Hyellnassë: The Glass Thorn - Ch9: Stirring Up the Waters
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Chapter 9.) Stirring Up the Waters
"Gather the stars if you wish it so
Gather the songs and keep them"
- Carl Sandburg
July 13, 210 Fourth Age, Valinor
Recap: Five days since last chapter. Kallindo has caught wind of some of the rumors flying about the town but is largely ignoring them while Calina is still trying to determine how she will deal with her newly discovered feelings.
Three young ladies were sprawled rather indecorously across the large bed. The she-elf in the middle, dressed only in a silken shift, was busy plaiting and unplaiting a small lock of her golden hair with great zeal. The she-elf on the right, dressed only in a silken shift and a soft dressing gown, was busy twisting and untwisting a lock of her silver hair around her finger in nervous confusion. The she-elf to the left, dressed in airy, lavender robes and propped up on one elbow, was frowning at the antics of the other two and wondering if her hair had been pinned securely enough to last through the evening. Danneniûl walked in upon the trio and could not help smiling at the mixture of agitation that hung heavily in the room.
"Calina, could you go into the other room and bring the veil?"
All three maidens sat up with a start. "Is it time?" Ránendë whispered joyfully.
Danneniûl merely smiled, shooing the girls off the bed and laying the delicate gown that she had carried down upon the rumpled covers. Stepping back she admired it for a moment and then turned to her eldest daughter. She was about to free her tongue and let a moment of motherly effusion take hold of her when she noticed that Calina was still standing near the foot of the bed, twisting and untwisting her hair.
"Calina, my dear," she began gently, "The veil."
Calina looked up quickly. "Oh yes - the veil. I shall be back in a trice." And with that said, she wrapped her dressing gown tightly around herself and whisked from the room.
Danneniûl shook her head and turned back to Ránendë. "Your sister seems to be as flustered as you are."
"I wouldn't say that," the maiden in the lavender dress interjected. She was Ránendë's dearest friend and had been invited to help prepare the bride. "Ránendë has been positively simmering all morning. I never thought I would get her to lie down. And even then all she would do was fidget. I only hope you can do something with her."
Ránendë grinned bashfully as her mother laid a tender kiss on her forehead.
"I no longer have that power," Danneniûl admitted. "All we can do is prepare her for her husband. Once she sees him I think she won't remember to feel nervous any more."
Ránendë blushed even as she pouted prettily. "I am not nervous, thank you. But I have so much energy I feel as I should rather take a fast run along the beach than wait in my room until eventide."
As she spoke, Calina returned with the long, embroidered veil and laid it down beside the wedding gown on the bed.
"We shall have to keep you busy then, shall we not?" Danneniûl declared. "Let's begin."
Calina muffled her laughter against her father's shoulder. Falas had just come tripping down the stairs engulfed in his eldest sister's wedding veil. And out of him came great moaning and groaning as though he were some wandering, undead waif. Soronhín accommodated his daughter with an arm around her waist and shook his head in paternal resignation.
"I suppose it was futile to wish," he whispered into Calina's ear, "That perhaps Falas would approach this day with something resembling sobriety."
Calina snorted lightly and raised her head, eyeing her father skeptically. "Quite right, I'm afraid. But he was so good to sit quietly while we dressed Ránendë's and not get in our way that I can't fault him for this small lack of decorum. And it is quite diverting."
A small commotion in the corner caused both elves to glance over to where a small writhing body was sprawled out on the floor, trying to untwist himself.
"Falas!" Calina cried harshly. "You should know better. Oh, the veil! Here, let me see it."
With nimble fingers Calina righted her brother and divested him of his ethereal robes. Frantically she spread out the large veil and glanced over it, looking for tears or snags in the embroidery; when she found none she let out a relieved breath. Casting her eyes toward Falas she was met with a very downcast countenance. His hand was held firmly in that of his fathers and his eyes glanced timidly up from beneath his downy eyelashes.
"It is alright, little one," she smiled encouragingly. "But you must be more careful today, do you understand?"
Falas nodded his head solemnly. Calina ruffled his hair with an affectionate hand, trying to cheer him up.
"Your sister is right." Soronhín spoke, squeezing Falas' hand gently. "If you want to stand by your sister today in the great assembly you must promise to behave yourself."
"I will, atto, I promise."
"Very well. Then I'll let you carry that veil back to where it belongs. Tell your sister to come down; it is almost time."
With reverent movements, Falas accepted the folded veil from Calina's hands and walked with ceremonious slowness out of the room, down the sun dappled hallway, and up the stairs.
Soronhín and his daughter stood in companionable silence for a few moments. But their reverie was soon disturbed by the sound of rustling garments on the stairs. With anxious steps, Soronhín moved over to the doorway and peered down the corridor. Calina silently came to stand behind him, looking over his shoulder as Ránendë appeared in the hallway at the foot of the stairs.
Danneniûl followed shortly behind and came around in front of her daughter to adjust the veil. It fell to Ránendë's knees and she held her hands demurely clasped beneath it. But despite her subdued pose and the veil's covering, her brilliant eyes shone brightly. And the giddy smile that tugged playfully at her lips was made sweeter by its being part of the picture of an expectant bride.
"She is so beautiful," Soronhín whispered, "I am still amazed that she is my daughter - that I have been blessed with such children. It is a wondrous gift."
Calina smiled sadly. "And I could never wish for another father. Nor could my sister - I am sure it grieves her to leave this home, even as it brings her great joy to begin her own."
Soronhín rested his hand on the frame of the doorway before stepping out into the hall. "It is the way of things. She will make a beautiful home. Come," Soronhín extended his hand to his youngest daughter, "Let us wish her great joy,"
After kisses, exclamations, and compliments were exchanged in abundance the family eventually made their way out into the circular foyer. The great doors had been flung open and the path leading from the wide steps was strewn with a myriad of flowers. The slanted light of the evening sun gilt the hall in radiant hues and balanced the excitement of the company with its drowsy warmth. It was not long before the faint sound of singing could be heard. Attended by all the inhabitants of Fanlítsë, Ehtúro was coming to claim his bride.
A cheer rose up from the crowd as the pipers took up a heartier tune. The solemn rituals were past - it was time for the revelry to begin. Kallindo found himself laughing along with the rest at the antics of the young lords and ladies as they leapt and spun to the music. In was a fine night: deep and brilliant with stars. A fine night for dancing.
To his own surprise, Kallindo soon found himself among the merry-makers. He let the music carry him and was suddenly reminded what a glorious thing it was to be alive. To spring like a roe in the forest; to breathe deep the fresh sea air; to feel the gentle touch of starlight on skin and the intoxication of the drums. Yes, it was very good. A sharp pang of joy touched Kallindo's heart then and he closed his eyes amidst the mayhem, confident that the music and the whisper of the sand would lead him through the throng safely. It was not until the rhythm changed that Kallindo opened his eyes to find he was near the edge of the dancers, and that Calina stood nearby simply watching. Without a thought he swept by her and pulled her along into the crowd. She let out a startled cry, but Kallindo merely laughed and would not let her go.
"Come, my lady," he called out over the din of the gathering, "Did not I say that I would dance with you?"
Calina had recovered from her shock by then and found that a laugh was welling up in her throat, even as her face flushed with what she hoped would be mistaken for firelight. "Indeed - let us see who grows weary first!"
The challenge being issued, it was taken up, and the two were soon lost from view in the revelry. And it was only after much swirling, swaying, laughing, and weaving that they finally came to a rest, calling a truce and collapsing beneath one of the canopies to refresh themselves and take their rest.
"A toast!" Kallindo raised a full cup of mead and clinked its edge against the goblet in Calina's hand. "To the finest dancing partner I have had in many years."
Calina bowed her head before looking up with a cheeky smile. "To one of the only dancing partners you have had in many years."
Kallindo narrowed his eyes slightly but did not object, carrying on in an amused voice. "And, of course, we must raise our glass to the new family. May their love grow with the passing of time and may they soon provide you with many nieces and nephews to dote on."
With a laugh and a hearty agreement Calina raised her cup and then set it to her lips. She tried not to gulp. Feeling quite high-strung from her recent exercise and current company, she was having trouble calming her breathing, and the heat in her cheeks was quite telling. It was her desperate wish that Kallindo would not notice.
Lowering the cup, Calina set it aside and plucked a small clump of grapes from a nearby platter. Pulling them off one by one and eating them slowly helped to keep her hands from fidgeting, and she and Kallindo were able to settle into a comfortable conversation which lasted for many minutes. It was largely uneventful until her companion turned the conversation in an unexpected direction.
Leaning back on his hands and gazing out over the cheerful company, Kallindo let go of a contented sigh. "It is good to feel so carefree. Thank you, my friend."
Calina blinked. "Why do you thank me?"
Kallindo smiled and gave her a sidelong glance. "I felt shortly after I met you that you had come home for a good purpose," he finally replied. "You were like a favorable omen come down out of the mountains. I cannot say why, but you have wrought some enchantment on me, I think. After weeks of your steadfast ministration I feel almost as light as I did... before..."
Calina's pulse thrummed loudly in her ears. He said it in such a matter-of-fact way that she knew there was nothing behind it but what had been freely revealed. Yet the thought of even that was a wondrous thing. Her heart did indeed wish, however futilely, for more than gratitude, but certainly it was a beginning. And that Kallindo had felt some sort of connection to her, beyond that of a chance friendship, made Calina's heart tug with a mixture of apprehension and joy
It was unfortunate, then, that this blissfully timorous moment was interrupted by an unexpected arrival.
"You must not hide yourself away, my lady. Come back among the young folk!"
Calina looked up with a startled expression to see one of the village youths extending a hand to her. His amiable smile would have won her good will on most occasions, but his untimely intrusion, mixed with his implication that Kallindo was too mature to be thought of as more than a chaperone caused her to bristle. However, she did not have time to send the fellow off, for he scooped up her hand with confidence and drew her to her feet.
"You do not mind if I steel this sweet flower away?" the newcomer asked Kallindo off-handedly.
Calina turned back to Kallindo, willing him to do something. But he had a rather resigned look on his face, as though he had known it was inevitable.
"I will feel the loss of her company," Kallindo replied gallantly, "But I would not keep her from the revels. I think I shall go sit with your father, Calina. Enjoy yourself."
Consternation welled up within her as she watched Kallindo get up from where he sat. The only thing she could think to say was, "Won't you join us?"
Kallindo gave her a slow, half-smile before continuing on his way. "Perhaps later," he replied as he moved past her. Calina pursed her lips. She knew he was merely placating what he perceived to be a gesture of pity on her part.
`Well, he can go sit with my father all night if he's going to be so obtuse,' she griped to herself. And then, with half-hearted interest, she allowed herself to be led away.
Soronhín gazed at his eldest daughter wistfully. She and her newly wedded husband had withdrawn from the firelight and only the silhouettes of their blissful faces could be discerned as they bent their heads together and whispered sweet confidences to each other.
"Am I not enough for you?" Danneniûl whispered playfully as she came up beside her husband and took his arm. "You look positively lost."
With a sad smile, Soronhín withdrew his arm and pulled his wife into a gentle embrace. "You will always be enough, love." He placed a kiss atop her head and squeezed her waist. "But it all seems too soon. I have not lived in Endórë, as you have, but I cannot imagine how the Edain can bear to lose their daughters so soon. Only twenty years? I have had Ránendë for over two centuries, and still it is not enough."
"Ah, but just imagine," Danneniûl countered gleefully, "Grandchildren!"
Soronhín's face did lift at the thought of new little ones, but he had to laugh ruefully. "It may be quite a while yet, if they choose to be as indecisive as their parents."
"This is true, my lord," Danneniûl turned her husband back towards the light, letting the young ones have some privacy. "But it is still a wonderful thing to look forward to Perhaps the thought will bear your spirits up. - Oh, I'm sorry Kallindo, I did not mean to ignore you. "
Kallindo nodded his head cordially. "It is nothing. I was merely resting here awhile, trying to lend your good husband some moral support. He hasn't been very talkative tonight, I'm afraid."
"Then I thank you, most heartily," the lady returned with a broad smile.
Just then Calina meandered up to the trio, pausing to acquire a class of cool water as she came.
"I have finally gotten away! I thought I should have been run ragged with so much dancing. I think, father, that these village folk must raise heartier children."
Calina's tone was quite lively, despite her disheveled and flushed aspect. She was relieved to see that Kallindo had not slipped home unnoticed.
"Nay," Soronhín rejoined strongly, "Nothing can be said against my own little flock."
"If you say so, sir." Calina placed a kiss on her father's cheek and then her mothers.
"Have they left yet?" she whispered conspiratorially in her mother's ear.
Danniûl shook her head in the negative.
The maiden could not help giggling as she murmured: "What patience!"
"Calina!" her mother chided, hoping that Kallindo would ignore, or had missed, her daughter's audacious comment.
"Well it's true, I daresay." Calina tossed her head and the last blossom which adorned her hair, after having survived the nights dancing, fluttered to the ground. With a saucy grin she swept past her parents and took up a spot on the sand near Kallindo.
"Have you been sitting here all the while?" she chided lightly.
Kallindo raised an imperious eyebrow. "Actually, no, I did not."
"Oh really?" Calina eyed him. She felt a sudden wave of irrational possessiveness pass over her, but she did her best to ignore it. "And with whom did you dance?"
"I think that shall remain my secret."
Calina pouted, but it did no good; Kallindo remained unmoved. The two bickered, if such a quiet exchange could be called bickering, for several moments before Calina gave up and laid back on the sand with one hand under her head.
"I admit defeat."
Kallindo chuckled dryly. "How very good of you."
Calina let her head loll to the side and frowned. "Where are amil and atar?"
Looking about him, Kallindo spied Calina's parents and then lay back in the sand to relay the information.
"I think your sister and brother-in-law have finally run out of patience."
Calina's face flushed crimson. Not only because Kallindo had overheard her brazen comment but because she found herself lying in the sand a mere inch or two away from the object of her most tender affection.
`I don't think I ever realized what lovely eyes he has...' Calina blinked quickly and tried to focus on what Kallindo had just said.
"And... my parents are seeing them off?" she finally responded.
Kallindo turned his face up toward the stars. "Aye. And I suspect also that Soronhín will take your mother and brother home straight after."
The two lay silently for several minutes, listening to the continued sounds of the merry-makers.
"Bainrís is in her full glory tonight," Kallindo broke the peace between them.
"Of course, you call her by a different name: Wilwarin, is it not?"
Calina smiled in understanding. "Oh, you mean the constellation... I did not realize that you had different names for them. But that does makes sense, now I think on it. Your `Fair Queen' must have a different story than our `Butterfly'."
"Yes, indeed she does."
A brief moment past before Calina built up the courage to ask quietly, "Won't you tell me of her?"
And Kallindo was happy to oblige.
Soronhín wandered through the congratulatory crowd looking for his wayward son. The little scamp had positively disappeared. He only hoped that Danneniûl was having better luck on the other side of the gathering.
"Calina is a bright little creature, isn't she?"
Soronhín pulled up abruptly as he was about to turn round the corner of one of the canopies. Nearby, two oblivious youths were in light-hearted conversation, apparently about his youngest daughter. The opportunity was too tempting. Soronhín was not incensed by the idea that his daughter was being looked at - there was really nothing he could do on that front - but he was very intrigued to hear what would be said of her.
"Aye," the second elf replied heartily, "Which makes it all the more pitiable that she is already lost to us."
"Lost? Do you think so? Not to-"
"It's as plain as day. Of course she is. Look at them together."
Both elves turned to gaze toward the south. Soronhín followed their lead and he found that Calina was right where he had left her. She and Kallindo were both reclining on the sand, apparently engrossed in their conversation. Kallindo pointed up toward the stars as if tracing a picture; then he said something and Calina giggled, her nose scrunching up prettily.
`Certainly not,' Soronhín mused, `They must be mistaken.'
"You must be mistaken," the first elf reasoned, "Kallindo is a fine elf, but she could not possibly take to one so serious - and who is old enough to be her father, no less. And we all know Kallindo is quite confirmed in his bachelorhood."
"Be that as it may," the second elf continued undaunted, "The signs are evident. Perhaps he is unmoved - it is certainly a point open to argument. But she is positively smitten. You should have seen the way she drooped when I took her away from him for a dance."
The conversation was brought to an abrupt halt as the two elves were called back into the crowd. Apparently some games of skill were about to be hazarded by the young folk in the dim light.
Soronhín stood still for a moment, quite confused. Had he really committed such a gross oversight?
"Husband, I have found your naughty son," Danneniûl appeared suddenly, Falas in hand. "He and Hravan were getting into mischief again."
With what he hoped was a neutral expression, Soronhín turned back to his wife. "We'll speak of it in the morning. This is not a day for unpleasantness."
Thankfully, Danneniûl accepted this explanation and took Soronhín's hand with her free one. "Let's go home."
As the three departed, Soronhín had to resist the urge to retrieve Calina, pull her up from the sand, and send her off to bed, as he would have done when she was a child. However, as things stood presently, it looked as though the situation would require a great deal more delicacy and tact than that solution would allow for.
Soronhín sighed. He would have to speak with Calina before anything could be decided.
Calina couldn't keep herself from humming along with the pretty tune that was still rising up from the beaches near the town and through her open window. The celebration was certainly not over, even though the family of the bride had departed.
Walking over to the window, brush in hand, Calina sat down on the sill and began undoing her hair. A smile full of delightful secrets spread across her face. She couldn't help it. She had enjoyed herself so thoroughly that she could not help but be gay. And was there not also cause for hope?
"I am willing to work for this," Calina murmured to the sea breezes ruffling her silver locks. "I am of the firstborn - I have all the time in the world. Whatever he gives me I shall cherish and be grateful for; whatever obstacles there are, I will cast down as gently as I may; and whatever walls he has built for himself, I shall make him see that he is not alone."
Calina stood and nodded resolutely at the brilliant moon. She did not swear it, but from that day forward, she took her words as an oath.
1. Tolkien dubbed the constellation Cassiopeia as Wilwarin in the Silmarillion. But this was the name given to it by Elbereth (Varda) and may not have necessarily been known the Elves that never traveled to Valinor with Oromë. Therefore, I have taken the liberty to create a name by which they might have called it, and which makes a vague allusion to the constellation we know.
Things to Know:
Calina: Q. "illuminated"
Kallind: Q. "noble heart"
Soronhín: Q. "eagle child"
Danneniûl: S. "fallen embers"
Falas: S. "beach, shore"
Ránendë: "moon pool"
Ehtúro: "spear victor"
Hravan: "wild one"
Bainrís: "beautiful queen"