9. Chapter 9
"Gagged so they could not call out."
Elven hearing was keen. They would have been heard.
...go in, if you wish, and take what you will from what remains within.Maedhros knelt beside the broken bodies. The woman was nearest, her sharp features marred and misshapen by the falling stones that had killed her. Cärc fluttered down upon beside her body and croaked, his black eyes glittering in the chill light. "No," Maedhros said. "She is not for you."
The sound that the raven made in response was horribly like disappointment.
"She was your herald, wasn't she?""Yes," Maedhros said. "Hísilindë. She fell at the Nirnaeth. We thought that she was dead." He touched the shattered cheekbone gently, and looked across at the other two bodies.
"He was Carnistir's. And he...Findekano's, I think. I...do not remember their names.""Anganarmo, " Maglor said behind him, on a cough. He had come up beside them with Finarfin and Vanamirë. "And Endorion. He was born in Mithrim. I named them in the Noldolantë." "You will have to rewrite that verse," his brother murmured. Maglor said with soft-voiced venom,
"I shall. And the Grandmother of the Arakan Deg shall build the cities she Sang, and live to see them fallen to dust even as this, and her name forgotten by those she calls her children."Maglor had been called the Mighty, once. A Singer in the world that Song had made. Hearing the iron certainty in his words, Finarfin wondered if Fëanor's greatest son might yet have power to truly bind the future, whether in foresight or in curse. But if so, he thought, it could only be for evil, and ill-wishing, for the Doom upon them. His son's attention was yet upon the dead. For all his self-command, his grief and frustration were plain to see. There would be no rescue from the fallen tower this time, no joy striking like sudden sunlight in the face of the darkness7. It was the serpent that had struck, and her poison had been mortal. Finarfin came forward, and laid his hand gently on his son's shoulder. Finrod lifted his hand without looking up and clenched his gritty fingers about his father's. At last, as if to deny the darkness the final victory, he said,
"Yet they are safe now. All of them are safe."
The quick lift of Maedhros' head sent the raven leaping back with a clatter of wings and an irritated squawk.
Finrod met his cousin's eyes. He was calm again, with the steely, enduring tranquillity of the Reborn, that no anguish could ever again defeat. His light still shone, despite the veiling of dust and sorrow."Your followers," he said to the Kinslayers. "Your brothers. Your father. They dwell in Mandos, in Námo's care. They are safe."
To the everlasting darkness doom us if our deed faileth...
For a moment it was as if Maedhros had not heard. The bright gaze was as blank and distant as ever. Then he nodded, and something eased in his gaunt, weary face. He rose to his feet, and Maglor laid an arm about his shoulders, sustaining and sustained.
"That is...good to know. Thank you."
. . . . .
The blue-white sparks of Fëanor's lamps were scattered as thick as stars upon all the hills about Himring. The Noldor would move out themselves soon enough, once word came from Eönwe. The Feanorians were leaving the Host that night. Maedhros had said simply,
"We are Doomed, still, and all who follow us. We may meet again upon the last field, but until then we cannot fight beside you."
Finarfin had not argued, knowing that this was truth. But for honour and the memory of love, he made a last attempt to mend matters.
"Nephew, I beg you. Surrender yourself to the mercy of the Valar. Let go this damnable Oath and trust to their wisdom and their love. Let your people at least come home; they will have safe-conduct among us, and I myself will plead for them if need be."
If Finrod's smile was like sunrise, Maedhros' was the sunset. Beautiful also, but with nightfall inevitable behind it.
"I thank you, Sir," he said. "I will tell my people. I think that those who survive the battle to come may accept your offer."
"But not you," Finarfin said, with weary sorrow.
Looking at his nephew with the deeper insight, he could discern only the ash and cinders of despair. Like the Anfauglith, like Beleriand, a blasted wasteland where nothing green would grow again, though blood watered it like rain.
"No," Maedhros said, quite gently. "I am sorry. We too swore an oath. And I cannot say that the Fall of the Noldor is ended yet. But if you can save any of them, I would be grateful, though gratitude is all the repayment that I will ever be able to make to you."
He bowed to Finarfin, correct and graceful, and then to Finrod. The High King returned the courtesy, and out of the corner of his eye saw his son do the same. Regret was unhidden on Finrod's face.
"Good fortune to you and yours, for the morrow, and all morrows after. Farewell, Sir. Prince."
He shrugged his shadowy cloak around him, and turned away from his dead to the night. None moved to detain him. The guards gave way before him with a mixture of revulsion and fear, and he walked among and past them as if they were not there, through his broken fortress to its ruined gate, and the dying hills beyond.Maglor did not follow, but nothing in his aspect gave Finarfin hope that his offer would be considered by this Son of Fëanor either.
"No, Sir," Maglor said in his ruined, beautiful voice, seeing his thought. "We are the last, and I also am a lord of our House. I will not abandon my brother to bear the weight of our deeds alone.""Then..." What more have you to say to me? Finarfin was tired, a heartbroken weariness of the spirit, even more than of the flesh. He had fought for nearly fifty years, victory after victory, each more bitter than the last, seeing the land wither and burn and finally break under the clash of contending Powers. West and south the sea was rising, as earthquakes shattered the land and molten rock boiled away the rivers. The last battle was coming, and he hoped, trusted that they would have the victory, but Beleriand would not survive it. And the Sons of Fëanor, who had helped to begin it all, still clung to their petty, terrible Oath. Grieving and furious at once, he barely heard what Maglor was asking. It was Finrod who answered, realising his father's distraction."The sons of Elwing and Eärendil fight among the Edain, in the armies of Eönwe. They are well, and renowned warriors." "That is well." Maglor smiled very faintly. "My brother will be pleased that they have done his teaching honour. Will you give them my greeting and good wishes when you see them again?"
Finrod sighed. "Yes, I will. Cousin, what is there that I can wish you, if you will not seek the mercy of the Powers?"
Maglor shook his head.
"Wish us what the Servant of the Enemy wished us, in her mercy. Wish us swift death in the battle to come."
"No," the High King said, sadly. "We can only wish you peace, and an end to your Oath."
Maglor said, without irony, "It is the same. Thank you, uncle. Cousin. Farewell."
Beyond the reach of the lamplight, the starless night swallowed him very swiftly.Vanamirë shivered. "Will there be light again, do you think, after this Darkness?"
"I do not know."
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.