The hall of Elrond was filled with many folk, some of whom had travelled far. There were a couple dwarves, men, and hobbits, but mostly the hall was bursting with elf-kin, from the eastern lands of Mirkwood and Lorien and to homefolk of Rivendell.
"Come!" beckoned Elrond and Uialithil went to sit with them. Her foster-father sat at the head of the great table, and to the sides of the table were seats for Glorfindel and Gandalf. "How has been your visit thus far?" Elrond inquired of her, "I have not seen very much of you since your arrival."
"Then perhaps you had not looked hard enough," came her answer. "I have been amongst the people, but not for long periods. I have had matters to attend to within the confines of my chamber." Gandalf glanced at her with a look of concern, but Uialithil did not return his gaze.
"How unlike you! I would have thought you would be hunting with Glorfindel, or perhaps walking in the forest with Arwen. What matter has been so important?" Elrond said. His eyes held a hint of weary interest.
"I have not seen Arwen, except in passing, as of late." Uialithil admitted. "Many months ago I came across an artefact, but I would not like to speak of it yet." Her eyes met Glorfindel's for a second.
"Then we shall not. There will be much time for that come later: but for now we shall be merry. I believe it may be the last time we may be for a while."
Uialithil dipped her head to look around at the feast processions. Gandalf exchanged with her a word of greeting, and they spoke for a few moments before Uialithil let him return to speaking to the others. Elrond, Glorfindel and Gandalf spoke amongst themselves for a while, and she listened half-heartedly, only catching a snippet of talk here and there. She was mostly silent and did not have reason to speak until the feast was almost ending.
She felt Glorfindel lay a hand on her leg for a moment, and she glanced up at him. He gestured to someone of dark hair and grey eyes who had sat opposite her after much talk had been echoing through the hall. Uialithil noticed the elf-maiden was Arwen, Evenstar of her people.
Arwen gave a wide smile. "Dear sister! This is well-met indeed. It has been a good while since I saw you."
"It does not appear we crossed paths in Lorien very much!" Uialithil replied happily. "Alas, Lotholorien is a large place- anyone could be anywhere on any given day. And I am sorry, I was much too busy to visit you very often, for more than a few words. I would like to dwell on lost time."
"Gladly!" laughed Arwen, "But first tell me what of your adventures in Lorien. I heard rumor that Haldir had brought to you the question of becoming a general of Galadriel's forces!"
Uialithil shook her head. "That honor wasn't his to offer, though Galadriel approved of it." She leaned forward to whisper, "Yet Celeborn thought it dangerous. He wishes no harm to befall me."
Arwen chuckled. "He never has, since you have been the more reckless of us two. He thinks giving you the opportunity to make trouble will surely guarantee it." then she grinned. "But," she added in a low whisper, grey eyes sparkling, "What of you and Lord Glorfindel?"
"What of it?" Uialithil asked absentmindly.
"Ah. Well... I have been hearing rumors about you two," said Arwen carefully, as if not to disturb the peace between them at the moment.
"Rumors are seldom true, we are just friends. I do not see why others think differently." she said in a rather sharp tone. Then her voice softened. "Aragorn- or Estell, if I'm allowed to call him that- he's been well, from what I've seen. I haven't gotten around to talking to him at length yet."
"You're to be here for the rest of this month and the next, I believe? You will have plenty of time. But why do you mention him?"
"For I was thinking," Uialithil smiled, "how much I wish to see you two together at last, proud and not weighed down by Elrond's disapproval. He is but a man- but nevertheless, he is the Dunedain. You get my blessing, regardless!" she laughed. "But I do wonder were he is," she added as an afterthought, glancing about.
Arwen shrugged, a little uncomfortable. "I haven't seen him today. But thank you for your kind words, dear sister. I have been wondering, what have you been working on that has kept you from us? Perhaps a poem, or a map?"
"I have already planned my route back to Lorien," said Uialithil, grinning but avoiding the question.
"Elrond has wished that I stay here, but if an evil grows in my homeland I must be there to defend my own."
"Yes, so I've heard- in fact, that's the reason I have returned. Am I right in assuming you'll take the High Pass?"
"Right you are- or you would be, if I was heading straight to Lorien. Do not tell Alda," she whispered, "for I know he wishes I head straight home and not remain in any unfamiliar place for more than a couple strides. I am going to take the East-West road to Bree- for someone has been asking for me at the Prancing Pony."
"Ah. The East-West road? Whose been asking for you?" Arwen asked.
"Exactly who I do not know, but Butterbur- the bartender and innkeeper- wrote me a letter that arrived just this morning." she pulled it out from beneath her robe. "It reads, in part:
Someone's been asking for you here in Bree. He seemed rather in a hurry, and said it was important. Please come, and I'll have Nob get you a room for free. There's also the matter of a dwarf by the name of Borik who wishes you to escort him for some good money. I thought I should mention that. Anyho, the stranger is an elf if that makes any difference for you. Looking forward to seeing you down here again.
Prancing Pony's Stablemaster, Innkeeper, and Bartender
"Perhaps an admirer?"
"No, not from Butterbur's description. A well-wisher, maybe. But why do you say 'admirer'?"
"It's just that you have a lot of them here," Arwen laughed. "You've always been clueless when it comes to that. Maybe not all of them have romantic feelings for you, but there's a couple that do."
Uialithil sighed. "That's distressing."
"Hm? How so? You get to choose, don't you-?"
"If I pick one, I hurt the others," said Uialithil. "I care about people, Arwen. I don't want to hurt them, if they don't deserve it in the first place."
"Ah... dear Uial. You have always been sensitive. But don't worry, one of these days you'll find yourself a husband, someone you'll love with all your heart and someone who loves you just the same. So do not despair! Perhaps it is not yet your time."
Uialithil gave a soft smile. "Yes, I would think so."
"Ah!" exclaimed Arwen suddenly. "The feast has ended. Shall we go?"
Uialithil nodded. Elrond has stood and Arwen walked with him to the great doors, and Uialithil and Glorfindel followed suit. Two by twos and three by threes, most of the guests came behind and together they all crossed solemnly through many passages and doors. They passed briefly out into the cool evening air, and the sounds of crickets and nightbirds informed them how long they had been inside the feast hall merrymaking. The great crowd was silent as they at last reached the Hall of Fire. It was a place Uialithil remembered very well, down to the last cool stone. It was a pale hall, with a bright fire dancing and burning in a large hearth set between two large rock pillars at the end. She would come here during her confindment of those many yen ago to think, and on speical days to sing.
Music began to fill the hall. It was sweet and swelled up and down with emotion. Some of the feastgoers who had chosen to stay behind came wandering to them and the enchanting pull of the minstrels. Yet the hall was not yet full, though many were within.
"Ai! Are you Samwise of the Shire?" Uialithil exclaimed when she had found the young hobbit, who was not far from Bilbo- who waved merrily- and Frodo- who smiled awkwardly at her.
Sam startled and glanced up at her. He seemed surprised that she wasn't as tall as he had perhaps expected, being an elf and having a clear voice that rivaled any he had heard. "Y-yes! And who might y-you be, O Fair Elf?"
Uialithil smiled and bowed. "I am Uialithil, daughter of Tunuviel, of the House of Elrond. Elen sila lumenn omen tielvo," she added promptly.
"I heard Mr. Frodo say something of that sort before we came here," Sam muttered, a pale blush creeping up his cheeks. "What must it mean?"
"It is Quenya, or High-elven, for 'a star shines on the hour of our meeting'. Do you know why I have come to meet you?"
"I-I do not, Miss Uialithil. May I call you that? I mean no disre-respect, you are very beautiful,"he babbled, sheepish.
Uialithil smiled again. "I foresee no trouble with that, dear hobbit. Perhaps I may call you Master Sam?"
"Y-you, call me M-master Sam?" he stuttered. "I'm not anywhere near you, in matter of speaking, Miss... I do not wish to-"
"Nonsense!" laughed Uialithil. "No one is higher than another in the business of merrymaking! Now come. Do you remember these lines, of an elvish song? 'A forest of amber leaves, they point westward to the Sea?'"
A look of recognition flitted across Sam's face, as well as the light from the fire: for the hall was dark with night but pale with the flame's color on everyone's faces and robes, be they elf or man, dwarf or hobbit. "One has written those words to me before," he paused, "Are you the person who has been writing to me for close to five years?"
"Ai, yes!" Uialithil said. "I had been told of a certain hobbit by a certain wizard, a hobbit who loved elves."
"Gandalf!" Sam exclaimed. "And I love them even more now, even as they have ceased to just become a myth to my eyes. They are real and glowing! Especially the Lord Elrond, and the Lady Arwen. And you, Miss Uialithil," he blushed deeply.
"Well met is this!" Uialithil laughed. "I am not the fairest of the elves, by any standard. That belongs rather to Galadriel, or perhaps Arwen: but it is an honor to be counted among them."
Behind them, Bilbo and Aragorn came into the light, and the hobbit began to sing a song, long and of a elvish mariner. Afterwards he received comments from many an elf, some of who wished to hear it again as to judge it. But Bilbo turned away from his audience and said to Uialithil,
"Perhaps you may sing a tale for us? It was once customary for you to sing on the high day when it came. And many wish for a return to tradition!"
"Yes," laughed Lindir, who had commented on Bilbo's verses. "It has been too long! Ever since you rode to war, it has been devoid of your songs and merriment, this hall has been."
Uialithil gave a smile. "I did sing here in this Hall even after the war."
"But it was not of happy things! It was sad and mournful, lonesome and soulless. We wish a song of happiness, not one of death and sadness." said Bilbo reproachfully. The others waited as Uialithil thought about this.
"If you wish it," she said after a pause.
"And may it be one of your own?" requested Bilbo, and others nodded their approval. Uialithil nodded, and began to sing in a murmuring voice.
It was a fading day, the evening light was born
Across the sky colors did stray, to make a song to mourn.
The clouds were of a white fade as the dark came to form
the stars leaping in a fray to the music of the storm.
The dark did gather here to make a dance forlorn
The moon over the lake, as the elf-kin their heads did lay
Do not cry! Do not despair! Quick will the return be day
Before the dawn it is darkest, now sleep the night away.
Bilbo chuckled. "I wish to hear the Hymn of the Stream, My Elven King, and I His Queen." he said. "That song you just sang is of a sorrowful tone, even if it is happier in the end and message."
"But that song is sad as well," she said, but laughed, as the faces of the others were distraught with her (seeming) refusal.. "Ai, very well. There is no fooling Bilbo Baggins. I will do as you ask. But I can only sing some of it, for I wish to retire very soon."
"Well enough!" cried Bilbo.
And so she began:
The light was faded, the dark was near
and the moonlight streamed through the trees.
The sliver stream that ran down to the Sea,
under the light of frosted stars I see.
It glowed shining like a freezing mist
it cast its dancing light around the snow
I breathed a breath of winter cold
and cast my cloak on white snow fold.
In this glade the river sang
and the starlit foam shifted and shone
I saw out far the silver vein ran long
By the water I lay, as the night prolonged.
I slept under starshine ice
but the stream, she spoke in a clear voice
The air was quiet, there was no noise
and she sang me to sleep, but she was poised.
For as I slept came an elven-king
he called out under watching stars
he was lost, for he had travelled far
Then he saw me, cold and pale as a star.
The stream's spell was of a holy sort,
but he did not know so and called out in fear
'I sense a witch of evil is here!'
and he bid himself to stay to me near.
'An elven-maid of yonder more!'
came his wondering reply.
'Why is she here, one with the night?'
then at noise he drew his blade to fight.
'She is of water sprite,'
whispered the singing stream
'Put down your sword!' she said, and down it went with a ring.
She bid him stand down, this elven-king.
'She is frozen dead!'
said the king, 'she is one with the frost,
and I fear her warm life is lost.'
But the stream bid him to stop.
'She is of death-child,'
she told him in perfect rhyme.
'She is not of your royal kind.
Her blood speaks of a lowly line.'
I was listening half in snow
as the king laid eyes upon me.
'You do run to the Sundering Sea?'
he asked of river reed.
With her singing reply,
the elven king asked of her a simple task.
'Then, as your voice as the mast,
Take her to the Havens, and fast.'
'And why do you request such a thing?'
the stream said,
but he gestured to me instead.
'She reminds me of my queen, who to death she bled.'
'In this very glade?
Nay, here life does not fade.
New life I have made.'
The stream came to where I laid.
'Yes, right hither did she die
many a year ago
amongst your broken floes
she bled upon your snow.'
'Then take her,'
came the stream's answer
and she made me stir,
without a cloak or coat of fur.
'Ai! Ai! Love of my world!'
cried my elven-king
joy in his voice did ring
as his cloak he laid about me.
'My elvish queen of lost life!'
he said to me
'Shall we leave for the Sea?'
To this I did joyfully agree.
Uialithil ended her song, but then said, "It is a very sad tale, for the ship that carries them does not reach the Havens. But of what I have said is of happiness."
Many listeners clapped with vigor. "It is," said Glorfindel, "your songs are as splendid as if they were written by the first Elf-Minstrels!"
"Your words flatter me!" Uialithil laughed, "But now I must leave! Farewell!" with this she departed for her chamber.
Here are the translations if not provided by the text:
- There are no translations in this chapter. See previous chapters for translations of some recurring words.