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The Valinor Trail

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This story is No. 14 in the series "Return of The Key.". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Returnverse story - with the return of Spike... and Haldir. Picks up from the last line of the epilogue of 'Return of The Key'. COMPLETE

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Lord of the Rings > Dawn-Centered(Recent Donor)curiouslywombatFR152969,295818916,98228 Dec 1210 Jul 14Yes

Welcome to Tirion

They approached the capital city of the Noldor a little after mid-day. It could be seen from some distance, perched as it was on a hill, and built almost entirely from what looked like marble. They were still riding through farmland but, now, there were also what could only be described as mansions dotting the landscape.

Legolas rode at the head of the party with Haldir alongside him and, after a short conversation between the two, Legolas suggested that Tindómë put on her ‘most feminine cloak’.

Before she got a chance to question this, or blame Haldir under her breath, Legolas stopped to look in his own packs, and the three brothers did likewise; all were ‘sprucing up’. Tindómë decided to join in with more enthusiasm as she recognised that they were playing another round of ‘behaving as they expect you to’, to use the phrase she had coined in Middle Earth as the Elves tried to be what the mortals expected them to be, or at least tried to fit in with the proprieties of those around them.

It occurred to her later that it might be more a case of behaving better than they expect you to….

They rode on, the city beginning to fill the skyline.

“It’s very shiny!” Tindómë said. “Sort of like Minas Tirith with added sparkle.”

“As well you don’t let anyone hear you compare their city to a mortal one,” Legolas said, with a slight smile. “They think of the mortal races are very inferior when it comes to craftsmanship.”

“That must have really pleased Gimli,” she said.

“He was not unaware of that attitude,” Legolas admitted. “But, as Lord Aulë did not share it, Gimli simply regarded them as sadly ignorant, and ignored most of those around him, as he admired the stone-craft and pointed out to me places where he felt it could have been better…”

Haldir raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Rumil and Orophin laughed. Tindómë imagined the dwarf considering a possible lack of defences, and flood precautions, and muttering about it being preferable to have what you did not need than to need what you did not have.

‘And’, she thought with a smile, ‘if Gimli can ignore ‘jumped up Noldorin lordlings’, then so can I, should the need arise.’

The need would most certainly arise; although the remarks would be made, not by any ‘lordlings’, but by a couple of ellyth.

Their route skirted the main part of the city, as Haldir led the way to the mansion in which Lady Galadriel now lived, and they were aware of many of the Elves they passed watching them or, at least, casting glances their way and trying not to be obvious. As well, Tindómë decided, to look well turned out and respectable so that, as Galanthir had said on a previous occasion, there would be no doubting that Legolas was a prince and not just some passing ellon.

Lady Galadriel’s home, like the others they had passed, was made from white stone that shone in the afternoon sunshine. It had a number of delicate spires and pinnacles, as if the whole building was reaching skyward, all of them looking as if the architect had wanted them to appear too delicate to hold themselves up.

It reminded Tindómë of Galadriel herself – delicate and feminine with an underlying strength and stability. She wondered if it had been built especially for Her Ladyship. Haldir was able to answer this. No; it was an estate belonging to the Crown which had been little used by any of the royal family since the days of the crossing of the Grinding Ice. Her Ladyship had requested it for her own as it had fine stands of trees in its parkland, where her Galadhrim could feel more at home than in the city itself.

By comparison to the great mellyrn, or even the trees of Eryn Lasgalen, these were quite delicate trees, in small numbers, but all the party agreed that they, too, would feel more at home here than in the city.

There was an awkward moment as they dismounted. Haldir seemed to have assumed that Legolas would be Galadriel’s personal guest whilst his brothers and, by extension, Tindómë would go with him to the nearby home of their parents. The ellon who greeted them in Her Ladyship’s name clearly intended them all to accompany him into the main building where rooms had been readied for them.

“Erestor? Galion?” Tindómë murmured to Rumil.

He nodded. This was clearly an important household member, not a junior retainer; they had been expected, and were clearly seen as Her Ladyship’s guests rather than her subjects.

They accompanied the ellon.

Her Ladyship awaited them indoors. As did Tindómë’s in-laws.

Lady Galadriel welcomed Legolas as the prince he was, and then reached out a hand to Tindómë and kissed her on the cheek. Although Rumil stood calmly, with his brothers, Tindómë was aware of his inner smile. As he came forward to be greeted by name himself his fingers brushed Tindómë’s and she heard him inside her head.

‘That was certainly meant as much for my mother as for you, meleth!’

Her Ladyship solved all problems of who would stay where as if the answers were obvious. Haldir was welcome to stay in the main house, if he wished, or return to his own rooms beside those of his parents in one of the buildings beneath the trees. The others had rooms ready here for them. Galadriel wished to catch up with ‘my ward’ (‘Ha! Nice one!’ the ward in question thought), receive any messages from Celebrían and her household, and find out more about the current quest. And the home of Thorontor and his wife was too small to comfortably accommodate them all anyway.

………………………………….

Mithrandir had spoken to Her Ladyship, before he had travelled to Alqualondë, and left the message that word would be sent here when they were to travel to Valimar. Although Tindómë wanted to stay for as short a time as possible, it was a chance for Orophin and Rumil to meet other Galadhrim who had been lost in battle over the years.

It was not, though, somewhere either would have wanted to remain for any time.

The bedroom was well appointed and it had large windows that let in the sweet air, scented with flowers, herbs, and trees. The furnishings were new, Rumil thought. The carved wooden kist, the settle, and the bed itself, all were decorated with patterns of leaves and vines, as befitted the Lady of the Galadhrim, but they still smelled of new wood. They had clearly been carved for her by her own people who now lived around her.

He wondered, idly, what the original furnishings must have been like. It was a far cry from the living city of Caras Galadhon as it was – if the Noldor furnishings had been of stone and metal it must have been like living in a Gondorian tomb.

………………………………….

Even though there was nothing she particularly needed to buy Tindómë wanted to go and visit the shops of Tirion. Rumil and Orophin desired to see this famed city, whilst they had the chance, and Legolas was happy to act as a guide relying on what he had learnt during his stay in the Noldor royal household a few years before.

It really only occurred to Tindómë as they dismounted outside the city, and left their horses with elves whose role it seemed to be to care for visitors’ mounts, that everyone here really did speak Quenya – not Sindarin. Legolas had simply nodded his thanks, and said little, and the two brothers had copied only the nod; they spoke no more than a word or two at most. Whereas Tindómë could, at least, read the language well as Lord Celeborn had been happy to teach her when he discovered her love of, and affinity for, languages.

He had professed his own accent ‘unused these long years’ and he hadn’t sounded quite like these voices around them; presumably he had a different accent to start with, and/or millennia of separation had led to the language changing here whereas it had not changed in Middle Earth, being unused.

Even so she could, if she concentrated, understand quite a bit of what was said. And it was clear that most of the locals did not really expect her to. Presumably when the Galadhrim who lived on Lady Galadriel’s estate came to town they mainly pointed and said only ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. That figured. No member of the Galadhrim would ever acknowledge a lack in their own culture – if the Noldor would not learn Sindarin, the Galadhrim would not bother communicating with them!

So it was that Tindómë understood the conversation between two ellyth who were clearly discussing her companions – and herself.

Whilst one of them considered Tindómë’s own clothes ‘rather dated’ her companion owned that Orophin was very good looking but ‘one really wouldn’t want to consider any sort of relationship with a squirrel-lover, even if they were to learn to speak properly’.

Oh how Tindómë wanted to slap them both… hard! Rumil must have been aware of it – he looked at her questioningly. She shrugged, but glanced at Legolas; presumably he must have learnt more Quenya during that previous stay than he had known when she had first met him? Yes. There was the slight tightening of his mouth and around his eyes – but he shook his head slightly and kept moving.

As they continued their exploration of the city Tindómë got the impression, a couple of times, that merchants were passing over her to serve local shoppers. She felt less like the ‘friend of royalty class’ she had become used to in her years in Middle Earth and more like an unwanted poor relation.

And even though, later, Legolas told her that most of those he had met in the royal palace had been polite, Tindómë got the distinct impression that the term ‘squirrel-lover’ was not new to him – and that he liked it no more than she did.

No. These people were less welcoming of Wood Elves than those of Alqualondë were and Tindómë hoped there would never be any cause for her to make her home in this city. She decided she would be happier once they were on the road again, and she was pretty sure at least three of her four companions agreed.

She did not have long to wait. Next day a tall figure appeared, as if from nowhere, to summon them to Valimar. Tindómë’s first thought was that it was Eönwë himself – the great herald – as the figure stood well over seven feet tall, and glowed. But apparently he was a lesser herald. He was certainly impressive; Eönwë must be positively dazzling, and as for the Valar themselves…

Just what they were like, and how they would consider her request, she was to discover very soon. The herald said that they were to leave next morning, proceed at once to Valimar – which journey should take no more than five days – and they would be met at the gates.

As they followed his instructions, and set out the next morning, Tindómë was not at all sad to leave the environs of Tirion – only sad that the herald of the Valar wasn’t travelling with them looking imposing. ‘Although,’ she thought, ‘the locals would probably think we were going there to work as cleaners, rather than by the invitation of the Valar…’

……………………………………………….

Tirion had been shown on some of the maps as standing to the seaward of the great mountain range of the Pelori, and by others as being some miles to the far side of them. But when they had arrived in the area of the city it had been clear that the third version, which showed the city sitting as if guarding the main pass, was correct. The high mountain ranges had been clearly visible to the northwest and southwest but a way through could be seen if you looked due west.

This leg of their journey would take them through that pass, between the mountains of the Pelori, into the inner lands. None of the party had travelled this way before.

Legolas’ journeys to visit the groups of Wood Elves living here in the West had taken him both north and south of Alqualondë, and inland to the foothills of the mountains, but not through them. For when Gimli had visited the forge of Lord Aulë he had been accompanied only by the smith Naltatamë, and two more junior smiths of Master Elrond’s household, before meeting up with Legolas in Tirion.

Although Haldir had been in the Halls of Waiting – which those inconclusive maps did all agree was over on the far side of the land-mass – he had ‘emerged’ into the woodlands of Lady Galadriel’s estate. It had been as if he passed through a door, and found himself amongst the unfamiliar trees – but with his parents waiting across the clearing from him. He had since been into Tirion a number of times, and had travelled the road to Alqualondë to find his brothers, but had not ventured through the mountain range either.

It was, though, a well travelled road. Clearly there was regular movement between those who lived near Tirion and the Vanyarin elves who lived to the west of the mountains. Tindómë mentally classed the Vanyarin as the goody-goody ones who had never disobeyed so much as a suggestion from the Valar, let alone rebelled in any way. She half expected them to mainly sit around meditating and praising all the time. When one of the Els had pointed out, many years ago, that Glorfindel got his colouring, and the sort of inner-glow, from his Vanyar heritage, Tindómë had concluded that his fighting instincts and enjoyment of the desires of the body had doubtless been inherited from the Noldorin side of his family!

All of the party had traversed the High Passes in the Misty Mountains. The road through this pass was clear of snow and, despite it being only early spring with the mountain tops still white with snow, they had been told they would not even need to camp; there were inns at suitable intervals.

Inns; other travellers following the same route; no danger of attack by orcs, or trolls, or even wolves; as they rode the party hardly needed to do more than let the horses go at their own pace.

So each could spend time with their own thoughts.

Haldir still wondered why he had been instructed to join the party. If it was not because he was the head of the family which, he admitted, he really was not any longer, then perhaps, despite how safe the route to Valimar appeared, there would be need of his skills as he was, most certainly, the most accomplished warrior of the four ellyn.

Legolas wondered if there might be an opportunity to explore further, to seek an audience with Ingwë, the Elven High King, and find out if there were forests to the north that were not heavily inhabited. It seemed likely, but then there must be more of the Noldor and the Vanyar than there had been Ages ago, so perhaps they now lived in the forest shown on one of those maps. Or, worse, perhaps they had hewn them down…

Orophin thought of his wife. And how she would dislike living in the small woodlands around her Ladyship’s estate. A good thing, he thought, that he had no intention of suggesting they move or married life might become less pleasant than it had been so far.

Tindómë wondered just how the Valar would bring Spike here. If they were to do it there and then, in the middle of the Máhanaxar using her blood, perhaps she had better make sure they had a spare cloak with them. It would be awful if he arrived and then burst into flames! But then she could just make sure that they knew this was a problem; perhaps they could make sure the portal opened indoors…

Rumil absorbed the beauty of his surroundings without even trying. He looked at the way the light caught Haldir as he rode ahead, remembered the details of stone carvings he had seen in the city… and thought of Spike. With any luck, he thought, the Valar would explain to Tindómë why it was impossible to bring the vampire here. A simple ‘No’ would probably make her difficult to live with for months.

He really did not want to consider how the family would live with such an alien being in their midst should the Valar actually agree to her request.
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