Noldolante: 1. Noldolantë

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1. Noldolantë

Author's notes:

I strongly recommend reading my earlier story "Dark Forge" before attempting this one; "Noldolantë" will make more sense if you do.

Warning: This sequel to my earlier story "Dark Forge" contains several very disturbing scenes of violence, and has an overall black tone. If you're a sensitive soul, quit now and do us both a favor.

*******

The city is burning. Even though I've known for nearly seven years that this day would come, I find that I am not prepared for the reality of it. The once white walls of the buildings, luridly reflecting the glow of the flames, are now a study in black and scarlet - stained by soot and splashed with blood. The streets have become crimson rivers, the blood slowly flowing over the smooth pavement and splashing onto the heavy boots of the running orc hordes now rampaging through the heart of my adopted home, too intent on destruction to notice that they are being anointed with gore. My senses are reeling, and I find myself fighting a nearly overpowering urge to vomit. I had almost forgotten the peculiar and unmistakable scent of violent death; the last time I saw this much slaughter was during the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, and then I was too busy fighting for my life and the life of my king to pay much attention to it. It is far harder to ignore the charnel odor when one is a noncombatant, but for your sake I must, and so I steel my will and press on through the chaos. As a reward for my aid I was promised your safety in addition to my own, but I do not entirely trust his promises, or his minions. I place my faith in my sword alone, and I will not rest until I have found you and have lead you safely away from this devastation.

As I head deeper into the city, forcing my way past terrified crowds struggling to flee the wreck of their home, the horrible sights and sounds I witness burn so deeply into my mind that I am certain they will endure there past the ending of Arda. Screams of pain and terror. The calls of people separated from their loved ones, desperation and fear naked in their voices as they search. Sobbing children. The shouts of the soldiers as they frantically try to rally, knowing that they are hopelessly outnumbered and their best efforts will be in the end too little, but determined to buy enough time to allow at least a few innocents to escape. Many of these warriors I know, but I ignore their entreaties to aid in the defense of the city and continue to press on. As I enter the central courtyard, I see that my uncle's beloved Trees have been torn from the ground, their silver and gold branches now twisted and defiled with gore. Bodies are strewn everywhere, and wargs and some of the orcs have paused to consume them, the orcs casually hacking off limbs from the dead and then stripping the meat from the bones. Near the fountain of the King's square I spot one of Turgon's captains - it's Ecthelion, I recognize him now by his helmet - confronting a menacing dark form which lashes out with a terrible whip of fire. A Balrog. I should have known he would send them here on this day. For a moment, my sight is blurred by tears. Ecthelion has always been kind to me, unlike many in the palace; the taunt "Moriquendi" has never issued from his lips, even in private. I know how his battle will end. Valiant he may be, but he cannot prevail; even the bravest elf cannot defeat a Balrog. But the most disturbing vision is the one I confront when I finally reach your house on the northern edge of town. As I enter, I race past several orcs and bolt towards the staircase, intent on reaching your quarters before they do. But strangely, they do not follow, and I am halfway up the stairs when I hear a weak moan. I turn to look back towards the sound, and now I see why the orcs remained still; they are watching one of their number ravage a woman, and are patiently waiting their turn. Horrified, I realize that I know her; it's Neniel, Ecthelion's niece. She, like Ecthelion, has been kind to me, and indeed has often seemed to go out of her way to seek out my company. Quiet and shy, with a gentle manner, a voice like birdsong, and thick raven tresses, she has enchanted nearly everyone who has met her. Ecthelion once hinted that I should get to know her better. But you have owned my heart from the first moment I saw you standing proud next to your father, and I had no interest in Neniel save that of friendship. Now I am stunned to see her, beaten nearly senseless and too weak to struggle further, lying helpless beneath the orc. For a brief moment, as I watch the beast savagely rutting with her nude body, I consider attempting a rescue. But it would be a futile gesture; the orcs are too many, and her appearance suggests that her fëa will soon leave for Mandos in any case. I will not risk your safety, and I cannot help both you and her. So I turn my back on the scene below and continue up the staircase, leaving Neniel to her fate.

I nearly panic when I reach your living quarters and find them empty. I was so sure I would find you here with your son; being half-mortal and weak, he needs much sleep, and is still too young to stay awake for the entire night of festival. He was not with you when you stood on the city walls with your arm wrapped around your ephemeral lover. I know - for as always, I was watching you. Let the others watch for the rising of the Last Fruit of Laurelin! I need no sun in the heavens to brighten my days; the vision of you is enough, though the presence of Tuor is a constant cloud threatening to blot you from my sky. With luck, he is dead now. Ever reckless and foolish, he is certain to have rushed into the worst of the fighting, and mortals are so fragile, after all.

It is a chance view through a hallway window that reveals your location to me, and relief floods through me when I see you, tall and radiant, leading your small son through a nearby street. I dash down the staircase, heart high for the first time on this evil day, ignoring the monotonous grunting of the orcs still sating their lust in the flesh of Neniel, and fly through the bloodstained roads to catch up with you. "Idril!" I shout when you finally come into view. "The city is doomed! The Black Foe's vile spawn are killing everyone they can catch, and the streets are not safe. Come with me! I will lead you both to safety."

"Maeglin! Why are you here? You should be defending my father!"

I ignore the reproach in your voice, but cannot help noticing the way you stiffen ever so slightly as I draw near. When will you learn that I mean you no harm? I could no more hurt you than I could willingly injure myself! "It is too late for that, Idril. Your father the king has fallen. There is nothing more that can be done here. We must leave, quickly!" I reply. I reach out for your hand, but you pull away, and there is fear in your voice when you whisper, "And what of my husband? Have you seen him, Maeglin?"

"Tuor is dead. I saw him slain, fighting in front of the king's tower." The words come easily to my lips. Perhaps they are even true. But even if the mortal has somehow survived, he will be dead to you after today, Idril. You are of the Quendi; it is time you returned to your own kind. I will save you from your blind folly, this base love that has consumed you; though the grief in your heart is sharp now, it will fade. After a few centuries you will no longer remember him. We will be happy together, I promise you. "I am sorry to be the bearer of such evil tidings, cousin, but you must understand that your family is lost to you now. We must hurry to reach safety, or be doomed ourselves. Please, follow me!" I reach out and firmly grasp your hand, and begin to pull you towards the safety of the nearby city wall, where we will be out of the reach of the wargs and fire drakes. But you still refuse to walk with me, and try to pull loose from my grasp; the attempt is in vain, of course, for I am far stronger than you and will not release your hand. "Maeglin, what are you doing! Release me! I'm not going with you!" Ignoring your struggles and protests, I continue down the street, pulling you behind me. Our progress is slow, and then, to my dismay, I hear faint growls, which gradually grow louder. Wargs! The orcs will not dare to harm me, nor the fire-drakes, for they know their master has granted me safe conduct, but wargs are mere beasts. They know nothing of promises, and although there are corpses aplenty for them to feast upon, to them it is living flesh that tastes sweetest. We must get to safety quickly. I cannot drag you any faster, and as the snarls continue to increase in volume, fear for your wellbeing grows ever stronger in my heart. Then, as if in answer to my unvoiced plea, your son inadvertently comes to my aid.

"Stop hurting my mother!" Eärendil shouts, and suddenly pulling free from your one-handed grasp he charges up to me and starts pounding me with his fists. "Leave her alone! I hate you!" I seize the opportunity. Quickly, I wrap my left arm tightly around him, then drop your hand and thrust you away. Caught off balance, you slip on some blood and fall; before you can regain you feet, I have drawn my sword and have it pressed against your son's neck. You freeze, face gone deathly pale, but I see a cold gleam in your eyes as you face me. I am sorry, Idril, truly I am, and I will not hurt your child, but I will threaten him if that is what it takes to get you to follow me without resistance. "Eärendil and I are going to climb to the top of the wall together," I say casually. "I suggest that you join us." You remain mute but nod stiffly in understanding, then slowly begin to follow as I walk backwards towards the narrow stairway leading to the top of the battlements. "Stay here; when Eärendil and I reach the head of the stairs, then you may come up." Carefully keeping the sword against his neck, I hoist your son off the ground with my left arm and ascend the staircase. He begins to kick and squirm as I carry him away from you, then suddenly whimpers and freezes; I look down to see a trickle of blood running down his neck onto his tunic. In his struggles, he must have pressed against my sword too hard and cut his neck slightly. I am sorry for his pain, but grateful that the shallow gash has made him more tractable. Your eyes grow wide when you join us at the top of the wall and see the blood running onto your son's shirt. "He is not seriously hurt, Idril, he just scratched himself," I reassure you. "Here I can protect you from the Black Foe's creatures. You will be safe with me from now on."

I hear a fell howl, very close it seems, and look down from the battlement to spot where the wargs are; I need to be ready should any of the fierce animals attempt to climb the narrow stairs to reach us. Suddenly I feel a searing pain in my left hand. My grip must have shifted, bringing my hand up slightly, and your brat bit me! Startled, I reflexively pull away, and Eärendil begins to slip from my grasp. I dare not drop my sword, not with the wargs so close; without thinking, I slap him hard across the head with the flat side of my blade. He falls down stunned, and then suddenly you are in front of me, screaming in anger, kicking, pounding me with your fists, pulling my hair, clawing at my eyes. I am surprised by your sudden fury; it is all I can manage to hold off the worst of your attack with my left arm. I dare not use my right, not with my sword drawn, lest I inadvertently injure you, so I quickly find I am at a serious disadvantage despite your lack of skill as a fighter. "Stop this, Idril!" I shout desperately, backing up slowly, careful not to come too close to the edge of the battlement. "I don't want to hurt you! I brought you here for your protection! I love you!"

"Monster!" you scream. "Son of Angband! I despise you!" You continue your assault, your once radiant face so distorted by your rage that it is barely recognizable; your eyes are filled with anger and disgust. "How dare you touch me. How dare you harm my son! I curse you to Eternal Darkness for that, Maeglin! I hate you, you ill-gotten Moriquendi! I have always hated you, and I always will!"

"HOW DARE YOU!" I did not know until this moment that I was capable of feeling such fury. Without conscious intent I smash the pommel of my sword into the side of your face with the full force of my arm. You drop to your knees, momentarily senseless, and as I look down at you, a dull ache throbbing in my heart, I realize for the first time that in your anger you spoke the simple truth. You do hate me. You have always feared and loathed me, even though I have never wronged you, even though I love you, and you always will, despite anything I might do to attempt to win your affection. Every sacrifice I have made for you was in vain - even this sacrifice, even Gondolin. I gave up everything that was dear to me to protect you from the Black Foe's wrath, for love of you, and in return you have ripped out my heart. An ill-gotten Moriquendi - that's all I ever was to you, and all I ever will be to you. You are no different from all the others, save in the degree of your spite. The Black Foe himself knows more of mercy than you.

Your words have dealt a death-blow to my fëa; now I will return the favor, Kinslayer. And I will show you no pity, as you showed me none. I reach down with my bruised and bleeding left hand and grasp your throat, then, squeezing tightly enough to make you strangle, I brutally haul you back up onto your feet. "So, Calaquendi," I mock, "you feel the light of those ever-so-precious Trees has made you too pure for the likes of a lowly Moriquendi such as myself, do you?" I take my sword and stick the point into the delicate white hollow at the base of your neck, laughing slightly in satisfaction as I see your eyes widen in panic when you feel the cold steel pressing into your neck. Slowly I draw it downwards, slicing through your once-beautiful festival gown, and I smile at your dawning realization of my intentions, the growing horror in your eyes. You begin to struggle feebly, but my grip is cutting off much of your air, and your wits are still shaken from the sword blow; I can restrain you easily enough. "Didn't you realize that creatures of the dark are always drawn to the Light, like moths? I loved you, Idril, although I see at last that you have always despised me; and because you've slain me with your tongue, I'm going to love you now. What you would never give to me freely, I will now take by force, and the last thing you will feel before your fëa departs for Mandos will be me thrusting away inside your body." I will need both hands for this, as I have no cordage with which to bind you and will not restrain you by stunning you again with another blow; no, I want you to be completely aware of what is happening to you, Idril, and that means that my left hand must continue to grasp your throat. But as I begin to sheath my sword, I see the look of terror in your eyes transmute into joy, and simultaneously I become aware of the sound of running feet, a tread far too heavy to be Eärendil's. No! Oh, why did he not die! I sling you to the ground in fury, then whirl, my sword flashing in the sun, to face your would-be rescuer, that base mortal you chose as a husband.

In truth, if I did not know otherwise, I would not have taken Tuor for a mere mortal at that moment. As he comes running towards me across the battlement, shield and armor gleaming, golden hair flowing in the wind, rage on his face and a dire light in his eyes, I am momentarily daunted, for he appears more an Elf-lord than a Man; Turgon himself would appear dwindled in comparison to Tuor in his wrath now. His first blow nearly overbears me, and I stagger slightly but parry it successfully, and after that there is no time for thought, no time for anything but the rhythmic thrust and counterthrust of swordplay. He knows I mean to kill him, and I can see the same determination in his eyes; we fight on with dogged determination, equally matched in both martial skills and rage. He is slightly stronger, but I have the greater stamina of the Quendi, and with care I should be able to wear him down. Or so I plan, but suddenly something slams forcefully into me from behind, and I stagger forward, thrown momentarily off balance; before I can recover, I feel a searing pain in my right arm and can no longer hold my sword. To my surprise, Tuor does not run me through, but instead raises his shield and brutally crashes it down onto my head. My sight goes black for an instant and I fall limp, temporarily unable to move; as I lie bleeding on the stones, desperately trying to regain my wits, I hear Tuor speaking: "I'm all right, son. You're safe now, and everything will be fine soon. Go to your mother." So it was Eärendil who, charging into me with all the determination an angry child can muster, knocked me off balance! It is ironic that I, who was once one of the mightiest people in Gondolin, should be brought to my death by the actions of one of the weakest - a mere child of seven years.

My senses are not clearing; blood is flowing rapidly from the deep wound on my sword arm, and I am becoming steadily dizzier. I try to rise, but cannot, and as Tuor once again approaches I can only look up at him and wait for the death blow I know will be coming. But to my surprise he stops and sheaths his sword. "No," he says grimly, "I will not give you a warrior's death, Maeglin. You do not deserve one. Instead, you will die as a murderer dies, for that is what you are. A murderer, thousands of times over, for I am certain that it was you who betrayed Gondolin to its enemies." I offer no resistance as he begins to drag me towards the outer edge of the wall; I am too weak to break free of his grip, and besides, he is right. I have killed thousands by my actions, if not directly with my hands, and for what? To save the only woman I have ever loved from torment I willingly damned myself, and in the end it was all for nothing. Lómion, Son of Twilight, I am indeed; mother-names are prophetic, and I should have realized that the light of love returned would never shine for me.

As I fall, I remember my father's curse that I should die the same death as he. But he was wrong; it's not the same death at all. He went to his end with his fëa blazing brightly in anger, while the light of mine has already been quenched; all that is left within me are ashes. There is a moment of blinding pain when I hit the rock of the mountainside, and then it's over. It feels strange to be hovering here outside my hröa, watching as it slams repeatedly against the mountain, an empty shell soon to be consumed by the flames burning below on the plain. And then I sense it - the summons. It sweeps through me like a powerful tide, reaching deep inside, strangely compelling. Come to me, Námo commands silently. I bid you proceed now to the Halls of Mandos. Submit to my authority, and answer my call. For a brief moment, I almost do. I miss my mother. But somehow I know that I will never see her again, even if I go. And why should I submit to Námo's judgement when I already know what it will be? I am doomed to spend the rest of the life of Arda in this state, a disembodied fëa, whatever course I may choose. And when have the Valar ever looked out for me, or any Moriquendi? They reserve their concern and care for those who dwelt in their light; for me the Halls of Mandos will hold nothing but pain, and I already have that here. I brace myself and turn away, and after a moment the terrible pull fades and I am free, to roam Houseless forever. I think I shall remain here in ruined Gondolin, Turgon's heir and ruler of the city at last, where I can best contemplate the wreck that was my life. And though the Valar had no pity on me while I was incarnate, perhaps in the end when Arda is remade Eru my creator will listen to my plea and unmake me, finally releasing me from existence. Surely even I deserve at least one answered prayer.

*******


Notes:

Maeglin's terrible speech to Idril: Elves are by nature sexually chaste. In Morgoth's Ring (History of Middle Earth, volume 10), in a footnote to the essay "Laws and Customs Among the Eldar", Tolkien states that if a married elf is raped, his/her soul feels so violated by the experience that it immediately rejects bodily life and departs for the Halls of Mandos (Footnote #5, p. 228). (Unfortunately for poor Neniel, he makes no mention of this happening in regard to unmarried elves.) Maeglin isn't simply planning to kill Idril after raping her; he's planning to kill her by raping her. I suspect that if he had succeeded in doing so, he subsequently would have committed suicide when his rage began to fade and he realized what he'd done; but since Tuor showed up in time to stop him, I guess we'll never know.


Refusal of the summons of Mandos, and Houselessness: In Morgoth's Ring (History of Middle Earth, volume 10), in the essays "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" and "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" Tolkien states that when an elf's body is slain, the disembodied spirit is called to Mandos. If the elf obeys the summons, he/she is judged by Námo, and must stay in Mandos for the length of time he decrees (in the case of elves who commit serious evil, this may be for as long as Arda endures); during this time, the spirit undergoes whatever punishment, instruction, or comforting it requires for spiritual healing. Once healed, the elf's spirit may be released to resume incarnate life again (the Valar build it a new body, which is physically identical to the old one). The summons to Mandos can be refused, however; usually this happens either when the elf is very afraid of the Valar (either out of ignorance, such as with the Avari, or in fear of just punishment for evildoing) or in deliberate defiance of the authority of the Valar and Eru Ilúvatar. When the summons is refused, the spirit is left to roam Arda permanently disembodied - "Houseless" - and is vulnerable to the countersummons of Morgoth, who may enslave it. Maeglin is wrong in his belief that the choice of whether to accept or reject the summons doesn't matter much in his case; he would have been far better off had he answered the call of Námo (even though he probably wouldn't have been permitted to ever leave Mandos and resume incarnate life again), for at least he would have been under the guidance and protection of the Valar and would have had a chance to be healed, instead of being doomed to wander lost, defenseless, and in pain until the end of the world. (See "Laws and Customs among the Eldar" pp. 217-225 and "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" footnote #6, p. 331, Author's Note 3, p. 339, and the Appendix, pp. 361-365)

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.

Story Information

Author: Ithilwen

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 1st Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 04/14/03

Original Post: 11/06/02

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