Easy is the Descent: 1. Part 1

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1. Part 1

This is the 7th story in my Maedhros series - I recommend reading them in proper order for maximum enjoyment, but the only one that is essential reading (in order to understand the relationship between Maedhros and Maglor in this story) is "My Brother's Keeper."

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They had come together again at the summons, bound to each other by blood and by a sworn oath uttered centuries earlier, during a time of darkness. It had take months for the message to reach them all, for they now wandered widely throughout the forests of Ossiriand, but at last they had all arrived at the designated meeting place, and the discussion could finally begin. Not that there is much to discuss, Celegorm thought, for our duty is clear. We must take back what is rightfully ours. He knew the hearts of Curufin and Caranthir - the three brothers were close, and often journeyed together - and was confident that, as befitted true sons of Fëanor, they could be counted on to support him in this task. The twins' reactions were harder to predict. Amrod and Amras generally looked towards their two oldest brothers, who had almost taken on the role of surrogate parents to their smallest siblings after Nerdanel deserted the family; however, they had of late been spending much of their time off by themselves, and so perhaps would now be more inclined towards independent thought. Especially now, Celegorm reflected, after seeing the results of their revered oldest brother's 'leadership'. No, only Maglor and Maedhros were likely to pose any problems. Maglor, Celegorm thought, has ever been the weakest of us, interested only in harping and singing - why he wasn't born a girl, I'll never know. As for Maedhros - in Aman, he'd seemed as bold and proud as any of his brothers. But he'd shamed himself when he tried to defy their father and prevent the burning of the ships. His behavior on the day he had betrayed their House by surrendering their rightful leadership to Fingolfin still sickened Celegorm. As for his continued insistence on ingratiating himself with Finarfin's and Fingolfin's children - well, at least that would no longer be a problem, as all of their troublesome cousins (save only Turgon and Galadriel), were now dead, Celegorm realized. And the disastrous outcome of his proud Union appeared to have destroyed more than his credibility as their leader - the light seemed to have fled his eyes, and he took little interest in his surroundings, although he had greeted his brothers politely enough upon his arrival. Perhaps he'd now accept the necessity of reclaiming the one Silmaril they could now reach, before attempting to regain the others still locked in Angband.

"I think you know what I wish to discuss," Celegorm began at last, after all of his brothers had seated themselves around the small fire in the center of their camp. "Dior has refused to answer our demand to relinquish the Silmaril he unlawfully withholds from the House of Fëanor - indeed, I have heard it said he openly wears it about his neck in Menegroth, making no secret of his defiance of our rightful claim. You all remember the oath we swore. No more shall the sons of Fëanor plead in vain for return of our inheritance - it is time to act, and finally reclaim what is ours."

"At the cost of another Kinslaying? We spilled innocent blood before, at Alqualondë. Have you forgotten the horror of that day, that you would propose we repeat it?" Maglor responded.

"I have forgotten nothing, brother, " Celegorm snapped, "including the words we spoke before that blood was shed. 'Be he foe or friend, be he foul or clean, brood of Morgoth or bright Vala, Elda or Maia or Aftercomer, Man yet unborn upon Middle-earth, neither law, nor love, nor league of swords, dread nor danger, not Doom itself, shall defend him from Fëanor, and Fëanor's kin, whoso hideth or hoardeth, or in hand taketh, finding keepeth or afar casteth a Silmaril. This swear we all: death we will deal him ere Day's ending, woe unto the world's end! Our word hear thou, Eru Allfather! To the everlasting Darkness doom us if our deed faileth. On the holy mountain hear in witness and our vow remember, Manwë and Varda!' We are obligated by that sworn oath to do this. And the people of Doriath are neither kin, being Sindar and not Noldor, nor innocent, for they willfully withhold what is ours by right, knowing what the cost of their arrogance must be."

"Our brother speaks the truth," Caranthir added; next to him, Curufin nodded his head in support. "We came to these shores to regain the Silmarils our father made - and it is past time we do so."

"But regaining only one Silmaril will not fulfill our oath," Amras, the youngest of the brothers, protested. "As long as Morgoth holds the other two, we are still bound. Yet we now have no hope of defeating him." He paused and looked at Maedhros, who had bowed his head and was staring fixedly at the ground. "What good will it do to assault Doriath then?"

"You heard the words our brother spoke; that we all uttered so long ago. 'Be he foe or friend, be he foul or clean, brood of Morgoth or bright Vala, Elda or Maia or Aftercomer, Man yet unborn upon Middle-earth, neither law, nor love, nor league of swords, dread nor danger, not Doom itself, shall defend him from Fëanor, and Fëanor's kin, whoso hideth or hoardeth, or in hand taketh, finding keepeth or afar casteth a Silmaril.' The oath applies to any creature, Amras, and it makes no exceptions. Just because we cannot succeed against Morgoth at this time does not mean that we are free to turn away from the Silmaril in Doriath. Dior must either yield it, or we will take it from him by force - and it would seem he desires the latter," said Curufin, speaking for the first time. He had a disturbing gleam in his eyes, as though he longed for the conflict to come.

"It is clear we have no choice. We must move against Dior, or stand foresworn. The only thing left to decide is when and how to act," Celegorm said firmly. "I propose -"

"You are not the head of our House, brother," Maglor said firmly, "and you cannot make such decisions in our name. Only Maedhros has that right."

"I will do as I must, regardless of what our oldest brother may say," Celegorm responded scornfully. "Unlike him, and you, I respect our father's memory, and his last wishes. I will see the House of Fëanor rise to greatness again, instead of skulking in Ossiriand, subservient to Morquendi."

"I will support Celegorm in this," said Curufin, and Caranthir then spoke, "I also."

"What say you, brothers?" Celegorm then asked Amrod and Amras, who looked at each other in uncertainty. Slowly, Amrod replied, "I am reluctant to agree to this, but the oath seems clear - we have no choice."

"We always have a choice," Maglor responded angrily. "I will not do this, Celegorm. It is wrong."

"Doesn't that depend on what the Head of our House decides?" Celegorm said with a sneer. "As you are so fond of reminding me, you are bound to respect his authority - if he orders us to proceed, will you defy him? What say you, Maedhros?"

For the first time that evening, Maedhros spoke. "I will not order Maglor, or any of my brothers, to assault Doriath."

"Celegorm, I suggest - " Maglor began, but Maedhros cut him off. "But neither will I order them to refrain from this action," Maedhros continued, voice weary. "Those of you who agree with Celegorm are free to join him, those who do not agree may stand aside. Decide for yourselves - I will not choose for you."

"Maedhros, no! Can't you see that this is wrong? To murder innocents..." Maglor implored.

"As you yourself said, brother, we have done so before," Maedhros replied, raising his head and gazing steadily at Maglor; the expression in his eyes was dark. "None of us have clean hands. And we all swore Father's oath - 'To the everlasting Darkness doom us if our deed faileth'. Who am I to call that down upon my brothers by forbidding this?" he said bitterly, and Maglor seemed to shrink back.

"Russandol - " Maglor replied softly, but Maedhros had again lowered his head and, wrapping his arms around his drawn-up knees, he proceeded once more to withdraw into himself.

"Then it is decided - those of you who agree with me should remain here, for we need to plan our campaign," Celegorm said firmly.

"I will not aid you in this," Maglor said firmly.

"Suit yourself, brother," Celegorm replied. "We do not need your assistance. And what of you, Maedhros?"

For a long moment Maedhros said nothing, then Maglor, who sat closest to him, heard him whisper "Eternal Darkness" and saw a faint shudder run through his tall frame. Still looking down at the ground, Maedhros finally replied, "I am no oathbreaker - I will come. But I will bring no soldiers, only myself," and then he looked at Maglor with a strange expression on his face, "and my brother Maglor."

Maglor went pale, and replied, "I thought you said that those of us who disagreed could stand aside."

"In your case, I am making an exception," Maedhros responded in a low tone. "I will not order you to fight, but I do demand you come and watch. I will not let you claim an innocence you do not possess."

"Then it is settled," Celegorm said in satisfaction. "All that remains is to strike. Soon the Silmaril will again reside in the hands of its rightful owners, and the sons of Fëanor will be one step closer to achieving our oath. Father would be proud today."

"He would indeed," Maedhros replied; only Maglor heard the whispered addition, "unfortunately. We are all damned."

Notes:

The exact wording of the Oath of Fëanor can be found in "The Annals of Aman" in Morgoth's Ring (History of Middle Earth, volume 10) on p. 112.

Russandol – "Copper-top"; an affectionate nickname given to Maedhros by his family in acknowledgement of his reddish-brown hair. See The Peoples of Middle Earth (History of Middle Earth, vol. 12), p. 353


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.

Story Information

Author: Ithilwen

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 1st Age

Genre: Action

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/14/03

Original Post: 07/18/02

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