Of Poisons and Lace



There was a small rustling noise by the door, and a mouse-like squeak. Uilossiel looked up from her work distractedly, pen stilling in her hand. Limthir stood in the doorway, chestnut hair hopelessly tousled. She smiled indulgently at the apprentice scholar, gesturing for him to enter.

 

“Er… you have a letter, hiril Uilossiel.” He awkwardly put his hand forwards, handing over a letter with an ornate seal of golden wax, stamped with a crest of niphredil blossoms and mallorn leaves. Her eyes widened.

 

“Why, thank you, Limthir. Call me Uilossiel, will you? You are living in the house with Ada and Naneth, so surely you may drop the formalities?” She regarded Limthir fondly. He opened his limpid green eyes wider and nodded eagerly.

 

“You are most welcome, er .. Uilossiel.” He made a stiff, awkward bow, nearly tripping over the hem of his robes, and scuttled out of the door.

 

Curiously, she opened the letter, eyes alighting once more on the seal. She recognized it as the emblem of her mother’s family, and sighed softly. If this was another letter about her second cousin’s upcoming wedding … She passed a hand over her forehead. She had heard enough about wedding dresses and jewellery and food and parties to last an entire lifetime. It had begun shortly before midwinter, when a letter from the Golden Wood had set her mother and younger sister all a-flutter. Their second cousin Líriel, daughter of Naneth’s cousin Merilien, was to be wed in the spring, after a long and rather fraught betrothal to a marchwarden of the Wood named Galthoron. She could care less, not actually remembering much of Líriel beside the fact that she was a seamstress and had a pretty voice. Galthoron she actually liked - he was a jovial fellow, with a quick wit and ready smile. Her mother and sister had always been much closer to her mob of extended family and cousins in the Golden Wood.She gave a resigned huff and took out the letter. It was not what she had expected.

 

Dearest cousin,

 

Your sister tells me you have been studying the poisons and ailments of the Greenwood for some time.

 

Uilossiel glared at some point on the wall, then rested both of her hands on her forehead. Leave her younger sister Tinwen to gossip about her studies to random family members in the Golden Wood. She continued reading, arching an eyebrow at the neatly done script. She had not remembered the giggling girl Líriel as having any scholarly inclinations at her last visit. Perhaps age had taught her to value such things, she thought to herself.

 

May I ask you when, if ever, you will be coming to call upon your kin here? Such studies like yours will not be as fruitful in Imladris, far from the threat that my betrothed and his brothers-in-arms face daily.

 

Uilossiel arched an eyebrow. Now Líriel was actually sounding articulate. Quite different from her usual prattle of dresses, gossip and formal gatherings. But how dare Líriel give her advice on her own studies? She narrowed her eyes at the letter.

 

Galthoron has recently returned from a deployment across the Anduin, and says for himself that they are short of healers, in fact will always be. I am relieved that he has been released from his duties as a soldier, for we are to be wed soon, but all the same I cannot but fear for what will come. Only a fortnight ago one of his comrades was taken by some vile spider-venom, and dear Galthoron has not been himself for some time. You know how he is, suddenly brooding and quiet, sometimes for days on end.

 

This merited some consideration, Uilossiel decided. Despite the shortcomings of her rather vapid second cousin, she quite admired Galthoron. He had been a frequent companion during her time in Lórien, always ready to crack jokes, spin a few tales, or recount incidents in his life as a marchwarden. She did not like to think of him brooding and unhappy, as she had seen him before whenever one of his fellow soldiers had passed. He was a bit like Tancamir in that regard, she reflected.

 

I know that it is difficult to pass the mountains at this time of year, and indeed your lady mother and sister have written back to me already saying that their presence may be missed at our wedding -

 

Difficult? Quite an understatement, cousin. Uilossiel rolled her eyes suppressing a snort of laughter at “lady mother.” Líriel was often rather obsequious in her greetings. Amusingly so.

 

- but either way, Galthoron and I extend to you our hospitality if you should decide to ever pay us a visit. There is a library here in Lórien too, you know. I am sure your studies might benefit, and it has been ever so long since you were here with your mother and your dear sister.

 

May this letter find you and your family in Imladris well and prosperous.

 

Much love,

 

Líriel of Lórien

 

Uilossiel had to bite back a few more choice words after reading this, and setting the letter aside with a sigh. She did not have much fondness for the Golden Wood, finding it a strange and foreign place after having spent all her childhood in Imladris. And furthermore, it was the place where her mother and sister had spent nearly half an Age away from her, after Tancamir had departed Imladris. There had been such turmoil in the house then - she shuddered to remember her mother's heartsickness, and all the overheard arguments between her parents which had led her mother to leave for Lórien, taking Tinwen with her. Was it worth returning there, for the sake of family and duty?

Uilossiel set down her pen, eyes flickering over to Míril who sat sleeping in a basket by the fireplace, furry ears twitching intermittently. She had grown from a small, timid bunny to a medium-sized rabbit with glossy, thick grey and white fur. Idly Uilossiel wondered if the girl Limithil would be proud to see Míril all grown up. Her agitated thoughts settled for a bit as she wandered over to the fire, kneeling by the hearth to stare into the fire, resting one hand absently on Míril's side. Though Imladris would always be her home , her thoughts turned eastward to the land of her mother's kin, and the dark woods which lay beyond.