Rhenio Mì Ennor


Chapter 012




12. An unforgettable dinner

It took Arwen about twenty minutes to clad me into the dress, and five more to untie the knots in my always braided hair.

When she showed me my reflection in the huge mirror hung next to the bed, I couldn't help but gape.

I wasn't one to wear dresses, except when I had no other choice. I preferred fancy skirts and trousers to dresses. I felt out of place in them.

As I felt right then. Out of place.

And apparently, my feeling showed.

"You look beautiful, Ariana."

My eyes cast up and met the Elf's in the mirror's reflection. "You think?"

She smiled kindly. "Yes, I do think you are beautiful. Come now, my father and your friends await." She opened the door and gestured me forward.

With a deep sigh and a clench of fists, I exited the room.

The way to the reception room was far shorter than the way to my bedroom, and not too complicated. Should I wish to exit the party, I would not lose my way.

And I had a feeling I would definitely exit the party before it ended.

The fabric of my dress was flowing enough for me to move around freely, but not enough yet to make me forget I was wearing a dress and not my comfy leather pants. Yes, they are comfortable.

We reached an open room, whose roof was made of ivy and let the sun rays pass even at this late hour.

Master Elrond and Gandalf were waiting for us.

Both had their eyes widen at the sight I gave them.

A smirk formed onto the wizard's lips. "Well well, Miss Ari, you are a sight for sore eyes!"

The Elf next to him chuckled. "Indeed. My daughter knows her thing, does she not?"

Arwen bowed her head, then went to sit at the table around which all the dwarves were already sitting. Many a head turned at her arrival. I noticed Estel, a grin forming onto his lips as Arwen came to sit my him, Ori stuck on his other side.

I took a deep breath, and moved forward.

Not one noticed me at first.

At first.

It was Balin who saw me before all the others.

I heard him gasp and shot him a pleading gaze as I sat next to him.

"Miss Ariana, you are-"

I hissed. "Don't, please. I already fell uncomfortable as it is."

He nodded. "Excuse me. But do not mind me say that you are rather pretty."

I gritted my teeth. "Thanks."

By then, many of my companions turned their gazes to me.

Many didn't make a sound. They only widened their eyes, only to lower their gaze onto their plate once I glared at them.

But like a bunch of them seemed truly moved by my appearance as a woman.

Fili and Kili, of course. The first was smirking to himself, surely concocting a plan to win over my hand in marriage or something; the second had locked his so peculiar green eyes onto my face and was smiling at me as if he had been blinking into the sun.

Ori was stuttering nonsense to Dori on his left, and pointed at me as if I was a monster of some kind.

Gloin was making an appreciative face, which surprised me the most.

And Bofur...

Well, Bofur too was smirking, his grey eyes focused onto his plate. He was shaking his head as if I was making a joke.

It made me grit my teeth so strongly I could have broken my jaw.

For long minutes, I kept my gaze down and focused onto my food – which consisted on lettuce and tomatoes, juicy and tasty as I liked them, although as bitter as I was it didn't quite taste so good – until a conversation started on my right.

Thorin had sat next to Balin, with Elrond on his right and Gandalf on the Elf's right.

The dwarven prince had handed our host his sword, and was enquiring on its name.

"These are not troll-make. They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars. They must have come from a dragon hoard or a goblin plunder, for dragons and goblins destroyed that city long ago. This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade. This, Gandalf," he then took the other sword in his long fingers, "is Glamdring, Foe-hammer that the King of Gondolin once wore. Keep them well!"

My thoughts then had to go to my own sword, waiting for me in the bedroom I had been assigned.

And apparently, my thoughts were not difficult to guess.

"I do not think your sword has a name, lassie. It has to have seen battles. I'm not even sure it is a sword. More of a letter-opener, to me."

I glared at Balin for a second, then shook my head. "I will give it a name once it has drawn blood."

The dwarf seemed impressed by my choice of words. "May you never have to use it, Miss Ariana. Killing is no easy burden."

I smirked. "I never said anything about killing, my dear Balin."

Across the table, a soft chuckle told me at least one other dwarf had heard our conversation.

A moment later, Elrond stood, and with him Gandalf, Thorin, and Balin.

The way Gandalf was staring at me made me realise I had better follow them wherever they went. It would not be wise, for the Burglar with a capital B, not to know every detail of this mission. Even if he – or she – already knew each and every second of it, so to speak.

Elrond showed us the way to his counsel room, the same room where the Fellowship of the Ring would once be formed.

It was strange, standing feet away from where Frodo, his friends, Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli, without forgetting Boromir, would once stand as comrades in arms.

I snapped off my thoughts when I heard Balin urging his prince not to give Elrond the map Gandalf had given him in his father's name.

But Thorin, his blue eyes piercing into Elrond's soul, took the piece of parchment off his pocket, and handed it to him, a warning in his gaze.

The Elf examined the map quickly.

He made a surprised sound. "Kith ithil!"

Gandalf gasped. "Moon-runes?"

Thorin didn't keep his tongue. "What are moon-runes?"

Elrond turned to him, his gaze now eager. "You cannot see moon-runes, not when you look straight at them. They can only be seen when the moon shines behind them, and what is more, with the more cunning sort it must be a moon of the same shape and season as the day when they were written. These must have been written on a midsummer's eve in a crescent moon, a long time ago."

"What do they say?" asked the wizard and the two dwarves at the same time.

Elrond smiled a little. He guessed that his companions were vexed not to have been able to decipher these runes by themselves, and I understood the feeling. "Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the key hole." He turned to Thorin. "What is Durin's Day?"

"The first day of the dwarves' New Year, is as all should know the first day of the last moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter. We still call it Durin's Day when the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together. But this will not help us much, I fear, for it passes our skill in these days to guess when such a time will come again."

"That remains to be seen." All eyes settled onto Gandalf, whose fingers were toying with his beard as if he was deep in thought.

But then, he settled back up and a smile formed onto his lips. "Well, let us go back to the party below!"

Thorin grumbled something but exited the room, Balin behind him.

I was still processing the words that had been said, when I heard Elrond asking Gandalf to follow him.

"There is something we must talk about."

Gandalf nodded, then realised I was still there. "Come come, Miss Ari, go back to our merry dwarves and blind them with your charms! I shall not be long."

I watched them as they took long strides towards a staircase. My eyes closed, and I wondered.

Should I go back to the dwarves and try to smile to any joke they'd make on my clothing, or go back to my room and enjoy some time alone and a good old bed?

The second option was too appealing.

I silently made my way into the maze of corridors, watching carefully as I passed first the statue of an Elven beauty playing the clarinet, second a fountain whose water seemed to make clear notes.

I had by then reached the balcony leading to the bedrooms when I heard clamours down the stairs.

Well...the dwarves had found meat, after all...

They had been brought here, where Gloin had surely been the one to lit a fire onto which two rabbits were now roasting, while a soft music erupted from Dwalin's violin and Bofur's flute.

A smile formed onto my lips at the sight I was given.

Fili and Kili were dancing, their heavy shoes banging against each other in a way that reminded me of Merry and Pippin in Edoras, as if in a dream.

Ori was clapping, while Dori and Nori were deep in conversation.

All had a grin on their lips.

"Care to join us, my lady?"

My head snapped to the right, and I chuckled.

Oin had bowed so low his hair was touching the ground.

I still laughed when I took his hand. "Thank you, Master dwarf."

The music and dancing didn't stop with my arrival, and as I settled down onto a log, I started clapping as well with the rhythm Dwalin and Bofur were giving.

Bombur had fallen asleep, an enormous piece of cheese half-eaten in-between his lips.

Bifur was making sure the rabbits were cooking right.

And then, slowly, the music faded, and stopped altogether.

"Did you like that, Miss Ari?" Kili fell onto the log beside me.

"Yes, have you seen our dance?" Fili sat on the other side.

I chuckled and nodded. "Yes, very impressive."

The two brothers exchanged a glance. "I think she's mocking us."

"She definitely is."

They both smirked dangerously, and then I was pulled up by the arm and trapped in between their shoulders.

"Come and dance with us, Miss Ari!" Fili gestured to their "orchestra". "Music, lads!"

And it started all over again, only this time I was bouncing up and about with the two terrible brothers.

A long hour later, all bellies were full, including mine, and some had already settled into their bedrolls to sleep.

But there still was something they needed to do.

I should have known it would have befallen me once again.

"Do you know other songs, Miss Ari, than the one you sang us last time?"

I looked over at Ori, who was fidgeting his mitten as a child would have done a teddy bear.

A smile formed onto my lips.

I nodded. "But it's also a little sad."

"Sad or not, your voice helps to fall asleep."

I chuckled lightly. "Well then, who am I to take your sleep off you?"

My gaze crossed Bofur across the fire. His flute was ready in between his lips. I knew he would follow onto any tune I chose.

The heart of a true artist.

I closed my eyes and tried to find the tale.

"Lay down your sweet and weary head

Night is falling, you have come to journey's end

Sleep now, and dream of the ones who came before

They are calling from across the distant shore

Why do you weep? What are these tears upon your face?

Soon you will see all of your fears will pass away

Safe in my arms, you're only sleeping

What can you see on the horizon?

Why do the white gulls call?

Across the sea, a pale moon rises

The ships have come to carry you home

And all will turn to silver glass

A light on the water, all souls pass

Hope fades into the world of night

Through shadows falling, out of memory and time

Don't say "We have come now to the end"

White shores are calling, you and I will meet again

And you'll be here in my arms

Just sleeping

What can you see on the horizon?

Why do the white gulls call?

Across the sea, a pale moon rises

The ships have come to carry you home

And all will turn to silver glass

A light on the water, grey ships pass

Into the West..."

My eyes opened. Many a dwarf had fallen asleep, Ori included.

A tear escaped my eyes, as always when this beauty of a song rang in my ears.

It was not long before a calloused thumb erased it from my cheek.

My eyes lifted and met grey ones not far.

"Ye sing really well, ye know."

I smiled shyly. "Thank you, Bofur." I stood and made to leave the scene towards my room, when I heard him stand too and join me, his metal boots ringing onto the stone ground. "Where are you going?"

"Who would I be if I didn' escort ye back te yer room?"

I silently chuckled. "Your a true Knight in a Shining Armour."

"Not so shiny, thank ye."

It appeared my room was not far at all from where the dwarves had put up camp.

Bofur stood before me, a small smirk on his lips I found curiously appealing.



He shrugged. "Tis the first time I escort a pretty lass to her room, tis all."

I rolled my eyes. "You are incorrigible."

"And you like me that way, don' ye?"

My eyes met his again. No smirk was visible this time.

So I smiled, and nodded slowly. "Yes, I do."

He smiled, and bowed his head. "Goodnight, Ari."

"Goodnight, Bofur."

And when I close the door onto his figure, I suddenly realised it was the first time he addressed me without using "Miss" first.

It put a smile on my face...