Date: 12-31-11 01:23
Menellen the elf walked alone by the seashore at Mithlond, the Grey Havens. In the distance, swanships waited to take elves to other lands. Gulls cried overhead, and the waves rolled onto the shore with a surge and release that gave Menellen great joy.
The breeze caught the lower part of her sleeves, which were formed into petals, and she raised her arm slightly to allow the breeze to catch the fabric better. She hadn’t meant to come to the shore, for she was overdressed for it, but something in the shore drew her here, something unusual. So she walked in her moss-green velvet overdress with its scoop neck and trim. The underdress had more trim, plus tight upper sleeves that matched the overdress, embroidered with stars of gold, and wider, lower sleeves of light green chiffon that caught in the breeze
The suddenly she was in a garden and there was no breeze. She smelled something she had never smelled before and could not decide whether she liked the scent or not. She read the sign by the odd flower, “Schlenk bloom from Gallifrey,” it said. She wondered where Gallifrey was. She should recognize if it were an Elvish city, and it didn’t sound dwarvish, so it must be a city of Men. Beside it was another flower, the Madevinia aridosa, apparently. It was a small flower with velvety red petals with ragged edges. She stared at the center of the flower; it was glowing! She stepped away in case it was dangerous, and stepped onto red grass. She ducked under the tree with silver leaves and walked away.
The next section had the Murakami orchid from the Murakam system, whatever that was, blue Ithorian roses from a place called Ithor, pink Centaureas, Rigelian Iris from Rigel 7, an odd name to be sure, orange damsel flowers from Endor, turquoise Palomella flowers, towering greenstalk plants from Mrlsst
She was relieved to see trees she recognized only a little ways away.
She walked over to the mallorn trees and breathed in the scent. The trees were of silver grey, like the strange tree she had seen, but the mallorn had familiar new leaves of green with silver undersides. A few golden flowers were beginning to bud. Beside the mallorn was a lebethron tree from Gondor. Apparently she was in some garden. She smiled when she saw white niphredril flowers on their pale green stalks, for they once grew in her beloved Doriath.
Then she was in a corner of plants from the Undying Lands, Númenor, and Tol Eressëa: fragrant nessamelda, oiolaire, and vardarianna trees, white lairelossë flowers, and yavannamírë trees with the beginnings of scarlet, globe-shaped fruit.
There was a little section for Cerin Amroth in the middle of Lorien: golden elanor flowers and more niphredil.
She walked through the rest of the garden, not recognizing anything, until she came to the entrance. She read the sign: Exotic Plants. These were the exotic plants? But she recognized some of these plants! She had to admit the one with the glowing middle was strange, though.
She saw a woman walking in the “normal” part of the garden, but Menellen did not want to intrude on the woman’s thoughts. Besides, the woman was probably in a state of mild distress; she wore no sign of clothes beneath her knee, she had a large black thing hanging from her neck, and her nose had white paste on it. But Menellen did wonder where she was. “Mae govannen. Pardon me, but I seem to be lost. I am exiting the Exotic Plants but I do not remember entering it. I was on the seashore, and now I am here. Could you tell me where I am?”
“You are in the Panopeia Hotel,” the woman said.
“How did I get here?” Menellen asked.
“I’m not the only one? I don’t know how you got here any more than I know how I got here.”
So it was a mystery to be solved. “May the Valar protect us both,” Menellen said.
“Right, whatever. I was trying to get to Reception. Someone said it was this way,” the woman said, pointing to where Menellen had just come from.
Menellen shook her head, “There is no Reception there. Perhaps you are turned around.”
“That could be,” the woman said. She suddenly saw Menellen for the first time. “I love your outfit and your ears. Can I take your picture?” Assuming the answer was affirmative, she picked up the black thing around her neck and made a clicking noise with it. Then the woman said, “I was part of a tour and I seem to have gotten lost; I do that.”
Just then, they could hear a shrewish woman, “Will, take that picture. Will, where are we? Will, why don’t you find out where we are?”
“Oh no,” the woman said, “Will and his wife.”
“If you know them, perhaps we should,” Menellen began.
But the woman hustled Menellen out of the way so that Menellen only saw the henpecked man and never saw the woman. “They won’t know where we are any more than me,” the woman said.
They went in the direction away from the exotic plants and found the exit to the garden area. Now they saw a large lobby, and to the left, a reception desk.
“How can I help you?” someone behind the desk asked.
“We’ve heard we’re in the Panopeia Hotel, but we don’t know how we got here,” the woman said, “Also, I just walked through a garden; do I have to pay for it? I didn’t mean to, honest. And I’m hungry, where can I find a hot dog?”
Menellen blinked; the woman didn’t look like the kind of person who would eat dogs.
The staff member smiled politely, “Everything is on the house, and there is a restaurant down that corridor.” The man pointed in the general direction of where they had just come from, so there had to be a hallway beyond the garden. Then he pointed to just behind them, “However, food is being set on tables right here.” As sounds of delight came from the women, he pointed opposite the restaurant, “And the New Year’s Ball is that way.”
“Ná alya i vinya loa! May the new year be blessed.” Menellen said, “But it is not the time for the new year.”
A man in a strange armor Menellen had never seen before walked by, followed by a man in a tall black hat and a coat that had tails on it. A woman with very short hair walked in the opposite direction.
“This is a place where many times meet,” the staff member said.
“That explains many things,” Menellen said.
“A ball would be grand,” her woman companion said, “But will I meet up with my group soon? We were going to see Delphi.”
“Only time will tell,” the man said.
Finally the woman noticed what she was wearing. “My good clothes are in my suitcase!”
The man gave her a set of keys, “You’ll find suitable clothes in this room.”
“I don’t have much money on me; my husband always told me to travel light so I won’t get mugged.”
“The room is on the house, too.”
The woman looked at the man suspiciously, “Why is it free? Do I have to listen to some sales spiel?”
The man smiled, “No, it is simply on the house.”
“Because this is Panopeia.”
The woman nodded, convinced he was lying. She pointed a finger at him, “Your spiel won’t convince me to buy anything.” The man merely smiled at her.
The woman waved goodbye to Menellen and walked off.
“And what can I do for you?” the man asked.
Menellen bowed to him, “I am content. I will go the food tables. Thank you for your hospitality.” The smells of strange meats and cheese wafted through the air, and strange music came from the ballroom. This would indeed be an amazing night to remember.