Writ in Water by Zdenka

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Story Notes:

Written for the (not a) river set of prompts at Tolkien Weekly. Some of the drabbles have been slightly edited from the versions posted there.

I. Dream of Water (source) - Finrod

In Finrod’s dream he is a child again, building castles with his brother at Alqualondë. They heap up the white sand to make a wall, but the waves come in and eat it away little by little. Finrod rises and walks away. He looks back to see Orodreth stubbornly pushing sand against the wall, saving it a little longer. So conscientious, my brother, he thinks with sudden affection.

Finrod wakes to the sound of water, beside the River Sirion. Whatever its source, he knows the dream for a warning. He thinks of building walls, not of sand, but of stone.


II. By the Marches of Doriath (bank) - Celegorm and Curufin

They fight for every foot of ground, but the enemy comes onward ceaselessly. Across the river is Doriath.

Celegorm stares across to the other bank. “If we could use the forest—”

“We can’t.”

Celegorm splashes into the river and stops halfway across without meaning to. Cursing, he draws his sword and strikes at the unseen barrier.

“You’re wasting time, brother,” Curufin says coolly. He gives his orders: a small band carefully deployed (sacrificed) to cover their retreat. Small comfort, that they go to their deaths willingly.

In the end they come safely to Nargothrond; but both of them remember it.


III. And Their Land Was Darkened (reach) - Original Character

Uithel stands with her fellow smiths to hear their words: first her King, calm and measured; then Celegorm, fiery with passionate haste; and last Curufin, cold and clear and deadly.

As they speak, there is a movement in the hall, a drawing apart; without any command being given, a space grows between their followers and Finrod’s.

Uithel knows many of them, she has worked beside them for years—but now they seem like strangers to her. All at once, the distance from one side of the hall to the other seems like a dark river too wide to reach across.


IV. Trust Unbroken (mouth) - Lúthien and Huan

Lúthien slowly raises her head. Huan barks again, his tone urgent but oddly muffled. With a trembling voice, she sings the lock open.

Huan holds her shadow-cloak in his mouth. The guards lie sprawled in the corridor, fast asleep under the cloak’s enchantment. Her breath catches in a sob; she flings her arms around his neck. Huan grins and wags his tail.

Cool droplets fly around her as Huan splashes across the river. Her voice too is released, and she sings, a wild outpouring of melody in the starlight. Every beat of her heart calls out: Make haste, make haste.

V. Where All Our Hopes Have Gone (fall) - Finduilas and Celebrimbor

 Every day since Gwindor’s departure, even when it must be too soon for the battle, Finduilas goes outside to look northward. One morning, she finds Celebrimbor standing by the river. He greets her courteously.

“Cousin,” she asks him, “you have seen Barad Eithel and Himring. Do you think that Morgoth will fall?”

Celebrimbor hesitates. “No. I greatly wish it, but I fear—” Finduilas bows her head.

“Yet have hope,” he says quietly. “Shall we keep watch?” He does not speak of his estranged kin, but she thinks she can guess his disquiet, twin to her own. Together, they gaze north.


VI. Doubt (spring) - Gwindor

The sun is bright on the River Narog as we pass over the bridge. Almost as beautiful as the sunlight on the springs of Ivrin, golden-shining like my Finduilas. But you do not see it, do you, Túrin? You are thinking of death and vengeance, or your glory in battle.

I doubt your plan, son of Húrin, but I cannot refuse to go. My body has not its old strength, but I will no longer be thought a coward.

They say the dragon has defiled Ivrin in its beauty. O my Faelivrin! Whatever becomes of us, may you be safe.


VII. Doom (flow) - Orodreth

Orodreth gives the command. The army leaves the protection of Nargothrond’s walls, following the River Narog northward toward the vale of Tumhalad. Túrin is beside him: confident as ever, eager to face their foe.

Is this not what his brother would have wanted? Orodreth asks himself. To welcome this Man, kin of Beren, to honor him in his councils? Looking back, he can see each step that brought him here, recall how he found it wise and prudent; but now all the might of Nargothrond seems fragile as a child’s sand-castle.

And the tide flows in. The tide flows in.

Chapter End Notes:

By the Marches of Doriath: Set during the Dagor Bragollach, based on this passage from The Silmarillion: “The Pass of Aglon was forced, though with great cost to the hosts of Morgoth; and Celegorm and Curufin being defeated fled south and west by the marches of Doriath, and coming at last to Nargothrond sought harbour with Finrod Felagund.” (“Of the Ruin of Beleriand”)

And Their Land Was Darkened: Drabble title from the passage in the Silmarillion describing the effect of Celegorm and Curufin’s speeches on the people of Nargothrond. “So great a fear did he set in their hearts that never after until the time of Túrin would any Elf of that realm go into open battle . . . . Thus they fell from the valour and freedom of the Elves of old, and their land was darkened.” (“Of Beren and Lúthien”)

Trust Unbroken: Drabble title from the description of Finrod's song: "trust unbroken, freedom, escape" (“Of Beren and Lúthien”)

Where All Our Hopes Have Gone: Drabble title from Faramir’s words to Éowyn: “ . . . and you shall look east, whither all our hopes have gone.” (The Return of the King, “The Steward and the King”)

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