Here is my entry to “We’re Sorry, Celebrimbor” Month, at the very last minute!
This is very rough, as I wanted to at least meet my own challenge on time*. Please feel free to nitpick. Some things I could use input on are listed following the story.
Note: late fanworks are welcome! I will do a final post tomorrow, and read the stories I’ve not gotten to yet; sorry I am pressed for time.
Word count: 1,116
Characters: Celebrimbor, Finduilas, Gwindor, Huan, Curufin, OAC (original animal character).
Warnings: I don’t think so?
Summary: Celebrimbor finds a kinder, gentler application for a mind of metal and wheels as he helps an injured dog.
There was a short span, about twenty-five years, when I was contented in Nargothrond. This period is bracketed by the exile of my father and uncle, and the luckless return of Gwindor.
Free from the severe gaze of my father, I wrought at last after my own fashion, discovering a method and a project which suited me and brought gladness to others. This was not to last, for the militant Man whom Gwindor brought back to Finduilas in place of his hand began advising Orodreth that all our resources and craft must be put toward arming our people to the teeth (or building bridges for dragons); yet for a time, even in the wake of Finrod Felagund’s loss, I experienced a sense of purpose.
One could say it began, or at any rate the seed was sown, when Orodreth ordered my father and Celegorm to depart. Nargothrond wasn’t nearly big enough for both Curufin and myself, in my opinion. The man was a genius, and cold, and controlling even as he was aloof; he scorned all sentiment and expressions thereof in me, although he excused them in his elder brother Celegorm, with whom he enjoyed a close and codependent relationship. Finrod told me once that this was because Celegorm was the only person in the my father’s immediate family who appreciated him on his own merits rather than treating him as a lesser copy of Fëanor. At any rate, I had not taken the Oath–indeed I did not remember its infamous swearing, being very small at the time–and it pained me little to disavow the sons of Fëanor and their deeds in order to remain in Nargothrond. My father and uncle were ill pleased with me, but I ignored their parting glares; the gaze which struck me then was that of their companion, Huan.
The ridiculously large deerhound, being Celegorm’s other close friend, was the only beast my father had ever liked; usually Curufin, content to design and build frighteningly efficient and unlovely machines, was put off by animals. I had never paid Huan much mind, but as I looked on him a final time, his eyes rose to mine with a deliberation and intelligence that suggested he understood all that had occurred and knew he was bidding me farewell. Surprised, I nodded to the hound mechanically, and then he was gone.
Yet the thought of Huan’s uncanny awareness remained with me, prompting me to consider for the first time how other, less preternatural animals might experience the world. This was still in my mind early the next year as I prowled about Nargothrond in a daze, uplifted by the absence of my father while stooped under that of Finrod, and Finduilas came to me with a sorry tale:
“My dog has met with an accident, Tyelpo. Gwindor and I were out with her, over by that ravine we like to walk along when it’s dry, and we hadn’t yet come to the place where we usually climb down. She went closer to the edge than usual–usually, she’s very good about that, so I didn’t think much about it until I realized she was too close and it was too steep there. I cried out, but I was too late, and she fell. She broke her left front leg in two places, and they had to amputate it.”
Finduilas spoke all this as matter-of-factly as one can speak of a recent calamity, but a few unshed tears rested above her lower eyelid. I wasn’t sure whether she was moved by pity for her pet, relief that the dog was still alive, or both. I patted my friend’s shoulder and sympathized, “Poor dog! But she’s out of immediate danger, I hope?”
“Yes, as long as the wound is kept clean. We’ve dressed it well. She’s sleeping now.”
I told Finduilas to let me know if there was any way I could help, a courtesy which usually implies moral support if anything. But during the next few days, I fell to thinking that maybe there was some really concrete way I could help. The half-formed idea which came to mind seemed almost absurd, so I didn’t follow its course farther–not until I visited with the dog in Finduilas’ apartments a fortnight after the mishap and saw the animal’s early attempts limp haltingly around on its three legs. The dog had always been energetic and inquisitive, and Finduilas clearly regretted to see it slowed down.
Wanting to help them both, I picked up my half-formed thought and went quietly with it to my study, where I spent all night sketching diagrams and consulting texts on engineering and natural philosophy. I showed the drawings to Finduilas the next morning and explained that I would like her permission to test prototypes on the dog.
“There should be negligible risk in preliminary trials. Used long-term, there may be a risk of chafing or inflammation, but we could monitor it and tweak the design.”
Finduilas peered at me with a half-smile, both hopeful and skeptical. “And you said you didn’t get any sleep?”
“I am possibly of perfectly sound mind. May I try? It won’t hurt, and it might help.”
Several months–and several prototypes rejected at various stages–later, the dog was trotting again down the halls of Nargothrond, its gait somewhat awkward but much improved over its three-legged pace, its jointed prosthetic limb making a soft and rhythmic clicking noise. The new leg was fashioned from molded brass tubing and gears, hard leather pads on the foot, and a replaceable suede pad with wool batting where the device was strapped on.
“We cannot thank you enough,” beamed Finduilas.
“I would thank you more if the bloody animal looked less ridiculous,” mumbled her betrothed.
“Please, Gwindor, she looks stylish,” Finduilas shot back. She and I had conceived of purely aesthetic embellishments to the leg over a couple carafes of pink wine while Gwindor drank silently in despair over our creativity. The brass limb now bore complex etchings of vines and leaves, in addition to jeweled bracelets above the ankle and elbow joints.
“I think Tyelpo has cornered a new market,” Finduilas went on.
“If I ever lose a limb, keep him well away from me,” said Gwindor. We all laughed, oblivious to the prophecy, and the dog capered around us, and I was glad. As it turned out, clockwork need not be stern and joyless, and jewels need not be closeted and useless.
“One of my handmaids’ cats had a litter recently,” said Finduilas, “and she is smitten with the runt, a little grey thing with one lame hind foot…”
- I don’t usually write Elves. They’d be speaking Quenya in Nargothrond, yes? Debating whether I should have Celebrimbor use everyone’s Quenya names (is Finduilas a Quenya name??).
- I have no idea how a vaguely steampunk prosthetic dog leg would go over (health-wise and technology-wise), and I did minimal google research trying to guess. If anyone knows that I have erred, let me know.
- The dog obviously needs a name. Again, the language thing. Also, did they have dogs other than hunting hounds? No clue what this dog even looks like.