4. Bonds of Brotherhood
The Feacoa, also known as the House of Feanor or House of Fire, was situated at the northern edge of Tirion. Feanor did not design the House of Fire alone. Nerdanel was a master of metal, but she set aside her normal delights to design the gardens and oversee the tapestries. Later, when she had more time, she created large bronze statues for the gardens. Maedhros raised the seven towers of the palace and creating the house for their living quarters and guest quarters. He coordinated the execution of the plans drafted by his parents and brothers and spent much of his time watching over the servants and assisting them with the interpretation of the master plans. Maglor arranged for the streams of carp fish with stone bridges, several large ponds, and many fountains of masterful design, some but not all of which were designed with the aid of Feanor. Celegorm entreated animals and birds to fill the gardens and the woods beyond the gardens and ensured that the stables were large and ample for their many fine horses. Caranthir spent most of his time creating courtyards where people could wander in pleasure, hold contests of strength, practice finer horseriding, or simply gather for parties. Curufin had a hand in the design of most of the buildings, especially the one that housed the workshops, and many of the decorations. He helped forge orbs of imperishable light for the hallways and corridors so that torches were unnecessary in those places that did not have enough windows, and gems were imbedded in many of the walls and around many doors and gates. Amrod and Amras raised the halls that would display the crafts and trophies and assisted Maedhros. Many of the Noldor thought that the House of Feanor was more glorious than even the House of Finwe, but the House of Finwe was lovely because of its traditional architecture and long history, and Feanor never set his own house before that of his father's.
When the House of Fire was completed in 1400 of the Years of the Trees, Feanor brought his seven sons to a chamber underneath the palace. There room was round and deep in the earth and, like the corridors, lighted only by Feanor's gems of light. There were seven elaborate chairs set in a ring, and before each chair was a deep black sphere of solid glass or crystal. Feanor said nothing to his sons, and each of them sat at one of the perfect spheres. When they were seated, Feanor spoke.
"Thus have your Fates been chosen." Feanor unveiled one last sphere, unmistakably the Master Stone. "These are the palantiri, and the one you have chosen, or perhaps the one that has chosen you, reflects your Fate." Maedhros looked inside his palantir and saw the world from above, as he had when he had held the Scepter of Manwe so many years ago, but the world changed and broke asunder even as he watched it. "The House of Fire is completed, and we are together as we have always been. But my heart forebodes that this will not be so forever. A dark evil is stirring. The palantiri will keep you together in days when you are apart."
"Will we return here again later to see more of our Fates?" Amras asked. Whatever he had seen must have gone dark, as it had in Maedhros's palantir.
"The palantiri are not to be disturbed again," Feanor said. "There is no reason to see so far in the Blessed Realm, but when the time comes, if it comes, then there will be need to communicate across great distances and each of you will take your palantir with you."
"What does it mean, Father?" Celegorm demanded. "For in the palantir, I beheld the beasts and birds in my woods, and I rode atop Nahar, the great horse of Orome. And by chance, I heard singing as clear as if it were in this chamber, and when I followed the singing, I found the Quendi by Cuivienen."
Curufin listened to Celegorm with interest. "I too perceived a burden most unusual, for I stood before the forge of Aule the Smith, and on my anvil were children, not children of the Eldar but creatures that were short and stocky, strong but unlovely."
"Enough." Feanor's voice was nothing more than a whisper in the quiet chamber, but its strength seemed so great that Maedhros felt as if his father was a Vala. The brightness in his eyes was fearsome to behold. "Some things cannot be explained, not even by me. We will not use the palantiri again until the time is right. In Valinor, the powers are too great, and the palantiri cannot be used safely."
"Then let us present them to the Valar," Maglor suggested. His eyes were fixed on the seeing stone before him as if he could still see something of his Fate.
Feanor shook his head. "The palantiri will protect the seven of you, and you will in turn protect each other. I will not relinquish them." Maedhros shuddered imperceptibly. He remembered the Scepter and its great power, power that seemed beyond the Eldar. Feanor had always given freely. Maedhros wondered what dark Fate could be so severe that such powers would be needed to keep the seven sons of Feanor together.
"What about Mother?" Amras asked. "You have the Master Stone, but she doesn't have a stone to pronounce her Fate."
"To keep her together with us when we are apart," Amrod said. His face was ashen, and his lower lip trembled. He looked drained and exhausted, but Maedhros knew he could not go to him until Feanor was finished with them.
"I will protect your mother when the time comes," Feanor said. "She and I are not accounted among the reflections of the seven Valar." Feanor covered the Master Stone with the heavy red cloth that he'd drawn aside. The chamber seemed to grow cold. "We will not return here for many years. Do not try to enter without me."
The seven sons of Feanor understood his tone to be dismissal. Maedhros led his brothers out, and when they saw the Light of the Two Trees, the warmth returned to them. They looked to and fro. Nothing had changed. Caranthir laughed and strode off to the main living quarters, and Celegorm and Curufin, still thoughtful, followed him. Maedhros went to Amrod's side. Amrod was well again and whatever shadow had been cast upon his heart seemed to have departed even in memory. The door to the tunnel that led to the Chamber of the Palantiri closed without a sound, and seven clear crystals lighted for a second and then dimmed. The door disappeared into the ground until even Maedhros couldn't see where it had once been. Feanor saw his gaze and smiled at his eldest son.
"What about Findekano, Father?" Maedhros asked quietly. "He is not of your seven sons, but he is my brother, and when my brothers and I are drawn apart, I do not wish to be parted from him."
"I will forge something more befitting the Son of the House of Earth," Feanor said. He put a reassuring hand on Maedhros's arm. "The memory lingers over you, my son. Go with Macalaure. Ride and forget this nonsense. Perhaps the foreboding in my heart is for naught."
Maedhros left with Maglor, who had remained silent throughout and did not speak of or perhaps did not remember the vision he had seen in the palantir.
Maedhros pretended not to notice his fourth brother's approach. He ejected Fingon's silver marble from the hexagonal board only to have one of his own golden marble pushed off by Fingon's sumito. It was a necessary sacrifice. Fingon's gaming prowess was such that Maedhros could never win without sacrificing his own pieces. Both of them had lost five marbles. Whoever ejected the next marble would be the winner.
"Russandol." Caranthir had called out once before, when he'd first entered the Fox Courtyard, so named because it was Maedhros's favorite courtyard and where he was often found with his cousin Fingon. Now that he was closer, Maedhros could no longer pretend to be too enraptured in the game to hear his brother.
"What is it?" Maedhros continued to survey the hexagon and moved his marbles accordingly. Fingon was quick to make his move, forcing Maedhros to respond while his attention was divided. Fingon never hesitated to use Maedhros's disrupting brothers to his own advantage and many games had been lost in this way. Unfortunately, now that Celegorm and Caranthir were interested in Fingon's sister Aredhel, they were more likely to talk to Maedhros when Fingon was present. They had even begun to call him by the epesse that Maedhros often used in public, "Finno."
"Did you hear the news about Father?"
"No, enlighten me." Maedhros pushed Fingon's two marbles, but Fingon pushed out the middle marble in Maedhros's sumito.
"He asked Artanis for three locks of her golden hair, but she wouldn't even give him one." Caranthir scarcely concealed his snicker. Both Maedhros and Fingon stopped their game.
"Let's not call it 'news.' There's been too much 'news' of late that has been founded on empty words," Maedhros said. For the last few years, scarcely a week passed without someone repeating to Maedhros an erroneous rumor. At first, Maedhros had passed this off as nothing more than misinformation, but two years ago, Feanor had asked Maedhros to actively dispel any false information that was being passed between Noldor. Since then, undoubtedly because he was actively seeking such stories, more and more rumors had found their ways to his ears. Maedhros knew that the Noldor did not lie, but the large number of mistruths disturbed him.
"News, rumors, whatever you choose to call it," Caranthir said with a shrug. "Do you think it's true? He has been speaking of capturing the Light of the Two Trees in gems of late, and many claim that the Light has been caught in Artanis's tresses."
"Have you heard anything of this?" Maedhros asked Fingon. Perhaps he should've known the answer from Fingon's sudden attentiveness to Caranthir's words.
"No. I'm sure Artanis would have told Irisse, unless this happened very recently," Fingon said thoughtfully. Because he was often present when Maedhros's brothers brought rumors to his ears, Fingon often helped Maedhros discern truth from misinformation. It was a game, but it was a more serious game than any other that they played.
"When did you see her last, Finno?" Caranthir asked.
"Ten days ago, before she left with Mother to visit the House of Fountains," Fingon said.
"Blood and darkness," Maedhros swore under his breath. The rumors were picking up in speed. They seemed to appear from nowhere and spread from friend to friend. Much that the Noldor spoke, particularly about each other, proved to be false indeed, but many believed the rumors to be fact.
"Aside from the seven brothers, I'm the only one who knows about your father's intention to house a part of the Light in jewels," Fingon said. "Surely this is not part of the rumor."
Caranthir shrugged. "I suppose not. I just heard that he asked for Artanis's hair."
"And immediately assumed it was true and made the connection between that and our father's newest proposed project?" Maedhros gave his fourth brother a stern look.
"Sorry. I guess I'm only making it worse." Caranthir's apology was casual. He was more interested in discovering if this was one of the truths amidst the rumors. Gossip about their father was always more interesting and colorful than other rumors.
"Father and Mother have been arguing of late, but it is not because his attentions are turning towards young beauties," Maedhros said aloud. He and Fingon often did so when trying to discover the basis of a rumor.
"Some seem to think so," Caranthir said. "Many say that Artanis is second only to Feanaro in greatness and power."
"Maybe in time, but she's still too young to tell."
"Not so. She's already been of age to wed for many years now." Caranthir was all too willing to point such details out because Galadriel and Aredhel were the same age. Maedhros did not need his brother's romantic intentions interrupting his work and almost sent him away to ponder the problem, but doing so wasn't necessary.
Fingon snapped his fingers. "This is the rumor: Curufinwe asked for three strands of golden hair from Artanis. Curufinwe."
"Curvo." Maedhros almost breathed a sigh of relief, but it caught midway when he realized the import of what they'd just discovered. Curufin did not take well to rejection. He would not have requested such a simple favor of Galadriel unless he thought that she would agree. Fingon spoke the words in Maedhros's mind.
"So the next step is to find out if your brother Curufinwe Atarinke did indeed make such a request of Artanis." Fingon back to their game as if the puzzle had been solved, but the rumor had unnerved him. Maedhros knew Fingon well enough to know that he couldn't even remember whose turn it was. Outwardly, his composure was calm, and a lesser acquaintance would have thought that the matter had passed from his mind.
Maedhros nodded to Caranthir, and with that, Caranthir did indeed consider the rumor settled. It would be easy enough to ask Curufin to verify if he'd asked for Galadriel's hair, and even if he had, they would squelch any rumors of the event by denying that Feanor had done such a thing. The sons of Feanor were learning how to manipulate the rumors and gossip in their attempts to stop them. Caranthir bowed slightly to both of them.
"Russandol, Finno." Fingon pushed one of Maedhros's silver marbles with three of his golden ones. He nodded absently in acknowledgement of Caranthir's bow. Caranthir was also more polite to Fingon now that Aradhel had caught his eye, and the reason for his changed behavior did not go unnoticed by Fingon. "I will take my leave then." He left the courtyard undoubtedly in search of Curufin. Maedhros would hear the truth of the matter later.
"Was it your turn or mine?" Fingon said once Caranthir was out of earshot. He sounded apologetic, but the undertone of worry for the situation in Tirion was far stronger than his concern for the game.
"Mine." Maedhros's answer hardly mattered. They'd already begun resetting the hexagonal board.
"What does it mean, Russandol?" The heaviness in Fingon's tone said that he already knew the answer to his own question. Maedhros looked at Fingon and then began packing the marbles away. Fingon was only too willing to conclude their gaming.
"I believe the rumors are finally taking direction."
"Against the Houses of Princes?" Maedhros nodded. Fingon sighed heavily. "Rumors about lands to the East and Aftercomers were ridiculous and easy enough to dissuade or ignore. These rumors about the House of Princes are much darker. How can malice have crept into the Blessed Realm?"
"I do not know," Maedhros said gravely as they returned to the main house. "Nor do I understand why the Valar do not act against such evil. Perhaps the Children of Iluvatar are being tested. As long as you are by my side, we will find a way to prevail."
Later, Maedhros learned that Curufin had indeed asked for some of Galadriel's hair and that she had denied his request. When his brothers sought to comfort him, he only smiled. Most of the brothers thought the matter more trivial than the rumor that it had been their father who had sought Galadriel's golden locks, but Maedhros knew from Curufin's childhood that he had a long memory for grudges. For the moment, nothing could be done to ease the sting to Curufin's pride.
Even Feanor's seven sons rarely saw him in those days. Feanor was gathering all of his might and lore to seek a way to preserve the Glory of the Blessed Realm, and for such a great task, his sons did not begrudge his absence. Nerdanel often acted as Feanor's messenger and delivered his new crafts to the noble houses of the Noldor, though she was just as often toiling in her workshop or visiting with her friends for months at a time. Maedhros saw his father so rarely that he took to telling his mother about the rumors pervading Eldamar, and although Feanor never sent any word in return, Maedhros knew that Feanor continued to expect such reports because he was never asked to stop. Sometimes, after she'd been speaking with Feanor, Nerdanel looked drained and saddened. Maedhros tried to comfort his mother, but at such times, she only smiled tiredly at him and asked him to look after his father.
Thus, Maedhros was surprised to some degree when his father summoned him, for it'd been several weeks since he'd seen his father and even longer since they'd conversed. Feanor was waiting in the Fox Courtyard, and Maedhros hurried there as soon as he received the message.
"Father," Maedhros said as he neared his father. He bowed, and his father nodded in response. "I hope that I have not kept you waiting long."
"No. Sit, Maitimo." Feanor drew out a crystal box and set it on the table. Within it was a brilliant green stone set in silver in the shape of an eagle with spread wings. A matching silver chain rested in a side compartment of the crystal box. Feanor opened the box so that Maedhros could examine it more closely. "Do you remember when I showed you the palantiri?" Maedhros nodded. That had been over four decades ago. "The shadow of foreboding has not departed from my heart. You said then that you did not wish to be separated from Findekano, son of Nolofinwe. I said that I would forge something more fitting for the Son of the House of Earth. The craft you hold in your hands now is the fulfillment of my promise on that day. It is the Elessar, the Star-stone."
"It is very beautiful," Maedhros said. "Much thought and work has gone into it if you have only now crafted the Star-stone for the House of Earth." Maedhros remembered Feanor's unwillingness to give the palantiri to the Valar. If the Elessar was as powerful as the palantiri, Maedhros wondered if Feanor was truly willing to relinquish it to Fingon. Feanor seemed to read his thoughts.
"Give it to Findekano," Feanor said. "As you said then, he is your brother. You should not be parted from him." Feanor drew out a second crystal box, and in it was a fiery red stone set in gold in the same likeness of an eagle with spread wings and a matching golden chain. The stones were practically identical except for the materials with which they were made. "This is the Elennar, the Star-fire. It is for you, Maitimo. You and Findekano will wear your stones about your necks, over your hearts, for fire and earth meet at the heart of the world."
Maedhros thanked his father, but Feanor's mind was already on other matters. Feanor returned to his workshop soon thereafter and did not stay for idle chitchat with his son. Maedhros presented the Elessar to Fingon later and showed him the matching Elennar that hung about his neck. They delighted in their matching pendants. From the moment that they both wore their pendants, Maedhros and Fingon became more acutely aware of each other's presence. Their thoughts were close as well, and sometimes, they scarcely needed to speak when they wished to communicate.
Fingon was not the only one who appreciated the Elessar. When Aredhel saw the brilliant green stone, she asked Maedhros for a gift as well.
"It's hardly fair that my brother is the only one to receive your good graces." Aredhel's white clothing and fair skin only enhanced the pouting of her pink lips.
"If you like, I can have Curvo create a necklace more beautiful than the Elessar for you," said Celegorm, who was ever present when Aredhel visited the House of Feanor. Caranthir had the misfortune of being out hunting with Amrod and Amras.
"No, I want something from Maitimo." Aredhel gazed at him with her deep gray eyes, and in spite of himself, Maedhros felt himself blushing under her piercing eyes.
"Don't be so rude," Fingon chided.
"It's okay, Finno," Maedhros said. He called a servant to bring forth a single row drop necklace of platinum and diamond from the treasury. When it arrived, he placed it around Aredhel's slender, fair neck. She flashed him a brilliant smile and kissed Maedhros on the cheek. Celegorm scowled but said nothing. He knew that Maedhros was not interested in her even though he humored her request, but Celegorm was still unable to wholly master his jealousy. Aredhel only laughed at Celegorm's dark demeanor and teased him as they went to the stables to get mounts for their afternoon ride.
Fingon apologized for his sister's behavior. It was unnecessary. She was Fingon's sister; that alone was reason enough to endure her games. Besides, Maedhros had six younger brothers. He was used to the wiles of younger siblings. It didn't matter that Maedhros had given Aredhel a beautiful necklace of platinum and diamond. Her necklace lacked the power of their pendants. Maedhros touched his hand to his chest, where the Elennar rested under his shirt. Fingon smiled and brought his hand to the Elessar, which he'd been wearing in plain sight for his sister to admire. They felt each other's presence strongly and knew that they were brothers inseparable. The Elessar and Elennar were signs of their ancient friendship in the Blessed Realm.
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.