2. Part 2
I had expected darkness, and pain. I did not expect to find myself standing on a beach watching the sun rise.
It is, in fact, the same shore I had so recently been running on. I have followed my brother Maglor back to it, waiting for the everlasting Darkness to take me. Now as I watch, he staggers towards the water, face contorted in anguish. He raises his arm, hand still tightly gripping the Silmaril, and suddenly throws the jewel with all his might out into the ocean. The Silmaril makes a graceful, high arc through the air, its radiance dimming slightly as it leaves my brother's hand, and then sinks quietly beneath the waves. The gems we had been so desperate to recover, the last remnant of the Treelight left in Arda, are now lost. And my brother lies crying on the sand.
As I see Maglor lying there, sobbing in pain and grief, I suddenly realize that despite what I had thought for so long, I still love him; indeed, I had never truly ceased to love him. He has wounded me, yes, and in return I had sought to hurt him as well, and had often succeeded, but my anger and spite were only a facade overlying deeper feelings less easily acknowledged. Now, my brother's pain tears at my heart, and I know I cannot leave him lying here like this. "Maglor, little brother, it's all right - I'm here," I say softly, and reach out to hold him. But I cannot touch him; indeed, I no longer have arms or a hand, just a presence, and my voiceless words elicit no response from my distraught brother. For the first time I truly realize that I am dead, a disembodied fëa. My brother can no longer see me, or hear me; I do not know if he can even feel my presence. The words I should have spoken to him when I was alive cannot be uttered now; it is too late for me to apologize and tell him that I love him, and I can no longer offer him comfort. In the face of his suffering, I am helpless.
And now I sense another presence, and feel a voice inside my mind, calling to me. "Maedhros, son of Fëanor, it is time for you to come with me." Reluctantly, I turn my attention away from my brother and towards the ethereal voice, and for the first time I directly perceive a Vala.
I thought I had known the Valar. For was I not born in Aman, had I not seen them from earliest childhood, spoken with them, been taught by them? But until this moment, truly I had known nothing of them. Lord Ulmo is the Vala least often seen by my people, for he dislikes wearing a fana; now I marvel that any of them ever assume one willingly. How can the being I sense before me bear the confinement of such a limited form? For the Vala's presence is a vast, overarching thing, completely dwarfing my fëa; an ant might better comprehend a mountain than I this being before me. I am nearly overcome with terror; but despite its power, the Vala's voice is gentle as it speaks to me again, "Come - it is time for you to enter the Halls of Mandos." Now I recognize this being; it is Námo, the one we call Mandos, after the dreaded halls where he dwells, he who is in charge of the fëar of the dead.
"The Halls of Mandos? I don't understand. I did not fulfill my oath - is the everlasting Darkness not to be my fate? For such was the doom I called upon myself should I fail to redeem it," I replied timidly.
"Little one, you cannot call such a doom down upon yourself; the Darkness must be freely chosen. And in your desperate attempts to avoid it, you have come dangerously close to doing so," Mandos replied.
"But Morgoth - surely he did not chose his fate; I have heard that you cast him out!"
"Yes, and no," Mandos replied. He must have sensed my confusion, for after a moment he continued. "My siblings and I did indeed cast Morgoth out against his will, but the Void is not the Darkness, child. The void is a place, and the Darkness is not a place, but a state of being, freely embraced. It is the state of deliberate opposition to Eru, a willful turning away from the One who is the source of all. Morgoth chose the Darkness before Arda was even made, when he opposed the themes of Ilúvatar's Song, and he has never wavered from that stance. And though I do not think you have yet chosen to defy and reject your Creator, you have long closed your heart to His regents. 'I will never ask their aid again, or listen to their counsel,' you once stated of us, and subsequently you held to your word. In the end, if you choose to reject the Valar's rightful authority over you, you reject Eru Himself, since our authority in Arda derives from His will. I will not force you to enter my Halls, for the One who made you gifted you with free will which must be respected, but I can warn you that the consequences of refusal will be grave."
"And why should I listen to the counsel of the Valar, when by your own actions you have shown that you do not care about my welfare?" My reply is bolder now, for although I am still frightened, I am also angry. "You cursed my people, and my House - 'On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East.' - and you ignored my pleas for aid. You deliberately harm me, and then expect me to submit to you?"
"Little one, how can you speak so! When have I, or any of the Valar aside from Morgoth, ever acted to hurt you?" Mandos replied. "We are angry at the House of Fëanor, for you have committed murder, and indeed your father was unrepentant, refusing to return to Aman to face our judgement and holding to his prideful oath despite our warnings that his actions would lead in the end to ruin. But our anger would never extend to deliberately inflicting harm on the very Children we entered Arda to guide and protect. We are your guardians and teachers, not your enemies. Only Morgoth would act in such a way."
"But the Curse..." I begin in confusion, but Mandos cuts my thought off.
"Was not a curse at all, but merely a statement of what we heard in the Music, the fate that would come to those who would pursue your father's path. It was intended as a warning, and those who heeded it indeed came to no harm. As for the fates of those who did not listen - we grieved as we watched your people fall, but we cannot interfere with your free choices, or go against the Music, for the Song constrains us as much as it does you."
"But my prayer - you never answered it, you never even acknowledged that you heard it, and it had nothing to do with the actions of the Noldor or my House, it was simply a prayer for healing! If you truly cared for me, you would have answered my prayer," I respond, and though I begin my reply in anger, my feelings rapidly shift as I remember the desperation with which I had uttered those words, and the desolation I felt when I received no response to my pleas. Perhaps Mandos senses those feelings, for he hesitates along moment before he speaks again.
"Little one, though even the least of my kind is far greater than the greatest of you, we too are created beings, not the Creator, and like you we too can err. We erred in not quickly answering your prayer, and I am sorry for that," Mandos says to me gently. "We did not intend to cause you pain; it is hard for us to remember how limited your understanding often is. What you asked from us was beyond our ability to perform; we thought you would soon come to realize that truth on your own, and so did not reply. By the time we realized otherwise, you had shut your heart to us, and refused to hear the messages we sent to you on the wind and in the waters."
"It was a prayer for healing - how could it be beyond your abilities? Surely healing is within the authority of the Valar!"
"Only to a point - for the Music was marred, and thus Arda, and we cannot heal the Marring of Arda, for we cannot undo the marring of the Music from which it was given form. Only Ilúvatar can repair that damage, and that will only happen when Arda is broken and remade, and the new Music is sung. But that is not of what I speak," Mandos replies. "Your prayer for healing could not be answered because there was nothing to heal, save your distress at your condition, which we recognized too late. What you asked of us was that we should change your created nature, and that is beyond the abilities of all save Eru, Who made you as you are for reasons of His own."
"No!" I reply in horror. "Ilúvatar would not make me perverted -"
"Indeed, He did not," Mandos says, interrupting me, "that is your interpretation of your nature, and it is not an accurate one. There is nothing shameful about your desires. It is unfortunate that you long for one who has given his heart to another; we do not understand why this sometimes happens, but you are not the only one in Arda Marred to have suffered from an unrequited love, for that in essence is all it is. It is only you who insist on seeing it as unnatural, merely because the one you care for shares your sex."
"But why would Ilúvatar make me this way?" I cry. "It's wrong-"
"And now you dare to judge the One who created you? If He chose to make you thus, then your being is not wrong; that you do not understand His reasons for fashioning you as you are only demonstrates your limitations as a created being. Little one, you are not capable of fully comprehending me," Mandos replies. "And I, who have dwelt in His presence, say to you - as much as I dwarf you, more am I dwarfed by Eru. You will never be able to completely understand your Creator, or His reasons for His actions; you must in the end accept your limitations, and trust in His love for you."
"If what you say is true, though, then I have been such a fool," I reply sadly.
"You are small, and imperfect, as is all of creation - there is no shame in that, child," Mandos says gently. "But in your willfulness and fear, borne of misunderstanding and self-hatred, you have inflicted violence on others - and therefore ultimately upon yourself. I do not yet know how much of your self-marring can be healed, or the nature of the scars your fëa will bear, but I do know that you will find no release from your pain save in my Halls. Will you return there with me?"
"Maglor - how can I abandon my brother, when he is hurting so? I can't leave him like this!" I say in response. "He needs me now."
"You can no longer aid your brother, for you are dead and he still lives, and the Dead and the Living are forbidden from interacting - indeed, he cannot even perceive you." Mandos pauses, and then continues, "I foresee that he will wander long ere he finds rest, but never alone - for he will remain near the shore, where a mightier singer than he shall watch over him and guide him. Your brother will be safe in Ulmo's care, Maedhros; you need only be concerned for your well-being now. Will you submit to my authority, and enter my Halls?"
"Yes," I finally reply, and strangely, I suddenly feel a sense of relief. The Halls of Mandos, so often referred to with dread - I do not know what awaits me there, but at this moment I am no longer too afraid to find out.
"Good," Mandos responds. "It is time to go, little one. Your father and brothers await you there."
I take one last look back at my brother Maglor, who is now singing a wordless song of grief, and silently wish him farewell; then I turn away from Middle-earth forever, and depart with Mandos to face whatever judgement he decrees for me within his Halls in Aman.
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.