A Hard Truth



The copper-haired elf took the silver arrowhead and held it up to the light of the forge, inspecting it with a keen eye. 

“How many?”

“Twenty.”

The smith’s lips twitched into a smirk.

“You lose twice as many in a single day, Dolthafaer.”

The Lord of the Arrow chuckled under his breath and dropped a small pouch of coins onto the table strewn with scattered notes, tools, and metal shavings. Sometimes he wondered how the foreman could find anything amidst this mess.

“Then I suppose I will have to come back tomorrow.”

Ararusco placed the arrowhead down next to the pouch.

“My price tomorrow will be a bottle of Dorwinion.”

“A steep price for some bits of steel, smith.”

“Two bottles,” the smith countered with a grin, leaning back into his table and folding his arms over his chest.  “You could always undertake the task yourself.  I know your father taught you that much.”

Dolthafaer scoffed.

“You also know that I am far too busy for that nonsense.”

“Two bottles.”

“Done.”

They shook on it, sharing a warm smile, and Dolthafaer opened his mouth to ask his friend whether it would be white or red or both when the heavy door to the forge swung open.  In walked a young dark-haired elf who Dolthafaer recognized as an attendant of the stables.  A spark of relief lit her features when she spotted the two of them.

“Lord Dolthafaer!”

He straightened from his easy stance when the stablehand approached and dipped into a short bow.  He gestured for her to rise, a small frown already creasing his brow. 

“What is it, Rochrinuil?”

“He left the Valley, my lord.”

“Who?” asked Ararusco, curious, not bothering to get up himself.

“Thendryt,” sighed Dolthafaer.  “When?”

“I came looking for you straight away.  He has not been gone an hour.”

“Do you know where he went?”

“No, my lord.  But he seemed…”

Dolthafaer itched at her hesitation. 

“What?”

“Agitated,” she sighed.  “Hunted.  He kicked in the door, startling the horses, and he left in a hurry.  He barely threw the saddle over his horse’s back before they fled from the Valley as if Carcharoth himself was at their heels.”

Dolthafaer frowned, casting a quick look over her shoulder at the door.

“Thank you, Rochrinuil.”

The stablehand bowed again.

“My lord.”

The Lord of the Arrow left the forge with a muttered farewell to his friend and started down the path with a purpose.  The Valley was empty and quiet this morning, which he decided to take as a good sign.  No cries of alarm.  No panic.  No mobs shouting for the blood of the most infuriating Man in Imladris.  Of course, that could also mean that whatever foolish thing he had done had not yet been discovered.

Dolthafaer did not stop until he stood in front of the door of Thendryt’s home.  It was a small and nondescript house near the outskirts of Imladris, weathered though not in bad repair, half-hidden in the greenery.  He did not bother to knock before he tried the door – unlocked – and let himself inside.

It was immediately apparent that there had been a struggle.  A stool was in splinters upon the ground, a bookshelf was broken, a table was missing half a leg, a mirror had shattered.  There was a hole in the wall.  A window had been smashed clean through.  But there was no blood upon the floor, no body hunched in the corner. 

Curiously, it seemed as though someone had attempted to tidy up – books were stacked haphazardly beside the bookshelf, and aside for a few shards clinging to the frame of the mirror, there was no broken glass to be found.

He left in a hurry, the girl had said.  Hunted.

He had not been alone.

As the dark-haired elf stood in the middle of the room, surveying the damage around him, his mind turned back to a time he had stood in another room – smaller, colder, a darkness thick as blood sinking into his bones.  The hairs rose at the back of his neck and he turned on his heel, striding out of the house as silently as he had come.

Myrith…

Dolthafaer slammed the door behind him, flung his cloak haphazardly upon the ground, and stormed up the stairs to his study.  The morning light streamed in from the open windows, dust motes dancing in the golden rays, but it did little to warm the chill within him.  He wasted no time in retrieving the journal from its hiding-place and setting it down upon his desk, already opening it to a certain page before he perched on the edge of the chair to read.

Myrith speaks to me.

Fáorië struggled to understand the madness within her friend – and here it was, spilled upon these yellow pages, as clear as day if one cared enough to read between the lines. 

He takes over.

I am afraid.

I can focus on the pain.

I won’t let him hurt them.


Why would a man such as Thendryt scribble such thoughts onto these ruined pages and allow them to be found if a part of him did not wish for them to be found – for understanding, and aye, perhaps even for help?

Dolthafaer shoved the journal away from him and threw himself back into the chair, frustrated – with himself, with the problem of Thendryt. 

And why should he be the one to help him?  It would be easy enough to simply put the book away and put the Man out of his mind and allow him to find whatever fate he was chasing with open arms.  What concern was it of his if he decided to tear himself to pieces, trying to rip the madness from his heart? 

Yrill, smiling. 

He is not your enemy.  You care… even for a mortal!

Those words had touched upon a truth that Dolthafaer finally, drenched in the morning light, could no longer hide from himself.  Thendryt had ceased to be his enemy the night that he had found the cell in Delossad.  Slowly, inch by damnable inch, the purpose behind his vigilance had changed – watching not to catch, but to protect.  It was not in his nature to abandon broken things.  He never could have stood aside to allow this infuriating Man to destroy himself.

Sobered by this newfound understanding, Dolthafaer simply sat in silence for a while, staring at the open journal lying askew upon his desk.  Slowly, the tension began to ease from his shoulders.  A small smile flickered across his face.  He slid a hand through his loose dark hair and sighed through his nose.

Now… what to do?

It was not clear that Thendryt – or anyone else, for that matter – was in immediate danger, but clearly something was afoot.  The signs were there.  Trouble had been brewing for a while now, mirrored in the concern of Fáorië and the protectiveness of Lilleduil.

Dolthafaer had a fair idea of where he could be found.

Slowly, the Lord of the Arrow rose up from his chair, closed the journal, and left it upon his desk. A few moments later, he had gathered up his cloak, slung his quiver over his shoulder, and took up his bow.  He strode out the door and went in search of Fáorië.