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Latecomers, by Himring

Author: Himring
Title: Latecomers
Rating: PG
Theme: Waiting
Elements: From The Silmarillion: Now Felagund learned from Bëor that there were many other Men of like mind who were also journeying westward. 'Others of my own kin have crossed the Mountains,' he said, 'and they are wandering not far away; and the Haladin, a people from whom we are sundered in speech, are still in the valleys on the eastern slopes, awaiting tidings before they venture further. There are yet other Men, whose tongue is more like to ours, with whom we have had dealings at times. They were before us on the westward march, but we passed them; for they are a numerous people, and yet keep together and move slowly, being all ruled by one chieftain whom they call Marach.'
(Chapter 17: Of the Coming of Men into the West)
Author's Notes: I wanted to write about this theme in two parts (possibly with an epilogue, even) but I only managed to write the first. I tried to write the piece as much as possible from the point of view of the Haladin themselves, who are actually a very interesting people, especially when you take into account some things reported about them in the Unfinished Tales.
Summary: First Age: The smallest tribe of immigrating Men, the Haladin, delays before crossing the Blue Mountains into Beleriand and, partly because of that delay, things will go rather differently for them.
Word Count: c.900 words



They had waited in the valleys of the eastern slopes, while those who were more numerous or less slow off the mark advanced into the unknown, into new territory. Balan, who was later called Beor, was in the vanguard with his kin, ever courageous, ever hopeful, waving aside doubt and fear. He would send back news, he promised, he would send them good news, for surely these mountains would be the last barrier on their way to the  Sea. It was their generation, he said, that would finally see the Gods.

And so the people waited in anticipation, but not unsceptical of Balan's promises, practising their woodcraft, watching out for Servants of the Enemy, hunting and gathering food. So many miles lay behind them since first they had begun their long flight, many lives of men ago, that the journey itself had shaped them. They had fallen into patterns on the way, had become the people they were. They knew well how to travel, but they wished for the chance to learn again how to arrive.

Then one evening, when the shadows of the Blue Mountains fell long across the valleys and the foothills, the messenger Balan had promised them came. And as they watched Balan's messenger approach, it seemed to the people that surely the news must be as good as Balan had promised for the messenger's face was wreathed in smiles.

'We crossed the mountains without losses and, descending, we came into a fair land of woods and streams,' the messenger reported, as soon as all the people had assembled around the council fire to listen. 'We could perceive no signs of the presence of the Enemy; all seemed peaceful. Rejoicing, we made camp in a clearing and celebrated with what food and drink we had and with song.

But that arrival and that feast was as nothing compared to our awakening! For in the dark hours of the night we were raised from sleep by the sound of music such as we had never heard and found an Elf in our midst. But such an Elf! He was unlike any of the Fair Folk you have ever seen. There was a light in his face and his hair shone like bright burnished gold. But his singing was more marvellous than that for it conjured in our heads visions of the land beyond the Sea--visions of peace and beauty we had never imagined--and it was clear that  he  had been there himself and indeed hailed from there.

Then he stopped singing and spoke to us! And when he spoke, it was as if Wisdom itself had gained a voice and was speaking. So many things he taught us in within the space of a few days!

But make haste now and do not tarry! Come and join us, o ye Haladin!  For I tell you the land beyond the Blue Mountains harbours wonders beyond our wildest hopes.'

He fell silent and the people thought on what he had said.

The eldest among them spoke first: 'Let us do as he says! If the land beyond the Mountains holds such wonders, I would see them before I die.'

But another of the elders, who was the head of a large family, spoke and said: 'We have indeed heard many wonders. But I listen and I doubt. Are we certain the Enemy is not in the land beyond the Mountains, too? If we are able to cross, why should not he?  And, moreover, if indeed this Elf has  confirmed that the rumoured Land of the Gods exists that is great tidings, but did he tell you how far it is and how we can get there?'

The headman of the Druedain among them growled: 'If there are Servants of the Enemy to be found on the other side of the Mountains, what of it? Drughu will fight them this side or that side, east or west.'

And the First Spear among the women said: 'Have we come all this way to be daunted by imagined dangers?  I would hear the words of Wisdom if I could, even if he should have no more to tell us than that the way to the Land of the Gods is barred to our kind.'

Thus some said yea and  others nay and the people were swayed back and forth, but in the end they decided to go. And what moved them not a little was the impatience of Balan's messenger, who, it was evident, could hardly wait to return to Beleriand and hear more of the words of Wisdom.

Thus the people left Eriador and climbed the mountain passes. It was not an easy crossing but the  Dwarves of the Blue Mountains did not hinder their going; they rather assisted them by showing them the safest paths, even if only  to speed their passing out of Nogrod's territory.

Only--when the people came down into the land of woods and streams, they found it fair indeed, but the high elf called Wisdom was not there. And the elves of the land they did encounter were secretive and unfriendly, more ready with their bows and arrows than to dispense words of wisdom.

'Where then is Wisdom?' the people asked Balan's messenger. 'And where are your kin?'

And he stood pale and uncertain and said: 'I do not know. I truly do not know. It was here. He was here, but now almost it seems a dream.'


A/N: The Haladin eventually do meet Finrod Felagund (the elf Men called "Nom", that is "Wisdom") after all, but not until two generations later, considerably farther west and in rather different circumstances. The second unwritten part was supposed to deal with that meeting.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
shirebound
Jun. 21st, 2016 04:24 pm (UTC)
Well done. The hope *and* uncertainty come through clearly.
hhimring
Jun. 22nd, 2016 05:42 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
I'm glad both of that comes through!
starbrow
Jun. 21st, 2016 05:48 pm (UTC)
This is lovely - a great fleshing out of that bit of canon. I love the sense of eagerness Balan's messenger brings, only to have his own hopes dashed. The arrival isn't quite as perfect as the anticipation made it out to be.
hhimring
Jun. 22nd, 2016 05:48 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! Yes, the arrival is a bit of a let-down! (I'm imagining Balan's messenger eventually made his way back to Balan on his own, before the Haladin themselves moved on to Estolad and to Brethil, but it would still have taken him some time to work out where everyone had gone!)
silver_trails
Jun. 21st, 2016 08:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, now I want more!

Nice piece!

hhimring
Jun. 21st, 2016 09:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you like it!
I hope I manage to write the second part at some point, when they finally meet with Finrod.
silver_trails
Jun. 22nd, 2016 12:07 am (UTC)
I'll be waiting (g)
blslarner
Jun. 21st, 2016 10:39 pm (UTC)
How I look forward to that anticipated second part! The poor messenger, to look forward so to meeting Finrod once more, only to find nothing where he'd looked to find his people!
hhimring
Jun. 22nd, 2016 08:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, Larner!
Yes, poor messenger! I think he's going to leave the Haladin at some point and find his people and Finrod again before they do.
But just at that point he's feeling disoriented and rather lost!
lindahoyland
Jun. 22nd, 2016 01:28 am (UTC)
You really capture the atmosphere here.
hhimring
Jun. 22nd, 2016 08:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, Linda!
dreamflower02
Jun. 24th, 2016 02:58 am (UTC)
I really liked the whole tone of this: very like the Silm itself, told like a myth or legend. And yet there was also a sense of urgency and immediacy in those who heard the message.

And there was the waiting! A really nice examination of the theme. It shows that even the Wise will not wait forever.
hhimring
Jun. 24th, 2016 07:55 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you think I got the tone right.

The Silmarillion explains just why Finrod wasn't there, but of course the Haladin could not know at this point!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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