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Author name: Dawn Felagund
Recipient's name: wheelrider
Title: Daytracer
Rating: PG
Request: A story that passes the Bechdel test! Meaning it features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Any characters, any time period, any Tolkien source are fine.
Summary: After the Darkening of Valinor, the Aulendur struggle to find a way to bear aloft the final fruit and flower of the Two Trees. Nerdanel finds a unexpected ally in Arien, who helps her discover the secret knowledge that will return the world to light.

Nerdanel awoke with a start. Her dreams had been odd of late, since the Darkening and the ever-present darkness that tempted the mind to sleep and dreams. Most dreams lately she sought to forget, but she clutched at the threads of this one as it dissolved upon the darkness without knowing why.

The voices of the Aulendur were raised in the library outside the door to the study room where Nerdanel had closed herself for a respite—how many hours earlier? Time had gone mad since the Darkening. Accustomed to being always guided by the hue of Light from the Trees—hours of work and meals and sleep signaled by Light and cuing their attendant appetites—the loss of Light left Nerdanel feeling as though she'd been blindfolded and spun around in a darkened but familiar room, then left to fumble out the everyday tasks of life within. Mechanical daytracers, once used in the north and south of Aman where the Light reached only feebly, had gained universal employment, and those skilled in their making could not fill orders quickly enough. All of the Aulendur, by virtue of the importance of their work, had been given them first, and indeed one ticked, muffled, from beneath the cloak that Nerdanel had reallocated as a pillow, and she dug it out and obediently clicked it open (they'd been told that they would learn to make sense of the mechanical stars that moved across its face, signaling which of the once-unseen constellations stood poised above the world, as once they'd made sense from the hue of the Light) and inspected its workings, but though she could work to recall that the positioning of the stars meant that it was sometime in the midst of Laurelin's hours—or, rather, what would have been Laurelin's hours—it excited no desire to rise and work; no growing hunger for the midday meal, the sight of her children, her husband; no desire for the drowsiness of afternoon or guilt for chores neglected. Rather, the sight of the delicate brass threads and wheels that made the daytracer run and the slightly luminescent stars that swirled across its face made her again remember the dream that had awakened her.

The dream had been of a storybook possessed by Nerdanel and her sisters in their youths, one of the old tales probably told at Cuiviénen after the return of the three ambassadors, who brought knowledge of the Ainur and tales of the splendors of Valinor; no one now remembered who had told it, and the tale was now known to be untrue and therefore fit only for the minds of children, which bent more readily to the fantastical. It had been an illuminated book about the making of the stars. Varda had stood in the lower corner, and from the palm of her hand, she launched small ships skyward, each with a heart of silver that was the star it bore. The vessels had been illustrated with such precision that Nerdanel would bend long over that page and trace the workings within each to observe how the vessels moved: how they kept an appropriate pace and course by the tiny chains and wheels that turned upon each. Each was guided by a Surul, a flutter of color upon the page. In Nerdanel's dream, the workings of the vessels had come to life; the Suruli had swelled to fill the sails; each ship bearing a precious star had mounted the breeze from the palm of Varda's hand and soared off of the page. The sky filled with stars. Varda remained upon her blank page.

Nerdanel's cheeks were damp with tears.

It was yet another dream of her loss, this time cloaked in symbolism mined from deep in her childhood. She'd have been better to have forgotten it, like the others.

She shook the wrinkles out of her cloak and tossed it over her shoulders. From the library, the voices were even louder now; how quickly their shared loss had descended again into contention, fueled by the frustration and shame of their thwarted objectives. She stepped into the library, but she did not have to worry about being seen; they'd gathered all of the lamps to the center of the room, where they'd pushed all of the desks together to form a vast table. Another set of plans were spread upon it. Some thought the plans would work, but most disagreed, from the sound of things. There were insistent gestures and slashing marks made with a pencil. Nerdanel hastened into the shadows at the edge of the library, but none were of a mind to see her, so she was left to escape in peace. As she eased through the front door of the library, she caught a glimpse of her father in the harsh blue-white light of the lamps, rubbing away a headache from his forehead. She let the door click shut, and the lamplight, the voices, the plans, the dreams of the Aulendur were left behind her.

In the Deathless Realm, there had been no need for funerary customs and so none had evolved and, after the Darkening, in the maelstrom of confusion and grief, they'd had to invent. Rites recalled from the days at Cuiviénen had been cobbled with extempore emotional contrivance to produce a variety of observances that, in the weeks after the Trees went dark, had left Tirion peppered with spent candles, desiccated flowers, and memorial parchments left to bleed to ruin in the rain. In the Darkening and the rush of departure of the exiles—and the Kinslaying—it was not unknown to see objects and messages gathered at the door of one believed deceased only to have word later that he was living and headed north to Araman. Did one then leave these artifacts or sweep them away in acknowledgement of error? In the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, these were the questions that consumed them.

Nerdanel had shunned it all (although she had visited Indis, reluctantly), coming as it did with such a tumult of conflicting emotions—grief and anger and shame—that would have surely been focused even more intensely upon her at a funeral, like diffuse light made arrow-sharp through a lens.

After leaving the library of the Aulendur, Nerdanel wandered, though she knew not where. At times, she became conscious of grass beneath her feet and having strayed from the road, so she strayed back. She lost her footing at times on unseen hazards, falling once and scraping her knee on the gravel. Periodic lamps brightened her way, hung before the occasional house that lay along the road; she let them grow dim, unnoticed, at her back. The stars were sharper than she'd ever seen them, more alike to shards of blue-white glass than the soft, gentle lights once only barely perceived through the haze of Treelight; even in the north, at Formenos, she'd had no notion that they could look like this or that they were so numerous. Varda's adornment of the sky with stars suddenly seemed much more impressive a feat than she'd perceived in a land filled ever with Light. Her feet treaded the road and her eyes did not leave the stars, which she imagined lifting from Varda's palm, their tiny cogs turning to life and their sylphlike steersmen bellying their sails with wind.

Her foot struck a stone. She looked up.

She was at Ezellohar.

The darkness of Valinor was complete in those days, yet the dead stems of the trees were black wounds upon the night itself, clotted with something deeper and more malicious than mere night. Much of the funerary energies of the Eldar had been directed at the Trees, and as Nerdanel stepped past the ring of stones that surrounded the lifeless boles of the Two Trees, her feet crunched upon the detritus of grief: the flowers that, even if not uprooted, would have been long-dead from the dark; a confetti of paper bearing awkward poems to the Tree's splendor; the gilded pages that would never illuminate a page with the light of anything but lamps and candles. The Tree's fallen leaves had been long-gathered by her people, who would make cunning things of them in order to stir their loss anew, and replaced by the contrivances of the Eldar: the Light of Eru himself recalled only in dim art left scattered upon the ground to be abused into decay by the same elements that had left the Trees unscathed.

Nerdanel sat at the base of the Golden Tree and let Her roots cradle her back.

For her task—what the Aulendur were, in all likelihood, still arguing over back at the library—was to make vessels for the final fruit and flower of Laurelin and Telperion. It had seemed simple at the first, for the Noldor had certainly experimented with flight, but the task of keeping a course and a steady timing and the heat especially of Laurelin's fruit had proven thus far insurmountable, and all of their plans had failed. Fëanáro (she dared think of him—briefly) had had a theory about the dilution of Light: that first it had been freely available upon the air, then caught in the Lamps, and finally arisen in the Trees, each succession lighting a smaller area than the one before. Thus, the Silmarils. His theory made it appropriate to bear sacred Light in a jewel to be worn at times and otherwise locked away—made it necessary, even. She wondered if they had truly reached the end; if Arda would now lay in darkness, save the Silmarils that burned futilely in Moringotto's keeping. She wondered how long she would wile away her talents in the darkened library with the other Aulendur before accepting the reality that Light had been consigned to three jewels and two flowers that withered—subtly, but nonetheless—even as she idled here rather than lend her voice to the rejection of one more ardently drawn but futile plan. She wondered what would occupy her hands and mind after the final fruit and flower dimmed to nothing but found only a clot of night alike to the stem of a slaughtered Tree at the thought of what lay ahead for an abandoned mother and wife in a world of darkness.

The stars crept overhead. Nerdanel's thoughts flitted between watching Helluin rise from behind the mountains to thinking of the small workings in her daytracer that mimicked the same motions (the blue-white Helluin—a chip of the stones perfected by her husband—would be creeping into the rightmost margin of the device) to imagining ships and sylphs wrestling against the winds high above the world, unseen and unthought-of by her, their struggles perceptible only as the slow creep of time.

Her eyes drooped.

You came.

Nerdanel awoke with a start to a world again aglow with golden light. Her heart started. They have succeeded, thinking of the Aulendur and their task—then, with surprise and dismay, they have succeeded without me. Only the light was wrong. It swelled and receded, having a fierce crimson cast: firelight. She knew its dance upon the surfaces of the stones, the way it made long shadows before even the smallest objects, shadows that grasped and withdrew with the flickering of the firelight, growing longer and deeper as the light surged brighter.

The woman knelt beside her, a bronze pail at her knees that had once been filled from the cauldron Kulullin, used to nourish Laurelin, that now stood empty, every last drop of dew having been sopped away to some futile purpose or terrified hoarding. Now, the bucket teemed only with the woman's own radiance, of firelight bright upon bronze: Arien, the maiden of Laurelin, whose sight was supposed to be unbearable to the Eldar but whom Nerdanel looked full upon.

I had Lórien summon you through your dreams. And you came.

Fëanáro had delighted in sometimes speaking the gnashing tongue of the Ainur to her and watching her stop her ears. Nerdanel cringed, expecting pain—at the sight of the Maia, the sound of her voice—but nothing came. Her voice was as Nerdanel's own thoughts, and her eyes like the hearts of forges only compelled her in the manner of a fireside on a cold night to draw nearer, or as Fëanáro himself once had.

"I needed to get away." She couldn't remember how long it had been since she had spoken. Her voice was tiny from disuse. She cleared her throat. "The Aulendur—they—we—have been trusted with building the vessels that will hold the last fruit and flower of Laurelin and Telperion." A nervous laugh. "I suppose you know that, though. But we have accomplished nothing. This is beyond our cunning. It is the domain of the gods, is it not? Are we not on the brink of yet another fall, another ruin? I question if we should try this."

Arien twisted taller, as though nourished by a breath of air. That is why I summoned you. Come. I have something you need to see.

Walking the road in the glow of Arien's radiance, Nerdanel could fool herself into believing that she walked in Laurelin's hours. The Darkening had never happened. The rebellion had never happened. Her family had never left. She was walking the road to Taniquetil for some festivity. Fëanáro would be reluctant. Some of their children would follow suit. It would fall to her to coax them—husband and sons alike—into adequate graciousness for a royal household of the Noldor. How she'd once dreaded that such tasks fell to her! Even (at the end) resented that they did! Such tasks that now felt manageable, even enjoyable, in contrast to being charged with rekindling light in a world gone dark.

Arien walked behind her and did not speak, as though she knew how Nerdanel enjoyed the illusion and her own quiet thoughts.

But there was a harshness and an unsteadiness to the light, and Nerdanel spoke at last, to distract herself from noting the firelight upon the dark and her own exhausted feet. "Where are we going?"

"To the place you dreamed of."

Nerdanel hadn't expected her to speak. The Noldorin tongue was awkward in a voice not accustomed to speaking and used to Valarin when she did; Nerdanel almost looked back, but the old warnings about Arien persisted, and she wondered if the Maia walked behind her because she wished not to be seen. She kept her eyes fixed on the path.

"I do not know—"

"You have known it since you were very young. Here. This way."

A small stone trail veered off of the main road; Nerdanel would have missed it had Arien not stepped to it and illuminated it. It was overgrown in places by plants that had long died but left thorns and brambles that caught at her clothing. They were at the roots of Taniquetil, the first swelling hills that served as a foundation for the towering mountain. Nerdanel, attuned as her father was to the stones of the earth, knew this place to be ancient, one of the first stones sung into existence by Aulë during the Music. Nerdanel held her breath in reverence, wishing to make silent her footsteps, as though could she still her step and the beating of her blood, she might still detect the first primal notes that had brought this place into existence.

They walked long enough for the stars to shift perceptibly overhead and the rocks to grow more ancient still, and then the path cut in close to a sheer rock face to one side. Arien's light caught the crystals in the rock, and the dark stone warmed with a thousand embers that cast a gentle light upon the path. Nerdanel stopped, unable to hold back a gasp, and tipped back her neck to watch how the light upon the crystals spilled skyward until the rock failed and the stars inherited their place: embers cooled to an unfailing white light.

"Varda came to this rock, in the early days of the world, before the raising of the Pelóri and before Almaren even. She had been just given the Light of Ilúvatar but knew not how to use it to best guard the world, for comfort is so easily destroyed and Melkor has ever been the mightiest of us." Arien's light intensified, and more crystals kindled to life in the shadowed recesses of the rock. "This place made her dream of stars, but her task seemed impossible then. Time has made it myth, has kept the beauty and the hope it inspires but cut away the labor and the struggle and the doubt. In myth, Varda dabs stars upon the dark with the delicate skill of a painter, and that the heavens are peopled with Light is seen a symbol of her power, not her endeavor. That has been forgotten in all but the oldest tales."

The path ended abruptly at a sheer rock face, obsidian dark and unrelieved by all save the reflection of Arien's firelight. Nerdanel turned to inquire, but Arien said, "Step forth into it. Trust that our light will sweep aside the dark."

Nerdanel stepped forward but could not help cringing as she expected her nose to crunch into the unrelenting rock wall. One foot fell in front of the other, but no obstruction was met. She opened her eyes and found herself in a vast room cluttered with tables shrouded in gossamer. At the center of the room stood a pail alike the one the Arien carried. It has also been sponged dry of all its contents.

Nerdanel began to lift the shrouds. Varda's first contrivances had been awkward, and Nerdanel could see by the jumble made of some of them that they had failed and been crushed by their fall. Sometimes the hand of one of the other Valar became apparent in a brief series of designs before falling away: The task had been Varda's own. For a while, they became exceedingly complex; Nerdanel lifted an orb with frail wings to examine the complexity of the workings.

"It kept aloft and kept its course," Arien said quietly from behind her, "but the shell was too complex, and the Light was obscured."

They became simpler after that—too simple, for a while, if the mangled remains of those she'd set aloft were to judge. One was a basin of mere wires and tiny gears, seeming so frail as to be dismantled with the merest touch. Nerdanel reached to lift it, and it left her palm crosscrossed with small cuts that welled painlessly with blood. She laughed and set it back in its place. It had borne her touch unscathed.

She had reached the last table and took up the shroud between her fingers to draw it away. She found herself afraid suddenly to see what lay beneath. The proof the stars beyond this hidden place could not fully shield her from the fear of failure, that what lay beneath might be no more than more twisted ruins and delicate dreams. Arien stood patiently, having come from a place beyond time, but Nerdanel became suddenly aware of what this room meant for her own task and that the fading flowers of the Trees meant she did not have forever. She whisked the shroud away.

"A ship."

A ship stood centermost on the table amid a hundred failed prototypes. Its tiny workings turned chains as delicate as spidersilk but—Nerdanel smiled to recollect—strong enough to cut. It was a fragile contrivance, cunningly woven so to free the light it held while holding strong against the fierce winds of the upper airs, each tiny piece joined in myriad almost imperceptible ways to its brethren so that to fail only elicited their protection. A sail so frail as to barely be seen lay limp in the airless room, waiting only to be filled by a Surul and guided into the firmament.

Nerdanel lifted the ship into her hands. Arien stepped to her shoulder to give her light, and she memorized every detail.

They were too weary to laugh or argue. For all she knew—and to judge by the piles of discarded plans on the tabletops around the library—they had been arguing since she'd left them an unrecalled number of days prior. One of the Aulendur, a master of silversmithing, came forth after her rapid explanation of where she'd been and what she'd seen and said in a voice wearied but still able to be prim, "My dear, do draw up the plans, and we will have a look at them as we have—" a wave of the fingers "—the others."

"To the Void with that. We haven't the time."

Nerdanel had always been reproachful of Fëanáro's excessive cursing, but she did have to admit its practicality in imposing silence upon a room.

Nerdanel turned one of the discarded plans on its face and began to sketch upon the back. A stream of words accompanied her drawing; an occasional question or mild protest was raised and quickly dispatched with. "It will not work," someone blurted out once, and Nerdanel raised her face to the crowd of faces bent upon the table long enough to demand, "Show me how," and received no answer.

Her hasty sketch complete, she lapsed into a challenging silence. A few of the Aulendur turned the page towards them; some made measures with instruments. A few mouths opened but shut again. None could answer her. She became aware that the crowd was shifting slightly; they were making way, leaving her father standing alone before her. Speak sense to her, she could imagine them thinking. She has been abandoned by her husband and her sons and gone mad with it. She imagines real the stuff of storybooks. Speak sense to her.

"My love," he began.


She pressed her palms upon the tabletop and leaned her weight upon them to relieve the aching in her feet.

"Your plan is sound." A murmur. "It may bear critique upon deeper inspection," he added quickly, "but at first appraisal, it is sound. But we lack one essential thing that you have not provided for. We have not the Silindi, and even if we did, this task is above them. They are mere sylphs of the air, and guiding a … ship … such as you describe may be within their powers, but this? This is not."

Upon her palms, she felt the memory of the cuts given by the deceptively frail vessel in Varda's workshop—cuts almost healed, already—and smiled at their naïveté that what is tender and gentle must be weak. "I know one who will stand in the place of the Silindi," she said.

Nerdanel learned to enjoy the eccentricity permitted a master: no more blame, no more pity, but an eager—almost admiring—acquiescence lighted the eyes of those constructing Anar and Isil when she opened her daytracer and noted the position of the stars within, set aside her parchments and her tools, gave her terse instructions to her assistants, and set upon the road to Ezellohar.

Arien did not need a daytracer to tell her the time when she would have laved the roots of Laurelin from the vats of Kulullin: She was compelled as the stars themselves are compelled to rise and set, by something set deep in her own nature. She knelt beside Laurelin with her bronze pail—empty—and one arm wrapping the blackened trunk, and the light of her, for that hour, was a bulwark against the encroaching shadows.

Nerdanel sat in the place where Laurelin's roots cradled her back and listened. Arien, who had said so little in all of Nerdanel's remembrance, was suddenly eager to speak, now that shortly there would be none to hear her but the indifferent sky.

"There is much that I remember that I would have another know in my absence. The others who also knew it have gone forth with Melkor."

They were the sounds of trumpets in the Music, brass-bright: the fire-spirits of which Arien had been one of many. Their part in the song had adorned the great works of the others: light racing along the length of gleaming gold, a spangle of silver upon the restless sea, glittering stone that inspired the stars. They had been restive, dashing the light of fire upon many things. They learned nurturance and destruction in equal measure. Even as Arien was entering the service of Vána, others of her kind were learning to wield their touch to send a thing of life and beauty to ash.

"Many went into the service of Melkor. I was tempted too. We had seen the world reduced: Light once quivered upon the airs themselves but now lay captive behind the walls of the Pelóri. He promised that we might give light to the world like what once was. We might see again the jewel-bright leaves of the forest unfurling new growth, the mosaic of flowers scattered across the meadows, the pure white snow at the tops of the mountains. He said we would outshine Varda's stars—"

She stopped abruptly there.

"You are wed," she said after a moment, "and know what it is to join your spirit to another. So I was joined to my brethren. I understand their rebellion as surely as I loathe it; I share their desires and even feel their joy, just as you must still feel Fëanáro's triumphs, even as you hate what they represent.

"I miss them.

"I wish to strive against the damage they have done; I wish to reassert what we sang in the Music; I want to see them and know them, even now, even after all that has happened."

Anar stood ready, tethered to the earth near Ezellohar with golden cords festooned with streamers, and already straining into the wind. Nerdanel stood at the head of the Aulendur, one of many in master's robes, her hand hot and damp around the key that would start the workings of Anar and set her sailing into the east. She prayed silently. Light their deeds. Let them do nothing they'd have been ashamed of in the Light of the Trees. Let them look skyward and hope—

She imagined each of their faces turned into the light, as she'd seen them so many times before memories born in darkness had overpowered all of that.

The place of the launching of Anar had been wrought apart from Nerdanel's work on the vessel itself by some of the artisans of the Aulendur, and it was her first time seeing it. Tall bronze columns and a vast bronze floor surrounded a pool in which the last of Laurelin's hoarded dews had been poured, light that shimmered heavenward and gave prescience of the light of Anar. Golden gems fashioned by the gemsmiths of the Aulendur seemed to glitter upon the air itself, and the music was the fanfare of trumpets. The Eldar gathered there gasped in wonder; it was alike in warmth and splendor to standing beside the Golden Tree, and they had known nothing like it for so long. They turned their palms and faces to the shimmering light; their mirth was glorious to hear. Nerdanel sweated in her robes and clutched her key and waited.

But all fell silent as Manwë strode to the front, making a careful circumvention of the pool of golden fire. Nerdanel heard few of his words until he said in a voice that trembled the furthest corners of the earth, "Who shall steer this ship of fire?" and Arien came forth.

For the benefit of the Eldar, she was clad in robes threaded with gold so that they might look upon her. She said nothing. Her radiance stood in answer.

She stepped forward into the molten pool of light, and even some among the Ainur gasped as the fire touched and took her raiment of flesh; many of the Eldar—expecting horrors as they so often did now—turned their faces. She sank into the pool until not even a ripple upon its surface betrayed her presence there.

There was a cry of dismay. Nerdanel clutched the key tighter and felt her pulsebeat thundering within her flesh. And Arien emerged as naked flame.

"Go now, most wondrous maiden washed in fire, and steer the ship of divine light above the world, that joy may search out its narrowest crannies and all the things that sleep within its bosom may awake."

Faces tipped earthward and another cry rippled through the crowd. Nerdanel felt herself going through the proper rehearsed motions: The key was given to Aulë and set in the ship, it was turned and the workings began to run. Her duty done, Nerdanel stepped back and looked around her. None of the Eldar dared gaze upon Arien, and even some of the Ainur bowed their heads. Nerdanel watched her mount her ship of gold. The ship strained even harder against its ties.

An ornamental sword lay upon an altar to strike free the ship's bounds. Nerdanel forgot who was supposed to come forth and take it. Someone was. But no one did.

They will look to me and know you …

The thought came into her mind, as Arien's voice had done at the first, and she looked toward the twist of flame that filled the sails of Anar. She stepped forward and undid the knots in the moorings as though they were naught more than the ribbons used to bind her hair. The ship slipped free and into the east.

Author's Notes
This story takes its inspiration from many places but pulls mostly from The Book of Lost Tales, with less coming from Myths Transformed (HoMe 10) and The Shibboleth of Fëanor (HoMe 12). In these earliest stories, one can certainly see what would become The Silmarillion, but they contain a level of detail and a fantastical style that contrasts what we later see in the published Silmarillion. The Tale of the Sun and Moon (HoMe 1), from which many of the details in this story come (as well as Manwë's "Go now, most wondrous maiden …" quote at the end), communicates the emotional and political turmoil, as well as the physical labor, that preceded the construction and launching of the Sun and Moon. Likewise, Varda's labors in making the stars also feel more significant, and her achievement seems one that is more of craft than magic.

I have treated the early stories not as works to be discarded where they don't agree with Tolkien's later writings but as early myths that, while changing as myths will do to suit the times and their tellers, contain truth in their own right and don't fit tidily into the designations of "canonical" and "uncanonical."

This story was written and revised while visiting my family in northern England for the holidays. The daytracer was inspired by the large clock at Durham Cathedral and the "star clock" at York Minster.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 1st, 2014 04:06 pm (UTC)
What a beautiful and unique tale! I love the final lines especially. I can't remember ever reading a story about Arien before.
Jan. 1st, 2014 04:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :) I'm glad you liked it. Arien is not a particularly popular character; we have only a few stories about her on the Silm Writers' Guild (and probably about half of them are by me! :D) I find her difficult to write in part because her appearance is so striking that it is hard to imagine a scene that she does not command; also, the fact that she cannot be looked upon is challenging to work with. But I have always found her intriguing.

I'm pleased that you liked the last lines; I was rather unsure of them (as I tend to be about closing lines to my stories in general :). Thanks again!
Jan. 1st, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
Such a pleasure to find a hopeful story about the time of the Darkening. And the children's book - I could see the illustration in my mind as you described it. Of course, I love Nerdanel, so was delighted to have a story with her as a major character. All in all, a wonderful way to spend a snowy and cold New Year's Day.

- Erulisse (one L)
Jan. 5th, 2014 06:25 pm (UTC)
Hopeful stories can be tough for me, but I always feel bad giving holiday gifts mired with my usual angst and darkness! :D Thanks so much for reading and commenting; I'm glad you liked the story. :)
Jan. 1st, 2014 10:45 pm (UTC)
Wow, I like this! It's the kind of story that I can read multiple times and get more things out of each time.

I was pretty intrigued by Arien when re-reading that bit in the Silm a few weeks ago; I can see I'll have to dig into the other sources you mentioned. (As it happens I also came into a paper copy of The Book of Lost Tales along with my original Silmarillion!)

I especially dig the emphasis on "craft" rather than "magic" to accomplish things. There's something dismissive about assuming that little effort was involved. This may sound weird, but it's akin in my mind to assuming that the Nazca had extraterrestrial help in making their vast shapes on the Earth.

Also -- Nerdanel learned to enjoy the eccentricity permitted a master: no more blame, no more pity, but an eager—almost admiring—acquiescence...
This kind of idea position has been bubbling in my subconscious for a while now. You just articulated my life goal for me! (Now the hard part, figuring out how to get there...)
Jan. 5th, 2014 06:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you--I'm relieved that you do! :D (No matter how many times I write stories for others, I'm worried that I'll hit too far off the mark.)

I love the BoLT versions of the Ainur and their deeds so much more than in the Silm. The amount of detail is just astounding, and the tone is brighter. Every time I dive into the BoLT, I come out with new ideas.

There's something dismissive about assuming that little effort was involved.

Yes, exactly. Like how the Silm identifies Varda's stars as a significant labor but actually depicts their making in such a way that it does feel dismissive. Or the making of the Sun and the Moon. The amount of detail in the BoLT makes the labor involved clearer and also makes the eventual destruction/corruption of some of those objects feel sadder to me as a result.

You just articulated my life goal for me!

Lol--that makes two of us! :D
Jan. 2nd, 2014 12:04 am (UTC)
This is wonderful: I really like the idea that there was a lot of trial-and-error, a lot of experimentation and false starts before the Sun and the Moon were able to take to the skies.

I also like Nerdanel achieving the respect of others for her accomplishments, rather than having only the fame of her family to define her.
Jan. 5th, 2014 06:33 pm (UTC)
As I've been writing more about the women of the Silm, I've been going for exactly that: letting their own deeds characterize them rather than their association with other (primarily male) characters. JRRT wrote a lovely passage about Nerdanel's skill as an artist, but Christopher took it out of the published Silm for some reason, leaving her defined primarily as the wife and mother of kinslayers. :(

Thank you for reading and commenting! :)
Jan. 5th, 2014 12:39 am (UTC)
What fantastic portrayals of both Nerdanel and Arien. I particularly liked Arien's connection with the Balrogs and how she misses them even while disavowing their deeds, and how that somewhat parallels Nerdanel's own siutation.
Jan. 5th, 2014 06:35 pm (UTC)
Yes! I was going for exactly that. :) Arien chooses Nerdanel, in part, because of that understanding: Both women have a good reason for wanting to bring light to Middle-earth. And both have an interest in redefining others' perceptions of them so that they are remembered more for their deeds and less for their associations.
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