(Disclaimer: All of the characters and the world in which they exist are the wonderful creations of JRR Tolkien. All references are from The Silmarillion and HoME 1, 10 and 12. Nothing is mine except the interpretation and the mistakes.)
“But at that last word of Fëanor: that at the least the Noldor should do deeds to live in song for ever, he (Manwë) raised his head, as one that hears a voice far off, and he said: `So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be accounted, and yet well-bought. For the price could be no other…’ …. But Mandos said `..To me shall Fëanor come soon.'”
(Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor. The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien, ed C. Tolkien.
Nolofinwë*! As a thorn in the flesh was he unto me!
That half-brother, that eldest son of Indis; was he not cause of many of my `ill’ deeds? They said I was proud, and I deny it not. But he, also, was proud, and jealous of all I had and of all that I am. And did he not plan against me, and against our father? Unnatural son; product of an unnatural union, a disgrace to the Eldar! Full of bitterness was he, that our father loved me best. And if he could not so turn Finwë’s heart against me through his lies, then he would see the kingship of Finwë himself denied.
For years did I strive with him, to keep him in his due place, that he brought no dishonour upon our father’s house. But, from the time he realised that all in Aman regarded my creations with wonder, from the time that Varda hallowed the Silmarils, did he not begin his plotting to drive me, and those of my line, out from Tirion. From that point forth did he mean to be king! For, trusting in his Vanyar blood, did he always think himself better than I, better than any child of Míriel Perendë, better than any of the Noldor!
Though I made no secret that I had little love or regard for him, and do I understand his hatred of me, yet this I cannot understand: that he who would be first before our father in all things, yet turned to the Valar for support to unking the one who was his sire.
`So, Doomsman of the Valar, it is he you would have me think on?’ I had questioned, dryly, thinking it best to restrain my contempt for my jailer until I knew what would befall Nelyo*.
Ever mindful, in that place, was I that my eldest son suffered pain and humiliation beyond measure. Naught was there I could do to aid him, naught save play this jailer’s game! Yet if I thought on Nolofinwë, as Mandos so invited me, what guarantee did I have it would make any difference to my son? None did I have, but of the slightest hope.
I wanted not Nelyo to suffer! I wanted him back in command of those Noldor I had led to the Hither Lands. I wanted he and his brothers to confound Moringotho* as much as they may, and to wait and to watch upon their chance to reclaim my Jewels. Though I knew then they could not defeat the Dark Lord, yet could they still cause him such hurt as would be the making of song unto the End. For love of their father, and of their grandfather, could they so do, and as well as for their oath.
So was it needful to play Mandos’ game for some time that, mayhap, those silent watchers, who so condemned me for pursuing the Enemy; their Enemy as well as mine; would yet have a measure of compassion for Nelyafinwë Fëanárion*.
A memory there was then, a fleeting vision that took upon it more depth and solidity, touching my mind, and of Nolofinwë as a youth, and in our father’s house. I saw him standing back, to one side, as Finwë welcomed me with open arms. A time of festival it was, of merrymaking; and merry was my father that I, and my lady, had gone to share celebrations with him. Happy was I, and light of heart to be in his presence, yet the taint that was Indis was also, of necessity, there.
My memories of that occasion were of my father, and a little of my lady. Of the light, warm, touch of her hand upon my arm, and her words of encouragement to dance. But as I remembered her touch, again did she fade, and her comfort was denied me.
“Thy memories of Nolofinwë are those thou needs must consider.” The less warm and less welcome suggestion came to me from Mandos.
`Very well!’ I consented.
Sullen did Nolofinwë appear to my eyes as he loitered at the edge of the hall, watching the dance. Was that what Mandos wanted me to contemplate, the sullenness of my half-brother? That could I do, and with no great effort. But as I further watched, I saw fleeting pain cloud his expression, as he was all but ignored by not only my father, but also by some of his lords.
`I know what you do!’ I protested. `Ever was he with my father. And every day that he so wished could he speak with Finwë. What is wrong, that I, who was there but rarely, and was Finwë’s firstborn, should be welcomed with honour?’
No answer came to me. No acknowledgement of my point.
`Come!’ thought I, `this becomes irksome that you require I consider a matter, yet will not follow through with what I am supposed to recall. That you say `Begin’ yet will begin naught!’
A feeling, a sensation of something vaster in space, higher and wider and more powerful than anything I had ever known, did I experience; as if Mandos knew my intentions, and thought to show me my smallness before him that I treated this encounter in all earnestness.
`I am not a feared of thee, stern spirit’ I spoke as I felt, holding much to my stubborn pride and my small knowledge of the will of Ilúvatar. `No matter what form or dimensions thou doest take upon thyself, yet do I know thy move and nature. But as of now am I of a mind to pay thee heed, so show what thou wilt have me consider, or will I begin by showing thee?’
I gave him no more chance, but cast my thoughts back through the years. Strange it was! I had thought to have many memories to show the Doomsman, yet rarely was Nolofinwë even in my thoughts in the days before Moringotho was loosed. Had I not even cared to know he existed for much of the first years, I realised! But I would have focus for my mind.
So I showed my half-brother, and he at that table of planning with his lords, just after that time he had `instigated’ the abduction of Turindë, when I came upon them in my father’s house, and unaware. That there had been no grounds for my mistrust of Nolofinwë some had said; she who was my wife had said! Yet was that not evidence? That he had intended to so gain knowledge of my plans in exchange for the release of Moryo’s* lady! To discredit me before our father!
A short, sharp, image was my reply from the Doomsman, and of Moryo striding into the great hall of Lord Ettelendil’s house, and that lord at late meal with his advisors. My fourth son had thrown two of them aside, and overturned the large wooden table at the head of the hall. As Turko* restrained another, foolish enough to think he could intervene, and Curvo* stood watch on the door, Moryo’s hand closed around the throat of the one who had so underestimated us, and my son lifted him off the ground.
`I know the abduction was undertaken by Ettelendil’s men,’ I retaliated to that, most satisfactory, interruption. `But that lord was following my half-brothers requests to gain him leverage over me. Nolofinwë did not control his lord’s methods of gaining information. Not as I controlled mine! He thought only to bring me down, and to use whatever means he could to glean knowledge on the rumours of my forging. That his servants would act so dishonourably is but a reflection upon him. Never would any of my servants, nor servants of my sons, have so acted. Never would they have so abused a nís, or a hína*.’
“Have a care, O Noldo; for swiftly it seems thou dost put aside the slaughter of the Teleri, and of nér and nís and hína alike! By thy own words dost thou condemn thyself.” Mandos’ tone was a most grave rebuke.
`Thou didst remind me, and of late, that it was of Nolofinwë I should ponder. This I do! Thou hast not bidden me think on the Teleri. And that action at Alqualondë, it was needful!” So I returned his rebuke. Though as I so spoke, some heaviness did I feel, that, needful or no, still could I hear the gull-cry screams of the dying. And I felt regret!
A few moments it was before Mandos made further comment. “Thou knowest not all of what thou dost speak, spirit of Fëanáro. Not of the Teleri have I bidden thee to ponder, not as yet. And a bitter cup will that be to drink, when I so ask of thee! But neither is it is of the deeds of Ettelendil I ask thee to ponder, but of Nolofinwë. Do thou proceed.”
A distance did Mandos seem to have withdrawn from me. He saw not the point I would make, or considered it invalid. Well then, thought I, of need would I show him that which he must already know, but chose not to look upon. I would show him what had happened to Turindë.
I showed him my memories of that day upon the plains of Valinor, south of the Calacirya, and of the estate of Lord Ettelendil. After a long pursuit of Ettelendil’s servants, and nigh unto the woods of Oromë, Moryo, Turko and Nelyo had brought them to bay. At that point where Curvo, Vëatuo, and I had caught up did those servants plan to so confound us by stampeding a herd of grazing bison in our direction. Was that not an act of violence?
`You who said at Mahanaxar that I was violent, did I not have cause to so be! And do you not know, not recall, that Turindë they had tied fast to the back of one of the beasts they had then enraged, that our aim would be her recovery rather than further pursuit of them!’ I could little help the anger I still felt at such a deed, though, did I again `see’ myself cutting down those pale Teleri mariners who stood in my way. Quickly did I push that thought aside.
`What manner of behaviour is it!’ I continued with my reminder, though received no answer. `That Moryo cried in horror; that he who was so easy to colour became as white of face as the northern ice, the Valar would not understand. Passionless spirits all! You who watch, you who observe out lives and our deeds, yet know not the depths or the fire of the Noldor heart; you who `play’ at taking our form, who, it is said, have spouses, but in fëa only, and who beget no offspring; how do you know what it feels like to behold one of your kin so abused? How do you know what it feels like to be a son, or a father, or a husband?’
“Or a brother!”
Mandos was paying me heed, I so noted, so I continued.
`Moryo would have wrestled the creature to the ground to reclaim his lady from that act of depravity. But, thankfully, there was no need, for I put forth of my will to slow the pace of the creatures, to control their small minds, even as Turko rode in amongst them, speaking calm to them, and to the one who bore his brother’s wife so that the creature became gentled with no ill effect. Turindë was made safe, and reunited with those who loved her. And all this is but one example of those acting upon my half-brother’s suggestion.’
I showed Námo Mandos my half-brother in the Counsel of Loremasters shortly before the Great Festival of 1474. Though he was never one of their number, had he gone hence, and rose to speak, and to so bring a subtle challenge to me when he thought me not there! And how? Because he had, and through his mother, planned that my lady distract me! But I knew his plan, and would not be so distracted from speaking, as was my right.
Still was no response forthcoming from Mandos, not to my showing forth memories of the cunning with which Nolofinwë would conduct himself. But still was that vastness of presence about me.
`Come now, Doomsman’ said I `Thou must know that my half-brother acted with craft and guile. That he would speak as in one manner before my face, and before my father, yet would he speak and act in a manner far different when thinking himself alone with his advisors.’
I showed Mandos my memory of that deed: that deed of Nolofinwë’s that caused me to rush to our father’s house fully armed, and with Urrussë* at my side. So enraged had I been, and knowing that, as ever, he would have already spoken against me.
He had feared me then, if not before. Feared that he had overstepped the mark in his careful planning. Had he not departed as if pursued by his worst dream, and to his brother’s house? Had he not sought the `wisdom’ and support of that younger brother of his?
And he had said before Manwë: `Thou shalt lead and I will follow’ yet meant it not! Nor had I ever been fooled by his insincerity. How would he, who would be king, so follow me,when it was our father who was truly king? Was our father slain at the time of his words? Nay! He was not!
Nolofinwë had claimed the lordship of all the Noldor. He had caused the dissent in the tents of murmuring as the hosts of our people had traversed Araman. He had even added our father’s name as a prefix to his own. Finwënolofinwë, in evidence of his claim! Ai ! And I should lead, and he follow! Nay! Never was that his intention.
`Jailer’ cried I in spirit. `You who support the cause of Indis and her sons rather than of my mother, see you not how ignoble Nolofinwë came to be. A pawn did you think him, one more servile than I; one who would see my Jewels were given over into your keeping. Yet though he made much complaint on that dark night, even to the drawing of swords, did he not, in the end, join with full will in the rebellion against you? Would he not have traversed the sea, as did I, if he so could? Yet, I deem you have welcomed his shame filled return to you, even as you will have welcomed the grovelling Arafinwë* back in your fold?’
But no reply came unto me. I thought then that I had overstepped the bounds of caution. I thought of certainty the honesty of my manner would have in no way eased the Valar’s attitude towards the predicament of my eldest son. None were there to whom I could turn in that moment: no father, no wife, and no counsel. Yet had I not ever heeded most the fires of my own heart?
So did I brood, in resentment, in bitterness. For Mandos was immovable, and none other were there who would hear me.
Time passed, and I thought on the Valar’s hatred of me, that they would not give of any mercy to any kin or follower of mine. No matter what I said, no matter what I yielded, they would not show mercy nor give of their aid to an Elda who had the boldness to challenge them. I thought of Nelyo’s plea, to forgive him, and that he suffered for my rashness in engaging Moringotho too soon. Then, with no warning, the one I held in thought with copper-brown hair had changed from my son to her and she standing before me in my room at Formenos. In thought I reached out as if to draw her to me, as I had so wanted to do at the time of the memory, but through stubbornness, had not. But I drew memory of her words:
`In Manwë’s love are you, and in his thoughts! How can you speak of he and of Melkor in the same breath?’
`Love!’ had I said. `What sort of love remains silent when I am accused of such wrongdoing, and unjustly.’ I had wanted to hold her; I had wanted to cause her pain with my words for being so distant from me. But of Manwë also had I been speaking. I had wanted to believe that she yet loved me; I had wanted to believe that Manwë would yet intervene on my behalf, and show the truth of things, and regarding the weaker race that would defraud us of our inheritance from Ilúvatar. But that summons had arrived, that `command’ to attend the Great Festival that cost me so dear. Was that not proof of Manwë’s deception, at the least, of his incompetence?
I pondered still. `In Manwë’s love are you!’ I heard her saying; a voice that I wanted to hear, that I wanted to believe in, though all my experience of the Lords of the West told me otherwise. For had the Valar not cozened and blinded the Eldar, that they may limit and control us? That our skills, that my skills, would be not a challenge unto them!
Yet, was it conceivable that she, who I thought so deceived, had been right, and I wrong? I thought not. But the doubt was there. As a small thorn in my mind! And was it not a chance worth taking, in the circumstances?
I could not, would not, beg. Not of a Vala, not of any would I beg. Not even for Nelyo! Yet did I think upon Manwë Súlimo, and that he alone might yet pay heed to one who had all but cursed him.
`If ever it were true, that I was held in thy love, then have mercy upon my son, who is surely beyond all help of the Noldor. If ever I was in thy love, O Manwë, then put forth thy will, that he may be saved.’ Long had it been since I had uttered prayer, but slow words, asking for Nelyo not to be forsaken did I whisper.
It was as I had expected. No answer came to me. No sense of the return of Mandos, or of Manwë acknowledging my cry.
But a breeze did it seem there was, and a sound, as of the beat of large and heavy wings.
Nolofinwë / Finwënolofinwë = Fingolfin
Nelyo / Nelyafinwë = Maedhros
Fëanárion = Son of Fëanor
Hína = child
Moringotho = Morgoth
Moryo / Morifinwë = Caranthir
Turko / Turkafinwë = Celegorm
Curvo / Curufinwë = Curufin
Urrussë = Flame blade (I think)
Arafinwë = Finarfin.