Managing Character Deaths

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
It isn't crazy. It would be quite tragic. I'd want him to see her as a decrepit, bitter, miserable old crone (94 years), rather than watch her actually die, since Tolkien had Aegnor die first and there may be some symbolism in that.

It would be awfully mean to Aegnor.
Finrod in the Athrabeth said:
the life and love of the Eldar dwells much in memory; and we (if not ye) would rather have a memory that is fair but unfinished than one that goes on to a grievous end. Now he will ever remember thee in the sun of morning,
But then, he was awfully mean to Andreth and sometimes I want to slap him. He wasted her only possible chance at happiness without even talking about it with her, and kind of ruined her life. He never even bothered to tell her he loved her. He doesn't seem to have considered her feelings or even asked her.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
It isn't crazy. It would be quite tragic. I'd want him to see her as a decrepit, bitter, miserable old crone (94 years), rather than watch her actually die, since Tolkien had Aegnor die first and there may be some symbolism in that.

It would be awfully mean to Aegnor.

But then, he was awfully mean to Andreth and sometimes I want to slap him. He wasted her only possible chance at happiness without even talking about it with her, and kind of ruined her life. He never even bothered to tell her he loved her. He doesn't seem to have considered her feelings or even asked her.
In my opinion, he was a coward not to have a life with her as Beren and Luthien, and Tuor and Idril would have.

I want him to be there at the end of her life, know that she loved him and that he should have loved her in return, then lose himself in his grief and rage, because now he has nothing left of her.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
He supposedly did "love" her, and he certainly knew she loved him. He got what he wanted out of her (happy memories of when she was pretty enough to be noticed by an Elf) and left her with less than nothing. He treated her like she was utterly beneath his notice. I'm not quite sure how she even fell in love with somebody who didn't have any time for her.

Aegnor is awesome in other ways, but he treated Andreth like garbage. Everyone has a right to say "no" but he wasn't even willing to talk to her about it.
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
He supposedly did "love" her, and he certainly knew she loved him. He got what he wanted out of her (happy memories of when she was pretty enough to be noticed by an Elf) and left her with less than nothing. He treated her like she was utterly beneath his notice. I'm not quite sure how she even fell in love with somebody who didn't have any time for her.

Aegnor is awesome in other ways, but he treated Andreth like garbage. Everyone has a right to say "no" but he wasn't even willing to talk to her about it.
How she fell in love? No one knows, but fall in love she did.

But is my idea good, of him watching her die and his rage at the close of his life? I think he should be there to see her die, regretting not having a life with her, and that is what compels him.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I like it except one detail, I'd rather she die (a little) after he does. Otherwise, sure. Sometimes I'm tired of Elves getting perfect happy endings because Eru and the Valar blatantly favor them, while mortals are miserable and then exiled from Ea into some hellhole Limbo after they die.

Speaking of which, we'll need to show how drastically different death is for Mortal characters. They will mostly face death with courage and dignity, but we should also convey that every single one of them is completely, unutterably terrified and 100% certain that they're damned to the Void, especially since not one Ainu ever gave enough of a crap about their suffering to tell them one word otherwise (unless it's true and they are all damned). I mean, I don't really want to pretend this is a just or fair arrangement.


Edit: To add to your idea, I don't think she should notice him when he sees her.
 
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amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
How do we spin it at the end? Are we mad at Aegnor, or sad for him, or both?

Like, he definitely "done her wrong", no question. Does he repent at the end and go out with the audience's favour, or does he just go nuts and the audience is still mad at him, or what?

If we set it up so that Andreth the Crone is still alive, it's kind of hard to have him go out on a high note. What's his motivation? "My formerly-hot sorta-girlfriend is now old and gross, boo hoo let's go die in battle" isn't even a little bit admirable, whereas "my almost-was girlfriend has died and it's too late to say the things I was too afraid to say when there was time, boo hoo let's go die in battle" shows some contrition, some growth.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
How do we spin it at the end? Are we mad at Aegnor, or sad for him, or both?

Like, he definitely "done her wrong", no question. Does he repent at the end and go out with the audience's favour, or does he just go nuts and the audience is still mad at him, or what?

If we set it up so that Andreth the Crone is still alive, it's kind of hard to have him go out on a high note. What's his motivation? "My formerly-hot sorta-girlfriend is now old and gross, boo hoo let's go die in battle" isn't even a little bit admirable, whereas "my almost-was girlfriend has died and it's too late to say the things I was too afraid to say when there was time, boo hoo let's go die in battle" shows some contrition, some growth.
I’m leaning toward the “my almost-was girlfriend has died and it’s too late to say the things I was too afraid to say when there was time, boo-boo let’s go die in battle”.

The concept was similar to Anakin in the Tusken Raider camp, mad with grief, regret and rage.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I like it except one detail, I'd rather she die (a little) after he does. Otherwise, sure. Sometimes I'm tired of Elves getting perfect happy endings because Eru and the Valar blatantly favor them, while mortals are miserable and then exiled from Ea into some hellhole Limbo after they die.

Speaking of which, we'll need to show how drastically different death is for Mortal characters. They will mostly face death with courage and dignity, but we should also convey that every single one of them is completely, unutterably terrified and 100% certain that they're damned to the Void, especially since not one Ainu ever gave enough of a crap about their suffering to tell them one word otherwise (unless it's true and they are all damned). I mean, I don't really want to pretend this is a just or fair arrangement.


Edit: To add to your idea, I don't think she should notice him when he sees her.
I thought they go to Eru or something like that.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Wherever Mortals go, the Valar and Eru knowingly keep hundreds of generations of them in ignorance, and thus fear. Even if their fear originated with Morgoth, the Valar could have ended it with a handful of words, anytime they wanted. Instead, countless Mortals lived in fear and died in extreme terror. (I don't know how it could be Heaven, though -- they aren't Christians, and it's mostly a Christian world.)

Amysrevenge you've convinced me that it would work better for Aegnor to see Andreth die. My feeling isn't that the audience view him without compassion. He's a decent guy, he had understandable reasons to avoid marriage, and everyone has the right to refuse marriage for any reason or no reason. But, I'm also somewhat mad at him. I think when people hurt somebody else very badly, they ought to have to learn and acknowledge how much they hurt that person. Otherwise how can they ever learn from their mistake, or make amends?

I was thinking of this story in Babylon 5. (Spoilers for end of Season 4.)
Here Susan Ivanova has been mortally wounded in battle, and Marcus sacrifices his life to 'resurrect' her using an alien machine. (Skip to 5:59)
Ivanova is a good person and I like her. I think her reasons for rejecting love are very understandable, but it hurt Marcus. Although, unlike Aegnor, she didn't stop speaking to him, they were comrades in arms. He wasn't growing old (although she could have expected either or both to die in battle). She wasn't ready or able to face something she feared... and then it was too late.
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Wherever Mortals go, the Valar and Eru knowingly keep hundreds of generations of them in ignorance, and thus fear. Even if their fear originated with Morgoth, the Valar could have ended it with a handful of words, anytime they wanted. Instead, countless Mortals lived in fear and died in extreme terror. (I don't know how it could be Heaven, though -- they aren't Christians, and it's mostly a Christian world.)

Amysrevenge you've convinced me that it would work better for Aegnor to see Andreth die. My feeling isn't that the audience view him without compassion. He's a decent guy, he had understandable reasons to avoid marriage, and everyone has the right to refuse marriage for any reason or no reason. But, I'm also somewhat mad at him. I think when people hurt somebody else very badly, they ought to have to learn and acknowledge how much they hurt that person. Otherwise how can they ever learn from their mistake, or make amends?

I was thinking of this story in Babylon 5. (Spoilers for end of Season 4.)
Here Susan Ivanova has been mortally wounded in battle, and Marcus sacrifices his life to 'resurrect' her using an alien machine. (Skip to 5:59)
Ivanova is a good person and I like her. I think her reasons for rejecting love are very understandable, but it hurt Marcus. Although, unlike Aegnor, she didn't stop speaking to him, they were comrades in arms. He wasn't growing old (although she could have expected either or both to die in battle). She wasn't ready or able to face something she feared... and then it was too late.
To be honest, I'm not sure why Eru and the Valar had such a hands-off policy on Men, considering how they handled the Elves. But maybe this isn't the time to debate it.
 

MithLuin

Well-Known Member
'Where do you go when you die?' is a question we might think we have answers to, but...we don't *really* know for sure. I think it's okay for the Edain to have questions.

I think we can get away with portraying Andreth and Aegnor's doomed love story as a culture clash- there is an inherent misunderstanding of how that should go. The elves would not view Aegnor as a coward.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
'Where do you go when you die?' is a question we might think we have answers to, but...we don't *really* know for sure. I think it's okay for the Edain to have questions.

I think we can get away with portraying Andreth and Aegnor's doomed love story as a culture clash- there is an inherent misunderstanding of how that should go. The elves would not view Aegnor as a coward.
The Elves would not see Aegnor as a coward, but would the viewers see him that way in hindsight, given that there are other Elf-Man marriages, all of which were happy?
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
The Elves would not see Aegnor as a coward, but would the viewers see him that way in hindsight, given that there are other Elf-Man marriages, all of which were happy?
True but kind of not true as well. All of them have happy days, and all of them have children and pass along their heritage, but...

We don't know for certain how Tuor and Idril end, after they sail away. We have the apocryphal thing about Tuor becoming an honourary Elf, but that's not a sure thing - we just don't know how that one ends (unless we as SilmFilmers make it be how it actually happens in our show, which I wouldn't hate to be honest).
We have Luthien becoming an honourary Man, which the Elves at least think is pretty darn tragic.
And we have Arwen wandering Lothlorien to end her days alone.
 

Eliza

Member
Sometimes I'm tired of Elves getting perfect happy endings because Eru and the Valar blatantly favor them, while mortals are miserable and then exiled from Ea into some hellhole Limbo after they die. Speaking of which, we'll need to show how drastically different death is for Mortal characters. They will mostly face death with courage and dignity, but we should also convey that every single one of them is completely, unutterably terrified and 100% certain that they're damned to the Void
This is an "I'm genuinely curious" question: are there particular passages you're thinking of here? Personally, in my own reading (which is far from complete), I've never really gotten the impression that this is what the human characters think, at least not across the board. I could definitely be missing something though! Here's a bit of background on how I've thought about this, if you want to compare notes. :)

In passages that talk about these issues somewhat directly (thinking mostly of the Athrabeth), I've been reading Andreth as more or less saying, "Look, 'death' for you Elves just means going somewhere else in Arda until you get to come back. For us Men, we leave Arda -- everything we've ever known -- and don't get to come back. It's permanent. You guys have no clue how scary that is." She emphasizes the fear, but it seems like the fear she talks about is mostly fear of losing what they know and love, not so much fear of particular punishment or suffering after leaving Arda. I guess it also strikes me as significant that Andreth isn't giving an objective account of the human philosophical/theological consensus: she's trying to score rhetorical points against an Elf that she has every reason to suspect doesn't take her seriously or view her people's plight with adequate empathy. And she has the baggage of her own backstory. All of which is just to say, I'm not sure she's a 100% reliable spokeswoman for What Men Think About Death.

From a purely dramatic perspective, I guess I would question the benefit of trying to convey that every human death involves existential terror and/or a sense of doom (however courageously faced). For one thing, I think that would get boring pretty quickly. I think it would also start to seem oddly implausible -- after all, humans in our world don't all have the same understanding or attitudes about death, negative or otherwise. Moreover, I don't think it's what we see in Tolkien's characters. For example, Tolkien writes that "Beor at the last ... relinquished his life willingly and passed in peace." (Fwiw, to me that seems pretty similar to how Aragorn's death is described, and Aragorn has explicitly positive hopes/expectations for whatever comes next.)
 

Eliza

Member
Sooo...I have a feeling this might not go well for me, but I want to try and play devil's advocate for Aegnor for just a minute here. Exhibit A: the last couple pages of the Athrabeth, in which Finrod and Andreth finally lay their cards on the table about what their conversation is really about.

First, I don't think Andreth is an unbiased narrator of how their relationship unfolded. Was she hurt by Aegnor's withdrawal? Most certainly. Did he "done her wrong"? I mean ... maybe? We don't really know what their relationship status was when it ended, or if/how he broke it off. Andreth asks "why did he turn away? Why leave me" ... but that's pretty vague. He may well have handled the situation badly, but I'm not sure it's fair to regard him as truly guilty of cowardice or uncaring, at least in terms of what (we're told) drove his decisions.

Looking at the text, I don't see much in the way of evidence that "he got what he wanted out of her (happy memories of when she was pretty enough to be noticed by an Elf) and left her with less than nothing. He treated her like she was utterly beneath his notice." Quite the contrary, it seems to me.

According to Finrod, meeting Andreth permanently derailed Aegnor's emotional life: "For thy sake now he will never take the hand of any bride of his own kindred, but live alone to the end." He'll mourn her loss in Dorthonion until he dies, and then he'll mourn her "in the Halls of Awaiting until the end of Arda" (emphasis added). Apparently he didn't make that all clear to Andreth, but arguably it would have been rather cruel to do so. In any event, whatever that is, it's not casual disregard.

Finrod also makes it clear that the "Elves don't marry in wartime" thing isn't just an excuse. Aegnor expects the siege on Morgoth to break and all hell to break loose ... soon. He's responsible for ruling and protecting a large, front-line territory, he has many lives in his keeping, and he believes that very soon he will either die, or be forced to flee Dorthonion with his people. That's what he leaves Andreth to go do. According to Finrod, "If his heart ruled, he would have wished to take thee and flee far away, east or south, forsaking his kin, and thine. Love and loyalty hold him to his." In other words, Aegnor definitely didn't "get what he wanted out of Andreth." He wanted a life with her ... and gave it up to fight Morgoth for the sake of his people. Personally, I have a really hard time blaming him for that.

As I read the Athrabeth, Finrod tries to get this point across to Andreth , but she (understandably) takes it more personally. Andreth brings up the whole issue of beauty and aging. Finrod admits that it would be an issue, but stresses that Aegnor wouldn't leave her, but rather pity her. Notably, about a page earlier Finrod states that he knows (or believes) that Andreth doesn't like the idea of being pitied. In other words, his argument is more that aging alongside a youthful husband would be a burden not to Aegnor, but to her. His reference to Aegnor's ever-young memory of her seems intended to be comforting (while also hammering home the point that Aegnor will never get over her.)

In terms of implications for how our story might play out, I guess I don't think Aegnor needs to see Andreth in person and be spurred to reckless battle frenzy. For one thing, she's already constantly on his mind. The story makes it very explicit that he does not forget about her after they part. If anything, he obsesses. In addition, he already pretty much expects to die in battle. What if he had a picture of her (a sketch, or even something like a locket), and we showed him gazing longingly at it right before the battle. Then he can go out in a blaze of glory, inspired by his lost love ... who he's loved the whole time.

... Ummm, so there's my case for Aegnor being a tragically romantic figure rather than a jerk. Your mileage may vary!! Furthermore, this has all been based on a couple pages in the Athrabeth. We wouldn't necessarily have to take our story in the same direction.
 
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Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
@Eliza ,

I was thinking of Andreth saying Men go into “darkness ineluctable.” She seems to think it certain that Men either go to eternal darkness, or their spirits are destroyed. I don’t believe in damnation, but I find Andreth’s fear and despair palpable and even contagious. She seems genuinely terrified, not just bitter, and the concept of the Void horrifies me.

There are also passages, I think, in the Akallabêth (and maybe also elsewhere?) saying that the shadow/fear of death was always upon the Men, even the Edain and Númenóreans. There’s the part in Akallabêth where they express their fear to the Elves, and the Elves’ reply is an uninformed guess, largely useless, and not very empathetic. Arwen’s words to Aragorn as he dies bring this out – she realizes they turned away from the Valar because they were left in fear, with no revelation or hope.


How to portray this is an open question, sure. But the different experiences of dying are a central theme of Tolkien’s and should come up sometimes. I can see your point that not every Mortal responds to that fear the exact same way. (Bëor might be less fearful than most Mortals, although he didn’t have the Númenórean ability to pick a time and place to die, so it can’t have been entirely the same as for Aragorn.) However, when comparing the Edain to real people or to Aragorn, I look at their upbringing:

Real people have religious revelations about what happens after death. Some philosophies have a grim view of death, and some say it’s unknown. But many religions teach hope: God or the gods will reward you, if you’re good: with Heaven or some other nice afterlife, reincarnation in a better life, etc. If anyone is thorougly unsatisfied, they can convert to another religion. And the religious diversity of Western societies creates diversity of beliefs.

But the Edain and Númenóreans have none of that. They’ve learned theology from the Eldar. The only ‘gods’ are Eru and the Valar, who don’t speak to Men. The only Creation is Ëa, and Mortals must leave Ëa and never return. Where could they go? The Elves just assume it isn’t anyplace bad, but they don’t know what they’re talking about, and they can comfortably speculate because it won’t affect them for a zillion years. Elves know Eru and the Valar love them because they’ve been given a good life, and revelations. Mortals have a tradition that their whole species was rejected by Eru (possibly true), and that death = the Void (maybe just a lie from Morgoth). Although their Fall story is kept only by loremasters like Andreth, the despair and feeling of estrangement from God would have been passed on.

Some characters – Eärendil, Elros, and Aragorn – are more hopeful about mortality. But it’s how they were raised: Eärendil was raised by an Elven mother, and by Tuor who was raised by Elves. Elros and Elrond were raised partly by Elwing (herself raised by Elves) and partly by a son of Fëanor. Aragorn was raised partly by Elrond. I think these characters were taught Elvish beliefs about death – just wild guesses, but vaguely hopeful. The twins and Aragorn grew up in societies without the constant presence of death, plagues, and child mortality. Also, after the First Age the Valar seem to have told the Elves they’ll enjoy blissful life in Arda Healed, since Galadriel told Treebeard they’d meet there someday. Only Aragorn was exposed to Mortal views as a child, from his mother, and he admits to Arwen that death is bitter (and frightening?).

For (Faithful) Númenóreans there’s an attempt to pray to Eru, and they did receive friendship from the Valar. I think Elros could be a prophet trying to teach them to be hopeful, but he probably had no clue either, so he couldn’t tell them anything. He couldn’t claim to have contact with Eru or Manwë, or to have any revelation from them.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
About Aegnor... (don’t worry!) My view isn’t that he did wrong by not marrying Andreth, but that he did wrong by never speaking to her about it, or even saying he loved her. His reasons made sense to him and we should try to make it look understandable from his point of view*. But if he had told her any of it, she wouldn’t be surprised by what Finrod said. Aegnor doesn’t disregard her, but he seems to disregard her feelings. Or maybe he just assumed his reasons were obvious to her (but he didn’t ask her either).

You’re right that he probably doesn’t simply get over her... although he wouldn’t have married an Elf in wartime anyway, and Finrod only speculates that he won’t return from Mandos. The situation is tragic for Aegnor too, but it isn't really a disaster. Whether he returns or not, he’ll at least have a nice memory to cherish forever, and the option to return to life in the blissful West and marry someone else. She’ll just have (eternal?) misery. He knows she loved him, but she only has Finrod’s opinion that he cared for her.

The thing about beauty and ugly old age is my interpretation of Finrod saying Aegnor will have a beautiful but unfinished memory of Andreth, instead of one with a bad ending. And... if she isn't allowed to have one single nice thing from him, why should he get that from her? Why should he get to hide from/ignore how his actions affected her?

Andreth’s personal situation is much like the theological situation of all Mortals. We have Tolkien’s word that Aegnor loved Andreth, and that the Valar and Eru loved Mortals (at least at first). But they’ve got a funny way of [not] showing it, and apparently think the people they love don’t deserve to ever know it. Pretending to reject somebody you ‘love’ is cruel, IMO.


* ‘I think I’ll die sometime this century or next, so I can’t marry,’ ... makes sense between 2 immortals, but it’s silly when the other person is Mortal. It looks unreasonable to Andreth, and it’ll look unreasonable to at least some human readers, if that’s his only reason.
 
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MithLuin

Well-Known Member
From a story telling perspective, what we 'need' from Aegnor and Andreth is to raise the possibility (and highlight the issues with) an elf-human romance as a precursor to Beren's meeting with Lúthien (and Tuor/Idril and Túrin/Finduilas). So, one of the things that should come up is that this has never been done before. The House of Finarfin is willing to intermarry with the Sindar (as both Orodreth and Galadriel will demonstrate in Season 4), so...this situation is notably different than that. We need to educate the audience as to how and why this isn't just a 'two people from different countries' situation. The 'sundered fates for all eternity (or at least until the end of Arda)' issue might not be obvious until it's pointed out. People are used to thinking of the mortal of a mortal/immortal pair dying first; they're not necessarily used to considering a segregated afterlife being an issue.

While the possibility of an inter-species relationship here might have some overtones of an interracial relationship or some other outside-the-accepted-bonds-of-society taboo to it, that's probably not the note we're going to focus on. We aren't trying to portray this romance as illicit or scandalous or anything like that. What it is is shocking...but shocking in a 'wait...how does that work when the mortal dies?' way, not in a '*gasp* the children!' way.

Andreth comes across as bitter, and very much an I-will-go-down-with-this-ship person. Which is great; we should probably make Aegnor the same way, so they seem to be kindred spirits in that sense. We will have a chance to get to know Aegnor a bit this season, before we introduce Andreth, so the audience might be inclined to take 'his' side just because they know him better. As long as we make Andreth sympathetic, I'm fine with that. Alternatively, he could come across as fairly decent *until* he jilts Andreth.

As long as whatever story we tell explores the dynamics of an elf marrying a human, I think it will have done its job. A lot of different characterizations of both Andreth and Aegnor could work for that.
 

Eliza

Member
Thanks for the interesting conversation, @Faelivrin!

I definitely see where you're coming from with the fear of death thing -- I think we're largely weighting different aspects of Tolkien's portrayal differently. The only other thing I'd mention is that Andreth does talk about humans who believe in the "Old Hope" that Eru will himself come into the world. It seems like concept likely predates contact with the Elves (if only because it seems to be news to Finrod). To me that suggests at least that some humans have relevant oral traditions. If those traditions developed out of some sort of communication from Eru himself, would Tolkien say that explicitly? I'm inclined to read First Age material as reflecting an Elvish perspective, such that some conditions we humans are used to operating under (e.g., many people have traditions and beliefs about what happens after death, and many hold that these beliefs were divinely revealed, but not so many would claim to have received this revelation in a manner comparable to having a chat with a Vala) seem very mysterious and alien to the Elves. So, I'm reading Tolkien's discussions of the mortal condition as more or less a description of life as we know it, rather than something more overwhelming or extreme that we'd need to go out of our way to portray or inform viewers of (in contrast to the extra effort it takes to imagine and depict the inner life of an Elf or Dwarf, where the way of thinking really would be alien to us).

Regarding the doomed love story, you draw an really interesting parallel between the Andreth/Aegnor relationship and the mortal/divine relationship. I hadn't thought of that at all, but it makes a ton of sense -- to the point that I now feel silly for not thinking of it in those terms. It would explain a lot about how Andreth discusses both those subjects. Good insight!

I think Andreth would heartily agree with pretty much everything you said about her relationship with Aegnor. Perhaps where we differ slightly is that I'm a little more skeptical of her as a lone witness to the whole story. It seems to me that that's part of the point of the dialogue with Finrod: the picture isn't complete from just one perspective. That's true of just about any relationship ... how much more in a relationship where the two parties experience the world so fundamentally differently? I don't know that we can just assume that Aegnor knew exactly how she felt and how long she'd feel that way -- after all, she didn't know those things about him. I guess I take the view that while Andreth's feelings and perspectives are totally valid and understandable, it's worth considering that there's another side of the story that Tolkien didn't write, but that we might want to consider -- and that might mean coming to somewhat different conclusions than Andreth does.

I think the different perspectives we're expressing give weight to MithLuin's point: the really essential thing the Aegnor/Andreth story needs to do is lay the groundwork for the later, more successful Elf/human relationships. In that respect, it's good (for us) that they don't work out, because we can show just how challenging the obstacles are.
 
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