(author's warning: this chapter contains intense violence and slight AU)Amras descended the steps to his father's cabin serenely, his mind teeming with thoughts. The entire fleet of ships had only arrived in Beleriand seven hours ago, and everyone else was on shore celebrating as merrily as they could, considering the circumstances. Amrod was already stumbling around drunk, just as he used to in Valinor, toasting the success of the voyage.
But Amras could not bring himself to toast his father's success as everyone else was. Something—everything, when he was alone—in his soul yearned to return to Valinor and the almost tangible power of the Valar. This land, a vast goblet of wine overflowing with shadows and darkness, set in stark reality what it was they had done—and what was still had to be done.
Amras reached Fëanor's cabin and opened the intricately carved ivory door, making straight for the wine cabinet. His father had sent him to fetch some of his personal wine for his table, for he didn't trust a servant or warrior to it—Fëanor knew the wine would be gone before flask even left the ship. Which made Fëanor chuckle, true; but he did want his wine.
Amras swung the cabinet door open and produced a large bottle of crimson liqueur, hefting it slightly—it had been opened before—and turned back towards the stairs. Then he hesitated, turning back around.
At a closer glance, the shadow hunched in the corner that he had first taken for…well, he could not say what he had taken it for, except nothing of consequence, turned out to be Caranthir.
"Moryo," Amras said, slowly approaching his brother. "Are you alright?" Caranthir was sitting, his back against the wall and his forearms on his knees. Golden eyes stared unfocusedly out the window, from which iridescent starlight streamed in, giving his pale shade-engulfed visage a cold and distant feel; but when Amras' words permeated the stillness, he blinked, seeming to return from a distant dream world, catching and returning his brother's gaze.
"What did you say, Ambarussa?" There was something in Caranthir's voice Amras had never heard before, an almost dangerous tone not wont to his when speaking to kin.
"I asked if you were alright."
"I'm fine," Caranthir replied, looking away again, clearly abstaining from any other explanation.
Amras sauntered over and sat at his brother's side, opening the bottle of wine and sniffing skeptically, declaring, "You lie. What troubles you?"
"I…it is nothing," Caranthir muttered, his eyes darting to the small window. He seemed serene, yet angry as he had never been before.
"If it is nothing, then why do you not feast with us?"
Caranthir sighed, knowing it was useless. "Have you ever discovered something about yourself …something you did not wish to know?"
Amras shifted a bit uneasily. "Aye."
"What was it?"
He paused, unsure how to put it to words. "That…that I could kill another elf. That I have the power to take someone's life. I never realized before Alqualondë that I had that power."
Caranthir almost laughed at the irony. "And do you hate that power?"
"Yes." Amras looked at his brother, whose strange mood seemed to heighten with every passing moment. "Don't you?"
Caranthir paused. "I wish I did, Ambarussa. I wish I did."
"You mean…you do not?"
Caranthir hesitated, his visage almost emotionless, yet dangerous as well. "When we marched into the Havens, I realized it just the same as you. The first death was the hardest, watching the mariner die by my hand." Caranthir's hand clenched as if holding a sword, and an eerie vacantness crept into his eyes and voice; he seemed to be living the moment all over again. "But as he slid from my sword, I…something ignited in my…my chest, and…and I liked it. I liked having that power. So I killed again, and again, and soon I was drunk on it, like a wild beast…I thought it would pass, the pleasure; but it didn't. Even after we left the Havens, even after we betrayed our cousins, the memory remained…not intolerable. And on our voyage, the pleasure…" He paused, not sure if he could speak the horrifying thoughts that reeled in his mind. "The pleasure…grew."
Amras' face was white. Did Caranthir really mean what he was saying? Did he really enjoy the slaughter that plagued Amras mind and seized him in his sleep, haunting his nightmares? Did Caranthir wish to kill again, to watch someone gasp in pain, eyes turned to the heavens in silent prayer while blood flows freely over his fingers—did Caranthir really receive pleasure from that?
Amras' stomach turned in disgust. The gleam caught in Caranthir's eyes when he spoke of the havens confirmed his words, banishing any doubt from Amras' mind.
Caranthir once more looked his silent brother in the eye, and he instantly understood the emotion welling in Amras' soul—loathing, disbelief, and fear. Mostly loathing. Some fey anger flared in his heart, and his already cold face hardened so maliciously Amras was taken aback.
"You think I am even worse than father," Caranthir snapped accusingly. "You despise me! Is that not what you think?"
Amras did not know what he thought, but he did know he needed time alone. His mind was already filled nearly to the brink, and this new information—that his brother, someone he loved and trusted, could actually enjoy destroying another being, confused him, disrupting his entire way of thinking. Surely this could not be right...Caranthir could not possibly enjoy dealing out death! And yet, by his own admission, he did.
Slowly Amras rose to his feet, the wine bottle still in his trembling hands. He needed time. He needed time to think this through, to process it, to understand what his brother was saying. He avoided Caranthir's gaze, turning towards the door.
"NO!" Caranthir cried, leaping to his feet. A strange fire blazed in his eyes, a desperation. "Brother, you cannot leave me like this, without so much as word! You must speak with me!" Amras shook his head innocuously, opening the cabin door, and a breeze of sea air hit his face—the wind was beginning to pick up, and Fëanor would have no doubt have missed him by now. "Ambarussa, you cannot leave me here alone!"
When Amras did not halt, nor even give any indication he had heard his brother's pleas, a strange wrath overcame Caranthir's heart and he seized his brother by the shoulders, turning the younger elf to face him. "You think I'm worse than father, don't you!" Caranthir growled viciously, angered more by his brother's refusal to meet his gaze than by his silence. "You deem me worthy of death, worthy of the damnation the Valar have placed upon us! You think I am a monster!"
Amras shook his head, not daring to speak—he was not sure he could keep his voice steady, and that would undoubtedly upset Caranthir even more. How could he speak to his brother now? His brother, who he had always looked up to, always loved wholeheartedly, always laughed with and hunted with. This was his brother. This was Caranthir.
But it wasn't. This wasn't him. Caranthir's voice didn't sound like this—not this angry, never that hateful. Who was this beast?
"Ambarussa, please!" Caranthir pleaded helplessly, forcefully. "Stay with me, tell I'm not a monster!"
But Amras couldn't. He felt his brother's hot, burning gaze bore into his form, and he could not meet that gaze. He could not tell his brother what he so desperately wanted to—that he wasn't a monster. He moved to retreat out the door, but Caranthir slammed him back against the door frame.
"NO!" he screamed. "Tell me! Tell me I'm not a monster! Look at me!" Desperation and anguish thundered in the raging elf's voice, beating against Amras like storm waves on the shore.
"Moryo…please…" Amras pleaded, trying to escape, the foul taste of fear poisoning his mouth—fear of his brother. "Please, don't….I-I can't—"
"NO!" Caranthir bellowed, throwing his brother to the floor in a sudden burst of rage. "I'm not a monster!" Anger coursed through his veins, seizing his mind. The sight of Amras trying to scramble away, the still-open wine bottle rolling forgotten across the floor, spilling in a crimson pool, and Amras' copper hair flashing across a starlit patch of floor ignited something in him, a surge of power and malice. Caranthir knew he should stop, should just turn and run, leave his younger brother alone, but he couldn't.
He reached out and caught Amras by the belt, dragging him back, and then threw him across the room. Amras' petrified yelp filled the cabin as he landed on the now empty wine bottle, shattering it. Cold shards dug into Amras' hands and chest as he attempted to rise, to run, to escape the raging beast behind him. But Caranthir kept coming, grabbing a fistful of his brother's hair and yanking his head back painfully.
"TELL ME I'M NOT A MONSTER!" he bellowed, "TELL ME!"
Amras was far past any point of honesty—the pure terror gripping his heart was too real. "You're not a monster!" he cried appealingly. "Please Moryo! You're not a monster!"
"You lie!" Caranthir snarled loudly, twisting Amras around so his brother lay face up on the floor, the large chunks of glass digging unmercifully into his back, pouncing on him, forcing him to remain and knocking the air from his lungs. "YOU LIE AND YOU KNOW IT!" he shrieked. Without a single coherent thought Caranthir seized his brother's head and began beating it against the floor ruthlessly. "I'm a monster!" he cried, tears streaming down his vicious face. "I'm a MONSTER! TELL ME I'M A MONSTER!"
Amras could hardly comprehend what Caranthir was screaming through the endless tattoo of his head smacking the floor, the glass crushing beneath it, his lack of air. Finally he shouted back: "You are a monster! Please, Moryo! YOU ARE A MONSTER!"
"NO I'M NOT!"
Vaguely as adept fingers tightened around his gasping throat Amras remembered how they used to play this as children—they would wrestle until one of them won, and the other would cry 'mercy' and they both arose together, laughing in fun. But Amras knew this was different—no matter what he said, Caranthir would not relent, and neither of them would come up laughing. His older brother was driven by guilt, not wishing to accept the truth, not wishing to be judged, but knowing the truth just the same. He was not a monster. And he was.
His air continued to lessen, and Amras could see his older brother above him, eyes blazing in madness. This was not his brother, he kept telling himself. It is not Caranthir.
But it was Caranthir's hands around his neck, Caranthir's forceful arms still beating him against the floor, and Caranthir's heavy body pinning his now-writhing form to the floor. And it was his brother's mad, guilt-driven face he saw as he sank deeper and deeper into oblivion.
Caranthir had thrown up. Just being in the same room as his brother's body caused bile to rise in his throat, and when the reality had sunk in, the anger ebbed, he could not keep it down.
Why, by the Gods, why had he done that? What had driven him to…He could barely even think it. Utter shock enveloped his body, numbing him, making his trembling limbs heavy and immobile. What had driven him to it?
He had not realized what happened until Amras lay dead beneath him, his bright eyes vacant and cold. And even then, it took him a minute to fully comprehend exactly whose hands had killed him. He had killed him. He had killed his little brother.
Caranthir dragged himself off the body, hands shaking like leaves, breath coming in short gasps. Blood pooled in Amras' hands where the glass had cut him, and it glistened in the starlight yet streaming from the window. He could hear the wind outside beating against the sails, and it suddenly occurred to him that someone might have heard them. What if he was discovered here with his brother's body? It was plain enough what had happened—glass everywhere, bloody handprints across the floor, Amras' bruised throat—and if someone found out…
They would think I am a monster, Caranthir cursed. They would think I am a monster.
"I am not a monster!" he cried desperately, denying the truth right before his eyes, and rose swiftly to his feet. He bounded to the milk-white door that had closed some time ago by the wind, throwing it open again. Stepping on deck, he was relieved to find that the punitive crunch of shattered glass would not follow him here, and the wind threw cold, salty air in his nose and mouth. He raced down the gangplank and into the rocky forest, tripping and stumbling.
He had killed his brother. Amras was dead and it was his fault. Hot tears began streaming down his face, blinding him. If only Amras had answered him when he asked—why hadn't Amras spoken? Why, why had he tried to leave without a single backwards glance? Could Amras have given an excuse, and gotten away? Could he have said, 'Father will be missing me,' or 'Ambarussa is drunk and should not be left alone'? Would he have relented?
Would it have made a difference?
The ships were anchored several hundred yards from the edge of the encampment for safety purposes—the tides were strange here, and Fëanor did not wish to risk flooding. Caranthir had covered half the distance when he stumbled and fell, and did not rise again. Where once life had coursed through his muscles, now a numbness spread, an enervation. Lacking the power to rise, Caranthir merely lay motionless, weeping softly to himself, wishing for all the world the truth was not true, that he could turn back time and stop the raging demon from harming his brother. Celegorm had always been the quickest to anger, but when Caranthir's wrath was stirred, it could not be assuaged. Caranthir had sent Angrod and Aegnor weeping to their nursemaids on several occasions by insulting their grandmother—he could be vicious when he wanted to be. But it was only rarely physical, and never towards his brothers.
Suddenly he heard a crash in the foliage several yards away, and coming closer. His first instinct assumed it to be a beast, but then he heard the voice. When he heard that voice, his blood froze.
"Am'russa! Pleaz, Russa, where are you?"
At first Caranthir thought it was Amras, alive by some miracle or another, or perhaps his fëa come to take vengeance. But the speech was slow and slurred, with Amras' voice, but a different tone. As the speaker stumbled into the starlight, Caranthir blanched, for he saw and knew who it was: Amrod. Amras' twin, Caranthir's own brother, drunk and bleary-eyed. His copper hair hung unkemptly, wreathing his face, and an empty wine bottle rested lightly in his grasp—obviously not his first. Caranthir's stomach gave a few dry heaves at the painful resemblance between the twins, bottle and all.
Amrod stumbled past him through the trees a few yards away, oblivious to Caranthir's presence.
"Amb'russa, wher are you? I cand..can't feel you anymore! Russa, please!" The voice rang heated and passionate in Caranthir's ears, almost panicked, near tears. "Russa, I'm…haf of me is…empty…Where…Russa…"
Twins, Caranthir realized with another dry heave, followed by a muffled sob. He had not murdered one, he had murdered half a whole. Ai, by the gods, what had he done?
Somewhere in the distance he heard Amrod wretching, perhaps from wine and exhaustion. Or, perhaps, the emptiness had begun to take its toll. "AMBARUSSA! PLEASE! RUSSA, WHERE ARE YOU?"
...Tears unnumbered ye shall shed…
…And the Valar will fence Valinor against you so that not even the echo of your lamentations will pass over the mountains…
Caranthir shivered involuntarily: it had already begun. Feanor did not miss his youngest son until it was too late, the ships were burnt, and Caranthir himself, with face of stone, threw the torch to the ship that would serve as Amras' bier. None knew, would ever know. Only Caranthir was left to the dreams, the nightmares, that seized him the the night, the cry of Amras' pleading voice, and the memory of the monster that was him.
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.