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Sep 29, 2022 3:33 AM
you look trustworthy, let's create some tokens of ultimate power together
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Life in Eregion has been... tolerable, of late. It's not Valinor, but if she had wanted Valinor, she would have returned already. The challenges are stimulating. Running the jewelsmiths, coordinating governance with the other guilds, trade with the dwarves. Plumbing the depths of her craft without needing to be overly concerned with the tides of war outside the gates. There is always trouble, will always be trouble, but for now, it is not her trouble nor does it seem likely to become such.

She can create purely for the joy of it, experimenting, playing with material and magic and process.

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And then, one day in the spring of the year 1200 of the Second Age, Celebrimbor receives a message from a young apprentice serving as an errand boy - 

A traveler has come to the House of the Mirdain, one not known to them nor affiliated with any realm they've heard of, but one dressed finely and foreignly. An elf, the errand boy says, maybe an Avari by the look of her eyes. She would like to meet with the Guildmaster.

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An Avari, really? Does she perhaps want the blacksmiths, instead?

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The errand boy is pretty sure she said 'Guildmaster of the Jewelsmiths.'

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Well. The visitor can wait until the guildmaster finishes setting this, then. It will be a few hours.

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He'll go let her know. Should he tell Lady Celebrimbor if the visitor decides to leave first? 

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No need to bother. The secretary can handle that much. And offer refreshments, she adds as an afterthought, turning back to her work.

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He heads out to relay the message. 

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Back to work.

In a few hours, she goes to see if the visitor is still there.

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Apparently so! Or, at least, a very beautiful woman who Celebrimbor has never seen before is in the main hall, standing and examining the murals. She's tall and willowy, with a rich auburn hair that falls in tight waves unusual for elves. She has none of the inner light that suffuses the Eldar - certainly none of the bright spark in her eyes of those who once lived in the light of the Two Trees. Her ethnicity is very hard to place - the Avari are a strange and diverse tangle of elven tribes in the eyes of the Noldor, so that probably isn't a bad guess by sheer process of elimination. 

Her clothes are indeed very strange - they're probably silk, glossy and fine, in an amount that would be a king's ransom this far west. Her voluminous outer robe is a deep purple embroidered in silver with mountains and rivers and odd peaked houses and scenes of people talking or playing instruments or fighting, over a heavy white dress embroidered with pale green lilies and tiny gems, a thick green sash at her waist. She wears silver earrings and bracelets, and finely wrong silver chains weave through her hair. Celebrimbor doesn't recognize the style, though there's echoes of motifs in some of the fashions worn by dwarven travelers from the far east. 

She doesn't turn to face Celebrimbor immediately, though, continuing to look at the art.

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The mural is of a sunset at the coast of Beleriand. Celebrimbor painted it herself, when the guildhouse was built. There are others she's done in the hall as well, ships and mountain cities and forests and dwarven caverns. Relatively few people in her style, though- they are most often backgrounded or blurred into indistinction.

"Not a view that will be seen again in this age or the next," she says, moving to stand beside the woman. Her own clothes are much plainer, only lightly embroidered. She still wears her leather workshop apron with the Mirdain sigil upon the breast.

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"Is it of Beleriand?" she asks, in crisply accented Sindarin. "It's very beautiful."

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"It is. Thank you."

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She turns to look at Celebrimbor. "Did you paint it?" 

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"Yes."

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"Then you must be Celebrimbor."

"I see rumors of your talents haven't been exaggerated at all."

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"No, they have not. You must be the visitor wishing to see the Guildmaster. What is your name?"

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"I've gone by Annatar since I started traveling in these lands."

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"Indeed? And what reason have you for traveling in these lands?"

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"Word of the great crafters of the west has reached even the eastern edge of the world, and some say that the jewelsmiths of Eregion are the greatest crafters among them. I've wondered how true that is."

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"Very. Would you like a tour?"

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"I'd be delighted."

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Then a tour. There's the main hall, a tasteful showroom, a cutting room, a forge, an inscription studio, a presently-unoccupied laboratory...

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She's interested in all of it, asking insightful questions about this or that item or tool as the walk. 

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"Do you have experience with the craft?"

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"A good bit."

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