1. Sins Of The Father
Mother and father are arguing again.
I cannot remember a time when they have not.
Even when I was a little boy, playing in the gardens of Armenelos, my first memories are of raised voices and of being hurried away from them by well-meaning nannies.
Even now as a grown man- even now when I am old enough (some whisper) to be King, were we still in the old days- I find myself flinching from the baleful fires that are set when my mother has been in her cups and my father has not. The insults they throw... why, a fishwife in Andunië would blush at the vileness of some of the filth flung back and forth between them.
It has not always been so, I have been told- once upon a time Mother and Father loved each other as fiercely as Beren and Lúthien, apparently- but now...
...now they are as fire and ice- two extremes that ever war for control.
Even now- even this night when they should have been celebrating, even this fine MidSummer night when all should have been smiles between them- even now they bicker and curse, even now they snap and harry at each other like the most ferocious fighting dogs in all of Illúvatar's creation.
Their oaths echo within the walls of the palace like the war-cries of the Glamhoth, and I hurry my pace at each shriek of rage- it is only I- their firstborn and only son- who is able to placate them when they are like this, after all.
I must find them, and quickly- who knows what foolishness they might wreak upon themselves were they left to their own devices?
"Sully yourself? Sully yourself?"
That is my father- I quicken my pace through the corridors.
"Aye, husband, sully myself. Who cares what happens in Middle Earth? We live on an island given to us by the Gods themselves- what care have we for those who live elsewhere?"
Oh, not this foolishness again. Why does Mother have to do this- why can she not just leave well enough alone when Father gets a bee in his bonnet about the complaints of Gil-Galad?
And why can Father not realise that she only reacts the way she does to upset him?
"I think you forget yourself, my husband. I am Queen- you are merely my consort. Should I wish it I could have you banished to your beloved Middle Earth, you and all of your silly, fanciful-"
There is the sickening sound of flesh striking flesh, and then a far more terrible sound- nothing.
I quicken my pace.
Oh, Gods, why must they do this to each other, why, why can they not just-
Oh, Gods, no...
The images burn themselves into my brain one by hateful one as I enter the great hall, bitterest acid spilled across my poor, unsuspecting brain as I stagger to a halt.
Father stands over Mother at the bottom the stairs, a wild look in his eyes, wringing his hands as if trying to crush the life out of them.
Mother lies at his feet, her neck twisted at a hideous, unnatural angle.
There are drops of blood on Father's knuckles- fat and smug and guilty they sit there, like evil viziers in the court of the Black Enemy himself.
Crimson tears run from Mother's eyes, silently accusing me of the most dreadful crime of all.
What have you done, my Son?
How could you let him do this to me?
Me, who birthed you, who gave you life?
How could you?
How could you?
There is such sadness in Father's eyes, but also such rage...
I cannot drag my gaze away from the tableau, and yet I would rather gouge out both my eyes than have to see it even a moment longer.
He licks his lips.
"I can explain..."
My mind shatters at this, fractures into a million jagged splinters that embed themselves in my heart even as he goes on speaking, speaking words I can hear but cannot understand.
He can explain, he says.
He can explain?