Wǔxiāng fěn bing (Five Spices Cookies) - HC set in Middle Earth verse
// this is a Headcanon story inspired by Christmas time in RL and the Story set in the Middle Earth Verse I share with Airi - trigger warning: trips down the memory lane, melancholy, fluffy Christmassy stuff, no action, no heorism, just some cheesy little happy place mostly //
Wǔxiāng fěn bing (Five Spices Cookies)
For three days in a row snow had been falling, covering the valley under beautiful blanket of glittering white, reminding everyone that festival season, the time of celebrating the ancient holiday of Turuhalmë was closing in.
Especially the young elflings were looking forward to this day of laughter, and games and tales, and their excitement was contagious in a manner that not even the oldest elf, having seen this event thousand of times already, was able to remain immune to a certain feeling of joy and nostalgia.
Slender hands, sporting the typical callouses of a warrior, ran along the wooden banister, brushing off the icy cover while the former Dunedain made his way up the steps which led from the main building of the elven library to his personal quarters.
A few stray snowflakes carried by a gust of wind blowing down the mountains and across the roofs, silently, weightless landed on a mass of flowing long hair, stuck to it, much like silvery stars adorned the velvety-black of a clear night-sky.
Hou Xin would not notice, neither found the wintry glamour turning the valley the Avari Clan called their home into a sparkling, magical wonderland entry through unseeing eyes.
However, even though unable to take in the scenery, the wonders of this very special season was not lost on him – the excitement of the elves was almost palpable, and even though eternal darkness was his constant companion, snowy days held their very own beauty and magical moments. – Against all common ideas, snow did indeed not fall soundless but there was special, unique noise, a mix of jingling, murmuring, and rustling filled the air. Further the whole mood of the place changed once the white flocks covered the lands: it was almost as if every noise was tuned down, muffled, softened, and by this also the people living here were affected. The bustle of the day seemed to slow down, audibly, people spoke softer, walked slower, laughed more.
He also liked the smell, cold and snow covered most of the natural odors replacing them with a unique kind of crystal clear sensation – and especially now during the days advancing the Turuhalmë-festival other smells emerged: the pleasantly tangy aroma of resin of freshly cut greens, the comforting scent of all kind of foods and snacks being prepared, spices, herbs, of baking goods and liquid gustoes brewed.
Latter reminded Hou Xin of the task at hand and prodded him to stop his musing over the laughter of some young elflings, clearly enjoying themselves in a friendly snow-ball-fight on the courtyard in front of the library. – Some things obviously never changed, and even after having outlived the prolonged lifespan of a Dunedain several times by now, thanks to the gift the Valar granted him back then, he had yet to encounter a child, no matter which of the free people it belonged to, which did not enjoy frolicking and playing with friends in the snow… same went for a lot of adults, too.
Upon entering the home he shared with two young elves whom he´d taken in as his wards decades ago when their parents, his best friends, fell during their fight against the dark forces of Mordor, Hou Xin placed the double-layered woolen winter cape on a hanger next to the door, stretched slightly and instinctively when the weight was off his shoulders. Then a a black band of soft silk was added to the hanger - his blindfold he tended to use during these frosty winter days. – As much as he liked this time of the year, ever since he came back from near death due to the torture and the blinding by Sauron he endured back then in Numenor, icy weather came with some drawbacks like aching scars and his blinded eyes which started to hurt again when exposed to the cold.
Still he´d learned to deal and live with it, even saw it as some sort of just punishment for his failure as the King´s counselor back then.– For at times the former Numenorean still blamed himself of not having been able to break the influence of Sauron and Morgoth the last King of the Dunedain fell to and thus doomed his people as a whole.
And yet this was long in the past and especially now merrier thoughts were what fueled his current doings - The task he had assigned to himself for this evening also held a lot of memories of his former people, mostly pleasant ones, maybe some of them a bit nostalgic and melancholic. – It was a simple, unheroic, little tradition he held up ever since he figured a way around his handicap by utilizing the gift the Valar granted him back then: besides the longevity and constitution of his elven friends, his remaining four senses even more enhanced than theirs to make up for his loss.
After he´d taken out all necessary utensils, graceful, slender fingers ran now swiftly across a cupboard almost room high, with many small, square drawers; all marked with little wooden, carved signs Hou Xin was able to feel out to determine its content.
At the top right his movement stopped when his fingertips brushed across the icon he´d searched for : 五香粉 – 5 Spices – a very distinct mixture passed down in his family and used in some of their traditional cooking and baking.
A small skillfully made clay pot hid inside the drawer, and the moment the lid went off a warm, spicy, sweet scent emerged – a scent which immediately took the former Dunedain back to a place in his past, a pleasant one this time though; a room filled with memories so very dear to him even though only still partially existent at this point.
Due to having been stripped not only of his sight but even of the ability to fathom the sensation as such, to grasp it as a concept, also all his memories connected with anything related to visual impressions were gone. All that was left were those moments when a scent or a sound or even touch brought back the remaining pieces.
This scent however was particularly connected to his wife, her clear laughter, her graceful way to move under his touch, her quick mind enthralling him in many invigorating discussions about the matters of the world, life as such and the state of the Kingdom - and which ever so often proved to be a great source of inspiration for his position as the Royal Counselor.
5 spices, warm, spicy, invigorating and yet calming, their smell filled their past home ever so often, smelling it now always brought him back, and it was almost as if he could hear her lovingly mocking laughter once again ringing from afar….
… until real laughter broke his trip down the memory lane.
He slightly flinched when the door flew open yet didn´t even have to turn to check on the intruders as two sets of well-known footsteps accompanied by two voiced laughter immediately announced the entry of his two wards.
“Are they ready yet?” – the male voice of a young adult, a voice Hou Xin knew ever since it made it´s first resounding appearance in the world – same was also valid for the female one which followed, backing the request of her brother.
Without turning he shook his head while a broad smile of amusement light up his face, “No, I barely even started – this year you are a little bit early – and here I thought that age brings calmness… - not for everybody it seems.”
The scraping of chairs implied that the two youngsters were inclined to linger, making themselves comfortable at the round table on the other side of the room. An action that cause Hou Xin to finally turn, a frown of mocking outrage lining his face.
“What is this? As you are already here you are not going to help your poor, old uncle, but intend on lazily watch his efforts? – I don´t think so! – You better earn your share, or all will be given to the children playing out there. – Here, Airi, beating the eggs is your task… and you Fíer, how about you entertain our efforts by telling or reading us some story, earning your share that way.”
Mocking protest came in return, but neither of the two elflings really tried to shake off the appointed tasks and so soon the place was filled with the clattering of plates and bowls and the beautiful ring of Quenya telling stories of the past.