The Nimredel Saga
Part 1: The Age of the Stars
Chapter 1 - Ostelemar
The House of Seven Stars
known as Mornstar,eldest
of the Palestar Family
known as Erondo (Lonely Rock),
a moody but gifted sculptor and mason.
a prized woodworker who suffers from
anxiety stemming from a childhood incident in Middle Earth.
twin and firerce avenger
of Liraenil and a skilled clothier.
the oddball athlete of the family
who has a charming, joy-filled outlook on life.
known as the Dogstar, a rebellious
mischief maker sympathizing with the feanorians unknown to her family.
a young but foresighted architect,
patient and always willing to learn.
A sentient Lyre-Cat of Aman,
a wildcat with the gift of speech and reason.
a telerin writer
and history-keeper married to Sabriel.
"In Tiron upon the great hill of Tuna there stand many great and powerful houses, made of both stone and flesh.
Of theses one stands apart, not for being the largest, nor the most elaborate or the most well visited by figures of note. However this house, in both flesh and stone was unique in its design and the components that compromised its great structure. I Nimredel Noss or the Family Palestar was founded by two great architects and their seven siblings who built the great Mansion of Ostelemar in the blessed lands. It was shaped as if to imitate their family emblem (or perhaps the emblem imitated it) - a great seven-pointed star of golden stone, tall and shining with a great gold-columned hall rising from its core.”
- From “Historie of the House Palestar, Chapter 2: Of Ostelemar by Turaegon Nimredel.
Sabriel "Mornstar" Nimredel
Mylirae "Dogstar" Nimredel
Ostelemar (House of Seven Stars)
The Mansion and Seat of the Palestar House in Valinor.
Sometime in the Years of the Trees
Sabriel stalked the halls of Ostelemar, her fair unclothed feet falling soundlessly upon the marble-veined floors as dew upon a morning blossom. She stood wreathed white satin studded with gems of glass beyond count and painted with a tempest of metal-thread in gold, copper and chrome. To describe it simply as a dress would do the work of art utter injustice. Above her navel it clung like a second skin, straps that would have adorned her shoulders instead here draped to the side over the matriarch's bare arms.
It swirled around her like a cyclopic maelstrom, slim fitting but made of a waterfall of crystalline layers that defied the measure of any eye. Every adamantine gem or bead and wire of glad seemed to contain a tiny warm light that made the whole dress seem to blur a little. As Sabriel moved it would intensify like the light of the stars that show on a warm summer afternoon.
For a moment it would seem white only for a flare of silver or copper to catch an observer's eye and suddenly one would be entranced in the web of glimmering wires and shining crystals, lost for years unnumbered in its eternal intricacy.
A gossamer thin cloak of velvet navy shrouded her shoulders like night's embrace, its simplicity forming a stark contrast to the complex raiment of her other attire. Completing her outfit was a sparse few pieces of jewellery, for Sabriel, like all of her family was not one for showy bangles or bright charms. Instead she wore three rings, a bright white opal shining with fire and mounted in gold on her left pointer with a gold, silver and sapphire ring in the shape of the Palestar emblem on the ring finger of the same hand. On the ring finger of her right she wore a simple gold band without jewel or script and around her neck a single drop of water, suspended in glass like amber hung from her neck by a thin golden thread.
Next to the lake of warm starlight that pooled around her feet padded a hunter equally as silent as her mistress. Kalyia was the name of the fearsome beast that accompanied Sabriel in the manse, a lyre-cat of legend, leader of the pack that oft stalked the Palestar lands. Cloaked in the deepest violet, Kalyia's fur shone with power and ever pad of her foot announced her fearsome presence.
Their friendship had been fast since the founding of Tirion. First they had met as hunters, one hunting the other until the roles reversed. Soon peace was made and they formed a bond unknowable to any other.
Come Kalyia. Into the depths.
The words were unspoken but still they sent from one to the other. A moment passed as the lyre-cat responded.
"Rather, to the heights Mornstar" The voice was softly velveteen, chased with power and wisdom. Kalyia's golden eyes lingered on her constant companion as she spoke before she padded silently forward into the seven-sided hall that formed the centre of the manse and the heart of the star.
It was perhaps one of the most impressive marvels of architecture Sabriel had ever seen - a wide open hall, immensely high with arches that hung like vines across the almost cloud-wreathed ceiling. Around the outside of the hall a number of large rooms sat - chapels, kitchens, Pantries, dining and leisure halls ringed with a heavy stone staircase wrought of the same golden stone as Ostelemar itself that wound around the inner walls of the hall
In the centre of the hall and the very core of Ostelemar was a great and imperious structure greater than any feat of stone or glass. It was a tree - a giant of it’s kind with roots thicker than the most muscular elf’s torso that spilled out over the hall and a trunk that had never been measured but was without any doubt at least a hundred meters tall, garnished with innumerable branches. At first glance one would assume it a great ash tree but to look closer one would realise it was none other than a gilt-orange tree.
Gilt-oranges were rare in Aman, being native to Middle Earth’s eastern provinces. Normally they grew little taller than the height of two or three peoplle but fed upon the springs of Valinor and sharing the same soft soil that once gave rise to the blessed light of Telpirion and Laurelin this Gilt-Orange grew far larger and greater than any would expect. Its silver-barked trunk was traced with trails of spun gold, emeralds leaves flecked with copper and bronze and their golden star-shaped flowers lined with silver veins.
This tree was taken by the young elven couple from the shores of Middle Earth and sustained on the trip to Aman by only their wills and the light of the palest stars. When they reached the land of the gods however, against all hope the sapling still clung to life by the thinnest of threads. Planting it upon Tuna and building their house around it, the two named their family after the pale stars that had sustained the tree across their voyage.
Surrounding the tree was a large turffed mound almost thirty meters wide, covered in many small flowers and plants that grew over and around the great roots of the gilt-orange. Encircling this was a shimmering girdle of clear water fed from the nearby natural springs and over this moat there was suspended a great circular platform of pale white marble that seemingly hung at hip height without any support at all. Sabriel knew it was all trickery and clever architecture, having helped build it, her glass filaments being the reason it ‘floated’.
Knowing how it worked however didn’t mean it wasn’t magic.
Upon the marble table, aligned with the seven points of the house were seven boughs, each crafted from a different material to resemble the branches and flowers of the gilt-orange. As each child of the family found their craft and passion they worked on their branch and contributed to the beauty of the gilt-orange.
First there lay Sabriel’s own bough, it’s place marked with swirling cirith: “Sabriel: Born Silriel, Shining Fire of the Stars.” The bough Fashioned from a single blown price of glass the branch was life like in its detail. The glass was not simple however, a curling flowing piece that contained it’s most intricate designs within itself, shining with a reddish-golden light like starfire as the points within it gleamed like swirling constellations.
Next to it was the branch of the second eldest of the family. The marble was marked with “Sarnir: Born Sarnir, Steadfast and Stony One. “ Indeed he was known as the stonehearted, both due to his personality an for his skill with stone. The branch was carven from his most beloved of stones, granite, the inspiration perhaps for his famed stone forest that had made the stonemason and his family renowned through Tiroin. It almost seemed to move it was so lifelike – every vein upon the leaves stood prominent and the smooth bark seemed as if it could simply be peeled off. Sarnir was the master sculptor of the family, his moody and brooding personality tolerated by many for whom tolerance did not come easy due to his talent and skill.
Thirdly was the bough of Liraenil who like Sarnir turned a common craft into works of art. Her bough was carven from timber, a glowing polished piece that almost seemed the most unusual of all for while one would expect a branch to be made of wood, they did not expect them to be carven from the very heartwood of a tree, leaves and all. In front of it was inscribed: “Liraenil: Born Lirënissë, Woman of Song” Although all members were experienced in carving and crafting both stone and timber it was Sarnir and Liraenil who advanced these from simple crafts to an art form.
Fourth was the bough of Harathor, a bloom of cloth and leather, sewn and pieced together so intricately that one could examine it for a week and still not find the seams. This branch featured a large flower in bloom and before it were the words “Harathor: Born Haranér, Chieftain.”
Fifth was the wooden bough of Mylirae, which while as not intricately carved as Liraenil's was gilded with golds and silvers, metal and stones unnamed and unfathomable. Beautiful patterns traced into the fragile metal sheets in between studded jewels cut to shine like flame even in the least of lights. The branch was studded with little gilt flowers, jewelled petals and carved with flowing script and designs of vines and swords, stars and tress. At the base there were carved into the marble the words “Mylirae: Born Muilewen, Girl of Secrecy.”
The sixth spot lay empty for Orderann preferred to devote his time to honing his body and physical skills rather than any one craft. Once the laughing athlete had joked that he could make a branch out of sweat but the idea wasn’t exactly well received. However the family was still hopeful and the space was left open the words carved into it standing clear “Orderann: Born Orduinëro, Man of the Rising river.”
Finally there was the bough of Turaegon, the youngest but also counted as being as wise, patient and far-seeing as Sabriel herself. Certainly he was the one sibling with whom Sabriel felt true kinship – the two of them worked together seamlessly and often found themselves coming to the same solutions through different means. On the marble there was inscribed “Turaegon: Born Túraëano, Masterful One.” Turaegon's branch was fashioned from paper, specifically his architectural drawings and designs, folded and turned upon itself to form the flowers and bark that so resembled the gilt-orange.
Sabriel studied the great Gilt-Orange tree and the offering around it for a moment, lost in thought before she followed Kalyia as the great panther-like lyre-cat as she padded up the stairs towards the highest point in the manse, the apex of the star. The stairs wound up the sloping walls of the hall, often forsaking golden stone for glass, stained with every hue as they passed the many tall windows that let light flood in towards the gilt-orange.
Some of these windows were great sloping pieces composed of millions of tiles of stained glass depicting the journey of the family across the lands of Middle Earth and the seas from the very wakening of the elves in Curnievien to the founding of Ostelemar itself. Others however were plain with decorative arches that let great beams of light into fall upon the great tree, so tall that as the elf and the big cat neared the small chamber at the very apex of Ostelemar the walls were composed of more glass than stone.
Sabriel paused before the doors of the Apexium. That was one of it’s many names. Apexium, Pinnacle, Observatory, Retreat. Sabriel preferred to call it the Orostenda, peace ascendant.
The door were small, only a little taller than Sabriel’s six and a half feet and made of dark ash wood but they did not look heavy or thick, rather thin and almost fragile looking with a simple silver door handle. With a deep breath Sabriel eased the door open.
Inside the room was frozen like the eye of an ever-raging tempest, at its centre a veil was drawn through which the vague outline of two figures on what seemed like thrones might be glimpsed if one knew what they were looking for. A constant breeze flowed through the room making the grey cloth shimmer and flow like water. Tiny fragments of crystal hung from the ceiling to form constellations that swayed gently in the breeze.
They sparkled and shone in the pinpricks of light that danced through the room. The walls and roof of the entire room were pure glass and during the day after dawn the shutters that currently allowed only the tiny points of sunlight into the room were drawn over the windows and when the stars began to come out in the twilight hours they were removed.
Slowly, reverently, Sabriel slowly sank to the ground, her dress spreading around her like a pool of muted starlight in the still and silent air. Kalyia followed her friend in kneeling, the great cat reverently deferring her golden eyes.
Before them both the veil shimmered gently as if with breath.
Sabriel closed her eyes and spoke.
“Mother. Father. Good Morning." Sabriel’s voice stayed strong but the very last syllable wavered ever so slightly. The veil rustled and there was an indistinct murmur that Sabriel nodded gently at.
“Yes, I... I hope all is well with you, you have everything you need and..” Sabriel was cut off by the murmurs as veil rippled out towards her. Sabriel brought her fire-blue eyes up to stare intently at the intermittent shapes in the shimmering cloth.
“Yes, I know - it is very beautiful, stunning even but I had a question to ask. Your daughter Mylirae, Muilewen, she’s become even more rebellious. Mischief has always been her nature of course but this is turning malignant. I don’t know what to do and I wa-”
Sabriel dropped her eyes, her voice crashing into a whisper like a body thrown from a clifftop.
“Yes, the stars are very beautiful.”
Without a word more she rose and walked back through the thin ash doors, a glimmer in the corner of her eye a tear or perhaps a trick of the light.
It was a long descent, lifetimes longer than coming up the winding marble stairs. Time’s funny like that. It was about halfway down that Kalyia broke the silence that had haunted them since they passed the ash-doors.
“They are getting worse Mornstar.”
Sabriel sighed and turned to the window, pressing her hands against the cold glass as she gazed out through the body of Varda herself onto the Palestar lands that stretched out from the Manor, ending with the encircling wall with it’s seven towers glinting like gems.
“There’s nothing I can do Kalyia... Nothing.” she said quietly. “It’s not a sickness it’s just...”
“It is Star-Sickness Sabriel. This is what it does. You must be strong, as you always have been, your family...”
“The family can go to the void!” shouted Sabriel whirling around in passion towards Kalyia. The Lyre-cat raised her hackled, her eyes shining but she did not bar her teeth. Behind her the high branches of the Gilt-Orange stired and swayed with displeasure.
“Control yourself. We cannot fight.” she admonished Sabriel.
“Kalyia I am allowed to not be strong. I am eldar not anuir - give me a moment for pity’s sake!” Sabriel growled, almost as loud as the dark-furred cat.
The star-sickness that was overtaking her parent’s minds was a rare condition, but not unheard of. In their final lifecycles the Palestar parriachs (gender neutral and plural version of patriach/matriach) had developed a growing fondness with the stars, obsessing about them and delving keenly into their study until it quite literally consumed them. They faded now, their bodies or hröa becoming little more than memories held by their fëa or spirits which were eternally fixated on the heavens above, noticing little of the world around them, a disease of the mind and soul.
A few moments passed until Sabriel reeled in her mind from it’s rambling path, turning from the window to continue down the stairs.
Sabriel reflected on her siblings for a moment. The youngest, yet most faithful to the vision her parents had established - Turaegon. The tailstar, the constant.
The second eldest, Sarnir, the lone-bright, a star of hard cold light, especially when with it's siblings but on its own, it was a warm light, for there was a loving and gentle, if little seen or known side.
Then there was of course Liraenissë, or Liraenil as she preferred these days and Harathor, inseparable and never quite stable, moody and changable, they were still children and never quite likely to grow up, not fully. Not anytime soon. The glimmerings - the dancing stars.
Ah but then Orderann, the shining - a laughing, loving soul concerned with nothing more than the happiness of others. If only there were more like him.
Ah and then her... The dogstar. Mylirae, the trickster. Passionate and beautiful but known to make mischief for mischief's sake. It seemed that adolescent rage that had once been channelled into her anger against the systems she was 'imprisoned' within was finding new outlets.
"You languish many a thought upon them Morn-star. Too many."
Sabriel's eyes shone with a hard, clear light like the crystal and glass she so skillfully melded together. She looked down and met Kalyia's malted amber.
"Your counsel is always appreciated, but by the stars they are as much my children as my siblings. I don't quite believe that..."
"I speak as I will and must not be silent." Intoned the great cat, eyes gleaming as Sabriel frowned at her.
“I’ll look after them Kalyia, I will believe me but sometimes…”
“Sometimes they do not want your help.” Spoke the Lyre-cat sagely as they neared the bottom and Sabriel looked up at the towering Gilt-Orange. The family tree swayed gently on its own breeze, bathed in the golden light of day as Laurelin, the golden tree shone bright.
As she took the last few steps down into the hall she saw a dark haired figure reclining against the trunk of the tree, feet resting carelessly upon a great moss-covered root and a half eaten apple in hand.
"Mylirae." Sabriel breathed the word out with a fiery breath. She marched across the hall, star-white dress glittering dangerously as she spoke vehemently.
"Mylirae, what trickery and mischief do you work now?"
The younger elf looked up at Sabriel with forlorn innocence in her wide blue eyes. She was slightly shorter that Sabriel, with a shock of brown-black hair, which like all the family would deepen to a coal-dusted sable once she passed a certain age, though the age itself seemed to vary from person to person. Mylirae’s hair hung around the top of her neck unlike Sabriel’s long tresses that reached to her mid-chest and the younger elleth’s sparkling blue eyes were perhaps the only once in the family that could match the piercing intensity of Sabriel’s stare.
Indeed the two pairs of eyes now locked, as often they seemed wont to do of late.
"Me? I am doing nothing sister, other than sitting here and ruminating on our fine family. It is you who charges down those stairs like they belong to you, which I might remind you they don’t.”
Next to Sabriel Kalyia let out a low growl causing Mylirae to raise an eyebrow in disdain at the Lyre-cat.
“I'm afraid I forgot to bring my ball of string widdle-kitty. Sabe, keep your pet on a leash won’t you?” she said.
“Mylirae Nimredel, I expected more of you,” spoke the Lyre-cat padding closer to the elleth, “stooping to name-calling and insults in this petty infighting. You’re a disgrace to your family. If I were your matriarch I would…”
“But you’re not Kalyia.” Said Mylirae with mock sadness, “Isn’t that right sister?”
Sabriel drew her breath deep, eyes glittering in the hard light. "Stop! Both of you! I cannot stand such bickering. I thought you both above such things. Now, Mylirae was there something you wanted sister?"
Mylirae looked straight into the eyes of her elder sister with a cheeky grin lightly cast upon her face. "I simply wished to relax before getting ready for the ball sister. I do assume we are still attending?"
For a moment Sabriel was taken aback by this sudden turnaround in her sister's policy. She did not try to hide it as some may have, seeing the edges of Mylirae's lips curl a little. "I thought you said such things were boring and drab, enjoyed only by poor souls so dreary they can't entertain themselves. What changed?" she asked.
"Oh I do still think that but I've since heard that there will be fireworks there dear sister and you do know how I love fireworks, a bright and bursting in silver and gold..." Mylirae was tricksome in her riddles but Sabriel was perhaps the only person her equal - it did not take the matriach long at all to catch onto the dogstar's meaning.
"You've talked to Sarnir. You heard about..."
"Our dearest nephew yes," laughed Mylirae, "Oh isn't it fabulous that he's fallen for the scoin of such a well-knew, loyal family of high repute. I mean shame they're all lazy, overentitled saura-lirulin!* But no matter, for is shall be a wonderous match!"
"Mylirae!" Sabriel hissed, "I will not let you come to the ball if you will insult the Narfilit clan such! They may not have trades or crafts as we do, nor may they have worked as we have to gain our positions but they are citizens of this city, kind-hearted and well-mannered and you will give them the same respect deserved of any person of this land!" she thundered.
Mylirae laughed, "First you wanted me to go to the ball, now you don't want me going.. Do make up your mind! Ah but how did you find out about dearest Sarnirion? I have only just talked to our dearest brother a few hours ago and he had imparted the information to no other at that time."
"What business is it of yours Mylirae? I could have talked to Sarnir after you or perhaps to dearest Menellote or to the erstwhile child himself! Ah, come to the ball if you wish sister, I would like the whole family there after all. I do not however, wish to be made fools of. Understood?"
Mylirae rolled her eyes, getting up from beneath the boughs of the gilt-orange. "Of course. Now if you don't mind, I'm going to see how Sarnir and his bough are. What of you Sabe?"
"I shall seek out Taerion I think" said Sabriel with a nod, her hands clasped behind her back. "Some time in the orchards before the light of Laurelin fades would be nice. To Sarnir?" she questioned. "Did you not just visit upon them?"
"And thus I shall do so again." said Mylirae with a high chin.
"Ai, I cannot stop you. But don't you be plotting anything with him. Sarnir's views are enough as they are without them infecting more of this family."
"Ha! I shall not be doing anything of the kind."
Sabriel raised an eyebrow, "Then what are you planning to do?"
Mylirae smiled for a moment. "Plotting."
* Saura-Lirulin: Foul-Lark in quenya, literally one is dirty, smelly and talks too much.