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The healers left the next day before the sun rose with Serindë accompanying her new husband. Elladan had rented a van to transport them all to Fairbanks and from there they would catch the train to Anchorage. The Twins, having learned about Glorfindel, were naturally reluctant to leave, but Glorfindel and Elrond both assured them that all was well for the time being.
“I’m not going to become houseless immediately,” Glorfindel said somewhat testily when Elrohir continued to voice his concerns. “Now, get out of here and get those healers certified. Don’t forget, you two will be leaving shortly for New York anyway and I won’t have you give up your plans for that, not even for me. I’ll be fine. Legolas is going with us and you know you can trust him to keep me in line.” He gave them a quirky grin and the Twins couldn’t help laughing, knowing full well that it was usually the other way around.
So, armed with good wishes for a safe trip and a successful outcome, the healers drove off, while the others stood at the gate and waved. Elrond looked wistful as he and Celebrían stood with Glorfindel, Finrod, Amarië, Daeron and Melyanna, all watching the van head down Sycamore for Kodiak. Everyone else had gone their own way.
“What’s the matter, Elrond?” Glorfindel asked. “Are you wishing you were going with them?”
“I have just been reunited with my sons and now they are leaving me behind, and in more ways than one,” Elrond replied with a rueful look. “I will be the only healer unable to ply his trade. I wish I’d been allowed to come sooner, then I would be traveling to this Anchorage with the others.”
Celebrían gave her husband’s arm a squeeze and kissed him on the cheek. “There will be plenty of time for you to learn what you need to do, my love,” she assured him.
“And you are not required to become a board-certified doctor, Elrond,” Glorfindel said as they all made their way back inside. “You may not even wish to practice medicine as it is done here in the States.”
“What would I do, instead? I gave up my sword a long time ago.”
“Yes, but do you seriously think you can stay out of the battle when it finally comes, Nephew?” Finrod asked knowingly.
“No. I do not necessarily see that happening,” Elrond allowed. “You will need every sword, I deem, and there will be healers aplenty, both here and in Valinor.”
“I have a suggestion if you’re interested,” Daeron said somewhat diffidently, as if he feared his inclusion in the conversation would be rejected, but everyone gave him encouraging looks.
“And what suggestion is that?” Glorfindel asked for them all. They had gravitated to the kitchen where Gilvegil, Alphwen and Cennanion were in the process of putting together breakfast for anyone interested. Glorfindel and those with him stopped long enough to grab cups of coffee, or in Celebrían’s case, some Earl Grey tea, and then settled in the dining room out of the way.
Once seated, Daeron spoke. “Have you considered that there are medical doctors aplenty as you say, both Mortal and Elves, but there is only one healer of the mind? I have the feeling that as time goes by, anxieties will rise, both among us and especially among the Mortals. I know for a fact that Ron has all the patients he can handle, and yes there are psychologists and even another psychiatrist in the area, but they are Mortals and there are no guarantees that when they eventually die, their practices will be taken over by others. Ron could be inundated with patients and I would hesitate to recruit additional help from outside. Another elven psychiatrist or even a psychologist would be of enormous help.”
“Would I still not have to undergo the same degree of training as any, though?” Elrond asked.
“It depends on which track you take,” Daeron said. “If you do psychiatry, it would take a number of years, simply because you have to incorporate both medicine and psychology into your study and I don’t think that is something that can be pushed or fudged. On the other hand, if you decide, for now at least, to become a psychologist, you wouldn’t have to deal with medicine per se. Your job would be to offer psychotherapy. If a patient requires medication to help with treatment, you would need to send them to Ron or to another psychiatrist who would be able to prescribe medication. So, it just depends on how you want to approach it. You might wish to consult with Ron about it, get his opinion, but I think whichever route you take will be of benefit to this community.”
“I will do that, thank you,” Elrond said gratefully. “I confess that I am somewhat intrigued by what he does and how he does it.”
“In the meantime, you could begin taking psychology classes here at the college, get a feel for the field,” Glorfindel said approvingly. “Ron’s agreed to start teaching at the college next term, so you could sit in on his classes.”
“Thank you. You have given me much to think about,” Elrond said.
“Well, Ron will be here for the picnic,” Glorfindel said. “Why don’t you ask him about it, or if you don’t want to speak of it with everyone else around, you can probably set up an appointment to speak with him privately.”
Elrond nodded and turned to Celebrían. “What do you think, mel nîn?”
She smiled the smile reserved only for him and kissed him on the cheek. “I think it is a very good idea, whichever route you ultimately choose, and there is nothing that says that even if you choose this psychology, that later on you could not study to become a psychiatrist, is there?”
“Not at all,” Daeron said. “Do not forget, we Elves have plenty of time to pursue any number of jobs and I doubt that any of us will be doing the same thing a hundred years from now, or even ten years from now.”
“Darren’s right,” Glorfindel said. “Even I don’t anticipate being the administrator of Elf Academy for however long it will be before the Dagor Dagorath. Eventually, either we will no longer be in operation or I will hand the reins of administration over to another and go do something else, assuming of course, I’m still around to do anything.”
“Don’t say that, mellon nîn,” Daeron said fervently. “Don’t even think it. We will not allow you to fade.”
“And as your lord, I forbid you to do so without asking my permission first,” Elrond interjected with a stern look that fooled no one.
“Yes, my lord. Anything you say, my lord,” Glorfindel quipped and the others chuckled at the byplay.
“Hey!” Gilvegil came to the doorway. “If you’re so inclined, perhaps you could set up the buffet and call anyone who’s interested in eating. We’re about ready for breakfast.”
“We’re on it,” Glorfindel said, rising, and the others followed suit. Sometime later, they were all enjoying a breakfast of Eggs Benedict and waffles and most of the conversation centered around what further preparations needed to be made for the Memorial Day picnic which the Elves were holding for their Mortal friends.
The picnic was scheduled for Sunday since the holiday Monday would be devoted to the community-wide celebration which would include a parade ending at the community cemetery where a brief ceremony would be held and a baseball game later in the afternoon, weather permitting. As he had promised, Vorondur was there early in the morning after breakfast with Ercassë and their two sons. Amroth and Nimrodel would come over later.
“So, the intrepid tree-thieves,” Glorfindel said by way of greeting when Ron and his sons met up with Glorfindel and Finrod who were in the back garden stacking wood for the grill while Ercassë was helping out in the kitchen. “I don’t think even the Twins ever did anything that stupid.”
Both Dar and Cani looked suitably chagrined. Vorondur chuckled at their expressions. “That’s because they aren’t Reborn. These two knew that what they were doing was wrong, but somehow they convinced themselves that, as Firstborn, they were above mortal law.”
“Ah, now that I can understand,” Glorfindel said as he straightened up, brushing wood chips and dirt off his hands. “The Twins had a similar attitude, oh, back about three thousand years ago or so. We were living in Babylonia at the time. Ninevah. Try as we might, Daeron and I just couldn’t seem to get across to them that, no, we don’t take advantage of the Mortals’ incredulity. That just leads to a whole world of grief on both sides.”
Vorondur, in spite of himself, was intrigued by this glimpse of an earlier time for Glorfindel, Daeron and the Twins, long before they ever met with Nimrodel and Mithrellas. “I am surprised that they would have that attitude so late in the day considering.”
Glorfindel shrugged. “I’m not sure that they woke up one morning and decided that they would start treating the Mortals around them as if they were slaves or children. I think they unwittingly began to see themselves as somehow superior to the Mortals.”
“But aren’t we?” Cani asked, looking more puzzled than belligerent.
“You did not feel that way before, Cani, neither you nor Dar,” Vorondur said. “Have you forgotten your playmates? And you Dar, have you forgotten your crewmen, who, unlike you, died in truth?”
Dar shook his head, looking a bit pale, but Cani scowled. “Dar didn’t die at the hands of Mortals, Ada, not as I did.”
Both Glorfindel and Finrod exchanged knowing looks. Vorondur’s expression became one of deep sadness mixed with guilt.
“And do you blame your ada, child?” Finrod asked softly.
Cani looked startled. “No, of course not.”
“And yet your actions tell me otherwise,” Finrod said, giving the younger ellon a shrewd look. “Whose idea was it to raid the nursery, anyway?”
The brothers gave each other guilty looks and then Cani grimaced. “It was my idea,” he admitted.
“And you did not talk him out of it,” Finrod said, addressing Dar, making it more a statement of fact than a question. The ellon shrugged but said nothing.
“Payback,” Glorfindel said.
Vorondur gave him a considering look. “Do you think that’s what it is? I haven’t been able to figure out the real motive for what they did.”
“That’s because you’re their adar, Ron, and you want to think the best of your sons,” Glorfindel retorted mildly, “but it’s plain to me that this is what the whole incident was all about. It had nothing to do with beautifying the garden. That was just a convenient fiction. It had everything to do with dissing the Mortals because somewhere in the past a Mortal got lucky and did you in.” He was looking directly at Cani as he spoke this last part, his eyes glittering with something dark. The younger ellon paled under the Balrog-slayer’s regard.
“How did you cure the Twins of that attitude?” Finrod asked suddenly.
“Hmm? Oh, well, it was actually Daeron’s idea,” Glorfindel said. “I sold them.”
“What?!!” came the disbelieving cry from more than one mouth as four pairs of eyes goggled at Glorfindel in disbelief.
Glorfindel chuckled. “Oh, not for real, but I gave them to a couple of Mortal friends for a shekel a piece and had them act as bond-servants to them for a year.”
“And they allowed it?” Dar asked.
“Oh, they had no choice,” Glorfindel said darkly. “I made sure they understood that. Once the year was up, they were suitably subdued and not as haughty as they had been. They were never mistreated or abused, but they were made to take on tasks that they normally would consider beneath them. And of course, having to follow a Mortal’s orders was something they had never experienced before.” He paused and gave them a slight smile. “It was the most peaceful year I’d ever had. Daeron and I considered it a well-deserved vacation for the two of us.”
“I cannot believe you sold the Twins, whom you see as your own sons, into slavery,” Finrod said.
Glorfindel shrugged. “You and Ingwë did the same thing to me, though I’m sure no coin changed hands on my account. And the shekels my two friends gave me were a legal fiction to satisfy the laws of the day.” He turned his attention to the two brothers. “They learned a valuable lesson in that year. I hope you learn one as well while you are paying off your debt to society. To paraphrase Lord Námo: ‘And this deed was unlawful, whether in Aman or not in Aman. So, take counsel with yourselves, and remember who and what you are, and remember who and what the Mortals are’.”
“And who are they?” Cani asked somewhat defensively.
“They are Eruhíni, no less than you, child,” Finrod answered for Glorfindel. “They are our younger siblings, to be treated with respect before Eru Ilúvatar, just as the Valar treat us with respect.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far,” Glorfindel drawled, rewarding them with a sly smile. Finrod and Vorondur chuckled. “So, end of lecture,” he said more briskly. “Ron, would you and your sons go out to the woods and help whoever’s out there to clean up some of the brush in the clearing? We’re also making the path a bit more visible for our friends. I think Nell and the Three Amigos are putting together some luminaries to line the path to the clearing. Maybe Dar and Cani can give them a hand.”
“We’d be happy to,” Vorondur said. “You two go on ahead. I’ll join you presently.”
Dar and Cani nodded and giving Finrod and Glorfindel slight bows of respect, headed off. Vorondur watched them go for a moment, then gave the two Elf-lords a grateful look. “Thank you. I think you’ve given them something to think about.”
“Hey, not a problem,” Glorfindel said with a wave of a hand in dismissal. “And, unlike you, we don’t charge.”
Vorondur laughed as he left them to join his sons.
“So, what you told them…” Finrod said softly as he and Glorfindel went back to stacking wood.
“A tissue of lies from start to finish,” Glorfindel admitted.
“Honestly, Brother, you’re getting as devious as the Valar.”
“Don’t talk dirty, Finrod,” Glorfindel countered and Finrod’s laughter rang through the garden, brightening the hearts of all who heard it.
People began arriving shortly after noon, everyone in good spirits. Nicole Lord and her children, along with her fiancé, Tim Saunders, were the first to arrive, followed by the Michaelsons and Nicholas Green. Others, notably Josiah Makepeace and his family, and Charles Waverly came somewhat later, once their Sunday duties were done with. Rabbi Cohen was also there along with his wife, Miriam, and their two sons, Jacob and Ethan, both teenagers. People associated with Elf Academy also came and soon Edhellond was overcrowded even with most of them out in the garden or wandering in the woods.
Glorfindel showed them the path that wended its way to the clearing, lined with luminaries that were lit even in daylight, for the woods were dark under their branches. “Stay on the path,” he warned the children solemnly. “It’s enchanted and to step off the path would be a bad thing to do.”
Most of the children gave him skeptical looks. “Enchanted?” Young Adam Lord exclaimed, rolling his eyes. “Give me a break.”
“Adam!” his mother admonished. “You don’t speak to an Elf-lord that way. You know better.”
Glorfindel smiled. “It’s all right, Nicole. Adam is right to be skeptical.” He gave the young Mortal a sober look. “Being skeptical is fine, being rude about it is not.” Adam had the grace to blush and mutter an apology. Glorfindel nodded and looked around. “Legolas, perhaps you can demonstrate.”
Legolas nodded and stooped down to pick up a large stone. He moved up the path a half dozen steps and then tossed the stone to the side. There was a ripple in the air and the stone disappeared.
The children and even the adults looked suitably impressed. Legolas returned to them as Glorfindel said, “So you see, leaving the path is not a good idea.”
“Why did you do it, though?” Jacob Cohen asked.
“Because the woods have grown… strange since we Elves have begun walking under them. The trees are almost half awake and they do not like two-footers. They have long memories.”
“But you’re a two-footer,” Kathy Michaelson pointed out.
“Yes, but we’re Elves, and we woke the trees up the first time and taught them language. They remember that.”
“How can these trees remember something like that?” Tim Saunders asked. “They’re not that old.”
“Think of it as a type of racial memory passed down from generation to generation,” Glorfindel replied with a shrug. “At any rate, the warning applies to all Mortals. Do. Not. Leave. The Path. Got it?”
There were vigorous nods all around, especially from the children. “Okay, off you go with Liam.” And the children scrambled away with Legolas in their midst while their parents watched with fond smiles.
“So, neat trick,” Dave Michaelson said.
Glorfindel gave him a cool look. “It was no trick, David. Don’t leave the path.” And with that, he walked back to the house, leaving the Mortals with wondering looks on their faces.
Elrond and Celebrían were introduced formally to everyone who hadn’t met them earlier, with Elrond explaining that he was now calling himself Elrod Ronaldson and his wife was now to be known as Kelly.
“Odd, you don’t look like a Kelly,” Shane Englebert commented.
“And are people supposed to look like their names?” Celebrían asked in amusement.
Shane shrugged. “Sometimes. Sometimes you learn a person’s name and you can’t imagine them having any other name. Other times, it’s like, why did the parents name them that? It certainly doesn’t fit.”
“Well, we chose Kelly because it’s similar in sound to the first part of her name,” Daeron explained. “The name is Irish Gaelic meaning ‘warrior, or bright minded’.”
“And my wife is both,” Elrond said, giving Celebrían a fond look. She returned his look with one of her own and the Mortals exchanged knowing smiles between them.
“Well, we’re glad to meet you, Elrod and Kelly,” Lily Zhang said. “Welcome to Wiseman. How do you like it so far?” And with that question, the others relaxed and soon they were all chatting away as if they’d known each other for years.
Elrond excused himself at one point to go find Vorondur, who had gone with his wife and sons to the clearing where a bonfire greeted them. They were helping the children toast marshmallows.
“Ah, Vorondur, just the person I was looking for,” Elrond said nonchalantly as he entered the clearing.
Vorondur straightened from helping young Caleb spear a marshmallow on a stick. “How may I help you, Elrond?”
Elrond looked about the clearing with young Mortals and Elves intermingling. Most of the children were occupied with their marshmallows, not paying attention to the grown-ups, while the Elves were very much aware of the interchange. He gave Vorondur a nod. “Walk with me,” he ordered.
Vorondur raised an eyebrow in surprise, but simply nodded as he followed Elrond toward one side of the clearing, obviously planning to head into the woods rather than back down the path.
“Hey!” Adam Lord exclaimed. “You’re not supposed to leave the path or the clearing. Loren said.”
The erstwhile Master of Imladris and Vorondur stopped and turned to look at the children, all staring back at them. “That rule applies only to Mortals,” Elrond said gravely. “The woods are safe for Elves.”
“Lucky Elves,” Adam muttered as he turned back to the bonfire and his marshmallow. Vorondur and Elrond exchanged amused grins as they moved under the trees and into the woods, wandering freely and without much thought of their direction.
“So what did you want to see me about?” Vorondur asked once they were far enough away from the clearing that they would not be overheard by either Elves or Mortals.
“I wish to make an appointment to speak with you on a private matter,” Elrond answered.
Vorondur frowned. “You wish to receive counseling?”
“Not in the way you are meaning,” Elrond said with a faint smile, “but there is a matter I wish to discuss with you in private. Daeron suggested I make an appointment rather than have me discuss it with you here.”
Vorondur nodded. “Well, my schedule is rather full this next week due to the fact that Monday’s a holiday, but Alex left yesterday for Fairbanks so his usual time with me will be open. Is this something that can wait until next Friday or do you need to see me sooner?”
“Next Friday is acceptable. This is not an emergency, I assure you.”
“Next Friday at four then,” Vorondur said. “I’ll put you on the calendar as soon as I get home.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it,” Elrond said. He stopped and looked about him, placing a hand on the trunk of one of the trees. He gave Vorondur a shrewd look. “Hmm… these trees are no more awake than that rock over there.” He nodded toward a small boulder sitting a few feet away.
“I think Loren is getting very good at lying,” Vorondur said with a smile.
“A symptom of his fading?” Elrond asked in all seriousness.
“Now that I don’t know,” Vorondur admitted. “I’m pretty sure a story he told my sons about the Twins was made up, but until I ask him directly, I am only guessing. Was he good at telling tall tales back in the day?”
Elrond gave him a sardonic look. “On the contrary. Glorfindel was very good at not telling any tales, tall or otherwise, especially any that dealt with his life in Valinor or even his life in Gondolin.”
“Hmm… well, something to think about. At any rate, I’ll see you at four next Friday.” He looked about him. “So, which way is out, do you suppose?”
Elrond chuckled. “Unless the trees have moved while we weren’t looking, I would say that way.” He pointed straight ahead and the two made their way until they found themselves looking out at the field that separated the woods from the mansion. They parted company with Elrond returning to the mansion while Vorondur went back to the clearing where all the children seemed to sigh with relief at the sight of him, young Kimberly Michaelson wanting to know if Lord Elrond was okay. He gave them assurances that Elrond was indeed well and made a mental note to himself to remind Glorfindel that it might be better not to be too inventive when coming up with ways to impress Mortals, especially mortal children.
Elrond, meanwhile, joined a number of people around the fire pit in the garden, accepting some wine from Celebrían.
“So, did you speak to Ron?” Daeron asked.
“I have an appointment to see him next Friday at four,” Elrond answered.
“Good. Very good,” Glorfindel said in satisfaction.
One of the Mortals asked for a song or a tale and Glorfindel obliged with a hymn to Elbereth which the other Elves joined in singing, much to the delight of the Mortals. And so the picnic went and it was late before the last guest departed. Then the Elves all gathered in the clearing and spent the remainder of the night in quiet conversation, with the occasional song or tale, but Vorondur noticed that as the night wore on, Glorfindel became less and less animated as he sat on a log, staring into the flames, his expression remote and untouched by the doings of the outside world. Only with the coming of dawn, did he rouse from his lethargy and seemed more present.
As he helped with cleaning up the clearing, Vorondur added one more item on his list of topics he wished to address at his next session with Glorfindel.
Words are Sindarin unless otherwise noted:
Mel nîn: My love.
Mellon nîn: My friend.
Eruhíni: (Quenya) Children of Eru, ie. Elves and Men.
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