“ . . . when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of the Four
First Age 65 - Doriath
“What have you done with Spring?” the strange elf said from the back of a tall grey warhorse.
Oropher’s jaw slowly dropped. Not only was the stranger stunningly beautiful, he was asking the very question that had been plaguing Nivrim and in fact the reason why he had been sent to Menegroth to inquire of the King. Of course it was obvious that something was wrong. But what have you done with Spring? As if he were personally at fault? What was he to say to that?
“Um, I don’t know what’s happened. It appears to be late. That’s why my father sent me . . .”
“Of course it’s late. I’ve been to Doriath many times in the past decade and I’ve never seen such a sad lack of display at this time of year.” Here, the elf swung a leg over his horse, hopped down, and strode about, gesturing at the brown leaf-carpeted forest floor. “Where are the swaths of gorgeous bluebells that should be here, or the white niphredil? There are no primroses by the river banks, no celandine, and neither the rowan nor the hawthorn has bloomed. And,” he heaved a great sigh, “no cherry blossoms.” He craned his head back and waved in disgust at the bare branches overhead. “The leaves should have budded out weeks ago – even if it was the worst of winters, which it was not.”
Before Oropher could react, the elf walked right up to him, bent slightly, and much to Oropher’s consternation, inhaled a deep whiff by his ear, fingered a portion of his cloak, and finally took his hand in his for a moment. “Ah,” he said. “As I surmised. I would think that you, a healer from the Lord of Nivrim’s family, might be privy to whatever calamity has befallen these woods.”
Oropher tried to regain his composure and failed. He took a step backwards. “Do I know you, sir?”
“No. To my knowledge, we have not previously met.”
“Then, how do you know, um, all that about me?”
“Simple, my dear Sinda. Your tunic is dyed a shade of light reddish-brown, commonly produced by the oak tannins in Nivrim. And I note an oak leaf embroidered on your quiver there, characteristic of the lord’s family of that fiefdom. You were coming up from the south where Nivrim lies. Not to mention the slight accent when you said the word, father. Your cloak appears to be made of a spider silk from Nan Dungortheb, which is hard to obtain and therefore used only by a ruling family. Are you with me so far? Yes? Good. In addition, you are a healer because your hands are soft so you do not do hard labor and I can smell the dried garlic and the athelas in your pack, not to mention the pungent echuilas, a herb with which I’m most familiar, and there are several others that I can’t quite place. Carrying such a combination of herbs would be peculiar to a healer. And to anticipate your next question, I am headed the same direction as you – towards Menegroth.”
Astounded, Oropher saw no need to deny any of it, so he didn’t. First, he carefully shut his mouth, then he managed to say, “You have an astute eye as well as a remarkable sense of smell.”
The stranger’s mouth quirked slightly and he gave Oropher a canny look. “I’ve trained myself to notice details. It allows me to perceive things hidden to most others.”
“What is your name, if I may be so bold?”
“Finrod,” the stranger said.
“Ah yes,” Oropher cried, enlightened. “I’ve heard of you. You are the Noldo who has begun carving out a home in Nargothrond. Known by the appellation Felagund.”
“So they call me.” Finrod said. “I see news of me has gone apace.”
“Well, do you wonder why that is so?” Oropher exclaimed enthusiastically. “How often are we visited by elves from Aman? And we Sindar are great gossips. I have heard about you and your lovely sister, who even now stays as a guest of the King and Queen at Menegroth. However, I did not know that the Noldor were blond.” Absently, Oropher reached up to touch his own ash blond locks.
“Most are not. It helps to have Vanyarin ancestry,” Finrod said. “And you are rather forthright. It’s delightful. What are you called?”
“Oropher. And I am indeed the son of Doronul, the Lord of Nivrim, vassal to King Elu Thingol. So you were dead on. Extraordinary.”
A ghost of a smile formed about Finrod’s mouth. They eyed each other for a moment.
Tall, with a slender, well-knit frame, the Noldo was lightly armored with a silver breastplate, vambraces, and greaves worn over softly draped garments dyed with woad to a deep blue and decorated with silver embroidery. An ermine-lined traveling cape hung from his shoulders. His face was finely molded with sharp cheek bones, a hawkish nose, and sensitive lips. His hair, pulled back with jeweled clasps, was otherwise worn loose about his shoulders in a way that suggested he might be vain about it. Its color was indeed remarkable. Richer in hue than the usual pale blond Oropher was used to among his kindred, it was scattered throughout with silver strands that gave it a shimmering quality, like morning sunlight sparkling through a bedewed spider web. Oropher thought it worth a song at least, if only he were as talented as the King’s minstrel, Daeron. But it was Finrod’s quick eye, brilliant and piercing as a lance, that both enthralled and intimidated Oropher. Simply standing near him was causing his heart to thump.
Finrod’s horse was outfitted with a black harness with silver buckles and a feather plume in the headstall. A crimson blanket was strapped about his middle and leather traveling bags were slung across his back. Oropher noted the jeweled pommel of an immense sword peeking from a tooled scabbard attached to his harness.
“Well then, since we are headed the same direction, would you care to ride with me?” Finrod said, gathering up the reins and mounting his horse.
“Truly?” Oropher asked, flabbergasted. The day had suddenly improved tremendously, despite the dreary landscape.
“Truly,” Finrod replied. “And if you would be so kind as to spare a pinch of your echuilas, that will help my thinking. I’ve been craving a jot all morning.”
“Oh, of course,” Oropher said. He fumbled in his pack and brought out the leather packet of the pungent herb, took a small pinch of a bud and handed it to Finrod, who stuck it in his mouth, deftly tucking it against his gum in a way that suggested familiarity with the procedure. Oropher got one for himself too, enjoying the immediate tingling lift it gave him. Like mint, only better.
Finrod extended a leather-gloved hand toward Oropher and helped him climb onto the tall horse. Oropher sat on the saddle pad behind the elf lord, where he soon had to grasp the Noldo’s waist to keep his seat as they trotted down the path.
“When did this begin?” Finrod asked, waving one hand at the scraggly canopy.
“Huh? What?” Oropher said, teeth rattling.
“Failure of the seasons to rotate as usual. No spring,” Finrod replied sharply. “I wasn’t here last year. Too busy excavating. Felagund you know.” Oropher thought he heard a note of humor in his voice.
“No, it’s just this year. The early buds came in, the snowdrops and daffodils as usual; the primroses began in March, and then suddenly everything stopped in mid-bloom; I mean truly just stopped and shriveled up. I should know since I’m always out this time of year collecting plants.”
“I wonder if it is more of Morgoth’s machinations,” Finrod said darkly. “This is a new wrinkle for him.”
“Perhaps,” Oropher said. He was beginning to experience a rather embarrassing predicament caused by the continuous vibration against the glorious stranger’s backside, and no doubt aided by the stimulating properties of the echuilas. By Oromë’s horn, Finrod even smelled good. Oropher grit his teeth. The heat welling within was something that always was getting him into trouble, as he rarely exercised restraint in his pursuits. He could almost feel his father’s swat upside his head. “Son, keep your mind on your work, not on your gwib,” Ada would say. Oropher would be in even worse trouble if his father knew that his affections were rather indiscriminate when it came to gender. So as not to repeat past mistakes with this alluring stranger, he began thinking of orc droppings, remembering their hideous smell and ghastly contents, although it wasn’t helping much, as the friction was more immediate and quite a bit more engaging.
Suddenly, almost as if summoned by his thoughts, he saw an orc’s ugly helmeted head peeping over a fallen tree. He blinked. It could not possibly be true! They were well within the borders of Melian’s Girdle that magically kept out all foreign invaders by causing them to run around in bewildered circles until they ended up crouched in a ball, rocking back and forth. As far as he could tell, this orc was not doing any of those things.
“Watch out!” Oropher hissed.
But Finrod had already reined his horse to a stop. “Get off and ready your bow,” he whispered harshly.
Oropher scrambled off the horse, landing in the deep carpet of dead leaves. He rapidly strung his bow, and nocked an arrow. The orc had not moved. What was happening?
Finrod had already dismounted and drawn his sword from its scabbard. He said, “Follow me. Where there’s one, there’s likely to be more.”
Although young, Oropher was a veteran of the Battle of Amon Ereb, where King Thingol had repelled Morgoth’s host. He did not think he needed Finrod to direct him. He started to circle around the tree when suddenly Finrod was behind him, bringing his hand down hard on his shoulder. “You would do well to follow my direction,” he said. “There are more. See the tracks.”
Oropher did not see anything in the wintery drifts below his feet. This Finrod was either uncanny or a liar. As silently as possible, he crept along behind the Noldo. Slowly they approached the orc, who did not appear to move.
Abruptly, Finrod straightened up. “Dead,” he pronounced. “Spitted.”
“Huh?” In alarm, Oropher watched Finrod run right at the orc and circle around the log. Raising his sword to the side two-handed, he knocked its head clean off, so that it flew back towards him, its helm rolling with a loud, clunkety clunk.
When it stopped rolling and he could examine it more closely, Oropher saw that indeed it had been hacked from its body within the past several days. His gorge rose in disgust at the maggoty gobbets of flesh. He looked up, blinking in the wane sunlight, and saw that Finrod had knocked it from a thick stake set in the ground behind the log.
In the meantime, Finrod had disappeared over the rise and Oropher followed more cautiously. In a clearing, about twelve hundred steps away, he found more heads crammed jauntily onto stakes, a dozen in all. Next to them had been raised a large mound of freshly turned earth that must contain the rest of the creatures. Flies buzzed busily about. It stank.
Holding his nose, Oropher stood there at a loss. Never had such a thing happened since Melian had set the girdle of enchantment around Doriath. Finrod was striding about, looking at the ground, and then examining one of the staked heads. “All’s well,” he called. “The marchwardens did this. It must have happened two days ago. Still,” he paused to rub his chin thoughtfully. “It shouldn’t have been necessary. What in Námo’s nut sack is happening here?”
Oropher was inclined to agree. Indeed, this called for a few colorful curses.
They rode for a time in silence. Oropher was surreptitiously enjoying the warmth of Finrod’s backside and that of the great beast under them, whose name he learned was Thindroch. The wind had picked up and it was growing colder. On their left side, the Esgalduin roared, still swollen from spring rains. Smooth-skinned beech trees towered overhead, their lacy network of bare branches swaying in the breeze. In general, the land was bleak and dreary. It wasn’t right at all for late April in many-splendored Doriath.
Oropher was glad to be getting a ride so that they would reach Menegroth this evening instead of having to camp out. He was an elf who enjoyed his comforts and he now realized that in packing so hastily that morning, he’d failed to include enough warm clothing. That was another thing Ada was apt to say, “One of these days Oropher, your impetuousness will land you in a beehive of trouble.” This comment usually followed being caught out in another dalliance. But how could he help it, when lying with other elves was so much fun?
He had better behave himself in Menegroth. The last thing he wished was to bring disgrace upon his family and he knew the King did not take kindly to such mischief at court. Surely, there would be plenty of other marvels to occupy him. Oropher was excited about visiting the legendary palace, since he’d never had the opportunity before. He’d heard about it from his father of course and from others, but he was anxious to see it for himself.
“What brings you to Menegroth?” he asked Finrod by way of pleasant conversation.
“Could you not guess, based on what you yourself said earlier?” the golden-haired elf replied.
“Um, engineering tips? Better shovels? More Naugrim laborers?”
Finrod snorted. “My sister,” he said.
“Oh yes. Are you fond of her then?”
“Quite. Although she is, shall we say, a challenge, even to me,” he replied. Some silence stretched between them while Oropher listened to the muffled clops of the horse’s great feet on the path and tried not to think of his tingling lower regions.
Finrod began humming something under his breath. Oropher thought his voice rather nice. “What is that? I haven’t heard it before,” he ventured.
“A new composition. Daeron always asks me to play with him when I come. I think he enjoys the challenge. But he has a hard time competing with certain types of songs, so I’m hoping to stump him with this one.” Finrod laughed. He began to sing in a clear and solemn voice.
Last night a dream came into my head
Thou wert a fine white loaf of bread.
Then if may, butter I cou'd be
How I wou'd spread
Oh! How I wou'd spread my self on thee.
This morning too my thoughts ran hard
That you were made a cool tankard
Then cou'd I but a lemon be
How I wou'd squeeze
Oh! how I wou'd squeeze my juice in thee.
Lately, when fancy too did roam,
Thou wert my dear, a honeycomb;
And had I been a pretty bee
How I would suck
Oh! How I would creep, creep into thee.
A vision, too, I had of old
That thou a mortar wert of gold
Then cou'd I but the pestle be
How I wou'd pound
Oh! How I wou'd pound my spice in thee*
Here Finrod paused. “Well, what do you think?”
“Um,” Oropher said.
“You have reservations,” Finrod sulked.
“Yes. Are you sure that song is appropriate for King Thingol’s court?”
“Why ever not?”
“Well, it appears to have certain double meanings, connotations, as it were.”
“Such as?” Finrod asked.
“Well, it seems to me, that it could well refer to . . . lovemaking,” Oropher said.
“What a curious mind you have, Oropher,” Finrod said. “It means exactly what it says, or at least that is what I shall tell Daeron and the King.”
Oropher was really beginning to appreciate Finrod. He said, “I’m sure Daeron would enjoy playing with you, even if such a scandalous theme would be beneath him. Pray tell me, Finrod, what is your instrument? And do you practice upon it often?”
“Harp, pipes, flute, lute, and tabor. I can play almost anything and yes, I practice daily.” Did he imagine the amused tone creeping into Finrod’s voice?
“Oh, that’s a fine thing,” Oropher enthused. “Is there anything you can’t do?”
“Very little,” Finrod said. “However, much as I’d like to, I can’t . . . .” He stopped mid-sentence.
“What . . .?”
“Shush,” Finrod replied, holding up a hand.
In the distance they heard a noise that sounded for all the world like a company of drummers leading a parade. Hoom hom, boom, dom, ta ra ra rom, ta ra boom de ay, ta ra ra boom de ay!
“Now what?” wondered Oropher. The commotion rapidly approached.
Striding down the path towards them there appeared to a creature like a giant oak tree with a large knobby head, frowsy hair, a twiggy, moss-green beard, and gnarled legs with immense toes. It was wearing a garment of rough bark.
“By the Belain, it’s an Onod,” Oropher cried. “That is a rare sight.”
Finrod brought his steed to a halt. “Fascinating. I’ve not encountered one before. Greetings, Shepherd,” he called and inclined his head with his hand over his heart. “What brings you hereabouts in such a furious, and may I say, uncharacteristic haste?”
The creature slowed, rumbled to a stop nearly on top of them, and leaning over without bending in the middle, eyed them intently. “Hoom, ah, yes Iathrim from Garthurian, I presume?”
“Not I,” said Finrod. “I am of the Noldor, presently from Nargothrond. I am Finrod Felagund. And what might you be called?”
“Hoom, yes,” He paused for a long moment as if collecting his thoughts. “Fangorn will do for now, since I am indeed most uncharacteristically in a hurry. You see, I’ve lost her.”
“Who?” Oropher inquired.
“Fimbrethil. My wife. Lovely, smooth-limbed, slender as a willow wand. Most diverting. Hom. But, hoom, somewhat of a temper. You haven’t seen her, have you?” The Onod’s eyebrows were drawn into a knot over his eyes. His beard stuck out like a broom. His voice was very deep and gravely, like water gurgling over stones.
“Your wife, er, no,” Oropher said.
“In fact, you are the first of your kind I’ve laid eyes on,” Finrod said. “And I am most curious about you. I wish we could spend a fortnight talking.”
“In normal circumstances, I would wish for a year at the least, my dear lachenn,” Fangorn said. “For I should like to hear all about the Trees that grew in Valinor, whose light I see you still carry in your eyes. But I worry about what may have happened to her.” He lowered his voice. “Did you not notice that burárum have penetrated Melian’s Girdle?”
“We noticed. Can you shed any light on it?” Finrod replied.
“Sadly, I cannot,” Fangorn rumbled. “But it fills me with trepidation. It would be a dreadful omen if something had happened to Fair Melian, the Queen.”
“How did your wife become lost?” Oropher asked. “Do you not know every root and twig of these forests?”
“Hoom now, young master,” Fangorn rumbled. “Indeed. But I did not say she became lost. I said I lost her. Fimbrethil is rather flighty even for an Ent. I find it difficult to keep her by my side these days. She complained this entire past lunar cycle that life with me was becoming, hoom ha, unsatisfactory.”
“Unsatisfactory?” Oropher asked and then exclaimed, “Oof!” when Finrod elbowed him in the stomach.
Fangorn’s eyes shifted from left to right. He leaned forward and put his hand to his mouth. “She complained about a lack . . . of . . . of wood.”
“Of wood?” Oropher said uncertainly. When Finrod jabbed him again, he saw the light and channeled the sudden laughter that threatened into a strangled snort that burned the inside of his nose.
“So, you see my good edhil, this is of serious moment,” Fangorn wheezed. “Spring is not the time for such a disaster.”
“No, I can see that.” Finrod shifted in the saddle. “Forgive my impertinence, but has this problem happened to you before?”
“Brrr, rumm,” Fangorn grumbled, the sound much like a large set of reed pipes. “I should say not. Well yes, now that I think of it, many years ago when we were sojourning in Dorthonion and that wicked Vala came and piled up his ugly mountains that spewed ash all over my beautiful trees. Spring did not come that year and neither did . . .”
“Ah yes, indeed,” Finrod sat up straight. “Do you think something similar has happened here? You have noticed, have you not, that nothing is blooming, blossoming or fruiting at the moment?”
Fangorn shook his head sadly. “I have noticed and it is of great concern. But all things in this wood are ruled by King Thingol and Queen Melian. Perhaps you should inquire of them.”
“That is what we intend to do,” Finrod said firmly.
“Well, forgive my hastiness,” Fangorn said. “This is most inhospitable of me. But I fear what would happen to Fimbrethil if she was caught by burárum. So, I’ll be on my way.”
“Well met, Fangorn,” Finrod said.
“Indeed yes,” the Onod replied. “We must have that talk, my friend. Soon, I think. Sometime in the next decade.” He started to walk past them, going slowly at first, and then picking up speed until he was in full lumber. As he disappeared around a bend in the path, he called back, “If you see my good Fimbrethil, please detain her, and hoom, send word to me, by rook or by squirrel.”
“We will,” Oropher called, while privately wondering how they could possibly detain an Onod if one did not wish to be detained. When Fangorn disappeared from sight, he began to giggle. “Lack of wood,” he said. “I always wondered how . . .”
Finrod turned his head and Oropher saw his lips quirk in a way that seemed to mean he was amused. The Noldo said, “Yes indeed. Wood is necessary to keep a household warm.”
By the time they reached Menegroth, the myriad beech trees on either side of the path were throwing long shadows in the late afternoon sun. The two elves crested a hill and then stood for a moment looking down into a wide valley. At the far end a white wooden bridge arched over the roaring Esgalduin. Beyond the bridge stood the great silver gates that led to the King’s underground realm. Near the gates, Oropher could discern the leafless canopy of an immense beech tree formed of three separate intertwined trunks. Suddenly a small flock of ravens rose from shaggy nests in its branches and flapped towards them, calling in harsh voices.
“The King’s messengers,” Finrod noted.
“Yes, I know,” Oropher said. Very rarely one would appear bearing a message for his father. He remembered their strange croaking voices.
In the distance, they heard a horn winding, a lovely if mournful sound. Several more took up the call, creating a harmonious blend.
“How exciting!” Oropher said, clutching Finrod’s shoulders.
“Have you never been here before?” Finrod asked.
“No, I confess this is my first time.”
“You have a refreshing candor, Doronulion. Well, then may you enjoy the experience. It is quite a sight.”
Suddenly, the woods about them came alive with elves, drawing their bows. “You see, here is the welcoming crew,” Finrod said. “Strange. I’ve never had one before.”
“Halt! Do not move!” one of the wardens cried.
“Limbor, you know me!” Finrod sounded annoyed. “What is happening around here?”
The group of elves crept closer, still with bows drawn. “Ah yes, Finrod, I do know you,” the one named Limbor replied with a scowl on his fair face. “But I fear the welcome is less good than in the past. Foul doings are afoot.” He lowered his bow. “Dismount and come along, both of you. We have orders to detain any and all intruders and bring them directly to the King.”
“And pray, what is the reason for this?” Finrod said, as he slid off the horse.
Limbor came up close and lowered his voice. “There are thieves and spies among us. Most likely from Morgoth himself. We cannot be too careful. And while I may know you, I do not know your companion. Come.”
Finrod clicked to his mount and the small troop of elves escorted them down the path towards the gates. “It grows curiouser and curiouser,” Finrod muttered to Oropher, who was thinking much the same thing himself.
The wardens marched them over the bridge with the water roaring underneath and past the marvelous gates that Oropher now saw were inlaid with mother of pearl, shining in iridescent splendor. Soon after they passed the gates, Limbor directed one of the elves to stable Finrod’s great horse. Finrod removed the saddle bags and slung them over his shoulder.
They followed Limbor into a great hall. He motioned them over to a guard’s room just off the main hallway. Drawing himself up, Limbor rapidly reeled off words that seemed learned by rote. “In the light of recent events, it is the wardens’ unpleasant duty to thoroughly search everyone who comes and goes from Menegroth. So, take everything off and put all your clothes and belongings in these boxes on the table. Then step into the next room. Lean your hands against the wall and spread your legs so we may conduct the inspection.”
“What?” Oropher cried. “I never heard about this before!”
“It’s either this or you do not enter the realm.” Limbor shrugged.
With a sigh, Oropher began shucking his clothing. It wasn’t that he was opposed to removing his clothes, something that, given the chance, he’d done often enough; it was just that this was so undignified. He glanced over at Finrod who was unbuckling and unlacing, and unpinning this and that and finally rather awkwardly leaning one hand against the wall to facilitate removal of his leggings. The revelation of the rather substantial and intriguing contents of his hose convinced Oropher that this wasn’t so bad after all.
“This is a rather crude way of discovering illicit activity,” Finrod said, holding up his leggings and waving them at Limbor. “For example, young Limbor, just this morning when you passed by the bakers, you helped yourself to an extra loaf, which I can tell from the slight bulge in your vest pocket and the little dusting of flour on the rim. And the taint on your breath leads me to suspect that you visited the King’s wine cellar before coming on duty. Further, I infer that the wine may be a substitute for the lack of satisfaction you’ve had with your partner lately.”
Limbor’s mouth flapped open and closed again, in just the landed fish manner Oropher suspected he had evidenced when Finrod demonstrated this uncanny ability to him.
“How did you know that last bit?” Limbor finally said.
“Well,” said Finrod, now fully naked and leaning his hands against the wall to present a truly scrumptious backside. “In addition to your uncharacteristic bad humor, I know your proclivities, Limbor, and under normal circumstances you would find the sight of two naked, and if I may be so frank, rather comely elves, more stimulating than apparently you do.”
“Shut up,” Limbor said. “And hold still.”
“Ow,” Finrod declared. “No need to take it out on me.”
Oropher found standing naked next to Finrod a source of some difficulty and was happy when the inspection was concluded and he could dress and cover up his embarrassment. He hoped Finrod hadn’t noticed, but given his powers of observation, he didn’t think it likely.
They followed a grumbling Limbor back out into the main hall, filled with elves bustling to and fro. Oropher knew he looked like the yokel he was but he could not help staring at the impossibly high ceilings, the pillars hewn in the shapes of trees and fantastic animals with eyes made of crystal and ruby. They were festooned with ivy and lit with many golden lamps so that the halls blazed with light. The floors were inlaid with multi-colored mosaics. A variety of birds nested high up in the branches of the stone trees, so that there was a great twittering and warbling. Somewhere among them, Oropher heard nightingales singing sweetly. This arrangement, as appealing to the ear as it was, apparently had a down side, which Oropher noted the first time a small white plop splattered on that beautiful stone floor. An elf bearing a white cloth leapt from some hidden spot and bent to wipe it up. Oropher noted that he wore a straw hat covered with more of the white blobs. Now that would be a secure job, Oropher thought. Not wishing to wear such decorations for his first audience with the Great King, he kept a wary eye on the birds.
It was not until they reached the inner halls that Oropher pulled his eyes away from the splendid architecture and the defecating birds long enough to notice the unusual mode of dress affected by the elves of Thingol’s court. The fabrics were beautiful, velvets and silk brocades, predominantly colored red and silver and black and gold. But unlike Oropher and Finrod’s tunics that reached to mid-thigh, the male elves’ tunics ended just past their hips, completely exposing legs encased in tight hose of varying colors. This revealed the exact shape of their hind ends, which was something Oropher approved of. But even more remarkable, their privates were covered by bulging bags of fabric tied on with ribbons. Often they were of contrasting color to the tights and decorated with sparkling gems. Clearly, the elves stuffed them, because the outlandish size was unlikely to occur naturally without pain and certainly went beyond anything in Oropher’s experience. This peculiar garment’s effect was to immediately and irrevocably draw the eye. Oropher was completely dazzled.
“You may wish to pull your tongue back into your mouth,” Finrod remarked. “The King won’t take kindly to it.”
“Indeed?” Oropher said. “Um, what is it or rather why?”
“I would have thought it obvious. It’s a piece of cloth to cover one’s . . .”
“I can see that,” Oropher interrupted. “I meant why would the King, who I heard was rather proper about such matters, condone such a strange and rather provocative form of dress?”
“It is curious, is it not? As best as I was able to learn, the King invented this garment some years ago to please his queen and it was adopted by the rest of his court. Although I suspect there might be a certain primitive competition ritual involved. You’ll note they all vie to be largest and most gaudy. I daresay, some of them have trouble sitting with the things. I wouldn’t wear one myself, having no need to compete for a mate.” For a moment Finrod’s eyes seemed unfocussed with some memory. “Oh, and it is called a corongyll, or codpiece in the common tongue. Also occasionally referred to as a dolthand or a mirchebir.”
Oropher thought he could quite easily adapt to this style. He could envision having one made for himself. A big stuffed corongyll. He fancied a two-toned effect, half red, half yellow. Then he realized his decorative imagination had been lacking when a dark-haired beauty approached, sporting a bulging codpiece with a long beaded fringe. Quite forgetting his manners, Oropher stared and then turned completely about in order to continue looking at the elf as he passed by. The elf gave him a dispirited look and hastened off.
“Come along, now,” Finrod said, firmly setting his hands to Oropher’s shoulders and turning him back around.
“This is a paradise,” Oropher enthused.
“And something is not right in this paradise,” Finrod proclaimed.
“What makes you say that?”
“Normally any elf in this court receiving such a blatant invitation as you just extended would have come over and flirted outrageously. I sense that all is not well in Menegroth.”
Written for the Slashy Valentine fic exchange 2011 for Darth Fingon.
Rating: Soft R mostly for innuendo
MEFA 2011 winner First Place in Mystery: General and also a winner of a Smaug's Treasure award.
Warning: This story may pique the sensibilities of some Tolkien canatics with its flagrant flouting of the LaCE, double entendres, gwib references, outrageous elvish attire, and completely disrespectful characterizations.
Betas: Many thanks to my wonderfully perceptive and skilled beta Russandol, to botanical researcher Leaf Light, and to language consultant Malinornë. Their skills greatly improved this fic and their lively correspondence made writing it fun.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or the setting, not do I make any money on this endeavor.
Tait Geijer(left) as Oropher and Rupert Friend (right)as Finrod. Banner by Russandol.
“ . . . when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
If you have detected a certain similarity between Finrod and Oropher and Sherlock Holmes and Watson, you would be right. In fact, just before I started writing this I became enamored of the new BBC series Sherlock Holmes starring the marvelous Benedict Cumberbatch, so I grafted their characters onto mine. And yes, Thingol is Lestrad and Galadriel is Mycroft, Holmes’ brother, with a sex change.
echuilas- awakening leaf or herb in Sindarin. From echui (awakening) and las (leaf or herb). This is a revision, thanks to Malinornë, of an elfscribe invention, originally called echuilin thul.
Doronul - Oropher’s father. An elfscribe invented name meaning “oak odor” in Sindarin
gwib - Sindarin for penis.
Thindroch - grey horse in Sindarin. (not very inventive, but hey, this is the 11th hour for this fic.)
The bawdy song: “Last night a dream came into my head” is from The Traditional Music Library on Line. http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/bawdy-songs/002120.HTM Thanks to Russandol for locating it for me.
Iathrim from Garthurian - Iathrim is a Sindarin name for elves from Doriath and Garthurian meaning “fenced realm” another name for Doriath.
On Fangorn’s appearance - It is canon for Fangorn to habituate the region. Treebeard’s song to Merry and Pippin says, “to the beeches of Neldoreth I came in the Autumn.” Neldoreth is within Doriath, just to the north of the River Esgalduin.
corongyll, means “ball bearer” in Sindarin. Dolthand means “knob shield” and mirchebir means “jewel keeper.” Thanks to Malinornë who gave me 30 words for codpiece, all rather hysterical.
Limbor - the name means “Clear Need” and came about when fussing with Darth’s Pixelated Fëanor name generator. Nothing I tried sounded good, so in frustration I hit the randomizer and got Limbor. Obviously, it was meant to be.