Traditional Recipes for Disaster
by Ithiliel Silverquill and Erestor
Disclaimer: Neither of us owns Lord of the Rings or anything pertaining to it. This story was written for entertainment only.
Updates should be fairly regular in their occurrence. Many thanks to Ithiliel Silverquill for writing this with me, and many thanks to MithrilSide for illustrating it.
There is something strange about Lord Elrond's door. Not that I've really taken the time to inspect this door, but as I've passed it on previous occasions, I've experienced a vague feeling of unease. At the moment, I want to delay entering Elrond's study for as long as possible, so I'm carefully wasting my time by examining this door.
While I stare at the woodwork, I ponder over why Lord Elrond could want me. I'm fairly certain that I haven't done anything horribly disruptive in the past few days, and I've even managed to complete the report he told me to write two months ago. What more could he ask of me, his wonderful, charming, and exuberant friend and advisor? I hope he isn't planning to lecture me, at great length, about some trivial thing – last time he wanted to tell me about the influence of mint tea on Elvish society. I don't think I can stand another discourse of that sort.
Ah, I see what's wrong with this door. There are teeth marks along the bottom of it. I suppose the twins must have been the cause of that.
There is no longer a reason for me to stand in the hallway, so I sigh and knock on the chewed door. Lord Elrond invites me to enter, and I do so.
Being a warrior has taught me to expect ambushes in the strangest places, Elrond's study included. I come in slowly, glancing around to make sure Elladan and Elrohir aren't crouched behind a vase preparing to tackle me. Elrond is sitting at his desk. He has a slightly guilty look on his face, but it doesn't worry me. Lord Elrond is always finding things to feel guilty about.
I pause. Standing next to Lord Elrond's desk is Erestor. He is clad in dark blue and black as usual and his eyes are narrowed fractionally, also as usual. Evidently he is not delighted to see me. Big surprise. If I was a grumpy and paranoid advisor, I wouldn't be delighted to see me either. Grumpy, paranoid advisors find me very annoying.
Erestor doesn't like me, and that's that. Our first meeting was, of course, quite disastrous. I had heard of the arrival of Lord Erestor to Imladris, but I had never actually met him, since I had been scouting in the wilds for some time. I returned to the last Homely House feeling rather jumpy, and fell asleep at my desk the next day, so tired was I. Unfortunately, it wasn't actually my desk at which I was resting, but Lord Erestor's. No one had informed me of this. Erestor wandered into the room and I sensed a hostile presence, woke up, and threw the thing that came most readily to hand. Erestor managed to duck the object (which was a pot of ink, red in color) and I managed to wake up, realizing that the hostile presence had just become even more hostile. Elrond entered the room, saw the red ink covering his advisor, and thought that Erestor had sustained some horrific injury. He was ready to haul Erestor to the infirmary, but I stopped laughing and confessed my guilt, adding (perhaps facetiously) that it was a good thing Erestor did not keep axes by his desk.
Since that incident, Erestor and I have been happiest when avoiding each other, but occasionally some form of confrontation will arise, and we quarrel. Such arguments tend to be short and fierce, and usually end in a compromise, neither of us satisfied and both of us frustrated.
I am by nature a cheerful Elf, blessed with a buoyant nature, quite ready to admit my faults and just as ready to forgive others for theirs. For years I have gone to great lengths to be likeable and all the Elves of Imladris think I'm wonderful. All but one. Erestor is unusual because he dislikes me, resents me, or considers me an idiot. Perhaps all three.
I try not to think about him much, but ignoring him does not make him disappear. Pity.
I smile at him, watch him withdraw into himself even more, and turn to Elrond with bow. "You wanted me for something, Lord Elrond?"
"Yes, Glorfindel," says the peredhel, rummaging through the papers at his desk. "Will you look for a book for me?"
"A book?" I echo, slightly surprised by the unusual request. "What book?"
"Traditional Recipes from Nargothrond," replies Elrond. He continues to rummage. "I asked Erestor about it, but he says he has never heard of such a compilation."
Erestor shifts slightly. He is staring at the floor. Don't want to look at me, Erestor? Would you prefer to skulk in the library? I'm sure that admitting you've never heard of this book was very hard for you.
This whole situation is very strange.
"How can you expect me to find this book if Lord Erestor has never heard of it?" I ask, smiling. "I rarely read. I know very little of books. And. . ." I pause, before continuing. ". . .Recipes from Nargothrond? What sort of book is that?"
Elrond frowns at me. "Now, Glorfindel," he says, "I know that you want to help me in every possible way."
"Of course." I'd love to help in every possible way, Lord Elrond, but finding books is a little beneath me, don't you think? Why don't you get Erestor to do it?
My frantic attempt to communicate telepathically with Lord Elrond fails once more. Elrond says, "You can help me by finding this book. I want it most urgently. Lord Erestor has offered to assist you."
Erestor and I look at each other. The advisor seems harassed, but that's not unusual. He always seems harassed. Perhaps that's because every time I see him, I'm near him. I suspect that my very presence is harassing.
I decide to be friendly. Being friendly is the sort of thing that will drive Erestor crazy. He hates friendliness, and I enjoy being politely obnoxious like this.
"Lord Erestor," say I, bowing extravagantly. "How kind of you to aid me in my search! I'm sure that we'll have a lovely time!"
Erestor glares at me. Apparently he thinks I am teasing him. I am.
I glance at Elrond. He's smiling, happy that everything is going well. For an Elf-Lord, he is terribly unobservant. Erestor obviously wants to strangle me. Anyway, I know very well that the day Erestor volunteers to help me with something is the day I'm told to jump off a cliff. He'll help with that for sure.
"So lead on, good Elf," I continue. "Take me to the library! We'll find the book in no time." I'm being rather mean, surprising even myself. I try to make amends for my behavior by smiling at him as genuinely as possible. His eyes narrow even more.
Oh well, that didn't work.
There is something about Erestor that squashes all my good will and makes me rather cruel and sarcastic. I can't help it, honestly. His reaction to teasing is always so satisfying. And I didn't ask to look for the book with him. This is all Lord Elrond's fault!
I realize that mocking Erestor will most definitely lead to problems. It might make looking for this book difficult. I shall probably make him loathe me even more. I'll have to be nice, and not get on his nerves, and I can't make fun of him, not even lightly.
Why do I care about Erestor's feelings? Erestor is about as talkative as a piece of furniture, and his opinion of me certainly doesn't matter.
I wonder what he's thinking.
I have a number of favorite places here in Imladris. I like my study, because all of my books and papers are right there whenever I need them. I like the kitchen, because a warm kettle is always there whenever I need a cup of mint tea. I like my chamber, because it is far enough from everyone else's chambers that if I feel the need to pace around the room and mumble incoherently to myself, no one can see me and look at me as if I am insane. I love the library best of all, because I can spend hours on end among the dusty old volumes and forget about time itself.
However, the introduction of one single thing can ruin any enjoyment I get out of any of these places. His name is Glorfindel. Right now, he is about to ruin the library.
I have never liked Glorfindel from the moment I laid eyes on him. There is something about even the way he carries himself that grates on my nerves. He walks around as if he owns all of Arda—as if Manwë has given him the kingship of Middle-earth instead of the command to serve and protect. He seems especially fond of annoying me. I do not know if he does it on purpose, or if he is just obnoxious by nature, but I can never keep up a good mood when I am around him. The only thing about it that is satisfying is that he can never keep up a good mood around me either.
Which is why neither of us are in a good mood as we head to the library. I am having what could possibly be called the worst day of my life—the morning has not gone well, as I was unable to find the report I needed in the war-zone loosely referred to as Glorfindel's study. Then I was the victim of one of Elladan's merciless pranks—from now on, I will look up before I walk through a door left ajar. Then when Lord Elrond called me into his study to request a specific book, I was forced to stare at him as if he was speaking another language. Of course, no proper bad day rights itself at noon—now Lord Elrond has seen fit to add insult to injury and torment me with Glorfindel himself for the remainder of the day.
I am tempted to wait until Elrond is out of earshot and then lock Glorfindel in the hall closet. He could search that area thoroughly, and I could search the rest of Imladris in peace. The only problem would be the fact that, were I to try to shove Glorfindel anywhere, he would shove me instead, since he is a Balrog-slayer and I am a scholar. I would be the one looking for an old book among the floor polish and dusting-rags. So that idea will not work.
I push open the doors to the library. Sunlight is filtering in through the huge windows, throwing rich golden light on the tall shelves of books. Leather-bound volumes sit comfortably on the shelves like old familiar friends. Tattered manuscripts lie jumbled together, as if calling out to me to discover their secrets before they crumble to dust. The air is hushed and reverent.
"Ai Ilúvatar!" gasps Glorfindel, stepping up behind me and ruining the mood, as usual. "How in Valinor are we supposed to find one book in here?"
I valiantly resist the urge to slap him. "You take that side," I say, gesturing to the left half of the library. "I will take the other. If you find the book, let me know." Hopefully my directions are simple enough that he can understand them.
He cocks his birdlike head to one side. There is a mischievous light in his eyes. I, just like the rest of Imladris, have learned to fear that look. "What if I would rather search the right side?"
I glare at him and remind myself to remain calm. Books are not projectiles, nor do I intend to use them as such. No matter how much he annoys me, I refuse to disgrace a book by causing it to come into contact with the back of his conceited golden head. "You are not. I am searching the right side. You may search the left side. If you want to help, do something helpful for a change."
We are both ignoring the fact that neither one of us volunteered for anything. Well… on second thought, I was so flustered when I realized Elrond was asking for a book I did not know existed that I might have volunteered. But I had no idea it would involve Glorfindel. I certainly did not offer to help him!
Glorfindel laughs and walks off. At last. Even the air seems so much fresher and lighter when he is not around to breathe it.
I walk up to the first shelf and begin examining titles. Essays in Khuzdul… History of the Laiquendi… The Royal Family of Doriath… but no Recipes from Nargothrond. I cannot help but wonder about one thing: how do we have a recipe book from Nargothrond? That kingdom was destroyed by the dragon Glaurung! It does not make sense… but then, life seldom does. If Elrond says it exists, I must take him at his word. Though I cannot fathom what Elrond wants with a recipe book. A strange request indeed. Lady Celebrían never does any cooking, and the cook Meretheryn has her own dragon's hoard of recipes.
Suddenly one of the titles catches my eye: The Lost Writings of Nolendil of Sirion. I have been looking for this book for so long! There was a rumor spreading about that Elrond had a copy of Nolendil's writings, but I had scarcely dared to hope that it was true. There is something I have wanted to look up in this book for a very long time…
I slide the thick volume off of the shelf and open it. I can immediately smell one of my favorite scents in Middle-earth: the musty smell of an old dust-covered book. No one can ever understand why I love that smell, but I do. I take a moment to just breathe it in before I open my eyes and continue looking for the fact I have been hoping to find.
Nolendil was an excellent writer. He could write about the dullest subject and turn it into something completely fascinating. No matter where in his book one begins reading, it is very easy to be completely absorbed in seconds. Very easy… indeed…
Thirty minutes later, I am interrupted in the middle of a discourse concerning the effect of rats on the grain harvest by the sound of someone clearing his throat behind me.
I turn around and look up right into Glorfindel's face. His expression is somewhere between exasperation and amusement. "Are you enjoying yourself, Lord Erestor?" he says.
I scowl at him. If he thinks I am enjoying myself, why is he interrupting me?But then, that is the question I ponder whenever I see him. I am enjoying my life, why is he interrupting me?
He continues. "I'm sure that book is fascinating, but unless it contains recipes from Nargothrond, it won't be much help to Elrond."
"Oh, I am sure that this book would help Lord Elrond very much," I say, pointing to a page. "Look, here are several solutions for controlling rats."
His expression changes to one of confusion. "Rats? Imladris doesn't have a rat problem."
"Oh yes we do," I mutter.