Hyellnassë: The Glass Thorn - Ch11: An Early Frost
Disclaimer: I don't own Middle Earth or any of Tolkien's creations and I'm not making any money.
Names/Pronunciations/Misc will come at the end of each chapter.
`*' signals a footnote
"text" signals dialogue
'text' signals thoughts
A/N: Two replies
Anorelen: Firstly: Thanks! I'm glad that you've seen improvement across the course of my writing. I myself have to look back with a skeptical eye on some of the decisions I've made in the past, but I do think I'm getting better with each story - which is the important part. ,_,
Secondly: I believe it is a Sindarin/Quenyan difference. Hyellnassë is Quenya. I use a site that has dictionaries for both (http://home.netcom.com/~heensle/lang/elvish/elvish.html). The entries there for Sindarin "glass" and "thorn" match up pretty closely with the way you translated them.
Dilly: You wrote: Oh, I shall die happy....no wait! I will die when it is over...yes that is right. So finish quick smart!
- wait a second... if you're gonna die when it is over, why would you want me to be quick about it! ,_~
Chapter 11.) An Early Frost
THE FROST has settled down upon the trees
And ruthlessly strangled off the fantasies
Of leaves that have gone unnoticed, swept like old
Romantic stories now no more to be told.
- D.H. Lawrence
July 20, 210 Fourth Age, Valinor
Recap: Same day as the end of the last chapter. Calina's parents have found out that Calina is in love with Kallindo. In an attempt to break the bond before it grows stronger, Soronhín has asked Kallindo to leave Fanlítsë for a time.
Calina walked reluctantly out from beneath the eaves of the forest. Since her morning encounter with Kallindo and Soronhín she had cloistered herself away on the wooded hill. No one had come down to find her, and for that she was glad. It had given her time to rage, pace, mutter, cry, and think. And that time had been precious: there was much to think on.
But the time for brooding was now over. In a perverse stroke of irony her stomach - usually so docile - had begun to cry out for the noonday meal, which was some two hours past. And so, feeling that it was too much to be both emotionally and physically miserable, Calina departed her sanctuary with resigned steps. She hoped that she could raid the kitchen without being noticed, and eat her repast in solitude. Then she would take a few minutes to prepare herself for an unpleasant but necessary meeting with her father.
The way between the lower garden door and the kitchen was, thankfully, clear of both servants and family. Calina arrived with a mental sigh of relief and felt a degree of tension ease out of her as she stepped into the calm and homey room. Within moments she found a few delectables, a piece of day-old bread, and a decanter of some sweet cordial. She was halfway through her modest meal when the eldest of the family's two maidservants, a kindly matron, entered with a basket of newly cleaned aprons and bread-cloths.
"There you are!" she clucked, "Your poor mother did fret over the noon meal, though she tried not to show it. I hope you were not kept away by some unpleasant business."
Of course, the lady didn't know a thing about what had transpired in the house over the past two days, but her question was uncomfortable nonetheless. Calina did her best to provide a sufficiently benign answer, and quickly ate up the rest of her lunch before fleeing the kitchen. She paused a moment in a small alcove in the hallway to decide what she would do next. Her father's study was only a few yards away. The door was closed, but when she calmed her breath, Calina thought she heard the sliding whisper of paper on paper. He was at home.
Feeling somewhat restored after her meal, and knowing that any traces of her morning cry must have disappeared, she felt that it was as good a time as any to do what had to be done. With a slightly raised chin, Calina strode down the hallway and knocked crisply on the closed study door.
There was a rather lengthy pause before Calina heard movement from beyond the door. In another moment Soronhín swung open the solid oak panel and stood before her, his face in a contrived state of neutrality. For several moments neither one spoke.
"I need to know what you told him," Calina declared with soft forcefulness.
Soronhín did not argue with her. Instead, he stood aside and beckoned her into the room. Calina complied, taking a chair and watching expectantly as Soronhín closed the door and positioned another chair to face her before sitting down as well.
"I told him what I knew of your current state," Soronhín finally spoke, his tone bland.
"My current state?" Calina exclaimed bitterly.
Soronhín closed his eyes and wove his fingers together. "I told him that you were in love with him."
"But why, atar? I don't understand it! Unless you asked him to shun me, and I cannot imagine that you possess such arbitrary cruelty."
"Nay, I did not ask him to shun you. He truly cares for you, and I would never ask him to belie himself, nor would I wish such a sting to fall upon you." Soronhín's fingers tightened on one another and did not release.
"But you did ask something of him, didn't you." It was a statement, not a question. And yet, Calina knew that an answer would come and she prepared herself for a harsh blow.
Yes, I did."
Calina's eyes pleaded with her father, where her voice failed: Tell me.
"I can only trust to your affection, that you will forgive me one day, little one. And I pray that you will understand I have only tried to protect you as best I can."
Soronhín leaned forward in his chair and held his daughter's gaze as he spoke. "I have asked him to leave Fanlítsë."
Calina's eyes widened perceptibly, but it was her only sign of reaction for a long moment. She opened her mouth to speak but no sound came out. She closed it and opened it again: "How could you do it? This is madness! Do you seek to quell my heart by taking away its sun? All that you will do is cast me into darkness. You have no power to change that!"
With an abrupt movement, Calina rose from her chair and began pacing the room. "And this is Kallindo's home - more so even than it is mine. This place is his content! If you cannot be swayed from your intention, at least send me away and not him. Please, atar!"
Calina knelt before her father and grasped one of his hands.
"Nay!" Soronhín placed a fervent kiss on his daughter's brow and stroked her hair with his free hand. "Do not ask me such a thing. I know that this will be a difficult time for you, little one. I cannot bear the thought of you enduring it alone. And my duties do not allow me to leave this place, not now. No - you must stay. And Kallindo has agreed to go - I did not command him."
"His love for you would turn any request into a command!" Calina drew back and pinned her father with a blazing glare. "You have done wrong by both of us. This cannot come to good."
"It may yet! Have some faith in my judgment."
Calina scrambled to her feet and flew to exit the room.
Soronhín stood hastily and cried out. "A little patience, and- " But he did not speak quickly enough, and his words were lost in the firm thud of the oak door against its frame.
Kallindo surveyed his sparsely furnished bedchamber one last time. He believed he had remembered to pack everything of immediate worth, and nothing that would be greatly missed caught his eye. What was yet unpacked would be left as it was, against the day of his return, perhaps. He hoped he would return. If not, a cart could always be hired to carry away the rest. But that would be for another day.
One difficult article still lay on the bed, next to a set of well-worn traveling bags. It was the tunic that he had leant Calina on the first day of their acquaintance. Kallindo eyed it in doubt, unsure whether to take it with him or no. His first impulse had been to take it with him; it had been a gift, and was after all one of his favorite tunics. But when he had drawn it from the chest under the window he had found that it was now entirely associated with a young silvery maiden, and not with its giver, or even his tastes, at all. It also struck him oddly that, though it always lay near the top of the chest, he had not worn it once since Calina brought it back to him.
Kallindo turned away from the bed and went into the front room of his home. A half-drunk mug of tea was growing cold on the windowsill. Paying it no head, Kallindo went over to the latticework door and swung it open, stepping out into the weak morning sunshine. A few minutes past before Kallindo's eyes wandered up to the southern bluff that jutted out into the bay. He squinted briefly and then turned away from the view. Calina was atop the high ridge, watching the sunrise.
There was something indelicate about the whole situation, Kallindo decided then: something a little crass. The first budding of love is a fragile experience for an elf, and a time of great vulnerability, though it is often hidden beneath layers of joy and excitement. Kallindo perceived with sudden clarity that to have such a new love aired out so abruptly was a great shame. Calina may not have wanted his pity, but he did pity her. It was truly a shame.
A hallow chuckle escaped Kallindo's throat as he turned back to his bedchamber. Why in the name of all things good had she fallen in love with him? It was an odd fancy.
"Would that I could undo it," Kallindo murmured, reaching down to pick up the troublesome tunic. Without analyzing the decision further, he stuffed it into one of the leather sacks and hoisted them both onto one shoulder.
Ránendë blinked groggily as her eyes focused into wakefulness. Her face rested against Ehtúro's chest; she frowned as he moved from beneath her and sat up in bed.
"Someone calls for you, love." Ehtúro leaned down and placed quick kisses on his wife's forehead, nose, and mouth.
"Ignore them and they'll go away," Ránendë smiled sleepily.
"I would obey you gladly," Ehtúro replied, while pulling the covers away from Ránendë. "Except that whoever it is sounds rather agitated."
Ránendë's mind suddenly came into focus. It had only been eight days since the wedding. Why would anyone intrude upon their solitude so soon unless something was gravely amiss?
Just as this thought registered in the lady's mind, the voice called out again: "Ránendë, please come out. I need to speak with you."
"It is my sister!"
Ehtúro relinquished the bed sheet and Ránendë wrapped it around herself as she quickly padded to the main entrance of their newly built home. When she opened the door, Calina drew her unceremoniously outside. Then, in a flustered tone, she was sent directly back in to "put some decent clothing on," and instructed to come back out directly.
"What is it about?" Ehtúro asked from his seat on the bed. He watched with a concerned expression as his wife quickly made herself presentable.
"I do not know yet. But Calina looked positively out of sorts. I'll return as soon as I can." And without even so much as a good-bye kiss, Ránendë flew from the house.
Calina was waiting on the front step, knees hugged to her chest. She sprang to her feet as soon as Ránendë reappeared.
"You have to come with me! I know it is terrible thing to ask of you, but I can't think of any other way. I won't ask amil, because she refuses to be set against atar. You are the only one left!"
Ránendë stared in baffled silence at her unusually incoherent sister. "Calina, dearest, I think you had much better start from the beginning. I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about."
In a voice that wavered between bashfulness and indignation, Calina informed her sister of her "current state," and of their father's means of dealing with the situation. Ránendë was duly impressed by the narrative, and sympathized with her sister in a very comforting manner. But she did not quite know what to think. Was their father right, after all? She herself had lectured Calina on the poor state of Kallindo's heart. However, she quickly rallied to Calina's aid when she heard what had transpired that morning.
"I only wanted to be able to speak with him at least once before he left," Calina explained. "To try and- I don't know- perhaps there was nothing to say, but I wanted to try... But he's already gone! I went to see him this morning and his things were missing. He has already left, and atar won't tell me where he went!"
Ránendë slipped a reassuring arm around her sister's waist and began leading her back to their once-shared home.
"Come, I shall speak with him and persuade him to tell. He is still our good father - I will make him understand."
At the end of their journey, Ránendë left her sister in the courtyard and told her to wait there a while. She would go in alone. As she suspected, their father was still in his study. She quickly pushed open the door and stepped into the room.
Soronhín was staring out a window, looking rather lost, but he turned when he heard someone enter. For several moments all he could do was stare at his eldest daughter in dumbfounded silence.
"I am of course delighted that you've come to visit us so soon, but... whatever are you doing here?"
Ránendë pursed her lips before going straight to the heart of the matter: "Where has Kallindo gone?"
Soronhín groaned softly. He had had far too many arguments with his children over the past few days. It left an ache in his heart. "Your sister called you here."
"Aye, she did. And I was glad to come. I am as surprised as you are by this revelation, but certainly she has the right to at least speak with him before they are separated. Her confidences have been revealed, she has had no opportunity to explain herself to him, and when she goes to speak with him this morning she finds that he has, in one night, already uprooted himself and gone. Atar, it is hardly fair."
"And you would like me to tell her where Kallindo has gone, so she will have the opportunity to do something incredibly rash? I think it would not be well."
"And I think you are exaggerating the possibilities," Ránendë countered firmly. "Besides, the fact remains that, though young, Calina is a grown woman. You were within your rights to ask Kallindo to leave, as one person to another. But Calina also has the right to choose if she will stay. Do not drive her away, atar. Let her at least speak with him; she will come back, she has given her word."
Soronhín looked thoughtfully at his daughter. "She gave her word?"
"Then... I cannot refuse, though it troubles me. I imagine that Kallindo will be on the Middle Road to the city. He has a good friend there: Alassar, the minstrel."
"Thank you, atto!" Ránendë swooped up to place a kiss on her father's cheek before leaving in a whirlwind of skirts.
She found her sister pacing in the hallway. Calina turned at the sound of the door closing.
"The Middle Road. You remember Alassar, his friend."
The words had hardly been spoken when Calina let a relieved smile claim her lips and, with a word of thanks, ran out of the house and toward the stables.
It was not long at all before Calina led her horse out into the courtyard. She was quite capable of riding bareback, and there really was no need for any other preparations since she would not be gone long. Gathering her skirt in one hand, Calina swung up onto her mount and turned the mare toward the pathway leading down from the hill. Her intentions of leaving were interrupted, however, by the sight of the dark kiln-room door.
She chewed on her lip slightly, considering the impulse, before she slipped back down off the horse and ran into the cool rooms. The sculpture of the locust branch still sat in its place of honor amid her other creations. With a timid hand, Calina reached out and slid her fingers around one of the largest thorns. Then, with a determined set to her chin, she snapped the thorn at its base and returned to her horse. Only moments later she was urging her mare down the hill toward the town, where the Middle Road ran into the sea.
Kallindo was glad of the horse Soronhín had lent him. It would have been wearisome to carry his bags all the way to the city. Still, Kallindo was more fond of walking than of riding, and so he merely led the horse, which clopped along beside him at an obligingly sedate pace.
The day, at least, was beautiful. This had provided a little comfort to the reluctant traveler. One could not help but be somewhat uplifted by the sight of clear sunlight falling across fields of vibrant grass and fragrant wildflowers. Kallindo's thoughts began to be weighed down once more, however, as he came within sight of the river fording. He had passed this was with the ladies of Soronhín's house not so long ago. That had been a merry day.
"Ah, Calina," he whispered to himself, though the horse pricked its ears in curiosity. Kallindo chuckled and obliged the horse by patting its neck and addressing it companionably. "She is such an exuberant spirit. I do wonder how she ever became tangled up with love. I don't suppose you have any wise words to share upon the business?"
The horse continued to walk along the road. Kallindo shook his head. "I thought not. I certainly don't have the wisdom for it. I wish I knew what would be best to do, but I am in a muddle, my friend - a true quandary. Should I have spoken to her before I left? I begin to think that I should have. But can I turn back now?"
The horse rolled its eyes and arched its neck, sidestepping away from Kallindo and letting out a light whicker.
"You think I should?" Kallindo questioned in amusement.
But as the horse continued to prance along, Kallindo understood that something else was afoot. A moment later the answer came to him. There was a sound of hoofbeats coming faintly from the south, most likely from a rider upon the road. Thinking nothing of it, Kallindo continued on his way, speaking softly to the horse. However, his journey came to a halt a few minutes later when, upon throwing a casual glance over his shoulder, he caught a glimpse of a skirted rider with silver hair. He did not for a moment try to deceive himself as to the identity and purpose of the elf.
Kallindo led the horse to the side of the road and relieved it of its burden. There was no use for the poor horse to stand there through the odd encounter that was to come, and the small river ahead would provide a convenient watering hole. With a kind word, Kallindo sent his mount off to wander in the fields. Then, finding a patch of ground where he would not crush many of the innocent flowers, Kallindo took a seat and waited patiently for the lady to arrive.
Calina rode with great confidence. Kallindo could not help but marvel at the courageous set of her shoulders and the firm, steady movements with which she brought her horse to a side-stepping halt in front of him. Her color had been heightened by the fast pace of the ride; silver hair floated about her face and softened the tense line of her jaw. It was a sight that impressed itself upon Kallindo's mind and lingered in his heart for many days after.
However, her intense poise broke for a moment as she met his gaze. A flicker of doubt wavered in her eyes and a self-concious bloom spread across her cheeks. She did not know where to begin, Kallindo could see that; he grew quite concerned as the silence between them stretched on. Finally, he decided that since she had supplied the bravery needed to follow him, it would be unjust for him to not take some of the burden upon himself and speak first.
"I am glad that you've come," he began, his voice surprisingly natural, "I should have spoken with you before I left; forgive me. "
Calina ducked her head for a moment, but then raised it and gave a small nod of thanks.
"It seemed the thing to do. Impulsive, perhaps, but it was the only goal I could fix my mind upon... Of course, as is so often the case, I never paused to think what would happen after I found you."
Kallindo couldn't keep the soft smile from his lips. Calina had such a characteristic expression of confusion on her face: it warmed his heart to know the world had not truly been turned up-side-down in the space of a day.
"Why don't you come sit and think a while," Kallindo suggested. "I will wait until you are ready to speak. "
Upon making this suggestion, Calina fixed Kallindo with such a heart-felt look of relief, gratitiude, and adoration that is was almost too much for him. Though he was fairly certain that he had never actually blushed in his many years of existence, an uncomfortable heat did prickle his skin.
Calina slid off her horse, graceful as ever, and took a seat on the ground near Kallindo, but not too near. Considering it a kindness, Kallindo did not weigh her down with his gaze, but instead scrutinized the land before him, leaving her alone with her thoughts. Calina took full advantage of his offer, quietly weaving and unweaving her fingers as she pondered how best to begin.
When Calina sank back into the tall grasses with a sigh, Kallindo turned to read her expression. A few moments later she began to speak, seeming as she did so to be addressing herself to the lazy-floating clouds overhead.
"I do not want you to think that I only ever took interest in you because some silly flight of fancy seized me the moment we met. That is... I suppose a fancy did take me - you must have thought my boldness terribly odd - but it wasn't of the sort that you read about in maudlin tales."
Calina took a deep breath before she continued.
"The first thing I ever truly noticed about you was your sadness. You haven't seemed so sad since; perhaps it was simply the day or the hour or a particular mood. But I still noticed it. I didn't notice your strength or your beauty; I didn't miraculously see into your soul; I didn't feel like swooning." She bit off the last word with distaste. "I just thought... well, I didn't think about love. I want you to know that I never had designs on you. You were my friend first. Truly."
Kallindo digested her words before shifting his position so that he could face her directly. "I know that, Calina. I have never doubted your plain-dealing honesty. And you have been a very good friend - a tonic for my spirit. I am glad for every moment I have been blessed with your company."
Calina looked rather humbled and self-conscious as she met Kallindo's gaze. He answered the unspoken question: "I am perfectly sincere. And it makes the current situation even more painful. I wish I could save you from what is to come. It grieves me to know that the friendship which has done me so much good will end with bringing you pain."
Calina's lip curled in disgust and she turned away from Kallindo, sitting up abruptly. "Why does it have to end? Why does my father insist upon this pain? If he had not told you my secret than we could have gone on as we have done. Would that have been so terrible? Friendship is one of the sweetest things - I would have been happy to be your dear friend."
"But you merit so much more than that," Kallindo spoke softly, watching as Calina's back tensed with reflexive indignation. He knew it was a hard thing to be told from all sides that the thing one wanted most sincerely was better withheld because it was not, upon rational consideration, as desirable as one thought.
Several heavy moments hung between the pair before Kallindo reluctantly decided to use Calina's own words against her. "Isn't it your theory that elves have more choice in love than they believe? You have lectured me yourself on my passivity; you have railed against the generalization that an elf only loves once, and that if his first true love does not come to fruition he is bereft. Your spirit is strong Calina. You can draw from that strength. You can find a better life for yourself; find a life-mate who will be able to give you what you deserve without-"
"And what about what you deserve?" Calina spoke with calm precision. She turned to face Kallindo once more and laid a tentative hand on his cheek. "Haven't your years of kindness, humble service, and patience earned you anything? How can I rebuild my heart and move on when I know that, somewhere on this earth, you are still so alone."
Kallindo couldn't move beneath Calina's steady gaze. His breath was shallow and he struggled not to break his word. Soronhín had faith in his judgment: he must not be tempted to soothe Calina's wounds with pity, or even with compassion, kindness, and gratitude. She would discover how hollow his remedy was in the end. No, he must carry out his intent.
Taking her hand gently away from his face, Kallindo gave it a gentle squeeze. "There are many in this world who still have a care of me. I will not be alone, do not fear."
Calina's eyes pleaded with him. "But they do not love you as I do."
Kallindo could not meet that declaration with a quick word or gesture. He looked away from her and swallowed past the thickness in his throat. It was a bitter task that lay before him. "No they do not," he finally acquiesced, squeezing her hand one more time before letting go of it. "But I have their love all the same, and it is enough... I must go now, Calina."
To Kallindo's surprise, the maiden made no more protests. But he found the blank expression that descended upon her features to be far more distressing. With an apprehensive heart, he stood up and called to his horse, which was lazily munching grass nearby. With stiff movements, Kallindo secured his bags onto the animal's back and smoothed the hair of its mane as he considered how to say good-bye.
Calina touched Kallindo's arm gently and he turned to her. Reaching into a pocket of the plain dress she wore, Calina pulled out a piece a glass. It took only a moment for Kallindo to recognize its identity: it was one of the locust thorns.
"Take this, please." Calina held out the slender piece of glass and Kallindo took it mechanically. "To remember me by, I suppose."
Kallindo rubbed his thumb along the cool surface of the glass thorn. "I do not need any token to remember you by, Calina Soronhíniell. But I will keep it well. Namárië"
Kallindo stood by his horse and watched for several minutes as Calina rode southward, and then took the east bend that led up through the hill pass. It was only when she had disappeared from sight that he turned his eyes back toward the river and once more took up his unexpected journey.
Soronhín had been watching at a northern window for over half an hour before he spied Calina coming home along the path from the town. Danneniûl had sat with him while he watched. Her feelings may have been torn on the matter at hand, but she knew her husband well enough to see the weight of anxiety and responsibility that he carried. She knew how he tried to do right by all his children, and hoped that his actions would come out right in the end, for the sake of everyone involved.
When Soronhín announced that their daughter was coming, Danniûl rose from her seat, came over to the window, and promptly announced that he should go to meet Calina on the path. Something about the picture of her daughter, riding with head bent, sent an alarm through her spirit.
"Go," she whispered. "She needs you now."
Soronhín did not need further urging. Without a word he ran from the house and hurried down their hill to the beach below. Calina had been riding very slowly; he was over halfway to the village before they met.
The horse stopped as Soronhín stepped in front of it and rested his hand against its neck. Calina did not meet his gaze. Her jaw was clenched in a hard line; her fingers tangled desperately in her mare's mane. Soronhín's spirit sank as he noticed the pallor of her skin, and the almost imperceptible tremors that shook her body.
"Calina," he called gently.
She blinked but did not respond.
"Little one, please say something." Soronhín reached out and laid his large hand over her cold ones.
The memory of what happened next had the power to overwhelm Soronhín's senses for years to come. It was as if he witnessed his daughter shatter into innumerable pieces: violent, quick, startling. At the touch of his hand Calina's face crumpled, she fell against his chest, was pulled into his arms, and wept and wept. The suddness of it all left Soronhín quite unprepared. He couldn't get a firm grip on his daughter and so had to fumble her to the ground, where all he could do was hold her tightly as she wet his tunic with her hot tears.
It was many minutes before she could even speak. And then it was only to say: "I can feel him getting further and further away... It hurts, atto! It hurts so much..."
At that moment Soronhín was tempted to take Calina's mare and go fetch Kallindo himself. But instead, he scooped her up into his arms and slowly carried her home. Once there, he put her in his own bed, lay beside her with Danneniûl on the other side, and let her cry herself to sleep. He and his wife stayed with her for the rest of that afternoon, and on through the night.
Things to Know:
Calina: Q. "illuminated"
Kallindo: Q. "noble heart"
Soronhín: Q. "eagle child"
Danneniûl: S. "fallen embers"
Ránendë: "moon pool"
Ehtúro: "spear victor"
Alassar: "joy stone"