Starry Twilight - Chapter One - Of a mother's plots.

Starry Twilight - Chapter One - Meetings

Prologue

The High Pass of the Misty Mountains was the goal of the company from Lothlorien. Going South around through the Gap of Rohan would have been shorter, but they were to meet in Imladris, the Valley home of Lord Elrond. Elrond was to accompany them to the Grey Havens.

Tinel had forced her melancholy aside, and rode along cheerfully. She was genuinely excited to see the Last Homely House, as she had heard so much about it from Arwen.

Now she looked about her in curiosity, determined to take in every detail she could. Away to the East, across the River she could just see the dark shadow that was the Greenwood, formerly known as Mirkwood. It was a pity they were going West instead of East. There were so many more interesting things to the East, Mirkwood, the lands of the Dwarves, and even farther East the mysterious lands of the Easterlings, which few Elves had heard anything about. How Tinel would love to explore all those lands! And the South! Gondor and Rohan weren't that interesting, but Harad and Far Harad! Imagine a land without trees! Nothing but miles and miles of rolling mounds of sand!

Tinel's eyes took on a faraway look as she contemplated these exotic peoples and lands. The Corsairs of Umbar would be magnificent to see as well, though perhaps too close to the Sea for Tinel's taste, she had no desire to be taken by the Longing of the Sea.

This train of thought led to near to her earlier melancholia, so Tinel looked instead up at the Mountains that towered above her on the left. It was a pity ladies weren't expected to know geography, for she would have liked to have known the names of all these mountains. She knew they must have names, for nothing so majestic could possibly go nameless. She wondered vaguely where Caradhras was, thinking about the Journey of the Ringbearer. Somewhere up in those mountains the Fellowship of the Ring had been struck by a snowstorm, and forced to turn back, to try the ways of the Mines of Moria.

Tinel shivered, despite her love of adventure, that was one place she had no desire to explore. Far to much darkness. And darkness without stars was one thing she could not abide. Indeed, darkness with stars was bad enough. She much preferred the twilight times of the day, the time between dark and light, when the stars could still be seen, but faint color tinged the sky.

The sound of galloping horses roused Tindomiel from her reverie. There were cries of alarm from several of the ladies, and a few of the younger men-folk wheeled their mounts and rode to the rear of the company, to draw their swords and stand menacingly.

Tinel grinned back at them, laughing to herself. Did they really think that those riders posed any danger? When the Lady Galadriel rode in the company? The power of her Ring may have faded, but the lady of the Noldor had power in her own right.

The riders came over the crest of the hill. There were two of them, and they were Elves. The would be heroes sagged disappointedly in their saddles. One of the two riders began to wave cheerfully. They looked very familiar to Tinel, but not until they came abreast of her did she recognize the sons of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir.

She smiled her greeting to Arwen's brothers, whom she had not seen in many years, and was rewarded by a gleam of appreciation and an infections grin, which brought a blush to her cheeks, from one brother, and a smile from the other, accompanied by some an expression in cloud-grey eyes, which caused a confused fluttering in the pit of her stomach, though he turned away before she could get any idea as to its source.

"Grandmother!" the first cried joyfully, dismounting before Galadriel, and bowing elaborately before kissing her hand. "You grow more beautiful every time I see you!"

"While you grow ever more incorrigible, Elrohir," Galadriel said, her eyes twinkling at the younger of her grandsons.

They were identical in appearance, which made Tinel take careful note that the brother with the audacious grin was Elrohir, which would mean the other, who was now bowing soberly before the Lady, was Elladan. Tinel remembered tales told her by Arwen of pranks they had played, taking each other's places at feasts, and in training, when one had learned a certain skill and the other had not. Tinel had met them only twice, and she had been little more than a child on both occasions.

She did remember Arwen telling her once that Elrohir, despite being younger, was the mastermind behind all the many scrapes they had gotten into, and looking at him now, she could well believe it.

"I am certain you recall Lady Tindomiel, Elriel's daughter," Galadriel said, indicating Tinel, who winced at the use of her full name.

"But surely this stately Lady cannot be little Tinel?" Elrohir cried in mock consternation, "the scamp who used to follow us around when she was supposed to be sewing her samplers! Do you remember Elladan?"

Most young ladies would have blushed, and claimed it was unkind of my lord to tease her so, but Tinel was not most young ladies, so she laughed aloud delightedly, and said, "Indeed it is so. How dull sewing seemed compared with the chance to seek out whatever adventure I felt sure had followed you into our forest. Indeed, I am afraid I dragged poor Arwen around with me quite mercilessly even when you weren't visiting."

"How we must have disappointed you if that is what you expected," Elrohir said in despair, "As I recall it our visits were marked with nothing but the most tedious of state dinners, and other such formal affairs."

Tinel's eyes twinkled, "Perhaps, but recall, I was not yet acquainted with the tedium of formal dinners, and so I envisioned, oh, all sorts of magnificent things. I was quite green with envy let me tell you." She turned her head to include Elladan in her merriment, and found him regarding her with a strange intentness which quite took her breath away.

"Speaking of your visits," Galadriel interposed, "What brings you here now?'

"We were visiting our sister," Elladan said, turning his gaze back to his grandmother. Tinel released the breath she hadn't realized she was holding. "And we are returning to Imladris to bid our father farewell."

"We came through Lothlorien, to offer you our escort my lady," Elrohir broke in, "Imagine our dismay when we came to Caras Galadhon to find you'd already left! So we made all haste to see if we could come up with you, and," he spread his arms wide, "here we are!"

Tinel laughed at his theatrics, but turned to Elladan, a speculative look in her eyes, "My lord, you say you come to bid your father farewell. Does this mean you do not yet leave Middle-earth?"

But it was Elrohir who answered, "Leave Middle-earth? Indeed no. My brother and I remain, at the least as long as Arwen does. I still hope to convince her to leave off her folly and accompany us." Tinel nearly gasped at this, and shifted awkwardly in her side-saddle, amazed at the lightness of Elrohir's tone when speaking of Arwen's choice, perceived as a tragedy to most Elves. "Besides," he added, "there is still so much to do and see. No, we do not yet grow tired of these shores."

Tinel could have laughed for joy, forgetting for the moment the way he spoke of his sister's possible death. Surely if they were staying, so too others would, and perhaps she need not leave either. She turned delightedly to Celeborn, and so missed the disturbed expression on the other brother's face.

Before Tinel could exclaim to Celeborn, Lady Galadriel spoke up, "It is time we were moving on. Time is growing short." Tinel wondered briefly what she might mean by that. Cirdan would not leave before Lady Galadriel, so how could time be short? But the lady continued, "We are pleased to accept your escort my dears," she said to the twins, "from the reactions of the younger ladies when you were first heard, I am sure they would welcome your presence. Elrohir, do you go and do what you may to reassure them."

Elrohir again swept an elaborate bow, first to Galadriel, and then to Tinel. He took the younger girl's hand, and lightly saluted it. "Alas, the call of duty that drags me from your side!" he said with exaggerated gallantry, drawing a ready laugh from Tinel. "Farewell, Sweet Twilight, later perhaps we shall ride together!"

He leaped upon the back of his horse, and pranced to the accompaniment of Tinel's chuckles.

When they set out again, Lady Galadriel rode beside her Lord, and Tinel was accompanied by Elladan. She watched enviously the confident ease with which he controlled his mount.

"What's his name?" she asked brightly, indicating the palomino stallion, whose color contrasted nicely with her own sorrel mare.

"Laurea," he replied, looking at her and smiling gently.

"He is certainly like gold, he's very beautiful." She paused, "How I envy you! It is much more difficult to communicate with your mount when you must use a side saddle."

"I can imagine that skirts would be confining in many ways," his smile widened on one side, giving him a boyishly lopsided smile, "I seem to recall that you abandoned them more often than not, at least, if your behavior during our visits was any example."

"It is a very poor example," she said with mock severeness, unable to take exception to his observation, as it was made without the slightest hint of reprimand or malice. Her effect was quite spoiled when she laughed aloud. "Indeed, in all truth my behavior was much, much worse on other occasions." He gave her a look of query, so she explained, assuming a very prim pose, "You see, I was supposed to be on my very best behavior for my lords Elladan and Elrohir."

She was taken quite by surprise by the sound of Elladan's deep laughter. A very warm feeling filled her at the sound of it.

"Your mother must have forgotten our own behavior then, if she thought we would be offended," he said, still chuckling. All of a sudden Tinel remembered why her mother had been so insistent she behave, and she blushed, looking away in confusion.

"Oh, you know how mothers are," she said brightly, keeping her gaze resolutely forward. She felt his gaze resting on her profile.

"From the pretty color in your cheeks I am moved to guess it was not merely motherly meddling," he said gravely, though Tinel could detect the underlying laughter in his voice.

For a time there was little sound but the clip-clop of the horses, and the murmur of voices all around them, growing louder the nearer to Elrohir you were. Then there came a burst of screeching giggles, and Tinel glanced back startled, to see Elrohir surrounded by the ladies -in-waiting to my lady, all giggling at some remark he had just made. They were flirting outrageously, each trying to maneuver her horse closer to his black stallion. And Elrohir seemed to be enjoying it immensely.

She turned back, trying to hide her laughter, but unfortunately, as she turned she met Elladan's eyes, also laughing. She could not resist the invitation in them to join in, so she chuckled.

"All right!" she said at last, "If you must know, Mother decided that it was time I begin to think of marrying, and who better than one of the sons of her "Dear Celebrian." She twinkled at him, inviting him in turn to enjoy her humor, but to her dismay, and embarrassment he turned solemn.

"And which one, I wonder, was to have had the honor?" he asked slowly, and Tinel felt her cheeks heat again.

Still she tried to make light of it, "Why, it made no difference to her," she said flippantly, "So long as I married and was out of her hair! I was a sad trial to her, I'm afraid."

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