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“If You Could See What I Hear…”
“A Seeker’s Journey"
In dreams I've seen a Golden Wood
That holds the riddles of the World
And I’ve trod upon a Hidden Path
To which shadowed strangers often have
Lead me to its Gate.
Strange Sights I saw while all alone
Like candle light encased in stone
And heard I laughs and music low
Which lead me to where I did not know
For I had wandered off the Path.
Then an unknown voice did Call to me
From the bowers of the shaded Trees
A stranger’s voice, yet one I knew
And I ran through the grass and sleepy dew
Just to find that Voice.
Amalthea of the Children of Twilight
“As I told you, Peregrin, our people are the keepers of the natural world. We are charged with keeping watch over the elements that make up all of Middle-earth, and which are joined together in a common bond. We are the si’og, the descendants of the Tuatha de Danann, and an ancient people. I shall tell you something of our history, and of the union of two people who lived here together a very long time ago. One from our world…and one from yours.”
Pippin’s eyes widened at Alfie’s words. “Who…?” he began, but she hushed him with a gentle finger against his lips.
“They met for the first time on the banks of the River Cenedril o’galad.” She pointed to the grove of oak and ash behind the immense garden. “The duin is a mirror, and a portal, to other places and times. Indeed, we refer to it as ‘Celeb henneth n’ atpaluin’, or ‘silver window on another world’ in your tongue. It is said that those who possess the Dha Shealladh, the Sight, are drawn to it because they enjoy the ability to see the reflections of truth in the face of its waters. And any who drink from it shall become one with the duin, and can glimpse the face of eternity within its crystal flow.”
Pippin felt the gooseflesh sprouting on his arms as he listened, and he wondered what might happen if he were to taste of the water? Tulip whispered that she certainly wasn’t about to let him find out, and then tucked herself into a tight ball inside his collar, leaving only her pink snout peeking out. Pippin patted her head to comfort the flustered piglet. Tulip was taken aback by what she’d heard. The story didn’t frighten him, but it sounded quite mysterious and he wondered again in what special way he was like the people who lived here? His friend had said it was so, and he had no reason to disbelieve her.
“Alfie? Who…who was the person from my world?” Pippin tilted his head to one side. Tulip poked her head all of the way out of her hiding place and cocked an ear towards Alfie, while Pippin absent-mindedly scratched her ears.
“He was a hobbit much like you, Peregrin. Indeed, he was a member of your own family, a forbearer.”
Pippin drew a quick breath that matched Tulip’s gasp. “A…a Took?”
“Yes, and it his story, in part, that I shall tell you now.”
Pippin fidgeted, excited to hear more, while Rhoswen settled in next to him with a smile. Tulip scampered all the way out from beneath Pippin’s shirt collar and he perched her on one of his knees so she could hear everything. Tulip graciously thanked him and then peered up at Alfie with renewed interest. To Pippin’s right, Ealdhun cackled in his high-pitched voice and drew his thin legs up to his chin. The soothing music lulled Pippin and before long a dreamy smile settled over his face. The little group waited expectantly.
“The one from our land was called Eolande, which means ‘violet flower’, and indeed she was as slight and delicate as one, with lovely golden-red tresses that flowed to below her waist.”
“Her hair was the same colour as mine,” Rhoswen piped up helpfully, dangling a strand of her own locks before his eyes.
“Have you heard this tale before?” Pippin quirked an eyebrow at his friend and the child nodded.
“It was Mi na Bealtaine, or, the first day of Thrimidge, in the tongue of your people, when the young hobbit wandered into the forest,” Alfie continued, with a knowing smile and a nod to her audience. “Much in the same way as you came to be here, Peregrin.”
Rhoswen giggled. “I brought you here,” she explained at Pippin’s quizzical look. She pressed her dainty hands to her mouth and giggled again, “and you did not realise I was watching you.”
“What?” Pippin began.
“I have been following you for some time, Peregrin. I…” Rhoswen hesitated and cast a furtive look at Alfie.
Alfie nodded. “Go ahead, child. I am aware of everything you have been up to. It is all right, tell him.”
Rhoswen sighed in relief. “I visited you in your home. I wanted you to come here to see mine, that is all,” her voice trailed off and Rhoswen blushed.
“Oh…well, how come you didn’t just ask me?”
“I do not know. Perhaps I thought you would not come.”
Pippin recalled his recent picnic with Tulip in the meadow, when he’d been certain he had seen a lass. He’d wanted to pursue her then, but Tulip had stopped him. Guiltily, he remembered the promise he’d made to his mother that day. “I would’ve liked to,” he murmured, with a sideways glance at Tulip. The knitted piglet frowned her disapproval, tapping her hoof impatiently on his knee, and Pippin couldn’t resist rolling his eyes.
“I gave you a gift while you were sleeping. Just as I did here.”
Pippin’s eyes widened in sudden understanding, “The primrose, you gave me the golden primrose!”
Rhoswen nodded with a smile. “To help you come visit me.”
“Why ever would I need a primrose before I could visit you? Oh! And how come--”
“Children,” Alfie interrupted, “we are straying from our tale once more. Hush now, and simply listen, yes?”
Rhoswen and Pippin bobbed their heads in unison.
“Our people have dwelt here for years untold,” Alfie continued. “When Eolande met the hobbit lad we came to understand this was destined to be. And knew from that union another very special lad would one day be born to a great purpose, and there would be an important reason why he would visit us one day while still very young.”
“Are…are you talking about me?” Pippin’s brow furrowed in confusion. “But, how can you know what’s going to happen? What purpose? How do you…?”
Alfie touched her finger to his lips once more. “Peregrin, allow me to tell you what I will. For the moment, do not ask so many questions. Can you do that?”
“Aye,” Pippin nodded, his face lighting up with a shy grin.
“The duin draws those to its banks that have a special need for its gift. The lad of long ago felt that power and met his fate, Eolande, there by the water.” Alfie leaned close and spoke directly to Pippin in her soft voice. “He drank of the duin’s waters, and his eyes were opened unto a world none of his kin had ever before experienced.”
Pippin felt a chill course through him. “Did…did…drinking the water hurt him? Is that why I can’t drink it?”
Alfie chuckled, a sound as light as the feather touch of a mother’s kiss for a sleeping child. “No, the water did not harm him. However, it did change him.” She placed a hand upon his shoulder and looked deep into his eyes. “In a way that is not appropriate for you and your own destiny, Peregrin. Do you understand?”
Pippin thought hard. “Because I’m not supposed to stay here. Am I?”
“No, child. Your future lies elsewhere. You have an important, nay, a crucial task ahead of you one day, and you must be allowed the opportunity to complete it.”
“What task, Alfie? Won’t you tell me?”
Alfie shook her head. “I cannot. But you will find your way, young Peregrin Took, and there will always be someone there to aid you in your hour of need. Never forget that, and never lose your faith. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“That is good.” Alfie gazed across the meadow, deep in thought for a moment, before continuing. “They wed, and Eolande gave birth to a son, a child of mixed heritage. Here they dwelled in peace and harmony for many years to come, living amongst Eolande’s people. The union produced more than one child and for many years they prospered and were content.”
“But alas, the hobbit was mortal and he knew when his time approached to pass across the duin. He wished to see his kin one last time, and so they left this place, taking their children into his world and returning to his family. They dwelt there during his last days and it was decided that his eldest son should remain there after his death. When that time came, Eolande was heartbroken. She had lost her husband, and felt that she would now be losing her son. However, she honoured his wishes and allowed the lad to stay with her husband’s relatives. He had of course, come of age by that time, and expressed his own desire to heed his father’s request. Eolande bade him farewell and took the rest of her children back into the woodland, and home. As far as her husband’s relatives could discern, she and the children had simply disappeared one day.
Alas, the hobbit’s family did not realise she was a faerie, and were very worried. The lad who was left behind was bid not to reveal his mother’s true identity. Thus, it is said that none from her husband’s world ever knew what happened to her and the other children, nor from whence they came, although the family never stopped searching. But they treasured the lad who remained with them. For he was all they had left of their loved one who had gone missing for all those years, and then come home at last, only to die soon thereafter.”
“Eolande’s gift to her lineage was the gift of glas, or green, eyes. She also decreed that in some descendants her blood would run almost pure, and they would possess the gift of Dha Shealladh, the Second Sight.” Alfie paused and looked at Pippin with a meaningful smile. The hobbit child startled. He swallowed hard, trying to find his voice.
“You mean…that I’m…uh, a faerie?”
Alfie chuckled at the shocked expression and shook her head. “Not precisely.” She tilted his chin upward ever so tenderly and studied his face. “Your ancestor’s gift is evident in the colour of your eyes, as well as in your inquisitive and unconventional nature. You are one in whom Eolande’s blood runs almost pure.”
“But, but what does that mean?” Pippin scratched his head while Tulip quivered in wonder.
“It means that you are indeed a very exceptional young hobbit, Peregrin,” Alfie said.
“Yes indeed, you certainly are,” Alfie assured him, while his companions laughed, enjoying his wonder.
“I’m still not certain exactly what you’re talking about.” Pippin cast a sideways look at Tulip and she shrugged her plump shoulders and told him she was sorry, but she didn’t have the answer to his question either.
Paladin moved closer to the river and the young lovers. It was now apparent to him they were indeed but shadows of the past, airy and light, yet their features were distinct. He studied the cheerful face intently, hoping to figure out whom he might resemble the most out of all his relatives. He sensed the Oak Spirit’s amusement at his actions and bristled, “How can you expect that I would have no curiosity about this lad?”
I expected no less.
“Hmph.” Paladin turned back to the vision. The couple paid him no mind and continued to converse in their soft voices. He circled the young hobbit slowly, one hand rubbing his chin in thought. “I can detect features that many generations of Tooks have in common.” He peered into his ancestor’s eyes and saw they were light grey. He looked into Eolande’s and was taken aback by the brilliance of her sea green eyes. He breathed, “Why, ‘tis just as the legend says. Her eyes are the same shade as Peregrin’s.”
And identical to your own.
“Aye. The same as mine.” Paladin laughed quietly and retreated a step, continuing his scrutiny. The couple knelt beside the river and Paladin’s interest heightened, even more mystified by their actions as Eolande dipped the fingers of both her hands into the waters and then touched them gently to the lad’s closed eyes. She held this pose for several moments, whispering some words Paladin was unable to understand. The lad opened his eyes and drew back, taking both of Eolande’s hands in his own. Again, Paladin could not discern the exact words that were spoken, but the intent was clear enough to him, and he found himself smiling slightly.
“I’m certain I recognise a proposal of marriage when I see one.” His smile widened as the young couple embraced again and shared a tender kiss. They shocked him then by reaching into the water together, and cupping their hands to their mouths, drinking of the sparkling liquid. Paladin’s eyes widened in alarm and he whirled, raising his voice to his invisible companion. “She is inviting him to consume the water! Why?”
It was his destiny to do so, and his choice.
Paladin was silent for several moments, thinking furiously. “For what purpose are you showing me these things?” he finally asked.
It is your time to know.
“Can you not give me a single answer that isn’t couched in a riddle?”
It is no riddle. It is simply truth. The time for you to know has come. You are here, now, for that purpose.
Paladin snorted under his breath and muttered, “That’s what I thought you were going to say. And to me, ‘tis still a riddle. What of my son? Is it time for him to know these things also? Is that why he was lured away from his home and into the woodlands? Does someone conspire at this very moment to keep him here forever? He was alone and unprotected--”
Nay, he is neither alone, nor unprotected, and has not been during a single step of his journey. There is merely a time for every purpose. What he learns through this experience will serve him well later on. It will serve you too, Paladin Took. For that reason you must heed the lesson well.
“What lesson?” Paladin cried, his temper rising again. “A lesson in patience, perhaps? Or one in frustration? I want nothing more than to locate my son and return him to our home. Can’t you understand that?”
I understand. And so must you. Your son’s eccentricities will serve him well. They may even one day save his life. Your impatience does not serve you; instead, it hinders you from the truth. Stay your temper and mind my counsel. You are in many ways the same as your offspring; and you are in other respects, the opposite of one another.
“Yes? And just what is it you’re hinting at? That I’ve a hot temper? That I’m too impatient?” Paladin began to pace back and forth, his voice rising, “Or do you simply not recognise that I’m a father, distraught over his missing son and in a hurry to find him? And that I’m weary of being led along the primrose path with naught but a handful of riddles to guide my way? You are taking advantage of my curiosity and delaying my--”
Paladin felt the ground shudder beneath his feet and almost lost his footing. He was troubled by the Spirit’s admonishment. Perhaps he had overstepped his bounds? After all, he really wasn’t sure exactly what sort of creature he was speaking with. Glancing about somewhat warily, he gasped as another vision unfolded abruptly before his startled eyes, one more vivid and powerful than any he had witnessed thus far. “What in Middle-earth is happening?” he whispered, eyes widened in wonder as he stared into the heart of the fast moving images.
A huge clash between two groups of people took place before him and Paladin witnessed the overthrow of an ancient society. He watched, frozen in place, as the scenes passed before his eyes quickly, one after another, and yet he was able to comprehend all that was happening. “Granda’s tale of the Great Battle,” he breathed in helpless awe. At last, the two sides came together in counsel following the war, apparently reaching an agreement after much debate. Paladin found himself nodding in understanding. Yes, according to his grandfather’s story, the victors had taken control of the land while the defeated had gone underground to live. As if in answer to his thoughts, Paladin watched as an entire civilization retreated beneath the earthen hills he knew were called si’th, a word he had heard repeated many times during the storytelling. “Oh my, the Daoine Si’dh…”
Paladin gasped as a sense of warmth enveloped him in its ghostly arms, and the voice of the Oak spoke once more. The reproachful tone had disappeared.
The survivors. They are what remains of the Tuatha De’ Danann. They are the people of the land. Abiding by the historic agreement, they retreated underground and now embrace and care for all of nature within and without the Otherworld.
“The people of peace,” Paladin whispered respectfully. “Farmers, lovers of the land…like me and my kin.”
Yes, the Tuatha. Common people, Farmers, crafters and artists. Your forebears, Eolande’s people.
Paladin thought furiously for several minutes, one hand pressed to his temple, attempting to recall more of what he’d overheard so long ago. His granda had spoken of the legend extensively during those late night chats with family. And Paladin had listened intently from his hiding place behind the parlour door, fascinated by everything he’d heard, and wishing desperately that he could ask questions. Ah, yes. He remembered now. The tale of the beautiful fey who sometimes took a mortal lover…Paladin’s expression darkened along with his temper. “Then Eolande was a liannan shi’th? A beloved one of the faerie mounds? She used my ancestor?” Paladin felt the anger and disbelief rising within him.
Nay, she did not use him; she fell hopelessly in love with him. Eolande was enthralled by his charm, his appearance, and his lilting voice. Theirs was a relationship of mutual consent; she did not take him against his will.
Paladin released a mighty sigh of relief. “Oh, well…good, then. Is there more?”
The air shimmered in a gossamer wave of light and the odd group of beings appeared again, the beautiful storyteller still in their midst. And there was his son, relaxing amongst the circle of listeners, leaning up against a big stone with Tulip perched on his knees and a big smile on his face. Paladin studied the diminutive child who sat next to Pippin. This was the first clear glimpse of her he’d been given, and he noted the lass’s red-gold curls and exceptionally fair skin with interest. The gathering raised their voices in laughter once more before settling back to listen further. Paladin could hear the words this time, and his ears perked up at the sound of Pippin’s voice asking a question.
“Alfie? Who…who was the person from my world?”
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