Nerdanel's Story: The Fire and the Sea. - A Tale of the First Kinslaying.


(Disclaimer: all characters belong to Tolkien. Gaerion, Gilfanon and Gillondë are my characters inspired by reading Tolkien's works. All references are from The Silmarillion and HoME 10 and 12.)

This is a one-part account of the Kinslaying that fits into `Nerdanel's Story'

"But the hosts of the Valar prepared for battle; and beneath their white banners marched the Vanyar, the people of Ingwë, and those also of the Noldor who never departed from Valinor, whose leader was Finarfin the son of Finwë. Few of the Teleri were willing to go forth to war, for they remembered the slayings at the Swanhaven, ....and they sent mariners enough to sail the ships that bore the host of Valinor east over the sea."

(The Silmarillion. `Of the Voyage of Eärendil')

"There (The Halls of Mandos) long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you."

(The Prophecy of the North and the Doom of the Noldor. The Silmarillion `Of the Flight of the Noldor')


The Year of the Sun 544. First Age. A coastal path north of Alqualondë.


"She will be by the coast, at that place just north of Alqualondë, where there is a grassy incline leading down to the cliffs. A sheer drop it is, onto the rocks and the waves below. In her present mood I know not what she will do!"

Urundil was distraught, silently beseeching Aulë's guidance, and wishing Tulcon or Narwasar or Artaro had been at the dwellings of the Aulenduri*, and had come with him on this pursuit. He knew where his only child went those days, when in sombre mood; that she loved the fierceness of that small stretch of coastland promontory, with its wild winds and, sometimes, wilder waters. He knew she looked from there to the east, and he knew why! But the previous evening she had left his house in a great hurry, and seemed in far more anguish of fëa than he had seen in many a year. And, grey cloaked, as if she wished to be away unnoticed, she had ridden her favoured dappled horse down through the Calacirya under the light of the moon and of the stars.

Most times would he not have worried for her, for she was strong and determined, and well able to care for herself; but the Blessed Realm that changed but little, was again changing most dramatically! The Mariner had come of late out of the east, and with a message from Elves and from Men! Eärendil was he named; a descendent of Finwë; and through Turukáno*. A Silmaril had he bound to his brow, (even as Fëanáro had once worn the three!), for that holy Light had enabled him to pass to the very shores of Aman, aye, even unto the festival deserted streets of Tirion and of Valmar. And there, before the Valar, had he told of the trials and of the suffering of those in the Hither Lands, and mercy he had asked, for the Two Kindred, and pardon for the Noldor exiles, and that they may be sent aid, that they may return home. Despite the words of Námo Mandos that no mortal man may tread upon the undying lands and yet live, neither any Noldo who left, return, yet had Ulmo spoken in the Mariner's defence, and Manwë, he had granted the prayer of Eärendil!

Now were preparations well underway for the Great Battle, the war to come! Many of the Aulenduri were in Tirion and in Valmar; others working day and night at the forges near their dwellings. All were eager to obey the summons of King Arafinwë, * and to craft weapons for the Noldor and the Vanyar hosts. For at last, the prayers of many were to be answered; the prayers of Nerdanel even, might be answered, and the pardon of Manwë granted to some of those from whom she had been sundered!

But then, had word not also come forth, and that many of bright Eärendil's people in the Hither Lands had been slain, and his twin sons taken captive? And that fell deed had been done by the hands of Ambarussa the elder*, (who also was slain in that encounter), and by Maitimo* and Makalaurë*!

Ai! Urundil drew the deepest of breaths at the thought of the deeds of his grandchildren; at the knowledge of what that cursed Oath had driven them to do!

"What did you speak with her about? What did you say?" he rather harshly addressed his lone companion in this search for his daughter. Only this one other had the smith found at need, and he also unnaturally low of spirit, and travelling east towards the sea. Not that Urundil disliked the Teler, who had of late paid more frequent calls to his house.

Gaerion knew not how to reply. How could he tell this Noldo whom he had long admired and respected; the one who had done his best to heal the grievous wounds caused to the Teleri by his people, that he, Nerdanel's `everfriend', had inadvertently spoken forth that which she could not bear to hear? That, instead of offering her comfort, he had caused her further sorrow!

"We talked, as ever, of her sons, and that Maitimo, and Makalaurë might yet return. I had thought that she would be uplifted in part by that possibility. Yet did she say to me that she knew Makalaurë would never so return! That though he would long most ardently to come home, and with those twins of Eärendil's in his care, (for he who so loved children would surely have cared for them!) yet never would it so happen!"

Urundil shook his head; bright copper hair partially escaping from the single bronze clasp that always held it from his eyes when he worked. "No, no!" he addressed himself more than the Teler. "She has come to terms with all of that. Nerdanel will wait upon the return of those ships to be sent. She will wait until King Arafinwë returns from this war to come, and the Valar and Vanyar hosts return also! Until that time, she cannot know for a certainty what has happened to either of her eldest sons."

"And the white ships!" the silver-haired Elda added, reluctantly slowing the pace of the bay horse he rode to a trot, as the coastal path became steeper and narrower. "We spoke of the white ships! I had told her that, if they yet lived, I would carry home her sons; even if other of my kin would not; even though her sons were responsible for the deaths of many of my people, `And Makalaurë slew my Father upon the deck of the Uinenlindë*!' was Gaerion's unspoken thought. "For her sake, and for yours, I would bring them home!"

Choosing not to comment for the moment on the reminder, yet again, of his grandsons' role in the Kinslaying, or on the knowledge that Gilfanon had been slain by Makalaurë, Urundil focused upon the task in hand.

Throughout the years since the rebel Noldor had left the city of Tirion following his daughter's husband, he and his wife, Taurlotë, had carefully watched over Nerdanel.
They had watched her initial numbness turn to acceptance, then again to despair at the awareness of the death of Fëanáro and of their youngest son. In time, over the space of further years*, had she sought to take up her life again, though never with the joy she had once possessed. Nerdanel had busied herself in her work, in her care for those who remained, and in her devotion to the distant Aulë; and a measure of peace did it seem she had found. But she had not sung her heart's song into her crafting, nor laughed, neither often walked in the hills, as had been her wont. That she lived in silent and faint hope that one, at least, of her children would return to Valinor, to her, those closest to her had always known. Despite the Doom proclaimed upon the House of Fëanáro, and the knowledge that all who wilfully left Aman were not permitted to return, yet had she hoped!

And now all was changing, and the Lords of the West, the mighty Valar, at last, looked to bring war upon Moringotho* in the Hither Lands, that the Elves of Beleriand be saved, and those `rebel' Noldor who so wished, be pardoned. It was as Fëanáro had said:

`Such hurt at the least will I do to the Foe of the Valar that even the mighty in the Ring of Doom shall wonder to hear it. Yea, in the end they shall follow me.'*

`Such hurt,' pondered Urundil. Had not Moringotho's servants rendered `such hurt' upon his daughter's husband, so also upon her? But again, had not the Silmarili, those creations of the hands of Fëanáro been the very thing to burn the hands of the Enemy, to cause him never to be free of the pain of that burning, and to put upon him such a deadly weariness, that he ventured not forth, save once, from his abode? And that to confront Nolofinwë* in single combat! And were the Valar not now following Fëanáro's course, even as he had said they would?

Slowing the pace of his own mount to but a walk, as the path became increasingly difficult, the Noldo master-smith again reflected upon that which had caused his daughter to take up her grief. Angry at his own lack of foresight was he, of not truly considering the influence that Eärendil's message would have upon the mother of those who had brought ruin upon the havens of Sirion. (And also upon the wife of Makalaurë; for had not Mernaseldë behaved most strangely of late?) And he thought on how Nerdanel felt, knowing Fëanáro had perished; on how she felt with the knowledge that at least five of her sons were already slain! Alas, was that not all to grieve her, but also the knowledge brought them by Eärendil of what her sons had done? That not one, butthree kinslayings there had been!


Now would Urundil have continued riding at speed further up the steep slope of the coastal cliffs behind the city of the Teleri. Yet safety was also important! Neither he nor his companion could help Nerdanel if they fell themselves! Reluctantly did he dismount, and the Sea-Elf did likewise. Swifter on foot would they be over this stretch of ground.

Noticing the horse she had ridden, the dappled mare, grazing upon rich tufts of grass that grew in a spot that had, of old, been touched by the light over the Mountains, Urundil knew his goal was close. He called on his beloved daughter to pay him heed, for she would not be much further ahead. Although the roar of the nearing sea nigh drowned out his voice, the smith called anxiously:

"Yendë*, do nothing of rashness! We know not the will of the Valar for certain, nor what will yet come to pass!"

In the far distance he could see her! She stood on the edge of a narrow ledge that jutted out from a slight incline; that place it was, overlooking Alqualondë, which held some special memory for her. (There it was, he believed, that she had conceived Maitimo!) Her grey gown and cloak, and her unbound red-brown hair were blown this way and that, by the changing winds, almost as an outward reflection of the turmoil in her thoughts.

But she could not, or would not, hear him!


****


Gaerion was distraught in spirit. He had so hoped his recently renewed acquaintance with his childhood friend would lead to an increase in happiness after previous sorrow, to something more permanent. Not that the Teler was unaware of the feelings Nerdanel still held for he who had been in life her husband. But Fëanáro was gone, and in a manner most grievous! In the Halls of Awaiting was he, and, unlike others, not to return, it was said! So had Gaerion allowed hope to grow again, that this nís he had so long admired, had cared for, would one day look upon him as more than a friend.


"Most dear art thou to me, Son of the Sea," she had said the previous morning, as they had walked together in the first light of Anar to the herb gardens she intended to work in. "For thou hast stood by me and by my parents in these recent years, and sought only our joy, and little for thyself. Though many of thy people have long shunned the company of the Noldor, and for good reason, yet hast thou sought reconciliation between our Kindreds! Most generous of heart art thou, Gaerion, yet is there something more I would ask of thee." She had reached up and touched his face lightly with her small, elegant hand. After so long, that touch he desired above all others.

"Ask what you will, and it is yours, Lady! For most pleasing are your words, and your tone of address. So long have I wished for your favour again!." He had spoken heartfelt words, but without thought. Disarmed, had he been, from his usual caution, by the familiarity and tenderness in her voice.

"My favour?" She had taken from him the basket of tools he had been carrying for her, and turned to that area in which high, green and silvered fennel grew.

There was something she wanted of him, and was there not also something he wanted of her? So desperately had he wanted to ask her to seek a sundering of her marriage to Fëanáro. And surely, if she so willed, would the Valar grant her such? No fault of hers was her long widowhood, save that she had chosen the wrong nér to be her spouse! He hesitated to be so bold. And yet his heart would be not restrained! Encouraged by her open gaze, her slight smile, as she knelt upon the grass to better examine the plants she was considering transferring, he had made to speak more intimately than the situation warranted.

"Aye, my hearts-love! If I am truly dear to thee, then mayhap thou wilt allow me the privilege of being at thy side more often. For when I am away from thee, my world is but dimly lit!" He had knelt close beside her, as if even that difference in stance was too great. But what a poor choice of words, he had suddenly thought! Fëanáro would not have fallen into that trap. Ever had he been most skilled in the use of words!

Nerdanel had made to raise her hand, to touch him again, but she had halted mid-gesture. Then was there a look of dismay upon her face as she sat back upon her heels.

"Gaerion, my friend, you misunderstand!" She shook her head, her hair catching the light of the sun as she so did, and setting her in a halo of flame. "Please, forgive me! For I should never have so spoken to encourage you in such words!"

He had not understood! What had he done wrong? Surely she knew his intentions, had indeed suspected them for very many a year. She must have known he loved her in his youth, before the son of Finwë had come upon her in the hills, and taken her from him! She must have known that he had loved her, despite the atrocities he had born witness to! Despite what her family had done to his!

He made to take up her hand. "If it is too soon to so speak, I also am sorry! But know thou that I will wait upon thee. That though he who was in life thy husband, and those many of thy sons do not return; though hope for them is gone because of their deeds, always shall I be here for thee." Comfort! He had meant to offer her comfort!

She had withdrawn her hand from his, rather abruptly, and risen to her feet.

"Still is Fëanáro my husband!" she had whispered down to him. "And always is there hope!"

The day had seemed chill of a sudden, and Gaerion had realised how very silent the garden had become. No sound from those at the forge was there, nor even that of birdsong or of crickets chirping in the grass!

He had hung his head in shame at having so distressed her. `Too soon!' he had thought! `I have spoken too soon!' But there was still her unasked request; still one chance to redeem himself.

"Lady Nerdanel, you said there was something you would ask of me! Then ask! For if it is within my power, will I do it."

She seemed to ponder his words for a few moments, making to smooth out the folds in her grey gown, and he had made but slowly to rise, and had stepped back a pace from her. Waiting!

"I know not if you will do it, Gaerion." Her grey eyes held his, as she looked up, and then deep into his heart, as she had never so done. "For what I would ask of you is forgiveness for my sons! For you to entreat Manwë on their behalf! Not for my sake, but for theirs; mayhap even for yours!."

He had not been able to answer. But had sighed most deeply, and broken from her gaze to stare at the ground. Anything would he have done for her, whether she would have him or no! He would carry her sons back upon his ship; he would do so willingly, but for her, never for them! What she asked, it was too much!

"Makalaurë slew my father!" he stated dully, as a well-rehearsed reply. Not that this knowledge had then been new to her, for she had long known what details he could tell of the deeds at Alqualondë.

So she had turned away from him, pale of face, her own head lowered in disappointment. The sadness that enveloped her was so great that it almost broke his heart!

"I am sorry, Gaerion!" She had said, as she walked, alone, back towards the house. "So sorry to have spoken of this matter to you, and caused you pain!"


****


As they made the ridge, the most spectacular view of the Bay of Eldamar greeted them, and of the city and harbour of Alqualondë itself. Gaerion slowed his pace to that of Urundil. He walked side-by-side with he who was the grandsire of the Kinslayers, and his thoughts turned back, unbidden, to that day of woe longs years before.

"Forgive them!" Nerdanel had said. How could he forgive?

The Sea -- it was blood! Ai, the Sea at Alqualondë, it was all blood!


****


Gaerion, as many of the Teleri, had been distraught beyond words at that sudden and unexplained darkening of the sky! The Teleri had been about their business, on the shores, in their homes, sailing with carefree joy upon the waves of the sea; when, without warning, they saw the light of the Trees, the light of Valinor, was no more! The Sea-Elves had lived mostly under starlight in their city, but always had the glow of the primordial Light been visible from the eastern end of the Calacirya and upon the mountaintops! No more! Yet was it worse than the darkness of any sky, for this darkness ate into their minds and their hearts, as if to consume them. A wail had gone up, like unto the cold cry of gulls; of confusion, of distress, and that sound must have carried from the silver shores up through what had been a cleft of light, to the place of the High Festival upon Taniquetil; to the feet of Manwë himself!

At the time of the darkening, they had been returning to harbour upon the Uinenlindë*, Gaerion and his father and his brother. Those of the crew had been as shocked as any upon the land, though they had not cried out.

"Whatever has happened," Gilfanon had said, "trust in the Valar! We trust in the might and in the wisdom of Ulmo to prevail!"

Captain and crew had all bowed their heads then, and, still hearing wails arising from the city, they had silently beseeched the Lord of Waters, and Ossë and Uinen for aid in the new darkness. Gaerion considered he would not be the only one to give thought to their Noldor friends, who, from the location of the festival, doubtlessly felt more keenly the darkness than they.

The air seemed cold and chill as the ship made harbour, and downed anchor; and a mist there was arising from the waters that slowly covered the land, even heading along the southern inlet that led to Tirion. Many of the mariners of Alqualondë were heading from their homes towards their ships, with families in tow, and what provisions they could gather in their arms. A cacophony of sound had greeted the Uinenlindë's landfall, and for a moment, those on-board sensed that fear had almost gripped the hearts of their free-spirited Kin. Safer did they all feel at sea, in this danger, this unexpected change in the stability of Aman. Yet within moments, that mood of flight was halted.

Upon the harbour wall, Eärtur and Ëarcáno, the sons of Olwë stood, bearing each aloft one of the blue and white lights, gifted to them by the eldest son of Finwë, so that all could behold them and that they did not fear.

"Do not so rush, noble folk! Do not give way to despair!" the calm voice of Eärtur cried out above the noise of departure. "I know you would seek the familiarity of the Seas in this moment of confusion, but think on Ulmo, and on how he has never betrayed us! Think on his might! What is this that happens, that we should now have such lack of faith? "

Many halted their rush to the ships, and a few gathered by the wall upon which the brothers stood. Their voices carried in the renewed silence along the jetties where the fleet was moored, and to those of Gaerion's ship.

"We understand the sadness and confusion at this loss of the light." A second voice stated "But my father bids us remind you, that the Valar are able to redress any hurts that might have befallen this land, and that this `night' will pass unto a new dawn!" Ëarcormo, always of a most reasoned voice, added to his brother's comments.

"Return to your homes or to your ships, as you would do had naught come to pass. And ever beseech the Valar, that they will overcome this darkness for us. That Aman will be again as it was!"

More words were said, but with less loudness, and soon enough had much of the crowd dispersed. Many returned to their homes, as bidden by their Princes, and in calmer spirits. Though still was there some talk of darkness entering hearts, did most seem content to remain in their city.

It was reported to Gilfanon a short time later, by those walking along the quayside, that King Olwë himself had come out of his Mansion, and walked amongst his people. He had walked and spoken comfort where he deemed it needed, and assured all that he interceded with Ulmo, and with Manwë, and that no great threat there was.

Gaerion had remained on the Uinenlindë, and with his father alone, (for his younger brother Gillondë, had gone ashore to find, and reassure their mother and his wife, and many of their crew had also sought to reassure loved ones.). They had partaken of a small meal of fish and of bread, though neither had been in mood to eat. Neither felt in mood to leave the ship either! So did some hours pass, and no change, no touch of light appeared behind the Mountains.

"The Trees are dead!" A returning crewmember spoke forlornly. "Else light there would be by now. Murmurs there are that this is the doing of Melkor!"

Hard was that to accept! The light of the Trees was part of what had drawn the Eldar of all Three Kindred to Aman. To gaze upon the beauty of Light, had many so come! And now it was gone? The darkness took on a new depth of oppression at that knowledge, although the stars of Varda still twinkled in the sky to the east, and the white summit of Taniquetil was again visible!

The crewman, Falmarin, joined them for a goblet of warmed wine, but most sombre of expression was he. He but nodded, when Gilfanon asked if his family on-shore were well. Again did many hours pass, and the gentle rocking of the ship lulled the three almost into a false sense of calm.

"Go ashore, Gaerion!" Gilfanon had said. "No good does it do us to be so confined when we know not how long this state of affairs will remain. Go ashore and visit with your Mother, and see if you can find aught else to inform us of what has happened!"

Gaerion had at first protested that his Father should go, but Gilfanon would still not leave his ship. Then came the first of the dread news! Rumours only to start with, and passed from ship to ship, by those who had remained in the harbour.

`King Finwë is slain!' the whispers of disbelief passed amongst those Teleri still aboard their ships. "Melkor it was who destroyed the Trees and he has slain Finwë, King-in-exile at Formenos!" The message had passed, and information been added like a dreaded fire from ship to ship. But another fire there was coming, had they but known it!

Gilfanon had been most grieved at the news of the death of the Noldo King, though in truth, was Nolofinwë then King, and his father unwilling to meet with his people while his eldest son was banned from Tirion. "Olwë will be greatly saddened at this news. They were friends from the earliest days, from the Hither Lands, he and King Finwë. Was it not the prayers of Finwë that drew Olwë and us unto this place?"

Gaerion pondered his father's words, though his mind was focused on another of the Noldor. Then Gillondë returned.

"Mother is content to remain on the shore, and Elwen will keep her company. She has taken to heart King Olwë's request for calm. But the Noldor are here! There is a group assembling outside the city walls even now! It is said in the streets that Prince Fëanáro, nay, King Fëanáro after the murder of his Sire, is speaking with our Lords, and others, and about us all leaving these shores and returning to the Hither Lands!"

Gaerion's thoughts had turned then to Nerdanel, and with a vengeance. Was she here, he had wondered? Was she even now outside the city walls, reconciled with her husband in what could only be his grief and madness at such a suggestion? He had known her estranged from Fëanáro in recent years, but also did he suspect her love would draw her back to her husband in such a situation as the death of his Father." But Fëanáro wished to leave Aman! And the enormity of what had befallen began to sink into Gaerion's heart. And he was claiming Kingship over the Noldor?

"What of Nolofinwë? Is he no longer King?" Gaerion asked of a sudden.

Gillondë shrugged his shoulders. "I know not! Only that Fëanáro is here! And he speaks on the concourse before King Olwë's house for any and all to hear! With much passion and eloquence does he speak, and to encourage us. But none will go with him, I think. For though the leaving of the Noldor will be a sorrow, what need of we of other lands or lords? And still do we trust in the Valar, rather than in our own might!"

"Mayhap we should prepare to sail again, nonetheless?" Gaerion had jumped to his feet, with an almost Noldor-like longing for some action, and headed onto the deck. That something transpired near the King's Mansion was evident by the number of torches and lamps there assembled, but otherwise, all was as it had been. The stars to the east glittered in the sky, and the heavy darkness of the Calacirya remained.

"We will wait upon the King, and upon Ulmo, my son." Gilfanon had called after him, but he had not the knowledge of Fëanáro that Gaerion had.

That waiting, those hours of pacing the deck of the Uinenlindë while the glory of Alqualondë remained, and the blood stained streets and harbour side were not yet reality; it lingered as a pain in Gaerion's heart from that time forth!

Then, just as he had returned to silent pondering with those others below deck, sound of shouts, of adamant protest had risen. A cry to desist an attempt at boarding a ship echoed through the still air, to be shortly followed by the sound of a struggle, and someone being thrown into the water.

"What now?" Father and sons were on their feet, as a returned, pale-haired, mariner put his head through the door at the top of the steps that led to the hold.

"The Noldor want our ships! They intend to take them by force!" The nér's face was almost as white as his hair, and with a mixture of shock and outrage. "Quickly! Defend the fleet!" With a beckoning gesture, he departed their sight.

They had followed, and nothing could have prepared them for the sudden onslaught of noise, the shouts and curses of neri fighting, and dying, that met them. For the Noldor were upon them in force, and desperate were they! Armed with swords, were they!

The Uinenlindë was moored at the sea end of the quay, and already they could see two Swan ships, cast off, and heading for the misted harbour entrance, one with Teleri and Noldor still locked in a deadly conflict. But the battle on the quayside was now in the city also, and the Noldor were not prevailing without cost! Lightly armed, with knives and short bows, and but a few spears and fewer swords (those given them by Noldo `friends'!) were the Teleri, but also were they brave of heart in defending what was as dear to them as their children.

Gaerion and those of his family aboard could have fled, their ship was nigh ready to sail again, but none of those three neri would leave their people, leave those who were wife and mother to this onslaught.

"How can this be? What could possibly have caused such evil in this place? That Elda slays Elda, it is a thing unknown!" Struck by the horror surrounding him, Gaerion had thought it was the End of the World.

Then, out of the growing mists that snaked, long of finger, into the harbour, a group of armed and lightly armoured Noldor were nigh the Uinenlindë. Gilfanon drew his hunting knife, the only weapon he had, and made to bar their way.

"What is this, that the Noldor have become murderers! What of friendship and of the invite to live side by side in this land, even as close kin!'

"Yield the ship, Teler!" From the midst of the group, a tall and powerful, dark haired nér strode forth. Unhelmed was he, and a light as of flame burnt fiercely in his eyes. The blade he wielded was grim and fell, and he made as if to strike.

Gilfanon could not match him, not with a hunting knife, nor with any other weapon! Yet neither would he give over his ship. He stood defiant upon the deck.

"Never will I yield my ship, not for friendship nor most certainly for force!"

But the Noldo seemed to be focused on some instruction, on some deed he must accomplish without thought, without rationality or conscience. Gaerion made to aid his father's defiant stance. And he called into the noise, to one he had met before, to one of the four of the seven sons of Nerdanel that he had known.

"Makalaurë! Hold! Do not do this thing!"

But he was too late, and his father's body, pierced through with fine-crafted metal, fell dead into the waters he loved.

"No! " Gaerion had cried in vain.

But then Gillondë rushed past him, his knife drawn; only to be pushed aside as the second son of she for whom he had been so concerned made to board his father's ship. His ship! And Gaerion knew what he had to do. He ducked the first blow aimed at him by another of the Noldor, and darted back into the hold. The sword, he would take up that sword he had promised himself never to use. Fumbling with urgency amongst the items stored in his locker, he felt the touch of the leather scabbard in his hand, and, drawing the blade, headed back to the deck.

The sea was red with blood! Ai, the sea was red! And bodies of Teleri and Noldor alike floated in the water, and littered the quayside. If he had thought the Teleri could prevail, (for there had been at least one successful rebuttal of the attackers), he now saw a new host of Noldor, fresh to the fight, and running through swirling mists to the aid of their kin. Only one thought did he then have, and that pounding irresistibly in his mind. He would bring down his father's murderer; he would find that son of Nerdanel, nay, of Fëanáro, and end his life there and then. A rage filled the normally gentle Teler, the likes of which he had never known.

The Uinenlindë was taken, there was nothing he could do to prevent that, and he saw that the anchor was being raised, and the mooring ropes recoiled. On the quay, Gillondë lay upon his back, open eyes staring at the stars overhead for which he had been named, but which he could no longer see. Falmarin also, lay gravely wounded, his bow beside him, that had never fired a shot. No time for grief was there, only for anger! Gaerion saw the dark-haired Makalaurë moving on to a further ship, blood-soaked sword in hand; the killer, the slayer of friends, and he made a leap back onto the quayside, even as the oars were being manned, to pursue his enemy.

"Murderer! Kinslayer!" he had called after the advancing figure. He had seen then that Makalaurë had moved swiftly to cover the back of another, even taller, Noldo. Another of his brother's, Maitimo, he thought, as that one had hair of flame, mingled with blood. Determined to bring down his father's killer, Gaerion was almost impervious to the presence that was suddenly upon him from the side, and he raised his sword defensively, just in time to deflect a downward stroke. And his heart nigh quailed within him. For between he and his goal, and armed and armoured, in full strength, in full hate and rage, was Fëanáro himself!

Never could Gaerion quite recall what had happened. That he had awoken, face down, upon the beech, to the south of the city, was the next clear memory. He knew he had striven with Fëanáro, that in his anger over so many things, he had wanted to kill. But he had not!

"More noble neri are there amongst the Teleri!" The Noldo King had said to him bitterly, and with but one flashing movement of his own sword, had disarmed him. Gaerion had sought to grapple with this one who was surely responsible for the mayhem, but Fëanáro was stronger by far, and had brought him low not with his sword, but with a resounding blow to the head, and then thrown him, dazed as he was, in the water.


Had Fëanáro let him live? Had he who was in a blood-rage, prevented Gaerion, in his hate, from being likewise? The Teler could not quite believe there had been any compassion, any conscience in Fëanáro's heart that day! That his sons had gone to the slaughtering of innocents, with unfeeling hearts of their own; that many of the Noldor, save those to the rear of the hosts, those with Arafinwë, had been part of that slaughter, would never be forgotten. But ages had taught Gaerion that the Kinslaying had not been as straightforward a matter as he had first supposed. And over time, had some of the Teleri tried hard to forgive the Noldor that most awful grief. But he could not forgive! Nay, not even for her sake could he forgive!


****


Urundil had made the ridge, and was looking for the quickest way to the promontory Nerdanel now stood upon. Calling still, he believed she was beside herself with grief, over the revelations of Eärendil. "Gaerion, by the Valar, think of what she said of late! If you know aught of what has brought this mood back upon her, then tell me!"

There was nothing for it, but to speak the truth. For Gaerion also saw the lone nís, and fear struck him that she would cast herself into the sea. Never had he thought his words would drive her to such an action! Never had he thought she would suffer so much despair!

"I called her my hearts-love! I said that I wanted to be with her!" It had to be that in part. But did he not have to speak the rest of it also? "One thing did she ask of me, and that would I not give her. She asked me to forgive her sons!"

Ignoble did his refusal sound, now he had spoken it aloud! Not at all did he appear to himself as he had so imagined, when he had pondered on asking her to end her marriage for him! A wave of guilt swept him, that he had not realised he had failed her, even as Fëanáro had failed her! Little different was he, to her Lord of old; for he, also, had put vengeance and hate before love.

Urundil halted momentarily, and glared at him. "We knew your feelings! Why did you not speak with us first? We could have told you, my Lady Taurlotë would have told you! Fast bound was our daughter's heart to the son of Finwë in life, and fast bound in death, also, it seems! She will not love another as she loved him; not even you, of whom she is most fond!"

"Most dear art thou to me, Son of the Sea, did she say!" Gaerion whispered, almost in shame.

The Noldo did not reply, neither did he mention her sons; but his expression said all that Gaerion dreaded.

They had halted some way back from where she still stood, but it was as if she knew not they were there. No move did she make, but stared out across the wide sea.

"Let me have a moment, Urundil! Let me speak with her that, mayhap, I can undo what harm I have done!"

Though he was asking the smith to trust him with his daughter's life, yet did Gaerion believe it was the only way.

"Nerdanel! Come away from the edge. Come home with me, and to those others who love and care for you!" Urundil called. But then, seeing no reaction, he nodded to the Teler. "Do what you can, but with care."

Slowly, so slowly did Gaerion walk forward. He unclasped his cloak as he moved, and let it drop to the grass, for it would but hinder him if it were needful to make that jump after her, to attempt to pull her from the waves.

"If you have no love of life left, if all is but weariness and pain, then step forward, and know that I will follow, and save you if I can! Or if it is my presence, my ill-considered words that so torment you, then can I leave these shores with the fleet that carries the armies hence, and return not to Aman, but to Tol Eressëa alone."

She must have heard him, as a small smile touched her lips. "Finwion?"* she whispered almost soundlessly, as if she were recalling something spoken in ages past, something he had said. In but an instant, was her smile replaced by a look of profound sadness.

"I am sorry, Gaerion. For I see now that I have given you false hope over these years; that I have hurt you as I would never have chosen to do!" She turned to face him, though remained amid the wildness.

"Fëanáro used to say that there are many kinds of love; that which he had for his father was one kind, for the works of his hands was another, and for his sons and for me, yet others still. Not all were of equal value to him, neither were all equal at any given time, but he did love all!" She paused, grey eyes softening their focus, as she remembered. "And he loved his mother, whom Finwë condemned to remain in the Halls of Awaiting through his second marriage! Whatever is decreed, never will I so condemn Fëanáro!"

Gaerion understood what she was saying. He knew the issues involved. But he stood, waiting! Knowing what was to come.

She sighed. " I love thee, Gaerion; I love thee well! But as a friend, as a brother, even. Thou art truly most dear to me! But I should not have so spoken. For to one only do I give my heart's love; and thou art not him!"

Her words hurt, but not with the intensity they once would have, for he understood! He had paused upon the cliff top, knowing in that moment that there was no real danger to her, and that she had never intended to jump. That she was here to think, to remember; and in that to be closer again to those she so missed. He knew that she was offering him the only form of love she could, and as a friend. And if she could live without the one she most longed for, then so could he!

"Truly do you speak, Lady. But I am more like him than I had thought! For I have lived these years with hate for my Father's murderer, and know that I, also, would have become a murderer given the chance!"

She was watching him closely, a look of compassion on her pale, oval face.

"You would have slain Makalaurë!" she stated, though without any accusation. "You would have slain my son in vengeance! So do you see, in part, my reason for asking you to forgive?"

"Aye, my `everfriend'. I see most clearly!" He smiled at his own foolishness, and held out a hand to her. She walked towards him, taking hold of his proffered hand as she had done in her childhood, when they had played upon the shores, and he had helped her across the rock pools.

"And do I not know what the grief at having one of your family slain, and that one your Father, can do! So do I retract my own words. That there is understanding between us is enough, Gaerion!"

"It is not enough!" he interrupted "I shall seek your sons in the Hither Lands, for their own sake, and for mine! Though of now I cannot conceive of entreating for any of them to the Valar, yet do I hope, in time, I will change!"

She took up both of his hands to her lips, her face lit with a rare beauty, and her complexion flushed with warmth. "Of noble and generous heart art thou, my friend."

Urundil, seeing what had transpired moved to stand with them, and, as he rarely did, he thankfully embraced his daughter.

"Atar* Sorry am I to have concerned you! But I needed to be away and with my own thoughts. These words of late from the Hither Lands, they weigh heavily upon me."

"Yendë! I feared for you, for your well-being!" Urundil spoke up, releasing her from his grasp. "I feared that this latest revelation from Eärendil had pained your mind so much that, in anguish and despair, you sought to cast yourself into the sea!"

"Nay, Father! Better than that should you know me! No honour is there to so do if one is in their right mind! And at least one of the House of Fëanáro will ever seek to behave in a manner that is pleasing to the Valar, and to Iluvatar."

So did they smile, and a sense of joy in life touched both neri, that she who they cared so much for was yet undaunted! Back to the horses they walked, and in a new mood of relief.

"And I do not despair, Father!" Nerdanel had a slight smile upon her lips again, as if she knew something that, hitherto, she had not! Gaerion had made to help her mount, and she nodded at him almost graciously, and accepted his offer.

"For there is still hope! While I know that Makalaurë will not return from the Hither Lands, yet does Maitimo also live!"

The Noldo smith and Teler walked forwards at the side of her mare, and made to that place where they had left their own horses. They did not notice the strange look that momentarily clouded her features.

"We know not all, and there are some things hidden even from the Valar in the will of Iluvatar. Aye! And even should Maitimo perish, is there hope!"


·Valinorian years.


Aulenduri = Servants of Aulë
Turukáno = Turgon
Arafinwë = Finarfin
Ambarussa the elder = Amrod
Maitimo = Maedhros
Makalaurë = Maglor
Moringotho = Morgoth
`Such hurt at the least will I do to the Foe of the Valar that even the mighty in the Ring of Doom shall wonder to hear it. Yea, in the end they shall follow me.'* The Silmarillion. `Of the Flight of the Noldor'
Nolofinwë = Fingolfin
Yendë = daughter
Uinenlindë = `Song of Uinen'
Finwion = One of the childhood names of Fëanor that Nerdanel sometimes used.
Atar = Father

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