18. Chapter 18
Bronwyn is indeed a remarkable woman, that she showed compassion for me was the last thing I expected, and she cannot possibly understand how grateful I am. Still, she not heard all, far from it, and I wonder how she will feel then. I am hopeful that she will continue to be understanding, even now as we are watching the sun rise, she is still concerned by the pain in my hand, which she is holding tightly.
‘I should continue my story if I am to finish it today’ I say.
‘Yes, in a couple of hours we won’t have much privacy here either’, she says, her green eyes fixed on my face. ‘Do you feel up to it?’
Smiling, she says ‘Because if you don’t tell me now you never will?’
‘How are you able to read me so well? I am an elf, and I should be able to hide my feelings better from a mortal’, I say, thinking again that this mortal is a great mystery.
‘Maybe this soul bond again.’ She is looking puzzled. ‘But I don’t understand how it works, or why it exists between us.’
‘Nor do I really, but I would like to try something’, I reply to her.
‘What?’ she asks, a little worry showing in her expression.
‘Elves have a telepathic ability, we can talk to each other without words when we have an emotional bond, or we can see into each other’s minds at times too. In theory, because you and I apparently have a bond, I should be able to see into your mind, or show you things in mine.’
‘Like what sort of things’, she asks, showing fear for the first time.
‘Dreams, memories, and emotions, generally’, I answer her.
‘So you want to do what? Look into my mind, or show me something in yours? How would this be done?’ Her fear seems to be changing to caution now, but I can sense curiosity too.
‘I would like to show you something. No, there is nothing to fear,’ she is worried now as to what I would show her, ‘Just a memory from my childhood, nothing unpleasant. All you will have to do is relax, and I would like you to come closer to me’, I say pulling her against me, which she makes no attempt to resist, but then I have noticed that she has never been wary of touching me, another unusual trait for a mortal, for I know they usually only touch those they know well, unlike elves who appreciate the sensation of touch, whether it be to touch another person, or an animal, plant or object.
Bronwyn is warm against me, and she trustingly lays her head upon my shoulder when I ask her to, as she may feel quite sleepy, at least that is what I have heard can happen when one attempts this sort of mind contact with a mortal. Curiously, I find myself distracted by a strange observation, that as I had felt safe when she held me, I can tell she now feels safe with me. Putting that firmly to one side to be considered later, I test Bronwyn’s mental shields, which as I suspected are stronger than I would consider normal for a mortal. So, this woman very likely has Numenorean heritage, as I feel a similar tone to her mind as to those now vanished people. It would certainly explain a lot about her.
Gently, so as not to alarm her, I let her feel my mind in hers. She stirs a little, and I feel fear, and surprise that I was telling her the truth; I really can communicate with her like this. ‘Relax’ I tell her in her mind, ‘I will not hurt you, or look anywhere you would not like me too’.
I feel the soft echo of laughter in her mind at that, and she asks if all elves can do this, ‘not with a mortal, I have no abilities lesser elves have not, but because I have lived in the Blessed Realm, my abilities of mind and body are simply stronger. Of course, the soul bond helps’.
Her mind is interesting, different to an elf’s, less guarded, she is letting me see more of herself than she knows. Behave, I tell myself sternly, you promised her that you would not pry. Slowly, I let the image of the memory I wish to show her form in my mind, wondering what she would think of it.
Astonishment is what I feel from her, and the question, ‘Where is this? What are those glowing trees?’
‘This is Valinor, the land of my birth, the trees are those that lit the land before the Sun and Moon, the Silver Tree is Telperion, and the Golden Tree is Laurelin. What I am showing you is the first time I saw light of the two mingled together as a young child’.
‘The two adults are your parents?
‘No, my grandfather Finwe, and Indis, his second wife’.
‘The other boy?’
‘My older brother, Maedhros’.
‘The trees are beautiful’, she sighs, her mental voice soft.
As slowly as I had let the vision grow, I now let it go, and pulled away from Bronwyn’s mind, which was hard to do, as I found I did not really want to, which surprised me. Fancy me letting a mortal become as close to me as Bronwyn is. The thought that once the problem of the scrolls is solved I will not see her again is strangely painful and unsettling.
‘Maglor, what do very beautiful trees that give light have to do with all that has happened to you.’ She draws in a sharp breath suddenly, ‘those silmarils that your father made, they had the light from those trees in them, that was why you showed me the trees!’ she said, sitting up.
‘Yes. Would you like me to show you the Silmarils themselves?’ I ask her hesitantly, almost hoping she will say no.
‘If you like, I admit to being a bit curious to see the thing that caused you such an injury’, she says, her fingers again somehow easing the pain in my hand. That she has a genuine care for my well-being came through from her mind very strongly. I am beginning to understand her better, I think, but still her concern for me seems misplaced, for she has no real conception of who I am, if she did she would not be so kind to me.
This time, it is easier on both of us as I again make contact with her mind, strange that we are both becoming accustomed to mind contact between us so quickly. I showed her the Silmarils as I most often saw them, blazing as father wore them on feast days. Very rarely did anyone see the gems else, only grandfather sometimes. Then I showed her the day Maedhros and I claimed the last two back, the gems blazing so brightly in their indignation at us laying claim to them after all our evil deeds that they burnt our flesh. Maedhros throwing himself into the fiery chasm, me hurling mine into the sea, and then almost against my will I showed her how I wandered lost and alone, singing in torment and despair until I met her, the first person to show me kindness in many ages of the world.
‘Wow, those Silmarils sure were amazing things. How did your father make them?’She asked when once again I severed the connection between our minds.
‘I do not know how he made them, he never did tell anyone. To be truthful, I wonder if he really knew himself, for he said he could not make their like again, and I often speculate that the final process in the making was almost an accident.’
‘And your oath? It was to reclaim these Silmarils,’ she said. ‘What happened that you needed to get them back? Were they stolen?’
‘Yes they were stolen. On a high feast day when my father was summoned to the Valar, for this was the day his banishment was to have ended. The evil one, Morgoth attacked grandfather, and murdered him for the Silmarils. The two trees he and Ungoliant, his equally evil conspirator mutilated, and they fled back to Middle Earth.
Then did the Valar ask for father to give up his gems, for not until later did we know the gems were stolen, and he said no, for if the Silmarils were unmade to use their light to heal the trees he would die from grief at their destruction.’
Bronwyn’s gaze is riveted on me, ‘Why was your father banished?
‘For drawing a sword on his brother. My brothers and I went willingly into exile with him.’
‘Why did your father attack his brother?’ she asks, clearly astounded that such a thing could happen.
‘Half brother. My father never accepted his father’s second wife, or her sons. The jealousy between them actually lead to a ban on widowed elves remarrying, such was the strife caused by the rift in my family. Father accused Fingolfin of lying about him to grandfather, Fingolfin denied it; my father always had a hot temper, and in his anger he threatened to kill Fingolfin. So he was banished, justly too, I now realise.’
‘Hell, and I thought I had some screwed up relatives!’ exclaimed Bronwyn, shaking her head.
‘All families have their own unique problems, Bronwyn’.
‘Yeah, I guess so.’ She smiles in a cheeky fashion, perhaps a memory of her family? I wonder.
‘I suppose I should let you get on with your story,’ she says. ‘I admit to curiosity as to what happens next!’
‘This is not tale to be taken lightly, Bronwyn’, I say sternly.
‘I know, I’m just trying to lighten the mood a bit,’ she says, giving me a sideways look.
‘Well then, shall I continue?’
‘Yes,’ she says, her own mood now darker then it was, ‘I have a feeling the bad bit’s coming next?’
I nod in agreement, and continue my tale, ‘When my father received the news of his father’s death, he cursed Morgoth and fled far away. My brothers and I searched for him for many days before he appeared again, to talk to the Noldor people. By doing this he rebelled against the Valar, as he was still banished. Father spoke strong words to the gathered elves, how we should leave Valinor, and pursue Morgoth, to avenge ourselves on him for the murder of our King.
Many elves he persuaded to leave, and then Father swore the Oath, that until the end of time, he would pursue any creature, good or bad, of any kind that kept a Silmaril from him, or took one for it’s own, calling on Illuvatar to witness the Oath and to bring down everlasting darkness upon him if he failed. As, one, and without really thinking, my brothers and I took the Oath with him.’
I have been looking out to Sea, and now I look at Bronwyn, whom I notice is looking slightly stunned by my story.
‘This is the oath that drove you to murder? and who is Illuvatar?’ she asks.
‘Illuvatar is god, Bronwyn, the creator of all. And yes, that was the Oath. It does not sound much, does it?’ I say to her.
‘You’re wrong, Maglor, any oath God is witness to is a big deal. Unbreakable too, I should imagine.’ She shook her head at my ancient folly.
‘I should tell you that I did not take the Oath out of belief that is was the right thing to do, but out of love and loyalty for my father. Most of my brothers had the same reason, but that is no excuse for our actions and deeds later’.
There is a speculative tone to Bronwyn’s voice when she speaks again, ‘Maybe, as you didn’t take the Oath out of belief in it, God has never held you to it, perhaps all he saw was the misplaced loyalty of a loving son.’
Silently, I consider her kind words. Almost I could believe that she is right, but then I remember the kinslayings, and the all those who died needlessly, violently, cruelly. ‘That may be, but the horror of what I and my brothers did negates any possibility of our Oath not being taken seriously, by anyone, Illuvatar included.’
‘But has God punished you?’
‘Yes, I have been punished. Banished from my people, no one to care whether I lived or died, tormented by all I have done, and memories of my father and brothers, all dead for what? We gained nothing but a curse, and years of sorrow.’
‘A curse? Surely not!’ Bronwyn exclaims
‘Yes, a curse. The Valar cursed the Noldor people, and my family particularly for what happened next.’
She says nothing, I feel her silently encouraging me to speak, so I continue, even thought this memory is particularly painful. ‘The Noldor had resolved to leave, and 3 great hosts of people marched with my father, and his two younger brothers. Naturally, my brothers and I marched with father, and we were the first to reach the shores. In Alqualonde, the home of the Teleri elves father spoke to those people, and urged them to join us, which they would not. Nor would they lend or give us their ships to cross the sea back to Middle Earth in. Then did Father resolve to take the ships by force, and many both of the Noldor and Teleri people died that day. That was the first Kinslaying, and even though some of us, myself included fought only for our own defence, still I lost count of those who died on my blade that day. Three times in my life have I seen the sea run red with blood, and that day was the first.’
I draw a deep breath, shuddering with the horror of that black memory, and dare to look at Bronwyn. She is staring at me, anger evident in her gaze.
Unflinching, I meet her gaze, ‘Yes I do deserve your anger. I have taken advantage of your kindness, and now you know what I am. A murderer, cursed, beyond hope of redemption, I disgust even myself’.
Now Bronwyn’s eyes are blazing with an intensity I have seen in a mortal. Her words are spoken through clenched teeth ‘I’m bloody well not angry with you, and don’t you dare ever speak like that of yourself in my presence again’.
Astonishment brings out of my self-pity, and for the first time in more years than even I can count, I find myself staring open mouthed and speechless in total shock at another.
She continues, the savage tone still in her voice, ‘I’d like to kick your father’s teeth down his throat!’
This time she has shocked me into laughter, and first she is shocked by me, and then laughs with me. ‘Why were we laughing?’ she asks when we have both recovered ourselves.
‘The idea of you kicking my father’s teeth down his throat, it is very funny to me, because I can actually see you trying to do it, but of course he is dead’.
‘Dead? How?’ she asks.
‘In a battle with balrogs after we succeeded in reaching Middle Earth.’ I poke at the fire, which is nearly out again, and ask her ‘Why are you angry with my father?’
‘Because of what he did to you, and I assume to your brothers. He should never have allowed you to take that stupid oath with him, not if he really cared for all of you as a father should’.
‘Are you blaming my father for everything I have done?’
‘Sure am. Sorry to say this, the guy was your father, but come on, you don’t ask or allow your kids to do something that stupid. And let me guess, this oath business didn’t stop with his death, did it.’
‘No, as father lay dying, he asked us to swear the oath again, and to ease his soul, we did so.’
Bronwyn gives a me a glance made of pure exasperation, ‘Haven’t you lot heard the saying, ‘Once bitten, twice shy’.
‘I know that it is foolish, but it seemed right at the time’, I say, but my words sound senseless even to me.
The sun is up now, and people are on the beach, walking, some swimming even though the water is cold. Our fire is out, and privacy is gone here for this morning.
Bronwyn is staring moodily at the ashes.
‘Should we continue this conversation later?’ I ask her.
‘Yes, the beach is getting crowded now, and I want some sleep before tonight, and I’ll tell you straight, I’m going to have nightmares about you’.
Shamefaced, I sneak a look at her, only to find she is laughing at my reaction. ‘You are teasing me!’
‘Ten points to the elf!’ she says standing up and gathering up some of the things we had brought with us the previous night.
‘Still haven’t told me about the scrolls,’ she says.
‘Nor everything about myself’, I reply, ‘For I have spoken of only some of my crimes’.
‘No more for now, Maglor, please, I don’t think either of us can handle it’.
‘I have with me a copy of a small book I wrote once about the Curse of the Noldor, it was edited later by my foster son then came back into my possession, perhaps it would be easier if you were to read it, and then we could talk some more?’ I say, watching Bronwyn’s reaction carefully.
‘Ok,’ she says by way of agreement, and we walk together back to her home, a home I wonder if she still wants me to stay in, or is she now just concerned with discovering all about the scrolls?
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.