A Lady's Tale - Part Six
Astianen: ahs-tee-AH-nenn Nickname: ahs-tya
As I said before, you can ignore these, but this is how I envisioned them sounding!
Meetings at the Practice Courts
Not too long after Analsiel was made Arwen's lady-in-waiting, Nori was elevated to the same post. The two girls were called to Arwen's chamber to receive the uniform of one of her ladies, and money to but more grand clothes. This was a courtesy provided by the crown, and Arwen had said not to be shy, but both girls were scared.
"Honestly, Nori," came Analsiel quivering voice, "Don't be nervous!"
"Hah, you're own voice betrays you! You're nervous too!"
"I am not!"
Their conversation continued in this vein until they both realized they were acing like spoiled children, and they laughed and hugged and continued.
When they reached Arwen's room, they heard raised voices.
"...it isn't right. You already have several maidens, and these two...well, I don't even know what to say about them!"
Then Arwen's voice said, "That is well, Lhunidil, for I think you have said enough! Your position as my chief lady could be lowered if these unkind speeches continue. You are no longer invited to attend their fitting. Go." Her voice was as cold as ice.
Lhunidil burst from the room before either Nori or Analsiel could assume an innocent pose. She stopped, glared at them, then almost ran down the corridor.
"Come in girls," came Arwen's voice from inside the room.
They entered, nervous, and excited, over what they had just heard.
"Good, now we can get started," Arwen gave no sign of any of the feelings she had just displayed in her argument. In fact she acted as if nothing at all had happened. It put the girls at ease.
"Now," she said, "We will fit you with your uniforms, and then work your monthly "Pay" as we call it. What it really is just your allowance for whatever you need or want. Now, stand still."
The tailor came in and fitted them with a cord, and swatches of silk. He then showed what the uniforms would look like. They were purple and white, almost like a riding outfit. The sleeveless over dress was a different shade of purple for each lady. Nori's was a pale color that looked like heather plucked straight from a meadow. Analsiel's was purple-gray, like just-calmed sea with a purple glow. They had slits up the sides that made motion much easier, and riding possible. The underdresses had slits in the same places, though that was their only garnish. They were as plain as they could be. They were even white, and not at all what Nori and Analsiel had expected. Arwen grinned when she saw their confusion at the simple clothes.
"These are not for court. They are for serving your duty and for the practice courts. You couldn't be of any use to anyone if you had on too many heavy silks and brocades, now, would you?"
Nori and Analsiel blushed, and the fittings continued.
They were next shown to room where countless scarves, sashes, and belts lay, unused. They realized that this was the touch of noble finery they had been wondering about. They were to pick one, Arwen said, to distinguish themselves from the other ladies. The she set them loose.
The two friends had a marvelous time trying on sashes and belts. Nori eventually chose one that was of a soft yellow and embroidered with pale blue flowers. Analsiel's was black, embroidered in silver with galloping horses. Arwen smiled knowingly when she saw the Rohirrim girl pick up that particular sash.
"Well, if you are done trying things on," said Arwen, "We will go to the practice courts, and you can meet the other ladies."
The practice courts were inside the winter, but in the beautiful summer air, all the warriors were practicing outside. Arwen led the two girls to an area marked in purple, and only then did they notice that all the areas were marked with different colors, and only people dressed in those colors were practicing there.
"Come on," Arwen said.
The two stepped forward and saw six other girls there. Foremost was Lhunidil, sparring swords with a tall mortal girl with brown hair and blue eyes that shone with exhaustion. Lhunidil's swings were tired, and it was obvious they had been fighting a long time.
"Lhunidil, Astianen!" called Arwen. "Stop and meet the new ladies!"
The brown-haired girl, Astianen, stopped immediately. Lhunidil nearly killed her with a downward sweep before she stopped. Luckily Astianen had good reflexes, and was out of the way long before the tired stroke fell. Still, Arwen was displeased.
"Lhunidil, perhaps you need a moment to cool off?" she said calmly.
Lhunidil shook her head. "I am not hot, Majesty."
Arwen raised her eyebrows. "I was speaking of cooling off your temper," she said.
A mortal would have blushed. But the Elf girl held her head up, and gained only a frosty look in her eyes. Beside her, Analsiel felt Nori shiver.
"Ladies," came Arwen's clear voice, "This is Norinel Belecien, and this Analsiel Ethmern of Rohan. They have just joined us and I need you all to help them with their studies. You may take a break for now and explain to them what their lives will be like as my ladies. I must return to the castle," she said with wistful sigh. Then she was gone.
"Well," said the Elf, Lhunidil, "Introductions first. I am Lhunidil Silverskies, head lady. I give instructions and you obey them as you would the Queen's." She smirked, then turned to the lady Astianen.
Astianen smiled. "I am Astianen Laebanel of Gondor. I have never been to Rohan, and I love a tale, so you, Analsiel Ethmern, will have to tell of the Riddermark!"
Analsiel smiled too. "Gladly, Astianen Laebanel."
The next woman was the youngest of the bunch, with a long shock of bright red hair framing intense blue eyes. She stepped forward quickly.
"I'm Vanadar Bithilien," she said. Her voice had an odd accent, as if she had lived somewhere where they spoke a different language. She was a bit plump, with round rosy cheeks, and a bit on the short side. She looked rather like an exceptionally beautiful hobbit. Analsiel liked her immediately.
"I'm glad to meet you, Vanadar Bithilien," and she truly meant it.
Next was another Elf. She was obviously of Rivendell, with a long cascade of brown hair that was tied at her neck to keep it out of her face, and her riveting gray eyes. It was hard to notice the rest of her, her eyes were so deep.
Her voice was smooth, the kind of voice that you could listen too for hours. "I am Luinduriel Glasslake," she said. It was a fittting name. "We are all glad to have you here."
The second to last was Quelleanon. Nori blinked in surprise, then laughed. She had not known that Quelleanon was Arwen's lady, and was delighted at the discovery. Then one final gril came forward.
Her hair was a pale brown that seemed as if she had bleached it with pure sunlight. Her eyes were the same gray-green as Firndil's eyes, and her features the same. In fact, they were exact look alikes, except for the hair.
"Are you..." Nori asked hesitantly.
The Elf smiled. "Firndil's sister? Yes. My name is Firnciliath, and Firndil and I are twins." She said it almost resignedly.
"Well," said Nori, smiling, "You are lucky indeed to have him as a brother."
"Yes," said Firnciliath with a smile, "I am."
"Come," said Vanadar, taking Nori's arm. "Sit down and we will explain how thngs work around here."
It turned out that the ladies took lessons in the library during the morning from whatever teacher Arwen could find. If she couldn't find any, they simply went to the library on their own, or took the morning off. Then they had lunch with the Court, and then they went to the practice courts where they learned to use all manner of weapons, ride a horse, hunt, whatever skills of that sort they would need. Then they went to supper and dancing with the court, then had lessons on courtly etiquette every other night. After that they studied and wnt ot bed. Most of the ladies had there own cahmber, but Lhunidil's was right next to Arwen's, and Luinduriel had a room nearby. Nori and Analsiel were given directions to each girl's room, and then sent to supper. After the meal, they said goodnight, and returned to their room. Analsiel didn't know what Nori was doing, but as soon as she got back to her room, she fell inot a long, exhausted sleep.