"Aai!" Maglor gripped smooth, slippery seat he was on, every muscle in his body clenching simultaneously as he let out a rather undignified cry in Sindarin. "Devilry of the Secondborn! When did they learn the arts of Power!?"
"Lord Maglor, please! Hush!" Mithfen grasped Maglor's shoulders firmly, shaking him. "You cannot tell me you saw no ú-roch-rinc  coming to Faensad!"
"Ú-roch-rinc?" Maglor turned wild eyes on Mithfen. "That is what you call these things?"
The two Elves were in a chauffeured car provided by Galadriel; unsure just how much Maglor knew about the modern world, Galadriel had insisted that someone go with the ancient Elf to her home. Mithfen was pinned with the job because he had already had contact with Maglor. The driver of the car glanced in the rearview mirror at Maglor's panicked voice, raising a skeptical eyebrow; Mithfen essayed a reassuring smile and explained that his friend was foreign and only startled, unused to London traffic.
It took Mithfen, one of the youngest Elves living (having been born in the most secretive years of the Nandor Elves, late in the Fourth Age), a bit of effort to wrap his mind around the idea that this bedraggled Elf was in fact Maglor, the second son of Fëanor. That he was long-lost was of no doubt, but to think that this Elf was the Maglor – a possessor of a Silmaril, a Kinslayer, the greatest Elven bard that had ever lived – was somehow beyond his mind's grasp. It was hard enough to believe that the Lady Galadriel was the legendary Lady of the Wood, but at least she looked and acted as such!
"This is not magic or Power," Mithfen said comfortingly. "It is a machine."
Maglor was not comforted by the word 'machine' – in fact, he seemed to become more tense. "Machinations? Morgoth's tool!"
"Nay, Lord Maglor," Mithfen shook his head. "Do you truly believe that the Lady Galadriel would deliver you to the tools of the Forsaken One?"
Maglor began to relax again, slightly, but as if in a gesture to prove he was still in control of the conversation, he did not acknowledge Mithfen's question. "This monster moves with speed unnatural," he observed flatly.
"So you say, and we have not even reached the countryside," Mithfen murmured. They were, at best, traveling at 35 kilometers per hour in this London traffic; he grimaced to think what Maglor would think of the car on the country roads! "Please, my lord, be calm! It will be easier if you are."
* * *
Celeborn stood silently outside of the manor that was his and Galadriel's home, features grim as he gazed into the distance, toward the road. Ai, Ilúvatar! Maglor Fëanorion … He clenched his fist at his side and drew a deep breath again, quelling the best he could the anger and anguish that quickened his heart and threatened to choke him.
"Forgive me, Celeborn, my love, for I know it is a hard thing I ask you to now do," Galadriel had said when she called, her lovely voice full of ancient sadness (it was full of such sadness too often these days!). "But for all his sins, I cannot in good conscience desert Maglor to whatever fate may await him; he cannot survive long in his condition. No longer does his lust for the Silmaril draw out the years of his life! He will die of starvation and pain."
Celeborn had ridden out the initial tide of anger and overcome, and he saw the wisdom of Galadriel's words. Elves had slain Elves for too long, in self-defense or no, and he resolved he would not be party to an Elf's death; he would not sink to the level of the sons of Fëanor, who had so wantonly killed Celeborn's second cousin, Dior, and Nimloth, Celeborn's kinswoman. All due to their lust for the Simarils and their foul vow! Curse those jewels – curse the misery they caused ever and anon! It only confirmed in Celeborn's mind that the beauty of Eä was not meant to be 'captured' by the works of Men and Elves, but rather admired and perhaps imitated – nothing more.
He could see the car now, in the distance. He steeled himself again even as he recalled the last time he had seen Maglor. The second son of Fëanor's armor had been stained red with the blood of Celeborn's kin in Doriath, and he slew Elf after Elf without mercy, demanding that the Silmaril be brought to him and his brothers; Celeborn himself had barely escaped with the yet-young daughter of Dior, Elwing, in his arms, and the Nauglamír containing the Silmaril of Beren in his hand. So many lost that day so very long ago! And though what he sought was denied to him that day, Maglor did, in the end, receive his heart's desire – and he cast it away, for the Silmaril would not suffer his bloodstained hands to bear it. His fate was well-deserved.
But though the memory of the Elves was long, and their grudges held even longer, Celeborn knew it was foolishness to turn Maglor away. Who knew but that he had a part to play in these darkening days? It could not be merely coincidence that a dead Elf – or perhaps a long-lost one – again walked on Earth at such a time as this.
So lost in his thoughts was he that Celeborn was surprised to find that the chauffeured car had already arrived. He stepped forward; the door of the car opened, and Mithfen stepped out. "My Lord Celeborn," said the Nandorin Elf, placing his hand on his heart in the traditional greeting; he then turned again to the car and coaxed the unseen occupant in Sindarin, "Come out, my Lord; all is well. See! We have stopped, and you must come out ere you can be free of this contraption." In this manner Mithfen managed to get Maglor to step hesitantly from the car ere he climbed back into it himself and was driven off.
Celeborn's tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth, and for a moment there was nothing he could say as he gazed into the bloody, hungry, grief-stricken, fearful eyes of Maglor son of Fëanor. Maglor returned the steady gaze, and thus they remained for an unmeasured time, until Maglor closed his eyes slowly. "Lord Celeborn of Doriath," said he; his voice, always beautiful and full of song, now sang of sadness and hurt and long-hidden anger. He half-bowed. "I was instructed by Lady Artanis to treat you with respect, but I would do naught else regardless of her words."
Would you? Celeborn thought, but he did not say it. Would you respect me? Where was your respect ere the Silmaril was beyond your grasp? "You are not well," he said, "and you are unkempt. Come in, and I will see to it you are cared for."
"But you do not welcome me," Maglor observed shrewdly, noting Celeborn's lack of greeting.
Celeborn considered his reply for a moment. "That is true," he admitted. "I do not. But you know why." He met the eyes of the Fëanorian and held his gaze. "It is the same reason I wish you would not call me 'Celeborn of Doriath'. You mock me; you mock how you and your brothers raped my homeland."
A fire kindled in Maglor's gaze. "Do not hold yourself fully blameless," Maglor replied coolly, "For I lost two of my brothers that day to your people."
"Because we desperately fought in self-defense," Celeborn answered before he drew a breath to calm himself. "Nay, Maglor; I will ever hold you and your brothers responsible for the destruction of Doriath. But that is long behind us now." He bowed his head. "And although I do not love you, these times are too dangerous for me to let my grudge affect my judgment. Come with me, Maglor; I will see to it that you are fed and provided with a bath and clothing." With that, he turned towards the house.
With a nearly inaudible sigh, Maglor followed him inside.
* * *
It really was amazing what a bath and a new set of clothes could do for an Elf's psyche.
Everything was still horribly foreign. The place where Artanis had been (a 'corporate building'?) was sterile and there were strange sounds from inside the walls and down the halls and everyone kept strange glowing, humming boxes on their tables with hundreds of thin pieces of parchment littered everywhere and the lights were operated by some kind of power called 'electricity' in the ugly language of the people in this strange land.
Artanis and Celeborn's home, however, was a little better; the architecture was much more beautiful and spacious, and the strange lights at least resembled the candles he was used to. There were still strange, soft sounds of humming and whirring coming from the walls and rooms he couldn't see, though. A young Elven woman (well, Maglor allowed, all Elves were young when compared to himself) had shown him how to work the 'taps' in the bath, which turned out to be an amazing, much-improved form of indoor plumbing; Maglor spent perhaps a little too long soaking in the water, scrubbing his hair, and realizing just how long it had been since he'd been sane. If he could really consider himself sane now.
While confusion occupied the better part of his mind now, guilt, anger, sadness, and the never-ending lust for the Silmaril of the Sea continued to fight for control. If Maglor just closed his eyes, he could see it … beautiful and shining with the light of the Two Trees and the glory of Ulmo's waters, searing by its sheer majesty … but he just as quickly opened his eyes. His pining had nearly killed him already, and there were more important things on his mind, such as the darkness that had called him back from the brink of fading away entirely.
And why have I not yet learned my lesson? A part of Maglor demanded fiercely as he gazed down at his right hand; it was useless, the tendons and muscles within burned to destruction by the Silmaril, which would not suffer his bloody hands to hold it. I am no better than Morgoth himself, for why else would the Silmaril act towards me with the same disdain?
From this sprang the guilt. Three Kinslayings … three times for the Simarils had Maglor raised a sword against his fellow Elves. It was thus fitting, it seemed to him, that his sword-hand was the one burned. He understood Celeborn's disdain for him, even as he resented it; he was ashamed, but he could not bring himself to admit that shame. Truly I am Fëanor's son!
But why was Celeborn even here to display such disdain? What had happened? Maglor sunk under the water to wash the last traces of the fragranced soap from his hair (it had a very strange glasslike container … clear but still flexible) and pondered the question. Why had they – and apparently many other Elves – remained in Middle-Earth while Men destroyed it and turned it into this strange, whirring, racing place? Our time on Arda ended long ago.
Maglor rose out of the bath and took the provided towel, made of a soft, absorbent material (he resolved to take a closer look at the looped threads another time) off the hook, drying himself quickly as he crossed into the adjacent room. Clothes had been laid out on the bed; they were of the same strange nature as all clothes of this era, but clean – and as Maglor discovered, struggling into them and discovering the wonders of the zipper, very comfortable, if overly long in the pants leg and sleeve. Celeborn's clothing. Maglor bowed his head and fiddled with the evenly-stitched material, so precise and impersonal like so many of the strange things he had seen these past few days (weeks? It seemed time had no meaning for him), and wondered.
Maglor looked up and saw Celeborn, tall and silver as his name, his eyes tired with years unnumbered and filled with a fresh grief – a pain unearthed by me; it was my family that caused him such grief. Ai, the Silmaril! It was necessary for the Silmaril … but ... "Yes, Lord Celeborn?" Maglor bowed his head respectfully.
But Celeborn held up his hand. "Please … 'Celeborn' will do." He rolled his left shoulder as if sore and beckoned to Maglor. "Come with me to the kitchens; we will share lunch, and I will attempt to explain to you the goings-on since your …" he trailed off, hesitating; then finished, "Since your disappearance."
Tactful. "Thank you," Maglor said honestly.
When Maglor came upon the table set with a goodly amount of food for two people, he realized abruptly just how hungry he was. He had barely spoken the blessing over the food before he began to dish chicken and vegetables and bread with cheese onto his plate and eat.
He almost didn't notice when Celeborn failed to ask Elbereth's blessing. Almost.
It was some time before either spoke, for neither had much of anything to say to one another, such was Maglor's hunger and their shared enmity. But eventually Celeborn spoke. "Do you remember the War of Wrath?"
Maglor looked up at Celeborn and swallowed; his mind locking sharply on the ancient memories. "Aye. I remember all ere the Valar returned to Valinor, until … until my brother and I reclaimed our birthright, the Silmarils." The Silmaril! Ai, such beauty, such pain! I want it …
"Then you know nothing of the subsequent Ages?" Celeborn's voice cut into his fantasy, dragging Maglor unwilling back to the world around him.
"I was not even aware of time's passage," Maglor murmured. "There was nothing for me but my father's jewel, which I so carelessly tossed into the Sea."
"Then there is much I must tell you." The Elf of Doriath sounded resigned. "You have been walking in dreams for over twenty millennia."
Twenty … thousand … years? "Why do you still remain on Arda!?" Maglor demanded. "The pardon for the Exiles has stood for twenty thousand years and still Artanis remains? And you with her? And what of all our kin, Noldor or Sindar or no? I had no choice, or nearly none, for as you say I have been walking in dreams, but surely this world so perverted by the Secondborn does not hold you in such thrall that you would desert the chance to come again to the Undying Lands!"
Celeborn sat silent through his outburst, not speaking until Maglor had said his piece. "Peace, Maglor," he said calmly, his voice tinged with sadness. "We have returned to Valinor; a full pardon was given my wife and she was granted entrance into the very heart of the Undying Lands, and there with nearly all our Elven kin we dwelt happily for some four thousand years. But we were forced to depart again."
"'Forced' …?" Maglor echoed, confused and horrified. "Why … what atrocity was committed that would cause the Valar to—"
"Melkor escaped his prison," Celeborn interrupted, his voice now steely with suppressed emotion. "All went ill, and Valinor was ransacked; Valimar was laid low and destroyed. Though Morgoth was again returned to the Void, all the world was changed by the battle." Celeborn's eyes met Maglor's, and the Sindarin Elf's eyes were piercing; they pinned Maglor where he sat with such force as to remind Maglor of Artanis' gaze. "The Valar have departed this realm, Maglor Fëanorian, and the Undying Lands with them – what is left of them! For Dagor Dagorath – what should have been the End of Days – has come to pass, and still the world remains."
For a long moment Maglor was silent, his mind unable to even begin to grasp the information suddenly thrust upon him. The Battle of All Battles? The Valar are … gone? He remembered that Celeborn had not asked the blessing of Elbereth over his meal; he remembered the flames and destruction of his dreams and the blotting of the light from the sky. It is true, then. It is true! Ai, Ilúvatar, what has come to pass? "We are deserted," he gasped. "Ai, we are left to – to this!" He raised his distressed gaze to Celeborn. "Then Morgoth destroyed Valinor. Did all escape? Would—" he cut off, clenching his teeth. "Would the Teleri suffer those of the Noldor who remained to board their boats?"
"Do you truly believe bloodlines were of any concern when Morgoth himself was laying waste to our homes?" Celeborn countered. His expression was hurt but otherwise unreadable; his eyes were cloaked. "We fought as Eldar – the Firstborn, united as we were meant to be. But it was as hopeless as it was in the First Age, for Melkor is still numbered among the Valar, evil though he is! We sought to flee even as the true Valar countered his attack, and then the battle truly raged; Valinor's very shape was changed, and Morgoth ruined everything he touched. There was nothing left for us; we lost so many! And Manwë himself bid us go. But there were those that would not desert the Undying Lands even then, and they were lost to us. But all who wished to depart found a place on the boats of the Teleri and a few Sindarin boats, and Ulmo sent us out over the waters with a favorable wind and a calm sea. We did not encounter trouble until the barrier between the worlds was broken and the prophesy of Dagor Dagorath fulfilled in full, although we did not recognize it, for little was written about the End of Days. We knew only that our world had been broken and changed."
But Maglor was lost. "'Barrier between the worlds'?" he inquired. "Mean you the storms of Ulmo and the many obstacles to cross to Valinor?"
Celeborn raised an eyebrow slightly, and then he laughed, although the laugh was somewhat bitter. "Ai, I had forgotten how very little you know! It was in the Second Age that Men violated a ban placed upon them by the Valar, and by Eru's will they were given the power to again reshape the world; they removed Valinor from Arda proper, and created a barrier that none could cross save those given the grace of the Valar. Those not granted such grace would only sail continue to sail West until they again found themselves in the East. One might say the Valar made the world round."
Maglor gritted his teeth. Men … always Arda is violated by Men! "Always the Secondborn fall!" he cried. "To what purpose did Ilúvatar create them?"
"And you have the right to speak thus, Kinslayer?" Celeborn replied coldly. "Or even I, who has killed fellow Elves as well, and Men besides? Eru's purpose is his own, even now; even as we feel abandoned to an uncaring fate with no refuge from the weariness of this world. Would you question it? Would you curse and thus curse yourself again, you who lost everything for the lust of a jewel and an oath made in rash anger!?"
Maglor froze, stricken; he closed his eyes and drew a shaking breath. It was for Father … for his memory … for his precious jewels! No, it was folly … Oh Varda! To have been able to live in peace all my days, singing and composing in the peaceful joy of Valinor! Why could it not be so? "Forgive me … I forgot myself," Maglor finally said, feeling the inadequacy of the words like a weight in his stomach.
"Nay; there is nothing to forgive," Celeborn replied softly. "I too have raised my voice in anger, and for less." He paused, and silence filled the room but for the strange humming of the house. "There is still much I have not told you."
"Please continue," Maglor nodded, still not looking up. He closed his eyes, bearing now not only the pain of his own decisions but also the pain of loss that all the Elves of this Age seemed to carry.
Celeborn drew a breath. "Very well. I had said we encountered no difficulties in our departure from Valinor until the barrier was broken. You see, Morgoth crossed from Aman to Arda, and the Valar followed him, and again their battle reshaped the land as it had in the War of Wrath. And Ulmo prevented us from coming to Arda while the Valar still made war there by putting a thick fog upon the water that confounded the navigators. It was protection, although it did not seem it at the time.
"What happened I do not know, but it was strange; for Morgoth certainly departed the world, but there was no sense of victory. And then the Valar were gone. They gave no reason; indeed, we did not see them again! They had abandoned this world. But Ulmo's fog lifted, and finally we came upon the shores of Arda, but they were strange to us, so changed were they! Much was ruined; many had been lost." Here Celeborn paused, but he spoke again after only a moment. "Many. More than we knew. For when we lost Valinor we lost too the Halls of Mandos."
Maglor started visibly. But that means we may not see the dead again except in death! No! "Father!" he choked. "Brothers!" We should have lived again together someday, despite our sins …
Celeborn's voice was gentle, but Maglor could not bring himself to raise his eyes. "Would you rather I tell you more later? This is hard to absorb all at once; indeed, it is still a burden hard to bear after ten thousand years."
"I … I would hear more, but I do not know if I could bear it." Maglor rose and bowed his head again. "May I go to the room provided for a while?"
"Of course. Know you the way?" Celeborn asked.
Maglor nodded, turned, and nearly fled to the bedroom where he had changed clothes, and he sat upon the bed. There Maglor son of Fëanor, greatest of all the Elven bards in Ages known and unknown, lifted his voice in a lament that filled the house and manor, and those that heard it claimed that it was so beautiful and sad that had the Valar but been able to hear his cry, they would have come themselves to comfort him.
* * *
Author's Notes: Celeborn is a whole other story unto himself. I completely made up the idea that he was present at Doriath when the sons of Fëanor attacked. We don't know where he was for sure, but he is called a 'prince of Doriath' in a passage of The Silmarillion regarding the sack of Doriath. Why shouldn't he be present when the sons of Fëanor came for the Silmaril?
ú-roch-rinc – 'car'. Lit. 'no-horse-move'. The Elves would have had to make up words in Sindarin for the newfangled technology, after all! :)
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.