(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 Volumes 1, 3,10, 11 or 12. Nothing is mine, except the interpretation and any mistakes, and in this chapter, and only in the sense he is derived from reading the works of Tolkien, the character ‘Gaerion’.)
“In her youth she (Nerdanel) loved to wander far from the dwellings of the Noldor, either beside the long shores of the Sea or in the hills; and thus she and Fëanor had met and were companions in many journeys.”
(‘The Later Quenta Silmarillion’. HoME 10 Morgoth’s Ring. JRR Tolkien. HarperCollins Ed. 2002 p272)
The house of Sarmo Urundil. Seventh Age.
So shall I write of him, as I alone knew him to be; that some may come to realise there was more to the paradox of the ‘Spirit of Fire’ than flame alone. The brightest light of the Noldor was he: most skilled, most subtle of mind, most enduring, most illuminating – most beautiful to behold. Yet it is truth that fire can be fiercely destructive if not properly contained. That when free to do as it will, it destroys all it comes into contact with.
Now Míriel did much to contain and soften her son’s impetuous character while she lived, and he long allowed, nay, encouraged me to do likewise through the giving of gentle council. When the fires of his heart became over-heated, did he not turn to me to help him of restraint? Did he not know the rashness of his temper was self-defeating! Ai! One of the very few things that could defeat him was his temper! He endeavoured to curb his mood on many occasions, and oft succeeded. For he was of high and noble blood – it was not his intention to destroy, but to create. And that could only be done by a fire that was under his control, and no conflagration.
To his father and to our people in times past, was he Curufinwë – Finwë’s skill, his pride, his beloved firstborn son. In the privacy of our union was he oft Finwion, and that childhood name meant as no discourtesy, but spoken first in loving affirmation of his place in his father’s heart – and in mine! There was a time in the later days when he wished to be known as the Þerendion, out of respect for his mother, and defiance of those linguistic loremasters who so offended him – whom he believed were following the Valar’s plot to oust him from his position of authority. Atar was he to seven sons – a role he tried hard to fulfil, though many imply he was poor at that task. So poor was he that all his sons loved him! All would all have followed him wherever he led. All would – and did, save for one – die for him! And before the end, when the madness of grief and anger was upon him, was he our High King!
Ever complex was he – though was Míriel’s name of Fëanáro best suited to his dominant characteristics.
So shall I write of Fëanáro, as I once knew him to be! Where to start? Mayhap with one area concerning which, little was ever put into script – with our meeting, our courtship and our marriage.
– – – – –
I know what some few have written: that Fëanáro wed me for my father’s skill; for the knowledge of the lore of crafting with metal that Aulë passed on to Urundil.
It was not so!
We wed for love! Neither guile nor deception was possible, for the intent of the heart we read in each other’s eyes and confirmed in our union. And Fëanáro was in no way tainted, in no way corrupted from the norm of the Eldar in that matter. How foolish would he have been to bind himself in fëa to a wife for all time, chose she who was to be mother to his children in order to gain a skill that he could acquire from my father anyway?
What I sometimes ponder is why those who believe my lord was essentially evil consider I accepted him? Was I not one of those most devoted to the Valar? Was I not considered wise? Overwhelmed by the intensity of Prince Fëanáro’s attention, by his steadfast pursuit though I was, I would not have contemplated a betrothal, most certainly not wed with one in whom there was any evidence of wickedness or cruelty.
“But nothing is evil in the beginning.” I hear your unspoken words!
Such is truth! Not even Curumo or Sauro were created evil. Such a thing Eru does not do! So do I make my point; that neither Fëanáro nor any of our sons were intrinsically evil.
But much is said of Fëanáro and wickedness – and it is love that I would speak of! Now it is said in some writings, and widely accepted, that Fëanáro’s greatest love was for his father and for the great jewels. In some ways was that so, but it meant not that he had little love for any other. He felt emotion with intense depth and passion, yet love and grief, were they not close fellows in his heart? He, who was so strong in so many ways, gave of himself utterly, or not at all. Jealously did he guard any to whom his love was given, least he lost again the object of his desire and could not endure the pain of separation. Herein, if such you look for, lay a flaw in his character; but who amongst the Children of Eru is perfect? Most dear was his mother to him, you must understand. Yet long did I know, and our sons also, that we were most dear to his heart.
– – – – –
Now, in my early youth I was in the habit of walking oft in the hills or by the long shores of the sea. Though I loved my studies and my training with my father, I continued with the delight of wandering the Blessed Realm my mother had bequeathed to me. In my early childhood I had spent much time with her by the sea, and later I walked there alone, pondering the mysteries of life. There was no real threat, no real danger to a maid wandering unescorted. None there were who would accost her, nor harm her in any way. Such thoughts were not in the minds of the Eldar. There was no danger from the creatures of the land, so it was that only had I been exceptionally careless or chosen to throw myself off a mountain or a cliff onto rocks below that I would have suffered great harm.
There were some occasions when I walked by the shores that I had the company of a Teler youth. He taught me of the life of the coastlands, of the creatures of the seas, and spoke with a musical lilt of his longing for the sea swell and salt air. He spoke also of the white ship he hoped to one-day command. A silver-haired boy was he, of happy countenance; a free spirit who enjoyed my company it seemed. My father was not so happy when I mentioned Gaerion to him.
“A Teler! What do you and he have in common, daughter?” Urundil had spoken with no small concern. We were among the first of that generation to grow to maturity in Aman, Gaerion and I. Though neither of us was then full grown, it was widely known that some had already chosen one another for betrothal. My father had no issue with my choice of a Teleri friend; indeed, did he not have friends amongst the Teleri? But he was becoming aware that I was reaching an age when I might begin to consider my choice of a husband. He thought it unwise of me to give my heart’s love to one who did not share my interests, or my growing devotion to Aulë.
“The Teleri give of their loyalty to Ulmo and to Ossë; in them do they put their trust. It is not so with the Noldor,” my father reminded me.
I knew that my father had hopes of me choosing to serve Aulë of my own accord. To that end he directed his instructing of me in skills of metalwork and stonework. He need not have worried, however. Although I loved well the company of Gaerion I had not the longing nor affinity of fëa with him which would have led us to espouse. Of a seafaring family was he – not one such as Tolfaen to hold my interest with talk of works of skill. And soon enough was I to meet with one whom my father could not fault. Not at that time!
– – – – – – –
It came to pass, that I had been away from the dwellings of the Aulenduri for two days – not overly long for my usual walks – when upon my homeward journey I met with another in the hills.
At the time of my encounter had I decided to climb atop a large, anvil shaped rock that seemed to loom as a stone guardian over the western entrance to the Calacirya. We called that rock ‘Aulë’s fortress’, though no such place had we then built. A most pleasant spot it was to take of a short rest before I made my final decent. I had brought out some fruit, some waybread and water, thinking to partake and enjoy the view over the fields below. Enjoy the view I did!
Though at times I met with others on my wanderings, there were many paths to explore and I could easily travel in solitude. But a lone figure there was that day in the valley beneath me, swiftly making his way up to the rock upon which I sat.
Fast and purposeful was his stride, as one who knew exactly where he was going. A tall figure, taller than most, with a slender wiriness of form that I suspected belied the true measure of his strength. The breeze had caught up his raven-black hair as a banner, and his cloak of silver grey swirled down from broad, powerful shoulders. Young was he, as of my generation rather than those who had made the great march. Yet in some manner he seemed to carry the weight of ages with him.
In the same instant that I focused upon him, he looked up to the heights, so that his eyes met mine. It was as if he saw through my thoughts into my very fëa with those piercingly bright, grey-blue eyes. Such forcefulness and purpose was in his gaze that it was all I could do not to bow my head to him in the deference one would show a Vala. So it seemed as if an enchantment had been laid upon me, for in my heart arose a sudden, hitherto unknown desire.
Still maintaining his swift approach, he spoke:
“Well met, my lady! I had not thought to chance upon another so far from habitation this day.”
In hearing his words I was doubly ensnared, for his voice was beguilingly potent.
Most easily could I have lost my sense of propriety in that instant – could I have made declaration of love or devotion to one I knew not. But it is not in the nature of the Eldar to be swayed in heart by fair appearance alone. Nor was I overcome that I would disregard the courtesy one should give a fellow traveller.
“Well met, my lord,” I responded, though my heart beat noticeably faster than I had ever remembered. Something there was about him that clearly said he was no ordinary Elda. And such an air of authority did he have, as one who answered but to his own will. I wondered if he could be a Maia, choosing to take recognisable form in order to converse with me more easily? Many of the servants of the Valar had I known in my short life, but he was not one of them – neither did he have the demeanour of being servant to any!
Until that moment, most serious of expression had he been. But then a knowing smile lit his face almost as if he recognised me. Pausing but a few feet away from the rock upon which I still sat, he looked up at me intently.
I, who could be wilful of nature myself and – as daughter of the Master-Smith of the Noldor – was a lady of no small importance, stood up under his appraisal as I would have done for no other. Of that instant it mattered greatly to me that the stranger liked what he beheld.
“Who are you, if I may ask, my lord? From whence do you come?”
Mayhap I should have waited upon him speaking further, since it was not considered good manners for a maid to be overbold. Yet I could not deny my nature. Though I was one to listen, yet could I also be forthright.
The smile that graced his features was in earnest, for the light of his eyes under dark brows sparkled with merriment; amused it seemed to me, that I knew not who he was.
“I am from Tirion!” he responded in a lighter, almost bantering, tone, “The son of one of the noble houses. And you, my lady?” Though he had not given me his own name, there was something compelling about his request.
“I am Nerdanel, daughter of Urundil, servant of Aulë,” I stated with some pride. Surely anyone from Tirion would have heard of my father?
“Of Urundil I know, and of his favour with king and Valar.” He advanced up the hillside until he stood at a point higher than I, that I of need altered position to be polite – to look up to him. But he took not his eyes from me, regarding me with more intensity than could be considered appropriate for a stranger. “And of you also, Lady Nerdanel, have I heard.”
At that acknowledgement I felt colour rushing to my cheeks, as it was apt to do when I felt strong emotion. He laughed. Not a mocking sound, but one of amusement, presumably at his further discovery my reactions could not easily be concealed.
“You will come down from your fortress and keep company with me a while, Nerdanel, daughter of Urundil!” Again of light humour, he made slight bow of acknowledgement to me. An elegant and correct bow it was, of one so very sure of himself. Then, gesturing to the foothills of the Pelóri, he added: “I am heading north.”
It was not my usual behaviour to wander off with someone to whom I had not been formally introduced, but how could I have denied him. It was not a question he had asked me, but a statement of fact! I would keep company with him! So unlike anyone I had previously met was he, and so overwhelmed by his presence was I, that I was even unaware of Laurelin coming into full bloom behind me. Only later did I realise, and with some amusement of my own, that I must have appeared to him as a rare sight in that moment; as one whose hair of brown had become a copper-red glow upon that hillside.
I packed again my supplies, descended from the rock, and we walked together, discussing many things. Though I knew him to be of a high status he did not seem aloof in the way of some nobles I had met. Fierce, arrogant – aye, but there was something comfortingly familiar about him as well. It was as if we had always known each other! Soon I found I was far more comfortable with my companion than with many of my father’s apprentices, though I lost not the sense of awe that he had wanted to walk with me. He asked questions, to which I gave as swift and well explained reply as I could, and I matched his wit and mood until we found ourselves laughing together as the youths we still were. We made race of ascending certain hills, that I stood little chance of winning. We climbed higher and faster than I had ever done. Yet I competed against this new ‘friend’ with a will, that he knew me for no idle nís of his city, but strong and independent – a true Noldo in every way. Of Aulë we spoke, and of crafting in stone. Most pleased was I that he had both interest in, and knowledge of such matters. At my mention of this he again look most amused. Such discussions were unusual with a maid. We spoke of exploring the land and of places we had seen – of Valmar, and of the city of Tirion with its halls and high towers and terraced gardens.
“You visit oft with Aulë, Nerdanel? Strange it is, that I have not come across you in his dwellings.”
No passing interest in crafting did he then have, to visit with Aulë! I wondered how he knew so well of the Vala, how he knew so much of matters of skill, not being of the families of the Aulenduri. But then I considered he may have trained with those few Aulenduri in Tirion, and Aulë gave welcome and guidance to any of the Noldor who sought of him.
“I visit Valmar with my family whenever I am able. Though much of my time is spent with Aulë’s folk rather than with the Vala himself. The Maia, Curumo, has even taken interest in my work and given me of aid.” My companion seemed interested in this information, so I continued somewhat arrogantly. “Well do I know Valmar! I prefer to remain there or in the dwellings of the Aulenduri at this time, my lord. I think I should find Tirion too busy, too full of folk for my present liking. My heart is most truly in the hills, in exploration, in the desire of knowledge and in the service of Aulë. All these things I already enjoy.”
“You have never been to Tirion then!” he retorted, with some surprise that I was so inexperienced of the life he knew. “You, who say that you desire knowledge, have you never wanted to visit the Hall of the Loremasters, nor wished to gaze upon the image of Telperion that stands in the courts beneath the Mindon? Have you not wished to speak with the wise of our folk upon the concourses and in the gardens of the city? Have you not wished to see King Finwë, aye, even to speak with him? For our most noble ruler, he does oft walk amongst his people that the doors to his house are open to all.”
I blushed again, to my annoyance, but he was not unkind and acted as if all were normal to him.
“I should like to visit them, indeed! But my part – my future, I think – lies in sculpting. I work well with stone, with metal, and also I have some small skill with gems, my father says. King Finwë I have met, though only once, and not to speak with. Who is to say that I may not serve he and the folk of Tirion further through my work? I made a sculpture for the queen herself a while ago. A likeness of her! She had asked me to make her a gift, before — before she –“
“Before she died,” he finished for me, with rather more solemnity than he had previously shown. The light humour vanished from his expression. Many folk yet spoke in muted tones of the death of Míriel, for none truly understood it.
“I have seen your work for her and know that Queen Míriel was well pleased with it. So pleased that she gave it to her son before she lay down in the gardens of Lórien to seek her rest.” The tone of his voice altered to that of someone who had long pondered the mystery and found it a sorrow that was beyond reason. Many moments passed before I felt able to respond, and break in upon his changed mood.
“I am pleased my work brought her joy, my lord.” I lowered my head without further thought, so as to match his bearing. “She was a noble lady indeed, a friend of my mother’s from their youth. I would have done all that I could to be of assistance to her.”
Now I reflected also, and believed I knew who he was: a friend of the prince, surely? How else could he know of intimate matters of the court? And sorrowful was I that I had been more talkative than was my wont: that I had neither sought to listen as carefully as I should, nor to understand more my companion. I did not know the ways of the people of Tirion to any extent. Until that moment I had not overly wished to. There was time enough in the life of Arda for all things, I had believed. In due course I had intended to travel to the city. But that lord’s presence, his words lit a fire in me: an eagerness to know more of his world.
– – – – –
I told my parents of that meeting upon my return home. They knew from my tone of voice that I liked well the one I had met.
“He had not the courtesy to give you his name, or to escort you back to our house?” Taurlotë, my mother, asked me in amazement, considering this a grave breach of good manners. She put down the design for decorating a goblet she was working upon, to give me her full attention.
“I did not ask him his name, mother; only who he was. To that he gave reply of sorts. He walked with me to the edge of the valley, but then headed north again – into the hills. Much do I think was on his mind that he wanted of solitude.”
Now in truth had I found the constant use of ‘herunya’, though a correct term of address, rather distancing for one I had spent over a day with. So, as my companion had not been forthcoming with his true name had I named him of my own device, ‘Muinawë’, for he kept his identity hidden, as a game I had assumed. At times had I address him as such in a mischievous tone, which he accepted with a rather ironic smile. But that name I kept hidden in itself, telling neither my parents nor any other.
My mother had looked concerned and made a dismissive sound. “His attitude holds more of arrogance than I find pleasing, no matter what you say!”
When I described him further in manner and appearance my father looked perplexed, as if he were trying to decide upon something.
“Grey-blue eyes, you say! I have met few neri amongst the Noldor with grey-blue eyes. I will speak with Onónon when next I visit the city, for if this companion of yours has any training in matters of skill, then my sister’s husband will surely know of him.”
I had wanted to speak more of my travels to my parents, but at that time decided against it. Already I had given them much to consider. I would not entertain any further contemplation, for how was I to know when, or even if, ‘Muinawë’ and I would meet again?
“Think nothing of it,” said I; trying over late to make light of my encounter. “For he is certainly from one of our noblest houses, and will have many a wendë fawning over him. He is not likely to seek further of my company.”
My mother’s face took on a look of concern. "Be not so certain of that,” she whispered, with not a little foresight.
– — – – – –
Curufinwë – Skilled Finwë
Finwion – Son of Finwë
Þerendion – Son of the Þerendë (The Needlewoman. Míriel.)
Aulendur – Servant of Aulë
Moringotho – Morgoth
wendë – girl, young she-Elf
Nís / nissi – She Elf / Elves
Nér / Neri – He Elf / Elves
Curumo – Saruman. Curunir.
Sauro – Sauron. This name is mentioned in HoME 5.
herunya – My lord.
Muinawë – Hidden / secret one.