3. Phantoms Stir
Maglor glanced up from his desk, searching for the owner of the voice. Caranthir looked down on him with furrowed brows, long hair hanging down loose in his face—somehow the visage appeared darker, more sinister than he remembered.
"Nelyo wishes to speak with you."
He nodded wordlessly, shuffling the letters on his desk into an organized pile. He'd spent the entire day in the castle's study, reviewing all recorded correspondence between Doriath and the Noldor. He'd told himself it was a search for aught that would assist them in the ordeal with Dior, but it was a lie; in reality it was a search for any mention of Lúthien, the Nightingale. Once Celegorm awoke, he'd expounded everything that had happened—Maglor had started at the offhand mention of Finrod's death, knowing how Celegorm had cared for his cousin in their youth, but he was soon overwhelmed by the fragility of their situation.
"Makalaurë, what is wrong?" Caranthir yet stood in the doorway, and Maglor rose from his seat.
"Nothing. I'll be fine," he reassured unconvincingly, moving to the door. Caranthir did not move. A defiant spark lit the gaze, the younger's strong will enticed.
"Something is wrong, and I want to know what it is." His tone brooked no argument, and with a sigh the harper resigned himself to his fate, leaning back on his desk.
"Carnastir…" he began, "Have you noticed a…a change in Atarinkë’s behavior?"
Caranthir's brow furrowed. "You mean the way he constantly avoids Turco? The way he refuses to speak to anyone? How he arrived three days before you? The way he laughs one minute, explodes the next, then looks as if he will weep?"
"He arrived early because he left early, to avoid Turco," he interjected, "but yes, that is what I mean."
"Did they have a disagreement?" Caranthir stepped further into the room, closing the door at his back. "I have not heard they are on ill terms."
"I should have thought it obvious," he sighed, thankful for a chance to verbalize the aggravating web of thought. "It's worse than a simple disagreement. Curufinwë has actually knifed Turco, on two occasions, at least that he will admit. You know of the affair with Lúthien, Thingol's daughter?"
"It seems that Atarinkë has been acting oddly ever since they captured her. And after their bout with Beren—"
"They fought Beren?"
Maglor wasn't surprised at the other's ignorance of the matter—it wasn't exactly something Celegorm trumpeted from the battlements, and Curufin hadn't spoken much to anyone. "Aye. Turco's a bit hazy on it yet himself, but apparently Beren bested Atarinkë and Huan had him pinned. It was only by Lúthien's mercy that either of them yet live."
"And that is why Huan is not with him."
"Correct. That night he was acting particularly touchy, and Celegorm was in one of his moods. When Atarinkë denied an explanation, Turco continued to press the matter, even roughing him a bit, as I understand. He claims Atarinkë then lunged at him with a knife and slashed his thigh. I saw the scar, and it is a miracle Turco yet lives."
Caranthir's brow darkened.
"Not only that, but when they arrived at my fortress the same thing occurred, only Turco initiated it, receiving a dirk in the shoulder. And Atarinkë seems to show no remorse—he was actually laughing."
"He sounds like a madman."
Maglor nodded. "But he isn't. Not that I can tell. He seems to care for Turco still—"
"Knifing someone is not considered affection." Caranthir's face was hard, his eyes serious and cold. Maglor could not help but note the ill effect this information was having on his brother.
"No, Moryo. You did not see his face when he looked upon the wound—he tried to guard his countenance, but I saw the sorrow in his eye. He loves Turco."
"As much as a son of Fëanor can love." A small leer flirted with his lips, and Maglor was startled to find that Caranthir found a slight amusement in the plight.
"Moryo, I'm worried about them. Atarinkë hardly speaks anything sensible, and Turco is living in fear of his life, though he acts as though nothing was amiss. If he keeps this up we won't know what's wrong until he's dead."
Caranthir nodded—Celegorm was so predictable. Always hot-headed, always brazen, never admitting discrepancies of any kind. It was sickening. Caranthir knew there was nothing he could do in that area; but Curufin…Curufin might speak with him. Perhaps Maglor had merely gone about it he wrong way. "If it worries you that much, Makalaurë, I will speak with Atarinkë and see what I can get out of him. He has no desire to knife me that I have seen. Though I'll not guarantee anything."
Such an offer was strange for Caranthir…In some way, Maglor feared the offer was merely his brother jumping to play with their minds. But what else was there to do? Everything else had failed. "…Aye. I think it would be good."
When Caranthir found Curufin, his younger brother was sitting by the waters of a crystal fountain, watching with a passionate intensity the gleam of sunset caught as a star in droplets tumbling from one marble stair to another. He seemed to be completely enthralled, utterly engrossed. Caranthir wondered if perhaps he was concentrating so intensely in order to forget something else.
Nothing. Eyes never wavered from their purpose.
Ever fixed on the waterfall. "Moryo."
At least he was acknowledging his presence. Golden sunlight melded with the fair face and ebony hair in an almost aethereal lay silent to the ears. He could see why Curufin withdrew to this spot—it was serene, beautiful, mute but for the gentle flow of water in the marble fountain. The walled garden was the perfect retreat. The perfect cell. "I have not spoken with you since your arrival…"
He sat on the bench next to his brother. "Why do you retreat from company? Our brothers miss you in the dining hall."
"They are pitiful."
This startled the other. "They are sons of the house of our father. There are no cravens among them."
"I pity them, so they are pitiful." His denial to meet gazes was strangely unnerving. "I pity you, too, Moryo. I'm sorry I can't help you."
It was nonsense. "Under such standards you are pitiful, brother, for I pity any man caught under a woman's spell." The comment was subtle, the latter half slipped in as a minor detail.
Curufin caught it, torquing it in his mind. "I wish I could have gone to my death not knowing…" Intense eyes finally met the others, countenance earnest. "We will die, Moryo. We will all die."
He shifted in unease. "Of course, Atarinkë. We are the sons of our father, bearers of the Curse."
"We cannot win. We will die."
"But we will die with honor, and courage. We will not die as cowards, nor men caught in another's bed."
The gaze diverted loosely. "Aye, we will. We will deserve it, we already do. Every second longer we live justifies our demise."
"Why such a doomsman, Atarinkë? Are you a prophet, that you can see the future?"
"Nay, not a prophet. Merely a cursed man." The form rose, detached, adding, "I'm sorry, Moryo. I wish I loved you," before disappearing into the foliage of dusk.
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.