Nerdanel’s Story – Flame Rekindled Part 2

by Apr 10, 2006Stories

(Disclaimer: All the characters and the world they live in belong to JRR Tolkien. All references are from The Silmarillion and HoME 10 and 12. )

“Mandos you hold to be the strongest of all that are in Arda, being the least moved, and therefore you have dared to commit even the Marrer himself to his keeping. Yet I say to you that each fëa of the Children is as strong as he; for it hath the strength of its singleness impregnable (which cometh to it from Eru as to us): in its nakedness it is beyond all power that ye have to move it if it will not.”

(Nienna: The Later Quenta Silmarillion. Morgoth’s Ring. JRR Tolkien. Ed C Tolkien.)

Máhanaxar. Seventh Age.

At last, spirit of Fëanáro son of Finwë, we can begin!’ had Námo Mandos said.

I had little concept then of what was to follow. For though I knew well the power of the Valar, I feared them not, neither did I hold this one, nor any of his kind, in any regard. And I knew, as well as any, I knew from my study of the loremasters’ records of the Valar’s debate concerning my parent’s marriage, that the fëa of any child of Eru could not be broken, nor forced against it’s will. Eru Iluvatar would not permit it. Not even by this stern Doomsman.

“Begin, then, Jailmaster!” I replied in my thought. “Thy wish it was to constrain me while I walked the land of Aman and thereafter, and now thou doest have thy wish. But think not that, even so disadvantaged, I am without all will, or strength.”

A grim pleasure did I momentarily experience, to know I could still deny Mandos in some manner; to have a focus, even one so poor, as a reason to exist. But as I so spoke, the image that was my memory of her brightness and warmth, that was the strength and beauty of our firstborn babe, faded beyond my attempt to hold it fast.

“Desire for love and desire for power do not abide well together, as thou must know! Aye, spirit of Fëanáro, the lies of Melkor thou shalt yet unlearn in bitterness.” The voice of the appointed judge echoed those of the herald of Manwë to me upon my departure from Tirion, and then he was also gone from me.

Nothing began! I waited! What else was there, for I could do nothing but wait upon memories and upon the Valar. Nothing happened; no word, no image came to my thoughts from beyond. No rebuke, no condemnation, nor sentencing was there. Alone in the shadow of my memories was I.

I was with my father then; a young child again, and running eagerly to him across the mosaic-floored hall of his house. He picked me up and spun round, holding me up as if to the heavens, as if he would give Eru Ilúvatar Himself thanks for my being.

“Finwion! My beloved son. Greater than any gift possible art thou to me,” my father said.

His love was set upon me; I was his pride and his joy. And that he, who was himself most mighty in thought and in strength and in skill with words, should think so of me filled my own heart with joy, and such a longing to please him. To the side of the hall sat my mother and some few of her ladies, each engaged in broidery. She smiled at the sight before her, overcoming for that moment her constant weakness. Solemn child that I sometimes was, yet did I laugh with delight!

Then that memory also faded.

`Atar,* Amillë?*’ I uttered, hopefully. But they were not with me in reality.

They should be here, I thought again. I knew they should be in this place of awaiting. Why was I not with those whom my heart loved best?

The memory changed abruptly to the arrival of my sons at Máhanaxar soon after that Long Night began. Angry was I! Led hence by a false word and a command of Manwë’s, to be hemmed in by my enemies.

“Speak, O Noldo, yea or nay! But who shall deny Yavanna?'[1] Tulkas had demanded of me.

`Give over the greatest work of thy hands; give over the Silmarils, that they will be broken, and we again will have the Light.’ I had felt them all bend their will to that end. As Moringotho* had said, did they seem to me in that moment. Thieves, whose sole aim was to take from me the perfection I had created. But, whereas I had withstood the Enemy at the door to my house, I was not fool enough to believe I could withstand all the assembled Lords of Arda.

Give over my Jewels to those kin of the jail-crow? Nay, not even for the healing of the Trees, for to my eyes their possible light was now polluted and beyond recall to wholeness. But a final ploy did I consider it, to be another attempt by the Valar to be our masters. I would not give over my Jewels of free will!

But Nelyo was there, hot and dirtied from fast and furious riding. His hair dishevelled, his face a mask of pain.

I knew; before he spoke, I had known.

“Blood and darkness!” he had cried to all who were assembled, though it was I whom he sought! “Finwë the King is slain, and the Silmarils are gone!”[2]

Overcome with anguish was I, and thought to die from the agony of that knowledge. And I fell upon my face, as if all life had been taken from me. Mayhap it was then that I was destroyed!


No movement, no possibility of change was there in that world in which I existed. A solitary confinement in eternity, was that to be my doom? What difference then was this place from the everlasting Darkness?

“Atar!” my heart cried out in longing

So much did I want to be with him again. So much did I want to hear his words of approval and love. `Skilled son of Finwë’ had he named me once he had seen with his own eyes what I was capable of, and that when I was still under a year of age! So very proud of me had he been when he named me Curufinwë!

My thoughts would not leave my father. The King he had been! The King he was in my heart now and always. Nolofinwë had agreed to rule in Tirion, aye, that was true, but no King was he. Never had that half-brother of mine been a ruler of the stature and nobility of our father, and for much time had it been in his thoughts to usurp the throne. In his jealously, his envy of me, did that second son see our father set aside his kingship, that he might become the appointed pawn of the Valar.

And now, mayhap, Nolofinwë had what he desired, I thought. For he would have hurled his rage and enmity at me across the great Sea, but in the end, he and his followers would have crawled back to their cage. So did I think him likely to be forgiven, and restored, and acting `ruler’ again in that thraldom that was Eldamar.


But that desperate call had been to and not of my own fëa. “Forgive me, Atar, for again have I failed thee!”

I tried to focus, to summon all my will and strength to answer his cry. But I could do nothing. And again I had vision of him, of Nelyafinwë, hung from that precipice by a band of steel on the wrist of his right hand. Gaunt of feature was he, and bearing signs upon his body of much mistreatment. Of long without water or nourishment or any act of kindness. And his mind and thoughts were in torment as much as his hröa.

So high upon the precipice did I perceive him to be, so far beyond the reaches of any aid. Beyond the aid of any of his brothers did I think he was, and that if any of them still lived. To have taken Nelyo, to have taken Maitimo captive, must have meant the others were at the least scattered. Most likely, did I ponder, it meant that Káno*, who ever watched his elder brother’s back, was dead.

I was lost in despair then, and wished — ai! — I wished, I hoped, for so many things: for Turko* to take up the leadership, (not the kingship! That was Nelyo’s, by right, while he drew breath.), for an attempt to be made to reclaim or to end Nelyafinwë’s life. But idle, useless, speculation it all was.

Then again was the presence that was Námo Mandos impinging upon my consciousness. A cold observer did he seem.

“My eldest son suffers a torment beyond endurance,” I spoke bitterly. “Wilt thou not find a way to end his suffering, now? Or is it the purpose of the Valar to humiliate him for my deeds, to so shame my House by allowing Moringotho such a trophy of victory?”

No answer was forthcoming.

“Then tell me, at least, if any other of my sons yet live?

A deep sigh did it seem the Vala uttered then, and he spoke forth.

`We will begin!’

“No! We will not! Not until I know what has happened, that my sons appear to desert their appointed leader, against all I ever taught them to so do.”

“Thou hast asked, and this answer will I give thee. Nelyafinwë is still captive because thine other sons will not make barter for him. In so refusing, they show wisdom. But neither will they waste time set aside for that main purpose of theirs. Are they not constrained by an oath to maintain their war against the Enemy, to reclaim thy Jewels and not be turned aside, neither by law, nor love, nor league of swords, dread nor danger nor Doom itself?”

The oath! The oath it was that kept Nelyo so constrained?

“We will begin!” repeated Mandos. Neither notice nor tone of pity nor sorrow was there in his voice. No appeal could be made to him; I knew that well. Nor would I have so done for myself. Neither could I plead for my son, though the pain of memory was sharp, and for an instant did I again look down upon a wide-eyed, tussle haired infant cradled in my arms. One whose first word so pleased me. One whose first word was `Atar!’

But I knew, and from Mandos, that my other sons yet lived, and were no captives!

So I thought to play Mandos at his own game. He wanted, no doubt, to bring me into a state of supplication and servility; a trophy of his own! I, for my part, wanted to know what perchanced with my sons and their effort against Moringotho. Though I trusted Mandos no more than I believed my sons trusted the Dark Enemy, yet would I match wits with him. We would see who prevailed!

“Very well,” said I.

“We begin with your memories of Nolofinwë.”

No more should I have expected from Mandos than he would lead me to consider that oath-breaker, that cause of much of my grief.

“Some barter is this; that I forgive my half-brother, and give my blessing on his kingship? Is that what you want in exchange for an end to Nelyafinwë’s pain?”

No answer came from the Doomsman, but more memories flooded my mind. I knew then what was expected, for he could not force me to relive any particular occurrence. Yet was he not inviting me to so do, and with a promise, mayhap, as reward for my cooperation?

Nolofinwë! So be it! And mayhap I would show this jailer what a poor choice the Valar had made in supporting one so untrustworthy as my half-brother.

Atar = Father
Amillë = Mother
Moringotho = Morgoth
Nelyo / Nelyafinwë = Maedhros
Turko / Turkafinwë = Celegorm
Káno/ Kanafinwë = Maglor
Nolofinwë = Fingolfin

[1] Of the Flight of the Noldor The Silmarillion JRR Tolkien. Ed C Tolkien
[2] The Later Quenta Silmarillion. Morgoth’s Ring JRR Tolkien. Ed C. Tolkien.


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