Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Book of Riddles: An Explanation

It has come to my attention that at or near the beginning of the events which led the companies of the Mallorn Children into the depths of Khazad-Dum, a curious book was found and translated by our friend, Raechal Middlebrooks of Rohan.

Although the book contained helpful hints at the time that the fellowships were engaged in their quest, the whole translation of the book was unnecessary to bring about the success of the fellowships in Moria. The following is an explanation of the book and all that it contained, presented in the same order as it appears in the original manuscript.
The opening paragraph of the manuscript is intended to emphasize the significance of the book itself and foreshadow the events that the fellowships would encounter. It warns, "leave no stone unturned in your quest for knowledge," for only the prepared are unafraid when danger arises.

The starlings are the members of this kinship and a number of other individuals who participated in the overthrowal of evil beneath Moria and throughout the lands of Bree, the Shire, and elsewhere. The second paragraph calls the unsung heroes of Middle Earth to gather for battle against the foe, and states the purpose of the manuscript as a book of instruction.

Paragraph three describes the events which heralded the power mounting beneath the earth, and how nature became silent preceding the evils which crept up from Moria to terrify the land.

Paragraph four continues the description of events, making more particular note of the influence darkness has on the souls of men. Many in the kinship and those outside it were beset with trials prior to their rallying against the foe, trials which either strengthened their resolve or turned them against the light.

The Feather-friend and Time-breakers mentioned in the fifth paragraph refer to our friends, Vax, Naumran, and Tyrral, who came at a needful hour to aid in our quest against the enemy. The Petals four compose the True Shield; four guardians namely, Thannor, Ardonali, Lallinvorn, and Skalithor. The Player, we can safely assume is Gladwine, who came into our lives with his friends at that time. The Riddler, who discovered this manuscript is Raechal Middlebrooks. The Spear-Master(*s) and the others mentioned here refer to friends the fellowships met on the way, respectively:
 Unora and Silverfeather, Dekota, Aedeyn, and others who crossed paths with the aforementioned at that time.
(*The exclusion of the 's' was a mistranslation. Some of these titles refer to multiple people, and here, both Unora and Silverfeather are called "Spear-Master".)

Paragraph **six gives instruction as to where each piece of the manuscript was to be found. Those who know the name of trees are those who named them in the first place, namely the elves. The "wonder-lacking and dust-keeping" refers to the sleepy and unadventerous inhabitants of Breeland. The last is a curious reference to an animal upon which the fate of the second part of the book seems to be thrown at random, which we have since learned brought the pages to the library in Tuckborough.
 **This paragraph was repeated on each section of the divided manuscript, however the repetition was considered unimportant and thus omitted by the translator. 

Paragraph seven correctly refers to our friend, Fahlion, who played an important role in a number of events preceding the downfall of our enemy. While referring specifically to him, however, it was also intended as a word of instruction regarding the attitude of the fellowships throughout their quests in the lands of Evendim, the Misty Mountains, and on into Moria. The "three-faces" mentioned in this paragraph also refers to the Goblin Champion defeated prior to overthrowal of the evil in Moria.

More reference is given as to our allies within the kinship in paragraph eight: The animals; our friends of the house of Beorn; our friend Mosaine from the south; the hobbits, Maeflower, Lilliway, etc; and the elves who delayed their passage into the Far West to aide us, Elirae, Keltrion, Faervaren, and Fendalwyn, etc.

Paragraph nine references allies of Middle Earth who belong to other kinships; namely that of Jhonan Maynard and Premton Heatherly, who fought the battles in Breeland while our fellowships were held up in the Misty Mountains.

Paragraph ten tells of the nearly fateful victory won against the Rune-Hunter in the fortress of Helegrod, where our friends were saved by Naumran and Vax and carried from the heights back to Rivendell. The name of our enemy is at last given here, as our attention turned to Moria.

Paragraph Eleven: This paragraph speaks of the Captain of the Dead, and the significant role the Rohirrim and Angmarim have yet to play, who united will bring his downfall and save Galigar from the fate that consumed him long ago.

Paragraph twelve refers to those who preceded us into darkness, namely Farmona and Genaveve. It also recalls information brought to me by Elirae, ere the first events of this tale began; referencing those fated Eldar who were sent by Master Elrond into the shadows and fell prey to the persuasion of our enemy. 

The third part of the manuscript refers exclusively to prominent individuals on whom the success of the fellowships in Moria largely depended, and foretells future events that will shortly unfold.
A portion of this third part was lost by the translator during one of the many misadventures that were encountered during the books translation. As these things will be revealed in due course of time to those with whom it concerns, there is no need for the explanation to be given here, therefore the explanation heretofore provided is both sufficient and concluded.

Written for the archives of the Book-Keeper in the House of the Mellryn by
~Skalithor MountainZephyr.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ilerra, Hero of Gondor

Ilerra's father’s father’s father hailed from the southern lands.  He came to Gondor an enemy, yet his heart overruled his temper and ultimately he set his great might upon defending the lands. In honor of his great bravery for Gondor, he was offered position as Captain of the Stewards of Gondor, yet once more his heart overruled.  Many men, women, and children had come from the southern lands. Some had joined the enemy, yet others were much like he and desired to live peacefully and freely.  Instead, he requested a small piece of land to govern these peoples so they may have a future, and in exchange offered their arms to battle should the need ever arise.

Many great leaders followed from the first, and Ilerra’s father was no different. He was Halerr, governor of his people just as his great-grandfather.  In his youth he had dreamed of glory in the heart of Gondor, to take up the offer his great-grandfather once denied.  Yet when his brother was crippled in battle, and no other could lead, he took his great-grandfather’s calling upon him.  The dreams of glory died.  Soon he dreamed only of prosperity and peace.  Many years passed and Halerr was content, though grey speckled his beard and aches plagued his joints.

One day a strange woman stumbled into the village. She was badly injured, and her eyes wild.  She was beautiful like the beasts of the forest — her eyes the color of new leaf, her hair thick, wild and dark on her shoulders like the brambles in the woods, and her skin pale like the moon.  The village tended to the injured woman kindly, in spite of the threat she might pose.  When her fever broke, Halerr visited her to see what had caused such unease among his people… and was instantly struck by her beauty, her strength, and her fire.  She introduced herself as Sable.

Their romance progressed as slowly and mysteriously  as the turning of the seasons. Sable stayed in the village until she was well, then made plans to set off again.  Halerr asked her to stay longer, until the harvest was over at least as the plentiful crop required extra hands, and she agreed. The harvest ended. He asked her to stay until the winter solstice celebration in honor of her work, and she agreed.  Then spring came, summer, and fall again. The seasons once more repeated, and the woman remained, though her excuses for doing so had become thinly veiled. She made strict plans to leave the day she had arrived in the village two years ago. But Halerr offered her a single lily and his heart.  Her excuses ran short; she agreed to stay.

Shortly thereafter they were wed, and for a time deeply happy.  Within the year they had a child, a baby daughter, and it seemed his father’s father’s father’s legacy would continue… yet with the birth of their daughter, Sable grew more distant.  She looked to the forest where she hadn’t before, she grew colder, somber, and older of spirit.  On Ilerra’s third birthday she left, leaving the girl with only the memory of her leaving and the stories her father would tell of her after.

Ilerra grew to be a rebellious child and desired nothing more than to leave the valley.  Halerr taught her every corner of their valley so she might grow to love it, but the fire in her heart could not be tamed. Just as he had, she dreamed of battle and adventure, and no words could deter her from it.  On frequent occasion she fled his watch, and Halerr was forced to send his best men to fetch the girl before she fell into harm. Age somewhat tempered her heart, though it was still a wild thing that yearned yet for more.

Shortly after she turned 16, darkness found the innocent valley.  Rumor told of the orcs, wolves, and otherwise that now lurked their forest — though many struggled to believe it.  Ilerra never let the rumor rule her and continued to walk along the forest as she had as a girl.  Some nights she stole her father’s battle axe from the mantle for some sense of security as she crawled in all those dangerous, unseen corners of the woods.  One night such danger did befall her — a hideous orc appeared, advancing menacingly.  Yet rather than fleeing, she took the axe in hand, prepared for battle.

She was untrained and undisciplined.  By the first strike of the axe, too heavy in her tiny trembling palms, it was clear this would not be a fight she would win. Yet, she did not flee; stubbornness forced her to take down this evil that would harm her beloved home, even at the cost of her own life. It was by happenstance a stranger came upon her at this desperate hour, and slayed the orc before it managed to do the same to her.  He brought the injured girl to the village. At first Halerr thought the stranger had caused her this harm, yet once his story was confirmed, he was instantly welcomed to the village as a hero.

This stranger stayed many nights, soon days, then weeks, and subsequently months.  The girl continued to run off into trouble, and the stranger could not in good consciousness allow her to be hurt.  When it became clear he would not always be there to defend her, he trained her to wield her father’s axe she so frequently stole - in spite of her father's wishes she never learn the arts of battle.  In those few years she grew talented with the weapon, though never once told her father where she spent her many days.

As Ilerra grew stronger with age, Halerr bowed before it. Halerr had his daughter late in life and knew their time together would be short.  The time had come to set his affairs into order. One night over dinner, he removed the battle axe from its position on the mantle and pushed the handle into her palms.  ‘Take it,’ he said, ‘If you insist on wielding it, then do so with a blade freely given.  It will be more dependable than a stolen weapon’. He named another successor in the event of his death, liberating his daughter from any obligation of leading their people.

As the valley became overran with dark forces, Gondor requested all able-bodied forces to defend the capital.  Those that left knew that the valley would be overrun once they left; and so the entire village moved alongside the fighters. That was the last Ilerra ever saw her birthplace, as well as her father.  The man died shortly before the town’s departure, his heart too weary to leave his beloved valley behind.  She buried him amongst the flowers so she would always know where to find him.  She and her protector fought for Gondor, and their bravery made a mark in the hearts of the freed peoples.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Returning to the Book of Riddles

~Raechal Middlebrooks

The following is a collection of riddles translated from the book I acquired all those many months ago in Bree Town, Tuckborough, and Rivendell respectively. The writer is known by one name, which, having never been brought up again in any other conversation or word of history, must be assumed to be a false name, and the title "Dawn-Bringer".

* I am certain that the third paragraph speaks of the changes and disturbances in the land that consequently led my friends, Unora, Gladwine and I to the Shire.

** When I stumbled upon this manuscript in the library in Bree-Town, it was this fifth paragraph that somehow caught my attention. I felt some queer connection to it, as if the author had written about myself... but I, of course, realize that such a notion was silly of me to believe.

*** The sixth paragraph contains an error, I believe the correct translation to be "are" rather than "were" ; in context, "Those who are watching will know the trick."

**** I was seeking some modern application of the seventh paragraph when Gladwine received a broken nose, and Unora was nearly run over by a horse. I had some foolish idea that this paragraph was foretelling of the redemption of a madman we met on the road.

***** There is mention of one, "Malgamorie," in the tenth paragraph. Even though the whole manuscript seems to be referring to a number of individuals, this is the only name specifically noted in the text.

****** The final paragraph of the manuscript, I have no doubt, speaks of an allegiance between the races of the world. The friends of the mountain, are of course dwarves; I believe "eave" to mean the trees, in which case the elves are mentioned here; Of the fountain, I have wondered a great deal, but I have at last concluded that this refers to the water maids, of whom there are many Gondorian tales; and lastly, there exists only one race that makes friends with bees - the people descended from that monstrous figure of legend, "Beorn." 
Try as I might, I can't elude the feeling that the entire third piece of the manuscript refers to the kinship with whom I have lately been acquainted... If this Book of Riddles has any modern application at all, where else in the world might one find such a diverse cast of characters?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Echoes from the Mountains

"Either we've clawed and battled our ways through thick and thin, or else we've stood at the wayside, not knowing what's going to happen.
Each one of us has had to come to terms with some weakness or another...
And we've found fault in others, though sometimes this reflection has been misplaced.
We've had to tolerate people who are our complete opposites.
Yet here we are.
We're still alive.
We're still able to smile.
We are more adaptable, more understanding than we ever thought possible of ourselves, or of others.
And while I'm not saying that anything in life will be easy - nay indeed - this new journey into the Misty Mountains will bring with it a new set of challenges, fears, weaknesses...
We will always be better for what is given to us!
I have no doubt in my mind, that no matter what is to happen, we are victors!
Some of us are away from our homes, some of us speak languages unfamiliar to others - but we are the Children of Justice, and it is my greatest honor to lead the second fellowship into the Misty Mountains.
Thank you all, for lending me your hope, your strength, your kindness. I would not be here if not for you."
~Tarvhos Bartholomaus, January 17th

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Once as He is Who Forgot

These last few nights I have slept without rest.

 In melancholy vision I have sat in conversation with old friends who have long since passed from this earth. We have talked of smoke rings and the trout in good years, and the change of the seasons. We spoke of the days in which we knew, and the days that have since come and gone.

In vivid memory I fight again the battles of the past with new strength and new eyes. I see myself as if from the outside, young and fierce, fighting with all the energy of soul to prove his just cause, vengeance on his brow and blood in his heart.
 No longer. 
I see these battles again before my face and do not distinguish one enemy from another, neither the troll from the dwarf nor the goblin from the brigand. Now, with the understanding of many years, all are alike unto me; sons and daughters, blinded and bound by the devices of the one Enemy to us all.

I have awoken to find myself gazing into the sky as waters rush over me though not hem nor hair be dampened by the wet, and up through the waves I behold the sun.

Many days ago, having been warned in a dream, I went down into the mansions of my fathers of old and sought my wandering son in the dark places of Khazad-Dum. In the depths I found him, stumbling as if in a drunken stupor but seared as with a deadly fever, the icy blood of the mountain upon his feet.
 He did not know me when I came to him and he fought me in great determination, but I prevailed over him and at last laid hold on him that I might administer life back into his body.
As tending I discovered the cause of fever. I learned that he had encountered the infested Globsnaga in the halls. They are creatures bearing a wicked disease of the flesh, conjured by the enemy in the latter Third Age to drive out the dwarves from reclaiming their ancestral home. Its purpose is to work in the body and mind a corruption, to make of a living creature a slave to madness, disease, and pain.
A simple washing after encountering the affliction is know to sufficiently rinse the plague from the body, yet after the fungus has taken root it is all but impossible to remove.

The infection had been introduced by means of a wound which was not tended, thus my son has struggled greatly in body and mind these many days, notwithstanding I have used all the knowledge of lore and herb to remove the infection. I have kept him in a stupor that he may not recall these days of torment, yet he will be wroth to wake and find I have carried him from the halls of my fathers.

His days are not yet done that he shall fall in Moria and be buried, though it was meant for him a greater part on the road ahead, I cannot allow him to return until his mind and spirit are whole once more, so I have set those over him who will watch and turn him away, lest by the same or a different path he again disobey me.
  Whether our work be fated or blessed he will be well in their keeping until the time is again right, and he will have a road left to walk in Moria though ours lead us through a shadowed valley, and if in the end we have laid down our very lives, yet all will be well, and we will see each other again.

Skalithor Mountainzephyr

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Kinship Challenge: The Vines of Time

Have ever you passed a home, where vines all through had grown?
Crept through windows, garden and door, where residents resided no more.
Or have ever you seen a tree, where wrapped around like twine,
twisted, turning and ensaring thither, was indeed a great vine!
What thoughts then stirred in your mind? Do you ponder the life left behind?
For where the vine creeps, life surely sleeps; what was has been claimed by time.

Might then you consider this dear friend, for the vine itself is not the end.
Do you see it bud and blossom? That beauty might be born again.
For the end of one thing is not the end - nay - without the end there is no begin.
The last page of the book must be turned, old fields in time may be burned;
A pleasant day with the sun will set, and still time is always turning yet.
The last goodbye, the first hello, all these things we must forgo.
For to take the next step the last must pass, else we find ourselves a hapless mass.

Likewise we ourselves must die to us, lest our souls corrode and rust.
For the things of this earth are but things of dust, and them to our King we must entrust.
So when you see what the vine has borrowed, let not your heart be sorrowed.
Find joy instead, that life is not dead, and consider what lay in the morrow.

Written by Dez ~ Illustration by Kaq

Kinship Challenge: The Life of Water

Still and cold, I sleep. Gently I fell from the sky, oh so long ago. Now I sleep, seemingly forever. Days, weeks, months, and years go by. Then one day the sun breaks through the heavy clouds over me.
She makes me stir. I'm full of life and I want to break away. Her touch is warm and unrelenting, I feel heavy.
Still cold, but heavy. I'm sinking, loosing my grip on the stones. Slipping, slipping.. Then I fall.
Suddenly I have the strength to move again! I start to follow the path down. As I go, I feel stronger and stronger. I run faster and faster.
Soon I am flying down the mountain, gathering and roaring for all to hear.
The white fades away, the stones become bare and surrounded by green. I now carve my own path toward the valley below.
On I go!

A drop awaits me up ahead, but I am not afraid. I charge forward. I know I can fly!
So I fall, I fall past the trees, past the arch, past the lights, now the balcony.
I have gone under, my glimpse was brief, yet still I continue on.
There is more to see, more to visit.
On I run!

Forever I run, gathering more strength and roaring louder as I join others who are like me.
We will continue on forever until we reach the big sea!
Then, one at a time, we will ascend again to the clouds.
I will join the sun in the sky that first gave me my desire to run.
Then I will fly back to where I began and softly descend again. The circle will not end.

Written by Cat  ~  Illustration by Mae