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Mar. 12th, 2007 @ 02:35 am Before Dawn.
Current Mood: contentcontent
Before the sun rises, there is a hush. The world draws in a deep breath before pouring forth the bubbling music of the new day. Birds, for that breath, allow their hearts to feel the anticipation of the perfected light and the trees prepare to listen and to offer the subtle accompaniment of the leaf-song. It is at such times that I look upon the world and see it as if new-made, recreated overnight. There is some song here that is not heard amongst the refined musics of Valinor. There is a song here of the fresh earth and the fallen rain, the only fallen thing here, I could believe at such times.

This place, this green land of life and laughter, is beautiful beyond the words my tongue can summon. Perhaps it is better to be like the birds and abandon words in favour of a sound of purest joy, pouring forth from a soul in ecstasy. Well is it said that there is a beauty here that heals the soul. We glory in it. Even those weighed with sorrow can laugh at the beauty of the ascendant sun.

There is much to love on this side of the sea. Though I spent a thousand years gazing across the green landscape, yet my eyes would be refreshed by every sight of it. I am not sorry to be here in Nargothrond.
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Sep. 16th, 2005 @ 10:52 am Moonlight
Current Mood: melancholymelancholy
The moon was silver last night, the pure silver of a betrothal ring, as clear as the heartfelt words of a lover's pledge, as free of mark or marring as the name of the heart's beloved. Alone in my rocky watchtower, I looked upon that silver light and wept silver tears for the rings that should have been forged, the words that should have been spoken. The sea was wide last night, and full of bitter salt.

It was foolish of me to let my thoughts cross the sea when my body cannot, for no ship will take me home, nor any loving face remain to greet me. Maybe my name is not spoken there, or maybe it is cursed. Does she curse it? Perhaps it is as well that I cannot return. To hear her loving voice full of anger, of hatred, of shame that she ever loved me, would be worse than any exile.

We loved the moon, the silent companion of our sweetest hours. Long were the nights on which we walked on the shore and spoke of the stars or competed in poetry to capture the moon's light in words or express the depth and wealth of our love. To us, the moon was a friend. Her face was more lovely beneath that cool light than when lit by the brash light of the sun, though the sunlight awoke the golden light in her hair. Well did I love to look upon her at any hour, but the moon added a sanctity and secrecy to the faint smile that would blossom into laughter at some foolish joke of mine.

I do not hate the moon. No-one who has ever loved the night can learn to hate the moon. I, who walked beside my love on the moonlit sands, whose only betrothal ring was the moon's halo, I will always love the moon with an aching heart, but a sincere one.

Once I hoped that our companion of the shore might witness the celebration of our marriage. The full moon is a welcome guest at any feast, and gladly would I have danced with my wife, my wife! Gladly would I have held her hand and gazed at the light in her eyes, as perfect and as pure as the light that glittered on her jewels and reflected on the silver threads in her gown. Had we but danced a single dance as man and wife, nothing could have parted us. She would have stood beside me last night, and the moon's beauty wiould have brought no pain.

No, the moon has not lost my love, but as the loss of one friend makes any gathering of friends bittersweet, so that dear face of the moon reminds me of my loss and calls forth sorrowing tears, though I would not for that reason avert my eyes. Perhaps for exiles there can be no beauty untouched by grief, no joy unalloyed with sorrow. Perhaps I should not regret that the moonlight awakens such pain, but rather be glad that my heart has not become dulled by the years and hardened in the places where it was tender. Painful though this grief is, it is not the slow soul-death of growing indifference. That her name remains both talisman and scourge to me, that precious stones remind me of her eyes and bring tears to mine, that I am everywhere without her, rather than simply alone, these are at least signs of fidelity, and prove my love more than some affectation of youth. If we meet again, I will not waste time in demanding explanations or weeping over my long pain. Instead, I will fall at her feet and speak whatever words I can speak in that longed-for presence. There will be no word of rebuke from me, no lashing out of injured pride. Before her face, I will have no pride, and if she smiles on me again, all my wounds will be healed.

Should a king have more dignity? Perhaps. Yet we love not as kings, but as captives. Oh, I could play the king and look on her with lofty disdain. She, no doubt, could match my frost with her own, and make of this land, even of Valinor, an icy wasteland. Such a victory for dignity, to kill with cold all that my heart craves, all that my soul needs. Pride and dignity are fine things to look upon, but such brittle jewels are a poor substitute for warmth and love.

What has she done to deserve such cruelty? Whether she listened to others' lies or ceased to love me, can either be called her fault? Am I not more to blame? For I left her. I could have stayed and found out what had happened. Perhaps both our hearts were broken that day. An hour's grace might have saved us both and bound our lives ineternity. It is a hard thought to bear, that one hour might have saved me from these years of pain. Yet, at the time, there seemed no reason to wait an hour. I was anxious to be gone from that shore where every speck of sand whispered her name. I longed then for the living death of exile, hoping that distance might bring relief. It was folly to think that I could leave love behind me, like a discarded cloak, for my love for her was the centre of my life.

Ah well, the day has come and the melancholy moon has departed. There will always be tears while we are parted. I have shed enough tears to fill the sea. I will not resent the moon for reminding me, but remember with love the nights of walking and talking and sweet songs we shared long ago, with the moon our benevolent chaparone.
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Sep. 11th, 2005 @ 02:18 pm Rowan
On the mountain near here, in a cleft in the rock, grows a rowan. The roots are shallow, for little soil settles in the crags and what little there is is often washed away by rains. The sustenance for the slender tree is as slight as a sailor's hope, but little can accomplish much.

No doubt a bird lifted the seed to that place. Perhaps the sweet spring rain watered the seed and the clear mountain sun warmed it and some soft breeze sighed, "Flourish!" and the little seed obeyed. The tree grew strong, though shallow-rooted, trusting the words of Yavanna, which were whispered to the first of the rowans, believing in those words as if it felt the touch of her hand. Perhaps it does.

When I look at that tree, it makes me feel that anything is possible. What need have I for deep roots or some assurance for the coming days? It is enough to grow, enough to strive. What rowan ever asks if the end will be good? What tree looks for any pledge of rich soil or tomorrow's rain? These things are sent or not sent, but only the growing tree can enjoy them when they come. Therefore I will cast my branches into the sky and accept the gifts that are bestowed by the kindly powers and I will not ask if my place in the world is safe, or if my roots will be strong. I will believe in the strength of sunlight and hold fast to what ground I am given.

Am I more exiled than that tree, lifted here by wings with which it could not reason? Berries ripen on that tree, and who can say where the birds will bear the fruit? In the same way, the deeds of my life may bear fruit I cannot see, and far away, something may flourish that I never imagined, because I believed in the sunlight and trusted that I would find sustenance amidst the rocks.
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Sep. 6th, 2005 @ 08:18 am A Storm
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
There was a storm last night, and the mountains echoed to the sound of thunder as it was cast from one to another. Spears of light struck and were gone, to be followed by the rumbles of sound which became faster and louder as the night went on.

The roiling sea was the colour of a petrel's wing and no stars were reflected upon the waters, as if Varda feared to lay her treasures in such peril. Not so the Falathrim, whose ships were still to be seen, despite the fury of sea and sky. One small boat capsized, and my heart sank to see two figures in the sea.

I should not have doubted the knots by which the Falathrim are bound. At once, a larger ship battled against the wind to turn and go to the stricken vessel's aid. The rerscue was swift, thiough it seemed slow enough at the time. Soon the two sailors were huddled together on the other vessel. This morning, they went out again, and rescued the boat, righting it and taking it home.

A storm in the mountains is spectacular, a storm at sea more so. A storm has power and passion and light and sound, but can be a beautiful assassin. Many have been the lives lost to that tantrum of nature. I watched from safety, while the Falathrim were in danger, yet their love of storms is greater than mine, just as they love the sea, though it is as ready to drown them as it is to take a stranger's life.
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Jul. 29th, 2005 @ 11:38 pm (no subject)
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
The stars are clear and bright tonight and the moon has cast off the silken veil of cloud worn for the past week. The cloak of night shelters the mountains and dark pools of shadow fill the valleys.

The Dwarven masons are asleep, and many of my halls sound with the sweet and subtle songs of minstrels enthralled by the night's peace. Nargothrond is quiet tonight and full of contentment.

I have been looking towards the sea, seeking a light on the waters, but seeing only the light of moon and stars, reflected on the waves. No ship will come. There will be neither word nor sight of her, but the heart holds to hope and will not lightly let it go.

At last, Lasslathron, troubled by my absence from the hall, came to find me. He saw the direction of my gaze and said, "Lord, others can watch the sea."

"And with less hope to torment them." I said.

"The day may come, Lord, but for now, be at ease. Your people are happy. Come and share their happiness."

"It is late. Perhaps it would be better to retire and rest alone."

"If you will, Lord, but do not linger here."

"The stars are beautiful." I said.

"Yet cold beauty is no substitute for warm friendship."

"Nor friendship any substitute for the greatest love of the soul."

"I know." he said.

I followed him, bowing a farewell to the jewels of the sky.
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May. 6th, 2005 @ 05:34 pm Snorri and Lasslathron
Current Mood: melancholymelancholy
All day, I was with the masons in the Hall of Silver Lamps. It does not yet look as it will, but already it has almost the right shape. The dwarves deny that wine can quench the thirst as ale does, so we had great barrels of ale around, into which they often dipped their mugs. The barrels soon gained a layer of stone dust, but when I hesitated to drink, Snorri said to me, "There's no harm in drinking in a little stone, you have breathed in half of the mountain by now. You are more stone than elf."

"I wondered why you liked me so well." I said.

Snorri laughed. "I like you, friend, because not the finest edge of a chisel could slip betwixt your word and your deed and not the best of delvers could find in the depths of your soul, one shard of perfidy. I like you because you are what you say you are and do what you say you will do."

"You speak well of me." I said, "But if your words are true of me, then we are as brothers, for I could say the same of you, and with far greater confidence than I can have in those words applied to me."

"Is it the way of elves to turn words on those who spoke them first?"

"It is our way to turn words as the sky turns stars, that we may see them from all angles and know their true beauty."

"Then I am glad I did not insult you." He looked around the hall and waved an arm to indicate it. "This, Lord, is the vision of a dwarf. Are you sure that you are not a dwarf who grew too tall?"

"Again you flatter me. I regret that your gifted people have no share in my ancestry. I have small understanding of the ways of stone. I work with you in hope of gaining knowledge. There is no-one who can claim to know all things, but he who would learn should apprentice himself to those who know and with humility commit himself to study."

"And how many trades will you study, immortal apprentice?" said Snorri.

"Whatever makes my hands move at the mere thought, whatever makes me think at night, 'here is something I should know!' I will learn until my heart craves no more learning. I will learn until no-one is willing to teach me, and then I will go into the wilderness and be taught by the wild."

"You have a child's hunger for learning."

"Would that I had a child's capacity."

We worked together on one of the pillars, and Snorri's eyes shone with the joy of bringing from the stone some secret beauty that had lain unseen through the sunless years of the world. We did not speak, for the work seemed to be better done in silence, until words might be found that had the precision of his chisel or the beauty of the rock. We had been working for several hours when he stretched his arms, rubbed at his neck and said, "Enough, for now. You may manage without sleep, but I ache for it."

I nodded and sent Meldirarnad to arrange for warm water to be carried to the masons' chambers that they could bathe before sleep. Then I went to my own chambers and peeled off clothes that were made grey by the dust to reveal a body as grey as a statue that itched as soon as I allowed myself the time to think of it. I bathed in cold water, too anxious to be free of my stone coat to wait for the servant who would fill my bath.

When Lasslathron arrived, he found me dressed in white and tying a gold sash around my waist. He gave me a look, but said nothing.

"How have I offended?" I said.

"You have not, Lord, But when Meldirarnad came to me, I moved my feet as fast as ever mouse scurried to a granary, and here you are, washed with cold water."

"I tired of the dust."

"But give the word, and this bath will be kept full at all times."

"An excellent idea, that a host of servants should be constantly running about the place with ewers of water, only to have most of it poured away pointlessly! Cold water does no harm." I whispered to him, "Were it painful to me, you can be sure I would avoid it, for your ruler is a shameful coward."

"If any but you said so, Lord, he would by now be lying on his back with a broken jaw." said Lasslathron.

"If I were asked to choose between the warmth of your affection and warm water, my bath would remain empty." I said.

"Lord, were it possible to call you a fool, I might be tempted, for there never was a choice to be made. Can you not see that there is nothing that would not be done for you?"

"Can you not see, loyal friend, that the will to do all things for me is far more to me than any action that can be done?"

He smiled. "You have not changed since you were that little boy who so skilfully evaded all my attempts to look after him."

"I wished to save you unnecessary labour. See? I can dress myself."

"And you look like a king, yet you toil like a mason and sing like a minstrel. And you dress yourself as a herald or a cupbearer must."

I found myself smiling. "Then I am safe whether a leader is needed, or a stoneworker, or a song. And should the day come when there are none to serve me, I shall not lie naked on the floor wondering how a tunic may work."

"You are safe? Lord, I wish that it were true! No-one is safe who has anyone for whom he would die. Is there anyone within these halls for whom you would not?"

"Is there anyone within these walls who would not give his life for me?"

"Greatly I doubt it, but does that not mean we will all die together?"

"If it must be so, so be it, but I hope that those who follow me will not follow to the point of death."

"A vain hope. We would storm the enemy's gates for you. There are those here, so filled with love for you, that they would twist the very nose of the enemy and take whatever return came, were you to ask it."

"Then I shall never ask it. Let my people dwell within the walls I am building to keep them safe."

"And will you remain behind them too?"

"It is no desire of mine to go forth into battle."

"Do you say that you will not?"

"Would I seek war, when I have seen blood dear to me already shed?"

"Yet he who does not seek war may be unable to resist it to save his people." said Lasslathron.

"Do you ask me to hide here if trouble comes? Do you ask me to let the enemy come to the very gates?"

"For love of you, yes, I would ask that. Yet I know you well, I know you cannot. Yet do not give your life easily, for your death would be a blow unbearable to those who love you."

I embraced him. "Dear friend, I promise you, I shall value my life as highly as you do, since I value your peace far more. I will not be easy to kill, or lightly give up that blood the sight of which broke your heart when I fell as a child."

Lasslathron picked up my clothes. "If I shake off this dust outside, you may have another mountain to rule."

"Forgive me for making so much work for you."

"I am glad to still have some purpose here. You might try behaving more like a king."

"I shall begin by feasting like one, this very night."

Lasslathron nodded. "So will the masons."

"They work hard. Begrudge them nothing."

"I like them, Lord. Their laughter is as unrestrained as their tongues are guarded, and, thought they speak disparagingly of our wine, yet they find room for it."

"It is politeness, no doubt."

"Indeed. Some are so polite they must be carried to their chambers."

"Such civility is rare amongst guests."

"It is a virtue much to be praised, Lord."

I looked in the mirror, but it showed me only a mason's assistant in fine clothes. I turned to the eyes of an old friend. "How do I look, Lasslathron?"

He took up a brooch and pinned it to close the neck of my tunic. "You look like a prince, my Lord, a proud and lofty lord of the Noldor. You would fool most people." He grinned, knowing I would not be angry.

I put on a hematite ring, a gift from Snorri. "Underneath, I am a worker in stone and a maker of music."

"And if Nargothrond needs a dragon, you will become one. I suppose there is no harm in a king's hands building a king's halls. At least we cannot doubt where your heart is."

"Alas, it remains divided."

Lasslathron looked stricken. "Lord, I did not mean to remind you of ..."

"Every hour, my friend, her name is near to my lips. Do you think it is ever forgotten, just because it is unspoken? What is not said may burden the heart more."

"There will be word. I do not believe that she will ever forget you. I cannot believe that she could love another. Oaths were spoken between you that would not break until the world crumbled to nothing."

"I long to believe that." I said, "But I chose to leave, and should not have assumed that she would come."

"Her father lied. She said she would come."

I gripped his shoulder, "Lasslathron, time tells all tales, and the ending to this one cannot be seen now. If word from her arrives and I am not here, you know what answer to give."

"That she should hasten to you, and fear no reproach, for she is the chosen Queen of Nargothrond, and free to take her place as soon as she wishes."

"She will not come. The sea is wide, and what ships will now cross it, even if she sought one?" I saw a tear in his eye and knew it was mirrored in my own. "Come, Lasslathron. Let music soothe the wounds made by sweet songs long ago. Let us feast and see again the civility of dwarves."

"And will all be well with you, Finrod?" he said, speaking my name as he had when I was small and he would bring a lamp to my room to frighten away the shadows.

"If I cannot know the very height of joy, yet I can stand on the summit of hope, and memory's sun is warm upon my back."

"You are strong, Lord."

"My strength is lent to me by friends." I said. I lifted my harp, "And a sorrowing heart may make sweet music."

"I would prefer silence, and you happy." he said.

"You will see me happy tonight. I think I would fool most people."
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May. 2nd, 2005 @ 11:02 am A Matter of Judgement
Current Mood: sadsad
Long hours in the night I pondered the problem, how can one judge the decisions of another or know with certainty whether a desertion is wilful betrayal or some act of fear or love? In the first shock of a broken heart, one cannot reason, and afterwards, one chooses not to, but makes some explanation that will dull the pain and allow life to continue.

What I mean is that we do not ask the questions, we do not look deeply at things where the shadows lie deepest. At other things, we look too closely, and I could say that the message I received from my dear one on the day we sailed, that I must go and be happy and forget her, proves beyond doubt that she felt some small regret for thus breaking her promise to me. Or I could call it a coward's message, sent via a servant, to quell my anger and send me weeping into the east with no anger left to demand an explanation. I could say it was a plea, asking me once more to run to her and lay my love at her feet and speak whatever words would give her courage to sail with me. I could say that her servant lied, and lied to her perhaps too, and told her I had sailed.

In Amárië's heart, does Finrod yet find shelter? Dearly she loved her father, for his sake rejected me many times, always with the words, "Wait but a while and he will see your worth." That last day, could she not bear to bid him farewell? Was her love for me so weak she could watch me sail rather than bring a tear to his eye? Would I have done differently, had my father despised her? My heart cries that I would have defied the Valar themselves for her sake, but the heart boasts well when no test will come.

If I could have one answer of all the myriad answers of the world, if but one truth could be mine, I would ask of that message, and beg to know if hers were the words that sent me to my ship, half-blinded by tears, turning away from those who were my true friends, lest they should see and share my sorrow. I would ask if she spoke those words, and, if two questions may be asked as one, how she spoke them. Did a silver tear fall from those eyes of aquamarine? Did those lips that once spoke my name so tenderly, tremble as they spoke my doom to a servant? Or was she listening as her father gave the message? Did she beg that it should be forgotten and any words but those brought to me where I waited? Whose were the words?

My city is being built, and all around me are joyful faces. I take joy in their joy and in the beauty around me, and I neither speak nor think that name in the halls amongst the others. My sister speas wittily, and I laugh, and the mirth is real. There is a girl here, though, with aquamarine eyes. Another with golden hair. There is a woman who laughs as she laughed and another who sings one of the sweet love songs she sang to me. Such things are remembrancers and then I speak or think her name and feel again the silk of her hair beneath my hand or hear her whispers.

Amárië, am I false to you in doubting that you were true to me? Or was my faith in you misplaced? Was I a fool? My love, at least, was true.

And yet I sailed, and told myself I had no choice. Had you been a prisoner, I could have stormed your father's house and taken you with me. How did I know that you were not? I feared to go. I feared neither your father nor his servants, and there was no threat that could have driven me back, but for that threat that hung over me, that I would look into your eyes and hear you say, "I have given my message. Were you not told?" I preferred exile, even exile from you, to the risk of such a blow.

Am I allowed one more answer? A small one this, and, if the lie is a fair one, I do not need the truth. Is there hope? Can errors be reversed and faltering hearts strengthened in resolve? Can what is shattered be remade, reforged in the fire of a new age? Is there a word I can speak, a deed I can do, a path I can tread that ends in that garden where we watched rose petals fall and grieved that only our love could bloom forever?

Hope is a fragile thing, yet I have built mine into the stone walls of Nargothrond. I have made my own answer to that question, and I have made it yes. When love is lost, we mut cling to hope, but I wish I were wise enough to judge these things.
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Apr. 30th, 2005 @ 06:02 am Beauty
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
I remember, long ago, as childhood faded and I looked with fearful eyes upon the adult world, looking around me and fearing that I might one day cease to feel the wonder I felt then at the beauty of the world. That fear haunted me at strange hours, and would not be gone until I became full-grown in the reckoning of my people and found that my eyes were as easily dazzled, my heart as readily stirred. For the spirit craves beauty and lives by feasting on it.

Though there have been sorrows and partings, though I might be thought an exile, doubly an exile, because I left behind me all hope of love, I dwell in a rich garden of green and gold and the fertile brown earth and the ever-changing sea. Above it all rise the mountains, more beautiful than the greatest palace.

Last night, I played my harp on a rocky outcrop, casting the notes to the listening stars, or letting them fall to the ground like raindrops, tempting the soil to thirst, but not quite satisfying it. Only the rain can quench the thirst of the earth and only beauty can sate the hunger of an elven soul. All else only sharpens it. I do not speak now of the beauty of our own works, for such beauty, like my music, is weak and worth little. With our eyes, we see perfection, but our hands cannot copy it. At best, we can say, "This is very like a tree." Could I but make a tree ... Now that would be a feat worth the boasting.

No, the beauty we need is made by finer fingers than ours, envisioned by more lofty spirits, sung into the world by choirs we cannot accompany, but only follow, calling our music music, when we know that true music is forever beyond us.

If you would know of the Noldor, you need know only one thing. We reach for what we cannot hope to hold. Though beauty and music are beyond our grasp, yet we try to touch them. Our lives are spent straining after splendours and we are never satisfied. Our faults, our virtues, all are born from that unquenchable longing. If we were allowed to create perfection for one hour ...

Then we would die, having no reason left to live, for we are driven by this as by nothing else. We seem proud, but it is the pride of one who can see beyond his own ability and hopes one day to find his way to that which he sees. We seem obsessive, and we are, but we have seen wonders and we have walked in the gardens of the Valar.

The eyes do not tire of beauty, the soul does not cease to seek it, but sometimes we lose hope. Then, let all the world do as it will, we cease to be who we are. The children of the One cannot help but be children of beauty, and the beauty of Beleriand is my soul's sustenance.
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Apr. 29th, 2005 @ 11:49 am Peace
Current Mood: enthralledenthralled
The dawn's pale mist lay golden over the mountains this morning and rendered indistinct the green forests below. There was a stillness, but not a silence, for the birds sang with voices to shame the best of my minstrels.

The dwarven masons with whom I talked last night are still abed, and all further discussion of the new halls must wait. It ill pleases a dwarf to rise before the sun. In this matter, their sense of precedence is well-developed. To carouse long after the sun has gone to rest does not trouble them in the least. Hearing them some nights, I wonder how even the sun can sleep. Their songs are loud, and ale amplifies them.

I avoid my attendants for the first few hours of any day. I shrug them off and say that I have matters to attend to. Then I climb to this ridge and look upon the gleaming golden mist, laid like a shawl across the shoulders of these mountains. My eyes look in turn in all directions but one, for I keep myself from looking west as I watch the world changing under the new light. I keep my mind free of thoughts too heavy for the light air of dawn's first sigh.

Then, at last, when my spirit is renewed by drinking the beauty of the sunrise, I turn to look over the sea. Exquisite joy, exquisite pain! Always that moment which is pure hunger for the sight of a sail. The boats of the shore-dwellers come and go, but none come now from the land over the waves and no tidings reach us of ... of anyone.

But the dawn is still fair, and the land is still beautiful. I turn again to look at Neldoreth and Brethil and serenity soothes my aching heart. This morning's dawn held some special gleam. The gold of my armring is a poor counterfeit of the sun's riches.
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