(Disclaimer: all the characters are Tolkien’s, only the interpretation is mine. All references are from The Silmarillion, and HoME 1, 10 and 12)
“..but Celegorm went rather to the house of Oromë, and there he got great knowledge of birds and beasts, and all their tongues he knew.”
(The Silmarillion. `Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië’)
The house of Curufinwë Fëanáro. Tirion. Seventh Age.
“You shall unhand my son, least you answer to me!” I had ridden as fast as I could across the part-wooded valley, unto the aid of Ambarussa the elder*. Now he lay on the ground beside a tall yew hedge, his right arm twisted beneath him at a most unlikely angle. That it was broken, I was certain. That the servants of the Lord Poldórion had misconstrued their Lord’s commands, and that this attack on my son had nothing to do with Nolofinwë* was I also certain.
My mount, my favoured dappled horse, had I urged on at speed, and I halted abruptly before the four neri that surrounded the prone figure. Unusual expressions were on their faces, as if they doubted I could enforce my will where Ambarussa had failed. But he had they brought low by trickery, and this I had seen from afar! They had driven him into a copse of trees, and used ropes to trip his horse, and to entangle him and pull him to the ground. Now, one nér was prodding the semi-conscious Ambarussa with his booted foot, and two others made ready to bind him, broken arm and all! No sound did my sixth son make, though there was blood from a wound to his head also, and that running freely through his copper-brown hair and onto his green cloak.
I was angry! No concern did I ever have in the earlier days for my own safety in Eldamar, and such a deliberate event was not one I had any previous experience of. Although there had been increasing strife between the sons of Finwë those last twenty years, never had I thought any of the Eldar would come to such actions, and here, in the Blessed Realm! Nay, thought I, this is some terrible mistake, and even so, they will not harm a nís, not harm a Lady of their people! But I had not taken sufficient account of the subtle changes wrought in the hearts and minds of some of our folk.
“Lady Nerdanel! What a pleasant surprise to find you also riding back to Tirion on this day!” The captain of the group, a strong looking brown haired nér, spoke rather sarcastically, and at me! “You will not find us as easy to influence as you do your husband, however! Soon will you be answering to our Lord, rather than we to you!”
I was further angered by the comment, but would not let it rob me of my wits. Still was that rumouring abroad in Tirion that I could in some manner control Fëanáro! If only they knew! The captain gestured that one of his accomplices who was still mounted, move to take me captive. No weapons had I, nor would I have likely used a sword at any time, (no swords had then been forged, but were to be soon afterwards!) but I was still the daughter of Urundil, and had grown up amongst my father’s apprentices. Swiftly did I slide from my horse’s back, and the neri smiled at what they considered my stupidity. But a heavy branch there was upon the grass, fallen loose from the nearby trees, and with well remembered fluidity of movement, I took grasp of it, and turning, knocked my would-be assailant clean off his horse as he made to take hold of me. Many a time in my youth had I practiced with quarterstaff at my father’s house, and most of the neri there could I overcome, if I had a mind so to do! Ambarussa, seeing what his mother was undertaking, and coming back somewhat to his senses, had lashed out with his good arm to seize the ankle of the assailant closest to him, and was not the docile prisoner the group had thought momentarily he would be. One nér turned to kick him again, and made to bind him fast. The others turned on me! Let them! Glad was I that I had but recently ridden from working in my father’s forge, and was still clad for such undertakings in boots and hose and belted leather jerkin! No fine court dress was there to impair my movements! As the captain now approached me, with a most uncivil expression on his face, I made feign with the branch, but as he moved to avoid me, I caught him on the jaw with a blow that would have nigh felled even Maitimo!*
“You forget your place!” said I with barely controlled rage, “What manner of behaviour is this that you waylay a prince, and a grandson of King Finwë! What manner of fool are you to seek to take captive the wife of Prince Fëanáro!”
For an instant all four hesitated, doubtlessly considering the retribution my husband would deliver. But then boldness in the opportunity afforded them by the current situation overcame their fear.
“You are no Lady to fight so! No Lady to work in a forge and dress as a nér!” the second of the group turned now on me with open contempt! “It is no wonder the sons of Prince Fëanáro are so wild in manner, considering the lesser sort their father chose to wed with!”
I could not be bothered conversing with them. Such neri would heed not my words. But now did I mightily wish to be away with Ambarussa, for there were three more of their ilk approaching rapidly on horse, and with several yapping hounds. With many blows did I push them back, all three, for Ambarussa had by then pulled down the one who was trying to bind him. But apart from the one with the broken jaw, all were unperturbed, and that their companions would surely be enough to overcome me! Ai, fools!
I have noted in some writings that I am referred to as slower and more patient than my husband, and of a more peaceful nature than he! That is a truth; more peaceful than Fëanáro was I! I stood over the form of my son, wielding a branch as a most effective weapon as he struggled to disentangle himself from both rope and assailant, and find strength to regain his feet. The neri stood back and the hounds now made at us, but they, in their sense of closure upon their prey, knew not what I knew!
A large, dark form passed over my head, and I ducked low, as Huan leapt the yew hedge, landed just in front of me, and stood guard, snarling defiance at those other, those lesser hounds. If that was not enough to deter the seven, a second form, and that of a black horse now followed the wolfhound. The rider turned his mount in a tight circle, and also faced the group.
“You should flee back to the safety of your Lord’s halls, while you still have the ability to so do! For here are three of the House of Prince Fëanáro, and you are outnumbered!” Tyelkormo’s * words were no simple arrogance! My third son had his bow drawn and aimed, and he was a hunter of great renown. He would not miss! So did the bold servants of Lord Poldórion reluctantly do as my son had recommended!
Upon our return to our house in Tirion, did I find Fëanáro to be ill pleased indeed, and not just with the accosting of Ambarussa.
“Of certainty did my half-brother’s attitude and that of Turukáno*, encourage such disrespect! For ever do they seek to undermine my house, and my rights, and that by any means!” Fëanáro had spoken, with barely contained temper, but the icy power of his will, an almost tangible force in the room, was even more daunting! Fire and ice he was, at that time! And those ill-informed neri thought I could easily control him! Nay, since he had come to full might was his power far exceeding anything I could easily restrain. Yet ever did I try to soften his mind-mood, to speak wisdom to him, and he, for the most part, still heeded my words as ones of value!
“This is no doing of Nolofinwë’s!” I had tried to speak reason into the situation, though I, too, had been gravely disturbed. “This is misunderstanding, and eagerness for acknowledgement on behalf of lesser lords!”
“What manner of prince, then, is my half-brother, who cannot control the actions of his servants?” my husband turned to me, blue-grey eyes flashing with derision, though his anger was not against me! Yet, did he have some point of contention that he needed to speak of, for he beheld me with agitation! “Nerdanel. You will cease this friendship with Indis once and for all! Her words blind you to the schemes of her son! To her do you go, and at times straight from council with me! I must have your loyalty, you must do as I bid!”
At that time had Fëanáro given more orders, more `instructions’ to me than I cared for. Still did I understand his need, that he wished not for Nolofinwë to be mocking him with `What manner of prince is my half-brother, who cannot control his wife!’ yet was I grieved at his words, that they were spoken before Makalaurë* and Tyelkormo. I followed him as he headed briskly down the corridor from the great hall, towards his study.
Tyelkormo had slumped into a chair, calling for refreshment to be brought him, but Makalaurë followed us with matching stride, concerned for me, for the well being of his younger brother, and more than concerned at the escalation in events between the princes of the Noldor. “Mother, you must not ride out again without an escort. You could have been badly hurt! Rumours there are, that some most unpleasant things are being planned!”
“No craven am I!” I retorted, lengthening my own stride, though I knew that our second son had meant well. ” I am not afraid of them, Makalaurë! What do you take me for?”
“No craven, aye, but not `Nerdanel the Wise’ either! Is it not bad enough there was an attempt to take captive one of my sons, without the added conceit of them trying to take my wife!” my husband spoke sharply, and gestured for Makalaurë to leave us.
“Assemble all of your brothers! Summon Ecthelion, Alcarin and Almon! I needs must consider our response to this insult!”
“Even Ambarussa, my Lord?”
“If his arm is set! I would have all hear his words.”
“As you wish, my Lord and father!” With a nod of affirmation to Fëanáro, and a perplexed glance at me, our second son departed.
My husband ushered me though the heavy, double doors, into that room that was as his sanctuary. Now, away from our sons, would he certainly speak his mind.
“For too long have I tolerated your behaviour, Nerdanel!” his voice still held the note of command, and, although courteous to me, was he determined to have his way in this matter. “You will take more consideration of the company you keep! You will cease this wandering around Aman as the mood takes you! You will certainly refrain from brawling with neri! A princess of the house of King Finwë, are you, and these many a year. Long overdue is your acceptance of that fact!”
That such words were coming, I had known for some time, for had I not continued to visit and work with my parents, and with Aulë, and to take myself off on occasions to wander the hills alone! I had known that my husband and sons thought me at some risk in so doing. Yet never before had I felt at any risk! I had known of Fëanáro’s dismay that I still sought the company of Indis, and even of the growing distrust he had of Aulë! Mayhap it was time I showed a change of heart! But he was asking me to put him before the Vala to whom my allegiance was given! Also, I felt most strongly about this current situation, and that I had been right to intervene.
“My Lord, I know of your concerns, and never have I meant you disrespect, neither to ignore your advice! But what was I to do? They had our son brought low by foul means!”
“What you were to do, was wait upon Tyelkormo, who you knew was fast approaching!” he shouted, slamming his fist upon the table in a fit of irritation!
I almost jumped at the sudden show of temper, though I should have been expecting it! Did not everything about Fëanáro’s stance, his demeanour, tell me to take care with my choice of words! Silent was I at such an outburst, for I knew well that there was nothing to be gained from a direct confrontation with him! Always had I been able to curb such a mood through gentleness, through quietly spoken words of wisdom. Always, had I believed, did I influence him because I would speak my mind, yet knew also when to yield. My behaviour of late had not been the most wise, I had to agree, and I could understand his vexation with me. But much was at stake, and I knew I needed to play the best game I could to win him back from fierce resentment to calmer rationality!
A low curtsey I made, before him, though now did I wish I was refreshed, and garbed in a gown like the lady I was. Lowering my head, I addressed him most softly. “I understand that I have disappointed you, my Lord. Yet will I seek to do better henceforth, and as you bid. But I beseech you not to take any rash action, but to consider well all possibilities!”
My change of attitude had the desired effect, at least for that moment! Not truly angry with me, was Fëanáro; rather, determined that I should give him the unquestioning loyalty that he believed his due. He drew a deep breath, and, though his expression was still one of sternness, moved to stand directly before me!
“Are you hurt in any manner, Lady?” Softened in turn, was his rich voice.
“Nay, Finwion! I am but concerned for our son, and for what will come of this event!”
He reached out to touch my face gently, with his slender, sensitive fingers, as if assessing for himself the validity of my words. “What will come of this is that our sons, and those lords loyal to me, will be ever more vigilant against those loyal to my half-brother! And shall I not seek out the Lord Poldórion, in front of Nolofinwë, so as to make clear I will not tolerate such an assault upon any of my family or people!” the gentleness of his touch was most welcome, and as he tilted my chin upwards, to look me fully in the face, did I know he still would hear my counsel.
“Yet it is in my thoughts that this act might be a planned provocation, to force me to rashness, as you rightly warn me! I will not give Nolofinwë that satisfaction!” he concluded thoughtfully.
Always was it Nolofinwë’s fault in those days, and the days after. Never could he see that many of his comments and actions could be construed as equally provocative. But then, unbeknown to us all, was not Morgoth entwining both princes in his slow forming plans, and giving fuel to their mistrust, each of the other! For that matter, never then could I see that my mind was also ensnared, though in a different lie!
Still was Fëanáro’s hand lightly caressing my cheek. In fëa then did he speak to me, “Though my heart burns hot against them for the insult to me, for what they have done to Ambarussa, yet if they had harmed thee, as Tyelkormo tells me they were about to, I would have nigh slain them!” said he. “None shall take nor harm what is mine! I would that thou doest give me no cause to think like this again!”
His words perturbed me almost as much as the incident. While I understood my husband’s wish to protect me, to keep me safe in that new and unprecedented situation that was upon us, (for had I not been so moved to protect my son?) yet to consider nigh slaying anyone was beyond my thoughts. If he felt that way about me, what, then, if any ever threatened his father! What if any threatened to take from him that which his heart loved beyond all—the Silmarils—did I then wonder! If only I had seen clearly the battle that was already underway, mayhap I would have fought back earlier, and with more cunning. Mayhap I would have ceased my close friendship with Indis many years before, (never did I in any sense betray him to her after that incident of long ago!) to better be my husband’s wisdom, and hold him in my counsel the more effectively until we all knew who was behind the troubles! But then, was it not my lord’s very actions that exposed the liar, the betrayer, the perverter of the bliss of Valinor! Ai, if only I could have prevented what was to follow! If only the Valar had never so freed that great enemy of ours, and of theirs!
That event taught me much! Never again did I wander the Blessed Realm with quite the sense of freedom I had previously. Never again was it always safe for a maid or youth to traverse the land, nay, not if they were loyal to any of the princes of the Noldor! Although there was some measure of improvement once Morgoth’s part in the poisoning of the peace of Valinor had been discovered, and my lord was exiled, and withdrew to build the fortress in the north, it was only once the dark night was upon us, and nine tenths of our people had left, that we who remained begin to trust each other as of old.
Difficult times were they, but my life had not always been so. Before those days arrived had I much joy and delight, and throughout many years, with my family.
( NB This chapter has become so long that I am posting it is two parts.)
·All years are Valinorian years.
·Tyelkormo = Celegorm
·Ambarussa the elder = Amrod
·Nolofinwë = Fingolfin
·Maitimo = Maedhros
·Makalaurë = Maglor