Chapter 21: Gardens of Paradise

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"It is not far," Amarië assured the group as she led with her beloved Findaráto. She hurried along excitedly.

Eve walked on Amarië's left, flanked then by Findekáno on her own left. Káno walked behind with his older brother, mother, and the twins. Turvo and Elenwë were there also. The grass sprung green beneath their feet as they walked, miraculously untrampled despite the crowds. Eve found that particularly odd.

As they walked, the crowds joined them going west. Soon they saw up ahead a grand hedge of green leaves and bright pink flowers. An archway of plants beckoned for them to enter. A small line had formed and they went to the end.

"Here we are!" Amarië smiled and clasped her hands together as she stood behind a small group of children and mothers. "The wait should not last long."

"I find these displays boring," Pityo bemoaned. He looked at Nerdanel to see if she would react. She didn't.

"Just be quiet," Telvo muttered to his twin. "No one cares what you think."

Pityo smacked his brother in the arm. "That is unkind!"

Eve nearly laughed but Nerdanel's stern look at her sons stopped it in her throat. The auburn haired elf maid stood right in front of them and glared.

"Pityafinwë, Telufinwë." She put her hands on her hips. "Keep your hands and words to yourself. If you cannot be kind, do not speak. Understood?" They didn't answer, glaring at the ground. She narrowed her eyes. "Answer me, now."

"Understood," came both responses.

Nerdanel turned away and started talking to her eldest son. He was chuckling at something that his mother told him. The twins turned away from their oldest brother and mother, facing Eve and Findekáno.

Findekáno laid a hand on each of them. "Do not worry, Ambarussa. You are not as bad as Moryo had been as a child."

Pityo and Telvo both snickered in response. The elder twin, Pityo, nodded eagerly. "Nelyo has told us how hard Moryo was."

"It is true," Káno added, standing with them now. "But do not let him hear you say that, Ambarussa."

"We know," Telvo reminded him. "That would make trouble."

"Which is what you do," Káno warned them. "But this, it is not worth it. Moryo is sensitive."

Eve laughed. "Really?!"

"He rescued a sickly little black kitten when he was their age," Findekáno told her, gesturing to the Ambarussa. "But he didn't tell anyone. Not until he could not cure it himself."

"By then it was too late," Káno finished. He shook his head sadly. "We buried his body and marked it with a tree. Moryo was devastated."

She frowned. "Well that's depressing. Wow. Okay."

"Not cool?" Findekáno asked with fake innocence.

"Correct," Eve chuckled. "Very not cool."

The line started moving soon enough. Amarië, at the front, gave their number to the Maia working the entrance and they were allowed into the gardens. Eve had never seen anything like it. Beautiful water features of floating designs broke up fantastical topiaries. Flowers opened and closed of their own accord like a dance. For a rousing music of flutes and lyres filled the garden rooms.

"Wow look at this one," Eve said as she rushed over to a sculpture of marble surrounded by vines of morning glories and water lilies in the pool at its base. "That's crazy."

Elenwë nodded. "That is a sculpture of Ossë and Uinen."

The sculpture itself was three feet tall. Two figures, holding each other by the arms, were pure white. But they looked foreign, and had designs all across their bodies.

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