Ingwë’s Palace at Taniquetil
Indis moved gracefully down the palace steps, smiling as her youngest son hastily dismounted his sweating horse. Arafinwë tossed the reins to one of his uncle’s waiting servants, and strode up the last few steps to catch his mother in a warm embrace.
The embrace ended quickly as Arafinwë stepped back and exclaimed, “Artanis has returned, Mother! I met her ship at the quay in Alqualondë three days ago. She’s at home now with her mother and brother. Eärwen’s parents came with us to Tirion from Alqualondë. And Celebrian, of course! Her husband, Idril’s grandson, sailed with Artanis, as did Olorín, and a most unusual…”
Indis stepped back, laughing, “Arafinwë! You’re speaking so quickly that I can scarcely take in what you’re saying! Artanis has returned, and her daughter’s husband with her? This is Elrond? Idril’s grandson?”
“Yes, Elrond. Son of Êarendil and Elwing. The grandson of your grandson’s daughter.”
“I should like very much to meet him. And Artanis has returned! And her husband, did you say? He is close kin with Elwë and Olwë, is he not?”
Arafinwë’s brow furrowed a bit. “Yes, I believe that he’s their kin, but no, Mother, he didn’t journey with Artanis. He lingers in the East a while longer.”
“Ah?” Indis replied, eyebrows raised in mild surprise.
“But never mind that, now! I would have you join us, Mother, so that we may all rejoice in her homecoming,” Arafinwë continued.
Indis moved forward to embrace her son again. “My dearest, this is glad news indeed! I’ll ready myself to depart immediately. She turned and they started up the palace steps, arms linked. “If we set out at first light tomorrow, we should arrive in good time, I think. Will that be soon enough?”
Arafinwë followed closely behind his mother. “That suits me very well, and I can hardly come to Taniquetil without greeting my uncle and other kin. Is my sister well? Is she nearby, or is she on one of her long wanders?”
“Your uncle will be pleased to see you, and to hear your news. Findis is well, as she ever is, and I think we’ll find her easily enough. You traveled light, and alone!” Indis remarked in surprise.
“And swiftly, Mother. This news was too good to not deliver in person to you, but I confess that I am very eager to return to Tirion.”
“Nevertheless, to travel alone all the way from Tirion! Your father would never have done such a thing – he would have had a few servants with him, at the very least!”
A sheepish smile spread over Arafinwë’s face. “And needless to say, Uncle never travels alone, nor in such haste, when he ventures from Taniquetil. I’m afraid that even after all this time as King of the Noldor, I fall short in certain regards.”
“My dear, I meant no such thing!” Indis quickly replied with a smile. “In truth my heart is warmed to see that, despite the heavy burdens of kingship, you are so gladdened by your beloved daughter’s return that you ignore ceremony and the trappings of station to bring the good news to me yourself! In fact I insist that we ride to Tirion tomorrow just as quickly as you came.”
“You’ve ever been swift, Mother, whether on foot or on horse, so if you bring with you ladies who are also fast riders, I’ve no doubt that the journey back to Tirion will be short.”
“You misunderstand, my dear. I shall bring no ladies with me. We’ll ride to Tirion together, with no attendants.”
“Mother, why would you do such a thing? No doubt your people are already shaking their heads because I have failed to adhere to the expected kingly protocol. What will they say if they think that I am encouraging you to be careless as well?”
Indis smiled slyly with an arched eyebrow. “You do know that I once roamed far and wide over the hills of Aman by myself, much as your sister does now? And though that was long ago, I would be happy to go without my attendants for a time. I’d like to be careless for a change. And what better excuse than Artanis’s return at long last, after so many ages!”
Arafinwë laughed. “Very well then, Mother, as you wish! But let’s confer first with Uncle, and if he approves then we can rest assured that our ride might appear careless to some, but at least not reckless!”
“No, never that!” Indis smiled warmly again, as she walked arm-in-arm with her son into the main hall of her brother’s palace. But to herself, Indis wondered why it should matter what others thought. It was none of their business.