(A/N I have again tried to remove all the accents to make the story more readable. I am sorry if this ruins things, but I think it is probably better to read like this than with all the punctuation marks breaking up the names. And I am still not sure about the italics! Thanks!)
“Feanor was the mightiest in skill of word and of hand, more learned than his brothers; his spirit burned as a flame. Fingolfin was the strongest, the most steadfast, and the most valiant.”
(‘Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalie The Silmarillion J. R. R. Tolkien. Ed C. Tolkien. HarperCollins. p60)
“For Feanor was made the mightiest in all parts of body and mind, in valour in endurance, in beauty, in understanding, in skill, in strength and subtlety alike, of all the Children of Iluvatar, and a bright flame was in him.”
(Of the Sun and Moon. The Silmarillion J.R.R. Tolkien. Ed C. Tolkien. P 108)
Mahanaxar. Recalling thoughts from the Halls of Awaiting.
So it was that Nolofinwe had the victory! And did he not mean to parade it before me, to humiliate me before our father and our people?
Of my half-brother had I been contemplating, even as Mandos had instructed me, though of my own will rather than to comply with his. No purpose of gain would it serve me save this: I would learn to master the situation of my captivity. I would learn to ponder upon those memories that strengthened me or brought me of joy or of comfort. To my own thoughts only could I turn in order to make sense of the inevitability of my continued existence, but had I not ever been self-driven, so was this as another challenge unto me.
Instruct me as you see fit, Namo Mandos, and I will but turn it to my own ends. Nelyafinwe is free, it is true, but the oath-breaking son of Indis is king in his stead. My firstborn gave away the birthright of my House as a thanks offering, as payment for his rescue. What interest do you think I now have in aught that befalls the Hither Lands; save you tell me my sons have reclaimed that which is lost unto them? Save you tell me the Great Jewels are taken back from the Enemy? Only a matter of time will it be before one or more of the seven, – one of the six had I thought in that instant, and with much pain at the knowledge of what I had done to Telvo – seek of opportunity to reclaim our stolen treasures. Though I understand that in no manner may the power of the Noldor overthrow Moringotho, yet may my sons do him great and dreadful harm that he knows of the depths of anguish and pain; may they take back from him of the unsullied light he stole from me.
And I will bide of my time as I seek to grow in strength of thought, if time it is in which I exist. Yet are not these Halls of Awaiting within the Realm of Arda? Are not the Quendi of Arda? Thus it is that I realize myself to be within the time I have ever known, though my perceptions of the passing of such may be altered. So will I seek to gain what I can from memories while I am unlawfully held prisoner here: though mayhap not in the manner the Valar require of me.
Now had I been recalling a particular occasion in the year of 1203. My father had ordained three days of festivities in which there had been the usual feasting and entertainments of music, dance and tale; and competitions there had been amongst our athletes. I would have won in all events had I so desired to enter the contests, but it was not of my nature to make show of my prowess for other’s entertainment. Was I not the prince, the firstborn of the king? Let others entertain [I]me[/I], had I thought. No grievance did I have against such sport, and indeed, participated regularly in training and competition in the privacy of my house or at times in the arena with those lords who were amongst my closer companions. And had I, at that time, done something I did but rarely; I had changed my decided course at Ecthelion’s request, for the sake of my father’s honour, and participated in the javelin and the race in the arena. Was that not more than enough I deemed; for if I participated further would the sports become no true competition. Did not all know what the outcome would be? None there were as swift, as strong or as skilled as I, and let any who are foolish enough to question my assertion look to the records in Aman.
But that half-brother of mine, that usurper of my father’s time and affection, greatly did he love to hear the praise of the crowds ringing in his ears. At that celebration was he to do all in his power to win such acclaim. Not that he entered the events I had. Nor would he have. He wished to win!
Nolofinwe had participated in the long race: that which required of endurance rather than of speed, and the path of which led down to the coast nigh as far as Alqualondë before returning to the city. Many an athlete completed the course to fall at that last test, at the crystal stairs that led up the side of the hill of Túna to the great gates, or at the further two flights of stairs that led to the arena. He was not one of them; he finished first!
My half-brother participated on the second day in the archery contest, in which he came third, (never was archery his strongest point), in the early bouts of the quarterstaff, and in the tests of skill in riding, which again he won. Then on that third day had he ridden in the races that were five circuits of the arena. Had he not been first in that event, though Alcarin pushed him close, (and Kanafinwe the Swift closer still in years to follow!) So it was as I had expected it to be, and though far from happy was I not overly perturbed. I knew he was strong, I knew he was steadfast in all he undertook to achieve. Was his sire not also mine? But then had Nolofinwe ridden proudly back and forth before the crowds, waving gestures of acknowledgement of their support, and turned his beloved horse to face the dais whereupon our father, she who was his mother, and Anaire, who was then his betrothed, sat.
“My king and father; I do dedicate all honour of the events I have won to thee. For it is thy example in excellence that I have but followed.”
And my father had smiled upon him. King Finwe had praised of his second son before all.!
Well said did he consider his words to be, to win more honour for the king than I. Had I not made every effort to contain my anger at that display. But it was a slight intended to show forth his challenge to me, had I thought. So be it! Still were there the finals of the quarterstaff to take place, and that event between my half-brother and the Lord Fionu. That lord, who sought ever to serve his prince, would willingly concede his place in the contest to me. I would show Nolofinwe the calibre of the one he thought to challenge, had I decided in that moment. I would bring him to lie in the dust at my feet, and most swiftly.
We were seated upon a second dais to the right of my father; my family and I. Behind Nolofinwe’s field of vision were we that he would not see me move to speak with Fionu nor enter the arena until challenge was given. None there were who could nay say me the right of contest, neither could Nolofinwe refuse challenge least he appeared craven in front of all. So I made to rise from my chair and in that same instant her hand was light upon my arm.
“Wilt thou not stay, Finwion?”
Her use of that most intimate of names always caught my attention, for so she had intended. Softly spoken were her words, her gentleness a covering for her own strength of will. Though her eyes were upon my half-brother’s performance, in fea was her attention solely given over to me. So was her plea to me – her counsel – of touch and of word and of spirit. Not alone were we that she would use just of speech, for she was ever careful of what she said before our sons.
I had looked again to the wide arena, to my half-brother riding to and fro upon that white horse of his, (did he not insist upon a white horse of his own once he was old enough to realise Tyelperocco came to my summons alone?), and my anger at his presumptuous manner burnt strong. But I had noted her plea! Always did I listen to my wife, though not always take of her advice. She had continued to address me in fea without waiting upon my reply, as the babe, Kano, though smiling happily at her became restless upon her lap.
‘What valour would there be in thy giving of challenge to Nolofinwe, in showing that thou canst overcome him as most assuredly thou would, my lord?’
The hand she had placed upon my arm as a gesture of comfort was reluctantly withdrawn to tend further to our son. She had made of soothing sounds to him that his face brighten further, that he repeated back to her with delight. But I felt the wave of her clarity of thought reaching out to me as a promised and much desired embrace of restraint.
“Wilt thou not stay with us, Finwion?” she asked again. “For thou to step into the arena, onto the field of contest would cause some, who are less wise, to think that thou didst view Nolofinwe truly as a challenge to thy own strength and skill, which is of course an absurdity. Give not fuel to those few who would so think, I beseech thee, beloved; for to let thy half-brother have his day shows only how noble of spirit thou art, how much esteemed by thy sire and in no wise jealous.”
I heard her request, the sense in her words! Her influence had given me cause to halt momentarily, for always in our youth did I desire her caress of enlightenment as much as of hand. And in that moment had I also become aware of Nelyo, seated to my right, and he shifting position as though to rise and stand at my side if to go forth was my intent. But it was Kano for whom he stood. For in that instant had Kanafinwe climbed down from his mother’s nurturing and with the laughing utterance of one of his few words, of “Nelyo!” had he made swiftly round the back of the chairs for his brother’s company on most unsteady legs.
Only the day before had he first walked unaided. So did the parent in both of us watch of that instant his progress. Thus were we both to see our inherently graceful son stumbling over his own tiny feet in his great hurry, to be caught up, just in time, in the arms of his watchful elder brother.
An event of little significance it was, for though quick to master their hroa, none of our sons, nay not even I, had managed it in a day. But it was a strange memory that stayed with me in life, I realised, one that still resounded in the place of my doom: Kano’s determination to run before he could walk; his elder brother’s care for him, and she looking to me with that small, secret smile that spoke more of her understanding of me than very many words.
‘Why it would be like envying Kano’s first steps, and he but a babe, when thou art indeed a mighty prince,’ she had added in thought, with a touch of humour.
I had felt my rage caught up in the shimmering net of love and of wisdom she had cast over me. Though she had nigh over made her point, how I had loved her for her stubborn perseverance; that she would so often say of the right words to give me room to ponder, to reflect upon my own words and deeds that they be not rash. And of course she had been right! Though Nolofinwe’s action had undoubtedly been intended as a show of his maturing strength, yet had I sought to demonstrate my superiority in that event would my father have been less than impressed with me. I would not react to my half-brother’s baiting in a matter so trivial, for so to do would belittle my dignity.
“It is even as you say, lady wife!” Giving a silent acknowledgement in fea, I had lightly touched her cheek with my fingertips and taken again of my seat.
Do you not observe, Namo Mandos? See how I do consider the one you continually instruct me to! Of Nolofinwe do I think, yet will I have a measure of control, of mastery of that which I will ponder, and not just for your entertainment.
No answer was forthcoming from my jailer. Did he even pay heed to me any longer, I wondered? But no matter! With his presence or without it was I alone.
So had I returned to my forging of memories. I would weave a rich tapestry, as had my mother while she lived, and that of all that held meaning for me. And if, mayhap, anything should occur which gave me any leverage against Mandos, would I not have used it? The Valar would never restore me until Eru commanded of them, for they hated and feared me. So, disadvantaged, would I be held in that place from which none, not even Moringotho, could escape. But I was not Moringotho. I would learn to do [I]more[/I] than endure.
Again was I in thought of the third day of that celebration, though nigh the end and at the waning of Laurelin it was. I had not initially returned to the house with her and our sons, but spent some time in the company of Fionu (who was by then nursing bruises from the final event), and the Lord Tulcavaryar. Though I knew the wisdom of remaining silent regarding my half-brother, yet were my thoughts still restless that matters were not as I believed they should be. Late indeed did I return, and that after Kano was abed and much of the household partaking of rest from the excitement of the last days. Nelyo I spoke with but briefly in the scriptorium. Books and scrolls had my eldest son spread over the desk in his pursuit of information on Tulkas. Much taken was Nelyafinwe with any trials of strength or strategy.
But a feeling of heaviness of fëa was come upon me at that time that I could not be free of, neither would I impose it upon my son nor any other. As oft in such moods had I sought solitude, though not in my workrooms or in crafting on that particular occasion. It was to the bathing pool in the south tower that I turned, without even calling for Maneharyamo to attend me, to bring of oils and linen towels and fresh clothing. I had entered the tall-pillared room, crossed the mosaic-tiled floor with its portrayal of the Maiar of Ulmo, discarded my robes and stepped into the warm water.
So good had it felt to take of rest. So good had it felt to have all weariness of hroa and of fea dissolved by the heated and scented waters of the pool, and to drift for that time in thought. Yet was I not to be alone for long! But a few moments it was before I heard the sound of footsteps, of silken garments falling upon the tiles, of another slipping into the water at the further end of the pool and swimming to me. No need had I to open my eyes to know it was she, but I opened them nonetheless. She had made to swim alongside me, to kiss lightly of my cheek in greeting, but I drew her into a close embrace: my beloved, my wife, she who understood me better than any.
“I thought I might find thee here, Finwion,” she had said with a smile of pleasure that I was not in as bad a mood as she had anticipated. “So have I dismissed Maneharyamo for the time being. If it is agreeable to thee, will I give of my assistance in his stead?”
Looking up to the side of the bath, I saw she had brought with her all that was necessary; all I would normally have required to be refreshed. In truth, would I rather have the ministering of my lady’s hands to such a task than those of a servant! But still was my mind not at rest.
“Nolofinwe would claim the hearts of the Noldor for himself. He plays to the crowd for their praise, and for my father’s.”
“Shush, beloved!” She placed an elegant finger upon my lips, and made a mock frown. “Nolofinwe does but seek to copy of the example of his father and his half brother, that they are esteemed by the people. See thou not how he does admire and emulate thee when he can? He would seek to follow thee in many things, not just in the sports, for he perceives in thee much of worth; much that Finwe honours. He does not intend to give thee of challenge.”
“Mayhap thou art right! But cunning is he that he seeks to replace me ever in ….”
“Shush, my dear lord! It is for thee to rest thy thoughts for awhile,” said she with some firmness. I did not finish my argument. She silenced me then by the touch of her lips upon mine. Most persuasive could she be.
‘Again doest thou indulge of the comfort of that gentle lady whom thou didst drive from thee! Not a thought hast thou given of late to the grief thou didst cause her. Not a further thought hast thou given to the valiant deed of Findekano by which thy eldest son was freed! No way forward is there for thee if thou wilt not pay heed to my guidance. I would have thee consider the results of thy rebellion, spirit of Feanaro. Know thou that very many of the Noldor, that two of the sons of Arafinwe are slain.’ The sombre presence of Mandos drew me from that most promising of contemplations.
‘What of my sons?’ I replied of an instant, for did I not fear to hear the worst? That his statement would be followed by ‘And thy sons also are slain!’ But nay, thought I. My sons are strong; Nelyafinwe and Turkafinwe are strong and skilled captains.
“We will begin!”
Again came to me those hated words of the Doomsman; that he believed he had means to make bargain with me. But did it strike me then that Namo Mandos had a way of disrupting those moments when I recalled of my wife! Mayhap he was not the only one with a means of control over what was pondered and when? May it be that, should I wish of his presence I had but to think upon her, and he would attend me as if he were some servant? Most interesting to me was that thought, but it was swift and I meant to keep it close. So did I take up his demand to play again at the matching of wits.
‘Always are we beginning, but never do we progress, O Vala!’ I addressed Mandos, who gave forth of the impression that he loomed over me in some high vaulted cavern. ‘And I thought Nolofinwe was the one you wished me to think upon, not Arafinwe’s sons?’
“So he is!”
Many of the Noldor, including two of the sons of my younger half-brother had been slain. Mandos wished me to know of that! Had I not warned them all that long and hard would be the road? Had I not told them there would be need of their swords? Though no great love did I have for my half-brothers’ families, yet a flicker of sorrow crossed my thoughts that more descendents of Finwe were dead. And Aikanaro, he who had the light of flame in his eyes, had spent time in his youth with Turko and Curvo upon exploration. I had known him! Which two were dead I would not ask, that Mandos thought his words overly concerned me. Yet did I have memory of Aikanaro at my house in competition with Curvo; both laughing and calling the result of their unarmed contest in the training hall, ‘undecided’. I saw, as a passing flash of light, the silver-blue robed Angarato dancing with his wife, Eldalote, at Carnistir’s betrothal. And then I beheld Findarato, again for an instant, at festival upon Taniquetil running eagerly to be at the side of the golden haired Vanya maid, Amarie. I saw him take up her hand most lovingly to his lips, and she smile radiantly in return.
She had not come with us, the one whom Findarato loved. Another nis who remained in Aman, in loneliness and in sorrow was she. She, and Findekano’s beloved, and Curvo’s wife, and Kano’s wife, and [I]my[/I] wife! And Nolofinwë’s wife, Anaire, also, it must be said.
Why was it that our nissi would not come with us? Why would those of the House of Finwe not follow of their lords when so many others did without question? None of them were weak, none a feared. I had not understood it; save all had been cozened by the Valar.
Alone had I felt; beset by a ring of enemies. Though so many of my kin and my people were around me, though my newfound depth of hatred I had to nurture, yet had I felt so alone when she made her refusal to accompany us. Far worse than her refusal to come with me into exile from Tirion had that moment been! My father slain, my beloved Jewels stolen from my care, and instead of loyal comfort would she make my emptiness in that long night complete. Empty heart, empty arms, and empty bed!
So be it! And did she not learn to regret of her decision? But I had thought she would follow. That as she, in the fullness of time, had come to me at Formenos, so would she do again once in her right mind. Until that time we made away with the ships had I expected to behold her again, to have word brought that she had ridden in pursuit and begged to be with me. Ai! So had my mind at times pondered; but had my heart known I would see her not again after what transpired at Alqualonde, ……I willed not to think on that; I willed not to think on her at that time with Mandos still so intent upon ‘beginning’.
Now I had been told that many of the Noldor had been slain, as well as Arafinwe’s sons. I pondered as to their whereabouts, for none did I discern to be with me in that place. Not since my death had I known the presence in reality of any save my keeper. As if the Halls of Awaiting had been created for I alone, did it seem. Or as if with Moringotho freed, I had been the one chosen to occupy his solitary prison.
‘Elda art thou; not Vala! Think not that thou couldst endure the torment Melkor endured before his release.’ Mandos made rebuke of me.
‘No? Is my fea not from Eru, as is Moringotho’s, as is thine? Is it not recorded of Nienna, in the Namna Finwe Miriello, that while the Children are not mighty in life, yet are each of us in fea as strong as you! Say you Doomsman that you could not endure what Moringotho did?’
No well-mannered way to gain information from Mandos was that, but I had thought to try of varied tactics. I would know of my sons, if they yet lived. I would know of any attempt made to avenge my father and I, and to reclaim of my Jewels. But not again would I beg or plead.
‘And Moringotho thou didst release, despite his deeds and false confessions of repentance. One law is there for the Eldar it seems, and another for the Valar!’
Mandos was not one to react to my taunting, it seemed. Rightly was it said of him that he was immovable, or mayhap was I merely too trivial for him to belittle his dignity!
“Of Nolofinwe art thou to ponder.”
“Which particular aspect of Nolofinwe? You make order, but give me no direction. As if you believe me to know of all your thoughts and reasoning it is!” Most frustrating did I find the situation, yet I could think not how to manipulate Mandos to give forth of the information I desired.
I thought again of my half-brother as a child, and he in the hall of our father, looking to me at the dance.
“See thou not how he does admire and emulate thee when he can?” had that wife of mine said, and when gathered in my arms. Neither lie nor deception would she have ever knowingly attempted to make. What was it she saw in Nolofinwe that was hidden from me? What was it she still saw in him those many years later that she spoke to me in his defence?
Again I saw him in memory, riding with all our family at the head of the host of the Noldor towards Valmar for the festival. He had endeavoured to speak with me on that occasion and I had endeavoured to pay heed of him. Not overly arrogant were his words I recalled, nor boa!@#$l was he of his achievements. He had sought to speak with me in earnest of family and of pursuit of knowledge, and had admitted that I was the more learned. Had it not occurred to me that I rather enjoyed the conversation; though I had told myself at the time it was done to please my father. A most gratifying festival had that been for me, and that Kano gave forth of his first rendering of song before the whole of the assembled Noldor and Vanyar. That she had thought twice about her loyalties, and had been at my side right willingly, preferring to be my wife than a servant of Aulë; that my father had been so very proud of all his family and their achievements before the High King. Ai! It should have endured! That closeness between us should have endured!
‘Thou hast asked of thy sons, so this will I tell thee.’ Thus came my reward for playing Mandos’ game, thought I; the knowledge I so desired. Yet my thoughts had lingered for an instant on the awareness that Nolofinwe was truly our father’s son in appearance, whereas I ever held something of the countenance of my mother about me.
Whether my jailer was aware of my thoughts I knew not at that time. He continued apace. ‘Thy sons are safe as yet, spirit of Feanaro. Thy firstborn has excelled in courage and leadership, and performed deeds of surpassing valour against the hoards of Melkor. As if a flame burns bright in him it is, that he is unquestionably his father’s son. Many do draw unto Nelyafinwe at his fortress upon Himring, and it be not taken. Indeed, does his brother, Kanafinwë, now there abide with his people. Thy other sons have fared less well; for Turkafinwe and Curufinwe have lost of their lands and been driven to seek refuge with the eldest son of Arafinwe, while the lands of Carnistir have been ravaged and he has fled with the remnant of his people to join with his brother, Ambarussa’s scattered folk.’
So overwhelmingly forthcoming with information had Mandos been that I instantly suspected some sort of trap. What would he have me concede? Into what confession of guilt, what vain attempt at humbling was he leading me? But did I know that all my sons yet lived, were ominously safe ‘as yet’, and that Nelyo was more than a force to be reckoned with. My firstborn; he from whom I had expected so much, was I not proud of him that he was acting as he should. Did I not also know then that it was Angarato and Aikanaro who had been slain, and that Turko and Curvo took refuge with Findarato. Would that prove yet an interesting situation, for no match in cunning or skill in battle did I consider the eldest son of Arafinwe for those two sons of mine.
“And will not grief come of Findarato’s noble decision, ” said Mandos enigmatically. ‘Yet his stay in my Halls will be but brief, that he be purged of his guilt and healed of his grief.’
Unlike I! Was that the Doomsman’s point? I thought not. Though valid, was it something I could do naught about. Some other plan had he, some other issue of import for me to consider.
‘Think thou of Nolofinwe,’ said he.
I considered not to give him of answer. I thought to ponder, to brood further on the news given me. Did I not know what I wished? But never would I fear confrontation. Whatever the Doomsman had planned for me would I meet with a will. So I thought again of that deed of the eldest son of Indis as reported to me by Alyatirno and Almon, two of my captains, that he had been overheard in council and the letter he intended to send to his brother intercepted and brought to me.
They had made plan, or rather Nolofinwe was informing Arafinwe of his plan, and that to see me driven from the city by order of my father. To fabricate proof of my disloyalty to Finwe was my half-brother’s intent. To show through lies and false witness that I rebelled not merely against the Valar’s dominion, but against my own sire’s rule and had planned to make of myself King of the Noldor, to lead forth all of the people from thraldom. In his letter was I to be accused of calling my father’s actions in bringing our people to Aman an act of the greatest folly, of one seeking an easy path of an unendingly dependent childhood, and no challenge. Was it in writing that three would bear witness against me, that I had accused Finwe of being no fit ruler, saying that he held title but no power in Tirion. Never would I have said such things about my father! (Though had there not been times when I thought my father denied true kingship by the Valar. Either he had command of what was done with his people, or he did not! How then was I commanded to appear before the Valar for a deed they said was ill-done in Tirion?)
Nolofinwe’s aim it had long been to drive my sons and I forth, but had he thought himself not able to part me from my father’s love. Had he even thought to unking the king if it be the only way he could achieve his goal! And did he not, as it transpired. achieve all that he wished for? But that last news brought to me, that letter, was something to which I must give of reply of the sharpest kind. Nolofinwe had intended to make such a case against me to my father and his assembled lords before my arrival at the council, that there would be no choice but my father pronounce words of exile upon me and made the son of Indis his heir in my place.
‘Lies!’ said I. ‘they were lies, made to destroy the love my father had for me. But he could not do it! Ever did my father love me best! Do you not see, Doomsman? Lies spread by the people of Nolofinwe, couched in half-truths, as ever they must be for deception to achieve its goal. My half-brother was not content with wishing to drive me forth by will of the Valar; he would have our father do it! Was I to do naught for truth and justice?’
No answer came to me, and I realised I had made more of the emotions I felt at that time than I intended. Had I made more of them than when I was forced to stand before Mandos in the Ring of Doom! But he already knew of my pain. He already knew of my reasons for drawing sword, at Mahanaxar.
“Thou doest speak again of lies and of deception. And doest thou know not, even yet, who was the most deceived? In his hatred of thee was it ever Melkor’s intent to entice thee to the path of falsehood, and slowly corrupt of thy very soul. Dost thou still not understand, O Noldo who prided thyself upon thy great learning and skill, that thy loyal lord Alyatirno was one foremost in heeding unto Melkor’s whispers? And that to give thee of false council and report was ever his aim, that he be given many lands himself to rule over once come into the Hither Lands.”
I had known it; though not at the time I had made threat of Nolofinwe. Though I would say not so to my jailer, had I paid close attention at that mockery of a trial given unto me. Soon enough had I dismissed Alyatirno to the undertaking of most trivial tasks at Formenos, and under Turko’s keen supervision. Had I not left that ‘loyal’ lord on the shores of Araman with my half-brothers people when those truly loyal to me sailed east?
“And the Lord Almon was also under Melkor’s sway,” stated Mandos.
I had known it, though to my great regret not until after the ships were burnt at Losgar and my youngest son with them.
‘The Deceiver spoke forth his whispers, and many of the Noldor were deceived. Aye, this I know, jailer!’ I had replied, though not without anger. ‘And did I not approach of the Valar with words of warning; did not I have of my father’s support to speak with Manwe of the influence of Moringotho upon our people but shortly after I first beheld of him among us? Was I not dismissed by Manwe as a fretting child, as one who spoke out of turn? Do I not know what thou thinkest me to be is but very unimportant? And who set free that fell Vala to so corrupt of the Noldor? Who risked of the peace of their own realm and of the Eldar thou had summoned hence, out of loyalty to that one of their kin, and then could defend neither land nor folk from his deeds?’
Silence was there, that I thought to have driven Mandos from me by my contempt. But it was not so. After some time did he speak again, and in the same tone as he ever did. Most solemn was he.
‘Still hast thou done not as I first bid thee; thou hast taken not council with thyself that thou doest know thyself for who and what thou art. For all thy insight and skill of mind, were thou deceived, and caught in the web of malice more tightly than most. Thou hast fallen most grievously from thy bright and noble beginning, spirit of fire. In pride didst thou think thyself beyond fault or reproach, that all thy utterances were truth; that others held them so to be and no insult. Yet didst thou hold all Nolofinwe’s utterances as meaning insult and dishonour to thee of the most malicious kind.’
I answered him not. These were words he had spoken in part at that other encounter. I knew his argument, and he knew mine. Fully justified had I been in my thoughts and deeds, and not willing to give account of myself to that self-appointed judge. Neither was I so inclined to do at that moment. And never had I spoken insult to any without it being deliberate!
Yet did I know well I had been deceived: by some of my own lords, by some of those closest to me, and by the influence of Moringotho. I knew from my encounter at Formenos his aim had ever been to wrest from me my Jewels, and to destroy of me. I knew from the moment of my death that it had been but utter folly to give hurried, ill-considered pursuit of my enemy. And did I not know I should never have abandoned so many of the Noldor, have set fire to the ships; that greater numbers had there been to bring against the Dark Lord; that my youngest son yet lived! Was it not part of the nature of being unhoused, that the fea, disembodied, perceived that which it life it may well not have?
I knew that some of those I thought loyal unto me had believed loyalty was best served by bringing forth of false words pertaining to Nolofinwe. Did the Vala think me an utter fool? Could I not so reason that my half-brother also had false word brought to him, and that Moringotho was behind all the lies? I knew this at Formenos, and it was a grief most sharp that I had not realised it sooner. Yet did it not alter all my cause for complaint. That Moringotho spread rumours did not negate the Valar treating the Eldar as caged pets, as amusements; neither did it nay say the enmity between Nolofinwë and I.
Nolofinwë had sought to become my rival; for the love of our father, for the place of his heir. Had he, in pride of his Vanyar blood, thought to be a better prince and leader than I. Some of the lies spread about me were of his doing! Some of the accusations brought against me were from his envy. And he had meant to drive me from Tirion come what may. He had worked most cunningly against me as we had journeyed north, and claimed lordship over all of the Noldor by right of the will of the people, saying I was only king by the will of the Valar, whom I distained. Was he then my friend?
I was king because I was the eldest, because I was the beloved of our father, because it was my right! I was king because my father was slain!
Ai! So much folly! So much falseness had we all succumbed to who should have known better.
I should have seen through all the lies! I, who reckoned myself the greatest of the Noldor should have seen more clearly what was to come, that my people had been better led and better prepared. Yet did I know I had not always recognised the truth when I heard it. Truth and lies and half-truth! How to distinguish when even Manwe Sulimo was deceived by the lies and promises spoken unto him that he believed Moringotho to be cured of all evil?
‘I will show of thee a truth, proud spirit!’ So had Mandos paid heed to me, though I suspected he had never really done otherwise.
‘Thou didst make complaint that Nolofinwe swore to follow thee. That he said ‘Thou shalt lead and I will follow’. Thou hast claimed he meant it not; that he lied; yet did he not follow thy lead into exile and against his better judgement?’
‘He followed because he would not let me have undisputed kingship,’ said I in reply. But a sense of heaviness was upon me, that I knew it not to be the whole truth. ‘He followed because his sons so urged him, and because many of the Noldor called upon him to remain as their king. Little love did they have for me, despite my desire to set them free.’
‘So thou dost say, spirit of Feanaro!’
In his hatred of me did I consider Mandos to be enticing, nay commanding me to a path of entrapment, to swiftly humble me to his purposes. If I could but find of a way to make stand, to hold against all he put forth, thought I, for to walk slowly and dismissively from his presence was no option. Neither was to yield!
‘Nolofinwe followed thee into the east;’ the solemn voice continued, ‘though was he forced of necessity to take a path most cruel and treacherous, and that because thou had deserted him.’
‘He followed because he was too proud to return; too feared of thy wrath over his actions at Alqualonde and those of his people. He followed out of hate of me. He could have returned to Eldamar, had that been his wish.’
‘That he followed in conceit of his own, and in rebellious spirit, is so. And also was his intent to avenge thy father. But he followed because he was the chosen leader of a people thou hadst made restless and discontent in fëa; he followed because, like thee, he would in no way turn back from a task once undertaken, even though he knew in the end it would lead but to his doom.
A vision broke before me then, like unto the one of Nelyo and the one of the traversing of the Helecaraxë. Long must it have been since those visions, for I all but recoiled under the onslaught of sight beyond my control.
A white horse I beheld, a mighty and swift horse galloping across the open lands. Familiar did that place seem unto me, that I knew it to be land I had passed over in wrath filled haste, and under the stars. Looming ever closer was that mountain range, the three tall peaks of accursed Thangorodrim.
And upon the back of that horse was a mailed rider I recognised; travelling in great haste and purpose was he.
‘Nolofinwe seeks combat with Moringotho!’ Mandos stated as fact. ‘Thy half-brother follows thee still.’
I could not turn from that vision had Mandos given me chance. For I was bound fast to the pursuit of the Enemy, as it seemed was Nolofinwë. Had I hroa, my heart would have been pounding at that sight and at the thought of what was to come. I wished to ask naught of my jailer, but I need must know more. And if the Enemy was to be seen in vision, then so might something else be, of my own desire.
‘What has happened?’ I asked of urgency. ‘What has happened that thou doest name this a truth to show me? Why does Nolofinwe ride alone, and with no army; why does he who would be king, so ardently seek of his doom?’
‘Why didst thou ride ahead of thy army? Why did thou seek of thy doom?’
‘Vengeance’ said I. Though to myself did I ponder I had thought not of doom, and that I was mighty enough to come upon Moringotho and exact vengeance upon him single-handedly. Fey and foolish had I been in the wrath of my spirit, that I threw away such opportunity to overcome in my madness. But Nolofinwë was never as rash as I. Why was he so focused upon this deed? Why was he alone?
‘Long have the Noldor held Moringotho in siege: but no more. He is broke his bounds that the hosts he gathered in Angband cause much devastation and swiftly. Thy half-brother is king in the Hither Lands; yet has he suffered loss; is he sundered from his kin by a vast number of enemies. Naught of aid could he or Findekano bring to those two of the sons of Arafinwe who were slain; so are their people scattered. All of thy sons, save thy eldest, are driven from their lands. It does seem for all thy eloquent words and promises that the Noldor are in utter ruin, so is Nolofinwe filled with wrath and despair.’
‘He follows the path I took.’ I had heard Mandos’ words, but the realisation of what was about to befall was upon me. ‘Nolofinwë does follow my lead to the end.’
The Doomsman watched with me it seemed, and though given to no show of emotion, did I think at one moment there was a flicker of sorrow at what was unfolding.
To the very gates of Angband Nolofinwe rode, but no Orcs came upon him, no Valaraukar issued forth to stop the single Noldo’s approach. And challenge he gave in no uncertain terms! That half-brother of mine, whom I had long despised, he called forth Moringotho to come out in single combat, naming him craven, and lord of thralls who held naught of honour.
“My sire met thee with drawn sword upon the steps of my brother’s house’ he gave cry. ‘No coward was Finwe, to hide in the depths of the treasuries until dragged forth! My brother sought of thee in single combat, and thou didst reply with a host of thy servants, with Valaraukar and Orcs to bring him down. Yet no coward was he, that he met them undismayed; never did he tremble in fear, as dost thou! And now am I come for thee, and thou shalt know me for my father’s son, and full brother in heart and in courage to Feanaro!”
The madness of wrath burnt brightly in his eyes, and he struck mightily at the doors and sounded forth his horn that none save the dead could be unaware of his presence.
Thus did Moringotho issue forth from that abode wherein he had long hidden. Slowly did he come forth, though with great noise as of thunder. For he was afraid. And by his movement and stance did I realise he was not as he once had been, and that there was as a deadly weariness, and great pain upon him; even uponhim!
‘The Silmarils!’ I cried forth, filled with burning desire to gaze upon them. ‘The works of my hands it is that do drain him of his might. Though he craves of the light, yet in his greed to possess it does it destroy him!’
So stern was Mandos’ response. ‘Behold thou the truth!’
There did he stand: he whom I hated beyond recall. The first I had seen of him since the time I dismissed him forth from my door with words of most deliberate insult, it was. The Enemy; the Power of Terror and of Hate, Morgoth Bauglir, foe of the world. My enemy! Clad in black armour was he, with a vast shield in one hand and the mighty hammer, Grond, in the other. And upon his head was a crown of iron in which was set the Great Jewels.
Ai! My heart’s love! Yet I could not claim them nor take them back into my keeping. The very sight of their beauty atop that horror, though in vision, filled me with an echo of the music I had sung into their creation. As if my own heart did again give beat it was, and the glory and radiance of that which was mine glimmered life anew into my fea.
But the combat had begun.
They circled each other, those mismatched combatants, each hampered by emotion, I could see! For as that Vala knew fear of an Elda, yet did Nolofinwe know of blinding rage. Again and again did Moringotho hurl aloft his dread hammer, and make to bring it down upon the small figure of my half-brother, to crush him into the dust. But he was swift, that second son of Finwe, and avoided each blow, striking back wounding glances seven times with his ice like sword, with Ringil. Each time did the Vala utter a terrible cry of anguish that echoed throughout the land. And I was glad!
‘None of the Valar canst thou overcome’, they were the words spoken me by the messenger of Manwe. Does this hold also for my half-brother?’ I asked, though did I observe most carefully the battle. Did I know that the strength of Moringotho, though limited, still left him as mighty beyond measure. As greater in endurance than even his opponent!
No answer came.
So did I know the outcome of that moment. As I watched, though the glory of the Silmarils ever drew my eye, yet was there a glory also upon Nolofinwe that he fought so valiantly, that he was one who gleamed before that darkness as a bright star.
We should have made stand together, he and I! The unbidden thought pierced through all my illusions that I knew it for a truth. Had Moringotho’s well placed lies not so divided us, had we given of battle shoulder to shoulder, could the sons of Finwe have defied the pronouncement of Eonwe! Could I but have fought beside Nolofinwe and added of my strength to his, we could have overcome.
But I, in my folly, had hastened to my doom. Now did it seem my half-brother did likewise.
Thus it came to pass that Nolofinwe tired, that it seemed his movements slowed and he grew weary. Thrice did Moringotho bring down his shield upon his valiant adversary; thrice did Nolofinwe struggle again to his feet, bearing up his own broken shield in an attempt to continue. But then he stumbled upon the rent ground, falling backwards into the dust, and Moringotho put his foot upon my half-brother’s neck.
That memory of Nelyo reaching swiftly to take up the falling Kano, to offer aid to his younger brother that he be not hurt; it echoed in my mind, that if I had breath I would have gasped aloud at the realisation and anger that filled me.
“No!” I had cried fiercely. ‘May it not be so!’
At that moment Nolofinwe had summoned of his remaining strength, and with a last and desperate stroke he hewed at the foot that was upon him, that black blood rushed forth, smoking, and filling the pits on the ground left by the many vain blows of Grond.
And so he died!
In vision, and before my eyes; though I had no means of knowing if it was a long past event, the eldest son of Indis died. Naught was there I could do to give of aid, to take up he who was fallen even had I so wished.
I saw that Moringotho was breaking the body of his opponent, treading him underfoot, and the Vala uttered of a call to summon his wolves to him. But the mighty king of the eagles, Thorondor, descended to rend at the face of Moringotho, and bore away the body of the King of the Noldor out of my sight.
Long did I ponder of all that I had seen and heard. So did Mandos leave me be for some time. Now the sight of the Silmarils had stirred again in me a desperate longing to reclaim them. Not that I was in any position so to do! And I thought upon what I had witnessed, that the Noldor faced utter ruin, that my sons were scattered. Little hope was there, I considered; little hope save for Nelyo, who, with Kano, held yet his lands, and would continue to prove himself his father’s son. But many were the truths I understood from that vision; many things that should have been, but for my lack of love for the sons of Indis, were not. Mayhap she had been right about him, that lady of mine, as she had been right about other things? Mayhap Nolofinwe had sought to follow me in his youth out of admiration? Mayhap it had been long before I taught him to hate of me? Better to ponder awhile upon Nolofinwe, thought I, and without Mandos’ instruction so to do; for had he not, in his ending, shown of much that even I could admire? In truth was I saddened at his demise, as I had never thought to be.
‘Is he here? Is he in this place? ‘ I asked after a while.
‘Of which spirit of the slain dost thou speak?’ came Mandos swift reply.
‘Nolofinwe! Would that I could speak with my brother.’
‘Thy brother?’ questioned Mandos. ‘Namest thou Nolofinwe thy brother?’
So again, did Nolofinwe have the victory! But no longer did I feel a sting of humiliation at the knowledge.
Nolofinwe – Fingolfin
Nelyafinwe / Nelyo – Maedhros
Kanafinwe / Kano – Maglor
Moringotho – Morgoth
Findekano – Fingon
Arafinwe – Finarfin
Aikanaro – Aegnor
Curvo – Curufin
Turkafinwe / Turko – Celegorm
Angarato – Angrod
Carnistir – Caranthir
Finderato – Finrod