2. Part 2
You are so beautiful, Fëanáro thought as he stared at the wondrous gems he had made, turning them over and over in his hands. And your beauty will never dim. You will brighten my days forever. Once I thought my wife as radiant as you, but she faded. Oh, Nerdanel, your flame was so bright when we first met - what happened to you, that in the end it burned so low? And then he remembered their last evening together, and he flushed with shame and anger.
They had quarreled occasionally before; Fëanáro had paid little heed to these spats, for what couple did not have such moments now and then? Initially their brief fights had been like an afternoon rainstorm - short, intense, and soon over. But over the years their quarrels had slowly become more serious, especially after little Curufinwë Atarinkë had arrived and he had revealed his ambitious plan to trap the Treelight in the new crystal he had devised, to make gems so wondrous that even the Valar themselves would be in awe of his skills. Nerdanel had seemed ill at ease with this proposal, claiming it was over-proud. How she could insist he so limit his skills, Fëanáro did not understand. He had ignored her advice, of course, and crafted the jewels, and they were even more spectacular than he’d imagined they would be. Why, even Varda herself had compared them to the stars she had fashioned, and hallowed them. But Nerdanel’s foolish uneasiness had persisted, and she said she did not want the gems inside their house. Fëanáro had brought them in anyway, keeping them in the deepest and most secure place in their dwelling. It was ridiculous, really, to act as though mere jewels could bring harm to them, or steal his affection from his family, as she claimed they had done. He merely liked to look at them every now and then. Why was that so wrong?
And so often she had criticized his treatment of their sons! As if he would ever do anything to harm his boys, or act against their best interests. But Nerdanel had increasingly insisted that he was placing too much pressure on them, ignoring the fact that he was merely trying to teach them to live up to their abilities. Any master treats his apprentices so; he would make no exceptions merely because he was their father as well as their teacher. What he demanded was well within their abilities to accomplish, of that he was certain. And if they chose to spend their time in idle pursuits at the expense of honing their skills as gemcrafters and smiths, well then they deserved his censure! There would be time for such frivolities as woodcraft and singing after they’d mastered the lessons he was trying to teach them. They simply had to apply themselves to their work, that was all. How could she not see that coddling them, as she would have had him do, would only bring them harm in the end? They would never master their trade if he treated his sons the way his wife had wished him to. They needed to learn; how else were they to make a living?
But it had been the arrival of the twins which had somehow tipped the balance of their relationship, sending it spiraling towards that final dreadful end. He had been patient at first; it was only reasonable to expect that Nerdanel would need a long time to recover her strength after bearing and then nursing two children at once! But even after the twins had been weaned, she had flinched from his touch, rejecting without explanation any advances he began. Nor had she seemed interested in moving beyond a purely physical union to the union of spirits which the Eldar embraced when their families were complete. Not that he had particularly wanted to leave physical lovemaking behind, for Nerdanel had still filled his flesh with desire when he looked upon her, and they did not yet have a daughter. But he would have willingly consented to a spiritual union if that had been her wish; she had borne him seven fine sons, after all, a family that any man could be content with. It was her unexplained remoteness, her continuing refusal to be touched in any way whatsoever together with her persistent unwillingness to discuss the revulsion she apparently felt when she looked upon him, her loving husband, that had both saddened and infuriated him. If only you had not pushed me away that night! Fëanáro thought in despair. I was not myself that evening, and what I did was deeply wrong, I admit that, but it never would have happened if only you had been more open with me! Why did you provoke me so? What had I done to deserve such cold treatment?
He had tried, afterwards, to mend the harm he’d done, but to no avail. Nerdanel had had no intention of listening to him; she’d left before the day was over, heading back to her parents’ household. Although their bond remained, for it could never be severed short of permanent imprisonment in Mandos, their marriage was apparently over. And all that was left of light in Fëanáro’s life was the glow of the gems he now held in his hands. I would even give you up, he thought wistfully as he cradled the Silmarils in his callused hands, if doing so would restore Nerdanel’s light to my life. I miss her so!
Behind him, he heard the door creak as it slowly swung open, and his wistfulness was instantly transformed into resentment at this unwanted intrusion. Can I not be allowed even a moment’s peace? Fëanáro thought angrily. Aloud, he said loudly, "If I had wanted company I would have requested it. Go away and leave me alone."
"Father, I’m sorry to disturb you." Fëanáro recognized the voice: Nelyafinwë Maitimo, his oldest son. "Have you seen Ambar... I mean, Pityafinwë and Telufinwë, today? Are they here with you?"
"Of course they’re not here - use your head, Nelyafinwë!" Fëanáro replied irritably, without turning to face his son. "You know I would never allow them in my workshop at their age - they’re still far too young, it would be dangerous. Shouldn’t you be off doing something useful?" he added when his son showed no signs of leaving him in peace.
"I... They’re missing. Makalaurë and I can’t find them, we’ve looked everywhere..." Nelyafinwë replied awkwardly. When Fëanáro turned to face him, he seemed to shrink slightly.
"You mean you’ve let them wander off - your own brothers!" Fëanáro said coldly. He felt the anger rising in his heart as he looked upon his firstborn. "Can you do nothing right?" he continued, voice low and tight. "Is competence in anything too much to ask from you?"
"I’m sorry, Father... " Nelyafinwë whispered. "They must have slipped out during the night... I won’t let it happen again, I swear it!"
Fëanáro looked upon his eldest child, who appeared to be trembling slightly as he stood in the doorway of the workshop, and felt a sudden surge of disgust. What did I ever do to deserve this useless fool of a son? he asked himself. Almost before he realized what he was doing, Fëanáro had dealt his firstborn a hard backhanded blow across his handsome face; Nelyafinwë, who’d never before been struck in anger, simply stood staring at his father, his grey eyes wide with shock. Suppressing a twinge of guilt, Fëanáro said simply, "Go back to the house now." Nelyafinwë wasted no time in leaving; after a long moment, Fëanáro returned to the bench where the Silmarils sat. Picking them up one by one, he carefully placed them in the velvet-lined box he’d made for them and then, placing the box under his arm, began himself to walk back to his house, there to organize the search for his youngest boys.
* * * * * * *
Ambarussa did not know how long they had been walking along the riverbank before they found a crossing place - they only knew that they were growing hungrier, their feet hurt, and they were not getting any closer to the pretty mountain. What if there was no way to cross the river? Ambarussa could not swim yet, but perhaps they could hold onto a branch and float across. Long ago, when they had still been small, they had watched as pretty birds floated on the sea, with people on their backs; when they had asked their father why those people were riding birds, he had laughed. Father told Ambarussa then that those were not birds, but boats, made of wood. If wooden boats floated on the sea, then wouldn’t a branch float on the river, and carry them across it? They did not know for sure - but if they could not soon find a place where they could cross the river, they would have no choice but to try their idea.
As they walked, the river slowly grew narrower, and the water in it flowed faster and faster. Finally they came to a place where the water rushed over a steep drop. At the edge of the drop there were many rocks poking up from the water. Ambarussa thought that if they were careful, they might be able to walk on top of those rocks and cross to the other side of the river. The water made an awful roaring noise as it fell over the drop, and the air was filled with mist. Ambarussa did not like this place - it was the scariest thing they had seen so far on their long journey. But they had found no other way to cross the river. So they carefully began to climb out onto the rocks.
The rocks were wet, and very slippery. And the cold water flowing over their feet soon made them go numb. Ambarussa were careful to move very slowly, and they kept looking at the opposite shore of the river. They did not want to look down! The terrible noise of the water was scary enough. It took a very long time to cross to the other side, and several times Ambarussa came close to slipping off the rocks. But finally they made it all the way across. They had to jump off the last rock to reach the riverbank, and one of them landed in the water, but although it was cold, it was not deep there, and he was able to wade to dry ground. Once they made it to the other side, they began to run. After such a long walk, the pretty mountain could not be very far away! They were cold, and wet, and hungry, and tired - the sooner they found Aulë’s home, and Mother, the happier Ambarussa would be.
* * * * * * *
"So, are you going to tell me how you really managed to bruise your face, Russandol? I don’t believe for a moment your story about Diadem throwing his head and hitting you - you’re too good a horseman to be caught off guard like that."
Maitimo made no reply, and Findekáno sighed in resignation. He’d arrived at his friend’s house just as the search was being organized, and had of course volunteered to help. It had been quickly agreed that the best hope of finding Fëanáro’s young sons lay with the use of hounds to follow their scent trail, and Tyelkormo had already been dispatched to acquire some from Oromë, but it would take some time for them to arrive. In the meantime, Fëanáro had decided that someone should ride out along the road to Alqualondë, in case the twins had chosen to follow that path. There was no need to check the short road to Tirion as Findekáno had come that way, and had not seen any sign of Ambarussa on his ride. Maitimo and Findekáno had each volunteered to ride towards Alqualondë. They were both good horsemen; after checking the road for signs of Ambarussa, they planned to separate and each return cross-country by a different route, one north of the road and one south of it, in the slim hope of finding any signs of the twins that could be of use in guiding the other searchers. Besides, with two sets of eyes looking, there would be less chance of missing any tracks - for the road was paved, and any trail upon it would be faint.
They continued riding in silence for some time, each keeping a sharp eye out for any sign of the missing youngsters, before Maitimo finally spoke. "Findekáno, have you ever considered leaving home once you’ve reached your majority? Setting out completely on your own?"
"Of course; I suppose soon after I finally come of age I’ll marry and start fathering children, like most people do, and I’ll need to set up my own household then."
"And if you don’t marry right away? Would you move out anyway?"
"What would be the point of that? No one leaves home until they’re wed - at least I’ve never heard of anyone doing so. Why would you ask such a question? Unless - are you thinking about doing that yourself, Russandol?"
"I can’t picture you leaving your father and brothers behind like that - they’d miss you, and you know it! Besides, where would you go if you did move out, and how would you earn a living? You’d have nothing with which to build your own shop - most people depend on their family to help them set up their household, after they have wed and are in need of one. Somehow I can’t picture your father gifting you with the funds you’d need just because you’ve decided you’re tired of living under his roof and want your own place."
"I don’t know where I would go, or what I would do." Findekáno was shocked at the despair he heard now in his friend’s voice. "I suppose you’re right - it is a foolish idea."
"I didn’t say that! It just surprised me, that’s all. You know, you could always move in with your mother’s kin, if you feel the need for a change. Or go ahead and move out altogether, if that’s what you truly want to do. Now that you’re of an age to wed, I’ve no doubt you’ll meet the right girl soon enough anyway. As handsome as you are, Maitimo, they'll be chasing you all over Aman!"
"Doubtless you’re right, Findekáno. That is the way the world works, after all. Though so far that girl’s not come along yet."
"And working so hard at your father’s forge, just how many girls have you had a chance to meet? Apart from my spoiled little sister, that is. Now if you really want to do your old friend Findekáno a favor, wait a few more years until Írissë reaches her majority, and marry her! Then you could finally set up your own household, and Turukáno and I would at last have some peace. Of course, the fact that your new bride would be an insufferable brat might pose a slight problem from your perspective..."
Findekáno’s jest accomplished its purpose; Maitimo let out a long laugh. "Not even for you, Findekáno," he finally replied. "I pity the unfortunate man who eventually decides to wed your sister even more than I pity you for having to live with her now! At least I only have to endure six very troublesome younger brothers." He suddenly broke off the conversation, staring intently at the ground just beside him. "Is that a footprint?"
It was a very faint footprint - but far too large to be from either of Maitimo’s little brothers. Distracted by their conversation, Maitimo and Findekáno had almost ridden past it without seeing it. Sobered, the two friends continued on, once more silent as they studied the road intently; if Ambarussa had indeed come this way, they would not miss the trail for lack of diligence.
* * * * * * *
It was getting harder and harder to see the pretty mountain - the trees were growing thicker, and were now far too tall for Ambarussa to climb all the way to the top of, as they had done earlier. But Ambarussa were not too worried, because they had walked so far they knew they had to be very close to the mountain’s root. Soon they would smell the smoke from Aulë’s forge, and that would lead them in the right direction. Then they would find Grandfather Mahtan, and Mother, and they would finally be able to rest.
The light was becoming soft and silvery again, and Ambarussa were almost running through the trees in their hurry to reach Grandfather Mahtan’s house when they heard the funny noises. They sounded like growls. Ambarussa stopped when they heard the sounds. Their older bothers had told them that many dangerous animals lived in these forests, and that was why Ambarussa had been forbidden to enter them. Could these noises be from dangerous animals? Until now, they had not seen or heard any animals at all. Ambarussa could not see the source of the noises because of all the thick scrub that surrounded them. Slowly they began to walk forward, carefully peeking through the bushes, until they could see the creatures that were making the sounds.
Ambarussa nearly laughed with relief when they saw the animals - they were doggies! They liked doggies; their big brother Tyelkormo often brought Oromë’s dogs to their house, and once he even let them play with some of their puppies. These dogs looked different from the ones Tyelkormo played with, though. They were very big, with shaggy grey coats, and their ears stood up instead of flopping down. Ambarussa were just about to walk out into the clearing to pet the doggies when one of them suddenly growled and snapped at its neighbor. That doggie didn’t seem friendly at all! It had a mean expression in its yellow eyes which made Ambarussa uneasy. Then Ambarussa saw the blood on the faces of the doggies, and caught a glimpse of something bloody lying on the ground in front of them. The doggies must be eating! Tyelkormo had told them that they must never disturb Oromë’s dogs when they were eating; he’d said they might think Ambarussa meant to take their food away, and bite. Ambarussa didn’t want to be bitten, so they waited quietly in the bushes while the big grey doggies growled and fought each other over their food. It took a long time for the doggies to finally finish eating, but eventually they ran off into the bushes and Ambarussa could move again. Ambarussa didn’t like to look at the bloody thing on the ground, so they walked around the edges of the clearing rather than crossing it. Once the clearing was behind them, they continued forward, steadily walking in the dim silvery light towards the mountain’s root, and their Mother.
(To Be Continued)
The names used in this story are Quenya, and their meanings can be found in the essay "The Shibboleth of Fëanor", published in The Peoples of Middle Earth (History of Middle Earth, vol. 12). When more than one name is listed for a character, the first name is the father-name, the second is the mother-name, and the third is an epessë (a nickname). The names are as follows:
Curufinwë Fëanáro - Fëanor
Nelyafinwë Maitimo Russandol - Maedhros
Kanafinwë Makalaurë - Maglor
Turkafinwë Tyelkormo - Celegorm
Morifinwë Carnistir - Caranthir
Curufinwë Atarinkë - Curufin
Pityafinwë Ambarussa - Amrod
Telufinwë Ambarussa - Amras
Findekáno - Fingon
Turukáno - Turgon
Írissë - Aredhel
Nolofinwë - Fingolfin
Arafinwë - Finarfin
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.