It came to pass that on a summer morning, warm, yet not too hot, Ollorien sat on the marble steps of Ellenbar and sang. She closed her eyes and turned her face toward Arien feeling the maiden’s soft rays on her skin. She was so deep in thought and song that she did not hear the sound of a horse approaching. Only when he came and stood in front of her, did she perceive the shadow of a horseman towering over her. She opened her eyes and looked at him. Dazzled by the sun’s light at first, it took her eyes a few moments to adjust. And then she saw him for the first time. He had dismounted and stood before her.
It was an Elf-Lord, clad in gray, his dark hair shimmering in the sunlight. His gray eyes stared at her intently for a few brief moments which seemed as all the ages of the world to her. He was tall and beautiful, and though she hadn’t seen him before, she knew who it was, for on his brow he bore a single white star – the emblem of the house of Feanor.
“Mae govannen arwen Ollorien!” he spoke in a melodious voice.
“Mae govannen.” Ollorien replied slowly still stunned by his beauty.
“I am Celebrimbor, son of Curufin. I come to you with a request, fair maiden. And I am prepared to pay all that you ask.” He continued, unaware of the turmoil that took place inside Ollorien’s mind.
“If there’s anything in my power or possession, Lord, that you ask, I shall be glad to give it to you freely. Speak your request.” Ollorien, now recovered from her shock, spoke courteously, but deep down inside her she felt a smoldering fire awaken, a fire that she thought would spring out of her and set ablaze all around her.
“I wish you to make a fountain for me. In my mind I have contrived it, but I have not the skill with stone to make it. It is to stand in the chief square of Ost-in-Edhil, so I had to come to you, the best mason of Middle-earth and ask your help.”
“Of course Lord, I will help you. Sit now, and rest thy weary limbs on the steps of Ellenbar. And pray, tell me of your fountain.”
Celebrimbor then proceeded to tell Ollorien about the fountain, and slowly in her mind’s eye she began to see it. It was to be a symbol of friendship between the Elves of Eregion and the Dwarves of Khazad-dum, and was to portray Elves and Dwarves working together with hammers and anvils, and the Star of Feanor shinning above them.
The fountain was to be a great undertaking and Celebrimbor promised Ollorien all the help that she would need. She in turn watched him as he spoke and felt that all the loves that her heart had ever known – singing, masonry, even the birds and the stars and the love she felt for her parents – were giving way to a new love, she had fallen in love with Celebrimbor, and her immortal spirit soared with joy.
And yet, Celebrimbor seemed content only to speak about work, he told her of all the beautiful things that he made and asked her many questions about her own doings. She thought how alike he was to his grandsire Feanor, of whom the tales she loved spoke so much. This made her a little sad, but that sorrow was nothing compared to the joy her heart felt at the arrival of this new love.
And so, Celebrimbor and Ollorien spoke for many long hours, and only when the Sun had already began to sink over the rim of the world and darkness crept from the Misty Mountains, did Celebrimbor again mount his steed and depart.
Although Ollorien was reluctant to let him leave, she was content when he had gone. For, she was to see him again in a few days, when she went to Ost-in-Edhil to measure the square on which the fountain was to stand.
The days she passed in excited waiting. It seemed to Ollorien that night would never come, and that in turn day would never dawn. She was restless, but joyful, and in those few days she sang with love like she had never sung before. And the beauty of her voice was so marvelous that all the beasts and birds within a day’s walk of Ellenbar came and sat in her garden listening.
Finally, the Day dawned, and Ollorien prepared to go to Ost-in-Edhil. She walked everywhere in those days, so as always, she started off on foot, early in the morning. She sang as she walked. It took her about an hour to get to the Elven city, and once she got there, she decided to pay a visit to her parents who also dwelt within its walls.
Ollorien passed the gates, bowing to the gatekeeper who knew her well. She walked up the main street, and then turned left, into a narrow lane that wound around a block of small, fair houses with bright green gardens. Stepping easily as only Elves can, she came to the door of one of them and knocked.
A tall, slender Elf-woman opened the door and smiled. She was much like Ollorien, except for the light in her dark green eyes which had beheld the Undying Lands, and her timeless face that was somewhat `softer’ than Ollorien’s.
“Mother…” Ollorien said, returning the smile.
“Ollorien, my child… it is long since you last came to see us.” Spoke Tindariel in a soft voice. “Your father is not here, but you shall stay and welcome him when he returns from the smithy, I hope.”
“Alas, mother, for I cannot, I am here on errand to the Lord Celebrimbor. I am to fashion a fountain for the main square, and shall soon be on my way, for the preparations must be made.” Replied Ollorien mournfully.
“You are much like your father. He will indeed be pleased to hear about your undertaking, but not as pleased as he would be to see you… but will you not stay a while at least and tell me of yourself, how have you been faring?” asked Tindariel, with a note of mother’s consern in her voice.
Ollorien of course stayed a while. The two Elven-women spoke much. Ollorien told her mother about all the things she had made, and about all the songs she had sung. But always, she was careful not to let on about her feelings for Celebrimbor.
Then the topic turned and Tindariel spoke of all the doings of the city. And in one instant, while she was saying something about Celebrimbor and the alliance with the Dwarves, Ollorien interrupted her. “Will the Lord Celebrimbor never marry mother? I wonder, for all kingdoms have kings and queens. Even the Dwarf-Lords have their Ladies, and yet he seems too consumed with his work to think about love.”
But, no matter how much Ollorien tried to hide her affection for Celebrimbor, Tindariel caught the shimmer in her eyes, and besides, she was old and wise, her eyes beheld the light of Valinor, she could not be easily deceived.
And yet, finding out about her daughter’s affection broke Tindariel’s heart, for she knew something that would surely devastate her. Pondering on it for a moment, Tindariel concluded that it was better for her to break the news to Ollorien, than for her daughter to find out by herself.
So, with great effort and pretending that she didn’t see through Ollorien’s question, Tindariel spoke softly: “I do not think that he will ever marry. Not in this Middle-Earth at least, for the one for whom his heart cries, Imdoriel, has long departed over the Sea. And there she awaits for him.”
Hearing this, Ollorien felt her heart burst. All the good things she had seen and known in her long life seemed to turn to her ruin. A vast shadow started to engulf her mind, and all the evil of the dark times she hadn’t known smote her soul like the hammer smites the anvil. The universe spun around her, and for one brief moment all was black, and in the darkness she heard the voices of all things that she loved mocking her. That was the day that the maiden who made even the stones sing fell silent.
Tears welled up in Ollorien’s eyes, and she struggled with all her might to hide them. Then, abruptly she stood up, and taking leave of her mother, stormed out of her parents’ house.
It was still early in the morning, about nine, by the position of the Sun. Ollorien had until noon, for that was when she was to meet Celebrimbor in the square. Until that time she roamed the streets of Ost-in-Edhil, weeping at times, or cursing herself for loving one that she couldn’t have. She wanted to hope against all hope that her love would be returned, but she knew all too well that when an elven heart truly loves, that love lasts forever. So she tormented herself, seeing the image of Celebrimbor constantly in her mind, and yet out of her reach.
So she spent the hours until the appointed time. Then when it was almost noon, she gathered herself, and straightening up, she walked grim and silent to the main square. More beautiful than ever in her sorrow, clad in white robes as a spirit she looked passing quietly between the houses of the Elven city.
Ollorien found Celebrimbor already waiting for her, and when he saw her approach he smiled. Seeing him, she felt an arrow of bitter cold pierce her heart. “Will I die…?” she wondered, for Elves can die of grief.
All that happened afterward seemed veiled in a mist of sorrow. Ollorien remembered talking to Celebrimbor, taking measurements for the fountain, and telling him that she needed no apprentice and wanted to work at Ellenbar. But all of it was in a haze.
When she got back to Ellenbar, Ollorien lay down in her bed and cried. Dark thoughts stormed through her head, all hope seemed dead and despair gripped her heart. How long she had lain there, hours, days or weeks, she never found out. She just remembered being roused from her trance by two Elves who came bearing the marble from which she was to make the fountain.
When they had departed, she felt a sort of catharsis, she thought that she had cried all her tears, and so she set to work, making the accursed fountain that introduced her to ultimate joy, and endless sorrow. She thought how after this she would never love again, and she dreaded the utter loneliness that she became aware of after she had lost Celebrimbor.
Yet, she worked hard on the fountain, chiseling and hewing for hours, and when she had finished the contours of the first few faces of the Elves, she gasped in amazement. Their expressions were those of pain and anguish, they looked life-like as all the things she made, and this startled her. She had not meant to make them that way. This fountain was to be her life’s work, like the Silmarills were to Feanor, and yet there it was, hideous and wrong, before her eyes. She had ruined the marble. Ollorien dropped her chisel and hammer and sitting down beside her work, stared blankly into nothing. After some time she got up, and in a fit of anger and despair, she smashed the faces she had labored so hard to make.
Over the next few days she abandoned her work completely, and spent all her time thinking. It was only when a messenger came from Celebrimbor, that she spoke. She told the Elf that she needed more marble and more time.
When what she had requested had been brought to her on the next day, she tried to work again, but on the old, already ruined marble. Again, she could only make tortured faces, and again, she gave up, leaving the new marble untouched.
Nearly a month had passed, when the messenger came back, wanting to know how the work was going. Ollorien told him that she just needed more time.
Weeks passed, and the messenger came yet again, and catching a glimpse of the untouched marble through the open door of Ellenbar, rode back in haste, not even meeting Ollorien.
more to come soon…