9. The beginning of the end
"Caranthir!" came the joy-filled cry of the Ambarussa as they rushed to meet their beloved brother. They had planned to pull him off his horse and tackle him to the ground, but the look of dark, brooding menace he shot them stopped them dead in their tracks. It was then that they noticed Ninglorrîn was not with him.
"Caranthir?" they wondered as he slowly got off his horse, "Where is Ninglorrîn?"
A short cruel laugh, "What's the matter, dear brother?" mocked Curufin. "Did that Laiquendi girl leave you upon hearing of your intent to join us on our righteous quest? If that is the case, then you need not fret over it. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say."
Fast as lightning, Caranthir moved and before Curufin knew what was happening Caranthir slammed Curufin into the nearest tree. "Listen to me and listen to me very carefully; if you even think anything bad about my wife I will rip out your beating heart and feed it to your favorite hound."
Curufin hissed like an angry flame. "You would use violence against one born from the same womb?"
"And why not, brother?" he said the last word as if it left a foul taste in his mouth. "I know you. I know you grudge us our existence for everyone of us robbed you of father's undivided attention. I remember you whispering into Maglor's ears, holding us back from rescuing Maedhros, fuelling his grief and reducing our mighty brother into your puppet."
"Caranthir!" called Celegorm who came upon the scene to find the Ambarussa looking shell-shocked and Caranthir barely moments away from doing serious harm to Curufin. "Stop this madness, you know as well as I do that Maglor, not wanting to loose another brother, held us back. Curufin held Maglor back for he did not wish to lose another brother either." It was the truth but Caranthir was in no mood to acknowledge it. "Maedhros is dear to us all." He said as he gently laid a hand on his younger brother.
Caranthir laughed a fey laugh as he shrugged Celegorm's hand away. "Dear to all save Curufin here. I know you hate him for you wish you were the eldest." He began addressing Curufin again, "You hate Maglor for he was dearest to our grand-father. You hate Celegorm because he is the fairest of us all, you hate me for I am a better warrior than you, you hate Amrod for he was dearest to Father and you hate Amras for he was dearest to Mother. You wish you were an only child, alone, the centre of everyone's universe, ADMIT IT!" he screamed.
"CARANTHIR!" came a deep booming voice, "That is quite enough. Let him go." Maedhros commanded and Maedhros's commands none of his brothers could disobey. Caranthir stepped away from Curufin and turned haunted eyes upon Maedhros. A sigh, soft and barely audible escaped Maedhros's lips, "I take it the curse of Finwë has struck again." Caranthir said nothing. "I am sorry brother, I am truly sorry. I wish I could protect you from the pain of heart break but…"
"Save it Maedhros," snapped Caranthir. "Last thing I need is pity." With that he stormed off.
Maedhros sighed again and turned his attention back to Curufin, who was being fussed over by Celegorm, the twins still in shock. Never in their wildest imaginations could they have believed that any of their brothers, especially Caranthir, would seriously, genuinely threaten another of their brothers with violence. "Curufin, I know you had a hand in provoking Caranthir; how big a hand you had I know not, but be warned; you will answer to me if you toy with Caranthir again." With that Maedhros turned to leave.
Normally Curufin would have returned a sharp retort about how Caranthir did not need any provocation to lose his damned temper; but today he only softly asked, "Maedhros? You don't really believe what Caranthir said, do you?" Maedhros did not respond. Curufin turned towards Celegorm, the blond refused to meet his eyes. The Ambarussa, too, seemed like they wished they could flee from his questions. "I see," whispered Curufin, broken.
Maedhros ruthlessly stifled another sigh; it was becoming a very bad habit. "Curufin, it is not that we do not think you love us. We know you do; but we also know that you wish you were an only child, but that is just you. None of us hold that against you. Not even Caranthir. Do not concern yourself with it." Curufin said nothing, but shrugged himself out of Celegorm's touch and headed in the opposite direction to Caranthir. Celegorm sighed and followed him; this was going to be a long day.
"Um… Maedhros?" wondered Amrod, "Will Caranthir be alright?"
Maedhros looked towards the direction Caranthir had gone. "I am fine aren't I?" he said. Neither Amras nor Amrod felt like pointing out that Maedhros had been anything but fine since Fingon's death.
He found Caranthir lying by the banks of the river, looking utterly dejected. He sat down next to him, trying to silently comfort his dark-tempered brother with the closeness of his presence. After what seemed like an age Caranthir spoke. "Why is it that we have always been cursed?" he wondered.
"Caranthir, there is no such thing as the curse of Finwë," Maglor assured him.
"But isn't there!" he demanded, getting up. "Think brother. Our grandfather is the only one to lose a spouse in the bliss of Aman while the Two Trees still shone. Then when he took solace in the arms of another woman, it led to a wedge being placed in his family. Father could not accept Indis, when in reality she was the only mother he had ever truly known. This tainted the marriage of Grandfather and Indis; we both know that as much as he loved her and the children she bore him, he came to regret his marriage to her, if only because it hurt Father so deeply. Our own mother, in the end, could not endure the glare of our father's mighty fëa, fleeing from it and using her loyalty to Aulë as an excuse," he bit out. "Curufin's wife, too, pled loyalty to Aulë and did not follow him. Fingon died leaving Maedhros only half-alive. In fact, all of Finwë's line seems to suffer from his curse. Fingolfin's wife did not follow him. Turgon's wife died in the Helcaraxë, Finrod's beloved did not follow him, and…."
"Those had more to do with the curse of the Noldor than any supposed curse that haunts this family," Maglor pointed out. "Nay brother, what happened between Grandfather Finwë and Grandmother Miriel and Indis is a tragic proof that even Aman was never wholly unmarred," said Maglor quietly. "That does not mean you were wrong to love, to seek whatever scrap of happiness you could find in this land of twilight. Marriage is the natural course of our lives and be grateful, brother, that it soothed your soul; even if it was only for a short while."
Caranthir laid back down again, too drained to do anything but stare at the darkening sky. "I wonder how they endure it, Curufin and Maedhros."
Maglor lay down next to him. "You will find out soon enough, I think."
"Perhaps, yet I cannot see a future for me beyond Doriath."