My Aragon Stories
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Father's Wish, A: 9. Chapter Nine
Linneth was a beautiful bride. Small and slender, her dark hair glistened in the early morning sun, and her bright eyes sparkled with joy. Attired in a dress spun of soft silver silk, she stood next to her radiant husband. Yes, Artanis reflected, Linneth was surely the bride of anyone’s dreams.
Standing next to his father, Celeborn was watching the ceremony with veiled eyes, but Artanis could see how troubled he was by this union. A bittersweet aura surrounded him, perceptible to only those very few who knew him best. Watching him discretely, Artanis felt sorrowful for him as well as for Linneth. Linneth had allowed herself to be swept away by Galathil’s effusive charm, but she had missed the strength of Celeborn.
Artanis allowed her eyes to pass over Finrod, who stood strangely silent. He had received a missive from Fingolfin in the morning, and after the wedding festivities were over, he and Artanis were requested to return to Hithlum. Something in that missive had upset Finrod, but regardless of how much Artanis had pestered him, he would not reveal to her the message.
At times, Finrod’s lips were tighter than Fëanor’s vaults in Formenos had been.
Allowing her attention to shift back to the bride and groom, she allowed herself to feel a pang of sadness. Strange, that during joyous moments, she would find herself thinking of Fëanor. Even in death, Fëanor found ways to manifest himself in her life. He had made sure of that by leaving her the Elessar, just as he had been sure that Artanis would keep it. Briefly she wished that she had the will to give the stone away, or better yet, bury it under a rotting wolf carcass somewhere.
The ceremony was over now, and belatedly she realized that she should have paid more attention since people would undoubtedly ask her how the Sindarin wedding ceremonies differed from the Noldorin ones. She berated herself mentally. And I cannot reply intelligently since I missed half the ceremony. Finrod would answer those questions, then. Surely that fell under the duties of oldest brothers.
“Artanis,” called a fair voice. She turned to see Luthien beckoning her. Next to her stood Linneth, her pale cheeks flushed. “Will you not give blessings to the bride?” Luthien’s eyes were twinkling, a sign that some mischief was afoot.
“Indeed, for what other words can I give?” smiled Artanis. Leaning down, for Linneth was shorter than Artanis, she kissed both pale cheeks. “May you always walk in bliss.”
Linneth clasped Artanis’s hands. “And may you be blessed with the same.”
Luthien wrapped a slender arm around Linneth. “Perhaps she will, especially with such a handsome consort,” laughed the lovely princess.
“I think, princess, that it is you who needs to seek a consort,” retorted Artanis.
“I would have liked to meet one of the princes of the Vanyar,” replied Luthien dreamily. “I have heard that they have such lovely golden hair.” Glancing at Artanis guiltily, she amended, “As do your brothers.”
Artanis hid her smile behind her hand. “But my brothers are very annoying. If I were you, I would pursue one of the Vanyar.”
Linneth looked slightly confused. “But they are in Aman!”
“Never mind, Linneth! Worry about your own husband, who is approaching very rapidly now!” Luthien laughed merrily. Galathil was indeed approaching, and he wore the single-minded expression that only newlywed grooms could wear. “We will leave you now, Linneth! And do escape with him!” Leaving Linneth flushing, the pair entered the Halls. “This wedding has been good for my father,” commented Luthien as they made their way to the tables laden with food.
Artanis raised her brows. Luthien, seeing the skeptical look on her friend’s face, hurried to explain. “My father is weary of the never-ending darkness here. Doriath is fair, but he is well aware of the fact that if it were not for my mother, Doriath would not even exist as it does now.” Sending a discrete look to Thingol, Luthien continued. “He would have departed these shores long ago, if not for his people, most of which would remain.” Luthien gripped Artanis’s hand. “Ever since my father has set eyes on you and your brothers, the longing to go Valinor and live in peace has only increased within him. Olwë is there, and Elmo is waiting in the Halls of Mandos. And my mother…she has grown more melancholy. You are her only link to Valinor. If you left…” The princess drifted off, and then, “My parents, the only two of our people who have seen the Two Trees, take comfort from the fact that the light is reflected in your eyes.”
The golden-haired princess felt sorrowful for the king and queen as guilt surged through her as she was reminded of the Kinslaying again. Luthien placed her hands on Artanis’s cheeks. “Can you not stay? We are you kin. Surely you do not need to accompany your brother?”
“I must,” Artanis replied firmly. “I have a duty to my king, and he has asked me to attend to him. It is not a request I can refuse, Luthien.” Seeing the desolate look on her face, Artanis added gently, “But I will return here. Doriath is fair, and I enjoy living within its borders.”
Luthien nodded in acceptance. Then, changing the subject, she said, “I have heard that you are teaching Celeborn how to write in Quenya.”
“Yes, and he is a very good pupil.” That was an understatement, for Celeborn had rapidly learned Fëanor’s script. The Sindarin script was not as good as Fëanor’s, or even Rumil’s. Indeed, Sindarin script had evolved from the first written languages, before the Elves had even begun the Great Journey. That was why most of the histories of the Sindar were preserved in songs and paintings. “But as Celeborn has already pointed out, since Quenya is not understood by most of the Sindar, the letters will actually be used to represent Sindarin.”
“The idea of new letters is an exciting one. As soon as Celeborn is finished learning, he can teach me.” Artanis smiled at her enthusiasm.
It was then that Finrod swept in between the women. “Greetings, Princess,” he said as he bowed elegantly. “I am here to steal my sister from your company.”
“Of course, Lord Finrod.” Inclining her head prettily, the princess went to find another companion.
Once out of everyone’s earshot, Finrod began scolding his sister. “Artanis! Whatever impression you have made on the king and queen was perhaps too good! They put up quite a fuss when I told them that you would be accompanying me to Hithlum. Even now, the king is sending me malevolent looks!” Turning her head to see if he was correct, she saw that Thingol was indeed sending Finrod annoyed glances.
“If I wish to go with you, I will. But if I do not wish to go, I will not.” Deciding that her point was made, she eyed the dancing. “Will you not dance with me, Finrod?
He gave her a quizzical look. “If you wish it. But since when have you been dependent on your brother for a partner?”
“It is still early in the eve, yet already the music is making me restless.” Finrod said nothing but merely clasped her waist and led her into the throng of dancers.
From the other end of the Hall, Celeborn and Thingol watched brother and sister. After a few moments, Thingol commented, “They are a striking pair, are they not?”
“Indeed,” murmured Celeborn, his eyes on the tall golden forms of his distant cousins.
“I wonder what sort of upbringing they must have received in Valinor? They are akin to a pair of disreputable adventurers.”
Celeborn chuckled. “I would have thought the disreputable adventurers were the sons of Fëanor.”
Thingol shook his head. “No, the sons of Fëanor are just disreputable.” Thingol sipped his drink as he once again eyed his brother’s grandchildren. “Why do you think they are here, Celeborn? As much as I love them, I do not completely trust them.” Giving his advisor a close look, he asked, “Do you?”
“No, I do not,” admitted Celeborn truthfully. “I wish that I could. I can only speak of the Lady Artanis, for I have not spent as much time with Lord Finrod. But I have found the Lady Artanis to be honest and blunt in most matters - qualities that I admire greatly. Therefore, whatever secret she is harboring, she must be keeping it unwillingly, and it must be of great magnitude.”
“I will speak with Melian on this matter,” decided Thingol. “She is wiser than I, and perhaps she can lend us her wisdom.” Placing a gentle hand on Celeborn’s shoulder, he asked, “It is your brother’s wedding. Why do you not join the celebration?”
Celeborn adjusted the collar of his ceremonial robes, a habit that Thingol knew was a sign of Celeborn’s discomfort. “I find that the mood for celebration is eluding me.”
Thingol sighed. “You have always been silent, and you only speak when the need is great. These are qualities that I appreciate in my advisor, but I would not recommend them to the person who is like a son to me.” The king eyed Celeborn. “I have seen you stand aside in your brother’s courtship of Linneth. And while I am glad that you did not marry her, for I feel that she lacks the mettle to be your wife, you should have not allowed him to take her from you.”
“I can hardly protest if she confides to me that she loves my brother,” said Celeborn, a touch of bitterness shading his silvery voice.
“That is true, but perhaps she would not have even come to that conclusion if you had declared yourself first,” Thingol reminded him pointedly. “But what has happened has happened, and you must look to the future now.”
Celeborn turned to his king. “What do you mean?” Thingol was always direct with his kinsman, so his circuitous speaking was strange.
“Artanis and Finrod are leaving tomorrow,” Thingol said instead. “I do not wish them to go, especially Artanis.”
“King Fingolfin has summoned them, so they must go.” Celeborn allowed his eyes to shift back to Artanis. “Although I do not wish for her to leave either.” Thingol’s eyebrows shot up, and Celeborn gave him a rueful look. “She has been teaching me their written language.”
The king nodded. “Yes, I heard. A most challenging endeavor.”
Celeborn inclined his head. “That would normally be the case, but Lady Artanis is an excellent tutor. She has apparently learned the letters from the person who devised them.”
“Ahh, yes. Fëanor.” Thingol’s mouth tightened. “The Noldor are very tight-lipped about Fëanor.”
“Perhaps he is a criminal?” offered Celeborn as Thingol scoffed. Criminal Eldar?
That night, Celeborn was sitting in the library, located in one of Menegroth’s larger caves. Before, he had always assumed that the library was as any library should be, with scrolls and a large fireplace, many tables, and many oil lamps. But after listening to Artanis speak of the great libraries in Valinor, Celeborn had begun finding flaws in the library in Menegroth. Suddenly Thingol’s library did not seem like a library but a collection of poorly written books. And Celeborn, who had always fancied scholarly pursuits, found himself intrigued at the knowledge that the Noldor could provide.
Hence the reason for learning Quenya. Initially, he had felt slightly uncomfortable asking Artanis to teach him, but his pride over this matter gave way to his practically. Celeborn was no fool, and he recognized the fact that a culture could only thrive when its history was secure. And while songs were excellent ways of telling the past, too often minstrels would sensationalize the tale for the benefit of their listeners.
Sindarin writing as it was now was crude, and often people did not bother to learn it. Indeed, the Sindar living outside the kingdom would be hard pressed to read the writing of Doriath. But now the script of the Noldor offered the Sindar to unite through language. He had been truthful when he had told Artanis that the Sindar would never become masters in the language of Valinor, but the Sindar could learn Fëanor’s script and write Sindarin with it. The script was relatively simple, and it was extremely logical.
Certainly an opportunity that was waiting to be plucked.
His reverie was interrupted by none other than his tutor. She glided into the room with that strange grace of hers, finding a seat opposite him. They sat in silence, and Celeborn allowed himself to observe her.
She would never be an Elf of the moonlight, as Linneth certainly was. Instead, it was the firelight that seemed to reflect off her hair and give her skin an even warmer glow than usual. And sometimes, he would imagine that he saw the flames mirrored in those bright eyes of hers.
“Are you brooding, Lord?” She asked this with no hint of teasing or malice. Indeed, she seemed entirely serious.
“Yes, for I find that in my busy life, I have scarce time to spend on brooding,” he answered with equal gravity.
She nodded her approval. “It is a good habit.” Another comfortable silence, and then, “I have heard that when people brood together, it is even more rewarding.”
He looked thoughtful. “I can see why that would be so, but I suspect that it also depends on the company.” He gave Artanis a smile that bordered on shy. “The present company is certainly rewarding.” He shifted in his chair. “When will you be leaving tomorrow?”
“Dawn. We must make haste, for we have tarried long here.” Artanis folded her hands across her lap. “It will be strange to go back to Hithlum and Tol Sirion. I have dwelt here for so many years that I too have been ensnared by the comfort and safety of Doriath.”
“Will you come back?”
She shrugged elegantly. “I may or may not. It depends on my king.” He noticed that she avoiding looking at the fire. “It is a warm night. Why do you sit in front of the hearth?”
“If you have any other suggestions as to where I can sit, please do not hesitate to tell me.”
Artanis gave him a briefly amused look. “I would be pleased if you would walk with me outside.” Celeborn nodded his assent and offered her his arm, which she accepted. Once they made their way outside, he felt the tension drain out of her arm. “Celeborn, there is a matter I wish to discuss with you. It is rather delicate, so I would appreciate your discretion.”
He eyed her cautiously. “You have it, my lady.”
“My presence here disturbs you, does it not?”
Celeborn nodded unashamedly. “While we are glad to see our kin from Valinor, we perceive that something has happened. More details would reassure us.”
Artanis nodded, her eyes holding that disturbing gleam again. “There are some things that we have no control over, Celeborn.” She focused her eyes on him. “I have no control over this.”
Puzzled by her words, he only said, “I understand.”
“I think that you do not, but for now, I will say no more on this matter.” She turned away from him to examine one of the trellises. “These are lovely flowers. What are they called?” She bent down to examine it more closely.
“They have no name, but the queen has grown them herself. She says it is a species from Valinor.” It was then that he noticed a slightly glowing green stone visible on her neck that had been revealed when she bent down. Curiosity filled him once again, for he had never seen such a gem before. “Artanis, what jewelry is it that you wear?”
He must have startled her, for she straightened in surprise. Adjusting her neckline once again, she said curtly, “It was a gift.” Her tone brooked no further conversation on this subject, and he inferred that the stone must have been a gift from Glorfindel. “I must seek rest now, for I must rise early tomorrow.” She inclined her head formally.
“Of course. I bid you a pleasant night, Lady.” Celeborn watched as Artanis walked away, and then he sat down, troubled. Artanis was beginning to disturb him.
Fingolfin watched his niece from the corner of his eye. She and Finrod had arrived late last night, and immediately upon entering the fortress, they had sought their beds. This morning both had arrived to the table, seemingly fresh and in good spirits, to join Fingolfin and Fingon for the morning meal. Finrod chatted about the constuction of Nargothrond, about the dwarves, and even about his new horse.
Artanis remained silent.
“Artanis, it has been long since we have last seen each other. Your brother has much to say of the years he was away from us. Have you nothing to add?” Fingolfin gazed at his niece evenly.
“Time in Doriath goes slowly, so I did very few things of substance.” Artanis met her uncle’s gaze while Finrod shot her a strange look.
The king nodded. “Fair enough.” Moving his plate aside, he said, “And that is why I have called you here. To give you something to do.” He turned his head to look at Fingon and Finrod. “If both of you would kindly excuse us? I wish to speak with Artanis privately.” The two cousins shared uneasy looks before they rose and exited.
When they were finally alone, Fingolfin turned back toward Artanis. “You have spent much time with Thingol and Melian, and undoubtedly you have gained wisdom from them.”
"I have learned things, yes."
"There is a province, to the south of Thargelion, that needs to be settled."
She leaned back in her chair. "Near Caranthir's lands?"
The king nodded. "Yes, in Ossiriand. I feel uncomfortable with only the sons of Fëanor in the east. It would reassure me if I had one of my own people there. And since Fingon is occupied here, and Turgon is at Nevrast...and of course, Finrod has Nargothrond."
Artanis's looked thoughtful. "But my other brothers?"
"Your brothers are vassals to Finrod. You would be mine." He sipped his drink as he watched his niece.
"You could simply have me wed one of the sons of Fëanor."
Fingolfin allowed himself a tiny smile. "Yes, I could ask you to do that - and I have no doubt that you would do so. But unless you truly wish to wed one of them, I find myself reluctant to force you into the everlasting bond of marriage, bound as you are to Glorfindel."
"But I am not bound to him, Uncle, and I do not think I ever shall be."
"Then I can count on you to make such a sacrifice when I need it?" Artanis nodded, and he continued in relief, "You may leave whenever you wish, but I would recommend that you wait a few years." He leaned forward. "We have had reports that Morgoth will be preparing war against us soon. We have lulled him into a false sense of security by making him think that we are not interested in war at the moment."
Her eyes sharpened. "You expect him to send his forces against you?"
Fingolfin nodded again. "Yes, and I know he will not be able to resist." He bared his teeth in a feral smile. "And we will be ready."
While Fingolfin waited for the inevitable battle, Artanis found herself missing Doriath. She had wished herself to be back in the midst of the action, but now here, she discovered that peace was far more soothing - even if it was an unreal peace. But nevertheless, she received letters from Melian, Luthien, and even Celeborn. Melian's letters were always filled with advice and wisdom while Luthien wrote of gossip and the silly events that had transpired since Galathil's wedding. Celeborn would write of no topic in particular, yet she found his letters to be the most engaging. She had written back to him and had confessed that she missed Doriath. Celeborn had responded by saying that she was welcome back anytime. Furthermore, he offered her the use of his mother's house, in case she wished to dwell in Doriath but not in Menegroth.
A very tempting offer. But she was too ambitious, and she could foresee the rewards of finally obtaining her own lands. Fingolfin had kept true to his words, so many years ago on the bloody shores of Alqualondë.
The battle came as Fingolfin expected it would, but he was ready in the west, and Maedhros was prepared in the east. Artanis's brothers pursued the Orcs that had strayed into Beleriand, while the forces of Fingolfin and Maedhros surrounded the main host and chased them back to Angband. It was a successful battle, the Dagor Aglareb, but the Noldorin warmasters understood the hidden meaning in their victory - that Morgoth was growing in his wiles, and soon he would think of something else.
Later, Fingolfin told her that although Morgoth was trapped inside his fortress, it could not be breached. "It is surrounded by the mountains on either side, and we have not the means to cross them. So he will dwell in security for a while longer, until he ventures forth again."
Artanis remained in Hithlum for several years after the Dagor Aglareb, and she would often travel between her brother's realm and Fingolfin's. She would even go to Nevrast occasionally and visit with Glorfindel, Turgon, and Idril. It was in these days that she decided to return to Doriath and visit with her friends again.
The truth came out at the worst possible moment. During the evening meal, a messenger burst into the dining hall and whispered words into the king’s ear, and then the king had dropped his goblet of wine all over his tunic.
What had transpired afterwards was not a pleasant memory.
Thingol had asked Artanis and her brothers to leave, which they had done immediately. Afterwards, Galadhon had pulled Artanis aside and told her that the king would calm down and that his rage was directed towards the actual kinslayers.
They left Menegroth before the rest of the population found out, since Thingol would not have been able to guarantee the safety of his western kin. Brothers and sister rode west toward the Sirion, and from there they would ride north to Hithlum.
But upon reaching the Sirion, Artanis parted from her brothers. “Why?” demanded Finrod. “Did you not heard Thingol? The Sindar will be down upon us within hours, Artanis!”
“Yes, but I must wait for Celeborn and tell him myself.” Celeborn had gone to Cirdan at the Falas, and he was due to return today, and she was sure that he would stop by his house.
“Celeborn!” Finrod shook his sister’s shoulders. “Have you gone daft?” Artanis opened her mouth to protest, but Finrod would not allow it. “I do not care if you have bonded with him, Artanis. It is my command that you come with me.”
She pushed her brother away. “You cannot command me.”
Finrod looked at Artanis sternly. “I am the head of our house.”
“But I am under Fingolfin’s dominion, not yours.”
Orodreth stepped in between them. “Artanis, why is it that you wish to stay?” He had always been the more peaceful of the brothers, the most like Finarfin.
She turned to her other brothers. “He is my only friend in these lands, and he deserves to hear the truth from me.” She looked back to Finrod. “I owe it to him that he hears it from my lips rather than more malicious ones. My honor demands it.”
Finrod refused to look at her. “Then do as you will.” He swung back onto the saddle. “The rest of us will ride on.” Aegnor and Angrod followed, disappointed expressions on their faces. Only Orodreth lingered, as he embraced Artanis goodbye.
“Do be careful, Artanis.”
That night, Artanis was impatiently waiting in the flet for Celeborn. She was also frightened of what he would say when she told him of the Kinslaying. She only hoped that he had not heard it elsewhere.
So when she finally heard the anticipated hoof beats outside, she bolted through the door, and then slowed her pace to appear more dignified. However, when Celeborn approached the house and slowed his horse’s gait, she forgot all about dignity as she ran forward. He was down immediately, and within seconds, he embraced her.
“I am so glad that you are back!” exclaimed Artanis joyfully, but the expression in his eyes brought her up short. Celeborn examined her with an eerie scrutiny, and no affection reached out to her, despite his embrace. In fact, his arms closed on her in a restrictive way as if he sought to hold her in place while he studied her. She noted with misgivings the hard line of his mouth and the flinty set of his jaw. Something dark and disturbing was emanating from him, and distantly she realized that she had never seen this expression or mood on him. Indeed, for a horrible instant, she felt as if she had never seen this man before. “What is it?” she asked with foreboding. He knew…
After Celeborn left, she sat for many hours in front of the fire. Her arms still throbbed where Finrod had grabbed her, yet she found the pain to be comforting, for it assured her that she was still alive. Nothing else inside her flickered with life, as she sat motionless in a chair. Even thoughts were not possible. Only Celeborn’s words echoed in her mind. You are a traitor. This was the second time she had been called a traitor. Idly she wondered when the third time would be.
She could not stay in Doriath, that was for certain. When the word spread, the Sindar would be very angry, and their anger would first fall to her. And while they probably would not harm her physically, due to her status as Thingol’s grandniece, it would still be very unpleasant. And of course there was Celeborn himself…His anger and disappointment would be unbearable a second time. Briefly she considered that just, but she shook off that thought. After all, whatever she was, she had not been an unwilling participant.
But where could she go? Finrod had problems of his own, for Thingol would be furious with him. Her other brothers were off in the wilderness somewhere. Turgon was in hiding, and Glorfindel was with him. Fingon was an option, but that would mean that she would have to be near Fingolfin as well.
The irrational part of her partially blamed Fingolfin.
Only one option remained for her: the sons of Fëanor. Maedhros had promised that she would be welcome in Himring any time. Besides, she had to go the east anyway, to Ossiriand. And while she would have to undertake the long and dangerous journey on her own, it was better than staying at home.
In front of her, the fire crackled. Yes, go to Himring. Go to Maedhros. Use the Elessar.
“I will not stay here.” Kneeling in front of the fire, she put her hand in the flames, but strangely, the fire did not hurt her. Instead, it seemed to warmly embrace her hand. On her chest, the Elessar was glowing brightly. “I will go to Himring.”
- The Dagor Aglareb was the third battle in the Wars of Beleriand.
- The timeline might be a little strange. Sorry.
- Celeborn wasn’t always wise, and he is entitled to some anger. Frankly, the typical depiction of him being calm all the time disturbs me. He should be entitled to some anger when he discovers our favorite heroine lied. I would be.
- Thargelion was Caranthir’s realm, and it was to the north of Ossiriand (can I say Green Elves?).
- Galathil is Nimloth’s father. Nimloth will later marry Dior, Luthien’s son.
Next Chapter : Maedhros talks to a mouse, Galadriel finds unexpected allies in the east, and Celeborn gets into trouble with his dad. Oh, and Glaurung the Dragon meets Fingon. It’s a typical day in Beleriand.
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