Disclaimer: see chapter one
Names/Pronunciations will come at the end of each chapter.
'' signals a footnote
"text" signals dialogue
'text' signals thoughts
A/N: I do not claim to have a good store of knowledge about Valinor. The fact that this story takes place there is inevitable since my OMC, Kallindo, got up and sailed there a couple hundred years back. I don't have the time to do much research. I shall try to be as vague and as nebulous about geography and the sociopolitical situation as I can in order to avoid the necessity of making up bogus details. Enjoy…
Chapter 1.) Fancy
Then let wingèd Fancy wander
- John Keats
May 2, 210 Fourth Age, Valinor
A comforting gust of sea air tangled with Calina's hair as she stepped out of the small carriage and looked up the long hill toward her family's home. A quiet smile spread across her face at the cheerful sight. It was a beautiful Elven residence, set in among a copse of white birches and commanding a breathtaking view of the waves below. Calina had only seen it twice before, on short visits, for her father had been appointed by ------- as Regent over the southern province of Eccaianórië a mere three years past. But the maiden still found herself drawn to the place because of the loved ones who dwelt within it. She had enjoyed her time away, apprenticing under the glass artisan Oiratinwë Calamau, but something in her spirit had told her that it was time for home. And so, after ten years absence, the young daughter of Regent Soronhín was returning to live with her family.
"Are you certain that you wish me to leave you here?' The elf who had driven her inquired.
Calina turned back to her escort and nodded. "Yes, thank you. If you would drive up around the hill you will come to the stables. The head groom will help take down my luggage, but you needn't concern yourself with any other duties. I am sure you will be given some refreshment before you leave. Oh, and do carry my best wishes and gratitude back to Lady Calamau when you depart."
"Very well then," the elf replied with a smile, "And what shall I tell your good parents when I arrive without their daughter?"
Turning back to look up at the manor Calina shrugged prettily. "Tell them that I am reacquainting myself with the land, and that when I have its good consent I will hurry home."
With a deep, gentle laugh the elf urged his horse onward.
Taking her light shawl from her shoulders and wrapping it carelessly around her waist, Calina cast her glance thoughtfully between the white sands below and the forested slopes above. The glistening waves of the sea were quite beguiling, and Calina wanted very much to wade knee-deep in the salty water. But that would have to wait for another day. If she was going to keep her family waiting in order to indulge her need for a few moments of quiet reflection, she would at least head toward home while doing so instead of away form it. Thus resolved, Calina departed the road and began winding up the green slope toward her new home.
It was not long before the maiden entered a small grove of evergreens which grew on the hills along with the birches. A delighted laugh bubbled out of her as she was enthusiastically greeted into the cool embrace of the trees. Apparently they had already grown to love her father and family and were thus disposed to think very kindly of her. Calina returned their greetings, trailing her hands lightly over the rough bark and low-hanging needles of the dark sentinels.
This encounter went so favorably that it was not long before the trees began whispering their secrets in Calina's listening ear. She heard many things about her family and even some about local Elves whom she did not yet know. But the most appealing piece of information to Calina was that her young brother, Falas, called the silver-leafed sapling by the fir trees, was sitting further up the hill, with someone whom the trees named a friend.
Calina's face lit up with affectionate mischief. Turning to the left, she stole silently up the hill, following the forest's gentle whispers and begging the trees not to spoil her fun. Falas was a precocious elfling, but without the aid of the forest she very much doubted that he would be able to detect her approach.
Calina began to hear soft voices conversing nearby. She crept over to the bole of an unusually large tree and peaked around it. Only a few feet away from her tree, Calina saw the back of what looked to be, in human standards, a eight or nine year old boy with shoulder-length silver hair caught up with a cord of leather: Falas. Shifting her head further, Calina expected to see another young elf; what she saw instead gave her pause.
Sitting a few feet away from her brother, with his profile to her, was a tall, lithe elf of some years, with chestnut hair quite unusual to the region falling freely to his lower back. A slight smile was curling at the edges of his mouth, which should have given his face a merry aspect but did not. It was a pleasant face, even a peaceful face, but not a merry face. Though she couldn't have sworn the fact, it seemed to Calina as if a shadow lingered in his eyes, one which had hitherto resisted cleansing in the light of Valinor. She found the sight very disconcerting, for rarely had she seen such a thing in her as yet short and sheltered life.
As Calina continued to observe the stranger an odd sensation coursed through her, causing her to withdraw back into the tree's protection. For some inexplicable reason, she had felt the urge to walk up to him and smooth whatever sorrow there was from his face, so that his smile would reach his eyes. Which was of course a ridiculous notion - no one can cast sorrow out of a person with a caress. Calina furrowed her brow and leaned up against the tree, being careful not to make any sounds. It was such a strange feeling.
A few moments later, Falas and the older elf began moving toward Calina's hiding place. Her brother was talking animatedly about something which she did not pay heed to. As the two Elves approached the tree and past it, Calina felt the need to hide herself from the stranger, and so moved around the tree in the other direction, keeping out of sight. She was certain that she didn't make a sound, which was why she was so surprised when a quick, strong hand darted from around the tree and pulled her from hiding.
"What is your purpose in sneaking about in the foliage, maiden?" the strange elf asked evenly. The smile still hung about his lips; it was obvious to him that this pretty maiden was no threat, though she had some steel in her eyes.
Calina tried not to huff at being caught so easily. She looked to her brother to clarify the situation, since he obviously knew this elf and would properly be the person to introduce them. Unfortunately, Falas was leaning up against a nearby tree laughing at her. Calina pursed her lips slightly.
"No harm intended, certainly, my lord," Calina said with exaggerated politeness while nodding her head to the stranger, since his hand on her arm prevented her from curtsying.
Falas continued to smirk as he jumped away from the tree and interjected himself into the exchange. "You can sneak up on me easily enough when I'm alone, Calina, but now that I have Kallindo with me you'll never be able to do it - he's a real warrior from Middle Earth!"
As soon as Kallindo heard the maiden's name he let go of her arm. "I am sorry, my lady, I did not know that you were Soronhín's daughter."
Calina was still trying to digest the fact that he was from across the sea when he apologized. Forgetting her manners, she looked up at him pointedly and asked, "Is that why you are sad? Because of your memories of Endórë (Middle-Earth)?"
As soon as the words slipped from her lips Calina's eyes widened perceptibly. "I am sorry, I should not have spoken... I mean, um, I am delighted to meet you, Lord Kallindo." She curtsied this time. "Calina, daughter of Soronhín and Danneniûl at your service, my lord."
With this hasty introduction out of the way, Calina turned from the confused elf in front of her to greet her young brother properly, kneeling down to give him a hug.
"Oh, come now, I'm not that short any more," Falas whined, wiggling from his sister's grasp.
The lady's boldness and perception stunned Kallindo, but he gathered his wits enough to turn to the young elf and shake his head slightly. "That is no good manner in which to speak to your lady sister, especially when she has been away from you."
The expression on Falas' face was almost comical as he sobered under Kallindo's reproof. For a moment, he looked on the elf with the wide-eyed wonder of a very young boy looking up to some hero from a story book then he turned back to his sister and gave her a dutiful hug. It was a short hug, however, and soon the boy was dashing up the hill.
"Come on, Calina, I must show you my new horse!"
Calina chuckled and rose from her knees, looking tentatively back at her older companion. He smiled agreeably enough and Calina let her mind relax, feeling that perhaps her strange words from the moment before would be looked over and forgotten.
"You have yet to visit the house, I gather. Shall we?"
Kallindo extended his arm politely, and quietly Calina took it. The pair began ascending the now gently sloping hill.
"Why did I find you spending the afternoon with my brother?" Calina finally asked to break the silence between them.
Kallindo thought for a moment before beginning his explanation. "Your father and I have become well-acquainted since he came to live here. He came to know that I was a Silvan elf of Endórë, and unlike some who were born here, felt that there were things to be learned from our kin's experience beyond the sea. We came to converse regularly, and since I live here away from my close kin he has always welcomed me graciously into his home, for which I am ever increasingly grateful. As you know, surely, your brother is enamored by any tale of war and adventure that he can come by, so your father came up with way for me to repay his kindness. Three times a week I sit with your brother and tell him about Middle Earth and about its peoples, and soon I will begin to teach him swordcraft."
Calina nodded her head, looking up fondly to where Falas was beckoning them to walk faster. "Now that I think of it, it seems that I have heard your name mentioned before, perhaps in a letter, though I can't be sure," Calina mused, looking back at Kallindo. "You are Silvan then?"
"I have hardly had any acquaintance with Silvan elves before. I shall be glad to know you better."
"And I am glad to oblige any child of Soronhín's."
For some reason this reply did not satisfy Calina. It seemed a little humbling to be seen merely as a friend's daughter and not a friend in her own right. But it didn't matter. After all, she had never even seen this elf before, and he was surely a good deal older then her anyway, so there was no reason to fuss about it.
Another question came to Calina's mind as she and Kallindo approached the stables behind Falas.
"Why do you live away from your family? What draws you here?"
"The sea is comforting," Kallindo replied.
Their conversation ended abruptly as Falas enthusiastically pulled his sister down the stable aisle, jabbering all the while.
As the two siblings were quite caught up in each other at the moment, Kallindo departed wordlessly from the stables and walked across the courtyard to the main entrance of the Regent's home. Upon entering the circular foyer, over which was painted a magnificent mural of the Two Trees, he passed a pile of assorted luggage. A wry smile crept across his face as he imagined the numerous amount of clothes that must be crammed into the various trunks and sacks. Ránendë, the daughter of Soronhín whom he had long been acquainted with, was certainly not so concerned with fashion as to require such a large wardrobe. Kallindo wondered briefly if this second daughter would live up to his expectations. After knowing the rest of her family, he had prepared himself to meet another very affable and sensible elf. So far, Calina's behavior had been curious at best, though she did seem to harbor a genuine affection for her younger brother. Only time would tell.
Hearing the delicate notes of a harp lilting down the hallway to his right, Kallindo walked confidently toward the one fully enclosed room in the house – the music room – and found, as he had expected, Ránendë sitting in her favorite window seat, her thick golden tumbling almost to the floor.
"Your sister is here, Ránendë."
Ránendë put aside the harp with a smile. "Where is she then? I cannot wait to tell her my news."
"What news, pray?"
Danneniûl, the lady of the house, came out from a room further down the hallway with a ripped cloak that she had been mending in her hand. Soronhín's family had never grown accustomed to having a multitude of servants and even now, after her husband's appointment, Danneniûl liked to keep her hands in the affairs of her household.
"Calina is here, amil (mother)."
Danneniûl smiled. "Where is my lost child? I shall go to her now."
"I left her in the stables, m'lady," Kallindo replied.
Without further ado the two ladies swooped from the room and hurried to the stables. Kallindo walked slowly behind and witnessed the sincere reunion of the three she-elves. It brought a smile to his face, even if Calina was still an uncertainty.
"Your father did not expect you home until two hours hence," Danneniûl explained, "He is gone to witness the progress of the new water system for the southern towns, but he will be home soon."
"I know I am early," Calina conceded, "But come, I cannot wait for atar (father) to return to show what I have brought you all."
Falas, who had been standing aside, neglected by the lady-folk, perked up at this declaration. He always welcomed a good surprise.
Leading them back toward the house, Calina entered and knelt beside the largest trunk. After unfastening the catch she reverently opened the lid and began folding back layers of soft cloth. One by one, she withdrew cloth-wrapped parcels from the trunk and began setting them out on the marble floor. After this task was completed she turned to Falas and beckoned him to come closer.
"This is what I made especially for you."
Calina picked up one of the larger packages and folded away the cloth. What was revealed surprised even Kallindo. He had known that she was away learning how to craft glass with a well-known artisan but had not expected her skill to be of any note after so short a time (as the elves perceive time). Yet here before his eyes was an intricately crafted box of painted glass filled with a menagerie of glass warriors and fell beasts. Though martial in theme, is held an enchanting beauty.
"I hope I have not made them too delicate," Calina commented.
Falas smiled over his present. "I can put them up on my window to catch the sun."
Calina smiled. "Yes, do that."
Next the young lady turned to her mother and then her sister, giving them each presents in turn. When she was done with that she set aside her father's present and then sat back on her heels with a sigh.
"I have brought several other things that I didn't wish to part with, though I'm sure I'll soon regret them when they start collecting dust. And look at this ridiculous amount of luggage. You must have all thought I had turned vain while on my own in the city."
Calina looked up and caught Kallindo's eye accidentally. The elf did an admirable job of schooling his features in an unreadable pose. But to himself he was laughing.
'Perhaps I shouldn't judge this maiden too quickly,' he mused. But aloud he posed a question: "I can see that your skill has been put to good use. But is not Oiratinwë known for her fanciful creations? These gifts all seem very serviceable."
"Certainly," Calina agreed, "Lady Calamau insists that her pupils learn to be useful first. She says that it is better to come to understand beauty through everyday objects. I have never worked anything truly 'fanciful' under her supervision, and would not do so unless I had stayed for many more years."
"Yet I'll wager you have done so without her supervision."
Kallindo spoke the words without really thinking; the way her eyes had skimmed around the room as she gave her explanation seemed telling.
A bright smirk flashed across Calina's face. "Perhaps, sir, perhaps."
Soronhín was unusually tall, even for an Elf, with thick silver hair kept unusually short, only to his shoulders. Danneniûl would sometimes quibble about this fact, for she thought his hair was beautiful and would be even more so were he to let it grow fully. But he had remained unmoved on the matter, despite her occasional plea, for the more than two millennia of their marriage.
Despite the length of their marriage, Soronhín and Danneniûl had only taken up parenthood in the last three centuries. Ránendë, their eldest, was lately turned two hundred and twenty-six. The advent of child rearing had produced many changes for the both of them, but ones which they had been more than willing to make. As Soronhín sat by the fire after dinner with Calina at his feet, resting her head against his knee, he smiled and was reminded once more how much he enjoyed fatherhood, even if his children did drive him to distraction from time to time.
Soronhín sighed, laying his hand affectionately on Calina's head. "And what do you think of the news, little one?"
Calina tilted her eyes up to meet his. "I think it is delightful. Ránendë is so excited and happy. I can't wait to meet her betrothed – will he be there tomorrow?"
Soronhín nodded his head slowly. His daughter continued to watch him as he gazed into the fire.
"You look a little forlorn, atto (daddy). Ránendë will only be moving a few miles away."
"I know, I know," the elf chuckled, "But it is an odd thing to give away your first daughter. You are not planning on falling in love soon, are you?"
Calina shrugged. "I have no immediate plans."
With a ruffle of her hair, Soronhín rose from his seat. "Good, good. I would have to chase the would-be suitor away. I won't give you up yet."
Turning to watch him as he departed the north sitting room with her mother, Calina toyed with the end of her silver braid. She didn't feel like retiring for the evening. With a sly look, she glanced through the open pillars to where the edge of the sea stretched northward out of sight. It was time for a starlit swim.
Kallindo departed Soronhín's house shortly after the elf arrived, leaving the family to dine in peace together. He took his own supper alone that night, in his modest home situated between the Regent's house and the town of Fánlitsë. Afterward he had wandered out to the beach, to watch the colors of the setting sun dance out across on the water. The great light had finally sunk behind the hills when Kallindo observed a slender figure slip out of the trees to the south and wend down the steep bank from the road to the sandy shore.
Very soon Kallindo realized that it was Calina, his friend's daughter. A smile touched his lips as he observed her look back apprehensively as though she was afraid that her departure would be discovered and her plans thwarted. For a moment Kallindo wondered what her plans actually were and whether it would be his duty to thwart them, but it was not long before her intentions became apparent: a nighttime walk along the beach. That was innocent enough.
Kallindo had not planned on going in yet, and so he continued in his treetop perch despite the approaching figure, watching the maiden and the sea and the sky at casual intervals. It was only when Calina was within several yards of the tree that she captured Kallindo's full attention.
The hidden elf watched with amusement as his friend's daughter lifted her skirts up and waded into the calm waves of the small bay. She walked further out for a few feet, swishing the water about her calves and digging her toes into the comforting sand. Kallindo decided at that very moment that he approved of the girl after all. She loved her family, was not vain, and appreciated the sea. This was certainly enough.
With a contented mind, Kallindo leaned back against the trunk of the tree and returned his gaze to the stars. Unfortunately, his quiet contemplation was once again disturbed by an unusual sound of rustling fabric and a flutter of movement at the edge of his vision.
'Certainly she has not,' he thought incredulously.
Looking down to where the maiden had been his eyes widened slightly and he paused, thinking what to do next.
She had. There, on the dry sand of the beach, lay a rumpled pile of cloth: her dress. There, on the maiden herself, was nothing more then a knee-length, sleeveless slip, which was itself floating dangerously upward as she waded further into the water. Kallindo had just roused himself enough to call out to her when the maiden slid fully into the water, pushing gracefully up from the sandy floor and making a shallow dive into the waves.
A mild imprecation passed Kallindo's lips as he jumped down from the tree. If her were the only one present he would laugh and walk away, thinking nothing of the youthful fancy. But on the contrary, he knew that the dark forest hedging in close to the beach was home to several tree flets and small earthbound houses, occupied largely by a handful of relatively young and eligible elves who had struck out on their own, away from the town.
As Kallindo neared the water's edge, Calina's head came up out of the water.
"My lady!" Kallindo called in an urgent whisper, "Soronhíniell (daughter of Soronhín), this place is not as secluded as it appears, you must come back."
Calina turned back to the shore with a start.
"Oh! My lord, you startled me… But why must I come back?"
"Many of the young, unmarried elves from the town have come to live here in the trees. You may have an audience."
Calina could feel a blush rising up her cheeks, though she was sure that the silvery starlight hid it well.
"Oh," she whispered quietly.
She made to come out of the water, but then hesitated. Looking down she could see how transparent her shift had become. How would she even escape with propriety?
Noting her hesitation, Kallindo took off his boots and began wading into the water. As he was walking out, he also took off his long, outer tunic and draped it over his shoulder.
"No, no, bring my dress. You do not have to give me your tunic," Calina called when she saw his intention.
Kallindo smirked. "Your dress is thin and lightly colored as well – it would not serve you."
When the pair finally drew close to one another, Calina still crouching down to her neck in the water and Kallindo submerged up to his waist, the maiden smiled bashfully.
"I am sorry to cause you so much trouble."
"It is only water. My clothes will dry," Kallindo said practically as he handed the tunic to Calina.
The maiden pulled the clothing over her head and down around her body. It was now thoroughly soaked. With much dripping and sloshing, the pair made it back to the shore and regarded each other for a moment.
"After today, I would say that this is the start of a most interesting friendship," Calina chuckled as she spoke, "Though I must say, I do not think I have appeared in the best of lights."
"Nay, you are young and exuberant. There is nothing wrong in that."
Again Calina experienced a sense of humbling; he looked on her only as a child.
'But I am barely more than a child,' she reminded herself, bending down to wring out her borrowed tunic. When she looked up again she saw the same pernicious cloud in Kallindo's eyes as she had seen earlier that day. A sudden resolve came over her.
'I shall just have to make him see me for more than that. I will reach the bottom of that shadow and pluck it out before he even suspects it.'
Kallindo watched as an oddly determined smile spread across Calina's face. The maiden turned to him and tilted her head slightly to the side.
"I am glad to have met you, Kallindo. Shall you be at the festivities tomorrow?"
"Yes, though I may not stay late."
Calina started walking back toward her home.
"Good," she called back, "Then I shall see you there."
Things to Know:
Calina (KAH-lin-ah): Q. "illuminated"
Kallindo (kahl-LIN-do): Q. "noble heart"
Falas (FAHL-ahss): S. "beach, shore"
Soronhín (sor-ON-heen): Q. "eagle child"
Danneniûl (dahn-NEN-ee-ool): S. "fallen embers"
Ránendë (ra-NEN-deh): Q. "moon pool"
Eccaianórië (ehk-kay-a-NOR-ee-eh): Q. "outer sea region"
Oiratinwë Calamau (oi-rah-TIN-weh…): Q. "eternal spark/light hands"
Fánlitsë (fan-LIT-she): Q. "white sand"
Endórë: Q. "Middle Earth"