Chapter 4 - News
"It is said that the Elves of Dior Eluchíl have perished, and that Menegroth was left a charnel house," Morfer stated, bringing all conversation at the communal table to a halt.
"Dior - vanquished?" Narthan gaped. "How? When?"
The trader shook his head. "I have heard many stories. Beren and Lúthien are no more, and sent the Nauglamír to Dior. But word of the demise of Beren and Lúthien also reached the sons of Fëanor, who demanded the return of the jewel of their father's skill. Dior refused. A little more than a year ago, the sons of Fëanor came to convince him otherwise."
"Another Kinslaying!" The whispers sped around the table.
Elurín turned his head sharply and stared at Eluréd, who stared back at him with huge eyes. The snows had come and gone again since they had been taken in by the Elf who had rescued them and his wife. As it was, it took weeks before either of them could trust or finally feel secure in Narthan's and Galenas' care. Not once since they had been found had they mentioned Menegroth, or their Ada or Nana; nor had they even given their names. Eventually, new names had been gifted to them: he, Elurín, had become Maenor; while Eluréd had become Thenidor. They had started calling Narthan "Ada" and Galenas "Nana" just a few weeks ago, agreeing between them that it would be better that any who might find them think that they belonged to the settlement and nowhere else.
Narthan had dark hair and grey eyes, and even Lathron remarked that Elurín and his brother looked enough like their new Ada that it could be believed that they had always been related.
Thankfully, nobody seemed eager to either remember or mention the circumstances of their coming or turn to stare at them; still, Elurín could feel his brother shifting nervously next to him. Eluréd had always been the protector of the two of them, and Elurín put a hidden hand on his brother's knee to calm him. Better nobody make that particular connection because of his nerves!
"It is also said that one of the sons of Fëanor wanders the woods surrounding Menegroth now, searching for Dior's lost sons, abandoned and possibly slain by warriors loyal to Celegorm after the battle," Morfer continued.
"I have seen him," Narthan nodded solemnly, making Elurín look up into the face of the man sitting next to him with alarm. "Tall, with hair the color of flame and with only one hand. I spoke with him when I came upon him during one of my hunts not long ago."
Elurín shuddered, and felt a similar shaking in his brother. So the ones who did those horrible things to Nana and Captain were still looking for them!
"He asked me if I had seen two small ones, and I told him I have seen nothing, not even remains. He thanked me, begged me to send word immediately should I come upon anything that might restore the children to him, and walked off into the deeper forest to continue his search."
"The troubles of this land have not ceased, even though Elu is in Mandos and Melian has returned to Valinor," Torveren announced from farther down the community table. "I have been considering heading south and east, perhaps in the footsteps of Oropher and his band."
"Leave?" Again the murmur sped around the table.
Torveren took a long draught of his juice and then thudded the mug down onto the table. "Is it not plain? We are not safe here any longer. The protection Melian gave us from the Enemy to the north is gone. The sons of Fëanor walk into heavily protected halls and massacre those who dwell there. We live on the very fringes of disaster! We should not even think of staying, lest the fate of those in Menegroth become our own!"
"We should table this discussion until there are no little ones around to terrify with words that bring ill dreams," Galenas suggested sharply, and Elurín could see that his foster-Nana had noted the disquiet he and his brother felt and had wrapped her arm about Eluréd's shoulder. "Morfer, tell us other tidings, happier tales, of those whom you have visited with your wares."
Elurín slumped, all appetite for the baked fish and herbed baked tubers that he normally loved had completely evaporated. "Ada," he said quietly, drawing his foster-father's attention, "I'm not hungry anymore. May I be excused?" Beside him, he felt Eluréd stiffen.
"Of course. I shall make you some tea." Narthan answered gently. "Thenidor, you stay here, with your Nana. I shall return shortly."
Eluréd nodded and leaned gratefully into Galenas' embrace while Elurín felt Narthan's hand on his shoulder as they walked toward the spiral stairs that led up to their talan. "I am behind you," Narthan soothed, letting him go first.
He waited, not entirely certain what to expect when Narthan faced him once more. Did his foster-father know everything now? What would he do? He could feel what he had eaten before roiling like a hard lump in his stomach.
Elurín's eyes widened in surprise when Narthan knelt in front of him and took both of his hands. "I did not then, and I will not ever, give you and your brother away – most especially not to Kinslayers, no matter how high or noble otherwise. The children that man was seeking no longer exist. I know you have names from that place that your real Ada and Nana gave to you, but I do not want to know them any longer. You are Maenor, and your brother is Thenidor, and you are my sons now, do you understand?" He put a comforting hand to Elurín's face. "None will ever hear – from my lips or your Nana's – anything different. I swear it."
Elurín nodded slowly and stepped forward to put his arms around Narthan's neck. This man's embraces made him feel almost as safe as Ada's had. Even now, with the snows nearly gone again, he looked forward to his first lessons with the wooden swords, so that he could defend the settlement with the others in time. Never had Narthan promised anything that he did not do.
"Are we going to stay here?" he asked in a small voice. Narthan might promise safety, but Torveren, the smithy, spoke truth.
"Your Nana and I will discuss this, and then we will discuss it as a family," Narthan told him after a pause. "Do you wish to stay?"
Elurín shook his head vigorously. He didn't want to be found, ever.
"Then when Nana and I speak, I will mention your wishes to her. Do you think your brother feels the same?"
"I know that he does." Elurín had no question about that.
Narthan gently set Elurín away from him. "Then I will mention that as well. Go now, and I shall make a tea to help you rest."
Elurín watched the man move to the side of the firepan and stir the embers. "Ada?"
"Yes, my son?"
How could he put into words everything that was in his heart? "Thank you." It wasn't enough - it would never be enough - but it was the best he could do.
Narthan smiled. "You are most welcome."
Maedhros used the side of his foot to push dirt into the center of the circle of stones that had been his campfire of late, smothering any remaining embers, and then gazed up at the canopy of fresh green leaves over his head in defeat. A whole year had passed while he searched every nook and corner of these woods, hoping beyond hope that he would at the very least find something that would tell him of the fate of two small, innocent boys caught up in something they had no way of understanding. A whole year since he had banished two of Celegorm's captains, Urvaeth and Cuvron, from his sight for their part in the shedding of innocent, noble blood. And what did he have to show for it?
He sighed and gazed across the small clearing, where Maglor stood adjusting the packs that held his gear over the withers of his stallion, Maglor's own gear already settled on his gelding. Maglor was tired too, even though he had only been in attendance on this hopeless quest for three days. Maedhros should have known, when Maglor appeared at his campfire, that his yearlong search had come to an end.
They would go back to Himring, to his stronghold there, and try to pull together a people that had seen too much, done too much, to be truly happy any longer. Celegorm's desperate ploy had failed, and the Silmaril remained lost to them. Morgoth, in the north, only grew stronger. No matter where he looked, Maedhros could only see darkness, both ahead as well as behind him.
Another deep sigh, and he was walking briskly over to the horses. Maglor nodded and leapt gracefully onto the back of his stallion. "Ready?"
Maedhros nodded silently and swung up onto his gelding. Side by side they road toward the rising sun, heading north at the same time.
In the mid-morning, Maedhros held up the ruin of his right hand and brought his mount to a halt. As Maglor's mount pranced impatiently to a stop as well, Maedhros could finally hear more clearly the sound of Elven singing. He exchanged a sharp glance with his brother, and wheeled his gelding to head for the nearest rise.
From there, it was easy to see them. There were about twenty adults, and nearly half a dozen children, and they were moving east as well, only in a southerly direction. For a moment, Maedhros' eyes rested on two children, dark-haired, gamboling next to a man who looked vaguely familiar. Oh yes, he had met this man several weeks earlier. He'd been hunting, and no, he'd had no news of any children to be found in the woods. Maedhros' eyes narrowed. Those two… they looked old enough to be…
The man leaned down and swung one child up, nearly to his shoulders, laughing as he did. The other child reached and stretched, and the young voice carried on the wind, "Me too, Ada! Me too!"
Maedhros slumped and looked back at his brother. No, those could not be Dior's sons. No young prince of the line of Elu Thingol would be calling a simple woodsman "Ada."
"Come on," he grumbled. "I have wasted enough time here. It is time to go home, and leave these Sindar to their forest."
Maglor nodded, a wry look shadowing his face. "I know you wished to find them," he soothed, "and I am sorry you had no luck in your search. But I am also glad that you know when to end a futile endeavor."
"We will ever be known as their slayers as well, you know, no matter that neither of us had any hand in their fate," Maedhros sighed. "I would have seen them returned to what is left of their people instead."
"Those who know will remember that you searched long for them," Maglor replied, putting a hand on his brother's shoulder. "And those guilty of this foul deed will never serve at our side again."
"It is not enough, but it will have to do." Maedhros' voice was resigned. "Let us go home, little brother."
With that, the two wheeled their horses again and galloped off down the rise, heading to the east and north, where they would be far from wherever the simple Sindar below were heading.
The sound of a horse's neigh in the distance brought Narthan's head up sharply. He quickly lowered Thenidor to the ground and turned about, searching for the source of the sound.
There they were! On a ridge to the north were two riders, and Narthan shuddered to see that one had hair the color of fire, while the other was dark. He glanced around, wishing now that his people had not retained the tradition of singing while traveling, but it was too late. If the flame-haired one had seen Maenor and Thenidor…
But no! He looked back and saw that the riders had turned away to ride down the side of the rise away from them, and quickly vanished from sight. Narthan let loose the breath he'd been holding to keep from calling out an alarm. They were safe! No one would ever challenge him for the two he now considered his sons, ripping his heart out in the process. His family would stay together now, complete.
He pasted a wide smile on his face and gathered one boy beneath each of his arms and once more joined his voice to that of the others. Galenas moved forward and added her arm to his over Thenidor's shoulder, and together they sang of the green wood, the summer wind, and freedom as they made their way south and east to safer lands.
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.