[Maedhros] remained for his part in friendship with the houses of Fingolfin and Finarfin, and would come among them at times for common counsel. -- The Silmarillion: Of the Return of the Noldor
We have arrived in the East and are engaged in mapping the new territory. I have sent a full report to your father with a copy of the map so far; there are some features that the maps in Hithlum do not show. We’ve started work on building the first stronghold at the western end of the hills. The local Sindar call it Himring. So far we have not seen much of the enemy.
Apologies for my hand-writing. I hope you can make it out.
Thank you for your letter. I’m impressed that you managed not to put any actual news in it at all: I might as well just have read the report you sent my father. Were you expecting it to be intercepted, or have you run out of things to say? Your handwriting is perfectly legible now. I said it would be.
I am beset with grumbling relatives: Lalwen complains there is no proper tea, Finrod complains that Hithlum is misty and everything gets soaking wet overnight, my father complains that the building work on fortifying the Ered Wethrin takes too long, and Turgon has taken himself, Idril and Aredhel grumpily back to Nevrast, which does at least mean I don’t have to listen to them grumbling about pretty much everything else. Not that Idril grumbles much, she’s a nice child.
I left them all to it and have been exploring Dor-lómin properly. I can report it is a wide and empty land populated largely by deer and ducks. On the plus side, the deer do very little grumbling, and the ducks are delicious. I’d send you one, only it would surely have gone off by the time it reached you, so here is a feather from one I have already eaten instead.
We’re hoping to build up the horse herds in Dor-lómin enough that we can start using horses for patrols across Ard-galen, but horses seem to take ages to breed, grow up,and train so it may be a little while before we can risk taking them into action. Once we do, I’ll start running patrols right across Ard-Galen, and visit you.
Well, I had only just got here! There was a lot to do. Also, you may not have noticed, but someone inconsiderately cut off my hand before I set off, which does, in fact, make writing and a number of other things so much more awkward.
My brothers were grumbling too, but I have given them all an enormous amount of work to do which does at least mean that they are doing most of their grumbling out of my hearing.
Thank you for the feather. I have stuck it on the wall in my temporary quarters here, which were sadly in need of decoration: I’m hoping that we’ll have the main building at Himring more or less finished in time for the winter, though we’re putting up workshops and storage sheds first.
Horses do seem to take far too long to grow up. We’re short of them too. I’ve got Maglor, Amrod and Amras working on developing our herds — sorry, that is in my report again. If we manage to get enough horses trained before you do, I’ll send you some more.
We had a little real tea left in our stores, I’ve sent what we had to Lalwen with this messenger.
I wanted to send you something in return for the feather but it feels like there is almost nothing but mud and pebbles here at the moment. So please find enclosed the best pebble that came to hand (the left one). Once you start patrols across Ard-Galen, you can come here and I will show you all the rejected candidates. It may take some time.
I have left Dor-lómin and the ducks to fend for themselves through the winter and am back in Barad Eithel, which is starting to look almost finished now, at least from the outside, and particularly under snow, which hides a multitude of unfinished things.
Idril has been visiting from Nevrast, and made an enormous troll entirely out of snow in the front courtyard, which surprised the guard considerably when they encountered it in the half-light of dawn. Fortunately, the guard survived the encounter and the troll was able to be patched up before Idril noticed that he had been hurt.
I hope you managed to get Himring reasonably liveable and warm before the winter came. (And no, that wasn’t a dig at you about the Ice, stop wincing, I can see it from here! It was a perfectly appropriate and cousinly expression of good wishes.)
Lalwen was so delighted with the tea that I think she has very nearly forgiven you all. It was a good idea to include a card from all your brothers. Not exactly subtle, but she did appreciate it.
One of the mares here has dropped a foal that looks to have a good deal of potential. He’s black at the moment but his mother is as white as seafoam, and our stable-master thinks he may grow up the same. Here is a drawing of him with his mother when he was very young and was all long wobbly legs and huge dark eyes. I’ve called him Wingfoot. A big name but I hope he will grow into it.
I have put your pebble on my desk. It may not glow in the dark, but we can find the ones that do that later. I like it anyway and look forward to an extensive tour of the rejected ones once little Wingfoot is tall enough to carry me.
Thank you for the news about Idril’s snow troll and the guard. It brightened my day. We were attacked the night before your messenger arrived; another strong force of orcs. They did a lot of damage before we fought them off.
Fortunately, we had got rid of them by the time the messenger got here, but I will send him back south of the mountains with an escort. It will take longer but I don’t think it’s safe to cross Ard-Galen or Dorthonion just now.
Little Wingfoot looks very promising but has a lot of growing to do. I tried to draw you a picture of Himring in the snow in reply but I smudged the ink. Bloody pens.
I’m sorry, I am very tired. I’ll write more another time.
Please leave some orcs for me. We seem to be short of them over here at the moment. I don’t think they liked the snow much, and now it’s melted again they seem to like the floods even less, particularly as all the rain has cleared the air of Morgoth’s foul vapors and when it actually stops raining we have even been able to see the Sun. Very good news that someone has come up with a light we all can share.
Idril has sadly gone home to Nevrast, so no more snow trolls to terrify the guards, but Finrod liked the idea and made a whole set of fierce-looking elf-effigies and set them all around Barad Eithel, which may also have had something to do with the shortage of orcs.
They are very convincing, unlike Idril’s troll which was rather blobby unless you saw it in the right light. Though mind you, Morgoth’s trolls are quite blobby too, so perhaps that was just realism.
How are Maglor, Amrod and Amras getting on with your horses?
Ard-Galen has turned entirely green at our end, now there is sunlight on it every day, almost right up to the gates of Angband. I think it will make excellent grazing land this summer, though we will have to be careful of raids, of course. I’m looking forward to riding out there across the grasslands. No doubt the deer will be roaming up there from Hithlum since the orcs at this end are so timid and are hiding in their holes so there may be good hunting up there too before very long.
Given how many of my smudgy pictures you saw when I was small, I think I can put up with one of yours. A drawing in a private letter is not going to be marked out of a hundred and exhibited to the Great and Wise you know. And if it was, I never would have dared to send that awful picture of Wingfoot. Here is another. You are no doubt already observing that the proportions are all wrong.
I have given all our local orcs strict instructions to go and visit you, since you say that you are missing them so much. We have a plentiful supply, so do not worry that there will be none left, though we are making some progress in clearing them out of the hills now.
I am hopeful that we may be able to clear them from the eastern mountains eventually.
Sorry, that sounds like a report again. Everything seems like work, just at the moment.
That doesn’t mean you need to write to Maglor and send him haring over here again. I’m fine, honestly. It’s just good to write it down and send it to someone who doesn’t need me to be entirely confident and reassuring and is unlikely to take offence. At least, I hope you won’t.
Probably too late to be worrying about that. As with so many things.
The horses are doing well, so Maglor tells me. There has been a good number of foals this spring, and Amras has brought in some of the taller local ponies to breed to our own horses. In a couple of years we will, I hope, have enough breeding stock to start training up the surplus for battle. Lothlann is green like Ard-Galen and we have the grazing in Himlad too. Caranthir has made plans for a new fortress on Mount Rerir, so we have the Gap fortified from both sides
No that won’t do.
Lothlann is very beautiful, even though it’s cold in the winter, the plains are very lovely in spring and there are a lot of tiny golden flowers that have sprung up among the grasses. I am looking forward to riding that way sometime soon and meeting you coming down from Ard-Galen. I can’t send a drawing but I have pressed one of the flowers in this letter.
The orcs you promised in your last letter turned up and started nesting in the Ered Wethrin, the cheeky sods. We had some fun clearing them out. Then we got a troll stuck under the new bridge on the River Mithrim. Did you know they turn to stone when the Sun shines on them? If we’d known that before then I would have made sure to extract the dratted thing at night, as it was, we had to hack it to pieces and rebuild half the bridge to unblock the watercourse and stop it flooding everywhere. We all got very wet and cold. Still, at least we were able to use chunks of the troll to reinforce the bridge, which felt very satisfying.
Finrod has decided that the pass of Sirion needs a fortress, so he’s building one on the island in the river. He says that it will be handy for fishing in the Fens of Serech, even if the orcs don’t actually want to swim the river to attack it (which at the moment they don’t. I don’t think orcs can swim, do you?) He’s putting up a very fancy bridge though, presumably so that he can slay orcs on it in style.
I didn’t write to Maglor. Reluctant as I am to admit that any of your brothers may have any good points at all, he might just possibly have noticed you were feeling tired and miserable because he lives next to you?
I’d take offence at the suggestion I was writing to him, only you said that I wouldn’t take offence and I felt oddly flattered, so now I can’t. Probably you planned this.
Aredhel is visiting from Nevrast at the moment and is driving me mad talking about Turgon’s great construction project at Vinyamar. She passed on a pointed jab such as only a sister could make, about why I am not building a city myself. What would be the point? We need people on the defences and working on supplies and arms, not building copies of Tirion far from the front, if we are going to get this job done. Or so it seems to me, anyway.
I may have to go and explore Dor-lómin some more to get away from her. She saw I was writing this and told me to send her best wishes to Celegorm. I told her to write her own letter and she made that face she makes, so kindly tell Celegorm next time you see him or I shall never hear the end of it.
I’ve managed to talk some of the Sindar into expanding their goat-herds into more of Dor-lómin, now it’s got protection from raids out of Angband. They make a very nice cheese from the milk. I haven’t had much luck persuading many of our Noldor to take up goatherding, though frankly we need farmers now just as much as artisans. On the other hand, the Sindar are probably less likely to get butted: the goats seem to like them better.
We don’t get flowers like the one you sent up at this end of the plains, though there is a very good yellow flag iris on the Fens of Serech which turns everything golden in the spring. Stick Finrod, Galadriel and Orodreth in the middle of them at sunset and all the glittering would blind you. I can’t send one of the irises though, the season is over. I’ll send you a cheese instead.
Thanks for the cheese. It was excellent. Did YOU get butted by a goat? You didn’t say so, but somehow I felt that was what your letter was not mentioning. It reminded me of a much younger and much less princely Fingon somehow.
I also enjoyed the mental image of you trying to persuade the proud lordlings of the House of Fingolfin that they should give up on poetic analysis, tapestry and architecture and take up goatherding. Please tell me that you have sent Turgon a goat. I think he’d benefit from one. Or several.
Before you consider taking offence again I should mention that we have been keeping sheep, over here, and one of them butted me three days ago when, according to the shepherd, I looked at it oddly. I fell over and looked very undignified. As I was picking myself up, I thought how you would have laughed.
Please be careful when clearing out orcs and trolls. The goats would miss you. So do I.
I have given Aredhel’s greetings to Celegorm, and he sent the same back. I don’t know why they don’t just write to one another.
Here is a scarf which is one of the first things we have had enough wool to knit here. I’m afraid I did not knit it myself, but the wool is from the sheep that butted me.
I did not get butted by a goat because of my extreme agility and enormous supplies of dignity. So there. I have sent three goats to Turgon in Vinyamar though, and will let you know if he shares my talents.
I am back from Dor-lómin and about to set off on patrol (wearing the scarf made from the wool of your warlike sheep) so I’ll keep it short.
My father asked me to find out if you might be persuaded to come to Hithlum to take counsel this autumn. He’s not sending you an official letter because that would look like an order and it isn’t one. Only if you are well enough and can reasonably leave Himring for a while.
I know it’s a long way, but surely your brothers can cope without you for a while? If this is possible, let me know when and I’ll come out with an escort to meet you.
I miss you too.
I am delighted, though not surprised, to hear that you have added goat-wrangling expertise to your many other abilities. I have sent the warlike sheep to Celegorm. I felt they had much in common.
I will come to Hithlum as requested. We have got the walls of Himring pretty well orc-proof now, and most of Morgoth’s beasts are cleared out of the hills around Ladros. If I pull Maglor’s people back into the hills and leave him in command here I should be able to take an escort that stands a reasonable chance of getting to Hithlum and leave a large enough garrison to offer a confident expectation of finding the place still standing when I return.
I’ll make arrangements and should be with you some time after the next new moon. I’ll come through Dorthonion and down the pass of Anach.
That probably sounds like an official communication again, but if you will send your father’s orders in a private letter, what do you expect?! I’m looking forward to visiting.