Tainted Light: 16. Blood

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16. Blood

Chapter 15

Blood

The argument broke out as soon as we reached home, but I took no part in it. Sitting aside I looked at Arafinwë as he showed, for the first time in my memory, a talent for wrath; I looked at him as he saw for the first time that his children had inherited none of his gentleness. Findaráto alone tried to temper their spirits; but Aikanár honoured his mother-name, and his words burnt of a fell fire.

"Never have I listened to Fëanáro, never have I chosen his counsels above your own, or above those of Nolofinwë my uncle; but now I see that in his words shines a promise that here we could never hope to bear to fruit. He is right: the joy of Valinor is lost."

"Angaráto! Do you share your brother's folly?"

"I spoke to Findekáno. Our Nolofinwion cousins are all determined to go. Whichever doubts our uncle may still nurture, he would remain here at the price of losing his children."

"I doubt it not! Findekáno would follow Maitimo to the gates of the Void; and as for Aredhel and Tyelkormo…" he shook his head. "Turukáno always trod the way his elder brother showed, even if should endanger his infant daughter. But you, Angaráto! You too have a family. You do not think of your son?"

"Orodreth will come with me. I do not despair that my wife shall see reason…"

"Reason! You speak of reason!" Exasperated Arafinwë sat, his body heavy on a pale armchair. Daro leant against the doorpost, his face dark; but beside me Artanis sat composedly, her eyes black in the weak lamplight.

"And what of you, daughter? Certainly, your uncle's speech was mighty, such as to bewilder older and wiser spirits than your own; and yet your ready assent surprised me. I cannot remember of a day when you were not divided from Fëanáro by a deep wedge. I will not believe your choice to be made."

For a long moment, she remained in silence. But when she rose a calm that was not of this world was upon her face, and in a cold voice she replied: "And yet I shall march. If love you ever bore me, and you would not be parted from me, follow me; but do not hope to be able to hold me back."

Without waiting to listen for what her father would say she left; and when she closed the door behind her back Eärwen silently slid down on the upholstered settee, burying her face in her hands. For she knew her daughter well; and in her voice she had recognized a finality such as to truncate all hope. Aikanár went to her, and with light fingers caressed her cheek.

"Do not cry, mother. You know well that we would not leave you behind. Come with us."

She closed her eyes at his touch, as if enjoying a beloved pleasure for the last time. But when she spoke, it was to refuse him.

"Children shall grow to forsake their fathers; they shall grow to pursue their own roads. And yet madness is the path you intend to tread, and on such a path I would not follow you. If your eyes are made blind by Fëanáro's spell – for always in your sister and you the blood of the Finwions burnt quick and hot – if no wisdom can temper your counsels, then go; but I shall not forsake my land, nor the grace of the Valar, at the caprice of a maddened Elf."

Aikanár straightened slowly, his hand clenching into a fist. Many words were on his lips, many words that he would say – but he uttered none. And the pain he felt he did not express; like a crack driven through his eyes it was, but no tears he would shed.

"So be it," he murmured. He left the room at an even pace; but his muscles were contracted and tense, like those of an animal that readies to spring.

When the door closed Angaráto sat down, his mouth compressed in a thin line, as if his siblings had already said all that there was to say. The set of his jaw was the obstinate one that so often I had seen in Artanis, and his arms were crossed. Still Findaráto remained in silence; and in despair Arafinwë turned to me.

"What of you, Silmë? You said no word on the subject; and yet I daresay you would not agree with my brother…"

The choice I had put aside, a thought pushed to the back of my mind since we had left that illuminated court. The dagger waiting to tear me to shreds; and yet a decision already taken in the words Maitimo had boomed. I would not leave him. I looked to Arafinwë and, once more, discovered that heaviness is a quality of truth. Given the chance, it needs no pushing out. It only requires to be allowed to fall.

A deep silence followed my words, and in that silence I departed.

***

When I came to our chamber I knew what I would find; and yet the sight of Artanis packing on the floor was one last seal upon that unreal, blackened day. Drawers and chests stood open, her solid leather bags gaping mouths around her. And yet it was no visit that she was planning, no short vacation out of Tirion before a swift comeback; and in those few satchels she would pack what of her life in Valinor she would not bear to leave back.

"Your mother shall not come."

"I know."

The voice was flat; Artanis' best mask when she wanted to pretend she cared nothing. I sat on the bed, detached; the words of the Oath ringing inside me, as the tolling of a bell shall long echo in an empty tower. Neither law, nor love. I could not have asked him to stay back. No; he had chosen Fëanáro's star as his own, he had made of his blood an armour and a path to tread at any price.

I was never gifted with foresight; but I could feel the leaden weight of a curse.

I listened to my heart, and it was quiet. Of many things I have marveled in my life, but to this day that moment remains unexplained, a spot of darkness in my spirit; for as I had chosen to follow the Noldor on their way to exile I had not trembled. I had not hesitated. It was the road I would take, one that it seemed I had expected since the day I had left Valmar in haste. There are choices in this life we can take in a moment, or never; things we know without necessity of thought. Of such decisions we should be afraid, for the instinct that answers them is the one that does not lie. Such choices are but mirrors of ourselves. I look to myself in that far day, and know that no other life would have been possible.

I lingered for one moment more before rising, crossing the room to my own wardrobe, taking out dresses with fingers distracted and numb. Artanis did not pay attention to me, carrying out her preparations with grim resolve – allowing herself no moment for doubt. It was then that I asked.

"Why?"

She made no reply; but paused, her elegant hands still in her lap. Silence was distilled in my quiet wait, silence as clear as crystal. From outside our window, from across the garden, came the faint echo of a city in turmoil. But when Artanis answered her voice was calm, her eyes full of shadows.

"I envy you. For if the Lord Mandos summoned you to judgment, and asked you why you leave, you would answer that you do it out of love. It would be simple – it would be clear. You would not have to say a word more. But if he asked me why I leave, my lips would not part. For if my answer were to be truthful, I would not recognise my own words; I would not say before the Powers what I understand now."

Her glance was hard to bear, it was honed to a cutting blade.

"Ungrateful many would have called me if I had spoken before. Ungrateful, ambitious. Perhaps some of them might have guessed the truth I see only today. And yet for the years of my life I have gazed at the breach in the mountains – I have sat on the edge of the Sea, and never seen the beauty of their limits. I only asked myself what was beyond. And for the years of my life I would look upon those who rule us – upon those who decide of us – and asked myself if I could not have done better."

Her glance was finally lowered, her gaze resting on her pale hands. Her final words were a murmur that required no reply.

"In truth I have fallen under my own bitter insight. For even on me is a shadow and a flicker of Fëanáro's fire."

She would not acknowledge it again. Quietly, I turned to my drawers, and started to empty them.

***

It was Arafinwë that came to tell me – he stood on the door, surveying the packed bags, the locked chests. He said nothing; Artanis' eyes the only answer he needed. He turned to me, and one last hope burnt pale behind his blue irises.

"Olorimo is here."

He did not call him uncle; I did not call him father. Nodding, I walked past him, down the stairs, and my limbs were heavy, my steps slow. Too much in that day already to wish for this. Too many the words to find to frame this farewell.

He waited for me by the glass doors, beyond him the garden a black, silent heart. He spoke before I could do it – he spoke before I could greet him, or chase him away. I looked at him, straight-backed and proud on the threshold, and knew that thus I would remember him for all the long ages of this world. Silently, I took my leave.

His words, when they came, where but superfluous notes to a chronicle already sealed.

"I brought my sister back. She could not leave alone – not now. Short has been our voyage, and yet we come to find that the last of the Powers' laws has been defied. We come to see once more that no bound there is to Fëanáro's arrogance."

He looked at me, his head cocked, as if waiting for me to fight back. But I made no answer. I did not trust my voice. Still standing, I looked back at him. My eyes were blank, blind walls. Not now. One day it would fall upon me, what this moment meant – one day I would feel in my flesh the bite of this farewell. But not now. Now my resolve, like Artanis', was unfeeling steel.

With an intolerant gesture he seemed to wave me aside.

"You shall not reply, I see. Am I now unworthy even of your contempt? Perhaps I should desist, renounce asking what you chose. Perhaps I should expect it to be clear."

He talked as one who is certain, and yet his eyes sought me again. Proud, and yet their pride was broken; distant, and yet closer than in many years they had been. At their bottom lurked a hope that could not conceive being disappointed. At their bottom the silent maiden before them was still the toddling Elfling his hands had sustained; one that would not leave him.

At their bottom was somebody I had renounced all rights to claim I had been. I made no answer, and it was answer enough.

"I see."

His voice was measured; as my gestures were. Perhaps we were, one last time, similar; perhaps we both knew one word too much, one gesture too much would have unleashed the cries we choked. Or perhaps I deceive myself; and the chains that bound him were nothing more than dead love, and those that held me bitter guilt.

"I did not escort Indis back alone. Amarië has come with me upon hearing the news."

My aunt's lady-in-waiting; Findaráto's betrothed. One of the shadows that had hung upon him as he wordlessly watched his family quarrel.

"She is one of Valmar; she would not leave. Not if Arafinwë's eldest should turn to folly, and challenge the debt we owe to the Powers. For Amarië knows where her place is. Truly she is one of the Vanyar."

Just as truly you are not. Unspoken words; and yet heavy upon my head. Black ashes of accusation in my mouth. I wished I could tell him then – the thorn and the longing, the light that had drawn me to the walls of their city even in the unlight that Morgoth had brought. The pain that had seared me when Fëanáro had cursed them. And yet I knew that it would only matter in his eyes that such an allegiance had not held me back.

Seeing my silence, he turned his back on me, disdainfully looking out of the window.

"To be accursed in the eyes of those the One entrusted with the lordship of this world touches you not, it is clear to me. Too long have you dwelt by Fëanáro's side. Too long have you been tainted by his madness. What could touch you, indeed? Perhaps if your father would beg? Perhaps if he would remind you on bended knees what love, what devotion you have thrown away when you left us? But I shall not beg. For if your blood does not awaken, if it does not recoil in disgust at the thought of losing us forever, then no words of mine can have effect."

It was then that I felt them, tears burning my eyes, tears fighting for a way out I would not concede them; tears that broke and cracked my voice when I spoke, my silence shattered before this. For many things I would have accepted from him that day; but not that he would believe I loved them not.

"Father," it was pitiful my voice, insignificant as I moved one step forward, "You gave me life. Of a spark of your spirit, joined to my mother's, I was born – you shall be part of me unto the breaking of the world. No choice shall erase this bond; but if I abandoned Nelyafinwë now, I would lose him until Time should last."

He turned towards me, slowly, and his eyes sparkled; and for a moment I believed he had at least understood. But as his hands sought my face in a caress, as he spoke I knew all strife was vain – that in my words he had seen but a weakness to be used against me.

"Come back. You said yourself you cannot be free of your affection, of your bond to us. You shall love again; this I promise. Whoever you shall want, I won't interfere. Some of the Noldor shall remain here, one of them you could wed, if you wish for one of your grandmother's kin…"

I tore myself from his caress, wrenching back my spirit. Anger was now born in me, one last defense against grief.

"Cannot you believe that none I would want that was not Maitimo Fëanárion? Cannot you see that if we were parted now my long existence would be but the unfulfilled consuming of a tired flame? Cannot you see – "

"Silence!"

The command came sudden, unexpected; and surprise closed my lips, for on his face wrath now flamed.

"Silence. None of this shall I hear – none! And you that refuse even this appeal, you that despise this last request…you indeed refuse all claim to be of my kin. Call yourself Silmë of the Noldor from now on; and hasten to wed your cursed lover beneath the empty skies of Middle-earth. For if they shall not call you wife of Nelyafinwë, they shall not know how to refer to you; the daughter of Olorimo you have killed with your own words."

Tears then I could not hold back; and my mouth opened as if to speak, but no sound escaped it as he marched past me. And he would have stormed out of the door, had not one barred his way. Unseen, unheard Maitimo had walked in; and now he faced my father without intention of stepping back.

"What father could ever speak thus to his only child?"

"Do not talk to me of fathers, son of Fëanáro; for on yourself you'll feel what ruin can a father bring. Step aside; yours is this maiden. I know her not."

There were no more words I could say; no more breath in my chest. Maitimo saw my face, and when he replied his voice was low and urgent.

"If she would stay, I would not force her to go."

Olorimo laughed.

"Fear not! She shall follow you, follow you past blood and fire! Follow you, like a faithful dog; or should I say, like a she-dog in heat."

Anger twisted Maitimo's face; but on me the words rang empty. For dead was my heart in that moment, and my spirit absent. As from a faraway place I observed my betrothed taking breath as if to answer, his fists clenching; and never had he been so tall, never so great. But a cold voice stopped him; and both he and my father turned, for the words were full of authority.

"Maitimo, step aside."

It was the first time that I heard Artanis calling him by his mother-name.

Advancing in the hall she stood by them, and her slender hand pointed the way to the door.

"Your deed here is done, Olorimo. Now go."

"I…"

Ice were her eyes, and there, for a moment, he saw himself through her disdain. The empty place where his love for me had been twitched, struggling back to life. I shall never know what he could have said; I shall never know if his shame would have been cloaked in anger or plead. Somehow no answer would have been right.

"Out."

Artanis' voice admitted no appeal; and raising his chin in defiance, without looking back, my father strode on.

"Amarië!"

Past Artanis I saw them, Findaráto and his beloved by the portal, past the hall; I saw them embraced as if no power of Vala or Elf could divide them. And then I saw the maiden detaching herself, and I saw her pale countenance as she went by my father's side. No love would make her abandon this land; no love would make her forsake her allegiance. I lowered my eyes; I did not see the two Vanyarin Elves when they abandoned Arafinwë's house.

***

Artanis waited for the door to be closed; when she spoke, it was as if nothing had happened.

"Nelyafinwë, I have received a message from Findekáno. My brothers are not yet ready, we shall march with him and Nolofinwë."

He nodded.

"I cannot leave my father; he drives us all forward with feverish haste. His grief for the King's death haunts him."

"You do well in standing by him." She turned back on the threshold. "I shall wait for you upstairs, Silmë."

She was gone.

I did not know how I came to be sitting in one of the low armchairs; I did not know my tears had broken their dam. I knew nothing until Matimo knelt by me, taking my hand.

"My love."

I could not reply. With light fingers he dried my tears, and I did not shed others. I took his hand, holding on to it for a silent moment. His next words were uttered in a low, pained voice.

"I would not blame you if you stayed back."

Eyes wide with surprise met his; I could find no words. In my silence, he spoke again.

"Your father was right in his mistrust; I cannot untie myself from Fëanáro. I am his eldest son; mine is his legacy. But you could have –"

Two of my fingers sealed his lips. A long moment we stood thus, until my words were bound together in a plot I would not undo.

"In the freedom you leave me lies your love. But he that would have chained me to his door, truly like a dog in his master's court, he has now erased whichever duty I had to him."

My words were harder than the pain that still throbbed in my chest; but my eyes demanded he accepted them. Silently, he did. He took my hand, and kissed it; when his eyes found mine our lips met with breathless haste.

My fingers entwined in his short hair; and it was with effort that our spirits mastered our need, and we detached. To give in to comfort in that hour would have meant to lose all resolve; and then were needed wills of steel. I rose, wiping away all trace of my tears.

"I shall see you in Alqualondë."

He nodded in silence. One last time he kissed my hand, before he departed.

Slowly I walked to the stairs, my thoughts soldered together, seamless enclosures to keep my grief from seeping in. Sitting on the last step was Findaráto; his head lying on his hand. I sat beside him, my fingers finding the nape of his neck.

"Tell, Daro."

When his eyes met mine I knew the answer before he spoke.

"Olorimo spoke the truth. She will not come."

His heart beat quietly. Behind a closed door, we could hear his mother crying.

"Stay here then."

My voice had been barely more than a breath. Findaráto looked at me, and in his glance I saw the dead memory of such a hope.

"I could not abandon my siblings."

Quietly, I laughed.

"You are a better kinsman than I am."

"Never say that. My mother I leave behind, as you do with your father. You have no brother and no sister, Silmë; if you did, you would understand." His hand caressed my face, as he had done when we were children. "None that has seen you with Maitimo could ever doubt nor question your choice. Some of us are blessed with love; but others, and you among them, are cursed with it."

Findaráto shared Artanis' gift for foresight, even if more rarely he would speak; hoping with silence to subdue his prophecies. I looked at him; but in that day even such words could not chill me. Stretching a hand, he helped me to my feet, and ascending the stairs he left me on Artanis' door.

When I came in she was checking her bags.

"Are yours ready?"

I nodded, and sat again on the bed; waiting for the moment to leave, my eyes on the void beyond the windowpanes.

"Silmë."

No need to speak. We shared a glance, and, slowly, I nodded.

"Thank you."

She held my hand, briefly. Then she sat beside me, waiting for the long count of those last hours to slip away.

***

Findekáno came to the door to call us, his pace brisk, his long, dark hair braided in tighter tresses than usual. He had dressed simply, in blue and green – and by his side hung a sword. Fëanáro's idea had not remained confined to Formenos alone.

He waited for us to collect our luggage, for us to sling it on the back of our horses. But when Artanis and I came to him he looked past us, to the house.

"Your brothers?"

"They'll come later. Father and Findaráto...they take a long time to prepare."

Findekáno frowned. The unsaid words in Artanis' voice – for they do not wish to come. But the column already was slipping by our gates, a tense silence lit only by lamps. The fog had subsided, a clear night was revealed. Above our heads, the stars shone bright, and hard.

"Come then. The Fëanárions have left long ago."

"We know."

The words had slipped off my tongue, an uncaring remark checked by his glance. A mixture of pain and despair whose reason I could not guess; but a blade whose edges the years had not dulled. He said nothing. Briskly, he took my horse by the reins, leading her away. She protested at his brusqueness – his fingers caressed her, a soothing stroke.

Artanis closed the gates behind her back. Where my eyes indulged one long moment on the house I had inhabited for the years of my betrothal, she looked back but once; and swiftly. Her farewell to her mother had been a private, brief affair, a few moments behind a closed door. Now from the house of her childhood she took her leave painlessly, and without remorse.

For one long moment I waited for memories to rush back; I waited for images of times long past to come back and sting, for the lost joy of Valinor to bite me with regret. By this gate I had kissed Maitimo for the first time, sixteen years before. By that pond, that the darker shadow of the trees hid, long hours of happiness had been consumed. But no memory came; the dark lay on everything a dull and an equal veil. A house, no more; an empty shell. Lamps by its windows were useless beacons for those who would not come back.

The metallic wings clinked soberly between my fingers, by my side, looking elsewhere, Artanis waited. I took the bridle of my mare, and joined the march.

Thus we left Tirion the White, Tirion upon Tùna the Noldor had made splendid. Dull where the palaces the Elves left empty; everywhere the traces of a hurried leave. Fëanáro had not allowed his people to tarry. Some would wait for Arafinwë to leave; on their doors, ready, they waited. Those who stayed back did not watch us pass. Unseen, behind closed windows and drawn curtains they listened to our steps pass, and fade; counting not how many would not be there to hope for a new day. We would not wait; we would go forward to seek a different light.

Strange were the roads in this silence; by every corner torches had been lit. And by their light we looked around, and recognized nothing; for we were not used to darkness and its tricks, and it was as if with the light of the Trees the city we had known and loved were gone. Some tarried by a corner, looking into a garden they had loved; others stooped upon stairs of crystal, seeking in vain to make them shine. But the reflection of the torches upon them was like spilt blood.

Artanis did not look left or right; she marched on, her hand firmly on the harness of her horse. Without glancing at me, sometimes her palm would brush the back of my hand; as if checking for me to be there. I would smile then; a taut smile in this strange hour. But she would not see it.

The last houses where left behind; now only a few more mansions stood in the empty vale before the breach, and the road to Alqualondë and the Sea. This path I knew well: many times I had trod its stones, many times with Maitimo I had sought this way. And my head turned, as it always did when I came to this point; looking ahead to the well-tended orchard, to the tall cypresses framing the door. Knowing not whether to expect the darkness of departure or the subdued light of refusal.

A light I found, but it shone brilliant; its red broken by the shape of the Elf leaning against the post. Nerdanel watched us pass, her face that of a statue where grief has been etched into stone, but her body still and quiet, as strong in her resolve to stay as others had walked quickly in theirs to leave. Our eyes met; but she did nothing. Still she remained, the black cat at her feet velvet in the silk of that night; her eyes following me, but her frame motionless. And then we had passed.

The journey until the Sea was devoid of thoughts, an unbroken stretch where my feet walked quietly among those of many. None sang; too much the fear mingled to excitement, doubt too closely woven with anticipation. Any voice raised in melody would have broken. Swiftly and silently we passed, and at our last ascent before the final march to the city some turned back, love for what they left behind a cold finger upon their hearts. They turned; but no regret touched them.

For beautiful was Tirion, even in that night; but empty. The white lance of the Mindon Eldaliéva crowned with flame was an accusing finger pointed to the sky, and it reigned untouchable over a city of death. Cold, and deserted; forsaken abode abandoned by joy or grief. Its stones were now silent, and still. Those who had turned back looked forward once again. Already the head of the column was descending; and at our feet there stretched the turquoise tiles, the flat roofs of the city of the Teleri.

In the blackness the Sea was still, deceivingly calm, a plain mirror for the stars to gaze at themselves. Its voice came far, a quiet whisper through the colourless cloth of the night; but to its voice we did not listen, for as we looked at its border, orderly Swanhaven where many ships were moored, flame and scream took our eyes and ears; and down we gazed in wonder and dread.

To Eldarin eyes the quays were near, as if at hand: and on their pale stone, encrusted with pearls, Noldor and Teleri were locked in a deadly dance. Many times I had seen the sons of Fëanáro training in the use of the sword; many times I had heard the clash of steel on steel. Sometimes an awkward attack had been stricken, and blood spilt; but nothing that I had seen then, in the peaceful light of afternoons spent in practice, could prepare me for this. For then the fight had been but a game; the fighters bonded by affection and blood. For the first time now I, and with me the whole of Findekáno 's host, saw what it was for hatred to be armed with a blade.

Artanis' voice came to me as from a far place.

"They refused to give up their ships…"

The swan-ships Uìnen herself had taught them to make.

"It's on the Valar's orders that they oppose us!"

I never knew who it was that said it first; I only knew that it spread like wildfire. Amassed on the hill above the city we watched, and what we thought the truth was spread before our eyes; and with each cry that reached us our anguish grew.

"Lord Findekáno! Shall we leave our kin to die?"

It had been a standard-bearer to speak; in his hand, blue and silver, Nolofinwë's colours flying. As one our column turned to Findekáno, to his sharp profile bent upon the city at our feet, to his keen eyes fixed, as if chained, on a spot at the margin of the fray. It was then that the thought my mind had ignored, the truth my spirit had denied, dulled into disbelief by what my eyes saw, came back and struck me with force; it was then that I looked where my cousin did, and with sinking heart I recognized the bright sword, the copper head of Maitimo standing his ground against two of his enemies. And all pity for my mother's kin was forgot; all thought for the truth behind this blood unimportant.

I raised my head; and in Findekáno's cold voice I recognized my own need.

"No."

He unsheathed his sword; and running he descended the steep road to the haven, the Noldorin Elves behind him finding in their throats the will and anger to yell. And the Teleri turned, seized by dread; for Findekáno 's host was upon them like eagle on unthinking sheep, and heavy blades tempered in Tirion made short work of Telerin small knives. Blood ran crimson on tainted pearls; and the Fëanárions raised their voices joining them to those of their saviours, and the Sea-Elves were chased back inch by inch.

All this I saw, and I knew the horror of kin voices screaming in wrath, in pain inflicted and received; but I heard them with deaf ears, for in the fray I ran down with the warriors, caring not for my own lack of arms: in my mind the thought of Maitimo one blinding, irrefutable call.

In the battle I looked for him, slipping unseen between Elves meeting, now, on the tip of sharpened blades; and I would not have found him, but death that no Elf had known ere this day would have come to me, shadow that would lay me on the stone flags where blood ran free, had Carnistir not found me first.

"Silmë!"

I had not heard the Telerin Elf approaching, I had not known of his raised knife; now I turned to watch him die, one last scream truncated by an upthrust sword. Open eyes, open mouth where no sight, no voice would now ever be; and his body fell heavily at my feet, spraying my dress with blood. I looked at him, conscience of what had come to pass struggling to hit me swift and hard; but Carnistir cared not for my stupor, he overstepped the fallen, grasping my wrist.

"You utterly maddened, you crazed Elf."

Dragging me away he brought me back from the alleys where I had come looking for his brother, back to the open field of the quays; and his sword was raised, streaked with blood not his, and at its sight the Teleri fled. For they saw now that the battle was lost, and fighting they cut their way out of the strife and to the defense of their houses and walls; and the Noldorin lowered their swords, and let them go.

I looked up, and saw Maitimo standing by his father, on his face a dazed expression, his sword lowered almost to the ground; and his vest was black with blood, but his bearing was that of one who is not wounded. And I would have run to him, but my path had to be chosen carefully: for the quays were sown with those who had fallen.

It was then, as I walked to the one I had come to seek at the peril of my life, that I fully saw it, what had come to pass here; it was then that I saw what my ears and eyes had refused to acknowledge before. Teleri and Noldor lay together before my feet, their lifeless bodies joined in death past the strife, their blood mingled, dropping as one in the water where the lamps of the Teleri shone sickeningly white. I walked, and as I walked I stepped over the dead; and my steps were careful, as if I feared to wake them.

We have done this. They fought…we did this.


It mattered not whose hand had held the knife.

Perhaps I should have wept. Perhaps I should have cried, or fallen to my knees, as many of those around me did then. Perhaps I should have begged for forgiveness of that clear, uncaring sky. But I did not. My progress halted before one last body, a maiden laying on her back, her arms sprawled, across her thrown the corpse of her killer cut down before he could turn. Noldor, Teleri; it mattered not. I looked at them through eyes that could take nothing more, and my heart was dead. Where no grief, no horror could suffice to express what it wanted to scream, my spirit fell in a daze where my body stood numbed. I looked at the bodies; I saw nothing else.

"Silmë."

I did not raise my eyes; I did not want to know. I remained still, listening for the sand of my endless life to trickle out, and for the hand of justice to strike me down. For I could not be standing when those at my feet had fallen; I could not be breathing when their chests were still, their spirits fled in fear to the Halls of Nàmo of the Dead.

"Silmë."

A hand slipping in mine. Two fingers raising my chin. His eyes, mirrors of my own – his face, streaked with sweat, and blood.

We have done this.


His arms, as strong around me as I remembered. His guilt, companion of my own.

It matters not whose hand held the knife.


His head had sunk into my hair.

For I do not want to see.


Tears gathering behind my eyes, grief weeping to unmake this knot. Until the words stopped it.

"Seize the ships. We have won them."

Beyond Maitimo's shoulders, Fëanáro standing. Blood on the bright sword he had forged for himself, blood on the crimson of the tunic he wore. His eyes surveying that quay; and mercilessly. Seeing not what those who followed him had done; seeing not the empty shapes of the fallen. Seeing only the ships he had conquered; a means to bring this voyage one step forward. A means to carry on the vengeance he had wrought in words and oath not to be broken before the World was undone and remade.

Death we shall deal him ere Day's ending.


My finger's grip on my beloved tightened, one last reminder of joy that had been, innocence we had lost. My eyes were dry.


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.

Story Information

Author: Aredhel Serindë

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 1st Age

Genre: Romance

Rating: General

Last Updated: 09/29/10

Original Post: 04/22/10

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