(Disclaimer: All of the characters, places, and the main story line are JRR Tolkien’s wonderful creations. All references are from The Silmarillion, or HoME Vols 1, 10 or 12. Nothing is mine, except the interpretation and any mistakes. Elemainie, Narwasar and Ondoriel are my beta-reader’s characters, and used with her permission. Eluwe is the writer, Eluwe’s character, and mentioned with his permission.)
(I have tried to remove the accents, as I noticed they were not being shown correctly on recent stories. I hope that does not ruin things too much?)
The house of Curufinw? F?an?ro. Tirion. Seventh Age.
The sky grows unusually grey as I look out from the window of my study, towards the sea. Heavy are my thoughts as I start this day, for I do ponder most diligently upon that dream of the night before last. I know not for certain what it means? My knowledge tells me that it is most like some memory that my mind is trying to resolve, some many thoughts to do with this house, and with my desire to write of my early life with him and with our sons, before I lay myself down for a final time. So speaks my ‘head’. Yet does my heart tell me something else! That it is no dream, but thoughts in fea; dreamlike, because of the vast span of ages since last he so spoke with me. My heart, in its folly, tells me that it [I]is[/I] Feanaro; and that he does speak with me from the Halls of Awaiting.
Few indeed are those who would give truth to such a possibility. Yet have there been some who have known through a close union of fea, what a slain spouse would have them know. Forbidden it is to seek communion with the unhoused, save through appeal to the Valar. Rarely do any so ask, for the Great Ones do but pass on those words they deem fitting. But not even the Valar understand all that may pass between fear, particularly of those who were wed. And it is not I who has initiated such communication, if such it is? It is [I]he[/I] who seeks of me.
Now all this day have I pondered upon the babe, Muinafinwe. Does the name not hold memory for me? For so did my lord once speak in light heartedness, that after naming our youngest son Telufinwe, he would have no name for a further son save ‘Secret of the house of Finwe’? In jest had he spoken. No further child did we plan or feel need for. But I had shared his humour at that time, and given some thought to names, (are not names, words chosen, most important?), and though I had said it not aloud, in fea had I told him my considerations for such a ‘secret’ child. He had smiled at that, and taken up my hand to his lips.
“Such a name would please me, and far more than those you gave to our twins.” Just that small rebuke did he have to make. “But I think not that we will have occasion to use your suggestion, Nerdanel. Not unless Eru decrees otherwise!”
So have I thought and brooded upon Feanaro’s words in the dream that was no dream. It seems to me that, had I borne an eighth child, I would have remembered so doing! Such is the nature of being a mother, is it not? I can dismiss any notion of a son kept secret from me; for I would of [I]surety[/I] know, and if, by the oddest chance, I did not, then another of my kin or friends would have told me by this late date I believe. Nay! I have not forgotten a child I bore. So something else does Feanaro mean.
The dream is one of foresight, some would think: a vision of a child yet to be. Many are those returned who, in the course of time, brought forth a child. Did not Gaerion’s brother, Gillonde, return to his wife in the Fifth Age, and get their son, Earfion? Did not many of the returned Teleri and Noldor become parents? But none who knew the complexity of my situation would so think. My lord is in the Halls of Awaiting since before the Sun, and I, though Eldar, am worn with many passing years. In some writings does it seem that your people, Firya, think mine can reproduce at any stage of our lives. Not so easy is that. For though slowly, do we grow older as Arda ages, and, with the fulfilment of desire for children does the desire end. There comes a time when we cannot have further young, whether we will them or no. And as I have since written that Feanaro could not have brought forth any sons without my aid, so can I not without his! Aye, he will return; at least so do some believe. But at the End! And what do we know of certainty of that end, we who live in our history, in our memories? The end of all history, that is no time for the bringing forth of a child, even if we still have the ability or any longing so to do; any longing to again be together. But no answer to my riddle does any of this speculation give. Muinafinwe, secret Finwe, did my lord name the babe, and I think, mayhap, therein lies a clue.
Grey is the sky, and heavy clouds there are, out to the east, across the sea, and beyond Tol Eressea. Not that any have passed over that sea for many an age, nay, not since the end of the Fourth Age have any White Ships so sailed. (Some few of your people have, inadvertently, made that journey, but sent back were they from the Lonely Isle, for this land of Aman is not for the Secondborn. Not yet!)
Some of [I]our[/I] people there are that remain in the Hither Lands. Not just the Avari is it that I speak of, but Noldor and Teleri also. The ship-builder, Cirdan, he is still there! It is said he chose to remain until all of our kind were brought into the West. But most of the Quendi in the Hither-Lands have faded; upon whom does he wait? The Lord Teleporno, mayhap: that husband of Artanis from who she has been parted these many an age? Strong would he be; strong enough to endure, even as Cirdan. I understand not why the Lord Teleporno remained, for it is said that great was the love between he and his lady? Others there are also beyond the sea and the Straight Road, and some that are spoken of in awed whispers.
Always, when I look to the East, do I think of Makalaure, though from the time of Earendil’s coming did I know my second son would not return to me. Though hope I had then for Maitimo, no hope did I have for Makalaure. Strange, that it was Maitimo who perished! But I think not that it is Makalaure for whom Cirdan tarries. They said, those who returned at the end of the First Age, or of the Third, that my second son wandered off to the north, half-mad with grief, lamenting what had become of our family and our people, lamenting what he had become. It was said, and by Artuiel, that Makalaure had wanted to come home so very much. That sick of heart was he with the weight of the oath in the days before the Great War, and only the presence of the twin sons of Earendil kept warm his fea.
Ai, beloved! Why could you not surrender to Eonwe? Why could you not seek of the mercy of the Valar? Not that I need ask that question. Gaerion did say he came upon you, and to the north of the place called Imladris. So you kept watch upon that ‘son’ of yours for a time? And did the Lord Elrond himself not make effort to speak with me after his arrival in Aman, and of he and his brother’s love for you?
It would seem from Gaerion, from the Lord Elrond, and from others, that she found you not. Neither report nor rumour has ever reached me that it was otherwise. Yet still do I wonder if Liriel, that wife of yours, found you? In memory I hear her in this house in Tirion, and she walking through the upper rooms and singing a song of her love of life, of her love of [I]you[/I]. She sang not in this place in the years she dwelt here after you had left. Though she was one of the first to return to the deserted hill of Tuna, yet did she do so with little joy. And what to say? That she disguised herself as one of the neri, and went forth with Arafinwe’s* host to find you surprised me not at all. May it be that she succeeded in her quest; may it be that you were together for at least a little more time. But my heart warns me that it is most unlikely. I do believe that both you and your lady are with the others; are with the rest of our family, save for me. And that in the Halls of Awaiting!
But my mind will not leave the dream. It cannot be he! It [I]cannot[/I]! None do speak from the Halls at all! None save, mayhap, the mightiest of the Noldor. And if Feanaro [I]does[/I] speak to me from that place, then I know not what I shall do!
The sky, that should be full of bright promise, it is yet grey this day.
Ambarussa faced down his opponent, hunting knife in hand. In control of the situation did he appear, though blood was dripping from the furrows torn in his upper arm by the bear’s massive paw.
My youngest son would not wish to kill the creature. Why should he? The very idea of a bear attacking an Elda was unprecedented. To [I]understand[/I] was what he wished. But he would take no further risk with his wellbeing, nor, most certainly, with mine.
I had reached out in thought to the creature almost as soon as he. It was as my son had said; dark was its mind, as in a manner unlike any normal creature. Not that it’s thoughts were of harming us, from what little I could tell, but that it’s thoughts were almost closed to us. What [I]was[/I] perceivable was that it was most concerned with driving us away from something; with ensuring we came not upon something secret. We had but inadvertently crossed the path of its hunt, I first thought, but there was a plan that it was holding to: an intelligent plan.
Low sounds did my son utter, low and guttural, and for an instant the bear halted, though still standing tall, and menacing, fore-paws spread out as if for a deadly embrace.
Although Ambarussa had not the skills of speaking with animals that Tyelkormo possessed, yet did he made effort not to shame his elder brother’s teachings. Again did he make sound of snuffling, and a short growl.
The bear’s eyes took on a new light, but not a good one! Mayhap Ambarussa knew not how to speak ‘bear’ as well as he thought? The creature dropped to all fours and made at us.
“Run!” my son hissed at me.
“I can defend myself, child!” said I with some exasperation, that I seemed a burden. Yet I knew he was no child.
Then did the creature turn aside in its dash, to make at me. My reactions, though fast, were no match for those of my son. His hunting knife already drawn, he made to wound the creature, to disable it. But the strong paw swept the knife from his hand, leaving further, though lighter, gashes upon his arm as it did so.
Now was I horrified! Did the creature seek to slay him? My instinct, undeniably basic for an Elda, was to overcome that which dare harm one of my offspring.
“Nay, Mother! Keep back!” Ambarussa again ordered, turning his thoughts upon the creature; both word and will, as Tyelkormo had so taught him.
But again did he recoil as though he had met with something most powerful. I added my will to his own, as he and the bear circled each other, and he weapon less.
Now all of my sons were swift and strong. Though no battles had there blessedly been, yet had they not tried and tested themselves, each against the other? And also against others in the arena had they made contest. Ambarussa was a match for a bear, I believed. But I sought still to control of its thoughts, as Feanaro would have done, to turn it away from unnecessary confrontation. And of a sudden, was I surprised at what I found. For an instant did I touch upon the mind of one, not only intelligent, but also far higher in power than myself, rather than lesser.
Ambarussa had dodged the creature’s charge, throwing himself forward in a roll to pass under its following attempt to grasp him. The bear turned with sudden speed, but swift still was my son, and upon it’s back, seeking to throttle and slow it’s course.
Dismounting, I rushed forwards to retrieve the hunting knife, and would have used it myself in my desperation, save I saw chance to throw it to he who would use it to better effect.
‘Struggle not further’ I called in fea, trusting that some of my early bond with this son still held. ‘Too powerful is this for us to handle!’ I shielded my thoughts in a manner I rarely needed to at that time. I would not let the Maia know that [I]I[/I] knew his true nature.
Ambarussa caught the sword, though the bear of a sudden lowered to all fours and made to roll upon him. One cut did he make, one small wound upon its shoulder. Then he was free, and, grasping hold of my hand, we both ran from that place towards my dappled mare. Mounting hurriedly, we galloped forth. A race it became, as, to my dismay, the sound of heavy lumbering, and crashing through the undergrowth pursued us. Faster did I urge my horse to gallop, as in one of the competitions at the festivals. But we had greater cause of haste that day than the acclaim of the crowd.
I turned to look back, first at the pale Ambarussa, who was losing much blood it seemed, and then beyond him to the following ‘being’. As I so did, the creature’s form shifted before my eyes, even as I had observed Elemainie and Curunir so do, and, rarely, some others of the Maiar. As a pattern of shimmering lights was that which followed us.
“Be gone from this place; you upon whom a high doom is laid!” Words that were powerful thoughts, rather than from any embodied being hit my mind as a wave. My son also seemed to momentarily gasp, his breathing becoming more laborious.
Not as Feanaro was I, or Ambarussa, that we could halt a spirit by our word of command. But I began to realise there would be no need, for my horse was fleet-footed, and even carrying two could she run untiringly. We were beginning to outdistance our attacker. Or, mayhap, the spirit had driven us from that which it sought, and that was enough? Still did I guard my thoughts, seeking to put a barrier between the Maia and myself. Ambarussa, I believed, had done likewise, for his mind was also totally closed to me.
We rode on apace through vast, maze-like woodlands, until, at last, we slowed to a walk. Far from the yew hedges were we, and it did seem as if we had journeyed downhill, through tall pines and cedars, and on into a further valley of pale green, broad-leafed trees. Silvered light was falling in places through the canopy of leaves and touched the woodland floor with shimmering radiance like unto the fountains in the gardens of Vana, (though they gave forth of golden light). And there was a sense of stillness, which was far more akin to what I would have expected in Lorien’s domain.
Ahead of us, though yet further downhill, stretched a long, blue-silvered lake. On the further side, poppy shrouded hills rose up, to be reflected therein, and thread like falls splashed and cascaded from their heights. I drew my horse to a halt.
Ambarussa had been silent throughout our flight, and, as I slipped from the horse’s back, did I see that he was most drawn of expression, and had lost much blood. His wounds needed tending of some urgency.
“Never have I encountered such a creature! What was that, Mother? What manner of being did attack us?” My son spoke forth, though somewhat weary was his tone.
“I know not of a certainty,” I replied; though he, being a hunter the likes of Tyelkormo, would know more than I of such matters. I made to lead the mare to a grassy clearing on the shore of the lake. My intention it was to have Ambarussa rest against one of the tree trunks, that I could tend him. Always did I carry with me on longer travels a healing balm, that would speed the mending of broken bones, and lessen pain; and, also some herbs, which, when torn, and laid upon an open wound, would help staunch the flow of blood. But also did I require water to clean the wound, and water for us to drink. Though we had filled our water bottles at our first halt, they did not contain enough for our present need.
“I thought it was actually angry, that we had trespassed on something it was guarding?” Still did my son seek to understand what had befallen us, as he, also slid from the horse’s back, and made, with my support, to sit under the light scattering tree.
“My thoughts also, Ambarussa. Though did you not sense it was more than a creature?”
He spoke not, but grimaced, as I sought to examine the lacerations on his arm, and free cloth from the wounds.
“I thought it was a spirit of this place,” I continued; pouring the contents of my water bottle over his arm, to loosen the adhered silk, then bringing forth the herbs from my travel pack to slow the renewed bleeding.
“I attacked a Maia!” he stated bluntly. “I gave wound to one of the servants of the Valar!”
“And he gave many a wound to you. Now hold still!”
So my son had realised, the same as I, the nature of the bear. Gently did I cover his arm and shoulder with the blue-flowered herb, and encourage him to lay back and take rest. My own thoughts were on that one other occasion, when a Maia had behaved in a manner untoward. Osse had it been, who had apparently sought to drown Carnistir, until Feanaro had spoken forth and halted him. But the bear was not of the same ilk as Osse. No tumult of wild and raging thoughts had there been, but a focused and decisive plan.
“I meant not to act against a Maia, to give cause of anger to Irmo Lorien, but only to defend us, Mother.”
Already were Ambarussa’s eyes losing focus, and I thought that the fragrance of the fumellar had as much to do with it as my tending. Of all places to take a wound, was the gardens of Lorien one in which to expect quick healing.
While he took of rest, had my horse made to the water’s edge, and was drinking her fill. Now always was I cautious of drinking of the waters in this place. I had not the lore that some of our healer’s possessed, neither the deep knowledge of the gardens I would have liked. Many did say that the waters brought healing sleep. That I did not want for myself! Other’s said the waters held visions of what was, and what may yet come to pass. I had no great desire for that gift either, save to see us both returned safely to Tirion in time for Finwe’s celebration. But the mare seemed to take no strange effect, nor did she sleep, but moved on to seek good grazing. So did I venture to the lakeside myself, intending to refill our bottles.
As I knelt by the lake and gazed into the waters, I saw that they soon became astoundingly deep. It seemed as if silver slivers rose to the surface in flickerings of light, and [I]that[/I] rising up from some many pearls of great size that lay within. Then at once, the light was gone, and I saw the sea, and a grey cloud as far as the eye could perceive. Beyond the grey was deeper darkness, like unto those underground caverns I had sometimes visited, wherein there was no gems nor candle, nor the blue-silvered lights of my husband’s making. A heavy and oppressive darkness it was, so that I made to draw back from the sight unfolding, but found I could not. Suddenly were golden carvings, and white sails visible; white ships, nay, the Teleri fleet running before the coming storm. Heavy in the water were those ships, as if they bore a most precious cargo.
The vision changed. I saw, as through a Palantir, Feanaro in his workroom. He was labouring on a sculpture that I first thought was the one of Finwe that I had almost finished. My point of vision changed, and then it was that I beheld the sculpture was one of me! Like unto the one he gifted my parents at our wedding it was, for this portrayal held a beauty that few, save he, could see. And her form, rather, [I]my[/I] form, it was decidedly expectant. I had never watched him work so closely upon a sculpture before, and greatly did it move me to behold the love that he was putting into that work. He stepped back, viewing [I]his[/I] crafting more critically than he ever had mine.
“Still does it not do you justice, beloved,” he sighed.
In that instant was I filled with a longing to reach out to him in fea, but the thought of opening my mind to the unnatural Maia halted me in my tracks.
Feanaro’s eyes narrowed instantly; his head raised from his work as he sought to make fast that touch of union.
But the water became a darkened red, as if set aflame, and all contact with my husband was lost.
Fire filled my vision. As if from the heights did I look upon a city aflame. Tirion, aflame!
With rapid succession now, the waters cleared, and I could but hear the sound of many voices, raised in anger and some in pain. Though I had not heard the sounds of battle before, I knew of an instant what the clamour was. Seemingly from that same perspective of height did I view Findekano, and he in most desperate struggle against many who surrounded him. As the waters cleared again, I beheld Tyelkormo and Huan, and they holding at bay, and only just, a terrible figure of darkness and dread. There was fighting around them, also, but on those figures alone was my sight focused. Then did Curvo appear, and he mounted upon a black horse.
“Stand back, brother, if you will, and your mighty hound. This servant of darkness is mine to take vengeance upon!”
A most strange sensation of slowed movement overcame me, as Ambarussa pulled me from the water’s edge and from the sight of conflict between my fifth son, and something that reeked of horror unimaginable.
I shook my head to regain my senses.
“Great care must you take with the water of this place; that you know, Lady and Mother. Do not so attempt without me keeping watch over you.” My son’s grey eyes were wide with concern for me. He made to pull me back further from the water with his good arm.
“Nay! Hold, Ambarussa. There is purpose in this place, for I have no skill in so seeing, (in truth did Artanis come to be most masterful at that skill), yet do visions open up before me, and some of much concern.” I wanted to be back in that place where I could learn of the confrontation that was ensuing. I wanted to know that Curvo would prevail. “Let me look again, and you keep close to my side, least I am drawn too far into the image.”
He looked not overly happy with my suggestion, but my youngest son knew I had a point. So, with he now seeming somewhat rested, seated beside me, and studiously [I]not[/I] looking into the water, did I attempt to resume my vision.
But it was not to be!
For many moments did I stare at the water’s surface, and naught but the hills and the trees was there reflected back at me. Almost did I turn resignedly away, but at the last did I notice something odd. When I looked into the waters, did I see something reflected that, when I looked to the trees upon the shore, was not there! Again did I look upon the lake, and of certainty was there a white tower, standing proud of the surrounding woodland by some twenty feet. Of a design I was recently familiar with, did it appear, and that of the works of Mereno. No dwelling of a spirit of the gardens, but a tower of the Noldor it was.
“Look you here, ” I pulled Ambarussa closer to the water’s edge. “No future vision is this, save one of something that is here, and yet not?”
Most reluctantly did my son comply with my wishes. But he, too, saw the white tower.
“As the work of our grandfather almost, does it seem,” he observed. “And that with some few alterations that make but for beauty. Almost does it feel as home to me.”
He had put my thoughts into words. For to me, also, did that white tower seem most familiar, as a place I knew and loved.
A figure could I discern, though even with my sight, I could not make out clearly who or what it was. That figure walked, in no hurry, through the trees from the tower to the lake. Then were figure and tower alike gone from our sight, and a sense of great loss descended upon us both.
Somewhat subdued, and with much on my mind, we returned to our place under the trees. I brought out waybread from the pouch at my belt, and encouraged Ambarussa to take a few bites. Not at all hungry was he, and then of a returned pallor that suggested he still suffered somewhat from his wounds.
“We must get out from this place!” I spoke, as I took a few bites of the honey-laced wafer, “For your injuries need tending by one more skilled than I, and time passes, so that the celebrations for Finwe must surely draw nigh.”
So did I call my horse, and, again mounted, we made to ride out of the valley, Ambarussa holding to me to steady himself. And we rode! For several hours we rode through the valley, seeking again our path of entry, but all we found was that we returned, time and again, to the lakeside. Now was I becoming most concerned, and Ambarussa becoming less than fully conscious.
“We need help. You must call upon my father,” said he bluntly.
I hesitated. Still did I have a sense that the bear spirit might know of our location from such sending of thoughts. Still was I somewhat reticent to speak with one whose presence I had departed in a hurried and selfish manner. Yet did my thoughts on my sight of his crafting warm and strengthen my heart, that I would put aside my concern.
“Call upon my father, “Ambarussa reiterated. “For I have endeavoured to call upon my brother, and to little avail. None other union do we have, save that of yours with your lord!”
The union of fea between the twins was an erratic thing, so I thought no more of his words. And right was he, that Feanaro was a better hope of help than his brother. I composed my thoughts and will, to send forth to my husband a call for aid. But most difficult did it seem to make any contact with him. As if we were very many hundreds of miles apart, or more, did it feel. I focused my will, as much as I was able.
In his study was he, and Tyelkormo standing before him, with Curvo to one side.
“And you thought this a good plan? This inviting of the Vanyar lords and ladies, of Ingwe and of Eluwe, you considered a good plan?”
Tyelkormo was shifting awkwardly under the sardonic tone of his father.
“Did you not consider that I have enough to contend with at present without inviting Indis’ kin to the celebration?” So sharp was Feanaro’s voice become, that it cut most deeply.
Ai! What a time to so seek to speak with him!
“Of course we were considering you, father. Both yourself and our grandfather were ever in our thoughts” Curvo had stood with his arms folded, and head bowed, but now he raised his chin to look Feanaro in the eye. Softly and persuasively did he speak.
“We appealed most eloquently to King Ingwe, and beseeched his presence. And all of his court spoke most highly of the manner in which the sons of Prince Feanaro so sought of the High King.”
As ever did Curvo have his father’s attention. But try to gain it I must.
“Feanaro, I must speak with thee!” A twinge of agitation I felt, that I could not reach him. Curvo was continuing his explanation, stepping ahead of his elder brother.
“So was King Ingwe persuaded in a most happy manner to set forth to visit his friend. And did we not think, my brother and I, “here he turned back to a more eager looking Tyelkormo, “that the presence of the Lady Indis’ kin would give her cause to be much occupied; and her sons also. And that you, lord and father, would welcome the chance to speak again with the Lord Eluwe?”
Seated behind me on the horse, Ambarussa shifted uncomfortably, the slightest of sighs escaping from him.
“Finwion! I need thee to hear me!” I all but shouted in f?a. But the answer came from another.
“What dost thou in this place, Nerdanel, and with thy youngest son?”
Light patterns shimmered before us, a multitude of greens and golds that were not easy to discern from the light on the nearby trees.
Then was the Maia, Elemainie, whom I had first ridden forth to seek, standing before us.
“Oh! Well met indeed! ” I cried, with much relief.
A sense of calm sobriety, rather than mirth, did that Maia always have about her; a sense of purposefulness and a will to serve. She seemed to nod acknowledgement; then, ever practical, turned to my son.
“Tch! No healer of skill is thy mother!” and of an instant did she take more physical form, as one like an Elda, with honey blonde hair and a gown of forest green. “Get down from the horse, Feanarion! Be thou seated upon the grass. I fear that it will be some days before thou dost entertain aught with thy flute playing again!”
Most interested did she seem in the manner of wounds my son had sustained, but she cleansed his arm again with water from a carved carrier attached to her belt. Then applied a sweet smelling salve from a gold-lidded jar, taken from a pouch, also attached to her belt. And I felt a surge of energy go forth from her, as, at the last, she lay hand upon his wound, and noted with approval that he flinched not.
“A bear did this damage, thou dost say?” She searchingly questioned Ambarussa as to his acquiring of such lacerations.
My son hesitated to give of reply. Was she not one such as the bear?
“A bear in form, but a Maia in fea!” I answered reluctantly. For did I not know many of the Maiar, both those I had grown up with that served Aule and Yavanna, and some of those who served Orome? And from the time of my betrothal, had I known Elemainie. I could speak full truth to her, knowing that demurring would not alter the facts.
Elemaine looked up from her tending, her eyes widening, as she sought contact of her own.
“None other of my kind is there nearby, save Olorin. And he may be many things, but a bear is not one of them.”
She rose to her feet, the abrupt manner in which she had helped us fading, as she again became one filled with light.
“Follow me, if thou would be led hence from this place. For here is one of the secluded places of my Lord Irmo and of Este the Gentle, and it is not for the Eldar to wander at will, or when feasting they must attend.”
Her tone was warm, yet stern, and I realised she knew more of my predicament than I had thought.
For some time we wound our way upwards from the valley. Ambarussa and I mounted upon the horse, and Elemainie an accompanying glow of light. Encouragingly did she speak to Ambarussa. I think she rather liked him. He certainly liked her, and she was to be one of the few Maia he really came to know. At the top of the hill we halted, and, looking back upon the valley, I was aware of a sense of belonging. As if in leaving it, was I leaving home.
“Think not so, Nerdanel! It is to thy home that thou must go, though this place will be held in memory for thee.” Our Maia companion spoke thoughtfully. “I know not what will befall, but what thou hast learnt here, and in vision that thou hast not spoken of, will serve thee, though mayhap in many years hence. And I shall keep look out for any Maia who thinks themselves better as a bear,” she added. “Olorin has already taken message to the Feanturi of what has transpired, that it happen not again.”
If Ambarussa had been Curvo, a barrage of further questions would she have received. But he was satisfied that the confrontation had been but some mischance, that it had been a misunderstanding with which Irmo Lorien would deal. For my part, I was not so sure. Yet I took her words as she spoke them, and would ponder further the incident, and the disturbing visions, as chance allowed.
As we headed back through the pines, did we come across Ambarussa’s golden horse, unscathed, though rather slow of gait, having eaten his fill from the meadows beyond.
Elemaine accompanied us to the edges of the gardens, a further day’s travelling it was. Ambarussa, now with his arm in a makeshift sling, rode ahead of us, while she, again in the form of an Elda, was mounted on a bay mare, with the gait of one of Orome’s stock, which had answered her shrill summons.
“I know that the visions weigh upon thee, but is it not time we spoke of that for which you originally sought me?” she said, at last.
Now I had been full of thoughts and ideas upon my early travels, and that of my agitation at the restless change I perceived in Feanaro, and with which I could not keep pace. Yet now did my concerns seem but folly. Having been from Tirion those few days, did I find I saw with greater clarity, and the vision of him in his workroom had done much to illuminate me.
“I thank thee, but no longer is there any need. I have found joy again,” I replied.
“That is just as well, for the Maiar are not usually renowned as counsellors! And all I may say is what my lords have told me. So will I speak forth, whether there is need or no.”
It was not wise to refuse the words of a Maia, most particularly when you knew them to come from the Great Ones.
“Thou hast changed as well as thy lord, Nerdanel. No more the mother of young sons wilt thou be, though always the mother of sons, and loved by them. Thou wouldst hold on to the past, yet that cannot be! Ever must we all, who dwell in Arda, move with the flow of time, and whatever it brings. But thou, who hast borne many children, know thee not what a delight we perceive that to be? For ever are they [I]thy[/I] children, no matter what may perchance.”
I had understood this, and nodded agreement. I thought that to be an end of my counselling, but it was not.
“And Feanaro is ever thy lord, whatever may perchance! As he draws nearer his full strength dost thou again feel lacking to be wife to one whom thou knowest will be of the greatest of all the children of Iluvatar. But the Valar blessed thy choice of husband. Are not Manwe and Varda and Aule and Yavanna, well pleased with the match between thyself and the eldest son of Finwe?”
“It is so!” I confessed.
“Art thou also not well pleased with thy choice?”
“Aye! It is so!”
“And hast thou not found a deep love, and an affinity with him; hast thou not found satisfaction in the knowledge that thou, almost alone, can check and contain thy lord’s excess fires, that he may freely create wonders; even as was said to thee before thou didst wed?”
I halted my horse, that Ambarussa rode some distance ahead of us, for we touched upon matters I would hold close to my heart. Elemainie halted also. Her stern eyes softened with understanding, yet she would say what she would.
“Look to thy own needs as thou wilt, and in this is no wrongdoing. But doubt neither the love nor the need in thy lord. As he grows ever in curwe should thou seek to grow in nolme, and in thy show of desire for wisdom, know that my lords are well pleased.”
Again, came that enigmatic referral to me, that I was all but expected to hold Feanaro to a set course! I laughed then, knowing what Elemainie, in [I]her[/I] wisdom, had meant.
“Different art thou to him, and yet the same. Think thou on this! Beyond thy own need and thy own pride, what is Feanaro to thee?”
I pondered her words. An obvious answer was not what she sought. ‘Lord, husband, friend! All of those was he to me, yet was it not quite what she meant. Ambarussa had drawn his horse to a halt, and was looking now across the miles of plain to the edge of the Calacirya.
“We have little time to lose Mother!” he called back “My brother Ambarussa tells me our father grows irritated at our absence, and would have us back before the feast.”
Still did Elemainie’s eyes hold mine. “What is Feanaro to thee, Nerdanel? For children and skill alone define not thy relationship with him.”
Almost did I know, as a hidden knowledge drawn to the surface. “Lord, husband, friend! Aye, all these and more! And beyond the appearance he may give unto others, do I understand him for what he is, and in that understanding is he as part of me,” I replied. “Bereft would I be without him!”
She raised her eyebrows. “Well said, O Noldo! Though it must be admitted that thy lord’s subtle mind does not understand [I]thee[/I] as well as thou doest understand him, yet without thee, would he also be as one bereft.”
“How is it with you, Mother?”
My youngest son, now healing, and much more himself, made a general enquiry, as we had crossed the plains in hurried riding. But also was that son aware that I seemed of calmer mood, and, most likely, was desirous of his father’s company again.
“It is well!” I made answer. Further enlightenment I would not give, though from my happier tone of voice should he have deduced much.
Once free of the gardens, had Ambarussa found his communication with Ambarussa, his brother, much improved. That King Finwe’s celebrations were nigh underway was impressed upon us repeatedly by Pityo, and in most pointed terms.
“My brother says that all are ready, and that Maitimo has already left for the king’s house. Tyelkormo and Curvo are even now escorting the lords and ladies of the Vanyar to the king’s halls, and my father is most impatient at our delay.” Ambarussa was managing to encourage a greater pace from his horse. But we knew, he and I, that we could not reach Tirion before the start of the celebrations.
I had not attempted to reach Feanaro in fea since the time he was speaking with Curvo, and suspected that I, also, would find communication much easier now away from that valley. Such a strange place it had been, even for the gardens of Lorien. But no longer would I prevaricate, so did I call forth unto my husband and warmly, to let him know of my whereabouts. Cool was my reception, as of one studiously disinterested; save he would have me make haste.
“Pityo has informed me of your encounter, and of his brother’s condition. Would that you had spoken with me first, that our son’s words came not as a surprise! If you cannot be at my side when you should be; then see, at least, that your entrance is at an appropriate moment, lady.” His voice was very remote; but I [I]knew[/I] him; now, more than ever! Determined was I to restore our closeness, and as soon as I could.
Late, indeed, were Ambarussa and I for the celebrations, and naught was there we could do about that. Having reached Tirion, we headed straight for the house, but already had Feanaro, the rest of our sons and Nolwen departed for Finwe’s halls. I sent Arnone’s husband, Maneharyamo, ahead with a message of apology, stating again to Feanaro that that we would follow on as soon as was possible. Then did my youngest son and I seek to refresh ourselves from the journey and garb ourselves in clothing more appropriate for festival than for travel. Arnone viewed me with barely concealed reproach, that I had caused my husband such annoyance those last days. But ever one of Queen Miriel’s ladies was she, and she sought to aid me in setting out an appropriate gown, while I bathed and made effort with my hair. Such hurry! But I would not appear before King Finwe as one who was careless of the occasion.
So it was, that within an hour, Ambarussa and I headed across the bridge, and through the streets to the steps that led up to the crown of Tuna, and the king’s dwelling. Attired as befitted our status were we, though none of my family, as then, were ostentatious in apparel or in use of gems.
Lelyar had wished to escort me, as he oft did in the absence of my husband. But mere formality was it, rather than any need for protection, and I thanked him most sincerely, but said that I considered my brave son to be escort enough.
“Aye, Mother! Brave and foolish!” He laughed at what he considered his own folly, but as we drew near to the halls of Finwe, a lightness and expectancy of mirth and delight took hold of him. He was young, was he not? And he knew that his brother, Ambarussa, had accompanied Artuiel, in his absence, that she would be waiting upon his arrival.
Busy was the court in front of Finwe’s house, and busy his outer hall. Many assistants and cooks and musicians and bards were there, and about their business with a will. But the sense of joy was most contagious, and well pleased was I, for Indis’ sake, and for Finwe’s. The crowd parted to allow us to make progress, and with some curiosity at Ambarussa’s arm. Now it had been in my thoughts to gage the best time for making an entrance whereby I could approach first the king, and discretely, to offer a heartfelt plea at my late arrival, and to speak so that no ill was thought by others of my son, or of my lord. Only then would I seek of Feanaro, and, regardless of his mood, would I endeavour to make amends. Such was my aim! But as we approached the opened, high double doors to the great hall, did the blue robed Silwe stand before us.
“The feast in honour of the king began one and one quarter hours ago, Lady Nerdanel!” he stated with a hint of accusation that we were disrupting his king and friend’s most special time.
“That I know, Lord Silwe.” I would not curtsy to him, for such was not my place, but I inclined my head, and spoke most earnestly. “Sorrowful am I to be a cause of any inconvenience or impropriety, and my son also. Though the fault is mine, and he does but keep me company.”
Both eyebrows did that Steward raise, and that he suspected we would have far worse to face in explaining to Feanaro than to him. But then Silwe, astute as he was, never truly understood Feanaro.
“The first gifting is done, and the first song. Much of the meal has already been taken, and the noble lords and ladies here are on the last course” Now did he draw close, and whisper to us, as if understanding of our discomfort. “I will see to it that food is sent to you both once at table, for time there will be to partake, once your second son begins his recitation.”
‘Thank-you, Lord Silwe, and for your kindness,” I replied, equally discreetly. He would have smiled, had that been his nature, I believe, and that the wife of Prince Feanaro had reason to thank him.
“So, Makalaure has managed to compose his second song. I did think with the closeness of this celebration to the festival at Valmar that we would but hear two renderings of the music of Ulmo!” Ambarussa made a final adjustment to his sling, and to his bronze coloured robes.
“The Lady Nerdanel Istarnie, and Prince Telufinwe Ambarto!”
Loud and clear was Silwe’s announcement of our arrival, so that all polite chatter momentarily ceased.
Second thoughts, and some less than noble, did I have upon Silwe’s kindness. But no matter! That Steward was ever most conscious of the needs of our king, and would most likely have perceived his announcement as but the proper thing to do.
The walk, past the many tables and guests, along the length of the great hall felt in truth like the great march portrayed upon the floor. All eyes did I perceive were upon we ‘latecomers’, though it would have not have been the case.
I kept my own eyes focused upon the noble and lordly Finwe, who had risen from his chair at the long table upon the dais to offer welcome. Then also did I notice the smile of welcome upon the face of the Lord Eluwe, that oldest among the Vanyar who was one of the rare few to whom my husband would pay heed. Seated between the High King, Ingwe, and Finwe was he. I would not look to any other until I had given those of their due.
Halting before the kings, Ambarussa and I bowed and made curtsy as one.
“King Finwe,” said I. “King Ingwe, Lord Eluwe; grieved am I to have been so discourteous as to miss the opening of the celebrations. I do beg of your forgiveness, and ask your leave to join with my lord and family at table.”
A most appreciated warmth came forth from Finwe, and in some measure. I believed his happiness to be great that day, and no lateness of mine would lessen it.
“Most welcome are you, Nerdanel.” He held out his hands, that gesture reinforced words. “Has my son not already explained your reasons, and the misfortune that befell you? That you and my grandson are here [I]now[/I], brings me joy and not grief!”
He smiled most openly, and indicated the table to his right. As the Vanyar lords and their ladies occupied the main table, had the sons of Finwe been placed at those to either side. Not that any would begrudge that move, for did all hold those lords in high regard, despite the comment of Feanaro’s I had overheard.
“Partake of the festivities, and most freely, daughter. And indyo,” here Finwe caught Ambarussa’s eye. “When you have eaten and drunk of your fill, would we lords from the Hither Lands know more of your adventures these last days.”
Ambarussa grinned broadly, and bowed again, “That I will do, my king and grandfather,” before turning hurriedly to join his brother, and she who was the delight of his heart.
I was aware of Indis’ expression changing from concern, to happiness as I nodded acknowledgement to her, and to her most excellent planning. Then did I turn to Feanaro.
Again did the chatter in the hall resume, for none there were unkind, nor did any enjoy my discomfort. Ambarussa was to go to the empty chair at his brother’s side, and did not Carnistir and Tyelkormo join them as soon as was decent, and enquire after what had perchanced?
“Well met, Lady and Wife! Glad am I that you have seen fit to attend the feast held in my father’s honour!” Feanaro had risen to his feet, to bow a most formal welcome, and gesture to the empty chair at [I]his[/I] side.
I wondered if such formality would be the mood he chose to adopt for the rest of the occasion; but had there not been that hint of sarcasm, which, I knew from long experience, boded, well in his words with me.
“Right glad am I to be here, Lord and Husband, ” I replied, with an attempt to play his game, as I made to be seated.
I saw the light of fire in his eyes take on a different form, as he also took his seat, but was not yet sure of what direction he would pursue.
“Pityo tells me that his brother took hurt in defending you from a Maia!”
Ai! Straight to the point was he.
An assistant arrived to stand at my shoulder, enquiring which of the foods I would like brought me. But my husband held up a hand. “None!” said he.
The nis all but gasped with surprise at his bluntness, looking from him to me, unsure of what to do, but knowing she should not question the prince’s instruction. Maitimo, seated nearby, put down his knife, and watched with some concern.
Feanaro made to cut up some of the fruit upon his own plate, and ignoring the eyes of others, continued with his questions. “You know of certainty it was a Maia?”
Although I had been determined to make good my failings of the last days, aye, and my failings of the last year, was I stung that he had so humiliated me. Yet did I suspect it to be part of his act.
“I believe him to have been a Maia, my Lord” I made effort to reply with no hint of annoyance. “Though I know not a reason why he attacked! Most focused was his mind, as if he had a plan to follow.”
“A plan! And what sort of plan could it be, I wonder, for if he had meant to harm you, then surely he, being a Maia, would have done so?” Now did my husband move his plate before him, as if to examine what he would eat of next.
But he ate not. Rather, did he move the plate between us. I saw then that it was full, not with those things that were [I]his[/I] favourites, but with those that were [I]mine[/I].
“Shall we not share what we have, beloved?” softer spoken was he, and made of it a suggestion rather than an order. “As in the manner we did when travelling the hills in our early youth, would I have us eat.”
I knew of that instant more eyes were upon us than had been with my late arrival. To so share a plate was an act love, not of belittlement.
“I meant not to drive thee from me,” he spoke then in the intimacy of fea, though made to partake of wine, while I, almost reverently, took up some of the delicacies he had prepared for me. “Nor am I insensitive to the thoughts that hast troubled thee of late, lady. Glad am I, truly, that thou dost attend this feast, and lie not wounded, or worse, and somewhere beyond my reach. For this day have I spoken with the Lord Eluwe, and he reminded me of that which befell his Eluwen, that she departed not the Hither Lands at his side, but was taken by Melkor. That it was a grievous sorrow to him do I know, yet never before had he told me of his heart on the matter. As she was his beloved, thou art mine, and as a part of me I would not be without”
Such a speech was I ill prepared for, so that tears of happiness were in my eyes.
“Much do I have that I wish to pursue; many thoughts on points of lore and many thoughts of things yet to create. In all that I undertake do I wish to excel, even as Aule. Yet would I seek of thy counsel and thy company, lady wife; that thou dost give me of thy wisdom, and that to the good of all.”
I looked to the main table, where Ambarussa was already recounting our tale to the rapt Finwe, Ingwe, and Eluwe. And I noted that the silver haired Vanya lord smiled again in my direction. Much did I have cause to give him thanks.
“Aye, Finwion” I lay hand upon his. “Now that I have found again of my wisdom, will I share it with thee most willingly.”
His laugh came lightly in response.
“So be it! But first I would have thee work with me upon the sculpting of my father, that between us, we have a fitting gift to present him on the morrow, and not be outdone by our sons.”
Later, and after Makalaure’s presentation of ‘Finwe’s Prayer’, and dancing, and talking with friends and with family, Feanaro and I returned to our house to finish the sculpting of the gift for Finwe together, as he had asked of me. Our sons did remain at the halls of their grandsire, and a fine time were they all having. Ambarussa had presented the gift of goblet and platter that he had crafted, and Carnistir the ruby. Both had been accepted graciously. Maitimo had undertaken a painting, which was rare for him, he crafting in copper, for the most part. A large and splendid mural it was, of Finwe and all his kin. Now did I realise that Feanaro may find our eldest sons choice of subject less than pleasing, and this being the reason for Maitimo’s secrecy. But my husband was one to acknowledge skill when he saw it, and at one point did I find him even discussing its merits with Arafinwe. The gifts from the sons of Indis were also most grand, and well considered. Fine crafted belt, and bejewelled book of lore of the heavens were from Nolofinwe, and that sculpting of Calinalcaru’s that was of Aule. Most fine was that work! And did not Feanaro say so, though thought to offer better himself.
And so it was that we put aside our festive garb, and plainly clothed, did we make to my workroom, to finish my sculpting of Finwe, and to Feanaro’s satisfaction. My hands and heart did I find more ready to the task than previously, and my husband smiled appreciatively at the final outcome.
“Though I may give of precision and beauty, yet do you give of life, Nerdanel.”
As the light of the Trees again mingled, and our thoughts turned to refreshing ourselves, and the putting on of that which was appropriate for celebration, did he take firm grasp of my hand and lead me to [I]his[/I] workroom. In the far corner of that most special place to him was a sculpting covered in silken cloth. I knew what it was!
“This was I working upon before you left, and for a celebration of our own. That, even before I spoke with Eluwe, I would have you know what is in my heart, now and always.”
The sculpture of me, it was! But more skilled was the work, and more lifelike, if that were possible, that what I had perceived from the vision at the lake.
“I have used those skills I have learnt from thee in this matter,” he said softly.
“As ever, is the work of thy hands a wonder to behold, Finwion. Yet thou hast chosen to portray me as being with child!” I commented with some amusement.
“It is even so; and that to remind us both of the joy of the years of the children. But I think this crafting is not a sight new to thee, dear one! I think that there is yet more to thee than I know, and more to thy travels than thou hast yet told me?”
So it was, that before we returned to the second day of the celebration, and to gift Finwe, we did talk and ponder of those visions given me. And we held them in memory from that time forth.
Grey has the sky been. But my heart is become unexpectedly lighter. I close the pages of my writing for a space, before I return to that encounter at Formenos, (and to my grandson, whom I knew not!). My hands linger, lovingly upon the cover of the book, as if I could still, through so doing, touch any one of those seven written about therein. My sons! How I miss you all!
Though lighter of heart, perplexed do I feel, and at the paradox that is my husband. Always have I thought on how I loved him, love him still; and again do these recent words of mine remind me of why that is so. But as I draw nigh the retelling of the time of deceptions and lies do I also recall the grief of those last years; feeling as if I fought a long defeat. Despite my best efforts, my long and increasingly desperate endeavours, I could not turn him from the slow descent into darkness. The brightest flame of the Noldor was he. Spirit of Fire: most creative, most warming, most illuminating. Yet fire can be fiercely destructive if not properly contained, that it destroys all it comes into contact with. And I do wonder at what he is now become? [I]If[/I] he speaks to me, from the place wherein his f?a is constrained, is he free of the taint of the darkness?
Need have I for counsel on my thoughts. I would order them to face what may lie before me. For I find I am changing in mood. After so much walking in memory, after beholding him in that dream, not so sure am I that I wish to give forth my own spirit to Mandos. Not so sure am I that my purpose is nearing an end! And this feeling, after years of so believing death through grief of ages to be my doom, comes like a flame of life. Aye; and a flame burning bright!
“And thou, Nerdanel, doest thou yet have a name of insight for this our son?” had Feanaro questioned me in that dream. After much pondering, am I willing to give answer.
“Aye, Feanaro! I have a name of insight for the one you have called our ‘hidden’ son. Estelion do I name him; ‘Son of Hope’; child of my love and of my lord.”
Muinafinwe = Secret Finwe
Telufinwe = Amras
Firya = Mortal
Teleporno = Celeborn
Makalaure = Maglor
Maitimo = Maedhros
Arafinwe = Finarfin
Ambarussa = Both or either of the twins. In this case, Amras.
Tyelkormo = Celegorm
Curunir = Saruman
Carnistir = Caranthir
Fumellar = Sleep flower
Findekano = Fingon.
Curvo = Curufin
Olorin = Gandalf
Curwe = Skill
Nolme = Wisdom
Pityo = Amrod
Indyo = Grandson.
Estelion = Son of hope.