The Great Feast by Talullah

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Author's Chapter Notes:

Written for LotR's Community September prompt - the Great Feast, with element 'guests'.

If this reads awkwardly at some points… well, I confess that initially Fingon was in Himring, doing Erú knows what, and Argon was in his place (I was dying to use the full of hot air joke, although hot air only has a tiny percentage of argon). Then, when I was closing the fic, it occurred to me that Argon was DEAD by this time!!!! Arrrgghh!!! Characters not mine, no profit made.

A list Sindarin-Quenya name correspondences, for those of you who, like myself, can only remember a handful:
Fingolfin – —olofinwë
Turgon – Turukáno
Fingon – Findekáno
Aredhel – Írissë
Idril – Itarillë
Lalwen – Lalwendë
Angrod - Angaráto
Aegnor – Aikanáro
Galadriel – Artanis
Finrod – Findarato
Celegorm – Tyelcormo
Maedhros – Maitimo, Nelyafinwë
Maglor – Macalaurë
Amras – Ambarussa
Amrod – Pityafinwë
(I am not consistent with father/mother name use. I’d like to think they would use the version they felt more comfortable with, taking into account how close they were to each other. Also, I think that at this early stage, in a private family meeting, they would be using the names they always had.)

Hithlum, FA 19

—olofinwë looked at his children and grandchild gathered around the table, waiting for the last element for the meeting. Itarillë was a grown woman now and he was eager to see her start taking on her role as a princess of the House of Finwë more seriously. Írissë had been wonderful with her, helping her overcome the loss of Elenwë and the difficult years of youth, but now he feared his willful daughter was starting to become a bad influence. Sometimes he wished Írissë had been born a boy – much of his worries would have no cause to be, had it been so. Írissë just laughed and told him his mind was too narrow.

By her side, sat Turukáno with his absent gaze. He would have to find something for him to do, quickly, lest his son might be so lost in his unquenchable sorrow he would completely miss out on life. Findekáno, of course, was late. His eldest spent far too much time with his cousin, in Himring, but fortunately, he was in Hithlum, for a change. —olofinwë could not understand how that friendship had survived Losgar. He would have to marry soon and secure an heir. The last thing they needed was disputes over succession. If something happened to him, Mandos forbade, and to Nelyafinwë simultaneously, the rest of his brother’s brood would fall upon Findekáno and Turukáno for the crown like vultures.

—olofinwë sighed. Where was Findekáno? His eldest lived to be late. The door slammed open and a red-cheeked Findekáno strode into the room. Everybody shifted in their chairs. Aware of their downward glances, —olofinwë decided it would be probably wiser to safe the scolding for later.

“I asked you here today,” he started, as Findekáno removed his cloak, still dotted with snowflakes and hung it near the fire, “because in a year’s time I want to hold a celebration of the twentieth year of the coming of the sun.” Findekáno sat down, dragging the chair. —olofinwë forced himself to ignore the surge of irritation.

He proceeded “I want this to be an event that brings together all the people of the land, in a moment of goodwill that will strengthen our ties and be a base to build upon in the future.”

Írisse nodded. “It sounds good, Papa. We should be closer to our cousins, heal the rift.”

Turukáno snorted. “Of course you want to heal the rift.”

Itarillë frowned at her father, but before the exchange turned into a fight, —olofinwë intervened.

“Yes, of course we must invite the children of my late brother, and their people, but I was thinking something more wide-ranging.”

“You mean the Sindar and the Teleri?” Turukáno asked.

“Precisely. The Teleri will be easy. They are peaceful, live-and-let-live folk. I was thinking of you, Findekáno, for that job.”

“Of course, Papa,” Findekáno said. “Leave the easy part to the idiot of the family.”

—olofinwë made himself breathe deeply several times before replying but, thankfully, Írisse filled the gap before harsh words could be said. “Artanis and Findaráto would be perfect as emissaries to Thingol. Why are they not here?”

“I want this to come forth from our family. Not demeaning in any way the children of my younger brother, but Findaráto dabbles in things no elf should and Artanis… sometimes I am not sure where her allegiance is.”

“Papa!” Írisse exclaimed. “I cannot believe my ears. Artanis has good motive to spend so much time in Doriath and Findaráto only ‘dabbles’ in good magic.”

“What good reason might that be?” Turukáno cut in.

“Have I ever breached your confidence, brother? It is no different with Artanis, but trust me, she is doing nothing wrong.”

“So who should go and invite Doriath in their stead,” Itarillë asked, almost jumping up and down in her seat.

“Certainly not you,” Turukáno curtly replied.

“Why does not Itarillë go to the Falas in my stead and I will do Doriath, then Himring?” Findekáno proposed.

“Turukáno will go, and if he cannot pass the message to Thingol, then we ask Findaráto, as a last resort,” —olofinwë said.

A moment of silence ensued.

“Should we invite the Moriquendi?” Turukáno said.

“You mean the Avari, surely?” Findekáno replied.

“Oh, do not be so politically correct!” Turukáno said, irritably waving a hand. “I do not care what they like to call themselves.”

“Well, they are elves and they could be useful allies…” Írisse offered.

“Our contact with them has had quite mixed results,” Turukáno countered. —olofinwë rolled his eyes. Turukáno and Írisse might be inseparable, but peaceful they were not, ever.

“I agree that they should be asked but this is a very difficult task, as you might be aware,” he said.

“Great-aunt Lalwendë could-” Itarillë started

“Enough,” —olofinwë cut. “I think I have been clear, in the past, on what kind of relationship we will maintain with my sister.”

“But it is an event meant to bring people together, Grandpapa!” Itarillë heatedly protested, rising from her seat.

“We need a name for this event,” Turukáno opportunely interrupted, saving his child from grandpaternal admonishment. “Mereth Aderthad, the Feast of Reuniting – how does that sound?”

“It sounds idiotic, I was saying something important,” Itarillë said, sitting down with a sulky pout on her face, leaving Turukáno open-mouthed. —olofinwë sighed. She was still too young.

“Turukáno, son, that is a good name,” he said. “Itarillë, your great-aunt chose a dangerous, impious path that I do not condone,” he added, looking at his granddaughter.

“But Papa,” Írisse gently said. “She is doing no harm… she means well. And there is Gildor. We should dearly love to see our cousin again…”

—olofinwë rubbed his forehead with two fingers, trying to think.

“I could find Gildor and we could both go and invite the tribes…” Findekáno offered. “I know the language of the Kindi, which I hear was where Aunt Lalwendë was last seen with Gildor. We have an idea of where they might be wintering this year…”

“Findekáno, you are so full of hot air!” Írisse said, laughing. “Where did you learn Kindi?”

“In a book. You know, those things with pages,” Findekáno tartly replied.

Írisse chuckled, unoffended. “Alright, then, it looks like we have a plan. I will go out to Himring witn Findekáno and invite Maitimo, then go east for Makalaurë, then southeast for Pitya and Ambarussa and finally Tyelco’s, after which, he goes with me to Ossiriand, to the Green Elves. Meanwhile Findekáno takes his leave from Himring, seeks Gildor, and invite the tribes. How many are there? Six, all over Beleriand? Turukáno and Itarillë go to the Falas and try Doriath. You also need to find Angaráto and Aikanáro. Since you have less diplomatic duties, you can then focus on the logistics of the event. By the way, Papa, have you thought of a place? It would do well to be neutral ground.”

“Írissë, you cannot possibly imagine I would allow you to ride freely though half of Beleriand. There is still danger out there,” —olofinwë said, trying not to sound too exasperated.

“I most certainly can! And I will have an escort, will I not? The reports from the couriers say the roads are clean.”

“Papa, let Írisse go,” Turukáno said, earning a surprised, grateful look from his sister. “Do not make me regret this,” he added, wincing at his sister’s grin. “If you returned ‘attached’ to Turkafinwë in any unsuitable way, I will strangle you with my bare hands.”

Írisse laughed. “Rest assured…” she said, placing a hand on his arm.

—olofinwë pinched the bridge of his nose. The meeting had not gone exactly has he had expected. Írisse was a force of nature and with Turukáno by her side, she would not be swayed. To avoid the annoyingly winning smile of his daughter, he turned his attention to his eldest.

“So, are you sure you can reach the six tribes? Even if they do not come, it is important that they understand that they were invited, and by a prince of our people.”

“Two princes, counting Gildor,” Findekáno countered, clearly enjoying his father’s annoyed glare. “Yes, the Kindi are easy to reach and then, with their good will, we can easily go to the Cuind and the Hwenti. For the Windan, Kinn-lai and Penni, we will have to ride south, but I am sure we will find aid with the Hwenti, at least.”

—olofinwë took a moment, searching the four faces expectantly looking at him.

“You,” he said, boring his gaze into his eldest, “had better not tarry in Himring. And I am counting on you to find a bride on the Mereth Aderthad.” Findekáno nodded.

He turned to Írisse. “You, had better remember you are going on a mission, not to disappear into the woods hunting with that cousin of yours. And you also had better find a husband at the feast.” Írisse nodded, with a worrying glint of amusement in her eyes.

“The two of you,” he said, facing at last Turukáno and Itarillë, “have a lot of work ahead of you. We need this to be perfect. Spare no means.” Itarillë sprung up. “Oh, Grandpapa, I already have a dozen ideas. There will be food to be remembered to the end of times.”

Turukáno winced. “Not the roast-burnt duck,” he teased, alluding to the first time Itarillë had tried to cook.

“Oh, no,” she chuckled. “Something much better – in fact many somethings. You will have a list of dishes for the night of the great feast by tomorrow, Grandpapa. I think on the other days we can be sensible and provide simple, nourishing fare, but on the night of the anniversary there has to be something special. And I know just the perfect thing to end the feast, to be eaten when the fireworks start.”

“And that would be?” —olofinwë asked, delighted in Itarillë’s enthusiasm.

“Mamma’s chocolate-coconut-almond doused cake!”

The room fell silent. —olofinwë looked at his son, concerned. Írisse held her brother’s hand. Itarillë looked at the table, biting her lip. —olofinwë felt a pang for her, but at the same time, he was happy – it was the first time his granddaughter had talked of her mother, even in passing, ever since the ice.

Turukáno closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, he let an exaggerated sigh out and rolled his eyes. “Ooh, will you really make me go all the way south for the ingredients?” he said, trying quite be funny, but not quite making it.

“I know that they import cocoa and coconut at the Falas,” Findekáno said. “I think it is a splendid idea, my darling,” he said with a kind smile.

—olofinwë’s almost permanent irritation with his eldest vanished at that moment. “And I can get you almonds, dearest,” he added.

Itarillë solemnly nodded. “You will not regret entrusting me with this task, Grandpapa.”

—olofinwë watched as his family left the meeting room. They were noisy, not princely as his mother and his wife had taught them to be. They fought a lot. Erú, the fights could go on for hours, days. They rarely did what he told them, in the way he told them. But they burned bright with intelligence and joyfulness. In their capable hands, the Mereth Aderthad would become a thing of beauty, for all to remember for a long time. Of that he had no doubt.

Doused Chocolate Coconut Cake
(It’s a family recipe, so no source.)
250 g butter
3 cups sugar
4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Zest of one lemon
8 eggs
300 g coconut

Whisk the yolks with the sugar. Add the softened butter and then mix the flour, the baking powder and the lemon zest. Add the coconut and the whites, beaten until stiff. Bake at 180 şC for 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan. Boil 1 L of milk and 2 cups of sugar. Gently pour the milk over the cake, still in the baking pan. Leave it to soak for a few minutes and once it has completely absorbed the liquid, carefully place it on a serving dish.

Drizzle with chocolate glaze and sprinkle chopped almonds on top.

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