Finrod and Lothloriel - What strength has the power of love against the darkness that would seek to destroy it?
Fair was the face of Lothloriel Ellhyn when I first looked upon it; and fair is it still, as I take my farewell.
For I must part from my beloved: she who holds my heart. Not lightly do I go, yet I am held by an oath, a promise, made to one who saved my life and I cannot forsake him, though his quest is folly and like to cause both our deaths.
"May the Valar look upon you with favour and bestow the gift of their grace upon you." Her voice is calm and quiet, serene and untroubled. No tremor of emotion betrays her. Yet her tender fingers trace for one last aching moment the outline and contours of my face. A final, lingegay kiss, the touch of those honey sweet lips, sweeps away my resolution and I cling to her, drowning in an ocean of desire and longing. But it is she, with the courage and steel of a hardened warrior, who separates us. "Beloved, your word is given and we must part. You must follow the road appointed to you, while my feet tread another path. Do not grieve. For we are not yet lost to each other: I am with you always, and your suffering will be my suffering, whilst your joy will be mine also. If it is given to us to meet again without the Halls of Mandos then let us rejoice on that day. If fate is against us, we must accept our lot, and use the memories of our bright days together to lighten the gloom of our existence." Thus she speaks, words of wisdom and love. "I give to you, my dearest, a gift, a token to carry with you. I wish you to have my father's ring. Carry it with you always and know that you are always in my mind."
I feel the touch of her hand on mine, and warm metal is enfolded by my fingers. "My love, I cannot take this gift. It is too precious to you. This all you have left of your father."
"Take it and gladly. I give it to you of my own free will and I would have it so. Please, take it because I ask it of you."
"I will, then, and with a glad heart." Slipping the ring onto my finger I admire its glowing beauty.
Reaching out, I cup her face within my hands and draw her towards me for one last fierce embrace that cannot adequately convey the depth of love within my heart. For a fleeting moment she returns it with a blazing passion and intensity.
I stumble to where my companion waits for me, blinded by a terrible tearing grief. I feel the touch of his hand on my arm; but the quest lust is upon him and he has little room within his heart for another's pain.
I cannot look back.
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And so he is gone. And I am left alone; naked, defenceless, exposed. A bitter parting. So cruel and terrible. A gaping emptiness and gnawing, aching hurt will be my burden for as long as I must bear it.
My feet lead me back to the echoing halls of Nargothrond where Orodreth, my husband's brother, awaits my return. "As a sister you are to me, Lothloriel, and as a brother, I make it my task to guard, protect and honour you, until my brother, your husband, returns." His sincerity and affection are true and honest, yet he does not see or understand the danger which lurks in the shadows.
"I thank you, Orodreth, and I know that I can trust your word. You have been a faithful and loyal brother to Finrod. He entrusted Nargothrond to your care and I have no doubt that you intend to keep it safe for him. But a word of warning - beware the hand offered in friendship, while the other is poised to strike."
Orodreth sighs. "Lothloriel, we have talked of this before. Curufin and Celegorm pose no threat to me or you. Their rage was directed at Beren for his arrogance in daring to seek the Silmarils, and at my brother for honouring his promise to give Beren aid. You have nothing to fear from them."
So speaks the voice of a trusting innocent. But I know better.
He holds me close and drops a kiss on my forehead. The kindly gesture releases a torrent of emotion which I am barely able to hold back. "I must go," I whisper. "Please." Wrenching away, I turn and hurry across the hall, seeking solitude and quiet in my own rooms.
A figure blocks my way. "Seeking solace, my lady? Then let me be the one to offer you comfort in this time of your distress. You will find none more comforting than I." The honeyed words drip sweetly from his lips, yet the sweetness contains an acid sourness that sets my teeth on edge.
A hand grips my arm with fingers of steel. "Come, you must feel lonely with Finrod gone. Allow me to escort you to my apartments and provide you with some pleasant entertainment to help the time pass quickly."
Grief heats quickly into a boiling rage. "Take your hands from me," I hiss. "Get out of my sight. Yours is the last face I wish to see. Were there no other Elven kind left alive, I would not consort with you!"
"Brave words, my lady, but they will not aid you. With Finrod removed from the throne and like to die on this senseless quest, you hold the key to the treasure of Nargothrond. You and that foolish, trusting Orodreth." A scornful laugh curls his thin, bloodless lips. "You may hate me now, but, there will come a time when you will beg on your knees for my company. I will break your spirit if you choose to fight. And then, you will crawl to me on your belly." A thoughtful, contemplative expression settles on his features. "And that will indeed be worth waiting for."
I spit full into his face. For a moment, the wish to strike back, to hurt, to wound, is imprinted clearly in his face. Then his will reasserts itself. "Go now, my lady. Grief has clearly overwhelmed you. Take rest and consider what I have said."
My arm is released from the bruising grip. He turns and strides away. I watch until he is lost to my sight. Then I flee.
It is said that the true strategist in the game of chess is he who plays a double game, lulling his opponent into a state of false confidence by allowing him to progress across the board, whilst cloaking his true intent until the last vital moves of the game when his deception is revealed.
I know now how well Curufin plays this game. I cannot fault his strategy. For I am his pawn, the instrument of deception, and with consummate ease he manipulates Orodreth who is blind to his true intentions.
Orodreth will not accept my reasons to be excused from the evening meal customarily held in the Great Hall. "While Finrod is absent, you and I must assume the duties of host and hostess and make our guests feel welcome."
I know this and feel a pang of guilt at such churlish behaviour on my part; but would that we had guests other than these! These twice cursed, thrice ***ed sons of Feanor. I cannot forget their part in the Kin Slaying of Alqualonde in which my beloved parents perished. I bear a bitterness and hatred towards them, which even after so long a time, burns hotly in my blood.
How many of us continue to suffer because of the overweening pride of their long dead parent? How many other husbands, children and parents must be lost to this terrible urge to wield power over others? The price has been too dear for many.
I feel sick at heart. My stomach heaves and what little appetite I have drains away. The very smell of the food revolts me.
"Come, you must eat, Lothloriel, or you will waste away to a shadow." The amusement in Curufin's eyes belies the concern in his voice.
Ignoring him, I turn to Orodreth. "I ask that I may be excused. I have performed such duties as are needful. Would you allow me to leave the table and return to my apartments?"
Rising, Orodreth takes my hand and raises me to my feet. "Dear sister, I would entreat you to stay, but your countenance has such a pallor that I fear your spirits are very low. Allow me to call one of your women to come to you and escort you back to your rooms."
"I would be grateful for that kindness, Orodreth, thank you."
"Perhaps a herbal posset would help you to rest and give your mind some ease. Doubtless your nights are lonely and your sleep fitful."
The comment is offered in a friendly tone.
"Good night, Curufin. May your sleep be untroubled and your rest undisturbed." Forcing a smile to my lips, I meet his eyes.
Turning, I kiss Orodreth lightly on the cheek. "Good night, brother."
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"Come quickly, my lady. There is news of your husband!"
Orodreth looks up as I enter the room. "What news, Orodreth?"
"A letter, sister." He pushes it across the the table top. I notice that his face looks troubled. "It is good news, brother?"
Picking up the parchment, I see that it is decorated with the crisp, clear lines of Finrod's elegant hand.
"Orodreth" reads the superscript. "Greetings. I send to you news of our arrival at the border. Tomorrow we venture into the wilderness. I write to ask you to have a care for Lothloriel. I am troubled that my departure may be too much for her to bear. I ask you to keep a watch on her since I fear that she may try to harm herself. Keep her safe and secure until my return. I ask this as a favour between brothers. Finrod."
I drop the letter as if it burns with a searing flame. The writing is Finrod's but the sentiments are not.
"From whence does this come?" I demand.
A figure moves out of the shadows and into my sight.
"I brought it, my lady. It was entrusted to me by the Master Finrod but three days ago."
"And who are you?"
"My name is Tallin, son of Mandir. You know my mother, Lynwen. She is one of your seamstresses."
I acknowledge this. "I do indeed. So. Tell me your story."
"My lady, I and others of my company were ordered to patrol the borders near the Falls of Ivrin, since report reached our captain that orcs were venturing into Nargothrond. We came upon Lord Finrod and his company by chance. Before they departed he asked that this letter be carried here and delivered to Lord Orodreth with all speed." Tallin bowed. "And thus, I come."
Orodreth nods in a gesture of dismissal. "Thank you, Tallin. You may leave."
"Those are not the words of my husband, Orodreth. The hand is his, certainly, but those are not his thoughts." I burst into speech before the door has closed.
"Sister, I have no reason to disbelieve the contents of this letter. Who among us does not know of the deep affection that you bear for each other. It is entirely credible to me that Finrod would feel such a concern. Also, your demeanour and spirits of late serve to confirm those fears that Finrod expresses here. You do not eat. Your women report that you barely sleep and you have little interest in those things that you once held dear. Tell me that is not so?"
"Your brother is right to feel such concern for you, my dear," a soft voice intervenes from behind me. "And you would do well to acknowledge that."
"I have no need of nursemaids, Orodreth. While Finrod lives, and, until news of his death comes to these halls, I will do nothing to imperil my life. You must believe that!"
"Nevertheless, I have ordered that a watch be kept upon you at all times. You are never to be left alone."
I begin to feel the confines of a prison cell close in around me.
Now, although I am accompanied at all times of the day and night, I am truly alone. Time passes so slowly. Hours, days, weeks are as an empty sea - the blue water stretching endlessly to the horizon with nothing to break the dull monotony.
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Orodreth has left the palace. Tidings came of an orc incursion into our eastern borders and Orodreth deemed it necessary to go there himself.
So, then, this is the game he intends to play. I see the closed faces and hear the whisperings behind my back. What little authority is left to me he would undermine; seeking to discredit me further in the hearts and minds of my people.
What tales does he tell? What untruths does he spread? In this time of uncertainty, who is to know which voice speaks the truth? How can I fight insidious rumour?
Aah, Felagund, the task bears weightily upon my shoulders. Yet, for your sake, though with a heavy heart, I will carry on.
Curufin enters the room and dismisses the woman who acts as my keeper. Behind him follow a group of his armed retainers.
"Get up, Lothloriel. You are coming with me." His voice is cold, the tone peremptory.
"With what authority do you come bursting in here and demand that I go with you? I have the right to freedom in my own palace. I ask you to leave."
"I have the authority of weapons and the will to use them. Orodreth is gone and I have armed men waiting to do my bidding. You will find none here to support you."
"Then you have no authority but that of fear. I am not afraid of you. What if I choose not to come?"
"My dear, you would do well to be afraid since I now hold the power of life or death over you." Boredom tinges the mellifluous voice. "I offer you a choice. Come with me quietly, now; or, offer resistance, if you must. Whatever you choose the end result will be the same, except that in choosing to come quietly you will allow yourself to retain your dignity; while resisting will not."
"Then I will keep my dignity." I speak the words lightly. "Would you have me change my clothes or pack some belongings?"
"That will not be necessary as your journey will not be a long one."
I make a last appeal. "Does it not cause you a moment's hesitation that what you do now shatters and defies all the bonds of kinship?"
For a moment, the mask slips - his eyes flare with kindling anger and his mouth curls in a derisive sneer. "Kinship! You dare to parade that word in front of me? What does your kind know of kinship? Hah! Guards! Take her away. I grow weary of this idle talk."
I am forced to stand. Breathe deeply Lothloriel, speak calmly. "And you," I ask the guards, "have you no concerns about what your master asks you to do? I am wife to Finrod Felagund, Lord of these halls, and his queen. Where is your respect?"
Their impassive faces show no response.
"Your plea falls on deaf ears, Lothloriel. Their loyalty is given to me."
"And you, Curufin. How will you answer to Finrod and Orodreth when they return and find me gone?"
A broad smile lights up Curufin's face.
"I do not think that problem is likely to arise, my dear. Orodreth is gone to the borders. Who would be surprised if he were to perish in an orc ambush? And, as for Felagund," he pauses, as if relishing the thought, "word has reached my ear that he and Beren and all their party are languishing in the dungeons of Sauron."
The blow is almost physical in its intensity. Were I not supported I would sink to my
"Go! Take her! You will have no trouble with her now."
From the depths of my horror I manage to summon some semblance of pride. "Curufin," I whisper weakly, and then choke out a little more strongly, "Curufin, you promised me my dignity. Command your guards to remove their hands and let me walk as a queen to whatever fate you may have in mind for me."
A touch of surprise furrows his brow for an instant. His words convey a grudging respect. "Let her walk alone. But keep her surrounded. I wish no-one to know of her whereabouts."
And so, here am I, in the dank, airless blackness of a Nargothrond prison cell; alone with my nightmares and terrors.
Finrod Felagund (2)
We are taken. Our haste betrayed us.
Vainly have I striven with Sauron to hide our true guise but he knows us now. Yet our purpose in coming here remains undiscovered. Nargothrond is yet safe.
While Sauron, full of rage at his failure to wrench from us the reason for our presence here, has ordered that manacled and shackled, we be cast into a deep pit in the heart of his foul dungeons.
The pitch torches granted to us as a 'kindness', and which served only to reveal the impossibility of easy escape, have long since burned out. There is no way out, save through a small iron grid at the far end, barely large enough for a grown man to crawl through had he the strength to prise the thick bars asunder.
Impenetrable blackness is our ever constant companion. So dark is it that the presence of another is revealed only by smell or touch or sound. The stench of despair hangs heavy in the still, foetid air, overlaid with the rank odour of hopelessness.
Time stumbles by, and we wait . . . wait . . . wait. . . for what? What does Sauron intend shall be our fates?
Huddled against the dank chill seeping into our very bones, we have whispered of this together, while yet our spirits were unquenched and courage had not departed. We may not choose the hour when we step over the threshold into the Halls of Mandos, yet we may play some part in the manner in which we make our entrance. We do not fear death, only shame and indignity in dying. For we have no doubt that any of us will leave this place alive. But such was the price of this foolhardy expedition. We knew that ere we left the confines of Nargothrond.
Now, were the promise of rescue to light our darkness, we are sunk so deep in a stupor of apathy and hopelessness that none would have eyes to see it.
And I? How do I endure this slow, agonising torture of endless confinement?
At first, movement, speech, song and what grim laughter we could summon kept our spirits alive and our hearts hopeful. Then, shared memories of times past, valiant deeds and bold adventure, warmed our hearts. Silence has fallen since. Each one of us has taken refuge in some quiet, secret place of the heart. While our bodies touch, our minds are parted.
I still have the ring of Telpelinde. Its touch brings me great comfort. But my mind wanders amid the meadows and woods of Nargothrond, hearing the gentle murmur of Lothloriel's voice, gazing on her fair beauty in dazed wonder, and longing for the touch of her lips on mine. This, and only this, sustains me.
Finrod Felagund (3)
Of the twelve companions, only Beren and I remain living.
Sauron gave little warning that his mind was set upon our fate.
A company of orcs descended into the depths and bound us even closer, fettering us together at ankle and wrist, restricting further what little ease of movement we had.
And then, his fell purpose was revealed in all its callous depravity and we have learned the horror of the iron grid.
For through it is released one of Sauron's bestial werewolves to prey upon us; hapless, helpless prisoners. Ten times it has fed. Which of us will be the last to die: unseen, unheard, alone?
A rank animal smell announces its approach; the very air becomes almost too foul to breathe so overwhelming is the stench, while the soft chink of metal upon rock tells of its entry into the pit.
How can I describe the horror that follows? Through the darkness appear two blood red glowing discs. Beneath, long, savage yellow fangs protrude from a dribbling, drooling muzzle. The powerful jaws open to belch forth low, rumbling grunts of delight.
I am riven by tearing anguish, pain and rage at my powerlessness. I pray that the monster will show some mercy and dispatch each victim quickly, but such thoughts are in vain, for Sauron's heart is barren and his creatures are formed in like fashion. Such cruel and mindless slaughter. This place is now a charnel house. I weep for each one lost.
"One of us must keep a watch and waken the other when the beast approaches. It may be that together we have some hope of repelling it. Sauron will not take my life away from me so easily." So says Beren, grim voiced and determined.
I do not say why should two be more successful than twelve? But Beren has the right of it. We must keep the flame of hope burning in our hearts even though it has sunk so low as to be merely a spark. Neither then will Sauron have mine.
So, back-to-back in this drear place, we wait and watch.
Somewhere betwixt sleep and wakefulness I sit, gazing into the dark. Almost imperceptibly, the dense blackness ahead begins to lighten. Brighter and brighter it grows until the air about me is filled with a soft, glowing golden radiance. In an effort to alert Beren, I try to move one arm, but am held, paralysed: neither can I speak.
"Hail, Finrod Felagund, most wise and learned of the Noldor, though I will not say 'well met'." An unfamiliar voice, resonant and of great power, speaks within my mind. "I come here not to offer rescue, for that is not within my powers, but to ask a great favour of you. Sauron will soon send his fell servant once more into this pit. One of you two here must perish. I ask that it be you."
"This is a mighty favour that you ask of me, lord, and one that I would reject utterly were you another. I beg leave of you to know the reasons why you ask it."
"Well I know that what I request means the loss of all you hold most dear and precious. Yet, it will not be in vain, that I can promise you. Tell me, what would you hold to be fair recompense for your sacrifice?"
"Lord, I would beg that the curse of Feanor be lifted from the Noldor, and the evil that pollutes this world be driven from its shores forever."
"You place a high value on your life indeed, but a life lived as yours has been has much to commend it. I tell you this. From the union of Beren and Luthien will spring a line of mighty kings. One of these will play a part in breaking the power of Sauron and vanquishing him for eternity from Middle Earth. No such glory is granted to your line, for the curse of Feanor has sapped and withered its living branches. But there is hope of redemption. For, by fulfilling the pledge you made to Barahir and all his kin of abiding friendship and aid in every need, you will clear the stain that tarnishes your race."
" And what if I say no, lord?"
"Finrod, you are wise and thoughtful beyond others. You know that you are the prize Sauron craves. He perceives you to be one of the Noldo, and as such a jewel beyond value. What, think you, is his purpose in keeping you alive? You must needs choose between us. Would you have death with honour, or dishonourable life?"
"Lord, I would beg a moment to consider this."
"By all means. But you have little time."
A thought comes to me. "One more thing, lord. If Beren is to live, then I must overcome this monster. My strength is almost gone."
"You will find strength enough within your heart when the time comes."
"Thank you, lord. But I would ask one further thing of you before I make my decision."
He listens to my request and it is granted. Then I tell him of my choice.
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And so, the end approaches. This pit will be my tomb: my broken body's last resting place. I had hoped for a gentler, kinder grave. Beside me, Beren weeps, lamenting my passing and giving voice to his despair. With all the strength that is left to me, I grasp his hand. "Despair not now. Rescue is at hand."
"But I would not leave you here, here among the filth and odor, in such a mean and brutal place."
"Beren, my body is broken and useless. It has served its purpose. I go now to my long rest in the timeless halls beyond the seas and the Mountains of Aman. It will be long ere I am seen among the Noldor again: and it may be that we shall not meet a second time in death or life, for the fates of our kindreds are apart. I bid you farewell."
I close my eyes, for I have no desire left to look upon this world. The hurts and torments which wrack my body are ebbing away, and cool, sweet peace embraces me in her soft arms.
How long have I been incarcerated here? I have no knowledge of passing time - of the day's golden path or night's silver spangled trail. My strength is almost gone. I am faint with hunger and thirst. No food or drink has passed my lips since first I was shut up. I have seen no sight nor sound of any living thing. This place is too deep for even the bravest of tunnelling creatures. Either Curufin wishes me dead, or sunk to such a state that I must needs drag myself along on my belly should he choose to open the door and release me. I have yet the strength of mind to deny him that pleasure!
My body shivers in the cold. I yearn for comfort, for clean, crisp sheets, the warmth of feather down, a yielding mattress in which to curl and luxuriate. But my bed is stony and hard. I will find no comfort here.
The dead weight of misery has settled about my heart. My spirits swing wildly between an ever fainter hope and an ever increasing despair. Hope that Finrod is alive and well and even now returning. Despair that what Curufin said is true and his life hangs by a thread. I must find the patience to endure! But I cannot! A thousand, thousand times I have imagined the worst and then reproached myself for lack of faith. I have wept, and raged, and stormed and cursed. This ignorance is the worst torment.
My mind protests its outrage and anger at the injustice done to me. I think, with an ever increasing weariness and lassitude, that I have been through these thoughts so many times times before. What will it avail me? Better save what energy I have left in enduring.
But what is this? I feel a faint warmth about me. The darkness lightens. Someone is here, with me.
Finrod? He is with me! I know it. I feel it. Joy lifts my heart. Oh my beloved; welcome, welcome!
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Hurrying footsteps clatter towards me. Voices, frantic with concern, cluster before the door. I hear the grate of the key in the lock. The door swings open but such is the brightness that I am forced to hide my cringing eyes and turn my head away. I try to rise from my huddled position against the wall, but my body is frail and slow and does not respond.
Tender arms gather me up and I am enfolded in a loving embrace.
"Lothloriel, you live! I feared that I should be too late!" In my weakness, I cannot reply. Moving my head I set it against his shoulder and wrap my arms about his neck, cherishing his warmth and solidity. Our tears mingle and fall as one.
"Come let me take you away from this place. It was not meant for such as you. He will occupy it while justice is done and until sentence is passed. I ask your forgiveness for ever doubting you."
So, rescue has come as Finrod said it would. And whilst my spirits soar with joy at the thought of freedom from this wretched jail, my happiness is short lived. For Finrod has departed from this world. And I must exist without him.