The Blue Mountains stood tall under a sunny sky that day. But a cold wind rolled from distant heights as I found my way into the hidden city.
Waiting to speak to a busy clerk, three young men spoke some other language together – German? The clerk’s English was weighted with a heavy European accent. I gave him Reodwyn’s name. Reodwyn, who happens to speak very good English.
I nodded to myself. It seemed an auspicious way to begin the Grey Havens second anniversary Hall of Fire. Reodwyn had called upon us to honor a certain philologist who long ago specialized in all those distant languages.
This was a cryptic city of winding roads and shady cabins. It nestled green in a pine forest. Following the clerk’s map, I found my way at last to the last homely house on the road.
There the folk of Grey Havens sat laughing already. Around a long table overlooking the valley their hands gladly made ready to play a friendly game. Each person, in turn, uttered a magic word. Pretty images upon the cards told the mysterious tale of that word, and tiny conies hurried before us into the deep end of the afternoon.
I felt very weary. In my mind the wind blew a shrill horn from one chill corner to the next. So I lay down while Katy and Dyhrddrdh wove spells over beautiful recipes for good health and well-being in the world. Everyone gathered and we toasted our second anniversary together.
Then Badgaladriel smiled as she sat in the Hall of Fire. It was as if we heard the summoning of bells that chimed. As if from afar we slowly gathered before the firelight. In that golden and silver realm of Middle-earth. An enchanted light fell upon us all.
I drifted off for a moment. I heard a voice begin our tales, our singing, our poetry… I woke to hear one voice after another utter the lyrical spell. Of a mariner who sailed a ship made of mithril, made of glittering elven glass.
Many dreamlike moments followed. For hour after hour I floated in my world. From one strange land to the next. Tales of Hope and of Death, of lost ponies and of lost wind sailors, of deadly fingerlings, of entwives, of a bearded woman, of mist on a lake, of Inklings in the Cotswolds, of a circus of dreams, of a raven, and of a bear… Many strange things I thought I heard that night.
And one weary visitor after another dropped off. A sweet descent from little glowing circles into sleep. And so I told a very curious tale. Of the brotherhood of eternal love, of a cabin on a river, of magic that echoes in imaginary time, of a perilous realm “in which at night strange stars shone and at dawn the gleaming peaks of far mountains were mirrored,” and of “things of both beauty and terror” which we “could not clearly remember nor report… as wonders and mysteries…”
So when all fell quiet under a shining moon. I slowly came down from the hidden city. I saw animals roaming everywhere. In empty streets they gathered. I wandered among them that night.
And if I never again return there in this life. Still, this is what I wish to remember forever. This is what I wish to recall. Of this tale. Of the Grey Havens Hall of Fire.