Beyond Canon

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Author's Chapter Notes:

Good day to you, dear reader. I hope you are enjoying the tale thus far. In my haste to share it with you, I realized that Enedrion (aka Edrahil) is so very Sindarin of a name! After serious consideration (and discussion with his Nana and Ada, because you never want to mess with the names of Elves without consulting with their parents), you will notice that he is referred to now as Eneuron. Same great introverted future companion of Finrod, just a few different letters. On with the show!

“Your attention, your attention!” Lord Rśmil stood atop a platform that had been erected on the side of a hill. Consequently, his voice carried down to those sitting and standing at the base of the hillside, and he was far above their view so that all had to look far up as he spoke. “Welcome to the auditions for the Sarati School. As of this time, we have filled several of the places, but we are still in need of thirteen gentlemen and seventeen ladies.

“I would like to begin by addressing anyone who has come in support of a candidate. Lord Lamandil will be escorting all of you shortly to a location where you may await to hear the results of the auditions. These auditions are expected to take two weeks to complete. During that time, only the candidates are allowed to be on the premises. If a candidate is rejected, he or she will immediately be returned to the waiting area. While candidates are awaiting the various parts of the auditions, they will be lodged by the Sarati School. Lord Lamandil will be able to answer any questions you might have, provided that they will not affect the outcome of the auditions. Lord Lamandil?”

Rśmil stepped aside, and Lord Lamandil stepped to the center of the platform. “Thank you, Headmaster. Parents, sisters, brothers, friends, supporters, and onlookers. We thank you for joining us for the ceremony of welcoming. We must now ask that we be allowed to fully concentrate upon these talented youths before us. Please follow me,” he stated clearly. He then walked from the platform again, and down to join the crowd that had gathered. Mothers and fathers gave last minute advice, and siblings hugged brothers and sisters who would either soon be praised in letters from afar, or consoled when they returned home.

Tata and Finwė approached the quintet. “I think we shall begin our journey back and await your letter there,” said Finwė with confidence. He clasped Fėanįro on the shoulder, and Fėanįro nodded.

Eressė looked to his father, unsure of whether he would receive similar assurance. Tata wore a frown, but that was not particularly unusual. “A moment,” he said, and walked a few paces away. Eressė followed after him.

The walked down the slope, further from the mass of people and the platform. “I want you to know, I am proud of you no matter what happens,” said Tata once they were far enough away from the others. “As is your mother.”

Eressė frowned at that. “Um, thank you.”

Tata shook his head. “I know,” he corrected.

Eressė smiled a little. “Right. I know,” he parroted.

“Because you are intelligent and clever,” added Tata. “And if you do not get in, it is because Rśmil himself is a fool.”

Eressė’s smile widened. “Then I suppose you shall hear from me when I write to you.”

“Your mother and I look forward to your letter.” Tata let his guard down for a rare moment and embraced his son. “I would say good luck,” he added, “but—“

“You do not believe in luck,” finished Eressė for his father as he noticed that most of the other family members were halfway down the trail. “Let mother know I will write to her soon,” added Eressė.

“Not too soon,” suggested Tata. “Have a little fun at the school first.”

Before Eressė could dispute that ‘fun’ and ‘school’ did not necessarily go together, his father was being herded off as kindly as possible with the rest of the straggling parents. Eressė walked back to where Amariė and Mahtan were standing. “Where are—“

“Oh! You need to get going,” prodded Amariė, pointing to where a group that consisted of the older students was being led a little ways away. “Some lady just said for anyone who was under fifty to assemble over here, and someone else was leading the older group off..”

“Ah... well, I should go join them.” Eressė began to jog away, but turned back around. “Where is Fėanįro, then?”

Mahtan pointed along with Amariė. “He went over there.”

“Oh, honestly.” Eressė took off again, dodging around others who were walking until he caught up to Eneuron and Fėanįro. “Going somewhere?” he asked Fėanįro.

“Shhh,” he hushed.

“Since when did you turn fifty?” asked Eressė.

“Since I decided not to be put into the ‘children’s’ group. Now, shut your mouth. If anyone asks, I was born—“

“In Valinor. You were born here,” stated Eressė firmly. “It has nothing to do with your ‘age’.”

Fėanįro did not answer. Instead, he walked a little faster, but Eressė gave chase. “If you really want to do this fairly, go back over there!”

“It is going to be more difficult in the older group! Now, hush!” scolded Fėanįro.

“What is all this?” A firm voice made them both turn around. Eneuron kept walking, but slowed a little and looked over his shoulder. A matronly elleth approached the pair, sweeping her gaze from one to the other. “We do not tolerate arguments here,” she stated reproachfully.

Eressė looked down at the ground, but Fėanįro squared back his shoulders at the confrontation. The elleth raised a brow. “We also do not look kindly upon liars.” She stepped before Fėanįro and asked, “How old are you?”

Fėanįro’s mouth twitched, and he gave a sideways glare to Eressė before he answered, “Sorry. I thought this was the under fifty group.” He walked past the elleth to rejoin the others at the hillside.

“And you?”

Eressė looked back up. “Oh, ah, y-yes, I am certainly in the right group.”

“How old are you?”

“F-fifty.” He blushed slightly. “Al-almost four months ago.”

“Hmm. Better hurry, then, little one.”

Eressė looked over his shoulder and noticed that he had been left far behind. He bounded off without another word to the elleth.

This time when he caught up to Eneuron, he was acknowledged. “I wondered if you were just going to tattle on him,” mused the older Elf.

“No. I just—“ He shut his mouth as Lord Rśmil was suddenly here now with them, upon another platform that jutted out of another hill.

“I wish to personally welcome you all and congratulate you for taking this first step. You are the best and the brightest, and now, we shall see who is the most suited to partake in the next junior class at the Sarati School. Ladies, you will follow Lady Alassėa over there, and she will direct you to where you shall begin with the interview portion of our auditions. Gentlemen, please, follow me.” Rśmil walked off of the platform, and Eneuron and Eressė joined the rest of the young men who were there, walking down yet another dirt path.

As expected, the first order of business was to register. Eneuron received just about the same reply from every person he encountered: Welcome to the auditions! You know, it was so close last time. Glad you came back for another try!

Words of encouragement aside, Eneuron found the impromptu meeting with the Noldorin Prince and his companions enlightening. First, it made him think that he stood a chance against the younger group of prospective students. Second, he had asked for a leave of absence, which he had been granted – more than likely due to the fact he was aiding the son of his supervisor. This meant that he had spent the better part of several months not only practicing his own skills, but acclimating himself to an environment where he was working with his peers. As it turned out, it was less intimidating than he had anticipated.

Following registration, he was split away from Eressė, and led with seven other hopefuls to one of the tents which had been set up to facilitate the large number of prospective students who were applying. Each of them was given a number at random; Eneuron had ‘four’. After three students were taken behind a curtain, spoken to, and dismissed, Eneuron made his way behind the curtain.

“Good morning, Eneuron,” said the ellon sitting behind a table. Eneuron bowed to him, but did not yet take a seat in the empty chair in front of the table. “I see that this is your second attempt at being accepted.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Alyon is my name. You may refer to me as such.” Alyon motioned to the chair. “Please, have a seat.”

Eneuron sat down, keeping eye-contact with Alyon. “Thank you, sir.”

Alyon smiled. “I have five questions to ask you, and then you will have an opportunity to ask me any questions you might have.” Eneuron nodded. “First question. Why do you want to study at the Sarati School?”

“The first time I applied, it was my mother’s idea that it would be a good experience for me,” explained Eneuron. “I think I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life at that point, so it was probably for the best that I was not chosen. Now, having taught for a few years, I see Sarati School not only as a chance for me to better prepare myself as a scholar, but also to collaborate with others who are like-minded. The best teachers are those who acknowledge that they must be lifetime students. Only then can they truly impart knowledge”

Alyon nodded and marked something onto a sheet of paper. “Some would say you are too old to participate. What is your response to that?”

“I would remind them that I am still within the cut-off. If my age is an issue, then they have clearly not read the entirety of the invitation which explains the qualifications. However, I would simply educate them about the requirements. If they still had issue, I would suggest that they contact Lord Rśmil. He is very wise. If he believes 88 is the correct cut-off, then that is the correct cut-off,” finished Eneuron.

“Alright. Question number three. What is your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?”

“My greatest strength is my willingness to learn new things. I have always made my talents available when a new project is initiated or when something needs to be researched that no one had yet seen to. My greatest weakness is that I prefer to work alone. I am very suspicious… perhaps that is the incorrect word. I am very cautious when other people are helping. I want to be sure that everything is done correctly. That means I will often take on more than I should, or I do not allow others to help.”

A smile played on Alyon’s lips. “Funny you should mention that. It leads into my next question. Tell me about a time when you were happiest working alone or working as part of a team.”

Eneuron smiled. “Funny you should ask,” he countered. “A few months ago, I would only have been able to talk about my solitary experiences. However, I recently made some friends, and I all but moved in with them. It was an adjustment for me, but there was something rewarding about some of the tasks that we completed together. For instance, the house that they were in really only accommodated three people, though there were four living there. When I started to spend the night from time to time, that meant that there were five of us. We soon decided that it would be best to put an addition onto the house. Together, we planned it, gathered the wood, constructed it, finished it, and moved the rooms around in the house. It was hard work, but in the end, I was very proud of what we accomplished together, and I believe they were, too.”

“Very nice.” Alyon took a little longer to write things down. “The final question I have is whether there is anything which will impede you from fulfilling a twelve year commitment to this school.”

“No, sir. I am ready to commit myself to this project,” stated Eneuron.

“Thank you. Do you have any questions?” Eneuron shook his head. Alyon took a small blue piece of paper and scribbled something on it, and then handed it to Eneuron and stood. Eneuron did the same. “Congratulations. You have advanced to the next stage of the auditions. Please exit to the right and you will be directed as to where you should go next.”

Eneuron bowed as he took hold of the blue paper. “Thank you, sir.” He pulled back the curtain to the right, only to find he was in a connected tent. Here, there were others holding blue tickets, and one of them was Eressė. “Congratulations,” he said as he approached the younger elf.

Eressė looked up and smiled weakly. “I was frowned at a lot, but I think generally I must have answered the questions right.”

“If you did not answer them as they hoped, you would not be here right now.” Eneuron sunk down on the bench beside Eressė. “How many questions did they ask you?”

“About nine, I think,” answered Eressė. “I thought everyone had the same questions.”

“No, I only had five,” said Eneuron. “Maybe it was because they remembered me from the last time,” he guessed. “Either way, we have moved on. I think that is one of the harder parts, because you are really only competing against yourself. Do you recall the name of your interviewer?”

“Uhm.. Lamandil?” guessed Eressė. “I think that was it.”

“Lucky you,” was all Eneuron would say. “I am just trying to figure out how many people are the same as last time.”

They sat for a little while, quietly listening to others emerging into the room. Some of them chatted happily, others were silent like they were. One thing was certain – only one or two per group were making it past the interview.

“They need to be selective,” said Eneuron after he heard the sixth person come through and complain that everyone else was being cut. “They have less than twenty slots open. If they allow more people through now, it will take longer for the next portion, and there are several prospects in the younger group as well.”

“Oh... I forgot about the younger group,” answered another person.

One of those who had been sitting in the room for a while huffed. “Bringing in children seems like a waste of time,” he stated. “I think they should stick to adults, like us. Maybe they should think about raising the age limit. There are so many people who are just too young for this.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, a flap of another of the connected tents was pulled back, and a stern looking elleth stepped in. “Who said that?”

Most of the gazes in the room went to the culprit or to the floor. The ellon stood. “I did,” he said cautiously.

“You are dismissed.” The elleth held back the flap of the tent and waited until the stunned ellon walked through. She then disappeared behind him, leaving the others in the room silent.

“I suppose he is not coming back and I can take his seat,” decided one of the ellon who had been leaning against a tent pole. A few others smirked, but for the most part, the room now remained solemn.

It was nearly another hour until all of the interviews were finished. Of the original four hundred and twenty-three in the majority group, only thirty-one men and twelve women advanced. This group of forty-three were led back to the platform area, where they found Rśmil waiting for them. “Nicely done, everyone! Know that even if you do not make it through the rest of the tests, you are what we would consider ideal candidates for the Sarati School. If you do not make it through to the end, and if you are of eligible age when we are next looking for students, we invite you to return and audition again. However, I hope that some of you make it to the end and become part of the next class.”

Rśmil brought another of the teachers to the stage. This time, it was a musician, and her name was Yavindė. “Good afternoon! Before we continue, we will serve lunch. Following lunch, we will require that everyone choose whether they will audition musically with their voice, with instrument, or if you will perform with both. Vocalists will then take the stage this evening. You will be permitted to perform three pieces. One should be a lament, one should be a song of prayer, and the third is of your choosing. Instrumentalists will perform tomorrow and will be allowed to play two pieces of their choice.”

Eneuron and Eressė spent the luncheon going over the pieces that they planned to perform. As discussed, the only way to successfully compete was to partake in every test. They both put their names on the vocalist list and on the instrumentalist list. Eneuron chose to play harp, while Eressė decided that one song would be on the flute, and the other on violin.

It surprised Eneuron that once the vocalists were finished, Yavindė and Rśmil took the stage again to make cuts immediately. It was not surprising that all of those who declined to sing were cut; a few others who did perform were cut without a chance for instrumental performance. Everyone who remained was taken to a makeshift barracks. They were served supper at picnic tables while Yavindė entertained them with her singing, which was far superior to anything that had been heard that day. Following that, Rśmil spoke to the group, offering a very motivational talk.

“Even if I get cut, this will have been worth it,” said one of the potential students nearby.
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