10. Chapter Ten
Swiftly Artanis made her way over the countryside, and other than stopping for rest every once in a while, she kept going east. She crossed the River Aros straight into Himlad, and rode straight through the plains. Many times she had to take alternate routes in order to avoid Orc parties or wolf packs. But in a few days, she was within sight of the lone hill, which stood tall and mighty in the plains around it.
As soon as she approached, a group of warriors came toward her. The captain looked slightly familiar to her, although she did not know his name. However, he recognized her, and after a few moments of gaping at her, he led her up the hill and into the fortress. “Wait here, Lady,” he requested as they had dismounted inside the great gates of wood and stone. “I will summon the lord.”
Around Artanis people scurried about in work, although some would occasionally pause and look at her. Yet no one stopped to speak with her. Fortunately, her wait was very short, for Maedhros burst through the doorway. “Artanis!” he embraced her with a smile of delight. “You sent no word on your arrival.” He stepped back from her and examined her carefully, noticing the exhausted face and dull eyes. Taking her hand gently, he led her inside. “Although this is no palace, I will have a comfortable room prepared for you. You will surely want to take a bath and rest?” He rubbed her back comfortingly. “Then I will await you for dinner.”
“Thank you Maedhros.” Giving him a grateful smile, she followed a servant into one of the rooms. And while the room she was given was far from luxurious, it had a bed and a closet. That was enough for her. Quickly cleaning up and donning fresh clothes, she went back out and found Maedhros waiting for her in the hall. Taking the arm he offered her, she allowed him to lead her into the library.
“We can have a quiet meal here, for the dining halls are filled with many people,” was his only explanation. He pulled out a chair for her, and then he took his own seat. Artanis took this time to examine her cousin in more detail. His copper hair lay braided down his back, and his face bore a small scar. His lovely eyes were shadowed.
She reached across the table and took his hand. “How have you been, Maedhros?”
“We have been having problems with our supply lines. Generally, Caranthir sends us goods from Thargelion, but as of late, more Orc parties have been swarming our usual routes, so it seems that we need to find alternate ones.” He squeezed her hand. “But you did not come here in the middle of the night to ask me that.” He looked at her carefully, his eyes shrewd but kind. “How did Fingolfin allow you to come here without an escort?”
“He does not know that I came here,” she said, her eyes averted.
Maedhros chuckled. “Unannounced trips do seem to be your specialty,” he agreed as he undoubtedly thought of her tendency to leave without telling anyone.
“Maedhros, they know of the Kinslaying.”
He stiffened. Finally, “Fingolfin will have much to answer for now.” He turned away from her. “Did Thingol tell you to leave Doriath?”
She shook her head. “I have not seen him.”
Her cousin came to her and lifted her chin with his hand. “Were you put out?” he asked gently.
“Not in so many words…”
His hand dropped and clenched at his side. “What happened, Artanis?” He stood in front of the fire. “Tell me everything.” Slowly she told him all that had transpired since the horrible banquet in Menegroth. With each successive minute, Maedhros grew only more furious. “I have apparently given Thingol credit for more wisdom than he apparently deserves,” he said tightly when she was finished. “And the audacity of this Celeborn, to think that you were a Kinslayer! To accuse you of such a base manipulation!”
“I did not tell him otherwise…”
“Why not?” She looked at him patiently until understanding crossed his face. “Of course, I see. After all, he is unlikely to see a difference between the accusation of manipulation and the truth of opportunism.” Maedhros fell into a chair. “I suppose this was to be expected. After all, the Kinslaying could not have been a secret forever.”
She rubbed her temples wearily. “We could have averted this disaster much earlier.”
He nodded. “Perhaps. But then again, we would have been on bad terms with Thingol from the very start. At least now we have made our own strongholds and are less dependent on his help.” Artanis then quickly told him of what Fingolfin had asked of her, and when she was finished, Maedhros looked thoughtful. “While I feel slightly insulted that he does not trust us, it is only to be expected.” He shook his head, his fine hair floating around him. “But if I were you, I would not tell that reason to my brothers. Say instead that you grew tired of the west. They will find that to be more believable.”
Smiling at him fondly, Artanis said, “Maedhros the politician.”
“You were doing politics as well,” he shot back. “In any case, you even agreed to marry one of us.”
“You make it sound as if it is a bad thing,” reproved Artanis.
He threw his head back and laughed. “To most people, it would be a bad thing. Most fathers keep their daughters away from us.” He flashed his cousin a smile. “They think that we might eat them. Imagine, Elvish Maiden Stew! Besides, should you marry one of us, your choice would be very limited. Maglor and Curufin are already married, and if you wed Celegorm, Aredhel would never forgive you. Amrod and Amras are too young for you, so that only leaves Caranthir and me.”
Artanis managed to look horrified as continued. “And to be honest, Artanis, Caranthir does not like you very much.”
“Thank you for that, Maedhros,” she said dryly.
“Which I suppose leaves me,” he said. Looking at Artanis ponderingly, “And it is not a bad idea, really. I think that over time, we could grow to love each other, even if we were not meant to be.” Then Maedhros cast her a sad look. “But I would not condemn you or any other to suffer from the darkness that has claimed me.”
Her heart wept for him and his loneliness. “Maedhros, you can change that. ”
He shook his head. “If I wed you, I would wish to have children. It is a natural desire, and we would both be driven to satisfy it. But the circumstances we find ourselves in are not natural.” His voice took on a lonely note. “Think you that I have not seen how young Celebrimbor suffers? He is innocent of our past sins, yet he too must carry its burdens. Perhaps it is selfish of me, but I wish for no descendent of mine to suffer the same.”
She could come up with no response.
He looked at her gently again. “What will you do now?”
“I cannot go back there now.”
“My home is open to you, Artanis, for as long as you desire it.” He reached over and warmed her cold hands within his warm ones. “You will fit in easily here.”
Artanis smiled at him. “As long as I am no imposition, Maedhros.”
He looked insulted. “For you to be an imposition would be if you brought along a few hundred guests. Then I would be inclined to think of you a little unkindly.” A teasing smile. “Besides, you are a very good warrior. I am sure I will find use of you.” He ruffled her hair. “But you need rest, so I advise you to seek your bed. I am sure sleep will not be as elusive for you tonight.”
The next few weeks passed by quickly, for Artanis was given much work to do. She would go hunting, be sent on patrols, help people cook, sew clothes, and even participate in the construction of a new wall in the fortress. Maedhros had been true to his word and had kept her so busy that by the time she went to bed, she was too exhausted to think of anything else. Maglor came by more frequently in order to see her, and surprisingly, Caranthir also would come from Thargelion. Regardless of their past animosities, he apparently did pity her in this.
Life in Himring became a pleasing routine, and in what little spare time she and Maedhros could find, he would take her throughout East Beleriand. Often they would pause at the feet of the Ered Luin and wonder what lay beyond it. On these trips they would run into Green Elves, and they would teach Artanis many things of the forest.
Yet at times she found that she needed solitude, and she would often take short trips of her own. And while Maedhros had at first frowned at this, he later relented when Artanis promised not to go more than a few miles away. It was on one of these trips that she wandered further away than usual, and she came upon a section of forest that she had never seen before. Deciding that a few miles of exploration would be harmless, since she was armed well, she followed the feet of the Ered Luin north.
Far away, a very angry and furious silver-haired prince paced in his house. “I have looked everywhere for her! She cannot be in Doriath!” Around him, his family stood gathered. “When I came back here, she was gone, even though I had asked her to stay!”
“Maybe she went to one of her brothers,” said Linneth sympathetically. Beside her, Galathil nodded in agreement.
“It seems to be the most logical choice.” Beside Galathil, Galadhon stood in stoic silence.
Linneth continued. “But what I do not understand is why she chose to leave without telling us. After all, she is not a Kinslayer.”
Celeborn looked shamefaced as his father gave him a withering glare. Galadhon had been very fond of Artanis, and unlike his normally cool-headed younger son, Galadhon had not lost his temper. “You would not be in this position if you had restrained your anger. If only you had listened!”
“Oh Celeborn, you did not…” Linneth trailed off as she realized what exactly Celeborn had done. “Surely you listened to her?”
“No,” he said bleakly. “I assumed wrongly, it seemed.”
Galadhon gave his son a disappointed look. “I have never seen you to be so foolish, my son. Saying such cruel things to another innocent victim…and such accusations. What has come over you?”
Even Celeborn’s brother looked disappointed. “She is not like her hot-headed family, Brother. You knew that.”
“I know all this,” Celeborn muttered. “But the pain at that moment, the fact that she kept something of such magnitude from me!” He gave them all anguished looks. “She was my friend!”
Linneth wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “Perhaps she did not tell you because she knew that you would act precisely as you did?”
“So what will you do know?” asked Galathil.
Celeborn closed his eyes. “I will send inquiries to her family. She most likely went to Finrod in Nargothrond. And then I will ask her to come back here.”
As Artanis rode further into the forest, she suddenly noticed how the entire forest had grown silent. Uneasy, she began to wish that she had not come so far alone. But deciding that her wish was pointless, she continued on the grassy trail. Coming upon a narrow stream, she dismounted and allowed her horse to drink while she sat down to eat and rest. But just as she was withdrawing a wineskin from her saddlebags, she felt a cold steel blade press against her throat. Dumbfounded because she and her horse had been taken completely unaware, she dropped the wineskin.
“That must be good quality wine.” The voice at her ear was low and raspy, and it was very accented Sindarin.
“The very best.” Keeping her voice even, she slowly turned her head to see the person wielding the knife. It was an Elf, with skin a few shades darker than other elves. “And may I enquire as to why your hunting knife is currently pressing against my neck?”
She felt his hand reach down and remove her own weapons. “You are trespassing.”
“These lands belong to Maedhros, the Lord of Himring.”
He finally released her. Turning quickly, she saw that he was tall and very well built – not slender at all. “His territory ended quite a distance back.” He smiled dangerously. “We have been following you ever since.” She looked around her again but saw no one in the woods. “Do not bother,” he said, “you will not be able to see them unless they wish to show themselves to you.” He gestured to the ground. “Since you were about to eat, you might as well. Although you will have to drink the water since you fed the grass your wine.”
She sat down slowly, and he sat in front of her. “Who are you that trespasses on our land?” he asked.
“I am Artanis daughter of Finarfin son of Finwë , and I was not aware that this area was claimed.” She spread her hands. “I was only exploring this area.”
“Indeed.” The man leaned forward. “You are not one of the Sindar, nor are you one of us. Who are you?”
She straightened. “I will answer your question with one of my own. Who are you?”
He looked amused. “Since I am the lord here, I think that I should be asking the questions.” Giving her an imperious stare, he continued. “But since I am not ashamed of my identity, I shall tell you. I am Orimor, the youngest son of Nurwë the Avari King.”
Avari…In Valinor the firstborn would speak of the Avari in hushed tones. The Avari had refused the summons of the Valar, and they were the true dark elves. At least the Sindar had started on the Journey.
“Surely Finwë has told you about your long lost kin who remained behind at Cuivienen?” Orimor was watching her very carefully.
“Very little. Only that the Avari did not wish to leave the lands of the Awakening.” Artanis knew she needed to tread carefully. Hostility emanated off him in waves.
Orimor raised his brow. “You do not look like a Noldo.”
“My mother was of the Teleri, and my grandmother was of the Vanyar.”
Orimor smiled. “What a charming bloodline you seem to have. But not charming enough, it seems, since you do not share the philosophy of your foremothers.”
Taking a deep breath, she said, “My lord, I hardly think that you know what my philosophies are.”
“Ahh, but I have a very good idea.” He leaned forward. “Certainly you share the views of your kindred? Both your Noldorin and Sindarin ones?”
“I do not understand…”
“Then please let me enlighten you. I can read your feelings and most of your thoughts. I felt the disgust that rippled through you when I said we were Avari.” His dark eyes were accusing. “You call us dark elves, and you view us as inferior because we chose not to obey the summons of the Valar. Do you deny it?”
She shook her head. “No, I do not.”
Orimor seemed pleased at her honesty. “But then answer me this - if you claim that the Eldar are superior for following the Valar, then why did you and your kind leave them?” He looked thoughtful. “Surely that indicates that perhaps you are not as above us as you thought. After all, there is very little difference between us now, for all of your descendents will be dark elves as well.”
“The reasons we had for leaving have nothing to do with the Valar.”
“Oh, of course. It was Melkor. He seems to be everybody’s scapegoat these days.” At Artanis’s surprised expression, Orimor laughed. “We have known of the Kinslaying for a long time. The birds and trees are far better messengers than people.” He smiled dangerously. “Your future has suddenly become a little gray, Princess.”
She wondered whether they would kill her or not. Briefly she considered telling them that she had fought against Fëanor at Alqualondë, but she dismissed the idea. It would seem like a ploy to buy her life back. She had not even denied being a Kinslayer when Celeborn had accused her…
But apparently Orimor knew. She could read the knowledge in his ageless eyes. “Princess,” and even though he said it in a beautiful voice, the title sounded very derogatory, “we do not judge you for the actions of your cousins. Frankly, the Kinslaying means nothing to us. Too long have the Eldar,” and here Eldar also sounded insulting, “shunned us. So it matters not what you did or did not do at the Swanhaven.”
“They why do you judge me?”
“We judge you now because you have judged us before.”
“Why should my judgment affect you? I am the youngest child of the youngest prince - I am insignificant.” Artanis was starting to get a headache.
But Orimor did not answer that. Instead, he gazed at her for a few moments, as if trying to puzzle something out. Finally: “The Sindar say that we serve the Dark Lord.”
“Serve the Dark Lord?” He chuckled. “It seems that you Eldar are very narrow-minded. To you, one can either serve the Dark Lord or the good Lords.” Orimor shook his head. “I think it would be better to say that we Avari serve ourselves.”
She narrowed her eyes. “To what end do you serve yourselves?”
He shrugged. “My sister was killed by one of Thingol’s war parties. The Sindar hunt us as if we are sport, especially since we rarely fight with Orcs. They all too easily believe that we are Melkor’s servants.” Spreading his hands on his lap, he said, “I think that how we serve ourselves is obvious. We owe fealty to no one.”
“Your sister was killed by your kinsmen?” asked Artanis faintly.
For a few seconds, Orimor’s eyes became shadowed. “They are not our kinsmen. We have separated from your kind long ago.” Your kind.
“But you will see her again.”
He looked at her curiously. “Do you think so?”
Artanis gave him a puzzled look. “If you die, you become re-embodied.” She took this opportunity to ask something that had bordered in her mind since she had first met him. “Lord, why do you hate the Valar?”
He raised his eyebrows. “What a strange question to ask, especially from another who hated the Valar so much that she left them.” She did not bother to refute his statement anymore. Instead, “I have another question for you, Princess.” At Artanis’s nod, he asked, “Do you know how Orcs were first produced?”
She shrugged again. “They are probably creatures that Morgoth has created.”
Orimor laughed bitterly. “Melkor created them and did not create them.” At his guest’s blank look, he continued. “From when the Quendi first awakened, Melkor began to steal some of us away. He took these elves to his fortress, Utumno.”
“I have heard of these stolen elves and how he cruelly killed them.”
“Killed them? Did the Sindar tell you that?” When she nodded her head, he looked sorrowful. “No, those stolen elves were certainly not killed. He tortured them and mutilated them, until they became as ugly within as they were without.”
Her eyes widened. “What happened to these elves?” Her stomach tightened in anticipation of the answer.
“Most of the stolen elves were of the Nelyar tribe. Some from the Tatyar, and never from the Minyar. Melkor was always afraid of the Minyar.” Orimor ’s eyes were distant. “One of the stolen ones was my father’s brother. In his desperation, my father Nurwë went to Utumno. It was dark and evil - Angband is a beautiful palace compared to Utumno.”
His gaze sharpened again. “And he saw the first Orcs.” He took a deep breath, and then, “In those days, Orcs did not look as they do now. What they are now is due to centuries after centuries of breeding and even more torture. But in the beginning, you could tell where the Orcs came from.” Orimor leaned forward. “They still looked like elves.”
Artanis’s hands dropped the bread in her hands, only to be stolen by a squirrel. “You lie,” she whispered.
“Do I?” He grabbed a hold of her hands. “I have no reason to lie to you. Because you and your kind mean nothing to me.” Your kind.
“Thingol did not tell us this…” And neither did Celeborn.
Now it was his turn to shrug. “Why should he? If he tells you, then the Noldor would be more hesitant to kill what used to be fellow elves. Thingol needs you to kill Orcs.” Releasing her hands, “So I go back to your previous question - why do I think that I will never see my wife again?”
Artanis felt nausea rise in her throat. Oblivious to her horror, or perhaps completely aware of it, he went on. “In all your years in Valinor, do you recall ever seeing someone re-embodied?”
“Ever since the Awakening, the Avari have died in large numbers - either at the hands of Melkor, of Orcs, or at the hands of the Sindar. Yet you have just told me that none of them have left the Halls of Mandos. Indeed, perhaps they have never gotten there.”
She protested. “The Valar love all of Iluvator’s children.”
He looked at her sympathetically. “The Valar love all of you, and perhaps not even you anymore, since you Noldor defied them. They certainly have never come to our aid, even though we suffer the most from Melkor. Forgive me if I find that punishment a bit difficult to swallow, simply because we did not obey their summons, simply because the Orcs are our kin.” He looked up at the night sky. “They say that Iluvator does not want us anymore, those that ceased to be beautiful.”
“Iluvator loves all of his children, no matter what their circumstances.” But her protests were becoming weaker.
“And do you think that he loves the servants of Melkor, these evil, fell creatures?” His voice became louder. “Do you think that Orcs will one day be allowed to enter the Blessed Realm? They should have been elves - I have family among them.”
“Iluvator loves all of you,” she said desperately.
“Hmm, well, I shall see if I ever arrive at the gates to the Halls of Mandos.”
Artanis gazed at the prince with more empathy. She understood so many more things now, and she saw that Thingol was capable of treachery as well. “I am sorry. I did not know.” She gazed at the prince imploringly. “Lord, there is still hope for you.”
“Hope!” Orimor chuckled again. “Ahh, hope. Hope I will leave to you, Princess.” He gestured to his surroundings. “You see our poor state. The lands east of these mountains are too dangerous for us. Orcs roam those lands too freely, and we were forced to come west. We have some safety in Beleriand, if you do not count the danger from Thingol.”
Troubled, she mutely stared at the squirrel that was happily feasting on her bread.
“She is so impertinent,” grated Maedhros.
Maglor gave him a helpless look. Earlier, the captain of on the border patrols had reported sighting Artanis riding further and further away from Noldor land. Luckily, Maglor had arrived at that time, and so he was able to keep his brother from doing any damage to the captain.
Now both brothers were riding in the direction that Artanis had gone. “I only ask her to remain within my borders! Does she think that my borders extend to the other side of Middle Earth?” continued Maedhros. “And what if something has happened to her? Even the Green elves hate this place. Too many Orcs and Avari.”
“Her brothers will not be very happy,” added Maglor.
“You are supposed to make me feel better!” snapped Maedhros.
“Sorry,” said Maglor, except he did not sound apologetic at all.
When they finally entered the forests, they agreed to split. Maglor went north while Maedhros went south. Deciding that Artanis would have traveled at the mountain’s feet, he followed the Ered Luin further down. Soon, they would be near Ossiriand. Perhaps that was where she had gone. But then again, she would not have done it in secret. Hissing in frustration, he kept riding through the dense jungle, distantly wondering if the insects were also sent by Morgoth to plagued them.
However, after a few hours of riding, he came upon a stream, and after traveling down it for a few miles, he suddenly saw Artanis – with a dangerous looking elf. Concerned, he was about to go forward, until he saw that she was under no harm as of yet. Deciding to watch over them instead, he looked for a good vantage point, as the two still had not seen him yet. Knowing that he would not be able to climb the tree without making a great amount of noise, his eyes fell upon the hollow of a tree. Seeing that it would allow him a good vantage point to watch his cousin and the stranger, he released his horse and told her to quietly graze further upstream.
And then he tried to fit into the hollow.
After a few seconds, Maedhros cursed fate for giving him such a tall frame. The hollow was suited for perhaps a cat to find shelter in. Not exceptionally tall Elf-lords.
But he finally did manage to get inside, after folding his limbs in such a way was probably unnatural.
Fingon had always been better at acrobatics.
Ahh, Fingon. If you could see me now! Your noble cousin who is painfully crouched in an a tree, because against his better judgment, he allowed your cousin Artanis to wander off.. And who also, for a few serious seconds, considered marrying her.
If circumstances had been different, if he were not a Kinslayer, if Fingon were not Fingolfin’s son, and if everything was still happy in Valinor, then perhaps…
Perhaps what? Perhaps Fëanor would not have created those Silmarils? Or perhaps -
His chain of thoughts was cut off by a slight noise. What was that?!
A few seconds after hurriedly withdrawing his knife, he caught sight of the source of the noise. He rebuked himself. Wonderful, Maedhros. You almost cut up a mouse searching for food. At least your combat skills are still sharp. Giving the mouse his best lordly stare, he said, “This hollow is already occupied.”
The mouse gave him a haughty stare of her own. She seemed to say, Too bad you cannot move enough to make me leave.
“Why is everyone so impudent lately?” Frustrated because he could not even shake his head, he frowned. “My brothers hardly take heed of my counsel anymore, Orcs are taking over my supply routes, my cousin Artanis ran off, and you are invading my territory.” The mouse gave him another look. “Yes,” Maedhros insisted. “I found this alcove first.”
The mouse squeaked. You do not fit in here.
“Tell that to Artanis.” Shifting as much as he could, “I am, after all, the lord here. And I am older.” Looking out of the alcove, he said, “And I would have climbed the tree, except I cannot with one hand!”
The mouse nipped his one hand. “That hurt!” Maedhros glared at the mouse. “I still do need it,” he huffed.
“Yes, yes, yes,” he muttered. “I know, I should be thankful that I still live, by the good graces of Fingon. But sometimes…I wish that I was not.” Giving the mouse a depressed look, he said, “Then I would not dream of Alqualondë .”
The mouse sat on its haunches and gave Maedhros a speculative look. “Yes, I suppose you are right,” sighed Maedhros. “I am who I have made myself to be. Fate does not control me. I control my fate.” But then a troubled look crossed his face. “But does that mean I chose to become a Kinslayer? That idea is too horrifying even to contemplate.”
But after a few seconds, “I chose to follow my father, and I chose to attack the Teleri. Just as I chose not to burn the ships.”
The mouse’s tail twitched. “I suppose you never had any problems.” Maedhros gave the mouse a considering glance. “Had Iluvator only seen fit to make me a mouse!”
Squeak squeak. Maedhros the Mouse.
“As opposed to Maedhros the Tall?” He smiled ruefully. “At least I would fit in this hole then.” Maedhros shifted again to find a more comfortable position - and found none. “But going back to your original point, do you really think that we control fate?”
The mouse emitted a puff of breath in a murine approximation of a sigh. Laying down resignedly, she looked up at the odd Elf as he continued speaking. “Sometimes my own people will call me Kinslayer - not to my face, of course, but behind my back. It does not disturb me actually, for it is an understandable mistake. But I think that swearing the oath was the biggest mistake in my life.”
Maedhros absently patted the mouse’s head. “I will not diminish it by saying that it seemed to be a good idea at the time. When Father swore that oath, I suddenly understood what he was offering - freedom from the Valar, the freedom to make mistakes, the freedom to be wrong. I had only a few seconds to make my decision then, and at the time, it seemed like the only possible choice. After all, when someone is hanging off a cliff, he will grab any hand that will pull him up to safety. He does not pause to ask whose hand it is, nor does he wonder what awaits him above.”
“I do not need Melian’s insight to know that most people resent me. Other than Maglor, my brothers see me as weak, they think that I have betrayed Father by giving up the crown.” Maedhros’s gray eyes were shadowed by pain. “My uncle sees me as my father’s son - nothing more. My other cousins, save Fingon and Artanis, see me as untrustworthy. My own people blame me for their misery.” He laughed bitterly. “And Morgoth - he simply hates me.”
Squeak. The mouse’s nose twitched.
“Am I feeling sorry for myself again? Sorry.” He allowed the mouse to cuddle his leg. “I lost my identity when I swore that oath.”
“No need to be so shrill, friend! My ears are sensitive to such high frequencies.” Looking thoughtful, he nodded. “But you are right again, Lady Mouse. I am Maedhros.”
The mouse’s mouth stretched into what was probably a smile. Maedhros smiled back. “I am myself, and that is all I need to be.”
Further down river, Artanis and Orimor spoke of various things. She told him of her brothers, cousins, and uncles. Orimor seemed to like Fëanor the best. “Kinslayer or not – he knew not to believe that the Valar can make everything right.”
“My father never agreed with that.” She looked toward the river.
“You have told me about your entire family, even non family members, yet you do not speak of your father. Why is that?” His eyes for once held no maliciousness in them.
Artanis clenched her hands. “He betrayed us. He would not come.”
He nodded in understanding. “He betrayed you because he did not follow his brothers?” His face became thoughtful. “Fraternal loyalty generally does go deep.”
“As it should! Did you not say that your own father went to Utumno to seek his brother out? That was the right thing to do.” Anger flashed in her eyes. “Regardless of what happened at Alqualondë, the Noldor were still his people.”
“And you are still his daughter.” Orimor looked at her sympathetically. “Your father did a difficult thing, Princess. He sacrificed those whom he loved best for higher principles. Your father stood up for what he believed in, just as Fëanor did. Frankly, it seems that Fingolfin is the weakest one – he had no position of his own.”
Artanis shook her head. “Fingolfin went because his people went. My father did not.”
Orimor’s dark eyes were sorrowful. “The Teleri were your father’s people too. If he had come, he would have left the Teleri – his wife’s people, the people that you said he adopted as his own. His decision was not easy, Princess.”
Reluctant understanding crossed her face. “I need to dwell on this matter more.”
“As you should.” He stretched languorously. “It is a shame that you will dwell in Ossiriand. I think that the lands east of these mountains would be more to your liking.”
“You said it was very dangerous.”
Orimor chuckled. “So I did. But if you shy away from danger, than you are a boring person.” His face turned serious. “The lands beyond are ravaged. The only elves that live there are the Avari and the Silvan elves.”
In a flash of insight, she understood what Fëanor had wanted of her, of what the Elessar could do. To heal what Fëanor would have brought to ruin.
Artanis ripped off the Elessar and held it out to Orimor. “With this stone, I can make those lands a paradise with the flick of my hand. This is what I offer you for your support.”
His face grew cold. “Our loyalty is not for sale, Princess. It never has been,” he sneered.
She gazed at the prince intently. “Forgive me. That was ill-spoken of me.”
Orimor leaned back to regard her. “None of the Sindar has ever acknowledged a mistake to us.”
“Perhaps there was something wrong with their upbringing.” She allowed Orimor to take the Elessar. “You say that you cannot be bought, but I believe that there is something that you can accept from me. For your fealty I shall give you my fealty…totally.”
“You cannot,” he sputtered in shock. “You are a woman, and -”
Artanis cut him off. “I am the daughter of Finarfin, and I was a disciple of Fëanor. My word is my bond.” She closed her hands around his. “When I say totally, I mean without reservation…I would give my life for you.”
He gazed down at the stone that was encased by their hands. “It is unprecedented.” He looked up at her, his ancient eyes uncertain. “I feel the truth in your words. I know you can do this.” The Elessar cast a green glow on his face. “But I must seek the counsel of my father. Would you meet him?”
Nurwë…Ingwë’s friend from long ago. “I would be most honored.”
“Good then.” He gave the Elessar back to her. “I should also let you know that the Lord of Himring has folded himself into a hollow of a tree in an effort to watch over you.”
“Maedhros,” she said disbelievingly.
“You are well-loved,” he remarked. “I advise you to help him out of there, or else he shall permanently be in that position. Riding a horse will become very uncomfortable.” Orimor began to back away into the forest.
She held out a hand to stop him. “Wait! How can I find you?”
“We shall find you.”
Maedhros watched the stranger leave Artanis. “Do you think that she was having a lover’s tryst with him?” he asked.
The mouse’s whiskers twitched.
“I suppose you are right. He is too swarthy. They would not look well together.” He suddenly noticed that Artanis was nowhere to be seen. “Oh no! She left. I need to find her.” He painfully began moving his limbs.
“I found you,” said Artanis from outside. She peaked into the hollow. “Maedhros, is Himring too big for you?”
“Be quiet and help me out,” he snapped. “How did you know I was here?” Artanis began to pull his arms, and pain shot up them.
She smiled mysteriously. “My friend spotted you.”
His upper body out of the tree, he began to wiggle his legs. Finally outside, he collapsed on the ground, and the mouse nuzzled him. Picking up the mouse, he put her in a pouch and left the flap open as Artanis watched on with an amused smile. When he was done, he turned back to his cousin. “Your friend? Artanis, next time you wish to see a lover, just bring him to Himring. It would make spying so much easier.”
- Originally I was going to have Fingon and the dragon in this chapter, but he wouldn’t fit in. Next time then!
- Maedhros fortified the Hill of Himring.
- The Quendi’s first sundering was at Cuivienen. Those that followed Oromë were the Eldar, while those that did not were the Avari (the Unwilling). Then, near the Anduin, Lenwë split from the Teleri to form the Nandor. Some other elves that also split from the main host would later become the Silvan elves. The Teleri that did not go to Aman were the Sindar.
- Melkor captured Avari and made them into Orcs. But over time, they lost their immortality. So the Orcs are actually a mortal race.
- Utumno was Melkor’s first fortress. It was north of the Orocarni, the mountains which rested over the sea of Helcar. Angband was actually just an outpost under Sauron, to guard the lands behind Utumno. But when the Valar made war with him, they destroyed Utumno. Angband then became Melkor’s permanent fortress.
- Since Fëanor coined the term Morgoth, the Avari (and logically the Sindar) would actually call him Melkor, his real name.
- I have always wondered why it is that out of all the Noldor, only Galadriel ruled over the Silvan elves (the Avari and the Silvan elves merged in the second age).
- Maedhros needed a friend.
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.