Elves. What wondrous, extraordinary, beautiful and terrifying creatures. Never in all my years had I seen one and indeed I had mostly resorted to thinking of them as beings of stories and tall tales, yet now I've spent a while among a few of them in this land they call Eregion. It was a name I had seen on a map once, and so it was scribed on my hastily drawn map also, but nothing else did I know of these lands before coming here, somewhat by chance.
We journeyed through Enedwaith without much trouble at all, me and dear Sigefaest. We came upon a few Dunlendings on our way but these were surprisingly well-mannered, hailing us and wishing us a good day as we passed them with our waggon of mixed goods. Perhaps they thought us simply as a merchant and his steed, I know not, but be it as it may we passed that welcoming and green land unharassed. Of this, we were thankful.
Even now the hasty maps I had drawn based on the inconsistent and old ones I came across in Rohan, a feat in itself, were starting to become more and more vague and only the bare outline of further lands and roads therein were scribbled on them. I discerned that Eriador could be reached by two ways from my current position, through north and by going more north-west and soon crossing the river Greyflood.
A thought occurred to me that I had reached a milestone of sorts. While I was already on unfamiliar territory, I at least knew that these were the lands of the Dunlendings and as such held a certain amount of familiarity. As a people they were familiar to me, even if the lands I now rode on weren't. But further down the road everything would be new to me. Would the Men of the North welcome me or greet me with hostility as most of the people of Dunland would?
Both ways toward far away Eriador were equally strange and alluring to me and I found it hard to decide which way to go. I had just about ready to choose the path to the north-west when a white squirrel happened by and stopped near Sigefaest, staring at him for a moment, and as suddenly as it had appeared it dashed with terrible speed and agility northward. I decided that this was as good a sign as any, and bid my friend pull the waggon in the wake of that curious white animal. Perhaps we'd return home via the other road that would for now remain unused by me at least.
We travelled that road a day, perhaps two, until we came upon a river. On the other side of that river a land dotted with evergreens opened up and as we forded the river I could see ruins of buildings that once had to be of extraordinary craftsmanship, so intricate was the stonework I had never even imagined such and even the ruined stones seemed to me as marvelous monuments.
The evening grew darker as we went on, the road winding ever due north. We didn't journey far until in the distance we saw the light of a fire that flickered through the gaps and cracks of a ruined wall of a similar make we had already seen on other ruined buildings we had passed a few times since reaching this curious land.
As before, my first instinct was that the fire was lit by bandits. Who else would reside in ruins but creatures of vile intent? Yet something about it all had a serene air to it. The fire suddenly seemed calming and it drew me to it, telling me not to worry. Sigefaest was likewise placated by the peaceful sensation and we drew ever closer to the source of light that by now was the only thing that could easily be seen in the darkness of the early night, save for the moon and the stars that watched us from above.
As we reached the ruins I bade my dear Sigefaest halt, while I looked around in the darkness and into the ruins that was aglow with the warm fire. Eerie it was, as no living thing was to be seen. Who started this fire, I started to wonder, but had scarcely started that thought before a voice so melodic it could've been uttered by the greatest of bards suddenly spoke right next to me.
"Le suilon, randir." it said, though at the time I knew it not. "Maedol. Tolo, govano ven..." The stranger in the dark continued and I could see his hand beckoning toward the fire, yet I was stuck to my saddle after meeting the strangers face with my eyes. This was an Elf I looked upon. There could be no mistake. The man was tall and lithe and yet carried himself like a king and in his posture and demeanor there was the strength of ten Men. So it seemed, spellbound as I was by the sight.
Slowly I dismounted and followed this Elf towards the fire, where, to my surprise, now sat four more of his kind, all with amused smiles on their faces as they welcomed me and gestured towards an empty space on a long, soft cushion by the fire. "Welcome, wanderer." One of them said, now in a tongue I could understand. "Do not be afraid, for you are among friends. I am Dornhador, and who might you be?"
Elves. What wondrous, extraordinary, beautiful and terrifying creatures.