12. Fires of Awakening
Chapter 12: Fires of Awakening
Feanor imagined himself crying uncontrollably and banging his head to the ground until his forehead bled like his father's crushed skull. The blood would be cleaned,
the wound bound with cloth, but would Finwe's skull still be sickeningly depressed where the mace had struck? Feanor imagined his spirit fleeing to the Halls of
Mandos and his own empty shell of a body being put to rest next to his mother's and his father's.
Feanor could see in his mind his father walking down the hallway towards his room. The servants were at the festival outside, and Feanor would have risen to open
the door for his father if his hands weren't busy. It wasn't particularly difficult to sew a yellow cross onto a red square, but the flag was to be a gift to King Olwe and
the utmost care was necessary to produce a flag of the highest quality.
"Father, this is an unexpected surprise," Feanor said without looking up, though he did nod his head in the direction of his father. "What brings you here at this time?"
"Feanaro, it's already the third day of the Spring Festival," Finwe said as he sat across from his son. "The cherry trees are in bloom, and the wisteria are flowering.
Why don't you come out to enjoy the song and dance?"
"I will, Father, after I've finished."
"What are these for anyway?" Finwe held up a simple white flag with a blue square in the center. Feanor glanced up.
"That's the letter thule." Feanor turned back to his work. "Think of it as an alphabet in which each flag represents a written letter."
"You're developing yet another alphabet? Why?"
"Olwe mentioned on the first day that, even with the telescopes I'd gifted him, messages could not be easily conveyed between ships. I realized that it would be
easier to read such flags from afar than any script."
Finwe sighed. "I suppose you won't stop until you've finished this first set of flags. I grow weary of inviting Olwe to my festivals. Each time I do, he robs you of your
time to sing and dance by presenting you with a new dilemma, and most the time, I scarcely realize when the problem is presented."
"But I enjoy the challenge."
"And I enjoy seeing you at the festivals," Finwe countered. "You're not even 100 yet. Sometimes, I wish you would just come out and play and leave behind this
"This work is like play for me, Father," Feanor said.
"This can wait," Finwe said. "Arafinwe will be harping soon. Won't you pause in your work for even a short time and listen to your younger brother's music?"
Feanor shook his head. "Olwe comes to these festivals expecting me to meet his challenge before the festival's end, and all the Noldor and Teleri rejoice when I do.
The fulfillment of these challenges is good for the strengthening of the friendship between our peoples."
"Yes, yes." Finwe rose to return to the festivities in the Great Square just outside. "And what will you do when Olwe complains that these flags cannot be read when
Osse's storms darken the skies? Will you then make an alphabet that can glow in the dark? Or will you finally admit defeat and realize that not all problems have
"An alphabet to be read in darkness," Feanor said thoughtfully. It would require a series of colored lamps, each combination of three colored lamps would indicate a
different letter. No, but the color of the lamps might be difficult to read at great distances. Ah, but a single blinking light might work, with long or short blinks in
combinations of three being used to represent a different letter. "Perhaps I will develop an alphabet to be read in darkness."
Finwe only shook his head and sighed. "I'll see you on the last day of the festival then."
Just as Finwe was leaving, Feanor called out to him, "Father." Finwe paused. "Thank you for indulging me."
"No father would suppress a child of your talent," Finwe said.
"That's not true. A father other than you would not understand."
Maedhros's voice seemed to come as if from a great distance. "Naught is left. The treasuries are empty. The chamber of iron is torn apart. The Silmarilli are taken!"
Without the Silmarils, the Two Trees would wither and die. It is indeed unhappy, Feanor thought, and I would weep, if I were not so weary. He felt his spirit
yearning to depart from his body. Finwe was dearer to Feanor than the Light of Valinor or the peerless works of his hands, and he desired only to join his father.
Then Feanor heard the voice of his mother in memory as she spoke with Mandos in a dream from his youth: "My life is gone out into Feanaro, my son. This gift I
have given to him whom I love, and I can give no more. Beyond Arda there may be healing, but not within it."
He remembered that his father had then appeared in the dream and wept beside Miriel by the calm waters of Lake Lorellin. "Surely there is healing in Aman?" Finwe
had cried. And Feanor, at last old enough to speak in the dream, had answered his plea.
Slowly, Feanor lifted his head from where he had lay motionless while Maedhros had retold the tale of the disaster at Formenos to the Valar. Miriel had given him
life, and he could not reject his mother's gift of love. His spirit yearned to seek rest indeed, but he restrained it, barely. His body, which he refused to leave, trapped
the wild fire that sought to escape, and rather than an eager flame, his spirit now felt as a burning Lake.
His mother's voice still resonated in his mind: "Beyond Arda there may be healing, but not within it."
And silently, Feanor promised her, "I will heal Arda."
Feanor rose, and if there were any tears, they had been dried by the spreading fire that seared his heart. "Moringotho, Black Foe of the World, it was me you sought
to slay, not Finwe, but in his death, you have succeeded beyond your expectations. I curse the day you were conceived in the mind of Iluvatar, and I curse the day I
obeyed the summons of Manwe."
Maedhros started, for he had not known that Feanor was present. With a cry, Feanor ran from the Ring of Doom and fled into the night. Maedhros would have
followed after him, but a hand gripped his arm firmly.
"Let him go," advised Ingil. Maedhros was about to yell at him and break free, but then he saw the anguish in Ingil's eyes. "Feanaro was the first child born in a land
unmarred, eldest of the second generation of the Eldar, yet the Marrer touched his life and stole from him his mother. Still, we had hope, for Minyon Unmarred was
made the mightiest in all parts of body and mind, in valour, in endurance, in beauty, in understanding, in skill, in strength and in subtlety alike. Never before had such
an Elda been born. His birth, his life, and his great skill were the very reflection of the bliss of Aman. Now the Light of Aman is no more, and the Marrer has slain
Feanaro's father as well. Give him time alone. You can speak no comfort to him. There is no comfort for such pain within the circles of the world. But know that all
the Eldar grieve with him, and we mourn the marring of Feanaro no less than the loss of the Trees."
Maedhros looked after where Feanor had fled and hesitated. It was true that Feanor would be in no mood to listen to vain words of comfort from his sons, but
Maedhros could not simply leave his father alone. "I fear that he will slay himself."
"Then I will come with you," Ingil said. "We will follow him, but we must not disturb him unless he endangers himself. Feanaro is as one who walks in his sleep, and
the shock of awakening may be too much for him."
Feanor came riding from the darkness like a star streaking through the sky. Formenos lay in ruins. The gems of the walls had either been torn from their stone settings
or destroyed, and even the Feanorian lamps that had lit the streets were broken and dark. A heavy gloom seemed to linger overhead though the dark cloud was
gone. His five youngest sons were quick to greet him at the gate.
Feanor did not wait for them to speak first. "Where is my grandson?"
"Nelcurvo is nowhere to be found." As he spoke, Curufin's composure cracked; his brow furrowed, and his lips trembled. "We have searched all of Formenos."
"Many fled Formenos to Tirion," said Celegorm. "It is our hopes that someone has taken him there. We can only await further news."
Feanor nodded. Much of the Great House was broken and ravaged. When Formenos had been laid to waste, quakes had apparently damaged the living quarters,
but at least they still stood most of the roof in place. Feanor proceeded briskly to Finwe's quarters. His sons looked one to the other and then followed him.
"Father, wait," Curufin cried out.
Feanor easily dodged his son's hand and entered the chamber. A thick stench hung in the air. Feanor gagged but moved forward regardless to the bedside of his
father. A royal blue blanket of silk was draped over his body, and upon that cloth was the red and gold emblem of the winged sun. Feanor had not yet created a
jewel of light and fire suitable to be named the winged sun, and so the emblem remained an image of myth only. Now, even if he crafted a sun as glorious as the
Silmarils, Finwe would never see it.
Celegorm caught Feanor's hand as he reached out to draw back the blanket. "Father, don't," he said firmly. Feanor turned to Celegorm and looked at him with
piercingly bright eyes. He faltered, and the hand holding Feanor's wrist released him; Celegorm's other hand covered his nose and mouth. Feanor looked to each of
his sons in turn, and each averted his gaze. Caranthir not only turned away but also left the room, taking Amrod and Amras with him.
Feanor drew back the cloth to behold the corpse of his father. Even in death, Miriel had seemed as if she merely slept. Her body had remained warm though
spiritless, and her face had been serene. That was not so for Finwe. The muscles of his face were tensed as if he were still in pain. The larger part of his left skull was
still crushed inward, and though the wound had been cleaned, the damage was still apparent. His mouth could not shut because of the deformation of his head, and
he seemed trapped in the middle of a silent scream. Feanor took his father's hand, now stiff and cold. Parts of Finwe seemed oddly swollen, and his skin was blotchy
in some places, a ghastly bluish hue in other places. Feanor knelt beside his father and kissed the cold hand. He leaned his forehead to his father's hand and closed
Feanor saw himself lying flat on his face and as if chained to the burning Lake that sought to engulf him. It was his spirit; he was its body. The spires of billowing
flames danced around him upon the surface of the Lake of Fire. The secret fire kindled within him had been unleashed. He raised his head as he had after hearing
that the king had been slain. Forthwith upright he reared from off the Pool his mighty stature. He knew then that the imperishable flame of his spirit would soon
consume him such that not even his body would remain. Before that time came, there was much for him to do.
Maedhros, Maglor, and Ingil arrived at Formenos shortly after Feanor. None greeted them at the gate.
"We lay Finwe to rest in his bedroom," Maglor said.
"This is a matter for family," Ingil said. "I will look to the Noldor." The Noldor were his people too, for his father Ingwe was King of all the Eldar. Ingil embraced
Maedhros briefly. "I'm sorry for your loss, Maitimo. I know that you and your family did much for the glory of Formenos."
"Thank you for your assistance at this troubled time. I will see you again shortly." With that, Maedhros hurried home. They met Caranthir, Amrod, and Amras
outside Finwe's chambers. Even Caranthir, normally red-faced, was pale. He barred their entry.
"Take this," Caranthir said as he handed them each a damp handkerchief. "The smell of the body has become very strong."
Maglor took the handkerchief and bound it over his nose and mouth, and though Maedhros did not fully understand, he did likewise. Once they entered, the need for
such measures became immediately apparent. Even with the cloth, the putrid odor was strong in the stale air of the room. Maedhros went to Feanor's side and
beheld Finwe's corpse for the first time. It was not at all like the image that Maglor had summoned in song. The body was more grotesque and barely resembled
Finwe as he had been in life. Silently, Maglor handed handkerchiefs to Celegorm and Curufin.
"A darkness lies behind us, and we have turned our backs upon it, and we do not desire to return thither even in thought." Feanor's voice was scarcely a whisper.
"Father?" Maedhros ventured.
"Nelyafinwe, call your brothers in here," Feanor said. His tone was sorrowful, but he no longer spoke softly. Maedhros did as he was told. Feanor lined them before
Finwe's bed from eldest to youngest.
"Say goodbye to Grandfather," Feanor said. He bowed to the body thrice, and his children followed his example and understood that this was how they would pay
their last respects. Perhaps this was what had been done in the lands beyond Aman. Maedhros had no way of knowing, but he knew that his father had before
sought such knowledge. Feanor covered the body with the silken cloth embroidered with the winged sun. Then he led his sons out and shut the door to Finwe's
"His body is marred," Feanor said. "No one should see it hereafter. We will bury it and raise a high cairn over it. I will make the arrangements."
Feanor strolled through the streets of Formenos and surveyed the city. "I'm pleased to see that much of the damage has been cleaned from the walls and the debris
cleared. Many will now be afraid to return to Formenos. We will assist those who wish to move back to Tirion. Those who stay will aid in the rebuilding of our fair
home." All this he said calmly and then assigned specific tasks to each of his sons. Ingil soon joined them and reported that Fingon was coming forth from Tirion with
a host of people to aid in the restoration of Formenos. Feanor nodded and continued his planning. The Noldor saw the Princes of the Eldar setting things aright and
walking without fear, and their hope was kindled as well.
They passed a well, and suddenly Feanor glanced back and cried out without warning. He sprinted off, and after a moment of surprise, his sons and Ingil followed.
Feanor was pulling a collapsed wall from the well. Ingil and Maedhros quickly moved to help him. The wall had stayed in one piece, and once it was removed, the
well's hole lay exposed and uncollapsed.
"Huan, fetch rope," Feanor commanded. He leaned over the edge of the well, and his mood seemed to change all at once. "Greetings, Grandson! Fancy finding you
in a place like this. Are you enjoying the waters of Ulmo down there?"
"Grandfather!" came the echo of Celebrimbor's voice from the bottom of the well. The sons of Feanor crowded the well.
"Nelcurvo!" Curufin cried in wonder and joy.
"Father!" Celebrimbor was no less happy to see his father. Huan returned shortly with rope, and Celebrimbor was soon pulled up from the bottom of the well.
"What were you doing down a well?" Curufin wondered.
"Great-grandfather said that he didn't have time to explain. He put me in the bucket, lowered me down, and then all became dark," Celebrimbor said.
"The damage to the well was not of Morgoth's doing," Feanor said. "It was too purposeful, too careful. King Finwe must have seen the dark cloud's approach. He
was uneasy, and rather than take any chances, he hid our most precious treasure."
"But what if we hadn't found him? He might've starved down there," Caranthir said.
"Lord Ulmo would have informed us of Nelcurvo's whereabouts." Feanor embraced both Curufin and Celebrimbor since Curufin seemed unwilling to let his son
leave his arms.
Celebrimbor looked around at the ruins of Formenos then became solemn. "Where is Great-grandfather?"
"The treasuries are empty; the Silmarilli are taken; and the King is slain."
Feanor's sons were surprised at his brutal honesty. Celebrimbor was keen-minded for a 5-year-old, but he was still far too young to be dealing with such horror. He
hung his head, and though his soft face was that of a child's, he remained silent with all the seriousness of an adult. Maedhros felt his heart stir for his nephew, for
Celebrimbor was a child still and the burden of memory should have been light upon him. When Celebrimbor reached out from Curufin's arms and touched Feanor's
cheek, he seemed to understand to some extent the depth of Feanor's loss. And that understanding in one so young made the moment all the more sorrowful.
"At last Finwe and Miriel shall be reunited." Celebrimbor sighed heavily and fell silent again. Then he drew forth from his pocket a crystal tear. "This is for you,
Grandfather. King Finwe was showing it to me before the Shadow came. He said that this was the sole tear that Miriel shed for you ere she left this world. I have
kept it safe for you."
Feanor took the jewel but shook his head. "Silly boy." He kissed Celebrimbor's forehead. "Your safety is more important to me than the safety of any jewel."
"So then are you now King of the Noldor?" Celebrimbor asked with boldness that came from innocence. "And what will you do now?"
Feanor's look was distant as he said, "I can imagine none but my father bearing the name Noldoran and will hear no more of the kingship now. As for what we shall
do henceforth, Manwe will advise us to rebuild our lives and our city and to again craft jewels to replace those that were taken or destroyed. His herald Eonwe is
"Finwe the King is dead, and my heart also," Celebrimbor burst out unexpectedly. Tears began to flow down his round cheeks. "Who shall give us back the joyous heart without which works of loveliness and magic cannot be?" All were silent, and Curufin gently rocked Celebrimbor in his arms.
Feanor kissed Celebrimbor on the forehead once more and dabbed at his tears with the end of his sleeve. "Iluvatar will."
"Thus shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Ea, and evil yet be good to have been?" Celebrimbor stuttered amidst his sobs, repeating lessons that he had
been taught despite his youth.
Feanor nodded. "And yet remain evil. But amid weeping there is joy, and under the shadow of death there is light that endures." His eyes shone like the eyes of the
Valar, and it would not be until much later that Maedhros would remember the flame imperishable in those eyes and realize what words Feanor had left unsaid.
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