Nerdanel's Story - Chapter 7 . Tirion.
( Disclaimer: All the characters are JRR Tolkien's. Gaerion and Serewen are inspired by reading Tolkien's works. All references are from The Silmarillion, and HoME 1, 10, 11 and 12.)
"Upon the crown of Túna the city of the Elves was built, the white walls and terraces of Tirion..."
( The Silmarillion. ` Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië.)
The House of Sarmo Urundil. Seventh Age.
The writing down of memories stirs many strands of thought in me; thoughts that I have no time to record, for many are the years in your way of thinking that I seek to include in my account. Another dream I had this last night, and she who was the subject of it is still in my mind most clearly this morning, as bright Anar* rises on Valinor. See the courtyard of my father's house? That is part of the dream, part of the past. They came riding in, fresh from the hunt, five of my sons and Nolofinwë's* daughter, Ar-Feiniel*. The horses had been at the gallop, and were hot with steam rising from their silken coats and breath rushing from their nostrils. My sons were laughing and jesting, pleased with that day's events, and full of joy in their strength and speed and skill. She often rode with them at that time, in the days before the bitterness between our Houses began in earnest. The nearest I had then to a daughter, was Ar-Feiniel. She had been speaking most animatedly with Maitimo*, at the head of the group, and they had shared laughter. He dismounted and strode over to me, his eyes merry as he swept me a low and courteous bow.
"Well met, my Lady and mother! I had thought you still in Tirion at this time, but much joy it brings me to see you now here!"
I had come that day to speak particularly with my eldest son about a matter that I deemed of great import, and turned with him to the house, leaving Ar-Feiniel to continue her opinionated debate on the loyalty of hounds with Tyelkormo*, of whom she was most fond.
Then I was alone, and she stood before me as if in a mist, clothed in white and silver, as ever. Her long dark hair was unbound, and fell in a shinning cascade to her knees. But her eyes! Those wide grey eyes were imploring me, nigh begging me something!
"What is it? What is wrong, dear one?" I addressed her with concern, though at the same time I realised she was not, could not be there.
"Do not forget me!" She whispered.
As if I could!
I must shake that dream from me, for dream it was! The fëa of those still in the Halls of Awaiting do not appear to the living, and Ar-Feiniel died in the First Age, was slain by poison intended for her son. Her own husband murdered her!
I must turn to something now that concerns Ar-Feiniel's Grandmother, and here we begin to touch upon what, for my Lord, was the second sorrow to enter the Blessed Realm. When I reflect upon my choice of friends, I find that my closest companions were neri, which is just as well, considering! Not that I had any difficulty in relating to the other nissi that I grew up with, but my interests were always closer to those of the neri, and with them did I spend many hours in discussions and exploration and the undertaking of the crafts that I loved. And dancing also, just sometimes! Two nissi became very dear to me, however, close friends and confidants both. One was Serewen, she who was to become wife to the Lord Ecthelion. The other was the Lady Indis!
Now it happened that, after our betrothal, it was decided I should remain in Tirion for some days. Fëanáro was most eager that I became familiar with the city itself, and the many points of interest, and learning that it held for such as myself. (Not that I needed much encouragement, for once I was actually there, I wished to learn what I could!) I was to become acquainted with some of the lords and ladies, with some of those considered sages, and I was also expected to make a good impression on the King!
How to begin describing Tirion! It is best if you see the Watchful City yourself, Adaneth. I came to love our city, and joy was there for me for many years. Tirion is built upon the green hill of Túna. The light of the Trees bathed it in the past, from the west, while to the east, white sands and a small creek run still to meet it from the green Sea. A white-walled, marbled city, it is, rising over many terraces, with smooth, wide crystal stairs. There are concourses and courtyards wherein a multitude of sparkling fountains play. Jewelled bridges span narrow cascades of water that flow down from the higher levels. Some of the halls and houses of the Noldor have gold roofs and many a tall tower there is, for we delight in high buildings. The tallest of the towers is Mindon Eldalieva, and this tower bears a silver lamp that shines its slender beam into the sea mists. In the court beneath that tower is Galathilion, the lesser image of Telperion, which was gifted to us by Yavanna. (Though alas, that tree gives no light of it's own being!) And on the crown of Túna, in the great square beneath the Mindon, is the house that was once Finwë's.
I do believe I feel the desire to visit that place again, one final time! I would show you the sights, as they were once shown to me, that you may better understand the next part of my tale, for the years of the children centred around our home there although we continued to travel much. I will write up these present memories, those that reach unto our wedding. Then, if you will, we can both travel to the city, to the house I once called my own, to the house of Curufinwë Fëanáro. But again do I digress!
Fëanáro took delight in introducing me to the many-roomed Library just off of the great square, near the house of the King, which contained all the amassed written knowledge of the Noldor at that time. We did not write things down least we forgot them, you understand, for we do not forget. But those scrolls and tomes contained the accumulated findings of many sages and Loremasters, so that one might easily gain an overview of what was already known. We walked together afterwards, through the upper terraces and gardens, and stood for a time overlooking the Sea. Happy I was to be at his side, and I found myself often looking in near amazement at the slender silver ring he had placed upon my right forefinger. So much had happened to me of late! But still did I have questions in my mind that even betrothal would not quieten; some still concerning the leaving of the Eldar from that land of our birth, even after the visit to Oromë and many discussions. ` Did the Valar fulfil the will of Iluvatar in bringing our parents hence from Cuiviénen, or not! If it was the will of Iluvatar, why had he not made us to awaken in this land?' was what plagued me at that time. Fëanáro had thought on this also in our wanderings, but now he seemed less keen to consider the issues. Content enough did I believe he was with me, and at that time most considerate of my needs, but still did something disturb him, and that to do with his father's attitude I judged.
Among those who befriended me and sought my good from the start was Ecthelion. He had, true to his word, been among those who welcomed me to the city. At the betrothal in the gardens of the King's house, he had introduced me to she whom he hoped to soon betroth. So was my first meeting with Serewen. She was everything I expected a highborn lady to be, willow slender, long brown hair falling smooth to her waist, and an elegance of movement beyond most others. She was also quite charming, and most concerned at my predicament. Serewen it was who walked with me when Fëanáro was otherwise occupied those days. She took me to places he had not, including the arena where the athletes competed. Proud she was of Ecthelion's skills in such contests, and wanted doubtlessly for me to be likewise impressed.
"Ecthelion is the best of the younger neri in most contests." she said without arrogance. She was simply stating a fact! " Few have ever bested him!" Then did she lowered her head more coyly, and smile with amusement." Even Fëanáro has he bested in a quarterstaff contest!"(We had few weapons at that time, Adaneth, for it was a merry time. Spears and bows used in the hunt, and knives and axes we had, but no swords were there in use, for swords have one purpose only.).
I wondered at the concept of anyone besting Fëanáro in any form of contest, for already did I know his will to be first!
"Well, actually, Fëanáro disarmed him," she continued " but Ecthelion drove his head into the Prince's stomach, and so brought him down!"
"Then he was not honourable. He cheated!" I could not quite grasp the images that were going through my mind of two of Tirion's noblest wrestling on the ground for supremacy.
"They are still friends, though the Prince will not make the same mistake twice. Should they compete again, he will prevail." Serwen smiled brightened her already beautiful face. "But my Ecthelion had his moment of glory! May he yet have others!"
(Indeed, many years hence, was Ecthelion to have a moment of glory when, disarmed, he would drive his spear point helmeted head into the chest of his opponent, to so bring down at last the Lord of Balrogs. Of this have I spoken earlier, though it is much on my mind!)
Within days of being in the house of Finwë and observing the manner of interaction between father and son, did I know for certain I would never be foremost in the heart of Fëanáro! I had heard the talk of his relationship with his father; most folk had. The love between this father and son was a special love, borne out of their grief and out of Finwë's devotion. Some had thought that Finwë may at first have chosen to follow Míriel into the Halls of Awaiting, so deep was his sorrow at her loss. But he took his role and responsibility as a father most seriously, and would in no way leave his son. Alone of the Eldar in the Blessed Realm, was Finwë as father and mother to his child, and so a double bond of attachment had developed between them. It was said amongst the Noldor `Never did any son so love and esteem his father as did Fëanáro', and though I am loath to comment, for many do love their parents greatly, yet from my experience this was something unique. There are many kinds of love, of course. Never did I begrudge their relationship once I understood that!
Finwë himself I had met but once, and that briefly, at the time of his visit to my father's house. Fëanáro was much like him in appearance and many of his ways, though not all. Both were tall and proud of bearing, dark of hair and with blue-grey eyes. Both were skilled with language, eloquent with words and most convincing in a debate. It was not without good reason that Finwë had been chosen as the ambassador for the Noldor to the Valar.
For my part, I found the King, though struggling at that time with a growing bitterness, to be ever thoughtful and courteous towards me. I do not think I impressed him initially as Fëanáro had hoped, but he liked me well enough, and soon came to trust and value my observations. (Though he was aghast at me asking at the table his thoughts on the Valar and the will of Iluvatar!). He appreciated the benefits of the forthcoming connection with the House of Urundil, and honoured Míriel's friendship with my mother. And I grew to love and respect him, also.
On the seventh day after my betrothal, did Finwë summon me to his hall, for he had been in receipt of a gift of fine pearls from King Olwë, and the messenger sent would have words with me before he returned to Alqualondë!
The tall, silver-haired Teler, who turned to greet me as I hesitantly entered the high roofed, marble chamber, was Gaerion. In all probability, Finwë did not know of the feelings Gaerion had for me, believing, as I so recently had, that this was a childhood friend who would deem it ill-mannered to visit Tirion without speaking with me. So Finwë left the hall, and signalled for those in attendance to do likewise, to give Gaerion and I chance to speak and mayhap reminisce on earlier times without disturbance.
(There were no guards in the King's house at that time. Folk would come into the halls, into the chamber of the King at will to seek council or to debate. And if Finwë were there, and not otherwise occupied with matters of import, he would always speak with them. In that did I much admire him!)
" I came as soon as I could, Nerdanel" Gaerion bowed low before me, far more formal a gesture than he had ever used before. " That my King wished those pearls to be transported to his friend gave me the opportunity I sought to gain entrance to the House of Finwë. I begged him greatly to allow me the charge of bringing them hence."
As I looked upon my friend, upon my `everfriend', my worst suspicions were realised. I saw the pain in his eyes, the disbelief at what had happened in his absence.
"What have you done? Why could you not wait?" He uttered forlornly. I noticed then that his attire was hardly that of a royal courier. He had ridden straight from landfall; for his clothes were bedraggled and salt was upon them and the invigorating smell of the Sea was about him.
There was no point in denying the truth, or in being anything other than absolutely honest. I could not say to Gaerion the words he wanted to hear.
" I am betrothed, Gaerion. I am to wed next year with the son of Finwë. I spoke almost apologetically, though I did not feel apologetic for my choice.
"This I know!" he replied, speaking more sharply to me than he ever had. Never had Gaerion been anything but a polite `younger friend' to me. He reached under his grey cloak and took out a rolled parchment from his belt. " Your betrothed has already seen fit to inform me of what you have done in a letter that awaited the `Uinenlindë' coming into harbour. No sooner had I set foot upon the shore than this was thrust into my hand!"
I was suddenly fixated upon that parchment. Fëanáro had written to Gaerion! I could not understand why. Surely he had not perceived Gaerion to be a rival to him? I could not believe that!
"What I need--what I want to know, Nerdanel-- is why you have done this. You have not even known him a full year!" Gaerion's anger with me was as soon over as the sea mists touching Tirion, and now he was my friend again, desperate to make me see my error before it was too late.
"Why did you do this thing when you knew I was at Sea. You have not even given me the chance to tell you how I ..."
We both hung our heads, both knew what he wanted to say, and that it was no use. I wanted to take his hand, to touch him as I used to in reassurance, but that would no longer have been proper. Not in the present situation.
"I am sorry" I uttered at last. " I have failed you as a friend. I should have written to you myself at the least. But things have happened so quickly!"
"So quickly?" He stepped back a pace. " This letter has been waiting at Alqualondë for a great many days. It arrived shortly after I sailed, my brother said!"
Much did I wonder at this comment, but thought not to pursue it with Gaerion; rather would I pursue it with Fëanáro!
Gaerion and I spoke for a short time further, and we parted still as friends. He knew he had no chance of changing my mind and conceded victory to the son of Finwë without battle on that occasion. He was honourable enough not to wish distress upon me by such an attempt. We walked down the length of the hall from the dais upon which we had stood; both of us maturing considerably with those few steps as we realised that our childhood days of playing and exploring together were well and truly at an end. He turned to me before he left and managed a smile.
"I had to see you, you know! Even if it is for the last time before you wed another." My dear `everfriend' looked down at the floor, at that blue, green and gold marble portrayal of the Great Journey that adorned the hall of Finwë. "If you ever have need of a friend, Lady, send to me and I shall come, no matter what the cost to me!" And that was the closest Gaerion got to telling me how he felt!
(Rash words were they, though kindly and sincerely meant. It was to be many years before I met with Gaerion again, and many more before, in desperation I would send that to him which I knew would bring him to me.)
I stood alone in the Hall for a few moments, pondering the outcome. I was saddened, but relieved in an odd manner also, that the encounter was over. Then did Fëanáro enter the room, his footfall upon the marble echoing in what suddenly seemed its emptiness. He did not seem overly concerned, but came straight to me, taking my hand and raising it to his lips.
"My Lady!" he looked at me, faintly quizzical. " That was a Teler I saw leaving, the one who brought the pearls?"
"Aye, my Lord! It was my friend, Gaerion, to whom you wrote!" I had learnt from that earlier occasion not to reach premature conclusions, but much did I want to know his reasons for so writing.
No hint of discomfort touched his face at my words, and he took his usual firm grasp of my hand, seeking to lead me to the buildings behind the halls where he worked. That his purpose in being there was to take me to see something he was working on was obvious, though at that time I did not appreciate the near unique privilege he was according me. (And still I had not seen his sculpture of me!)
" I wrote to him because it was right so to do! If you had not noticed it, my Lady, that gift he sent you and the note, were signs more of affection than friendship! I would not have him entertain hope where none was to be had!"
As we walked out into the fresh air, into the bright light of Laurelin, I stepped in front of him, halting our progress to the workroom until I was satisfied with an answer.
"You wrote shortly after your return from our travelling in the north! That was a long time before you ever spoke with me of betrothal!" I chided gently, but firmly. I would set a boundary on acceptable behaviour in our relationship, or so I thought!
Still was there no surprise upon Fëanáro's features. But his eyes took on a more determined look. "Had I known of Gaerion, I could have written the letter to him the day we first met, when I beheld you on the hillside, a free spirit with hair of flame. I needed to ponder the implications of our union, how it would affect our families, but I knew then in my fëa that I had found the one I wanted!" He reached down to lightly touch my cheek. " And you knew also that day, Lady. If you are honest with yourself!"
Those words warmed me, and took much of the sting out of what I had considered his presumption. Fëanáro did not speak so that often! And of course, he was right!
After some further time of exploring the city with Serewen, of walking and talking with Fëanáro and sometimes with Finwë, I took my leave of the city for a short time, I thought. I rode back to the dwellings of the Aulenduri alone, for I wished to speak with my parents again. (They had departed Tirion two days after the betrothal). Also did I wish to resume my study with my father and seek his advice on the crafting of a jewel that I had in my mind to be a gift. Within two days Fëanáro had joined me! So eager for my company was he, observed my mother, though we both wondered that, mayhap, something had transpired shortly after my departure that was a source of annoyance to him. And again did we wander off, far in the hills this time, and for very long. (My father said then that this was no way to learn the skills of Aulë. But he laughed with pleasure at the sight of his daughter's happiness nonetheless!) Far north indeed did Fëanáro and I travel that time, to low green hills and forests with many deer and other creatures, and we halted and abode for a time near the edges of a rugged dale where a stream plunged underground with much force and power. (Here were Fëanáro and our sons to later raise that fortress that would be Formenos.) We spoke much of our thoughts for the future, though you must try to understand that such long ages stretched before us, that we believed there was time for all things. We saw no end to our learning and crafting, though maybe to our exploring lands new! So we lived in the moment, in the fullness of the `now' and we were joyful so to do. Almost did I wish then that things could be as they were upon the Great Journey; that we could wed in truth with no need to wait, nor need of ceremony, just the exchange of vows, one with the other. But neither of us would dishonour our parents, for it would have been churlish indeed to forgo the gracious celebrations that our families, in their love, wanted for us.
We did not wish to return from that journey we had so delighted in. Yet there was work for us both to do, and matters to be arranged. I wished still to pledge my loyalty to Aulë, and that before we wed. Fëanáro had only support for this choice of mine, appearing to consider it would in no way interfere with our life together. I had also thought, perhaps, we should look to the building of a house of our own, but here did the love of Fëanáro for Finwë come into play, and he insisted we would live with his father, as he had always done. And I understood that!
Upon our arrival at my father's house we were greeted warmly, and food and drink was already prepared for my mother had seen us from afar. But Fëanáro had that seriousness, that sullenness, about him that he always had when he was with me, but his face was turned to home, and he rode back to Tirion the same day He still had work to do, said he, work that he should have been eagerly pursuing had he not so desired to explore again!
And all was peaceful for awhile.. At least it was until I received a letter from him, requiring me to come to him as soon as I might, for he had need of me. Little more was said, save that his father was now in Valmar to seek council of the Valar on his desire to end his marriage to Míriel. It would seem that in our absence, Finwë had taken advantage of an offer to visit with Ingwë, and upon his travels to meet with his friend of old had he met with the fair Lady Indis, whom he now desired to wed!
Though Fëanáro had made no comment on this action in his written word, each pen stroke, each syllable shouted to me of his great anger and resentment. These last days had been as a calm before a storm over the Sea, I thought, and much did I wonder at what I would find upon my return to Tirion.
(*There are differing accounts of the order and amount of time taken over the Statute of Finwë and Míriel. The Silmarillion and HoME 10 suggest Finwë had his first marriage sundered before he met with Indis. HoMe 12 suggestes it was after. )
Anar The sun