Turkáno has never visited me after building his fortress in the mountain fastness that is Gondolin. I hear it is a magnificent city. I am glad, that at least my ambitious younger son has escaped the destruction of the curse. I could not forget the fact that Atarinkë and Turkáno had been bitter when Ulmo had commanded my son to build his city. Atarinkë could not go with him. They fear that they will never have a chance to meet again.
I have had no news of Macalaurë . He is fine, I daresay. From Russandol, though there have been long epistles. From the tone of his letters, he misses me as much as I miss him.
“Nolofinwë”, I turned to find Artanis, she is as alone as I am. I regret her choices. She should have returned with her father, my coward of a brother.
“Yes, Artanis?” I smiled at her.
Atleast my constant badgering has improved her health, I pester her to eat and rest. Together we manage the council affairs and the matters of the kingdom. She will one day become a wise counsellor, leader and ruler. I see much of Russandol in her.
“There is news from Maitimo”, she said grimly, not returning my smile, “He says that his brother has been searching high and low for Irissë for months. They are yet to find her escort.”
“She said that she would be staying in Gondolin”, I informed her. “She does not wish to come home until her Fëanorion is rotting in Mandos, according to the charming letter I had from Turkáno.”
Artanis ’s lips crooked in a reluctant smile before she handed a sealed scroll to me, “From Maitimo, he wishes to have an immediate reply. The courier waits.”
“I shall”, I nodded to her, “Make sure that the horse and messenger are well-rested. And while you are at it, ask him what my first-born is up to?”
After she left, shutting the door behind her softly as was her way, I leant back in my chair and broke my nephew’s seal, the seal my half-brother had wrought, the stars of Fëanáro. I shook off my brooding thoughts and unscrolled the letter. The familiar curved hand of my nephew greeted me. His hand was no longer elegant as it had been before Thangorodrim. I suppose that to write the complicated script with the left hand must be a painstaking activity though I have never heard Russandol complain.
“My Dearest Nolofinwë,
I hope this letter finds you well and hale. Findekáno is with me. He has been a wonderful companion this cold winter in Himring. I freely confess that I had been brooding before his arrival. But now, we ride and hunt together. I shall be sad when he leaves after the season.
My brothers visit me occasionally. Macalaurë, though, is much occupied with the defences of his lands and I have not seen him since my coming to Himring. I suppose I shall have to journey there. I know you would chastise me, since you have been asking me to come for many a month. But, Nolofinwë, I feel that I am meant to be in Himring. On this cold mountain, I have found peace. Everyday as I rise, I see the cragged peaks of Morgoth. They remind me of what I have lost, true. But they also remind me of what I have found, of courage and endurance.
I hear from Findekáno that Artanis helps you rule. Nolofinwë, I am glad that you are not alone. But, I do wish that Artanis comes here, or joins Findaráto in his caves. She is lonely, and lingers in the memories of her past. Macalaurë has always regretted that he could not be what she wanted him to be. She deserves better than one from our family. Let her join Findaráto in Nargothond.
I have been worried about Irissë. My brother says that they had a falling out regarding something private. And that is common enough. She rode off alone to join her brother in Gondolin. I had a letter from Turkáno after that. He was telling me about her black temper. I did wonder why she went there. Could she not have come to me, as she has done many a time in the past? Could she not have returned to Artanis and you? I feared that her high-spirit would not be restful in the walled city of her brother.
And my fears were proved true. I had a missive from Turkáno, asking me to tell my brother that Irissë had ridden out for his lands. I am worried, Nolofinwë. I wrote to Findaráto to meet her at the head of the Girdle of the Maia. But he was late. The guardians of Doriath told him that she rode off into the paths of Dorthonion.
I have asked Findaráto to send warriors into the paths and to bring her to Nargothond. Nolofinwë, I think it would be better if you let Artanis and Irissë come to Himring for the next spring. Unlike what people say, this is a beautiful place. I agree there are some disadvantages in rising at dawn and seeing the rocks of Thangorodrim. But except for that, Himring is as wonderful as the hills of Tanequetil.
I will write again when I receive a reply from Findaráto . Writing to Turkáno is a pain. I have to beg those eagles to deliver the missives. They are kind, but still…I have to beg. I promise to have Irissë safely escorted to you. Spare her the tongue-lashing you would have in store. She was merely following my illustrious father’s footsteps. And tell her that Findekáno has hung the horseshoe above my castle trapdoor in Himring. He has always had strange ideas. I will try to keep him here. I know how much the two of you inconvenience each other. Yes, he did tell me about the time when he walked into his favourite courtesan’s chambers and found you sprawled with the said courtesan in a very immoral position.
I might journey to see Macalaurë and his wife. I miss my brother. I know I have six brothers, but I have always considered only Macalaurë as my blood brother.
The stars shine down upon my balcony in the castle, my warriors sit around a roaring fire, sharing Naugrim ale and telling tales. I watch them boisterously dance with the maidens who giggle and swoon coyly. I wish I were there with them, Unfortunately, I have promised a private audience for your son. He will play the harp. I should never encouraged him in our youth with that inane flattery, I am paying thrice over for my mistake,
I remain your dear nephew,
I frowned in worry as I read about my daughter’s rashness. Irissë was impulsive and hard to reason with. I had made a mistake to assume that Turkáno would have been able to smooth her rashness. I should have sent her to Russandol. He has a way with him that makes people honour his counsel.
Well, there was nothing I could do until she was safely escorted back to me by Findaráto . Despite all that Russandol advised, I find myself thinking of the tongue-lashing I would gift my daughter.
For I have lost enough, and will not let more that which I love be taken from me.
I find myself considering Artanis as a companion and friend. Her wisdom and maturity betrays nothing of her youth. We often talk of deep philosophy and obscure tales. I find myself enjoying her company. Of course, there is none of Russandol’ innate brilliance and compassion in her. But she is understanding and non-judgmental, attributes I respect and admire. I am concerned that my company might deprive her of making acquaintances of her own age and gender. I try to let her have a free rein, but she rarely ventures out of the mansion.
“FATHER!” Findekáno’s voice greeted me. I looked up to find the handsome features of my heir and first-born set in a worried expression.
“Findekáno”, I rose to greet him, “I am glad to have you back, safe and hale”, I embraced him gratefully.
If anyone had told me back then in Valinor that I would turn into such a protective parent, I would have sneered at them. Then I had never understood my half-brother’s fierce over-protectiveness of his sons. I think I have always been protective of Russandol, but then he has been closer to me in heart than to his father in blood. After all that we have been through, I now find myself worse than a nursing mother. My protectiveness has extended to all my nephews, my niece and of course, my children. Even Carnistro, I torment with letters of enquiry every month. I wonder what he thinks of that. But then, he has long called me insane.
“Father”, Findekáno pulled back and met my eyes with apprehension, “Findaráto has not been able to find Irissë yet. There are tales that…”
“You must let me in, Nolofinwë”, Artanis’s voice was close to pleading.
Remarkable, I mused sarcastically. I have never heard her using that tone before. So, even she has learnt to beg. How low our House has fallen!
“Father”, Findekáno’s voice was rough, as if he had been drinking more than usual, I felt a flutter of concern rise in my mind. Findekáno could never be steady under drink. I hoped that he would not create a ruckus in the house.
I did not heed their earnest request and remained within my barred study, dully contemplating the wild flames in the hearth. As wild as my daughter had been, as wild as my Fëanáro had been. I stood there, watching the flames die out into embers.
As the dawn broke over the heavy skies, I heard a high-pitched scream, hastily stifled. I sighed, somewhere in the mansion, someone was having a wild night. My daughter…Irissë’s screams of encouragement and pleasure when she was with Tyelkormo would resound through the entire mansion. No wonder he had preferred to spend time with her in the woods.
I have barely any recollection of my life over the following few months. Artanis had stopped pleading outside my door. But someone, I assumed it was her, left food, firewood and water on my doorstep. There would be a knock and then retreating footsteps….and silence.
I do not know what I was grieving, perhaps I was grieving for my daughter, perhaps I was mourning my brother. Perhaps I was mourning the hundreds of lives destroyed in the wake of my brother’s quest for the Silmarils. Perhaps I was mourning all of that.
Perhaps I shall never end my mourning.
“THAT IS ENOUGH”, I heard a familiar voice say commandingly, “Open your door, Nolofinwë.”
“You”, I whispered brokenly as I struggled to my feet from my position before the fire, “When did you come?”
“My dear Nolofinwë”, the voice continued exasperatedly, “Open your hallowed doors and I will tell you.”
I complied, noticing the numbness in my limbs. I had probably been dying a slow death all these days.
“Nolofinwë!” Russandol sighed in concern as he entered and closed the door behind him, “It stinks worse than a rotten pigsty in here.”
I noticed that his robes hung loosely on him. He looked as gaunt as Macalaurë had been during Russandol’ recovery from Thangorodrim. There were dark circles underneath his grey eyes, which looked permanently haunted. His hair shone a dull, blood red in the dim dusk sun. He pushed me into my chair and then knelt before me, placing his hand on my thigh.
“Any news?” I whispered hoarsely, still clinging to my hopes, “You promised that you would bring her to me.”
His eyes darkened with pain and he shook his head silently. I took a deep breath and placed my hand over his, squeezing tightly.
“I suppose I did this to make you come”, I offered weakly, “There was nothing else that I could think to make you return to me.”
“You scared me”, he sighed and rested his head on my knees, “Nolofinwë, I have been in the wilds all these months searching for her. Few dare to ride into the haunted paths of Dorthonion and Findaráto asked me to lead the warriors. I have been riding on her trail for days. Then Findekáno sent for me. He said I had to come. And I am glad I did, I shudder to think what condition you might have reduced yourself to if I had been late.”
“What news of my child?” I asked him hollowly, “I would not have her decaying in these lands, unburied and uncremated.”
“She will be found”, Russandol said slowly, his grey eyes shining with conviction, “I promise you. My brother says that he believes she is not dead”, I stared at him in wild hope, he nodded, “They are bound, after all. He would know. Please, Nolofinwë, let go of this self-loathing and join us. We shall find her.”
I returned to the affairs of my kingdom. It was been one week or so after the end of my hiatus. Artanis was glad to see me, I think, but her pallor and weary expression frightened me. She seemed content to be alone, not even letting me draw her into a conversation. Russandol had taken on the administration and the official matters, leaving me to cope with my inner turmoil. He managed to find time to walk with me around the periphery of the Mithrim. Findekáno had taken charge of the borders with his characteristic valour.
I had been returning after one long, lonely walk when I heard Russandol’ voice, low and soothing, “Artanis, you do know that you can trust me.”
“That is what he told me”, Artanis’s voice was cold and impersonal, “That I was safe with him.”
“Artanis”, Russandol’ voice was reassuring and warm, “I would be your confidant. Tell me. I would never forgive myself if it were to destroy you.”
“He raped me”, Artanis’s voice was colder and precise, I felt a wrenching pain constricting my heart, “He was drunk. His father was in mourning. He did not even know it was I. He called out the name of his eldest cousin as he took his pleasure from me.”
I tasted the coppery taste of blood as I bit down hard on my lips. Stop, I begged her silently, stop now.
“It is my fault”, Russandol’ voice was raw with emotion, “He loses control when he is drunk. Many a time has he tried to force himself on me after indulging in the drink. I did not fear that he would do it to anyone else….if I had known.”
“I sent for you, for I could no longer bear it”, she continued in the same flat voice, “He did not look at me once with regret. I did not matter, my pain did not matter. I would not have despised it so if he had at least been more understanding. It took my body weeks to heal.”
“I will escort you to Nargothond”, Russandol said resolutely, “Stay no longer here.”
“I wish to come with you”, she said quietly, “You and I have never been close. But at the moment, I feel you are the only one who can know what I feel.”
“I know”, his voice was hesitant, “I have never spoken of this with anyone else, Artanis. But I shall do so now. But I fear that you might never look upon me the same way again.”
I felt the blood rise in my veins, he had never told what had happened. He had never found the courage to do that. And there was pride.
“I was captured and taken to his lair”, his voice was deliberately detached, “I will not speak of all that happened there. But I was nearly mad and did not even remember my name by the time they had finished with me. Hazy memories of being torn apart, of blood between the legs, of the shame that conquered me when they brought me to irresistible pleasure. Over and over again, until they were sure that I was mad through and through. Thangorodrim, actually, barely stirs my nightmares. Compared to the rest of my experiences, being suspended from there was quite dull and unexciting.”
I heard muffled sobs, as my niece broke apart finally. The days had taken their toll on her. Macalaurë, Irissë, Findekáno, and I, we have all broken her in our own ways. I stood helplessly as Russandol and Artanis crossed me, his sole hand holding her to him reassuringly.
I stood alone in the courtyard as I bid my nephew goodbye. Artanis plans to go to Himring with him. I have no qualms on letting her leave. If she did not wish to go to her brother, then Russandol would have been my choice too. I know that there is nothing I could do to dispel her memories.
As I watched the red hair of my nephew and the golden tresses of my part-Vanyarin niece, I sighed. When would I see them again?
My dreams are haunted by screams, blood and corpses. I see Irissë wandering despairingly in a dark forest, seeking to escape something. I see Turkáno standing with his sword aloft, walls crumbling about him. I see Findekáno riding to battle, and a great shadow falling upon him. I see Russandol standing on the edge of fire, contemplating the flames bitterly. I see Macalaurë standing on a seashore, his face calm and serene. I see Artanis …She is alone, weary and yet, defiant.
I see Fëanáro, he calls to me, his brilliant black eyes shining with his irresistible fire.
And I wake up, to find they were but dreams.
“MY LORD!” one of my warriors rushed in, “The lands are beset. Lord Findekáno is cut off from the Fëanorion armies of Lord Tyelkormo and Lord Atarinkë. Lord Cirdan tries to hold the paths. The Girdle of Melian still holds. Lord Finrod hopes to succour Lords Tyelkormo and Atarinkë. Lord Carnistro is with the Green-elves. Lord Macalaurë has lost his lands, they say, the wrath of Glaurung has been fierce.”
“Himring”, I barked as I mounted my stallion, “What of it?”
“Lord Maitimo holds the paths of Aglon. He waits for Lord Macalaurë’s retreat eastwards to Himring”, the warrior said pensively, “Glaurung will not move towards Himring. Lord Russandol is much feared by the enemy. Lord Findekáno is in danger.”
I have had enough. Morgoth Bauglir shall pay.
Revenge, for all that I have borne. I hate all the Valar. But Morgoth remains the only one I can fight. And I shall fight him. Even should I fail, I will return to where I truly belong, with my brother. With Fëanáro.
Thus ends the Journal of Nolofinwë, The High-King of The Exiled Noldor of Middle-Earth.
Entry by Findekáno, called The Valiant, High-King of the Noldor, son of Nolofinwë.
I send this journal to my cousin in Himring. My father would have wished it so, for always, Nolofinwë had considered Nelyafinwë as his heir and first-born.
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.