I wanted my mind clear to concentrate. This was the most personal work I had ever set my hand to, and it had to be just right. But there were other demands vying for my attention. Parnard’s suggestion of me making rings or wristlets imbued with a virtue to help resist the sea longing was dear to my heart. I wondered that no one had crafted such before? Then again, in the times of Eregion there had been little desire to depart, focusing rather on building our ‘Kingdom’ here. And if anyone had worked such art in more recent times, I knew not of it. If I could devise aught that would lessen the call for Estarfin and I, and in due course perhaps for Parnard, would I not do it?
But then, after our last night in Mithlond, I was made aware of another ring I should likely be making. That ring, in truth, was my focus.
So I was sitting at my work table, with an array of tools set before me, a precious box containing many of my most valued gems, and my sketch book lying open and to one side.
There was a firm knock on the door.
“Who is there?” Normally there would be no need to ask unless I was totally absorbed in forging, but I could not risk Estarfin seeing what I was doing.
“It is I, cousin. I am looking for a map,” came the familiar voice of Parnard.
And in he came, making a bow to me. He smiled.
“Good day to you, cousin.” He looked around the room. “There must be a map of Eriador in that cabinet yonder…”
I nodded as he walked past me, casting an inquisitive eye over my work as he did.
“I try to keep maps of any area we may need or want to visit. Most are in that drawer, though there are others on the walls of the houses. There should be one of Eriador there.”
I pushed my sketch book away, thinking I would not be able to concentrate on what I was doing at that moment. “I would think you really need maps of the far side of the Hithaeglir? The ones showing Mirkwood, though I take it you are familiar enough with the forests themselves?” I glanced back at the page showing my planned design for the silver ring.
Parnard nodded, pulled out the map of Eriador and said, “But I have not asked Estarfin yet.”
I laid a hand longingly on my illustration, then turned to Parnard. “It was clever of you to ask for his help last night, though.”
“I never thought he would naysay you.”
Parnard seemed to look pleased with himself. “Well I did not think it clever. I merely wished to ask him…”
“You know him. He will not go back on his word.” I rose to my feet, walked over to the cabinet and drew out a map of the Vale of the Andune. “Here, this is all we may want. It will take us to Forest Gate. Though Estarfin and I found it late last year without maps. The trail is straightforward. He does not tolerate the Woodsmen though, so we shall need to give them wide berth.”
Parnard looked at me a moment, but seemed distracted.
“Much was said last night, and much was drunk,” he laughed.
I smiled a little, knowing I had oversaid…a lot. “I spoke too long at one sitting.”
Parnard shrugged and walked over to join me at my table. ”In truth cousin…I thought it not the time to ask him. Not after the history of the glorious Noldor!”
‘The glorious Noldor’ I said softly to myself, well aware that I had only spoken of the more ‘glorious ‘ parts. I had spoken of the rift with the Valar, but not even hinted at the Kinslayings. That was for another day. For I thought Parnard would need to know all of our ‘glorious’ deeds at some point, if he were to understand Estarfin. What he would make of it, I knew not.
“The Noldor took action that was long delayed…” Parnard was saying.
“Yes, we did, but I have only told you the first part. I was hoping Estarfin would take up those parts more relevant to him. Perhaps soon?”
“As you like, lady. As you like.”
“As he likes, really,” I replied. “But we should ask him outright about Mirkwood. It is unfair we ask him to commit to something he knows not where.”
“He did say he would help..hmm. I shall speak with him anon. Wait until I have? Do not ask him for me!"
I would happily aid Parnard, but I deemed him right to want to speak with Estarfin alone, neither would I discount his wish.
“Though he loves not the dark forest, I think he will support a friend. He is honourable to a fault. Be bold cousin. He will respect that.”
Parnard seemed satisfied with my reply. “I shall be bold,” Parnard confirmed. .
“And now, I have other thoughts. “Perhaps that was insufficiently direct for my wood elf friend to realise I was desperate to get on with my work?
He looked at me curiously. “What kind of thoughts?”
‘Ai’ “Several,” I said, "but none bad.”
“Not of the sea, I hope?” Parnard looked closely at me, his green eyes shadowed a little with concern.
I shook my head, and smiled. “Only in the sense that I am considering your suggestion.”
“My suggestion? Hmm! Oh, the rings?” he straightened up looking most bright of expression.
“I have two craftings I would work on.” I nodded at him again. Indeed, I was most pleased with his earlier suggestion.
“Both rings?” he asked.
“Both? Three. You will need one as well.”
“Three?” repeated Parnard. “Oh, I need no such thing, cousin.” He smiled blithely at me.
“But what if the Sea Longing comes upon you? I hope it does not, of course.”
Parnard seemed to consider my words.
“If we all have rings then we all have some defense against it if and when it occurs. Estarfin has sore need of such virtue. Maybe even more than I.”
I moved back to my work table.
“Maybe one day, after hundreds of years it may happen. I should be prepared,” Parnard said.
I pointed at my sketches of the Rings so far, and Parnard moved to look over my shoulder. I indicated a ripple shaped band, with three layers of colouring.
“What are they made of,” Parnard asked.
“Silver and gold,” I replied. “Mithril would be better, but I have not enough for them.”
“Then you will craft a dweomer?”
“They will each need a gem, or gem shards more likely. It is that which can be…focused on a virtue.”
Parnard grinned. “Ah, but you do not wish to tell your trade secrets.”
I smiled a little secretively. “I shall make the first two, and if they show promise I will make a third for you.” It was not the first time Parnard had tried to get me to tell him a little of my skills.
“He nodded. “I know the craftsman’s mind,” he said.
“It takes many centuries to learn the skills of a Mirdan,” I explained. “To imbue a gem or metal with a purpose. I have studied long, but I am no Master Smith. I shall do my best.”
“Do you use herbs?” continued the inquisitive wood elf.
“Sometimes. It depends on the purpose. I am thinking of using sea thistle for this. But I must make more preparations.”
“What gems will you use?”
“I have not yet decided. Small and flatter in shape. I do not want them catching on gloves or gauntlets. Not that they need be worn all the time.”
I drew a deep breath. “But I want to make another ring, and that needs to be silver. Yet I will strengthen it with all the mithril I have left. An alloy band with gem fragments, and also, I coughed briefly, a small strand of hair.”
Parnard looked at me. “Whose hair?”
“Mine, of course.” I laughed.
His smile grew bigger that his face was aglow.
“I would have something of me in this ring, though I will set no dweomer upon it.”
“The betrothal ring,” Parnard said.
“It is as I always thought. You and Estarfin are to be married at last!”
I smiled now at my ‘cousin's’ obvious joy. “I did not say much to you earlier, for that last night at Mithlond was a mixture of emotions for both Estarfin and I. But we are finally agreed.”
Parnard laughed, and grinned even broader. “I am mightily gladdened to hear it, mightily gladdened …”
“Betrothed, Parnard. Sometime in the next few months I suspect. Marriage is at least a year after that.”
Parnard nodded that he understood. I could not help myself, I stood and gave him a hug. “Thank you, my friend, for all you have done to help us. But I must have something ready. He and I need speak further on any plans.”
“It’s best to be prepared, cousin.” he looked at my table and picked up a small pair of tweezers. “You must get busy… “
“And yes, I think we shall be calling on your aid in preparing a celebration, if you will, though exactly when I know not yet.”
“You will exchange rings at the Autumn feast?” Parnard inspected the tiny points of the tweezers, then put them down.
I paused a moment and shook my head. “It is too soon. And our people more often are betrothed…..were betrothed in the spring, or at Midsummer or Yule.”
“We must hunt for venison and other game. Duck, I prefer it. And …oh?”
“Estarfin cannot ask me to make my own ring,” I continued on with rings rather than victuals, “So he must make one himself or find someone else who can.”
“We should still celebrate the Autumn Feast though.” I thought of how significant that feast was to my friend. We would certainly honour it.
“I would have to find someone to help me make a ring too,” Parnard said.
I raised a hand. “Look no further. I have a small waiting list, but I would be honoured to help. It’s just a bit improper to make one’s own ring, I think.”
Parnard looked at me. “I have an idea. What if I were to show a ring to Captain Brethenel, eh? Do you think he would be impressed by that?”
“Something made by a Mirdan? He just might.” I winked at Parnard in approval.
“Instead of the necklace. A ring!” Parnard appeared lost in thought for a moment.
“Such a ring would take priority over the ones to lessen the Sea Longing,” I said, that Parnard knew his wish was important.
“Sometimes I feel I should speak with Estarfin about such things…” he suddenly announced.
“About rings?” I asked. “He is an armour and weapon smith.”
“No,” Panard replied. “About what to do about Captain Brethenel.”
“Oh. well yes. That makes more sense. He can be quite wise.” I pondered a moment. “Far wiser than I suspected.”
“We have these early autumn evenings upon us..and a hunt, and a feast preparation. There should be plenty of opportunities to speak with him alone.”
Parnard bowed his head to me. “I hope I was not rude by saying that, cousin..”
I shook my head. “Of course not. You should speak or ride or hunt with him when you will. And of course there are matters where he can advise you far better than I.” I nodded brightly to Parnard.
“But you mentioned feasting.” Parnard brought us back to the present.