Beyond Canon

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When Eneuron knocked on the door he was greeted by Mahtan. Amarië, Fëanáro, and Eressë were sitting near the window when he arrived. Everyone stopped what they were doing when Eneuron entered, stood, and gathered around the fireplace. “May I offer you some tea?” asked Amarië.

“Thank you, that would be lovely,” replied Eneuron with a little half bow to the eager hostess.

“I know who you are,” said Mahtan as he offered to take Eneuron’s cloak for him. “You teach at the scholar’s enclave in Alqualondë.”

“Yes, most of the year I do. In the summer, I travel to Tol Eressëa and I teach there.” He looked at Mahtan curiously. “Forgive me, you look a little young to have been one of my pupils.”

“You taught my sister, Amani,” he said. “She is older than I am.”

“Oh, yes, I know Amani.” Eneuron took the seat he was offered and removed his gloves so that he could drape them over the arm of the chair. “How is she?”

“She is well. She moved to Tirion.” Mahtan looked questioningly at the odd look that Fëanáro gave him, then amended his statement. “Oh! Well, right, actually, my family moved to Tirion, but then I moved back here.” He excused himself to help Amarië with the tea.

Fëanáro watched Mahtan leave and then asked, “So what is all this about?”

Eressë flinched. “Uh.. sorry.. I thought you wanted more information about the Sarati School.”

Eneuron cleared his throat. “I am sure Eressë has already told you about my failed attempt at trying it to gain admission to the Sarati School. While am not sure exactly what they’re looking for, I can give you some advice based upon my own experiences.”

“Ah.” Fëanáro sat down on the sofa. “It has been a busy day, and I have not been fully informed. I just returned from Tirion myself.”

“That is quite the journey,” remarked Eneuron.

“I have the fastest horse in Aman,” Fëanáro replied casually as Mahtan and Amarië returned, not offering that he had left when most were still at rest.

“I see,” Eneuron said. He waited until Amarië poured his tea, and then continued. “I am not sure exactly how much you want to know. It was about twelve years ago when I tried to get in. From what I have heard, it is more difficult to get in now. When I was trying to get accepted, I think there were about seventy or eighty of us. Last I heard they are expecting several hundred for this round. That does not mean that you will not have a chance. All of you come from affluent families, Fëanáro especially. I cannot think they would give up a chance to have you in the program.”

Fëanáro sighed. “I would much rather be accepted upon my own a merit. That being said, I am still not sure I would go unrecognized. Do you think I will be able to disguise myself, or at the very least, be given an audition without them knowing who I am?”

“That is very unlikely,” said Eneuron. “First, they will ask that information of you when you audition. Second, this is not a brief audition which takes place in a matter of minutes or even hours. I was there several weeks while decisions were being made. It begins with an interview; I sat before a panel of five. There were three instructors and two senior students. It was a little intimidating, since those students were the first graduates from the school, and they had the right to be smug about it.”

“Alright, well, that is out. What about not taking the special invitation, and going to the open auditions?” asked Fëanáro.

“I think you could do that,” reasoned Eneuron. “Of course, if I had a special invitation, I would use it. You bypass the interview.”

“Is that the only thing?”

Eneuron nodded. “As far as I am aware.”

“Then what happens?” asked Mahtan.

“Following the interview, the real tests began. If I am recalling correctly, the next two days were about our musical abilities. We were given a chance to audition vocally and instrumentally. They made it seem like it was optional, but everyone who did not audition in both manners was automatically cut at that point. So if you do not play an instrument, learn one. If you do not like to sing before an audience, practice. Those are two things that can get you removed early. ”

Amarië looked excited. “We should do well in that. Mahtan, Eressë, and I play almost every day, and all of us sing.”

“What instruments do you play?” asked Eneuron.

“Cello,” spoke up Mahtan, while Amarië pointed at her bass fiddle on the other side of the room.

“Violin,” answered Eressë.

“And harp and bass and flute and even a little viola and cello.” Fëanáro yawned and gave Eressë a sideways look. “He only says violin because we can never pry the fiddle from that boy’s hands,” added Fëanáro. Eressë smiled, but looked a little embarrassed.

“Make sure you note that,” advised Eneuron. “That would be one of those things they would look for, some sort of multitalented ability.” His focus turned onto Fëanáro. “What do you play?”

“Chess,” he added cheekily.

“If you do not play an instrument, that could hurt your chances of acceptance,” Eneuron reminded him.

Fëanáro stretched a bit. “I have been known to dabble a little with the harp.”

Eneuron looked at the others for confirmation. Eressë nodded. “He actually plays very well, but it is the one thing he acts modest about.”

“Untrue,” shot Fëanáro back. “I am very modest about my charm and good looks.”

“Oh, yes, very modest,” agreed Amarië as she rolled her eyes.

“And you all sing?” prodded Eneuron after taking a sip of tea. All four heads bobbed up and down. “Excellent. Following that test, they were interested in our crafting skills, and with our reasoning skills. I do not remember exactly what those tests were, except that I made a few crude wooden carvings in the short time I was given, and then sat with someone who would read different problems to me and I would have to solve them.”

“What sorts of problems?” asked Mahtan.

Eneuron thought for a moment. “Things like, if you have a basket with ten apples and ten friends before you and each one wants an apple, and you give each of them an apple, and yet one apple yet remains in the basket, how is this possible?”

“One of your friends is holding the basket,” droned the lot of them.

“Yes, it is an old one, so they will likely use other problems like that, but you get the general idea,” said Eneuron.

“So, riddles,” defined Fëanáro. Eneuron nodded. “Eressë should be fantastic with those. He has a knack for solving them.”

“I like riddles, too,” spoke up Amarië. “What other tests will there be?”

“Our next task was something to do with teamwork. At the time, I was rather shy, and so many of those who were left were younger than I was. I was fairly intimidated, and I know I failed that part. I was allowed to go on to the literary portion; we had to create a poem in a certain span of time, using a set of seemingly random words. I did alright, but because I had scored so low with the team portion, I was done. Unfortunately, that means I do not know what happens after that,” said Eneuron apologetically. He smiled in thanks as Amarië warmed his tea for him. “The tests you can prepare for, but only to a certain extent. Of course, I do not know if they have changed them.”

“What about the school itself?” asked Mahtan. “I have heard people talking about it before. I understand it is an honor to get in. But… why?”

“First of all, it’s Rúmil. Everyone thinks he is the most intelligent person this side of the sea, excepting the Ainur or Eru. Studying with him is quite an honor – it always had been. My mother would talk about that for hours and hours. She was very disappointed that I was not accepted – not in me, but with the way the school was being run. She could not believe that they would have passed up the chance to have me there. I guess, I would have liked it, but my heart was not set on it then. Now… well, that was the past,” he said, scolding himself. “The commitment is twelve years. You would spend six years of learning and researching and six years of applying and crafting. After that, you might have the ability to stay longer, as Rúmil now only chooses scholars and workers and trainers from those who made it through his school. Some of the teachers you would encounter might be from the original group who founded the school, but many of them are former students.”

“Beyond Rúmil, why would we want to go?” asked Amarië.

“It is not structured like anything you have ever experienced. For starters, there are only one hundred and forty-four on the estate at any given time. The thought is that it should emulate the original awakened Elves at Cuiviénen. Seventy-two males, seventy-two females. Each house has exactly twelve people in it, and there are twelve houses,” explained Eneuron.

“What do you mean by houses?” asked Fëanáro.

Eneuron set aside his cup and looked around. “Do you have anything to write with?”

“Eressë does,” offered Fëanáro before the older elf could. Eressë nodded and found some small sheets of parchment and a stick of lead. Eneuron took them and began drawing, then held up the sketch to show them.

“There are twelve houses. Each house specializes in something. Four of them have literary concentrations, things like poetry and dramatic works. Four of them are houses of crafting. There are jewelers, smiths, cooks, and woodworkers. Then there are three houses which are reserved for those who are performers. Musicians, actors, that sort of thing. Finally, one house is left for nature and alchemy, and that one is the most difficult of all of the houses to gain entrance to. They each have an animal that represents them, and a colored banner. The thought that went into all of it is very impressive, I must say.”

“Do you happen to know anything about the judges?” asked Fëanáro. “I would like to know a little more about what it takes to gain admittance, and to worry about these houses and animals at a later date.”

“The judges change each time,” Eneuron said. “Your best course of action would be to concentrate on the various sorts of tests I described, and to practice your music and any other craft or whatever you plan to do to impress them. I can try to help to prepare everyone by asking some of the questions I was asked and I heard of others being asked, but that is about it.”

Fëanáro nodded. “It is more than most will have; hopefully, it will be enough.”

“Will you ever try again?” asked Amarië.

Eneuron began to shake his head, but Fëanáro was already standing and nodding. “Yes, that would make sense. With you there, we can ask your advice as we progress. And, since you know what to expect, maybe you will gain admittance as well.”

“I have obligations,” interrupted Eneuron. “I am not sure I have the twelve years to spare.”

Fëanáro looked unconvinced. “How can you not make the time? In another twelve years, you will not have this opportunity.”

“Actually, in another year I would not have the opportunity. This is the final time I would be able to try out,” corrected Eneuron.

“In that case, you must attempt it once more,” agreed Amarië. “If you do not, you may always wonder of what might have been.”

“I am not overly concerned about that,” he assured the group.

“Now you are not,” agreed Fëanáro. “In a few years, when the next set of invitations is sent, are you sure you will have that same view? You can always teach in Alqualondë and Tol Eressëa, but you literally will not have another chance to try to teach in Tirion, unless you teach privately. With your experience, Rúmil is certain to choose you to stay there if you are admitted to the school.” He paused, but not long, and then lamented, “I know that if my mother had requested it of me, I would try for her sake.”

This seemed to have the desired effect on Eneuron. “It would not hurt to try once more,” he decided.
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