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First impressions

Beküldve - - - Tolkien Levelező Verseny
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Here we are once again, this time the 11th International Tolkien Mailing Competition! This year we have opened the registration not just to any individual participant but also to teams of 2–5 people! 

Also, we have a theme for the whole competition: we welcome you in Minas Tirith! The competitors are trying to collect and organise the lore and history of the peoples of Middle-earth as lore-masters and scribes of King Elessar, during the first years of the Fourth Age.

And as we have already sent out the third round, let us share two writings from the first round!

In this task, the Quendi category was asked to reconstitute a long-gone scholar’s journal entry, which was meant to provide a faithful and detailed description of another culture as seen at first glance. And for a little extra, they had to include all given keywords in their texts.

We have given options for the jorunals:

  • 1st option: a journal entry of a member of Valacar’s escort when he was sent to live with the Northmen. Words to use: fair, beginning, bag, old, manner, smile, company, household, breakfast, messenger.
  • 2nd option: a journal entry of a Númenórean upon first setting foot on the coasts of Middle-earth, seeing the settlements of the lesser men living there. Words to use: ride, spirit, rival, nightfall, ill, return, hundred, pain, flower, father.
  • 3rd option: a journal entry of a soldier of Elendil, describing the army of Gil-Galad when they joined them to march into war against Sauron: beauty, armour, secret, grandson, blade, fortunate, escape, shadow, wish, weary.
  • 4th option: a journal entry of an unknown author written when the Gondorian army crossed the River Harnen to subsequently defeat the Haradrim. Words to use: tongue, earth, name, rich, seven, chair, face, corner, metal, colour.

 

Alvelassë sent us a 2nd option journal:

Upon hearing my father’s (Azrubêl, Captain of Faerlain*, sea-merchant) stories of his latest journeys, desire has woken in my heart to see the lands and people of Middle-Earth for myself. For great are the tales of Captain Azrubêl and his crew, worthy of parchment, but they are that indeed: sailors’ anecdotes. For a scholar to get the facts from such tavern tales, all the days of Arda would not be enough, as seafarers are a most superstitious folk, and they see more than what is, and say even more than what they saw.
Driven by my thirst for knowledge I asked my father’s permission to accompany him on his next voyage. And here I stand in the prow of Faerlain, utterly under the good sailors’ feet, as vast green lands – fringed by a rocky shore – unfold on the horizon.
My observations:
The small harbour called Grey-haven, where we land, is no rival to the mighty port of Rómenna, yet the sturdy breakwaters reach out towards our arriving ship with a sense of welcoming. While the port-village holds a name in our language, it is mostly inhabited by foreign people.
Upon disembarking, we are met by an elderly man, short with dark hair and warm, squinting brown eyes – like most of his kind. He greets Captain Azrubêl as an old friend in his own tongue.
Note1: An outstretched arm is NOT an invitation to hug, unlike at home. The elder local – Ælred – laughs heartily at my blunder as he takes a step back. Apparently, I’m not the first Númenorean with a lacking sense of personal space. He explains to me in careful, rugged Adûnaic that the expected reaction is to grip each other’s forearm: a proof that neither of us carries a concealed weapon, a mark of amity.
Ælred hurries to a nearby log house, and returns with two more locals, a wide cart and enough horses to all of us. They help us stack the goods on the cart, we are sundered by speech from the other two hands, but they know what they are doing.
We set off just before noontide, and ride till nightfall. I continue my conversation with Ælred, who explains it is essential that we arrive to the town before sunset, as the gates are closed for the night. Indeed, the settlement we reach is encircled by a stakewall, tall and well-kept. The people seem to fear the wilderness.
‘Rather the rough men, than the prowling beasts’ Ælred corrects me.
The Masters of the West – as we are called here – seem to be much awaited. We are surrounded by more than a hundred townspeople. We are led to a round square skirted by low houses of rough stone: they bring torches and insist that we should set up the market now, regardless of the growing darkness. The demand is for the potions and herbs – I soon realise.
I engage in a conversation with one of the wives, who speaks our tongue to some extent.
‘Many ill,’ she explains. ‘My daughter too. Cold wind bring evil from the east.’
I put aside my notebook, and offer her my fair knowledge of medicine, and likely she mistakes me for a healer. I look for a building that could be the House of Healing, but she leads me to her home.
‘Do you keep no place for your sick?’ I ask, surprised. She looks at me without understanding.
‘Having them at home, together with the healthy ones may ease the spread of the illness,’ I elaborate.
‘Do you take a weak flower from the soil that feeds it?’ she answers. Hardly can I argue that.
I examine the young girl, pale with eyes glinting. Her forehead is hotter than what is acceptable, and she coughs into her sleeve again and again. The potion we brought soothes her.
‘It is hardly more than a common cold,’ I reassure the mother.
‘Her pain gone,’ she smiles and offers me oddly shaped honey cakes and milk – I only realise we are not only standing in a bedroom, but in a kitchen as well. In fact, the whole house seems to consist of one great room, with every corner having a different function. This curiosity may be because of the simple heating system: a round oven that occupies half of the farther wall.
I will need to check whether this is a common layout. For now, the candle is burning low and I better get some sleep.
*Faerlain: ‘Free Spirit’ in Sindarin

 

OMA-Orc Magic Apprentices sent the following as a 3rd option journal:

Amon Sûl, in the year 3431 of the Second Age- the account of the joining of forces of Elendil, High King of Arnor and Gondor, and Gil-galad, High King of the Elves

As I write these lines, in the hope that they might one day save as testimony of our war against Mordor, my hands still shake, and I can hardly spell out the words for the turmoil and elation within my heart.
Today, our Lord Elendil at last welcomed our greatest ally, Gil-galad, High King of the Elves, and his army. Never have I seen nor imagined such splendour and such beauty as that of the Elven army, with their banners and their spears and their gleaming armour. They are heavily armed, and yet they move lightly and silently, as if their armour were made of silk rather than hard metal. It is said, among us soldiers, that we shall march first for Rivendell, where we shall all be armoured and armed. What a marvel it would be, should we, too, be clad in Elvish mail! Should we then march like they do without growing weary of our burden? Ai, ai, what marvel that would be indeed!
And what marvel the King of the Elves is, verily one greater than all the weapons and warriors of his host. There he rode like a star that shines through clouds of thunder, bright and fair, proud and lordly, and oh, his banner! Strewn it is with stars like the skies of night, as is his shield, and his lance gleams like ice in the mountains.
It is said in song that he is the grandson of Fingolfin, the great King of the Elder Days who once challenged the Dark Lord of those times in single combat, and that it was a sight to behold indeed. Some may take it as myth, but seeing the fire in King Gil-galad’s eyes I deem the lays of old true. And if we fight alongside a son of so noble sires, is there then not hope? Hope that we shall be more fortunate in our errand, and escape the Shadow, and overthrow it?
For it is not only the Elves that are mighty. My King is of noble house, and true mind, and the blade he wields has seen the world end twice, and endured. Nay, we are not foolish to hope, though we have been called thus!
Now the Kings have retreated into my lord’s tent, and we are told to rest. Ah, I would that I were a mouse, so as to hear what they now say, as they hold counsel in secret. Alas, I fear that wish shall not be granted- indeed I should hope that it is not, for as a mouse, I would likely end as a fox’s dinner rather than fighting the enemy.
So as I extinguish my candle tonight, and stow away my records, and seek warmth under my blanket, I shall do so with a new glow of hope in my heart, that I shall indeed live to see happier times- or if I shall not, then my kinsfolk might.

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