This tale of epic length is often told in Dorwinion and sheds light on both the vintner trade and the customs of this land. It is meant to be part of a compendium of texts from and about Dorwinion (though I have not written more until now), called "Tales of Vintner Court", written by various Vintner Court's Minstrels.
This text fills 38 pages in a minecraft book, with line breaks and blank lines between passages.
#title:The Tale of Nilor and Viniel #author:Dírhael, the Vintner Court's Minstrel #type:dorwinion Nilor had seen three-and twenty summers go by when his father died and left him in charge of the family’s vintner trade. Like many of the families in the northern part of Dorwinion, he owned only a small vineyard and the wine they pressed had never been tasted at the Vintner Court in the south. It was every winemaker’s dream to present his wine at the Court and with a little luck secure a prestigious trade deal, maybe even with the Elves of the Woodland-Realm. Nilor was young and he had spirit and soon he decided to make more of his heritage. For one day when the annual fair was held in the village where he lived, a rich merchant came passing through on the way to his summer house by the shores of the Sea of Rhûn. The townsfolk had gathered on the street and were acclaiming the sumptuous company. But Nilor had eyes only for the young lady riding a white palfrey in the rear of the vintner’s company. The moment he beheld her, he knew he somehow had to present himself at Vintner Court for the next Yule festivities. On this occasion many affairs were concluded and also many a heart was won or lost forever. Nilor was eager to learn the name of his adored one and finally he convinced old Grimmir to tell him. “Viniel is her name, fairest of Vintner Court’s maids and daughter to proud Haralambos.” Grimmir had been a Guard of the Court for many decades and now enjoyed his retirement in the countryside. He still corresponded with friends at the capital and made for an excellent news source. For a while, Nilor could hardly think of anything else and each night murmured “Viniel, oh lovely Viniel” in his sleep. He then set to work and endeavoured to improve his vineyard with every artifice he knew. His father had been a good teacher and he had always listened carefully, not idling away his time like many others did in this plentiful land. Nilor was skilled and soon his grapevines were bending under the abundance of luscious grapes. Still he was worried that something may befall his land and ruin his harvest. # One day, as he was chasing rabbits on the skirts of the nearby forest, he beheld a strange figure that seemed to watch him. As he moved towards it, it receded into the woods and beckoned him to follow an overgrown trail. The woods had always fascinated him and the figure had piqued his curiosity, so he set off. After some time he saw bright sunlight among the trees. In the middle of a sunlit glade stood an old hut with a slanting roof amidst many-coloured flowers and herbs. An old man in a blue cloak stood by the door and smiled at Nilor. Or so it seemed, for Nilor felt that there was more to the old man than one could normally perceive. But he was not afraid; there was pleasure in the air and a sensation of peacefulness grew on him. “Come to me young man”, the old man said and lead him into the hut. Inside, a multitude of scrolls and books were placed on every possible space and in between strange instruments emitted puffs of multi-coloured smoke. “This man may have made many discoveries”, Nilor muttered to himself, “but I doubt anyone of them has to do with wine.” The old men sat down and invited Nilor to do the same. After a short pause, Nilor could not refrain from asking: “Who are you?” “Men call me a wizard”, was the answer, “and as for my name… it has been a very long time since anyone used it. I seldom speak to people these days, when there is so much more to discover in everything around us…” The wizard shook his head and it seemed to Nilor as if he had just returned from a far off place, beyond the reach of mortal men. “Why did you bring me here?” inquired Nilor. “You greatly desire something and I may help you to reach it” was the answer. “Have you ever hear of the saying: `When seven times seven birds come from heaven, do not falter or bold, and grapes shall be sweet sevenfold`? I don’t think so. I invented it myself”. The wizard softly laughed and suddenly with a keen expression in his eyes, hold Nilors enquiring gaze. He explained to him that he had studied the behaviour of birds and the ripening of crops and plenty other things for years, and discovered many relations, visible only to those who looked for them. “The time has come where I must resign my lonely life and go out and about. Great changes are coming, I feel it.” Nilor was still a bit confused about all this and trying to understand what he had heard, when the wizard suddenly said: “Off you go and remember: `Don’t falter or bolt…` this will make you a rich man before the next Midyear’s Day. If you are prudent, that is. And never eat violet mushrooms!” # With these words Nilor found himself at the edge of the woods again. He did not know how he had come back there but he distinctly remembered the saying of the old man in his blue cloak: “When seven times seven birds come from heaven… These birds should better not steal my grapes” Nilor thought on his way home. In the following weeks, every time he laboured in the vineyard, Nilor looked up in the sky to see if he could spot this mysterious flock. But the days grew shorter and no extraordinary birds were to be seen and thus he began to lose hope with every day that brought the Yule Court nearer. He felt that he would never present himself at the Vintner Court with a wine to the taste of the mighty and worthy to gain him the hand of unforgotten Viniel. At long last, Nilor rose one morning to see the landscape covered in hoarfrost. He immediately rushed to the vineyard where the next unpleasant surprise awaited him. All over the grapevines sat small, golden birds, a kind of warblers he reckoned. He was fazed, first the frost and then the birds! Nilor feared the worst had happened to his grapes. But in the cold and clear morning air his mind was no longer clouded. He remembered the wizard in his blue cloak and the saying he had taught him. He remembered what the wizard had told him of the thread linking weather, plants and animals. Before his wondering eyes the birds soared in the skies and the mystery of their coming was unravelled. All the grapes hung there, shimmering and glittering in the morning sun and not one was rotten. The warblers had eaten those and left the best for the vintage. Nilor knew the time had come and with the help of his vinehands the work was soon done. He was eager to press a wine nobody had savoured before, for the grapes he had tasted were wonderfully sweet and juicy. # The next couple of fortnights were spent in assiduous labour until finally Foreyule had come and it was time to prepare for the visit of the Vintner Taster. His decision was to decide about Nilor’s fortune, for he alone decided who had the right to present himself and his wine at the Court. When Nilor presented him the ice-wine he had pressed, his heart was in his mouth. The Taster took a sip, and for a moment complete silence was in the room, as if everybody had stopped breathing. Then the Taster laughed and said: “With this sweet wine on my lips, how could I not rejoice of the beauty of nature and the pleasantness of life? Come, young Nilor, I bid you go to Vintner Court and your wine shall be the most acclaimed among the people looking for the nectar of grapes.” And so Nilor set off to the south and with every step that brought him nearer to his adored Viniel his joy grew. Nilor had convinced Grimmir to come with him on the journey and thus he had no difficulties of finding a place to stay in town. The house was small, but it would do and Nilor knew that every Vintner of renown had once started from scratch. On the morning he was summoned to Court, Nilor caught a glimpse of a young lady smiling at him but as he took a second look, the crowd on the street had already swept her away. The festivities had begun and soon Nilor had to shake hands with the many ardent admirers of his sweet-wine. Had Grimmir not helped him, he would have never closed half the trades he was offered that day. Eventually he was brought before the Vintner’s Council and there she stood: one pace behind her father Haralambos, Viniel was fair as an elven maid and bore an encouraging smile on her lips. Nilor was once again struck by her beauty and his heart was beating wildly in his breast. “Nilor from beyond the Celduin, you have brought before us a sweet-wine, of unrivalled sweetness and taste to date” spoke the High Vintner. “This has earned you the privilege of Purveyor to the Court. You may also name your heart’s desire and I will grant it if I may. With a peek to his beloved, Nilor answered: “I wish for nothing but the hand of Viniel, daughter to Haralambos and fairest maid I ever saw.” His voice was steady and his demeanour earnest and the attendant crowd were moved by his love. Viniel took a step forward and said to her father: “I have wished for Nilor to come and ask me since I saw him at that country fair. He is a sensible man and has proven his craftsmanship before the Court. I know my brothers will inherit of the rich vineyards our family possesses in the south of this land. But if you will grant us the northern summer house and its land, together we will build a fortune of it. For Nilor knows how to turn frost into sweetness and grapes into nectar.” Haralambos was only too pleased to grant his daughter’s hand to such a worthy man. The whole council approved of this decision and thus it came to pass. Nilor the Vintner wedded fair Viniel on a beautiful day of spring.