I still do not know why I am here.
I stand here, a spear in my hands, with my home behind me and a wave of attacking Elves before me, and I do not know why.
There were rumours that ran among us the lowborn, whispers of a Great Jewel and a Dark Enemy and the daughter of Dior King, but we learned naught for certain. And now we stand in an inadequate line, watching as assailers come with ears like our own and the light of the Trees in their eyes.
What is this foolishness?
My father is also somewhere in the line. He had resisted when I asked to join him, but it was my home as much as his, and I pleaded the honour of helping defend it. But now he is elsewhere, and with him has disappeared my motivation. There was more incentive whilst I stood in the house I so loved, with mother and small sister watching sober and afraid as Adar and I grimly equipped ourselves for battle, than now, when I wait alone.
It was not supposed to happen this way. No one thought that these truebred Golodhrim would dare to carry out their threats – somehow all expected that a halt would be called, a parley offered.
I see no token of parley with the Elves who are swiftly approaching.
Uncertainly, I raise my spear as the front line nears. I know little more than to aim the point forward – I have never handled a weapon before in my life. My father is a leathersmith. I could do more damage with an awl than with this unwieldy thing.
In one of the last possible moments, a friend at my side turns to me and calls, "Varda’s stars shine on you!" Then the attackers are upon us, and within three seconds his head is removed from his shoulders by a flame-haired warrior.
The deadly speed of it confounds me. It is not so much revenge as a simple instinct for self-preservation that launches me forward with a wordless cry that would be better used to frighten a demon. Suddenly surrounded by swords, I realise that a lance is not so very convenient for close combat. There is little more I can do than duck slashing blades; the one parry I attempt results in my suddenly having only two-thirds of a spear shaft. A frigid draught of fear courses down my spine as the danger of my position becomes extremely apparent.
From below the clash of metal, my eye is caught by a flash of red – my friend’s murderer. He, unlike myself, has a sword; he, unlike myself, appears to have been in battle before. His blade whistles with lethal skill, but he does not look down. An image of my friend blinds me with rage, and I spring up at the very feet of the purebred son of Valinor. He has only a moment to look surprised before my spearhead sinks into his chest.
I had not expected there to be resistance. I am compelled to grit my teeth and lean into the thrust; never have I been more aware of my own muscles working, straining, as the shaft of the spear transmits every sensation, every vibration to my hands. I can feel his heartbeat.
The red-haired one has dropped his sword – how many more of my family, my friends, have died by that sword today? Despite myself, I look up at him: his expression is nothing less than amazement as he gazes at me. His eyes never descend past my face; he does not glance down at this thing I have done, but he knows. He knows. What now do I do? Apologise? Ought I to ask his pardon for spitting him like an animal?
I try to turn the pike loose, but my muscles are frozen, my hands locked around the wood. A grimace twists his mouth, and suddenly it is very, very clear – it was my movement that caused him that pain, my fingers holding that lance that is embedded in his chest. A trembling begins somewhere deep in me, growing and spreading until my entire body is shaking like a dead leaf in a winter storm.
"Ai, Eru! Ai, Eru!" Is that my voice? I know it is forbidden to speak the holy name of Ilúvatar outside of ceremony, but I cannot stop the soft, broken chant. It shames me, when this one that I have just run through with a spear utters no complaint, only stares at me, uncomprehending, it seems. A scream of wind carries an Elven voice, and his head turns toward the source. Inexplicably, he smiles.
I wonder how long he will stand there, smiling as he slowly bleeds. The Edhil do not sing of the glories of battle, as I have heard that Men do, and yet I had never imagined that the details could be this gruesome, that the interval between deathblow and death could stretch so long. The fear and fury that carried me has ebbed away, and I am left with only the stark truth of the lance that protrudes from a chest that may as well be mine. I know not whether I want to pull the pike free or shove it in further, if only to force him down and dead and erase that smile that sends terror singing through my blood.
"Please…" Please? Please forgive me? Please live?
I do not know what I meant to say.
He did not hear my abortive plea; his lips move once, twice – two syllables that I cannot decipher, but they are not directed at me. Please, oh, please…
Finally there is a buckle in his knees. He is falling – falling forward, and the butt of the spear is reaching as if to snatch at my clothes and drag me down too. I trip backward, out of range, but there is that in me that keeps me from running as I want to, from fleeing to the Sirion to plunge my head and never lift it again. The end of the lance buries itself in the ground, arresting his fall, and the bile rises to my throat as I hear the ragged tearing of flesh.
My eyes squeeze shut of their own accord. This is not real. There cannot possibly exist this much horror in the world, the same world in which dwell birds and trees and family and all the good things. My lips are closed tight against the nausea, but somehow a choking whimper finds its way through.
I can sense that there is someone standing next to me. Almost I hope that it is one of the invaders, rather than anyone who knows me. "Whence comes this blood on your hands?" they would ask, eyes wide with shock and revulsion. "What have you done?…"
Compelled, I force myself to look.
I – no. It is not possible. Not, not possible. You have already given me the stuff of nightmares for the rest of my life; can you not be simply dead and have it over with? I can well enough imagine your accusation, you need not tarry on your journey to Mandos in order to condemn me in person. "Eru help me," I manage – the Name again, but it makes no difference, for I am fouled beyond redemption, so what does it matter what I call the One from whose presence I have exiled myself? "I had no choice—"
A hand settles on my shoulder. A hand? I steel myself and glance down: yes, my – victim – still lies there. Can it be – they are twins? I have heard myths that twins are truly one fëa born into two hröar – then I have killed a part of this one, too. And indeed, when I look up into his eyes, they seem dead already, save for the tears that do not yet fall. "I know," he softly says.
The sword feels like no more than a touch of cold water against my stomach at first. As I was earlier conscious of my arms, now my awareness is centred intensely within my abdomen – the protest of skin as it gives way, the sudden disruption of vitals, the letting of blood from its intended routes. I cannot suppress a muffled gasp, which hurts in itself, forcing the blade in another quarter of an inch. And yet never, never has pain been so welcome.
He draws the sword quickly free, hand tightening briefly on my shoulder to keep me from following the motion; the merciful haste is too kind of him. Unconsciously, I clutch my stomach, and his brother’s blood mingles with my own, warm as sunlight, loathsome as the venom of serpents.
With fading strength, I look up at him once more. Though I cannot speak the words, I am croaking them inside: Thank you. Thank you. The moment I escape from this body with its defiled hands cannot come swiftly enough.
"one fëa born into two hröar" – again, Círdan’s idea (see Gwyenyn, Twins in the research articles). Where do you come up with these?
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.