History and Prehistory: Khimele Sei-Varun and Vestri Ketilsdottir Meet on Arachan Island
The Sei-Varun were busy building on Arachan Island. Since it was not quite uninhabited save for themselves, the houses were round in the traditional style of crannochs, but they were ashore.
Khimele was not building her own house: her children and grandchildren were doing that. She took a hand in the carpentry sometimes, when she was weary of mind but not of body; but most of her time was taken up in overseeing the settlement.
She found homes for the refugees arriving from Vhaerun -- mostly, they were children and animals, and she placed them with families who longed for more than they had.
She met with the Dwarves. The Sei-Varun had hired a team of Earth-specialists who had sailed over on one of their ships from Heimdall Donnar, to advise them how to make best use of the hot waters seething beneath the island's surface. The Dwarves paced the island with surveyor's instruments. They drew precise plans with two-pronged pens holding droplets of lampblack ink on great sheets of ultrafine linen. They would eventually supervise the delving.
There was another project going on that Khimele thought of often, but had little need -- at present -- to attend to.
Every day a world-weary Drow would visit Imohara Nazhanora, among the most skilled and powerful enchantresses of the age; and they would leave her hut quiet, subdued, and with a thousand-mile gaze that seemed to let to see over across the Straight Road across the earth-lost Sundering Seas; and they dreamed of the Lonely Isle and the Everwhite Mountain. Most of the Dark Elves so doing were centuries old; but there were some younger, haunted by horrors of war, whose hearts could not be mended on mortal shores.
She had friends who were departing. Friends -- and her mother.
Khimele knew her mother's heart had turned toward the West when her father was lost; but she had tarried for the sake of the tribe. Now her time at last was over. She was visiting every family, for blessing and farewells.
Khimele was melancholy often because of this. But she was far from ready to depart herself.
On the 18th of May, Khimele met Vestri Ketilsdottir at the first-built-pier.
The Dwarf woman didn't kiss the ground when she walked off the new-laid planks, but she looked as if she wanted to. When she caught Khimele's eye, she grinned. "The waves were fascinating," she said, "and I'm glad I argued the King into letting me sail over. But it's never comfortable having the Earth so very, very far beneath our feet." Then she peered down happily. "This is young Earth, still full of Fire. Wonderful! I am finding it already invigorating."
"Welcome!" said Khimele.
They wandered over the island to talk: Vestri visited the engineers, but then she and Khimele went off to a great fault in the Earth which Vestri exclaimed and exulted over. "This is where the shards of the Earth meet," she said; and then Khimele learned to her surprise something of plate tectonics.
Eventually they worked round to foreign affairs, and their fraught relationships with the Elves.
"As far as we know," Vestri said, "ancient Dwarves of Beleriand are to blame for the original falling out between some Elves and some Dwarves." She told the story of Elu Thingol and the Silmarils, and how certain treacherous Dwarves hired by Thingol to set the gem instead slew him for lust of it.
"But -- still I say they are not quite rational. The ill-deed was not done by all Dwarves, nor even by many. And the Noldor themselves did as much or worse to their own kin, when they slew the Teleri to seize their fair ships.
"Yet the Elves do not account Elves an inherently untrustworthy kind, even though they have done more direct damage to each other than those particular perfidious ancient Dwarves. -- To weight the balance honestly, I grant that the indirect damage of that ill deed was enormous, since it led to the departure of Melian the Maia, whose power had shielded Doriath.
"Nevertheless ... when the Balrog destroyed Khazad-Dum and led in turn to the fall of the Elven kingdom of Eregion, the response of the neighboring Elves was not to commiserate with both and to succor the survivors. It was to blame the Dwarves for the destruction -- as if they somehow wilfully and knowingly did that which would destroy their own richest realm -- as if they had summoned the balrog, and not merely accidentally discovered it to their own hurt. As if both peoples were not suffering from the delayed malice of Morgoth.
"We deal with them. We often fight on the same side. But beneath the beautiful works and the fair, fair words there is often a streak that says 'Nothing that is not Elvish is ever really good.' Every so often, it bursts forth, and we find folk we thought were friends treating us like foes and traitors. It is perturbing."
Khimele heard the voice of experience here, and wondered at the story behind it.
"They don't like your people, though you both look like Elves to us," Vestri continued. "I should like to know what lies beneath the enmity."
"That, too, is an ancient story," said Khimele. "It is said by the scribes of the foremothers that only Iluvatar could create from nothing. All His creatures create, but not from nought: whether they are the Children of Iluvatar or the Ainur.
"Thus for all his might, Melkor could not make a living thing on his own."
Vestri shifted position on the rock she was seated on, and stroked her chin. She listened intently.
"He captured Elves when they awakened around Cuiviénen," Khimele said.
Vestri nodded; she'd heard that much.
"It is said that by wicked arts he bred Orcs from them. -- I do not know if this tale is true: whether he succeeded. It could be that he rejected our foremothers and corrupted and ruined a different people, who looked more like Orcs than Elves do: for there are Orcs that are not degraded as the ones that have longed followed the Enemy. Nought in Arda has reached its proper form or fulfillment, because of the malice of Morgoth.
"True or not: it is said that some of the captured Elves escaped from the thralldom of Morgoth, when in body they were but little changed: they had become dark grey. Contrarywise it is also said that they did not escape, but were of a lineage rejected and thrust out by Morgoth, because their women had become larger, stronger, and fiercer than their men. But others say that change took place later, because of the influence of the Spider-Daughter.
"Whatever happened, it is certain that when the early Drow departed from Morgoth, they sought their Elven kindred again; but they met small welcome. The Elves say that they were more refined and beautiful than Orcs, but just as evil. Certain of our scribes say that only a few Drow were given to evil at that time: but the hardness of the Elves was their undoing. For they were caught between Morgoth and the Elven kingdoms, accounted foes to both. And so in desperation allied with another power that was friend to neither: the wicked daughter of Ungoliant, the great evil spider-being whom Morgoth used and then betrayed.
"Whether there are, somewhere, most ancient Drow alive from the Time of the Stars, who could tell us for sure what happened, none of us know.
"The Spider-Daughter's worshippers and the rest of us have come down from the earliest age. Since then there have always been Drow who dedicatedly worshipped her. There have always been Drow who put self-preservation above all ideology: they do what the strongest do. So it is in all peoples.
"And there has always been a Resistance, though at times it has nearly been annihilated. Nevertheless, the deeds of the worshippers of Lloth are sufficiently wicked that, even when they are slaying the foes they can identify, they are raising up more by their own cruelties.
"Thus it is that the Drow have never united. We teeter this way and that, depending on who has the mastery; but no one finally prevails. Even when a powerful tribal leader has claimed to be Queen of All Drow, she has never been able to enforce her will on all the scattered tribes."
Khimele Sei-Varun, eldest daughter and heir of Amerakhte.
Amerakhte Sei-Varun, Chieftess of the Sei-Varun Drow tribe.
Khimele's children and grandchildren.
Unnamed familes of the Sei-Varun tribe.
Unnamed refugees, mostly children and animals, sent away by other Drow tribes from the conflict between Blackmoor and Vhaerun.
Unnamed friends of Khimele.
Unnamed other folk, the old and some veterans, who plan to sail to the Uttermost West.
Imohara Nazhanora, a great enchantress who married into the Sei-Varun tribe long ago.
Vestri Ketilsdottir, Chief of Subtlety of the Dwarven kingdom of Heimdall Donnar.
Halvor Hakonsson, not named and not present, King of the Dwarves.
Unnamed Dwarven specialists in civil engineering and geology advising the Sei-Varun on the use of geothermal energy.
Elu Thingol, Elven king of Doriath in now-sunken Beleriand in the First Age.
Melian the Maia, Queen of Doriath, who maintained a great protection over Doriath, but who departed on the death of Thingol.
Unnamed Dwarves who dealt faithlessly with Thingol when he sought to have them set the Silmaril had received.
The unnamed Balrog of Moria.
Unnamed Dwarves of Moria when it fell to the Balrog.
Unnamed Elves of Eregion who had been friends with the Dwarves of Moria.
Unnamed unsympathetic Elven neighbors of Moria.
Morgoth (Melkor), the great Vala who became evil.
Iluvatar, All-Father, a name of God.
Unnamed ancestors and historians of the Drow.
Unnamed ancient Elves of Beleriand.
The Noldor, the Elves related to Fëanor, maker of the Silmarils, who departed from Valinor to try to take back the Silmarils from Morgoth, who had stolen them.
The Teleri, the seagoing Elves who were murdered by the Noldor, who by force took their ships to sail back to Middle Earth.
Amerakhte Visits Imohara Nazhanora
On Arachan Island, Amerakhte Chieftess of the Clan walked around the harbor toward a cabin and knocked. The door was opened by her widowed sister-in-law, Imohara Nazhanora: who was among the greatest enchantresses of the age.
"I have an idea," said Amerakhte.
Imohara opened the door wider. She was wearing a houppelande over a tunic; Amerakhte saw that the hand extending from the sleeve of the linen shirt beneath the tunic had a white sheen to it: it gleamed like the rising full moon in the twilight.
They went inside.
Amerakhte Sei-Varun, Chieftess of the Sei-Varun Drow tribe.
Imohara Nazhanora, a great enchantress of the powerful Nazhanora tribe, widow of Amerakhte's brother younger brother Inzuran, who was killed in battle two centuries ago.
April 24, 301
The Chieftess Sends Letters to Neighboring Northern Powers
Nigh a fortnight after the battle, Amerakhte had boarded a ship to join Khimele and Shahann in the north. She left Ashliin in Vhaerun to oversee rebuilding parts of the harbor.
"Amerakhte Chieftess of Sei-Varun, late of Vhaerun, now of Arachan Island, to the Lord High Councillor of Silverwind and all Plutarchs and Merchants of the Realm, greetings..."
Amerakhte and her eldest daughters Khimele and Shahann were seated in a hastily-constructed turf-roofed house built into a hill beside the largest natural harbor of Arachan Island. The late afternoon sun shone on the letter the Chieftess was reading aloud, and the wind off the water set the paper in her fingers aflutter, till she caught the opposite edge.
Khimele was leaning back with a checklist, ticking points off as her mother read.
1. We have moved to Arachan Island and bought the dwellings in the harbor from the few fisherfolk and hunters who dwelt there betimes. Most of them are going to Port Annwn, but some are sailing your way.
2. The monastery is staying. They're still on the west side of the harbor.
3. Cold seas are rich, but their weather is dangerous. The harbor remains a place of refuge for all against storm or mishap, according to the Law of the Sea.
4. The harbor is suitable for deep-water shipping but until we've built docks all cargoes must be lightered ashore.
5. Brief, accurate description of the battle.
6. We still think something is going on in Blackmoor.
7. The buildings in the harbor of Vhaerun Bay are destroyed. We will rebuild it as a trading post only.
"That covers the ground," said Khimele. The letter, of course, was in more formal language.
The letter itself might be surprising; the appearance of a Sei-Varun ship in Silverwind would not be especially so, as they occasionally called there to trade: it was after all the largest port on the continent.
"Now, Thaczil di Sjach Gherthaeli." They were on speaking terms with the Dragons and did trade, when they had something the Dragons might want: most often this amounted to exotic materials and spices, for the Dragonfolk were connoisseurs of fine handiwork and fine cookery. Anything less specialized was easily had from Silverwind.
The letter to the Dragons was similar, but adapted to draconic styles of address; and it said less about matters principally of concern to shipmasters. Moreover Amerakhte was sending with it a large, intricately carved shell they had taken in trade off Cipango: it was strange and beautiful and the sort of thing a Dragon might especially appreciate. They tended to have a fine grasp of aesthetics.
Shahann would sail to Dragonhome first. Then she would continue on Silverwind, before finally returning to Vhaerun.
"Next is Port Annwn," said the Chieftess. "But I haven't finished yet."
"It has a few wealthy folk, but nothing like Silverwind's upper tier," said Shahann. "If you haven't decided on anything for them already, I'll pick out samples of reasonable quality and price and you could send them east with Siakho." Siakho was Ashliin's eldest daughter. "She's made three very long voyages lately and she'd like a few shorter hauls."
Amerakhte, Chieftess of the Sei-Varun drow clan.
Khimele, her eldest daughter.
Shahann, her second daughter.
Ashliin, her third daughter.
Siakho, daughter of Ashliin, captain of a trading ship.
Various dignitaries of Silverwind, mentioned in a salutation but not present.
Last edited by Valiska Sei-Varun on Thu May 18, 2017 10:06 am; edited 1 time in total