One Last Time



In the Hall of Fire elves gathered, summoned by their Lord Anglachelm.

 

"My Lords! And Lady,” he said, addressing Danel. She bowed her head.

 

“I showed consent to gatherings earlier last month, even though our supplies had been dwindling at an alarming rate. Which Lord Parnard would agree -”'

The Lord Ambassador looked up from his doodlings, a little startled. “'Eh? Oh, yes, my Lord!”

“I did this in order to keep up the morale and good humour between the Eldar,” Anglachelm continued. “But what I see here -” he paused, picking up a paper covered with a long list of figures, and began reading. ''Eighteen chairs of good make. Two tables. Wasted, burnt or spoiled, due to whatever reason…”

 

Parnard listened with peculiar delight to all of the unflattering accounts of the Hammers, the smashing of the furniture, the breaking of the mirrors, and the wounding of two of their members during a rousing feast. And then, ignoring a hard look from Danel, he stepped forward and presented Lord Anglachelm with a new bill. Two carved chairs of walnut and brocade, smashed to splinters by a blind-folded Raolor, who, Parnard noted, was conveniently not in attendance. Neither was Lord Veryacano. Parnard clucked his tongue. So much for discipline amongst this elite fighting force!

 

At that moment Daegond the Hound burst into the Hall of Fire, cracking the doors against the walls so that they swung shut crookedly, hinges torn from their anchors. Anglachelm made a rapid adjustment to the column of figures.

 

"This coin, material and time could be directed into a nobler effort than replacing chairs, using bandages, and damaging doors.”

 

“Of course,” said Lord Tindir, second-in-command of the Hammer Order. “No gate will be opened without doors present, my Liege.”

 

What does that even mean? wondered Parnard.

 

But Tindir was not finished explaining. “It is a bit like the saying, where one saws, there will be splinters? Sawdust? Rubbish?”

 

Parnard snorted. Rubbish is right!

 

“Well said m’lord,” said Daegond.

 

“Whatever is broken can be mended. But two Hammers injured? My Lord Tindir!” exclaimed Anglachelm, clearly out of patience. “In the absence of Veryacano, it is upon you to answer. What recreation injures our soldiers?”

 

"Sparring, my Liege, and walking around blindfolded. It was a silly game, actually," Lord Tindir said, dragging his sleeve across his forehead. Tindir was not very eloquent of speech, thought Parnard, words seemed to limp rather than roll off his tongue.

 

“And pray, why they were brawling?” asked Anglachelm.

 

How Tindir was sweating! Very glad was Parnard that he had not been accepted into the Order of the Hammer - who knows what sort of trouble he would have found himself in that unenviable group ever ready to commit all manner of outrage and violence.

 

Then Daegond came forward. “Some doors can be repaired but our morale is easier kept high than recovered.”

 

Anglachelm stared at the Hound. “Can’t you Hammers entertain yourselves without brawling?”

 

“Others have not run amok destroying the furniture, although they were affected by Themodir's passing,” muttered Parnard.

 

“Furniture is easier to repair than morale, my Lord,” Danel interjected. “And what I saw did improve morale for many.”

 

“You are arguing the cost of some furniture against morale and making mountains out of molehills.” Vorongwë observed.

 

“It is no way for a disciplined fighting force to carry themselves,” countered Parnard. “We are guest-elves here by the grace of Lord Elrond.”

 

“No, it is not disciplined. But it is an outlet for anger and sorrow that sometimes cannot be easily found elsewhere,” Danel said.

 

Anglachelm listened to each of his officers speak in turn, mulling over what was said and what was not said. Finally he said, “We shall overlook this, for one last time..." and offered judgment.

 

Parnard frowned a little but said nothing. His Lordship was merciful yet again, forgiving the Hammers of their latest offense. He even saw fit to announce that each of the Orders would have to follow the strictest of economy, so as to prevent waste, and pay for the cost of damages, rather than expecting the House to pay from the general coffers. More paperwork and bother! Why should others be punished for the Hammer's latest recklessness? He tapped his quill against the page.

 

“Ah, my Lord, other Orders do not require as much expense, in terms of food, armour...why, some of us do not wear any armour…” he volunteered.

 

Be that as it may, Anglachelm told him, he would still like to compare the figures. Each Order’s Lord would appoint a Quartermaster to do this work.

 

Oh, that was different! His Lordship was the wisest and kindest of elves! Parnard brightened, his glance immediately going to Norliriel.

 

Daegond kneeled before Anglachelm. “Hammer pays its debts in blood my Lord. Send us to death, and we shall bring you glory.”

“And bodies,” added Parnard helpfully. He believed he had misspoke when Daegond began eyeing him as an executioner would look at the man he was about to behead, and so he bent his gaze back to his paper and got very busy with his quill again. ‘“We shall overlook this, one last time…”’ he wrote, and underlined it several times.