Chapter 1: The Summons

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~ YT 1364 ~

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate

-*-

"Come on, Findekáno." A redheaded elf, taller than an average Elda, laughed behind his hand as he watched his dark haired companion struggle down from a gigantic oak tree. "You really are not very good at this. Tyelko would be ashamed of you."

"I don't care too much what Tyelko thinks of me." The elf in the tree shouted back down at him without turning to look. "Though you best watch out, Nelyo. When I get down there you're going to wish for more than a stick to defend yourself."

But the redhead merely laughed. "Do not make me read this note from the Valar without you." He paused and then shouted again. "If you take too long, I will do that."

"I am coming! Peace, Nelyo!" As Findekáno dropped out of the tree at last he lay on the ground in a huff, watching the white clouds float in the sky above them. He didn't hide his smirk when his friend walked over and stared down. As the elf cast his shadow on Findekáno, he rolled his eyes. "You are in my light."

"We need to open the envelopes. Both of us," Nelyo reminded him seriously. "Here."

Finno caught the letter that Nelyo dropped just seconds before it hit his face. With a laugh and a sigh, he sat up against the trunk of the oak tree and opened the letter alongside Nelyo. As both read, identical looks of surprise crept into their faces.

"A summons to Lorien, to Lorellin itself tonight." Nelyo frowned. "Why would the Valar need us there?"

Finno shrugged and packaged his letter back into its envelope. "One thing is clear." He stood and went to the other side of the tree, disappearing from Nelyafinwë's sight.

"What is that?" asked Nelyo in confusion. Nothing was clear to him right then.

When Finno reappeared he had brandished a large stick three feet long and shouted. "You have no way to defend yourself."

While he laughed and dodged a swing, the redhead groaned in fake annoyance. "You are such a child. Barely better than Irisse or Artanis!"

Findekáno halted and placed a hand over his heart. "You wound me, Nelyo! That is lower than I thought you capable of stooping." As his companion smirked, Finno allowed his own smile to fall into place. "Because, after all, you are much too tall to stoop that low."

Nelyo lunged forward and tore the plaything from Findekáno's hands. With a smirk so large it extended nearly to both ears, he grabbed the dark haired elda and tackled him to the ground. "Too tall, eh? My height is good to take you down."

They wrestled for a while before falling apart in fits of laughter. The warmth of Laurelin felt good on their sweaty bodies. Findekáno laughed as he sniffed his clothes. He drew back in repugnance.

"We should probably bathe." Nelyo echoed his sentiments. "You know, before seeing Estë and Lorien."

And so the cousins made their way back to where their horses grazed. Riding hard for an hour back to the city of Tirion, they went their separate ways to their own houses. Findekáno lived with Turukáno, his middle brother, while Nelyo lived with his brothers Kánafinwë and Morifinwë, Kano and Moryo respectively. Their middle brother, Moryo, had recently moved in.

"You reek," Moryo sputtered as soon as Nelyafinwë walked in the door of their two level home in Tirion. "Terribly." He sat at the table to the right of the door, reading a book.

"I believe that the word 'reek' implies 'terribly'," Nelyo muttered. "I am off to bathe and then I shall be riding towards Lorien."

But Moryo looked at him in surprise. "You as well? That is what Kano told me."

"He got a letter too, then?"

Moryo nodded and gestured to an open envelope on the end of the table near Nelyo. "Right there. He's currently tuning his lyre and then wanted to be off. Who else got these letters?"

"Finno at the least," Nelyo called down the stairs as he walked away towards his room. "Jealous, Moryo?" He glanced back to see that his brother's face had gone red as a strawberry as it always did when he grew angry. Nelyo couldn't hide his laughter.

An hour later, Finno knocked before waltzing into Nelyo's house. When he found all three occupants at the main sitting room, he waved. "Are you ready, Nelyo?" He had changed from his loose shirt and pants into a beautifully crafted blue shirt and pleated black pants and matching boots. A single golden ribbon intertwined inside his side braid.

"Yes, and it turns out my mother and Kano will be joining us as well," Nelyo smiled as Nerdanel walked in behind Findekáno.

Findekáno, smiling, bowed immediately in greeting and respect. "Lady Nerdanel, a pleasure!"

"A pleasure as always, Findekáno," she agree in an answering smile. "Now, are we all ready to travel? Telperion is already overtaking Laurelin as she fades."

"Do try to stay out of trouble," Moryo said to them as they wandered down the path out of the house. He leaned in the doorframe.

Finno merely smirked as he turned back and shook his head. "I thought trouble follows you, not us, Moryo?"

The elf in the doorway scowled, though a good-natured twinkle was in his eyes. He waved to them before heading back inside and shutting the door. As the four prepared to travel, greeting their horses warmly, they noticed Nerdanel had not been lying: Laurelin was fading quickly, and silver Telperion growing stronger alongside. One or two of Varda's stars could already be seen far above and they did not doubt that soon more would come.

They rode their horses hard, but not hard enough to harm them. For each loved his or her own steed, and they would never willingly put them at risk. And so it was that many hours later the travelers arrived outside of Lorien, where the willows drooped and the streams ran quietly.

They left their horses outside the wood, in the stables designed for visitors. Once that was done, all four entered the wood and walked on the quiet grass path through the trees. To every side, willow trees bowed their branches low to tiny streams, no wider than a foot across, but long enough to have no apparent end. They crisscrossed at random, and tiny bridges allowed for walking over them. Silence reigned in Lorien, no birds nor bugs interrupted the quiet sleep. There only played the sound of flowing water. Pools began to crop up in some areas, and finally they reached the end of the path. A dock with a ferry stood on this side of a large lake-like pool. In the center, a green island stood. Some time ago, the four companions had stopped their talking out of respect for that hallowed place and now, when they were greeted by a maia of Estë, they found that speaking felt odd.

"They are waiting for you on the island," said the silver-haired maia. He gestured for them to board the ferry. "I shall take you across."

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