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Tales from Vairë's Loom  by Fiondil

The Exilic Noldo’s Guide to Coping with Post-Helcaraxë Stress Syndrome (or PHSS)

Summary: Sometimes even Elves need a little psychological help and who better to offer it than someone who’s ‘been there and done that’? Inspired by the Middle-earth Express prompt #94, ‘Snow’, as well as a conversation about this very subject with Ellie. Dedicated to all the snow-weary souls longing for spring. Hang in there and keep telling yourself : ‘At least it’s not the Helcaraxë!’ *LOL*

MEFA 2010: Honorable Mention: Races: Elves: General.

Note: This early in the history of the Exilic Noldor in Beleriand, they are still speaking Quenya and they have not yet adopted Sindarin names for themselves. A list of character names and their Sindarin equivalents can be found at the end.


Vinyamar, Year of the Sun 1:

"Damn snow! I hate it!"

Laurefindil looked up from the accounts book he was working on to stare at Cehtelion with some consternation. The ellon was standing by one of the embrasures of Laurefindil’s study morosely staring out into a wall of white.

"It is only snow," the Lord of the House of the Golden Flower said in a reasonable tone, returning his attention to the ledger to record an item in the household accounts. It was something that his steward should be doing, but Laurefindil had decided he wanted to understand better the workings of his household and was happily making his way through the ledger. His closest friend, the Lord of the House of the Fountain, had come earlier to visit and until now had been content to sit beside the fireplace and read while Laurefindil finished up the accounts. His outburst had been unexpected. "It is not as if thou hast never seen it before."

Cehtelion jerked his head around to stare at him in disbelief. "Only snow!" he fairly yelled. "It is the damn Helcaraxë all over again. Will they never leave us alone!?" He turned back to the snow and raised his fists above him. "Leave us alone, damn you!" he angrily screamed. "Leave us alone! Have we not suffered enough? Will we never be free of you damn...."

Laurefindil rose in alarm at the very first shout and went to his friend, turning him away from the offending sight and holding him closely. Cehtelion started weeping as he collapsed into his arms.

"But it truly is only snow," Laurefindil whispered into Cehtelion’s ear as he rocked his friend to comfort him. He gazed past the ellon’s shoulder to stare out of the embrasure. His study overlooked the Sea. The snow fell silently in great sweeps of white, disappearing into the greyness of the landscape surrounding Vinyamar, Turucáno’s city, which was still being built. Laurefindil’s present home was merely a humble stone cottage of four rooms hastily constructed on one of the cliffs above the city. A larger home within the city proper was even now being built that would accommodate his entire household, though construction was temporarily halted when the snows began to fall. He glanced down at the Sea which was the color of pewter, and only the sullen motion of the waves breaking against the seawall told him where it was, for sky and Sea had become one with the storm. He was unsurprised that Cehtelion was feeling irritable and depressed. The snow had been falling for four days straight and there had been no sign of Anar during all that time.

"It is not the Helcaraxë, meldonya," Laurefindil said soothingly. "Not even close."

Cehtelion pulled out of his embrace, his expression one of disbelief. "How canst thou be so calm about it?" he demanded. "How long did we trudge across the land bridge, half blinded by the storms that never seemed to end, fighting not only the elements but the monsters that lived there? How many of us never made it? Hast thou forgotten Ornendur or Indiliën? Hast thou forgotten our own lord’s wife?"

"Never!" Laurefindil retorted, now getting angry. "I will never forget Elenwë or any of the others who died. I see their faces before me every night. Do not presume to think I would ever forget...."

Now Cehtelion looked abashed and he quickly hugged his best friend. "Forgive me," he said softly. "I never meant... Valar, Laurë! Will this nightmare never end?"

"Only if we do our very best to put it behind us," Laurefindil answered solemnly.

Cehtelion gave him a quizzical look. "How?"

Now Laurefindil smiled and motioned for his friend to join him as he looked out at the snow. Nothing had changed in the view outside, though perhaps the snow was falling less heavily than before. "We put all the horror behind us by seeing the beauty that surrounds us," he stated.

"What beauty?" Cehtelion asked, glaring at the snow. "I see no beauty."

"But it is beautiful," Laurefindil insisted. "Look thou! Seest not the icicles hanging off the eaves? Their crystals are exquisite in the gentle complexity of form, each one the same yet different. And hast thou not seen the frosting of ice in the pool of water that thou hast before thine own house which is actually a mass of complex geometric shapes? And remember the subtle shadow of moonlight on the snow when Isil was at his fullest? It was lovely to behold, was it not? And the way the snow sparkles like diamonds in the bright light of Anar. I find even the Sea in all its leaden greyness beautiful in its own way."

Cehtelion stared at his friend with growing dismay. "Art thou well, Laurë? I have never heard such... such nonsense come forth from thy lips before."

Laurefindil cast him an amused glance. "It is not nonsense. Look beyond the Grinding Ice, Noldo."

Cehtelion gave Laurefindil a hard stare which the ellon returned with equanimity. There was something in his friend’s eyes, some light of acceptance that did not dismiss the pain and sorrow that lay behind the light but transmuted it. It was not exactly joy but it was something like. He turned his head and stared out at the falling snow, trying desperately to see the world as Laurefindil saw it. At the moment it all looked so dreary and his fëa was burdened with memories of endless white and death. "I just wish it would stop," he finally said in a soft, sad voice.

And, as if in response to that sentiment, the snow began to let up and the clouds started breaking apart. Even as they watched in bemusement, Anar appeared behind the grey veil, her light creating a glittering world of diamonds and sapphires. Cehtelion sucked in a breath in amazement. Laurefindil merely smiled.

"Seest thou, it is not so dreary looking now, is it?" he said, clapping his friend on the shoulder.

Cehtelion gave him a wry smile. "Methinks thou shouldst write a book."

"A book?" Laurefindil exclaimed. "What sort of book wouldst thou have me write?"

"Something that helps others to see the beauty around them," Cehtelion replied, sweeping a hand out to encompass the snow-covered landscape. Even the Sea no longer looked sullen and grey but now sported shades of blue and indigo. "I do not know how thou doest it, frankly. We suffered so much misery...."

"Mostly of our own making," Laurefindil said with a shrug. He paused, his eyes narrowing slightly in thought. "Our experiences, whether benign or horrific, shape us and make us who we are but we must never let them dominate us. That way lies only madness."

Cehtelion nodded. "Perhaps thou art right."

Laurefindil laughed, the sound of it ringing joyously. "I am always right, didst thou not know?" Cehtelion joined him in laughter. "In truth, though," Laurefindil continued more soberly, "I know no one who seems to be suffering this hatred for snow but thou. I think such a book would be wasted effort."

Cehtelion shook his head. "I think not. I think more are suffering than thou knowest. For all that word hath reached us by Aran Findaráto that this snow is temporary and that a warm season will follow, I deem many of us are finding it difficult to believe this and are falling into deep depression, losing ourselves in our memories of the Helcaraxë. We need a new perspective, one that thou seemest to have found for thyself without much effort."

"Nay, meldonya, in that thou art mistaken," Laurefindil protested. "Much effort on my part went into seeing the beauty of snow and ice that now surrounds us, for I have suffered from my own nightmares. Yet, I have faith in Aran Findaráto’s words, words that he sayeth come from the lips of Tári Melyanna herself. She is a Maia, after all. We would be fools to doubt her word."

"All the more reason to write the book, meldonya," Cehtelion insisted. "Thou hast suffered as have we all, but thou hast found a way through and beyond that suffering that others, myself included, have not been able to find. Such a book, I deem, may be the saving of many whose fëar are overburdened with too much sorrow and pain."

"Well, I will consider thy suggestion, if I see evidence that such a book would be welcome," Laurefindil said. "But look! Let us abandon this dreary place and frolic in the snow. See, young Itarildë and other elflings are already outside playing."

Cehtelion looked down onto the beach below the city and smiled at the sight of their golden princess running through the drifts with other elflings, their childish voices ringing with laughter, and nodded. The two left the study and donned cloaks before stepping outside, making their way along the snow-shrouded path leading to the city.

"So what title do you think I should give this hypothetical book of thine?" Laurefindil asked as they walked briskly on top of the snow.

"How about ‘Beyond the Helcaraxë — An Exile’s Perspective’?"

"Hmm... I’ll have to think about it. I am still not convinced that there is such a need."

They reached the bottom of the cliff and made their way through the half-built city until they were near the seawall that looked down upon the beach where the elflings were playing. Turucáno and other courtiers were already there. The two gave their king their obeisance, which he barely acknowledged, for he was scowling down at the children.

"What ails thee, aranya?" Laurefindil ventured to ask. "Why hast thou such a glum face on this lovely day?"

Turucáno turned to him, scowling even more. "Lovely! What’s so lovely about all this damn snow? I hate it! Why won’t the Valar leave us alone? How can my daughter play in it when her ammë fell through the ice and died? It’s obscene. I should order her and her friends to cease their play."

Their king’s outburst surprised them all and there was an uneasy silence among them. Cehtelion gave Laurefindil a knowing look and nodded. Laurefindil sighed. Mayhap his friend was right. Perhaps he should write the book. It would save having to repeat himself to everyone he met suffering from this malady. Hmmm.... I wonder what we should call it? he thought to himself. Post-Helcaraxë Blues? He shook his head. He would have to think about it later. Right now, he needed to minister to his king.

"But, aranya, it is quite lovely," he said with as much enthusiasm as he could muster, refusing to look Cehtelion’s way, for out of the corner of his eye he could see his friend grinning. "Look thou! Seest not the icicles hanging off the eaves of the buildings behind us? Their crystals are exquisite in the gentle complexity of form...."


Ellon: Male Elf.

Helcaraxë: Grinding Ice.

Meldonya: My (male) friend.

Fëa: Spirit, soul. The plural is fëar.

Aran: King. Aranya: My king.

Tári: Queen.

Ammë: Hypocoristic form of amillë: Mother.

Quenya names and their Sindarin equivalents:

Laurefindil: Glorfindel

Cehtelion: Ecthelion

Turucáno: Turgon

Findaráto: Finrod

Melyanna: Melian

Itarildë: Idril

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