The bard leaned against the trunk of the tree. His long hair fell over his shoulders, obscuring his face. Idly, he ran his fingers over the strings of a silver harp that lay in his lap. A series of dulcet arpeggios rang out into the crisp morning air, tinkling like the joyful cascade of a mountain spring.
Out of the corner of his eye he spotted two figures strolling up the hill towards him, and rose to his feet.
“Well met, my lords,” he called in greeting.
“My dear friend, have you forgotten? There are to be no titles between us now,” the first of the newcomers admonished gently, coming to stand beside the bard. Tall as a young tree, he had silvery hair, the color of moonbeams glittering on a still lake. The other, golden-haired and radiant of face, gave the bard an indulgent smile.
“Old habits are difficult to break,” grinned the bard. They sat down together among the flowers.
“Have a care where you play your harp,” said the golden one, pointing at the instrument. “The mortals think you are a god.”
“Sound advice,” laughed the bard. “Coming from one who is worshipped himself, and as Helios, no less!”
The golden one scowled, the expression marring his handsome face. “Helios, the sun-god? I cannot help it that I glow somewhat. You know why.”
The bard laughed again. “Come now,” he soothed, laying a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Tell me what tales men have been spinning of me.”
“You they call Apollo,” answered the false sun-god smugly. “God of music and healing.”
The bard frowned. “Healing? I am no healer.”
“Who can fathom the workings of mortal minds? They have imaginations that run faster than the waters of the Bruinen.”
“Alas, the Bruinen is no more,” interjected the silver one, who had been silent till then. A look of nostalgic melancholy was on his face. The three were quiet for awhile, reliving in their minds the memories of days gone by.
“Men have forgotten much,” sighed the bard.
“Aye,” said the golden one, his voice sad and wistful. “Even now we sit in a grove sacred to one of their many invented deities.”
The silver one looked thoughtful. “It is not our place now to guide them, as it was in the past,” he said sagely, his eyes distant with visions. “They will grow in might and wisdom, and then fall into darkness, and rise and fall again many times over, ere they bring the world to complete and utter ruin.”
“Our time on these shores draws to an end,” concluded the golden one.
“It has been ending for thousands of years,” replied the silver one. “We have dallied too long. We must leave soon, for it is becoming difficult to remain hidden. Our arts are failing.”
“How much longer, do you think?” asked the fair elf, his blue eyes troubled. “I do not yet tire of these shores.”
“Neither do I,” lamented the tall one. “Yet we must go, in another yen or two, at the most, no more.”
“We must tell the others then,” pointed out the bard.
“Aye, we must.” The silver one got up, dusting off his grey robes. The others got up also, and they began to slowly descend the hill.
“What of my grandsons?” asked the silver one abruptly of the golden one. “I am anxious they do not draw too much attention to themselves, especially, after that business with that yellow sheepskin.”
“Ah, yes,” said the bard. “I have heard of the deed. Two, or was it three yeni ago? That was their doing?”
“Partly,” replied the silver one. He returned his solemn gaze to the golden one. “Well?”
The golden one looked slightly nervous. “Ah …hunting great beasts in the south, or so they said.”
“Ah. So they said.” The silver one raised a pale eyebrow, but shook his head and turned his gaze to the trees, much to the golden one’s relief.
They walked in companionable silence until they reached a small shrine at the foot of the hill, where there was a statue of the deity carven in stone. The tall one peered at the runes -- he had taught himself this new tongue -- and read it to the others.
“Dedicated to Dionysius, god of wine and merrymaking.”
“I know his face,” exclaimed the bard. He ran his eyes over the statue, observing the reclining form, holding a wine-bowl in one hand, his luscious curls crowned by a wreath of leaves and berries. “It is Thranduil.”
“It does suit him,” chuckled the golden one.
“Alas, alas,” wailed the bard. “Has not one of us been spared?”
“He has not fared the worst,” said the silver one. “The mortals have named Haldir the goddess of the hunt, and he has fled to the mountains in despair and shame.”
The others stared at the tall one in amazement, and then began to laugh. The tall one shook his head sternly at them, though a smirk began to tug at the corners of his mouth.
Suddenly the bard turned to the tall one. “What about you, Celeborn? What do Men say of you?”
The golden one began to speak. “They call him the –“
“Glorfindel …” warned Celeborn, color rising to his cheeks. “You may not tell Lindir.”
“Oh but I will, I will! It is too fine a tale,” laughed Glorfindel. “I will tell the Lady also, when we arrive in Valinor.”
He leaned over to speak in the bard’s ear. “The mortals caught sight of him him bathing in the sea,” he whispered, but loud enough for Celeborn to hear. “And when he rose, fair and shining, out of the foam ….”
Celeborn, now redder than a beetroot, made a strangled noise and swung an arm at the chortling elf-lord, who leapt nimbly out of the way.
Singing the elf-lord’s new name at the top of his voice, Glorfindel sprinted through the woods, just out of the incensed Celeborn’s reach, leaving Lindir bent almost double in his mirth.
Author's Chapter Notes:
References to Greek Mythology. The "grandsons" refer to Castor and Pollux, otherwise known as the Gemini Twins (many thanks to Gwynnyd for this idea), who mucked about a bit with Jason and the Argonauts, and the tall silver one's new name ... it should be obvious. Hazard a guess!