he asked, "Are you still
trying to read that book of Narvi's?"
Legolas could see the smirk under Gimli's
thick moustache. "Perhaps," he replied, smug. "Once again you have underestimated
me, my friend. I am making progress. It is, after all, rather easy to read once you learn the
Gimli raised a bushy eyebrow. "But the content! I thought Elves cared
only about trees, and song, and stars." Glancing at Legolas' ever-present knives, he quickly
added, "And killing orcs. Not how to carve giant doors out of stone and the intricacies of
working with mithril."
The Elf's pale blue eyes gleamed like polished agates.
"Narvi also wrote much about Celebrimbor, the greatest of the Elven-smiths. It is rather
Gimli's mouth opened, then shut.
"I must say that I was
surprised as well," Legolas continued, amused at his comrade's reaction.
you had best leave that book with me," Gimli growled, extending his arm.
have not fin-"
"Give it here," Gimli said. "It belongs to the Dwarves.
Apparently I did not read it thoroughly before."
Reluctantly, Legolas handed the book
to Gimli, who now looked at it with apprehension. The Dwarf opened the cover and Legolas' sheets
of parchment slid into his lap. "What's this?" he asked, gathering the pages. He
recognized the writing as Elvish script, but nothing more. He held them out for Legolas to
Legolas quickly crossed the room and took the proffered parchments. With a slight
flourish and nod of his head, he said, "You will find out in Greenwood, my friend." He
smiled so widely that his teeth showed. "Mid-summer's Eve. Do not be
"So you are leaving, then?" Gimli stood, scowling. "I thought
that you were enjoying your time here."
"I am, but my father has summoned me, and
I wish to return the favor of hospitality to you that you have so generously bequeathed to
Gimli nodded. "Good. So Dwarvish manners have made an impression on you
Legolas tipped his head slightly, rolled up his parchments, and walked to
the door. "Thank you for allowing me into your workroom," he said quietly, his hand on
the metal knob. "I had not realized how uncommon that was."
Gimli shifted from
one foot to the other. "We are both uncommon," he gruffly replied. "Mid-summer's
Eve it is. Be sure they know to expect me," he continued. "I would not care to repeat my
father's experience in King Thranduil's home."
Legolas stared, appalled, as Gimli
burst into a throaty laugh. "Go on, Legolas. Dwarvish humor. Maybe someday you will
Legolas shook his head as he opened the heavy door and walked into the
Part Three -
The Soul selects her own Society--
Then-- shuts the
Khazad-dûm, Second Age
month of Narvi's return, Celebrimbor and a few Elves from Ost-in-Edhil had fashioned a small camp
not far from the western entrance to Khazad-dûm. A few days after their arrival, King Durin
escorted the tall Noldo and his companions to the Great Hall where feasts were held, and led them
to a banquet commemorating the beginning of the West Doors project. Aside from Durin and
Celebrimbor, however, there was little mingling between the Elves and Dwarves during the
Narvi intently watched the dark-haired Elves as they picked at the hearty fare
before them, seeing them glance surreptitiously upward several times as though they wished to be
back above ground as soon as possible. The Dwarves seated around them, mostly lapidaries and
swordsmiths, ignored their company. In contrast, Celebrimbor seemed to be completely at ease,
enjoying several tankards of ale and engaging in animated conversations with the King and
stonemasons at his end of the table. As the evening went on, instruments appeared almost like
magic and there was music and song. The fire blazed in its huge hearth, and the flames from dozens
of torches lining the walls chased away the flickering shadows.
Narvi was comfortably
full, sitting off to the side of the Hall with her feet on a small stool, smoking her pipe with
her eyes mostly shut when a voice above her head startled her out of drowsiness.
I join you?" Celebrimbor's voice was husky, and Narvi wondered if he had been adversely
affected by the smoke drifting through the air. Now that she thought about it, she was struck that
she had never seen any of the Elves that passed through the Dwarf city carry a
"Of course," Narvi replied, straightening up and moving over on the
After sinking next to her and resting one boot-clad foot on his knee, Celebrimbor
turned and gave her a grave look. "One of the questions that has been burning in my mind
since your visit has now been answered." The Elf stopped for dramatic pause, putting a strand
of his burnished hair behind his ear. "Durin's folk sing quite well indeed, it
Narvi closed her lips around her pipe for a moment, eyeing Celebrimbor for
signs of a smile, which soon blossomed across his expressive face. After releasing a smoke ring,
she grinned, her fingers playing with one of the leather thongs in her plaited beard.
"Indeed," she said, then surprised herself by affectionately patting the Elven lord
twice on his thigh, which she discovered was well-muscled. "We Dwarves are not the most
forthcoming about our talents to others."
Celebrimbor laughed. Narvi was again
surprised that such a hearty, amused noise came from such a seemingly refined being.
"Yet you have honed the art of understatement, master mason!" He, in turn,
patted Narvi on the thigh. "We shall get along like moon and star, my good Narvi. I am sure
Narvi nodded her head. "Yes, Lord Silver-fist," she agreed.
The days that followed were a flurry of
activity. Busy days turned into weeks, and then months: the quarry was selected; the stones cut to
precise specifications and carefully brought to their future standing-place; the Elves embarked on
a rather secretive and complicated process to modify the qualities of mithril. It was only at this
point that tempers flared and Narvi found herself almost coming to blows with the Lord of Eregion.
It was October, and the seasons were changing. Several of the Dwarvish silversmiths had come down
with a similar illness, and within the engineer's camp, rumors raged that they had been poisoned
by one of the Elves to keep them from learning how to make the ithildin to be used on the
Narvi had been suffering from a foul temper and a three-day's fever when she stormed
into Celebrimbor's dwelling. "What is the meaning of this drawing?" she exclaimed,
shoving a parchment on his untidy table. The Elf stared at her in stunned quiet.
"Surely King Durin has not seen this. He would never approve of such on doors which mark the
entrance to the greatest city of the Dwarves." She took another breath and steadied herself
before continuing to yell. "Elvish symbols! Elvish trees! Elvish script! Not a rune to be
seen! This belongs outside your city, not Khazad-dûm!"
Celebrimbor began to rise
and had opened his mouth when Narvi growled, "And do not point out Durin's crown. Even it is
under an Elvish arch. I was foolish to believe that you had begun to see us as your
Narvi turned on her heel and stalked away. Soon she had returned to the
doorway and stood atop a ladder, chiseling the upper corner where the junction of stone to its
niche required intense attention. Her head throbbed, and she found she frequently had to wipe her
forehead and under her eyes where she was sweating due to the fever. "Arrogant.
Presumptuous," she muttered in Khudzul. "And they say Dwarves are secretive! Pah!"
Suddenly dizzy, she leaned her head onto the cool stone, then everything went
As Narvi regained consciousness, her body registered a
throbbing pain above her left ear. Cautiously she raised her hand to her head as she opened her
"Narvi! You awaken."
Celebrimbor was looking worriedly down at her, violet eyes focused on her face.
Narvi experienced a shock of pure terror as she
grasped for her tunic, adrenaline rushing through her until she patted herself and discovered she
was still fully clothed. Bliss of Mahal's beard! she sighed, only slightly
Celebrimbor smiled. "I have been given quite the hasty lesson in Dwarvish
medicine, which seems to be to keep Elves as far away as possible from the one who is injured.
Your fellows brought you to your room and established you had not broken anything in your fall,
and cleaned up what is a rather deep gash on your head."
Narvi closed her eyes.
"That would explain the pain, then," she muttered.
"Thank goodness for the
hard heads of the Dwarves!"
Narvi winced, scowling at the Elf's comment.
"We are a sturdy race," she said, gritting her teeth as she slowly sat up. "Do not
forget that we are the true First-born."
Celebrimbor diplomatically ignored the slur.
"You are sturdy and hard-headed in more ways than one. You should have told me you have been
ill; your skin felt as though you were on fire. I cannot allow my most trustworthy and articulate
rockwright to continue falling from ladders because he is stubborn."
traced the bandages around her head. "The fever will pass."
She began to feel
uncomfortably exposed as Celebrimbor gazed kindly at her.
"I wish to explain the door
Narvi growled, and Celebrimbor raised his hands in a gesture of peace.
"We have both been guilty of focusing more on the mechanics of this project, instead
of the meaning. That is how it should be, for without such attentions, the great West Doors would
not now exist."
Narvi crossed her arms across her chest, wishing that the Elf would
leave her to investigate her aching head wound in peace.
"I will not trouble you much
longer, only state that while the doors are indeed an entrance to Khazad-dûm, and a symbol of
friendship between our kinds, they also represent the edge of our lands. Dwarves will usually
approach the doors from the inside, while Elves will approach from the outside. My great hope, and
that of Galadriel, our far-sighted sovereign, is that those doors will remain ever
He paused for a moment, and Narvi was surprised to see a wistful look flit
across his face.
"That is why I wish for you to design the figures and messages to be
carved on the inside of the doors. It will be those which face the lands to the west; those which
will catch the rays of sun and starlight to grace the sight of all Elves before they begin the
underground journey through Dwarrowdelf. Will you accept this request?"
blinking in surprise and shock.
"Does King Durin also wish this?" she asked
"'With every hair in my beard,' is, I believe, how he phrased it,"
Celebrimbor replied, resting his hand briefly on Narvi's shoulder. "You should
Then Celebrimbor left the room, his unbound hair flowing over his shoulders
like liquid jasper.
Overwhelmed to the point of nausea with pride and pulsing waves of
pain, Narvi drank some water which had been placed by her bed. After a few moments her stomach
ceased roiling, and she fell into a dream-filled sleep.
Eryn Lasgalen, Fourth Age
Gimli tramped down
the path under the trees, his gloved hands clutching the leather straps of his pack to his chest.
A bird trilled a lengthy call and he stopped, looking up into the nearby branches. He couldn't see
the creature that had made the sound, but as he gazed around, off in the distance he saw that the
trees became more orderly, and there, further off, a tall hill.
"Well," he said
under his breath, "Legolas did describe the route accurately. Not long now, and a good thing.
I could use a hearty meal!"
He stood for a moment to readjust his trappings: leather
pack, waterskin, axes. Before leaving the Lonely Mountain, he had paid a visit to the relatively
new King, Thorin Stonehelm, who had requested that he visit Esgaroth on his way to King Thranduil.
Thorin sent Gimli off with a beautifully wrought jewel-encrusted box to be given to Bard II, along
with his continued gratitude for all of the Men of Dale who had fought and died with the Dwarves
at the end of the War of the Ring.
There was another birdcall and Gimli looked up once more
in time to see a finch fly above the path from one tree to another. Returning his gaze to the
ground, he continued walking.
Within an hour, he was at the entrance to the caverns of the
Elven-king, and to his surprise, there were several wood-Elves standing there in welcome, Legolas
"How did you know when I would arrive?" Gimli asked,
Legolas laughed as he walked up to the Dwarf and clasped his hand. "And a
very pleasant day to you as well, Gimli! I have missed your forthrightness."
muttered something about having bird spies in the forest and Legolas stood, looking earnestly at
"While the great War is over, we do feel it is not inappropriate to have guards.
Since you entered Greenwood I have known of your whereabouts."
"So you have been
spying on me!" Gimli spluttered, then, glancing around at the other Elves, simply shook his
"Come, my friend," Legolas said. "Now is not the time for arguments. I
would like to escort you around my father's halls and show you to your lodging in case you would
care to rest before our early evening meal, which promises to be a merry one."
agreed, and the small entourage walked through the gates, following the path up to King
"In regards to bird spies," Legolas said, leaning down to
speak more directly to Gimli, "as far as I know, it is the Dwarves who are known for
communicating with birds, and ravens in particular, not the Elves."
appreciatively. "You learned much at the Mountain. I suspect that your kinsmen find you
rather odd for your interest in Dwarvish lore!"
Legolas laughed. "You should have
seen the expression on my brother's face when I told him I had thought of taking up pipe
Gimli stopped in his tracks. "You had thought of what? After your
experience in Fangorn?" He looked incredulous. "I assumed that your one attempt at
smoking mine was quite enough."
Legolas tipped his head toward the open doors.
"Come on, Gimli. Elvish humor." He smiled as they continued through into the inviting
entrance. "Maybe someday you will understand."
the evening meal, Legolas accompanied Gimli through the many corridors to his room, explaining
that the Elves of the recently-renamed realm of Eryn Lasgalen would gather in the forest at
twilight and sing songs of renewal as the stars came out. "It is in celebration and gratitude
for Galadriel ridding Mirkwood and Dol Guldur of the evil forces which plagued these woods for
Gimli made a slight sighing sound.
"Gimli?" Legolas asked
worriedly, and in a rare show of affection, placed his hand on his shoulder.
looked back at him. "Galadriel. I wish I had been able to see her once more before she sailed
to the West." He patted Legolas' hand, then noticing that they were in front of his door, he
said, "Do you have a moment to visit? I
" He looked down at his boots for a moment,
then raised his face, which was slightly flushed. "I brought a gift for you."
Legolas looked surprised, but nodded. "There is still some time before the sun will
Gimli opened the door and the two went inside. Legolas stood just inside the
wooden door while Gimli rummaged through some small bags which lay on his bed, near his leather
pack. From a dark green bag he pulled out a carved wooden box, and after running a stocky finger
over the top, he straightened and held it out in his hand, offering it to the Elf.
"You have been as true to me as any of my kinsmen. You stood at my side in battle,
and for that and your unexpected friendship, I am most grateful."
Legolas stepped over
to him and took the box, holding it carefully in his hands. "I did not know that the Dwarves
took to - Oh!" he exclaimed, bringing it closer to his face. "But this is Elvish
work!" He looked perplexedly at Gimli.
"Just open it," Gimli chuckled, an
amused tone in his voice. "I will explain in a moment."
With his long, pale
fingers, Legolas pulled open the lid. Resting on a square of pine green felt was a wrought silver
band; a cuff, with an intricate pattern of leaves and twining stars around the edges. Inside the
border were etched symbols, Elvish script. It was heavy and wide, obviously meant to be worn by a
man. Legolas stared at it, the expression on his face growing more confused by the moment.
"Tengwar?" he asked, dazed. "Gimli, it is beautiful. Is this what you were
making in your workroom?"
"What I was making?" Gimli stammered, almost
choking. "Mahal's beard! First I am able to find Peregrin on the battlefield when you were
unable to see him and now this. Perhaps it was wrong of Aragorn to count so much on your Elvish
Legolas gave him an affronted look. "It seems that only a Dwarf can give
a gift while at the same time insulting the recipient."
At that, Gimli grew
serious. "My apologies. It was your interest in that book that Narvi had written about the
making of the Western Doors to Khazad-dûm that made me look for this particular piece of
craftwork." He motioned for Legolas to sit on a nearby chair, and the Elf did, holding the
box in one hand and the silver cuff in the other.
"That band has been handed down
through my family for many generations, though it was unclear why such a thing, despite it being
very well crafted, was held in such reverence when it was clearly Elvish work. After your comment
about Narvi and Celebrimbor in my workroom, I reread some of his tale. I believe that it was this
'Lord Silver-fist' who made it for Narvi, in appreciation for his work."
gazed wide-eyed at the silver bracelet in his hand, then back at Gimli, who was looking fondly at
"You and I are unlikely allies, it is true," Gimli said, one hand playing
idly with a thick plait in his beard. "But it seems that in a different age, friendship
between Elf and Dwarf was not so rare." He briefly bowed his head, then continued, "I
only hope that it is not too wide for your arm. We Dwarves are of a more stocky composition."
Legolas sat, temporarily overwhelmed by the generosity of Gimli's gesture, given with
typical straightforwardness which continued to catch him off-guard.
"Well, put it
Legolas placed the carved box on a nearby table and then slipped the cuff around
his right wrist. It was indeed fashioned to Dwarvish proportions and was too big to wear right above his
hand, so he slid it back a bit further on his forearm where it rested securely. He ran his finger
along the Elvish script, rendered mute in the realization that he was wearing something made by
the greatest craftsman of the Noldo, and it had been given to him by a Dwarf. He shook his head at
"Thank you, Gimli," he murmured, continuing to stroke the
"After all this time, it seemed fitting that it should go back to the
Elves," Gimli replied. "Now go on and let me rest my feet for a bit. I shouldn't admit
this to you of all people, but it has been awhile since I have done so much walking and I,
" he made shooing motions to Legolas, "I wish to have some time alone."
Legolas stood and walked to the door, his long tunic flowing around his knees. "I
will return when it is time to go to the ceremony."
Gimli had already begun unlacing
his sturdy boots when he heard Legolas' voice float in from the nearby
"Should I wake you if you are asleep?"
"I only said my feet
were tired, wretched El
.." Gimli retorted, then censored himself.
Legolas grinned as we walked to his rooms, his left hand still tracing the
ancient Elvish letters on the silver band.
There was already a
large cluster of Elves speaking in subdued voices in the appointed clearing when Legolas and Gimli
arrived. Above the lush verdant canopy of Greenwood, a deepening richness of velvet twilight
settled across the sky. Soon the first stars would appear and the Elves of the Woodland Realm and
one lone Dwarf would sing praises and thanks to Varda.
"You don't really expect me to
sing, do you?" Gimli asked once they made their way to an area in which others of Thranduil's
house were standing together. "Not that I have an ugly voice, mind you, but unless Galadriel
herself were here to ask it, I do not
Legolas patted him on the shoulder, the
second time that day. "No, Gimli. But there will be a new song that I wrote while visiting
you in Erebor, and that one I will translate for you. I may have learned to read your runes, but I
cannot sing in Khudzul, and I do not expect you to sing in Sindarin."
noticeably relieved. "Good."
Legolas turned his gaze skyward, focusing on the
half moon glowing brightly above the trees. "How beautiful evening is!" he sighed,
letting his eyes rove across the heavens. "Soon the sky will be awash in glittering stars,
lights of promise in the darkness."
"Elves," Gimli muttered. "Do you
all spout off poetry at every moment?"
Legolas turned to glare at him, then his face
softened as a lyric melody was played on a nearby harp. A lone voice began singing, then
another voice, lower, sang in harmony. Then another voice, then Legolas joined in. Within moments,
the glade was filled with the chanting of Elvish song, a lilting caress of sounds that crescendoed
into a wave of conviction; gratitude and supplication and fathomless longing.
with his feet apart, hands on his hips, his hands twitching where usually they would be
comfortably resting on his axe or holding his pipe. Legolas had encouraged him in the most
diplomatic manner shy of a demand that he leave both behind. Legolas' eyes were focused on the
trees around them, though for a brief moment he caught Gimli's eye and smiled. The singing rose,
crested, then fell back to a susurrative echo, ebbing away as Legolas sang the last phrase alone.
A respectful silence hovered in the clearing, as though the trees themselves were absorbing the
last of the notes, their leaves glimmering as a slight breeze stirred the boughs and
Gimli found himself inexplicably moved by the music, and though unable to grasp
the message of what was being sung, he found that his eyes were damp with tears. Some of the Elves
came up to Legolas, thanking him for the words of the paean, and Gimli rubbed at his
"Are you faring well?" Legolas asked, seeing the Dwarf's
"Yes, quite," Gimli replied, embarrassed at the attention. "Just
a bit of bark."
Legolas nodded solemnly, then looked up at the gathering dusk.
"Ah! Some of the stars have come out." He pointed with his right arm, and Gimli stared
at the armband as it caught the light of the moon.
The Elf lowered his arm, inspecting Celebrimbor's silver cuff as he did so.
"I do not see anything out of the ordinary."
"Back in the moonlight. Put it
back in the light!" Gimli ordered.
Legolas did so, stepping over a pace into a bright
swath of moonbeam. Across the widest part of the band, framed by the Tengwar script, were Dwarvish
runes, glistening like quicksilver. Both companions stood in silence, staring at the message of
ithildin on the relic from the Second Age.
Narvi, Rockwright and Elf-Friend
"So. What were the
words that you wrote after being so inspired by Narvi's book?" Gimli asked as the Elvish
entourage made their leisurely return to the King's caverns.
"They were not inspired
by his commentary on the making of the West Doors," Legolas retorted. "I was intrigued
by Narvi's writings in general. He had an almost Elvish eye to detail."
Gimli made an
indignant sound. "We did not blunder into becoming master craftsmen, my friend. You have
nothing on Dwarves when it comes to the finer points of observation."
"Fine," he acquiesced, turning his head to look again at the silver
Chastened, Gimli quickly added, "But it is true that you are better
Legolas looked down at him, and smiled. "This is a translation, but you
will understand the meaning." His expression grew thoughtful as he spoke
What stood will stand, though all be fallen,
The good return that time has
Though creatures groan in misery,
Their flesh prefigures liberty
To end travail
and bring to birth
Their new perfection in new earth.
At word of that enlivening
the trees of the woods all sing
And every field rejoice, let praise
Rise up out of the
ground like grass.
They walked in silence for a ways, then Gimli spoke. "I have
no doubt that Galadriel would have appreciated your words." His voice was wistful. "I
should finish my poem. It is not nearly as well written as yours, of course." He focused his
eyes on their path, fingers again clutching at the phantom space where his axe was normally
"Do not be so sure of that," Legolas replied quietly. "I surmise that
anything you gave to her in love she would have accepted readily."
"In love?" he reiterated. After a couple of deep breaths, he gazed up at Legolas, and
found the Elf's blue eyes were staring intensely at him. "Well, I don't know what to call
it." He made a malcontented grumbling sound. "Doesn't matter. She is gone. I could write
poetry until I go blind and my hands can no longer hold a quill and she will never read them. I am
no Elf. It's not as though I will ever get on a boat that could take me to
Legolas glanced up at a bright sickle shape of stars, then down at the silver
band clasped on his forearm, a contemplative expression on his face.
"Do not be so
sure of that either."
Eregion, Second Age
scarlet sun hung just above the horizon as Vrain approached Ost-in-Edhil. He had been well-coached
by Narvi and managed to hide any expressions of being nonplussed when confronted by the
supercilious gaze of the four Elves standing guard outside of the gates. Vrain tore his eyes away
from their flickering emerald capes billowing slightly in the breeze and spoke in halting Sindarin
while looking at the marble stairs.
"I am Vrain, of the house of Oban, son of Narvi,
here to request the presence of the King Silverfist of Eregion."
As he rose to resume
a standing position, he saw the guards staring at the silver cuff on his wrist, made by their lord
Celebrimbor for Narvi, whose death he had been bade to convey to the Elf-king. The guards did not
step forward, but they did move their arms ever so slightly to reveal knives and daggers otherwise
hidden. It had been so warm at mid-summer that Vrain had put his hood in his pack for the journey,
and merely clutched his left hand around the head of his axe to acknowledge that he, too, was
Dwarf and Elves stared at one another until at last one of the guards walked toward
"Please follow me," he said in the Common Speech.
Vrain nodded his
head, and followed.
They had gone several paces down the busy causeway when another Elf in
similar garb passed them, seemingly to take the place of the guard who was escorting Vrain into
the city. Several of the inhabitants let their gaze linger on him in a way that left the Dwarf
feeling rather unsettled, despite the fact that he had met several of the immortals as they made
their way from west to east or back again through Khazad-dûm. In respect to his mother's
wishes, he tried to absorb as much of the architecture of the Elvish city as he could, but much of
the subtlety of it was lost to him. Gems were his great love, and his bright chrysoprasic eyes lit
on the jewels that he could glimpse on the Elves of Eregion: a necklace dripping with garnets;
aquamarine stones set in a gossamer belt of silver; a brazen cape-clasp of onyx, unexpectedly
enclosed in sanguine copper.
Before he knew how far they had gone, Vrain was at the
entrance to the city center, his mouth gaping. Two more guards appeared, staring pointedly at his
axe. Vrain closed his mouth as he took the axe from its usual place hanging at his
"May Gormgloine reside faithfully in your care," he recited, giving up the
blade rather reluctantly.
A silver-haired Elf approached, and with only a glance, the
escort from the front gates left the room.
"I am Hithuldîr, messenger to our
Lord. You are?" he looked pointedly at Vrain's wrist.
"I am Vrain, son of Narvi,
though I suspect that you have known this since I approached," the Dwarf replied,
The Elf raised an eyebrow. "Does Celebrimbor expect
"No. I am here to bring tidings of Narvi's death. It was thought that your
lord Silver-singer would wish to know."
Hithuldîr's expression, while still
impassive, seemed slightly more sombre at the news.
"Please wait here." He
gestured to an elaborately carved bench which Vrain walked to and gratefully sat down, content to
rest his feet.
Elves walked across the mosaic-tiled floor, and everywhere there was a scent
of flowers in bloom. Vrain wrinkled his nose, and after a few moments went by, he found that he
was idly making a new plait in his beard as he tried not to stare at the jewellery worn by the
Elves who traversed in and out of the room.
Suddenly he noticed a shadow crossing his left
boot, and he looked up.
"Vrain Longbeard, son of Narvi the Rockwright, of the House of
As his mother had said, the co-engineer for the West Doors and Lord of Eregion
was an Elf both to fear and to admire. Numinous, she had stated. Otherworldly.
"So Narvi has
Vrain nodded, subconsciously stroking the silver cuff on his
"I had hoped to be asked to attend the ceremony for such a renowned rockwright
whose spirit had left to meet AulÔ. No," he paused for a moment, "to meet Mahal. But I
dared not presume that I would be welcome."
The Elf-lord's lilac-colored eyes conveyed
compassion, but demanded a response.
"I have brought a message to you from Narvi, for
your eyes alone." The Dwarf extricated a piece of carefully-folded parchment, its wax seal
the color of glistening sand. An "N" rune was thrust into the midst of the congealed
circle. "I do not know its message."
Celebrimbor reached out an arm and took the paper,
then looked Vrain from foot to head. "You resemble him very much, Vrain, son of Narvi. Though
your eyes are far brighter. The color of apples."
Vrain looked at him, puzzled, then
shook his head. "Son I am, but Narvi was my mother, not my father."
The Elf held
the parchment, his long fingers stroking the paper, eyes unfocused.
"You will excuse
me?" he murmured, and with a quick nod of his head, an attendant came to Vrain, showing him
to a room, and encouraging him to take a bath and a rest, if he so desired it. He would be
summoned for the evening meal, and he should expect to spend the night.
Vrain stammered, gentle hands on his elbow.
"Ale will be brought to you. For now,
enjoy the hospitality of the Elves. You will be called upon for supper."
found that he could not resist the summons, whether he liked it or not. So he chose to be led. The
bath was sumptuous, the ale delicious, the meal courteous, his sleep sound.
In the morning,
after dressing and munching on the freshly-baked bread provided with a hot beverage he didn't
recognize, Vrain jumped to his feet when he heard a second authoritative knock on the
"Enter!" Vrain exclaimed, startled.
Celebrimbor stood in the
doorway, his unbound auburn hair flowing over his shoulders, wearing a pendant with a green stone
that seemed to give off its own light.
Moments passed. Dwarf gaped at Elf, and the Elven
lord waited, a smile blooming across his stern features like a prism illuminated in a diamond
"This is for Narvi's tomb," Celebrimbor said softly, handing a silver
birch branch to Vrain. "It should never wither, if I am worth my name."
looked dubiously at the branch, though he held out his hand to grasp it. "Is it magic?"
He sounded skeptical.
"Not in any way to give the Dwarves pause," Celebrimbor
answered. "It is the least I can do to keep her memory."
Vrain bowed, his bright
eyes growing wide as he turned the branch in his stocky hands. "Such a rich gift!"
Celebrimbor gazed fondly at the young Dwarf. "It is given in gratitude. Put the
branch at Narvi's marker. And please," he put a warm hand on Vrain's shoulder, "let not
the next time I hear of you or your kin be at your death. The distance from the West Gates to
Ost-in-Edhil is not so far nor the path so rocky that it cannot be traversed more than once in a
lifetime, Dwarvish stubbornness or no."
Vrain was unsure whether to feel complimented
or insulted, but stood to his full height regardless. "It shall not, Lord Celebrimbor."
As Celebrimbor watched Vrain walk across the tiled floor out to the city, he thought of
the message which even Narvi's son had not known he had carried: his mother's most secret,
Dwarvish name. She had written it in bold Dwarvish runes, and though it had been a translation, he
knew it for what it was.
he read, and though
not sentimental by nature, he mourned her loss. Though her gender mattered not a whit in regards
to her skill, it still goaded him that he had been so blind as not to know, and this gift was an
attempt to compensate for that loss. He had been working on the more sophisticated chants and
energies that he would soon be channeling into the Rings of Power, and he knew that the branch he
gave to Vrain should last, unchanging, for centuries: a silver birch, to honor Narvi's love of the
metal, one which he shared, and for which he was named. The leaves, once far underground, would
shimmer in multicolored hues in respect for the most intimate thing she could have shared, one so
unexpected it had given the Elf-lord great pause.
Gormgloine- "blue-glass" (Irish) My vision is that Narvi's axe
handle has two sapphires embedded in it, and I love that it has the word "Gloin" in it.
Many of the weapons in Middle-earth have names, including Orcrist, Thorin's sword. To my knowledge
Gimli does not name his axe, but perhaps he's being coy in that secretive Dwarvish way that they
déandorkh- déan (make, making) dorcha- dark (Irish) Yes, I'm afraid it
looks like something-dork. I thought that a 'k' instead of a 'c' would look more Dwarvish.
Ultimately I wanted the word to have the sensibility of "sacrilegious," something that
just Would Not Be Done.
The quotations at the beginning of the three sections were all
found in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, © 1973
Our friends were not
unearthly beautiful.- from "Ideal Landscape" by Adrienne Rich
I keep to myself
such measures as I care for, daily the rocks accumulate position.- from "I Keep to Myself
" by Robert Creeley
The Soul selects her own Society-- from
"The Soul selects her own Society" by Emily Dickinson
"What stood will
stand" by Wendell Berry, words © 1998. There is one final stanza to it which could not
fit within the Ardaverse:
What stood, whole in every piecemeal
Thing that stood, will
stand though all
Fall-field and woods and all in them
Rejoin the primal Sabbath's hymn.
Lastly, but by far with the most gusto, I am forever indebted to Adina Atl and her absolutely marvelous story, "Opening Doors," in which Narvi was a female Dwarf. I took her idea and expanded on it by making a story in parallel with the post-WR, but I must give the credit of that jewel of an idea to her.
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