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Is reality truly what we think?
I received one day this strange text from an email, with instructions to publish it on my own novels of the Eolis, on my internet site. The author did not indicated his name, and his email adress at free.fr was no longer valid when I tried to contact him.
My first idea was that not to publish this text, as it was really inbelievable. But since I read the Silmarilion. And when we understand the metaphysics of the world of the Lord of the Rings, the following account takes a strange resonance. So I confide you with it, as it opens a gate on a sublime dream. And, who knows, toward which strange and beautiful reality?
So here is the account by Faana Maiwë, as I received it in 2002. (The real names were hidden or modified in the original text, so I do not know them.)
Come meet for real!
Every Friday, 12pm SLT (19hTU), Elf Dream Meetings and stories, in our virtual region Daur Lysaer (How to enter)
on Saturday 21, 10am SLT (17hTU), a beautiful story in the Renaissance Faire, in Digiworld Region Chivalry
My Page on the Lord of the Rings: links, the books, the movies, critique of the movies.
Note: When I received the following text, it was in french. I translated it myself.
«You are now safe» told me the captain Le Troadec, dressed in his perfect military suit.
I was just regaining consciousness in a small cabin painted in grey on a ship of the Marine Nationale, which was just slightly moving despite the wrath of the ocean.
Yes, I was safe. But so sad, that I should have preferred by far to be dead!
All this came from a strange encounter which happened several months before.
Child I had read «The Lord of the Rings», and it must be said that this beautiful novel never ceased to move and marvel me. The world of Tolkien was really convincing, but in more curiously familiar. Especially I was feeling strongly attracted by the world of the Elves, a world of beauty and poetry, which awoke in my heart a curious nostalgia, as from a lost paradise. Already, child, I was dreaming of being an Elf of the Lothlorien, and of going on one of Cirdan's ships toward the enchanted islands of the West. Time passing by had not altered this feeling, quite on the contrary teenage added the sensual warmth or a love story to the moving nostalgia of a child memory. This had not prevented me to live my life and to start studies in computer science at the faculty of Rennes, but I was often lost in my elvish dreams. I was hardly feeling in touch with my mates, fanatic of bloody video games or of horrible fashioned music. In my heart I was naming them «the Orcs».
On the release of the movie «The fellowship of the Ring» this strange sympathy gained a new momentum. I read again The Lord of the Rings and Bilbo the Hobbit, and for the first time I studied the long historical appendix of the great novel. I was fascinated as if discovering a world at the same time unknown and curiously familiar. Understanding that there were other books, I searched «The Lost Tales» and «The Silmarilion» that I had to order specially in a library.
Perhaps from the hope to know more, I quickly felt frustrated that there would be no more literature on this universe in the same time incredibly vast, magical and nevertheless so realistic. Especially I wished to know the following, from the Fourth Age to nowadays, as the Middle Earth was none other than our Europe, not so long ago.
I was often visiting the coast of my loved Brittany where I was born, as in Camaret, where the black rocks of the Tas de Pois, shiny with rain, were challenging the angry assaults of the ocean. Just further, the standing stones of Lagatjar seemed remnants of some mysterious past. In a fold of rocks out of sight of the town of Men, the world of the Silmarilion was suddenly becoming very real, and its magic awoke. So appeared the cliffs of Beleriand to the eyes of Tuor, and even the sound of the foghorns resounded like the Horns of Ulmo to his ears.
Rocks, spindrift and ocean as only witnesses, I was feeling like one of the characters of Tolkien, like Eärendil the Mariner, or better, like an Elf. Yes. This is right, an Elf. Why not. Anyway I had something elvish in my appearance: big, slim, fair, and only little beard. Often girls with the same age were looking at me, and the mirror was sending me the image of a regular oval face, with fine features and eyes of a nice bluish grey. I would have enjoyed wearing long hairs, but this would surely have attracted the mockery of my school mates. I was succeeding in all my undertakings, I obtained my baccalauréat with a mention bien, and I had very good marks in computer science. The lessons seemed easy and often I felt no need to revise. However computer programming seemed to me a cold and abstract world, and I preferred by far manual activities. So I engaged into a club of pottery, I painted, and I did archery. I astonished my club partners with the spontaneous precision of my shoot, and when I was bending my bow toward the target, I needed only little imagination to feel like Legolas on his flet in the Lorien forest.
Internet was the natural witness of this Tolkien fashion. It was a blossoming of chat sites.
Going on Internet with the PC that my parents offered me for my studies, I quickly found myself following the long discussion threads where people gave themselves elvish names, or were announcing that Sauron was coming back and that he would put an end to all this.
Hopelessly the messages were seldom very poetical. I even quickly felt these games somewhat ridiculous, opening the last message of the 253rd Galadriel, who was even not able to conjugate a verb at the first person of the singular. There was here nothing really epic, only the universe of the fanatics of video games who were investing a new theme, while even not suspecting its marvellous profundity. I was about to abandon when I noticed some more substantial messages, all signed Tuima. I had to search this name in online elvish dictionaries. Tuima, in the ancient elvish language of the Quendi of Valinor, it was a bud. This could not be invented.
Tuima was asking questions. It was as if she was testing our knowledge of the elvish language. I got interested in the game. Fascinated by Tolkien world, I already had some knowledge, and I was even able to make some sentences in elvish language. But she was always better than me with her knowledge. In more, she was writing long and structured messages, without orthography mistakes, and without encumbering her text with all these trite «Internet style» abbreviations, u, 4, lol, and other smileys. This was putting her frankly above the usual lot of message posters. Sometimes she replied in Quenya to some too much familiar peoples, and this was the best method to end any discussion.
Replying was the only mean to know more. And replying in the style. So I signed my messages Faana Maiwë, the White Seagull. My side Breton of the Armor, fond of ocean and freedom.
It was enough to be noticed. And, quickly, from a simple comment of the movie, we went to more philosophical and poetical discussions.
Creating such a link was precisely what she expected. But we soon had to switch to private emails, rather than to feed our thoughts to all these prosaic nosey bystanders, with often had trouble intentions. Then Tuima asked to meet me. She was living not far from me, in the region of Morlaix, when I rather was from Quimper.
Happily my parents had a good opinion about this encounter with somebody able to express herself neatly in a written message. As they just bough a new car, they gave me the old to visit Tuima. But they also warned me that encounters on Internet were often very deceiving! So, one morning, I was somewhat wondering while travelling through my loved Brittany.
At the given place, I easily found the address, but suddenly a curious shyness invaded me: I no longer dared to approach to less than ten metres of Tuima's house! If was an unexpected feeling, surprisingly strong, which left me paralysed, my heart beating. Happily, Tuima, who was waiting me, went out herself, and this released the situation.
Really delighted, I discovered a young lady with pleasant features, somewhat small, very slim, with a simple and regular face and blue eyes of Breton and a cute little nose somewhat mischievous. She was wearing long brown hairs falling down to her waist. She was clothed simply with a long white robe with some small needle-point laces of the Morlaix region.
Discreetly, I noted that her look, and especially her eyes, were very elvish. But above all, seeing her, I immediately thought «her she is».
Two hands soon met. I never expected such a strong and pleasant emotion! Our two hearts beating, we walked half an hour in that way, along a small street which led in the countryside. We seldom spoke, rather exchanging smiles and looks. But we never went further in our love gestures. A kind of modesty. As do engaged Elves, who prefer to patiently wait for the marriage.
Rapidly we used to meet one weekend on two, in more poetical places than the streets of the town. Why a weekend on two? She refused to reply to this question, which was visibly disturbing her.
Interested as we were by our Brittany, we never missed to visit the more charming little places, or the more powerful. One of our first visits was to the Roc'h Trevesel, which overlooks the fearsome marshes of the Yeun Elez, in former times the cursed land of the Ankou. Today it is occupied by the nuclear plant of Brennilis, as if the modern world intended to perpetuate the sinister reputation of this place.
Going here and there at will with the car my parents gave me, we visited in turn all the rocks of Armor, from Landunvez to Perros Guirrec, passing by Portsall, Brignogan, Roscoff, Trebeurden. All those who love Brittany will tell you that it is never so moving than with scotch mist weather, when grey rocks merge in ghostly silhouettes hazy in the distance. True Brittany houses are of grey-ochre stones, covered with clear slates strewn of yellow lichens. The dwellers often put flowers to the windows. Nothing in common with these cold black and white patterns that today housing estates too often display.
Also we spoke of Tolkien, of poetry, of Elves. She had a true voice, simple and pure. Her song was resounding in sunken lanes as if she was the very spirit of the places.
Unavoidably, we did the journey to Broceliande, to the Barenton fountain. The legend tells that those who have nothing to do here cannot find it; however we went right on it, after what seemed only some minutes of walk.
«It is possible that Merlin and the fairies would have been descendants of the Elf kindred, and this would explain how they could have such powers, she told.
-Come on, how is this possible, descendants of Elves?
-Sure, from the Kings. The descendants of Aragorn had elvish blood, and before them the inhabitants of Dol Amroth, the Prince Imrahil's subjects. It also remained Elves in the Greenwood, those that Bilbo encountered. Some had too much relation with the men of Esgaroth, they never went to the Grey Havens.»
May be from dream, maybe from game, we often played to compare Middle Earth with the today world, and we were speaking of these stories as of real facts.
At the epoch of Frodo, the constellations already had their today aspect. This makes no more than some thousand years. Tolkien asserts, in his prologue to «The Fellowship of the Ring», that Arda, the Middle Earth, was Europe, in ancient times, before the upheavals which gave it its today aspect. When? After the scholars, the War of the Ring would have happened in 4000 BC, starting the Fourth Age. And we would be entered in the Seventh Age in 1945. It was enough to admit that the world had be modified since the end of the War of the Ring, probably at the end of the Fourth Age. This was not astonishing, if we think that, at the end of the Second Age, at the time of the downfall of Numenor (The Western Realm, from where came Isildur and Anarion), Illuvatar, the unique God, had bent the oceans. Before bending, the world of Middle Earth was a flat word, encircled with basalt walls, and surrounded by an infinite vacuum; but since this moment it became the round Earth that we know. Only the Elves, when they leave Middle Earth from the Grey Havens, could continue to follow the «Straight Way», or «Straight Road », in place of following the curvature of the ocean. So they could join their paradise, Tol Eressëa, the enchanted island, and then Valinor, the land of the Gods, definitively taken away from the evil of this world. Frodo, Gandalf and the elvish lords leave Middle Earth from the Grey Havens, shortly after the War of the Ring. Samwise Gamgee, after the death of his wife Rose, was taken on one of the last ships wrought in the Havens, in 62 of the Fourth Age. As one of the Ring Bearers, he was probably the last non-Elf to enjoy this privilege. Cirdan himself would not stay much longer, to bring some belated Elves. At the death of Aragorn and Arwen Undomiel, in 121 of the Fourth Age, Imladris and the Lorien were deserted, all their inhabitants having left Middle Earth, with most of the Sylvan Elves of the Greenwood.
Reflecting, I however remarked: «But it is only a book, it is impossible that the world was so much transformed without any archaeological remnants!»
Certainly I should have not said that. Tuima did not replied, but she pursed her lips and refused to speak to me all the remaining of the weekend.
How pity. Next time I shall be more tactful not to break her dreams with such words.
Tuima, despite her frail appearance, was not really what we call a «gentle young lady». She happened to discuss passionately on Internet, and to sharply put in their place those who sent her stupid messages. I think she may have readily insulted them in elvish language, if there was any kind of coarseness in this nice tongue.
When I was pessimistic she was visibly angry. I realized that she was speaking about the world of Tolkien as being the reality. It was definitively not a game for her, and those who sullied her elvish poetry with their «fantazy» phantasms drove her upset much than any other. To circumvent the apparent contradiction between Tolkien's account and the visible reality, she explained very seriously that the upheavals which took place at the end of the Fourth Age had cancelled most of the traces of the former Ages. So was the will of Illuvatar, for some mysterious reason.
On the first occasion Tuima introduced me to her father, one of these fair and honest men of whom Brittany had the secret. He quickly asked me to name him Jean, quite simply, as if we were old friends. Jean seemed to suffer of some sorrow. I understood, despite his discretion, that his family was torn by a demand for divorce. He was taking his daughter only one weekend on two, and for this reason I could visit her only when she was with her father. Yes Tuima was only seventeen and a half, and she was still bound by this sort of obligations.
The poet Tuima was very far of computer programming. She always lived in countryside, between Armor and Argoat, and even her father had a boat, a small seven metres long wooden ship anchored at Perros Guirrec, that Tuima had naturally nicknamed the Vingilot.
Holding the helm of the Vingilot, the frail Tuima had the strength of a captain, and it was to me to manage with all these «strings», not at ease on the dancing deck. But I was very quickly accustomed. With two or three trips around Sept Iles, sheets and halyards, tacks and wind had no secrets for me. Jean was with us for the first trips, and he patiently explained me the basis of the sea craft, as a true passionate man. As for Tuima, she looked satisfied with my beginning as a sailor, and she even seemed to forgive me my scepticism about Elves.
One day Jean let us go alone. This time the wind had become so strong that we had to nearby completely reef the main sail, keeping only a small jib. The wing was howling in the sails and we were listing so much that foam was getting above the planking. Hugging the wind as much as possible, we were having much fun with speed.
Unexpectedly Tuima asked me to hold fast the helm, and, arranging herself in the small space between the mast and the cabin, she took a large silvery flute, and started a strange nostalgic melody.
Suddenly fascinated by this sublime music which seemed to play with the violence of the elements, I left pass some time, with my eyes clutched on my companion, lost in a dram of elvish sailors, hugging the wind to clip the waves still faster.
And the still increasing wind was bringing us fast off shore. Suddenly I realized that the Ploumanac'h cliff was now only an indistinct line in the far, and that a squall was about to cut any visibility. «Hoo, it is getting worse and worse. We should better get back to the harbour.
-No, to get back, when we just begin to have fun? White Seagull, you deceive me» she replied laughing. And she quite simply took back her flute to her lips, giving me no other command, just staring at me with her large blue eyes. Clearly I had to manage myself. Suddenly the rain enveloped us, and visibility was nearby zero. A naughty swell was rising, and, without instruments, to get back was becoming uncertain. But, as I was in a way the captain by delegation, I took the decision to get back, and uttered a shy «ready to tack». Smiling, Tuima left her flute to do the manoeuvre. But just after she resumed her music and the detailed examination of my face. For some seconds, the frail ship danced like a cork, the wind on the beam, and I was feeling the stern forcing in my hands. Then we took back wind astern the road to Perros Guirrec. But the rain was moving faster than us, removing any visibility. And without any beacon, we were completely lost. However the rain dripping from her coat did not prevented Tuima to still play a gentle and melancholic music, still staring at me. As she was just in front of the helm, backing the cabin, I could not avoid looking at her. It was in the same time intimidating and very pleasant.
Dashing in front of us, a dark silhouette hemmed with foam emerged from the fog. «The Gwen Braz», I said, and Tuima looked back to see the group of rocks with its short lighthouse. It was a very well known seamark, and we now had just to keep the good heading. Soon we heard the swell roaring against the rocks of Ploumanac'h, to starboard. To get home would be only a routine.
From this moment Tuima's look changed. Before I was feeling her somewhat provocative, something like «show me what you are able». Now she was plenty admiration, approbation, love. I suddenly felt a great pride, to such feel her love. What a pleasant emotion! It would never left me, and it was enough that she looked at me to feel again her love!
On time we could join our anchorage. Now we just had to have a night in the cabin, each one in one of the two bunks.
Untangling my hair ruffled with the wind, I looked at my companion.
«Right, you are right, it is much more fun when there is wind!
-There was no reason to be afraid. The Vingilot has seen far worse. It was just a gale.
-However it looks awful, the first time. And it was, how could I say? beautiful, and moving. Your music awakened echoes in me, I do not know how to say... It was really looking like the wars in Beleriand, sailing toward the West in the mad hope to arrive in the lands of the Gods to find some help! And, you see, to return to this dull world, mechanic, prosaic, it feels like a deception... I really desire to go further, to leave for Valinor!
-I believe you are really an Elf», she said with a tender smile, before switching the light off.
As every time she spoke like that, I did not understood this literally: We were playing to the Elves, to the world of Tolkien. But I had the very clear sensation that she spoke seriously...
Then I understood: only an Elf, who always succeeds in what he does, could thus get just on the Gwen Braz lighthouse, even without any visibility.
It was the end of the school year, and I had to follow a vocational session of two months in a company in Nantes. So I could no longer visit Tuima for all this time. But we exchanged several emails a day.
She was often speaking of her passion about the elvish world. We even exchanged whole sentences in Quenya. I somewhat criticized her, but rather than keeping silent, she preferred to reply to my doubts.
The most delicate matter was that, if our world had be the Middle Earth only six thousand years ago, so why would we find geological traces and fossils back from millions years, in an universe where stars tell ages of several billion years?
Her reply was really simple, and always the same. As indicated in the stories of the Silmarilion, the world had already changed several times even before the epoch of Frodo. So, at the end of the Second Age, at the time of the downfall of Numenor and the bending of the oceans, the world had changed in an incredible way, as from flat it became a sphere like a planet. However the peoples who lived at that time noticed nothing, and the new landscapes appeared with their rocks, their greenery, and even with ancient trees. A sudden upheaval, geological, would have created a chaos, breaking mountains and forests, creating a landscape of ruin and bleakness where nothing would have grown for centuries. But quite on the contrary, the transforming action gave achieved landscapes, without upheaval, where the inhabitants continued to live their life without suspecting the vastness of the transformations. However oceans and continents had changed of form.
This is perfectly possible if, as explained in the Song of the Ainus, (Ainulindalë), the world is only an image in the mind of Illuvatar, the Unique God creator. So when He wants, he can transform this image and immediately give it a new coherent and achieved shape, without passing through a phase of destruction and chaos.
So, probably at the end of the Fourth Age, He decided, for some reason, to insert the little Middle Earth in a much vaster universe, the one we know today. During the Third Age, that of the War of the Ring, the Middle Earth was already round, but alone in the universe, with the Sun, Moon and stars revolving around. Now the Earth of the new Illuvatar dream is still round, but it revolves around the Sun in an universe populated with billions of stars and planets.
For some strange reason, Illuvatar's pleasure was to create our today world with a different past, as we found ruins and fossils more ancient than the Fourth Age, and even much more ancient that the creation of the world explained in the Song of the Ainus (The Silmarilion). But no really identifiable trace was found of the Middle Earth where Elrond and Galadriel lived.
For, as foreseen by the prophecies, Earth is now the exclusive lot of the Men. Elves have no more place here, unless in the dreams and legends.
I must tell that I could not find anything to say against such a reasoning, when we begin to consider that our world is a dream in the mind of Illuvatar, the almighty God, who created Arda the Middle earth, the races of the Elves and of Men, and even the powerful Valars. So he can modify everything at will, up to display the appearance of a different past.
But the world of Middle Earth was a world of magic, inhabited by beings with outstanding spiritual powers, when our today world is a prosaic world formed of atoms and particles, with no magic and no power.
Tuima replied that all this complex physics was probably created at the end of the Fourth Age, and that it quite simply did not existed in the time of Frodo. So at this epoch it existed metals like the mithril, that it is impossible to find now. Probably if a mithril lode had passed the transition toward our today world, it would remain only platinum or tungsten, the only metals resilient enough to make a shirt of mail as Bilbo's one.
As to magic, Tuima explained that Illuvatar had simply granted some parts of His own power to some of His creatures. So magicians like Gandalf shared also the capacity to change the world a little, as an image in their own mind. The Elves also received their part of this power, and they found natural to manufacture these lamps that we see in the movie, on the flet or at Caras Caladhron, which shine indefinitely without fire or energy. But this power was only in limited quantity, so that it was exhausted with time, as was exhausted the antic light of the Lamps, and then that of the Trees of Valinor. Today quite few remained, and only persons with enough elvish blood could practice magic, or certain humans who inherited of the teachings of the Blue Magicians, or those who had perpetuated the sorcery that Sauron had taught to the Black Numenoreans.
There were no more true Elves on Earth since long ago, since the Great Depart in the years which had followed the War of the Ring. But certain human races, especially the Celts, were descending from the sons of Aragorn and Arwen, and from here from Luthien and her mother Melian, their far Maïar ancestor. But a so diluted heredity did not allow them do be even little different of the other human races. Yet it still happens, rarely, that this heredity shows up in a noticeable way in some privileged Humans. Oh, it is certainly discreet, and these modern Half-Elves, or better «Stealth Elves», just have ordinary human bodies, mortal, and without no more magic than the others. T best some share a typically elvish slim silhouette. Or they remain young longer, at least those who do not die of boredom or sadness in this world not made for them. On the other hand their mind often enjoys peculiar powers of intuition or premonition, or a very strong poetical sensitivity. At a pinch some even enjoy some magic powers, as it was the case of the Merlin Enchanter. Tuima claimed to be herself one of these «Elvish Buds» taking birth on the Human race, and it is for this reason that she chooses that name.
Magic could still exist in certain forests and certain peculiar places, although much weaker than in the time of the Withywindle or Fangorn. But it is still enough so that sensitive beings notice peculiar ambience, in certain precise points of forests and mountains, sometimes nice, sometimes dark, sometimes harsh or queer. But in Europe, nowadays, very few places remained wild and pure. Certain peculiarly propitious places were used as Gaelic temples, on which cathedrals were built afterward. But most were destroyed by deforestation in Middle Age, and, today, the last survivors are victims of noise, tourism, pollution, motorways...
Tuima began to make allusion to her friends in England but without giving their names. So, she said, it would exist in this country a kind of secret fraternity of Half-Elves, in charge to find and help all the Half-Elves. Certainly they were not numerous, never more than some dozen per century, but they were faithfully transmitting some knowledge and a secret commitment.
And to these Half-Elves, as to Elrond in former times, they were given the choice: to become full Elves, or remain Humans. With this difference that, in this world now empty of magic, they had to really leave the Earth to enjoy the elvish immortality. Otherwise they remained only elvish minds in mortal human bodies, with really few chances to encounter love or only to be happy in this grey and discordant world.
All this was beautiful and good, but there was however the fact that Tolkien himself had always presented his texts as stories, as novels. Brilliant, certainly, but invented from the first to the last letter.
Definitely not, she replied. In facts Tolkien had access to a genuine copy of the Red Book of the March. This book is none other than the one begun by Bilbo Baggins, where he tells with many digressions his journey to the Lonely Mountain. It is this report that Tolkien published under the title of «Bilbo the Hobbit». But Bilbo also had plenty of time, during his long stay at Imladris, to translate the elvish lays of Beren and Luthien, the Silmarilion or the Ainulindalë. The book was then continued by Frodo, who describes the War of the Ring, in a neat and concise style. When he departed in the Grey Havens, the year after his come back in the Shire, he offered the book to his faithful servant Sam Gamgee. Sam, Peregrin, Meriadoc and Gimli the Dwarf then added their own testimony, and to this we owe today this magnificent story with several intertwined threads «The Lord of the Rings». They could also freely explore the most ancient archives in Minas Tirith and bring back all these information on the History of Arda, the Middle Earth. The latest elements added to the Red Book were by Findegil, in the year 172 of the Fourth Age, say about -3820 BC, and sixty years after the death of Aragorn and Arwen. We just guess that the Realm of Aragorn found back its past splendour. But the Red book does not go further; it tells absolutely nothing on the Fourth Age itself, and of the ultimate transformations which gave the world its today aspect, probably in-3000 BC. Of course since all this time the Red Book was translated several times, in Latin and then in English of the 18th Century.
So the Fraternity had contacted Tolkien, giving him free access to the Red Book, to publish the story, but to the strict condition of presenting it as a novel. Illuvatar did not wanted that any visible trace remained of the ancient Middle Earth, but for some reason the memory had been preserved, under the form of a copy of the Red book, in a small group of initiates which keep it since all this time. Certainly this fraternity kept records of more recent events, from the Aragorn reign, the end of the Fourth Age and the definitive transformation of the world, until our present time. A fourth, see a fifth volume to «The Lord of the Rings»? I thought. If this has to be written one day, it would require a writer still more fabulous than Tolkien...
Tolkien was chosen because he may have had himself some elvish blood. It is clear that he was able to feel the ambient of places, and especially of forests. This allowed him to render with such mastery the soul of the trees, and their curious manifestations, still to be felt in some places today. In his youth, and even in the trenches of World War One, Tolkien already wrote some short novels of good quality, and he had read them in some poetry circles frequented by the Half-Elves of the Fraternity. Thus he caught the attention of the Red Book keepers. But these short novels are often contradictory, as they do not make the proper sharing between imagination and real inspiration. With other youth poems, they were recently gathered like they are by his son Christopher in «The Lost Tales». But real elements were suggested to Tolkien as soon as 1918, to allow him to write the first tales of the Silmarilion, the History of the Middle Earth from its Creation until the end of the First Age. Starting from 1936, he had a direct access to the Red Book, for the redaction of Bilbo the Hobbit and of The Lord of the Rings. But soon after its publication in 1955, this source was removed to him, and seemingly neither his wife Edith nor his son Christopher never had access to it, even when the later undertook the delicate compilation of the Silmarilion.
The purpose of those who keep the Red book was probably just to catch the attention of the general public about the world of the Elves, but not so far as to bring the focus on real persons. Under the cover of romantic fiction, they could send heir message, while in the open they would have attracted too much hostility. As a matter of facts it may not be easy to be an Elf in this modern world of concrete, metal and noise, which hurts the heart of the Elves. Without accounting the danger of persecution by all these peoples who refuse what they judge «abnormal». So most of the Half-Elves only wish to depart, delaying their move only if they can prepare the passage for the next.
Tuima referred several times to her friends in England and Ireland, and she even spoke to introduce them to me. She let understand that this group was nothing else than he continuation of that of Cirdan the Shipwright, of whom it perpetuated the work since all this time. It was even known by the English government, under the cover of a society for poetry and study of ancient languages, that Tolkien may have encountered in his youth. Tuima even spoke of a lineage of poet Lords, heirs since ages of a discreet little castle and of the passion of boats. Really an ideal cover!
All this was very logical, but there was absolutely no evidence. I must confess that I was not really convinced by this story of secret brotherhood of descendants of Elves, which may have contacted Tolkien to feed him with the plot of his novels and all the incredible historical details they contain. But why not, there are so many groups of bizarre people to invent crazy stories, especially in England.
One day, unexpectedly, Tuima's messages changed completely. She simply stopped to reply my questions. She sent texts of poetry, of good form I must tell, and very elvish, in French, others in Breton, and at last others in Quenya or Sindarin. I enjoyed this reading and found myself declaiming in the rhythm. As on myself, I was rather and artist of painting, and my secret desire was to sculpt. My dream was to built a kind of Imladris in some still preserved place of Brittany, with sculptures and décors like in the movie, where we could live happy, Tuima and me, and why not other Friends of the Elves. I started to speak to her about this, but she simply ignored this suggestion.
She asked me elvish words I could not find in no dictionary. So she asked me to invent them. Sacrilege, I thought first, I would unavoidably not miss to betray the pure inspiration from which emanated the beautiful language of Imladris or of Valinor. Then, as she insisted, I changed my mind, and sent some «new» elvish words of my invention. She utterly replied that my translations were exact, that I well recollected our language!!! This time she was going somewhat too far.
The last message I received was short, like anxious. It contained only this instruction: «You must choose immediately, to be a Full Elf, or to remain an Human. But at our epoch it is not so easy to select things. It is not instantaneous as if the time of Arwen Undomiel. If you choose to be an Elf, you will have to patiently eliminate all what comes of the Human, this heaviness, this prosaicism, these uncertainties. The Straight Way is still open, and it is still possible to follow it, as did in ancient times the last True Elves to sail from the Grey Havens, as still do he rare Half-Elves to take birth nowadays. The Grey Havens still exist, they just changed shape. The lands of Forlindon and Harlindon, where once walked Cirdan the Shipwright, are still parts of our today Brittany and Ireland. The places where just mixed, like shuffled cards.»
I replied her that this time she was going a little bit too far, but my email went back with the mention «no mail box with this name». The telephone had just a recorded message, and my letters remained unanswered. Something serious had happened, probably in relation with the divorce. Tuima had several times recommended me not to visit her in her mother's home, and above all not to speak to her about our elvish games.
I had anyway to wait until the end of my vocational course, but I was boiling with impatience. I managed with my employer to gain a day and a half. This saved the stake, otherwise I would never have see Tuima again.
I had the strong intuition that it was better not to come directly to her home. I found her in the harbour of Perros Guirrec, in front of the Vingilot. But immediately I noticed that something was wrong. A man in black suit was on the deck of the boat, speaking with a group of sport men in gaudy suits and black goggles like on the TV.
With a discreet sign of her finger, Tuima ordered me not to speak. The men went back on the quay looking satisfied, closing back the small gangway with a padlock, after removing a small sign board «for sale». Tuima brought me in a pancake restaurant near the harbour, where there was not many people at this time. She looked drawn and she had shadows under her eyes, as after a great ordeal. She explained me what had happened.
It was really terrible. Terrible, and above all incredible.
The divorce asked by Tuima's mother was judged three weeks sooner. A sexist advocate woman had grossly despised the father. The later had committed the mistake to show his indignation for the gratuitous insults and incredible slander he received straight in his face. So all the fault was immediately laid on him. Worse, as Tuima was not yet eighteen, she was forbidden to visit her father, and an «educator» even allowed himself to examine all her private life, bothering her friends, reading her mails. Her mother even gave him her computer with all our elvish emails! I was flabbergasted with such an inquisitiveness, feeling myself like raped, dragged naked and publicly humiliated on some modern Cyber-pillory.
To avenge her, the mother hat put the Vingilot to sale. This very simple boat came from the father, but it had become Tuima's soul. Normally it would have gone to her. So, mocked the mother, she was «managing» her daughter's asset! The deal was quickly made, and the new owners, the sport men littered with advertising they had seen a moment ago, would come take possession of the boat as soon as the next day in the morning.
So my fiancée was losing everything, her father, her mother who betrayed her, and the Vingilot, to which, I understood only at this moment, she was much attached. The tears dropping from her beautiful blue eyes ended to deeply move me. But how to believe a so incredible story? Tuima showed me a copy of the «judgement» to convince me:
«Whereas the serious risk presented for Miss X (Tuima) by the frequentation of the father who entices her to go to the sea despite any prudence ... Whereas Miss X spent her days on Internet to exchange messages with a so-called fiancé Sir Y (my name!) who keep her out of the realities ... we decide to left Miss X under the exclusive care of the mother ... The mother will have to manage alone the asset of Miss X, especially the boat «Z» (the official name of the Vingilot). Followed another letter announcing the sale of the Vingilot, effective as soon as the next morning. Tuima even received a summons to psychology examinations in some days, and since two weeks she received obnoxious visits of an «educator» who was reproaching her «fleeing the society» in the world of the Elves!
I was boiling with indignation and shame. How, in France, democratic country and mother land of the Human Rights, could such iniquities be still possible? I did not believe my own eyes. What a frightening contrast, between our world of poetry, flowers and songs, and these abject people whom insults and lies could break a family in full impunity!
«It is the Mordor» she replied. I stared at her, somewhat surprised.
«Sauron is dead, she continued. He no longer has a physical body and no magical powers, but his spirit still exists, and he still has the power to influence weak spirits, through loathsome emotions like jealousy or eagerness. So even in this world which claims to be democratic and rational, he still manages to have quantities of adepts who sow fear and chaos.»
I suddenly got the desire to beat all these people who, from the height of their rostrums, were purposelessly terrorizing my so young friend, and who were casting obloquy on their noble function with their methods from before 1789. But she guessed my trouble.
«This is useless. Hate produces only hate.» She said. Then: «Do you made your choice to become a true Elf and reject all what is too heavy in you?» She did not allowed me to reply, just giving me an appraising look. Then she suddenly went up. «Come». We were so much astounded and indignant that we forgot to pay the bill of the pancake restaurant (I however corrected this later!).
She took me toward the Vingilot. It was easy to pass over the little metallic gate which forbad its access. It would have been perfect if we had not been seen from the harbour master's office.
The boat was still here, but the beautiful elvish dreams were spoilt with traces of shoes on the deck. These blokes were not sailors, it was immediately visible. In the cabin, it was still worse; all the personal belongings were in disorder, thrown in a corner, without any care.
Tuima began to cast off the moorings.
«But what are you doing? I asked.
-You do not understand? The tide is falling, the harbour will be closed in half an hour, and it will be impossible to get out before tomorrow. And tomorrow «they» will come to take the boat, and I shall have to wait all my life to realize my dream.
-But what for? You shall have to come back anyway.
-But you understand nothing, or what? She was going on her nerves. We shall never come back! We go to Valinor. It is now or never.
-Hee? But it is impossible to...»
She turned toward me with violence.
«You are an Elf too, yes or no? If we are Elves so the Straight Way is still open. Others followed it only three years ago. Still others stay in England to help the next departure. Unless you prefer to stay in this world of Orcs in suit and tie.
-But, it is only a novel, and...
There was nothing more to say, unless to get off board on the quay. I however preferred to stay aboard the Vingilot. Because I had to protect her, because, being of age, I was responsible of her in front of the law... and many other bad reasons. But the true reason was that I loved her, and that, in front of the incredible injustice she was a victim, arose in me the mad hope that she was true and thus she could definitively escape to her tormentors. Sport men in Punchinello tracksuits... I began to raise the main sail.
Our desperate flee first seemed to go marvellously. It was high time, as the sea was lowering fast, and we even had to somewhat scrape the sand at the bottom. Happily the ebb was dragging us swiftly, despite the low wind.
The night came, and I took the helm. It was a nice night, with a very good visibility, and the numerous lighthouses of the Coast of Pink Granite were friendly telling us the road. Other green and red lights indicated the ships to avoid, as in a kind of game.
The wind became stronger during the night, and we went with a good speed. We crossed through the Ouessant Rail at dawn, under a low and grey sky, with some streaks of rain already eating the visibility. A small boat navigating carelessly in this zone takes a great risk, so it was better to slip through the traffic rather than to cut frankly across it. We however had to tack between a tanker and a big container ship. It was strange to think that the path leading to the delicate paradise of Valinor could open in the very middle of this world of metal and diesel fumes.
Tuima wanted to hear at the radio, for the weather. Not nice, a storm warning just ahead. Suddenly I pricked up my ears, flabbergasted: they were speaking of us! «Incredible running away to the sea», described the speaker. No mistake, he was giving the «true» name of our boat. But these people would never let us go? I had now only one desire: to flee, flee, as far as possible. But where?
Tuima seemed to know where to go. She gave me a new heading.
We reefed the sails to tackle the bad weather to come. As in our trip at Sept Iles, we were clipping the waves, hugging as much a possible a wind which went stronger and stronger. Quickly rain and sea foam reduced the visibility to nearby nothing. The ocean was friendly to our fleeing.
My companion seemed confident again. She leaned toward me, and, without warning, offered me her first kiss! «I am happy that you are with me» she said, taking my hands in hers. I was stunned, in an instant of scorching emotion. Moved to tears, I would have followed her anywhere. After such a love gesture, I felt incredibly self-confident, I was truly an Elf sailing toward Valinor!
Our happiness was intense, but of a short duration. We were now far beyond Ouessant for a long time, the increasing swell was dangerously shaking our small boat, and there was still no Straight Way. The roar of the wind in the shrouds was getting terrifying, and we had to reef the sails to the minimum. In my inner heart, I began to prepare my defence: I went with her to protect her, otherwise she would have gone alone, etc.
The radio announced a new turn.
«The boat of the fugitives is followed by radar since the beginning, thanks to the early alert from the harbour master's office of Perros Guirrec. The fugitives are within reach from a fast intervention frigate of the Marine Nationale. Only the bad weather delayed the sending of an helicopter.»
Tuima looked like stunned, as if she had received a blow. Against a fast frigate, we had no chance. They would quickly catch over us, and the elvish dream would be terminated in the sordid of unending procedures, unfounded accusations and slander. And I shall probably never see again my beloved.
Suddenly she went up, letting me alone at the helm. It was now difficult to keep our heading, and even to advance, as the boat was now yawing on larger and larger waves, threatening to take the helm out of my hands. The situation was getting really dangerous, and the frail wooden hull was now creaking in a frightening way.
Tuima went out of the cabin. I had just the time to see a black object passing overboard. Splash, no more radio.
«Eeeh but what are you doing?»
She did not replied. She took a halyard, and a silvery form collapsed on the deck. The radar reflector, which allowed the army boat to track us. One second later it followed the radio on the bottom of the ocean.
«We are in the right place, but it is all this scrap of electronic gear which prevents the Straight Way to operate» she screamed to cover the howl of the wind in the shrouds.
«But you are mad or what? We are running to the wreckage and you throw away all the rescue items! We must allow the army to find us, otherwise we shall be lost both of us!» But she did not replied, disappearing again in the cabin.
She went out again with a yellow thing. Aghast, I realized it was the Argos beacon, our only chance of being found in case of a wreck. This time I hurried to try to avoid something irreparable. Too late, the precious beacon was too overboard.
At that moment, the ship swerved, and I was myself projected above the rail.
Shock, frothing, cold. In this milky half-darkness, I could even not know where the up and the down were. Happily my life jacket brought myself in the right position, the head above the water.
I was staggered.
The Vingilot was out of the water, and it was now floating five or six metres in the air, its keel perfectly visible. It was surrounded with a kind of aura of golden light, as if the sun was about to pierce through the clouds.
The Straight Way was working!
I caught a glimpse of Tuima: she was making signs to me and screaming something. She attempted to throw me a halyard, but it was too late, and the ship, higher and higher, was swallowed by the fog.
And I was now immensely alone, mad with grief and frustration: I had missed the greatest opportunity of my life! In place of being happy with Tuima in her paradise of flowers and poems, I had condemned myself to stay deserted in this egoistic and prosaic world!
I remember having seen the Argos beacon floating at about ten metres. I may have swim toward it and activated it. After everything is dark, and I remember only to have awakened in the sick bay in the frigate of the Marine Nationale.
And I was sad as only an Elf can be.
No trace of the Vingilot was never found, and Tuima was officially declared lost to the sea. And of course an insane suspicion fell on me. Tuima's mother, having no more her daughter to hate, transferred all her wickedness on me. She carried complaint, and I had to bear questionings and depositions, where I was requested to supply the address of the «English sect». Happily I had a simple defence, but very efficient: I knew nothing of Tuima's family situation. I went with her as a team member, as we used to do. The stories of Elves were only a game. Anyway I remained traumatized by the wreckage, I myself just escaped from death, and I remembered nothing.
Of course Tuima's mother had scattered or destroyed all her personal belongings. Useless to ask her anything, only my remembering remained. Especially I had no mean to find again the addresses of her English friends! Jean, Tuima's father, on the contrary, was ready to help, but he had no information. He had cruelly suffered of his wife's betrayal, and I understood I was his only comfort. For him, it was clear that I was his son-in-law, and the best memory of his daughter. This simple and straight mariner is now an excellent friend and a good support. Anyway he was the only one to cry for the disappearance of Tuima. And also of the Vingilot, which had been his life for more than twenty years. I did not dared to tell him the truth, but he may have some understanding of it, as he never showed astonishment when I spoke to see Tuima again one day.
As I was now convinced of this, it was not just literacy: All what my companion had said was perfectly true, and, in the year 2002, year 57 of the Seventh Age, it was still possible for certain persons with enough elvish blood to follow the Straight Way and join the elvish paradise of Valinor. If he does not grasp on an Argos beacon...
But I had no clues about any other person in this case. I just had to test the other 253 Galadriels to check if in the heap there would not be a genuine one. Worse, with the police inquiry going on, I could even not use Internet from my PC, I had to do searches from cybercafés of Brest or Lorient, hiding myself as if I was doing something dishonest.
However, under the pretext of a project to bring flowers on the place of the disappearance, I went to ask to the captain Le Troadec the latest coordinates indicated by the Argos beacon. He kindly gave me this information, that he recorded on his log book. He even invited me on his frigate, happy to help me that way. Of course I never indicated my true motive to the army man. But now I knew from where started the Straight Way.
As I had took my decision.
One day me also I shall have a boat. And I would go on the Straight way in my turn.
Faana Maiwë, 2002.
As the anonymous author requested, I retain the copyright of this text; Not for the hypothetical financial benefit, but at last for its protection against any deformation or abusive use. The original email contained a poem in Quenya, that I keep absolutely secret, to be able to recognize the author if ever he contacts me again one day.
I will bear no responsibility about what would happen if anybody feeling himself elfic enough take a boat and try to travel toward the supposed place where the Straight Way would start. Especially do not do this a tempest day! Anyway, with my opinion, what the world needs the most today is more poetry, purity and magic. For this reason my advice is rather to stay.
Richard Trigaux, 2004
Arrival to Valinor
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This is a story I composed for the bardic circle, which is regularly held in the lands of my friends the Elves. The game was to do something to be told in some minutes, while having some pleasant effect. From where the short and simplified format. It worked fine, and we had fun!
This is a story about a very sad thing: when and Elve woman marries a Human man, she becomes mortal. By the gift of her love, she renounces to all what make Elves so marvellous: immortality, magic, and, with time, even her beauty which is to fade away from old age.
We know for instance of the worrying fate on Arween Undomiel, when her husband Aragorn passed away. She became infinitely sad, as only an Elve can be. She went back to Lothlorien, but at this time it was deserted and nothing remained of the magic presence of the Elves. Arwen died here, alone, and for long her small tomb was to be seen in the glade of Caras Caladhron.
But the story I want to tell today happened in Real Life, in the end of the 1970', to a young, sensitive and beautiful Irish boy named Sean. He wore half long auburn hairs and no beard. He lived in western Ireland, and he often went to work on boats, by the ocean. At that time, Tolkien's books were read by few people, but Sean was enchanted by this reading, and he may have given up many things to make true the marvellous world of the Elves.
One day, he was on a boat, the night was dark and the sea rough, abroad of the Scilly Islands. Sean was numb with cold, he slipped and fell above the rail into the ocean. By the time he managed to recover, the lights of the boat were already fading into the mist, and nobody noticed his disappearance.
Sean knew he was about to die, maybe from cold even before from drowning. So he was really desperate, and just thought to say a short prayer.
Suddenly he felt that his feet were touching the bottom. In the middle of the ocean? Incredible! However it was, and soon he had water only to the waist, and even not at all. He was on a kind of smooth metal thing, without any joint or feature. And soon he found himself rushing westward at an incredible speed.
Confusing things happened, and he ended lying on a small beach, his limbs and body quickly becoming warm and nimble again. It was still night, but the sky had some deep blue inner light, instead of just appearing black. Gentle waves were tinkling on the shore, and some warm lights of a large house were shining nearby. Soon he recovered enough strength to walk into this direction. Merry laughter and nice music were to be heard, encouraging him to go.
He went in a kind of bowery before a gate of the house. Here fair people were gathered, in a night party, with drinks and music instruments. One of them was telling some story and the others accompanying him with a kind of guitar, or laughing, or smiling, or kissing. These people looked so kind and so gentle that Sean went into the full light, in their sight, without even thinking to any kind of danger.
When they saw him, they stopped their songs and warmly welcomed him, as we do for a shipwrecked person. And soon Sean realized: they were Elves! All dressed in wonderful coloured gowns and dresses! Sean had found the Straight Way to Tol Eressëa, the undying land of the Elves!
The Elves brought him into their house. It was a large house with many towers, patios, gardens and wonderful rooms, all in rounded shapes and rainbow hues, lighted as in sun light by many magical lamps. But the nicest light was into their eyes and into their smiles!
Sean was soon introduced in the presence of their queen, an elder Elve who was looking very kind, and very wise, but with a touch of subtly controlled power behind. She explained him that the Straight Way was still operating, because many people with Elvish blood remained in the ancient Esgaroth, Minas Tirith or Dol Amroth. But oblivion was cast on their true origin when took place the last changes, in the end of the Fourth Age, which mixed lands and shaped the ancient Middle Earth into the Earth we know today. Only some blurred memories remained into ancient Norse or celtic mythologies.
But there were still Elf-minded people awakening from time to time, and if they could manage to find the Straight Way, they could do it up to Tol Eressëa, the paradise of the Elves. This happened some times in a century, but since the 1960's it was becoming more and more common.
Sean was full heartedly accepted into this Elvish community, where he shared parties which went high into music, songs, and laughter. Several days passed by, when he began to notice a young Elve named Nolinaë, who was obviously interested with him. At first, he found this enchanting, to marry a so beautiful and so kind creature, and have a good start in his new life!
But he was suddenly struck by the terrible truth: he could not marry her, as he would render her mortal, he would just kill her!! He even not dared to think at this, to destroy such a marvellous person! This feeling was so terrible, that he even not dared to speak of this to the Elves, and he began to avoid Nolinaë.
Several other days passed, where Sean grew very unhappy, thinking he was destroying this community. He became shameful of his coarse hairy stinking human body: how could he only touch one on these beautiful scented slender persons?
He had terrible dreams at night, where, simply from touching Nolinaë, her skin instantly turned grey and wrinkled, and all the Elves became furious at him and he never saw their smiles again. He prayed, wondering why he was given so bitter a trial.
Nolinaë ended to notice his disarray, but probably imputed it to shyness. One evening she approached him with a drink, and shared it with him. It had a sweet fragrance, and soon Sean felt a very pleasant warmth and vigour filling his body, while the other Elves were all looking to the ceiling, exchanging knowing nods and kind giggles.
Oh, yes, she was superb, Nolinaë, and soon, from the wonderful drink, forgetting anything but love, Sean followed her into one of the rooms besides, perhaps the loveliest, all tended with marvellous pinkish veils and tapestries.
Oh yes, sweet was the night...
... and they loved each other without thinking to anything else.
The next morning, Sean awakened, alone, as Nolinaë was already up. He regained his full awareness, and realized that his fears had become true: he had messed up his new life with the Elves, he had killed Nolinaë! It would took some time yet, but she would become old, ugly, and die, as if he had infected her with some filthy disease!
Mad with shame and sorrow, he went out of the house, thinking of escaping somewhere else. Nobody was to be seen, and the landscape was just marvellous, under a merry sun, with cute houses strewn among trees and flower gardens. But he was unable to enjoy it, thinking to the poor Nolinaë, that he already loved very much.
Suddenly he found himself in front of all the Elves, with the Queen, and Nolinaë. He could not avoid them, and just had to face their wrath, fearing some dreadful ban or punishment. But all were merry, smiling at him, with Nolinaë laughing and introducing him as her new husband. They all warmly congratulated him, the Queen confirmed them as married, and everything was looking so happy, so perfect, so devoid of anything wrong...
And at last Sean realized what had happened:
It was not her who became mortal, but him who became an Elf!