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Rhyselle Goes Back to Middle-earth   by Rhyselle

A/N:  B2MeM Challenge for Week One (Doriath):  Create a story, poem, or artwork in which a character is stuck in a location for an extended period of time. How does she or he cope with it?

Pearl grumbled as Eglantine left her bedroom, carrying the tray with the remains of Second Breakfast. She eyed the window that looked out over the grainfields of her Dad's farm and wished that she could be playing outside with her friends, but Mum said that she couldn't walk on her sprained ankle for another whole week! Pouting, the 10-year-old flopped back against her pillows and glared at the ceiling, after casting a jaundiced eye on the toys her 6-year-old sister had spread about the floor of the room they shared.

It had been the painted wooden duck that had been Pearl's literal downfall, left in the middle of the floor, and she'd stepped on it while carrying a big basket of freshly laundered clothes into the bedroom. Pimpernel had howled because the duck was broken, and Pearl had done so because her ankle hurt.

The first few days when everyone had though she'd broken her ankle, and it had swelled up so horribly, were a blur of sleeping draughts and nasty tasting medicines and pain, but as the weeks wore on and they realized it was "only a sprain", and the pain had eased off, Pearl was beset by the worst thing of all--boredom.

Summer was her favorite time of year, when Mum's flower garden was at its brightest and best. She loved to grub in the warm brown soil, pulling out the weeds so that the flowers would grow better. Mum had trained the morning glory vines up over a trellis and they'd grown so thick and lush that there was a hollow beneath the tall, twining stems that she could crawl into and peer out between layers of leaves and the unfurling blossoms. The roses bloomed sweetly, scenting the air, while white daisies nodded in the breeze. She couldn't think of a more marvelous place to play.

But now, she was stuck in bed "until further notice". it wasn't right that Pimpernel was outside playing in the garden when it was all her fault!

She was still muttering crossly to herself when her Mum came back into the bedroom and settled herself in the rocking chair with a workbasket on her lap.

"Pearl, grumbling about it won't make the time go faster," Eglantine scolded, picking up the tiny yellow jumper that she'd been knitting on over the past several days. "Read your storybook."

"I've read it, Mum; five times!" Pearl whined. "I miss the flowers!"

"I asked your Dad to bring some in for you when he comes back from checking on the wheat in the outer fields." The knitting needles started to flick back and forth, and a sleeve began to take shape on the small garment, catching Pearl's attention.

"Mum, who's that for? Who's having a new faunt?"

Eglantine blushed, and Pearl's eyes widened as she sat up away from her pillows, ignoring the twinge in her ankle. "Mum! You?"

She sat up straighter as her mother nodded and said, "It's a secret, though, until we're sure everything will be all right. Can you let everyone think that I'm making it for your cousin, Rosamunda's little one?"

Pearl nodded, wide-eyed; impressed she was considered a big enough girl to keep a grown-up secret.

"Here, let me show you how to do something, and you can help with some of the decoration for it." Eglantine picked up some green and pink yarn from the basket and a set of double-pointed needles she used to make caps and mittens, and came over to sit on the bed. "I need three flowers for the front of the jumper. I'll show you how to make the first one, and you can make the other two, yourself."

Pearl watched, fascinated, as the small morning glory took shape, her mother explaining just what to do, then letting her try it. It was the first time Pearl had knitted anything but flat scarves, and it was harder than she thought it would be, but she loved the way the yarn and the needles slowly built up the trumpet shape of the morning glory flower in her small fingers. Triumphant, she handed the slightly wobbly blossom to her Mum and started the second one.

By the time someone had brought elevenses, lunch, and tea to the bedroom, and Pimpernel had been chased indoors to take her meals and a nap, Pearl had finished not only the two flowers her Mum needed, but two more besides before the yarn ran out.

"Mum, can I--may I--make some blue ones?" she eagerly asked.

"Oh, I'm sure I can spare some blue wool, and yellow and lavender too."

As the once interminable days of her confinement passed, Pearl knitted flower after flower, and leaf after leaf, turning her bed into a bower that echoed her favorite place in the garden.

In later years, when Pearl bore her first child, Eglantine gave her some old knitted baby clothes, and she smiled and wept as she touched the still soft, knitted flowers on the front of the small yellow jumper; remembering the day when her Mum had taught her how to bring a garden inside of her room.

Mandos and its endless halls... Maglor shuddered as he and his mother followed the solemn black liveried Maia through an arch that opened into a tall, long gallery where slender pillars separated chambers of white and black stone, upon the walls of which tapestries were displayed. 

Nerdanel had been summoned hence twice before, returning to their home grieving anew,  to tell him that first his father, and then his oath-sworn brothers, Celegorm, Curufin, and Caranthir, had been slain in Middle-earth, and were doomed to the Halls of Waiting until such time that Arda should die and be remade. 

But this time, the summons came not only for Nerdanel, but also for him. Why me? And so they traveled to the Halls of Mandos; not to the Halls of Waiting, for only the dead dwelt there, but to where Lady Vairë and her handmaidens lived and worked, weaving, according to ancient stories and song, the history of Arda and all who lived into the intertwined threads of tapestries.

The chamber to which the Maia escorted them was octagonal in shape with elegant black benches set slightly away from the walls. She bade them be seated, and vanished, walking away and fading away into invisibility as she passed through the archway opposite the one through which they’d come.

He sat, as bid, next to his white-faced mother, and silently stared at the tapestry that hung directly across from them. The tiny figures of elves and men it depicted were fighting, but he didn’t recognize the city in the background at all. Curiosity stirred within him and he got to his feet and moved to stand before it.

A river woven of silver and blue threads poured into the sea, and the walls of the Haven were stained with blood. Bodies lay on the streets and fell through open doorways, each tragic, tiny figure clear and detailed. His eyes were drawn to a tall tower, at the base of which a tall, red-haired elf knelt by a pair of bodies that reminded him of his youngest brothers, and a pair of small, dark-haired boys lay slain by their side in the shadow of an overturned cart. 

His blood ran cold, and he swayed on his feet as he remembered that Vairë’s loom wove the things that had actually been. In his heart, he knew as a surety that Amrod and Amras were now in Valinor; close but yet unreachable in the Halls of Waiting.

Grief welled up within him, worse than any he’d felt in his life.Maedhros is alone now… truly alone. And so am I. Even though he had not taken part in the Rebellion, and had even tried, at his mother’s request, to persuade his brothers to stay, he was still Fëanor’s son, and while the folk of Tirion would ask him to play and sing for their festivals and feasts, because of the long memory of the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, none were willing to name him friend.

He dimly perceived the arrival of another into the room, but could not bring himself to turn away from the weaving. Silent tears ran down his cheeks as he reached out, his fingertips brushing the threads that were his siblings. I haven’t seen you since you swore Father’s oath, and set off, but at least I had the comfort of knowing you were somewhere over there, even though you were doomed to never again set foot in Aman. Now—-

“Maglor, son of Fëanor.” 

The woman’s voice by his left ear made him start and he jerked his hand back from the weaving, and a loose bit of silver thread from Maedhros’ bloody sword snagged on his harp-calloused fingertip, and pulled out, dangling, glittering in the muted light of the chamber.

Guiltily, he whirled about, his face flushed with embarrassment as he realized that he faced Lady Vairë. He dropped to his knees before her, looking down at the embroidered hem of her gown. “I’m--I’m sorry,” he stammered.

“Come.” Her hand reached out to raise him up. “Walk with me.”

Obediently he did so, and discovered that Nerdanel no longer sat on the bench and he was alone with the Valië. 

Vairë drew him to the first of the room’s six tapestries. He somehow wasn’t surprised to see that the first was a depiction of that day in the square before Finwë’s House in Tirion, where his father had been rousing the Noldor to forsake Valinor and return to Middle-earth to wrest the Silmarils back from Morgoth. There they were, standing about the fountain, their swords drawn and raised. The six of them looked beautiful and breathtaking in the torchlight as in his memory they repeated the Oath that their father had sworn. The oath he had not taken. He scanned the images of the crowd and found himself, turned away from them, following his heart and not the terrible charisma and persuasion of Fëanor.

In the weaving, he held not a sword, but his mithril-stringed harp, and Maglor found himself staring at one of the harp strings that had broken and dangled loosely from the cloth.

“Lady, what would have happened if I had--“ He swallowed hard, and let his gaze travel around the room, seeing in the other tapestries the dreadful actions of his kin, in Alqualondë, on a shore with burning ships, on broad plains beneath towering mountains, in palatial underground chambers, and again back to that last tapestry showing the grieving Maedhros amid the bloody aftermath of another Kinslaying. 

As he looked back at the serene Weaver, Maglor asked, “What would have happened if I had sworn the Oath and gone with my father? Could I have made a difference, so that,“ he jerked his dark head towards the final scene, “wouldn’t have happened as it did?”

“The threads of our decisions travel onward,” Vairë told him, “and the slightest tug on them, as choices are made, twist them from one possible path to another. It is given to me to grant thee a boon. Thou’rt granted the right to change one single action or event in your life—-but there is no returning to what was before.”

“I wish....” Maglor bit off the words, and looked away, only to be caught up in the sorrowful tale that the tapestries told. He shook his head sharply and looked back to Vairë.

“Tell me thy wish, Son of Fëanor.” Vairë said.

He looked a final time at the image of the last of his brothers, and, despite knowing that he would be leaving his mother behind, reached for the broken harp string. “I wish....”

As he spoke his desire, he tugged hard on the thread and watched as first the harp, then he, himself, unraveled.

* * * * *

“Maedhros!” Maglor ran to where his eldest brother stood staring down at a pair of bodies sprawled near an overturned wagon on the white stones of the forecourt before Elwing’s Tower. “Have you seen the twins?” He stumbled to a halt at Maedhros’ side, and he stared, horrified, as he recognized the faces of the elves staring, blind-eyed, up at the night sky. “Amrod, Amras!”

He dropped his sword and went to his knees by the corpses, reaching out to touch their still, blood spattered faces. “This is not what I wished for,” he whispered to himself. “This wasn’t supposed to happen!”

“We grieve later,” Maedhros said roughly. “Eärendil could return at any time, seeking to avenge his family. Have whoever is left in our service to bring them and we’ll bury them away from this place.” He turned away, still clenching his blood-stained sword in his left hand, to stare out at the foam crested waves of the Sea.

Maglor swallowed hard as a memory of an unraveling tapestry rose up in his mind’s eye--Amrod and Amras, laid exactly as they were now, next to the other bodies, the children--the children! 

He looked up suddenly, from where he knelt, and met the terrified grey gazes of two small, dark-haired boys clad in the colors of Eärendil’s House, who huddled beneath the shelter of the overturned cart.

A/N:  Inspired by the B2MeM challenge for the Doors of Night: Challenge: Your character has a chance to change a single event in his or her past, but doing such will forever alter the future. What will your character choose? What would they change, if anything? And how do you think his or her future would change?  

A painting by Lyra showing a scene from this story can be found at

A/N:  For Fiondil

#3:  Windchimes

(A true drabble - 100 words)

Elellindo carefully examined the square of glass. The waves of blue and green light danced like the sea across his face.  A school of fish that had been carefully hand-painted in gold and silver seemed to swim as he tilted the pane this way and that.  He nodded in satisfaction.

When he dropped it into the high-sided wooden box in front of him, his apprentice winced at the crash of breaking glass.

"Bring me the drill and the ribbons, child." 

Before midday, Elellindo hung the tinkling windchimes by the front door of the fisherman who had recently returned from Mandos.

A/N:  This drabble was inspired by a poem by Glenda Mitchel Palmer of the same title.

"God shattered my plateglass life,
Then he took the broken pieces
And made them into windchimes."

Elellindo is a glassmaker who was killed in the First Kinslaying, who was Reborn around the time that Glorfindel went back to Middle-earth.  Ever since he regained the memories of his former life, he's been making windchimes for each Reborn that he meets or hears about.  There may be more to his story, but this is what the Muse told me so far.

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