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Many thanks to Fiondil for the beta!
“Well, I heard they are big, with great broad shoulders, clumsy limbs, and all covered in hair like animals. In less time that it takes for a child to grow up, these creatures spawn, then become wrinkled and bent. They make horrible rasping noises when they run and even when they sleep!” The young elleth stated matter-of-factly as the others gathered about the fire with her nodded in agreement or shivered, drawing back in disgust.
“And then...then they die!”
Gasps erupted all around from the Noldorin youth who listened raptly to the words of their new Sindarin friends.
“King Fëanor told our people that the Val… the Belain told him that these…these…these Edain are going to take over all of Arda and usurp our place and our rights as the Firstborn of Eru,” one of the Noldorin ellin added.
“No!” came the cries of the Sindar in response.
The Noldo nodded gravely. “My own adar and naneth both heard Fëanor say it.”
One of the Sindar, a tall youth near the proper age to prove his skills as an adult, shook his head in denial. “I do not believe what you say, Noldo.” Raising his hands in placation to the protests erupting around him, he clarified, “I do not doubt that your adar and naneth heard Fëanor say these things, but I doubt that the Edain could ever usurp our place as the rightful heirs of Arda.”
“You doubt the words of a Vala?” a pretty Nolodrin elleth asked incredulously.
Another elleth beside her jabbed her in the ribs, admonishing in hushed tones, “Do not say Vala!”
“I know not the word in Sindarin,” she quietly defended.
“Well neither do I. But say not Vala!”
“I know very little of the Belain as a group so I do not know if I would trust the words of an individual Balan,” the youth replied emphasizing the words, causing the offending elleth to blush in embarrassment. “But I do know what I have seen for myself. These Edain are wild creatures, little better than the animals whose skins they wear. They bear crude weapons. They make rough pluckings and gratings which they call music. They could never steal Arda from us.”
“When did you see them,” another Noldo asked not even bothering to try to hide the doubt in his voice.
“They gather every year in the forest over yon hills after our time of harvest.” He pointed to the east. “I saw them then.”
“The harvest has just ended…” someone pointed out.
“Would you please take us to see that we may judge for ourselves as you have?” A Noldorin ellon of equal age asked.
“I do not know that I should…” the Sindarin youth hemmed uncomfortably.
“Come now! Our parents will sit in council for days yet discussing the trade agreements,” the Noldorin lad persisted.
“There are no orcs about,” another Sinda added.
“Please,” the pretty Noldorin elleth entreated. “You know these lands well and have hunted in them many times. We trust the might of your arm and wit and that of the other ellyn to keep us safe.”
“I still do not know that…,” the youth began again, but the pretty Noldorin elleth smiled at him, melting his resolve. He bowed his head a moment then straightened, saying, “Their gathering time does begin tomorrow night. It would take us a full day of running to arrive there in time by foot. We dare not take horses lest our parents become suspicious. If we obtain provisions tonight, I suppose we could leave at dawn after the council convenes and go see them.”
“Let us go and prepare then. Bring your weapons just in case,” another youth advised. “And we can meet at the large oak over there at first light.” He pointed to the eastern edge of the settlement and the rest eagerly gave their assent.
The next resting of Anor found the twenty young elves in the bushes surrounding a crudely fashioned settlement of thatch huts near the bend in the river. Noldor and Sindar alike gazed in wonder at the sights they beheld.
Many bonfires lit the center of the circle of huts. A strange adan garbed in furs of muted browns with shaggy dun-colored hair and beard to match, came forth from one of the larger huts. Immediately he was surrounded by men and children, similarly clad in pelts, who stood listening intently.
Moments later, four other of the crude men began beating on drums of varying sizes eliciting a multi-pitched rhythm which stirred even the blood of the elves. All of the mortal men joined in with a song half sung and half chanted, blending with the drums. Suddenly, the doors of the huts opened and more hairy people burst forth.
For hours, the elven children stared in wide-eyed amazement as women with bodies painted in red and blue and partially clad in animal skins danced around the center of the village, weaving among the men and children, alternating between a tightening and then a widening spiral. As each woman reached a fire, she leaped through it, twirling and waving her arms all the while.
“Those creatures really are ugly, are they not?” one elleth commented.
“That one has no teeth!” another exclaimed in a loud whisper.
“They reek! Why I can smell their stench from here! Do they not bathe?”
“Their clothes barely cover their bodies!”
“Why do they not wear tunics and dresses?” the youngest elleth asked as she leaned closer to get a better look.
“Silence!” the eldest Sindarin ellon hissed from his position beside the pretty Noldorin elleth. “Or they might…”
But he did not complete his sentence for the bushes behind them suddenly shook. Before any of the children could do more than turn, they were all knocked to the ground and the ellyn’s right arms were impaled with arrows or crude stone knives. The elleth cried as they struggled to escape, but the captors held them fast.
Soon Elbereth’s stars looked down upon twenty young elves bound hand and foot and sitting in the center of the circle of huts near the largest fire. The large shaggy leader of the Edain barked many guttural words at the group, spurring the eldest Noldorin ellon to try to reason with the captors in Sindarin and Quenya. However, the ellon immediately gave up the attempt when a particularly smelly adan back-handed him across the mouth, splitting his lips. The rest of the confused and frightened elves remained silent, occasionally looking pleadingly at the eldest Sinda, whose face remained impassive despite the blood soaking his sleeve.
After a time, the leader stopped speaking and motioned to another man who withdrew a flaming branch from the fire.
What the one with the branch intended to do, the young elves never learned for an arrow suddenly found its target in the man. Many other arrows hit the ground or wounded the men nearest the children. Edain fled in all directions as mail clad elven warriors with bright flaming eyes and terrible light illuminating their features descended upon the village. Swords neatly sliced ropes amidst the children’s tearful exclamations.
“You rescued us!”
“Please take us home!”
The Sindarin warriors continued to rain arrows upon the Edain, keeping them at bay while the Noldor carried the elven children away to safety.
“Well, I heard they are tall and lithe with a beauty more wonderful that that of any mortal,” the blonde girl said.
“I heard they have ears shaped like leaves and they dance and sing with music that is not of this earth,” her cousin added.
“Well, my grandfather told me the stories of them that have been handed down for generations from his grandparents’ grandparents all the way back to…well…to whenever and they’re all from Ireland so they know,” a red-headed teenage boy declared. “He said they move so silently that no one can hear them until death rains down upon the unsuspecting. They have skin covered in silver metal and they have flaming eyes and a light about them so horrible that even shadows flee in fear!”
Many of the children gasped in dismay, but a few of the older ones shook their heads in disbelief.
“It’s true! I swear it! In fact, I’ve heard it said that they still gather here…”
“Nah!” one of the other teens interrupted, waving his hand dismissively.
“Even…NO! Even today, just after our harvest time every year beyond those hills over there to the west. I swear it! They still gather.”
“All right I will. Tomorrow night is Halloween. At sunset, we’ll meet just outside of town at that big ol’ oak tree that’s older than dirt and we’ll go down to the woods over there…”
Atto (Quenya) – familiar form of father
Adar (Sindarin) - father
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