A Theoretical Impossibility by Zdenka

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Story Notes:

Written for Back to Middle-earth Month 2011, slightly edited and posted for B2MeM 2016. Prompt from B2MeM 2011, Day 7: "Overcoming prejudices is as hard in Middle-earth as in our primary universe. Write a story or poem or create artwork where the characters try to reach across racial or gender or any other barrier."

Olórin: Gandalf's name in Valinor

Belegost Passport Stamp Back to Middle-earth Month 2016: Remembering 2011 Back to Middle-earth Month 2016 Participant


It was Olórin the Maia who brought the Halfling to see me. I was perplexed at first, for I had never seen one before; but he introduced himself as Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit of the Shire. I sought to question him about his people, for I considered it a grave oversight that they are not described anywhere in the Chronicles.

He proved eager to tell me all about the Shire, and Hobbits and their doings; I took careful notes, although I strongly suspected much of the business with the dragon to be exaggerated at best, and I confess I let my attention wander when he began to talk about the intricacies of his family tree. No one besides another Hobbit could be much interested in those!

But after a time he turned to me and said cheerfully, “And now, Master Rúmil, if you don’t mind, I have a few questions--” A few questions, indeed! I have not been so beset since Pengolod came here, that young man from Gondolin who has taken it upon himself to correct all my histories. I soon forgot the Halfling’s strange appearance and spoke with him as if he were one of my students, discussing matters of history and lore both old and new. He was knowledgeable, after his fashion, and very curious.

At last I admitted that when I first saw him, I mistook him for a Dwarf -- “Though of course,” I said, “it is impossible that a Dwarf should come to Valinor.”

“Why do you call it impossible?” the Halfling asked. “There is a Man somewhere about, if the tales are true, and several of the Half-elven; and now there are two Hobbits. Though I suppose you have not met Frodo yet.”

I explained to him that Dwarves are not as the Children of Ilúvatar, having been made by only one of the Valar; and therefore the sages believed, even if one of them were to desire to come here and if the Valar permitted it for reasons of their own, that he would not be able to make the journey upon the Straight Road that passes through the higher air of Ilmen, which flesh unaided cannot endure. And I quoted what the sages have written of them: “The Dwarves have no spirit indwelling, as have Elves and Men, the Children of Ilúvatar, and this the Valar cannot give. Therefore the Dwarves have skill and craft, but no art, and they make no poetry.”

“No poetry?” he echoed in surprise, seeming somewhat offended. “I assure you, that is not at all the case! They have poetry, very fine poetry, though it is not in the Elvish style. And no art? You would not say so if you had seen the beautiful things the Dwarves make, or if you had ever heard them sing.”

“I have heard music of Vanyar, Noldor, and Teleri,” I said, “and have written of their different kinds, as well as the songs that Tinfang Gelion plays to the stars and the music that Ossë makes upon the seashore. But I do not think I shall ever meet a Dwarf, much less hear one sing.”

Then Olórin smiled as if at some secret knowledge, and he would not say what he found amusing.


Chapter End Notes:

This characterization of Rúmil is based on "The Music of the Ainur" from The Book of Lost Tales I.

“Ilmen which flesh unaided cannot endure” – a quotation from the “Akallabęth” in the Silmarillion.

“[T]he Dwarves have no spirit indwelling, as have Elves and Men, the Children of Ilúvatar, and this the Valar cannot give. Therefore the Dwarves have skill and craft, but no art, and they make no poetry.” - This statement is attributed to Pengolod in “The Lhammas” from The Lost Road.

Tinfang Gelion – In The Lay of Leithian and elsewhere in the History of Middle-earth, he is named as one of the three greatest musicians of the Elves, along with Maglor and Daeron.



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