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17 June 2008 @ 08:28 pm
Kin-strife: Part 17  
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Part 16

In which Ilvren returns; we buy gowns from Morwen the Red's dress emporium; Pimm buys drinks for everyone at the Eagle & Elf; Dringol agrees to discuss Pimm's uncle Bergil's alta-parma; Celebrindor talks about his travels and ambitions, he asks whether we know of a legendary artefact (Calvolului) but when we demure he wields a Word of Power at the dinner table - an outrage!

Mid-morning April 30th 1441

Ilvren gets back not long after us, having seen her charge (whose name is Morwen, apparently – a dark maid indeed) to safety. I hope she will be reunited with her family before long.

Once at the Moonswan, I send a formal invitation to Celebrindor, penned in Brand's fine hand, for dinner tonight. Brand suggests we look up Morwen (it's a common name) 'the Red' this afternoon and that sounds like a good idea so we all go, Pimm leading the way as he knows that part of the city the best.

'Fashionable Dresses at Affordable Prices' reads the slogan above Morwen's shop. I ask Aerin if she couldn't do with a fine gown and she determines to acquire one. Ilvren would prefer a ship but Minas Ithil is a little landlocked for that. I advise Aerin she may choose anything, including accessories, under 15 crowns.

Finding something manwa-cóla ('ready-to-wear' for those not versed in Quenya) sounds unlikely but we do find two items suitable that almost fit Aerin and Ilvren and Morwen offers to make all the alterations and get the dresses to the Moonswan in time for tonight for a crown each.

I take the opportunity to introduce her to Pimm as Bergil's nephew. Morwen admonishes him for not visiting his uncle's favourite drinking hole as the friends of his late uncle regard themselves as quite a 'literary circle' and will want to meet their hero's heir.

While the conversation is on Bergil, I ask after the 'Mirror of Fire'. Morwen has never heard of the place but she never read Bergil's epic work (now mostly lost in a fire). She does, however, remember that Bergil teamed up with Zorakathôr, an officer in the army, to mount a big expedition to overthrow a coastal warlord in the Raj. They were shipwrecked on the way back and only Bergil survived but he scavenged enough from the flotsam to retire comfortably.

I wonder if Bergil's literary friends might have read his alta-parma?

Now the boys want new clothes too so we move on to a local tailor's but at least the lads buy their own, which is just as well as theirs cost twice as much!

So we repair to the Eagle & Elf, Bergil's one-time local tavern, so that Pimm can make the acquaintance of his uncle's friends.

There are several groups round the tables but none obviously reading or spouting poetry so Pimm introduces himself to the landlord as Bergil's nephew and buys a round for everyone. It transpires that we missed the most recent literary meeting last week but one drunken reveller reminisces about Bergil's lost masterpiece, about Gondor's holy places. Bergil gave the manuscript to one Dringol who is currently working as a scribe in Heruvorn's office, writing permits. (Perhaps our library permits are examples of his penmanship?) We meet him briefly, presumably during his luncheon break, and he agrees to meet us tomorrow evening to discuss publishing the late Bergil's 'insightful' masterpiece.

Back at the Moonswan, Celebrindor's acceptance awaits us and I negotiate with the landlord for a banquet costing 30 crowns. That should provide a reasonably enjoyable repast for us all, while not being extravagant – it's not as if we have to impress the man, after all.

The dresses arrive and the ladies emerge from their respective rooms, looking suitably radiant (and I tell them so) as Celebrindor's arrival is announced. I greet our guest as warmly as I can but I confess that something about his manner gives me the shivers. He looks fair enough but I feel that something in his soul is foul. I can see Ilvren feels the same, though if anyone else picks up on it they hide it well. I recall Lonnya, the librarian, saying as much herself.

In appearance, Celebrindor is classic Dûnadan: black hair, grey eyes, and he dresses to show it off in black velvet and grey silk (I'm in my preferred colours of green for Miruvor and blue for Serni. He talks easily over aperitifs commenting upon the lamentable impact of politics on trade.

I ask after his current profession and he admits to being a 'freelance' engineer, freely admitting his frustration with the failure of the Engineers' Guild to recognise his skills garnered in places as far away as Tharbad and Arnor. However, he has supporters in other guilds, less hidebound in their view of what loyalty to the city might entail.

Brand asks after the most memorable places Celebrindor has seen. He had the fortune to see Osgiliath before its recent eclipse and the tower of Minas Anor is simply stunning, of course. Architecture aside, he reckons Tharbad a most vibrant city. Brand asks specifically after Celebrindor's visits to the Haradwaith and Celebrindor replies that the architecture is not great, such examples as there are being mainly vaults. He makes a passing reference to fortifications currently under construction in Umbar and I note to myself that someone must feel threatened, I wonder from whom?

Celebrindor then advises Brand to move to an architect's guild, in view of his apparent interest, but Brand admits his interest lies largely in tombs.

Celebrindor brings the subject around to why he wants to meet me. He explains that it has been hard for him to make his living but Heruvorn has hired him as a consultant engineer to assess the defences of Minas Ithil. Evidently a sense of threat is not confined to Harad. Heruvorn fears an assault from Rohan would rapidly overwhelm Osgiliath's shattered defences and their next obvious target would be Minas Ithil.

Celebrindor expresses concern over a legend speaking of a magical artefact hidden in the sewers that ensures the flow of water within the city. Brand and I play dumb, denying that we found anything of interest and that we were mostly absorbed with research in to the Tower of the Moon.

Celebrindor continues to probe us as to whether we had come across anything pertaining to the location of the artefact but we all denied knowledge, all but Brand and me quite truthfully, but then he suddenly blurts out ' Minas Ithil is in the foothills of Mordor to keep watch over the servants of MELKOR'!

Some power in the way he stressed that name swept over us; I had to grit my teeth and Aerin turned white as Celebrindor, sensing her distress, pressed his question regarding knowledge of the whereabouts of the legendary artefact. Aerin gasps that she knows nothing before swooning.

Enraged, I ordered Celebrindor out, telling Pimm to see him from the premises; the man is no gentleman! I felt Celebrindor had used some sort of magic at the dinner table and Brand confirmed he had used a 'word of power', and that the name Melkor implies he is a follower of the Dark Lord.

We discussed what measures we should take, whether I should challenge Celebrindor to a duel. In view of the fact that I am inexperienced and that he might use the dark arts, it would probably not be advised – Brand also points out that my father would not approve. That and the fact that Celebrindor is hardly my social equal persuades me to restrain my instincts.

Brand feels the best revenge would be to find the artefact and secure it against Celebrindor's machinations. He is quite right, of course.