7. The Whisperer
The shadow moved swiftly northward across the land, and a horror swept before it; and few indeed were they who were able to keep their wits and later recount to Oromë and Tulkas the direction in which it had moved. While he had walked among them, he had been careful to conceal his true power from their eyes, cultivating instead a carefully constructed appearance of humility, but now that disguise was cast aside and the Eldar for the first time saw him naked in his wrath. Mightiest of all his kind he once had been, and though diminished remained powerful still, and as he passed across the Calacirya and headed towards the desolate wastes of Araman, the watching Eldar of Tirion and Alqualondë felt terror fill their hearts for the first time since their long-ago departure from the starlit lands of their birth. But the shadow paid them little heed, intent on more pressing matters.
For several years he had remained hidden, watching. Waiting until the time was right. He had seen the ragged band of exiles as they crossed the empty lands in search of a site for their new home, observed them as they finally settled in the rugged northern hills. Saw them hewing stone, building walls, raising towers, gradually shaping from the unyielding hills a city proud and strong, though yet small. A city that might one day rival Tirion in splendor. A city that held within its deepest recesses the fairest works of its proud creator's hands - and the key to controlling their creator's disaffected soul. Patiently, he had remained concealed until he'd judged the time was right. Curufinwë Fëanáro, he knew, thought himself clever - but he had in his arrogance over-rated his wisdom. Though the haughty son of Finwë thought himself entirely free of taint, he'd all too willingly drunk the poison his clandestine enemy had carefully distilled, slowly dispensed as whispers, rumors, cleverly twisted half-truths spilled from trusted lips. For years the venomous words had seeped into his heart, tainting it, rendering it vulnerable. Their corrosive effects had slowly unbalanced him, resulting in disaster, inspiring his foolish rebellion and subsequent banishment. And finally, after long years of carefully-curbed anticipation, the poison's distiller finally judged that the effects of those long-fermenting lies on Fëanáro's mind and heart surely must have weakened him sufficiently; his victim now susceptible to his snares, he'd moved in to destroy him at last and claim the beauty he'd so long coveted in secret.
He'd come so close to success! He'd seen it rising up in Fëanáro's eyes as he'd spoken carefully-chosen words proclaiming his feigned friendship, uttering enticing but empty promises of aid - the distrust of the other Powers that Fëanáro still held in his heart, the smoldering anger at his previous humiliation before them, the bitterness he still nurtured. The desire for freedom, coupled with the foolish hope that he would yet be able to escape the tyranny of Manwë's rule. It had taken all his strength of will not to laugh as he had spoken. What a presumptuous fool the Noldo prince was! To think that he in his lowliness could defy even the least of the Powers! Yet that folly had been his key, and he had carefully turned it, trying thus to unlock the arrogant Elda's heart and earn Fëanáro's trust. And he had very nearly succeeded.
He still did not understand what had gone wrong. It should have worked. Fëanáro should have suspected nothing. But when he'd plied his final line, invoking the safety of the Simarils, suggesting they were in danger of being seized by the arrogant Valar unless Fëanáro accepted his aid in fleeing Aman, the Noldo's eyes had suddenly blazed. Before he had understood what was happening, the haughty princeling had slipped from his grasp and, cursing him, abruptly slammed the door shut in his face. And he had been forced to flee, his heart near to bursting with mingled rage and shame.
How dare he! A mere Incarnate, the least of all the creatures that speak, and yet he presumed to defy the will of the mightiest of all the Powers! A weak speck of a fëa, eternally bound to a clot of clay, and yet he dared to humiliate one who overshadowed his puny kind as greatly as Oiolossë did a grain of sand. Such an insult, he swore, would not go unpunished.
Discarding his raiment at last, he slipped southward again, an unclothed spirit. Ainu, he had no need for such a fleshy vestment save when he wished to speak with the Firstborn - and for that he'd soon don a far more fitting shape. No longer would he wear the humble, unthreatening form he'd forced himself to bear following his release from his ages-long imprisonment in Mandos. It would soon be time to assume a more suitable appearance, one of dread and power - when the Firstborn beheld him again, he would have them know him as their rightful Lord.
But the time to reclothe himself would come later. Let the others search for him in vain in the frigid wastes of Araman! His need was for stealth now as he traveled. In the deep shadows of Avathar he would seek out his old servant. Once, long ago, she had defied him, and had fled to those shadowed lands to hide. Now it was time to remind her who her true master was. He would go now to Avathar and abide there for a time, safely concealed in the deep gloom of the mountains, and there he would again compel her to serve him. Together they would plan, and wait. And when the time was right, they would finally strike.
Let Curufinwë Fëanáro savor his brief moment of defiance! Soon enough he would be humbled. Soon they would all be humbled, when he finally emerged from Avathar to take up his rightful place as Lord over All.
He would yet have his revenge.
The names of the characters used in this story are all Quenya, and their meanings can be found in the essay "The Shibboleth of Fëanor," published in The Peoples of Middle Earth (History of Middle Earth, vol. 12). When more than one name is listed for a character, the first name is the father-name, and the second is the mother-name. The Sindarin equivalents of the names in this chapter are as follows:
Curufinwë Fëanáro - Fëanor
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