The Lord of the Rings: Shadow of the East
Chapter 18 Synopsis
Winter, T.A. 1640
The visit to the Golden Vale, as told by Brógan of Lórinand…
I am beginning to believe it was a lucky thing to stop off in my homeland of Lórinand, despite early misgivings. Certainly the branching gold crown of Cerin Amroth is lovely to behold under winter stars, yet it took but a single moon turn to recall why I departed the Golden Vale in the first place.
Although I cherish the warmth and beauty of my uncle’s forest, there can be small doubt that it dulls the senses and stupefies the mind. Months pass as minutes, years as days, and entire lifetimes of Men are spent in dull contentment, hunting and drinking as if the world beyond our borders existed only in the ballads our song-weavers spin under the turning stars. If we would make our home a hermitage, than why should our tribe have lingered in Middle-earth at all? Valinor awaits! On, on across the Sundering Seas! Would the last Elf in Middle-earth please blow out the candle. Ha!
No. There is too much wonder in the wide world, and I will see it before this Age passes into memory.
My dear aunt Nimrodel will doubtless be dismayed to learn I’ve chosen a pair of Dwarves as new wandering companions. She is not overfond of the Naugrim, after all, and still mourns the many cousins lost when Moria closed its gates against Eregion’s refugees in the Second Age. She all but expelled Prince Thélor and his warder “Zag” from uncle’s realm, albeit with the etiquette she esteems.
Yet, in truth, I cannot blame her.
The Prince is a gifted storyteller (perhaps his life is wasted as royalty – he might become a traveling bard!) but in this instance I suspect his talent worked against him. He told his tale too well, and frightened my aunt badly. She possesses many gifts, but stoutness of heart is not one of them. Of course, she wouldn’t dare show vulnerability to an outsider – one of the Naugrim especially – but I detected the unease in her voice.
“King Bain, I say that Durgan Irongate is a Dwarf of high honor. I believe this in my red heart and my white bones. I believe it so well, that I surrender my position as clan lord of the Goldbeard sept to him.” – Prince Thélor Ironfist
While many of their adventures this past season are worthy of rhyme, their last few days in Moria seemed mostly a marathon of mundanity. After Thélor met with the King Under the Mountain and his many councilors (I wonder if it’s as impossible to tell him from his Queen as they say!) and secured a pardon and position of honor for their friend, Durgan, they spent the next four days seeing to the minutia of a long journey into the Wilderlands. Rations were haggled over, auroch feed stowed, weapons sharpened, crossbows oiled, armor repaired, and underclothes washed!
(They also purchased an indomitable and hideous armored wagon which looked more out of place in Lórinand than an Uruk at the royal table. It is so cumbersome that I predict it will become mud stuck and abandoned within a fortnight.)
Their preparations for a harrowing trail were undertaken wisely, but made for dull listening!
Their time in the Golden Vale was better spent, but less gainful. Lady Nimrodel listened patiently to Prince Thélor’s story and King Bain’s proposal to secretly cooperate on a means to contain the Balrog unleashed by the Speaker (this is the first I’ve heard of her, and what most intrigued me about the story), but Nimrodel offered nothing more than an ear.
Next, some confusion erupted over a lovely mithril blade hidden in their wagon. Apparently, Zag found it with an Elven corpse deep under Moria. He assumed it was forged by Elven hands, but in actuality the smiths of Númenor forged it centuries before the downfall of that great kingdom of Men. Written on the blade is – “The Steadfast.” It is quite an amazing long sword, actually. It apparently has the ability to return itself to the hand of its wielder. Even more impressive, it can allow travel at great speed – although this power is waning as the sun sets on this age.
Considering its worth is greater than many of the northern kingdoms, I wonder how many will try to steal it in our travels!
As Thélor and Zag made for the edge of Lórinand, I joined their escort party. When the time seemed right, I introduced myself and, though out meeting went well, I do regret the need to lie to my new mellyn. I have no sister, of course, and only learned of “Elwen” from Thélor’s masterful recounting of his tale. Still, it was necessary to cleave myself to their quest if I expected a pair of secretive Dwarves to allow a new travel companion. Thélor, in particular, seems to suspect fortune has already set a road before him, and that his role is only to walk it. If I have one ambition for him, it is to change this outlook. We hold the key to our destiny, and if doom shackles us it is because we refuse to be free.
The Dwarves and I have set off into the Wilds. They’ve marked their next destination as Rhosgobel, the home of Radagast the Wizard. My kinsmen from Mirkwood say he is a delightful but silly creature who finds more meaning in birdsong than in the words of Men, Elves, or Dwarves. I do hope Thélor and Zag are not expecting much.
Either way, I will guide them – though, I do not know the way.