11. Not the First
In the starlight, color faded into the shadows, but Feanor remained a striking figure: black-haired and fair-faced. He turned to Fingolfin, and the fainter light accentuated his high
cheekbones and thin face. "The Valar request my presence at Ezellohar," he said.
"I will come with you," Fingolfin said. "Remember: Thou shalt lead and I shall follow."
Feanor shook his head. "No. I alone am commanded to go to Ezellohar." The stars were bright but far away; Feanor's eyes seemed brighter than they. "If you leave the Noldor, who will
lead them? The Eldar are afraid of this new darkness and seek reassurance from their leaders. You shall lead them, and they shall follow you. Stay here upon Taniquetil, where they may
feel safe." Fingolfin agreed reluctantly. Feanor turned to Nerdanel. His brow furrowed as he sought for words of comfort.
Nerdanel shook her head. "You need not say anything, my Lord. These are dark days for all of us. I will also stay with the Noldor." Feanor nodded and kissed his wife. "Do not tarry here
Feanor looked to Indis, standing among the Vanyar, then to Irime and Finarfin. The children of Indis shall be great, and the Tale of Arda more glorious because of their coming. Feanor
turned last to Fingolfin, who stood tall and unafraid in the darkness. Fingolfin nodded to his brother. Feanor smiled lightly. The Noldor would be safe in their care.
Feanor traveled straightaway to Ezellohar with the Valar and the most powerful of the Maiar. Many of the bravest of the Eldar followed more slowly. The Valar and the Maiar went first to
the Trees to see if they could yet be saved, but Feanor the Elda went first to his son.
"Maitimo! How come you here?" Feanor put his ear to his eldest son's chest. He heard the heart beating. Maedhros was not yet lost.
Though Aule was deeply grieved by his wife's distress, he did not forget Feanor's presence. Aule put a hand on Feanor's shoulder. "I grieve with thee, Curufinwe."
"He is not yet dead, Lord Aule," Feanor said. He drew the knife from Maedhros and then leaned down as if to kiss the wound. He drank from that wound even as Ungoliant had drank
from the wound of Laurelin, and then he spat out the tainted blood that burned his mouth.
Aule frowned, and his brow furrowed. "Yavanna and Nienna are tending to the Two Trees, but mayhaps Este can aid your son."
"I thank you, my Lord, but I think this is in part the reason I was summoned to Ezellohar." Feanor sucked out more venom from the wound and spat it out. "He is my son, Lord Aule. I
gave him life. I believe I can save him. Your place is by Yavanna's side as she seeks to save the Two Trees, and I will not fault you for leaving me to be with her." After a moment of
hesitation and when he realized that he could do nothing to help Feanor, Aule went to join the Valar.
It was fortunate that Melkor had stabbed Maedhros with a knife rather than a sword. A sword would undoubtedly have killed Maedhros, but the knife had been stabbed in haste and had
missed all of his vital organs. Also, the knife's venom was less deadly than that of Melkor's sword or Ungoliant's blood. Once Feanor had drawn out as much of the venom as possible, he
pressed his hand firmly over the open wound. He closed his eyes and concentrated his inner fire into his hand. It was a part of the Sacred Fire that Melkor could not find and thus could
not mar. Feanor willed his fire to enter the body of his son. He felt the same ecstasy that he had when he had first given life to Maedhros from within Nerdanel's body. The blood clotted
beneath his hand.
"Russandol!" Amrod and Amras cried out as the rode up. Some of the Maiar glanced over, but the Valar did not seemed to notice the intrusion.
"Ambarussa," Feanor said. He could not help but to feel relieved to see his youngest sons alive and unharmed. "What are you doing here? What happened?"
"We were nearby when the Light of Aman failed," Amrod said. "We went riding towards the Green Hills. Our faces were northward, but suddenly we were aware that all was growing dim.
The Light was failing."
"We followed the dark cloud that shadowed even the Light of the Two Trees," Amras retold. "Melkor was there in the shroud of Darkness, we do not doubt. But not he alone!" Melkor's
name drew the attention of several of the Maiar, and they moved closer to hear this tale. "Some other power was with him, some huge evil: even as it passed it robbed us of all wit and
"When we dared to go no further, Russandol ran ahead without us," Amrod said.
"Russandol!" Amras cried when his eldest brother's eyes fluttered open.
"Maitimo." Feanor blinked back tears of joy, for Maedhros's eyes were clear and bright.
"Father?" Maedhros's gaze moved to his brothers. "Ambarussa." His eyes widened from haunted memories. "The Trees..."
"The Valar are seeing to the Two Trees." Feanor moved his hand from the wound. It had closed but was not entirely healed. Feanor undid his sash and folded it into a square. He placed
it over the knife wound and then readjusted Maedhros's belt so that it held the bandage in place. "Do not move too quickly or your wound may reopen." Feanor glanced at the mounts.
Carnahar had followed Amrod and Amras. "Excellent. Maitimo, go back to Formenos with Ambarussa. Ride with all swiftness and bring back to me the Silmarilli."
"The Silmarilli?" Amrod said, but Maedhros seemed to understand immediately. He stood with Feanor's help. When the twins saw Maedhros mount Carnahar, they mounted their horses
"I will not fail you, Father," Maedhros said.
"You have already done more than I expected," Feanor said. He patted Maedhros's hand and then let his sons set off. Then he joined the Maiar and the Valar in their vigilance before the
When they were but halfway to Formenos, Maedhros and the twins met Maglor and Celegorm riding northward.
"Russandol, thank goodness you're here," Maglor shouted. They brought their horses to a stop. "We must go to see Lord Manwe."
"You go on without us," Maedhros said. "I must return to Formenos. Father bade me to retrieve the Silmarilli."
"Finwe the king is slain, and the Silmarilli are taken!" Celegorm shouted.
Maglor did not waste time with words. He launched into song. Maedhros beheld his brothers nearing Formenos when the Light of Aman failed. Great shadows rose up and passed them,
and a thick blackness surrounded the center of Formenos. They urged on their horses, but the horses reared and cast them to the ground and fled away wild. Like Amrod and Amras,
Maglor and his brothers had found themselves sapped of their strength and unable to move. They heard the sound of great blows struck. Then, a sudden flame of fire shot out of the
cloud like lightning, and there was a piercing cry. At that sound, the sons of Feanor found the will to move despite the fear in their hearts. They came to the House of Feanor, and there
they found the king slain at the door. Maedhros blanched at the image of the slain king, sharp and clear as if he were seeing the gruesome sight with his own eyes. Finwe's head was
crushed as with a great mace of iron, and his sword lay beside him, twisted and untempered. There was none other about: all had fled and he had stood alone, defiant. All the house was
broken and ravaged, and the treasuries were empty.
Maedhros felt tears welling in his eyes, but then he realized that he could not yet afford to grieve. Too much remained to be done, and it seemed that every second counted at this fell
"Where is Moryo and Curvo?" he asked.
"They are trying to keep order in Formenos," Celegorm said.
"Good. Turco, take Pityo and Telvo back to Formenos." The twins were sobbing uncontrollably, and Maedhros knew that they had reached the limit of their strength. "Cano and I will
return to the Ring of Doom."
The Valar stretched their thoughts beyond Ea and forth to the End, yet neither power nor wisdom assuaged their grief and the knowing of evil in the hour of its being. From time to time,
their silent council turned to Feanor.
"Still I hold that the Children should with their gifts of skill order all the lands and heal their hurts," Ulmo said voicelessly into the minds of the Valar and Feanor.
"Can the Eldar heal what the Valar cannot?" said Lorien.
"The Children are both strong and without might. The fire of each of the Children hath the strength of its singleness impregnable, which cometh to it from Eru as to us all," said Nienna.
"By Eru's design, the Children arose from Arda and are a part of it whereas we are not. It may well be that they can heal within the realm of Arda what we cannot."
The voices of the Valar became quiet in Feanor's mind once more, but he did not doubt that they continued their council. As the Valar sat as motionless as figures carved in stone, a great
concourse gathered about the Ring of Doom. Ingil, eldest son of Ingwe, had led a great host of the Eldar from Taniquetil, and now, as the Valar sat silent, the Eldar lifted their voices in
lamentation. After a time, the Maiar, who were apparently not a part of the Valar's debate, joined their voices to that of the Eldar.
Feanor did not add his voice to that music. Though the Light of Aman was no more, the land was still warm, yet Feanor felt chilled. It was as if all that was living and green had become
covered in frost more dreadful than the snow upon the white peak of Taniquetil. The cold nipped at his fingers and toes and slowly crept over him until goosebumps arose on his skin.
The silent council of the Valar ended, and Yavanna spoke aloud before the many people gathered at the Ring of Doom, "The Light of the Trees has passed away and lives now only in
the Silmarilli of Feanaro. Foresighted was he!" Feanor crossed his arms to try to warm himself, but his body began to shiver. "Even for those who are mightiest under Iluvatar there is
some work that they can accomplish once, and once only," Yavanna continued. "The Light of the Trees I brought into being, and within Ea I can do so never again."
Feanor heard voices singing lightly and the rhythmic heaves of his mother. He hesitated to leave the warmth and familiarity of the darkness, but he felt himself drawn by the music that
promised to him the beauty and bliss of Valinor. Miriel urged him on, coaxing him to seek the unknown. At last, Feanor allowed himself to be persuaded. He left the warm and loving
Though the curtains were drawn close, the shutters had been left open so that some light entered the room. The silver light of Telperion and golden light of Laurelin were dim, but the
Light seemed too bright to Feanor. The airs of the Lord of the Breath of Arda seemed too dry and cool in comparison to the embrace of the wet darkness.
Miriel gasped and held her breath, and Feanor immediately recognized the sound of her voice though it seemed now more distant. He cried out for her.
Hands other than those of his mother handled him, washing him with water of awakening. Beyond the room, the minstrels sang more eagerly. Feanor was wrapped in a clean white silken
sheet, and at last he beheld his mother's face as Elerondo the Healer handed him to her.
"Congratulations, Miriel," said Elerondo. "It's a boy."
Feanor's cries subsided now that he had been rejoined with his mother. He looked at her with piercingly bright eyes. A tear fell from Miriel's eye. It glittered in the blended light, and
Feanor caught it in his small hands as it slipped from her chin.
"Never again shall I bear child; for strength that would have nourished the life of many has gone forth into Minyon." Miriel kissed her son's forehead.
"Lady Miriel?" the Healer said delicately.
"For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that she may accomplish but once only, and in that deed her heart shall rest," Miriel said. Her gaze rested fondly on her newborn
babe. "Call for my Lord Finwe so that he may meet his son."
After a time, Finwe entered the room eagerly. Thus, Feanor beheld for the first time his father. Miriel held Feanor out to greet his father.
"My Lord Finwe, rejoice at the birth of your son, Minyon First-begotten, eldest of the second generation of the Eldar."
Finwe cradled Feanor to his breast, and though Feanor recognized the voice of his father, he cried for his mother, whom he knew more intimately. Finwe hushed the babe, returned him to
his mother, and kissed Miriel's pale cheek.
"Thank you, my love," Finwe said to her. "He is beautiful."
Miriel only smiled wearily at him as he took her hand in both of his. In her other arm, Feanor curled up against her with her tear still in his small fist.
"Speak, o Noldo, yea or nay!" cried Tulkas, waking Feanor from his thoughts. "But who shall deny Yavanna? And did not the light of the Silmarilli come from her work in the beginning?"
"Be not hasty!" Aule said in Feanor's defense. "We ask a greater thing than thou knowest. Let him have peace a while."
"For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that he may accomplish but once only; and in that deed his heart shall rest," Feanor said slowly as if in dream.
The chill that had been creeping upon him now seized Feanor like a black fist squeezing his heart. Feanor clutched at his chest. He felt as if his sacred fire had been extinguished, yet
when he sought for it, he found it still there. His body shook violently. He broke into a cold sweat. He fought to regain control of his labored breath. His heart was beating wildly, and he
felt a sharp pain in it, yet it felt empty at the same time. It seemed odd that his body would only now react to the Death of the Two Trees when before it had stood strong and defiant
against the evil of Melkor.
At length, Feanor regained some measure of mastery over himself and answered the Valar. "In your grief for the Two Trees, you forget that the Silmarilli are indeed living things. They
shine like stars and appear as jewels, but that crystal is to the Silmarilli but as is the body of the Children of Iluvatar: the house of its inner fire, that is within it and yet in all parts of it, and
is its life. Yavanna asks for but a little of that light so that she may recall life to the Trees ere their roots decay. It may be that I can unlock my jewels, but never again shall I make their
like." Feanor glanced at Aule then hung his head. "It is true that the Light of the Silmarilli came from the Two Trees in the beginning, but the Life of the Silmarilli came from me. If I must
break them, I shall break my heart, and I shall be slain, first of all the Eldar in Aman."
"Not the first," said Mandos, but none could understand his words.
After a time of silence, Feanor spoke again, "I cannot make this decision for the Silmarilli, nor would I. It is a heavy burden, so heavy that none can lay it upon another. Yet if the Silmarilli
choose to accept this task of their own will, then I will say that their decision is right."
Then Mandos said, "Thou hast spoken."
At that moment, the two elder sons of Feanor rode up to the Ring of Doom. Maedhros began to speak before he had fully dismounted and properly bowed before the Valar.
"Blood and darkness!" Maedhros cursed. "Finwe the king is slain, and the Silmarilli are gone!"
At these new tidings of evil, Feanor fell onto his face and lay still as if one dead. He listened half-heartedly to this new tale of woe that told of what had transpired at Formenos. But all
that Feanor needed to hear had already been said: Finwe the king is slain.
Tears ran unchecked down Finwe's face as he sat by the bedside of his wife and held her hand. Miriel languished still and slept. Rarely did she awaken from her dreadful slumber, and
never had she arisen since Feanor's birth.
"Surely there is healing in Aman?" Finwe cried. "Here all weariness can find rest." But Miriel gave no answer.
"I will heal Aman," Feanor offered, but he could not yet speak in words and so instead put his small hand over Finwe's and Miriel's. If they understood, they gave no sign. Miriel still
slept, and Finwe still wept.
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