Author’s notes: The previous chapter can be found here.
As always, I am really looking forward to comments!
Disclaimer: The entire world (well, besides Aurelin, Laswing, Calenloth and Belegorn) belongs to JRRT.
If in the place Aurelin was, she had had a face, she would have been smiling. All the good times before a fireplace with tales of the First Age came back to her. Occasionally she got those flashes of agonizing pain but she dived even deeper inside her memories to protect herself. But her body still felt and she made more and more sounds of pain amongst the snatches of her fever-dreams in Laswing’s arms.
Calenloth and Belegorn were best friends and always together, all of Menegroth and the realm of Doriath knew that. Either they were in the woods or in the Thousand Caves, never apart. Sometimes Calen managed to invite her sister out on their little adventures too and both their fathers – Galathil and Lachril were happy to see their children get on so well and had become great friends too.
They had taught each other – Calen kept talking to Beleg of all the woodlore she knew and he was learning fast, though Calen was still better at tracking and was able to move more soundlessly. But to congratulate his efforts, Calenloth had given the name Díndal to him, meaning Silent-Foot and he in turn called her Alphdal, Swanfoot, to counter it.
Belegorn had taught Calen how to make little boats or barges and they had spent many a day on Esgalduin on the barge they had made together. He kept talking to her about Belegaer, the endless horizon of sea that you could see from the Falas, the waves and occasional storms. Calen took him out to the woods to listen to the nightingales and they loved to go and watch Lúthien dance.
Both were older than when they first met, a little wiser and fast growing up. Belegorn’s father taught his son to use a bow and to fight with a sword and proudly saw how his son quickly excelled at both.
One day Calenloth was standing alone before the doors of Menegroth, waiting for Belegorn and throwing little pebbles into the water. When he finally got there, she jumped up,
“Sorry, I had to do something.”
“You know, I have been thinking,” Calen said.
“Never a good sign!” Belegorn grinned.
“Don’t mock!” They walked a little way from the Thousand Caves and Calen plopped down on a fallen tree.
“So please tell me, what have you come up with.”
“Have you seen the treasury of Menegroth?”
“Of course I haven’t. Don’t tell me that you have!”
“I have.” Calen made a sly face.
“How, did your father take you or Lótë?”
“Then how? King Thingol doesn’t want children in his treasury I am sure of it. He does have a guard before the doors, I have seen them. Of course there is not much to guard the doors from because of the Girdle of Melian but still he has the doors watched.”
“But we wouldn’t have to use the door, no one would even know. I found a little side tunnel that ends in the back wall of the treasure hall. The small tunnel is not very wide and the entrance is not noticeable from either end. So, do you want to see the place or not?” she dared him.
Belegorn looked at Calen, thought a second but didn’t want to refuse because she would then think him too cowardly. She is of Thingol’s kin anyway, so if we were to be caught, we may not be in so much trouble, he reasoned.
“All right, show me,” he told her loudly.
Calen smiled her beautiful smile and with a mischievous light in her eyes motioned for him to come with her.
“Right now?” Belegorn asked.
“Yes. I’ll show you I am not making this up. This’ll be fun!” Calen was giggling.
The two walked back over the bridge to the Thousand Caves but once inside, Calenloth led Belegorn through a maze, twisting and turning. She held onto his hand and every once in a while they encountered other Elves, to whom both tried to make innocent faces. At last they came to the part of Menegroth that was not populated very thickly and soon the tunnel was empty behind and before them. Calen walked confidently, Belegorn was starting to have doubts.
“It’s right here,” Calenloth announced and dove into a un-noticeable opening, what seemed like just another fold in the rock, Belegorn in tow. It was pitch black but Calen didn’t falter. Belegorn held onto her hand and tried to follow in her footsteps but he did bruise his toe against a rock. He made a surprised yelp and Calen stopped,
“Oh, yes, there is a rock in the way.”
“I noticed, thank you for telling me!” Belegorn couldn’t see in the dark but he knew that Calen was smirking.
A point of light appeared up ahead and with every step the two youngsters made, it grew larger. At last they emerged to the dim torch-lit hall.
Both looked around in awe.
“I have been here before but it is a stunning sight every time,” Calen whispered.
The two started to walk around the room, Calenloth pointing out what she had seen and marvelled at on her previous trips. They found crowns, rings, neckglaces, goblets and a hundred other things. Jewels were in boxes or baskets, gold, silver, items made with beauty and craftmanship. Calen tried on a crown, too big and heavy for her head, gold glistening on her silver hair, smiling and making a solemn face at turns. Belegorn was holding a scabbard and a sword.
“Everything is so beautiful here,” he breathed.
“It is, come I’ll show you a flower and a tree made of gems and gold and silver.”
Calen dragged Belegorn to watch the imitation of a real miniaturised tree and an exquisite flower, seeming to be alive and fresh with dew.
They lost the sense of time in the treasury and were wakened to the outside when they heard the door make a creak. Belegorn dived behind a golden chair and dragged Calenloth with him. They held their breath.
“Come out, I saw you!” a voice called out. Belegorn looked at Calen and seeing the resigned look in her eyes, stood up and came face to face with Elu Thingol, the king of Doriath.
“My lord, we were..” he started.
Thingol looked at the two of them with a calm, serious gaze. He could be resolute and stern as a king should be and his anger was not a thing his subjects wanted to evoke. Belegorn feared they had just done so. But Calenloth decided differently. She strode closer to the King and tried a small smile. For a moment Thingol remained stern and Calenloth thought she had misjudged him, recalling the smile from her face.
“My king, it was all my fault.”
“I am sure it was, Calenloth Dúril, it usually is.” Thingol suddenly laughed.
“My lord, I ..”
“Calen, I know you, have known you for all your life and because of that I would never think that Belegorn would do something like that. You are the daughter of the grandson of my brother, Calenloth, how can I be mad at you when I know what he could be up to when he was younger? Let’s keep this little situation here as a family affair and not a matter of official reprimand.” The King turned to Belegorn, as Calen ran to him and gave him a big hug, “The curiosity runs in the family, what can I do with her? You are both forgiven.”
Belegorn came closer to Calen and King Thingol.
“How did you get here though?” the king asked.
“I found a passage some years ago,” Calen answered.
“And thought to flaunt your little discovery in front of your friend.” It was not a question.
“No, I just wanted to show him the things here, the beauty of it all.”
“I guess I should reward you for finding the passage. Now we can watch both entrances to keep away nosy Elves.” Thingol looked hard at Calen.
He picked a moonstone on a fillet from a pile of gems and handed it to Belegorn,
“I give that to the honest and responsible one of the two of you. Calenloth, you take this brooch. Wear it and try not to get into trouble! But now, you have to leave. I didn’t come here for gawking children.” Thingol ushered Belegorn and Calen out.
As the great doors closed behind them the guard outside looked at the two with obvious surprise, “How did you get…?” he asked. Calen gave him one of her smiles and the guard didn’t finish his question. With that girl everything was possible and Belegorn was not much better.
“I was afraid he would be angry,” Calen whispered.
“You were? Didn’t look like that!” Belegorn told her. He had admired the way Calenloth had talked with the King even though he had thought for a minute that she would bring them into even more trouble because of her boldness.
“Oh, when you stand up to him, he likes it,” Calen explained.
“Well, for once I am happy that you are his kin and a little princess, Calenloth Dúril Alphdal!” Belegorn muttered.
“What did you say, could I have heard it right?” Calen laughed as she had been teased by Belegorn for many times for her haughty speech on the day they first met. “Little princess” he called her.
“Yes, you did hear what I said, I am not going to repeat it. I am just happy that we got away.”
“That moonstone is lovely and my brooch too.” She held the brooch to the light and marvelled at how the rays were reflected by the aquamarine petals in the silver twining wires, forming a flower as if of water or foam.
“They are. Now, let’s go and put them away, the evening meal is about to start!” Belegorn told Calen and they hurried to their respective rooms.