1. All the Good You Can
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"Nor will [the truly generous person] neglect his own possessions, since he wants to use them to help others. And he will not give to just anybody, so that he might have something to give to the right people, at the right time, and where it is noble to do so. (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics)
Caranthir had not wanted to leave Formenos, not really. He had no desire for dominion over anything save metals and gems, and he could find that more easily at Aulë's work-bench than anywhere beyond the sea. He had gone, of course. He had no household of his own, he told himself in after-days, no great strength of men to guard his gate. What choice had there been?
He might have asked for a home in Tirion or Valmar, he supposed, but would he have been welcomed? He remembered how his father had withheld the silmarils, how even his own cousins had blamed the House of Fëanor for those lands' ever-present darkness. It was the thought of the silmarils that had won him over to his brothers' cause. The thought of finding them once again, of learning their secrets, had thrilled him. His brothers spoke too of hills yet unmined and of crafts yet unheard of by any of the Noldor. There was the rumor of the Dwarves he had heard in Aulë's shop: a hardy folk, it was said, and full of a treasure-yearning to match their maker's.
He had confessed his secret ambitions to Celegorm one night on their passage across the sea. Not such a wise idea, looking back. Celegorm had jumped from his seat by the fire and called Caranthir a nasty treasure-gobbler, the phrase they'd adopted to talk about orcs when the Twins were still young. Amrod had taken up Celegorm's side, too, saying that Caranthir had no sense of honor, and would he really fight a war for gold?
Caranthir thought honor a meaningless abstraction, given the circumstances. Was that why he had slit the old mariner's throat, back at Alqualondë? But he wisely kept that thought to himself. If his brothers' thoughts of vengeance let them sleep at night, well, let them have their rest. So he helped set flame to ship once their passage was complete, and had fought as fiercely as he could at the Battle Under the Stars and all that came after, and he spoke not a word of the silmarils.
He was little skilled at diplomacy, though, as he proved time and again. The incident with Angrod was enough to send even patient Maglor over the edge, and Caranthir was not surprised when his brother urged him to settle east beyond the upper waters of Gelion, as far from their cousins as safety would allow.
He and his people (for the lonesome craftsman now found himself a lord, much to his chagrin) did well there, building forges to rival those of Formenos. The hills were rich with iron, and Caranthir himself devised new armor, hard as steel but with a flexibility nearer to cloth than the plates his father had once crafted.
The Dwarves – foul creatures, to be sure, scrawny and ill-formed, but clever at their crafts – had improved on his design and showed him how to cover the joints with copper melded with tin, and before long even Thingol's emissaries came to Thargelion to barter for it. He did not part with his armor easily, for it was not easily made and once he had discovered the secret of its making the labor of its manufacture bored him. But it kept his folk clothed in leathers and silks, and enriched his herds with proud beasts.
He never took to being a lord, though, however much his advisors urged him to dress regally. Fine velvets made his skins itch and the circlet Silpion convinced him to wear at court only gave him a headache. Tol-Galion, as Silpion named his house, was more fitting for a coppersmith than a prince of the Noldor, and though he had built a strong wall around the place and had even fashioned a cunning bridge that could be raised to keep enemies away, the house itself was plain save for those rooms set aside for emissaries and merchants. That, of all things, had kindled the Dwarves' anger. He horded his plunder all for himself, so they said, and never enjoyed a brass ring of it.
His brothers, too, were ill-pleased with him. They came ever and again to Thargelion but never for pleasure; no, it was when they wrote begging arms and he refused them. He rode with his men when called upon, and he guarded the eastern flank of Beleriand against Morgoth, but as for his war-chests, those he kept locked tight unless they came bearing coin.
He knew his horde was worth the price he asked. He would sell them horses brave enough to stand their ground against any foe and mail that would turn aside the swiftest arrow. They often grumbled, though, that his coffers were full while theirs were near spent. When their patience wore thin they even used that name Celegorm had once thrown at him. He had not smelt the foul stench of elf-flesh charred by a dragon's flame, nor had he seen a man gasp for air when the poison from orc-arrows all but closed his throat.
Celegorm's eyes grew cold as steel at those charges – did they think he never left his forges, and that he let the men of his household beat back Gothmog's ilk while he cowered in safety? – but he would not answer them. So they bought what they needed and cursed his stiff neck and grumbled foul names under their breath.
Still, when Maglor's crops failed or when the dwarves' wells were poisoned by orc-craft, Celegorm came to their aid. He kept his pantries full against just such times as those. They might think him a greedy mongrel, a nasty treasure-grubber, most of the time, but no matter.