Elrond had to admit that he was thrilled to be here in Valinor at last. For many, it was a homecoming but this was his first time here and he was excited.
The Undying Lands at last!
He could retire from all the stressful things in his life and rest. He’d have time to read and relax, learn to play chess with Gandalf, watch the tides change on the beautiful shores, see all those who came before him.
He was really looking forward to his retirement.
He didn’t know who he expected to meet them at the dock. Erestor, Gandalf, Galadriel, Glorfindel and several others were disembarking at the same time. Glorfindel and Erestor wandered away together, as did Gandalf and Círdan. He’d always had his suspicions about those two! Frodo and Bilbo were taken to a little dwelling all their own. That left him and his mother-in-law. No one came for him and Galadriel.
“Now what?” he asked Galadriel.
“I’m going to find my brothers and get roaring drunk. Then I’m going to find a nice little cottage by the sea, hire a few young elves to work in the yard and see to the bathing pool, then I’m going to watch for my idiotic husband to arrive. Oh, and I’m going to invite your wife to live with me, too.” She smiled rather meanly at him and tromped away.
Hmmm, where was his wife anyway?
Elrond made his way to the hotel. He needed a place to stay until he found something more permanent. He got a room overlooking the sea. He went out on the balcony and looked out. Yep, there was the sea and it wasn’t going anywhere. He went back inside and unpacked a few things, realizing the only clothes he had were those heavy robes he’d worn as Lord Elrond. He’d need some new clothes to match his new lifestyle, something more casual. He saw some elves in sweatpants down on the street – that might work.
He’d unpacked. Now what?
He’d seen a tavern down on the corner. He’d go there.
When he went into the homey little tavern, there sat Gandalf, Círdan, Glorfindel and Erestor. He sat beside Glorfindel.
“Fancy seeing you here,” his old friend said.
“So what do we do now?” Elrond asked.
“Círdan and I are going fishing,” Gandalf said. “You’re welcome to join us.”
“We’re going to play shuffleboard,” Erestor said and somehow looked excited about it. “Come with us, if you like.”
He didn’t tell them he’d rather go to the dentist. He greatly admired his own restraint in not doing so.
He drank a coffee and wondered when it was appropriate to start drinking wine. Or whiskey. A glass of whiskey with a whiskey chaser might be nice about now.
“Elrond, maybe you need to find a job,” Gandalf said as he lit up his pipe and blew a smoke ring that looked like elven genitalia. Círdan giggled.
Dear Eru Illuvitar, Círdan giggled!
“Well, Galadriel is looking for pool boys,” Glorfindel said.
Erestor laughed and added, “And yard boys, too.”
Elrond shook his head and drank his now cold coffee. He pushed back from the table and stood. “I’m going for a walk.”
He walked up and down the streets of the lovely little coastal town. There were bakeries, pubs, restaurants, knickknack shops, booksellers, haberdashers and more. They looked exactly like some of the little resort towns in Middle-earth except they were all run by elves.
He walked on. At the end of the street was an outdoor outfitter. He needed some new clothes so he went in. There were all sorts of mountain climbing boots and walking poles, fancy sunglasses, and form-fitting pants for canoeing and kayaking. There were bicycles and helmets. And in the back on a rack hung jogging suits and sweatpants. He chose a purple jogging suit and bought some bright green shoes. The clerk assured him all the retired elf lords were wearing such things.
He noticed how he was being admired by all as he finished his walk by going back to the corner tavern. His busy friends were all still sitting there.
“I thought you all had things to do,” Elrond said.
“We’re pacing ourselves,” Gandalf told him. “Have an ale. Have a smoke.”
Elrond made a disgusted sound but sat down anyway.
“Where did you find such sedate clothes?” Glorfindel asked, stifling a laugh when Erestor nudged him to behave himself.
“What are you going to wear?” he asked, arching that doomish eyebrow at his friend.
“Oh, Erestor and I are going shopping for black leather after lunch, maybe some chained wallets and I might even get a skull tattoo.”
Elrond did not quite manage to keep his jaw from dropping. “You’re what?”
“Oh, we’re going for sort of a biker look. You know, those guys who ride fell beasts?”
“Funny, I thought they were Nazgûl,” Elrond replied.
“Yeah, them but without the robes and still alive and we don’t smell bad. Dressing like a badass is no excuse for smelling like a goat,” Erestor piped up.
“My son-in-law always smelled like a goat,” Elrond said, thinking about Aragorn and Arwen for a moment. “I’m sure Arwen has put a stop to that by now. So what are you two going to wear?” Elrond asked as he turned to Círdan.
“I found a shop up the beach that has swimming pants, trunks I think the young elf said, and these wonderful button up shirts with big floral patterns all over them. They’re called Aloha shirts, I think.”
“And I found us some cute little red ribbons for our ponytails,” Gandalf added, “Though I’m thinking a nice bun might work better on the boat.”
Elrond turned up his glass and drained the whole thing. He was going to have to drink a lot more to be able to stand retirement. Coming to the Undying Lands had made perfectly sensible elves into ninnies. Big silly ninnies!
“I’m going for a walk!” he announced.
“You just got back from one,” Erestor reminded him.
“I’m going on another one. You can never take too many walks.”
What had happened to these dignified people? They were all as silly as a bunch of teens, for Eru’s sake! Ponytails and buns! Geez!
He decided he needed some way to get around and he’d always enjoyed riding. He went to the stable at the other end of the street. The familiar smell of horses was comforting. A handsome young elf walked up to him.
“Can I help you, sir?”
“I need a horse.”
“We’re all out today. I do have a nice mule. Her name is Katie.”
The young elf got the full Eyebrow of Doom, but it didn’t seem to impress him very much. He continued to lead Elrond toward the stall where Katie waited. She had her head over the stall door. She gave Elrond what can only be called the mule equivalent of the Eyebrow of Doom.
He reached a hand out to pet her only to have her nip at his hand, and then she snorted rather ungraciously and turned her head away.
“Katie does not seem to be ‘nice’,” Elrond said to the youth.
“She always has been before. I’m afraid the only other mount we have today is an elderly donkey named Rufus. He can’t go far, but he is dependable.”
“I’ll take Katie then.”
Katie didn’t look any happier than he was about it, but she did let him sit on her back. She just refused to walk anywhere with him there. So he led her back to the tavern, tied her to the hitching post outside, patted her neck and disappeared into the tavern before she could bite him.
His friends were still drinking and talking about their big plans.
Gandalf had his hands spread about 20 inches apart. “I swear it was this big!”
“Whatever it was, he’s lying,” Elrond said as he sat again.
“That your mule outside?” Erestor asked.
“Yes, it is and if you say one more word, I’ll cut your pony tail off and stuff it down your throat!”
“Now, now,” Glorfindel said. “You mustn’t become a curmudgeon. What will Celebrían think?”
“Probably nothing. She’s going to live with her mother and ogle pool boys,” Elrond snapped. “I haven’t even seen her yet!”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you!” Círdan said, “Gildor is here. I brought him in the last group and he even has his wagon with him. He’s looking for you, Mavis said.”
“Who is Mavis?” Elrond had never heard of anyone named Mavis.
“Oh, she’s my gal pal. She’s been coming to visit me on the boat every time I’ve hauled a load of elves for years. She’s going to join me and Gandalf on the boat. We’ll make a fine threesome,” he said with a wink at Gandalf.
Elrond made a rude sound. “Is she as old and wrinkled as you two?”
“Not by a long shot! She should be by any minute. You can meet her.”
About that time, an elf woman every bit as beautiful as Lúthien Tinúvial must have been came walking up to them. “You must be Elrond! These two have been talking about you. I’m Mavis, by the way.” She turned to Círdan. “You ready to take me to the Aloha store? I want a pink flowered shirt.”
Gandalf winked at Elrond. “We’re ready and raring to go, Mavis!”
The ‘threesome’ left Elrond with the newly leather clad duo. Elrond looked at Erestor and said, “You look like a buzzard. And Glorfindel, you look like a goofy turkey!”
“Why thank you, your grumpiness!” Erestor snapped. “I happen to think we look snazzy.”
If the truth were told, they might have looked more like a crow and a turkey than the leather clad bad boys image they were going for.
“Well, you can think anything you want to. I’m taking my mule for a walk.”
“Don’t you mean a ride?” Glorfindel asked.
“Nope. She won’t walk if I’m riding. She loves to follow me though. So we’re going for a walk.”
Elrond and Katie walked up one side of the street and back down the other. Elrond tied her to the post again. “Well, that was fun.” Katie made a sound like Galadriel’s snort.
He went back yet again into the tavern. His companions were all gone but his mother-in-law was there. She waved him over and fussed with this purple outfit a little. “Your shoes don’t match.”
He held his feet out and the shoes were alike. “They do so.”
“Not each other, you dolt! They don’t match that garish purple outfit.”
“The elf who sold them to me said they did.”
“Hmph! He was just trying to get rid of those hideous shoes.”
“Thanks for the compliment.”
“You need a haircut, too,” she added for good measure.
“Don’t you have some brothers or cousins to harass?”
“I do, but you’re more fun. Your wife is supposed to meet me here. She went to have her nails done and to her spin class.”
“Well I thought it was an exercise thing, but it turns out she is studying spinning yarn. She knits and crochets, too. I told her she is way too young and beautiful to do old lady things. She just laughed. What did you do to my daughter to make her so old fashioned?”
“Me? I haven’t seen her in hundreds of years!”
“I’m glad she took her looks from her father, but she could have taken her intelligence from me instead of him! Celeborn is as dumb as soup!”
They traded insults and drank tea while they waited for Celebrían.
Celebrían came into the tavern while they were talking. She was indeed quite beautiful and dressed in a blue sweatsuit with her blond hair back in a ponytail and a pair of glasses perched on her nose.
“See? She looks like someone’s old granny!” Galadriel said. “And it’s your fault!” She shot at Elrond.
“Why is it my fault?”
“You married her and dragged her off to that backwater you loved so much! Imladris – Bah! It’s an apple orchard with a rickety old house built in the middle!”
“Hey, Mama. Hey, El. Glad you made it over. Did y’all see Daddy before you came? Is he coming soon?”
Galadriel snorted. “He was playing cowboys and Indians and camping in the woods out near Mirkwood with Thranduil last time I heard. He says he does it to cheer Thranduil up since that boy, Legolas, had would rather knock boots with that Dwarf than be a proper prince. I think they are just two silly old elves trying to be young again.”
Celebrían smiled. “Did Mama tell you we’re getting a pool and some pretty boys to look after it? I figure it’s only fair since you kept all those elves around you all the time - Erestor and Glorfindel and the pretty little musician who followed you like a puppy.” She turned to Galadriel. “Come on, Mama. It’s time for water aerobics at the Senior Center.”
After they left, Elrond mumbled, “Aren’t they ALL seniors here now?”
He took Katie a treat, a nice shiny apple he’d stolen out of Galadriel’s bag when she went to the she-elves room. “Good girl! Maybe we should find us a big old stallion for you and some pretty little pool boy for me, too.”
Katie was nodding rather approvingly when Elrond heard a great clatter and looked behind him.
It was Gildor in his caravan wagon! He jumped down and ran to Elrond, giving him a big hug.
“Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes?” Gildor kissed him right on the lips in front of everyone – well, Katie and Gildor’s wagon team. Everyone else seemed to be gone.
“I’ve never been so glad to see anyone in my life! Is everyone here as crazy as my wife?”
Gildor laughed. “Pretty much. It’s all the idleness. Their brains atrophy. Well, that’s my theory anyway.”
“So what do you do?”
“Well, it’s hard to say because I never did much in Middle-earth but carry gossip, sing and play the guitar. Wandering minstrel maybe?”
“Sounds good to me,” Elrond said. “Maybe I can minstrel, too.”
“Did you do a little herbalist work back in ME?”
“I was a healer.”
“Can you tend plants?”
“I tended a vast medicinal garden.”
“Pipeweed? Can you grow pipeweed?”
“That stuff Gandalf smokes all the time? Sure. Nothing to it.”
“Great. Great! I happen to know a good market for it. They used to import it from ME, but that supply has stopped since nearly everyone except your father-in-law and Thranduil and his Dwarf-loving son are here. I have seeds though.”
“What’s so great about pipeweed?”
“Didn’t you ever wonder why Gandalf was always smiling? Pipeweed is the answer. We’ll smoke a little after dark when get outside the city limits.”
Elrond tied Katie to the back and got in Gildor’s wagon. “I’m ready. Got room for me?”
“Take a look.” Gildor opened the curtain and inside his wagon was a large bed, a nice little icebox and a portable stove. Under the bed was storage for clothes and there was a trunk for everything else.
“This is cool.” He pulled his flask and his portable cup out, poured some in the cup and handed it to Gildor. “This is the last of my Rohan Brandy. Shall we drink to the beginning of a beautiful friendship?”
Gildor grinned and they tapped cup and flask. “To us, may all our problems be small and our drinks be large!”
They drank the toast and set out on a brand new adventure, the adventure of a lifetime.