Disclaimer: I don’t own anything.
Chapter 1: The Maiden
Indis pulled at her golden braids fretfully. Tonight she and some of her girlfriends would sneak out of their homes to the forest. Under Telperion’s lights, which they have recently accustomed after emigrating to Aman from Arda, they would gather around the pool in the center of the forest. A Vanyarin myth, whispered by the girlfriends, that a maiden could see her intended in a forest pool at nighttime, when a simple spell is invoked.
These girls, quite a few years from reaching their majority, were anxiously excited. They wished the same magic that allowed the maidens a glimpse of future also worked here; in a night that is not really a night. Poicellë, a petite Vanya girl, rapped Indis’ bedroom window softly. ‘It’s time’, she whispered, some wisps of her fair hair fell out of her simple hair clip to frame her soft, chubby face. Indis quickly moved to the window, and climbed out with Poicellë’s help. Outside the stonewalls of her home, Indis could see several of her friends stood impatiently, their braids emitted a soft glimmer under the silvery lights.
Lassë, the leader of the pack, welcomed Indis to their furtive gathering. Indis nodded to each of her friends in greetings, a few greeted back similarly, and Lassë signaled the girls to begin walking toward their forestry destination. Their soft footsteps on the fresh greenery did not make noises, and the girls trekked on with more ease, gaining confidence in their stealth. Indis could feel Poicellë’s featherlike breath on her neck. She did not turn back to speak to her friend, her blue eyes focused on the menacing forest instead, feeling a force other than her own curiosity was drawing her in seductively. The dews on the grasses have wetted her embroidered white slippers; Indis realized she would spend a long time removing these stains to avoid a chastisement from her stately amma. The white shift with pink tulips she wore tonight provided enough shielding from the slight chills induced by Laurelin’s waning.
They had stopped at the entrance of the forest, which loomed above their small bodies. The change of lights has turned the trees from fruitful, joyful entities into something alien and wild. Indis and her friends suddenly remembered their mothers’ cautions that little Quendi girls in Arda should not wander into forests at night by themselves, the night monsters that lurked inside would kidnap them for breakfast. But they are in Valinor instead of Arda, protected by the Valar, and surely the gods would not let monsters come to live in the Blessed realm, to make mince pies out of little Vanyar girls.
Lassë stepped into the forest bravely. Her atar is the chief hunter in the service of Indis’ uncle. He often took Lassë to roam outside of their village’s premise, claiming that his offspring should take after his profession, which made Lassë stouter of heart than her peers. The girls embolden by their leader, set their dainty feet into the forest. Poicellë caught up with Indis, and chatted nonstop. She smoothed her loose fair hair, a shade lighter than Indis’ golden tresses, with her hand, and deftly clipped them back neatly. The chatting evolved around this morning’s gossips: Ilyanna broke the vase her amma made while she was hiding from the baker boy’s tickling, Mirimo, the brother of Lassë’s friend, has decided to apprentice for lute making, Ilyanna’s sister, Lotórie, gave the merchant a tongue thrashing for selling poor quality linen at the marketplace this morn…and myriad other harmless hearsay Poicellë gathered from her amma’s hearth. These innocent chats soothed Indis’ foreboding, and the dread in her heart subsided a little in the chirpy voice of her fellow comrade.
A thin veil of silvery mist had descended the forest, and woven an enchantment among the trees. Poicellë’s voice thinned in the midst, and they soon stopped at the placid, cold pool, in the heart of the forest. The girls fanned themselves out around the border of the pool, each hold a position they deem would give them the clearest view of the pool. Lassë motioned them to kneel down, and focus on the water. Indis and the girls saw shadowy outlines of their reflections in the pool. Not even Telperion’s light could penetrate through this mist.
Indis’s body shook slightly, her heart pounded like she’s running through a clear glen, and she could feel several of her friends are similarly afflicted. As Lassë’s incantation soared beautifully above their heads, the air around them had changed, and the mist was parted with each esoteric word uttered until the last word brought Telperion’s light to shine on the pool once more. The girls looked on to the pool eagerly, all felt magic arisen from the watery looking glass. Ilyanna shrieked with excitement, she saw the baker boy’s face revealed in the pool, his name was Tauron and she had very much fancied him when she’s merely one hundred year old. Lassë muttered and stomped her feet, for she had seen Órecalo’s face and she’s not pleased. Lassë dreamed of a husband like her ata, who is one of the best Vanyar archers, while Órecalo is an accomplished scholar, and could only lift his drawing stylus to defend himself in dire situation. Poicellë looked puzzled, for she had seen a silver hair stranger, unknown to her or her circle of relatives, friends and acquaintances.
Nervously, Indis focused harder, so far she has not glimpsed a shade nor a form except her own reflection. Slowly, the gleaming water began to shift, as she forced the elements to reveal her fortune, her reflection transformed, from dark blurs, to the soft outline of a male Quendi’s face. The face was handsome, the luxuriant dark mane and piercing gray eyes marked his Noldorin origin, the high cheeks and aquiline nose made him look regal, but his lips were sensual like lovers’, and she could feel intelligence, authority, power and humor exude from his lovely almond eyes. She Knew Him! Her mind reeled from the shock. She had seen his hand clasped around a beautiful silver haired Noldo woman’s waist tenderly, his laughter ringed with mirth under the starlight. Her uncle had often invited him into his halls, and during the celebration dinner in the honor of his engagement to the silver hair lady he had patted her golden head paternally in solace for her amma putting her to bed early, and given her a necklace of blue glass beads to comfort her in her nursery room while every adult celebrated till the next day. Indis’ uncle had insisted Indis given the honor to strew white petals over the path of the bride and bridegroom during the nuptial ceremony, which she did, and got a mischievous wink from him. She remembered her ears were almost deaf from the thundering shouts of the wedding attendees, “Bless the King and Queen! Bless Finwë and Míriel!”
Her heart was breaking from the shock. O Cruel fate has doomed her to remain bereft, in everlasting sorrow, for one man can only have one spouse, as the Valar decreed. Why was she being punished thus, to never known the joys of marriage, of blending her fëa with another in harmony until the end of Arda, of bringing forth wondrous children from her flesh? She wanted to cry, to run away, except her tears refused to spill out of her eyes. Even if the Valar has not proclaimed the Rule of Marriage, Indis doubted Finwë would ever cast Míriel off for true love shone in their eyes whenever they gaze at each other. Indis willed her quivering body to remain composed, and her face a smooth mask of calm, for she is High King Ingwë’s niece, a lady among her people, and propriety demanded her to swallow her anguish inside, instead of wailing her anguish like a common girl, no matter how much she needed it. From now, Indis knew of sorrow, and grief her constant companion.
On their way home, Poicellë quietly inquired after Indis’ intended, for Indis has not volunteered this knowledge like other girls in the group. Indis brushed aside her friend’s question lightly with a shrug, and said.” He’s a stranger like your intended, except he has raven dark hair instead of silver.” Inside, she felt she’s withering away. The girls have not troubled her more on this subject as each had fallen into a deep contemplation. When they reached the outskirt of their homes, they waved at each other in wordless farewells, and quickly disappeared into their parents’ stone abodes.
Back in the sanctity of her room, Indis’ bitter tears soaked her white-laced pillows in abundance. She reflected on the irony of her name her amma had bestowed on her. Indis, Bride, her amma wanted her only daughter to marry happily, to experience the joy of matrimony that she had with Indis’ atar. But she would never be a bride, and her own name mocks her, and her amme would sigh with distress each time she irons Indis’ bridal gown, which was strewn with precious gems in voluminous white silks by her amme’s loving hands, only to pack away in the dark corner of Indis’ closet.
Years passed like morning dews on rowan leaves. Indis had grown into a comely maiden, whom the bards reverently surnamed the Fair. The little scrying Indis and her friends did at the forest pool when they were wee girls came true. Ilyanna was the first to get married, to Tauron, and the cries of the girls, now maidens, upon hearing the engagement, was loud enough to shake Manwë out of his heavenly abode. Then Lassë met her destiny when Órecalo’s fingers bled from archery practices and his ankle almost broken from an untimely fall in a deer chase to impress Lassë. Lastly, Poicellë was engaged to Arcanen, who was a Telerin fish trader recently got a stand in the Vanyar market, who was the cousin by marriage of a friend of a friend of Poicellë’s second cousin, and had decided to woo Poicellë when she accidentally knocked him out with her spindle. Indis smiled and laughed with joyful tears when her friends announced their engagements. She wished all her friend the happiness they deserved. Then, away from the populace, Indis would lament her dark fate, and neither the exotic garden Ingwë planted for her nor the intricate bejeweled ornaments she received could alleviate the longliness she felt, when all of her friends have their spouses except for her. She remained steadfast in her longing, and her atar and amme were ever ignorant of the source of her sorrow.
Indis the Fair sat in her golden bower, singing of sad songs, of unrequited love. The travelers beneath her bower heard her songs, and wove a tale, of a lovely maiden tragically fallen for the handsome Noldorin king.
Status: Looking for beta – reader! This fic is not betaed.