SHADOW AND SILVER: The Story of Aurelin - Chapter 9
And now I feel that I should explain something. Starting with this chapter there come now many chapters where Aurelin in her wound-induced pain starts to recall the stories her parents told her of their life with extra clarity. It is more as if somehow she had seen what happened.
The explanation part is that I started to think about her parents' lives while writing Aurelin's story and so came to be about the same amount of pages about them. And then I suddenly got the idea of tieing them up to one story instead of publishing them separately. Let me know what you think of the device and whether it does Aurelin's story good or bad!
Disclaimer: All the characters and places, the entire world, (well, besides Aurelin, Laswing, Calenloth and Belegorn) belong to JRRT.
The dark of night found Laswing already miles and miles away from the battlefield. He had reasoned that it would be quicker if he followed the path they had taken when in pursuit of the Orcs and not try to cut straight to the Last Bridge. He would be faster on the East-West Road than in the lands around it. Aurelin was a dead weight as he dismounted and whistled to her stallion to come to him. The horse understood why its usual rider was replaced and he let Laswing mount after he had lifted Aurelin up. With his Elthoron now a little behind, resting from bearing two, he continued his mad race. It was hard to listen to Aurelin moan from the pain of the arrow when the hooves of the horse landing made her jolt but if he did not let the steed gallop, she would be dead before he reached Elrond and Imladris.
Aurelin was not aware of Laswing's fears or his soothing words to her. At first there had been total blackness, now however, she was as if floating in it. She understood that she was very close to dieing. Not dead, surely she would feel different then, but close to it. Thoughts of Mandos' Halls and her family jumped into her mind and she started to replay all the stories her mother and father had told her with such vividness, that enabled her to see everything as a moving picture as though she had been there to witness it.
Calenloth looked into the mirror that was hanging in her room. From its reflecting surface looked at her a little girl with emerald green eyes and silver hair. She had inherited the colour of her hair from her uncle Celeborn but her eyes were the wonder of Menegroth, no one had eyes that green in the Hidden Realm. For her eyes she had been named Calenloth, Green Blossom, by her father; her mother-name was Dúril, Brilliance of Night.
The girl was wearing blue leggings, a tunic of the same colour and soft grey boots, in her hair were a dozen braids. Then the Elfling in the mirror smiled as an older Elf-maiden walked into the room,
"Calen, what are you still doing here? I thought you had gone to the Hall to eat an hour ago. Father is waiting for you."
"Lótë, don't be mad at me! I was just about to come, besides, I was out and came in just now."
"Out, so early?"
"Yes, you know the big beech I was telling you about, well, some flowers I haven't seen before are growing there. I want you to see them," she turned around and grabbed the Elf-maiden's hand.
"The only place you are going now is to eat breakfast," the older Elf told Calenloth firmly, "How do you always come up with these things, you are somewhere else all the time, exploring, nosing around?"
"But I want to know what is behind the next bush or beyond a copse of trees, over a stream. You were like this, not long ago."
"I was never that bad, Calenloth Dúril," the Elf called Lótë by Calen made outraged eyes holding a look of mock-disgust.
The two walked out of the room, Calenloth still chattering about the flowers. Nimloth was her older sister, their father's father's father was Elmo, the younger brother of Thingol, and the sisters were held princesses of Doriath in rank after Lúthien of course. Calenloth's name for Nimloth was Lótë, short for Ninquelótë, the name their uncle's love, Galadriel, sister of Finrod Felagund, called Nimloth.
Nimloth had born before the rising of the Sun but Calenloth after, she hadn't seen the days and nights filled only with the light of the stars with no Sun or Moon to illumine the lands. She missed not getting to see that but to tell the truth, Nimloth didn't remember much of those days either.
When the sisters got to the eating-hall, it was quite empty with only a few seats occupied. Calenloth's eyes fell immediately on an Elf directly opposite the door from which the two had emerged - her father Galathil.
"I found her at last," Nimloth said as she lead her younger sister to a place next to Galathil. With a smile she added, "She had been out discovering new flowers."
"Ah, our little Calen had gone exploring then. I always wonder how you remember to eat at all when you get so excited about all the things you get excited about."
Galathil and her wife had soon understood that their two children were very different though they took care of each other, fircely protecting one another. Nimloth was sweet and calm, serene most of the time, while Calenloth was always running around somewhere like a spark of fire, taken up with something. She was very sweet and kind but being still was not one of her strong traits. He accepted his younger daughter's facination with the world outside Menegroth. There was, truth to tell, nothing else to do. So he looked at her daughter who was trying to be meek and apologetic and laughed at last, "Sit down and eat. At least you did get here in the end, even if after some urging."
Nimloth excused herself and went somewhere just as soon as Calen had been seated. Galathil, having eaten some time ago, had nothing to do but watch her daughter eat industriously, doubtlessly eager to be done with it and go off again. He brushed her silvery hair and when she looked up at him with those incredible green eyes, motioned for her to finish the plate.
Calenloth put aside the spoon and the platter, took a swallow from the goblet of spring water and looked around the room. Familiar faces were everywhere but among them a new Elf was seated, talking to three of the warriors of Thingol.
"Who is that?" she asked, pointing her finger at the dark-haired Elf.
"Calen, it's not nice to point at people!" Galathil reprimanded her youngest and took her finger in his hand.
"That is Lachril, he is from Eglarest. He used to live here and his son was born in Doriath but he went to Círdan before you were born."
"Oh, but why is he here then?"
"From what I could gather, he came to live here again. I haven't had the chance to speak with him yet, waiting for a certain lady to come and have breakfast."
Calenloth grinned her most mischievous smile.
"Can I go now?" she asked with a longing look at the door.
"Alright, run along and don't forget yourself to that tree of yours!"
Calen was running under the holly trees of Region, happy to have finally got out of Menegroth again. She had decided the day before to go and check the big holly tree and the flowers that were growing in it's shade. The flowers were violet with a spot of red on each petal, shaped like a four-pointed star and had a wondeful smell. Calenloth hadn't been able to persuade her sister to come with her today but had been promised that Lótë would do it soon.
Laughing she ran, singing loudly and all who she passed, smiled and called out a greeting. With the sun shining overhead, she came to the little clearing ... and skidded to a halt. A young Elf was standing under the holly, his back to her, looking down. The boy was older than she but not by very much, Calenloth didn't know him and to see someone unknown to her in the place she hadn't even showed to her sister yet, made her angry.
"What are you doing here?" she demanded of the Elf.
He turned around and Calen saw that she had been right, he was only a boy still, with dark hair and blue eyes.
"I was just wandering around. But why are you looking at me like that? I have done nothing wrong."
"You don't have to wander here, go away, now, I want to be alone!"
"I have the same right as you to be in the wood," the Elven boy didn't like this slip of a girl ordering him around.
"It was my place first!"
"And now it's mine too." Any adult Elf would have recognised the way the conversation was going as it usually does with young ones - childish to the core.
"No it's not! My flowers are here, I came to see them and I want to show them to my sister."
"And why would I have to leave? Those are beautiful flowers, I was surprised to see them here."
"See them here? What are you trying to say? These are flowers that haven't been seen before, I discovered them," Calenloth drew herself up, annoyed by the boy.
"Of course I have seen them, there are a lot of them growing near Eglarest and Brithombar! Maybe you did find the only ones in Doriath here but others have had knowledge of their existence for a long time."
"You are lying!" Calen yelled, "My father and sister didn't know their name when I described them."
"They might not, they haven't been to the Havens then. Anyway, you probably didn't describe them well enough, I can certainly belive that of you," he was teasing and daunting the green-eyed girl and she took the bait.
"How dare you? Don't you know who I am, my father is Galathil and my sister is Nimloth. My grandfather is Elmo, brother to Elu Thingol!"
"No, haven't heard of them," he made a bored face and lied.
"Maybe your father hasn't informed you of the important things, you busy with flowers and all," Calen grinned viciously.
"You little..," he started towards Calen. He stopped before her and being a head taller, looked down at her.
"I am not little, I am as old as you," she knew it was untrue but it felt good to stand up to him.
The Elf boy laughed, "I am much older than you, at least by five years." With satisfacion he noted the change in her expression.
"My name is Belegorn Aelingil, son of Lachros. What's yours, sister of Nimloth, daughter of Galathil, granddaughter of Elmo?"
"Calenloth Dúril," she answered. "You are the one who has just arrived, I saw your father this morning."
"Yes we have, we are to live here from now on."
Calenloth turned away from him and started to walk away.
"Where are you going? I thought you came running to see your flowers but now you are leaving," Belegorn took three steps after her.
"They are nothing new as you said to me. I want to discover something no one has ever seen." She slowly headed in the direction of Menegroth, angry at Belegorn for ruining her discovery. She decided she didn't like him.
"Wait!" Belegorn came running and caught up with her, handing her a single violet flower, "You can show it to your sister now."
Calenloth accepted it but walked on without saying a word.
"Could have said thank you!" Belegorn yelled after her as Calen picked up her steps and darted off.
When she found her sister at last, she was flustered from the running but had recovered her good mood. She had made up her mind that she really didn't like the boy she had met, but the excitement of the forest and exercise had cleared her mind of all the anger and frustration.
"Lótë, look! Isn't it beautiful?"
"It is, Calen."
"The flower grows on the coast of Belegaer, in Eglarest and Brithombar, but I think in Doriath only under the holly."
"I haven't seen this kind of flower, how do you know it grows in the Havens?" Nimloth became curious, twirling the bloom between her fingers.
"Oh, someone told me." Calen made a face.
The same day during the evening meal, Calenloth found out that she had been seated almost opposite Belegorn. She pretended that she hadn't noticed him but tried to see him from the corner of her eye. Belegorn in turn made a mocking face at her when she took an apple from a bowl and happened to look his way.
"Calen, have you met him?" Nimloth asked, witnessing her younger sister's strange behaviour.
"Um, yes. He is from the Havens."
"What's his name?"
"Belegorn Aelingil. I don't want to talk about him, he is rude and I don't like him!"
Nimloth looked at the dark-haired boy, "He seems alright."
"Well he isn't!" Calen threw a look his way and away again.
"I see." Nimloth glanced from the one to the other and guessed where Calen had found out about her flowers growing in the Havens. "Children," she muttered under her breath with a smile upon her face, "Eat now. Try the soup, it is delicious!" she told her sister more loudly.