Title: Mantles of Light and Gray
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Summary: Aragorn and Arwen engage in comfortable conversation. Set before the Lord of the Rings, in Rivendell. This is pretty heavy stuff, so read at your own peril!
Archiving: Just email me the URL to allow me a peek.
Dedication: In memory of JRR Tolkien, who has reminded me constantly that fairy tales can serve as very good food for the soul and heart. Also, dedicated to the cast and crew of the movies for in their toils do people once more dream.
Author's Note: All I can say is that this is heavy reading, so I could but hope you will understand the message beneath and above all, enjoy.
A high shrill note upon the instrument whose strings reached the very crests of joy and sorrow, flailed its wide arms about the valley and played.
Hymns in stories happily told
Flee the cloud of sadness and tears
Elven meadows softened by cold
Merry, merry! Hardened white snow!
Fails about streams that heavens know!
Hold the bright star who twinkling clears
Gloom from dusk and shadows in day
Glean the hues of brilliance from gray!
Flee the cloud of sadness and tears
There was Elven singing about, a flight of words rising to the plumes of mist gathered about the feet of waterfalls. They were sweet notes filled within the measure of space, with symmetry known only to the fortress of day and night. Fading to mere recollections, they pleased the mind and eased within orifices of dreams. In doing so, they forced poisoned drink into nightmares that they may sleep forevermore, within the confines of dreadful mirrors.
We leaped with feathered, hallowed feet
We sang the gull's failing song
Upon the lea and ocean's seat
Glittering ere the storm's delay
Beside tides rushing from the bay
Though and through ill hearts along
The break of day trimmed in black
Where'pon sun rode the dragon's back!
We sang the gull's failing song
In the delicate houses structured by the complex imagery of an Elven mind, Men bore the brunt of their own imperfection, wallowing at times when pride often vexed the animal within.
More often, when they motioned with feet tainted by their own crude inventions, Men swallowed every view, every roof, every pillar and balcony, with the greedy eyes of one who struggled for things beyond his own form. The visitor to dwellings of beauty deemed perfect by those who never truly reached perfection in life, found much to devour with their eyes, with hearts fashioned in cages too small for the space of each.
But there was one who grew immune to jealousy already harbored by Men when rarely they visited the sacred fill of Rivendell. That remarkable acceptance found in Elves delved about the deep markings of his human mind, escaping the fell report of Men's greed yet he was visited by wraiths beyond the skill of a human soul to fight.
Carved within the contours of his mind, self-pity did not stalk the abstruse workings of contrivances or plagues created by heart's misery. Often pity became a haughty standard painted upon the ships of pride and showered about the many dealings of words and breaths, a mere veil of fabric gleaned from the barest bark of a dying tree. Often, too, it broke under strain of a hand's built concern or the wind's wispy dilemma of hate; a gale marked by the moving of lips and tongue and gracious teeth, which bit and tore to feed the malicious beasts beneath.
Hardly did wry contemplation turn the white corridors of a king to those smeared in bitter tears and powdery blood already dried by regret long spilled.
And Elfstone, who bore a name dipped in eternity, immortality gained yet far removed from the starry-veiled heavens, did not sit easily in that hall. There the wind blew in lust after the fine fabric of his tunic, moving it that the skin beneath would tamper with the dealings of his mind.
The flickering lamplight elevated upon a pillar of stone opened the path to a shameless winter, climates known only to his circle of isolation, for it glowed limply, providing lays for strange shadows to dance with. Shadows did not bother him though the fair light rubbed by Men did. It lurked about its own resplendence; a vast thief, which marred the phantoms to a polish so mundane.
He cradled the rock he sat upon with a strong back forged straight by valor, though he surrendered to it verily, cold and unfeeling, with naught to spare but support and perhaps, words that only Elves comprehend. His dark hair spread about his noble head, those dark waves driven to tides of sad turmoil mixed by day and churned even more by thoughts born of loneliness in nights of wind and silence.
"You bear burdens ashamed even of their own forms, that they flee at my presence and arrive as I leave," Arwen Undomiel said, emerging from the terrace.
High winds spoke gently, like a chant forever fleeing from darkness. They brushed the mantles of gray upon mountain tops, playing amongst the leaves of trees still unshed by frigid dusk.
Afield the vales of tired stars
Was cast the fire bent by bow
There 'ere peaks high sunlight bars
By beauty of Arwen's glow
She was the Elven maid woven from the gentle tresses of Luthien. Within the depth of eyes already witness to the moon's pain and the sun's constant endeavor, the vast measure of starlight upon the vale gathered there. The green heads of faraway trees were masked by light when moons careened every cliff of sky to touch and feel the tender pondering of her mind.
Her music oft became the strong thunderhead of rushing rivers, craving the brown earth as it spilled about the rocks and suffered to flow through land untouched by liquid before its own making. Yet her tone had changed, toppling strings of comfort that the notes shifted by key and fell abruptly unto Aragorn's awkward ears like droplets of wine aged to youth.
"You sit alone, Aragorn son of Arathorn." Her manner bore into his thought. Dressed all in white and a harsh competition for star and moon, he found it difficult to remain seated. She continued softly, "And if such comfort is neighbor to your heart, then I too shall sit by thee and hold thy fears to my heart."
She walked about the flight of wood below her, curved about the grains in wait of her step. And benign branches they were for they cradled her feet and Aragorn envied the touch they perceived. He took her hand in receiving her company and viewed the many falls placed upon the roofs of the valley they dwelled in, all assembled in her Elven sight, where water hollered about the heights in delight.
To this strange moment, the water craved their hearing and rode upon the wind to speak messages of collapse upon bluffs and crags managed by the moving of earth.
Sable's diamond child
Dripped to light's element
Upon greedy hands piled
Their colors paused and bent
Worlds estranged to this and beyond Men's keeping treaded within the curves of a most lovely face and worlds shaped themselves to images she blew by the lute of her beauty.
"My lady," he managed. Bowing low, with a hand upon his steady heart, he smiled for her sake and such a sight it was, for she labored in the joy seen there. Thereupon the sweet dark of her eyes doubled the multitude of concern and became honey sodden in warm reflection of spring and mead.
"What ails you now?" she asked, accepting his grave suggestion of a quandary too immense for human endurance.
"My place in the world." He led her to the stone bench upon which he had shed his sorrow and allowed her a seat to the theater of his weakness. "And a feeling long engraved upon the beacons of my heart."
Her smile was the gentle arch of the moon when from darkness entire it took its first stride to light. Full of knowledge it was, and foresworn within the gentle cadence of time. "What ominous wreath crowns thee, my lord?"
"My place, for what place have I other than my own? There, in the mighty holdings of a land, one which we love so well!" His voice rang about the wooden arches. Statues of stone murmured in answer to him, their eyes closed against an offing of stillness and permanence, akin to creatures resigned to stand and weep. "Nay, such thoughts prove hard to swallow for now is not the time. Many accidents and baleful events pave the path for a price that even Elves loathe to endure."
He sat beside Arwen Evenstar, his mind working behind a forehead creased by lines marked by the paving of roads and perchance, ditches to be taken.
"The day will come for you to return. Melancholy blights those who fear loss. And yet, what have you to lose, for all, you toil to gain?" She put a hand upon his shoulder and it seemed as if a cool breeze grazed the tiring heat of his exhaustion with a pale brand to mark him saved. "You are not alone, my lord, nor far removed from the concern of my kin for the star of Elves shines upon you, long and warmly."
"Oh, my unflagging gratitude be upon thee, dear Lady!" he uttered sincerely, resigned to the words of the maiden for she spoke truth and everything contrary to falsehood endowed the sleight of her tongue.
In the twinkle of a star far beyond the lonely head of a mountain, Arwen found enchantment to say, "Let gratitude be reserved for the path you are to take, for you will owe life and arm to the company you endure." Her fair features blamed dark on the shimmering path of rivers and her dark hair suddenly flew by wind like a tapestry of black, woven in silk, shining like a jewel of moonlight. "And love be upon our hearts to guide us on the path of hope and charity, for without it, the hand which stirs the universe would not grace its joints with movement."
She took his hand gently. "Come, perchance the break of day murmurs a soft melody or the Elves compose the furnace of a tree's indelible growth."
Away they went, upon the many dreams of Rivendell, bathed in moon and their mantles soon burning with sunlight.