(Disclaimer: all characters are Tolkien’s, apart from Narwasar and Ondoriel, who are my beta reader, Elemáine’s, and Tulcon, Artuiel, Alcarin Nolwen, Arnónë and Silwë, who are my attempts at writing characters. All references are from The Silmarillion, and HoME 10 and 12.)
“The two twins were both red-haired. Nerdanel gave them both the name Ambarussa – for they were much alike and remained so while they lived. When Fëanor begged that their names should at least be different Nerdanel looked strange, and after a while said: `Then let one be called [Ambarto >] Umbarto, but which, time will decide.’
Fëanor was disturbed by this ominous name (`Fated’), and changed it to Ambarto – or in some versions thought Nerdanel had said Ambarto, … But Nerdanel said: `Umbarto I spoke; yet do as you wish. It will make no difference.’
(HoME 12. The Shibboleth of Fëanor.)
The house of Curufinwë Fëanáro. Tirion. Seventh Age.
They say he was not gentle, but fell, and cruel! They say he was proud and hot-tempered, and fiercely resentful of any that opposed him!
At times was he each of these things, but not always, and most certainly not until the later days. Complex and difficult he ever was! But nay, he was in no way wicked! For how then could he have borne the touch of his creations; how could he have held the holy Silmarili, or worn them upon his brow, when they would not suffer the touch of hands unclean, nor anything of evil? Those unsullied Lights that, it is said, so burnt the hands of the marrrer, the thief, Moringotho*, that never again was he free of pain, that weighed upon him a deadly weariness; never did they burn Fëanáro!
Those who so spoke of him, did they not paint such a picture that he appeared to be, and nigh from birth, what he was to become at the end? But then did not many of them hold grievances against him, and that he had bettered them at some skill, or shown up their weaknesses or failings? He was arrogant, they said! Rather it was that, never could he tolerate foolishness easily; in that were they of a certainty right! But they say not of his nobler qualities save he was mighty in skill of word and hand, and the most learned of the sons of Finwë! They say not of his valour, his understanding, his endurance, aye, and that he loved most passionately his family and our people, and, alas, the Silmarili! Not until he left Tirion that last time did he harden his heart that none could reach him thereafter!
But those who so wrote, they did not really know him! Not as his father and his sons knew him! Not as I knew him!
And the Spirit of Fire, gentle could he be, when he so chose! Even then, weighed down, as he was, with grief immeasurable; enflamed with such bitter anger at what had been taken from him. For his beloved father had been slain, his most precious jewels had been plundered, and his fortress, with many of those loyal unto him, had been brought low
I stood facing him, across the long, oak carved, table in his study, and saw his expression soften, but slightly, as he beheld me. The fire of wrath in his eyes, for that instant, burned a little lower. Only for an instant it was, least the grief again controlled him, and took from him his power to command! The formidable force of his will that had sustained him in his anguish did he momentarily temper to allow the briefest of touches. And his warmth engulfed me, as he reached out in fëa, longing for me to provide that once familiar touch of reassurance, of strength and of calmness, amidst the horror he had suffered in the long night.
“Time is short! But glad I am that thou art here. Nerdanel, I need thee! I need thy understanding!”
How does a mother say goodbye to her children knowing that in all probability she will not see them again? What are the right words for such a parting: `Namarië’*? It does not suffice! How does a wife say goodbye to he who has been her husband from their early youth, who has been nigh her life; when their love, it should have been forever!
All of our sons did I see, and before they departed. All in one manner or another did I whisper my `farewells’ to, as my heart broke within me; even as Yavanna and Curvo* had long since warned me would so happen!
Carnistir*, he had come across me at the bridge, and escorted me through the courtyard, when the guards would not let me enter my own house! Curvo, had he not been with his father in council, and spoke to me most poignantly? Maitimo* was I to meet as I left the house, after that final encounter with Fëanáro, and Makalaurë* had I found in the bedroom of that smaller dwelling in which he had lived for a time, with his wife, before they had gone to Formenos. Tyelkormo* had I but seen riding away, and with his hounds. No words had been spoken between us, though he had made a sign of blessing, as had I! Great was the pain that we were never truly reconciled! Always do I hope that Curvo, or Maitimo, or Fëanáro himself, so spoke with Tyelkormo, that he knew what had come to pass, and that I had, in truth, much regret of my estrangement from his father those last years. That, had fell Morgoth not intervened, I would have been with them all in the northern fortress, and to this very day if needs be! I hope most fervently that, before he met his doom, my third son knew I loved him no less than I loved any of the others!
But the twins! Ambarussa*, and his brother Ambarussa! Those two last born of my children, were they not the last of my children I beheld?
As the crowds made final preparations for departure, gathered as they were in houses and allegiances upon the concourse before the great gates, I wandered back up the steps to the second level. There did I take seat upon one of those marble benches so placed as to give view of either the arena, or of the bay of Eldamar. Neither was visible in the darkness!
So alone did I feel; so rent then with the consequences of my decision to remain loyal to Aulë. The words of my sons, of Curvo and of Makalaurë in particular, echoed through my mind. `Come with us, Lady Mother!’ and that comment of Fëanáro’s, the closest he could come in that hour to pleading with me, `If you were a true wife, as you once were, you would come with us; you would come with me!’ And I saw again in close memory, and pondered on with dismay, that look upon my husband’s face as he realised that naught he could say would keep me at his side!
To know, as the moment of setting forth drew ever nearer, that all I need do was take my place in that assembly, all I need do was take any place in that assembly (for one of my family would have found me, and Fëanáro, he would have known!), and yet be powerless to so move, was all but unbearable. For long after did that time haunt me, waking and sleeping! In my dreams, and for many a year, did I not run after my family, crying out to them to wait yet a moment upon me, for I had, again, regretted my decision? But never could I catch up with them; so distant were they!
Some other faces I knew well were in the gathering, and some had noticed my lone vigil with dismay; others with disgust! Mötamë and Artuiel did I see, and a few others of the Aulenduri, though not Tulcon, neither Narwasar nor any of his family! Artuiel, drawing her travelling cloak around her as if in shame, beheld me with a look of near despair. I knew why she was leaving. I knew she would not be parted from my youngest son, whom she loved. Alcarin, riding along the edges of the crowds, looking for any of our house … nay, of my lord’s house that had found themselves standing amongst Nolofinwë’s followers, noticed me also. He who had never been much impressed with me, he saluted me! Though he halted not, that captain, and loyal friend of my husband honoured the decision I had made. Mayhap he knew what it cost me? I nodded acknowledgement, and made a sign of blessing in return. So we, at least, did not part as unfriends!
Then did Serewen catch my eye, and she waving to me in desperation. In Nolofinwë’s host she stood, and close to the second son of Finwë himself, for Ecthelion was amongst the captains of his guards. She spoke; though in that noise of movement of so many folk and no few horses, I could discern not her words. But I knew what she said, that nís who had been one of my first friends in Tirion; I knew she was imploring me to tell her where her daughter was. What could I have said that she would have heard with joy in return?
“I know not where Mernaseldë is! Makalaurë said that she would not go with him!” I called reply, hoping that small comfort reached Serewen. `And he said that he will return for her, and for me!’ thought I. Though that knowledge was not for sharing! It would never so happen!
Serewen looked numb, almost as I then felt! But she would follow Ecthelion, and he would follow his `king’. A thin smile of resignation did she manage, and then she turned further into the crowds.
I had all but given up hope of setting eyes upon my two youngest sons again, for had not Fëanáro said, and at the house, they were already amongst those marshalling the crowds. Mayhap I still clung to the thought I would view them, though from afar, for Fëanáro had assembled those loyal to him at the fore of the group.
A trumpet sang out for the second time, and that to note immanent departure. Some few, and those gathered around Arafinwë* (whom I beheld at the rear of the multitude), looked with longing upon what little of our once bright city they could still behold in the light of torches and lamps. Some called to friends or family who, as I, would leave not. But few there were still standing on any of the levels of deserted Tirion and watching what was about to befall!
Of a sudden, a commotion arose and cries of `Make way! Make way!” Two horses, that appeared but dark (though I knew them to be golden of colour!) followed the path Alcarin had ridden. Two horses, and two riders there were; the riders, who swiftly dismounted, alike in build and in colouring.
And both twins had pushed a way urgently through those standing below my viewpoint, those of Nolofinwë’s* followers, and raced up the steps to me. I thought then that Fëanáro had been the one to recant; that he had decided to allow or to order our two youngest sons to remain with me. I thought that my husband had heeded my warning, and had sought to save these two of our children from the fate that awaited them outside of Valinor! As they approached, red hair flying out behind them, long legs taking four steps at a time, I saw again in memory them running to me most eagerly, through the fields of corn by my father’s house. Happy children had Ambarussa and his brother, Ambarussa, been, even as Makalaurë, and full of delight in life!
Then they were with me, both seeking to embrace me. But tears there were, as the younger twin took up my hand to his lips, and the elder kissed my brow!
“We could not leave without faring you well, Lady and Mother! Not without beholding you again!”
My heart and my hope were destroyed in that moment. It was not that they were leaving, but how they were leaving! I had said `farewell’ and many a time to my family, but never because they distained the Valar so! And never before had I thought I would see them not ever again!
“I thought ..” I began, though my effort to control the trembling in my voice nigh failed, “I thought you would perhaps be the ones to stay?”
They looked to each other, both well aware of the anguish they were causing me. (Had not these two ridden to visit me at my father’s house during the years of exile? Aye, and Maitimo and Makalaurë also, but less often!) The younger twin it was who spoke to me then, looking into my eyes with a mixture of love and of sorrow.
“Nay, Mother! We cannot remain! We, also, have freely made the Oath, and if we stay in Valinor, no means will we have of fulfilling it! The Everlasting Dark have we called upon ourselves if we keep not our word. Would you have that our fate?”
“Ambarussa! I would have it that you had not made the Oath!” In desperation did I cry to them, but I knew their words were true.
“Father cannot leave any of us behind!” the elder twin added, now holding one of my hands. “He will not condemn us to the Dark! And we must avenge our Grandfather, and reclaim the Silmarili. We must reclaim what is rightfully ours!”
Both held on to me until the trumpet sang for a third and final time. Closest to where we stood, Findekáno, mounted upon his usual white horse, urged his father’s followers forward. Too busy by far was he to notice my sons and I! The city gates were opened, and the hosts of the Noldor ushered forth! No more time was there! No more time for chance of love, or laughter, or joy!
“May all the blessings I have the power to bestow be with you both, now and until the end of time, my dear ones!” I whispered. No more could I say, no more could I beg!
“Farewell, Mother!” They spoke as one. A final kiss upon my cheek, one son, then the other, as they had so kissed me in their childhood before they went to take rest! And then they were gone!
Now it is well known that our youngest two sons were twins! (A thing most rare amongst the Eldar!), and that they were alike in mood and in face! Like Fëanáro were they to look upon, and also like him a little in mood. Though again, did these last of my children have red-brown hair! My `Sons of Flame’ they were: Maitimo, Ambarussa and his brother!
Most difficult did I make matters by naming both twins Ambarussa, (for I could not tell them apart as babes, and no other twins were then known to us!), and Fëanáro’s attempt to give them individuality by naming the younger son Ambarto did little to stem the confusion! A sense of foresight had come upon me that had left me chilled, when my husband had first expressed his dismay at the same name being given to both! To me had there been sense in so naming them, as they seemed to be the same person, but twice! Different names had I thought to give them, when differences could be noted! But Fëanáro had begged me most adamantly to make change, to give forth another name of insight. That some particular fate awaited one of those two I knew, though which one it was to be, I knew not! So, after further consideration, did I speak forth, `Then let one be called Umbarto, but which, time will decide!”
So disturbed was Fëanáro by my second choice that he refused to ever utter it! So did he alone call the second twin Ambarto, and all others, including themselves, called both of them Ambarussa!
As they grew older, did the elder of the twins (named Pityafinwë, `Little Finwë’, by his father!) grow darker in hair like unto me, while the younger (named Telufinwë, or `Last Finwë’!) retain the brighter copper- red hue of Maitimo and of Urundil. In mood they were ever much the same, save that the younger had, mayhap, a greater love of knowledge, and the elder a greater love of crafting.
Hunters they were, even as Tyelkormo! But they sought the company of Aulë rather than of Oromë. Both were to work with metal, with copper, which greatly pleased my parents. But their first love was for the woodlands and for the hills. Most dear to his father was the elder of the twins; most dear to me was the younger! The younger it was whom doom first ensnared. He it was that I rightly named Umbarto!
(This is only the first part of the chapter, yet again!)
·Moringotho = Morgoth
·Namarië = Farewell
·Curvo = Curufin
·Carnistir = Caranthir
·Maitimo = Maedhros
·Makalaurë = Maglor
·Tyelkormo = Celegorm
·Ambarussa = The twins. Amrod and Amras.
·Arafinwë = Finarfin
·Nolofinwë = Fingolfin