The feast was massive, celebrating their safe crossing of the Belegaear. Food and drink passed as water down laughing throats, wine drowning the painful memory of blood, salt, and fear. Fëanor presided over the high table, flanked on either side by his sons, fellow partakers in the Oath; it was in this he took comfort—Nerdanel, Finarfin, the Valar had all forsaken him, but his sons were with him. He would take part in Morgoth’s fate, backed by his seven sons.
Maedhros sat at his right hand, abstaining with good nature from intoxication—he wanted to remember this night, this triumph. They had done it, proved the Valar wrong. They—he—had crossed the Great Sea, won their way to Beleriand and were ready to send the ships back to retrieve their cousins. Everything was at rights, and they were the indisputable masters of Middle Earth. With a confidant smile, he surveyed the scene—he had won the victory.
Then he noticed his brother.
Amras sat at the end of the table, and he looked dead. There was no smile on his face, or frown, or anger; only an abstemity was plain. Amrod, seated next to him, obviously drunk, joked and elbowed his twin, laughing awkwardly. Amras didn’t respond.
Maedhros kept an eye on his youngest brother throughout the night, realizing with a sort of curiosity Amras did not think they had won any great triumph by arriving here on the hither shore. In fact, he seemed to find no pleasure at all in their new freedom. And when his brother silently slipped away near the end of the feast, Maedhros debated momentarily before following, slipping into the cover of trees with an uncertain backward glance.
He found his brother on the edge of the tree line on the white beach; pearl ships rose and fell gently with the oscillation of waves. Amras sat on a fallen log, staring out onto the open sea. Maedhros almost failed to approach, so distant and distracted the other looked.
The copper-haired elf did not look to him. “Shouldn’t you be feasting, Nelyo?”
Maedhros was startled at the bitter tone of Amras’ words. Sitting on the log, he encouraged, “So should you, little Russa.”
“I am not little.” Away from the burning torchlight, his pale face seemed wan, ghostly. “I have killed.”
Maedhros could not argue such a point.
“Why did you follow me?”
“Something is wrong. You take no pleasure in the feast.”
“How could I? We are damned.”
So that was it. “We are not damned, Russa—we are free. Free to wander these shores, to conquer Morgoth. Free to reclaim the Silmarils, to do whatever we wish. We are free.”
“Free to pillage, plunder, rape, kill…We are free, Nelyo. We are free as renegade hounds of war. We are damned. You do not see it because you do not wish to see.”
Anger sparked. “I see what is true. You are still drinking of the Valar’s lies to be saying such things.”
“We were free in Valinor.”
“Such were the words of Finarfin, and of mother. Are you to be counted amongst such simple cravens?”
“Mother was no craven!” He rose, pacing. “Our uncle was no simple coward, Nelyo. It is we who are the cowards, too afraid of our own shadows to recant and nullify the Oath.”
“Do you regret it, then?” Maedhros spat with acerbity.
He paused to look his elder brother in the eye with an intensity Maedhros found unnerving. “Aye, I regret it. Every hour since.”
The elder rose, shoving his brother back. “You are as bad as mother!”
“What if I am?” he barked defensively—he did not wish to do this. “I would rather be back in Valinor, with her and Uncle Finarfin, than stuck on a desolate shore with none but wraiths to mourn our graves!”
“You canting cur!” Maedhros bellowed, flooring his brother with a harsh backhand slap. “If you wish to return to those pitiful excuses for cravens then go ahead! Run back to your mother’s teat!”
“Do you honestly think father will send the ships back?”
No, Amras could not say such things; the unease of fear that had grown in Maedhros’ mind exploded to an inferno, yet he still clung to hope. “We cannot win the war without Fingolfin’s folk!”
“Treachery, Nelyo! That is the Curse, and even now it is moving among us! Don’t you see? We are monsters!”
“Mayhap you are, Russa,” Maedhros retorted, “but not me. I will make sure Father sends the ships back: I will make sure!”
And Amras knew he had lost—Maedhros would not listen to him any more than he had listened to his own soul. Rising, he cast a backward glance to his brother, knowing the truth, yet unwilling to press the matter further. He could not take that hope from his brother; he would leave Fëanor to that. “Go back to your feast, Maedhros.”
The eldest watched him helplessly, watched as Amras walked away down the desolate shore towards the ships—they would send the ships back. Maedhros would make sure of it. He could not bear to think of Fingon, so loyal, abandoned on a desolate shore. Fëanor would send the ships back. He had to.
In a blaze of determination, he stormed back to the feast.
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.