Bend in the Wind - Ch6: Mystery

Disclaimer: see chapter one
Names/Pronunciations will come at the end of each chapter.

`*' signals a footnote
"text" signals dialogue
`text' signals thoughts

Chapter 6.) Mystery

Oh! Who would inhabit this bleak world alone?
- Thomas Moore

Nessúlë tucked an errant lock of hair behind her ear as her feet met up with the main path. After visiting one of the tended vegetable gardens she had headed into the woods to pick wild leeks. Her harvest had been quite successful and she was now heading back to the Halls, unaware that a pair of hidden eyes had watched her for the past half-hour.

A ringing cry above her caused Nessúlë to look up through the twined branches of the trees. She spied Bainsúl floating lazily on the currents of the brisk wind and smiled as he turned and careened down through the branches toward her. But her smile faded into a curious frown when, instead of coming to land on her shoulder, the young hawk dove onto something in the path ahead of her. As Bainsúl stretched his wings and fluttered his feathers back into place the object remained hidden from view. But as the bird tucked its wings back against its side and hopped to the left, the soft blossom of a blood red rose came into view.

Nessúlë paused in her walk. This was a wild, untamed part of the valley, far away from any rose bushes. Walking up to the flower and bending down beside it, Nessúlë inspected the petals. It looked as though it had just been picked. With careful fingers, Nessúlë picked up the thorny stem and brought the blossom to her nose. As she took in the gentle scent her hand absently reached out to stroke Bainsúl's feathers.

"It is a strange sight, isn't it, nethmellonen {my young friend}."

Bainsúl rewarded her remark by hopping out of reach and flapping his way down onto another object a few feet ahead on the path. With a careless smile, Nessúlë picked up her basket of vegetables and wandered over to see what else her bird had found. She was very surprised when she discovered a delicate gold pendent dangling from his beak.

"What have we here?" Nessúlë reached out for the trinket and Bainsúl reluctantly let her take it from him. A quick smile flashed across her face as she saw what it was.

From the golden chain, accented with red glass beads, hung a very unexpected object: a charm shaped in the form of a sand dollar, about an inch in diameter. Such things were generally not seen in the Hidden Valley, for the sea and all it contained were as far off to the Elves of Imladris as an ethereal dream. But to her, the necklace brought back many happy memories, of her childhood in Mithlond, and her family's home by the shore.

`Whose can this be?' she wondered, `Most of the Elves who still live here have never even been to the sea before.'

Her thoughts were interrupted by another flurry of feathers. She shook her head in wonder. What more was there to discover on this infrequently trodden path?

Without waiting for her to come to him, Bainsúl picked up the new discovery in his talons and brought it back to Nessúlë, dropping it into her outstretched hand. It was a small rolled up piece of paper. At this point Nessúlë's curiosity would have given out (for she could not justify reading what might very well be a personal note) had she not seen her name scrawled across the outside in the Mannish alphabet.

For a few moments Nessúlë merely stared at the paper in her hands, and then at the rose and the pendant which she had laid in her basket. Something about this whole situation was very odd. She wondered for a moment if it was some trick of Elrohir's. There was only one way to find out. With wary fingers Nessúlë unrolled the note and perused its contents.

Na i'gwen o i'ëar {To the Maiden of the Sea*},

I beg you to accept these tokens. The necklace is of your homeland and the rose is of this hidden valley. Know that, to the eyes of one, your beauty outshines the wonders of both realms and will live forever undimmed in memory.

Nessúlë felt her cheeks grow warm. Who had done this? She did not recognize the handwriting and there was no indication of who had gifted her with these things. For a fraction of a moment Nessúlë was aware of a feeling of delicious wonder, but it was soon overpowered by a growing sense of annoyance.

`It's just a trick. I'll wager Elrohir is trying to capture blushes. I'll not have it.'


Elrohir slipped from the woods a moment before one of his old friends, walking up from the south fountain with two filled water jugs, came along the path. The Elves greeted one another, but Elrohir was soon left alone as the other Elf moved on toward the scullery with his load. In solitude, Elrohir wandered slowly around to the western side of the Halls, and ducked through an archway into a covered walk. He discovered a pleasant surprise there. Arinel* sat on a low stone bench, cradling her infant daughter in her arms.

"Lady Arinel, I did not expect to see you. Has my brother finally allowed you to be up and about?"

Arinel smiled wickedly. "Nay, Lord. But you will not tell him, will you? I feel quite recovered from the delivery, and I believe that it does me well to be outside in the fresh air. Lairossë also seems to find it very agreeable, for she has been so peaceful this evening.

Elrohir was in a fine mood and so he did not hesitate to join Arinel and amuse her with what wit he had. A few minutes after he sat down, Lairossë stirred and began to beg for attention. With awed gentleness he took the young one from Arinel's arms when she offered to let him hold the child. This was only the third newborn that Elrohir had ever known, and so he had been lost the first time that he looked into her blue eyes, and he remained smitten even now.

Arinel watched Elrohir affectionately as he held her child. She decided that it would be incredibly amusing to see his reaction when Elladan and Oloriel's child arrived, considegay how enamoured he was with Lairossë.

After a few moments of silence, Elrohir's attention was drawn from the infant as he felt something being plucked from his hair. Arinel eyed him curiously as she held up a dried piece of leaf.

"Where did this come from?" she inquired, "I thought you were to be held in counsel for most of the day, or so said my husband. When did you have time to lollop about in the forest?"

Elrohir shifted his eyes away from her. "I suppose you wouldn't believe me if I told you it floated down into my hair, would you?"

Arinel laughed as she twirled the crinkled, obviously long-dead leaf in her fingers. "Nay."

"Well, my lady, you must admit that with such a small community there is not nearly so much to speak about as there was of old. The counsel was adjourned earlier than planned."

"That still doesn't explain why you went roaming about the forest in your ceremonial robes," Arinel remarked astutely.

"Perhaps I didn't have time to change," Elrohir replied ambiguously.

This was the only answer that Arinel could draw from him, even when she threatened to take Lairossë away from him. She had seen that twinkle in Elrohir's eyes before. He was up to something.


Celeborn sat back and watched in amusement as Nessúlë came trudging up the path, seeming to be holding an argument with herself. Her features were flushed and everything about her spoke agitation. He had been observing her for some time as she had come down the far slope and up the rise toward the Halls. He had also seen her hawk fly away after some more amusing company, apparently bored with her one-sided mutterings.

Being situated largely behind a lilac bush, Celeborn was hidden from casual glances, and so Nessúlë would have walked right by without noticing him had not he called out to her.

"Peace, child. What irks you so?"

Nessúlë's head flew to the side, mahogany hair swaying fiercely, as she searched through the nearby greenery. Her eyes soon alighted on the silver shit and she inclined her head to him before making to continue.


Nessúlë paused and turned back to Celeborn.

"I have asked you a question and it would be most rude of you to ignore my inquiry" he chided gently, "Besides, you look in need of a confidante."

Her first thought was to stubbornly resist, but there really wasn't much point in the end, since it was all a big joke anyway. She might as well vent some steam.

"Your grandson is a trickster, my Lord," she declared vehemently.

Celeborn's eyebrows raised and he pursed his lips slightly. "This I know. Which one do we speak of and what has he done to you?"

Nessúlë tried not to pout, but it was very hard to do. "Elrohir has played a most ungenerous trick upon me and baited me with a hook that precious few maidens are wholly immune to. I am not taken in, but I am quite disgruntled."

As she spoke these words she waved the curled piece of paper in the air. Celeborn motioned her over to where he was sitting on the grass.

"Will you let me look?" he asked gently.

Nessúlë petulantly threw the note in his lap and sat down across from the former Lord of Lothlórien. A few moments passed as Celeborn read the lines with a thoughtful air. Finally, he looked up and eyed the maiden closely.

"What tokens are these?"

Nessúlë reached into her hamper and plucked out the rose and the necklace for his inspection. Celeborn recognized the necklace, but said nothing about it.

"And you believe that Elrohir has played some trick upon you?"

Nessúlë huffed. "Who else could it be? I cannot recognize the handwriting for the Mannish script, but really... what else is to be deduced?"

Celeborn smiled knowingly. "Perhaps we may deduce that you have captivated someone in this valley, that he has yet to find the courage to approach you on equal terms, and that he would presently have you know of his regard in some small way."

It could not be denied that Nessúlë's jaw visibly dropped. "You believe... this to be a truth?" she asked, baffled.

Celeborn handed the letter back gently. "I know that my grandson would not play false in such a way with any lady, not even to satisfy his mischievous nature." Getting up from where he sat he placed a comforting hand on Nessúlë's hair. "I believe you have an admirer."


Nessúlë wiped her hands against her apron and looked around approvingly at what she had prepared. The fresh vegetables combined with the trout that Mirima had brought her soon after she returned to the Halls had been put to use recreating some dishes from Nessúlë's homeland. She had offered to cook for her hosts the day before and was rather pleased with the results. It had been years since she did anything serious in the kitchen, but it seemed as though she still remembered.

"It is ready to serve, Mirima. Keep the trout on the warming stone, and remember... well, I suppose that's all. I'll go and change now."

Mirima smiled affably and shooed her away from the counters. Taking off her apron Nessúlë picked up her basket and left the kitchen, heading toward her room. Cautiously she looked down and saw the rose, pendent, and letter lying against the wicker. She took an uncertain breath. Celeborn's words had been plaguing her mind for the past two hours, and it had been all she could do to stay focused on her work. Could it be true? And if so, what should she do with these things?

When she reached her rooms Nessúlë changed hurriedly, not bothering to arrange her hair. She then paused and looked at the "tokens" which she had laid out on the bed. Was she pleased or displeased? Should she accept them or stuff them away in the bottom of a drawer somewhere? She couldn't think straight on the subject. Therefore, in lieu of any sound reasoning, she simply acted on impulse. Hanging the rose up on her bedpost to dry and, after a moment of uncertainty, putting the necklace on and tucking it inside her dress, Nessúlë swept out of the room before she could rethink her actions. After all, what need was there to ponder? The rose was indeed lovely and well worth keeping and the golden pendent did truly remind her of her home. And if, during the evening, the cool feel of the metal against her chest brought a mysterious smile to her face, what of it? No one would see it in any case.


After the meal, which was pronounced delicious by all, the small party moved from the private dining room to Elladan and Oloriel's sitting room. Celeborn sat down with Oloriel's harp and began plucking out gentle, drifting melodies, and Elladan drew his wife into a corner to massage her aching lower back. This left Elrohir and Nessúlë to themselves, as frequently happened.

The two Elves started out the quiet evening by playing a game of strategy not unlike chess. It was as Elrohir began to press in on Nessúlë and jeopardize her position that she felt her impatience grow and the urge to speak become unconquerable.

"You weren't in the southern woods today, were you?" she inquired pointedly.

"Yes, actually, I was." Elrohir casually made his next move, as though her question had been of no consequence.

Nessúlë was taken back by his answer. If he were attempting to fool her, would he admit this or deny it? How would he go about his deception? She wanted to press him for more information, but she quickly lost her nerve. She didn't want to know the truth. This thought shocked her, but she couldn't deny it. It would seem a shame if it were all a joke in the end. Of course, either way it was a silly affair and nothing could come of it... but it was nicer to think that it was real than that Elrohir would do such a thing to her. After several conflicted moments past, in which she attempted to appear like she was pondering her next move, she shook her head and decided to let the issue past. Perhaps it was nothing.

Elrohir gazed on her thoughtfully as she raked the playing board with her eyes. He could read indecision plainly on her face and wondered which side would win out. He let his eyes wander back to the board as she shook her head, but he did not miss the glint of red and gold that peeked out from inside the collar of her dress.


1. Nessúlë's second name is Ëarwen = `Sea Maiden'

2. Arinel showed up in "To Dream" a couple of times.

Things to Know:

Nessúlë: "young spirit"
Bainsúl: "fair wind"
Arinel: "morning star"
Lairossë: "summer rain"
Mirima: "free"

neth-mellon-en: "young-friend-my"

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