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Aftermath  by Bodkin 13 Review(s)
The KarenatorReviewed Chapter: 1 on 9/26/2006
I'm always amazed at how quickly you can turn out such wonderful stories. This one, as all your stories, is just wonderful. You touched on some very serious issues the Woodland Realm must have dealt with and made them personal and moving. You captured the horrors and the hopes of the characters and did it in realistic dialogue and actions. Not a word was wasted. I was glad to see you've added Glambren to your list of characters. I'd like to know more about his future too. And the baby. Just terrific, Bodkin. Just terrific.


Author Reply: When the words are flowing, they're flowing, I find. This ended up going in a rather different direction from where I thought it would on the strength of the first couple of paragraphs. I think it was the choice of title! It seemed to bring out an entirely different string of ideas.

The woods must have been a dangerous place to live much of the time - yet I can see the defiance that would make the Wood-elves cling to their forest homes. Glambren will grow up to be a warrior, I daresay - he knows how important it is to defend the innocent. The baby - I can't help but feel that her survival offers hope to the warriors, and a symbol of what keeps them out there in the woods striving to hold back the dark.

Thank you, Karen.

NilmandraReviewed Chapter: 1 on 9/25/2006
The horrors of war, and the littlest victims that suffer. That mother, hiding her babe like that in hopes that someone would find her is both incredibly brave and anxiety-inducing. It will take long for that little Ellon's fears to allow him to sleep in peace, too.

You captured the emotions too well. :(

Author Reply: War is horrific - and the outlying villages must have suffered at time. No matter how much they withdrew towards safety, somebody is always going to form the border. It is amazing what mothers will do to seek safety for their children, too. But the little elleth will not remember what happened - unlike Glambren. It will take a long while to reassure him, I suspect - because he knows that safety is an illusion.

Thank you.

LarnerReviewed Chapter: 1 on 9/24/2006
And for this reason they strive against the Shadow, even if they have reason to think they cannot win in the end--to give those like Glamdren the chance to know fulfillment and the chance to seek life rather than mere vengeance.

I so love the leadership shown by Legolas.

Author Reply: The Shadow was creeping ever closer and putting pressure on the boundaries - but the fight consisted of holding it back and resisting as strongly as they could. The survival of the two elflings offered hope and a reason to keep on fighting, even as the destruction of one more settlement brought a feeling of defeat.

I think the elves of Mirkwood had dealt, over the centuries, with pretty well every trauma possible and that Cuilant and Glambren would be in the best hands possible.

Legolas is a wise and experienced leader for all his comparative youth. And fighting the Shadow in Mirkwood equipped him well for his destiny in the Fellowship.

RedheredhReviewed Chapter: 1 on 9/24/2006
What a dreadful episode to write. Well done though - all the way around. Setting, description, circumstance, characters, pathos. You have brought to some people, I am sure, a greater understanding of the evils of war. And why that evil must be forcefully opposed.

I simply had to read through the other reviews just to see other people's reactions. What a wonderful group of readers there is at soa!

They brought up some interesting points about wood-elf life in Mirkwood. Which just emphasise how much insight you have into the heart, but keep from straying too far from reality. Most Mirkwood elves do not leave in trees and do use the resources of their woods.

The question of fire in the forest, me thinks, is easily answered by observing past supposedly less-technologically-advanced cultures. They burn in the wild and do not necessarily burn it down by doing so. I would wonder more at how they handled the local midden than the use of fire to heat, cook, prepare wood for working(steaming and hardening and making charcoal), for torch-light, or to dispose of trash. I can see them burning the orc bodies, but not necessarily their own kind, which would be allowed to go into the earth and nourish it, hopefully undisturbed by fell or ordinary beasts.

I read somewhere that a milked-soaked rag is an adequate method for feeding an infant. But, that seems to also allow a lot of air into the stomach. I am not sure they shouldn't just hold the infant right to the nanny goat's teat, instead, since they have one. And poor guys, changing her not withstanding, when the babe spits up as much as she eats, hopefully they will not panic. But, in this culture, they should have more multi-generational interaction and have better notions of what to do then most modern, western-society parents.

Dearie me, getting off on tangents again, when the important thing is to wish Elliska a Happy Birthday!

Author Reply: It didn't begin with any intention of turning out this way - but it just did! Holding the villages would, I think, have been vitally important to many of the more obstinate elves. Understandably, too, for abandoning the forest would have been abandoning their reason for being there at all. But still - they were vulnerable and, try as they might, the patrols could not be sure of keeping all danger at a distance. The survival of the two children would be unexpectedly heartening, I think - a reminder that good can be saved from ruin.

Controlled fire wouldn't be a problem, I think. Maybe pyres would be - but it just feels right for me. I think the ashes of orc pyres would have been buried. Purified by the heat, but still they would want to confine the detritus. It crosses my brain - purely random thought that might well be followed by the complete opposite - that the ashes from elven pyres might well be left to settle among the trees, nourishing the ground and providing a kind of post-death care for the forest. The disturbance of grave sites might well be a good reason for cremation in the first place.

Cuilant isn't quite a new-born - and I think the milk-soaked rag would work once they thought of it. Also, possibly, putting her to the nanny's teat. Very Romulus and Remus. Polodion is an adar - and possibly knows enough to keep the child hydrated at least until they can get her in the hands of the professionals. When I suspect they might find a lactating elleth who will take her. Glambren might be rather harder to deal with - although there can be few situations that the elves haven't dealt with at some time and he will be surrounded by all the love and understanding of which they are capable.

I hope Elliska had a good birthday.

And when is yours?

DotReviewed Chapter: 1 on 9/24/2006
Oh, wow. This is fantastically well done. You had me gripped right from the opening. You did a terrific job with Glambren. Hes so brave but his terror really comes through and the reactions of the warriors to the scene underline how poignant and horrifying it is that he witnessed such a thing. Your descriptions, as always, are so vivid and just perfect.

I really like the members of the patrol even in a short piece youve made them all very different characters. Outspoken but tender Polodion is very likeable. It must be very frustrating to him to spend his life trying to protect Mirkwood and seeing these villagers who dont seem to be doing anything to help. I love, though, how he tries to coax the infant to eat, and how concerned for Eriol he is. And how he knows just how to treat him giving him things to do to keep him focused. And Eriol! I love him. I just wanted to put my arms around him. Legolas makes a good captain. Hes calm and competent in the face of something so dreadful. As is his lieutenant. I like how Angren thinks about people before anything else. And as well as giving us a glimpse of the patrol, we get a feel for the people and life of the village. The idea of the baby being hidden in the hopes of her being saved brought tears to my eyes. Im so glad Glambren was found. That poor child. His confusion and shock and hysteria were heart-rending to see. It will take a long time before his wounds are healed but I think Polodion has found a little warrior after all. Its a very moving, and sadly realistic look at life in Mirkwood at that time and the reasons why people chose to become warriors. (Did I miss what happened to the second missing person? I must read it again.) This was a tough subject to deal with but you did a great job. And once again youve left me sighing in envy at your gift with imagery.

Oh, and Id love to see Glambren in the future and know what becomes of him :-)

Author Reply: Thank you, Dot. These situations must have happened in Mirkwood under pressure - but I cannot see them ever becoming less terrible, less of a perversion of the forest. No matter how the warriors tried, it would never be enough. They could never be everywhere at once and at times must have felt they were chasing their tails and always arriving too late.

Hiding the child - it's instinctive in a way. And the smell of goat might well have been enough to distract the orcs! Cuilant - if she gets a substitute mother to bond with, I think she'll be all right. (I wonder if Polodion's wife would take her on?) Glambren, though - he's going to have a tough time. But Mirkwood must have contained healers unfortunately only too well-experienced in dealing with traumatised elves. And he seems to have grabbed on to Angren as a life-line.

More of Glambren? Maybe. His name will be added to the cast list - and who knows what will come of that!

ArmarielReviewed Chapter: 1 on 9/24/2006
Not cheerful maybe, but hopeful and powerful. Poor babies. The colored ball was a great touch. Such mundane objects recall scenes of the aftermath of hurricanes etc.

Nice to see Legs again and Glambren is a gutsy boy. Do elf-babies have the ability to swallow? I thought newborns could only suck milk.


Author Reply: Living in Mirkwood can't have been much fun - driven constantly to retrench while the dark advanced. I'm sure the Wood elves would have held on stubbornly - and the warriors would have striven to hold back their enemies, but scenes like this would have been inevitable. And the ordinary left in the midst of disaster is heartrending.

Glambren is a resilient lad - he will have to be. But the healers are probably more experienced in dealing with shocked children than they would want to be. Cuilant is a little older than newborn - although not much. Eriol didn't know she had arrived - but he's a male and a warrior away on patrol. What does he know?!

And does milk just flow down babies' throats? Without any swallowing? How old are they when they start to swallow then? (I'm trying to remember my long-past years of experience.) I think Polodion is feeding her very carefully - just a few drops at a time. (I suspect he has a fairly young child at home and some experience of infant care.) But maybe elf-babies are more advanced anyway! Elflings take longer to grow up, but gain control of their bodies younger than their human counterparts.

elliskaReviewed Chapter: 1 on 9/24/2006
Wow, Bodkin! This is really powerful! The opening with Glambren was one of the most vivid and realistic depictions I think I have ever read. You really showed his terror and the way he was determined to survive but nearly overwhelmed thinking about what had happened. In Mirkwood, it isn't too hard to guess what probably happened, but opening that way and making us imagine it was really effective. Especially when we see the warriors, who have seen so much in their careers, reacting as they do in the next scene. Some thing about the scene the way you showed it made me think of the aftermath of Katrina--seeing the ruined houses and then a toy or a piece of china intact lying on the ground seemed so surreal and that is really what you notice in those circumstances. Very powerful. Finding the little baby made me cry--I'm glad she survived. Great name! And finding Glambren! Wow! I think the part that seemed most powerful to me about this was that even though he wanted to scream that there were orcs, all he could do was whisper.

A sign of hope and hope was something they could not afford to lose. I really liked that line. And I liked how Glambren reacted to Legolas's words, although it made me a little sad too. This is a child that will certainly be a warrior. That is an important duty, but it's so sad what drives them all there.

This was an incredible story, Bodkin! I loved it! Thank you so much!

Author Reply: Happy birthday, Elliska. I'm glad you liked it! I started out intending to write something light - and it turned into something entirely different.

The villages were at such risk - and yet staying there and continuing to resist is so much a part of what makes Wood elves Wood elves. I think, though, if the adults had realised just how close the danger was coming, they would have evacuated the children to somewhere rather safer. Poor Glambren will take a long time to begin to come to terms with what he has seen here - he is far too young to be exposed to orcs at play. You're right about the unexpectedly ordinary in scenes of disaster. It is far more poignant when it is so out of place. Something had to be saved from the disaster, I think. The warrior needed something for which to strive - and Cuilant will be a symbol for them - of survival beyond expectation, of renewal - a cause. Poor Glambren - he is in a state of severe shock, I think, and will need some careful looking after. But elves are experienced and patient and will guide him through this. He cannot, after all, have been the first child to survive such a horror.

I'm glad you liked that line! And I'm sure Glambren will be a warrior, too. He will need to be as sure as he can that other elflings are safe - poor kid.

I hope you had a good weekend.

perellethReviewed Chapter: 1 on 9/24/2006
Ouch. How hard, even if it must have been uncomfortably frequent a scene for the wood elves at certain times! It was comforting,though, how they all turned to help the surviving child -and teir surpirse thathe was a she! that was a nice little touch. and I really liked -liked? put appreciated- Glamdren's shock. His hysterical fit of laugh and the way he folowed the lieutenant around once they were back. Poor one.

Happy birthday, Elliska!

Author Reply: The villages must have been desperately vulnerable targets. And the Wood elves, I fear, too obstinate for their own good only too often. Yet the sight of such destruction must have had the warriors in despair! The survival of the child - and the boy - is a sign of hope, a suggestion that they can make a difference.

And they would, I think, assume that the child was a boy! Until it was proved different. Shock has some funny effects on people - and hysterical laughter is one of them. And one of which people are often very ashamed afterwards. I think Angren might find himself assigned to home duties for a while - until Glambren is ready to let him out of his sight. Poor kid.

meckinockReviewed Chapter: 1 on 9/23/2006
What a sobering reminder of what life must have been like as the days grew darker. Striking and vivid imagery, as always. I enjoyed Legolas's struggles with the burdens of command, and the warriors' reaction to the civilian casualties. It was sweet how they all pitched in to take care of the baby. And I was so, so glad poor little Glambren was found. You really did a wonderful job of conveying his shock and fear.

Author Reply: Thank you, meckinock. The warriors' purpose is to keep death away from civilians. To fail - and be confronted with that failure must have been particularly painful, while at the same time reinforcing their determination never to let it happen again. (It would, of course. Not even elven warriors can be everywhere at all hours of the day and night.) Retrieving the baby - and then finding Glambren - was a sign of hope for them, an indication that they could make a difference.

Jay of LasgalenReviewed Chapter: 1 on 9/23/2006
Oh, what a sad story - and what horrific images it conjured up. It brings home everything the elves were fighting for, but slowly losing to the forces of evil.

Thank the Valar the children were saved. The baby will have no memory of this atrocity, but the boy has a long path of healing ahead. A lovely, but sad tale.


Author Reply: The villages needed to stay - the boundaries must be held - and every time they were abandoned was a defeat. But they were vulnerable - targets, with the patrols being too few and covering too much ground to offer full-scale protection. These villagers had not realised how close they were to disaster, I think. They would not have risked children, had they expected to be attacked.

Glambren will have a tough time - but I think Angren might well be drafted to offer him the security he needs. For a while, anyway. And Cuilant will be loved and guarded. But she'll still grow up different.

It turned out much sadder and more painful than it was meant to - but sometimes stories just insist on going their own way!

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