We slay the guards with ease - they are so few! Too few.. regaining the Jewels so easily, after so long, is so implausible as to assault reason. Yes, we still have our reason, doubtful as that might seem to some. Obviously this is a trap... but my brother and each take a Silmaril.
Shortly the trap is sprung. The camp has been raised against us with astonishing speed and silence. They are only Vanyar and followers of Arafinwë, but they are so numerous that we would be hard put to fight through them even were they Orcs or lesser Men.
And it is clear that they will not let us go. They have captured, "rightfully reclaimed" they would say, the Silmarils, and we have stolen them. They will not hesitate to kill us to regain them, and afterwards say that they did so with justice. So quickly do Ada's creations ensnare all who lay eyes on them!
The men of the camp advance in formation, and it looks as though things will end simply (and in the manner we had fully expected). But a yet greater snare holds them back - the voice of Eonwë. He speeds towards us, shining like the Vala he is not.
"CEASE!" The voice of the Herald is unmistakable, and trying to resist it is as futile as trying to prevent the Sun from rising. The men of the camp hold formation, but stop their advance. We stand still, swords hanging at our sides.
"Let them go", Eonwë commands.
Some of the Elves wish to disobey, but they cannot, having surrendered their feär long ago. Had Eonwë said "Kill them", we would already be dead.
The column parts. Kano and I pass. Eonwë follows us with his eyes, pronouncing our doom, saying that the Silmarils will burn our bloodstained, accursed hands with fire unbearable. Or something to that effect - he mentions Doriath and Sirion. We do not listen; the Jewels are indeed burning us too badly for us to attend to even the Herald's words.
They do not burn with a fire such as Morgoth rules, the sort of fire I became all too familar with in Angband. No, this is a righteous flame. Such are the arts of the Valar and Maiar. Of course, we had expected no less.
We pass beyond sight of the camp. Amazingly, none seem to have followed us. At the first stream, we drop the Jewels as any sane Elf would, and plunge our hands, or, in my case, hand, into the cool water. This brings only a slight respite from the pain, but it is enough.
By the stream, we find cases made of a strange, dull material that Atarinke had crafted long ago for this very purpose. It traps all flame and heat, and, being Atarinke's craft, does so without regard to whether the flame is righteous or wicked. The cases are ugly and look like they were made by some of the lesser Atani. We had left them there without the slightest fear that any Elf would take them.
We carefully nudge the Silmarilli into their cases, and put them in our packs. The heat of the Jewels still comes through, but as no more than warmth, almost pleasing.
I regret that Atarinke is not here to gloat, Tyelkormo to alternate between grinning and pouting (he had ridiculed the cases), Carnistir to show unalloyed joy for once in his miserable life, and the Ambarussa to laugh again - the Oath had weighed heavily on their spirits. Perhaps, I tell my brother, they now do all these things in the face of Namo. And Ada - Ada will smile. Yes he will.
The Elven army will not pursue us - it is not the way of those who finally came to these shores, six hundred years too late. Nay, not too late. They are not entirely fainthearted after all, and Morgoth was finally defeated through their valor, but still they will not pursue us. They will return to Valinor, and many a lament will be sung of how Feanaro's sons used Morgoth's own arts to cheat the victorious armies of their prize, just as they sing that Father's words at the beginning of our rebellion were naught but Morgoth's lies. That no little truth lay in those words - will not be recognized in Valinor, but that is not our concern.
The Oath is fulfilled. The price was high, but we never expected it to be low. The Valar will not punish us further. Namo has already cursed our people to death and sorrow, and have we not tasted it? What more can he do - curse us again? Eru to whom we swore the Oath may still punish us, may sink all this land beneath the Sea and cast us into the Void. If that is His will, so be it. We could not call it unjust.
But a few miles on, we find our horses. Fortunately, so long as one feeds and treats them well, horses do not care about morality. And I have always loved horses next to my kin. So we mount up, and head for Ossiriand.
A/N: This AU can also be considered AU w/r to Cesare's story "Choices", which inspired it.
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.