Telcor and Lúvar

Summary: No one teaches Curufinwë Fëanáro, future inventor of the Tengwar script, how to write his letters.

Hi, all! I'm back with another Silm fic! This time around, it's a oneshot regarding Fëanáro's brilliance in language and the precociousness that undoubtedly stemmed from it. I've always wondered what would happen if you tried to tutor Fëanáro… all I can say is that the results would be ugly, just like they were here. I hope you enjoy!

Just a few clarifications: The telcor (s. telco) of the Sarati script are the straight, vertical sticks that the lúvar (s. lúva), the bows, are attached to. The Sarati script itself was invented by Rúmil and was a precursor to Fëanáro's Tengwar system. It really was crazy – it could be written up, down, left, right, or even with a mirror image… perhaps Rúmil really was drunk when he wrote it!

This is a gift to my dear friend, VCalien, for an occasion when she was feeling down and needed something to cheer her up. :)

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There are many things that I hate, some more passionately than others – but few compare with my abhorrence for pointless lectures.

This has happened far too many times in my long life. Many incidents stand out, but none more so than the session with my language tutor in which I escaped out the window.

Most likely, you are thinking that such behavior is not befitting of a prince, and you would be entirely correct. It isn't, not at all, yet rarely have social expectations or rules of etiquette been allowed to rule my actions. My father, I am afraid to say, found that out many times during my childhood, but that's not to say that such occurrences ceased when I entered adulthood. Quite the contrary; if anything, they increased in number, for once I was on my own I was answerable to no one save my wife. Admittedly, I had gotten a stern rebuke from Nerdanel on more than one occasion, but that didn't compare at all with some of the punishments my father handed down to me for various acts of mischief or defiance.

But those are tales for another day. Right now, I shall recount the tale of that memorable day when I engaged in a battle of wills against my tutor regarding the curvature of the lúvar of the Sarati script.

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Aldúlya had always been my least favorite day of the week by far, for I had never enjoyed the language sessions that fell on them. It had always shocked my father that I disliked the sessions that dealt with my favorite subject. It was not the actual material I disliked, but rather the tutor, Lambalaico. He was the one who made these sessions an hour and a half of torture.

Lambalaico, the sharp-tongued Elda who never lost a debate in the court rooms, possessed every bit of the talent I did in the realm of language. This would have made him a wonderful teacher, if only he had had the skill to match when it came to instruction. Unfortunately, he did not, nor did he possess any patience with a pupil who was too slow in meeting his high standards. Because of our naturally proud tempers, Lambalaico and I would often butt heads whenever we disagreed over anything. Often, this was over trivial things, and today was no exception.

My tutor looked up as I entered the small study where he held court. "Fëanáro, 'tis good to see you. Please have a seat. Have you completed the essay I assigned to you concerning the need for a greater amount of grain production in the third quarter?

My nose wrinkled in distaste. Completed it I had, but it had been one of the dullest assignments Lambalaico had inflicted on me yet. "Aye, I have. You may be pleased to know that it took me a full four hours to do. I never understand why you have me assess these things in any case," I grumbled, pulling the sheaf of papers from my satchel and tossing them on the table.

My tutor picked up the thick stack of parchment and fanned the papers out, glancing briefly over each page. "Your thoughts are very well-laid out and the structure of your paper is pleasing to the eye – well done." He paused, flicking through a few more sheets. "However, your penmanship is not satisfactory. Look…" Lambalaico turned the sheet around, tapping a spot near the center of the final page. "Many of the sarati are leaning to the right…"

I peered at the spot he had indicated and was slightly surprised to find that he was correct. "I suppose they are. I did not realize that." With anyone else, I would have been irritated at this criticism, but I had learned to take correction from Lambalaico with a certain amount of grace. He was not known to be tactful in anything.

"…which is why you will practice them," my tutor finished smoothly, extending a quill to me.

Sighing internally and biting back a rude remark, I accepted the writing utensil, pulled out a fresh sheet of parchment and ink bottle, and began to copy out the alphabet. Doing this at more than fifty years of age was positively mortifying; it was an exercise that only elflings just learning to read and write normally did. However, I held my tongue and ordered myself to suffer through it.

I stared down at the neat lines of script marching across the page and bit back an incredulous laugh. I had allowed my mind to wander once I had completed the basic table of runes and moved on to sentences. Except, without meaning to, I had allowed my unspoken thoughts to spill out:

"This exercise is so very dull and pointless. I doubt that anyone sees my writing would care whether my letters lean to the left or right. And even if they did care, why would I care that they care? This entire script is rubbish in any event; I wonder if Rúmil had had one too many glasses of wine while creating it. One of these days I shall create my own writing system so that I do not have to put up with this nonsense…"

Clamping my hand over my mouth to contain my grin, I tore off the bottom portion of the sheet as discreetly as I could and slid it into my satchel. I would read the rest of it later when my torture session was done.

I slid the rest of the sheet over the table to Lambalaico, waiting as he slowly read down the table of runes. He rotated it so that the lines faced me. "You have rectified the slanting runes, but now the lúvar have become improperly sized and curved. Here, it is too much of an oval, and here, it is too large, and again here it is placed too far across the telco. Do you see?"

Again, I examined my handiwork, but found nothing that could be construed as an improper lúva. "No," I replied flatly. "I don't see it. And how am I supposed to fix something that I cannot see?"

Lambalaico exhaled between his teeth. "You copy the runes out again."

"On the off chance that I can somehow capture the perfect size, shape, and placement of all the different parts of the rune?" I snapped, leaning slightly over the table in an unspoken challenge.

"Yes," my exasperated tutor hissed back, mirroring my position. "Do it again."

"No," I spat with equal vehemence. "I came here to learn about matters of language and learn how to improve my writing and speaking skills, not to be lectured on my penmanship!"

Lambalaico threw up his hands in resignation. "So be it, ornery child! Teach yourself for all I care, for I will not instruct one who will not listen!"

My own temper had been fully provoked now, if it had not been before. "I shall go to my own chambers now, for I cannot stand to be in the same room as you a minute longer!" I gathered up my satchel, slung it over my shoulder, and began to move towards the door.

Lambalaico beat me to it, standing in front of the portal with his arms across his chest. "You shall not go through this door until our time together is complete!"

I huffed in exasperation, looking around the room for any way out of this mess. There were no other doors leading out of the room, but there was a window, one that had been opened to let in the mild air outside. "Very well. If you will not let me out the door, I shall simply have to take the other exit."

I strode across the room, hopped up on the table, and slid my legs across the sill, straddling it. My tutor stood frozen in shock by the doorway, staring at me in disbelief. I gave him a small, snarky salute and then dropped out the window.

Fortunately, there was a long gutter running directly beneath the window, one that led to a lower roof from which I could drop onto the street. I clutched the metal pipe in my hands, holding on for dear life until my feet touched the slanting roof beneath me. I crept down the decline, cautiously edging to the drop-off. Fortunately, the drop to the deserted street below was less than ten feet, a simple drop compared to leaping out of twenty-five foot trees.

I gripped the edge of the roof firmly and lowered the rest of my body over the edge. When I hung only by my hands, I let go, feeling the brief sensation of weightlessness before my feet slammed into the cobblestones. I stumbled backwards for several feet before I regained my balance.

Glancing back up, I saw the window that I had jumped out of, as well as the head and shoulders that now protruded from it. Although I was too far away to make out any defining features, I could tell that it was my tutor.

The angle that I was at blocked any chance of Lambalaico seeing me, although I was presented with a clear view of him. After several seconds, he ducked inside, probably to inform someone of my foolish stunt. It was definitely time for me to clear out of here.

I decided to end my escapade there and then and go find my father. It would be awkward to explain why my language tutor would refuse to teach me ever again, even more so if Lambalaico told my father his side of the story first. At this time of the afternoon, he would be in his office, poring over inventories, petitions, analyses, and the thousand and one other documents that demanded his time as the Noldóran.

As I trudged over to a seldom-used side entrance that would put me only a short distance away from my father's office, I attempted to run through a list of arguments I could use in my favor. I decided to settle for stating the childishness of the exercises Lambalaico had given me and his irrational judgement of my penmanship. I would simply have to see how Atar reacted.

A short while later, I stood in front of my father's door, not quite ready to go in and face his anger, and even worse, disappointment. After several more seconds of unsuccessfully trying to muster some courage, I knocked softly on the door. My father's muffled voice came almost immediately: "Come in."

I opened the door and entered his study, shutting the door softly behind me. My father sat behind his massive desk, a half-dozen documents arrayed before him. He sat back in his chair as I entered, smiling broadly. "Hello, Fëanáro. What brings you here?"

I did not answer immediately, instead sitting heavily in one of the wooden chairs before his desk. Finally, I met his eyes squarely and said, "I have had another fight with my language tutor, Atar. A bad one."

To my surprise, my father did not immediately react, instead raising an eyebrow for more information. I winced and began to tell the entire tale, from Lambalaico's criticism of my composition to his absurd exercises he has set me to, ending with our argument and my escape out the window.

By the time I had finished, my father's face had grown expressionless. We sat in silence for several moments, staring at each other. At long last, my father's lips began to slowly creep upwards until he was fully smiling, and then he doubled over in laughter for several moments. I sat dumbfounded, staring at him like he had taken leave of his senses. He probably had, in fact.

My father's mirth slowly subsided, and he sat up and met my puzzled glance. "Why did you put up with him for so long?"

My lips thinned. "I can assure you that I was doing my best to reign in my temper."

My father let out a quiet chuckle. "No, I was expecting you to run him off long before now. You see, I find him quite as insufferable as you do, but I could not let him know that directly. He's too highly regarded by his peers for me to simply toss him out. I was hoping that by assigning him to you as a tutor, you would eventually blow up at him like you did today and get rid of him. And it worked."

"Wait…" I shook my head in confusion. "You were trying to make us lose our tempers so he would quit his vocation and leave the palace? Why? And how do you know that the strategy worked in any event?"

"Oh yes," my father replied, smirking in a manner that did not belong on his typically composed face. "I did do that on purpose. And he came here before you did and handed in his resignation straight away. I wasn't expecting him to actually quit, mind you, but I would have eventually persuaded him to move on to another position far from here. He made it quite clear he would need no convincing to leave, though. I recall him calling you something along the lines of 'a devil with the tongue and temper to match' and refusing to ever come near you again."

I couldn't help grinning then. "It seems like I did my job quite satisfactorily, then, whether I knew it or not."

My father smiled at me in return. "Oh, aye, you did. And because I am really responsible for this whole debacle, I can hardly blame you for reacting the way you did. Still, I expect that you should not let this happen again in the future."

"No, I have learned," I agreed. "I promise I won't, so long as you do not give me another tutor so dull as that one."

"I can promise that as well," he replied, eyes twinkling. He leaned over his desk. "What would you say if I took his place until we can find you a proper person to take on his role? I might not be as talented as you, but I like to imagine that your gift came from somewhere."

And that offer was one I could not refuse. A small, deeply delighted smile curved my lips. "I would be glad to, Father."

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Not all my cases of trouble-making ended as pleasantly as that one did. It was actually unusual for me to escape with nothing more than a scolding; more often I would end up with household chores or even duller assignments than the one over the need for an increase in grain production. Yet they were always fair, and given to me with a firm, but loving hand from my father.

Looking back, I realize what a precocious child I had been back in my youth, and how remarkably patient my father had been with me. As I had dealt with more than twice the number of sons my own father had, I had learned how difficult it was to be understanding of a troublesome child. When my eyes were opened by the experience of fatherhood, I became deeply grateful for my upbringing.

I have let my father down far too many times. Yet he always accepts me back, even after the ultimate betrayal I had made following his death. All families have their problems, but few have as many as the royal family of the Noldor. Yet we have always overcome them in our own time, and I see no reason why that would ever change.

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I hope you liked it! Please review; it's the only form of payment that we little fanfic authors get!

Hugs, Eryn :)