7. Chapter Six: Leaving It All Far Behind.
Disclaimer: All the characters are Tolkien´s, except Angbor, who is mine (the name is Joan´s)
Don´t be too hard, it´s the first time I ever do a Dwarf . blushes.
Chapter Six: Leaving It All Far Behind.
"I´m moving in silence.
I leave it all far behind."
("Thorn", Blind Guardian, from "Nightfall in Middle Earth".)
"So what what? Maeglin answered mischievously. Aredhel was looking at him in eagerness as she leaned on his doorframe, her eyes filled once more with the starlight he had used to see there in his childhood.
"You are too radiant in your white dress, my lady." he grinned. "I do not believe your lovely hands can handle such a thing."
Aredhel´s lips curled in an angry gesture, and his smile widened even more.
"Better than you, insolent child! Let us exchange, as we promised."
Now, it was Maeglin´s turn to show surprise.
"So...you did it?" His voice was but an awed whisper. Aredhel laughed triumphantly.
"Did what?" she teased back.
"All right, you win. Take it!" Exasperated, and more than a little nervous, Eöl´s son knelt to search for something under his bed, which he produced slowly and reverently. In sharp contrast with his care, his mother grabbed it with such impatience and greediness that she nearly cut herself.
It was a sword.
"Oh, it is...it is perfect! "Aredhel cried after trying its balance in a few skilled movements, and turning it over and over to see how the blade captured the dim light of the torches. She had to tiptoe to kiss her son´s forehead, for he had already become slightly taller than herself.
"You are the best smith in Beleriand!"
"Am I?" Maeglin´s cheeks flushed both from the intense pleasure of being admired and from the long craved touch of her lips. They were alone, they could do as they wanted.
And soon, they would be free.
"Forging it was in truth easy." he began, not very modestly. "The worst part of it was to work in secret."
"Speaking about secrets!" Aredhel exclaimed with an enigmatic smile, as she pressed Maeglin´s gift to her breast. "Come with me, I have something that you might want to see."
Trying to still the pace of his own wild hopes, doing his best to hide the loud heartbeat that thundered in his chest, Maeglin followed his mother through the dark corridors. Surely, it could not be... He had expected too much from her, it was unfair! Although he loved her more than anything else in his life, she was not all-powerful.
"Lómion, son." she said sweetly, turning to face him. Her dark unbraided hair shone like galvorn under the candlelight, and he noticed that there was something hidden in the folds of her dress.
"This is my gift to you."
Maeglin could not believe what his eyes were seeing. It was Anguirel, his father´s own sword, the twin of the Black Sword of Doriath whom Eöl held in the greatest worth, there, in her hands! Shortly before his father´s departure, Aredhel had promised it to her son in exchange for another sword he was going to forge for her, but Maeglin, assuming that she spoke lightly, had his own blade already prepared for the journey.
"Shhhh." Slowly, Aredhel pressed a finger to her lips. "It´s a secret, remember. Now, take it!"
And Maeglin took it. A clumsy and hesitant move at first, it became a steadier grip after the surprise of finding how light it was. It was cold, too, very cold.
"It seems made for you."
I was made for you.
To Aredhel´s amazement, Maeglin stared at the black, evil blade. Yes, she seemed made for him. With Anguirel in his hand, he felt different, stronger, and suddenly he thought that he understood why his father had never allowed him to handle her.
A perfect blackness that seemed to swallow all sign of life.
I am a part of yourself. I was forged here in Nan Elmoth, in an ancient and bitter grudge against all creatures of the Light.
"What is the matter, Lómion?" his mother asked anxiously, frightened by his pallor and by the glint she had seen in his eyes. Maeglin closed them, and pressed against her.
"She speaks to me. She is whispering things in my head."
"Yes." Aredhel nodded. Maeglin shook his head in disbelief. How could she know?
"Prove yourself worthy of being her master. If she sees she is being handled by a worthless coward who falls to her lure, she will be pitiless. And she will betray you, as she did him."
The young man stared at her, as an awed comprehension began to dawn in his brain.
"So you spoke with her, too..."
Aredhel did not answer.
Angbor rose very early. He had to feed the horses in the stable, as he used to do every day since so long ago he had now lost count. Putting on his clothes, he stepped out from his warm bedroom , into the damp and frozen air of the courtyard.
It was so cold. To resist the persistent chill, he was forced to wrap himself in his cloak while he walked in the starless and silent morrow, feeling sleepy still, but glad nonetheless. For, at this hour of the day, everything was in perfect silence.
Silence. How he loved it, needed it, relished in it. If his lord Eöl had a problem with his sensitive eyesight, Angbor had another with the hearing. And a curious one too, for the clank of metal at the forge did nothing to damage his delicate ears, only the sound of living voices, and the happier the worst. That was why he had fled from Doriath, where people used to sing at every moment of the day, and that was also why he was here now, feeding the quiet and considerate Nan Elmoth steeds instead of hiding in the deepest of the Thousand Caves of Menegroth.
Paradises of light were not kind to Morgoth´s thralls.
It had been a perfect life for him, the first two hundred years he had spent in the dark forest. And, though lately his lord had gone mad and married a noisy Noldorin woman, who in turn had given birth to that brat who was always fussing at the smithy, Nan Elmoth was still more acceptable than Doriath.
Startled, he stopped on his tracks. Who had called him? Oh, it was the woman. But, what was she doing in the stables at this hour of the morning?
Far worse, there was her son with her. And the two were dressed as for a journey.
"What do you think you are doing, my lady?" he growled, not very kindly. Aredhel gifted him with the best of her smiles.
"Prepare two horses for us, Faerroch for me and...ummm, the dark one yonder for Maeglin. That was the one you wanted, wasn´t it, dear?"
"Sorry." Angbor was beginning to feel nervous. "You cannot go. Our lord said that there was to be no riding while he was away."
"Did he say that?" Eöl´s son walked towards him, and something in his eyes made Angbor take two steps backwards. A shrill noise was heard as he unsheathed his sword.
It could not be. It could not be true, Angbor thought. The sword in his hands was no other but Anguirel itself!
"I am now the lord of Nan Elmoth, until my father returns. And now, do as my mother told you. We are going to visit her kin, the sons of Fëanor!
Angbor did not dare to argue further. Besides, he hated the horrible sound of heated voices, so he slowly began to do as he was told.
Meanwhile, still clueless about what was going on in his house, Eöl had arrived to the mines of the Dwarves in Nogrod. There, as usual, he was first received with honour and greeted by the King in his hall of stone. All the Naugrim smiths came to him next, attracted by his new metalworks, but as he was about to show them, one of his few friends, the renowned smith Telchar, rushed with a flushed face to invite him to house.
"Such haste... It seems quite unusual to me." Eöl observed while bending to cross the threshold of the small door. In the inside he had no problem, for each room was ampler than his own in Nan Elmoth, and the ceiling very high, but it was custom among the Naugrim to never display any trace of magnificence in public, with the thoughtful purpose of not exciting the greediness of neighbours.
"Yes, you have guessed right. I want to show you something I made, before the feast the King is going to give tonight to celebrate your arrival." was the answer the Elf got. Telchar led him through the richly decorated corridors and chambers, stopping nowhere until they reached the smithy. In spite of the luxurious environment, inherent to the status of a wealthy Dwarf, it was there where the smith did his life; where he worked, rested, ate, and received his friends.
"There, sit on the chair. And please, wait a moment while I try to put some order here."
Eöl nodded to accept the invitation and sat down, watching distractedly his small and bearded friend in his efforts to appear a good host. It was not necessary that he took such pains for his sake, as he did not mind disorder at all, but repeating it once more would be of no avail, for the Naugrim were, as he thought ruefully, very headstrong.
Of more interest were for him all the new works of metal he could see piled in every corner. A beautiful and light shield with runes of protection in its front part particularly earned a long glance of approval; the Dwarf, as it seemed, did not lose his time.
"Yes, I am beginning to feel too ashamed to let my friends in. Since my daughter moved away to marry her first husband, this house is a mess! By the way, what about your own family?" Telchar paused in his work to admire a finely carved wooden box, and Eöl supposed that he had found at last what he sought.
"They are well. Maeglin has become quite a smith by now."
"Has he?" The Dwarf scratched his beard pensively, and sighed. "Then, I suppose I must be growing too old. Why, I remember when you first brought him here, and how he used to hide behind you, afraid of our kind!"
"He was very young then." Eöl growled. "At present, I doubt he is capable of being afraid of anything."
"Come on, take a look at this." Telchar knew better than to continue that line of conversation, so he handled the box to him. Dwarves had their own sense of delicacy at times, and long ago he had spotted out his friend´s dislike for talking about his family. "I originally intended to sell it to a Noldorin prince, but now I do not know. Perhaps I will keep it... what do you think?"
The Dark Elf did not answer at once, fingering the box before opening it. Suddenly, his mouth twisted in a smirk.
"Well, well! The great-grandsire of yours who taught me to shape my first blade would have said the same words. " he chuckled" I see the folk of Mahal still remain the same!"
Telchar nodded, and then shook his head dismissively.
"Yes. I rather do not understand myself why we have to do them favours. After all the times they have laughed at us and at what they call our monstrous ugliness, believing that we do not hear them, we should let them fend off alone, shouldn´t we?"
"Yet they pay well." Eöl objected, getting up from the chair and reclining over the now cold fireplace. "And that´s why you prefer to keep dealing with them and their rudeness."
"And what if we do?" Telchar snapped crossly. It was an old discussion topic among them, but the Elf ought to know that, for their kind, trade deals came always before personal dislikes. And he couldn´t speak too loud, either.
"And you? I only sell them things and usually deceive them, but you, you went and married one of their females!"
"My wife has nothing to do with her kin." was the Dark Elf´s answer. "Besides, she was beautiful, and I had a reason to want her. The Noldor take all your weapons, and what do they give you in exchange? Jewels!"
At this sally, the Dwarf could no longer maintain his hostility against his guest. Sitting in the same chair where Eöl had been before, he began to laugh soundly, and the laugh soon turned into a fit.
"Jewels!" he roared. "Really Eöl, I never suspected that sense of humour in you old grumpy fellow. Now, are you going to take a look at my new knife, or not?"
Eöl apologised silently for his distraction, opening the box in a swift but careful move.
His eyes widened when he saw what was inside.
"Hmmm...good work. Great work, Telchar." he muttered. " I would never have forged this."
It was just a small unimpressive knife of steel, without engravings or the typical silver handle of delicate workmanship that most good Dwarven knifes used to have. A common kitchen knife would have looked nearly the same, yet a great smith like Eöl did not even need to take it in his hands to know that its sharp edge could cut everything, and that its weight was light as wood.
"I, er... I fell in love with it since the metal cooled and I saw it whole for the first time." the Dwarf kept on talking behind his back. "How nonsensical, you will say. Yet it was so. And I..."
"Why isn´t it finished?"
"Why isn´t it finished?" Eöl repeated his question. "There are no runes engraved yet."
Telchar breathed heavily, and began looking at him in a curious way. The curious way, Eöl thought, in which Naugrim looked whenever they were about to do themselves a great violence and ask something of any other creature.
"Because I thought that maybe you would...er, consent to help me. With your Elven magic, I mean."
Eöl was surprised.
"My Elven magic? Since when do you need my people´s sorcery to forge weapons?"
"I need this knife to be something very special, Eöl. It is special already, but I need your help to make it the best of knives made ever. Will you...?"
But then, suddenly, the words he was about to utter became stuck in his throat.
"Eöl! What´s the matter?"
The look in his friend´s eyes was vacant, gone. In despair, he began reaching with his hands to the hip where his sword used to hang, repeating strange words that did not seem Elvish, and were definitely not Dwarvish.
"Eöl, stop!" Telchar cried again, more concerned by moments. For Mahal´s sake, what was he doing? He arrived just in time to prevent him from falling to the floor, and this only thanks to the stout build of the Naugrim, without which he would have fallen together with him.
The body felt cold and rigid in his arms. For some seconds, he even began to fear for his friend´s life, but the red eyes were wide open, raging in silence.
"I must go. Telchar, let me. I must go at once!"
(To be continued.)
"The Black Sword of Doriath": I mean Anglachel, later Beleg and Turin´s sword.
As Turin had an argument with Anglachel before he died, I´ve always pictured Eöl´s swords as a sort of living beings ( and rather treacherous ones). I suppose their maker treated them as such (see Chapter Four).
That´s just me, of course, but Tolkien says that there were very few females among the Dwarves, so I built the weird theory that they shared them.
Angrist was later Curufin´s knife. (I guess Telchar sold it in the end). Dwarves...
Thanks to [name removed for review] for giving me Angbor´s name (it means "Iron fist", good name for a smith!) And thanks too to [name removed for review], [name removed for review], [name removed for review] and [name removed for review] for the other names I did not use. The Dwarven names I never used because of the Telchar idea.
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