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Author Topic: Gift Giving Guidance  (Read 1589 times)

Eladda

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Gift Giving Guidance
« on: May 07, 2013, 03:32:00 AM »
Eladda carefully set her wares in artistic patterns on the rough wooden table, nervousness and excitement waging a fierce battle in her stomach. It was the first time she was selling anything that was entirely of her own make, and she wasn't sure how well it would be received. Her father's work was familiar in their part of the mountain, his skill as a smithy long established, and even Eladda's contributions were not completely unknown. But she was only beginning her training as a jeweler, and although she was not without skill, the work was imperfect. To Eladda's eye every fault and flaw was clearly visible, and although a good part of her tried to reassure her no one else would notice, she scorned herself the sloppiness of the work. She was rather hard on herself, having spent most of her childhood learning and working alongside Alin, and she did not respond well to mistakes or criticism. It was something her patient father was working with her on, but it was still difficult to imagine someone might actually find her work worth buying.

Eladda fidgeted nervously, reaching out to adjust the placement of a brooch or necklace, and then smoothing down the front of her tunic. It was a new one, a beautiful wool tunic in a deep forest green, which she had bought especially for the purpose of sales. Most of the time she greeted customers in her everyday dirty and singed work clothing, arguing about prices in the midst of the clatter of tools, but now that she was selling jewelry, and her own work at that, she wished to appear professional. She reached up to finger her sideburns, which she combed and braided with special attention, oiling the thick dark hair and even weaving a few beads into the locks. She had her hair pulled back, carefully braided so it was tight against her head, and her sideburns rested in a twisted braid down her chest. She was quite proud of her facial hair, and hoped it would grow even further, the envy of Dwarf maidens (and even lads!) in all Ered Luin. But for now she had to make do with the short braid down her chest and the stubble across her upper lip.

Eladda sighed, and glanced out toward the entrance of the smithy. She had set her table in the front room of the shop, where rows of swords and axes lined the walls, and hammers leaned in heavy wooden stands. She hoped to have her own shop one day, but was content with a small table in the corner of this bright room. She glanced down at the jewelry she had laid out so carefully. Though it was not great work, some pieces were still beautiful, and Eladda felt a surge of pride at her own skill. And she was only beginning! In time she would become great, and all the Dwarvish kingdoms would recognize the name of Eladda, the Master Jeweler! Eladda grinned sheepishly to herself. One day at a time. She had not even sold one piece yet, though the day was young. She reached out and adjusted her favourite piece, a shining ornamental comb in silver set with a pattern of opals. Eladda loved opals, the way they shone in the light and flashed with every colour. The comb had taken her many hours of work to make, and she was fiercely proud of the result. She almost wished to keep it, and save it for herself. But an artist must part with her work, or she will never progress.

Eladda sighed once more, and hooked her thumbs into the wide leather belt her mother had given her, a gift when she turned 50. She loved the belt, its smooth and fragrant leather, and the mesmerizing geometric patterns that circled its girth. Merada had it specially made for her, and Eladda herself was making a necklace as a return gift for her mother's upcoming birthday. Lost in thought, planning her next projects, Eladda almost didn't hear the step of someone approaching, but she quickly straightened and clasped her hands behind her back, hoping to appear nonchalant. She peered toward the shop entrance, and awaited the arrival of her first customer.

Fíli

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Gift Giving Guidance
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2013, 07:35:00 PM »
Dís' birthday was fast approaching and Fíli was determined to mark the occasion with something special.  Though the young Prince was reluctant admit it, he had not always been the best at purchasing gifts for his mother.  What to buy a woman who possessed so much and asked for so little?  An ornate dagger here, etched hair beads there, it seemed there were only so many options open to him.  By comparison buying for Kíli, Thorin, Dwalin (or any male Dwarf, really) was easier by far.  Fíli only had to ask himself what he would like and that was often the answer - a new hunting knife and a several rounds in the tavern was often enough to satisfy most, it seemed.

It was with this mission in mind, to find and purchase something remarkable for his mother, that Fíli had set off from the comfort and quiet of Thorin's Halls, dressed in a simple yet well-tailored tunic of deep maroon, with a broad leather belt and a pouch weighed heavily with gold bouncing and jingling at his hip.  He and Kíli had been so deeply submerged in training recently that Fíli felt rather vulnerable without his vambraces and swords, though there was no danger to be found in the underground city.  Moving through the great stone corridors, Fíli came at last to the part of the mountain that housed the great workshops of all manner of craftsmen.  And what a din!  The sound of hammers and wheels pounded and reverberated in the enclosed space, scarcely contained by the walls of the forges and smithies where Dwarves were hard at work.  Tanners, ironmongers, goldsmiths, armourers, brasiers, girdlers, masons - but Fíli was seeking a jeweller.  Breathing deep of the air that was scented with the burnt and earthy smell of wood, fire, smoke and leather, the young Dwarf soaked in the buzz, the lively energy, and found himself grinning boyishly.  Fíli had no real talent in creating, besides beating out the odd blade (thanks to the instruction and teachings of his Uncle Thorin), but he greatly admired those with such skills, whatever their craft.  Such folk were the steely backbone of his kin whilst warriors provided the iron fist.

One smithy in particular caught his eye, for Fíli could discern that inside, in the shop, was a table covered in all manner of jewellery, trinkets and other regalia.  Well, this seemed as good a place to start as any!  Sauntering in with the self-assured manner of one confident of his place in the world, Fíli cast a smile at the attendant he found hovering behind the table.  The maiden was fair with hair was thick, dark like her eyes, and her colouring complimented by the deep green of her dress.  Most striking of all were her magnificent sideburns, far more impressive that Fíli's own, though he was sure his moustache redeemed him somewhat.  Fíli thoughtlessly, and rather presumptuously, assumed that she must be manning the shop on behalf of her father.  For that Fíli was grateful, surely she would be able to help him pick something special.

“Good morning, Miss.”  Fíli greeted the maiden brightly, his gaze shifting as he spoke, distracted momentarily by the weaponry.  His blue eyes scanned the swords and axes lining the walls hungrily, if only he were here to buy himself a nice hatchet!  Forcing himself to focus on his task, his mission, the young Dwarf looked back to the wooden table that bore the seller's wares, arranged carefully and in an aesthetically pleasing way, with the manipulated silver and gemstones shimmering, glittering and catching the light.  Fíli had a good feeling about this shop, that he was bound to find something for Dís here.  “Perhaps you can help me.  I am looking for something...  a gift.”  The Prince was not being deliberately vague but, really, he had no idea where to start!

Eladda

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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2013, 02:08:00 AM »
Her father was never short of customers, and though the day had started slowly, Eladda did not have to wait long before a Dwarf sauntered into the shop. But she was looking to sell her jewelry, not her father's weapons, and she hoped this arrival heralded her first sale. She glanced the Dwarf up and down, and involuntarily her eyes narrowed. It was a young male, older than herself, but not by much. She was inherently distrustful of Dwarves her own age, perhaps because she did not spend much time with them. Her days were occupied with work and training, and she had few friends outside her own family. Many of the young Dwarves she met were foolish and loud, and, although she wandered off to the taverns often enough to drink and hear tales, the boisterousness of the youths was at times tiresome. She expected no different from the male before her, and inwardly prepared herself to adopt a rough and defensive position.

Yet there was something in his bearing that spoke of nobility, and with a glance at his outfit her guess was confirmed. He was most definitely of the royal houses, though she did not recognize him. He clearly was not from this district. His rich tunic was well-tailored, and he wore a great purse, heavy with gold, at his waist. Eladda self-consciously tugged at the hem of her own tunic, of good make but rough cloth. Then she paused, and threw back her head defiantly. There was nothing to prove this Dwarf was any better than she, and she would not be intimidated. His beard was nothing to brag about, certainly. He did have a fine mustache, and Eladda reached up to stroke her own downy lip. How she wished for a greater beard! But her sideburns were quite admirable, and she would bear no ill will to one who most likely felt the same pangs of hairlessness. And he was quite handsome, she decided, and lowered her hand to clasp it with the other behind her back.

“Good morning, Miss." The Dwarf greeted her brightly, and Eladda merely nodded in reply. Hers was a sullen, melancholy temperament, and naturally was wary of those of a more cheerful nature. She would have to try her best not to be rude. Though it might prove difficult. The Dwarf was eying the array of weaponry proudly displayed on the walls, and Eladda felt her heart sink. But she felt a glimmer of hope as the Dwarf spoke again, with a self-conscious but melodic timbre. “Perhaps you can help me. I am looking for something... a gift.” "A gift?" How helpful. Eladda practiced her patience and took a deep breath. "Of course," she said, inclining her head and speaking in her most polite tone. The cadence of her voice reminded one of mining heard deep beneath the ground, low and rhythmic but at times rough and discordant. "Might I ask who the gift is for? A lady, perhaps?" Eladda knew next to nothing about mating rituals, but perhaps the lad was courting and wished to buy a jewel for his intended. She tried not to be too obvious as she took a small step back, revealing more of the table glittering with her hopeful wares.

Fíli

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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2013, 08:00:00 AM »
It seemed the polite young vendor would help him and wasn't that a fine thing – he surely needed the assistance!  Fíli was struck by her distinctly morose disposition, perhaps there were other places she would rather be this day than minding her father's shop, and Fíli found himself determined to cheer her with his abundantly sunnier one.

“Ha!  Only for the most important woman in my life,” the Prince responded amicably, thinking himself wonderfully witty.  Fíli let the words hang there for a moment, a wide, boyish and altogether expectant grin on his face, for it seemed blatantly obvious of whom he spoke.  Fíli was much too used to be being recognised wherever he went and it did not occur to him, not even for the briefest moment, that the vendor might not know who he was.  The Prince was aware of, and made uncomfortable by, the small yet insistent chorus of whispers that claimed he would be required to fulfil his role as heir, that the brave and capable Thorin would never produce his own.  And his uncle's boots were boots Fíli did not believe he would ever be capable of filling.  Obviously, then, the merchant was only asking him to spare his feelings, to be polite by not making any assumptions.  Fíli liked her for it.  But there came a pause, a mere beat of silence too long, and suddenly an uncharacteristic awkwardness stole over him.  Perhaps he imagined it but he did not want to wait to find out.  After only another moment longer Fíli added quietly, sheepishly and not a little quizzically, “My mother...?”

Well, that turned out to be nothing like the punchline he had expected!  Knocked off his confident stride for the time being, Fíli gave a small cough though his throat did not need cleared, and attempted to recover himself by ploughing swiftly onwards, desperate to smooth over his apparently poor attempts at humour.  “It is for her birthday and, if I am perfectly frank, I have no idea where to begin.  She takes great pride in her hair-”  Fíli could have kicked himself then, for saying something so terribly obvious.  Was there any Dwarf that did not take pride in their hair and beard?  “Which is to say that she already owns a number of combs, mirrors, beads... I want something beautiful, exceptional.”  Then, concerned that was a terribly rude thing to say, as though there were an implication her wares were no such thing, Fíli gestured vaguely at the spread before him and quickly added,  “And these are all so lovely.”  

Fíli raised a broad hand to cradle his sandy, stubbled jaw in thought, as she moved back to reveal more of her wares - which only adding to his indecision.  A beautiful necklace, of twisting silver and glinting aquamarine gemstones caught his attention but it was then stolen by a large, ornamental comb adorned with an intricate pattern of opals before his fickle eyes shifted onwards to a thick, heavyset cuff bracelet.  Fíli glanced up to see those dark, earthy eyes gazing steadily at them and he gave an apologetic shrug,  “I am afraid you will have to work for your wage today, for I am at a total loss.”

Eladda

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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2013, 04:14:00 PM »
Eladda waited, aware she did not have much patience. She often wished herself to be different, more friendly, more composed, but quite honestly she did not have the patience even to do that. She was easily frustrated, and her distinct lack of friends did nothing to help try her understanding. As she gazed at the Dwarf, waiting, he suddenly broke into a most silly grin and said, “Ha! Only for the most important woman in my life!” Eladda paused, waiting for him to continue, but it quickly became obvious that he would not. Rather than pry him for further information, she simply let the question hang in the air between them, hoping he would clarify. But the question hung a second too long, and Eladda raised one eyebrow in inquiry. The Dwarf became awkward and finally replied sheepishly, “My mother...?”

Eladda's eyebrow raised further but still she did not speak. She was used to rough and loud arguments with customers, handling complaints about the make of weaponry, or even just laughing about the latest brawls. She had never before encountered such a customer as this young Dwarf, and she was a little unsure herself how to handle the situation. He was clearly high born, and she wondered again why he was here. If it was true he was noble, he would obviously see that her pieces were not yet of professional make, and he would seek out better wares, and waste no more of her time. But perhaps he was used to others doing things for him, and had no experience in the way things were in this part of the Mountain. Although the awkwardness between them grew, Eladda figured silence was the best course until she was asked a direct question. Perhaps she ought to be addressing him with some title? But he did not seem likely to become angry with her, and, after another quick sizing up, she determined she could fight him well enough if it came to that. Her thoughts were interrupted as the Dwarf cleared his throat and spoke again, gesturing at the table.

“It is for her birthday and, if I am perfectly frank, I have no idea where to begin. She takes great pride in her hair-which is to say that she already owns a number of combs, mirrors, beads... I want something beautiful, exceptional. And these are all so lovely.” Eladda waited with growing impatience as the young Dwarf stumbled over his words, clearly unprepared for the sort of purchase he was supposed to be making. Eladda heard the implications in his words, but did not reply. This was a true test of her self-restraint and she wanted to make her family proud. Perhaps if she sold even one small piece to this silly lad, her work would become known, and her father too would get more business. The Dwarf raised his hand to his jaw and examined the pieces on the table, eyes flitting back and forth. Finally, he raised his gaze to meet Eladda's. Eladda was suddenly stuck by the kindness and warmth in the Dwarf's light blue eyes, and for a moment was caught off guard. Perhaps she had misjudged the male. It was clear he did not quite know what he was doing, but it was also clear he was making an effort. She saw too the confusion shading his gaze, as he shrugged and said, “I am afraid you will have to work for your wage today, for I am at a total loss.”

Eladda nodded, determined to make a better impression. It would not do to be rude, she decided, particularly if the Dwarf was going to leave with one of her wares. She too glanced down at the table before lifting her eyes to meet those of the Dwarf lad. "You say she already owns much jewelry," Eladda said, her low melodic voice carefully polite. "Is there a particular jewel your mother is partial to? Perhaps she would enjoy a piece with her favourite gem. A beard clip, maybe, or a comb?" Eladda realized gift giving was a difficult business, and she resolved to be as helpful as possible. She reached down, wishing to grasp the opal comb, but aware it would be more prudent to wait and work her way up to her most expensive piece. Instead she picked up a large beard clip of silver, set with tiny sapphires, the deep blue of which twinkled merrily in the shop's light. Slivers of geometric patterns curved around the clips sides, and Eladda admired her own work. Perhaps she was already better than she thought. She was awfully hard on herself...but now it was time to begin her true work as a jeweler. She raised her eyes to the Dwarf's and offered the clip in her open palm, awaiting his assessment.

Fíli

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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2013, 11:08:00 AM »
(OOC:  *clings to gratefully*  Thank you so much for your immense patience on waiting for this, dear!  I tweaked my last post a little as Fíli's history has developed so that I think, by this point, he is courting.  Still, I wouldn't put it past him to make that atrocious joke anyway so his spoken lines haven't changed at all. :P)

Was there ever anything so disconcerting as silence couple with an impassive expression?  And yet, however much Fíli jabbered, he did not quite seem capable of filling it.  The vague thought presented itself to him that this was yet another way in which he could not measure against Thorin.  His uncle never seemed discomfited by quiet and could in fact turn it effortlessly to his advantage by casting one of his long, lingering and probing looks.  Fíli was almost certain he would never be able to do the same.  It was this very reason that at meetings of the council he felt the urge to speak, even when he had little of import to say beyond a statement of the obvious.  It reflected poorly on him, Fíli knew, but still he could not seem to help himself.  He was too often the first to crumble in the quiet.

The prince was considering apologising, and asking if they could start over, when the vendor nodded and, at last, spoke.  Fíli felt the tension drain right out of him and, breathing a relieved sigh, the smile that played across his face was one of genuine gratefulness.  Scrambling mentally, he tried and failed to visualise his mother's favourite pieces of jewellery.  Many of them had been gifted to Dís by Folkin during their courtship, he knew, but as a fairly unobservant member of the male gender Fíli found he could not recall any.

“I must be a terrible son, I can't say what her favourite gemstones might be.”  Fíli confessed sheepishly, feeling badly but simultaneously resolving himself to find out.  Buying something for Dagmar would be much easier than his mother, for he felt he knew the maiden's tastes fairly well.  Perhaps he ought to buy something for Dagmar while he was here?  Ah, but making a purchase for his mother was difficult enough!  To lighten the mood, or so he hoped, he could not keep himself from adding, “I ought to have brought Kíli with me, his colouring is much the same as mother's and we could have had him model your pieces.”  A crooked, laddish smile tugged at Fíli's mouth, entertained as he was by the simple notion of decking his little brother out in finery.  The prince's body might have grown, but his sense of humour still had much in common with a Dwarfling's.  And what of it?  So far as he was concerned people could always stand to laugh more!

Turning his attention to the piece the merchant had held out in her hand, gold and gems did little to spark his desire but even Fíli observed that it was a stunning piece and beautifully wrought.  Sapphires were amongst his favourite gemstones, that and blue topaz and jasper, but he knew he ought not to let his own tastes influence his decision making too much.  Fíli pressed his palms together and offered the vendor an apologetic look.  He had no wish to make her job more difficult than it was, or to send her back to solemn silence.  “It's nothing short of stunning... but her beard is kept short.  I'm sorry, I ought to have said that before now.”  Fíli chuckled quietly.  “If you can tolerate me a little longer, I will sing your praises to any who will listen.”  The prince tilted his blond head then, his braids swaying gently, as a sudden realisation hit him – he did not know the merchant's name!  What a poor way to begin things!  “Might I know your name?”  It did not cross his distracted mind to offer her his, for as far as he was concerned she must surely know his face.

Eladda

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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2013, 09:56:00 PM »
“I must be a terrible son, I can't say what her favourite gemstones might be.” The Dwarf lad looked sheepish and Eladda felt a twinge of annoyance. Gift-giving was difficult in any circumstance, but to not even know the taste of those you were buying for? Eladda refrained from rolling her eyes and listened patiently as the Dwarf went on. “I ought to have brought Kíli with me, his colouring is much the same as mother's and we could have had him model your pieces.” His mouth twisted in a boyish grin at the thought. Eladda supposed it must have been some sort of joke, but she didn't know what it meant, so she said nothing, merely waiting for some decision to be made, her face blank.

Kíli? The name sounded familiar, although El could not say where she might have heard it. But before she could search her memory, the Dwarf's own smile faded as he looked down at the piece in her hand, and Eladda felt a sinking in her heart. He didn't like it. He didn't like any of it, and would walk away and spread tales about her and her terrible wares throughout the Mountain. Her father would lose work, and she would never sell a piece of jewelry.

With these treacherous thoughts in her mind, Eladda was surprised when the lad pressed his hands together and offered her a distinctly apologetic look. “It's nothing short of stunning... but her beard is kept short. I'm sorry, I ought to have said that before now.” He laughed lightly and Eladda felt a glimmer of hope again. “If you can tolerate me a little longer, I will sing your praises to any who will listen.”

Eladda stared at the Dwarf lad, and to her horror felt colour rising in her cheeks. No one had ever said such kind things to her before, and she was mortified. It was one thing to have encouragement from your own father, quite another to have a stranger praise your hard work before you. Eladda moved to put the clip back on the table, but her hand fumbled, and the clip fell and bounced, scattering the other pieces and ruining the arrangement.

Things were not going well, but Eladda lifted her head as she heard the Dwarf politely ask her name. His head was tilted, sincere interest lighting up his eyes, and El's brow furrowed. She was not used to this, any of this. Kindness from strangers, interest in her, certainly not the intricacies of selling.

"Eladda," she said shortly, and then softly added, "At your service." She bent her head once more to the table, hopefully hiding her rudeness, and breathed deeply and smoothly, trying to regain some decorum. Sifting through the muddle of wares, Eladda found a simple but pretty ear clip. It was long, and curved gracefully, its patterns reflecting a tumbling river underground. There was but a single jewel, a ruby, a tiny spot of colour placed in the middle. Eladda could not say what inspired her designs, and this one required no great skill, but it was an attractive piece, and perhaps an easier gift to give.

She held it out and said, as politely as she could, "What of this piece? If it pleases her, she could bring it in and have it fitted." She could not keep the nervousness from her earthy tones, but now she was merely hoping the lad would buy something quickly and leave. She was no good with social niceties, and it pained her to be reminded of the fact.

Fíli

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« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2014, 02:00:00 PM »
A blush of colour rose in the vendor's cheeks, as though she was not used to being complimented on her wares, and mere moments later the clip slipped from her hand and scattered some of the display she had no doubt painstakingly arranged.  Instinctively Fíli moved his hands as if to help, then hesitated.  Perhaps it was not his place, perhaps it was rude to touch wares without permission and perhaps, more than likely really, he would only serve to make matters worse.

Instead, he focused on the name she gave and the polite offering of her services.  “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Eladda.”  A pause, then, and while the seemingly flustered vendor took a deep and steadying breath, Fíli weighed up whether he needed to return his name in likeness.  Common decency and manners said he should so, with a faint smile, he added, “Fíli, son of Dís, at yours.”  The prince responded in proper fashion, bowing his head with a hand over his heart, still utterly convinced that this was more an observation of pleasantries than a true introduction.  There had been a time, of course, when he had childishly listed his father in his lineage.  But Folkin was many years dead now and had not been a royal by blood.  Dís was the name that anchored him to Durin's Line, that spoke volumes of his noble heritage.

Then the prince's attention focused solely on the jewellery that Eladda held out to him, her melodic voice sounding nervous as she did so.  He wondered if it was because he was being so awfully awkward or if it was because of who he was – or perhaps it was due to some terribly overwhelming combination of the two!  Bending to peer more closely, Fíli saw that it was an ear clip, beautifully wrought and adorned with a single ruby, one which glinted prettily in the light of the store.  Fíli's face split into an easy and delighted grin as he took the piece into his hands, turning it over with care as he admired its form.  “Well now, this is just perfect.”  With an eager glance to Eladda, he arched an eyebrow playfully and with a good-natured smirk continued, “Perhaps I am not such a difficult customer after all!”

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Gift Giving Guidance
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2014, 08:04:00 PM »
“A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Eladda,” the handsome Dwarf said kindly, and Eladda's blush deepened. A moment later he placed his hand on his heart and bowed, returning the introduction in true Dwarvish fasion. “Fíli, son of Dís, at yours.” She heard him, but she spoke before the weight of his statement sunk into her mind. He focused his attention on the ear clip in her hand and picked it up with a quick and easy grin as her mind fully grasped the significance of this encounter.

Fíli? Fíli? Son of Dís? No wonder the name Kíli sounded so familiar. Eladda froze as she stared at the young Dwarf standing casually in her father's shop, handling her own work. It was a moment she had dreamed of all her life, the King's sister wearing her jewelry, and yet, now that the moment was here, all El wanted to do was curl up in her bed like a Dwarf of Twenty. She was mortified. How could she not recognize the King's own nephew? How could she treat him so casually? She only half heard him as he said with a sly grin, “Well now, this is just perfect. Perhaps I am not such a difficult customer after all!”

He was joking. Surely he was joking. There was no way under the mountain that he could find her wares good enough for his mother. Good enough for royalty. Eladda didn't know whether to be sick or run away. She, who had always been tough and capable, suddenly felt faint. She teetered, and gripped the edge of her small table for support, causing it to tip and scramble her work even further. She was making it worse. There was nothing in the whole of Middle-earth that could redeem her from her mistake.

But she could not run away and hide, nor could she be sick. She took a deep breath and attempted to steady her nerves. Unsure of whether to bow or not (did she do that already? Did she even give her father's name?), ignorant of his title, she made a kind of half-bow and made a move to take the ear clip back. "Oh no, your...your Highness," Eladda stammered, "This piece is much too plain for..." she could not say her name, "...for your purposes. Perhaps a larger jewel?" Her rich voice cracked with nervousness. She was making a greater mess of things, but was helpless to stop the momentum of humiliation she had gathered.

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