2. Part 2
This is the 5th story in my Maedhros series - I recommend reading them in proper order for maximum enjoyment, but this will probably make sense even if you haven't read the others.
"You have gone mad, Russandol! We can't launch a direct assault on Morgoth - it would be suicide!" Fingon stopped his pacing for a moment to stare at his older cousin in bewilderment. Dinner was over, and the three cousins had retired once more to Fingon's sitting room to continue their discussion. It was clear from Fingon's agitation that whatever he had been expecting to hear, this wasn't it.
"If I'm mad, Fingon, then so was your father - this is what he wanted to do for years, you know that. He was never able to gain the necessary support before the Battle of Sudden Flames, though; I think that will be different now. And I'm not proposing that we just walk up to Angband and knock on the gates - that would be suicide," Maedhros replied. "No, what I'm planning is closer to a repeat of the Glorious Battle - we should lure Morgoth's forces far out onto the Anfauglith, then annihilate them between our armies, which would move in simultaneously from both the east and west."
"It's too risky..." Fingon began to reply, but Maedhros cut him off with an impatient gesture.
"No, it's not. Cousin, the true risk comes from not trying this. Now that the Siege has been broken, we're fighting a real war, and it's a war of attrition now, one we're certain to lose. Consider how many of our kin have died already - Angrod, Aegnor, Finrod, your father. How many children have the Noldor had during this exile? We both know the number is not nearly enough to replace all of the people we have lost. Our numbers are dwindling, slowly but steadily. Even our human allies, who are far more prolific than we, are having a hard time keeping up with their losses. But Morgoth seems to have no difficulty replenishing his orcs, and the Valar alone know what else he might be breeding in his filthy pits. If we keep to our present course, one of two things will inevitably happen. Either he'll continue to wear us down with these steady skirmishes until our kingdoms collapse, or he'll launch a major offensive at the time and place of his choosing. A repeat of the Battle of Sudden Flames - and this time, it won't end in a draw, he'll completely crush our armies and sweep into Beleriand unopposed. No, I believe that our only hope lies in an offensive strategy - to engage and defeat his forces while we still retain enough strength to do so, " Maedhros said, with a strange tone in his voice. He sounds almost eager, Maglor noted to himself.
"But that's the problem - we don't have enough strength to do what you propose! Perhaps before the Battle of Sudden Flames, but not now. We lost too many troops when Dorthonion and Ard-Galen were burned," Fingon said.
Maedhros nodded, then turned to look out the window for a moment, watching the storm still raging. When he turned to face them again, his face appeared calm, but his eyes betrayed his excitement. "We don't have the forces we had before, that's true. It would have been far easier while the Siege still held, but no one wanted to act then, despite your father's urging - most of our kin wanted to forget that we came to these shores to fight a war, not merely to build beautiful cities and explore new lands. I suppose I can't blame them for that; even I tried to put that fearful knowledge behind me, although I could never hope to completely succeed." He paused for a moment then said in a soft voice, "You would think that after nearly 600 years I would be accustomed to it, but cousin, not a day goes by that I do not miss my hand - and remember how I came to lose it. I will never forget what Morgoth did to me, or what he wants to do to our people." He paused again, looking down at the stump of his right wrist, which he rubbed gently for a moment with his remaining hand, then sighed. When he again turned towards Fingon, his eyes were filled with fire. "Be that as it may, we can't go back in time and undo our past mistakes. Even if we no longer have the forces we once did, I believe we still control enough. I think the Dwarves of Belegost and Nogrod will join in an alliance against our mutual enemy - they suffered almost as much as we did when Thargelion was ravaged. The House of Bëor may be too decimated to be of much help, but the Haladin and the House of Hador remain firmly allied, and they're good fighters. And I have new allies in these men coming from the east."
"I don't know, Maedhros. Can we count on the Dwarves? And these new men - how are they as warriors?"
"I've gone into battle with Bór and his sons many times - his men are capable and I trust them, Fingon. I haven't spoken to the Dwarves yet - or anyone else for that matter, I wanted to keep this quiet until after discussing it with you - but I think they will be willing to offer aid, and while they're difficult people to like, they keep their word. It would be even better if we could get the cooperation of Círdan and Orodreth as well; if you agree that we should try this, I'll leave that matter up to you - they will not listen to me, but they might listen to you. Thingol, of course, is a lost cause, unless Orodreth can talk him into seeing sense for once - he certainly won't talk to any of us, so if Orodreth won't help, we can forget about any aid from Doriath. As for your reclusive younger brother - who knows?" Maedhros shrugged. "No one's spoken to him for years, and we have no way of sending him any messages. It would be nice to have his help, but we can't rely on it. Still, between your men and the Edain from the west, and my forces, the Dwarves, and the new Easterling men here - it ought to be enough, if we plan carefully. Especially since we know from recent events that Morgoth's more vulnerable now."
"And how do we know that, cousin?" Fingon looked skeptical.
"I heard that after the Battle of Sudden Flames, when your father challenged Morgoth, he nearly cut him to ribbons. True, it wasn't enough in the end to defeat him, but Fingon, consider - he's a Vala, your father shouldn't have even been able to scratch him, much less hurt him seriously. And now, for him to lose a Silmaril! His very fortress penetrated, and one of his most precious treasures stolen, and by a mortal man and a maiden, at that! He's lost a lot of power, Fingon; Beren and Lúthien would never have succeeded in that quest if he had not. Perhaps most important, with that theft of the Silmaril still fresh in everyone's minds, our people no longer view him as invincible - and neither do his. And in this situation, morale matters a great deal. Our forces will have more confidence than they have ever had at any point since our arrival on these shores, while his craven hordes no longer see their victory as assured. Now is the time to act!"
"I'm still skeptical, Russandol," Fingon replied. "When we fought the Glorious Battle, we held Dorthonion, and now we don't. Who knows what he's breeding in those woods now? We could get out on the plains and suddenly find ourselves trapped between opposing forces coming from Angband in the north and Dorthonion in the south."
"True," and Maedhros frowned slightly, "so I think we'll have to regain control of Dorthonion before we can launch the main assault. I don't like doing that - it gives away the advantage of surprise - but I don't see any other options. Exposing the rear of our forces to a completely unknown enemy is too risky."
"I'll have to think on this for a while, cousin. You make it all sound so reasonable, but for some reason your plan worries me."
"I'm not pressing you for a decision now! Of course you should think about it; take your time. But don't take too long - the longer we wait, the harder it will be to win. And this is one battle we have to win, Fingon, if your son is going to grow up to be a free man instead of one of Morgoth's thralls. We lead our people into this - now we must lead them out of it. One last hard fight, cousin, then we'll finally have the peace we've so long desired. I for one will be happy to never pick up a sword again." Maedhros smiled briefly, and continued, "And I'm sure that Maglor would enjoy more time for his music. We've spent much of our time spilling blood since our arrival on these shores. Let's finally put an end to it, Fingon."
"It's getting late, cousins, and I'm more tired than I realized," Fingon replied. "We'll talk about this more in the morning, if you don't mind; for now, I'd like to sleep on it."
"Of course; sleep well, cousin," Maglor replied. "My crazy brother wants to take you out riding tomorrow, if it stops raining, so get some rest while you can - you're going to need it."
"Fingon isn't the only one who is uneasy about your plan, brother; it worries me too, but I can't explain why," Maglor said as they walked together towards their own rooms. "But you're right; in the end, we really don't have any other choice. Still, I wish that the Siege had never been broken."
"I also; now that we've truly seen the enemy we face, I don't think any of our people are eager for this fight, notwithstanding all our bold words when we departed Aman," Maedhros replied soberly. "But if we must fight - and our family at least has no choice, the Valar have permanently exiled us - then I want us to win. At least in the battle I'm proposing we have an excellent chance of doing so, while this current war of attrition is hopeless. But even more, I wish that Thingol had chosen another bride-price for his daughter."
"Why? As you said, recovery of a Silmaril has given our people renewed hope," Maglor responded.
"It has also awakened our oath, brother, and that is what worries me. 'Be he foe or friend, be he foul or clean, brood of Morgoth or bright Vala, Elda or Maia or Aftercomer, Man yet unborn upon Middle-earth, neither law, nor love, nor league of swords, dread nor danger, not Doom itself, shall defend him from Fëanor, and Fëanor's kin, whoso hideth or hoardeth, or in hand taketh, finding keepeth or afar casteth a Silmaril. This swear we all: death we will deal him ere Day's ending, woe unto the world's end! Our word hear thou, Eru Allfather! To the everlasting Darkness doom us if our deed faileth. On the holy mountain hear in witness and our vow remember, Manwë and Varda!' As long as the Siege held, there was nothing we could really do to advance our cause, and we could all put that cursed oath out of our minds, but now that that Silmaril is out of Morgoth's hands, we are bound by our oath to recover it. And I am growing increasingly concerned that one or more of our younger brothers might soon try - violently, if necessary."
"Surely you don't think our brothers would attack our own people!" Maglor said in horror.
"Why not? We spilled innocent blood before, at Alqualondë, after all, although I'll admit that wasn't a planned assault such as this would be. But I don't understand Celegrom and Curufin any more, Maglor - I would have never imagined any of our brothers doing what they did in Nargothrond, and yet they did it, tried to unseat our cousin Finrod from his own throne after he gave them aid and succor following their defeat in the Battle of Sudden Flames. I think they increasingly resent the prominence of Finarfin's and Fingolfin's children at the expense of our own family, or so they see it. And I'm very afraid that when they look at Thingol holding the Silmaril, all they see is one who is not of our House willfully withholding the gem from its rightful owners." Maedhros sighed. "That's another major reason I hope Fingon agrees to go along with my plan, although of course I couldn't tell him that."
"You've lost me, brother," Maglor said. "Care to explain?"
"Our oath requires us to regain the Silmarils from any who would withhold them from us - and that includes Morgoth, who still has two of them. And we also swore revenge against him for our grandfather's murder," and Maedhros clenched his remaining hand into a tight fist, "and that's a promise I intend to keep, and not only for Finwë's sake. For now, I can use the oath and our sworn revenge to control our unruly younger brothers; they wouldn't dare shame our House by refusing my call for aid in this war, I could declare them foresworn and disinherited. No, this conflict will redirect their energies into a productive cause - saving our people from destruction at Morgoth's hand - and I suspect that after such a victory, we could politely request the return of the last Silmaril, and the current holders would surrender it in gratitude. Our oath would be achieved - peaceably. And our people could return to the life we enjoyed before we left the shores of Aman - a prosperous and quiet one, the one we were meant to have - instead of this continuing bloodshed and horror. Fingon may hold the title of High King, Maglor, but I remember that it was our father who lead everyone into this nightmare; I'd like very much to be the one to lead them out again, and redeem our family's good name and honor. I'm tired of being regarded as a 'traitorous, Valar-cursed son of Fëanor' by the rest of the Noldor; 'Maedhros, son of Fëanor', with no embellishments, has a much more pleasant sound to my ears."
"To mine also, brother. Orodreth is still angry with Celegorm and Curufin, and I believe he spoke to Fingon without thought," Maglor replied. "Maedhros, no one who truly knows you believes that of you."
"I would not be so sure, brother," Maedhros replied quietly, "because some days I almost believe it of myself."
"Listen to me, Russandol, please - " Maglor began, but Maedhros cut him off. "We've had enough discussion for one night, little brother - my head's still spinning from all the wine Fingon poured down me during dinner. I need to get some rest if I'm to lead my cousin on a properly miserable ride in the morning - I've already picked out the perfect track, it's barely passable in the best of weather, he'll be cursing me for hours, and loving every minute of it, of course. Go get some sleep yourself, and dream of our victory to come. For I am sure that Fingon will eventually agree with me. One last hard campaign, brother, and we will finally know peace again. I can hardly wait for it to begin."
The exact wording of the Oath of Fëanor that Maedhros quotes can be found in "The Annals of Aman" in Morgoth's Ring (History of Middle Earth, volume 10) on p. 112.
The formation of the Union of Maedhros is discussed in Chapter 20 of The Silmarillion ("Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad").
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.