Characters: Different women characters, canonical and otherwise
Rating: T is probably the mode of this set
Warnings: Love, blood, and rhetoric school of writing
Challenge: Female Protagonist Challenge
Book/source: LOTR, Silmarillion, Peoples of Middle-earth
Summary: The history of Middle-earth needs a few good women. Six women carry Tolkien’s flag of the world in eleven drabbles. (Okay, one of them more or less makes the flag of the world in very metaphysical terms, but whatever…)
Disclaimer: Not JRRT, not related, broke, not making money from this, please don’t sue
Characters/Pairing: Hobbit lass OC Rating: T Warnings: It’s the Scouring, so, you know…
Challenge: Hobbit lass Book/Source: LOTR: ROTK
Summary: For defense of the Shire. Shrinking violets need not apply… Disclaimer: Not JRRT, not related, broke, not making money from this, please don’t sue.
When Sharkey’s men first came, the Thain sent them packing from Tuckborough.
But respite was brief: when they returned one night, they brought fire and rape, murder and thieving.
Violet stumbled into the darkness, blistered by the heat of the blazing townstead, and she sheltered her young sisters amid the reek of the latrines.
The Ruffians had passed with the night; so had her parents, and her sisters wept over the ashes.
But from the ash, Violet drew their mother’s butchering knife; and she dried her sisters’ tears, saying, “Hush, now, we’ll find friends. Then those Ruffians shall fear us!”
Author’s notes: “…And when Lotho sent his Men they got no change out of him. Tooks are lucky, they've got those deep holes in the Green Hills, the Great Smials and all, and the ruffians can't come at 'em; and they won't let the ruffians come on their land. If they do, Tooks hunt 'em. Tooks shot three for prowling and robbing. After that the ruffians turned nastier.” – Farmer Cotton, on the Tookish resistance, “The Scouring of the Shire,” Return of the King. Go, partisan hobbit lasses!
Title: Within the Walls
Characters/Pairing: OFC, OC Rating: K+ Warnings: None
Challenge: Woman of Gondor
Summary: In the face of the enemy, one must choose where one stands. Book/Source: LOTR: ROTK Disclaimer: Not JRRT, not related, broke, not making money from this, please don’t sue.
Notes: This drabble diptych was something I’d written a while ago as part of a series called The Holly and the Ivy, which was Yavanna-centered, but I couldn’t really make it go far enough to get me where I wanted to go for that series. But it works for this one!
Rumor is out in the streets of Minas Tirith: Should war come, the Steward shall order all who hold no post to depart. The whispers run through the alleys; they float over the fields and mutter in the cot-holds of farmers, anxious over the beds they’ve dug.
Who shall be here in the spring to see them flower?
Yule approaches, and a herald, too, in the Steward’s colors: All men of fifteen years and no more than sixty shall take up arms. Of women and of boys, if they would stay, then they must show their use to the Key-Warden.
Her husband would always have remained: he took the sword early, cannot now surrender it.
Daily she feels that sundering sword: chill and hard and sharp, it cuts her home in twain. Clutch though she might, and fiercely, at him each night, that little, glorious heat breaks with the daybreak bells, for there’s sword-steel ringing in them.
Yule’s coming. She cuts the ivy and the holly, and comes to him that night, puts the gifts in his hands: “We are as ivy to the City: we rise upon its holly. Tomorrow, I shall go to Húrin: do not deny me!”
Author’s Note: 'And as for counsel, to you I would say that you are over-late in repairing the wall of the Pelennor. Courage will now be your best defence against the storm that is at hand…” – Gandalf, to Ingold, “Minas Tirith,” Return of the King
Title: The Grain Wars
Characters/Pairing: OC Dwarf maid/mother (two in one) Rating: T Warnings: Economic warfare does Middle-earth. I’m so sorry Dwarves, it’s just that Tolkien gave you this bizarre agricultural arrangement that just doesn’t make sense to me without episodes like this.
Challenge: Dwarf maid/mother/wife
Summary: Raise less corn, and more hell: there once was a union maid…. A story in five drabbles. Book/Source: LOTR’s Appendices: Peoples of Middle-earth; Silmarillion Disclaimer: Not JRRT, not related, broke, not making money from this, please don’t sue.
Mourn not overmuch
Taxes rose again that year: metalsmiths owed more axes, merchants more coin; farmhands, sweating under the discipline of sickle and sack, staggered under doubled demand.
“I won’t pay,” Nerîn declared. Her fellows gaped.
“Why? We feed the Mountain-folk,” she answered. “They cannot eat metal in their great halls, yet they demand double of us? Let them dig dinner from the earth themselves since they want it – I’ll plant no more. How say you?”
Furtive looks grew steadier, angrier, and encouraged, Nerîn pressed: “How can they stand without our work? Who will join me?”
First one, then another rose: “Aye!”
Nerîn and the others slipped away that night to the farmcrofts beneath Baranzinbar, urging others to withhold their grain – all through the winter they sowed and planted the seeds of revolt. And they found fertile ground – even small craftsmen joined.
In a tinderbox, but few sparks breed conflagrations.
Long grievance, long fallowing among dwarven poor with little gain for long labor, blew like a Khazad-dûm mining candle.
They sent the tax collectors back in grain sacks who tried to insist; those more cautious they sent with warning: No tax, or no food.
Then the axes came forth, by the battalion…
The Grain Wars
The farmers, though, were not unready. Sickles cut more than wheat, threshers beat not only husks, and aggrieved petty-smiths brought mattocks.
And accustomed to poverty, they were prepared to share it: Nerîn herself dropped the torch whose flames burned grain-holds and fields. Amid the smoke, sickles clashed on axes.
But though the farmers fought fiercely, fired by just grievance, warriors know the business of war, and the king’s battalions had the advantage.
They shaved her beard before they beheaded Nerîn, and six like her – seven, the mothers and fathers of the Grain Wars against the closed guilds and gold-tipped beards.
Afterwards, discontent sprouted anew, with deeper roots, for no more would the mountain kings and guilds look fearlessly upon the fields – their fields, as they thought them.
Under lash and law, farmers and petty-crafters rose ever again, chanting the names of Nerîn and her six, who’d birthed a class. Ever again, they faced the ax.
There have been no wars like the Grain Wars among Dwarves, before or since.
To end them, the kings forced farm children to mine, and drove farmers and poor-smiths from the land, hunting such ‘petty dwarves’ like orcs.
And the fields they worked with foreigners.
(But the tale ends not there.
For the gold-tipped beards erred: exile and execution cure nothing. Children remember their parents, and the poor remain – poor, and unhappy.
And so that fire smolders, for, like restless smiths prodding hearth embers, the gold-tipped beards cannot but stir sparks.
For children do remember, and they learn from every outrage – next time, there will be no warning; nothing left to chance, though generations pass under the weight of guilds and kings.
Then indeed Nerîn’s rally-song shall ring: fire in our souls, fire in our hearts, fire in the fields to burn the kings’ crops…)
Notes: Peoples of Middle-earth notes that the Dwarves alone, of all the races of M-e, did not practice agriculture themselves, but gave that task to non-Dwarves. There has to be a reason for that, because it’s terribly risky to depend on a grouping not under your control for your food source. And while this story starts in Khazad-dûm, my thought is that the Grain Wars spread to all the dwarven clans, since PoME makes it seem pretty universally the case that Dwarves Do Not Farm. The story of the Petty Dwarves is an extrapolation from the little given in the Silmarillion – here, I’m positioning them as the small-crafters and farmers who survived the Grain Wars but were driven out to deteriorate in the wild and be further displaced by Noldorin exiles. And I couldn’t just let the Petty Dwarves totally die off – I call ‘propaganda’ on that one. Wishful thinking on the part of the aristocratic writers of the Silm. ;-)
Raise less corn, and more hell: there once was a union maid – the leading slogan is advice from Mary Elizabeth Lease, an organizer addressing the Farm Alliance movement in 19th century America; “Union Maid” is a famous labor song celebrating women labor militants.
Mourn not overmuch: Opening line of Eomer’s poem over a fallen Théoden in “The Battle of Pelennor Field,” ROTK. It seemed like a good Ardaverse suggestion of Joe Hill: “Don’t mourn, organize.”
Nerîn’s rally song is a borrowing from Hazel Dixon’s “Fire in the Hole”:
Tell ‘em in the country, tell ‘em in the town
The miners down in Mingo laid their shovels down
We won’t pull another pillar, raise another ton,
Or lift another finger ‘til the union we have won
Stand up boys, let the bosses know!
Turn your buckets over, turn your lanterns low!
Fire in our hearts and fire in our souls
But there ain’t gonna be no fire in the hole…
Characters/Pairing: OFC Rohirrim, Cirion, Eorl Rating: K+ Warnings: none
Challenge: A shieldmaiden of the Rohirrim
Book/Source: LOTR: ROTK
Summary: Achieving parity in numerical misinterpretations since T.A. 1975… Cirion greets the host of Eorl. Disclaimer: Not JRRT, not related, broke, not making money from this, please don’t sue.
The horn calls sounded clear and strong as the north wind.
Then the Balchoth trembled, as horses’ hoofs beat like an army of drummers across the plains and the rohirrim raised a dreadful song, pierced by a strange, high ululation.
After the slaughter and rout of the Balchoth, Cirion met Eorl upon the field and he embraced him, saying to the riders flanking their chieftain, “Well met, brothers in victory!”
Eorl laughed. Presenting the rider standing beside him, he said, “Say also ‘sisters,’ good steward!”
“Eldride, lord,” said she, amid the riders’ cheers, “marshal of the shieldmaid éored – Victory’s sisters.”
Author's notes: “Then the prince went from his horse, and knelt by the bier in honour of the king and his great onset; and he wept. And rising he looked then on Éowyn and was amazed. 'Surely, here is a woman?' he said. 'Have even the women of the Rohirrim come to war in our need?'
'Nay! One only,' they answered. 'The Lady Éowyn is she, sister of Éomer; and we knew naught of her riding until this hour, and greatly we rue it.'” – “The Battle of the Pelennor Fields,” Return of the King, emphasis mine. Because the Witch-king shouldn’t be alone in his misinterpretation of the significance of numbers.
“Many lords and warriors, and many fair and valiant women, are named in the songs of Rohan that still remember the North” – Appendix A, my emphasis
Characters/Pairing: Elwing, Maedhros, Lúthien Rating: T Warnings: Brought to you by writers in favor of girls wielding power, not being functions
Challenge: An Elf Book/Source: Silmarillion
Summary: Because Elwing, daughter of Dior, son of Lúthien, is not to be trifled with.
Disclaimer: Not JRRT, not related, broke, not making money from this, please don’t sue.
Her grandmother taught her the arts young: the power of dance and word, that mime and move all things. Together they danced on dark nights, hamed in branch and leather, leaping as hinds.
But Fëanor’s sons are knife-edge narrow, Oath-bound so tight, they pierce her spell-song.
Her folk vanquished, Elwing casts down her sword, sweeps her white cloak about her.
“Stay!” misshapen Maedhros cries, but she is sky-dancing: diving gull-like down a bolt of white for Sirion.
Ulmo’s waters surrender her up: storm-wings broader than oaths lift her; she flies, and her voice is the lightning, thundering:
I dûr anim!
Note: I dûr anim! – an attempt at ‘victory is mine!’
The Silm claims Ulmo transformed Elwing into the shape of a seabird, but by the time she gets to Eärendil, she’s more of a cloud. Okay, that is what it says, and that’s where I always have to start and return to.
But I’m not sure she really needs Valarin help: Lúthien turned Beren into a werewolf and herself into Thuringwethil with a few props. If Lúthien could do it, why not Elwing? Lúthien is an enchantress, so why not her granddaughter? I mean, sure, Elwing could’ve been trying to kill herself and take the Silmaril with her – which takes some guts, admittedly, but that’s a more bitter revenge cycle than the story of her journey with Eärendil makes me want to accept. Or she could’ve been throwing herself on Ulmo’s mercy, which is also possible, but kind of a lame ‘Hail, Mary’ tactic. The other way to look at it is, that threatened with armed robbery by genocidal princes, she freakin’ jumped off a tower to become a bird-shaped storm, which makes that leap a tactical retreat toward victory. Given the ratio of lovelorn females dying sadly as hapless victims, I think I’ll go with the last interpretation and give her a sword and a desire to do this for her people while I’m at it.
Title: Násië, Amen
Author: Dwimordene Characters/Pairing: Vairë Rating: K Warnings: Philosofic, abstraction
Challenge: Anything female Book/Source: Silmarillion, Lord of the Rings
Summary: Honor thy mother… Disclaimer: Not JRRT, not related, broke, not making money from this, please don’t sue.
In grievous times, the Children – of all kinds – curse fate that binds them.
And some ends are hard – some, cruel.
But they slander Vairë, misunderstanding: fate is but another word for need, for necessity.
Without need, there is no act. Need-less were none of the deeds of renown: the crossing of Helcaraxë came not of freedom; the voyage of Eärendil knew nothing of many-avenued choice; need drove alike the Grey Company upon deathly paths, and the Ringbearer in Middle-earth.
The Children who honor her fallen, fiery brother know this riddle well, thus they teach: Honor Necessity, mother of all things!