Heart of Flame: A Tale of Sauron

A Company on Horseback

“Aren’t they very fine?”

The handmaids tittered behind Luimëníssë as they stood in the courtyard watching a company on horseback breach the green hills.

“I’m sure our grand guests would agree,” she muttered to herself as the horses thundered into the courtyard.

It wasn’t that Luimëníssë disliked the Noldor out of spite. They were half her blood after all. The Lord Finwë, who was visiting as well with his son Fingolfin, was very amenable. The King of the Noldor had remained at Lord Olwë’s home, an ellon that was closer to him than a brother. They were two of the most ancient of their kind, both having led their peoples from across the sea to the realm of Aman.

The younger generations of Noldor, those of her parents age and her own, were prideful to a fault. Perhaps their arrogance was warranted. The Noldor were ambitious in their lofty pursuits, far more than the Teleri who preferred the humble peace of their harbors. But that didn’t give them the right to treat their fellow Eldar like a herd of simpletons.

A trio of horses halted in front of the grand steps. Calarmo took his wife’s hand and led her down to greet their guests, their daughter following. An ellon dismounted a white mare. The Lord Finarfin, with hair as yellow as the sands of their cove, pressed a fist to his chest and bowed to her father. Calarmo burst forward and embraced his old friend.

“Sister!” Calarmo turned to the silver haired elleth who was helped off her horse by Finarfin, her husband.

Eärwen, called the Swan Maiden, burst into a warm smile. Waves of pure silver curled over her pale shoulders, her eyes blue as sapphire. With a button nose, her smile turned to a mischievous grin as she hugged her youngest brother. Both beautiful and disarming, even her mother melted in the Swan Maiden’s presence.

After they greeted both her parents, Luimëníssë blinked out of her stupor and managed an awkward curtsy. “My lord and lady.”

Eärwen floated forward and clasped her hands. “Dear one, how you have grown! Nanwë, I pray I don’t offend you, but she takes after our side entirely.”

“That she does,” her mother agreed with a quiet smile. “You especially, kinswoman.”

Luimëníssë couldn’t help the breathy laugh that escaped her. To be compared with her aunt, the Swan Maiden of the Teleri, was an exaggeration of extraordinary proportions. Another figure moved past her aunt and uncle, hair gleaming in a golden river down her back.

“I didn’t know your daughter would be joining us,” Calarmo said. “Artanis, lovely fwîr, we are most glad for your company.”

Artanis was several decades older than her, the same age as their huntress cousin Írissë. Her gown was the pearly pink of the cavern of a shell.

Ettani, cousin. I am so glad to finally meet you. Mother has always said you remind her of Uncle Calarmo. I have no doubt you will be as amusing as your father.”

Those words from another proud Noldo would have sounded like sarcasm. Though she was as grave in expression as Nanwë, the way Artanis looked at her made her believe every word she spoke.

Luimëníssë wet her lips. “I am most glad to meet you as well.”

Before retiring to the house, Calarmo scanned the remaining escort of elves, their faces hidden behind iron helms. “Did anyone else travel with you, Finarfin?”

Lord Finarfin grinned as they paused on the steps. “Like who, kinsman?”

“I thought perhaps...”

Two figures moved forward through the crowd. Luimëníssë suppressed a squeal as a tall ellon removed his helm and coal black curls tumbled out. Her older brother laughed as their mother almost tripped racing for him.

Luimëníssë followed, leaping into Náretarnon’s arms. Calarmo forwent a dignified handshake with his son and embraced him with a roaring laugh.

As they turned towards the house, the second concealed elf that had followed her brother removed his helmet. An unimpressed stare glazed his dark eyes as silken ebony hair fell over broad shoulders. With full lips pulled into an unforgiving line and sharp chin, there was no doubt he was of the Noldor.

“Mother, father, this is our kinsman as well.” Náretarnon extended a hand towards the stranger. “Atarinkë, the son of the famed master smith, Curufinwë Fëanáro.”

Her father forced a smile at their unexpected guest’s stiff bow. “Ah yes, you are most welcome here, ettanu.”

The ellon did not reply, his stern mouth curving in a fleeting smile. His eyes grazed over her family with disdain, even as her brother took his arm to lead him to their home. A grimace passed like a shadow over Artanis’ face. She caught Luimëníssë’s eye and gave a weak simper before following them.

As Luimëníssë lingered last in the dimming light of Laurelin, she had the odd sensation she was being watched. She gazed down upon the courtyard to find it’s occupants seeing to horses and conversing with other servants.

One member of the escort still wore his silver helm, hiding his identity. He lingered by the alabaster archway, hands folded before him and his attention on her. She could not see his face. Shivering, she scurried up the steps into her home.

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