4. Rúkin - 'I fear it'
"Turgon, when will you remember that I am your sister, and not your subject?" Their words, their angers rise like the flames of a burning city, and I cower behind the carven swans that surmount the pediments, lest the sparks of it fall on me and take hold of me. It is too late. The spark smoulders in my heart, unseen, to flare at her next words, though her voice is gentler when she speaks again: "If I must stay here any longer, I shall end madder than Idril, my brother."
"He cares nothing for you, Aredhel." My father's voice is even softer now, like rain on the ashes of the burning ships. They have been fighting forever, the battle goes on for hours, while the rain courses down from a sky too dark for seeing. I would go to the heights of the City but I would fall, and so I hide behind a white swan's wings in the shadows, hide from their burning anger. Yet the swans were helpless at Alqualondë, and the stone wings can but hide me from my elders' gaze, not from their fiery words.
"I go to visit my friends, whether that is something you can even understand, or no! I do not blame them for what their father did without their consent or will and which they could not prevent — no more than Idril is blameful for Elenwë's death or her own maiming!"
The heat of wrath in the air is so great that I dare not breathe, lest it sear me from within, but the spark of fury stabs through me and I cannot escape its pangs. Then it cools, falls away to ash, and my father leans against the wall like a falling pillar, his face dimmed in shadow as of smoke.
"Take a strong escort with you when you go, that is all I ask," he whispers. "And do not stay away too long. Ondolindë will be too quiet without your presence."
"I would not deprive you of your best warriors," 'Feiniel says, and
her voice mocks him. I almost think she would have him try harder to hold
her, though she strikes at him like a hawk to the hand. "I know how great
your concern is for your City's
"We are safer far here than you shall be, faring abroad in the Wilds." I hear his fëa crumbling beneath the words, like the mortar of walls burnt dry by fire, but 'Feiniel hears it not.
"Ah, and the set shield is so much harder to hit than the flying arrow, of course — ! I can go and be back ere your men have donned their armor."
"Aredhel, please -- go with Ecthelion and whomsoever he deems best, if — if you must go, and do nothing of needless risk. I — beg you, my sister."
"Very well, Turgon. I will do as you — ask. But I leave tomorrow at dawn: whosoever will ride with me had best be ahorse by then!"
The flames die down, the waters of darkness reflect only broken light. I cannot see them through the rains that blind me. My anger is quenched, washed away, drowned all in overwhelming fear.
* * *
"Do not go!"
"Please, Idril! You are too old for such infant fancies! Recollect yourself, daughter!" But I cling to my aunt's saddlebow and to her steed's foreleg and to his mane, wrapping my arms and ankles about like the green growing vine, so that neither my father's hands nor 'Finiel's nor the horse's unhappiness can shake me.
"If you go, you will not come back, 'Feiniel. And who will ride with me then, and race the swallows, and teach me the sword and the bow and the spear? I will have no one left to play with, and I shall be alone here!"
"Oh, Idril." She shakes her head, her long braid snapping like a black banner behind her. "I will be gone not above a year or two, child. I have told you this many times: I only go to Himlad, where my friend Celegorm dwells, and then I will return. We will see the Sun arise and sing her home together from the walls next summer, or the next."
"No, 'Feiniel, you will be lost in the dark like Amil and you will never come back to us. You would go hunting, but you are the hunted instead!"
Ar-Feiniel does not answer me, but her lips are as taut as the string of her bow and she pries my fingers up with her own so hard that it hurts me. I clutch at her leggings and try to pull her down, and I am pulled away hard myself, so that I stagger away across the courtyard. The cloak-wings of her escort flap wildly in the morning breeze where they wait, silent and watching, three dark ravens against the brightening sky. I keen and tear my hair in dread.
"Idril! Go to thy chamber!" My father is wroth as never I shall see him towards me, his gaze a lightening-storm upon the mountains, but I am too afraid to fear him.
"But you know it is the truth! Why do you stop me, when it is in your heart as well?"
I scream back at him, at them, in wordless misery, and the horses of the cavalcade rear and return my cry in their alarm. It is useless — I cannot hold back the wind, I cannot hold back the night, and I cannot hold back my own kinswoman from her tangling doom. Perhaps it is that my own anger has left my heart and risen up like a terrible flame to strike her. I cannot say or see. For the first time I know, then, that the terrible promise is truth: none shall believe me, until it is past all hope of changing. The White Falcon of the North flies from safety, and I am kept penned in little room, forbidden to scale the maddening heights of the City until I shall learn to govern myself as befits a woman grown, and my wits fling themselves against the prisons of my dread so that I cannot see night or day —
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