Thus did Angrod and Aegnor find themselves at a lower place than their half-cousins, with Maglor to Angrod's right and Lalwen to Aegnor's left.
"Do not make a fuss," she murmured. "My brother had his reasons."
Galadriel, by design or her own obstinacy, had taken a more favoured place beside Maedhros. Angrod took his seat without protest, for he had an inkling of the agenda and Fingolfin knew where Dorthonion's sentiments lay. Turgon alone had dared to decline the High King's invitation; even nomadic Amrod had somehow been retrieved from the southern forests.
Fingolfin now came into the hall. With regal patience, he waited until the last Fëanorian rose to pay respect. "Be seated, my kinsfolk," he said then, but stood at the table's head, disdaining his own seat. Powerful of shoulder and tall in stature, most like his father in form and face, he would now use that noble resemblance to his advantage.
"Four hundred twenty-two rounds has Anor made since we came to Beleriand. We have grown numerous and strong in these years. We have built great realms and fortified our cities. We have seen the coming of Men, and have found in them sturdy and brave allies. Great trials and great losses we endured to come here from Aman, and still the Enemy, though besieged, works his evil. Did we not vow to avenge my father's death? Let us now close the noose around Morgoth's neck, and lay waste to Angband, ere he grows bold again." (1,2)
As Fingolfin sat, voices erupted around the table. Angrod looked to his brother, who met his eyes and stood.
"Do you think Morgoth thrashes in frustration, impotent in his prison? He does not. Every day he grows in strength; while we build our realms, he prepares to destroy them. Even now, our patrols intercept Orcs going to and fro on his business."
"In other words, by your poor defence, the Leaguer fails on the marches of Dorthonion."
"And how come they into Dorthonion, Curufin?" Angrod snapped. "Were the pass of Aglon held fast, no foe should reach us."
"Our borders are long, whereas our people are few, and no sooner do we close one gap than another opens," Aegnor added.
"To remain as we are is to allow a poisoned wound to fester," Fingolfin said. "Better to take the whole limb than lose the patient."
"Carelessness." Celegorm stood. "It would be better if one did not take the poisoned arrow in the first place. If our cousins cannot hold their borders, then perhaps we should assist them in the running of their realm."
"I see only two ways to avoid taking the arrow, as you suggest. Shoot first, and hope one's aim is true, or flee in craven fear. Better should I be found a poor shot than a coward."
Curufin's eyes glittered. "You name us cowards, then."
Finrod winced and shook his head at Angrod.
The warning came too late to stop his tongue. "Cowards, indeed, are those who murder their lightly-armed brethren but quail in fear before Morgoth. Small and serviceable does your Oath seem now."
Caranthir leapt to his feet, hand upon his sword. "I would call you out for that."
"Perhaps," Maedhros said, in a voice of such command that Caranthir subsided into his chair, "perhaps, we hesitate not out of cowardice but experience. I am loath to begin a war that will surely see more of our brethren dead, even should we prevail."
Aegnor made one last plea for action, but Angrod heard only the murmurs around him; he knew they were lost. The High King could not act without the support of Maedhros. The might of Angband would creep ever closer to Dorthonion; the pines on the northern border would continue to spread their witch's brooms over the top of the forest, and orcs would grow ever more bold in their travels. Peace in their time, he feared, would be dearly bought. (3)
(1) Four hundred twenty-two rounds has Anor made
(The War of the Jewels, 'The Grey Annals' p 50 pub Houghton Mifflin)
(2) Did we not vow to avenge my father's death?
Actually, Fëanor and his sons made no such vow - the Oath says nothing about avenging Finwë.
(3) witch's brooms
I've attributed the blight to Morgoth, but this is a real phenomenon in dwarf mistletoe, which infests the pine forests of the American West. The dense mass of sap-soaked branches explodes upon ignition, allowing fires to move quickly over the top of the forest.
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