Of Elves and Men | Teen Ink

Of Elves and Men

March 8, 2015
By Elarinya_Telcontar BRONZE, Hockessin, Delaware
Elarinya_Telcontar BRONZE, Hockessin, Delaware
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

“His spirit goes now to the Halls of Mandos, where he shall dwell before passing beyond the circles of the world. There may his soul find peace.” Beriadan finished the eulogy and set his father’s pyre ablaze, as was the custom for the eldest (or, in his case, only) son. It was not much of a pyre, as all they had were his bones. There had been nothing else left.
His mother, Nanethiel, and his sister, Anáriel, stood by, watching. Nanethiel was weeping openly, but Anáriel was silent and stony-faced. She had always been that way, made of harder stuff, sterner than steel, like their father had been. If she had been born a man, she would be the greatest warrior alive. He and their parents had often feared for her safety. She had courage and wisdom at least the match of Lord Aranhil’s, but even all of their father’s strength had not been enough to save him from the Mewlips.
He and all those gathered bowed their heads in prayer for their fallen lord. Then Beriadan spoke:
“Hearken to me, Dúnedain! You will have nothing to fear as long as I lead you. These foul beasts will not prevail against us!”
The villagers clapped and cheered, although they knew full well this was what his father had told them before he and a small band of Dúnedain had marched away, never to return. Except for his bones. That had been a new one. The Mewlips usually kept the bones of their victims. They must have realized he was important.
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“Anáriel, please. Won’t you eat something?” Beriadan entreated his sister. The three of them were sitting at the dining room table, trying desperately to ignore the obvious empty seat beside them. Anáriel wished her mother would remove it from their sight, but she seemed unwilling to accept the fact her husband was gone. She really couldn’t blame her. None of it made any sense. The Mewlips had never returned so much as a hair from the head of one of their victims before. These mysterious creatures had managed to take down the greatest warrior of the age, and to return his bones! It was impossible to comprehend.
“Anáriel!” Her brother’s sharp voice jolted her out of her reverie. “I will not have what is left of my family fall to pieces on my watch.”
“What is left?” Anáriel slammed her fork into the table with the tines down. It stuck there, quivering. “Before long none of us will be left! The Dúnedain will become no more than a memory in song unless something is done!”
“Which is what your father tried to do.” Nanethiel spoke for the first time in weeks, her voice raspy and dry from lack of use. “I lost my husband to this madness. I will not lose my children.”
“Enough, Anáriel.” Beriadan interrupted her. He looked at them sternly. “It’s time for us all to move on from this tragedy. I have my people to think of, and you. I am the head of this house now, and of this family. It is my duty to see to your safety.”
Anáriel pulled the fork from the table and laid it beside her plate. “May I be excuse, Fath- I, I mean- brother.” Too late she realized her slip and ran from the room, her brother’s voice telling her to wait drowned out by the sobs she could no longer hold back.
It was just too much, she thought as she slammed the door to her room and collapsed upon her bed, her breath coming in ragged gasps. To lose her father like this, with no explanation, no sense as to what even killed him, and to be told to move on! It was unthinkable to her, that her brother was capable of such a dereliction of duty. How many more of their kin would the Mewlips take?
There’s nothing else for it, she told herself. If he won’t go, or send anyone, I’ll have to send myself. Somebody has to take up Father’s mantle.
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Dawn had broken cold and grey over the uplands of northeastern Arnor, and already Anáriel was hard on the trail of the Mewlips. She paused on the crest of a small ridge and checked her map again. What little she knew of where the Mewlips’ lair was located she knew from her father, who had been able to determine from various tales and secondhand accounts that they originated from over the Merlock Mountains, somewhere near the marsh of Tode. She was now following his very same route, or near enough. Once she reached the mountains she would have to be careful, though. If the Mewlips had the gall to cross the mountains to deliver her father’s bones,  they could still be there, waiting. Like as not they were probably expecting some form of retribution. A great fighting force, perhaps, strong enough to break the mountains themselves. Anáriel laughed bitterly. Well, they would have no army to contend with, but a little girl armed with her brother’s sword. She hoped they would be pleased with that.
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“WHERE IS SHE?” Beriadan burst through the front door and sprinted into the village. His gaze darted around the main square as the villagers began to crowd around, staring at him. “WHERE HAS SHE GONE?” he roared.
“Beriadan, what are you shouting about?” Nanethiel pulled her shawl tightly about her as she approached her son. “Where has who gone?”
“Anáriel!” Beriadan responded sharply. “She’s not in her room, not in the training fields, not in the house, not anywhere in the village! She’s gone! And do you know what else is gone? My sword! The one Father made for me! She’s gone after him, I know she has!”
“My son, you can’t mean that,” Nanethiel gripped him by the arms and forced him to face her. “She can’t be dead!”
“Maybe not yet,” Beriadan replied, his voice shaking. “But she’ll go the same way as him soon enough, if she’s doing what I think she’s doing.” He sighed bitterly. “Well, if her intention was to cause me to raise an army and go after her, she’s accomplished that, at the very least. My duty- and my love- now force me to disobey my instinct.”
Nanethiel released her grip on his arms and took his face in her hands. “Then promise me this, if you do indeed obey now your love,” she said. “Take me with you, that I may die with my children if elsewise I would be forced to outlive them.”
Beriadan took hold of his mother’s hands and gently removed them from his face. “This will not be the day we die,” he told her firmly. “The line of Elendil shall not fade from the world just yet. We will find her, Mother, whatever it takes.”
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Anáriel darted along the trail, ducking her head to avoid an overhanging branch. She had been fortunate to find the pass over the mountains her father had used. It was well hidden, especially from enemy eyes. The lack of Orcs in that part of the mountains had cut her travel time in half, but she still needed to be careful. It wouldn’t do to become cocky this close to her goal.
She spotted something shiny on the trail in front of her and bent down to get a closer look. What she saw made her blood run cold. She picked up the ring and gazed at the emerald eyes of the serpents that met beneath a crown of golden flowers, one holding it up and the other devouring it. They seemed to glint at her knowingly, mocking her pain.
This is his ring, she thought. This is the ring of the heirs of Elendil, the Ring of Barahir that Father wore! I must be close…
Suddenly a twig snapped in the distance. She froze, her eyes searching for something amiss. There was nothing, nothing but the wind in the trees and a raven singing a mournful tune. The woods were peaceful, almost eerily silent…
Something struck her hard in the back of the head. She fumbled for her sword, her mind swimming, then all went dark and she knew nothing more.
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The world slowly came into focus. Anáriel’s mind felt fuzzy as she tried to recall what had happened. Caution overruled her hawkish instinct as something told her not to reveal she was awake. With her eyes still closed, she took in her surroundings. She was lying on a cold, damp surface. She was not wearing her sword, and she seemed to no longer have the ring. There was a steady drip, drip of water all around her, and far above her a crow seemed to be croaking a gloomy melody. In the distance a soft, squishy patter of feet could be heard.
The Mewlips, Anáriel stiffened as she realized where she was. They’ve found me. I have to-
“Oi, you there!” a voice reprimanded her sharply. “Keep still! Your bones would be perfect to add to the master’s throne, but he wants us to wait for the others. We expected more to come. Were you all they sent?”
Anáriel jumped at the sound of the voice. It sounded like the place in which she was being kept, slimy and hard, but also quiet and sly. She leapt to her feet, her head spinning at the effort. She turned, stumbling, to face the owner of the voice…
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… and saw nothing. She looked around wildly, searching for the source of the mysterious voice. But there was nothing in that dank cellar, nothing but a single, ghostly candle on a high shelf, its light wavering feebly. Its shadow danced across the floor, which was littered with numerous curved white sticks of varying lengths. Bones, she realized, feeling a chill creep over hers. So many dead…
“Oi, I said keep still!” the voice commanded her again. “You didn’t answer the question. Is anyone else coming?”
Anáriel gasped as the disembodied voice spoke again. It had a different timber now, more impatient and menacing. And there was still no source. Or could she just not see it?
“What do you want?” she asked in a trembling voice. “Why did you return my father’s bones?”
“Is that who it was?” the voice replied, almost lazily. “We weren’t aware. But he wore that shiny ring you had when we found you. We meant to return just the bones so that more would come for the ring, and then we could take their bones. Somebody must have disobeyed orders, or else the ring would have been down here instead of up there where you found it.”
Anáriel frowned, confused. “What do you want with our bones?” she asked of the room at large. She still could not see the owner of the voice.
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“I told you, for the master’s throne!” The voice now sounded sharp and irritated. “We expected to receive too many for just the throne, so we planned to use the rest for decoration, to spruce up the place a bit. It’s been awhile since we had any new bones. The older ones are starting to turn to dust, so obtaining new bones is of paramount importance-”
The voice broke off suddenly as from above a deep male voice called out authoritatively. There was a moment of stillness, then the clash of steel on steel, punctuated with the whistling of arrows. Then the deep voice called again, and this time Anáriel could hear her name.
“Beriadan!” she cried aloud, her heart filled with joy. “They’ve come!”
“Yes,” the voice hissed, sounding much closer now. “Come to die!”
Anáriel spun to face the voice, her courage flaring up as she turned… and saw the owner of the voice. The fire of her courage died down to mere embers. She wavered, her sword hand twitching feebly, before remembering that she was unarmed… She tried to run, but found she couldn’t move her feet. It came towards her, smirking. Fury burned in her heart to be mocked by this… this thing, but her limbs were frozen. Where had her strength gone? It seemed to have been sucked from her, like the light from the world. There was nothing in that dark, cold cellar… only death…  who had come for her at last.

The author's comments:

This was written for a short story project for my AP English class, and was inspired by the poem by J.R.R. Tolkien entitled "The Mewlips." The title "Of Elves and Men" is inspired by the title of "Of Mice and Men," which took its title from the poem "To a Mouse" with the line 'The best-laid schemes o' mice and men/Go oft awry,/An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain/For promis'd joy!'

I really enjoy writing fanfiction for LotR and any and all of Tolkien's works. The man was a, no, THE master. There has never been anyone like him, nor will there ever be. Nevertheless, I hope to live up to his standard with this piece.

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