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Forums : The Silent Chronicles > The Song of the Nightingale
Sauronsbeagle (Member) 5/30/2009 7:05 PM EST : The Song of the Nightingale
Sauronsbeagle
Posts: 4623

The Song of the Nightingale, by Reddmaeve


The Song Begins

The year is 3019.  My name is Rhiannon Tinuviel.  I am seventeen hundred and fifty-four years old.  I am an elf from the city of Elrond, known to all as Rivendell.  I am writing this history, not because I am some great and noble person who deserves to be remembered forever in the course of history, but because I am afraid that in these times of darkness I will forget who I am and how I came to be. 

My mother is the only born of her parents and belongs to a noble line of elves who claim to be able to sing their history back to the Third, known in the journals as Enel and Enelye.  She was born during a time of peace as are most Elven children.  Contrary to the emotionless and detached façade that we present to the rest of the world, my people have a deep and abiding love for each other and cherish their children.  As a child, my mother was no different and was indeed cherished to the point of being willful and headstrong and is still thus.  Instead of being betrothed at an early age as is the way of our people, my respected grandparents encouraged her to remain theirs to indulge.  Stories are sung not only of the power of her beauty, but the strength of her scorn.  Many suitors were shattered by her.  Never be fooled by the icy calmness of an Elf’s demeanor.  Ice can burn as deeply and painfully as flame.  Perhaps it was appropriate that she was named for the icy storm that raged at her birth.  Whatever my Atar,  Baelodar saw in Vonavin, I will never understand.

Long before the shadow fell on the Greenwood, my father was a friend to all races.  Though he was a loyal and committed member of those who guarded the borders of Imladris, he often traveled to the cities of man and dwarf and did his best to maintain good relations between all.  I sometimes wonder if somehow he did not smell a storm on the winds of the future and was attempting to prepare.  In those times, he was called a fool by many, but as time has proved, he was far from one.  It is written that his marriage to Vonavin was unexpected on both sides and the old ones said that this union would exist only in name. 

In the year of 1265, I became their first and only born.  My memories of my childhood are few with the exception of feeling a rather distant mother who was critical of my every trait, finding them lackluster in comparison to her own and a father who adored me.  In respect for his human friends, he insisted on my naming to be Rhiannon.  Perhaps there is a story there that I will discover someday.  My mother name, I have banished from my lips and from this writing.  For now I am happy to know that I am named by the one who loved me truly and best.

It was Baelodar who taught me the use of sword and steel and horsemanship.  When Vonavin discovered that I, her daughter, had a voice of some merit, she instructed me to silence it.  It was only when my father overheard me singing to my horse one day that I was found  instruction in not only its use but that of instruments as well.  Though there were no arguments, there was a silent battle between them.  One to hide and shadow me, the other to bring me into the sunlight and full bloom.

Once my studies had progressed, we were a common sight, my father and I.  We traveled for long periods of time battling the strange things and the diseased creatures that were appearing in the lands.  He with his shield and sword and my talents both urging him on and inflicting suffering in those we battled.  Around campfires in the hills, he would describe for me all the manners of people that he had encountered.  Of all of them though, I believe his favorite was the race of Man.  Baelodar  would tell me of all their foibles and folly, their weaknesses, their darknesses but these stories would be tempered with his praise for their ability to adapt and survive.  He had met a great many good men in his travels and he would tell me of how when you found a man of great nobility, not in bloodline or by birth, but of character and heart, it was such joy that his heart would sing.  Of all the things he could hope for me, it was that I would meet such a man.

When we would return to Rivendell, I would be fairly sequestered as Vonavin would endeavour to have her daughter learn the finer skills of weaving and embroidery.  No warp was ever straight enough for her and my weft was an abomination in her eyes.  My stitches were never dainty enough and my needlework was a shambles.  My clothes did not lie right, I did not walk with the proper grace, my hair was never styled in a manner according to my birth.  It is no wonder that I chose my father’s company over hers or slipped away whenever possible.  Thankfully, my kin cousin, Raveniel was always at hand and eager for adventure or simply picking flowers and telling tales.

Baelodar was solemn the day he came to tell me that I was being sent to the Refuge at Edehelion in order to further my education.  He kissed me on the forehead and hugged me close as he whispered, “Atara wishes it, tinu.  We’ll walk amongst the trees again.”   He couldn’t have known that the next time we would meet would be through the smoke and thunder of war.  It mattered not if my clothes and weapons were simple and crude (since I did not bring my proper clothing and weapons for what was supposed to be a quiet retreat of dresses, poetry, and art… a mistake I learned greatly from.).  When the trolls came to the gate, when Lord Elrond appeared with a small contingent from Rivendell to drive back the invading evil, my Atar heard my singing before he saw my battle stained face.  With Lord Elrond’s blessing, he returned me to my home and there was never talk of my leaving again.

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Sauronsbeagle (Member) 5/30/2009 7:06 PM EST : RE: The Song of the Nightingale
Sauronsbeagle
Posts: 4623

The Song is Silenced

It was in the year of 2768 that my great silence began.  For centuries, my Atar and I had been riding into the Misty Mountains, trying to make the passes safe.  We had successfully subdued many beasts and enemies of the land.  Abominations and creations of all sorts roamed the territory and even those beasts that were normally peaceful by nature had now turned violent and predatory.   We were due to leave that morning for the Northern reaches towards the places known as The Bitter Stair and Helegrod.  There had been some disturbing reports of the hillmen in the region and we were determined to know if the rumours had any substance.

The morning dawned grey and overcast.  A fog had settled into the area.  A light rain dampened everything but my spirits.  I dressed early and grabbed a light snack as I headed to the stable to prepare my mount for the travels.  I was astounded, petrified, angry to see that his mount was already gone.  Blindly, I ran back to the house and who should I see as I opened the door?  My Atara.  Vonavin.  Her icy features were placid yet she held the shine of victory in her eyes.  Her words were without rancor or even the trace of a sneer as she told me that I was too late.  They had left early and ridden without me.  All I heard were the sounds of betrayal.

Without being told, I sat waiting with needlework in my hand.  I was making him a gift for his return.  A new shirt embroidered with nightingales for that was what he always called me.  His tinuviel.  His nightingale. Nearly three months passed until we learned of his fate.  Three months I waited and watched for his horse.  Three months I stitched until my fingers were raw and the cloth was stained with my silent tears.  Three months I had to endure the company of a woman who should have been my comfort and instead was my torment.

Every moment of that day is stitched to my memory.  Lord Elrond at the door, his face grim and solemn.  The way he strode past my mother’s fluttery words and stood before me, reaching down with his firm, yet gentle hands and bidding me to rise and face the news as my father would have wished it.  With strength and courage.  

I can still feel the coldness that encased me as I saw the two that remained of the ten that departed.  The sorrow in their eyes.  The fear and dread that still lingered in the shadows of their skin and the line of their mouths.  How I endured their tale, I do not know.  I was frozen as they described what fate befell them.  The power of the Nazgul.  The fury of his minions.  The bravery of my father as he bid them, no ordered their retreat as he held the line and drew all attention to himself to cover their escape.  They had left him not because they lacked courage, but because they understood that the evil that was nestled in the snowy reaches must be revealed.

The descent was more treacherous than the ascent had been as the forces of darkness were dispatched to stop them from delivering their account.  All manner of creature was sent to waylay them.   Their horses long gone, the travel was slow and the weather was fickle.  When two remained and were in despair, fearing their message would be lost with them there appeared Ulaire, the favored mount of my father.  Thin and bearing marks of attacks on his flanks and withers, the white horse had survived its solitary journey down the mountain.  Wickering softly, he greeted the two men.  Encouraged by his appearance, they continued and finally arrived in Rivendell to bear their sorrowful and disturbing news.

I found myself unable to speak.  Though tears burned in my eyes and sobs clawed at my throat, I was unable to make a single sound.  I remember grasping each man’s shoulder in turn.  Feeling the bone lying just beneath the skin.  Kissing their gaunt and hollow cheeks in gratitude for their bravery and their tales.  They moved out of the room silently, respectfully.  

Lord Elrond turned me towards him and placed a kiss on my forehead.  “Rhiannon, daughter of Baelodar, your loss is the loss of all.  Take the name that Baelodar called you by, Tinuviel, and make it your own.  You were his beloved song that lifted his heart.”  Tilting my chin up, he seemed to sense my struggle and wiping the unshed tears from my eyes, he continued,  “ Nightingale, you will sing again and when you do, in your song he will always be remembered.”  With a respectful bow of his head, he departed.

One hundred cycles of the seasons spun through time.  I said nothing.  I sang nothing.  I cannot say exactly how it came to pass, but Vonavin moved out of the house that she had shared with my father and me and returned to her parents.  I stayed in the home of my father, living with the ghosts of my memories.  I spent many hours at the stables, caring for Ulaire until he, too, died.  I seemed to spend days sitting motionless, watching the water tumble down rocks, leaves fall from the trees, grass dance in the wind.  Raveniel tried, but could never understand my silence.

Sometimes I would walk though the grounds of Rivendell, and see my childhood friends and companions, Qanien with his bow and Caddael with his lute watching me from the trees.  They seemed to always be waiting for me to make some sign and ever hopeful that I would come again to hunt in the forests as we did when we were children.  I heard the murmurs of the people.  Though my voice was gone, my ears still worked.  Even Vonavin wondered in her thoughtless way if I would try to make the journey to the Halls of Mandos to join my father’s spirit.

Never again did I touch needlework or the loom.  The shirt I was working on was placed carefully away, never finished.  It sits now, in the Elven chest that is in my house.  Safe from prying eyes and fingers.

Every year, at the anniversary of that day when my song flew from my heart, Lord Elrond would pay a visit.  Never at my father’s home where there was the memory of the grief that was brought on me, but somewhere peaceful.  Oftentimes he would sit with me and tell me stories of my father and stories about myself that Baelodar had told him.  Every year he would wipe the unshed tears from my eyes, kiss my forehead and murmur assurances that “in time, the Nightingale’s song would rise again.”  This is why I am loyal to the House of Elrond and am faithful to him and his kin should they ever need me.
  



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Sauronsbeagle (Member) 5/30/2009 7:07 PM EST : RE: The Song of the Nightingale
Sauronsbeagle
Posts: 4623

The Nightingale Caged

One hundred years had faded behind me, and on that day when the kindest of Elven Lords placed his lips to my skin, a single tear escaped to roll down my cheek.  Like the first trickle of the winter’s thaw, it signaled the end of my silence and the rebirth of the Nightingale.  Not all at once, mind you.  It would still be one hundred and ten cycles before my song would rise again.  However, the ice began to melt from my skin, my heart began the painful task of beating again, and I began to get in step with the world around me.

Vonavin began to appear from time to time.  After one hundred years of avoiding me, she was taking an interest.  I would soon learn why.  Though I have over the years tried not to judge her too harshly, like cuts from a Nazgul’s blade, there are some wounds that never heal.  I have found that as the coming darkness gathers in strength, some of the Elven people, what the world sees as the strong, never wavering Elven people, are effected by it.  Acting out of what most would consider their racial character, they make choices and behave in ways most opposite of our true nature.  Perhaps it is some weakness of spirit that had made her act thus.  It is no matter to me now.  I don’t know why I waste a single thought on her.  She is nothing to me now.

Over the next decades, I was finding a particular Elven male being thrust into my path again and again.  Remember, I had not yet returned to my song.  I wore the dresses of an Elven woman having shunned the armours and leathers of the era of my father.  I had never expressed any interest in the males of the world other than that of my Atar, Qanien, and Caddael.  Mother found Qan and Cad most unsuitable matches to begin with and being I was never really interested in things like betrothals, I didn’t mind.  

I suppose she found my reading of poetry and wearing of cloth to be an encouraging sign that I wanted to marry.  (Did she not notice that the tomes in my hands were epics of war and tragedy?)  So began her campaign to find me a “suitable” husband.  That husband, in her mind anyway, was Firbir.  Dark haired and proud of his alabaster complexion, Firbir was quite the catch among the more societal Elven sets.  He was also quite full of himself.  I endured my mother’s endless matchmaking.  The dinners, the “accidental” meetings on my walks, during my solitary rides, practically anytime, it all became quite annoying.  The stranger thing was, the sharper my tongue, the more pointed my wit, the harder my edge, the more of a harpy I became, the more he pursued me.

Keep in mind I was not yet myself.  I was still as one who slumbers while walking in many aspects.  In most things I was quite apathetic.  It was this apathy that Vonavin preyed upon.  Eventually, in the year 2968, more to gain peace for myself than anything, I agreed to the betrothal.  Silver rings were exchanged between us.  I suppose that the crease of a frown that wrinkled Lord Elrond’s brow as he expressed his congratulations should have given me some cause to reconsider.  Qanien and Caddael were conspicuously absent.  Raveniel looked puzzled.  Only my mother looked pleased.

Normally, an Elven betrothal lasts at least a year, perhaps more depending on the age of those betrothed.  Firbir and I were well into the age where we were old enough to know our minds, so it was expected that a year would be sufficient.  Perhaps Elrond’s frown had given me pause.  Perhaps the silence of friends was encouraging me to re-evaluate.  I do not know the reason, but seven years passed without me being willing to set a date and all were showing signs of concern.

Oh, how Vonavin nagged me!  Firbir was equally annoying in his attentions, but his seemed to be a more physical nature.  Though not prone to feelings of lust as a people, his insinuations and propositions were definitely of an earthy realm.  If we had been madly in love and desperate for our union, I may have understood it.  As it was, he was a very vain creature more interested in his fair image than a fair maiden. His more and more advanced advances were showing signs that he viewed our union as some sort of megalomaniacal conquest than a lifetime commitment.  The extent of the mistake I was making had not yet revealed itself to me, but I was sensibly becoming wary.

At the behest of my mother, I agreed to meet with Firbir for an afternoon picnic.  He provided me with the place and the time and I would bring the picnic.  I suppose I should mention that by this time we had moved temporarily to Celondim.  My mother wished to remove to the Grey Havens with her parents and I, in my solitude and misery, simply went along with it.  Raveniel was to accompany us, but Qanien and Caddael, were still in love with the world even in all its miseries.  They had some notion that there was no other option but to remain behind and do what they could to help the races that did not have the option to simply disembark these lands for somewhere else.

On this day, my mind and my soul were unsettled.  Something was not right and I was unsure how to translate these feelings into logical expressions.  To be fair, I had fasted for a fortnight in hopes that Eru would illuminate me as to what course of action to take in my life.  My spirit was reawakening.  My father’s sense of guardianship and protection of the land was starting to draw me out of myself.  Do I stay or do I go?   I needed a sign.  Oh, what a sign I received.

As I pushed aside the bushes to enter the secluded glen that Firbir had given such explicit instructions for me to reach, I heard a noise.  Peering in, the sight I saw was such that I dare not give it life through ink nor voice.  It is bad enough that it lives in my thoughts.  Firbir knew I would come.  He had planned it from the start.  He turned his head and looked, his eyes meeting mine boldly and… smiled.  I did not recognize the other elf.  Judging by the shading of his skin and hair, I would have to say that he came from Lorien.  Giving him a nod, I returned home the way I had come and said not a word to anyone.




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Sauronsbeagle (Member) 5/30/2009 7:07 PM EST : RE: The Song of the Nightingale
Sauronsbeagle
Posts: 4623

The Nightingale Unchained

For the next two years, he taunted me with it and I bid my time, held my tongue and gave council to no one but myself.  Oh, the vile things that he whispered in my ears!  I would today cut his tongue out would he dare give voice to those same words.  But I am not the same person I was then.  The old me waited.  I deftly sidestepped any issues with my mother.  I continued my façade of respectful and filial obedience.  

Then came the day.  The day we were to set sail.  I was up before the dawn and dressed, mounted, and on my way to Duillond before the morning watch had changed shifts.  What needed to be done, needed to be done without prying eyes.  Off came the ring of what I now considered to be bondage.  Into the forge it went until the silver went molten.  Looking around, I picked up a piece of the most common material I could find.  Pig iron.  How perfect.  Pulling the forge cup out, I dropped the pig iron in and plunged it back into the flames, letting the silver be forever tainted, tarnished, sullied by the common and useless ore.  Worthless.

The sun told me what I needed to know.  The time was nigh.  The ore had cooled enough to handle.  I purposefully left it to be formless, shapeless.  The look of wolf scat.  Remounting, I headed back to Celondim, back to the harbour.  Back to where they waited.  I could see them onboard.  Vonavin was crossly scanning the area.  She did not see what stood in front of her.

Pulling the horse up sharply, I dismounted and approached the ship.  “Mae govannen, Atara,” I called.  “Were you looking for me?”

Seeing me dressed in the clothing that I had shunned for so long, the sturdy leathers that I had worn when I was with my father, the look on her face moved from irritation to confusion and then icy disdain.  “What is this nonsense, Rhiannon,” she questioned.  “Change into something suitable and come.  This ship will not wait forever.”  Firbir moved next to her, dragging Raveniel with him.

“Beloved,” he called mockingly.  “I did not recognize you in those strange clothes.  Who are you?  Are you truly my betrothed?”  He feigned puzzlement and gave me a sly, arrogant grin.  I believe that he truly thought that I would crumble like a dry leaf in his hand and conform to their wishes.

“Well, let me put your mind at rest, Firbir,” I called back.  Fishing the lump of metal from a pocket, I tossed it into the air, caught it, and held it between my thumb and forefinger, letting the sunlight glitter and glint off it.   “This is what I think of our betrothal.”   I am forced to admit that I did not aim when I threw the remains of the betrothal ring at him, but I am also forced to admit that I was secretly pleased when it struck him high on his cheekbone, drawing blood.  To this day, I hope he bears a scar that mars his cherished complexion.  

Firbir touched his fingers to his face.  His eyebrows knitted together in puzzlement as he studied the blood on them.  It seemed that my rebellion was not expected.  He bent to pick up the object that had struck him.  Seeing the familiar glimmer of silver tarnished with the discoloured sheen of the pig iron, his face turned to a mask of fury.  He spoke not a word.  Yanking the ring from off his own finger and holding it up for all to see, he dropped it into the water.  The “plip” that it made when it broke the surface and then sank to the bottom of the harbour was the sweetest of sounds to my ears.  It was the sound of my freedom.

I became aware of two solid figures standing on either side of me.  From the corner of my eyes, I could see them.  Qanien and Caddael.  Neither said a word.  They stood close enough to me that our shoulders brushed with familiarity and solidarity.  Vonavin had turned away.  The last memory I have of her is of her back.

Firbir stood along the rail, his lips pulled into a grimace of a smile.  His arm gripped Raveniel around the shoulders as he leaned in to whisper into her ear.  She blanched and the look in her eyes was one of terror.  I had had enough.  I didn’t have to guess what he had said to her, those same words had probably been whispered in my ears a thousand times.  A great bubble burst inside me.  Without warning, without prelude, finally after over two centuries, my voice lifted in long awaited song.  Soft and unsure of itself, it tested the air as a newly born fawn tests its legs. As my ear heard and judged it to be true and good, it crescendoed and filled the air with the music of hope, victory, and truth.  The occupants of the ship seemed transfixed, almost charmed into stillness.

My eyes met Raveniel’s.  Her eyes were darkened orbs wide with fear. However as she listened to my song, her face gradually changed.  The fear was replaced with strength and resolve until her features seemed to glow with conviction.  With a fierce shrug of her shoulders, she dislodged Firbir’s arm and disembarked.  As soon as her feet hit the dock, the gangplank was pulled up and the ship began to set off for its journey to the Grey Havens.   My song seemed to fill the ship’s sails with wind and the pennants and banners snapped in the breeze as the last chains of my bondage fell away.

When she reached me, we embraced.  Peering over her shoulder, I could see Firbir looking petulant, a child who had lost a coveted toy.  He raised his head, his eyes latching onto mine with dark intent.  He seemed to be considering me, judging me, studying me, seeing me for the first time.  He bowed his head as if conceding a game, turned and stalked away.  Relaxing my hold on Raveniel,  I stepped back and took her two hands in mine.  “Raveniel, daughter of Baelemar, the beloved brother of Baelodar.  Cousin in blood and in bond.  There is much here for us to do.  Sisters in arms and sisters in spirit, we shall continue this fight against the unknown darkness while our fathers cannot.”

To this day I have heard nothing of Firbir nor my mother, nor do I expect to. My ring of betrothal that I had given so long ago still lies in the watery depths of Celondim’s port.

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Sauronsbeagle (Member) 5/30/2009 7:08 PM EST : RE: The Song of the Nightingale
Sauronsbeagle
Posts: 4623

The Nightingale Takes Flight

I feel it necessary at this point to clear up a few misconceptions as to what happened next.   Raveniel will say that I practically drowned in the waters of depression because my Mother left me, didn’t understand me, blah, blah, blah.  Wrong.  If you talk to Qanien, he will probably tell you some story about being overwrought by the pain of the great love of my life mistreating me and breaking my spirit.  Though I am somewhat surprised that Qanien can ascribe such a romantic nature to myself, I believe he knew what Firbir truly was.  Which actually puts me in a bit of a quandary.  Does this make him a good and trustworthy friend because he would have stood by and not said anything as I made what would have been the most horrific mistake of my life?  Or does it make him a bad friend because he did not try to talk me out of making this mistake?

The truth behind the events is far more embarrassing and not at all attributed to a single thing but to a combination of circumstances.  Let me see if I can explain it suitably.  Shortly after the boat carrying Finbir and Vonavin faded from view, I did collapse.  I will not deny that.  The reasons for that collapse are far less melodramatic than my dear friends and blood-kin realize.  

There was a certain amount of emotion regarding it.  For the first time in over two hundred years, I lifted my voice in song.   I had kept one hundred years silence not out of grief for my father’s death, but in an effort to not grieve.  My voice, my song, my grief, my love, my emotions were all woven and twisted together in one seamless tapestry that I had found quite impossible to untangle.  So, I had simply suppressed them all.  Though eventually I had managed to release my voice enough for speech, it was this song that opened a window to my soul.   Over time, my bereavement for my father had turned sweet and mournful but nowhere as devastating as to have made me lose my will to live or seek the Halls.  I had conquered those feelings a long time ago.

The truth is a bit less romantic and far more moronic.  My expertise has always been with a needle and linen, silk, cotton, hides, anything that can be stitched together.  I had no knowledge of metalsmithing or forging.  In my resolve to complete my task, to keep my secret, I neglected to take the necessary precautions for my own safety.  The intensity of the heat, the vapours which are released when certain metals are heated to a molten state, these were things that I knew nothing about.  I simply had a task that needed to be done and I did it.  For my stubbornness and foolish pride, I nearly died.

I quite simply could not breathe.  The damage to my lungs combined with the stress of finding my voice once more had taken its toll.  Qanien and Caddael carried me to their accommodations and a healer was called.  Once all were dismissed, her examination found the cause of the problem and a course of treatment was prescribed.  My recuperation was longer than I would have liked, but by following her advice I was able to make a full recovery.  There had been some concern as to whether I would be able to sing again.  Believe me when I say the irony was not lost on me.

Through tortured gasps of air, I managed to convey to the healer that my friends were not to know the true nature of my malady.  She understood and put me into a sleep of such deepness it was quite some weeks before I was aware of my surroundings or those around me.  I was uncharacteristically the perfect patient.  I followed directions and never questioned an edict in regards to my health.  No wonder Raveniel and the rest thought I had quite lost my mind.

Eventually, as I regained my strength, Qanien, Caddael, and I became a familiar sight around the town and in the wilds surrounding it.  Eager to feel useful again, but reluctant to overly strain my reawakened instrument, we took easy walks, thinning and pruning wildlife populations.  As my confidence returned, it wasn’t long before we were taking the initiative against the goblins which were making their presence known and felt.

My voice, though quite recovered, had changed in tone.  Where once it was a clear, golden carillon call urging and encouraging, time and experience had added some deeper tones, darker and more subtle.  I could see it in the way Qanien and Caddael reacted in battle.  They dug deeper for an inner strength that they weren’t able to access otherwise.  We stood more firmly, more resolutely.  Our battles became less like a performance, less graceful, less balanced and took on more grit, determination, and sweat.

Something else had changed as well.  I was unsettled and restless.  Instead of the freedom of the forest, I now felt as if the trees were holding me back, penning me in, imprisoning me with their solid trunks and sweeping branches.  I needed to go.  I needed to move.  I needed to leave before the very air suffocated me.

One night, as I looked out over the landscape from the terraces of Duillond, I decided the time had come.  I would leave in the morning.  I would go somewhere that held no memory of the joy of my father, the betrayal of my mother, the cruelty of a betrothed.  I packed in solitude and prepared a note to leave for the others.  The night flew and my very blood seemed to sing with such excitement that I felt unable to sleep.  I would rise and check my bags, check my clothes, check that all things were at the ready.

Finally, my window seemed to lighten as the morning prepared to arrive.  Leaving my room, I was pleased to note there was no movement from the rooms of the others.  Walking with a lightness that most consider soundless, I made my way to the stables.  Every sound, every sight, every smell seemed to hum the tune of freedom.  As I bounded down the last set of stairs, I could see the stable in the distance.  It seemed there were others traveling as well this day.  I briefly fretted that perhaps I should have arranged for a horse the night before, but my worry was unneeded.  

Raveniel was already mounted, her raven friend perched on her shoulder, pecking at shiny bits of her hat.  She looked half-asleep, bleary-eyed, and not overly pleased by the morning.  Caddael was checking the livery on his horse, adjusting straps and buckles, fiddling with his lute to make sure it was tightly bound.  He glanced up almost shyly, gave a little wave and ducked his head as if expecting to dodge an incoming projectile.  

Leading a pair of horses from the stables was Qanien.   He lifted his head in silent greeting as his hands were busy with the leather reins of the mounts.  Without a word, he secured them to a hitching post and taking my gear from my hands, tied it firmly behind the saddle of the horse I assumed would be mine.  Making a final inspection of his own horse, he swung gracefully into the saddle and sat comfortably waiting.  

I looked at them in disbelief with unanswered questions beating a vivacissimo tempo through my head.  In stunned silence, I took the reins of my horse and climbed lightly aboard, slipping my feet into the stirrups, and rocking the saddle to check its soundness.  Clicking my tongue as I nudged the horse’s ribs with my heels, I felt a smile begin to rise on my lips as the sun winked on the horizon.

“To the Shire then,” Qanien questioned in a tone that was more statement than query.

“To the Shire,” I affirmed.

“I hate pie,” said Raveniel petulantly.

“You’ll like the pipeweed,” consoled Caddael.

And so a new song began.  A song that sounded like home.

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Sauronsbeagle (Member) 5/30/2009 7:09 PM EST : RE: The Song of the Nightingale
Sauronsbeagle
Posts: 4623

A Place to Perch

I had not realized that being a life-singer was as much about the listening as it is about the singing or the instruments.  I had grown accustomed to the sound of the land in which I had spent so much time.  The Elven lands play a song of rushing water, whispering winds, branches dancing in a slow measured rhythm.  Through my father’s tales, I had heard the song of Man, almost primal in its tones, the heady beat of blood through veins, the chorus of  metal against metal, metal against land, metal against wood. The very air breathed with a heavier, more passionate undercurrent, strong, at times dangerous, almost dizzying with its sensual nature.  It is no wonder that my first trip to Bree filled me with pleasure and revulsion simultaneously.

The Dwarven lands have a more somber and majestic sound with deep and resonating tones that echo in your soul.  The groans and creaks of ancient stone shifting and moving, the solid and rhythmic ring of hammers on anvils, haunting tones of isolation, and an overpowering gravitas of tempo that seemed to bear down from above.  At times merely covering, at times sheltering, it could shift to be one of crushing, claustrophobic pressure.  Baelodar’s words had given me a warning, a taste, a preparation for what would lie ahead of me in life, but since he had never been to the Shire and been among the Hobbits I had no idea what I would encounter.

From a distance, before we actually entered Needlehole, I became aware of the shift in the land’s music.  Like a country fair in the distance, it beckoned with light melodies that caught on the breeze.  Fluttery tunes, birds dancing the air, growing increasingly louder and more chaotic until we arrived and the cacophony of sound revealed its orchestra.  

I almost dropped my reins as I suppressed the desire to cover my ears.  Please don’t misunderstand, I did not find the sound unpleasant merely bewildering in its joyfulness.  As we dismounted to water the horses and get our bearings, I was able to re-attune my senses to the environment and feel the song with more appreciation.  Sunlight that shimmered with glissandos on the water, rainbows of harmony, even the frogs in the bog seemed to lift their voices in a jubilant chorus of joy.  The effect was contagious.  My very heart practically whistled in merriment.  Oddly, Caddael did not seem to be effected all that much.  Though he had trained with some of the same teachers that I had, we seemed to possess different gifts.  He must have heard it on some level though, as his head nodded in time to a silent jig.

We had arrived.  There were no ghosts of my father’s stories lingering behind architecture of the furry footed Hobbits.  No trace of my Mother’s disapproval.  No dark shadow of Firbir’s ambition.  A friendly people are these Hobbits.  We became quite the curiosity of the day.  So many questions they asked!  There was not enough time to answer one when the next would begin.  Fingers poked and prodded on occasion as they wondered when the last time was that we had eaten.  We heard stories of other “tall folk” having traveled this way on their way to somewhere else as well.  We were also to learn in time why it seemed those previous to our arrival seemed to disappear so quickly.

Once the questions slowed to a crawl, the requests began.  Every Hobbit seemed to have some need that required immediate attention that they could not hope to complete.  Mail needed delivering, rotten pies collected, eggs and produce transported, lunches provided, errant pie crusts, mushroom pies, ale recipes, it went on and on and on.  Could these people not even deliver a simple message?  As the days wore on, I swear I saw more and more of them at the inns and taverns or laying on the banks of the Brandybuck with their fishing lines floating lazily in the current.

Eventually, we reached a point where I heard the darker and more sinister tones that were trying to weave their way into the tune of the Hobbit’s lifescape.  Goblins and Brigands had appeared or reappeared as the case may be.  It seemed that there was no sunlight strong enough to burn away the darkness that was invading these lands.  We had little choice but to stand and fight.

It was around this time that we were beginning to hear rumours of a Hobbit of some interest.  Rose Brownleaf’s name began to weave itself into the occasional conversation.  Perhaps I hadn’t listened to the idle chatter of the short ones very closely.  Evidently, Rose was a bit of a curiosity among the Hobbits, even to her own people.  Respected? Certainly.  Loved?  Most definitely.  When Hobbits would talk about their problems or that of their neighbours, eventually the phrase, “but Rose helped them out” would surface.

Like a cat who had seen the shadow of a mouse in the corner, I began to listen more and more for the tales of the intriguing Rose.  Finally, unable to contain my desire to know for myself, I took my merry band of Elven adventurers to the small community of Whitwich and there along Chalk Road found the home of Miss Brownleaf.  It seemed an impressive structure for a hole in the ground.  There was a fine mushroom tent that Farmer Maggot would surely envy.  The flower and vegetable beds were well kept.   But for its size, it seemed not out of the ordinary.  Yet, something niggled at the back of my mind.  Maybe it was the odd sculptures with the air of menace and danger to them or the whiff of foreign soil.  

The sun was setting.  We were hungry, tired, and …. Not that fresh.  The four of us stood looking from one to the other and back again, all waiting for the other to knock at the door.  The door which suddenly burst open and let a rectangular patch of brightness light the darkening yard.  In unison, our eyes traveled downwards until finding the figure of one, surprisingly young and rather exasperated looking Hobbit.

“Do you expect me to wait here all night for you to bang on this door?”  Her tone was firm yet a hint of a smile twitched at the corners of her mouth.  The aroma of food wafted into the evening air and I fairly swooned in hopeful anticipation.

I cleared my throat and stepped forward and fairly croaked,  “we’re looking for Miss Ro…”

“Yes, yes, Miss Rose is whom you see before you,” she peered up at me inquisitively. “For an Elf, your voice is a bit rough if you ask me.”

“Rough,” I fairly sputtered.  “It may be a bit overused at the moment from the goblins and brigands that we seem to be relentlessly hunting down, but there is nothing wrong with my voice!”

“Don’t bust a lute string,” she chuckled in return.  “It makes a welcome change from those golden throated singers I’ve been listening to.”  The sound of music drifted out from behind her.  To the ear it seemed a mix of cultures that, rather than be a discordant irritation, was strangely harmonious and complementary to one another.  “Now what can I do for you this evening?”  Her nose wrinkled slightly as she seemed to catch the scent of something that perhaps did not smell like a field of flowers or a well-baked pie.

“We’ve heard that you are someone who helps people,” I started.

“And you need help,’ she questioned.

“No,” I asserted.  “We want to help.”

“Help with what,” she asked.

“Help with the helping,” I replied.  I was starting to wonder if perhaps I hadn’t eaten a bad pie and was hallucinating some absurd dream.

“Are you SURE you don’t NEED help,” she asked again with more than a dash of disbelief.  My stomach chose that moment to growl in an embarrassing manner and those of my companions soon added their dissent.  “Right,” she continued.  “These other three.”  She pointed at them.  “Do they speak?”

“Yes, Misssss,” I started before she tread on my toe.  

“Do you need any help,” she asked them pointedly.

A smile pulled at Qanien’s lips as he considered the Hobbit lady.  “I believe we could all use a place to rest,” he offered hopefully.

“And something to eat,” Caddael responded.

“And I need a bath,” Raveniel practically wailed.

“Good,” Rose said as if they were students who had answered well during an exam.  “Go on in.  Ask for Roseredd and she’ll see to your needs.”  As if a spell had been lifted, the three of them passed through the doorway into the warmth and light, chatting excitedly between them.  As I moved to follow, Miss Brownleaf trod on my other foot.  “Not so fast there.”

I stopped in confusion and frustration.  Like the others, I was tired, hungry, and in need of a bath.  My armour was worn and needed repair.  My weapons were nicked and blunted and needed a good sharpening.  My drum head was loose and needed tightening.  Swallowing the bile of my ill humour was no easy task and I looked down in what I hoped was a penitent attitude.

“You the leader of that gang,” she said with an inflection that made me wonder if it was a question or a statement.

“No, Misssss,” I hissed as her foot found my foot again.  The Hobbit made a sound that gave the impression of exasperation as she stepped up onto a nearby tree stump to look me more directly in the eye.

“That was NOT a question, it’s a statement of fact,” she said not unkindly.  “You ARE the leader of that group.  I could tell the moment I peeped through the window that they all look to you for guidance.  Like it or not.  Admit it or not.  You are their LEADER.” She hopped down off the log and back to the door.  “In order to help people, Rhiannon, you need to be willing to be helped.”  She took a step backwards and closed the door, leaving me in the ever deepening dark.

I stood, stunned really, in the chilly air.  How did she know my name?  I’m not a leader.  I can’t make decisions.  I can’t be responsible for….   I couldn’t continue the thought.  I continued to stand for a few more moments pondering her words.  Finally, I stepped forward and knocked on the door as I should have done the first time.  She was, of course, right.

The door flew open a second time and Rose Brownleaf stood before me again, a look of feigned surprise on her face. (Or was it?)  “Yes,” she said cheerfully.  “Is there something I can help you with?”

“Yes,” I fairly choked out.  “I come to ask your aid and to aid you in return for your kindness.”  I could hear the sounds of companionship within.  Rose tapped her foot and looked contemplative.

“A bit flowery for my taste,” she chortled as she pulled me by the hand.   The warmth, the friendship, the loyalty that hung in the air warmed parts of me that I didn’t realize were cold.   “Come in, Rhiannon.  Welcome to The Silent Minority.”

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Sauronsbeagle (Member) 5/30/2009 7:10 PM EST : RE: The Song of the Nightingale
Sauronsbeagle
Posts: 4623

Sing a Song of Silver

My integration into this odd group of people whom I now consider my kin in the truest sense of the word was not immediate.  Rose obviously had experience with the Elven people even though I had no experience with Hobbits other than they were a needy, childlike race who I had intense desire to shelter and protect.  She seemed to know when to step back and give me room to breathe and when to poke and prod me into action.  For most of my life, I have never felt a real need to associate myself with people other than those that I share a deep, personal bond (Baelodar, Qanien, Raveniel, Caddael) and to be suddenly surrounded by people with whom the bond existed only through the strength of a name (The Silent Minority) was a bit unnerving.

Without being told and without asking, Roseredd appointed herself as my personal assistant with a maternal vengeance.  It was all a bit smothering at first but I soon grew to accept it.  Her only fault seems to be that no door, locked or unlocked is safe from her.  No chest holds secrets from her.  There seems to be no barrier that she can’t breach.  Fortunately, on a recent trip back to the Elven country, I was able to commission and obtain an Elven chest for just this purpose.  I’ve been assured that it is Hobbit proof and it is into this piece of furniture that I place this journal and other delicate memories.  

Through her hard work and the generosity shown by several of my new friends (whom she had seemed to pick out and with her little Hobbity fingers knit together like a warm and fuzzy undergarment to keep me warm when the days are cold), I  obtained a home.  I will be the first to admit I was a horrible and ungrateful child about living in a hole in the ground.  However, I have altered my perspective and made it my own.  Qanien and Caddael have also procured residences nearby and with our proximity to Miss Rose’s house, we feel that the Shire has at least some safeguard against the darkness that threatens.

Little Redd (as she is affectionately known to us) has also taken it upon herself to see that I am “properly socialized in the world at large.”  What this means is that at various times she will push me out the door to attend more public functions where larger circles of people can be found.  To be truthful, I have made many friends and allies through her brutality, but it does not make it any easier.  I have always attended in the company of my kinsfolk.   Honestly, I’d probably function in the world just fine with just my close friends and kin.  Qanien and Caddael are my faithful and loyal companions.  Those with whom I share the bond of a name are all of a respectable and companionable nature beside whom I would always be glad to serve.  Baracir, the noble champion, the aloof Maegnar, Nemesia the Queen of Tarts, Buttercup the Queen of Eating, the resolute and focused, Hrethmund…. There are too many to list, but they all seem to have something in common and that is their dedication and loyalty to each other and to Middle Earth.  I call them all equally kin.  I think they respect me as well.

It was a gathering like any other.  Well, almost.  It is known as a “Fox Hunt.”  I won’t bore you with the details, just with the facts that it was a gathering of more than a few kins.  There was merriment.  Laughter.  Food.  A group representing a kin that I was not familiar with was late in entering the building where we were gathered.  Actually, less entered and more presented themselves.  The Silver Blades.   They were dressed uniformly and a ripple of appreciation passed through the crowd.  I was intrigued, yet at the same time wary.  I had seen groups like them before.  Fed by their own egos and the praise and admiration of others they thought themselves better than the rest.  With their similar attire, I couldn’t tell one from another and I will admit with their late entrance I wasn’t paying as close attention to detail as I should have been.  I was too interested in the game ahead and my normally reclusive competitive nature was poking its nose out.  Encouraged by my group mates, we raced out to meet our goals, to win the prize!

When the games had ended, we returned to the place where it all began.  Breathless and exhilarated, I was mentally thanking Roseredd for kicking me out of the house that evening.  The skies had been clear, the air was warm with the scent of summer.  I felt renewed, refreshed, recharged.  I had forgotten about the band of Blades until they were announced as the evening’s winners!  My mood was on the edge of diving off a cliff of irritation when I noticed they had removed their headgear.  Being able to study them with more detail, I sat back and sipped casually at my drink.  I wanted to dislike them, I don’t know why.  Yet, strangely, I couldn’t.  Their faces were open and honest, smiling.  Though all were different, they had the easy camaraderie of brothers in arms and brothers of blood, though it was not possible they shared any blood between them.

My studies stopped at the man who seemed to wear the mantle of a newly borne leader.  He didn’t seem to carry it eagerly as if it brought him fame and accolades.  He bore it dutifully as if he fully understood the grave responsibilities that came with this title.  His face was kind and serious, but his hair… his hair was like spun starlight.  I suddenly became aware of his eyes on my face as I realized that I had been caught staring.  Dropping my gaze to my drink, I prayed that the stain of a blush that I could feel warming my cheeks was not noticeable across the room.  I held my breath, hoping that I would draw no further notice.  Luckily, there was call for him to speak and I sighed in relief.  Now, he would have chance to open that all too human mouth and show himself to be the pompous, arrogant specimen that I wanted him to be.

I should have been disappointed.  His words were gracious and sincere.  He paid homage to the competitors, the hosts, and praised the skills of his teammates.  He was eloquent and spoke with a skill of words that reminded me of the stories that my father once told me.  It was the language of heroes.  As drinks were raised and cheers rang out, something clicked open inside me.  A small crack in the wall of my past.  The love that my father held for the race of Man.  I had kept it securely bricked up so as to not hear his words and think of the memories that should have been created rather than those that were left in the ashes of my mourning.  Every time I passed through Bree, I added a few more bricks, looked for stronger mortar in the weaknesses of mankind.  It wasn’t difficult to find.  

“When I find a man of great nobility, not in bloodline or by birth, but of character and heart, it is such joy that my heart sings.  I pray, that you, too, get to hear that song some day, my nightingale fair.”

I felt fairly faint with the memory of his words that had come unbidden.  Looking up, I realized that the time for speeches was at an end and I hadn’t been paying enough attention to anything around me to have learned his name.  Baelodar’s words made sense to me now.  The silver haired one approached and the song that poured out of my heart was such joy and pride mixed that I was afraid I would actually start to sing it.  A few people stopped him to congratulate him and I began to frantically think of a way to make a hasty retreat before I made a total fool out of myself.  I was too slow.

He had been determined to make his way to me and now he had.  He stood before me as if he wasn’t quite sure how he had gotten there or what he was supposed to say now that he had.  I begged my eyebrows to co-operate and arch themselves in an aloof and disdainful manner.  Instead, my rebellious lips broke rank to form an encouraging smile.  Traitorous mouth.

“I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced,” he said calmly.  “I am Nirnaeth Elemmire of the kin… Leader of The Silver Blades.”  He bowed low and respectfully almost as if he was placing himself at my service.

I was impressed.  A man who didn’t start out a conversation by saying, “Hi.  I see by your ears that you’re an elf.  What’s that like?”  I tried to think of something glib, something witty, something funny.

“I’m Rhiannon of The Silent Minority.” I inclined my head respectfully.  “And I must be leaving.”  I turned to go and then quickly reversed back to him.  “It was a pleasure to meet you. Oh, and congratulations.”  I could see the door. Now if my feet would only move.

“Rhiannon,” he said.  He seemed as surprised as I when his hand reached out and took mine as if to anchor me to the spot.  “I hope that we will see each other again.”

Did the room go silent or was that in my fickle memory?  It seemed there was no noise at all, nor motion as our hands connected.  Through this connection my whole body was suddenly flooded with warmth and…. Protection?  The noise returned, a hobbit ran past with a pie and our hands released.  

“It is my hope as well.”  My mouth outranked my brain yet again.  Strangely enough,  I was pleased by its rebellion.  This time.

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Sauronsbeagle (Member) 5/30/2009 7:11 PM EST : RE: The Song of the Nightingale
Sauronsbeagle
Posts: 4623

Minor Chords and Major Keys

And we did meet again.  Our paths crossed irregularly.  We often said little to each other as we were both usually headed in opposite directions and were almost always in a hurry.  His words were always kind and sincere.  In comparison, mine felt like the gibberish that came from the mouths of goblins.

As time passed, I found my eyes searching for a flash of silver, my ears listening for the tread of his step, my heart quickening when I caught sight of one of his kinsmen or news of their journeys.  Oftentimes it was duty that brought us together.  Yet strangely, somehow after the alliance meetings were over we would be standing and talking long after the last person had left.  Unwilling to leave each other’s company.  Or maybe he was just being polite.

What must he think of me?  At times I am solemn and introspective, barely speaking, simply passing through time.  At other times, my eyes dance with merriment and my heart sings with the brightness of sunshine and birdsong.  To my eternal shame, I cannot help but to wallow in the joys and pleasures that I find in the simple things that surround me like a wild boar rooting for acorns in a great oak forest.

Of course, when I am at my absolute most embarrassing, my star-kissed captain is usually hovering somewhere near by.  What winds of fortune seem to want to see me humiliated in the sight of this man?  How was I to know that he lived in a community near Thorin’s Hall and was oft to be found inside its cavernous halls?  What fickle finger of fate made me put on that cursed rabbit mask and parade around for all to laugh at?

My shame at being found doing something… trivial, frivolous even…. And yet…

Not long afterwards, he teased me into his company with promise of a gift.  A gift?  My curiosity can be a strong willed and headstrong thing.  Many has been the time that I’ve had to get “just a little closer” to a goblin encampment or orc war council because I simply needed to know what was going on.  When I am given notice that mail awaits me at some post office or another, it is a burning thing in my chest that is not cooled until the envelope is ripped open and the contents revealed.

A gift.  I simply was powerless to resist.  What a gift it was… a mask of the glass that sparkled in the light and shone with such beauty.  A puzzle to me.  Why did he give me such a gift?  Of course, by this time I had sealed the annihilation of my character by being caught wearing a beaver mask of all things.  Perhaps he was somehow criticizing me?  Vonavin had never approved of my behaviors, perhaps he saw me not worthy of my Elven heritage as well.

But his eyes, how they shone softly.  His words, how they soothed my ear with tones of reverence and admiration.  A mask for me to wear through which he would always be able to look upon my face.  Did he?  Could he?  Was it at all possible that he approved of the woman I was and did not hold me to some standard that existed only in the old times?  He was gone before I could ask him or thank him properly.  Perhaps the moment was just a dream?

The signing of a formal treaty between the five kinships of the Grand Alliance should have been the crowning moment in the history of all our kinfolks.  Instead, the well-documented story remains.  The attacks, the abduction, and the subsequent rescue.  If you look hard enough, you’ll find the information, the facts.

When the Angmarim who orchestrated it all, the one who called himself Murdyck was set to take his vengeance upon me and my rebellious nature, my unnatural temper, it was Nirnaeth who laid himself as a sacrifice in my place.  Every pain, every injury that he absorbed to shield me from the fate of the dagger and poison reverberated through my soul.

He asks nothing of me, expects nothing of me and yet he gave himself up for me.  I am certain that in my father’s eyes he would be a man worthy of the praise I sing of him.

Through the dark dreams I’ve had since those days of captivity, there has been one beam of light, one star that guides my steps through the shadowy fog that obscures my path.  I feel that soon all will be revealed.

My fate is sealed.  Yet, I feel not doomed.

My song is far from over.  There are many verses that are, as of now, still to be written.
.  I shall face my fate, welcome it.  Even in the darkest of times, when fearclaws at my soul and all things look desperate, I know who I am and I know howI came to be. 

My name is Rhiannon Tinuviel.

I am an elf esteemed in the House of Elrond.  Daughter of Baelodar.  

I am seventeen hundred and fifty-four year old.

I am a life-singer.

I am a death-bringer.

I am in love….

With a man.

I am…

The Nightingale.









Edited by Reddmaeve 12/26/2008 4:39 AM (Most Recent)
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Reddmaeve 12/24/2008 4:47 AM : RE: The Song of the Nightingale #38767872
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And so ends the journal.


If you've made it this far.... congratulations and thank you.

Have a lovely holiday and I hope to see you soon!


~Rhi
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