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IX - Of The Sindar - Meanwhile by Starlight

Some mention of what the elves of the darkened young world have been doing in the long-by-mythtime-standards gap between their relations heading West and the fall of the Trees.

Not a lot. The curious starlight forests exist, with a few things to hunt, but most creatures haven't been invented yet, so one imagines something of a tundra/high steppe culture with strong respect for what there is. Thingol and Melian produce a child, and the existence of such an elf/Maiar hybrid prompts the appearance of niphredil flowers as a kind of secondary effect: less kin, perhaps, than a kind of spiritual afterbirth, but a linked creation after all. It sort of makes me wonder what other Maiar/fleshbound hybrids would cause, back when there was room to make just about anything.

The Dwarves appear shortly after, and the elves immediately start referring to them as "Stunted People". No mention is made here of petty-dwarves (Tolkien's goof along the lines of leaving the gerbil cage open), nor much of first contact, but after the dwarves learn enough Sindarin to communicate the elves seem willing to accept them as people-creatures, albeit defective ones.

With the dwarves, the first roads are made...I find this astonishing, myself, both that Middle Earth had roads before the sun, and that they're a dwarven rather than human invention. Still, I picture elves watching in incomprehending bemusement as the dwarves dig their way through things and flatten stuff down in preparation for everyone to walk the same way over a mountain. This very basic difference in attitude to land use may account for the "ever cool" friendship between the species, but also marks the first time elves and land have ever given way to anything, the first chips and scratches on the predawn world (that, my writing friends, is how to foreshadow).

Concerned that these may not be the only new disruptions to come over the mountain and somewhat gifted with foresight, Melian suggests her husband might want to be prepared should orcs or other nasties also migrate westward. Thingol commissions the dwarves to build him a rock-city like theirs, involving his people alongside to make the dwellings more tree-like and habitable to elves (I imagine many Skara-Brae-like passages and "stairs" more like shafts filled with tree branches, the kind of thing that'd perplex dwarven sense and aesthetics) and starts working out how to make more efficient weapons - often by observing the dwarves, who are noted to have invented chainmail through a habit of feuding with anyone and everything. Thus the Thousand Caves were built and the Sindar well-armed.

Here it's noted that a group of Nandor, still plains hunter-gatherers, turn up over the mountains, apparently feeing orc pressure on their lands. King Thingol, first point of contact, takes them in and avenges the loss of their 'king' when Morgoth returns and the orcs do finally come en masse across the passes. It's very interesting to me that the Nandor not amalgamated with the Laiquendi, Thingol's folk, appear to have had a war leader rather than a hereditary position since they "took no king" ever again after losing that one in battle, suggesting a mythological explanation for the origin/continuation of a very different social structure.

Equally interesting, and to me a suggestion that this species are non-empaths, is that despite this the strangers are immediately recognised as elves without discrimination. There's no Other-ing of a greatly different tribe, or judgement on the difference. This in contrast with the non-elven races, who are clearly the step over the barrier of Not Like Us where self-reference might be applicable for immediate sympathy, who're treated completely differently.

After sitting moping for a while and mourning how much good Fëanor could have wrought with his up-to-eleveness, the Valar decide the world - including their prodigal Noldor - needs some light, at the very least so that they can tell the Dark from the dark. So Yavanna does all she can for the nigh-dead Trees, which results in a single salvageable Tree-shiny golden flower and a lone silver fruit. Here we get the first of a few references in the Sil to what sound for all the world like a mediaeval person's description of spaceships, where sky-vessels are built for the twiggy bits and their immortal guardians.

Hilariously, it takes a while for the day/night cycle to be sorted out, not least because the Maiar (of moths?) driving the Moon is hopelessly attracted to the Maia of fire piloting the sun. Fortunately this causes Morgoth to hide, but one imagines the chaos and confusion created by the celestial pinball effect. Apparently whilst sexual harassment is not really understood or acknowledged to exist in elven culture, shiny harassment very much is, and Tilion/Moon isn't even particularly condemned for letting his hunting instincts fixate on that shiny shiny sunship. Once days are vaguely sorted out and temptation largely removed, the Valar fence off the Blessed Lands with sea currents, mist, more mountains and islands that cause landing trespassers to fall asleep (and presumably die quietly - the elves see nothing wrong with this logical way of keeping people out).

With the creation of the sun, Men appear somewhere southeast and spread like rabbits. The elves are clearly very unsure about these new things when encountered, and it seems the trait they find out about fastest (oh dear) is their breakability, given the early ways of referring to them - The Sickly, Mortal Ones, Night-Fearers. It's pointed out that the first humans don't really get on with elves or their Valar - now distant, hard-to-explain gods save Oromë (who still roams the night all over, killing things) and Ulmo (who still roams the deeps all over, giving people sea-madness), making them somewhat at odds with the world to an elven perspective.

The first mention of mortal dominance in days to come is entered here, bringing the 'sickly', prey-like attributes of the first humans encountered by elves, and the sharp-edged vigour of the ancient elves into starker contrast.
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