Playlist Navigation Bar
Tales of Thanksgiving: A Drabble Collection: 4. Sense of Swords
This series of three double-drabbles was written for Ellfine, who is a fellow Finarfinatic and believes-as I do-that he was not the wimpy, soft-hearted king of fanon lore. "Sense of Swords" follows Finarfin through his decision to travel to Middle-earth at the end of the First Age to join his people in fighting Morgoth. The line about this in The Silmarillion is rather ambiguous about whether he joined the other Noldor in this battle, but I like to think that he did.
Sense of Swords
We arrived in the Outer Lands by night, while all slumbered below deck. Except me. I stood at the railing and teased apart the blackness that was the sea and sky on a moonless night and the space between the two of them: the Outer Lands. Middle-earth. Beleriand. Those reborn among us spoke of this strange, dark place caught between the night sky and the ink-black sea. Where all five of my children had gone.
I recalled the candles carried by Eärwen after the Darkening when visiting her sister-in-law. I would sit, pressed to the glass of our window, and watch the flame flicker smaller and feebler until the darkness had claimed all sight of her. I wondered how my children had appeared from the shore: five tiny lights, going out one by one?
I wore a sword at my side: heavy and foreign, like it did not belong. I had studied with it, yes, but it was like dancing with a stranger: practiced and rigid. Holding my children, speaking with a friend, making love to my wife-those belonged.
But my hand gripped the sword as though we were familiar, the shore growing large and dark in my sights.
Eärwen had not wished me to go. She never said as much but I knew. I knew in the way that she would touch me without reason; linger longer in a kiss. She'd hated my sword from the day Nolofinwë had given it to me-still more after the Kinslaying-yet she bade me to practice and even watched. Praised me.
No, I said, do not learn to love this art or my skill in it.
And she had replied, Perhaps had the children been trained....
Catching me in a wordless embrace, amid the darkness to which we'd become accustomed.
Eärwen had not wished me to go. Yet she accompanied me to the harbor and strapped my sword to my side, as all of the wives were doing for their husbands. Four candles snuffed; four children lost. Would I be next? She must wonder. Yet her hands smoothed my tunic without trembling, and her smile was resolute.
You are very brave, she told me, and I held her close and neither had to see the terror-or the tears-in the other's eyes.
She released me first, and as she stepped away, I whispered, Nay. You are braver than me.
Standing upon the soil of this "Middle-earth," it was impossible not to superimpose the present with imaginings of the past. This river called "Sirion": had my Findaráto knelt here to drink? Was this earth pressed by the boots of Angaráto and Aikanáiro? And those flowers that looked a bit thin, perhaps because Artanis had gathered of them to twine into Artaher's hair as he slept, to annoy him?
I found myself lifting fistfuls of earth to my nose. I could smell them! My children! The pang deep in my gut, of loneliness for home and times long passed: the powder we'd put on infant Findaráto's skin; Aikanáiro's toys left in the garden to become filthy during the mid-afternoon rains; the clay bowl shaped by young Artanis's hands, ugly and adored.
I cupped the dirt in my hands; made mud of it with my tears.
For the earth smelled of metal also: of blood and swords and torment in dark places, and surely, I had not allowed my beloved children to come to such grievous ends?
It smelled of the sword at my side that I held tighter now in muddied, ignoble hands as I marched, fearless, forward, into the darkness.
Playlist Navigation Bar