13. Chapter 9, Part 1 - Maedhros' End
Maglor was not alone. He had wandered further than he had originally planned and found the strange stone theatre on the edge of a massive crag overlooking the churning water of the sea beneath. He sat high above in one of the long granite rows watching the small group of men and women below as they went about their business. Various materials of cloth and wood were piled high before the three small stages facing the many tiered rows of seats. His curiosity peaked; he asked one of the passing workmen what was happening. He was hurriedly told they were trying to set up the different stages for a performance later that evening. Unfortunately, due to the late arrival of the set pieces, everything was behind schedule. Maglor's admiration increased as he watched them at their work. With time moving ever more quickly and the crew trying to focus on the tasks at hand, Maglor could not help wondering if some kind of magic was not at work as well. Doorways appeared seemingly from nothing, invisible walls were suddenly hanging with tapestries becoming a great hall of a lord or king. Another stage was outfitted with tied bundles of tall thin branches proclaiming the merest hint of trees. Tiny lights were attached to the scrawny limbs in the hope of becoming an illuminated forest later.
Maglor had seen theatricals before and knew how much the imagination played in the telling of their stories. His mouth curled into a smile as he felt the power of the fabric and the lights cast their spell over him. He marveled how each small suggestion transformed the very air above the "grand hall" into rafters and roof. How the "great forest" with all the tiny stars hanging from the tree branches would later be winking a greeting to their brothers and sisters in the dark sky over head. There was a familiarity in this conjuring. There were thoughts of Middle-earth.
Maglor closed his eyes and remembered Beleriand. Not only the kingdoms, but the forests and rivers, the magnificent mountains, all the things that had made up his world so long ago. Maglor also recalled the noble lords of the Eldar and the gallant men of the Edain; each race with those who shone with their greatness while others were ultimately proven flawed.
Flawed like the Oath, and all those who swore to uphold it. He grimaced as the thin sharp threads of regret wound themselves tightly around his heart. The sad knowledge of all that had been and was now gone forever filled him with a terrible ache. He could do nothing but mourn its passing. He felt tears gathering under his lids. This world did not hold the slightest glimpse of the magic that was once Middle-earth. Mankind's imagination could only guess with their tales of fairy folk and strange domains. His world and its people were gone and forgotten for all time. Only through the shadow visions played out in the Shimmer did it live again. That was not quite true. Maedhros had seen to it that their world lived on in the archives of Egla Tir. In the records protected by his children, Maedhros had made sure the Eldar would never be forgotten and the tales of Middle-earth would survive.
The protection of this legacy, however, was far less important to Maedhros than the protection of his heirs. Maglor opened his eyes as his jaw tensed and he considered the recent scene played out earlier in the forest shortly after Maedhros and he left the clearing.
- O -
Ailsa was there! The thought made Maedhros shudder as he quickened his pace through the trees. "You should have told me sooner," he called over his shoulder. He was upset; more at himself than at Maglor. Why did I not sense her in the woods? Deep inside, he knew why. My grief was too selfish to know anything else. If anything has happened…!
Following close behind, Maglor called out. "Maedhros stop! If I had known you would react like this, I would not have told you." He reached out and grabbed his brother's arm, turning his sibling toward him. Their eyes met and Maglor was unable to move as he tried to understand the fear he saw in Maedhros' eyes. "You must believe me, Maedhros. I found Ailsa before any harm was done to her." He prayed his words would somehow calm his brother. Through all they had shared together, battles lost or won, within all the pain and despair they had known, never had he ever seen anything like the panic he recognized consuming Maedhros now.
"I can only imagine what she has suffered because of me. I must see for myself." Maedhros pulled his arm out of Maglor's grasp, and hurried off. After watching him disappear into the forest, Maglor lowered his eyes and stared at the ground for a moment before finally walking off in another direction.
Coming upon the theatre had been a welcome surprise. For a short period he was able to sit alone with only the beautiful vista before him and the floating gulls crying high above. Then the wave of stagehands appeared to begin their work. Though he found it pleasant to watch them, he could not still his thoughts. His grey eyes traveled above the stages and out into the direction of the horizon. He let out a heavy sigh. Confusion was becoming the dominant emotion plaguing his mind of late. After many minutes, he stood up and started to climb the stairs to the top of the cliff. Oh my brother, I never imagined leaving was going to be this hard.
- O -
With her chin tilted slightly toward the sun, Ailsa welcomed the warm sunlight on her face. She was finally feeling more like her old self. The cold air had gradually revived her as she walked through the woods. The closer she got to the manor house, the better she felt. She was still worried about Maedhros though, and knew she would persist on worrying until she saw him again. Whatever assistance Maglor might be able to give him, she needed to see for herself that Maedhros was okay. Ailsa slowly remembered how it felt to share the love Maedhros still felt for Elizabeth and the long years he grieved her loss. She allowed the last bit of her sadness to run its course. She let out a long breath; thank God Maglor found her when he did. Who knew what would have happened to her if he hadn't. Bringing her jacket collar up around her throat, she blinked away the tears beginning to fill her eyes. Maglor was right; she needed to rest so she could regain her full strength. Otherwise, the first sight of Maedhros would only reduce her into uncontrolled sobs again.
Ailsa climbed the garden steps, and sat on the chair she had occupied before. She could easily rest out in the open air and she closed her eyes as she listened to the surrounding sounds of her world. She couldn't help chuckling as she wondered what was happening in that "other" world outside of Egla Tir. Had it only been months since she had stood in awe of the incredible stranger on the steps of her Berkeley home? All of this was the real world to her now, the other was the fantasy. The truth was that California, her mother, even Kyle were farther away than just miles. She had found something special here, and it was all because of Maedhros.
She considered how much she cared for him…this ancient Elf from a far off time and place. His strength and courage was to be admired, but his gentle dignity and regard would be things she would treasure all her life. Maedhros was family, and she would always protect his secrets. Now that she had found just how fragile his Elvish soul actually was, it only made his well-being even more important to her. She opened her eyes and began to watch the empty entrance into the woods.
Maedhros suddenly came out of the trees at a run, but stopped when he saw her. Relief covered his face as Ailsa stood up. He took the garden steps two at a time and quickly positioned himself so he could see her more closely. His hand came up and held the side of her cheek. Ailsa eyes were scanning his face too. Although they both were still a little pale, they could see the other was no worse for wear. Happy relief filled Maedhros, but he tried to remain solemn. "Forgive me, Ailsa. I had no idea you heard my song."
Ailsa shook her head. "When I felt all that pain…I was so worried about you." A sob caught in her throat and she began to tremble. Maedhros could see she was close to crying and drew her into his arms. Ailsa willingly let him comfort her as her tears betrayed her once again. "I'm sorry you lost her so soon."
Maedhros began to blink away his own unwanted tears. He took a deep breath in an attempt to quell them. "Do not mourn, Ailsa. The memories of Elizabeth and our time together will sing in my heart forever. I would not give up one moment of them to ease the pain of her death." Maedhros stepped back. "I am so thankful you were not harmed, tithen min," he said as he lowered his lips and tenderly kissed her brow.
A tiny smile crept across Ailsa's mouth. There was so much affection in Maedhros' voice. "I love you too, Maedhros." She said and hugged him even harder. Maedhros felt his heart quake as he heard her words. He brought his arms up again and held her tightly.
It was some time before Ailsa finally let go. "Come on, let's go in," she suggested. "I could sure use a cup of coffee about now." Maedhros smiled his approval as he quickly wiped an errant tear from his cheek. He offered her his arm and Ailsa gratefully curled her arm around his. Without another word, they entered the manor house.
Maglor stepped out from the cover of the trees as Maedhros and Ailsa disappeared into the house. He had hurried back from the outdoor theatre only to witness what had just past between them; how much Maedhros cherished Ailsa. His breath came quickly as he tried to calm the melancholy gathering within him. His eagerness to return to the Blessed Realm had made him blind to so much. How could he take his brother away from his family? It was getting harder to accept leaving as the only path for them. He glanced at the manor house once more and turned back into the woods. Maglor was suddenly no longer sure of anything.
Later on, just before the evening meal, Maedhros found him in the cave room standing in front of the Shimmer. A scene of a lonely grassy plain moved across the mist. "There you are brother." Maedhros smiled at him.
"I came here to think, but found I could not help watching the Shimmer." Maglor spoke without turning. Maedhros' brows drew together as he heard the flat tone in his brother's voice.
"Maglor?" Maedhros came around to look at Maglor's face. He could see Maglor's attention wasn't actually on the Shimmer; his eyes were staring at their reflections in the moving surface of the pool.
Maglor's head moved slightly. "I need to say something to you." He paused and took in a slow breath. "I…finding you has been the one true joy I have felt since coming to this world. There is nothing I would not do to keep you by my side." Maglor looked deep into his brother's eyes. "But I can not ask you to leave Ailsa and Ewan." The intensity of his gaze began to worry Maedhros.
"What do you mean?" Maedhros brows drew together as he tried to understand.
"Come Maedhros, I know how much they mean to you. The bond between Ailsa and you is very strong. I also realize your leaving will be painful for all of you." Maglor's eyes slid back to the pool; he could not look at his brother anymore. "I can not be the reason for that pain." Maglor glanced up at Maedhros. "Let me try the mists alone, you need not leave now. If I make it through, then you can come…later." He put his hand on his brother's shoulder. "I will wait for you."
Maedhros was taken aback by Maglor's words. He looked hard into Maglor's eyes and witnessed the conflicting emotions warring in them. His brother's gentle heart made him put aside what he wanted and reinforced his determination to do what he thought right. Maedhros sighed, there would be no more waiting for either of them.
He placed his hand on Maglor's arm. "Yes, I have great affection for Ewan and Ailsa. They have brought me such happiness. Happiness I had thought was lost to me forever. But hear me Maglor. I must let my children live their own lives. You and I, brother, we share the same destiny. As always, we will share the same journey. Nothing can change that now." Maedhros turned and began to walk toward the opening. "Are you sure," Maglor asked him earnestly. Maedhros stopped and looked over his shoulder. "Where you go, I must follow." With that, he walked into the passage.
- O -
Early dawn found the brothers on the cliff of Egla Tir. They had come in the darkness to the craggy rocks to sit in the reassuring night. Remembering a time when the only light that had ever shone in their world came from the twilight of the star-filled sky. Then The Two Trees filled their eyes with a new and brighter light, only to be plunged into darkness once more after the treachery of Morgoth. In time, the gift of the sun and the moon were given to Middle-earth, but this simpler light was what they remembered most fondly and drew comfort from it.
The hours of darkness slowly faded away and one by one the stars disappeared as the light of the rising sun glowed behind them. Maedhros faced the West without regret. Sitting on a large rock several feet above the path he watched the thin pink tinted clouds above them reach out to the Blessed Realm and he began to sing. Maglor sitting a few rough boulders away began to take up the thread of Maedhros' melody with his own beautiful voice. Both sets of shining Elvish eyes continued to gaze out to sea as they sang their song. Home was just beyond the horizon and their song answered its call.
Their dream of hope had become a reality. Ewan and Ailsa had given Maedhros this chance. Because of them, he had found Maglor again and their world now waited for them both. Instead of the remorse and longing they had felt all the long years, this new day found them singing to the far mists and beyond. The words of their song were simple and unadorned. The gift of forgiveness bestowed on them made it possible for the reconnection to their people. The happiness of their redemption wove itself within their lyrics. The joy of finding themselves worthy again rang sweet and clear in every note.
At the end of their song, Maedhros added something from deep inside his heart. With Maglor's supporting refrain catching the wind as it rode out to sea, Maedhros' voice rose with a solitary prayer to the Valar. "Protect those I love."
Their song ended, the brothers stood together and silently made their way down the rocks to the path leading to the woods. It was time to return to the manor house. It was time to tell Ewan and Ailsa their plans.
- O -
Ailsa rose early to begin preparations for the dinner that night. She had the marinade to mix for the chicken Fajitas and she needed to start making the tortillas. The dinner had turned into a small party welcoming Maglor to Egla Tir and back to the family. Ailsa hoped Mrs. Whitehall was in her normally good mood. The housekeeper had been disappointed at first when she found out the dinner wasn't going to be held in the dining hall. Once Ailsa explained that the large wooden table in the kitchen would be easier for her to serve and would give the whole dinner a warm family feeling, the housekeeper reluctantly agreed.
She rushed down the stairs, but stopped abruptly in the kitchen doorway. Mrs. Whitehall stood smiling by the wooden table watching Ailsa's surprised face. The crafty housekeeper had found a way to add a few touches of her own to the dinner. Ailsa's smile widened as she walked toward the table. A bright red tablecloth with matching napkins was neatly folded on one end of the table. There were also beautiful pale green glass stemware, and Mrs. Whitehall had somehow managed to find festive stoneware with a pattern in various colors of bright blue, green, and orange with red swirls running around the boarder.
"Mrs. Whitehall!" Ailsa exclaimed as she touched the glasses. "This is amazing. I can't believe it." The housekeeper's reaction was to blush slightly. "Well Miss, I figured I'd better stock up on some new crockery if there are going to be any more nights like tonight." Ailsa gave the older woman a hug which only deepened the housekeeper's color and actually seemed to fluster her a bit. "You're terrific," Ailsa smiled. Mrs. Whitehall quickly cleared her throat in attempt to regain her composure and patted Ailsa's arm. "Thank you. Now I think you need to go soak your chicken." The two women chuckled and went about their business.
- O -
While Ailsa worked and joked with Mrs. Whitehall in the kitchen, down in the cave room Maedhros quietly stood beside Maglor as they watched Ewan's face. The three had gone down to the cave room earlier to have a private talk. Once there, they told Ewan their plans and now waited to hear his reaction.
Ewan had sat mutely at the small table while the brothers spoke. Their words whirled inside his head, and he could only look up at them in confused disbelief. "I can't believe it." Stunned, Ewan couldn't quite get his mind around it. "I mean we've just begun to…," his voice cracked. "It's too soon." Ewan shook his head; he was finding it difficult to control his thoughts. "There's so much yet to accomplish," he said more to himself. It wasn't just the work; one thought quickly became more dominant than all the rest. Ewan couldn't conceive of an Egla Tir without Maedhros. No, it was just too impossible to even consider. He quickly searched each pair of grey eyes for any possibility he had misunderstood.
Maedhros' heart ached to see how his announcement distressed Ewan. "I know it is very sudden, Ewan, but Maglor and I have to do this. We will never know for sure unless we make the attempt," his voice almost pleaded. "Delay will not make it any easier."
Ewan took a deep breath and released it slowly. A great sadness continued to grow in his heart. How was he supposed to look at this logically, when every emotion overshadowed his reason? Ewan smiled uneasily as he realized that he was trying to logically reason out his thoughts while two immortal Elves stood before him. His smile widened; logic didn't even enter into the equation. He knew he would have to forget any arguments he had and just be happy for Maedhros and Maglor. Their suffering over the years was more than enough punishment for them. Resigned to the inevitable, Ewan stood up with a smile on his lips. "Make the attempt? Of course you must," he announced sincerely. "You've both been through enough. Don't let my moment of selfishness stop you." He stepped around the table and took Maedhros' hand and shook it. "I'm pleased for both of you." Ewan honestly believed this, but he was still a little surprised when Maedhros put his arms around him and hugged him.
Maglor watched Ewan's reaction. At first, he wondered how Ewan would take their news. As he shook Maedhros' hand announcing his support, Maglor felt great respect for his mortal kin. Here was a man who seemed deeply ensconced in his scholarly pursuits, and normally blind to everything outside his little world. But Ewan had a good heart and a strong sense of right. So strong in fact, that he was able to put aside his own feelings for the good of others. Maglor offered his own hand, and shook Ewan's with genuine regard. "I am pleased that you understand. I only hope Ailsa will see it the same way."
At the mention of Ailsa's name Maedhros and Ewan looked at each other with visible dread on both their faces. "Do you want me to tell her," Ewan finally asked. Maedhros stood remembering the future he had once planned. How much he anticipated the joy as he watched Ailsa's future unfold before him. Now he had to let her know he wasn't going to be there. That he knew as much about her as he was ever going to know. Maedhros gently shook his head, how could he possibly find the words? His shoulders fell as he realized this would ultimately have to be his burden. "No, I will do it," he said sadly. "Somehow…I will tell her."
Maglor saw the anguish his brother was suffering and he did not envy him the task. "Do not tell her now. She is working very hard on tonight's feast, and it would be a kindness to give her this night," Maglor offered. "Would it not be better to tell her in the morning?"
"He has a point." Ewan quickly agreed. "Why ruin the last time we'll all be together." Maedhros' eyes snapped to Ewan's face. Ewan suddenly felt foolish. "I mean… it just…" He fumbled his words. Maedhros looked away. After a few moments, Maedhros slowly nodded and left the cave room.
Maglor turned to Ewan. "Shall we," he asked. They quietly left the cave room and returned to the Archives. Maglor knew there were many questions Ewan had for him, and time would run out before they could all be answered. Maglor would willingly give this time to him. It was his way of leaving something of his own legacy in the care of his brother's children and ultimately the future. No, the Eldar would not be forgotten.
- O -
Mid-afternoon found Ailsa buttoning her jacket and wrapping her long scarf around her neck as she escaped through the backdoor of the house into the cold air. She left the kitchen smelling of the sharpness of limes, and the aroma of cilantro and garlic from the marinated chicken. Everything was ready for dinner, all the chopping, mixing, seasoning, and tortilla making was done. What she wanted now was a quick walk in the fresh cool air. She smiled as she walked remembering the unexpected helper who showed up.
Maedhros had come into the kitchen as she was deep into her preparations and immediately began to make a regular nuisance of himself. He asked all sorts of questions trying to satisfy his curiosity about every little detail of the process and watched every move she made. She finally had to give him little tasks just to keep him out of her way.
Maedhros had led great armies, governed great numbers of people, fought in many battles, but that morning, he proved himself a very capable mixer with a wooden spoon. She chuckled as she remembered how he had "allowed" her to put a white chef's apron on him to protect his clothes. It was so strange to see him doing such menial jobs. Ailsa could tell by the way Mrs. Whitehall looked at him that this was a new side he was showing both of them. There was something else though; he seemed to have an unspoken need to be busy like that. Ailsa wondered about it for a while, but decided she was probably reading too much into his simple willingness to help with the preparations for the dinner honoring Maglor's return.
He spent the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon "helping" her. As they worked, they fell into easy conversation. He even got her to tell him how she learned to make Fajitas at her grandfather's house. How Maria, her grandfather's housekeeper, took pity on a bored teenager one afternoon and taught her to cook some Mexican dishes so she'd, as Maria promised, "be able to get a good husband one day." "Papa" Errington was more practical, he had given his granddaughter lessons to assure she would always make the perfect Margarita. Maedhros smiled as she explained the precise recipe, always a captive audience whenever she told any story. His pointed interest made her feel he actually enjoyed them.
As Ailsa finished the last of the tortillas, she caught Maedhros watching her again. At first, she just smiled at what she thought was his unusual interest in tortillas, but she slowly came to realize as he sat at the table, he was watching her with an intense look in his eyes. The rest of his face was impassive, but his eyes were locked on her. A concerned frown brought her brows together. Finally she asked, "Maedhros are you all right?"
"Yes," he quickly answered lowering his eyes as he shifted slightly in his chair. "Daydreaming I guess." Ailsa couldn't tell if he was embarrassed or what, but the moment quickly passed and then he suddenly stood up. "I have almost forgotten. I promised Ewan I would help him down in the Archives this afternoon. I have to go." With that announcement, he removed his apron and placed it neatly on the chair. "Thank you for letting me…help. I think tonight will be very special." He said with a slight bow and left. Ailsa was a bit perplexed as she watched him leave the kitchen. Finally, she gave a little shrug and resumed her preparations.
Everything was ready now and she had some time to herself before putting all the various ingredients together later. Although the sun sparkled in the cloudless sky, and the slight breeze blowing through the garden felt good on her face, Ailsa shivered and began tucking her scarf into her jacket. Because of the heat in the kitchen, the gesture was more instinct than a true reaction to the cold. She looked around for a moment, taking in the bright colored leaves hanging delicately on the tree branches and carpeting the lawn. The crisp air had a moist, earthy tang to it. The leaves weren't very thick on the ground yet, but she knew they would make that wonderful rustling sound she liked as she stepped through them.
She stood at the top of the garden steps and tried to decide if she should walk to the cliffs or if it would be better to venture to the clearing. A sudden gust of colder air made her shiver again and she quickly decided to return to the house. In fact, Ailsa had to admit she felt an odd need to go back inside. She quickly turned and began to walk around the sunny side of the manor house to the front door. Once inside again, she removed her coat and walked straight to the library doors. She opened them and stopped as soon as she heard the singing.
Coming from the darkness of the open bookcase, a beautifully sung tune filled the library. Ailsa quietly closed the library doors behind her and stood listening to the words. It was Maglor she heard, his haunting voice singing of family and home. Ailsa, closing her eyes, let his song feed her contentment. His voice trailed away and she made her way down the steps to the Archives. She paused at the bottom and looked at Maglor sitting at the desk in profile as he focused his attention on the small tape recorder in his hand.
He looked so much like Maedhros just then. A very masculine face, but with skin like polished alabaster. She had seen ancient statues of male athletes that tried and failed to duplicate that same mixture of beauty and masculine power. The statues merely suggested these qualities. As she watched Maglor, she reckoned the ancient sculptors obviously used the wrong models. Ailsa marveled at this strange, unearthly being sitting just a few feet away from her trying to figure out the buttons on her father's recorder.
Ailsa decided not to disturb him. She turned and placed her foot on the first step. "Do not go Ailsa." Maglor called to her. "Please, join me."
Caught in the act of retreating, she smiled sheepishly at Maglor. "Okay," she quickly replied. She walked over to the desk and sat on the edge holding out her hand. Maglor sighed and gave her the tape recorder. "I seem to have forgotten which button your father told me to push to start at the beginning." Maglor gentle smile reminded Ailsa of a little boy who was having trouble with a new toy. She chuckled, "Don't feel bad Maglor. I even get the buttons wrong on occasion." She began rewinding the tape and offered the recorder back to Maglor.
"Maedhros has told me you have been working very hard on tonight's feast." He said good-naturedly as he took the device from her.
"It just seems like a lot of work." She smiled back. "It's actually just a lot of chopping and mixing. I've been cooped up in the kitchen for most of the day so I thought I'd take a break before I had to put everything together later." Maglor looked at her for a moment then gave her a slight nod returning to the recorder. He hit "play" and his song began again. After a while, he looked at Ailsa with a surprised look on his face. "Does my voice truly sound like that?"
Ailsa laughed, "Close enough. That recorder is meant for dictation and notes." Maglor stopped the payback. "Maybe we can get some better equipment and show you how much closer to your true voice we can get," she offered.
"This will have to do for now." Maglor placed the recorder on the desk and he picked up a page covered in Elvish script. "Your father wishes me to record some of our poetry as well" He began to silently read the writing. After a while, Ailsa felt a little awkward, as if she needed to say something. "I'm glad you're helping, but don't let Dad monopolize all your time."
Maglor smiled back at her. "I am honored to be able to help in your work. It is time well spent." With that, his attention returned to the poem.
A wry smile tugged at the corner of her mouth as Ailsa watched Maglor. She focused on his hands as they held the paper…his ageless beautiful hands. The same long slender fingers and smooth backs that resembled Maedhros' hand.
"Maglor? How did Maedhros lose his hand?" The words came out before she realized she'd said them and immediately wished she could take them back. Solemnly, Maglor lowered the paper to the desk and began to stare at his hands. "You have not questioned Maedhros about this?"
"No. I don't know why I haven't." Ailsa glanced away; she knew that was a lie. She had wanted to ask Maedhros many times since finding out his secret, but something always stopped her. Ultimately, she feared it might bring up too many painful memories to be added to the others Maedhros carried. Judging by Maglor's reaction, she was beginning to regret she'd even asked him the question.
Maglor heard the discomfort in her voice. Ailsa still sat on the edge of the desk, but she did not look at him. It may not be his story to tell, but perhaps she should know it none the less.
"Maedhros has told you of Morgoth and the evil he had done. A terrible battle was fought between our armies with many dead on each side. It was in this battle our father died. Then Morgoth sent Maedhros a message that he was willing to acknowledge defeat. He only awaited our terms and he even offered the surrender of a Silmaril. We knew Morgoth was the lord of all liars and we did not believe him, but Maedhros had a plan."
"He persuaded the rest of us to feign belief in Morgoth's lies and to meet his emissaries at the appointed place. Our plan was to bring a large enough force and put an end to Morgoth's evil forever while still retrieving all the Silmarilli. But each side had the same idea and brought bigger armies than agreed. During the fighting, Maedhros and his company were ambushed and all his men were slain. By Morgoth's command, Maedhros was taken alive and brought to his stronghold. We could not follow so we withdrew to fortify our own camp." Maglor stopped as he remembered that fateful decision. The remaining brothers thought Maedhros lost to them, and to continue fighting was their only recourse. Maglor had reluctantly agreed with the others, but he still felt they had all betrayed Maedhros in his time of greatest need. His silence brought Ailsa's attention to his face. She could see Maglor suffering as he sat trying to continue his tale, but she felt only anger rising as she tried to understand why they would leave Maedhros in the hands of such a monster.
"Morgoth held Maedhros hostage and sent us word that he would release him only if our people would forsake our war with him and leave. Whatever we chose to do, we knew Morgoth would never release Maedhros." Maglor's face darkened. "We were also held back by our Oath you see, and could not for any reason forsake our war against our enemy as long as he had the Silmarilli. Angered by our refusal, Morgoth took Maedhros, encased his right wrist in a thick band of steel and hung him from the face of a precipice on the mountain, Thangorodrim." Ailsa winced at the thought of Maedhros in pain.
"Morgoth then fouled the very air around Thangorodrim with poisonous gases and rank smoke that even hid the sun. So when we did search, no one could find Maedhros."
"I would have tried harder," Ailsa whispered. "Nothing would have kept me from trying." Suddenly, she no longer wanted to know the rest of the story, but she was powerless to stop Maglor now.
"Someone felt as you do. Our cousin, Fingon, who was also Maedhros' closest friend, did not let our failure stop him. He set out alone using the darkness that Morgoth made to help him search unseen among all our enemies waiting on the mountain. He searched for a very long time, but he could not find any sign of Maedhros anywhere. Finally, in spite of the danger of Orcs and other foul beasts discovering him, Fingon took out his harp and sang a song of Valinor known to all our people. Through that dark land where only despair was known, his voice rang like a clear bell."
"Suddenly, far above him, Fingon heard his song faintly taken up by a familiar voice. You see, even in his pain, Maedhros found the strength to sing back to him. Fingon quickly climbed up as far as he could only to find himself at the very foot of the precipice without a way to climb any further. He began to weep when he saw how Maedhros hung so cruelly so far out of his reach. Maedhros, now in great anguish and without any hope left, begged Fingon to kill him with one of his arrows. Reluctantly, Fingon drew his bow and prayed that his arrow would end Maedhros' torment. To his surprise, Thorondor, one of the Great Eagles, appeared and stopped him before he could loose his arrow."
"This Lord of Eagles flew Fingon to the face of the rock where Maedhros was bound. But try as he might, he could not release Maedhros' wrist. My brother again, begged Fingon to kill him…to release him from his suffering. Fingon then made a fateful decision and cut off Maedhros' hand at the wrist to free him. The eagle bore them both home. Maedhros did recover, but the shadow of what he suffered sits within his heart to this day." Maglor stopped and quietly watched Ailsa.
Ailsa listened to Maglor with her head bent, eyes staring at the floor. The idea of Maedhros' torture quickly filled her with thoughts of revenge. How I'd love to get my hands on that bastard Morgoth, she fumed. Just as quickly, she realized the foolishness of that thought. What could she have done to such dark evil? She became aware of Maglor watching her.
"Thank you for telling me, Maglor." She said softly. "When we first met him, Maedhros noticed how we looked at his covered wrist. He told us he lost his hand in a mountain climbing accident. Obviously, he understated the events." Pictures of Maedhros' agony still filled her mind.
"We did not speak of his ordeal for a long time, but I knew he would recover. And through much practice, he became an excellent swordsman with his other hand." Maglor added slowly. It was now Ailsa's turn to be silent. She closed her eyes, and tried to understand the solace Maglor's words were expected to give her. Maedhros suffered unimaginable pain and she was supposed to be happy he was able to re-educate his left hand so he could continue to fight in that foul place called Middle-earth. She decided there was nothing that could induce her to ever want to live there. Let alone pine away for it as Maedhros and Maglor did. She glanced over at Maglor and their eyes locked. His expression softened, he knew what was going through her mind. "Ailsa, Middle-earth was a world of harsh reality, but it was so much more. It was a place of great splendor and magic. A world where we gladly lived the life Iluvatar gave us. Yes, we battled evil and faced the despair from our oath, but we fought on, because ultimately, there is always hope." Ailsa watched his eyes shine with longing as he spoke. "More importantly…it was the world where Maedhros and I belonged." He fell silent, his face unreadable.
Ailsa sighed, it was a beautiful thought, but she couldn't agree with him. She stood up as Maglor continued to sit deep in thought. "Whatever, Maglor," she shrugged. "You can keep your Middle Earth. It still sounds like a horrible place to me." Walking over to the stairs, she wondered if Maglor's tale was what made her come back into the house. Well, she had heard it and she quickly climbed the stairs and retrieved her coat from the front hall. Now she really needed some fresh air.
Once outside again, she looked at the expanse of lawn and began to walk. It didn't matter where she went; she just had to get away from the manor house. Her footsteps quickened as she tried to push down the anger inside her. Anger for the pain Maedhros suffered and anger because Maglor and he still missed Middle-earth. Ailsa broke into a run and kept running until finally her lungs began to burn. She stopped and bent over slightly as she tried to catch her breath. "Dammit," she yelled between deep pulls of air. "They belong here!"
To be continued Chapter 9, Part 2 – Maedhros' End.
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.