Starry Twilight- In the twilights of life hope shines through like the shining stars.
Tindomiel looked about her sadly. Already signs of fading could be seen amongst the Mallorn trees. It was the twilight of the elves, and night was fast approaching, would the second twilight, the one for which she was named, come to pass? She slowly but agilely climbed the winding stairs to her flet. It looked so empty. Ornately carved furniture loomed in the now stark area. Ordinarily Tindomiel had books and clothes scattered everywhere; she was not the most orderly of people.
But despite its disorder, it had been home since she had reached maturity. Here she had weathered her parents many attempts to marry her off, and from here she had learned the unladylike skills of archery and swordplay. The general messy state of the room prevented her mother from discovering her tunics and breeches, which Elriel had disapproved of vehemently as being “unladylike.” And of course the daughter of the Lady Celebrian’s bosom friend Elriel must be every inch the lady.
Tindomiel smiled at the thought of her mother. For all that she did not understand her daughter in the least, Elriel loved her, and was a good mother.
Tindomiel, or Tinel as she preferred to be called, was not her mother’s ideal daughter, but they both loved each other, and each knew that the other loved her. Elriel was horrified whenever Tinel requested someone to call her by her less formal name, and would no doubt have resorted to fainting had she ever discovered that Tinel had taken to wearing breeches and studying archery and swordplay from first her father, and now Rumil and Orophin. She had studied long, and it was a miracle that her mother never did find out.
But it was several years now since both her parents had gone into the West. Elriel had begged Tinel to accompany them, but Tinel had no desire to go to Valinor, no desire that is, save idle curiosity. On the other hand she had a great desire to remain in Middle Earth.
It seemed that this desire was not to be fulfilled. Lady Galadriel had decided to leave Lothlorien. She had given in, the last of her people to do so, to the desire to return to Valinor. With Lorien fading, and all her friends accompanying the Lady of the Golden Wood, Tinel could not very well remain. She knew it, but it did not make her happy.
Tinel turned and descended the stairway, her soft grey dress, its flowing lines a compliment to her stately height, rustling against the late summer grass. Lady Galadriel’s retinue was gathered before the gates of Caras Galadhon. Tinel whistled to Culumalda, her lanky sorrel mare, and led her slowly in that direction, pondering her immanent departure despondently.
Her one consolation was that on the way to the Grey Havens she would see much of Middle Earth. At least, much compared to what she had heretofore seen. The only time she had gone farther than the borders of Lorien had been on the occasion of Undomiel’s marriage to the King of Gondor, and that had been only down the River and back.
Arwen and Tinel’s mothers had been very dear friends, and had decided to name their daughters alike. Celebrian named her dark-haired daughter after the Evening Twilight, and Elriel had named her golden-haired daughter for the Morning Twilight. It was very fortunate that both Tinel and Arwen preferred their less formal names, else there would have been much confusion with all the “domiel’s” about.
Of course most likely everyone would assume that every “domiel” spoken in exasperation or anger would be Tinel, and every “domiel” of praise would be assumed to be directed at Arwen. Tinel had a very lively and mischievous personality, that contrasted with Arwen’s more ladylike habits. People that had never seen the two girls together were always surprised to discover that they were good friends, but so it was.
Of course in more recent years Arwen had become even more reserved around Tinel, except when
discussing her beloved Estel. But this made Tinel oddly reserved as well, for the simple reason that she had nothing to compare to Arwen’s feelings for the future king.
This was what she considered the great tragedy in her life. She was a cheerful person, with the happy ability to make friends with nearly anyone, but she had felt for no one the deeper feelings that Arwen had so frequently confided in her friend.
The voices of those gathering began to grow louder as Tinel drew nearer, and automatically she slowed her pace. As soon as she noticed her slower pace, however she immediately resumed her customary long legged stride, berating herself as she did so.
“Tinel you must conquer this! You cannot remain alone, nor would you wish to. So accept your fate! It is useless to rail against it!” But these words did not lighten the depression in her normally light heart, and again her steps began to lag.
“Having second thoughts are we?” Tinel looked up into the kind eyes of Lord Celeborn.
“More like sixth or seventh thoughts Uncle,” she said sadly. Her mother’s close relationship with the daughter of the Lord and Lady of the Wood led Tinel to consider Celeborn in the light of an uncle, though she had never been as familiar with the Lady Galadriel. “I confess that I cannot generate the proper excitement for leaving the only home I ever knew.”
“It is quite natural to be nervous about leaving what is familiar,” Celeborn said ending on a question.
“Its not that. Though naturally I am apprehensive, but it is more than that, I don’t wish to leave,” she looked up into his grey eyes, her own pleading for his understanding. She was much relieved to find him smiling at her, and she knew that, even if no one else understood, he did.
“I see. Well, we shall have to give this some thought,” Celeborn said, he took her hand and laid it in the crook of his elbow and they continued in the direction of the gates, strolling leisurely, “I confess that I myself am feeling not yet ready to desert this land, oh, not Lothlorien, I could not remain now that it is fading, but Middle Earth. It is still home to me as well. I daresay I would feel differently had I been to Valinor as my Lady has, but for now . . .” he sighed, and smiled at Tinel, and she saw the sorrow in his own eyes, immediately feeling sorry for her own oblivion. As difficult as it was for her, this departure would be much more difficult for the Lord and Lady, who had ruled Lorien for so long together, filling it with love and laughter and song. “We will see,” Celeborn repeated as they approached the crowd of Elves who had remained to the end of Lorien.
There were not many, at least compared to the number that had dwelt in Caras Galadhon as Tinel had grown up. So many had already passed into the West, answering the call of the Sea, and fleeing the death and horror of war that had so long been Middle Earth’s lot.
Tinel withdrew her hand from Celeborn’s arm as they approached the forefront of the gathering. As a lady of the court, Tinel had the right to travel with the Lord and Lady. Galadriel regally smiled her greeting, and placed her hand on her lord’s arm.
“My people,” Celeborn spoke, his voice loud and clear, ringing through the woods. “Long have we dwelt in this land, but ever we knew that our time would pass, and we would be called again home to Valinor, to dwell with the Valar. Of this time we have all sung, and many have gone before us. Now at last it is our turn, time to turn from the land that we loved, to turn from this world, and turn to a new life.” He beckoned to a young elf, who had stood to one side, bearing a cup filled with white mead. Celeborn took it, and raised it. “Now it is time to drink the cup of farewell,” he said, ” In the past this ritual has been used to bid farewell to guests and to fellows, who pass from our land. Now I drink to bid farewell to the land itself. But we must not let our hearts be sad, for though the evening is nigh, we cannot tell what our morning will bring.” And he raised the cup to his lips, and passed it thence to his lady, and then bade the elfling to carry the cup to all who were gathered.
When the cup came to Tinel she looked up at Celeborn, meeting his gaze, and thought of his words. “We cannot tell what our morning will bring.” When he had spoken those words, he had looked straight at her, his eyes piercing. What special significance could his words have? Her name spoke of the Morning Twilight, a time filled with stars, and a time of hope, but the next morning she could see held little hope for her, only a broken heart.
When the ritual was finished, the Lord and Lady mounted their horses, and the company set forth. They circled around the city from the southern gates, and passed again into the trees. Tinel tried to keep from looking back, but often found her gaze drawn over her shoulder, drinking in the sight, perhaps the last she would have, of the city that she had known from her birth. All too swiftly the great city of the Galadhrim, Caras Galadhon was no longer within sight. The mallorn still surrounded them, though smaller than those of the city, and here too were the signs of fading to be seen. For moments the grey trunks shimmered silver, and the leaves, turning gold, seemed to try to gleam as they once had, though Tinel could not tell if this was true, or merely the longing of her heart, as though if the fading forest suddenly returned to its former glory she would not have to go. Or perhaps she hoped that the forest would try to become what it was to keep her from leaving, as if it too would miss her.
Perhaps it does, she thought sadly, Maybe the forest is fading, not because of the loss of the power of Galadriel’s Ring, but because it misses the Elves who have left. I wonder, if all the Elves returned, would Lorien again glow? But it was a question that would not be answered. The Valar had decreed that, once the Elves returned again to Valinor, the would not return to Middle Earth again. It was now the world of Men.
They came to Cerin Amroth, and Tinel pictured in her mind’s eye Arwen and Aragorn, on the evening of Midsummer, walking unshod on the undying grass, with elanor and niphredil about their feet. It was there that they plighted their troth, and Arwen was lost to Tinel. For, though she had returned to tell her friend, never again did Arwen and Tinel have the close bond that had characterized their childhood, and earlier lives, it was inevitable that it should be so, for Arwen gave up her immortality. This Tinel could not then, and still did not understand. Even were the choice given her, Tinel did not think she would go that path.
At last, and far too soon they came to the river Nimrodel, and the eaves of the Golden Wood. Tinel thought that her heart would break as the mallorn gave way to squat firs, with a beauty all their own to be sure, but nothing when compared to that of the mallorn. Now she made no attempt to keep from looking back, she devoured the sight of the ever shrinking forest, letting Culumalda go as she would, not removing her eyes, as though somehow, if she did not let Lothlorien leave her gaze, she would not have to go.
But the time inevitably came when the road curved away over a hill, and Lorien was cut from her view. With great difficulty Tinel stifled the sob that rose in her throat. Swallowing her tears she spoke one word, “Namarie.”