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Competition  by Raksha The Demon

though called Nerwen by her mother and Artanis (“noble woman”) by her father, the name she chose to be her Sindarin name was Galadriel, “for it was the most beautiful of her names, and had been given to her by her lover…”.  Unfinished TalesThe History of Galadriel and Celeborn

Her mother-name was Nerwen ("man-maiden"), 1 and she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor; she was strong of body, mind, and will, a match for both the loremasters and the athletes of the Eldar in the days of their youth. Unfinished Tales: The History of Galadriel and Celeborn


Artanis finished daubing the olive oil on her limbs to increase suppleness.  Hastily, she plaited her hair, donned her shorts and fastened her kilt over them, then laced up her light runner's shoes.  One last stretch before fitting the leather and linen corselet onto her chest and binding it tight, and Artanis was ready! 

She strode out of the ladies' tent and to the starting point.  The Great Games of Doriath were held only once each yen; and Artanis intended to defend her win of the women's thousand-feet race against all challengers.  Each of those feet was the length of one of the unshod feet of Tulkas himself; and Tulkas' form was not small; yet Artanis had always conquered the long track.  She nodded briskly to her competitors, acknowledging their greetings but not engaging in their nervous chatter.  Artanis had raced since the Time of the Trees.  She knew when to focus on her purpose and when to let go of it.   

The level of the chatter rose.  The princess had arrived to take her place at the line.  Artanis spared a glance.  As usual, Luthien looked as fair and fresh as a rose opening its petals.  She moved gracefully among the others, wishing them luck like a bemused watcher rather than the outstanding runner she was.   Artanis had only won the race in the last Games because Luthien had stopped to tend to tend to an injured contestant, a maidservant whose fall Artanis had not noticed during the sprint for the finish. 

And then they began, launching themselves onto the course as Daeron blasted one long, perfect note on his trumpet.  Artanis took the lead easily and held it, lengthening her strides.  Someone was coming, moving fast, nearly to her elbow; the smell of roses reached her and Artanis knew that Luthien was at her elbow.   No! She shrieked silently.  Artanis pushed herself ahead, faster than she had thought possible, to the limit and beyond.  Almost there!  Artanis threw herself forward, coursing like one of Orome's wolfhounds chasing its prey.  Heart thundering, she crossed the line first!  Her legs wobbled.  As Artanis fought for balance, a strong hand reached out, took hers and easily bore her up.  She lifted her head and smiled merrily into the deep grey eyes of Celeborn.   

Thingol's kinsman had often appeared when she least expected him, and, as usual, held such quiet force of will that it was not possible to discount or ignore him.  Celeborn had oft provided Artanis with both wise counsel and intelligent conversation.   He was a good sort to have as a friend.   In fact, she had been surprised that Celeborn had not come to wish her luck before she had gone to the ladies' tent to prepare for the race.    

Artanis slowed her frantically laboring heart and gazed once more on the world beyond the race course.   Suddenly, Artanis looked back at Celeborn; for there was a difference in his attire.  He bore a winner's laurel wreath upon his brow, and something gleamed in his hands. 

"Accept this trophy as a gift, lady," Celeborn said, and held out a shining silver arrow given to the winner of the archery contest in the Games.  Artanis found herself wordless.  Renowned as a student of lore, Celeborn had never competed in contests of sport.   What did he mean by giving her such a hard-won trophy, the Silver Arrow of the Games?   Perhaps it was a gift between distant kin, or esteemed friends?  Or was he saluting her as one athlete salutes another?

 "Thank you, lord," She answered clearly, taking the prize.  "Please accept my admiration for your prowess in the archery field this day, and the winning of the Silver Arrow." 

"And good luck in all further pursuits, kinsman, may your arrows always find their mark!" Luthien chimed in mirthfully, as she kissed her cousin's cheek.  What had amused the princess?  Artanis did not appreciate being the odd one out when a witticism was made.  Celeborn laughed lightly, though his eyes were oddly gentle as he turned his gaze back to her.

Just then, the queen came forth, bearing the laurel wreath for the winner of the race.  Celeborn stopped her, spoke softly, and took the wreath from Melian's hands.  "Permit me?" he asked Artanis.  She had never noticed that Celeborn's smile could be so compelling.  She turned her deeper senses to what lay behind that smile, and saw strength but no malice.  

 Celeborn approached her; tall and proud in his light archer's tunic.  Then he stooped to kiss her forehead before settling the laurel wreath on her brow.  "Galad-riel, bright-garlanded maiden, I vow to win more than a mere arrow."  His quiet voice carried a new conviction, and she found that she liked it; as well as the after-name he had bestowed upon her, and the touch of his hands and lips. 

"I would hear more of this vow, my lord of the silver tree;" she answered. This time she smiled at Celeborn with her whole heart.   In truth the golden daughter of Finarfin felt her blood sing and her flesh tingle in reply.   She had known many Eldar who had loved, but had never felt that strange, searing emotion.  Was it then her time at last?  Let it begin, she prayed; let there be a contest of hand and heart, and perhaps we both shall win what we most desire.

Author's Notes:

 Tolkien seems to have postulated at least two origins and histories for Celeborn and Galadriel; frankly it gives me a headache to read them all.  I have taken some liberty and synthesized what I felt worked the best for this silver-and-gold pair, out of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.  Thus, I have the Elf we know as Galadriel using her father-name Artanis (which was mentioned in UT) when this story begins; and Celeborn (who is not called "Teleporno" here) giving her the name Galadriel in Doriath rather than Aman; since I prefer to believe that they met in the kingdom of Thingol and Melian.  I don't think Celeborn would have used Quenya since Thingol banned the language's usage in his kingdom after learning of the Kin-slaying in Alqualonde.

"kal' (gal-)       This root, meaning 'shine', appears in Calacirya, Calaquendi, Tar-Calion; galvorn, Gil-galad, Galadriel. The last two names have no connexion with Sindarin galadh tree', although in the case of Galadriel such a connexion was often made, and the name altered to Galadhriel. In the High-elven speech her name was Al(a)táriel, derived from alata 'radiance' (Sindarin galad) and riel 'garlanded maiden' (from a root rig- 'twine, wreathe'): the whole meaning 'maiden crowned with a radiant garland', referring to her hair. calen (galen) 'green' is etymologically 'bright', and derives from this root; see also aglar."

The Silmarillion:  Elements of Quenya and Sindarin Names

 "In addition, any of the Eldar might acquire an epessë ("after-name"), not necessarily given by their own kin, a nickname -mostly given as a title of admiration or honour; and an epessë might become the name generally used and recognised in later song and history (as was the case, for instance, with Ereinion, always known by his epessë Gil-galad).  Thus the name Alatáriel, which, according to the late version of the story of their relationship (pp.242-43), was given to Galadriel by Celeborn...was an epessë (for its etymology see the Appendix to The Silmarillion, entry kal-), which she chose to use in Middle-earth, rendered into Sindarin as Galadriel, rather than her "father-name" Artanis, or her "mother-name"Nerwen. " Unfinished TalesAppendix EThe Names of Celeborn and Galadriel.

The measurement unit used to mark the race being Tulkas’ feet is my invention.  Tulkas was the fastest of the Valar - for he can outrun all things that go on feet, and he is tireless (The Silmarillion) – and known for his prowess in contests of strength, rather than any great intellectual ability.  Sort of a god of professional wrestling…

A yen is a Valinorean year, approximately 144 years of the Sun.



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