7. Chapter Seven
Year 1 of the First Age…
High in the mountains of Ered Wethrin, two Elves watched the Noldorin settlement near the shores of Lake Mithrim. The lord of Doriath, King Thingol, had sent them to observe their western brethren. The two of them had been there for an entire week, and so far, they had managed to remain undetected.
The older companion, fair and with brown-haired, contemplated on making their presence known. Next to him sat a younger Elf.
"For valiant warriors, they are not very good scouts, are they?" remarked the younger one in a very melodious voice.
"I suppose that they did not learn stealth and subtlety in Aman," admitted the elder. "But regardless, they are strong and courageous, and Thingol will need allies such as them."
The younger one looked back down toward the lake in consideration. "Can we go down and meet them now? I am tired of sitting on this mountain watching them from up here. And I would like to see their faces, to find out if it is true that the light of the Two Trees is reflected in their eyes."
The other nodded. "We will go, but not into the settlement. I do not know whether they ask questions first or later."
"So we have to wait for them to stumble over us?" The lovely voice stretched into a rater unlovely whine.
Down below, near the outskirts of the settlement, Fingon and Glorfindel were crouched on the ground as they examined the injured leg of one of their horses. The horses were very precious, for until they completed their breeding cycles, there were hardly enough mounts for everybody.
"Do you think she will be alright?" asked Fingon anxiously.
Glorfindel pursed his lips. "The knife wound is deep, but I have hope that over time, she will heal." He stood and wiped the blood off his hands. "Until then, she must not stress her leg."
"Which means I cannot use her in any upcoming skirmishes," finished Fingon. Glorfindel shook his head regretfully. "We need more horses. We do not have that many stallions, and only a very few more mares. And each mare will generally give birth to one foal at a time." Fingon sighed in frustration.
However, Glorfindel was not listening to him anymore. His dark blue eyes were instead trained on the forest near them. "Be quiet. I thought I saw someone."
"Don't be ridiculous, Glorfindel. We have sentries about. Maybe you saw one of them." Fingon gently patted the nose of the mare as he spoke soothingly to her.
But Glorfindel shook his head. "I am positive that he was not one of ours."
"Maybe it was a woman." Fingon still looked uninterested.
"What family would allow their daughters to wander about in such a dangerous area?" snapped Glorfindel. At Fingon's upraised eyebrows, Glorfindel nodded reluctantly. "I take that back - since both Artanis and Aredhel seem to wander around quite freely." Glorfindel looked back toward the forest. "But Fingon," he said as he returned to the original topic, "there is someone out there. I am sure of it."
Fingon sighed. "Fine, we will go and examine these phantom sightings of yours." The two friends armed themselves and also took with them Turgon, in case Glorfindel’s sighting had been real. The three of them spread out into the woods as they quietly tried to find the source of Glorfindel's alarm.
It was Turgon who found the intruders. He had cautiously entered a clearing to discover that two Elves already occupied it. When he caught sight of them, he simply stood there and gaped. The younger one cheerily waved. Behind Turgon, Glorfindel and Fingon also arrived, and they too stared at the strange Elves. The one that had waved said something that the Noldor did not understand, and finally, with a gesture of impatience, he repeated it. When the three of them still did not understand, the elder spoke in what sounded like a gentle reprimand. He spoke in a very old version of Quenya, so old that Fingon suspected that only the Vanyar would ever have been able to understand it. Thankfully, Glorfindel did, and he translated. "We have been waiting for you to find us for quite awhile,"
Fingon was the first to recover the use of his tongue. "Who are you?" Glorfindel kept translating.
"We were sent as emissaries from Thingol, King of Doriath. We wish to speak with your king." Apparently the older one was in charge.
Turgon nodded. "Of course," he assured them smoothly. "If you will follow me?"
Behind them walked Fingon and Glorfindel, and they whispered between themselves. "They do not look like phantoms to me," smirked Glorfindel. “So I suppose I do have the better eyesight.” Fingon cuffed his golden-haired friend on the head in response.
Fingolfin stared at the newcomers with barely restrained curiosity, and they responded in kind. Finally, they introduced themselves. "I am Galadhon," said the older one. He pointed to the other Elf. "He is my elder son, Galathil."
Fingolfin in turn introduced Turgon, Glorfindel, and Fingon to them. "You are emissaries of Thingol?" he asked once everyone except Fingon, Glorfindel, and the guests had cleared the room.
"Yes," confirmed Galadhon. "Furthermore, we are his kin, for I am his nephew." He waited until the implication sunk into Fingolfin.
"So you are kin of my brother Finarfin's children." Fingolfin quickly told him of Finarfin's marriage to Olwë's daughter. "I suppose you are also their uncle then."
Galadhon wore a pleased smile. "Yes, I believe I am. Certainly, Thingol will be pleased to hear of this development, for Olwë was beloved by both my father and my uncle."
"If I may ask a question, my lord king," began Galathil courteously. At Fingolfin's encouraging nod, he continued. "We noticed that a few of your people have golden hair. Have the Vanyar also come with you here?"
The king shook his head regretfully. “Only Noldor,” he admitted. "However, my younger brother and I are sons of Indis of the Vanyar, niece to the High King Ingwë."
"Ingwë?" echoed Galathil. Apparently Ingwë was also revered here.
Fingolfin nodded. "Yes. Indis is my mother, and very golden was her hair." He looked slightly regretful. "However, neither I nor my children inherited that hair color. Instead, my younger brother Finarfin and some of his children were born with the golden hair. My son Turgon also wedded a Vanya, and his daughter also is very golden." A flicker of pain crossed his face as he thought of Elenwë. Indicating Glorfindel, "Additionally, one of our finest warriors, Glorfindel, is half Vanyar."
"They have such lovely hair," murmued Galathil.
Galadhon gave the king a shrewd look. "Your elder brother, Fëanor. He does not descend from the same mother?" With a sigh, Fingolfin launched into the tale of Finwë and Miriel. When he was finished, Galadhon looked very thoughtful. “So why has the kingship passed to you rather than his eldest son?”
Fingolfin felt discomfited. If all the Sindar were as shrewd as Galadhon was, then the Noldor would have a harder time here than previously imagined. “The eldest, Maedhros, has forfeited the throne to me since I am the eldest of all the sons of Finwë.” He avoided mentioning the breach in the Houses, for that would lead to too many questions, and eventually, the Kinslaying.
Thankfully both of them accepted the explanation. “The king invites an emissary of yours to Doriath, King Fingolfin, so that he can learn more of your people.” Galadhon handed Fingolfin a sealed message. “He ensures the safety of whomever you do choose to send.”
“I have no doubts of his hospitality.”
Galadhon smiled. “That is excellent. However, if I may make a suggestion, I think that Thingol will be pleased if you send one of his newly discovered kinsmen. It has been many years since we have had word of Olwë.”
“Of course. I will consider which of my nephews will be the most suitable, and I shall send him back with you.” Fingolfin stood. “Until I do, I extend an invitation to you and your son to stay here.”
“We most appreciate it.” Galadhon clasped the king’s arm. “Now, if you could direct me to my nephews and niece. My son and I would be very pleased to meet them.”
“You are going to send Angrod?” asked Fingon with surprise. The two Sindar had been sent with Glorfindel to find Finarfin’s children. Now that father and son were alone, Fingolfin had immediately begun assessing the best possible choice.
“Well, other than one of Finarfin’s sons, I would not consider sending anyone else. The tie of blood may make Thingol slightly more receptive to us.”
Fingon stiffened. “We do not need Thingol.”
His father laughed. “I disagree. We do need Thingol. He has the only established realm that we know of. Furthermore, we need the support of the Sindar, and he is their lord.”
“But Angrod?” repeated Fingon. “Finrod would be a better choice, or better yet, Artanis.” Fingon looked thoughtful. “And now that I think of it, it seems that Artanis would be the best choice. She is a persuasive speaker, and as a bonus, she looks even less Noldorin than Finrod.”
Fingolfin patted his son’s shoulder. “Finrod is very soft-hearted, and I do not know if the king will attempt to sway his thoughts in another direction. Furthermore, Finrod thinks too much, and out of guilt he may tell Thingol about the Kinslaying. That is something we cannot afford, not just yet. We cannot fight a war on both fronts, with both Morgoth and Sindar. And as for Artanis – she is a card I do not wish to play yet.” His eyes glittered. “No, I am sure I will have other uses for her later.”
“Artanis is not a card, Father, and this is not a game.” Fingon’s voice was very soft.
“Oh, this is a game, Fingon. A game of chess, to be exact. We are all pieces on the board, my son.”
His son looked troubled. “I do not know if all will support you in the matter of being silent about the Kinslaying, Father. Not the sons of Fëanor, and not even Artanis herself.”
“I will deal with that when the time comes. For now, summon Angrod to me.”
Two days later, Angrod departed with Galadhon and Galathil. He had bid his family farewell, although he read worry in the eyes of his brothers and sister. But Angrod went with a confident heart, for Fingolfin had faith in him.
The two Sindar proved to be excellent companions, and while at first the language barrier was a problem, Angrod was Noldor, and so he had their gift for languages. Additionally, Sindarin and Telerin were similar to a certain degree.
They told Angrod of the Sindarin way of life. Lembas fascinated the young Noldo the most, and he eagerly looked forward to trying it. Additionally, the queen of Doriath also interested him. Melian had not been in Aman since she had met Thingol, and so none of the Eldar in Aman had ever even seen her. Among of all the Noldor, only Artanis had ever had any dealings with Melian’s sister, Arien.
Most of Angrod’s questions about Melian revolved around her enchantment that kept Doriath safe. Galadhon had proudly told him that no one could enter Doriath without the leave of the king or queen, so long as the enchantment was in place.
On the last leg of their journey, they finally came upon the River Sirion. To cross it, Galathil quickly fashioned a raft that would lead them to the borders of Doriath.
“You will soon see the majesty of Thingol’s power,” said Galathil as he navigated the raft down the river.
“Tell me, what does Menegroth look like?” Angrod asked the question idly, for most of his attention was devoted to the flora and fauna that they passed by.
Galadhon smiled. “Menegroth is a huge network of caves – one thousand of them.”
“Caves?” Now Galadhon had Angrod’s complete attention. “How can you bear to live in caves? Without any light?” Angrod, who had loved the Two Trees very much, could not contemplate living without light. Perhaps his newborn knowledge of Sindarin had mistakenly translated it.
But the Sindar smiled. “Yes, caves as you have never seen before. And not dark, but filled with light and beauty.”
Angrod was convinced that he did not understand properly. After all, for one who had spent many years near the Calacirya, cave and light were an oxymoron.
When the party of three landed, they were greeted by a group of warriors on horseback. Unlike the predominantly dark-haired Noldor, the golden-haired Vanyar, or the silver-haired Teleri, the Sindar seemed to be of every color. Some of the warriors had pale, blond hair, while others had dark or light hair. They also were a bit shorter and slightly more slender, and they seemed to have the ability to vanish into the trees.
The warriors escorted them further down the side of another river, the Esgaldiun, until they came upon a great hill in the middle of the forest. The river now flowed swiftly, and Angrod knew that no man or beast could cross the expanse alone. A great stone bridge was built over it, and it led to the gates of Thingol.
At the bridge, the warriors departed, leaving Galadhon, Galathil, and Angrod alone again. When Galadhon saw Angrod hesitate before stepping on the bridge, he reassured the young Noldo. “I have crossed this bridge many times, and it has not yet broken under my feet.” His eyes were twinkling gently, and Angrod found renewed courage. Before he stepped inside the gates, he took a deep breath.
Thingol was awaiting them.
Angrod found it easier to think of the king as Elwë Singollo rather than Elu Thingol, for still the Sindarin language was foreign to his tongue. So when he was finally brought in front of the king – and this took quite a while, since Angrod would linger and admire the caves – he addressed the king as he was called in the early days.
“My lord Elwë, I have come as an emissary of my king, Fingolfin son of Finwë.” In front of him sat the king, tall and with gray silver hair. Next to him sat Melian, whose beauty surpassed even the beauty of the Eldar. At Melian’s feet sat Luthien, who was so lovely that Angrod had stood for many moments gawking at her. Allowing his eyes to roam, they finally fell upon a tall silver-haired man of noble bearing. He was apparently very important, for he stood as the king’s side.
The king smiled at him. “I have left the name of Elwë behind me when I chose to remain in Middle-Earth. I am addressed as Elu Thingol now.” Thingol gave the Noldo an assessing gaze. “I see bits of my brother in you. Tell me, how is Olwë?”
“He is well, my lord, and he is king of the Teleri at Alqualondë, a sea city in Valinor.” That was technically the truth, since Olwë had not suffered any bodily harm during the Kinslaying.
“And your mother?” asked Melian kindly. Her voice was rich like Maglor’s.
Angrod answered as truthfully as he could. “She has remained behind with my father.” At least they had not asked why.
Thingol leaned forward on his throne. “And Finwë?”
Here Angrod internally flinched as he searched for ways to tell the king of Finwë’s death. Deciding that it was best perhaps to leave that topic, he only said, “Finwë is the father of three houses of the Noldor, and we revere him.”
“For him and the Trees alone would I ever consider leaving Middle-Earth. Finwë was a dear friend, and I miss him very much.” Thingol looked sad for a few moments. But then he focused again on Angrod. “There is much for us to speak of, of both your family, for I have great interest in them, and of the reasons for your arrival in Middle-Earth.” Thingol rose and came toward his grandnephew. “But you are weary from travel, and it would be unfair of me to pester you with my questions.”
Angrod inclined his head respectfully. “As you wish it, my lord king.”
Thingol beckoned the silver-haired man who had stood behind Thingol forward. “This is Celeborn, a kinsman of mine and therefore of yours.” Celeborn inclined his head politely. “He is the son of Galadhon and the brother of Galathil, both of whom you have already met. He will take you to your rooms, and he will fetch you for our evening meal.”
“My thanks to you, King Thingol.” Bowing gracefully, he followed Celeborn out of the throne room and into an expansive hallway.
Unlike his more talkative father and brothers, Celeborn spoke very little, although when he did, he spoke very politely and kindly. “Cousin, I will arrive in three hours time to escort you to our nightly meal. In a few moments, a warm bath and some food will be brought to you.” He led Angrod into the spacious suite. “Is there anything else you require?”
But Angrod did not answer that question. Instead, he gave Celeborn a long, piercing look. “You do not look very much like your father or your brother.” He cocked his head and gave Celeborn another perusal. “In fact, you look decidedly different from the rest of the Sindar. You are…taller.”
“Hence my name,” said Celeborn dryly. “I take after my mother, who came from the Ship Havens of the Sindar, where Cirdan is their lord.”
“That explains your hair,” exclaimed Angrod in delight. “And you also have sea blood in your veins! It appears you have more in common with us.”
Celeborn sat down in a chair. “So it is true, what they say of the Noldorin aptitude for language. You have become almost fluent in Sindarin in so short a time. Should you ever develop an accent, you could almost blend in.” Now Celeborn gave Angrod a thoughtful glance. “But I am afraid that we Sindar will pick up your Quenya more slowly, for only a few of us know the ancient tongue that was spoken at the Awakening.”
Angrod eagerly answered. “It is no problem for us, for we enjoy learning new languages. But it is the Teleri who have the beautiful voices. Tell me, do the Sindar also share this trait?”
“Yes, for most of us find it easier to sing than to speak.” Celeborn flashed a small smile. “We do not find speaking to be as sonorous.”
“You would have enjoyed debating with my Uncle Fëanor.” This slipped out before Angrod could stop it, and he cursed himself mentally.
Celeborn gave him a sympathetic look. “I have heard about his death, and I am sorry.”
Apparently Celeborn had thought that Fëanor was close to his nephews, which certainly had not been the case. “We all mourn his death,” said Angrod slowly. An outright lie. “But after his sons, my sister misses him the most. She was his student in Aman.”
“You must extend to her my deepest sorrow for her loss.” Angrod almost laughed. Artanis did not need sorrow. She used her grief like a weapon. Celeborn rose. “And now I must leave you, for I have to attend upon the king. But rest and refresh yourself for tonight.” With one last smile, the prince departed.
After leaving Angrod, Celeborn went back to Thingol, who was waiting for him. “Ah, Celeborn, tell me what you think of my new grandnephew?” He playfully hit Celeborn in the shoulder. “But do not worry, you have no cause for concern, for I like you more than him anyway.”
“Who says that I was concerned?” Celeborn took a seat in front of the king. Because his mother had died when Celeborn was very young, he had been left in Thingol’s care. Galadhon had taken Galathil everywhere with him, for Galathil was the oldest and was more like his father. Over the years of separation, Galadhon and Celeborn grew distant, and now they rarely interacted. It also did not help that he looked nothing like his father or brother. Instead, it had been Thingol who had taken over the role of father for the then young Celeborn. Great love had grown between the king and the prince, and many often viewed Celeborn as the son of Thingol.
“Have you spoken with Angrod?” asked the king as he returned to business.
Celeborn nodded. “Only about very general things. We spoke of language mostly.”
Thingol leaned forward. “Did you pick up anything strange with his behavior?”
“No, except when he mentioned his uncle Fëanor. Something changed in his demeanor, very subtlety, of course.”
The king looked thoughtful. “We will need to do more research on Fëanor. I sense that the unease I feel about the Noldor stems from him, although he himself has perished.”
“Angrod mentioned that I would have enjoyed talking to this Fëanor.” Celeborn tapped the edge of the table. “What could I have in common with a fearsome Noldo, who just happens to be very dead?”
Thingol laughed. “Perhaps more than you think.”
“Are you being foresighted again?” asked Celeborn with mock sternness.
“Yes.” However, Thingol looked very serious. “I am afraid for you, Celeborn. I sense that something involving you will happen soon.”
Celeborn shook his head ruefully. “With all due respect, I think that you should leave the foresight to the queen.”
Thingol smiled. “She is better at that, is she not?”
Dinner passed swiftly, and afterwards the king listened to Angrod’s tale. Thingol then dwelt on this matter for a few days, and just as Angrod was about to leave, he sent forth a message to Fingolfin and the rest of the Noldor. Angrod then took his leave of Thingol and his family, and he promised the send the rest of his siblings to Menegroth soon. Celeborn, who had become a friend in the past few days, gave him a bow and a quiver full of arrows. Angrod already had a set of his own, but the Sindarin one was superiorly crafted, so he was quite pleased to accept it.
Thingol sent a group of warriors to accompany him back because a lone traveler was sure to meet death in the many miles that separated Lake Mithrim and Doriath. The journey went by quickly, and as soon as they reached Hithlum, the Sindar turned back toward their home.
Upon Angrod’s arrival, Fingolfin called a meeting of the Noldor, including the Fëanorians. And after he had relayed his rather foreboding message, Caranthir managed to insult him so thoroughly that he had to leave the chamber in order to cool his temper.
So when he heard footsteps behind him, he assumed it was Finrod who had come to comfort him and perhaps persuade him to go back to the chamber. But when he looked up to see Artanis standing before him, surprise overcame him. Artanis rarely offered comfort to anyone, and she accepted it even less, except on occasion from Glorfindel or Finrod.
“Hello, Brother.” She nimbly perched on the log next to him. “It is getting rather intense in there, so I thought that I would join you outside.”
He wrapped an arm around her. “So it looks like Caranthir hates me too.”
“I suppose he is not that fond of our family.” This elicited a weak chuckle from Angrod.
“Have you resolved your problems with Turgon?”
Artanis sighed. “He is very angry with me, and he still refuses to speak with me. What is worse is that he hardly allows Idril to even come near me.” Her voice echoed with almost palpable misery.
He patted her knee with his other hand. “Whatever Turgon thinks, Elenwë’s death was not your fault. Yes, you also had a hand in our very rushed departure from Middle-Earth, but so did Fingon and several others. The mind of our people was made up long before you even spoke that day.” He allowed the cool breeze to caress his face. “And besides, even if we had left with an entire load of supplies, Elenwë still could have fallen through the ice.”
“Anger rarely allows logic,” she reminded him.
He shrugged. “True. But hopefully, over time, his anger toward you will dim.” He pulled his sister closer. “I think that the reason he bears so much anger toward you is because he really blames Fëanor. But since he is not here, and you were Fëanor’s student…well, as I said, over time his anger will cool.”
“Finrod and Glorfindel are concerned for him.”
He considered this. “Turgon was bound to Elenwë far more deeply than most married couples are wont. Her death not only took from him a friend and a wife, but also a very large part of his soul. He remains alive only because of Idril.” Angrod allowed worry to thread his words. “But he has withdrawn from the rest of us, and I fear that when he gets the opportunity, he will hide himself away.”
Twenty years later, Fingolfin threw a feast, the Mereth Aderthad, near Ivrin, the headwaters of the River Narog. Many people came, from as far away as Himring, where Maedhros had set up his fortress, as well as from the Falas, which was where Cirdan dwelt.
The feast also gave an opportunity for the cousins to reunite, for by now, all were scattered. Artanis dwelt in Tol Sirion with her brother Finrod, and they both had also answered Fingolfin's summons. But from Doriath only Daeron and Mablung, messengers of the king, came to Ivrin. However, it was a very merry occasion, and to most people, while they would never admit it aloud, Fëanor's promise of the wealth of Middle-Earth was true. For most of the princes of the Noldor had found their own realms to rule.
However, Artanis was unable to go forth and seek her own lands, primarily because Finrod constantly worried over her safety. And while Artanis loved her brother dearly, she found herself losing patience with him. If the truth were to be told, she was on par with Finrod when it came to arms. Since she had learned from Ingwë himself, very few could defeat her in combat. But still Finrod worried.
In these years, Artanis had dwelt apart from Glorfindel, who had chosen to live in Nevrast. He had done this very regretfully, but he had gone for the sake of Turgon, whose spirits were declining very rapidly. Nevertheless, Glorfindel and Artanis did see each other as often they could, but neither could be with the other for very long. Artanis rarely went to Nevrast, and Turgon almost never came to Tol Sirion. Thus Finrod and Glorfindel did all the traveling.
So when she saw Turgon before the feast, she hoped that now there could be a reconciliation. But even that was not to be, for as soon as he caught sight of her approaching him, he turned and went somewhere else.
His temper had not yet cooled.
Artanis, deciding that reconciliation was fruitless, left the banquet even before it had started and instead sought the privacy of the sheltered forest near the river. She sat for quite a long while, until she heard the low voice of Maedhros behind her. "You missed the meal." Sitting next to her, he handed her a plate filled with an odd assortment of food.
"Was my absence noticed?" Accepting the food gratefully, for she was rather hungry, she began sampling the different tidbits.
"Everyone noticed except Turgon, who pretended not to notice." He lay down on the grass. "And he did a very bad job of pretending."
She chuckled weakly. "I did not mean to seem childish."
He laughed, the lovely sound echoing in the woods. "You are the last person to be called childish. If anyone is being childish, it is Turgon." He propped his head up. "But anyway, I can sense that you do not want to speak about this, and frankly, neither do I. You have enough brothers to give you brotherly advice."
"Thank you for the offer, at any rate," she said dryly.
"You have many brothers, and so do I. At times, it can grow to be quite a headache." The starlight flickered on his pale and lovely face, and Artanis wondered if the shadow had left him.
She tapped his nose. "But you are the eldest, and they listen to you. I am the youngest, and a female at that." She sighed. "Our situations are slightly different."
He looked at her sympathetically. "Yes, I heard how Finrod panics every time you set foot outside his door."
Artanis chewed for a bit. "That is an understatement. I am lucky that I can approach the window. He fears that orc arrows will be aimed at me." Leaning forward and cupping water from the river into her hands, she drank. "It is rather strange, because he has never been like this before. I am not sure what has triggered it."
"I have an idea, but I really would rather not voice it." Artanis picked up his hidden meaning. Glorfindel had said something to Finrod.
"I need to get away, Maedhros, before I kill them." She was partially serious.
Maedhros grinned suddenly. "And that is what dispossessed, wild, and dangerous oldest half-cousins are for." He sat up. "Artanis, I think you should come to Himring with me."
"Himring?" she asked faintly.
"Yes," he nodded. "I think you would like it there, for the lands there are wild and beautiful. Furthermore, it will give you some space to get away from Finrod," and at Artanis's upraised eyebrows, he corrected, "I mean, to spend some time away from your very beloved brother. While you are there, you can take a look at more of Middle-Earth." He paused to remove a leaf that had fallen in his hair. "How much of Middle-Earth have you seen? Just the land that lies between Hithlum and Tol Sirion."
"But Himring is so very far away."
He nodded. "Yes, and that is why it is such a wonderful place. It is very dangerous, of course," he admitted. "But then again, you have never let that stop you." Maedhros leaned forward. "Beleriand is perhaps only one-sixth of Middle-Earth. Beyond Beleriand, beyond the Ered Luin, there are far more lands for us to discover."
She was very tempted. Tempted enough that if she stopped thinking for even a few moments, she would saddle her horse and be at Himring before Maedhros could even get up. But she could not, not yet. Something held her back. "I cannot go now, Maedhros, for I feel that I will be needed soon." At his disappointed look, she hastily added, "But I do hope you invitation is open-ended, for I will come to you in Himring soon."
He kissed her hand. "Good." Releasing her hand, he reached under the collar of her dress and pulled out the Elessar. "I take it that you have not yet told anybody of this?"
"No, for I really do not know what to say." She looked at it thoughtfully as it gleamed in his palm. "I wish I could wear it openly."
"I would not, just yet. Fingolfin will not take it well." That was his second understatement of the day. Fingolfin had forbidden anyone from displaying the works of Fëanor in his halls. Maedhros stood and proffered his hand. Dimly Artanis noticed that unless one looked at his missing hand, no one would notice anything different about him. He had healed quickly.
She grasped his left hand and allowed herself to be pulled up. "Thank you, Maedhros, for everything." Her expression said what she could not.
"My father loved you and cherished the fire inside you. He would never wish for it to go out." Kissing her gently, he then backed away and vanished back into the forest.
Three decades passed, and she spent those years dwelling with Finrod again. But she found many ways to make herself useful, from scouting to weaving. In the hustle of daily life, her greater concerns and worries were pushed back in her mind, as more little but no less pressing ones came forward, such as grain supply, weapon polishing, and house building.
So when Turgon arrived in Tol Sirion to seek Finrod, for a moment she forgot that she was supposed to be on uneasy terms with him. Quite instinctively, she embraced him and kissed his cheek as soon as he entered the house, just as she did with her brothers and cousins. Turgon replied to her greeting just as instinctively, for he kissed her as well. But the memories were not very far away, for within moments, his arms stiffened and he backed away from her.
Artanis, who had given Turgon more than enough time to get over this on his own, lost her patience. "Turgon, I find if hard to believe that you are my elder."
The insulted must have worked, for the gleam in his eyes appeared again. "This is not a childish matter."
"My point exactly!" She threw her hands in the air. "Now, I would appreciate it if we could get this done with, because we both cannot live delicately treading on your feelings!" She threw him an angry glance.
"Elenwë is dead, Artanis, and so I have no life worth living! You took that from me!" He obviously had not meant to say that, for in a second he looked very apologetic. "I should not have said that."
She looked away from him. "No, you should not have. But you cannot take those words back now." She turned from him. "I will go call Finrod."
He reached out to her with his hand. "Artanis, wait." She stopped in her tracks but did not turn. "I -I truly am very sorry. I really do not hold you responsible for her death. My anger is mostly at Fëanor."
So Angrod had been right, she mused. She turned very slightly and inclined her head. "Your apology is accepted, Turgon. Please sit down, and I will send refreshments to you."
"You remind me of her," he blurted out. Now Artanis turned around completely and stared at him incredulously. "Elenwë's hair was more golden than yours, but she was as tall as you and just as strong." His eyes turned wistful. "Idril does not remind me of Elenwë, although she should. But you and Elenwë were also alike in temperament, just as Idril is not." Turgon looked down. "Anytime I saw you, I would see Elenwë, and then I would curse at fate. And wish that it had been you had that fallen through the ice." He looked up again with damp eyes. "You should hate me."
She touched his cheek very gently. "I find that I do not. It is alright, Turgon."
Finrod chose that opportunity to burst through the doorway. "Turgon!" he cried joyfully, but he stopped when he saw that Artanis was with him. "Is everything alright?" he asked cautiously. "Because, you know, we really do not have to do this. I do not think Fingolfin approves of duels."
"No one is talking of duels, Brother." Artanis looked amused. "Now, I will leave you to your business, as I have some of my own elsewhere." She gave Turgon a last glance. "Goodbye, Turgon." He raised his hand in farewell.
"What was that about?" asked Finrod once his sister had left. "I fully expected you to be at each other's throats by now."
Turgon chuckled, and some of the ever-present grief seemed to leave his eyes. "She would have defeated me quite soundly." Embracing his friend, he spoke again. "I was hoping I could convince you to take a trip with me."
Interest danced on Finrod's face. "A journey? Where?"
"I thought that perhaps we could simply journey down the River Sirion. I find that I am getting tired of these mountains."
When Finrod returned from his journey, he was very troubled. Yet he would tell his sister naught of it. Often he would go wandering through the wild alone, with Artanis constantly worrying for his safety. Thus, when Finrod returned from his latest adventure as a vagabond, Artanis forced him to accept Thingol's latest invitation to Doriath. "I think it is time that we meet with Thingol," she reminded him. "He has even met Aegnor and Orodreth, and he already knows Angrod."
"Angrod did tell me it was beautiful," he admitted.
They packed that very night.
The pair arrived in Doriath two days later, and upon approaching the Girdle of Melian, a company of Sindarin warriors appeared and approached them. However, they were so taken with Finrod and Artanis's golden hair, that it took quite a while for them to actually enter Doriath.
Once inside, they were taken to the bridge above the River Esgalduin, and once they crossed it, another group of people led them into Menegroth. Finrod immediately stopped in his tracks and began examining the caves around them. "This is amazing, sister!" He lovingly ran his hands over the walls of stone.
"It is just a wall." Artanis patiently waited for someone to come and greet them. The people that had brought them into the city had disappeared, only saying for the pair to remain where they were.
"Just a wall? If I gave you a stonecutter's tools, could you carve this?" He looked quite indignant.
His sister shook her head in defeat. "No, but then again, I am not a stonecutter." Under her breath, she muttered, "And thank the Valar for that."
Finrod moved on to the pillars and columns while Artanis remained standing under a large overhang of carved stone. Within moments, however, she noticed a woman walking toward them. She was the most beautiful woman Artanis had ever seen. Tall with dark hair and pale skin, her features were so perfect that she resembled a Maiar.
The strange woman stopped in front of Artanis and gave her a friendly smile. "Greetings, Princess. I am Luthien, daughter of Thingol and Melian." She was partially a Maiar.
"It is a pleasure." Artanis allowed herself to accept the woman's embrace. "And this is my brother, Finrod," she said, as she pulled her brother away from the column he was studying.
Finrod only spared her a brief glance. "Very nice to meet you, Princess Luthien." He went back to examining the column. At Luthien's somewhat surprised and amused look, Artanis gathered that the beautiful princess was not used to being second-place to a stone column.
"Come this way, if you please," laughed Luthien. "My father awaits you quite eagerly." Noticing Finrod's long face, she patted his shoulder reassuringly. "Afterwards, I am sure he will be quite pleased to describe the specifics of Menegroth with you." He brightened and began following the women.
"We are very glad that you have come," said Luthien. "Father was very worried that you would never come visit him. Last month he threatened that he would go to Tol Sirion himself if he had too."
Artanis gave Luthien a look a surprise. "We had no idea that he wished to see us so much."
She shrugged elegantly. "We have heard much about you and your brother. That both of you are the fairest of the Noldor ever born, that Prince Finrod has a gentle heart, and that you have a fierce spirit."
"I wonder how I was labeled thusly."
"Fear not, Princess Artanis. Your reputation has not suffered here." Luthien paused in front of large wooden doors. Opening them, she led them inside where a few people sat around a table.
A gray-haired man, obviously the king, stood up. "Ah, I see that you have finally accepted my invitation." He approached them. "And I sent over twenty of them over the years." His gray eyes held a gentle reprimand.
Finrod had the decency to look regretful. "We are sorry, my lord, but we have been caught up in many things."
Thingol smiled at him, and then he turned to Artanis. "And you must be Eärwen's daughter." He examined her face very closely. "You resemble Olwë the most, for you have his eyes." He then reached up and touched her hair. "Your hair is different than Finrod's. It has a trace of silver. It reminds me of something…" he trailed off. Thingol turned back to Finrod and looked at his hair. "I have not seen hair your color since I parted with Ingwë and the Vanyar, at the shores of Cuivienen." Placing an arm around each of their shoulders, he led them to the table.
"So kind of you, Husband, to finally introduce us." The voice was chiding, and it came from a woman who resembled Luthien very much. It was undoubtedly Melian.
"Sorry," said Thingol. "My wife, Melian of the Maiar, and Queen of Doriath."
The queen stood elegantly and embraced both Artanis and Finrod. "Just Melian will do."
Artanis smiled back at the queen. Something about Melian made Artanis like her, although they had just met. "We are very glad to be here, Melian."
"And you must stay for a long time," said the queen. "I would like to speak of Aman with you, and have you tell me stories about Taniquetil, of Oromë, and the Two Trees."
Shadows swiftly crossed the faces of brother and sister. "We would be most pleased to, Melian." Artanis fought to control her racing heart. The Maiar could peer into the hearts of the Eldar, even if it was not with as much skill as the Valar. Could Melian read her heart?
Thankfully, Thingol began speaking again. "You have some kinsman here as well." He pointed to the three men standing a respectful distance away. " You have already met Galadhon, the son of Elmo and your mother's cousin, as well as Galathil his son. Celeborn is Galadhon's younger son, and he is my advisor." Finrod clasped their arms in greeting while Artanis only nodded politely to them.
"I think that you should send them for some rest, Father." Luthien gave Artanis and Finrod sympathetic looks, since both were travel-stained.
Thingol beckoned a servant over. "She will take you to your rooms, where you can rest. Then later, we can all speak more." Saying that, he sent his two guests away.
The months slowly passed by in Menegroth, for both Finrod and Artanis were kept occupied. Finrod found Thingol to be quite a good advisor, and upon the king's advice, Finrod had gone down to the River Narog and discovered a similar, if less extensive, network of caves.
Artanis, on the other hand, was squeezed for details about Valinor from Melian. Often Artanis would have to omit several details, for she had promised Fingolfin that she would not speak of the Kinslaying. In her spare time, Galathil would take her riding about the kingdom, while Luthien would sing with her. Since Artanis's voice was not in particular very fair, she often accompanied the princess on the harp or the lute.
However, her favorite companion was Celeborn, whose quiet ways appealed to her very much. They would engage in discussions that would last for hours or else simply sit silently in front of the fire. Unfortunately, as the advisor to the king, he was very busy, and so their meetings were very infrequent.
In the spring, Thingol held a large banquet, with Finrod and Artanis as his guests of honor. Preparations lasted for days, with everyone working tirelessly. Melian gifted Artanis with a gown a dark blue for the feast. "Your skin is slightly golden, so you will not look sallow in it." Artanis, who had always been reluctant at donning elaborate dresses, found herself to be quite pleased by this dress's simple lines.
The feast was excellent, and much singing and dancing followed. Unsurprisingly, Celeborn's very handsome brother Galathil was in the middle of all the festivities. Artanis, who found that she would rather sit and watch, instead went to Celeborn's side. He was standing at a balcony overlooking the gardens.
He was staring at something, so Artanis allowed her eyes to follow his gaze. A lovely woman was sitting beneath the branch of a tree. Slender and rather small, she seemed very delicate. "Linneth," Celeborn finally said. "Her name is Linneth."
"She is very beautiful," Artanis offered. She thought she detected a trace of the wistful in Celeborn's silver eyes.
"Yes, she is." He turned to look at his companion. "She is very much in love with my brother."
Artanis gave Celeborn a shrewd look. Was Celeborn also in love with this Linneth? "Does Galathil know?" she only asked.
He chuckled, and it sounded almost sorrowful. Taking her by the elbow, he led her back to the main hall. Angling Artanis slightly, he only said, "Does it seem so?"
Artanis followed his line of sight and saw what Celeborn was seeing, what he perhaps saw almost everyday. "I suppose not," she finally admitted.
A little distance away, Thingol secretly watched his adopted son and his grandniece. He had been wondering for many weeks what exactly Artanis's hair reminded him of.
Now he had his answer.
Laurelin and Telperion. Both of them were so tall, one as golden as the other was silver. And Thingol, who had forsaken the Trees but had not forgotten them, felt his heart warm at the sight in front of it.
Middle-Earth had its own Two Trees now.
Celeborn and Artanis stood silently for a while, as they kept observing the scene in front of them. He marveled at the woman next to him, for she was, without a doubt, perhaps the most interesting and yet most frightening woman he had ever met. With a sigh, he turned back and watched his brother, who stood surrounded by many beautiful women vying for his attention.
Celeborn spoke, his melodious voice floating in the air between them. “It seems that the entire female population of Doriath is entranced by him. Why is this so, Artanis? What is so fascinating about him?”
“He is wild, untamed, unrestrained,” she answered without hesitation. “Galathil is thrilling and animalistic, and perhaps, if they are lucky, they could tame him.”
Something in that deep voice of hers, in those expressive eyes, made him ask, “They? Not you?”
Her expression did not change as she shook her head, the golden tresses floating around her. “I admire control and restraint. Galathil has neither.” She glanced at him, her eyes flickering with something. “The hour grows late, and I must take my leave of you. Good night, my lord.” She inclined her head and walked away swiftly.
“Goodnight, my lady,” he softly called out behind her as he watched her stride away. Most women swayed when they walked, but not Artanis. She walked in her no-nonsense style, so that she could get to her destination as efficiently as possible. Control.
He smiled then. There were a hundred thousand ways of testing, of teasing control.
And a hundred thousand ways to break it.
He looked forward to trying every single one.
- I think the geography is a little strange in this story. But I tried to keep as true to the map of Beleriand in the Silmarillion as possible.
- I'm sure most of you realized that the trip Turgon and Finrod take is when Ulmo comes to them in their dreams:)
- Elwë Singollo = Elu Thingol.
- On Celeborn's family: Since Tolkien didn't say much about them, I thought I would take this opportunity…However, Elmo is the youngest brother of Elwë and Olwë. Elmo remained behind with Elwë (see the Unfinished Tales). Galadhon Elmo’s son, and he is also Celeborn's father, Galathil is Celeborn's sister, and Galathil's daughter is Nimloth, who will later marry Dior, Luthien's son. And then comes Elwing, etc.
- Finally, on Galadriel and Celeborn: I could not find any exact dates on their marriage, and while the Silmarillion seems to hint that they fell in love rather early in the age, I couldn't make it that easy for them (as if Galadriel would go to Doriath and fall into his waiting arms? I think not. Remember, this woman scared even Sauron, although that would be far later.)
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.