2. Chapter One: Trapped in Darkness.
Chapter 1: Trapped In Darkness
I´m trapped in darkness
(but) Still I reach out for the stars
("Thorn", by Blind Guardian, from "Nightfall in Middle Earth.")
He would always remember distinctly that day.
As soon as he woke up, and noticed that the stars had just disappeared from the sky, little Lómion jumped from his bed to hide in the big wardrobe. Keeping very, very still, without even daring to breathe, he heard the door fling open, and the heavy footsteps of Eöl entering the room. Fortunately for the child, however, he only looked around once before he turned away, closing the door behind him.
With a triumphant grin, Lómion crawled out and stretched himself again in the bed, hands behind his nape. Today, he was not going to any long and boring sessions in his father´s stifling forge. He would not have to sit still and motionless for hours, watching the smiths as they knocked those red hot portions of steel until they took shape, and taking good care not to move or ask anything, for fear they would silence him with a hard look. If only he had known before that it was that easy to avoid! But, he then reminded himself, he had been a baby before. And his father seemed to believe he still was, for he had not even thought of looking inside the wardrobe.
Where was Eöl going to search for him now, Lómion wondered as he rolled lazily over the mattress. Most likely, in his mother´s chambers, if he had not been there yet. Lómion had discovered that he was ever caught there.
He had to wait.
Finally, after a long while, the child heard a clash of metal in the distance, and he knew that his father had begun the work of the day. Good, he thought. Now, he could go outside without being discovered.
At such early hour, the corridor was not only plunged in darkness, but also in absolute silence. Any other child would have been frightened out of his wits if he had needed to cross it alone, but Lómion was, as his mother-name revealed, the child of twilight, born in darkness and quiet and used to it even at this tender age. As his perpetually sullen father was always imposing silence in his house, it did not matter to him anymore if he was alone or no, for it was the same; nobody would talk to him.
Except only one person.
The door of Aredhel´s chamber was closed...no, it was ajar. Carefully, the child pushed it and stepped inside, but it was so dark he could not see anything. Was she there?
Nobody answered his call.
" Mama, are you here?" he whispered again, now in their secret language.
All of a sudden, before he ever knew what was happening, Lómion felt two lean but strong arms that encircled him from behind and lifted him up from the floor. A clear laughter he knew very well rang in his ears, and the hands began to tickle him playfully.
"Help!" he cried, giggling helplessly and trying to pull himself free. "Mama, put me down!"
At last, Aredhel threw her son upon the bed, and stared at him with her hands on her hips.
"So you have managed to elude your father this time!" she addressed him, rather amused than displeased.
"I did not want to be with him. I wanted...I wanted to be with you" The child looked at her with pleading eyes. He knew, however, that it would make no difference at all, for his mother would never betray him.
She never had, before.
"Oh, really?" Aredhel said, smiling in the way Lómion adored, while she lifted him again to sit on her lap. "And, what would you like to do? Maybe go for a walk in the forest?"
As she said that, her son´s face brightened at once.
In the midst of his happiness, Lómion felt like he was floating over the rooftops of the house. He let his mother dress him, comb his black hair and give him breakfast, and then both went out, holding hands and laughing pointlessly. As if he had suddenly grown wings, he led her through shaded paths and giant oaks at a quick pace; for Aredhel, not being born in Nan Elmoth as her son, did not have his ability to see beyond the perpetual night that surrounded them. Many a time she was at the point of stumbling upon a root or a stone, and, when Lómion had to warn her, she stared at him with a curious face, as if she was about to ask something. Still, in a moment she was smiling again, and they kept on walking.
It was long until Lómion finally admitted he was tired, and Aredhel decided to make a stop. They had arrived to the part of the forest where the trees were the tallest and oldest of all, their roots longer and more twisted, and in one of them mother and son sat together to rest. Aredhel seemed plunged in her own thoughts, but Lómion simply enjoyed to be in her company, alone with her, forgetting all about the rest of the world. His mother was the only woman that he knew, and by far the fairest, brightest, and more mysterious being in Nan Elmoth. They had many secrets that nobody else shared, like the strange tongue she had taught him whispering in his tiny ears when she cradled him as a baby in her arms, and the name,- his name-, Lómion, that only she gave to her son.
"Do you want a cookie?" Aredhel offered. "I baked them yesterday."
Lómion accepted eagerly, and they began to munch the sweets in silence. Once he had chewed and swallowed the last bite, the child stretched himself at full length in the ground, and shortly after, Aredhel noticed that he was peering intently at the upper foliage of the trees.
"There are no stars now." he said, turning to his mother with a curious look that she knew only too well. "Mama, where are the stars during the day?"
"The stars? They are...well..." Aredhel hesitated, trying to find the words. "They only show at night because, at daytime, Vása shines brighter, and her light covers theirs."
"Vása?" little Lómion repeated, confused. "Who is she? And, why isn´t she here?"
"She is the Heart of Fire, my dearest child, the bright spirit whose light covers the world. But she cannot enter Nan Elmoth, for the trees are tall and the foliage too dense."
"But she could just push it open, could she not, Mama?" Lómion suggested as the most normal thing in the world. Aredhel would have laughed at her son´s innocence, if only she had not been suddenly so intent in making him understand.
"She cannot enter here. She will never enter here, little one, because your father´s magic does not allow her to. He hates her light."
Well, that was rather a clear point, Lómion thought. If his father said no, it was no. It was the very first thing he had learned in his short life.
But, surely, his mother would know the reason. She knew everything.
"Why does he hate it, Mama? Perhaps...?" Suddenly, his eyes widened in realisation. "Perhaps it could be that she burned him and left that hideous mark in his back?"
"What?" Aredhel was shocked. He must have been wrong, he assumed as he saw her face. "How do you know that?"
"I saw him at the forge the other day. He was sweating, so he stripped for a moment to pour cold water over his body and I saw it. But, when I asked, he scowled so fiercely that I did not...What is it?
The mere thought of what Eöl must have felt as he heard his small son- and in front of his people, too- question him about the most visible of the scars he has got during his cruel thraldom in the pits of Angband filled Aredhel with an unspoken but fierce joy. Lómion saw her smile, but, of course, he was too young to know what it meant.
After all, she had not told him yet that she hated his father.
"Never mind about this, my son. It has nothing to do with the light of Vása. Maybe I will tell you when you are older." Of course she would, she thought.
Seeing that, this time, his mother was in earnest, Lómion decided to press her about the other thing that interested him at the moment.
"Then, why does he hate Vása?"
"Because..." Aredhel hesitated again. "Because he belongs to the people of the darkness, the Moriquendi. They always dwelt under the light of the stars, before she came, and they are used to it."
"I am used to it, too." Lómion muttered, after a thoughtful moment. " I am a Moriquendi, like Father, because I am his son. He always tells me that."
"No, you are not." Aredhel was not able to hold herself. "You are like me. You and I, we are the Calaquendi, the people of the Light. We are different, and you know we are."
Although he did not understand very well all this, the child nodded to calm his mother down. He did not like to see her upset, and then, of course he knew they were a world apart from the rest, deep inside. If she said it was because of the light, then it should be so, although the only light he was able to picture in his mind was the fire in his father´s forge, or the gleam of the stars.
"Please, Mama, show me the light." he pleaded.
"The light?" she echoed.
"Yes. I want to see it...please."
"Didn´t you hear what I told you? Your father does not allow it to enter here. What makes you think I could defy him?"
"Because you are from the people of the light and he is from the people of the dark. If he can take the light away, you can bring it again." Lómion answered seriously, with his naive and simple logic.
Aredhel felt as if her fëa was on fire. She was not only flattered by her son´s high opinion of her, but also excited with the opportunity she was being offered. To show him the light. To make him yearn for what his hateful father denied him.
To make him rebel against the will of Eöl.
Aredhel shuddered with pleasure at the thought, but she still did not make up her mind at once. On the other hand, that could be the end of her useful acting as a resigned and docile wife, if Eöl chanced to hear about it. She was not prepared for another confrontation.
And then, also, her son had never seen Vása. The sight of her would cause him pain, for he would know that he was never going to see her again.
"Please..." Lómion insisted, holding Aredhel by her dress. "I will never tell Father, I promise. You know I am very good at secrets...I never told him about the way we speak, and about my name, and..."
"You win." she yielded at last, with a sigh. Her son was right, he had never revealed a secret, even those that any child would have chattered away."Come with me."
It was not so difficult, after all, Aredhel thought as she eyed attentively the tallest tree of their surroundings. She only had to climb to the top, and the tree was strong enough for it, and full of branches that she knew like the palm of her own hand. If they reached the top, it was very likely that they would see Vása´s rays, she knew it well because she had done it sometimes.
Only that, this time, she would be carrying the weight of a child. A child that was going to be frightened, and fussy.
"Listen to me, Lómion, dear son. You have to mount me as if I was a horse... like when you were a baby, do you remember? And you will cling to my neck with all your strength."
"Are you going to climb up there, Mama?" he asked, holding his breath as he looked up. "Why?"
"Because Vása is up there." his mother answered, kneeling in front of him and offering her back. "and you want to see her, don´t you? Now hold me tight, and never, ever look down!"
"I will not." With no further hesitation, the child did as he was asked. Aredhel lifted him up, and the ascension began.
At first, in spite of her previous appreciation, the White Lady felt as she was not going to be able to do it. She needed all her strength to hoist her body up at each of the tree´s branches, and the weight she carried crushed her down like she never thought it would.
However, she was headstrong, and the determination that filled her now sufficed to brave all difficulties. The ground lay farther behind after each of her exertions, and nearer their end, and little Lómion was surprisingly quiet and still, as if he understood what she was enduring and tried to be as less of a burden as he could.
"Do not look down... ever." Aredhel whispered with clenched teeth at a pause. Suddenly, a branch she was grabbing gave way under the weight, and it broke down with a loud crack. She cursed between clenched teeth, but Lómion still did not cry. He had full confidence in his mother; for him, she was like Oromë had been for the first Quendi he befriended in Middle- Earth.
Maybe, it was this what gave her enough presence of mind to hold on with only one hand, and grab another branch in a swift and perilous motion which saved them both. Maybe they would have died if she had not.
"Mama, the tree- tops are full of lamps!" Lómion cried, excited. Aredhel feared lest he would lose attention and fall, so she tried to calm him.
"They are not lamps, it is Vása. Be still, you may kill yourself."
Those words only succeeded to calm the child to a certain extent, as he was seeing wonders he had never had the chance to witness before. He was beginning to spot glimmering sunrays that made their way through the leaves, which they coloured in a beautiful green and golden hue... and then, as they continued the climb, he felt a strange warmth which suffocated him like fire.
"It´s hot up there" he sighed, sweating. "Like in Father´s forge."
"Yes, son, that is because Vása is like a very very great fire."
"Are we going to burn, then?" asked Lómion, suddenly alarmed.
"No, dear. But perhaps you are going to find it a bit painful when you look at her for the first time. Close your eyes, it will be better. I will tell you when you can open them."
And so, Aredhel finally arrived to her favourite spot with her burden. She had been right: the Heart of Fire shone magnificently at midday, and her radiant rays spread as if they were caressing the fortunate treetops of Nan Elmoth with a golden and gentle touch. What a glorious, what a beautiful sight!
How had she ignored it when she could see it every day.
Slowly, the White Lady of the Noldor sat down in a branch, resting her back in a greater one, and pulled Lómion over her lap. Wet drops fell over his dark hair, and he was surprised and frightened.
"Mama, are you crying?"
"No." she said with a sad smile, stroking his hair. "It´s only the light... it´s so strong it makes my eyes wet. But, it´s already time to open yours now! Easy...you are not used."
Awed, the child began to do as his mother had told him, but, as he parted his eyelids, the only thing he saw was a burning white fire. In pain, he closed them again.
"Owww! I can´t, it hurts!
"Try again!" she urged him, but Lómion could not. His cheeks were filled with tears.
"Please, Mama, I want to go down again!"
Aredhel understood his situation, and feared. He had been born in darkness, after all. She recalled his ability to see in the darkest places, back at their home; how he guided her, and how his eyes were so like his father´s, deep but fragile and crystal-like. What if he found himself forever unable to live in the light of the day? What if he was doomed to stay in Nan Elmoth for his whole life?
If it was so, she vowed in silence, she would kill Eöl. That same night.
Suddenly, a voice interrupted her black thoughts.
"Mama! Look at me!"
"Lómion! What is the matter?" Anxious, Aredhel turned inmediately to look at her son.
What she saw made her heart leap. Not only was the child staring at the light with open watery eyes; he was smiling, too, happier than he had ever been before, and he embraced her tightly. His face was radiant in the sunlight, and his hair beamed in all its Noldo blackness.
"I can see Vása! I can see Vása! How beautiful she is, Mama! She is radiant, she brings light everywhere! She is the Heart of Fire!
For the first time in her whole life, Aredhel wept of joy.
Lómion was so excited with his discovery that it was a very long time before he agreed to go down again. Aredhel had to warn her son many times against staring directly at the sun, but she stayed there for hours with him, sharing his excitement, until the bright rays began to decline.
"Come on, my little one. We have to go now." she told him at last.
The descent was much more laborious and difficult than the previous climbing up, and their spirits were lower, for at each step down, the shadows engulfed them further. Aredhel became worried when she saw that the child did not talk nor move anymore.
She wanted to make him laugh again.
"Look, Lómion dearest." she began, as soon as they reached the biggest branch of the tree, which hung still at a respectable distance from the ground. "What do you see?"
"I cannot see clearly anymore." Lómion complained, pouting. " But there...there, I see the fire in Father´s forge. And something is moving there, to the right. Could it be Faerroch?"
"Precisely. You shall see." Aredhel answered, showing that mischievous smile of hers. Then, she put her fingers in her mouth, and whistled.
"What are you doing?" the child asked, interested again.
"Grab my neck as you have never grabbed anything in your whole life. We are going to jump."
"Jump?" Lómion was incredulous. "But we are too high!"
"Ssssh. Faerroch is coming."
Without more than one thought, impetuous as she had always been, the White Lady of the Noldor took impulse like a huge feline and precipitated herself into the abyss. She heard Lómion´s squeals of terror and delight as they landed abruptly on her faithful horse´s back, and then the only thing she could think of was her frantic efforts to take control over its maddened run through the trees.
"Easy now, easy now! I want to go down!"
At last, the steed slowed its pace so Aredhel could jump, taking Lómion with her. Topsy- turvy as she was, she immediately fell to the ground, where they rolled, giggling, both of them with matching expressions of mirth and flushed cheeks.
"What did you think about this, Lómion? Did you have fun, my child?" she cried while she lifted her son over her face, very pleased with herself.
"It was great, incredible! Mama, you are the best!" he laughed, throwing his tiny arms over her well-shaped and soft body. He felt excited.
But soon, as their backs rested on the cold earth, that excitement died down. Laughter subsided a while after, and, one by one, the words began to die slowly in their mouths, leaving them lying in shadows once again.
And Aredhel could swear she had seen the spark of a new pain hidden in Lómion´s black eyes.
That day, he became aware at last. Still a child, his mother had made him know the truth; that he was trapped in darkness, and he was never able to forget it again.
Eöl was waiting for them at their house when they arrived. The very moment Lómion saw his face, his furious red eyes, he began to shake helplessly, and wondered how he could have forgotten all about his escapade in the morning.
"Where have you been all day?" he thundered. Aredhel sighed, aware that their son was hiding behind her, trying to make himself as small as possible.
"I took him with me, to give me company. What am I supposed to do all day by myself?
"His place is at his father´s forge." For a moment, Lómion thought he could see fiery sparks issuing from the confrontation of their two gazes, and, not knowing why, he felt glad.
But it did not last. As always, Aredhel finished by lowering hers, and extended her slender hand to make peace.
"It´s not wise to waste our time by being angry at each other."
"Do not take him away again." Eöl insisted. He held Lómion very dear, she knew it very well, and the worst thing that could be done to him was to deprive him of his son. Aredhel could not help wondering for a moment what he would do if he knew where they had been, and what they had been doing.
"I will not, I promise." she complied. "Is dinner ready?"
"Yes." Eöl nodded. In his eyes, Aredhel could see now the same unveiled lust of that terrible first time, long ago. " But it can wait."
A moment later, they were already kissing fiercely, and poor forgotten Lómion went away, closing the door behind his back to stifle his mother´s moans, which sounded hollow even to his tender and innocent ears.
How he hated it. How he hated to watch how she gave herself to Eöl. She did not like it. She could not like it.
And he also knew that someday, when he was older, he was going to marry her. And they would live under the light of Vása.
(To be continued)
Lómion, which means "Child of Twilight", was the secret mother-name of Maeglin. His father didn´t give him one until he was much older. And the secret language spoken between Aredhel and Maeglin was Quenya.
Vása means "Heart of Fire", and it was the name that the Noldor gave to the Maiden of the sun.
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.