10. Death of the Two Trees
festival at Taniquetil, but they did not want to stay idle in Formenos. Contrary to popular belief, they did not ride in a single file in order of birth. Instead, they rode in a loose circle so that
they could chat as their horses trotted.
"I still can't believe that Carnistir mixed us up yesterday!" Amras complained loudly.
"We never mix him up with Tyelcormo," Amrod said.
"It's not hard to tell us apart: Tyelcormo the Fair, Carnistir the Dark," Celegorm said.
"Besides, everyone makes that mistake, Pityo, Telvo," Curufin said, nodding first at the one on the left then the one on the right.
"Wrong!" the twins chimed together. They truly were alike in mood and face.
"Sorry," Curufin said. "Telvo, Pityo." The twins laughed.
"Stop that, Ambarussa," Caranthir said sharply. They didn't.
"Pityafinwe, Telufinwe," Maedhros said as he gestured to the left one then the right. "You were right the first time, Curvo. Don't let them confuse you."
"At least Nelro can tell us apart," Amrod said with approval.
"Even our mother can't tell the two of you apart sometimes," Maglor said.
"Yes, she can," Amras said.
"Only because you let her," Celegorm rebutted. "Even when she's wrong, you pretend she's right."
"I'm glad my child's not a brat," said Curufin, obviously still miffed that the twins had tricked him.
"Whoever said that these 'twin saplings' were a blessing didn't know what he was talking about," Caranthir said.
"It was Aule," Amrod said in a challenging tone.
"Yeah, well, he didn't know what he was talking about," Caranthir said regardless of the mild slander to the Vala. "May I never be 'blessed' with 'twin saplings.'"
Maedhros only half-listened as his brothers continued to banter. He was uneasy. Before departing, Feanor had kissed Maedhros on the cheek to bid him goodbye and whispered,
"Remember the words of Mandos: 'All that here is, and seemeth yet fair and impregnable, shall nonetheless have faded and passed away.' Beware." Aman itself was fair and impregnable,
yet Morgoth had broken the peace and poisoned the minds of the Noldor. He had not been seen since his visit to Formenos a little more than two years ago, but Maedhros did not doubt
Feanor's foresight. Morgoth would show himself again.
"Maitimo." Maglor rode up next to his eldest brother. "Over there." He pointed to a dark cloud that sped over the plains. Celegorm saw Maglor point and looked as well. He came up to
his two older brothers.
"Osse again?" Celegorm speculated. At times, Osse's storms caused great mists and darkness to waft inland from the Seas, though in this he met the anger of both Ulmo and of Manwe.
Then Manwe would blow the sea-humors back eastward over the waters. But Manwe was otherwise occupied with the festival at Taniquetil, and no wind came to drive the dark cloud
A slow dread crept over Maedhros's spine.
"I didn't make him do it," Curufin was saying. "My wife and I finally decided to let Nelcurvo choose for himself, and he decided that he'd rather stay at Formenos. I think the rascal has
plans to use his charm against our grandfather, though what it is he wants this time is beyond me."
"Maybe he plans to sneak a look at the Silmarils while Feanaro is away," Caranthir suggested.
"Oh, please," Amras said.
"Father himself already showed him the Jewels," Amrod said.
"Yes, but did he let him play with them?" Caranthir challenged.
"Yes," Amras said.
Caranthir scowled. "Father lets that boy get away with too much."
"I'm sure he'll do the same when you add a grandchild to the House of Feanaro," Curufin said.
"I don't trust this." Maedhros remembered Morgoth's appearance at Formenos, how he had taken the form of Aule. "Macalaure, take Tyelcormo, Carnistir, and Atarince back to
Formenos. Hurry. Ambarussa and I will follow the dark cloud."
"Follow it where?" Celegorm asked.
"I don't know where. Wherever it may lead us. It seems to be heading north, so we should be safe enough. The Valar are still gathered at Taniquetil and will be nearer to us. But I fear this
is a ruse and that the cloud is meant to distract us from the south, from Formenos, where the Silmarils lie."
"Then shouldn't you be the one returning to Formenos?" Celegorm asked.
"No. Even if the cloud proves harmless, I will go to Taniquetil and report to the Valar that something sinister is amiss."
Maglor nodded in understanding. He raised his voice and said, "Carnistir, Atarince, you're with me. We're going back to Formenos."
"What about our brothers?" Caranthir asked. Maedhros shook his head. His face contorted with worry, and seeing their eldest brother so made the other sons of Feanor somber and
"Let's go." Maglor urged his horse into a gallop, and Celegorm, Caranthir, and Curufin followed. Once Maedhros saw them on their way southward, he led Amrod and Amras to the north.
"Where are we going?" Amrod shouted as his horse galloped at full speed.
"After that cloud," Maedhros said.
"Cloud watching is easier than cloud chasing, you know," Amras said. Then he took a look at the dark cloud to which Maedhros had pointed and became uneasy.
Amrod's face paled, and he spoke for his brother: "It is an ill omen."
Something in Amrod's face made Maedhros worry for the worst. "Faster, Carnahar," he begged. He urged his horse into an exhausting gallop toward Ezellohar.
Maedhros found himself recalling Amrod's ashen face in the Chamber of the Palantiri. When had their father brought them there? Was it not the very year that Melkor was released? It
had been many years since Maedhros had thought about that time, when he had seen his Fate in the palantir and watched the world from above as if he were an eagle. He remembered
seeing the world change and break asunder. He remembered wanting to protect the world from such a fate. He would not shrink from this responsibility now as he faced this foul thing of
Maedhros looked again at Amrod and then at Amras. What was it that the twins had seen in the palantirs?
Without warning, the three horses threw their riders and fled southward. Amrod and Amras landed in a crouch position, but Maedhros had been too deep in thought to twist himself like
a cat and land on his feet. He was at least able to roll with the fall and then stand. Amrod and Amras, on the other hand, remained crouched, almost balled, and trembled.
"Nostar," they said in one voice.
Maedhros looked to the dark cloud. It had stopped at Ezellohar and seemed to dim the very Light of the Blessed Realm with its shadow. They were so close to the Two Trees, so close...
Maedhros felt himself choked with a growing dread.
"... shall nonetheless have faded and passed away." Maedhros seemed to hear the very same death tolls that rang in his father's mind. Or perhaps Feanor was somehow projecting such
thoughts to his sons from afar.
Though his legs felt like lead, Maedhros forced himself to sprint to Ezellohar. He did not know what he would do once he arrived, but he could not allow himself to obey the will of
Morgoth, to simply fall to his knees and wait for the horror to pass. I have seen the world through the eyes of the eagles not once but twice, Maedhros thought to himself. I have seen
and held the Silmarilli, in which lay locked the Fates of Arda—earth, sea, and air. The deeds that I shall do shall be the matter of song until the last days of Arda, and the Music of the
Eldalie shall be no less great than the Music of the Ainur. Maedhros repeated these things to himself to spur himself onward, toward the darkness.
The love between Father, Son, and Grandson are but shadows of the Love of Iluvatar, the Ainur, and the Children of Iluvatar. The three of us must preserve this lest Ea be unmade. Finwe
is with our people at Formenos, Feanaro is with the remainder of the Noldor upon Taniquetil, and I must do my part. I am Grandson and Protector. But even as Maedhros recited these
roles to himself, the fear clutched his heart like a great hand and squeezed until he felt as if he could not breathe. What does it all mean? To be the Grandson. To be the Protector. This is a
mistake. Let me be away from here!
But Maedhros did not flee away from the darkness. For all his doubt, he pushed on towards it until he felt as if he would burst for lack of breath. If only Findekano was by my side! At the
thought of his friend, Maedhros remembered the words that Fingon had long ago spoken to him: "Before the Light of the Silmarils, I saw you as the splitting image of Manwe Sulimo." I
cannot fail him. I cannot fail my people. Maedhros found new air and flew across the green plain to Ezellohar as if he were riding upon the very wind. Yet there was no wind, only a
dreadful, unpleasant stillness.
Once he passed under the dark cloud, the air became heavy and thick, wholly unlike the moist mists of Osse's sea-humors. He saw through the darkness only because of the Light that
fought to pierce its heavy cloak. The Green Mound usually resonated with the music of the Trees, but the ground was still. Here, the Light of the Two Trees fought with the Darkness
and Unlight. What Maedhros saw that day, he would never forget.
Upon Ezellohar, before the Two Trees, were Melkor and a giant spider more dark and terrible than the night beyond the Pelori Mountains. Melkor summoned his might but did not
become bright in the manner of the Valar; rather, he seemed as a source of unlight. Maedhros cried out even as Melkor thrust his sword into the stock of Laurelin, and the fiery radiance
that spouted forth as blood was immediately sucked up by the fearsome spider. The golden light was extinguished in that very hour that it should blend with the silver light. The spider
belched forth evil fumes of the night that flowed like rivers of blackness forth in place of the streaming of the golden light of Laurelin.
Maedhros had left his sword unsheathed so as to not hinder his running, but in that moment when the spider spouted her dark fumes, Maedhros drew Alcarinque quicker than lightning
and hewed at the leg of the cursed creature. Black gore stained the bright red blade, and the light from Alcarinque became quenched by the poison. The spider's shriek was ghastly and
high-pitched, and for a moment, it seemed as if her very voice would quell the music of the Light of Telperion. Maedhros swung at another leg of the spider writhing upon the ground. He
hit his mark, but at that moment, dark threads shot forth from between the spider's legs and trapped him in its cold, sticky tendrils. Maedhros fell to the ground, unable to move.
Melkor's eyes flashed with recognition at the Son of Feanor. Though Maedhros was helpless, Melkor stabbed him in the belly with a knife and then wrested the now darkened sword
from his grasp. Maedhros watched with horror beyond even nightmares as Melkor thrust Alcarinque deep into Telperion's trunk. The spider's black poison upon that blade dried the very
sap and essence of the silver tree, and its light died suddenly to a dismal glow. Then the light failed entirely, and the Blessed Realm was lost in impenetrable night.
When Maedhros began to run toward Ezellohar, Amrod and Amras, afraid to be left alone, forced themselves to rise from their balled position and follow. They did not sprint with all their
might, for they did not particularly wish to reach the dark and ominous cloud, but they kept Maedhros in sight and put one foot in front of the other. Thus, though they were yet some
distance from Ezellohar, they witnessed the slaying of the Two Trees and Maedhros's defeat. When Telperion's light failed and Aman became dark, the twins panicked, thinking that
Melkor and the spider would kill them next. They turned and ran blindly into the darkness.
Amras tripped. He felt his heart sink. What hope was there in running? There was no Light in Aman. He curled up where he was and whimpered.
"Ambarussa?" Amrod said, the first word that he'd spoken since the Music of the Two Trees had been silenced. Though he longed to keep running, Amrod could not abandon his other
half. He fell on hands and knees and searched for Amras. He found his brother relatively easily, for their spirits had been joined since before birth.
"Ambarussa," Amras said in a quaking voice. He hugged his brother. "It's happening. Your nightmares are coming true. I'm scared."
"I'm scared too," Amrod confessed, for Amras had only been voicing that which Amrod had also felt. Amrod held his brother and began to cry. The darkness seemed easier to endure
once they'd admitted their fear aloud.
The black vapors were blown away from the skies by the winds of Manwe, and the twins gradually became aware of the distant stars that shed scant light upon the Blessed Realm. The
Sickle of the Valar was visible in the night sky, and it brought strength back to Amrod and Amras.
"Maitimo," they said as one voice. They whistled loudly. Their horses came to them. They mounted quickly and rode hard back to where Light and hope had failed.
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