Lessons

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Eruviel remembers.

“Adaaaa,” Artis protested, propping her elbows upon the heavy, ornately carved wooden desk with a huff. Smushing her cheeks between her hands the young Eldar’s emerald eyes gazed out the great arched window facing west. “Can we just go?”

“It will just be a few more minutes. Exercise your patience, my dear.”

Artis wrinkled her nose and sniffed. “I lost it. Lessons took forever today.”

The elf lord’s steel-grey eyes rose to peer over at her from behind the letter he read. “We will have time, Artistuion. I just need to finish this letter. Recite again for me then, since you’ve been studying forever.”

Slouching back in her chair, Artis drew one knee up, resting her still dirty bare foot on the cushions of the seat. “In the following excerpt, written in 1936 of the First — ” she began, tugging at the violet satin ribbon woven through her hair. ” So deadly and ineluctable is the underlying thought, that those who in the circle of light, within the besieged hall, are absorbed in . . . .”

Istuion nodded, his nimble yet strong hands flying the quill across a fresh page of parchment. Looking up at her with a small smile his eyes then narrow briefly. Artis put her propped up foot down. He narrowed his eyes a bit more and she sat up straight, her posture so perfect it would have made the highest born of the Eldar proud.

“– rehandling in a new perspective an ancient theme: that man, each man and all men, and all their works shall die,” Artis ended. Leaning against the arm of the chair she set her chin in her palm, her eyes now fixed on the might bow that never left it’s resting place on the wall. “And not just them. We all die,” she added quietly.

“Artis, what would make you say that?” her father asked, frowning as he folded up his letter.

“Well . . . that is what happens. Our people seem to either die in tragedy, or grow sad and sail. Is not the sadness and or  loss of purpose that results in such a trip, in itself, a form of death?”

Istuion melted a pinch of wax, his brows furrowing as he poured it and sealed the letter closed. “I know the old tales are full of woe, my little light, but there are more stories that have not been written down than just those.”

Artis mumbled incoherently under her breath, glancing from the slowly setting sun back to the bow.

“What was that?”

Artis squirmed uncomfortably. “It seems the humans have more tales of hope than we. I think they have it better,” she muttered.

The Eldar lord slammed the bronze seal down on the desk with a sharp bang, the harsh sound causing Artis to jump. Her eyes gleamed, widened with a healthy fear from the dangerous look on her father’s face. Rising smoothly from his seat, Istuion smoothed out his robes, the sealed letter in one hand. Rarely did she ever see him in such a state; more often with her brothers than with her. The quiet anger made him seem taller and more ominous. Walking around the desk, his expression changed to a pristine calm, betrayed by the hint of sadness in his eyes. His mouth curved slightly in a practiced smile.

“Hurry and wait for me at the gates,” he said as he kissed the top of her head. “I need to see this letter sent, and then we can go and greet the night.”

Artis nodded and watched him leave, peeking over the back of her chair till he disappeared into the hall. Uncoiling herself she left the seat like one stepping out of a hiding place and tip-toed to the door of the study. Peering down the hall she saw no one in sight. She should have known better than to incite her father’s wrath. The older she got the more she understood that the topic of ‘humans’ was one best left untouched when within ear-shot of the Eldar Lord, father or not. Peering back into the room at the mighty bow with one last look of longing, she stepped into the marble paved hall and scampered down the corridor towards the gates. If they were late it would not be of her doing.

(Recited quotes taken from Tolkien’s Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics )

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