Hyellnassë: The Glass Thorn - Ch6: Quiet Moments
Names/Pronunciations/Misc will come at the end of each chapter.
'*'signals a footnote
"text" signals dialogue
'text' signals thoughts
A/N: On reading back through this story I've noticed quite a few grammatical errors. I'll try to do better proof-reading from now on.
Chapter 6.) Quiet Moments
Oh! Who would inhabit this bleak world alone?
- Thomas Moore
June 13, 210 Fourth Age, Valinor
Recap: Day after last chapter. Kallindo and Calina have unexpectedly met up with each other in the city as Kallindo is passing through on his return to Fanlítsë.
The breathy whisper hung in the air as Calina drew her hood back and tilted her head upward toward the glowing clouds. Her lips parted slightly as if to drink in the soft mist that was descending around her. Tiny pearls of dew caught in her hair and eyelashes whilst her bare feet stepped daringly through the wet grass in the small garden before her temporary city residence. Kallindo, who was coming up the walk to retrieve her for their morning excursion, paused to watch as she bent over a water-beaded rose to savor its heady scent.
"A fair morning, good sir," the maiden hailed Kallindo as she straightened, flashing him a bright smile.
"And to you as well," Kallindo replied amiably. "Are you certain you do not want to equip yourself with a pair of shoes? I will wait."
"Nay, I have no need of them. It is warm enough."
"Very well then. Lady?" Kallindo held his arm out to her and she took it quite willingly.
"From my own experience I know that there are two very fine bookseller's shops but they are, alas, in opposite directions from one another." Kallindo drew to a halt as they stepped out onto the street. "Shall we go right or shall we go left?"
Calina pursed her lips in mock concentration and then slowly declared, "We shall go... left."
"A good choice." Kallindo nodded in approval. "There is also a quaint bakery in that direction and now we shall have a good excuse to drop in."
"Have you not breakfasted, my lord?"
Kallindo smiled mischievously. "That matters not at all, little Soronhíniell. Their fare would be tempting even on a full stomach. But no, I have not yet breakfasted."
"Then I shall be delighted to try this fare," Calina assented. "I know now that I was wise to take only some tea and a few strawberries this morning before I came out."
The conversation continued in an airy strain while the pair wended their way through the gracefully curving streets of the elven city. Not many minutes had passed, however, when Kallindo halted their journey and turned Calina aside into a cozy, fragrant shop. Inside, rustic wood and bouquets of wildflowers showcased a myriad of savory scented pastries, pies, and breads. Calina drew away from Kallindo's arm and enthusiastically perused the displays, obviously in a quandary as to what she should choose.
"May I suggest the strawberry and crème tart?" Kallindo murmured over her right shoulder. "Since you are fond of strawberries I am sure you would enjoy that."
The shop owner came over while Calina and Kallindo were discussing the various advantages of strawberry tarts with crème and pear tarts with cranberries and honey.
"Why not allow your lady the delights of both," the baker interjected enthusiastically. "This morning I have made strawberry and pear tartlets." He directed Calina and Kallindo's attention toward a tiered tray of minute pastries.
Kallindo smiled up at the baker and thanked him for his suggestion. He then proceeded to buy two dozen of the bite-size pastries. Six of strawberry, six of pear, six of mince (which Calina professed a liking for), and six of rosemary pheasant (which were one of his personal favorites).
The bakery hosted a few small tables to sit at and Calina chose the one in the corner away from the door. For a few moments after being seated the two launched into another merry discussion of how they should divide their spoil. In the end, Calina took all of the mince, Kallindo took all of the pheasent, and they split the fruit tarts evenly between them. Calina declared that the strawberry tarts were the best of the fruit. Kallindo argued for the pear. This led to another negotion in which a stawberry and a pear switched hands.
All in all the detour was a very enjoyable success, and Calina made sure to thank their host for his delicious creations as she and Kallindo departed the bakery, their stomachs pleasantly satisfied.
"Now, about this list..." Calina pulled a piece of parchment from a hidden pocket in her cloak. "I have only additions. You have the original list which atar sent with you, yes?"
Kallindo inclined his head. "Some were exact titles and some were subjects. There were perhaps two dozen."
"I see." Calina look over her own list. "And I have thirteen more. We certainly have a task cut out for ourselves."
"Have no fear, we shall see it done."
"Yes, but by what time? I believe amil was hoping to make the return journey this evening. We shall have to be very industrious if we are to make that departure."
"Kallindo! I think I have found it. Oooh... but I cannot reach it." Calina huffed impatiently as she dropped back from her straining, tiptoe position.
The book in question slumped sideways on a shelf that was tantalizingly close yet out of reach to the she-elf. The gold embossed title of the precariously perched tome was faded and the last word was unreadable, but Calina was convinced that it was the desired text and was impatient to prove herself correct. This was the last book yet to be found and would mean the end of their lengthy searching.
Kallindo appeared from around a bookshelf and came up behind Calina. She pointed at the book wordlessly and, with a twitch of the lips, Kallindo reached up to easily pluck it from the shelf. Calina gave the elf a sour look.
"At your service." Kallindo bowed slightly and handed the book over, a slight smirk on his face.
"Thank you," Calina murmured sulkily.
Most she-elves were comparable in height to any elf, but the females on Calina's mother's side of the family tended toward a more diminutive stature. And unfortunately for her, she had not inherited her father's rare height.
Opening the cover of the agéd book, Calina's down-turned mouth curved up into a smile of satisfaction. "I believe we are through here."
Just as she spoke, a shaft of evening sunlight tilted into the musty back room of the bookseller's shop. Both Calina and Kallindo glanced up to gauge the time and then looked askance at one another.
"We may not be too late," Calina encouraged. "Come, let us purchase our treasures and be off."
Having bought the books, Calina and Kallindo departed their third bookshop, each with an oilskin parcel in hand.
"I do hope that the books we had sent home from the other shops have actually arrived," Calian worried. "Our haste will be all for naught if they have not been delivered this afternoon."
"I informed the proprietors of our imminent departure," Kallindo assured her. "They shall be there and, if we move efficiently, I'll wager that we shall be in Fanlítsë shortly after sunset."
Calina's face suddenly lit up, as though a delightful scheme had just entered her head. "Oh what a delightful thought. How fast can your Silvan legs carry you?"
Kallindo lifted a questioning eyebrow, but Calina did not wait to expound her plan. "Come on!" she cried merrily, lifting up her skirts with one hand and dashing off down the lane. "If we hurry, we may just be able to arrive on time."
With a bemused shake of the head, Kallindo jogged after her, knowing that it would be of little profit to try and guess what Calina had stirring in her mind.
The pair made it back in very good time. Calina, along with her mother, sister, and her sister's prospective mother-in-law, Vaniméra , were staying in a friend's home. When Calina and Kallindo hurried in through the latticed entryway they found Calina's family already gathering luggage together in the front sitting room.
"Oh, you are back!" Danneniûl cried. "I am so glad. We shall certainly have enough time to return home this evening. Do come in Kallindo: never mind the cluttered floor. Here, let me take both of your cloaks so that they may warm by the fire for a few minutes while the wain is brought round. Shall you come with us, Kallindo?"
For a few moments Danneniûl fluttered happily around the room, scooting boxes out of the way, throwing the cloaks over a delicate wooden bench in front of the fire, and relieving the new arrivals of their parcels. In the midst of these operations she almost had a collision with Vaniméra, who was attempting to move a delicate crystal ornament belonging to their kind hosts to a safer location than the chaotic room in which it currently resided. A catastrophe was narrowly averted as Ránendë daringly leaned out over a precarious pile of trunks and caught the object as it flew from her future mother-in-law's hands.
"Yes, I shall if you would have me," Kallindo replied, trying to contain his mirth at the feminine pandemonium. "I had already planned on returning this evening."
"And do you need time to gather your things?" Danneniûl inquired.
"Nay, they are already packed. I did not travel with much." Kallindo looked around at the confusion of the room and then continued. "But now that I think on it, it would behoove me to bid a proper farewell to my host. I shall go now and meet you at the southern gate in a half-hour's time."
Danneniûl smiled and nodded, turning to help her daughter fasten a bulging trunk. Kallindo ducked quickly out of the bustling room and made for the cool air of evening. He was stopped only a few steps from the doorway, however, by Calina's merry voice.
"Kallindo, do you travel on horseback or on foot?"
"On foot, my lady."
Calina furrowed her eyebrows. "I would offer you a seat in the wain, but I believe my dear relations have bought enough materials for a dozen weddings. You are welcome to ride with me if you like."
Kallindo thanked her kindly but declined. "You will not travel quickly with a weighed-down wagon as it is. I shall be fine on my feet."
"Very well, then. Farewell for the present!" Calina smiled brightly and ducked back into the house just as a crash was heard from the front sitting room.
Chuckling at the joyful mayhem which was Soronhín's lady-folk, Kallindo made his way down quiet streets to say farewell to his friend and host, Alassar.
"Here is your cloak." Calina extended a bundle of fabric out to Kallindo as she approached where he stood, at the right side of the southern gateway from the city.
"Ah, thank you. I was hoping someone would remember it."
"You'll have to thank my dear sister for that," Calina replied, as said sister approached them on her own mount. "I believe your cloak would still be toasting by the fire if I had been left to my own resources."
"Then I thank you, Ránendë," Kallindo called over to the golden-haired maiden, raising his cloak in explanation. She nodded her acceptance.
"Well, I suppose we should be off. There goes amil and Vaniméra through the gate now. I do hope our wain won't collapse under its load."
Kallindo glanced toward where the wagon was moving out onto the open road, piled high with every sort of box, sack, and trunk. It did indeed look precarious.
"I believe it shall hold," Kallindo replied with a light smile. "After you, my lady."
Calina obligingly urged her mare through the gate, riding abreast with her sister. When they were through, however, she called back to Kallindo. "Come now, you must walk with us so that we may talk. This will be a drearily slow journey so we must amuse ourselves as we can."
Kallindo easily kept pace with the two horses, which were forced into a walking pace behind the wagon. For well over half their journey the three conversed quite comfortably and thus wiled away the time. It was not until they reach the ford of the river, just before sunset, that their conversation was brought to a halt.
"The rain has had its effect I'm afraid," Danneniûl called back to the younger elves behind, gesturing at the swollen river as she did so The pebbly bottom of the ford was completely invisibly beneath a layer of water. "Kallindo, do you think the wain is high enough to cross safely?"
Kallindo walked forward while Calina and Ránendë stayed behind with the wagon. Taking a fallen branch from a nearby tree, he went to the edge of the water and plumbed its depth.
"It is only, perhaps, three spans*," Kallindo concluded, discarding the branch. "The wain will easily cross it."
Thus concluded, Danneniûl and Vaniméra took up position on either side of the wagon horse's head and led him slowly across the ford. The body of the wain sat high enough so that only a few inches of it sat in the water. And it was solidly built, with sealing along the joinings of the wooden planks to prevent water from seeping in.
After seeing the wagon safely across, Kallindo made to wade across himself.
"Don't you dare," Calina commanded firmly. "Kallindo, there is simply no need for you to drench your boots and leggings. Get up behind me."
Kallindo raised an eyebrow at her stern expression, but didn't respond. Moving over to her mount he jumped up lightly behind her.
"As you wish."
Calina's face melted into a smile. "Thank you. Shall we move on?"
Ránendë cast an amused glance at her sister before urging her horse into the water. Calina followed slowly, letting her mare choose her own way across the hidden ground. When they reached the other side Calina spoke before Kallindo had the chance to dismount.
"Are you willing to take a little detour, my friend?" she inquired over her shoulder.
"A detour to what?" Kallindo returned with a question.
"Oh, you know... something wonderful. Come on, you would not want to miss it." And then, without allowing him to answer, Calina turned her horse from the path and urged it into a canter. She called out to her mother as they sped away: "We shall meet up with you again beyond those hills."
Danneniûl simply shook her head in resignation and then let an affectionate smile touch her lips. Vaniméra, who rode on her right, leaned over and whispered conspiratorially: "Will you soon have another wedding on your hands?"
Looking over to her friend with a startled expression, Danneniûl furrowed her brows slightly. "Nay, there is not danger of that. Why should you think so?"
Ránendë, who had come up on her mother's left side, responded for Vaniméra. "Perhaps it is because, since her return, Kallindo has spent as much time with Calina as he has with atar."
Danneniûl waved the possibility away. "You know Kallindo: he will not look at a maiden in that way. And I think Calina simply delights in pestering him." Turning to Vaniméra she continued. "She has always been wont to behave in such a way. Never has she kept a wide circle of close friends, though she is generally well liked by all. She will seek out one or two people to scheme with. I have heard her speak kindly of one of the maidens from the village. For all I know in a few months it will be her, and not Kallindo, that she dotes on."
After this declaration, the she-elves' conversation moved on to different subjects and the absent pair was almost forgotten. Meanwhile, Calina had brought her horse to the bottom of one of the western hills, upon the side of which a dirt pathway climbed.
"I discovered this path when I returned from studying with Oiratinwë," Calina explained as they began to ascend the hill. "My escort and I had lunch under those trees yonder, and I explored while I ate my bit of cheese and bread."
"Am I to hear of the marvellous sight which I shall see presntly, or is it a surprise?" Kallindo questioned amiably, not put out in the least by his abduction.
Calina chuckled. "Of course it is a surprise, you silly elf. It is better that way."
The pair rode on in silence for a little while until the path became steeper.
"You had better hold on, Calina warned, as her mare eagerly scaled the quickly rising terrain.
"I beg your pardon," Kallindo murmured, "but you are the only thing to hold on to." With that said he slipped his arms around her waist and leaned forward into her back.
"Never fear," Calina replied in good humor. "I am not offended."
It was not many moments before Calina's mare had bravely surmounted the crest of the hill and brought her mistress to the tree-tufted crown. It was not readily apparent to Kallindo what was so spectacular about the place, but he decided to be patient.
Calina dismounted first, slipping from Kallindo's grasp and turning back to her friend. "Come down and I will show you the way."
Kallindo dismounted and followed the maiden as she walked over to the western side of the hilltop. Through the spindled arms of the trees, Kallindo made out that the sea lay just beyond their hill and probably crashed upon its very roots.
Calina pointed downward and Kallindo noticed for the first time a hole in the ground. But it was not simply a hole bored into the soil. A few inches of earth lay on top, but soon gave way to a thick layer of smooth, tan stone. Beyond that layer, the walls of the hole gave away to what, from all appearances, was probably a small cave of sorts. Without another word, Calina dropped down into the hole, calling back up to Kallindo that he should follow her.
Trusting her judgement, Kallindo did as she asked, finding himself, as he had conjectured, in a small cave that opened on the western side to look out, unimpeded, across the sea.
"We are just in time," Calina whispered gleefully.
And then Kallindo understood. The sun was just beginning to dip down along the horizon. And not only was the view breathtaking, but it was enhanced as the golden lights of evening caught upon the walls of the cave and were reflected by thin layers of quartz embedded there.
"It is, indeed, wonderful, little Soronhíniell."
Calina moved over toward the lip of the cave and sat down, patting the rock beside her in invitation. After Kallindo settled himself beside her she leaned over and whispered: "Do you call me little because I am young, or because of my stature?"
Kallindo smiled deviously. "Which would displease you most?"
A rather unladylike snort came out of Calina and she leaned back on her hands, declining to answer. Several peaceful moments passed before Kallindo broke the quiet once more.
"How long have you been home?" Kallindo inquired. He was curious as to how this little maiden had so quickly secured his affectionate regard.
Calina turned to study Kallindo's profile. "I returned on the second day of Lótessë. It is now the thirteenth day of Nárië. That would make for... fourty-three days, would it not? Why do you ask?"
Kallindo was silent for a moment as he observed the way in which Calina's own silver hair glistened with as much luster as the luminous quartz around them. He smiled slightly and turned back toward the sea. "It is good to have you here."
Calina's face softened and she placed a hand on Kallindo's shoulder. "I am glad to be here... And I think-"
Her words were silenced as Kallindo placed a finger across her lips.
"Listen," he whispered.
For some reason that she could not place, Calina's heart sped up from the innocent contact of Kallindo's touch upon her lips. He held her gaze unflinchingly, and she saw a peaceful light in his eyes as he attempted to share this moment with her. Calming her breath as best she could, Calina listened as Kallindo had instructed her. It was only a moment before she heard the cries of gull chicks above the sound of the waves below. She smiled.
As Kallindo felt Calina's lips move beneath his finger, he drew his hand away. Both elves sat for several minutes in silence, Calina's hand still resting on Kallindo's shoulder. When they finally did stir, it was as if they spoke silently and rose in one accord. They could not tarry if they were to meet Calina's family upon the road. Without a word, the maiden back out onto the top of the hill mounted her mare. Kallindo followed and was soon seated behind her, his arm held unconsciously around her waist.
1. A span = 9 in./22.86 cm.
Things to Know:
Calina: Q. "illuminated"
Kallindo: Q. "noble heart"
Soronhín: Q. "eagle child"
Danneniûl: S. "fallen embers"
Ránendë: Q. "moon pool"
Vaniméra (vahn-im-EYR-ah): Q. "good wish (or desire)"
Alassar: Q. "joy stone"
Oiratinwë Calamau: Q. "eternal spark/light hands"
Fánlitsë: Q. "white sand"
Lótessë: Q. "May"
Nárië: Q. "June"
atar: Q. "father"
amil: Q. "mother"