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Beneath Strange Stars  by Larner

Written for the LOTR Community Fixed-length ficlet, "Arrivals and Departures" challenge.  For all who mourn.

The New Folk

            “Ammë, while awaiting Atto’s return at the quays, a new ship from Endorë arrived.  And such people came off of it!  I’ve never seen the like of them!”

            Rhysellë smiled as she brushed out her daughter’s hair.  “Newcomers often wear different clothing and hair styles than do those who dwell here, Livwen.”

            But the small elleth was shaking her head.  “It’s not they dressed differently, Ammë—they are different!  Or,” she amended, “at least three of them were very different.  The first had the Light of Being of a Maia, but his hröa was so strange, as if he’d been worn by time itself.  And he wore a full beard and long hair of brightest white, but different from the most ancient of Elves.”

            Rhysellë wasn’t certain what she could say.

            “And then, there were the two little ones,” Livwen continued.  “I thought at first they were children such as I am, but no!  One was aged, but more so than the one with the Light of a Maia.  And the second----

            “Oh, Ammë!” she exclaimed, twisting to look up into her mother’s face.  “He was meant to be beautiful and joyous, but he has known such pain and loss.  His fëa is so clear, as if wrought of mithril.  But his life’s song is sad and damaged.  What is he?”

            Rhysellë stilled to send out the question, and was surprised to see the sparkling in the air indicating a Maia manifesting within their home.  Once it had taken on a body, it knelt that it not loom over Livwen.  These two visitors to our island are mortals, of a sort known among themselves as Hobbits.  Will you help to make them welcome, child?

            Solemnly Livwen nodded.  “But, what does mortal mean?”

            Rhysellë’s heart twisted.  Her daughter, she realized, would learn too soon what that word truly meant when these must depart.

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