Leaving Thargelion Pt III



Continued from Leaving Thargelion Pt II

 

"That was an evening not soon to be forgotten." Forodhir smiled and took a sip of wine from the silver goblet. He leaned back in the leather chair, crossing his legs and looking around the fine room again. Two beds with covers of white and blue were against opposite walls; one each for Forodhir and Estarfin. The walls were of stone, rendered with white plaster and the wooden floor was mostly covered with a thick blue rug, with two leather chairs and a low table sat upon it. Two oil lamps hung upon the walls, and a beautiful crystal lamp upon the table illuminated the room in hues of blue and red. A small fire burned in the hearth, warming the room, and two large chests stood to each side of it, full of their clothing and travelling gear. They were sharing the flask of wine and bowl of dried fruit that had been left for them.

"I did not think that any throne room could surpass that of Prince Caranthir, yet I admit I faltered on the threshold, so overcome was I with the beauty and splendour of it. The lights of crystal lamps, such as this, but a hundred times the size and beauty, covered everything. What would be plain and mundane was made fair beyond measure by the light. The people of Fingolfin are mighty indeed in such craft."

Forodhir looked at Estarfin with surprise, rarely had his friend offered such praise for any save his own people. He smiled slightly, wondering how enamoured he must be. "And the High King? What was your impression?"

Estarfin paused, took a drink, and collected his thoughts. "The eyes of any who beheld the light of the Trees beyond the Sea are fair and perilous to behold indeed. Our own Prince can be terrible to look upon at times. Yet his? I was almost overwhelmed by them, as though they still mirror Laurelin and Telperion. He is fair and proud indeed. Yet he welcomed us with kind words. I regret the harsh words that I spoke of him on the road here, now I see the folly of them. The High King is no enemy, no rival of ours. His people are our kin, and gladly will I share whatever knowledge and skills I have with them."

Forodhir smiled, glad of the pronouncement. "You speak wisely, for once." He grinned at Estarfin. "I speak in jest, but I am proud of you, for your words were well-spoken, in such a hard place with so great an audience. Fingolfin and Fingon marked you well. Whatever honour we find here will reflect well on our Prince indeed.

"I do not believe it will take more than a year or two to teach the Noldor smiths what secrets of working steel into armour we learned from the Naugrim, and from our own endeavours. But the Edain? If Cendamo spoke truly, we will be hard pressed to teach them much beyond the fundamentals in that time."

"Perhaps. Maybe that is all they will need. They are brief, perhaps solid yet simple armour is what they require? If you would only see a hundred summers, why spend two of those on arms and armour? A spear, shield and mail is more than enough for battle surely? We can teach them that in a matter of weeks."

Forodhir nodded slowly, then finished his wine. "We shall see. Come, we should rest. These beds offer more welcome than cold blankets under the stars have recently. Remember the King's pronouncement; Fingon himself will take us to the high smithy tomorrow, and then the feast of welcome will be in the evening. It shall be another day of marvels I expect."

 

***

 

 

"How does the forge of Barad Eithel compare to those of Dor Caranthir?" Fingon smiled slightly as he showed them around the vast underground smithy. The columns of marble and basalt had been carved from the bedrock itself, and each was hung with crystal lamps that flooded the space with light and colour. The sound was almost overwhelming, a hundred smiths worked bellows, quenched steel, beat red-hot metal with a hammer or filed and ground edges onto finished pieces. Estarfin and Forodhir noticed smiths of the Edain scattered amongst the craftspeople of the Noldor.

"Our smithies are spread out across the land, there is no single place where such work happens at once. And the forges are often outside, so that we can work under the stars, when there is need or desire." Forodhir explained as Estarfin stared around the wide halls.

"How then is your work organised? If there is no central place to come, and learn and teach as you will?"

"Each of our forges had a master, and many apprentices. The master will teach the apprentices, until they are skilled enough to become a master themselves. And so are the teachings of Aüle remembered."

"You both are such masters then?" Fingon asked, examining a half-finished shield that lay nearby.

"No, Prince Fingon. Forodhir is the greatest of our masters, and I am proud to be his apprentice." Estarfin spoke finally, meeting the gaze of Fingon.

Forodhir smiled. "You are kind, my friend. Apprentice in name only are you now. When we return to Thargelion, you too will be known as a master, and must found your own forge, find your own way, and instruct those that would hear." He smiled and slapped Estarfin on the shoulder. "I was going to tell you at the feast tonight, but the Prince should know that Caranthir has sent only his best for the task at hand."

Fingon nodded. "Yes, the task at hand. My father will speak more plainly when he will, but we have need of your knowledge and skills now.” He tossed the shield to Estarfin. "Look upon it, is it not fine? Steel mixed with silver, strong yet beautiful. And yet, it soon tarnishes, despite the days of care we spend creating it. It is said that your people are rich in the lore of steel, both from Aüle himself, and from the dwarves of Belegost and Nogrod. Will you share what you know, as brothers should in such times?"

Forodhir and Estarfin both bowed low. "Our Prince commanded that we aid you in whatever way seemed good to us. All that we have learned we shall share, you have our word."

With that pronouncement, Fingon smiled and his eyes shone brightly, as if a doubt had been dispelled.

 

***

 

Prince Fingon had introduced them to Idhrenian, a tall Noldor smith with long straight hair that was the colour of night. Her eyes were dark blue, and she wore robes the colour of a morning mist, under a thick leather apron. She was the mistress of Maenasroth, the caves of crafting, under Barad Eithel. She welcomed her Noldor kin with kind words, then set Forodhir, Namaica, Lithande, Elarenë and the others to work. Each had a forge of their own, and several smiths of Fingolfin’s folk to work with. She beckoned Estarfin over to a nearby forge, but no others were present.

“You hold command over the smiths of Caranthir.” It was a statement, not a question.

Estarfin frowned slightly. “I share command with Forodhir, yes. You wish that I teach you?”

Idhrenian looked at him with bright eyes, and he saw an anger there. “I learnt at the feet of Aüle himself.”

“What then do you wish you of me?”

Idhrenian paused, then spoke again. “Your eyes tell me that you were born East of the great sea, is that not so?” Estarfin nodded. “That is well, for otherwise there would be a quarrel between us, no matter your purpose here. I remember well the pain of the Helcaraxë, and have little love for those that forced such a journey upon us.” She sighed, and picked up a slim bar of iron sitting on the anvil beside her. “Yet the deeds of the parents should not tarnish the children.”

Estarfin remained silent, unsure what the forge mistress wished of him.

“You will show me what you have learned from the Naugrim, and you will teach them.” She gestured to a small group of Men walking from the entrance towards them. She lowered her voice as they approached. “They lack subtlety, but they are…. enthusiastic. King Fingolfin wishes that they learn enough of our craft to forge their own gear of war.”

Estarfin bowed. “If the King commands it, it shall be done.”

Idhrenian watched him carefully, then nodded.