1. Part 1
This is the 9th 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 any of the others.
I would like to thank Nemis for help with the verses quoted below - although I eventually used other translations, the ones you provided proved useful in shaping my thoughts when writing this story.
The Heir of Fëanor - Part 1
Complete darkness is in store for him; the fire which shall consume him needs not to be fanned.
Whoever finds his life will lose it...
It is finally over. The oath is fulfilled at last; the two remaining Silmarils now reside again with the House of Fëanor, one gem for each surviving son. I am no longer bound by those foolish words uttered by an impetuous youth so long ago, no longer compelled to perpetuate atrocities for the sake of an unbreakable vow I should never have sworn. After all the pain and horror, Maglor and I are finally free. The radiance the Silmarils emit is dazzling, almost blinding - I had nearly forgotten how beautiful my father's creations truly are. The light seems to call to me, promising to drive away the darkness that has slowly and inexorably smothered me over the centuries of my exile. Deep inside, I ache for the cleansing touch of that hallowed light. Slowly, carefully, I reach out and take up the jewel in my hand...
The long years following the destruction of the Havens of Sirion were hard ones. My brother and I would have been fugitives, were there anyone left alive in Beleriand to pursue us. But the few Noldor who remained owed their allegiance to my House and represented no threat; the other Noldor were huddled on the isle of Balar with the remnants of Círdan's Falathrim, and they were far too busy preparing for the inevitable onslaught of Morgoth to concern themselves with hunting down the surviving sons of Fëanor and bringing us to justice. My brother Maglor spent those years in the foothills of the Ered Luin, fostering the orphaned sons of Eärendil and Elwing and trying his best to forget how they came to lose their parents. I, once a commander of armies, now bereft of everything except my own sword and my hatred of the foe who had inflicted so much harm on my family and my people, spent them wandering the wastelands of northern Beleriand, killing what orcs I could, retreating south when necessary to escape pursuit. Occasionally I visited my brother's household, but never for long - the presence of Elrond and Elros only served to widen the rift that had formed between my brother and me after the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. They had become the sustaining force in his life, while my own was empty save for my sworn word of revenge against Morgoth and our oath to regain the Silmarils. That I could never achieve either end did not matter - as my father's heir, I was not free to simply walk away from tasks that the House of Fëanor had sworn to complete. Maglor, as a younger son, was more fortunate, but he too remained bound by our oath to reclaim the Silmarils - he could postpone this pursuit for a time, but not forever, although I know he preferred not to think about such matters. By now we both regretted ever swearing that hateful oath, but swear it we had, and in the name of Ilúvatar, and our regrets carried no weight.
I was visiting Maglor the evening the Silmaril first rose in the sky. We looked at it with wonder, shining in the twilight, and pondered the significance of its placement in the sky. Maglor was joyful that its beauty could now be seen by all, and yet remain forever out of the hands of Morgoth. For his sake, I kept my thoughts to myself, but the sight of Father's gem blazing in the night filled me with despair. Must we now wage war on the heavens themselves? I thought in anguish. Did Varda place the Silmaril among the stars as a sign ,or did she intend it as a challenge to the House of Fëanor? What does this mean?
The meaning became clear when the Valar, leading the great hosts of Aman, finally landed on the shores of Beleriand to do battle at last with Morgoth. I suppose I should have felt elation, for finally the Black Foe would meet justice, and the murder of my beloved grandfather Finwë would be avenged. But the news only further depressed my spirits. The Valar had finally arrived - but too late. They had waited until nearly everyone who had set forth on the journey from Aman was dead before deciding to act, and I knew that this was no accident. They did not come for the sake of my people, the Noldor - their anger at us was unabated, of that I was sure. Had it not been for the sake of the Hildor and the Naugrim, I doubted they would have roused themselves at all; even for them, the deliverance was tardy. Most of the Edain were dead, the few survivors were enslaved, and the Naugrim had also suffered grievous losses during and after the Nirnaeth. No, I felt no gratitude, only bitterness. And also frustration, for I, who had fought so hard and so long against Morgoth, could not take part in this final war, lest I be recognized and apprehended. I was more a fugitive after the Valar came than before, when it was only Morgoth's forces that sought for me. In the end, I was finally compelled to seek refuge in the mountains with my brother, where my frustration and anger made his life a misery.
The war progressed slowly but inexorably; during those years of conflict Maglor drew ever closer to his beloved foster-sons, who slowly grew from boys to young men, while I fretted and chafed at the growing restrictions on our lives, and sought what news I could gather regarding the conflict. I was horrified to learn that our uncle Finarfin had come to lead the remaining Noldor of Aman into battle. What must he have felt, when he learned of the conduct of his nephews - he who had been so sickened by the slaughter of the Teleri at Alqualondë that he had turned back to beg pardon of the Valar? I grieved when I learned of the destruction the war was causing to Beleriand - soon, it appeared, the fair lands that our people had loved so well and fought so valiantly to defend, and the many works of our hands and hearts we have produced here, would be lost forever under the sea. Nothing would remain to remind later generations of our presence - it was almost as though the Valar sought to erase all memory of our existence from Middle-earth. Only the sparsely inhabited southeastern region remained largely untouched. Finally, after over 40 years of war came the momentous news - Angband had been overthrown, and Morgoth captured and banished from Arda, never to return. The words I had spoken so long ago to Maglor - "We will see Morgoth brought to ruin, regardless of the cost. I swear it, brother." - had indeed been true, although to my shame I had played no part in his downfall. And, sadly, I remembered other words my brother and I had spoken on a night of horror and wild emotion, while the torchlight shone red as blood on our drawn swords - "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." One Silmaril now graced the sky, forever unobtainable, but the other two now resided with the victorious host of Aman, and we were constrained by our fell oath to regain them. Reluctantly, I composed a message demanding the return of the Silmarils to my House, that my brother and I might fulfill our oath at last, and sent a messenger to bear it to the Valar's camp. And then I prayed, hoping the Valar would release the gems to us and allow us to finally redeem our accursed oath. Let them do as they wished with us after that - I no longer cared. I would not protest any punishment they chose to administer to me - even execution - so long as they allowed my brother and me to fulfill that unbreakable vow sworn in Ilúvatar's name first.
I should have known better than to hope, for when has hope ever availed me? Through our cruel deeds, Eönwë wrote in reply, Maglor and I had forfeited any right to the Silmarils, which would now be returned to the West. My brother and I were hereby commanded to surrender ourselves to the custody of the Valar and return with them to Aman, there to be judged by them for our crimes. When I read the note, I wept in despair. Why would the Valar not cooperate, and release us from our terrible oath? Maglor desperately wanted to submit to their will, arguing that nothing in our oath prohibited our waiting for a time, and perhaps one day the Valar would see fit to return our father's jewels to us willingly, allowing us to fulfill our oath in peace. But I did not believe that they would ever freely return the Silmarils to us, else why not do so now? They did not care about our oath, or us, they only wished to see the beautiful jewels back in Aman. And in that case, our oath would require that we eventually take up arms against the Valar in Aman itself, and such a thing I was afraid to do. And regardless of what the Valar might say about our rights to the gems, it was not in their power to release us from our oath save by returning them to us, for, mighty though they are, they are not Ilúvatar. In His name we had sworn our oath, and only He could release us from it, and how could He hear our plea, bound as we are to the Circles of the World? Even so, Maglor would have surrendered himself and stood foresworn, were it not for me. But I would not break my word and have it said that the House of Fëanor was lead by an oathbreaker, and I was afraid of the Darkness we would call upon ourselves if we abandoned that foul oath. I suspect that in the end it was the terror he saw in my eyes that finally convinced my gentle brother to follow me one last time; in any case, we eventually decided to attempt to regain the jewels. We waited until Elrond and Elros were asleep, for neither of us wanted to involve Maglor's innocent foster-sons in our defiant act, then quietly left Maglor's home in the Ered Luin and rode swiftly to the outskirts of the camp where the Host of Valinor was preparing for the long return journey to Aman.
Surprisingly, Eönwë had stationed few guards around the tent where the Silmarils were being kept, but then I suppose he had not thought them needed, for who would be bold enough to steal them from the Valar, now that Morgoth was no more? My brother and I waited until late in the night, when few stirred, to creep into the camp and enter the tent - we wished only to regain the Silmarils, and wanted to avoid a confrontation. The guards surprised us ere we could leave, though, and we fought, and though I managed to slay them before they could kill us, the noise of our clashing swords roused the camp. The tent was quickly surrounded, and Maglor and I prepared to fight our last battle together. But then Eönwë arrived, and to our surprise he made no attempt to restrain us, or to regain the chest Maglor held in which the jewels rested; instead, he dispersed the furious soldiers and allowed us to leave in peace. When he spoke to us, his expression was strange - instead of the anger I expected, I saw instead sorrow, and perhaps pity. I was too agitated to pay close attention to such things, though, and Maglor and I quickly fled with the Silmarils. The last image I remember clearly, as we raced into the darkness, was a brief glimpse of our uncle Finarfin running up to the tent with a look of shock and grief upon his face. Then we were on our horses, riding hard into the night, our aim achieved at last.
And now Maglor and I stand here on this empty beach, in the hour before dawn, with the chest opened and the radiance of the two Silmarils streaming out into the darkness. The oath is achieved, and the long nightmare is finally over! I see tears of joy in Maglor's eyes, and I have not felt such elation in my heart since my childhood, when I saw the beauty of the Two Trees for the first time. Maglor and I will soon need to discuss what we should do next, now that we are free of the burden of our oath. Since my brother has a wife in Tirion, I suppose he will wish to return to Aman, and will submit to whatever punishment the Valar decree - provided, of course that Elrond and Elros are allowed to return with him; he will want to remain with his beloved foster-sons, I am sure, whatever choice he makes. I, on the other hand, am torn - there is nothing awaiting me in Valinor save punishment, and why should I submit myself to the will of those who have for so long cursed my House, and me? Better perhaps to remain here in Middle-earth, free to finally chose my own path and live the life I wish to lead. But I am Father's heir, and head of our House until his return from Mandos, and as such I have obligations I am not free to ignore; and if I remain here I will be forever separated from everyone I love. I do not yet know what fate I will choose.
But there will be time to decide these matters later - for now, I wish simply to hold Father's gem in my hand again. I remember the rare times he allowed me to hold one before they were lost, the smooth weight of the Silmaril resting in my palm, the gentle warmth of it, the way the light seemed to pour into my body, washing away any weariness of flesh and spirit. I reach out and take up a jewel in my hand, and so does my brother.
The Silmaril blazes even more brightly when it contacts my flesh, and I feel the warmth of it against my skin, slowly growing more intense. The light seems to fill me, flooding into every part of my being, brighter and brighter - oh, it burns! This is not the gentle glow I remember from my childhood, this is searing pain, the light has ignited me, and every part of my being, both hröa and fëa, is on fire, I blaze like a torch. I scream in agony; dimly, I am aware that Maglor is screaming, too.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Long ago, Varda hallowed the Silmarils, that they would not endure the touch of corruption, and at the feel of our darkness they burn with ever greater energy, searing our tainted hröar and fëar with their pure light. The last surviving sons of Fëanor cannot bear the touch of their own inheritance; in the process of trying to fulfill our oath, we have so polluted ourselves as to make our possession of the Silmarils impossible. We have failed to redeem our oath after all - Eönwë was right, we had forfeited any right to these gems. My brother Maglor was right - eternal Darkness is to be our fate, was ever our fate, whatever choice we made, whether to keep our word or break it. All of the pain we have endured, all of the suffering we have caused - all of it, in the end, was for nothing.
Father! Are you at last proud of me? For I, who so disappointed you during your life, I who seemingly lacked all of your gifts, am now in the end your perfect Heir. For I too have lead my family to their deaths and my people into disaster, scorning the counsel of those wiser than myself. I too have corrupted my talents, using them to slay my kin, and have warped my fëa into a thing of darkness. And now, like you, I am a spirit of fire, a living flame, consumed by blazing agony. All that remains is to die as you did, casting myself into the Darkness, for I cannot endure the pain of this burning.
I am staggering now across the land, on fire, scarcely aware of where I am headed, driven on by the terrible heat flooding through me. Maglor is following me, still screaming. Finally, I come to a great crack in the earth, one of the terrible faults opening up over Beleriand as the land rends itself apart and begins to sink; deep in the earth I can see the orange shimmer of molten rock, Aulë's great forge, from which he cast the lands of Arda so long ago. No Balrogs surround me, no whips of fire, but like you, Father, I will end my life consumed by flames. I hear my brother call my name as I cast myself over the edge, and then I am falling, a star raining down into the earth, the Silmaril still tightly clutched in my hand. I scarcely feel the heat of the lava scorching my flesh for the terrible fire of the Silmaril still searing me from the inside. Finally my poor tortured hröa is reduced to ash, and I am free, a naked fëa. The unbearable fire within me extinguished at last, I let myself drift upwards towards the night sky, and the eternal Darkness that now awaits me.
(To Be Continued)
The first italicized line is Job 20:26 (the Bible)
The second italicized line is from Matthew 10:39 (the Bible)
The exact wording of the Oath of Fëanor can be found in "The Annals of Aman" in Morgoth's Ring (History of Middle Earth, volume 10) on p. 112.
The italicized line near the end of the chapter is John 1:5 (the Bible)
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.