Mellon Nin - The beginning story: How Jaeomen and Gil-lome became friend

Mellon Nin

The boar dug into the earth with his snout. The mud was warm and smelled of worms, roots and spring flowers. The boar bit into one of the juicy white roots. Suddenly, a shaft whistled by him and vanished with a rustle into the bushes. All the birds were suddenly quiet and the boar bristled.

"You kept good control of your bow," Maeghen, a tall wood-elf, praised, "but you aimed to high."

"Aim lower. Hold the arrow longer if you want but not too long or the arrow will be unsteady," his brother Cúmal advised.

Little Gil-Lömé sighed and drew another arrow. He took a step away from his older brothers and the bent the bow. Through the uncurling leaves he could see the boar about seven yards away. It sniffed the air. Gil-Lömé let the arrow fly. It missed the boar who went running deeper into the forest.

"The chase is on!" Cúmal said springing from a log and sprinting toward the boar, his grey cloak billowing after him.

"Ah, let the boar go. I'm tired of archery. I'd much rather be playing at Crossed Sticks or Dwarf Numbers." Gil-Lömé whined. His right forefingers were throbbing from where the bow string had chafed against them. The bow and quiver were getting heavy.

Cúmal froze in mid-bound and Maeghen sighed.

"Those children's games!" Cúmal snorted. "You're old enough to learn to hunt."

"Yes," Maeghen said, " but let not push him beyond his limit. We'll give you a rest, little sapling." Gil-Lömé beamed. Maeghen raised a hand, "But not so you can play. Come over here and I'll show you how to read tracks."

Gil-Lömé tossed the bow to Cúmal and jovially followed his oldest brother.

Jaéomen proudly clutched the long, bright tail of the ninniach. The little leather ball bobbed at the end of the colourful streamer. His other hand was wrapped in his father's warm, calloused fingers.

His father was a cobbler and smelled of leather and dye. Over his shoulder was slung several pairs of shoes, which had been made for some of the guards who lived in the Elvenking's hall.

Their path swerved through tall beeches and grassy dells. Jaéomen saw a group of children playing in a dell close to a thicket. There were both boys and girls, some with blonde hair, some with black and even a tall boy with red hair. They were at some game, twisting and weaving themselves through clasped hands. They glided about each other with the grace and beauty of a flock of swans flying over a lake. Their merry laughter filled the dell.

Jaéomen did not have any friends. No one wanted to play with the clumsy son of a mortal woman and an elf, who refused to listen to common opinion and remarry. But the other children might want to play with the ninniach. Jaéomen glanced ahead at the bridge and the Elvenking's magic door. He imagined himself waiting endlessly in some dim corner beside the vine covered pillars, while his father gossiped with the guards.

"Ada," he said, "may I go play with the other children?"

Talesgal looked down at his son in surprise then smiled, "Of course, you may. Just stay with the others and come home before dark."

He planted a wet kiss on Jaéomen's cheeck, which made the boy glow with embarrassment and warmed his heart. He scrambled off to the other children.

"Would you like to play with my ninniach?" he said, holding the colourful tail up for display as if it was a peace offering, for elf-child do love to play with a ninniach and they have thousands of different games for it. So all the children flocked around Jaéomen waiting for him to select one, when the red haired boy spoke out.

"How about the King in the Woods, that's my favourite." Many of the other nodded. With a quick hand the red-head lifted the ninniach out of Jaéomen's hands. But, Jaéomen did not mind, he ran to find his place in the circle forming around the king. Boy, girl, boy, girl was the order and he blushed as he squeezed into place between two dark haired sisters. Then the sing began:

The King in the Wood
The King in the Wood
Tra la, a fairy- o
The King in the Wood

The King takes a Queen
The King takes a Queen
Tra la, a fairy- o
The King takes a Queen

The red head tossed the ninniach high up into the air by its long streaming tail. All the boys crouch down and all the girls ran into the circle. One lucky one caught the ninniach and the rest jumped back in to place.

The Queen takes a Counsellor
The Queen takes a Counsellor
Tra la, a fariy- o
The Queen takes a Counsellor

Up the ninniach went, it's long tail curving in the air. Purple, blue, yellow, red, and orange fell to earth like a rainbow. Jaéomen stumbled over his feet as he ran and fell into the grass. The rhyme halted for a second and Jaéomen thought everyone was staring at him. Shame filled him and he ducked back into line.

The Counsellor takes a Princess
The Counsellor takes a Princess
Tra la, a fairy- o
The Counsellor takes a Princess

The Princess takes a Prince
The Princess takes a Prince
Tra la, a fairy-o
The Princess takes a Prince

Jaéomen rushed out of the circle hoping to regain his self image, but again his feet failed him and he tumbled into another boy, who began to cry. His friends pushed Jaéomen away.

The Prince takes an Archer
The Prince takes an Archer
Tra la, a fairy-o
The Prince takes an archer

The Archer takes a Stallion
The Archer takes a Stallion
Tra la, a fairy-o
The Archer takes a Stallion

This time Jaéomen did not run out of the circle instead he backed away; he did not want to play. The archer, with quivering braids, threw the ninniach hard. It shot above the children like a bright arrow and disappeared into the thicket.

"I'll get it," Jaéomen called and escaped into the shadows of the branches with a sigh of relief.

"How about a new game," the red haired boy said, "we'll go hide behind the beeches and surprise Clumsy-foot when he comes back."

"Not for me, I'm going home," said the boy who been knocked down and off he went with a handful of others.

But the rest raced to the trees, all but one little girl, the archer, who looked back at the thicket with a heart of pity before running after her friends.

Jaéomen waded through the bramble and pulled the twigs out of his hair. He saw leaves everywhere but no sign of the ninniach. He dodged under a thorn bush, wormed under the branches of ash to the rim of little dry gully. There was the ninniach hanging in a tree.

The half-elf stood on tip toe and stretched out his fingers but the tail was too high. He jumped and caught the soft fabric in his fist. But his feet caught nothing, he rolled down the edge of the gully, and was thrown into a creek of leaves.

He let out a wail of utter pain and jerked back his leg. His knee had struck some sharp rock that was hidden under the leaves. The red blood spread down his leg like many rivers.

"Help!" he wailed, "Dulu! Dulu!" screaming until his voice was gone, but none of his playmates came.

Well, I don't want them to. What can they do? Someone will find me.

He began to think of all the things that might find him: hungry wolves, giant spiders, spirits of the Necromancer. Jaéomen curled into a ball and shivered in the warm spring air. On the far bank the leaves shook and out came a beast. A boar, who ran by him without a passing glance. Then, as suddenly as the boar had appeared an arrow came flying from the wood and into the gully, to land but a hand span way from the wounded boy.

Jaéomen through he had lost a lot of blood for he was feeling light headed and therefore could barely grasp what happened next. An elf appeared with hair as golden as the sun falling about his shoulders. He was older then Jaéomen but not full grown. The bow in his hand seemed too big for him. He wore grey and his mouth was hanging open.

It was almost a fairy tale, Gil-Lömé thought. He had aimed for the boar and found a wounded boy. He half expected to see the arrow shaft stick out of the elf's knee.

"Help, Oha!" the boy cried shifting his leg a little. "I cut my knee, when I fell in the gully!"

Gil-Lömé's mind shifted from a hunter to a healer, "We have to stop the bleeding," he said throwing the quiver on the ground and pulling out a cloth that was meant to wrap up the boar. "I'm Gil-Lömé, can you bend your knee? Do it slowly. Does it hurt anywhere else? How long have you been down here?"

The archer tied the cloth around the knee tightly and it felt stiff. The dried blood cracked on his leg. Gil-Lömé washed it with cold water from his bottle.

Soon two more elves came out the wood, both golden haired and cloaked in grey. They, too, rushed to Jaéomen's side. The tall one with the piercing eyes untied the clothes and rubbed the wound with a salve that made it feel cool. His brother run his hands over Jaéomen's body checking for broken bones. They asked Jaéomen where he lived, who his parents were and where they might be.

Jaéomen was soon lifted up in Maeghen's strong arms. They were more bony than his father's and he wish Talesgal was with him. He saw Gil-Lömé at his bother's side, his face worried, but when he saw Jaéomen looking at him, he flashed a smile and held up the ninniach with pride.

Jaéomen lay on a soft bed inside a hut of braided trees that grew by the river. There was a woman near him with curls of black hair push up on her head. She smelt of lilac and freshly baked cake. The whole room smelled wholesome and sweet. Jaéomen took a deep breath, and stiffened when he saw the glint of the long silver needle and thread in her hands.

"Ada," he whimpered.

"My brother's gone to fetch him. Don't worry," a voice said and he turned to see Gil-Lömé crouching at the side of his bed.

"What's she going to do?" Jaeomen whispered.

"Stitch you up," Gil-Lömé said."Oh, but it won't hurt. She'll numb it first then close it up without a pinch. I sliced my thumb once and she fixed it, see?"

He held up a plump thumb with thin scar, barely visible. "Only took a week to heal."

Gil-Lömé sat at his family's table nibbling the slice of boar. He had finally shot the animal two days before and the archery lessons were over, for a while.

"Ada, may I go over to Jaéomen's house tomorrow?"

His father raised an eye, "Jaéomen, Talesgal's son? Is that the boy you found in the gully? I suppose there no harm in you going over there but Talesgal's an odd one. They say he left the king's army to chase after a girl of men, which he took a fancy to. Then comes home with naught but baby who can barely walk straight. That isn't right."

"Galamenn," his mother said, "I had no idea you listen to such gossip. You certain can judge the boy but his father or even his mother. Just be glad your son hasn't made friends with a dwarf."

The next day under the shade of an oak tree where the boys were building a village of twigs, Gil-Lömé kept stealing glances at Jaéomen to see if there was anything wrong with him. His ears were both pointed, although one was smaller than the other, his hair was as yellow as his own. He moved differently, more shaky and slower like he was always trying to keep his balance. Cúmal had said men have poor balance, they even can't walk or run on tree limbs, so maybe his friend was really half-man. Gil-Lömé's heart leaped and he almost wanted to go home.

The twig in his hand slipped out of place and the log house began to wobble, but Jaéomen reached out and steadied it. "There you go." he said. "Try a lighter stick?"

"Jaéomen, is it true that you're half man?" Gil-Lömé said in a shaky voice.

The younger boy hung his head. "Is it that obvious?" His voice had more pain in it then when he was crying in the gully.

Gil-Lömé leaned back on his knees, "No, not really. Besides it doesn't matter, you're my friend, mellon nin."

"Your friend," Jaéomen repeated, and brushed the tears out of his eyes.

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