“Artis? Tindomiel! Hurry, little light, or you are going to miss it.” Istuion stood atop the grand, polished stone steps leading up from the lush summer garden. His tall, regal form stood like a beacon, silhouetted by the golden sunlight descending far beyond the wide balcony.
“I never miss it, Ada,” the little elf child known as Artis huffed indignantly. Scampering down the path, the white sand was hardly disturbed by her flight, though her long, dark mahogany hair flew in disarray behind her. The strings of garden lights twinkled on behind her, urging her little legs to run faster at the prospect of missing her favorite time of day. “Ada, I am — ooph!” she cried as she stumbled up the last step.
The Noldor lord laughed at her, the rare sound echoing off the stone arches as he stooped down, catching her before she fell. “Ah, take care. You are not that late, daughter.” Scooping her up into his arms he walked out onto the balcony. “There we are,” he chuckled, setting her down to sit on the railing. The balcony lined the fifty foot high cliff on the western edge of the haven, and though she knew he did not like her sitting on the edge, he still let her sit there for some reason unknown to her.
“Thank you, Ada!” she chimed, beaming a bright smile up at him as he sat beside her. She liked it when he laughed. It was a warm, rich tone that filled her with a joy her young mind could not quite grasp. But she would, she told herself. She did not know why he hardly ever did so unless around her or Nana, but as soon as she could figure out what she did that caused it, she was determined to do it more. Dangling her feet into the seemingly vast space, she let her legs swing freely in the hopes of feeling the mist rising from the waterfall twenty yards to their left.
Her glistening emerald eyes widened as the sun disappeared over the horizon. The light did not fade, however. The swirling streams of clouds lit up in golds, pinks and purples, the soft rays of warm light dancing against the darkening sapphire sky. Above the northern edge of the horizon the first star emerged, twinkling in greeting.
“There!” Artis pointed, her face illuminated with delight. “Ada, do you — Ada!” she grumbled, jutting out her jaw as if to incriminate Istuion as she caught him watching her instead of the twilight.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he chuckled warmly. “Where is it?” Putting an arm around her as she leaned to far forward for comfort, he looked to where she pointed. “I see it.”
Artis giggled, scooting closer to sit against him, wrapping her little arms around his as they watched the stars emerge, one after the other. “Ada?’
“Are you a king?”
The elf lord’s shoulders shook with a laugh. “No, little light, I am only a lord. There are no more Eldar kings, though if my kin and Gondolin had survived you would be wearing a circlet and not a braid around that little head of yours.”
Artis hummed in thought, leaning her head against his side. “Ranion said he would make me one.”
“Oh? Maybe I should help him in this. A crown might keep you in your studies and not out getting your feet muddy in the vineyards.”
Artis’s brow furrowed slightly. “But I like riding horses and climbing trees. Milloth even told me he would teach me how to shoot a bow.”
Istuion grew quiet for a moment, and in the stillness Artis did not have the courage to look up into his stern, ageless face. “We will see about that,” he said quietly, giving her a soft squeeze. “But for now let your mother teach you history and dancing. Young elf princesses have no need to shoot a bow.”
Artis nodded dutifully, thinking it best not to tell him about the sword hidden under her mattress, crafted for her by Ranion. Looking up to study her father’s face she wondered if he already knew.
The dark of night enveloped them as the last glimmer of twilight disappeared into the west. Light from the garden and the veil of stars cast a misty aura around them, Artis caught a sad glint in Istuion’s eyes as he lifted her up and set her on her feet beside him. “Ada? What is it?”
The Noldor lord looked down at her for a long moment, holding her small hand in his. “I was just thinking that I have to leave for several months. I will miss watching the twilight with you.”
Stepping with him as they moved in the direction of the tallest stone home Artis shook her head violently. “You are going to Im-mdris and Lo . . . Lorien?” she asked, struggling with the pronunciations.
“I am, I’m afraid,” he replied, giving her hand a squeeze. “I have friends to visit and buisness to discuss with the other lords.”
“Then I’m going too!” she exclaimed, skipping.
“Oh no, you are not.”
“Yes I am,” she insisted, her innocent tone leaving no room for refusal.
“No, you are not.”
“And how is that?”
Artis did not miss a beat. “Because Ranion and Milloth are going, and mother wants to go too, and you promised that you would take me some day. Why not now?”
Istuion looked down at her in surprise, having forgotten his promise and that his sons told her everything. He opened his mouth to respond, but Artis jumped in once more.
“Besides,” she said sweetly, “If I go, then we won’t miss twilight.”
Lifting her up Istuion set her on his hip as he continued on towards the house. Through the second story bay window they could see his wife reading, curled up on a small couch as she always did. “Well, I suppose I could let you come . . . . We cannot miss an evening together, now, can we?”
Artis shook her head, wrapping her arms around his neck as he carried her. “Nope. Not ever.”
(In honor of my father’s birthday, Saturday, August 30th. Having passed away this spring, I wanted to write this in his memory. He always encouraged me to pursue my passions, and though fiction was not his forte, he was always proud of me and supported me in my every endeavor.)