5. Chapter 5
"I truly wish to know what she is," Finrod said round a mouthful of steamed bun. It was stuffed with dried fruit and meat, intended for quick nourishment.
Ignoring his own plate, Finarfin said grimly,
"I fear that your first surmise was correct, son. She sang in Valarin."
Finrod swallowed his bun in one gulp, astonished.
"You know that tongue, father?"
The High King shook his head."Only Fëanor, of all the Eldar, had more than the most minute acquaintance with the speech of the Valar. It is harsh to our ears, though with its own splendours; a tongue of swords and storms, and difficult of the learning. Once, on an occasion when our family was not...at odds, he spoke to me of it, and the matter lingered in my memory." "The words of the gods are not easily forgotten." Maglor's voice was unchanged, to all hearing utterly unaffected by the long night work. The chill fire in his eyes was undimmed. The Sons of Fëanor sat as they had the day before, eating and drinking with silent concentration. As the leaders of the Song, they had borne the brunt of the battle and were depleted, though nowhere near the end of their strength. Finarfin saw that stark endurance, and remembered the proud and beautiful boys he had known a Sea and an Age of the world ago, and mourned in his heart.
To his own son he said,
"I beg your pardon, my son, that I must recall to you your most dreadful miscarriage against Sauron the Accursed, but even now, after more than four dozen years of battle, there are none in our ranks with greater skill or experience than yours in this Art of combat. What is your counsel concerning this past night's work?"
"The walls are down," Finrod said. "She's holding them up."Even after nearly fifty years to accustom himself, the peculiar effect that Sindarin had had on his son's lámatyávë5 still disconcerted Finarfin from time to time. "You are saying that the Words of Unbinding did indeed unloose the bonds of the fortress, but that our enemy within is of her own will and might sustaining the stones?"
"He is right," Maglor said. "I hear her Song, even now."
"But our foe is but one," Finarfin said, "Or I did much mistake last night. Whether she be Maia fallen, as seems now the case, or mortal corrupted, how long can she uphold the weight of Himring against all nature?"
"She is alone," Maglor said with certainty. "But how long she can hold.."
Maedhros set his teacup down beside his plate and stretched his arms above his head.
"You heard her Song," he said. "She wants life. Send a herald and suggest that this would be a good time to surrender."
. . . . .It was full morning behind the heavy grey of the clouds, though still early. The High King, his son and his nephews stood once again on the hill, guards watchful around them. In the distance, a rider was making his slow way up the winding road to the Great Gate of Himring. Vanamirë rode in full armour, watchful of Easterling treachery and the Enemy's sorcery; in his hand he bore the standard of the High King, Finwë's ancient device of radiating light. The rider reached the top of the hill unmolested, and halted beneath the Great Gate. After a while, a cluster of black and violet banners appeared above the Gate, and there was an exchange of shouts, though the distance was too great for the words to carry even to Elven ears. Finarfin had no need to strain his hearing. By reason of both kinship and loyalty, he and Vanamirë could exchange thoughts at will, when audible speech might be dangerous or impossible. He was thus unsurprised when the postern opened, and a small figure rode out alone to join his nephew on the ride downhill.
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