Note: Hi, Grey Haveners.
I am posting the story below in hopes that you will offer critiques for improvement. I hope to submit it to Amon Hen (Tolkien Society) when it is in decent enough shape to do so.
By Clay Bonnyman Evans
Lord, your beard has grown long, as, indeed, has mine. Not only the passing of years, perhaps, has watered them. For the world has indeed changed.
It is loneliness that brings me to your Havens. Here I hope you will hear my plea and grant me what now I wish more than anything.
It is true, as far as it goes, that I was much absent from the Great Deeds that passed now these lengthening years ago. Yet not wholly, for in the end even those spirits of fur, feather and bough had some part to play and I alone, perhaps, knew the tongues of even the most humble of these. Where the Sons of Thorondor spoke so that all might hear, even to announcing the End and the Beginning, and even creatures deemed evil beneath the boughs of Greenwood the Great could be understood, it was left to me to hear and speak to and for the many who did not.
I was, some said, perhaps distracted by such works. Yet was I not bound, Lord, to the word of She who sent me, creator and safekeeper of those I sought to understand? Bird-tamer I was not, for none could hope to harness such freedom, such multitudes. Yet had they naught to say? Should I be forever condemned for seeking their counsel?
Yes, the world has changed. The passage of the Firstborn heralded the age of Men, and that in its turn has stolen away much of what was once wondrous in the world. Whatever skill in translation I possessed upon a time has waned, I fear. Or perhaps it is that the Kelvar and Olvar can no longer speak even to me and our kinds are forever sundered with the long, sad thinning of Powers that once were.
It has become a quiet world for me. My brothers Blue are gone away and no doubt destroyed; should I be held more accountable than they for my lack of great deeds? My Chief, who deceived me, was destroyed and his mantle taken up by another whom I thought noblest — as did you not, Master Shipwright? For why else would you have entrusted to his hand, and not that of his mightier brother, the Jewel of Fire, with which he kindled hearts to victory?
Even as the Firstborn sailed West the King of Men in Gondor began setting about the work of mending all hurts. The deep-delvers once more have taken root and brought light to the dark places in the world. The Little Folk now enjoy peace and their great deeds quietly recede into legend, as is their way. The tree-herds, my cousins in the bosom of Kementári, repair such hurts as they can among the Olvar even as they diminish, as foretold, here in the Dominion of Men. I have no place left, I fear.
Yet I come bearing not merely explanations for you who are friend to the Valar, to Elwë and Finrod. To you, who have aided all those who have passed to the Undying Lands, I offer my penance in hopes that you will hear my plea.
What, I wondered in the years of growing solitude, might I accomplish with my dwindling arts that might be received as fair coin for my own passage?
My task lay not among the Peoples, nor among the plants and trees. It was as ever those upon four legs or two who did not speak whom I must serve. Yet even among them what I sought eluded me, for they had returned to their rightful places, from the black squirrels of Greenwood to the mighty Mûmakil of the South, to the thrushes and roes and fishes of the Great River.
Even at long last I considered the wolves, who had been put to evil purpose under the Shadow but who of themselves were no more guilty than the wrack that makes the bolt that starts the fire that burns the forest. Is any creature truly born evil? Was it not through the arts of the Enemy and his forever-chained Master that creatures were made slave to cruelty and madness? Were not even they creatures of Eru, worthy of kindness and charity?
And so it came to me.
First I wandered South and entered the foul grotto of the spawn of Ungoliant, my corrupted kindred of old. As I suspected, She still lay in misery even after these long years, in brute agony, tormented and starving, the slaves who were once her prey long departed. Threaded yet by sinewy malice, she quivered before me and the wavering light of my staff. Yet she did not remove herself. Rather she was as a hart in the jaws of a wolf, in a pose of surrender. Her great body shuddered at the charge of my staff, a power I summoned only by the greatest of will, drawing almost to emptiness from what little remained in the treasuries of Middle-earth. Exhausted and dazed I fell to my knees and would have been prey myself had She not shriveled before my misted eyes. Her body kindled and became a cloud of black smoke that rushed from the tunnels. Even deep in darkness I knew that just like her one-time Master, what remained of her fled into the sky and was dissipated forever.
I could only hope that she might be forgiven rather than returned to the bosom of the monstrous spirit that bore her. For if she could be granted peace, might not I, too?
Spent from the exercise of what little Power was left to me, I nonetheless made my way slowly North, coming at last to the sad glens of those golden woods that, I thought, must have been an echo of Melian’s blessed realm. There I rested, my own melancholy strangely comforted by that of the abandoned wood.
Thence I made my way into the valley where ghosts of great battles now dwell and deep into the Mines by secret ways so that the dwellers would not know of my passage. After many days following such faint glow as I could ignite at the tip of my rod, I came to the West door, now guarded by the sturdy sons of Durin, the children of Aulë. These I lulled into a trance and holding them in such a pose I knew that I had little strength and time to summon that beast who, if not already dead, lay in the muck of the still noisome pool at the Gates.
As I suspected, the Watcher remained in no less misery than the daughter of Ungoliant. Yet it came to my call. Hardly less weak than myself, its many arms snaked from the water and pulled the bony body close on the rocky shore.
This time I could not rely on any Power from beyond, for what little I still possessed was wholly occupied in keeping the guards blind.
This Thing, whatever it was or whence it came, also yearned for deliverance at my hand. Perhaps, I thought as I drove my sword deep into the smooth spot between eyes filmed over by its long and hungry brooding, it had even awaited my coming.
Barely did I stumble from that pool when the guards shouted in amaze and surged from the Gate to frighten away the vultures that already stooped upon the mortal remains of the Watcher.
In Eregion I feel into a deep sleep. When I woke I knew that I was spent at last and entirely. From then on I would be little more than an aged Brown beggar in the wilderness, dependent on the kindness of others. My old friends, foxes, brocks, crows, jays and bright songbirds provided for me as I made my way slowly north. Upon the Great East Road I also was met with kindness by Nen, the lovely young keeper of the Forsaken Inn, and Butterbur the Younger in Bree. Yet I remained hidden through the ways of The Shire, desiring not to disturb the Halflings with any memory of the Evil Times and observing them only from afar in their peace and content.
I did not know what Fate awaited me here at the Havens, nor whether I was doomed to wander forever these lands in loneliness. Yet beyond hope I find you here. I deem now that the last of your White Ships has not yet sailed, though I do not know for whom or what they, and you, await.
And so I make my case, Shipwright: Are not all beings, whatever their transgressions, in the end sprung of Ilúvatar and thus worthy of kindness? Despite the evils wrought by these two malevolent creatures, in the end they had been reduced only to misery. I cannot help but think such misery diminished rather than enhanced the world; indeed they themselves seemed to ask for deliverance.
If I have done wrong, then I leave it to you to judge.
But if you in your wisdom Lord Círdan, and of those whom you serve, find that I have earned passage with such coin as this, I ask only that I sail on your next departing vessel.
For I am weary. I am spent. I am lonely. And in the end are not all living things worthy of rest — and mercy?