A journey through the Merrill Valley
Part 1: Introduction
In all the days of the Third Age, after the fall of Gil-galad, Master Elrond abode in Imladris, and he gathered there many Elves, and other folk of wisdom and power from among all the kindreds of Middle-earth, and he preserved through many lives of Men the memory of all that had been fair: and the house of Elrond was a refuge for the weary and the oppressed, and a treasury of good counsel and wise lore. In that house were harboured the Heirs of Isildur, in childhood and old age, because of the kinship of their blood with Elrond himself, and because he knew in his wisdom that one should come of their line to whom a great part was appointed in the last deeds of that Age.
Throughout the broken realms that once were Arnor honest Men speak still - in mingled hope and fading memory - of Imladris the Lost, Rivendell of the Hidden Vale. There, so tales tell, a mighty Elf king holds court, a thousand Elf-lords at his command with dread weapons of a by-gone Age. Upon a day, unlooked for they will fare forth and drive cold Angmar from his northern throne. Then the faithful of Cardolan will rise with Arthedain and Rhudaur will be swept clear. And Arnor will live again.
But ask where Rivendell lies and you will receive only a shrug or a shaken head in reply. Those few who have journeyed there and returned will not - or cannot - readily share their knowledge. For memories of Rivendell slip like quicksilver from the mind's grasp - and who may a man trust in these times? Yet, as the Elves tell, to him who honest seeks a way opens. One in true need who wanders the high lands east of Bruinen Ford may find himself met by a silent host and guided down secret ways to the Last Homely House in the Merrill vale.
Here, though, you will find no fell Eldar king and look in vain for his thousand knights with silver mail and blazing swords. Rivendell is first a house of lore, of refuge and respite. Here - if anywhere in Arda - you will find ease from your cares, healing from your ills and hope that good and light are not lost from the world.
The valley itself has many natural wonders to delight and amaze the weary traveller. Follow the river upstream through fields and meadows to the glory of the Starry Falls. Explore the Merrill gorge, a near subterranean world of giant ferns and eight-foot fungi where glowing plants and stones illuminate the darkness and the roaring waters of the Ialindë fill the air with noise and billowing mists.
Once, so tales tell, an Elven maid sang into Being the Music of the Valar from the Beginning of Days
Yet do not be fooled. There is power here beyond Men's imagining. Once, so tales tell, an Elven maid sang into Being the Music of the Valar from the Beginning of Days. By that power, by the Master and Mistress channelled and invoked, the Last Homely House is protected and maintained.
For the Master of Rivendell is more than he appears. Ancient beyond human reckoning Elrond the Half-elven marched in the Last Alliance against Morgoth the great Enemy. Granted the choice of the Peredhil, he is wise beyond all others in the fates of Elves and Men and if this has at times brought him pain and sadness it is also the source of his strength, wisdom and compassion.
If you come seeking learning the book-halls of Imladris hold the collected written works of Elves and Men, with much that was rescued from the drowning of Beleriand and Numenor. Elrond has long made study of the Twin Kindreds and the lore of the Rings of Power and his private library holds much known only to the Wise.
... sit beneath the Telling Oak to hear, perhaps, the voice of the valley in the Roots-that-Sing
But not all wisdom is held in books. By Mistress Celebrian's leave you may sit beneath the Telling Oak to hear, perhaps, the voice of the valley in the Roots-that-Sing. Sojourn with the Gwaith-i-Tûn Galadhad, folk of the Lodge of Trees, who with Elrond channel and direct the magical energy of the valley for the good of all.
Or journey far into the mountains with the Gwaith-i-Mirnethryn, Brotherhood of the Jewel-healers, to the sacred crystal menhir known as the Heart-thorn. Divine with them there the living pulse of Arda and undertake if you dare a quest to heal the wounded land.
And though few in number you will meet here mighty Elf-lords and mages well tutored in the deceits of Sauron, successor to Morgoth's dread crown. Join the wandering patrols of Elves and Rangers who maintain safe passage through the dangerous lands west of the Towers of Mist and guard the mountain passes into the east. Or accompany the sons of Elrond on a secret mission to aid Arthedain and failing Cardolan in their struggle against the cold might of Angmar.
For those of stern will with sword or spells to wield there is work here enough!