Disclaimer: I don’t own Middle Earth or any of Tolkien’s creations and I’m not making any money.
Names/Pronunciations/Misc will come at the end of each chapter.
`*’ signals a footnote
“text” signals dialogue
‘text’ signals thoughts
Chapter 2.) This Side of the Horizon
Dance there upon the shore;
What need have you to care for wind or water’s roar?
And tumble out your hair that the salt drops have wet;
Being young you have not known the fool’s triumph, nor yet
Love lost as soon as won
– W. B. Yeats
May 3, 210 Fourth Age, Valinor
A cheer rose up from the revelers as Regent Soronhín and his family came over a small dune and entered the ring of bonfires. In honor of their son’s recent betrothal to Ránendë, Ehtúro’s parents were hosting the elves in and around Fanlitsë to an evening celebration on the white sands north of the town. The sun was just beginning to set, but many elves were already scattered around the fires, helping to prepare the meal and uncork the wine.
Calina was thoroughly enchanted by the simple arrangements before her. Everyone present was garbed in simple spring garments and were conversing around the fires or splashing in the nearby surf without the least hint of pretense. The dusky glow of the setting sun behind the tree crested dunes cast the setting with delicate highlights while the smell of roasting fish and baking apples tantalized the senses.
A silver-haired elf approached Soronhín and his lady. Ránendë cast an eager look toward her sister, who then took greater care to observe the new comer as he respectfully saluted her parents. Apparently this was Ránendë’s betrothed.
After a few words were exchanged Soronhín and Danneniûl passed by Ehtúro, with Falas in tow, and went to join a small cluster of elders, leaving the elf behind with their daughters.
Before another word past, Ehtúro stepped up to Ránendë and folded her into his arms, claiming a bold kiss from her. Calina arched her eyebrows slightly and looked away, smirking. Quite a few moments had passed before she finally let out one or two pointed coughs.
A breathy giggle escaped Ránendë as she pulled away from her intended. Ehtúro smiled broadly, placing a last kiss on her forehead before letting her escape from his arms to draw Calina closer.
“Sister, this is he of whom I spoke. Ehtúro, meet my sister, Calina.”
“A very happy meeting,” Ehtúro spoke gallantly as he leant over Calina’s hand to place a chaste kiss upon it. “I am honored.”
“And I as well,” Calina replied merrily. “You have made my sister very happy.”
A few more minutes of introductory pleasantries past before Ehtúro pulled Ránendë off to a shadowy corner of the beach where he had laid out a blanket over the sand for her. As Calina watched them go she shook her head slowly in amusement.
Needing some new diversion, Calina made her way toward the water. She saw several elves of approximately her age wading out into the ocean or traversing a spine of jagged rocks which jutted a few feet out of the water and stretched as far as a furlong from the shore. All of them knew who she was by the very fact that they had never been introduced before and were ready enough to welcome her into their midst, at first deferentially and then with all the gusto of youth. It was not long before the skirt of Calina’s turquoise-colored gown was quite damp and her laughter echoed around the bay with that of the others.
The sun had completely set when a call rang out, signaling the start of the feast. With much teasing and carousing the males elves of Calina’s party jostled with each other over who would escort which lady back to dinner. Finally, a pert little golden-haired maiden declared that the she-elves should have their own say. Calina was highly entertained by this exchange and entered the fray enthusiastically, merrily commanding one of her new acquaintances, a jolly potter’s son, to lead her to the feast. There was an extra amount of good humor on the account of one he-elf who, since there were more females than males, was forced to have a maiden on each arm.
When they reached the ring of bonfires, Calina left her escort with a nod and a smile and went to stand beside her family as Ehtúro’s mother and father welcomed their guests and publicly gave their blessing to the impending marriage. After this, the elves around the fires withdraw the fish and the spiced apples from the coals and placed them on large woven platters. These platters were then placed out among the guests, who sat round them and ate with their hands.
“Yes, Falas, go sit with your friends,” Soronhín allowed his antsy young son to leave the present adult company.
“And that goes for you as well, Calina,” Danneniûl urged, “I am sure you would rather sit with your new acquaintances.”
The maiden chuckled. “Are you so quick to send me away after only a day home? Fine then, I shall be off.”
Calina kissed her mother’s cheek affectionately before standing up and beginning to walk around the perimeter of the fires to where she could see some of her new friends feasting.
However, she never reached her destination, for on the way she came upon someone who captured her attention.
“My lord, good eve. I did not see you before.” Calina drifted over to where Kallindo was sitting with a few other elves, quietly eating. Without any ceremony, she sat down beside the Silvan elf and began helping herself from their platter.
“I had it in mind to drop off your tunic on the way to the festivities but then realized that I did not know which flet was yours. Thank you again for letting me borrow it. I’ll be sure to return it tomorrow if you like. I made sure to have it cleaned, of course. Oh, and the stitching around your collar – I noticed it’s unusual pattern and meant to ask you about it. Is that a design from across the sea?”
Kallindo couldn’t help smiling at the talkative maiden. He was somewhat bewildered by her persistent friendliness to an elf almost as old as her father, but at least it was amusing.
“I believe that it may be, my lady,” Kallindo replied congenially, “but I confess that I do not know. It was a gift.”
“A gift?” Calina grimaced, “Oh now I feel even worse for the adventure. At least it was only water.”
Kallindo raised an eyebrow but did not reply. Instead, he turned to his previous companions, who were trying not to look overly curious, and introduced Calina to each in turn. Calina very graciously accepted the introductions and Kallindo watched with mounting surprise as she easily slipped into the role of a proper Regent’s daughter: inquiring and conversing for several minutes about the affairs of the region and generally making herself agreeable to all present despite her short years.
When the conversation dipped into a lull Kallindo leaned toward his new young friend and commented softly. “Do you often make a habit of playing the diplomat? You do it very well.”
Calina tilted her head. “What do you mean?”
“You’re quite the conversationalist. The elf sitting across from us is seven thousand years old and does not have much patience with youth. But I think he likes you.”
“I heard that,” the aforementioned elf interjected gruffly, but with a merry look in his eyes.
Kallindo flashed a smile at the elf and winked. Calina ducked her head and chuckled.
“Most elflings are raised by parents significantly younger than my own,” she began to explain, “I think that such a circumstance must affect the way one thinks and behaves.”
As Calina spoke, the sound of pipes and drums began to fill the air. The maiden’s eyes brightened perceptibly.
“But as you already know, my lord, I am no old soul. Indeed, I am still subject to such silly, youthful impulses as the desire for music and dancing and merriment. Won’t you come?”
Kallindo eyed her with a confused expression. “You’re inviting me to dance?”
The seven-thousand-year-old elf broke out into hearty laughter. “Come now, Kallindo,” he chided, “You are still yet too young to consign yourself to this agèd circle. Go dance with the young lady.”
Before he could mount a sufficient protest, Kallindo found himself among the revelers, both old and young, who were dancing with hands linked in the light of the fires. He had not danced for many years and for a moment the movements seemed odd and unnatural. But soon, very soon – much sooner than his mind was thoroughly comfortable with, in fact – he found himself beginning to actually enjoy the celebration. Calina continued to be his partner through two festive dances and her innocent enthusiasm was strangely infectious. He almost felt sad when she was claimed for the fourth dance by a young elf from the town.
“Whatever are you after, sister dear?” Ránendë came up to a breathless Calina, nudging her side affectionately. “Did not I see you dancing with Kallindo some little while ago?”
Calina smiled, sinking down onto the cool sand to rest for a few minutes. “Indeed you did. Is there something peculiar in this? He dances well enough.”
“He does,” Ránendë agreed, settling herself down beside her sister, “But I could not have told you so before tonight. I cannot recall that I have ever seen him dance before. I wonder how you charmed him into it.”
“I charmed no one!” Calina laughed, “I only asked him – there was no shocking struggle. Surely you place consequence on an incident that is not in the least of note.”
Ránendë was on the verge of conceding her point when she saw Calina’s mouth twitch with an ill-suppressed smile. “You little chit! Trying to fool your own sister. Come now, have out with it. What is stirring in that quick mind of yours?”
Calina flopped back onto the sand, pulling Ránendë down with her. “No doubt you will think I am very silly,” she whispered, “But I have set a mission for myself…”
“And it is?” Ránendë encouraged, waiting expectantly for the delayed answer.
“To cheer up my lord melancholy, of the light brown hair, and teach him to act his age,” she replied blithely. “Why, he cannot be as old as father, I know it. And certainly he should not be filled with such an air of sobriety at such a time in his life. I don’t know what it is that weighs him down, but I’m determined to help him be rid of it.”
An incredulous chuckle bubbled out of Ránendë and she turned on her side, looking at her sister directly. “And why has this spurt of goodwill and meddling come so suddenly upon you?”
Calina shrugged. There really wasn’t any other answer at the moment.
Seeing her sister’s set jaw, Ránendë sighed and turned on her back once more, gazing at the stars. Around the fires many elves were still dancing, the sounds of their merriment mixing in the thin night air and washing over the two maidens like the soft waves of a calm sea.
“I must warn you,” Ránendë finally spoke, “Kallindo’s sorrows may go quite a bit deeper than you are prepared to deal with. He is of Endórë (Middle Earth), and much heartache took place there which I cannot even begin to imagine. And I have also heard whispers of something else… I believe that Kallindo was spurned in love some years ago, before his crossing. He may never recover.”
Calina snorted in a most unbecoming way. “You were never one to be so fatalistic, Ránendë. Are you saying that he is now cursed to forever live a half-life? I do not believe that Ilúvatar would create such an unjust world. There is always a way to peace. Elves have to live in this world, we are bound to it for better or worse, and there must be some way to get through it. It is in our nature.”
“Well yes,” Ránendë agreed, sitting up to look back to the ring of fires, “Peace certainly. But you cannot expect him to frolic in the daisies as though nothing had happened. He may simply have to settle-“
“Settle nothing, I say,” Calina interjected forcefully. “He is proclaimed to be warrior of Middle Earth. If he cannot conquer a bruised heart, with a little help, of course, then I shall judge him as naught. It isn’t as though he has ever been bound – one can see that plainly*. It is a truth that the bond a marriage can pull an elf to his grave, but love that never comes to fruition,” Calina shook her head, “I think that it all depends on what one is willing to do with it.”
Ránendë shook her head in amazement. “You are so odd.”
“Odd I may be,” Calina conceded, “But I am enjoying myself immensely- Oh, look! There is lord Kallindo himself, trying to sneak off like he said he would. I shall have to try and stop him.”
Despite her sister’s pleas to leave the poor elf alone, Calina hopped to her feet and twirled out of the firelight laughing.
Calina truly did not know what urged her to persist in her quest, but for some reason that didn’t seem to matter at all. She was simply doing what seemed best to her at the time. And how could her mission fail to produce good results, even if it only meant that Kallindo would resign himself to occasionally dancing at social functions? And certainly, nothing ill would come of it.
“What do you pine for, my lord?” Calina asked saucily, hopping out from some bushes onto the path in front of Kallindo.
To her surprise the elf did not look startled, merely puzzled.
“Why are you here and why do you ask?” he replied softly.
Calina spoke in a half-teasing, half-coaxing voice: “I saw you trying to sneak away. But the night is still young. You should come dance with me again. It is never good to be the first one to leave a gathering of friends.”
“Be that as it may, if I persist in moving on I do not think that you can successfully waylay me, milady,” Kallindo smiled wryly, “As your brother might say, I am a great warrior from across the sea, and you are but a mere vendë (maiden).”
Calina laughed gaily. “You do not frighten me, sir. Especially with a smile on your face.”
Kallindo’s smile broadened slightly as he turned his head away. He finally looked back with expectant eyes. “You did not answer my second question.”
“Oh yes,” Calina began, assuming an air of thoughtfulness, “You simply look as though you long for something – as though you are continually waiting for something to come over the horizon. It makes me wonder if you have never thought to go looking for it yourself. Waiting must be very tiresome.”
A flash of anxiety dated through Kallindo’s eyes. “Nay, lady, that is impossible. I have given up my hope on what lies beyond the horizon, and I shall have to do well enough without it.”
Calina shook her head. “That is foolish. No one knows what may lie beyond sight. How can you wisely determine to give something up if you know not what it is?” Kallindo looked at her curiously and so she continued, choosing her words carefully. “I do not speak of what you expect, my lord. I speak of new discoveries. Waiting, as I said, is a tiresome business, and if you wait too long, moss will begin to grow upon you.”
Kallindo knitted his brows slightly and looked at the maiden before him for several minutes. Finally he let out a soft breath and shook his head.
“You are a strange wonder,” he finally spoke, “I do not quite know what to do with you. Are you an oracle to speak thus, or are you simply a naïve maiden who cannot understand? I don’t know.”
As a soft wind began to play in Calina’s silver hair, she stepped around Kallindo and began walking back to the fires.
“Unfortunately, my lord, I cannot reason with you until you have made up your mind on that point,” she called back. “You know where I live if you ever care to continue the conversation.”
Kallindo chuckled softly, bewildered by her strange words. Was she refreshingly direct or simply confusing? He was about to continue walking on, toward his quiet, dark flet, when the drummers picked up a stronger beat behind him. He looked back toward the gathering and then watched for a few moments as Calina walked away from him down the path.
“Lady Calina,” he called out, beginning to walk in the same direction.
Calina looked back at Kallindo curiously, wondering what else was on his mind. She was admittedly not quite prepared for what she heard next.
“I feel as though your words hold some significance for me, though I cannot yet determine their worth. Nevertheless, you have taught me one lesson this night.” Kallindo extended his arm to her with a crooked smile. “I mean to retire, my lady, whatever who have to say against it… but perhaps you would honor me with one last dance before I go.”
1. Elves can recognize whether another elf was married/bound by merely looking at them (Tolkien’s essay “Laws and Customs of the Eldar”).
Things to Know:
Calina (KAH-lin-ah): Q. “illuminated”
Kallindo (kahl-LIN-do): Q. “noble heart”
Falas: S. “beach, shore”
Soronhín: Q. “eagle child”
Danneniûl (dahn-NEN-ee-ool): S. “fallen embers”
Ránendë: Q. “moon pool”
Ehtúro (eh-TOOR-oh): “spear victor”
Fánlitsë: Q. “white sand”
Endórë: Q. “Middle Earth”