A hush rose in the crowd as my half-brother rode into the grounds. As he lowered his hood, I inhaled sharply. He was gaunter than when I had seen him last. The strange glitter seemed permanent in his eyes. Accompanying him was my firstborn, who looked worried. For Findekáno to be worried, I knew that things had to be really bad.
“It is time then to release your brother, is it not?” Manwë’s deep voice sounded from my left. I turned to look at the Vala, who was smiling in a very peculiar fashion.
“It is more than time”, I said composedly, wishing that either my father or Russandol was here. Only they could smooth matters in this family and right now, Turkáno and Arafinwë were glaring at Fëanáro, who tried his best to look smug and unconcerned.
It was over quickly, I released him and declared my forgiveness. But he did not speak, his eyes were cold as he appraised Manwë. The Noldorin factions were hissing arguments, that Fëanáro was not valuing my forgiveness as much as he should, that I was sounding insolent and so on.
I decided to make Fëanáro more at ease and said clearly, “Half-brother in blood, you are my full brother in heart”, I paused, the factions had become silent and Fëanáro was staring at me bewilderedly, I continued, “And wherever you lead me, brother-mine, I shall follow you, I swear.”
He did not reply, but I saw his eyes soften as he regarded me. I took his hand and kneeling on a single knee, kissed softly on the calloused hand. My fealty was sealed. His fingers trembled in my grasp as he asked me to rise. Our eyes met as I stood before him and he opened his mouth to speak.
“MY LORDS!” Russandol’s voice was shrill with fear and sorrow as he galloped into the grounds, clad in blood-stained robes.
Fëanáro gasped as Russandol more fell than dismounted from the horse, the poor winded beast collapsed onto its knees. I saw Turkáno rush to steady Russandol, his dislike of my half-brother’s family overshadowed by his genuine concern. A hand gripped my wrist in search of reassurance. I squeezed Fëanáro’s sweating palm though fears ravaged my soul.
“Tell us, child”, Varda asked soothingly, “What is it?”
Suddenly the skies darkened and a low eerie cloud hung over the lands. I could hear the shrill cries of the birds. I had never known darkness truly before, and it frightened me. Where was the radiance of the Trees? Why were the Valar so quiet?
“No”, Fëanáro whispered as he leant heavily onto me, “It cannot be, not again.”
“Death!” Arafinwë gasped, “Who died, Maitimo?”
Russandol refused to meet our gazes as he said in a broken voice, “We were alone, grandfather and I, merely waiting for news from Tirion. Macalaurë was with the rest of my brothers in the summer house. There was a sudden rumble”, he paused and clasped his hands together, fear rose in me as I watched my nephew, a fear I had never before experienced, “It was Melkor”, Varda gasped, but I noticed that Manwë did not react, Russandol continued, “And he demanded the Silmarils. We were unarmed, Melkor went to the vaults”, Fëanáro leant onto me more, “I tried to stop him, he flung me out of the way. Grandfather took up one of those swords that hung on the walls and charged”, Fëanáro’s grip on my wrist tightened, “I cannot go on”, Russandol faltered.
“Finish it”, Manwë’s voice was commanding.
I felt resentment towards Manwë rise in me, as I looked at my shivering nephew. Russandol closed his eyes as tears fell unabated down his pale cheeks, “He killed Grandfather before the vaults, because Grandfather said that he would not stand aside as long as he had life in his veins to watch his son’s work despoiled. I am sorry, father”, Russandol fell to his knees and buried his face in his hands, “I should have died too, but he was so gleeful at getting his hands on the Silmarils that he did not even spare me a second look. I have failed you, Father, I stood by and watched as he destroyed the two things that mattered the most to you”, his anguished sobs tore my heart out, yet Fëanáro did not reply.
Russandol knew that Fëanáro did not forgive him for he trembled in grief, shame and fear. I wanted to go to his side, but I had sworn my fealty to his father. For several long moments there was no sound except for Russandol’s sobs.
It is a memory I shall never forget, I guess, to see my beloved nephew whom I loved more than I did my own children, crying his heart out in the midst of the august gathering. Across me, I could see Findekáno being restrained by Irissë. Findaráto was looking at me imploringly. But I could sense Fëanáro’s dark mood, nothing I said now would change his opinion that Russandol was to be blamed.
I looked up at Varda, but she was trying to comfort Yavanna, who had nursed those damn trees. Were trees more important than my nephew?
“Russandol”, a melodious voice broke the pitiful silence, “You failed nobody, whatever some may think.”
I saw Macalaurë helping his brother to his feet and gently escorting him to where Findekáno and Findaráto stood. After pressing a chaste kiss to his brother’s cheek, Macalaurë turned back to meet Fëanáro’s eyes. For a moment, the fire in my nephew’s eyes that nearly overwhelmed Fëanáro’s own.
Father and son stared at each other for several uneasy moments, before Fëanáro cleared his throat and said quietly, “Maitimo, I thank Eru that you are safe and unharmed. No jewel I make will ever match the love I bear for you, my son.”
“I should have died”, Russandol said hollowly, “I did nothing to save him.”
“You could have done nothing”, Fëanáro said gently, “If those who call themselves the Valar failed to see this coming, then I hold them responsible for what I have lost today.”
There were uneasy shivers in the gathering as people watched my brother draw himself to his full height. A frisson of fear passed through me.
“I let you use me for your own ends”, Fëanáro said coldly as he turned his fiery gaze on the Valar, “I hoped that my willing slavery would satisfy you and your brother. It did not, you have killed my father, the noblest elf that ever lived! And you have taken the Silmarils which you have no right to touch let alone claim!”
“You know not what you rave”, Manwë said coldly, “But I will forgive your words for you are grieving your father’s death.”
“Why, O people of the Noldor,” Fëanáro cried as he turned to face the crowd, “why should we longer serve the jealous Valar, who cannot keep us nor even their own realm secure from their Enemy? Vengeance calls me, but otherwise I would not dwell longer in the same land with the kin of my father's slayer and of the thief of my treasure. Yet I am not the only valiant in this valiant people. And have you not all lost your King? And what else have you not lost, cooped here in a narrow land between the mountains and the sea?”
I hearkened to his words, and the Noldor in the gathering shifted restlessly, moved by Fëanáro’s fire. Only Russandol and Findaráto seemed afraid by the speech though I did not understand their fear, the Valar were Melkor’s kin. Manwë was Melkor’s brother, for Eru’s sake!
“Here once was light, that the Valar begrudged to Middle-earth, but now dark levels all. Shall we mourn here deedless for ever, a shadow-folk, mist-haunting, dropping vain tears in the thankless sea? Or shall we return to our home? In Cuiviénen sweet ran the waters under unclouded stars, and wide lands lay about, where a free people might walk. There they lie still and await us who in our folly forsook them. Come away! Let the cowards keep this city!”
All of the Noldor united in the sorrow and the thirst for vengeance. As one, the Noldor, my people, raised their torches and swords and implored Fëanáro to speak.
Long he spoke, and ever he urged the Noldor to follow him and by their own prowess to win freedom and great realms in the lands of the East, before it was too late. But it was his final words that sealed our willingness to follow him anywhere. I will never forget the fire in his eyes as he raised his sword in defiance and spoke the words that stirred our hearts so fiercely.
“Fair shall the end be,” he cried, “though long and hard shall be the road! Say farewell to bondage! But say farewell also to ease! Say farewell to the weak! Say farewell to your treasures! More still shall we make. Journey light: but bring with you your swords! For we will go further than Oromë, endure longer than Tulkas: we will never turn back from pursuit. After Morgoth to the ends of the Earth! War shall he have and hatred undying. But when we have conquered and have regained the Silmarils, then we and we alone shall be lords of the unsullied Light, and masters of the bliss and beauty of Arda. No other race shall oust us!”
I could see Varda pleading with Manwë to stop Fëanáro. But the lord of Valinor sat unmoving as if watching an interesting play. It merely stirred my wrath further as I raised my sword and stood by my half-brother. My sons mirrored my actions. I could see Findaráto and the rest of Arafinwë’s sons following suit. Russandol looked at me for an instant before he nodded to his brothers to raise their swords. The last was Arafinwë. It struck me that it took our father’s death to unite us. The Noldor were one at last. We made a beautifully fell sight, the High-Princes of the house of Finwë, raising their swords together swearing to avenge our father.
Fëanáro shivered alongside me as if he was having trouble balancing himself. I looked at him concernedly and gasped, his eyes glittered strangely. The madness was upon him again. Before I could move to grasp his wrist, he began speaking in a clear, unwavering tone, the words of his speech shall haunt us all to our dying days.
I will not write the oath in this journal, I simply cannot. Suffice it to say that Russandol looked as if he was about to fall at his father’s feet and implore him. But it was not possible, Fëanáro was mad. I watched with rising dread as one after the other, the seven sons of my brother swore the oath.
Whatever their faults, they were never accused of being disobedient. If this is what comes of obedience, I am glad that my children do not obey me.
It was a mad rush for the harbour. Fëanáro was in no condition to speak with. And his five younger sons were in a similar state excited by their father’s charisma. Macalaurë stayed with them in an attempt to reason with them. Following my brother’s host was Findekáno and his supporters. Then the sons of Arafinwë followed. Russandol and I were between Arafinwë’s host and mine.
“It is done then”, Russandol looked down at his tunic which was spattered with Finwë’s blood, “I do not think grandfather would appreciate what we are now doing.”
“Russandol, why did you take the oath?” I asked him miserably.
“Why did you swear to follow him?” he asked me sadly.
“Because I love him”, I replied though I did not admit that fear was fast colouring my love for him.
We arrived at the harbour to see Findekáno’s and Fëanáro’s host fighting and killing our Telerin kin. I had to hold Russandol as he retched in horror. We stood for a moment watching the madness unfolding before us. Then I saw two Teleri getting an upper hand on Fëanáro. Russandol gasped as Findekáno was struck down. I think we unsheathed our swords together. I will never forget the Teleri blood spraying onto my face as my sword sliced through an elven body.
Some part of me registered Atarinkë’s yell, “The ships are won, O Brave Noldor!”
I stared into Fëanáro’s eyes as he struggled to his feet. He seemed horrified by the blood that covered us, by the dead bodies surrounding us.
“What have I done?” he whispered as he attempted to clean the blade of his sword on his tunic desperately, “What have I done, Nolofinwë?”
“What you had to”, I answered steadily. He closed his eyes in shock and horror as his sword hand dropped to his side.
It was then that Mandos came and pronounced our Doom. Fëanáro bravely defied him and led us on, but after the Vala had left, my half-brother turned to me.
“Kill me, Nolofinwë”, he said hoarsely, “Before I lose myself in this.”
“It is of no use, father”, Russandol gently steadied him, his grey eyes filled with resignation and regret, “We are all lost in this.”
There were not enough ships to take us all. So it was decided that Fëanáro would go first with his host. Russandol said he would stay with me and let Findekáno go with Fëanáro. But Fëanáro was adamant and dragged his firstborn with him, the madness returning to his eyes.
It is with a heavy heart that I think of the long vigil we kept for the return of the ships. Arafinwë stood by my side, silent and morose. I knew that he wished for nothing more than to return to Tirion.
“FATHER!” Irissë’s voice was strained, “Fire in the east!”
“The ships burn”, I whispered with sickening dread, “O Fëanáro! What more will you do to drive us apart?”
The people looked to me for guidance, their faces betraying their fear and reckless dread. I took a deep breath. I am not my half-brother, I have no talent with words. I wish I had persuaded Fëanáro to let Russandol stay with me. He could have united the people more than Fëanáro or I had.
“O mighty Noldor!” I said earnestly, “The ships burn, though we know not the reason”, of course, all of us knew that we had been betrayed, but it would not help things to say that aloud, “What shall we do? Go forth to the lands of promise and hope or turn back to Valinor like cowardly, snivelling ditherers? I will lead you to the lands of the east, I swear by Eru, who will follow me?”
Arafinwë shook his head in weary resignation. But Findekáno and Turkáno had come to my side. Findaráto and his brothers followed. That left Irissë, Artanis and Arafinwë.
“You have led us all out foolishly, Nolofinwë”, Arafinwë said sadly, “I will no longer abet this. I shall return to the west and beg the Valar. If the pride of Finwë’s line is diminished because of that, I care not! No further kin blood shall stain my blade!”
He looked to his only daughter, “Will you return with me, Artanis? Your brothers and cousins have chosen.”
“What has Irissë decided?” Artanis looked across at my daughter.
“I will follow my father, my brothers and my cousins”, my daughter lifted her chin and said proudly, the fire of our line shining in her.
“And I shall follow you”, Artanis left her father’s side and stood beside Findaráto, “I am not sorry, father, my place is with my kin. We have sworn to avenge grandfather and I cannot desert our family.”
“So be it”, Arafinwë bowed and turned back, a portion of our host followed him.
“Forward, O Noldor!” Findekáno and Artanis exhorted our weary people as we began the long trudge across the cruel Ice.
“Fair shall the end be,” my brother’s words came back to me as I walked with my sons, “though long and hard shall be the road!”
I hope he is right.
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.