Elrond was bored.
Not regular bored but a bored verging on ennui. Retirement had sounded so great when he was busy organizing and strategizing against a powerful opponent in Middle-earth. Even as peaceful, for the most part, as his little valley had been there was always something important and interesting to do. Now even his healing arts had fallen by the wayside. Elves never got sick, rarely got injured, and there were no poison arrows to worry about, though it was prudent to politely decline a plate of “almond” cookies from any neighbor with which one might be having a property line dispute.
So when Elrond was shopping in downtown Formenos and saw the flyer taped to a streetlamp that said “Forging Lessons – From swords to gems, if you can imagine it you can forge it!” he paused. The flyer had a picture of Glamdring at the top and a picture of the Arkenstone at the bottom, each with trademark runes next to them and a tiny disclaimer that read “individual results may vary”. The paper was a pleasant robin’s egg blue and the font was Tengwar Helvetica. The whole thing looked very professional. At the bottom of the flyer several of the little tabs with the contact information was missing. Elrond tore one off, noting that the lessons were on the industrial side of town. No name of the instructor, just an address and a code number one could farspeak for more information.
Elrond had never given forging much thought, but the flyer made it look like something exciting and new. Perhaps he’d give it a try. He could start with something simple, like jewelry. That shouldn’t be too hard, and he could present Celebrían a lovely necklace for her begetting day.
He put the slip of paper in his pocket and forgot about it until he was back at his hotel, undressing for bed, and it fell to the floor. Elrond picked it up and looked at the information again. ‘What the heck,’ he thought, ‘this town is deadly dull. I might as well give it a try.’
Closing his eyes, Elrond farspoke the code. A tinny female voice replied, startling him. 'You have reached the Outer Void. If you know your party’s extension, you may think it at any time. For Morgoth, think 1. For Sauron, think 2. For servants of the black enemies think 3. For all other inquiries, stay on the line and a representative will assist you. This call may be monitored by Manwë for your protection and to improve customer service.'
Elrond broke the connection and looked at the paper again. He’d gotten the code wrong. Maybe it was time to take Celebrían’s advice and buy a pair of readers. He closed his eyes and tried again.
For a few moments, nothing happened. Then a deep male voice said, ‘Formenos Forging, how may I help you?’
‘I’m calling about the forging lessons. I saw your flyer.’
‘Oh, yes. Come on over to the corner of Beleriand and Park. It’s the big brick building on the right with the cast iron gates. Ask for Angolrion.’
‘I’ll be there in the morning. Should I bring anything?’
‘Sure, about 50 pounds of steel and iron.’ Elrond was stunned, but then the man continued. ‘Just a little joke. You come on over and we’ll get you set up.’
‘Thanks. Good night.’
He broke the connection, brushed his teeth, and went to bed, dreaming of shining gems imbued with extraordinary powers.
The next day he walked through the tidy, well-kept but provincial streets of Formenos. Soon the houses gave way to starker buildings and office parks, then large, noisy factories and warehouses. Formenos Forging was a complex of three brick buildings with iron gates set into stone walls. The gates were open and a few people were walking between the buildings, some sporting leather aprons, others bare-chested, but most were dressed in comfortable tunics and loose trousers.
Elrond entered the building and was met by the clangor of metal and the heat of the forges beyond the small lobby. A large dog sat behind a desk barking orders to one of the smiths. Elrond approached and the dog looked him over while the smith beat a hasty retreat.
“Uh, I’m looking for Angolrion," Elrond said uncertainly.
“That’s me. You here for the forging lessons?”
“Yes, I spoke to someone last night.”
“That would be the boss. Follow me.”
He jumped off the chair and padded into the workshop. Elrond unconsciously fell into the heel position beside him and the dog glanced up at him.
"Don't crowd me, buddy," Angolrion snapped.
"Sorry," Elrond said, dropping in behind.
As they walked through the shop Elrond forgot about his companion, so taken was he by the noise and bustle surrounding him. Yet more than the fiery ovens and the smell of metal and ozone, what caught his eye was the impressive figure hunched over a long strip of parchment drawing a design with a stub of charcoal. Were it not for the night-black hair he would have sworn he was looking into the past at his foster father Maedhros. He found himself warm from more than just the heat of the forges. This man was beautiful. He was taken aback to realize what he had gotten himself into and was just about to bolt when Angolrion shouted, “Hey boss, the new guy is here.”
The dog turned and trotted away before the man could reply.
Fëanor looked up from his work and beamed him a huge smile. “Elrond? I never expected to see you in my forge. Welcome!”
He came over and grabbed Elrond’s hand, pumping it with an iron grip.
Nonplussed, Elrond fought for composure. “You have me at a disadvantage. You must be… Fëanor?”
“The very same. Forgive my poor manners. I didn’t recognize you when we spoke. So what brings you to Formenos?”
“My wife is at a ladies retreat on Taniquetil for a couple of weeks. I’ve never been to Formenos so I thought I’d come check it out.”
“And you decided to take up forging while you were here?”
“Well, after I saw the old fortress and the museum I kind of ran out of things to do.”
“There’s the Vale of the Mánir out in the hills and we have a lovely market just off the square.”
“What’s the Vale of the Mánir?”
“That’s where Manwë’s sylphs like to hang out. If you stand out there and say “spirits of the air, show me that you’re there” a wind will come up.
“What if it’s already windy?”
“Then you don’t have to stand out in the middle of nowhere reciting some fool rhyme.” Fëanor laughed and Elrond wondered if the man had a weird sense of humor or if he was just dotty.
"Your receptionist was... unexpected," Elrond remarked, changing the subject.
"One of Huan's kids. He tried life as a human for a few years but missed the ability to lick himself. Celegorm hired him when I was out of town. I think he only applied for the job to keep tabs on me." He lowered his voice. "Manwë has spies everywhere."
Having no reply to this, Elrond simply stared and nodded.
“But you’re here to learn forging, so let’s get started,” Fëanor continued. "Let me show you around a bit first."
Fëanor showed him the forges, the casting rooms, the jewel smithy. It was all quite fascinating to Elrond, but a bit intimidating and dangerous looking as well. The big ovens spouting fire, the pounding and pouring of hot metal, the flames that leapt alarmingly when the pieces were quenched – he hoped they had remedial classes. After the tour, Fëanor asked him what he was interested in making.
“I thought perhaps a necklace for my wife. Something easy to learn maybe?”
“Have you ever done any smelting?”
“In Lindon, I often caught a fair number of the fish on any given day.”
“Only nets and broken bones.”
Fëanor sighed. “Very well, I’ll start you with a simple silver casting. First, you have to make a mold.”
The process didn’t go as well as Elrond hoped. First, Fëanor stood very close to him throughout the process, which made him slightly uncomfortable. Then he took Elrond’s hands in his own when it was time to pour the molten silver, instructing him how to tip the pot just so to fill the mold. This hovering made Elrond nervous and he singed a finger. Cursing, he dropped the tongs and the pot hit the floor. They both barely jumped out of the way in time to avoid the molten silver as it pooled on the floor. Elrond hopped around, swearing and sucking on his blistering finger.
“That’s no way to treat a burn, let me get some butter,” Fëanor said, grabbing his hand.
“That’s an old wives tale. I just need some cold water,” Elrond replied, trying to get his hand back. A struggle ensued with Fëanor refusing to let go and Elrond trying to pull away. At last Elrond managed to regain custody of his sore appendage.
“What’s wrong with you?” Elrond said angrily. “I think I know the proper way to treat a burn. You do realize I’m a healer, right?”
“And you realize I was crafting objects of infinite beauty before you were born, right?” Fëanor snapped. “I was trying to guide you so you wouldn’t hurt yourself.”
“Well that certainly worked, didn’t it? Has any student ever survived your instruction?”
“Oh, now that’s unfair…” Fëanor began. He paused a moment, thinking. “All right, you got me there.”
“This was a bad idea. I should probably go,” Elrond said.
Fëanor took his hand again, gently, and kissed his sore finger. “Please, don't go. Let me make it up to you.”
At the look in those beautiful grey eyes, Elrond melted like superheated silver. He felt like he did the first time him and Maedhros… Dammit, he was catnip to these Fëanorians Elrond realized, and that was when he realized something else – he kind of liked it.
They left the forge and Fëanor led him to a back room he had set up because he often slept in the forge when he was working on a big project. There was a large comfortable bed with a thick, colorful quilt and a table with a water pitcher and basin. There was also half a bottle of wine on a sideboard. It made Elrond wonder if he was the only conquest among Fëanor’s many students.
Elrond started to take off his tunic but Fëanor got there first, stripping him to the waist then carefully lowering his trousers over his keen erection. He fell to worshiping Elrond’s body, scrambling out of his own clothes and flinging them away between love bites. Elrond nearly swooned at the attention, wanting more, craving more. His hands grappled with Fëanor’s taut body, tangled in his hair, caressed his glorious jewels. They moved to the bed then moved together, forgetting everything but the pleasure of hard muscles and taut skin. They reached their peak with a shared frantic urgency that had them both clinging to each other, panting their sated lust into sweaty necks and delicately pointed ears.
“As first lessons go, I’d call that a rousing success,” Fëanor gasped at last.
Elrond laughed. “Certainly an ‘arousing’ one.” He nipped at Fëanor’s lip then drew him into a long, slow kiss.
“That was the most fun I’ve had since I hit town," Elrond said when they parted. "But I guess Celebrían will have to do without her gift.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll have Nerdanel whip up something for her when she returns from the “ladies retreat” and ship it to you. She tells me has taken quite a liking to your wife and finds her affections most eagerly returned.”
Elrond's eyes widened in shock, then he fell back on the pillow and began to laugh. “You know, we haven’t had a vacation together in almost fifty years.”
“I hear Formenos is a nice place to visit.” Fëanor grinned.
“I don’t know,” Elrond said with a mischievous gleam in his eyes, “I’ve heard it’s nothing but a tourist trap.”