How does one say goodbye to the only land one has known? How does one leave their children for a journey into the unknown? This is a story about Elrond's journey west.
Xxxxxxxxx Winter 3021 end of the Third Age xxxxxxxxX
The door to Lord Elrond's chambers was halfway open. Lindir knocked, but when he heard no reply, he peered around the door into the sitting room. Elrond was carefully drilling a hole in a wooden rod that was held securely by clamps. The table held drill bits of various sizes, a charcoal marking stick, and sanding paper. Lindir set the case he was carrying down by the door and waited until Elrond stopped drilling and blew to dislodge the wood shavings.
"How is the flute coming, my Lord?" Elrond looked up, blinking dazedly. Obviously, the elf had been intently working for some time.
"Lindir, welcome." Elrond smiled slightly and beckoned him closer. "It has been many years since I made a flute. The middle notes still require adjustments. Would you mind?" He wiped the flute off with a soft cloth.
"I am happy to assist. Your grandchildren will appreciate your efforts." Lindir approached the table and accepted the flute. Amidst all the wood shavings lay a list, which unlike those of so many contained not things meant for Valinor, but things to be left for relatives here instead. "You have been working hard." Lindir studied the instrument intently, noting the care that had gone into its fabrication. "Who knew his Lord could craft instruments?" Elrond was always full of surprises, he decided.
"Lillanlai taught me when she was but a youth among the Avari." Elrond answered the unspoken question. It took several moments before Lindir recalled that Queen Lillanlai, Thranduil's wife, had been quite a musician. Lindir played scales several times.
"Yes, the fourth hole needs adjusting." They spent nearly an hour perfecting the tones of the flute. Lindir sat back, having finally given his approval. While it was still early in the afternoon, Elrond was clearly tired. He looked towards the open trunk.
"You are well on your way to finishing the presents on your list." Lindir noted. "Will you send them to Gondor this year?"
"I plan to have Elladan send them three years from now." Elrond yawned.
"Mistress Silsi will have my head if I keep you from your rest."
"Aye," Elrond agreed as he rose. "They treat me like some fragile glass." Lindir smiled amiably, although that was his private opinion as well. All wanted their lord and dear friend to arrive safely in the west.
"I have a surprise for you. Perhaps I can play a song or two to help you rest."
"You finished the harp already?" Elrond exclaimed in astonishment.
"Yes, I modeled it exactly on the one you gave me. It must have been an exquisite instrument in its time. When was it last played?" The wood had long since dried out and cracked. Lindir could not fathom how old it was or how carefully it had been stored. It should have long since fallen to dust.
"The last time I dared to string it was in the middle of the second age. It was a gift from Maglor when I left Himring." Elrond divulged quietly.
"I tried to match the wood. That was the most difficult part, although the design is quite different from current instruments. But its tone is sweet and will deepen and grow richer with time." He pulled the instrument from the case. It was meant as a travel harp and was smaller than typical instruments of the day. Elrond gasped at its likeness to the original.
"Lindir," he gaped, suddenly at a loss for words. Lindir held back a smile and moved to sit beside the fire.
"Come, my Lord. Will you not lay down and I will play a short song?" He motioned to the couch, then lifted the harp, and plucked a scale. The harp woke to Lindir's deft fingers. "Any requests?" Lindir did not wait for a response, but delved into an old piece on the dawn of the sun. Elrond could not hide his amazement and shuffled slowly over to the couch, mesmerized by the juxtaposition of the new instrument with memories from ancient times. Elrond did not find his voice until the song ended.
"It is uncanny how alike they are."
"Are you planning on gifting this to one of Arwen's children or were you going to bring it west?" Lindir was intrigued. "I am sorry, the sounding board of the original disintegrated when I was dismantling it.
"They are just things, and nothing lasts forever." Elrond whispered. Lindir's heart went out to him.
"But the love we give gets passed down to others forever." Lindir paused, but before the silence became awkward, continued. "I gleaned enough information to design this one. Most of the wood appeared to be some type of spruce, but the sounding board was an unusual grain."
"The sounding board came from a southern tree that Maglor had found in their early wanderings many years before they settled in Himring. It was made from Bubinga wood, a tree over harvested and traded by a people that later inhabited Harad."
"Do you think he wanders there now?"
"I know not, although if I had the strength, I would try to find him." Elrond rubbed his temple. Lindir handed him the blanket.
"Perhaps after a short rest. Silsi said she would be up to wake you. Sleep well my Lord." Lindir smiled at Elrond's tired sigh. Perhaps his people were overprotective of their Peredhel. But it had been their good fortune and none would ever regret the years they had spent in the haven built by their singular guardian.
"Thank you for your expertise today. I think Arwen's children will treasure the instruments just as much as Arwen and Estel treasured the composition you wrote for their wedding."
"It was my pleasure to be a part of that day." Lindir bowed and left his Lord to his rest. Elrond stood slowly and bent to stir the fire and add one more log. He leaned closer, enjoying the warmth of the fire, for the air was still cool. Celeborn and Galadriel would set out from Lothlórien once the snow melted from the passes. They planned to celebrate their last summer solstice together here in Imladris. The ring bearers and nearly a thousand elves would sail with the first autumn tides. More than half of those had already departed, having chosen to spend their last months in Mithlond. But Imladris was far from empty. The numbers of the Dúnedain had swelled in the summer. Now half of Imladris' council was of the Edain. Indeed, the clamor of their children brought great joy to the hearts of the elves who remained. It was childish shrieks of joy he heard now, coming from Celebrian's garden. He had been tending the fires in his room, had he not? But now his toes felt the grass, which was green as in the mid-summer. Was this a dream? Yet, he did not remember lying down. He turned to spy a curly haired boy smiling up at him. The youth could be no more than four or five. His eyes were silver like Arwen's but his smile held the mischievous delight of a young Estel. His eyes revealed his story. This was a cherished child – one who was secure in that love and self-assured. The boy waved and held a finger to his lips before dashing off into the trees. He heard other children laughing and shrieking in the distance.
"Adar, if you were here, surely you would tell me?" asked the woman who sat on Celebrian's bench. He knew that voice and hardly dared to breathe. Almost immediately, Ereinion's calming words from an age ago rang in his head. "Visions are what may be, not what will be. The future is not written. Be careful to not get too caught up in them." Yet, as a parent, how could he do anything else but care for his daughter – and give thanks for this gift of a vision of her from the future?
"Sell-nin, my dear one." He knelt before her and gently grasped her hands. "What is it that you need?" Her liquid silver eyes grew wide as she recognized him.
"An apparition? Are you real, Adar-nin?"
"I have no explanation as to how this has come to pass, but I am here, dear heart." She pulled him up into an embrace. Words flowed out of her about their delight in their son and their trials and tribulations at the loss of a child early in a second pregnancy. They grieved over the loss. She feared. Would they be able to have another child? There was no elven word for this loss. A 'miscarriage' was a foreign term. Although Elrond the healer was familiar with it, Elrond the father was greatly grieved that his child had such an experience.
"What if we cannot have another? They expect us to have many children."
"Hush, dear heart." Elrond bent to kiss her head. "We can only trust in Eru and rejoice in the child or children with which we are blessed. Elves space their children further apart because of the strength required to nourish their spirits. Even the Dúnedain attempt to separate births more than their brethren among the Edain. It may be as simple as waiting." He pulled back from her, his healer's instinct taking over. "May I?" He held his hands palms up in the traditional request for permission.
"Please, Adar-nin." Arwen moved to lie on the grass. Its scent was pure and fresh. Elrond slowly began to assess her. His hands gently brushed her head and then hovered just above her as he moved slowly and methodically along her torso. There were strong connections that tied her spirit to Eldarion's through which the child still drew much nourishment for his soul. Surprisingly, there were also connections to Aragorn, which also supported her. Such connections were very unusual among the Edain and were another sign of their Valar blessed union. These connections were different than with elfish couples, but were still nourishing and supportive. He sensed scarring and damage from the lost child. "Elbereth, please help me heal my beloved daughter." He silently prayed as he reached out to share his spirit and to focus the healing on the scars and strengthen her beleaguered spirit. The pain in his chest grew as the healing flowed from him, reminding him of how little he had left to share.
"Arwen!" Aragorn's voice rang with worry. A king's face swam across his vision causing Elrond to pull back from his daughter. A cold breeze chilled him back to reality. Was this the future? Had he not been stirring the coals against the last of winter's chill? No, the cold was the effects of a vision.
"Adar? How? I do not understand?" Aragorn gaped as he pulled a shivering Arwen into his arms.
"A gift from Eru." Arwen smiled and pulled her Adar into their combined embrace.
"I love you. I am so very proud of you both." Elrond whispered hoarsely. "Be well … live well."
"I love you too Adar." Arwen smiled. "Thank you."
"We miss you." Aragorn eyes glinted. "If this is a vision, it answered our deeply held wish. Your advice would be most valuable."
"You do not need me any more. I have seen glimpses of how you deftly handle difficult diplomatic situations with Harad."
"It has been the bane of the early years of our rule."
"Yet, your hard fought successes will ensure peace."
"For how long?"
"We can only give our best and do what we believe is right. There are none that I would trust more with the future of these lands then you both." He shivered again, and Arwen's happiness turned to concern.
"You have yet to sail." She somehow knew.
"We set out soon." Elrond agreed.
"You must give our love to everyone – to Naneth and," Her eyes lit with mischief, "to Ereinion. There are many who await your arrival. Your life will be far from dull. Go back Adar." He felt more than saw her last kiss. A haze fogged his vision but did not obscure well wishes of his loved ones. Time and space bent wildly, like a vortex or a waterspout. Could a soul survive such twisting? The warm air of summer vanished upon a winter zephyr. His knees hit snow-covered ground as he slumped exhausted against the stone bench in the center of the now sleeping garden. The sudden cold stole his breath and fogged his thoughts.
"Glorfindel," he called to his protector for aid. To a weary Peredhel, the chilled secluded garden seemed insurmountably far from the warmth of the house.