Hope Lost and Found by Zhie

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Written for B2MEM 2010 - Create a story, poem, or artwork that responds to the following quote: "We have art to save ourselves from the truth." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

“And this is our humble yet growing collection of art,” said Elrond as he led his newly acquired chief of staff into the open air gallery. Specially constructed to keep out wind and rain, it still allowed finches and blue jays the freedom to dart in and out as they built nests in the interior of the arched skylights. “Some of it was gifted to us after the decision was made to make Imladris a permanent stronghold, while others are from our local painters and sculptors.”

“I see.” Erestor had to slow his stride to keep from outpacing Elrond as they strolled between the areas. “I really enjoy how—what in the world is that?!” He stopped dead in his tracks before a larger than life watercolor. The creature featured upon it appeared to growl ferociously at those passing by.

The master of Rivendell looked upon the piece solemnly. “Fall of the greatest city of the Noldor. ‘Hope Lost and Found’, the artist calls it.”

“So that is supposed to be a balrog?”

Elrond cringed upon hearing the word. “The very last – the one that fought Lord Glorfindel upon the precipice.”

“Oh... oh!” Erestor now noticed the tiny figure, clad in grey and brandishing a blade against a beast that dwarfed him nearly a hundred times over. “I take it the artist was not of the First Age.”

“I am unaware of whether he was or not,” admitted Elrond with a frown. “Is something the matter?”

“You rather like this image?” guessed Erestor.

“I think it draws out a certain... respect for those who fought the evils of this world, not for their own gain, but for others. The selfless. The true heroes.”

Erestor nodded. “I agree.” He began to walk on.

Elrond turned on his heel, but did not move from the painting. “What bothers you about it?”

For a moment, Erestor considered ignoring Elrond, but then returned. “The balrog.”

Elrond waited expectantly.

“Have you ever seen one?”

“No,” admitted Elrond.

“Pray you never do. However, do not expect to see one as big as that.” Erestor glanced sideways to observe Elrond’s reaction, but there was none. “Gothmog, Prince of Evil... he towered over the fountain of the courtyard, but not by much. The fountain was perhaps no more than fourteen or fifteen feet tall. The balrog fought by Glorfindel was not as great in size.”

“I see.”

“When Glorfindel fought this balrog,” added Erestor, “he was able to hew off its arm at the shoulder before stabbing it fatally. He then pulled back his sword,” said Erestor, drawing his arms back to demonstrate, “and kicked it in the chest with all his might. As it lost its footing, Glorfindel turned to retreat, but the balrog managed to tangle its fingers in the loose strands of the warrior’s golden locks, pulling him down into that fateful fall. If the balrog was this large, it would have been doubtful his hand could have closed so quickly.”

Elrond stared in silence for some time at the image. “For someone who hails from Doriath, you certainly know much of the history of Gondolin.”

“I read a lot,” answered Erestor quickly, which was not a lie so much as it was an evasion of the truth.

“No doubt. But then, am I to believe that all words are truth, and all images false?”

“Nay, Master Elrond,” replied Erestor. “If everyone knew balrogs were only twice the height of an Elf, more might get it in their heads that they are less dangerous than they are. We have art to save ourselves from the truth.”

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