1. The Glow of the Embers
Lord Felagund is sitting by my bedside, as I knew he would be, eyes open but lost in the dream world of the Elves, and I remember the first time that I awoke and he was seated by my side. It was a night long ago, and although to him it is but a short time, half of my life has gone by since that distant night in Ossiriand. I remember awaking to the sound of his harp and his voice, golden music that was, and still is, the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. Though I could not understand his words, I was awed, for I saw before my eyes visions of such beauty that I have never before or since seen, and thought at first that I was in a dream. Yet he paused in his singing, and when he met my eyes I saw true wisdom, such that my people can never know, and I knew I did not dream.
Never before had I encountered a being such as him, with the light of the gods in his eyes and the wisdom of the ages in his heart. We had known Elves before, in the eastern lands from whence we had come, but they could not be compared to Felagund. I did not understand how he could be so different from the Dark Elves I had known, except in the seeing of the visions he had given to each, but I found in him wisdom and a beauty that the Dark Elves of the past never could possess, they who had never crossed the wide oceans.
He was wise and beautiful and he soon learned our language and taught me his, so we could speak freely. And he told me of the past of his kindred, of the endless twilight before the rising of the Sun, and of the lands far across the ocean he had left behind. But when he asked me to tell the history of my own kindred, I could not, for indeed I knew little of it, save what had passed in my own time. I remember that I said to him simply, “A darkness lies behind us, and we have turned our backs upon it, and we do not desire to return thither even in thought.” The lot of men has always been that of the future, as the past fades away behind us into darkness and forgetfulness. We do not have long memory, for we have short lives, and my people are ever restless, ever moving onward, ever seeking, though what we seek not even I can tell.
Yet maybe I do know. Perhaps it is this that my people seek, this ending, this death and escape from the confines and pains of this world. Perhaps it is this escape that my people are ever seeking, though we know it not, perhaps this is what our fire leads us to. I know not, only that it is a true gift that Ilúvatar has given us, to seek to shape our lives amid the toils of this world, though we may grow ill and die or whether we grow old and die. Death is our gift, and I accept it gladly.
No, I do not envy the Firstborn, though many of my kindred do. I do not wish I could have their everlasting youth, their forever connection to this world. For Felagund appears to be the same he did all those years ago, and if he has changed at all, he has grown wiser and more beautiful, though sadder perhaps.
No, I do not envy him. He is wise and great, and he is most beloved to me, as much as the kin I left behind to enter his service half a lifetime ago. Yet he can only find grief, for the world Ilúvatar has given to his children is a world of change, of growth, and nothing can last. For the Elves, I fear, there is nothing in the future except the memory of things past, as everything they have known and loved and created fades away into the past. If we, the race of Men, have forgotten, then perhaps it is better for us, for we cannot mourn what now has passed. We can only look ever to the future, while the elves look ever back to what they have left behind. I fear it shall only become worse with time for my Lord. I worry for him, even now, as I am the one fading away, letting go.
I sigh softly, and he awakens. Even in sleep, the Elves are ever connected to the world about them. No, I do not envy him. He rises to his feet silently, with a graceful movement, and brings the fire to new life, to new light and warmth, for night has fallen. Returning to my bedside, he lights the candles there, and then peers into my face. I can see the pain in his eyes, though he tries to hide it, and I know he cannot understand. I smile at him, for I do not fear what is to come, at least not for myself.
I say nothing, for there is nothing to say that my Lord Felagund does not already know. There are no goodbyes that can be said, no words sufficient for this parting that shall endure forever. Once, a lifetime ago, when he wished to leave, I followed, forsaking my people to serve him, to follow him, to share his path. Now, it is my turn to depart, however he cannot follow, not where I must go. Even if I thought for a lifetime I could not think of any words sufficient to last forever, but I do not need to. He is wise, he can see into my heart, feel my grief at this parting. And his own eyes are like fire in his grief, reflecting the blazing fire across from my bed. Yet I can no longer feel its warmth; a cold is seeping into my very bones, and the light is fading, my spirit seeking its escape.
The last thing I see as mortal weariness overwhelms me is his face, his golden hair, the wisdom and grief in his eyes. I am thankful he is here, now, at the end, that I have one last chance to look upon him so that I may have an image to carry with me beyond the circles of the world. My memory may not be forever, at least not in this world, but where I go I shall carry him within. And I know he shall not forget, but will remember, though we are ever parted.
I smile one last time, and then I shut my eyes and let myself go, claiming the Gift of Ilúvatar to Men, to find at last what I have always sought.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.