Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Adventures of Elladan's Outriders -- Episode 27.3

A Welcome Pause -- Part 2

Trewsday, 3rd of Solmath, Year 1418 Shire-reckoning
The Last Homely House, Rivendell
The courtyards of Rivendell
That same evening I enjoyed another incredible supper at Elrond's table and decided to prod into a few more corners of this extraordinary house of his. I came across Drodie in the courtyard, but he was not one for conversation: all he did was complain about the lack of meat served during the feast. I wandered up a flight of stairs and discovered a door which seemed unattended. For whatever reason, curiosity got the better of me and I poked my head through.

I was met with a gorgeous view. The door opened onto a balcony which overlooked a stunning landscape of gardens, orchards, cliffsides, waterfalls, and fountains. I stood there for a few moments admiring it all just as the Sun dipped behind the western edge of the valley. As the light softened, I began to look more closely at the balcony itself.

It was shaped like a semi-circle with a low railing of stone around the edge. Vines and other foliage intruded upon it, but the effect was one of ancientry rather than disorder. In the very centre was a stone table or altar of some sort, round and fairly plain. Evenly spaced around this table and facing it were several chairs of elaborate make. Altogether, I got the impression I was in a place of some importance, perhaps for meetings or councils of Elrond's summoning.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" came a voice from nearby. I must have jumped two feet in the air out of surprise. When I turned toward the voice, I found it belonged to Lagodir, who was seated in one of the chairs off to the side.

"You startled me!" I chided him. "But yes, it is beautiful -- and quite peaceful, like everywhere else in this valley."

"Rivendell is certainly beautiful," he said as he looked out over the gardens. "But I do not know if it is truly peaceful. I feel ill at ease here; it is calm while the rest of the world is in chaos." The tinkling of the fountains played on as if in rebuttal to the Gondorian's musings. "Through all of Eriador we have seen the works of the Enemy, even unto the doorstep of this valley," he continued. "Yet here all is quiet. It puts me on edge."

"Still, it is an opportunity for us to rest and to equip ourselves; with both supplies and knowledge," I said, wondering what was bothering my companion.

"True," Lagodir replied. There was a pause. "Elrond knows why I left Gondor, Padryc. I will not darken your day by going into specifics, but I suffered at the hands of the Enemy for three years, and it has taken its toll. I think that I will find no peace anywhere if I cannot find it here." I looked at him. Despite our leisurely repose in this perfectly safe place, Lagodir still wore his battle-worn armour, sans helm for the moment, and his sword remained near him as always.

"The life of a soldier is a hard one, or so I have always heard tell," I said, not quite certain where to take the conversation. "Your sacrifice must endear you to your people and bring you great honour within your homeland." Lagodir looked sidelong at me and I saw the faint glow of a smile creep onto his lips.

"Honour," he repeated, and his eyes became downcast. "Your words to me mirror those of Lord Elrond. He granted me audience last night, so eager was I to speak with him. He, more than any Elf I have ever seen invokes the magnificence of the Numenorean kings; sculpted from marble, he would fit well in the Court of Anarion. He, after all, shares the sire of Elros, first King of Numenor. He granted me two gifts: apparently I am the first Gondorian in many, many years to have come hither, and so he commissioned the Elf-tailor Glorielvir to make an embroider of the emblem of my rank onto my cloak; the work should be finished before we leave here."

"That was certainly well-given," I said. "And what was the second gift?"

"The second gift was far more precious: it is the dagger of Ohtar Turma, who was revered by all in my House until its destruction a thousand years ago. You are a lover of tales, are you not? Surely you must remember that Ohtar was the esquire of Isildur, son of Elendil. It was Ohtar alone who escaped the disaster of the Gladden Fields where Gondor lost its king, and he it was who delivered the shards of Narsil to Elrond. He then returned to Gondor and led the defence of Minas Ithil but, like so many others, that battle did not end well for my countrymen."

"May I see it?" I asked, for was genuinely eager to view such a relic.

"Certainly, although it is not on my person at this very moment. But I will be sure to let you handle it sometime, for I perceive you will appreciate the historical significance it bears."

"Indeed," I replied, "And I should also like very much to see the results of Glorielvir's work; the craft-lore of Rivendell has always been legendary."

"And not without cause," Lagodir said. "It is little more than a ceremonial gesture, of course, but it has ignited the flame of Numenor which rests within my soul. I am ready to face whatever trials lie ahead."

We exchanged a few more pleasant words together, but the night was already fast approaching. Soon the Hall of Fire would be filled once more with music and merriment, and I was not to be found outside of it until I could no longer hold up my own eyelids. As I wrote this account of today's events, I considered the interesting and very disparate reactions from Gaelira and Lagodir as they reposed here in the Valley of the Elves.

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