Interviews With a Woodelf

The Video Camera Part 2

"My father, Pilimor, was a hunter and warrior when the time called for it. He perished in the Battle of Five Armies. He was a Sinda… born in Doriath in the age before the first sunrise. My mother, Caralain, or Redthread, was an exiled Noldo. She dyed cloth, one of the most respected artisans in Taur-nu-Fuin. She perfected a brilliant red dye… hence that epessë (lore name). My friends nicknamed me 'Carangol' or 'Redcloak', because she often dressed me in her red cloth. She died of grief; her heart ached for him so. She didn't live to see the passing of the Necromancer."

"I thought you would be one of the Noldor, with your black hair. Are you tall for an Elf, or just for us?"

"The black hair comes from my mother. Otherwise," he pauses to unfold his legs and measures them with the palm of his hand. "I'm not very tall for an Elf… I'm shorter than my mother by several inches, but taller than my father. Average. When I first arrived in this god-forsaken place, I thought I had happened upon a colony of dwarves that had taken to cutting their beards off and living above ground," snickers he, pretending to pat someone's head just above his waistline.

"Malnutrition," Grimvoice grumbles. "Where were you born?"

He squints. "In Doriath, during the sunlight. Morgoth conquered Doriath then, but my personal memory of that is vague. I do remember many long, hungry marches, and how the corners of Mother's mouth stiffened whenever Father put a quiver on his back. She dyed the fletching of his arrows black and sang to make them fly straight. When the running finally stopped, we were in a dark forest called Greenwood. I had spent my early life fleeing from Morgoth."

"And then? Did you marry? What was your profession?"

"My fate is too strange for romance. I believe now that I will never marry." Alger frowns up at the camera. "I am a smith. That ought to be clear by my names. I specialized in forging armor and weapons. These days, they are dull replicas for movie fans, renaissance festivals, Civil War reenactments, and the occasional collector. I do lots of Living-History museums. They always need blacksmiths that won't burn the forges down. It's not a bad living, though I'm not in this to make money, so I live quite lightly. Understand; if I started making a lot of money, people would take notice of me, and this encounter might have taken place years ago."

"One way that we tracked you was by your bank accounts. You changed accounts and banks every ten to twelve years, and you moved to a new town at the same time. Were you afraid of people noticing that you weren't aging?"

"Right. Fat good that did me. Now I'm going to be stuffed and put in your living room, after you take my lungs to replace those cancerous ones."

"How did-"

"Your vocal cords sound as though they are made of barbed wire. It doesn't take Elven ears to hear that."

"Right. Moving on. Tell me about your father's death."

Alger picked up the pillow and took his time wedging it between his back and the wall. "Greenwood was truly a forest under shadow. Most families fled the depths of the forest to live in or near Thranduil's caves. My family did as well. Evil creatures swarmed in the darker places of the forest. My weapons and armor forge was constantly busy.

"For a moment, it seemed that the shadow would be lifted, when messengers brought news of the fall of Smaug. In the preparations for the march, I did small repairs as quickly as I could, then waited for their return. No one expected a battle. We expected the caves to be empty, full of plunder. We needed to remove it from path of common thieves and bandits. What I know of the battle itself is all second hand, and you know it from The Hobbit. I have no need to retell it here. It was the first time I ever heard of a Hobbit, however.

"Our troops returned victorious, but my father returned carried on a stretcher. I was the one to greet his friends who bore him to my family's home. Their slow pace and long expressions told me my father was slain. His brutalized body told me how. His head was almost completely hewn from his body, and a spearshaft had ripped through his chest. The Orcs desecrated the corpses of their dead enemies. They cut off his right hand, which he pulled the bowstring back with, and stabbed out his eyes.

"Upon the sight, I cried out, so great was that pain! My mother heard my screams and came to join me. When she saw him, she embraced the stiff remains. My father's friends tried to comfort her, but she shouted at them in Quenya, which they could not understand, 'Márenya hehtanenyë. Melindonya sinomë hillenyes. Mandossenna hilyuvanyes!' Then-"

"Half a second," Grimvoice cuts in. "What does that mean?"

"It is an oath. She said, 'I abandoned my home. I followed my lover here. I shall follow him to Mandos!' My mother swore to die to continue existing by my father's side." He hangs his head to hide his face from the camera. "Then she fell asleep, never to awaken. We buried them together, at the base of a tree." He pauses to cup his hands over his mouth, then wipe away a tear. "This pain will always linger, for I sundered us forever. By my greed, I have destroyed what chance I had of reunion."

"Do you now know what the mortal fear of death is?"

"No. I will never sicken or age. Every chance for my heart to break, as my mother's did, passed when my parents died. Violence must murder me. That is the fundamental difference between us."

"But, you don't know what will happen to you when you die, you said so yourself."

"I don't know if my betrayal of the Powers was enough to ban me from Mandos, or if even I could reach Mandos, seeing as Aman and Ennor have been sealed from this place."

"What happens to us?"

"Have comfort mortal; you will die and join your family in your father's halls, unless you were an evil man." Alger looks up to the camera and shouts, "Then you will wander this world as nothing more than a shadow of hatred, like the wraiths of the Barrowdowns!"

Grimvoice marches the next question along, as though he hadn't heard Alger's threat. "Tell me about the Fourth Age."

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