Of Bombadil and Peredhel
By Meir Brin
Disclaimer: If I were to own Middle-earth, I would not be writing fanfiction about it. I would be sitting in a hammock in a secluded forest drinking tea and enjoying my royalties. As I am not in a hammock in the middle of a forest, you can all assume that the Lord of the Rings does not belong to me. All Tolkien's, not mine.
I do, however, own this plot. Mitts off.
He smelled it. The gentle breezes brushing past him carried the distinct scent of it. Tea. Someone was drinking tea. What a peculiar thing to do in this old forest.
Elrond tread lightly on the ground, his feet scarcely disturbing the leaves that cushioned his steps. There was a distinct smell of tea on the air, similar to the kind Gil-galad often had in the evenings. The Half-Elf furrowed his brow. The trees in this forest were far too angry to accommodate creatures in their midst. Tea? It couldn't be.
Elrond chided himself for dallying and hurried his paces. Eregion was still a good distance away, and was not an easy journey. He remembered Gil-galad's message, and his own duty as vanguard.
Celebrimbor had been very specific in his communication. The orcs from Khazad-dûm had invaded the Dwarves' realm, and were quickly encroaching upon the Elves' dwellings. So Gil-galad had...
Hold a moment, I must know. Who is drinking tea? Elrond thought, pausing to smell the air once more.
It was then that he heard the voices.
Elrond Peredhel turned quickly, his hand flying to the bow slung across his back. People here? Elves, perhaps? The forest loomed drearily about him, as if daring the Half-Elf to come a step closer. No, he definitely heard voices now. Elrond stood perfectly still and made excellent use of his Elven hearing. The voices were coming from the southeast.
He took off at a sprint, his feet only barely touching the ground. The voices were becoming clearer, more distinct. They were certainly not Elves, thought Elrond. Elves did not have such deep booming voices, or make sounds like shaking branches.
There, beyond those trees... Elrond melted into the shadows next to an old hemlock. Movement flitted at the corners of his eyes, a soft rustle of branches, an echo of laughter. Elrond tightened his hand around his bow. The forest held malice, yet not toward him. What exactly the trees were angry about he could not tell. Elrond edged his way forward and crouched behind a gnarled beech tree. Up ahead, the voices were coming from there...
And he had the nerve to send me nettles! What nerve! I will never understand why I never left him sooner! boomed a voice suddenly from far away. Elrond craned his head forward to catch the rest of the conversation, stepping on one of the beech tree's protruding roots.
My word, you startled me! exclaimed a loud voice.
The Half-Elf jumped and clapped his hands to his ears, letting go of the tree as it writhed beneath his hands. There was a grating noise, as if branches were bending and twisting to come and grasp him. A steady crunching noise, and a loud Oh my! rent the air. Elrond jumped backwards and gazed at the large blue eyes staring down at him, his hand twitching nervously.
He relaxed when he realized what it was.
My profound apologies, Mistress Entwife. I did not see you standing there, said Elrond graciously, bowing in the manner of the Elves. The creature, which was indeed an Entwife, looked at him interestedly.
she sighed. Through no fault of your own did you disturb my nap. My name, or the one which I will tell you, is Brethilas. And what would bring one such as you into these woods?
Elen sila lumenn omentielvo, replied Elrond. I had not expected to find Onodrim in such places.
Brethilas craned her neck around to look down at the Elf. Elrond had the sudden impression of himself as being very short. I would choose not to come here in most circumstances. Yet now I visit an old friend, and this place is his habitation. I would not inconvenience him by asking him to visit me at my dwelling, answered Brethilas.
Where might your dwelling be? asked Elrond, now thoroughly curious. In many ways this forest was more suited to the likings of the Ents, and not the Entwives at all.
To the east, and to the north. Wherever there is good earth, and lovely little gardens to tend. Fimbrethil has organized this walking party to visit our friend, and we visit him now, Master Elf, replied Brethilas.
You may call me Elrond, Brethilas. And who is this friend of which you speak? The Ents must have come further north than I had known to inhabit these woods.
Brethilas laughed, her red cheeks parting in a grin. No Ent do we visit, Elrond. Come, Fimbrethil is speaking with him.
Brethilas took great strides forward, her bark-covered legs moving carefully to avoid the underbrush. Elrond sprang nimbly around her, moving to avoid getting stepped on. There was an echo of leafy laughter ahead of them, and the Half-Elf smelled the scent of tea stronger than ever. Brethilas rounded a copse of dense birches, Elrond running gracefully after her.
Brethilas stopped. Elrond stopped. There was another burst of foliage-like laughter, and then Elrond finally saw them.
Entwives. Some big and gnarled, others small with limber brown branches. Elrond had never seen so many of the creatures, though he had met a couple Onodrim a few years ago. They sat around a clearing in the middle of the forest, most in the upright state of sleep. Dappled sunlight fell through the trees, casting speckled shadows over the forest floor. At the center of the glade was a large Entwife in the form of a birch tree standing with her back to Elrond and Brethilas. In front of her stood a great slab of rock with logs propped against it, making a crude table structure. On the rock was a pot of tea.
I knew it! snapped Elrond to himself.
...I told Fangorn that if he were to please me he would have to do better than a bunch of wild thistles. The Ent is very inconsiderate of my wishes. I know where I want to be, yet he remains adamant about the deep places of the wood'. Rustle my leaves! Is this an Elf in our midst? The Entwife turned slowly from her conversation with whomever and looked at Elrond. The wrinkling of wood where her forehead was smoothed, and she smiled kindly. It has been a while since I have last seen an one of the Eldar... She raised an inquiring leaf where an eyebrow was usually located.
Elrond, Mistress Ent, Elrond Peredhel, he supplied.
She smiled in a maternal sort of way and clasped his hand in one of her branch-like arms. Fimbrethil, Master Elrond. Elen sila lumenn omentielvo.
Splinters thought Elrond urgently. I'm going to have very bad splinters.
Will you join us for some tea? asked Fimbrethil, smiling cordially. We were just speaking of my previous companion, she coughed loudly.
asked Elrond. Behind Fimbrethil he could not see another Entwife, but then again the creature might just be smaller than Fimbrethil, and be shielded from view.
But of course, Master Elrond, said Fimbrethil, shifting her bulk to the side so that the other inhabitant of the table was revealed.
said the man -he looked like a man, anyway- cheerily, waving from a tree stump set up in front of the stone slab. He was short, about half Elrond's height, further exaggerated by the presence of the Entwives and the fact that his feet dangled about ten feet above the ground. Clasped in ruddy hands was a cup of steaming liquid, and his red beard had absently slipped into it. A straw hat lay on the table next to him, with a white swan feather stuck into the brim. Iarwain sits with Entwives green, merrily, come, an Elf is seen! Join our happy banter, have a cup of tea, fol de rol o dillo dee! he sang.
Eregrîf? Is there another seat near for Master Elf? Fimbrethil asked, ignoring her acquaintance's song. A large thorny Entwife plodded off into the forest.
Mistress Fimbrethil, could you translate for your companion? prompted Elrond.
Fimbrethil laughed merrily, a light dancing in her eyes even through the gloom of the forest. The hearing of the Elves has long since been impaired if they cannot hear the words spoken by Iarwain Ben-adar!
The bearded man chuckled and said in his happy voice: It is no fault of Master Elf if my words cause confusion. Come, sit with us and enjoy the company! Fimbrethil and her party will be taking their leave tonight. It is our last chance for speaking; join our talk and be at ease.
Elrond nodded, and wondered vaguely if he had stumbled into the abode of one not quite right in the head. Yet the thought vanished from his mind as he chided himself of his suspicion. Elendil had seemed strange at first, and had become a trusted ally. Of course, Elendil was related to him. Distantly.
Eregrîf had returned, bearing a long-fallen log in her thorny arms. With ease she propped the wood against the slab similar to the manner of Iarwain's. Fimbrethil thanked her as Elrond ran up the plank with gentle footsteps. At the top of the log Elrond perched on a branch that had diverted from the tree's main course. Fimbrethil used one of her more articulate branches to loop the tea kettle over her thumb and pour some drink for the Elda.
Elven-man sits here by the willows, how came you now to Aldandillo's? Through forest dark and field so green, why is Elrond now here seen? sang Iarwain after a pause.
Elrond raised a curved eyebrow.
Iarwain looked distinctly disappointed, but not for long. He smiled again, causing dimples to appear in his rosy cheeks. What brings you hither, Master Elrond? he asked in regular speech.
Elrond nodded and folded his hands over his longbow. My lord Gil-galad has sent me as the vanguard of his host to the aide of my fellow Elves in Eregion. The joy of our relations with Khazad-dûm has been broken by orcs from the deep. Many of the Dwarves inhabiting the Mines have been killed, and Celebrimbor has sent messengers to us at the Falas asking for assistance. My kindred in the east are being slain or driven off by these foul goblins; they may have to leave their land and their works if they do not receive other help. Therefore that is my cause: I am on my way to Hollin to aide the Elves there. Celebrimbor expects me within a fortnight, and after that will arrive the host of Gil-galad, led by Lord Glorfindel.
Your overlord, Gil-galad. Would he not send more than just one warrior to herald the coming of his army? asked Fimbrethil pointedly, drinking from a bucket-like tea cup.
Elrond laughed lightly, and promptly ignored the question. He had been secretly been wondering about that as well. Gil-galad had a great deal more faith in him than Elrond had of himself.
Fimbrethil realized that she wasn't getting an answer and started a new thread of conversation. Burarum indeed! They have come everywhere these days. Our gardens have often been defiled by the creatures; we have made war on them many times. I wish you great success in your venture, Master Elf.
Perhaps you would come with me, as Celebrimbor would happily accept any assistance. The orcs have burned many of Eregion's holly trees, he added, glancing up at Fimbrethil. If all that he had heard of the Onodrim was true, they would be excellent allies, especially if they felt that trees were in danger.
The Entwife's shoulders slumped slightly. No, no. We have been far from our gardens long enough, and our orchards need tending. I must return to my dependents before the blossoms drop from their branches.
Elrond nodded slowly. He turned his attention to Iarwain, almost dreading what he would say, and whether he would be able to understand him through his thick country accent.
Iarwain didn't speak or sing. He had his head cocked to one side, and appeared to be looking at the foliage on a nearby oak tree. Elrond stared at him, still not sure of what to make of the little man. Does this not trouble you, to hear of the misfortunes of others? Elrond asked incredulously.
Iarwain blinked slowly, and smiled. So long have I been here that I do not trouble myself worrying about goings-on outside these forests.
And how long would that be? asked Elrond, a bite of impatience in his voice. Though still a relatively young Elf, he doubted that the man had lived longer than he. Iarwain's reasons seemed rather like an apathetic Man, who sought to leave the troubles of the world to the younger generations.
Iarwain shook his head knowingly, as if having read Elrond's mind. You doubt my longevity, it seems! he laughed, leaning back in his branch. Part of his beard flopped out of his tea and left a wet stain on the gray stone table. I have dwelt here far longer than thee, Master Elf. Long before Luthien Tinuviel danced in Neldoreth, and before the Elves journeyed through my forest to Aman for the first time. I have been here far longer than your kind, Master Elrond, and I will stay here a great deal longer. Then he smiled and climbed from his perch onto the slab-like table, ignoring Elrond's puzzled look.
What is this? Have I succumbed to a waking dream? A waking nightmare? Where yokels claim the mastery of Arda? he thought.
Ho! Iarwain! Master Aldandillo! Bright blue his jacket is and his boots are yellow! Don't question old Iarwain, he is the master! Not of Arda, Master Elf, that would bode disaster! sang the funny man, skipping around the table as Fimbrethil laughed delightedly.
So he can read my thoughts. I cannot say I like this man at all, thought Elrond Peredhel.
Iarwain stopped his dancing and looked at the sullen elf. He again launched into song: Iarwain never guesses thoughts, Master Peredhello! Very plain is your face to read to Master Aldandillo!
Elrond grit his teeth frustratedly. Normally he prided himself on his patience, for as one of the Elven-kindred he had a great deal of time to work with (all eternity, as a matter of fact). Yet this, this, being, Iarwain-
sighed Fimbrethil, interrupting Elrond's mental frustration rant. The sun has nearly set behind the trees, and we must pass through the grassy land before the Men awake in the morning and think we up to mischief. Good pupils in the ways of growing things, yet always suspicious of the things about which they know not.
Iarwain cocked his head slightly, and looked imploringly at his company. Now don't be hasty, Fimbrethil my lassie! Come, spend more time here in my glade! There are yet more songs to sing of the Elder days, protested he, walking across the table to stare up at the Entwife.
Fimbrethil laughed, yet there was a hint of annoyance in her eyes. You sound much like Fangorn, Iarwain Ben-adar. But no, we must be leaving for our gardens in the south. Come, Glothriwen, Brethilas! Wake the others!
The Entwife who has brought Elrond to the clearing shifted her legs back and forth as if stretching. Elrond watched as she went one by one to the other Entwives (and some trees that Elrond had not realized were Entwives) and spoke softly to them in their own tongue.
The other Entwife Fimbrethil had called to, Glothriwen, a white birch tree-shaped Entwife, plodded off in a northerly direction. Elrond could hear the distant splashing of water and suspected that there was a brook that way. He watched the Entwife go, and then turned his attention to examining his longbow. He certainly did not want to speak with Iarwain any longer.
At that time Iarwain was chatting jovially with Fimbrethil in a voice barely above a murmur. Despite this, Elrond could hear their conversation quite clearly.
You must give my farewell to Goldberry at home, Iarwain. I fear that much may have been done to our orchards in my absence; I regret now only leaving Sawlend and Thônorn to watch over our fields, said Fimbrethil worryingly.
Iarwain nodded, though the light of happiness and contentment remained in his eyes. Fair Goldberry, River-Woman's daughter, beloved since first we met by the blue water. Sad to see you leaving, forever will be, Fimbrethil, young lassie, fol o rillo and dee.
Fimbrethil smiled at her eccentric friend and patted him gently on the head. Perhaps again we will meet, Iarwain Aldandil.
At that moment an Entwife bounded into the clearing, pursued by a very old willow tree. Glothriwen trailed behind them, her yellow eyes searching the clearing before finding Fimbrethil. A Huorn has become enamored of Tathargalen, explained Glothriwen slowly.
Tathargalen, the Entwife being chased, dashed forward and dodged behind Fimbrethil. Elrond felt mild shock run through him as he watched Fimbrethil tell off the old willow tree that was trailing her. Though he had experienced many things, he had yet to see the trees berate each other.
...filthy old willow! You should know better than to behave like that around an Entwife! If I here one more thing about you trying to waylay innocent travelers I will come back and make sure you stay in line! shrieked Fimbrethil, shaking a curled up branch at the willow.
The Huorn shrank away from the clearing grudgingly, trailing long willow-vines on the ground after him. Glothriwen stepped aside as he crept out of the clearing, and swatted angrily at one of the Huorn's vines as he tried to feel up her leg.
Honestly! I have never seen a Huorn with such a filthy mind! You keep an eye on him, Iarwain. If that creature doesn't keep his branches to himself, you tell him I shall come back and skin his roots off! stated Fimbrethil angrily, glaring at the willow as it slunk away.
Elrond bit the inside of his lip to stop from laughing outright. Commander Entwife, stationing a lunatic to guard a crazed Huorn. Not a sight one sees every day.
Tathargalen then moved out of the shadows of Fimbrethil and joined the other Entwives. Iarwain parted his lips to sing a farewell.
Mistress Entwife, fare thee well!
Meet we again in glen or dell!
Care for thine gardens, may they grow tall!
Let them bear fruits and blossoms for all!
Journey as thou wilt, through mire and hay,
Iarwain will be here, until the end of days!
Fimbrethil smiled fondly at the small red-haired man and took her first steps northward. Elrond watched her leave, until even his Elven eyes could not pick out her form through the darkness of the forest. Oh, wait...
That left him alone with...
Iarwain Ben-adar's a merry fellow! Bright blue his jacket is and his boots are yellow! Come merry Elf-man happily sing! We'll run through the forest like birds on the wing!
Author's Notes: For those of you who have not guessed, Iarwain Ben-adar is Tom Bombadil's Elvish name. This meeting between Iarwain and Elrond is alluded to in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' during The Council of Elrond.
Much of my gratitude goes to Thalia Weaver, who beta'd this whole fanfiction wonderfully and helped with information about the Entwives. *throws cookies*
is an epithet which I believe fits Iarwain nicely, meaning . Thanks also to Hellga for all of the help with the names!
In the next chapter: Iarwain takes Elrond meets Goldberry! See sparks fly as personalities clash! Feel the frustration of Elrond! Experience the friction as personalities grate together! Read, review, enjoy!