Orcs and Elfstones

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19-23

[page 19] {Image: Four decorative vines, each accentuated with four leaves, frame the beginning of the page's text. A line drawing of two leaves appears to the left of the first paragraph.} This is a postscript, or perhaps a prescript, to _The Jewel of Arwen_, which I wrote for Pelz's Tolkien-fan zine I PALANTIR. I had no intention of ever publishing it, and you are at liberty to take it in any way you please. Someone commented to me, in a letter, not long ago, that Tolkien never gave us any very clear idea of what either orcs or elves actually looked like; and I had to stop, and think, and say to myself; "Why, that's true", and remember why it was that I never had the slightest bit of doubt about exactly what they looked like....that, in short, their faces were as real to me as the faces of those FAPA members whom I met last year in Detroit; because of an exceptionally real and vivid series of dreams, which came to me during the time I was first reading the books....while I was midway through THE TWO TOWERS. Some of these were ordinary dream-ish flotsam, mixed in hilarious confusion; others were more vivid. I was startled by them; because I seldom dream about books which I am reading --in fact, I can't remember ever having done so before. Coming at the close of this series of dreams came one so bright, so intense and so vivid that when I woke, the speli remained; as if indeed, like Lovecraft's Randolph Carter, I had been rapt away on some dream-quest to an actually existing other-land, spending long hours or days in the "world of woven trees". A part -- a small part of this dream which I brought back with me from the surrounding shadows --I wrote into _The Jewel of Arwen_. I had at first intended to write more; but I grew abashed about what seemed to me an unwarranted intrusion into another writer's existing world. Yet, before the intensity and color of the dream faded ---although, in fact, it did not fade as most dreams fade --I wrote it down to keep for myself. Now it seems to me that I am only following a tradition of fantasy, if I write here something which is less imagination than memory, of a night when, in some random dream-quest, some tremendous emotional empathy, I lived through strange hours in Middle Earth, the life of an elf-woman who lives only in a few random phrases in the Tolkien saga but is now as real to me as any playing a greater part; Celebrian. <Font mimics handwriting.> ORCS and ELFSTONES <End font.> So acute and spellbinding, so intense was this dream that after several weeks I can still close my eyes and recapture, like a living experience, the intensity of it. It began dimly, in dream- flotsam, with the sound of horses, the jingling of bells and the sounds of distant wind and song, colors shifting over mountain landscapes and long winding paths rising through foothills parched with autumn, into higher roads between stone. And suddenly the blurred pictures of dreams sharpened into quick focus, and I was.. [page 20] {Image: Five decorative vines, each accentuated with four leaves, frame the beginning of the page's text.} .....I was riding on a small white horse, whose harness was made of red silk with embroidered reins, and jingling with tiny silver bells. I rode side-saddle, and I was wearing a long-skirted dress of grey-green that shifted in the snowy light from color to color, and a great wooly white <struck out word> cloak lined with fur; and I rode in the company of assorted men and elves, riding slowly, two and three abreast, up a rocky and deep-cloven mountain pass. It was snowing, and very cold, and the women and elves were all singing, intricate music, all high soprano voices that wound in and out of minor modes, while the snow went on falling, soft and fluffy. To give you a picture of the vividness of this dream; I remember the actual _feel_ of the fur and the wool around my face, and the snowflakes touching my hands, which were clasped around the reins, although their cold did not bother me; I was aware that they were cold, but seemed not to mind it. The elves were taller than men, and a great deal thinner, with delicate faces which (in waking life) looked like some children do; very sharp and definite and precisely molded, and very pale and fair; and they all spoke in very high sweet voices: the contrast between the speaking voices of the elves and the men in the dream was that between soprano and baritone. After what seemed a long time of this riding; the snow became too thick for the horses to get through, although --I repeat --the weather did not bother us in the least. They dismounted, and two elves lifted me down from my horse; and they led the animals into a circle, in what seemed to be a widening of the road. I remember several criss-crossings and fragments of conversation none of which remains in my mind clearly enough for reconstruction; but if anyone stopped to speak, someone else immediately caught up his part in the song, which seemed to go on, intricate as a Bach fugue, all the time. Suddenly --the abruptness was a shock even in memory--the singing broke off into a horrible racket of horns and yells and screeches, and one of the men, who had been singing, suddenly fell across my lap with his head sawn half off, while small, midget-sized things with bullet-like heads and big greenish eyes were running and shrieking all over the road. They were twisted things, half naked and very dark against the snow, with coarse twisty wiry black hair covering most of their bodies; they looked (again, a parenthesis from waking realization) like Alberich in the Rackham illustrations for THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG. One of the elves drew a sword that looked like a green glass dagger, and jumped in front of me; and he was swarmed over and literally covered over by those awful creatures, whom I suddenly realized were orcs. Simultaneously, in the dream I learned my name, for someone called it in a terrible voice, loud and terrifying: "Celebrian!" (A curious note; I pronounced this --without reference to notes -- as Sel-EB-reean; in the dream; this elf cried it; "Kel-eb-REE-an!") My subconscious evidently read the footnotes I only skimmed.) The green glass dagger flew out of his hand --I describe this at such length because I am startled at the clarify with which I remember it -- and struck me on the arm; I caught it and backed [page 21] {Image: Five decorative vines, each accentuated with four leaves, frame the beginning of the page's text.} away from the swarm of orcs, but one of them kicked it out of my hand, and the touch of his foot seemed to burn like a hot coal, so that instead of trying to get it back, I stood holding my burned hand. I stood backed up against the snowy cliff and some of these goblins locked their hands, like children playing bull-in-the-ring, and made a circle around me. I didn't know why, but I knew I was horribly afraid to _touch_ (or be touched by?) them; and after trying to duck out between them a time or two, I subsided and stood quiet, and horribly frightened, while I watched hundreds and hundreds of the things swarming out until the side of the mountain was black with them. ((This is perhaps the strangest thing, for usually a nightmare of such intensity will wake me up; I seldom endure a frightening dream more than a few seconds, but invariably snap awake.)) And this had turned into a nightmare so ghastly that I had to force myself to think about it and remember it. The goblins were cutting at the elves and men with glittering swords (sic) and dragging the horses, and _they were slicing up the horses, LIVING, into ribbons, and carrying the meat away_, or cramming it with clenched fists into their big fanged mouths. They were killing the men and there was a horrible noise of screaming, but no one brought a knife near me. Then --I was still ringed in by a ring of orcs -- they began to close in on me, and drive me this way and that, without actually touching me; that is, a few of them would start to rush at me, I would duck away to avoid their touch, and after a time I realized that they were doing --herding me along the path. As soon as I noticed this and stood firm, they grabbed me -- four or five of them, pulling at my waist and legs -- and started pulling and hauling me through a black door where --Alice-down-the-rabbithole-fashion, I suddenly seemed to _fall_, landing with a soft little shock at the bottom. It was dark, and icy cold, and when the goblins came down swarming on top of me, I started to struggle and fight and shriek. as they pulled me along steps that seemed to go up, and down, and sideways. Curiously enough, at this point in the dream --where normally I would have waked up @woken up@ -- I suddenly stopped being afraid. The vividness remained, and the uncanny realism of every movement and touch; but the panic was gone. ((I suppose my subconscious invented an "out" for me so that I could finish this very fascinating dream without being terrified by it; for, although it grew more terrible by the minute, and I was disgusted by parts of it, I had no more of of that smothering panic which wakes me out of nightmares in a split second.)) To make a long story short --it wasn't -- the ores finally mauled @hauled@ me into a cave, where I remember, curiously, the exceptional COLD of the stone. The snow had not bothered me; but the stone seemed to _bite_ with cold, an actual pain, like touching cold iron with your wet tongue; my hand seemed to _stick_ to the frosty stone, and I tried to sit on my skirt -- they had pulled off my cloak -- so I would not have to _touch_ it. [page 22] {Image: Five decorative vines, each accentuated with four leaves, frame the beginning of the page's text.} They yelled and screeched at me, trying evidently to get me to understand their talk --they had rasping voices that sounded like dogs barking and geese and peacocks all honking together -- and a man, in a grey outfit, standing with the goblins, tried to talk to me --I remember he spoke "my" name several times in what was meant to be a soothing tone, but I said very clearly "Do you suppose I'd trust, or talk to, any man in such company?" and turned my back on him; and he said roughly@,@ "Then whatever happens to you now, you have only yourself to blame. Remember that three days from now," and went away. Then the orcs came back and started ripping at the chains I wore around my neck and belt ---I seemed to be wearing several chains of thin fine gold and silver made in twisted links -- and tore off my shoes and ripped at my hair which had silvery ribbons and jewels braided into it. There seems to have also been a great deal of highly obscene touching and gesturing which my mental censor has (mostly) blanked out. Fortunately, because what I do remember was ugly and disgusting quite beyond description, and, <words struck out> I have no desire to immortalize the behavior of either orcs or the orc-minded. With your permission, then, I will delete a portion even of what _does_ remain in my memory; I imagine that the part which my mental censor has persistently and fortunately deleted, was worse. But even now I can remember the icy cold of the rock, and burning scorching heat when I touched the goblins or was compelled to touch them; their skin felt like blistering leather...hell, I can't even describe it; I can, however, _smell_ singing hair, which I smelled every time I touched one of the orcs, or when they grabbed at it. And one of my hands had turned almost black, with the fingers numb and stuck together, where an orc had crushed it and twisted it. The next thing I remember, after an odd sort of blurriness, was trying to escape down a long rock tunnel and a flight of stairs, and a couple of them taking a flying leap from the top of the stairs; then they laughed and screeched when I went roung @round@ a bend in the stairs, and discovered that it was all on fire down there, flames coming up as if from a volcano. Parts of the rock were on fire, and it seemed that everywhere I turned there was burning, fire, smoke and flames, and finally the orcs grabbed me again and dragged me back; this time into a huge, enormous place which was (shades of Greig!) the Hall of the Mountain King. Big red lamps were burning overhead and things like neon lights swinging back and forth in long arches, and goblins of all sizes, big and little, were parading back and forth and forming themselves into groups and I saw the man who had talked to me. He pulled me down into a corner and said@,@ "If you keep still, they will forget you for a time". Now; in memory it seems that he spoke another language, because I had the distinct impression that he addressed me in the equivalent of the Spanish "tu" rather than a formal "you", and I turned away from him again, and collapsed on the floor. I ought to add that by now I was rather messed up -- my hand, as I say, blackened and scorched, my hair half pulled out where they had grabbed at the jewels in it, and various other oddments tedious to mention. ((I have a masochistic [page 23] {Image: Five decorative vines, each accentuated with four leaves, frame the beginning of the page's text.} imagination, I dare say.) The worst thing I remember, however, was a terrific slash in my left breast, and with dream-illogic I was almost equally distressed because the same slash had ripped the dress to a point where I was no longer decently covered in front of the obscene creatures. And these were painful like a dream of a toothache; real and yet unreal; painfull yet not enough to lighten the layers of sleep. The man who had tried to hide me from the orcs, I now saw, was trying to hide me from some others, men and a tall elf with silvery-golden hair who had broken into the place and were scattering the orcs with flashes of light that came from white-glass swords in their hands; the light caught one of the orcs and he began to scorch and blacken and twist like a scorching piece of paper. I tried to call to them, but my voice wouldn't carry in the rocks. Then the man suddenly stood up and shouted, and the elf grabbed me and cried out inn voice as ringing and resonant as Lauritz Melchior's "We must get her away before the fight!" and carried me away, running. I couldn't seem to open my eyes, but I knew I was being wrapped up in a blanket or cloak of some sort, and when I finally did open my eyes I recognized --that is; I saw him and knew his name --Glorfindel. He said "Don't look back, it's terrible down there," and then handed me over to (again, I knew who he was) Elladan, who was very tall; and went off down the stairs again. Elladan, who was carrying me now, didn't speak to me at all, but carried me out under an open space, held up a light and looked at me, then took off a thing like a crystal of white quartz, hanging around his neck, and slipped it over my head....slipped the chain over my head....and I grabbed at it and held it in my hand as if it were a charm and the light of it shone _through_ my hand and slowly the blackening of my fingers began to lighten and they began to look normal again. Then he put the fold of the blanket, or cloak, over my face, and carried me up a long flight of steps and out into an open, rainy ledge with wet wind blowing in my face, and laid me down there. Then the dream began to break into fragments like the sparkles of the white jewel, and blur and fade out and vanish; I woke up, tried to get back the dream, and succeeded only in blurring it. But even the end of the dream has a curious consistency, for I suppose the logical thing, after so many terrors and perils, would be complete collapse...the sort of thing where I would write, if I were writing a story, "And then it all grew black, and I knew no more." ++++ Now there is nothing startling in the materials of this dream. Some writers consistently dream their plotted stories. The books had captured my imagination in no common fashion; Glorfindel had blazed out at me as a vivid figure; the brief mention of Elladan and Elrogir had intrigued me. But --I dreamed this dream BEFORE reading THE RETURN OF THE KING. So will somebody please explain the curious behavior of the white jewel which Elladan put round the neck of Celebrian? _I can't._

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