Theme: Point of View
Elements: white, nine, cube
Author's Notes: Both a new character (Narvi) and a new race (Dwarves) for me; for the history of Eregion, and the rule of Galadriel and Celeborn there, see Unfinished Tales, History of Galadriel and Celeborn.
Summary: Sometime early in the second millennium of the Second Age: a moonlit night in Eregion, and two craftsmen anxiously await the unveiling of their latest work.
Word Count: 1120
Stay calm now, Narvi, I tell myself. It will work. Yet I cannot help looking again at the sky above, hoping there will be no clouds to spoil the unveiling of this, my greatest work. As the Elf next to me stirs slightly, no doubt as anxious as I am that nothing will go wrong, I silently amend my thought to our greatest work. For though both Celebrimbor and I are masters at our craft, these doors are only what they are through both our efforts.
Over to our right, the Lord and Lady of Eregion stand waiting too, with many other Elves; I know that while the Lady has great friendship for the Dwarves – and how could it be otherwise for the sister of Felagund? – this is not true for the Lord. Yet he too deals fairly with his neighbours, and both realms fare the better for it.
It will be some time yet before the Moon rises and its white light awakens the inscriptions on the doors. Inside, my lord Durin and his companions will be waiting also.
I look at the sky again. The Moon has finally risen now, but it will still be half an hour before its light touches the doors. To any who is ignorant of why we are standing here, this would look exceedingly strange: several dozen Elves and Dwarves all solemnly staring at a blank rockface.
I can’t help but think back to the first time Celebrimbor and I met. He had come to Khazad-Dûm for some precious stones for a project he was working on and I was interested in the pearls he offered in trade. I did very well out of that deal, for I later traded the pearls for the mining rights to a seemingly-poor seam of mithril, which I suspected might be richer than it looked. I was right too; all the ithildin used in the adornment of these doors has been crafted from mithril that came from that seam.
Yet more valuable than mithril is the friendship that grew between us. I found in him a love of and joy in making, in creating things that is as great as that of any Dwarf, and that is a rarity in those of other kinds, even among these Noldorin Elves.
I look at the sky yet again. Still some time left, but there are some small clouds near the Moon now, and I must stop myself from fidgeting. Though the gate would be opened from the inside at an agreed upon time if it is too cloudy, I want this to be perfect. Our work deserves no less. Nine years we worked on the doors themselves, and that is without taking into account the work on the road to Ost-in-Edhil, or widening the doorway and enlarging the halls behind it. At least the time the work had taken meant that by now the holly trees the Elves had insisted on planting near the road no longer quite looked like the scraggy bundles of firewood that they had seemed at first.
Mithril... I remember now a little toy my friend made some years ago, and my response as he showed me a small cube of mithril with an inlay of onyx and moonstone on each of its faces. It seemed pretty enough and well-crafted, but hardly worth the satisfied smile with which he handed it to me to study. That is what I told him as well, and he kept smiling as he said, “Look closer.” As I did, I soon realised it had to be some kind of puzzle. But how to open it? Did it unfold, or turn; what was its secret? It took me a few days to find out; it took me another week to put the cube together again in its original state. It certainly taught me to appreciate the devious brilliance of my friend’s mind.
Soon, now. The clouds have drifted over, and the danger is past. The moonlight almost touches the top of the door, and I realise I’m holding my breath. As I let it go in a long, silent sigh, Celebrimbor puts his hand on my shoulder and we exchange a glance before we step forward to do our part. And yes, he is at least as nervous as I am, I notice, and somehow that calms me again.
We walk up to the smooth wall where the gate is, the others following behind us, the Lord and Lady first among them. The whole of the rockface is now bathed in the light of the Moon, and Celebrimbor takes a final step forward, speaking the words that will awaken the doors.
As the ithildin responds to the light of the Moon, and to the words of its maker, the design that has been crafted into the rock reveals itself slowly to us. Even though I have seen it before, and had part in making it, I am almost struck dumb at the beauty of the work. We had spent much time considering which symbols would be inscribed on the doors, as both Elves and Dwarves are equally proud regarding the placement of our emblems and the honour of our Houses. From the reaction of the Elves I reckon we made no grave mistakes, and I would not have expected it either, for though Celebrimbor is here foremost as a craftsman, he is also, even though he doesn’t rule or seek rule, a prince from a house of princes, and he understands the sensitivities among the Elves well. I suspect my own King will be equally pleased.
Now it is my turn, and I too take that last step forward. I have to wait yet as the Lord of Eregion addresses those who stand here in anticipation. I only half-listen to his speech, for I already know what he will say, and am only waiting for my cue. As he finishes, I say, simply: “Mellon.”
Slowly, almost reverently, the outline of the gate becomes visible and the doors begin to open. Celebrimbor and I move back slightly so that when they are fully open, the meeting will be between Dwarf King and Elf Lord and Lady.
Later, I smile as I listen to the discussions between some of the dignitaries. They are worried that the password is too simple. I can certainly reassure them. It may be simple, but like that little puzzle my friend made long ago, it is deceptive in its simplicity. I deem that, even though it is written out for all to see in the letters that run along the top of the doors, there will be few who would be able to work out the answer.