Story by Doviel
In honor of Meluil’s forthcoming begetting day celebrations, Doviel escorted her cousin through the dangerous territories between the west and Lothlórien. It had been a long time since her cousin had been home, and it was a special occasion. Not only was it a begetting day festivity but envoys from Greenwood the Great had crossed the Anduin and arrived with tribute for the House of Tuilinn from a House in the noble court of King Thranduil. Long ago, the lovely elleth, Meluil, caught the eye of a Sinda lord.
She had been gathering flower seeds from rare woodland blossoms to bring back to her cousin to cultivate within the glades of Lórien. However, Mirkwood, since Sauron’s shadow fell upon it in 1050 TA, was not as well protected as the woods of Lórien are, and she found herself beset by yrch. On patrol from the King’s hall in Northern Mirkwood, where the maiden had strayed in the pursuit of blossoms, a party of elves found the noisome band of orcs harrying some quarry and dispatched the enemies.
The hidden maiden came down from the tree where she had taken refuge. She was taken back to the hall of the king. At first, she feared she was in trouble for trespassing and taking the flower seeds from the King’s woods without permission. But, upon an explanation of her story, her purpose, and her polite gratitude to her rescuers in the King’s hall, she was quickly forgiven for her trespass, and not only was she permitted to keep the flower seeds, but many gifts were bestowed upon her most congenially, in the manner of elves, to take back to her people, thus showing the close friendship between the silvan realms.
In the patrol that saved her, a noble Sinda champion had seen and been overwhelmed by beauty of the fair wood-elf maiden; the soft, red lips of her small, pretty mouth, long dark hair, and eyes the deep blue color of the evening sky had stolen his breath. An arrow had pierced his heart, though nothing had penetrated his fine armor during combat, and he sought for an opportunity to speak to her.
Meluil was quiet and reserved, unlike her cousin, and politely refused his initial show of interest, but he found he could not forget the shy, silvan maiden. Slow negotiations were undertaken and letters were exchanged over time, as he sought to befriend the maiden even if they would not wed. He would champion for her and fight in her name, sharing his honor with her, and he did so for many years.
Yet, upon a chance meeting in the wood, beneath the stars of Varda in Imlad Lalaith, Meluil had found that her heart had changed. She had grown to love the patient, noble ellon. The lordly elf, decorous as a king, made a great show of affection for her and beseeched the elleth’s permission to court her and approach her House in her name in the most honorable of manners. Meluil consented. And, for the first time, Saeldîr touched her face and kissed her brow.
It should be noted that elven marriages are never arranged. They are often private matters of love and consent between two elves of age. However, the noble Sindar houses sometimes carry more lofty traditions, as the Noldor did, and a private courtship can become a matter between two Houses. It is an opportunity for the exchanging of gifts and many festivities while new kinships are formed. Elves need few excuses to have a party, and happy unions were fine reasons for merry making.
After the cousins passed through grim Moria on ambling goats, they were overjoyed to find their horses waiting for them at a small elven camp on the other side. Upon their mounts, they raced down through the valley, taunting the foolish orcs who would never be able to catch elf-maidens on their own steeds. ‘Noro-lim!’ they called gleefully to their horses and the horses, happy to run and to see their mistresses again, flew upon the ground.
Misguided darts, stones, and spears passed and fell behind the maidens, leaving them unharmed as they called back a jeers of, ‘Lasto al lalaith nîn!’ and ‘Ce uchand!’ They fled into Lórien, under the watchful eye of the march-wardens on the flets, who let the laughing elves ride through the secret roads of the woodland folk and into Caras Galadhon.
In the city, the merriment continued as the elves played a game of tag and chase, shinnying up ropes, deftly climbing ladders, and drawing them up swiftly before the other could follow, and then dashing and leaping between telain, as the more stern and serious archers and guardians of Lórien broke into laughter watching the chase. Elf-maidens even clad in dresses are just as swift and agile as any ellon in leggings, and nothing can hamper elves’ speed and adroit nature when they wish to run!
Several of the quick flet-runners, wood-elves as well, joined the game of chase until most of the ways between and up to the telain were drawn up or untied, and several elves found themselves stuck upon the high telain. While the mischievous wood-elves sang out their taunts to each other across treetops, their laughter echoed in the misty light of the boughs.
However, while fun is fun, people must still be permitted to come and go as needed. While no elf would ever, truly, be stuck in a tree, no matter how high, it is inconvenient not to have the careful system of ropes and ladders in place. So, after stern warnings from the court’s guards, the cousins and their merry-making allies had to climb up and down the trees to put all of the ladders and ropes back in place as they had been.
It was nearly evening by the time the elves finished their repairs to the flets. The cousins sought the home of Meluil’s father, Doviel’s uncle, for the evening’s meal and the beginning of the night’s revels. Meluil’s begetting day was three days hence, and there were still preparations to make before that time.
After washing and changing, the cousins left their quarters to join their family at a meal. Doviel had taken off her riding gloves, when she washed and changed, and Meluil noticed a beautiful golden ring upon her right index finger. Its delicate workmanship and graceful, natural theme bespoke a wood-elven smith. Meluil was joyful for her elder cousin and gave her a warm embrace, ‘Na van? Man i ha?’ she asked excitedly.
Doviel blushed lightly and smiled. Laughing her answer, she returned Meluil’s hug, ‘Within the last moon,’ she continued carefully, ‘he is a story-telling ellon, Aqualondo from Mirkwood, whom I met during one of his travels to Bree-land.’
Meluil cried out happily and pulled Doviel’s arm, ‘We must tell father!’
Doviel shook her head, ‘No, no! This is your time, not mine, and I would not overshadow you so near your own days of joy.’ Doviel kissed her cheek and whispered as she rested her forehead upon her cousin’s brow, looking into her eyes with a conspiratorial smile, ‘Let us keep this secret for a little longer.’ She stood back and saw that Meluil agreed with a smile and a nod.
‘Good secrets are hard to keep!’ Meluil whispered happily as she tugged her cousin down the stairs into the main room.
‘Yes, I know it well!’ Doviel laughed.
At the evening meal, full of wine and merriment, and much singing, for Nost Tuilinn is a musical family and by a tradition of sorts, all of their household is brought into being during the season of Spring. In fact, from the day Spring dawns until Summer blazes forth, the House of Tuilinn is a non-stop party as one begetting day revel leads into the next until all are celebrated, and the songs carry throughout the evenings and into the morning hours. Even the noble houses of the Eldar court in Lórien join the parties of the wood-elven Tuilinn folk. Although not a strictly noble house, the family is well favored and loyal servants of the Lórien court of Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel.
Elven lords are kind, unlike the feudal systems of Man which implies ownership, debt, punishment, and obligation, no elven house is necessarily less than another and intermarriages are common. No elf is a peasant, a serf, or a commoner. But, some families rule and some families do not; it is simply the way of things. Many Sindar choose wood-elf husbands and wives.
Still, Sindar noble houses do have different traditions and more grave worldly concerns than the less serious Silvan folk who joy in the natural world, singing, celebrations, and the occasional orc slaying. (Because who doesn’t like slaying orcs? They’re disgusting! Gurth an Glamhoth!)
During the evening’s revels, Doviel, who had been traveling abroad was asked to share stories of the lands of Men. She spun many tales, many of which centered on the town of Bree and the good people she had met there. She told the story of a simple farmer lad, named Och, who was courting a maiden of Bree. And of how she had once regaled him with stories of a candy bedecked forest, as her way of describing the never-ending Spring of the protected Elven lands, near the western harbor, to a simple man. Everyone laughed at this! Several bottles of wine had already been drunk, and so it was little wonder that one of her relatives had become somewhat confused at a detail in her story.
‘Did you say his name was Orch?’ A great-uncle asked Doviel.
‘Nay, uncle, I did say Och.’ She laughed in reply.
‘You are friends with an orch!?’ Her aunt asked in dismay.
‘No, no auntie, he is called Och!’ Doviel was more concerned now.
A guest from the Mirkwood envoy replied in grim tones, ‘It is a pity that a woman would name her child Orch; perhaps she was outraged in an attack of yrch, such things are known to happen to women in their lands.’ He drank deeply of his wine as if trying to forget some wicked orc work he had once witnessed the result of. Such cares would rest heavily on the minds of elves.
The party grew somber and Doviel’s uncle spoke quietly, ‘perhaps it is well that the children of Man are granted brief lives. May ‘The Gift Of Men’ grant peace to both mother and child.’ Everyone raised their glass in respect to the mention of the inheritance of Ilúvatar’s Younger Children, for it was a great gift, even Doviel, who was aghast at the misunderstanding, had to raise her glass respectfully and drink.
Doviel opened her mouth to try to explain that it was only a nickname from his mother, a sound of frustration or dismay, but she promptly closed it. They would not understand. Elven children were gifts, created by the design of their parents, and with little need for governing they were not quite as frustrating as a youth of Man could be. Or, perhaps, elven parents were just more tolerant of their merry children. Who was to say? She sat with her hands in her lap twisting the graceful ring on her finger as she frowned in thought.
Meluil looked at her cousin with some concern, and said in her quiet voice, ‘I have met Och; he is very nice.’ She carefully said his name without the extra r sound.
Meluil’s mother smiled upon her daughter kindly, knowing her gentle nature, ‘It is good that Orch is kind.’ Still, the lady’s smile held pity and sorrow.
Doviel’s uncle let out a slow, careful sigh and knew that the celebration needed an uplifting of spirits, so he called out to Doviel, ‘Sing for us!’
The party of subdued revelers clapped their hands politely, and Doviel rose, gave a half-bow, and found her lap harp, which had been laid down nearby. She took a seat away from the table, checked the strings of her harp, and then played a sweet, but merry tune while she sang of the blossoming forest of a summertime Lórien, the whispering of the waters, and the secrets little birds tell.
Soon, everyone was laughing and smiling, drink was poured freely, and people sang along with the parts of the song they knew. While Doviel’s graceful fingers plucked and danced upon the strings of her harp, firelight glinted on the golden ring. The glimpse of gold confirmed the change others had noticed in her upon her arrival, as wedded bliss cannot be hidden from the eyes or ears of the Eldar. A few noticed its presence and secret smiles were shared among her family and their guests. None spoke of it but hearts were lightened in Nost Tuilinn that night.
begetting day note – Elves do not remember and celebrate the day that they were born as the day they came into existence. Instead, they celebrate the day their parents begat them. That is the day their parents had the sex that conceived them. (LACE) – Laws and Customs among the Eldar, JRR Tolkien essay from Morgoth’s Ring
ellon – elf, male – Sindarin
elleth – elf-maiden – Sindarin
yrch – orcs, plural (orch is singular) – Sindarin
Varda – the Vala, whose great labour was to fill the sky with stars, she is most favored by the Elves
Imlad Lalaith – ‘the Valley of Laughter’ – Sindarin
Noro-lim – run swiftly – Sindarin
Lasto al lalaith nín! – Listen to my laughter! – Sindarin
Ce uchand! – You are stupid! – Sindarin
Telain – plural of flet – Sindarin
‘Na van?’ – when? as in, when did it happen – Sindarin
‘Man i ha?’ – who is it? – Sindarin
Nost Tuilinn – The House of the Spring-Singers – Sindarin
Tuilinn – is a Swallow or a Martin bird in common tongue – Sindarin
The house symbol is a singing swallow
Gurth an Glamhoth! – Death to the orcs! – Sindarin – literally means “Death to the dinhorde, the yelling horde”
“…for the Eldar can read at once in the eyes and voice of another whether they be wed or unwed.” (LACE footnote 5)