A Lady's Tale - Part Five
Nori: You can figure this one out!
You can ignore these if you want, but that's how I thought they should sound!
Analsiel walked down the long hall to her room. Coming from an early lunch, she was ready to give the day a good purpose. She had been lounging around receiving tours all week, and at last her restless nature was getting the better of her. She wanted to do something. But the catch was that she didn't know what to do.
Deciding that she had enough of the dark, and in her opinion dirty library, she tried to think where else to go. It was obvious that only a select group was welcome at the practice courts, so she couldn't go there either. Stumped, she sat on a chair outside of a room.
She closed her eyes for a minute, and then opened them again. She would go see one of her friends, and ask what, by the Valar, there was to do in this wretchedly boring palace.
Nori wasn't in her room, and Analsiel didn't feel like trekking all over the palace looking for her. So she went to Quelleanon. The Elf would certainly know what she could do.
Analsiel could not help but notice a loud, eerie, screeching coming from Quelleanon's room. It sounded as if something was in pain. Worried for her friend, she quickened her pace. When she arrived at the state room where the other woman lived, she was so worried she didn't even knock, just burst in, almost screeching herself.
What she saw was not what she had expected. An Elf with fairly short brown hair, a color most unusual in her native Lothlorien, sat before a harp, her face flushed in a most un Elf-like way, and her fists clenched, preparing to crash down on the offending instrument.
"Stop!" called Analsiel from the doorway.
The fists stopped in midair. "Oh, it's you, Ana," said Quelleanon, using Nori's nickname for the mortal girl.
"Yes, it's me," said Analsiel in a worried way. "What were you going to do to that harp?"
"SMASH IT INTO A THOUSAND PIECES!" came the hysterical reply, and the fists rose again.
"Quelleanon, control yourself!" said Analsiel firmly, gripping her friends hands.
Quelleanon rounded on the girl, and tripped on her stool, fell, and in the process, knocked over Analsiel.
The two women lay on the floor laughing for a while, and then they sat up, Analsiel made tea, and Quelleanon put the dustcover over the harp.
They sat down at Quelleanon's table, and sipped their tea as they talked. Analsiel opened the conversation.
"So tell me why you were so ready to destroy that harp."
Quelleanon sighed. "Well, I'm one of Queen Arwen's ladies-in-waiting, and our latest "assignment" from her is that we all learn to play musical instruments. All the other girls took the simpler ones, or are learning to sing."
Analsiel smiled. "Then why don't you sing, too? Lothlorien elves are some of the greatest singers in Middle-earth."
Quelleanon shook her head. "No such luck. Arwen told me I had to learn something I didn't know, and the only instrument left was the harp. So I took it, and now I know for sure that I have no aptitude for it."
Now that the immediate anger had passed, Quelleanon had regained her Elven composure, and merely sighed and looked sad.
Analsiel looked shocked. "But harps are so simple. Why, I've been playing them since I was three!"
Quelleanon raised her eyebrows, and Analsiel blushed. "I'm not bragging, it's just that in Rohan, almost everyone can play the harp."
Again Quelleanon raised her eyebrows. "Well, let's hear you play then." Her voice was dry and sarcastic, but her eyes were serious.
Analsiel gulped. "Alright."
An inspection of the harp proved it to be the finest instrument Analsiel had ever laid eyes on. It was large for a harp, not the lap kind they had in Rohan, but still very light. The body was of dark wood, so dark it was nearly black. There were Elven etchings in the shape of twining vines that blossomed in places. The carving was so real that it looked as if the harp had taken root and was growing out of the ground. At the center of the topmost blossom, which was the most delicate and beautiful, was a perfectly cut, dazzling crystal that glowed with an inner light. Analsiel caught her breath when she saw it.
"Yes," said Quelleanon, snickering, "It looks beautiful when it isn't being nasty. Well, let's hear you play it then." She gave Analsiel an expectant look.
The girl had lost all sense of nervousness upon seeing the beautiful instrument. She sat on the stool, pulled the harp closer to her, and began to play.
The song she played was a tune she learned in Rohan, and it was simple, an old love song. But Analsiel was inspired by the harp, and added daring embellishments. She swirled in harmonies and chords, caressing the music as she played. Her fingers were slow at first, because she had practiced in so long, but soon they remembered their place and truly made music.
When the song was over, Analsiel sighed and lowered the harp. Only then did she notice she had a larger audience then just Quelleanon. Nori had returned, and stood leaning against the doorway, a dreamy look on her face. Two elves she didn't know smiled admiringly, and there, right next to Quelleanon, was Queen Arwen.
All the self-assurance Analsiel had felt at the harp slipped away, and when she stood and bowed to her audience, she did it with shaking knees. The Elves applauded and Nori hugged her. Quelleanon laughed, and then stopped as Arwen spoke.
"Analsiel, how long have you been able to play like that?" she asked.
Analsiel blushed. "Well, Your Majesty, I have played the harp since I was very small, and, well..." her voice trailed off.
The Queen looked at her reassuringly. "You play beautifully." she said.
Again Analsiel blushed.
"In fact," said Queen Arwen, "Since you play better than your friend Quelleanon," here a joking glance was passed between the two, "I would ask you to be my lady-in-waiting!"
One of the Elves at the door stiffened abruptly. "Arwen, surely you should find out if she has any other skills before you invite her to serve as your lady," was her indignant remark.
Arwen sighed. "Well, Lhunidil, since you must know better than I," the sarcasm in her voice escaped no one, especially Lhunidil, "I shall ask her a few questions."
The Elf, Lhunidil, smiled, but her companion who stood in the doorway, looked less pleased.
Then the Queen spoke. "Analsiel, can you fight with anything?"
"No," came the reluctant reply.
"Can you ride well?"
"Can you hunt?"
"Well, what can you do?"
Analsiel grimaced and then replied, "I can dance well, sing passably, play the harp, read out loud and to myself, I can write and speak both Quenya and Sindarin, I can speak the tongue of the Dwarves, I can say a few useless phrases in Black Speech, and I can learn anything you have to teach me." came the fierce statement.
Arwen laughed in earnest, Nori and Quelleanon grinned, the nice Elf in the doorway smiled, and Lhunidil frowned.
"Well said," laughed Arwen wiping tears from her eyes, "Well said. So Lhunidil, I think proves that Analsiel is ready and willing to be my lady-in-waiting."
"Humph," was the only reply from Lhunidil.
But that was that, and Analsiel became a lady-in-waiting to the queen.