by Noldo


Dark, curving lines swept grandiosely across the white expanse; the sheet of paper bore the legend ‘Of the Life of King Elessar’, a title which Elentirmo thought was particularly uninspiring, but remained, for want of a better. Certainly he could not write ‘Of the Life of Great-Grandfather’.
His eyes wandered upwards, taking in the vast expanse of the library; the soaring, vaulted roof, devoid of any ornamentation or enhancement, the endless rows of books, the feeling of space and solemnity.
Nobody would disturb him here, at least. Few entered this room, now, except those with something pressing to look up, and they were uncommon.
His mind wandered, and simple musings about how to begin a treatise on a legendary figure shifted and changed, and he found himself wondering what the man had really been like.
Everyone knew of his reign; the great, glorious, long days of King Elessar, when the land had prospered and grown like never before, and, for all Elentirmo knew, the days when the sun had shone brighter than it did now. Certainly the tales almost said as much.
And Elentirmo wondered what kind of a man could win the hand of Elrond’s daughter.
He would have to be someone unusual, that was for sure; a man of extraordinary prowess and skill, and wiser than the norm. Certainly no common man would do.
But then again, one who succeeded in claiming the throne of Gondor could scarcely be a common man.
And Elentirmo, mulling over his ancestor, began to write.

Where did one begin when writing about a legend?
Did one go deep into his past, or gloss it over and concentrate on his most legendary days?
Certainly the beginning was not easy to write about, for to do a job properly, one had to go into every little nuance, and Elentirmo did not have them at his disposal.
The fact bothered him. Elentirmo liked to have every possible detail within reach before beginning on a project, and this one bothered him – there was so much known, yet so much left to know.
He could make it up, like others did; he could write a little fact, and embellish and drape it in flowery prose, but he would not. Prose was be clear-cut and incisive; leave the emotions and the adjectives to the bards and poets.
Elentirmo decided to begin where anyone would; at the beginning.
A sketchy and light background of the situation about a hundred years before the end of the Third Age; of the lost kingdom of Arnor, and the DĂșnedain in the North, at the waning of their might.
It was certainly not enough; with unlimited time at his disposal, he would have gone deeper into this subject, perhaps even to the exclusion of the other, more pertinent facts, but he did not want to stray too much from the actual subject of his exposition, for a study of the conditions in the remote and almost-unreal North would not interest anyone in this City.
No, Elentirmo would have to make his tale of events brief, and to the point, and come down quickly to the hero’s real tale, and its real beginnings far back in what seemed the mists of time.
But who to ask?
Elentirmo’s great-grandfather had certainly died before he was born, and his Queen as well, though rumour had it that her brothers and her grandfather tarried still on Hither Shores, not leaving, and not choosing mortality. But Elentirmo doubted that, for why would they stay?
His son, Eldarion the sea-farer, had passed only recently, and Elentirmo had known him; a tall, proud, dark-haired man, quick to anger but quicker to laugh, and fierce even in age.
And now Elentirmo regretted not beginning his work sooner, for surely there could be no better person to ask about the deeds of the father than the son.
But the grandson would have to do, and Elentirmo resolved to ask his father as soon as he might.

A respectful entry, and a clumsy bow.
Then a stumbling, halting, eager explanation of the situation, words almost tumbling over one another in their eagerness to be heard, and the king thinks gravely for a minute.
“What would you know, son?”
Everything,” Elentirmo says earnestly. “What he was like, and what he did, and how his life was.”
The king looks uncertain.
“I cannot tell you much, for there is much even I do not know. I fear that Elessar was known fully by Elessar alone.”
Elentirmo looks disappointed, and his father notices.
“I shall try to find something that may be of interest to you,” he says. “I myself have not fully explored my father’s chamber; mayhap there might be more there than I see at first glance.”
“How was he?” asks Elentirmo, oddly childish for a moment. “Was Grandfather fond of him?”
The king laughs, an odd, almost bitter laugh.
“Fond! Fond, ay, and more than merely fond, for well I remember the nightmares he had after Elessar’s passing. Once I heard him calling out in his sleep, in the dark watches of the night, and he said – ” here the king stops suddenly.
“What did he say?” prompts Elentirmo impatiently.
“He said ‘Atarinya’. That was all. One word, but it chilled me to the bone.”
And the king is silent, treading in his mind the murky realms of memory.
Elentirmo bows again, still clumsy, and leaves the room swiftly.

When Elentirmo entered the library again, he was surprised to find someone already there.
A girl – slim, dark, small, probably Haradric, was sitting in a dim corner of the room, totally immersed in a large book.
He looked sharply at her, and she raised her gaze to meet his.
Then she looked down, abashed, and turned another page of her tome.
And so Elentirmo forgot about her, settling down at a desk thoroughly covered with the scraps he used to jot down whatever came to mind, and started his work again.
With mounting excitement he slit open the package his father had given him, and was pleased, though unsurprised, to discover that it contained several bound books, some in slightly worse condition than others. The fine handwriting in them was certainly Eldarion’s.
He leafed through one. Some sentences he recognised immediately – clearly they had been taken from the City’s historical narratives, and the Red Book in particular, and were nothing new to him. But others were more informally written, and clearly looked as though Eldarion had composed them himself, perhaps for the amusement of his son, or perhaps to set things down before memory passed out of reach.
And, face impassive, yet mind brimming over with excitement, Elentirmo began to read.

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