A Morning Star
In an attempt to eliminate some confusion caused by reading one chapter at a time online, following each chapter is a list of names and places found up to that point in the story that are not found in any of Tolkien’s works. (After several chapters the reader will find that there are many new characters I created for this story!) Following each name is a translation (if applicable), a short description of the character or place, and the chapter of A Morning Star in which the character or place was first introduced. The names of minor characters mentioned only in one chapter were for the most part omitted from the list.
While I do not speak Elvish, the translations of Elvish names are accurate as far as I know, being based on the root words in the appendix of The Silmarillion and on several Elvish reference websites. Names of hobbits and men are entirely my invention; while I tried to capture the essence of the races in their names, I realize that some readers will not agree that my choice of names reflect the human or hobbit cultures. All pronunciation rules listed in Tolkien’s works apply to the names of this story.
Chapter 1: A New Star Rises
She looked up at the snow-covered mountains encircling the meadow in which she stood. It was springtime, and pink and white flowers were just beginning to bloom under the shadow of the mountains. She bent down and picked a small white flower in full bloom, and then stood gazing at the small, perfect petals.
“Ariya Alayah.” She quickly turned to see who had spoken to her, letting the flower fall from her hand. She saw an elf maiden, clad in white and silver, with long golden hair flowing gently in the breeze.
“What did you say?” she asked the elf maiden, for she did not understand the maiden’s tongue.
“That is your name.” She turned to her left to see the source of this second voice and saw a man also clad in white. There was something unsettling in his dark eyes, and she felt a wave of uneasiness pass over her. Suddenly, she felt the elf’s hand on her shoulder.
She awoke with a gasp. Glancing about her, she realized it was a dream and that she was at home in Imladris. “Arelen? Are you all right?” She saw her mother, Isilmë, standing in the doorway. “I just came to see if you were yet awake,” her mother continued.
Arelen hesitated and glanced away, knowing that she could not easily hide her thoughts from her mother. This was not her first such dream in recent days. Perhaps it was time to tell her mother; she may be able to interpret their meaning.
“I have had several strange dreams as of late,” Arelen said. “They are all different, yet in each the same two persons appear: a fair elf maiden and a dark-haired man. And in each dream they call me by the name `Ariya Alayah.'” At those words, it appeared to Arelen as if a look of surprise and recognition flashed in her mother’s eyes. For neither of them could hide their thoughts from another, both having been blessed with a strong sense of elven insight and, at times, foresight. After a brief moment of silence, Arelen asked, “What are you not telling me, mother?”
“I will explain it to you later today. Come, have some breakfast first.” Isilmë turned and left the room. Puzzled by her mother’s reaction, Arelen soon joined her for breakfast. They ate in silence, and when Arelen asked her mother why her father did not join them, she simply said that he had other matters to attend to. This further piqued her curiosity, but she decided to just wait until her parents revealed their thoughts to her.
Later that morning her father, Beredhel, returned, and the three of them gathered on the balcony of their house. Their home was at the edge of the city, and from the balcony Arelen could see a small, winding stream below and tall mountains in the distance. For a moment they sat silently, and Arelen wondered what in her dreams could cause her parents such apprehension. She had not described the dreams in detail but she knew that the name Ariya Alayah must be significant, for she sensed that her parents were deeply troubled. Finally, her father spoke: “Arelen,” he began, “We had hoped that we would not have to reveal this information to you for many more years; but perhaps for reasons known only to the Valar you have had these dreams and must now learn the truth.” He paused, and both he and her mother averted her eyes while he spoke his next words. “We are not your parents. Our daughter, Melwen, is your mother.”
Arelen looked at them in surprise. Her father–no, her grandfather–finally met her eyes, and Arelen knew that his words were true. Why they had never told her this she could not imagine, and her mind was instantly filled with questions. Somehow she managed to remain silent and allowed him to continue his story.
“Several years ago, a man named Ambilë came to Imladris. He was a lore-master and was well acquainted with Lord Elrond. He would often stay for several weeks, studying the ancient scrolls and books that Elrond keeps. He eventually fell in love with Melwen, and she soon returned his love. They would spend hours walking together at night, gazing at the stars…” Beredhel paused, looking past Arelen and reflecting on fond memories of his happy daughter for just a moment. But soon his eyes turned dark and he said, “We counseled Melwen to stop spending time with Ambilë, for we worried that her love would soon grow strong and that she would make the choice of Lúthien.”
Arelen felt a flood of emotions as she realized how this story was going to end. “But Lúthien and her descendents are highly regarded in elven lore!” Arelen interjected, not knowing what else to say. “Why would you stop Melwen from making the same choice?”
With a glance toward Isilmë, he continued. “When we first met Ambilë, we both thought him to be of high character and did not stop Melwen from speaking with him. But if we had known what was to happen…” He paused, and Arelen feared that there was much more to the story than she realized. “During his travels and studies as a lore-master, Ambilë somehow came into possession of a ring. It was beautiful to look upon, gold with a red stone that shone like fire, but Isilmë and I sensed an evil about it that we could not describe. However, Ambilë apparently did not sense this evil, and neither did Melwen. Their love for each other grew stronger by the day, but it was a corrupted love–I cannot explain it, but we both felt that there was some evil in the ring that was tarnishing their hearts. We tried to speak to Melwen about it, but she refused to listen to us. Finally, one day Melwen and Ambilë left Imladris, and we have not seen them since.”
Arelen could see that Beredhel was struggling to remain calm. She had a strange feeling that she knew what he was going to say next. On the verge of tears, she remained silent, both anticipating and dreading his next words.
“We never knew where they went. About two years after they left, an eagle flew to Elrond, carrying an infant girl and a letter. Elrond kept the letter, but I have brought it this morning so that you may read it yourself.” He slowly pulled a piece of paper out of his cloak and handed it to Arelen. Her hands trembling, she unfolded the paper and read:
Lord Elrond of Rivendell,
I regret having ever left Imladris, and the sorrow I feel for having disobeyed my parents will never abate. I hope that you can forgive me and I ask for your help now in my time of need. This baby is my child, the daughter of Ambilë. I know now the evil power of Ambilë’s ring, and I cannot let my daughter fall under its spell as well. But I cannot leave Ambilë, for reasons that are too many to describe here. I only ask that you find a home for my daughter. I hope that my parents will raise her as their own child, but I fear that they may not want such a reminder of their own shameful daughter. I only hope that they can forgive me.
My daughter’s name is Ariya Alayah, which means `Morning Star’ in a tongue of men spoken now only by lore-masters. For just as a morning star is of both night and day, she is of both elves and men. Please take care of her. I will be forever grateful.
Arelen read the letter twice. She could feel the incredible pain that Melwen could not express in the letter. “Ariya Alayah,” she whispered, “Morning Star.” The name “Arelen” meant “Morning Star” in the elven tongue, and now she knew why her parents–her grandparents, she corrected herself–had named her so.
“I am a half-elf,” she said, more to herself than to her grandparents. Despite the intense emotions she was experiencing, somehow she was not as surprised as she expected. She had always known in her heart that she did not belong in the world of the elves, and had never truly felt at home in Rivendell. Of course she had never voiced those thoughts to anyone. She found herself reliving one memory after another, trying to reconcile these memories with the fact that she was a half-elf.
Slowly she came out of her reverie to realize that Isilmë was speaking. She was trying to explain why they had never told her of her history, but Arelen already understood. The memories associated with Melwen and Ambilë were too recent for an ageless elf.
“It’s all right. I understand,” she told her grandmother. Isilmë stopped speaking and looked relieved that she did not have to continue the explanation, but Arelen could still see the painful memories in her eyes. She hesitated to ask her next question, fearing that she already knew the answer: “Have you not heard from Melwen or Ambilë since this letter? Do you know where they are?”
“No,” Beredhel simply replied.
“Then I will find them,” Arelen answered before she realized what she was saying. She stood up and handed the letter to her grandfather.
“Arelen, you do not even know where to begin!” Beredhel exclaimed, quickly rising to his feet. “You have never even left Rivendell–how do you expect to find them, when they could be anywhere in Middle-earth? And the dangers of the world–” he faltered, at a lost for words.
“I do not know,” Arelen answered truthfully. “But my heart tells me that I must go. Besides, I have been taking archery lessons; I can protect myself.” A friend had been training Arelen in the skills of the bow, for he had seen that she had great talent, but she would not admit to her grandparents that she did not feel completely confident with the weapon. She also could not explain why she felt so compelled to search for her parents. During the entire conversation on the balcony, she had felt detached somehow, as if she were only an observer and not a participant. As she stood looking into her grandfather’s eyes, the gravity of the situation slowly began to sink in. She knew that there was more to the story that even her grandparents did not know, and she had to find the answers to her questions.
Her grandparents knew that they could not stop her. In fact, this was the real reason that they had never told her of her past. They feared that she would set out to find her parents, and either come to harm on her journey or fall under the ring’s spell if she found them. Isilmë knew that Arelen’s dreams were the sign that it was time for her to go, yet now that the time had come, she found it more difficult than she ever imagined to let her only grandchild leave the safe confines of Rivendell. “Please,” Isilmë said with tears in her eyes, “At least stay with us one more day. When tomorrow morning comes, you may leave, if you still so desire.”
Although Arelen wanted to set out immediately, she did not want to cause her parents anymore grief. She also knew that it would be best if she waited until her emotions were under control before she left. She agreed to stay, yet for the rest of the day the three elves spoke little, all fearing what might come in the future.
Arelen hardly slept that night, trying to comprehend all that she had learned that day. Her thoughts continually returned to the fact that she was a half-elf. It made sense to her now, and explained why she had always felt different from the elves of Imladris. It also explained why she was so mature; indeed, she deemed herself an adult even though she was far from the elves’ coming of age of nearly fifty years. She suddenly realized that, as far as she knew from her limited studies of lore, she was the first half-elf born since the First Age. She knew that this was significant, yet she could not imagine why. All of the half-elves of the First Age had accomplished great things–speaking before the Valar on behalf of both men and elves; becoming the first king of Númenóre; founding the beautiful haven of Imladris. Why had she been born a half-elf, and why during the Third Age? She also remembered the stories of the half-elves choosing rather they would be judged as men or elves–what would she choose? Or had her fate already been decided? It seemed that she could only think of questions, not answers. Yet there was one thing she knew: she must leave Rivendell the next day. She could not explain why she felt so strongly and hoped it was her elven instinct that compelled her to leave, not merely her emotions.
The next morning, Arelen was already packing supplies for her journey before Beredhel and Isilmë awoke. As she finished braiding her long golden hair, her grandparents appeared in the doorway.
“Must you leave?” her grandmother asked, knowing the answer before she spoke.
“Yes,” Arelen replied, already much calmer than the previous day. “You have always told me to trust my elven intuition. I know that my fate is to leave Rivendell.” She could not explain her thoughts any further, so she merely turned and resumed her packing. Beredhel and Isilmë exchanged a knowing glance behind her back, and at that moment Arelen heard a third voice speak:
“You are correct in saying that you must leave now. I have foreseen great things in your future, but only if you leave Rivendell.” Arelen turned to see Lord Elrond himself standing next to her grandparents. How he knew that she was leaving she did not ask. “You will need more than just a bow when you leave the safety of Imladris. Take this,” he said, holding out a beautifully crafted metal knife. Intricate elven patterns were carved on the handle, and as she unsheathed it the blade shone in the early morning sunlight.
“Thank you,” said she, not knowing what else to say. She took the knife and hid it in the folds of her cloak. She then picked up her things and walked outside, Elrond and her grandparents following. Her grandparents both hugged her, their eyes expressing their thoughts more than words ever could. Although they feared that they would never see her again, they realized that they must let her leave.
As she mounted her horse, Elrond said, “Goodbye, Arelen daughter of Melwen. May you find the answers you seek.”
Arelen turned and looked one last time at her grandparents. Then, with a hint of a smile on her face, she said, “My name is Ariya.”
Note: I wanted to subtitle this story “The Story of Ariya Alayah” or “The Life of Ariya Alayah”, but I didn’t want to give away anything about her dream and history in the title. So I will just say that this story will span many years of her life as she tries to discover the answers to her many questions. Please come back for Chapter 2 as she begins her journey, and let me know what you think–good or bad, just be truthful! This is my first creative writing attempt in several years so I would love some feedback. I also apologize in advance for any typos–I have a terrible habit of leaving out words no matter how many times I proofread!
List of Names and Places through Chapter 1
- Ambilë: Ariya’s mortal father. Chapter 1.
- Arelen: “Morning Star”; Ariya’s Elvish name. Chapter 1.
- Ariya Alayah: Translated as “Morning Star” in an ancient tongue of men; the heroine of our story. Chapter 1.
- Beredhel: “Bold Elf”; Ariya’s maternal grandfather. Chapter 1.
- Isilmë: “Moonlight”; Ariya’s maternal grandmother. Chapter 1.
- Melwen: “Kind Maiden”; Ariya’s elven mother. Chapter 1.