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User:Narfil Palùrfalas/Fanfictions/Wind of Fire, Oath of Blood pt 1

Wind of Fire, Oath of Blood pt 1: The Curse of the Noldor

Concerning the Oath of Fëanor and the Return of the Noldor


[edit] Introduction

A bit basic, but anyway. . .

This is a story of the Flight and Return of the Noldor, based mainly on the ninth and thirteenth chapters of The Silmarillion. Supporting works for descriptions of people and locations include the Lay of Leithian and the History of Middle-earth.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote an enormous amount of material on Arda, his mythological world. Many people know of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, yet few of them know anything beyond that. It took Tolkien ten years to write Lord of the Rings, and by the time it was finished (or before he started) he had a huge amount of material. For those who know little of Arda beyond the Lord of the Rings, this story opens at approximately 1495 in the Years of the Trees, and ends about 0007 of the First Age. The Lord of the Rings is set from the end of the Third Age to the beginning of the Fourth Age, or about 7043 years later.

I do not claim that everything in this book is canon. There is no established Middle-earth canon. The determination of canonizing the multiple often contradicting writings by Tolkien is difficult, and decided for the most part by Tolkienists. The Silmarillion is considered by most entirely canon (except for errors and places contradicted by later texts). The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are canon, and the Unfinished Tales is mostly canon. For example, Artanis (or Galadriel) has several different stories. In the Silmarillion she went with the Noldor to Endor (Middle-earth). In other later writings she dwelt in Alqualondë, where she was in love with Teleporno (or Celeborn), and though going to Middle-earth without permission and therefor under the Curse of the Noldor did not leave with the other Noldor or even know about the Kinslaying. I have in a way combined both stories. I also rely heavily on later writings, such as the Shibboleth of Fëanor and other writings in the Histories of Middle-earth.

Based on assumptions I have placed the Long-worms as being already in the Helcaraxë in the Age of the Two Trees. This is not verifiable, as Tolkien’s only mention of the Long-worms was that of Scatha in the LOTR appendixes. I have decided for the sake of the storyline to assume that they were one of the original creatures of Arda, and not bred by Melkor/Morgoth for his own purpose like he did with Glaurung and the Urulóki. I am inclined to think that Morgoth bred the Urulóki from the Long-worms, for you cannot breed something from nothing. Glaurung’s title is not “Father of the Dragons”, but “Father of Dragons”. Therefor my Long-worms are not inherently evil nor good, but vicious hungry beasts like snakes and lions.

Most of the characters in The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings are known by their Sindarin or Middle-earth names. But when the Noldor dwelt in Aman, they had Quenya names. To avoid confusion, I have Sindarinized the names of the key players invented by Tolkien. Actually, each elf had three names: a father name, given them at birth and their most common name, a mother name, a private name given them by their mother and only used by close friends, and an after-name or Epessë, which was given as a title of honor later in life, not necessarily by relatives, but often by his followers or in some cases by himself. The Noldor had Quenya father-names, which are those given in this book, and their mother-names are rarely mentioned. It was not until after they reached Middle-earth and settled there that they received their Sindarin after-names. Some of the best-known elves include Fingolfin, whose father-name is Noldofinwë, Galadriel, whose father-name is Artanis, Celeborn, whose father-name is Teleporno, Finarfin, whose father-name is Arafinwë, the sons of Fëanor (Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod, and Amras), whose father names were respectively Nelyafinwë, Canafinwë, Turcafinwë, Morifinwë, Curufinwë, Pityafinwë, and Telufinwë. The sons of Fingolfin (Fingon, Turgon, and Argon) are respectively Findekáno, Turukáno and Arakáno.

Mistatelmë, Alcawë, and their comrades are not included in any writings, but their names are all genuine Quenya, and it is possible that elves such as them did exist in the Return of the Noldor. Notice that Mistatelmë is said to be Fingolfin’s sister-son or nephew. This assumes that, as some writings indicate, Fingolfin and Finarfin had two sisters. Huan is best known for his part in the tale of Beren and Lúthien, but also plays a minor role in this tale. Many of the speeches are copied at least in part word for word from Tolkien. The Súrlindi are entirely my own invention; they are not mentioned at all by Tolkien, though again its is possible that such swords did exist, as Fëanor was cunning in both the making of gems and the forging of weapons. The gems placed in them are Tolkien’s invention, and though he never says what they were put in it can be assumed that swords were one way they were used. The design of elven swords is very controversial among those who try and visualize Arda. Usually broadswords are used, though in The Lord of the Rings (film series) film the elven blades were graceful and curving, with one sharp edge and a long curving handle, rather like a cross between a halberd, a scimitar, and a machete. My Noldorin blades are similar to both designs, based on the falchion. The falchion was a one-bladed often machete-like sword that was generally used from 1250-1300 to slice through mail and deliver heavy cutting blows. Mine is not only two-handed but double-bladed, see below:

Narfil Palùrfalas - Ristatëa.jpg

The Noldorin shields I generally accept as being similar to the style of the eleventh-century Normans’, with a smooth-arc top and a long pointed triangular lower section. Their swords are weapons of war, heavy two-handed swords and single-handed falchions. The Sindar are generally held to be a Celtic sort of culture. I again do not claim that these are what Tolkien envisioned, but as there are no references that I know of on such matters, I do my best to fill in the blanks with my opinion.

There has been much debate by Tolkien students whether or not Fëanor is a hero or a villain. The “Absolute Heroists” say that his Oath was perfectly in order, that they were his Silmarils, and the Valar were not doing right to restrain him. Furthermore they say that the Kinslaying and the burning of the ships was though unjustified understandable, that Olwë was being stubborn and making excuses. The oath he extracted of his sons as he died (which as not to give away the story is not recounted here) is justified by saying that he must keep the oath, and as he swore by Ilúvatar only Ilúvatar could release him. The Neutrals hold that Fëanor is interesting by his complicated character, that the Oath was justifiable but rash, that the Kinslaying was evil, and that Fëanor was on a whole a good person who had some bad traits. This is perhaps the largest category, though most find themselves somewhere inbetween. The “Absolute Villainists” claim that the Oath, as is stated by Tolkien, should never have been taken. The Light of the Silmarils belonged the Valar, and as the Valar were Ilúvatar’s representatives he had no right to disobey them whether he was in the right or no. The Kinslaying and the burning of the ships is considered the act of a dark villain. Olwë’s part was noble, they say, and Fëanor had no right to the ships. One part of this stand is incorporated in this book, that no oath of evil sworn by Ilúvatar is truly of Ilúvatar, and therefor no oath can drive a man (or elf) to do evil. Nor should oaths be taken in the first place, as they bring pain in the future. As for whether Fëanor was hero or villain, or a mixture of both, that I leave for the reader.

The story of the Noldor returning to Beleriand is a fascinating tale of adventure, treachery, war, and the struggles of the House of Finwë. Two paths have a traced, one with the wise Fingolfin or Fingolfin, and one with the fiery Curufinwë or Fëanor. I hope the tale here is portrayed in a way Tolkien would approve of, and no major changes have been made, and in contradictory places in his writings I either choose or compromise. There are many things added that Tolkien did not put in his works, but this can be excused by the fact that if you read The Silmarillion you will find only two pages on the story of Lord of the Rings, with no mention of Gollum or many other major players. After reading that I realized how much more there could be to this basic story sketched out in The Silmarillion, and how much room there is for adding new “essentials”, perhaps building on the myth that Tolkien laid down the foundations to. To the best of my knowledge no contradictions have been made to Tolkien’s writings accepted as canon. I trust that other tales such as those of Gondolin and Nargothrond and the Second Kinslaying shall eventually be as this one.

Narfil Palùrfalas

[edit] Preface

Ulmondil sat down with the rest of the elven children in the circle around the great fire. He yawned softly. Night had fallen and the silver stars shone above. The room they sat in was low-roofed and its floor was covered with soft rugs and cushions. There was a great carved oaken chair like a throne across the flickering fire from them. Besides the children there were also many adults in the room. They were talking and laughing merrily, and then suddenly fell silent. An Elf entered the room. He was tall and upright, and he had a long beard of black and silver. His eyes were deep and old, very, very old. His beard attested to that, for only those elves who had seen three ages of the earth grew such beards. His robes were long and in deep colors, chiefly green and red. But despite his immense age his eyes were bright and his form upright, and no signs of age there were save his beard and the regal way he walked. He sat down in the great oaken chair.

Rúmil!” cried one of the younger elf-children. “What tale do you tell us this day?”

“Ulmondil,” said the old elf, and Ulmondil rose, unabashed, for all the children loved Rúmil and feared him not.

“Yes, Rúmil?” he asked.

“In this house in Tol Eressëa there have been told many stories,” said Rúmil. “Some sad, some gay. Some of Valinor, others of Middle-earth. Many of you, I imagine, know or have heard of the tale of the Flight of the Noldor.” Many of the children nodded their heads. “It is a sad story, but full of adventure.” He reached into the folds of his robe and drew out a small chest intricately carved with strange symbols. He opened it and raised up a green-white gem that blazed like fire in the light of the stars and of the moon. The children gazed in awe and silence at it. “This is the center of our story, my young friends,” said Rúmil. “Now, Ulmondil, do you know who your grandfather was?”

“He was Aglaru Bregolharn, a warrior of the House of Fingolfin, who founded the House of Bregolharn,” said Ulmondil.

“Yes,” said Rúmil, “But in my day we called him Alcawë, and at the time of this story he was little older than you. It is a long tale, but I think you may learn more about the Exile of the Noldor through this story than any other way. It is a tale of heroes and villains, but mostly those inbetween. I shall use the Sindarin names for the characters, for that is the way I know them best. This is only a fraction of the great story of Alcawë. Indeed, his greatest actions in this tale are not a tenth as great as his deeds in the future. But this tells of a young Noldorin elf and his comrades. This tale speaks much of oaths, and the hurts they can do. But it is a true story. Some of you may recognize the names of your ancestors, your grandfathers or great-grandfathers, named here. Few there remain of those who crossed over. I remained in Tirion when the Spirit of Fire left us. But there is one who brought me this story that did return,” and he gazed back to where several adult elves stood, but the children could not make out who exactly he was looking at. “Now I tell it to you, and I hope you all listen and benefit from it.” He sat back in his chair and closed his eyes, as if recalling details from the past.

“Now,” he said, “At this time Morgoth dwelt in Aman, where he was friendly with the Noldor. But he set in their hearts suspicion and pride, and while the Valar suspected nothing he caused them to forge weapons. And he caused many to believe, or half-believe, that the Valar had brought them to Aman in jealousy, fearing that they would not be able to rule them as they multiplied. Fëanor son of Finwë was already speaking openly against the Valar. Fëanor threatened Noldofinwë, that is Fingolfin, in the very halls of Finwë, and for this he was banished. At last the hour struck when Morgoth and Ungoliant destroyed the Two Trees, the lights of Arda, and stole the Silmarils, returning to Middle-earth and his kingdom of Angband. Here our story opens, when Fëanor had summoned all the Noldor to a council in Tirion…”

As he spoke, the children before him seemed to see the characters coming to life as they stared into the flames. The story was real to them, and as the fire blazed up suddenly it began as a great green hill rose into sight. . .

[edit] The Voice of Fëanor

Alcawë looked up at the great green hill before him. He was sixty years old, but that was young for a Noldorin elf. Beside him rode a tall elf with long black hair and keen gray eyes, as well as a sword at his side.

“Mistatelmë!” said Alcawë. “I see it.”

“Yes, Alcawë,” said his companion. “That is Túna, upon which rests the fair city of Tirion.”

Before them was a great hill of green shining like an emerald. The Mountains of Pelóri were about them, crowned with white. But upon the crown of the hill were great white battlements and towers, shining with a white light that seemed almost to come from within. There were great gates before them, and leading up to these was a great staircase, wide and smooth, sparkling, for it was made of crystal.

“Yes, Tirion,” said a voice near them. They turned to see a tall elf fully dressed in the gear of war, with a long silver cape and a shield of blue with a great jewel in the center of it. His eyes were sharp and gray, his mouth firm, and his nose clearly defined. His hair was long and black. He rode upon a great war-horse that was gray in color, but upon occasion seemed as red as blood. On his green baldric there was a sword whose blade shimmered like ice.

“Lord Fingolfin,” said Mistatelmë, turning to him.

“Lord Mistatelmë,” said Fingolfin. There was a moment’s silence, and then he spoke. “I know you wished that I did not agree to this meeting. I know that ye are wise, yet I feel that I must, for the sake of my brother. I remember only too well that he threatened me in the Halls of Finwë. Banished he was, my dear sister-son, and this only too well I remember. Yet he is my elder half-brother, and therefor High King of the Noldor. Speak naught against him, for he is dangerous, for the rape of the Silmarilli and the death of Finwë lay heavily upon him.”

“I only fear what he may do, and cause others to do,” said Mistatelmë steadily. “There is none in Aman as Curufinwë who has such a power over words. I fear the worst. Do not the Noldor call him Fëanor, Spirit of Fire?”

“Yet be that as it may he is my liege lord,” said Fingolfin. “I often fear as you do, but I would follow him to wheresoever he chooses to go, unless it be to grievous hurt and evil.”

They ascended the staircase, and entered a beautiful white city. The streets glittered, for they were made of the grains of diamonds. Here and there where silver white fountains, and silver trees. The stars shone brightly from above, like brands of silver fire, the largest as large as the fingernail of a child, which gave sufficient light to keep the city bright. Yet it was not as bright as when the Two Trees of Valinor still lived, for they had been killed by Melkor, the Dark Lord, only days before, and the sun and moon had not yet been wrought.

They rode down the broad street, aiming ever toward where a great tower, the Tower of Ingwë, rose from the center of the city with a silver light shining from its pinnacle. Noldorin elves with bright eyes and broad shoulders, elf-women with long dark hair and fair faces, and elf-children small but with an intelligence that exceeded that in the children of men of similar age.

They at last reached a great building like a white palace. Two-storied it was, with great white columns rising from the ground to the flat roof on which tall guards, both stone and elven, stood and looked out south and east. The floor was paved with stone tile that sparkled white, and between the walls and the columns there was about eight feet of space. In the center of the building there was a great gap or doorway behind the columns, and upon going into this they came into a square courtyard about sixty feet by sixty feet, tiled with stone like the outside. In it were four great fountains of sparkling water, and in the center of these a tree of silver. It was Galathilion, in the Great Square of the House of Finwë. There were stone seats around the edges of the courtyard, and already many of them were filled. Also standing between the pillars on each side, were numerous elves on both stories, as well as on the roof.

Standing before the tree was a tall elf who captured Alcawë’s attention in an instant. His hair was black as the feathers of a raven. His clothes were of dark colors, chiefly red, dark blue, and gold. His face was fair, though hard and cold. But his eyes were like sparks in the utter darkness, as if a secret fire burned from behind them. His gaze was sharp and piercing, and though his hands were steady Alcawë felt that if all the power in him could be loosened it would be too terrible for any Noldo to gaze upon. Alcawë guessed in an instant who this was, Curufinwë son of Finwë, who was called by most Fëanor, Spirit of Fire. His mother had died in giving birth to him, which had not happened ever in the history of Aman to any of the immortal elves.

Other faces there were in the courtyard that commanded attention. One in particular, who was though not as tall as Fëanor was even fairer. His hair was long and golden – a thing that Alcawë particularly noticed, for it was rare for any Noldo to have such color – and his eyes, gray as the sea, were filled with wisdom, though he did not seem old. The hair in particular told Alcawë who this was, and anyway he had seen the elf before. He was Finarfin, brother of Fingolfin and half-brother of Fëanor.

Also on stone seats near the silver tree and behind Fëanor were seven other Noldor. The first and presumably the eldest was the tallest, with hair a dark red hue. His face was fair, and his eyes were like sparks that seemed like they could suddenly burst into the fires of passion, though there was also wisdom and peace. His clothes were not richly ornamented, but simple though elegant. He wore a crimson robe with a dark blue belt and cape embroidered with gold. The buckle of his belt was the diamond-shaped heraldic device of Fëanor, and a silver star was emblazoned upon the chest of his robe as the symbol of Fëanor’s house. His name was Maedhros, eldest son of Fëanor, but many called him Russandol, or Copper-top for his hair.

To his left was another elf whose face and eyes were soft and kind, so that Alcawë felt a liking for him even though he had not spoken with him before. He wore more rich robes than his elder brother, being blue and silver and green embroidered with leaf designs. Alcawë noticed that on the ground beside the stone seat was a golden harp, and knew that the elf was Maglor, second son of Fëanor and the most beautiful singer and harpist in Aman, as well as a great poet.

The third was the fairest of the seven, his face smooth and his eyes bright. His hands, however, showed strength, and his gaze was that of a keen-eyed hunter. Sitting upright beside his chair was a massive gray wolfhound, whose back when on all fours must have been at least four and a half feet high, whose fur the elf stroked. He wore brown and crimson, with a golden belt. This was Celegorm the Fair, a great hunter and third son of Fëanor, and beside him was Huan, the enchanted Great Hound of Aman.

The next so resembled his father that he almost looked like a duplicate, save only that his eyes were calmer, though just as sharp, reflecting immense cunning. This was Curufin, named after his father, and reputedly Fëanor’s favorite son. He, like his father, could completely change the minds of even the greatest elves with his speech, and was like his father in his skill in crafting jewels. His clothes were of several somber colors, mainly gray and red with some amber. His son sat behind him; he was the only one of the brothers to have a son. His son’s name was Telperinquar, but he did not look like his father. His eyes were clearer, his face less crafty if as wise.

The fifth was dark-faced as well as dark-haired, and his eyes were like deep black pits. His hands were ever twitching, showing great energy that wished to be let out. His clothes were a velvety black with heavy blue trim. Alcawë silently disliked him almost as much as he automatically liked Maglor, knowing that this must be Caranthir the Dark, though not evil known for his harshness and insensitivity, as well as his bursts of passion.

The sixth and seventh must have been twins, so alike were they, both with red hair like Maedhros and their mother. The one on the right and therefor the oldest showed signs of being a hunter, and wore simple green and silver. The one on the left was like to his brother, and of slightly calmer disposition, wearing green and gold. The former’s name was Amrod, and the latter’s name was Amras. They were the youngest of the seven sons of Fëanor, indeed, they couldn’t have been much older than Alcawë.

Fëanor looked at Fingolfin as he entered with his sons. “I see ye have come at last, brother Fingolfin. Now I shall speak. As thou all knowest, the Silmarilli which I wrought with my own hands and I filled with the light of the Two Trees were stolen, and King Finwë my father slain. The Dark Lord Melkor destroyed the trees, and did this deed. Morgoth I call him, the Black Enemy. My father is dead, and now I claim Kingship of the Noldor.” He paused. His voice was full and deep, filled with pride and anger, like the sea during the tempest, so that it was worth coming if only to hear his voice. Suddenly his voice rose, filled with hate and wrath, so that not a heart was not stirred.

“Why, O people of the Noldor,” he cried, “why should longer serve the jealous Valar, who cannot keep us nor even their own realm secure from their Enemy? And though he be now their foe, are not they and he of one kin? Vengeance calls me hence, but even were it otherwise I would not dwell longer in the same land with the kin of my father’s slayer and valiant people. And have ye not all lost your King? And what else have ye not lost, cooped here in a narrow land between the mountains and the sea?

“Here once was light, that the Valar begrudged to Endor, but now dark levels all. Shall we mourn here deedless for ever, a shadow-folk, mist-haunting, dropping vain tears in the thankless sea? Or shall we return to our home? In Cuiviénen sweet ran the waters under unclouded stars, and wide lands lay about, where free people might walk. There they lie still and await us who in our folly forsook them. Come away! Let the cowards keep this city! Follow me, and by your own prowess win freedom and great realms in the lands of the East, before it is too late! The Valar cozened us, and will hold us captive so that Men will rule in Endor. Yes, I speak of the Atani, the Aftercomers, the Sickly, the Usurpers. Many of you do not know that they now roam Endor at will, where once we stood in power and greatness. Let us go, my friends, and leave this city Tirion, this prison of the Valar! Let us go to Endor, and revenge ourselves on the Dark Lord! Fair shall the end be, though long and hard shall be the road! Say farewell to bondage! But say farewell also to ease! Say farewell to the weak! Say farewell to your treasures! More still shall we make. Journey light: but bring with you your swords! For we shall go further than Oromë, endure longer than Tulkas: we will never turn back from pursuit. After Morgoth to the ends of the Earth! War shall he have and hatred undying. But when we have conquered and have regained the Silmarilli, then we and we alone shall be lords of the unsullied Light, and masters of the bliss and beauty of Arda. No other race shall oust us!”

He suddenly drew his sword and held it high. “Nai kotumo ar nilmo, kalima Vala; thauza ar poika, Moringothonna, Elda ar Maiya ar Apanóna, Endóressë Atan sin únóna, ilar thanyë, ilar melmë, ilar malkazon sammë, osta ilar harwë, lau Ambar tana, só-thauruvá Fëanárollo, ar Fëanáró nossello, iman askalyá ar charyá, ar mi kambë mapá, herá hirala ar haiya hatá Silmarillë. Sí vandalmë ilyai: unqualé son antávalme mennai Aurë-mettá, qualmé ten' Ambar-mettá! Quettalman lasta, Eru Ilúvatar! Oiyámórenna mé-quetamartya íre queluvá tyardalma. Ainorontessë tirtassë lasta ar lma-vandá enyalaz, Varda Manwë!” Be he foe or friend, be he foul or clean, brood of Morgoth or bright Vala, Elda or Maia or Aftercomer, Man yet unborn upon Endor, neither law, nor love, nor league of swords, dread nor danger, not Doom itself, shall defend him from Fëanor, and Fëanor's kin, whoso hideth or hoardeth, or in hand taketh, finding keepeth or afar casteth a Silmaril. This swear we all: death we will deal him ere Day's ending, woe unto world's end! Our word hear thou, Eru Ilúvatar! To the everlasting Darkness doom us if our deed faileth. On the holy mountain hear in witness and our vow remember, Manwë and Varda! Thus he swore a terrible oath that none should break, but yet none should ever make.

Suddenly Caranthir leaped forward, drawing his sword. “I shall swear also!”

“And I!” cried his brothers, leaping likewise to their feet.

“Do ye so swear?” asked Fëanor, his eyes blazing in both delight and wrath.

“We do!” they cried, and all repeated the oath.

Fingolfin stood up, and Alcawë could see that his eyes were likewise on fire. “No such oath should ever be sworn! Dare ye oppose the Valar? Ye should know the power of the Valar, Curufinwë! When ye oppose the Valar ye oppose Eru Ilúvatar the Creator himself! You speak the lies and deceit of Melkor, and I say that none should follow you.”

Likewise Fingolfin’s second son, Turgon, rose up. He was known for his coolness, his strictness, and his kind and generous heart that you could hardly have guessed from the stern outside. He was a usually calm elf, whose eyes showed great wisdom, but now they were filled with anger. “Ye were banished from Mortal Realms long ago, and what say is black as council of Melkor. I say to you, Curufinwë Fëanor, that none of the House of Fingolfin shall follow this plan of evil, be ye High King or no.”

“So, ye would attempt to remove me from my place as High King of the Noldor,” said Fëanor, his voice ringing through the courtyard. “Just as ye did in this very house before my righteous father! Now you try again to remove me!”

Fingolfin drew his glittering sword Ringil, and his sons did in like manner draw their swords. The eldest, Fingon, stood beside Turgon, and beside Argon, all with drawn swords. The sons of Fëanor also drew their swords, and Huan bared his teeth, but Fëanor didn’t move. It looked as if blood was going to be spilt.

But suddenly Finarfin stood up and cried out “Cease!” and his voice had enough power that both the sons of Fingolfin and the sons of Fëanor lowered their weapons and sat down. The voice of Finarfin became soft, as was his wont.

“Wait now and consider what you are doing. Do not be so hasty. Hasty deeds often bring woe to the oath-bearers, especially those that cannot be undone.” And of like spoke Artaresto his grandson.

“O Noldor,” he said, “Lean not too quickly to the advice of one or the other. Ponder deeply the words of both.”

Then rose Finrod son of Finarfin, whose hair was also like a river of gold. “I am with my friend and brother Turgon – why should we listen to the treacherous words of him who we call Fëanor, Spirit of Fire? Did he not threaten Lord Fingolfin without cause? Must we ponder whether or not to defy the Valar? There is no choice for us but to stay.” Then a elf-woman, Artanis daughter of Finarfin, who was fair and golden-haired, yet was as tall and strong as man, stood up. She was considered beautiful even among the elves of Aman, for her hair seemed to radiate light as that of the Two Trees that once lit the world before Melkor and Ungoliant destroyed them.

“Let us go!” she said, and power resonated in her voice. “I shall take no oaths by Ilúvatar or by Melkor, yet my heart yearns for open lands, where we can raise up great kingdoms to rule, and break the ties that hold us to Aman.”

“That says I also,” cried Fingon, whose hair was long and dark, in great plaits braided with gold, and his father Fingolfin looked at him, not with anger, but with sadness and regret.

The other two sons of Finarfin, Angarato the Iron-handed and Aegnor the Fiery, strained visibly, and all that saw them knew they wished to go, but the two sons held their peace and did not speak against their fathers.

Fëanor’s face was bright with dark delight at his work, and he cried out again.

“I know the spirit comes upon you like a fire in your hearts! Come with me, and we shall see new things! Jewels the like of which cannot be found in Aman! Mountains taller than the Pelóri! Countries where each of you can rule great kingdoms of wealth and power!” And Alcawë’s heart leaped, and he felt the urge to go. All about him the Noldorin faces shone unrestrainedly.

“We must delay such a decision! Will one voice call you all into the wrath of the Valar?” asked Finarfin. “Surely ye –” But he was cut off.

“Nay, let us be gone!” cried the elves in the courtyard, and Fingolfin and those of mind with him sat down in helpless submission. They could do nothing to withstrain their followers.

“Ye were right, Mistatelmë,” said Fingolfin quietly while cheers reigned about them. “We are caught up in it now. I cannot leave my people to the rash councils of Curufinwë my half-brother. They will go whether I bid them to or not.”

“We still have hope that a messenger shall come from Valmar with a message from Manwë forbidding our enterprise and the breaking of the banishment,” said Turgon.

“Even were it so we would not halt,” said Fingon, whose whole heart was with Fëanor, moved like many others by the speech. “The Valar sit in their halls and weep about the death of the trees, yet they do not assail Melkor, or Morgoth as Fëanor calls him.”

Fingolfin said nothing, but Alcawë noticed his hands tighten on the rests of his seat. Many oaths were taken that day, but none by Finarfin or his house.

Suddenly Alcawë turned to see two other elves coming up toward him. They were his cousins, Turotulco and Ranyar.

“Ho, Alcawë,” said Turotulco, his eyes shining. “Come with us.” They walked forward to the silver tree. “Draw your sword.”

“I have none,” said Alcawë.

“Than hold out your hand,” instructed Turotulco, and he extended his arm forward. Ranyar laid his on top of Turotulco’s, and Alcawë laid his on top of Ranyar’s.

“Now let us swear by the Holy Mountain Taniquetil that we shall follow Lord Fëanor, until our quest be accomplished, the world end, or death take us all, and never desert our master or another in our company,” said Turotulco, his voice solemn. “And let none stand in our way, or their blood is on their own heads.”

“Is it right to do so?” asked Ranyar doubtfully.

“Swear it,” said Turotulco. “We are resolved.”

“I so swear!” said Ranyar and Alcawë.

“As do I,” said Turotulco. “There, we are bound by an oath to this quest, even as Fëanor and his sons are.”

“Now what must we do?” asked Alcawë.

“Both of you have not swords,” observed Turotulco. “I have the sword of my father, but you are not armed.”

“Neither is most of the populace of the city,” said Alcawë.

“Do you remember how the forges of the city worked yesterday?” asked Turotulco. “Lord Fëanor probably has a great store of weapons.”

And it was true. As the people amassed before the gates of Tirion every male elf without a weapon was given one. Alcawë looked curiously at his bright sword. It was fashioned like a double-bladed falchion. The blade was about three feet long, and straight though curved near the top outward on the front and inward on the back. It was flat and lighter than a broadsword, and it reflected the stars above, seeming to have almost its own light. The blade had a long tang running down its center. Its handguard was broad and copper-gold in color, in the center of which was a colorless white gem. Imprinted on the tang was a beautiful curving elven script, Fëanorian letters, set by its maker.

“You have a good sword,” said Mistatelmë, coming up. “You were quite fortunate; that is not one of the ones forged recently, but one of those forged by the younger Curufin himself. It must have been mixed among those that were forged recently.”

“What is its name?” asked Alcawë, for he was not yet learned in the Fëanorian characters.

“Ristatëa, or Straight-cut,” said Mistatelmë, looking at it intently. “Why, this is one of the Súrlindi.”

“What are the Súrlindi?” asked Alcawë.

“They were the great swords forged by Fëanor and Curufin about the time of the of the making of the Silmarilli,” said Mistatelmë. “Each was set with one of Fëanor’s own gems, that shine brighter than Helluin with white and blue fire when under starlight. There were forty-nine of them. Eight belong to Fëanor and his sons, and one each to the fourteen Lesser Lords of the Noldor. That makes twenty-two, counting yours twenty-three, leaving twenty-six lost to knowledge. A Súrlindë has a strong blade, as well as the distinctive double-bladed falchion style used only by the Noldor.”

Alcawë walked down the streets of Tirion toward the house of the loremasters. He had a friend there named Rúmil, one of the House of Finarfin. Rúmil was busy copying a manuscript by hand when Alcawë entered.

“Rúmil!” Alcawë exclaimed. Rúmil looked up.

“I know,” he said. “Others told me.” His gaze strayed to Alcawë’s sword. “You are going with them.”

“Yes, of course,” said Alcawë. “Are not you?”

“Nay, Alcawë,” said Rúmil. “I have no desire to return to Endor. I was one who saw it. I do not wish to return.” Alcawë fell silent.

“Than this is good bye,” he said at last.

“Yes,” said Rúmil. “Farewell, and good journey.” He extended his hand to Alcawë, who shook it firmly and gravely.

“Take this with you,” said Rúmil, reaching down into his desk and drawing out a manuscript. Alcawë looked at it in surprise. “What is it?”

“You can read,” said Rúmil. “You tell me.”

“It is telling of some of the things that have happened here,” said Alcawë, looking through it. “Here it talks about some of the feasts we had. And the Cold Winter. And here it talks about that one dance around the Two Trees.”

“Yes,” said Rúmil. “Keep it with you. If any foresight lies on me than you shall oft be glad of its presence.”

“Yes, Rúmil,” said Alcawë. “Thank you.” Rúmil reached over and laid his hand on Alcawë’s head and blessed him. Then Alcawë departed the shop.

Turotulco and Rúmil were outside, talking to a young elf-maiden about their own age. Alcawë recognized her to be Itarillë, the daughter of Turgon. Her hair was golden, due to the fact that her mother was one of the Vanyar. They turned to see Alcawë standing there.

“Alcawë,” said Turotulco, “Have ye your sword?”

“I have,” said Alcawë. He drew it, and it sparkled in the starlight, and the jewel shone brightly.

“One of the Súrlindi,” said the usually quiet Ranyar. Turotulco looked at him in surprise.

“Yes,” said Alcawë. “I received it when the other swords were being passed out.”

“And that it should come to you,” said Turotulco enviously.

“The Valar must have something planned for you,” said Itarillë. Turotulco cut her off.

“Fëanor said not to speak the name of the Valar, save in curses,” he said.

“I do not care,” snapped Itarillë. “He is not my master, nor is he Lord of Aman.”

“Well, we must join the rest of the army,” said Alcawë, changing the subject.

“We shall see you later,” said Turotulco regretfully. “Fare ye well!”

As they walked through the gathering crowds Alcawë passed an elf he knew named Hecil. Hecil greeted him.

“Greetings, Hecil,” said Alcawë. “I assume you are marching with us?”

“Of course,” said Hecil. “I doubt that any shall stay in fair Tirion. But I and my companions have been considering this thing, and we do not see why we should accept Fëanor as High King over us. We love Fingolfin, not Curufinwë, eldest though he be, and many of us think in like manner. Now that our ardor has cooled somewhat, we all know that Fëanor is unfit to rule. He would gladly dash us all against the spears of Melkor if he could get only one of his jewels back, and if it pleased him, I daresay. Let Fingolfin be our King!” And there were shouts of assent from the Noldor around him.

“What is this?” asked a cold voice, and they turned to see Curufin standing their, his hand on the hilt of his Súrlindë.

“Stay away from our affairs, Curufin,” said Hecil.

“Who is it that speaks to me, Prince of the Noldor, in such manner?” asked Curufin icily. By now a great number of the Noldor had surrounded them.

“I am Hecil Toronion,” said Hecil.

“So, Abandoned One, you would depose my father, as Fingolfin plotted long ago in the very presence of Finwë?” asked Curufin, but he smiled as he said it.

“It is a lie!” cried Hecil, and with one movement he and many of those about him drew their swords. Curufin did not move, until Hecil leaped for him. He stepped aside and brought down his arm in a cut, so that as Hecil missed and passed by him their arms met. Hecil went down grasping his arm in pain, dropping his sword.

“What is this?” asked Fingolfin, pushing forward. Fëanor was not far behind.

“We don’t want the Spirit of Fire for our High King!” cried an elf, one of the residents of Tirion. “We want Lord Fingolfin! He has always loved us, and we want no other.” There were shouts of agreement all about him.

“Is all Tirion against me?” asked Fëanor angrily, and his sons gathered around, and some of the people stepped back.

“If Fingolfin goes with us, we will refuse to renounce him,” said the elf. Fëanor saw that the greater part of the people were against him, so he just gave a snarl and turned away, his sons following.

“Are you in good condition, Hecil?” asked Alcawë, kneeling beside him.

“Yes,” said Hecil, rubbing his arm. “Curufin is a crafty one. He must be darker of heart than even his brother Caranthir.”

“I daresay,” said Alcawë.

And so it was that the Noldor were split; the majority of the Noldor stood with Fingolfin, but Fëanor had a good-sized company himself. Only a tithe of the inhabitants of Tirion refused to leave. And so the nine-tenths organized themselves, with the House of Fëanor in the front, the House of Fingolfin in the center, and the House of Finarfin following reluctantly in the rear. Before the House of Fingolfin stood Fingolfin, his sons, and his daughter Irissë.

Fëanor sounded his horn and the host began to move forth from the city, Noldorin elves, elf-women, and children.

Suddenly there was the sound like an eagle from the sky, only greater and fuller than any bird of prey of mortal lands. In front of Fëanor there landed an eagle of titanic dimensions, and from its back there stepped an elf, tall and proud, with silver armor and crest of eagle feathers. His boots and backpiece were silver-winged, and he wore silver gauntlets, carrying a tall staff with a splayed eagle in similar metal. His hair was like a river of gold, long and streaming behind him in a wind that had risen as he landed. His face was white, whiter than the faces of the Noldor. His eyes were like fires, seeming to blaze with all the colors of Aman. His nose was fine, his skin and teeth without defect. Upon his head was a crown of leaves, silver and gold, intertwined, resting upon his brow like stars reflected in a golden river. It was one of the Vanyar, or High Elves. Manwë had sent out his messenger at last, and it spoke as the mouth of the Lord of the Valar.

“Against the folly of Fëanor shall be set my counsel only. Go not forth! For the hour is evil, and your road leads to sorrow that ye do not foresee. No aid will the Valar lend you in this quest; but neither will they hinder you; for this ye shall know: Fëanor Finwë’s son, by thine oath art exiled. The lies of Melkor thou shalt unlearn in bitterness. Vala he is, thou saist. Then thou hast sworn in vain, for none of the Valar canst thou overcome now or ever within the halls of Eä, not though Eru whom thou namest had made thee thrice greater than thou art.”

Many of the Noldor looked doubtfully at each other, for their ardor had cooled. But Fëanor laughed, and turning to the Noldor, cried out in his ringing and stirring voice of his “So! Then will this valiant people send forth the heir of their King alone into bondage? But if any will come with me, I say to them: Is sorrow foreboded to you? But in Aman we have seen it. In Aman we have come through bliss to woe. The other now we will try: through sorrow to find joy; or freedom, at the least.”

Then he turned to the herald, his eyes filled with the fire that distinguished him from most. “Say this to Manwë Súlimo, High King of Arda; if Fëanor cannot overthrow Morgoth, at least he delays not to assail him, and sits not idle in grief. And it may be that Eru has set in me a fire greater than thou knowest. Such hurt at the least will I do to the Foe of the Valar that even the mighty in the Ring of Doom shall wonder to hear it. Yea, in the end they shall follow me. Farewell!”

The Herald of Manwë hesitated, then bowed respectfully and mounted his winged steed. Mistatelmë turned to Alcawë.

“He has done it,” he said. “There is no turning back now.”

Manwë, Lord of the Winds, raised his great head. He sat silently upon his seat of stone in Máhanaxar, the Ring of Doom, though to the Valar it was named Mâchananaškad. His face was too great and terrible to be described, and so shall not be. Thirteen other Valar and Valier sat around the circle also, each in the stone seat designated to them. To Manwë’s left was a tall woman of intense beauty, and her face was also beautiful and terrible. She was Varda, wife of Manwë, greatest of the Valier.

The Valar and the Valier were the fourteen greatest spirits of Eru Ilúvatar, appointed by him to rule over Arda. They were not without defect, but they were greater and wiser than any elf or man or dwarf, second only to Ilúvatar.

“What think you of this Fëanor, who dares do defy our commands?” asked Manwë at last, his voice deep and resonant, ringing in the circle of stone.

“’Tis grievous,” said Irmo, a Vala who fashioned dreams and raised beautiful gardens. “Even more so that they charge us with evil to them, the Eldar.”

“Alas that such a lie should be told from the mouth of a Noldor!” said Nienna, Valië of mourning.

“It was placed there by Dušamanûðâuruš (Melkor) himself,” said Aulë, Vala of forges and the crafting of objects. “Fëanor was rightly named Spirit of Fire. He is accomplishing just what Dušamanûðâuruš wished.”

“Speak your thoughts, Ullubôz,” said Manwë, addressing this to a Vala, tall and with a great helm and silver mail, called Ulmo by the elves, the Vala of the Waters.

“Is it not time that we halted them?” he asked. “Surely we must stop them, for they are disobeying our commands.”

“I say we should fight against Dušamanûðâuruš with them,” exclaimed a Vala named Tulkas. “We should punish them for their disobedience, but is it not time that we rose up against Melkor, and cast him out of Arda forever?”

“The Time has not come,” said Manwë.

“The Time has not come,” echoed Varda.

“Let not war fall upon us,” said the Valië Yavanna, who loved fruits and growing things.

“War may come,” said Manwë, “But not yet. Fëanor and his sons will bitterly rue their rash oath, and the curse will lie upon his house forever, but we cannot restrain him from what he is about to do. The Noldor have spoken.”

[edit] Haven of the Swans

The Noldor started off northeast at the direction of Fëanor. Alcawë asked Mistatelmë about this.

“We must sail across the ocean if we wish to leave Aman and go to Endor, unless we would go by the icy Helcaraxë, home of the ice-demons,” said Mistatelmë. “I would say that we go to Alqualondë, for Lord Olwë is a friend of the Noldor, if he loves not their passion over things wrought with the hand. He has many fair and beautiful ships the like of which shall never be equaled again. I have little doubt he will give us the ships.”

“My mother is from Alqualondë,” said Alcawë. “My grandfather lives there still.”

“I had not the knowledge that your mother was one of the Teleri,” said Mistatelmë. “But that accounts for your fair voice and light build. Who is your grandfather?”

“Lalawë,” said Alcawë. “Or at least, that is what we call him in Quenya. In Telerin his name is Gladue.”

“Olwë has spoken often of one he called Gladue,” said Mistatelmë. “Is he not the warden of the gate, with a good reputation in Alqualondë?”

“Yes,” said Alcawë. “It seems strange to have a Teler for a grandfather, but still, the few times I have met him he has been kind to me.”

“I have not seen your father in a long time,” commented Mistatelmë.

“No,” said Alcawë. “He left Tirion for a small community of Noldor not far away about two years ago, and as I in the training of the House of Fingolfin he didn’t worry about me. I do believe I shall enjoy riding in one of the ships of the Teleri, for from what I hear they ride smooth and swift. Yet I do wonder if Olwë will grant us their use.”

“Why wouldn’t he?” asked Mistatelmë in surprise.

“Lalawë once explained it to me,” said Alcawë. “He and his three sons are not only guards of the citadel, but shipwrights. He said that each ship is like a special piece of their heart, and that each ship has its own special name. The Teleri build their ships lovingly, and would not part with them.”

“I cannot imagine loving a ship,” said Mistatelmë.

“I can,” said Alcawë, and at that moment a breeze from the eastern sea blew into his hair, and he looked away east.

“Another day north, I deem, Alqualondë sits,” said Mistatelmë. “What you say gives me doubt, but we shall see what happens.”

“But what if the Alqualondë refuse us ships?” asked Alcawë. “We cannot just walk across the waves of Alatairë.”

“It will not stop Fëanor,” said Mistatelmë. “If he must cross over the icy wilderness of Helcaraxë he will. But by that time the Noldor may repent their oaths and agreements, and mayhap the Return of the Noldor will end before we reach Endor. That is my hope.”

The next day they drew nigh to green hills. The House of Fëanor passed over first, and as Alcawë and Mistatelmë reached the top they halted. Mistatelmë in wonder, for he like many of the other Noldor had never seen the city, Alcawë in wonder though he had seen it twice before. Before them was a great city with towers and buildings and walls seemingly made of pearl. It was set upon the sea, with stone piers and docks stretching out into the bay. The beaches seemed strewn with gems, glittering in all colors, dazzling the eye. Many lamps, bright as the stars above, shone from the windows of the towers and buildings below. In the harbor was a great fleet of ships, all of silver-white wood and sparkling as if encased in a layer of elven-glass. Their prows were as the heads of swans, with golden beaks and eyes of gold and jet.

“Alqualondë,” said Alcawë, “Haven of the Swans. City of the Telerin Elves.”

Urged by those behind, they rode again forward, close to Fingolfin, who gazed on it with interest but not amazement. Alcawë wondered if anything could startle the great Lord of Noldor.

As they approached the gate in the white pearly wall, they met three Teleri who greeted them in astonishment and surprise. They were all tall and lightly-built, with long silver or dark hair. Two bore bows, and one a sword that was straight and light, and double-edged.

“What do you wish with us?” the one with the sword, apparently the leader, was asking Fëanor in a friendly tone.

“We are leaving Aman,” said Fëanor. “We go to the lands of Endor, where each can find his kingdom and rule! Come with us!” By this time many other mariners had gathered around the gate, and none smiled.

“We wish for no other home than the strands of Ellobar, and no other lord than Olue,” said the gatewarden. “And never shall we defy the Valar on this.”

“Than let us have ships,” persisted Fëanor.

“No ships shall we give to you, or build you, for we would not risk the displeasure of the Valar for any reward,” said the elf staunchly.

“Let me speak to Olwë,” said Fëanor.

“You may go,” said the gatewarden, “But the others must stay outside.”

Fëanor went. Fingolfin went forward, and the gatewarden looked at him darkly.

“Lord Fingolfin,” he said, “Long have our relationships with the Noldor been sustained, nay, tended and grown. Yet I would not think a lord such as ye would defy the ordainments of the Valar.”

“I have little choice,” said Fingolfin. “I pray that Fëanor does not do anything rash, for he may go mad without ships.”

“And I assure you Olue shall not allow him a single one,” said the gatewarden. “But you may come in also, if you wish.”

“Thank you,” said Fingolfin. He turned. “Mistatelmë, my sons, and Alcawë, come with me.” The elves passed through the gates.

“I shall speak with you later, grandfather,” said Alcawë. The gatewarden nodded.

In the center of the city was a large cylindrical building with a great stair. Fëanor stood impatiently at the foot of it.

As Fingolfin approached, an elf appeared at the top of the stair. He was tall and light in figure. His hair was long and silver in color, furling in the wind like the standard of the hosts of Ulmo. His eyes were gray, and deep as the sea itself. They were wise eyes, though somber. His robes were long and flowing; white, blue, and gray. Upon his long tunic was the figure of a swan’s head. A small crown of silver with a swan’s head of pearl was upon his lofty brow.

“Lord Olwë,” said Fingon.

“I am hear, Curufinwë son of Finwë,” said Olwë. “What would you have with me, my friend?”

“I leave for Endor with my people the Noldor, for I have taken up the High Kingship, and lead them to freedom,” said Fëanor. Olwë’s face grew dark.

“Ye would defy the commands of the Valar?” he asked. “I know your errand – you come for ships. Yet none will I give you. I have never lent ear to the lies of Melkor from his mouth, and I will not listen to them from thine. I still trust that one day the Valar shall rise up and purge the world of Melkor’s evil – but not yet, and it is not given to you to decide when the time has come. Night may yet pass into a new dawn.”

Fëanor’s face became livid with rage, so that some around him stepped back, though Olwë did not move, and his face remained impassive.

“You renounce your friendship, even in the hour of our need,” he said. “Yet you were glad indeed to receive our aid when you came at last to these shores, faint-hearted loiterers, and wellnigh empyhanded. In huts on the beaches would you be dwelling still, had not the Noldor carved out your haven and toiled upon your walls.” Olwë’s face was hard as stone.

“We renounce no friendship,” he answered in a voice quiet but firm. “But it may be the part of a friend to rebuke a friend’s folly. And when the Noldor welcomed us and gave us aid, otherwise then you spoke: in the land of Aman we were to dwell for ever, as brothers whose houses stand side by side. But as for our white ships: those you gave us not. We learned not that craft from the Noldor, but from the Lords of the Sea; and the white timbers we wrought with our own hands, and the white sails were woven by our wives and our daughters. Therefor we will neither give them nor sell them for any league or friendship. For I say to you, Fëanor son of Finwë, these are to us as are the gems of the Noldor: the work of our hearts, whose like we shall not make again.”

Fëanor recoiled at the words, coated with ice, without the original friendly tone, but the fire did not leave his eyes. He spun on his heel and marched away from the palace. Olwë’s eyes softened, and he bowed his head, then retreated back into his palace.

“Let us go back to our camp outside the city,” said Fingolfin at last. “My brother has much on his mind.”

Alcawë turned to Mistatelmë, and saw that he was staring out onto the street. He followed his gaze and saw that it was directed to a young Telerin elf-maiden that must have been not much younger than Alcawë. Her hair, though, was dark, showing that she probably had some Noldorin blood in her. But her dress was long and silver, and of distinct Telerin style.

“Mistatelmë?” asked Alcawë. Mistatelmë shook himself as if coming out of a trance.

“Come,” he said.

That afternoon Alcawë went down to the gate where Lalawë his grandfather stood, who greeted him.

“So you are going to Endor?” asked Lalawë.

“Yes,” said Alcawë. “I have to follow Lord Fingolfin.”

“There are other reasons, are there not?” asked Lalawë. “Surely not all the Noldor of Tirion went? I know the power of the voice of Fëanor.”

“I took an oath,” said Alcawë hesitantly. “Surely it is good what we are doing, and an oath can strengthen and push beyond expectations.”

“I do not deny it,” said Lalawë. “Though I question that it is a good quest you leave upon, I would rather speak of the oath you made. An oath may strengthen, but it may also destroy a person. Some oaths are sworn in vain, and are impossible, and forever the one who swore it feels guilt. Yet there is another, that a rash oath may cause hurt to you or another, or even one that seems good lead to evil. You would feel bound to that oath, and did that oath call you to slay one whom you loved you might suffer horrible loss, whether you slew them or not. Oaths should not be sworn rashly, and save of loyalty and righteousness they should not be sworn at all. They may lead to evil or hurt, and then you must decide whether to break your oath or your conscience. When the Noldor have cooled somewhat they may regret their oaths, and I fear that much evil lies before them, if foresight is given to me.”

“Than what if an oath calls you to do ill?” asked Alcawë. “Is it not good to fulfill it?”

“Yea, but it is better to do what is right, and far better than both never to swear such an oath in the beginning,” said Lalawë. “An elf cannot call upon an oath to do evil; if he swears by Ilúvatar, than Ilúvatar shall release him. And oath sworn by Ilúvatar never will hold them to evil, and an oath sworn by an evil power is not valid.”

They continued to speak with each other for a while longer, and then Alcawë returned to the camp of Fingolfin. There he met his two cousins, Turotulco and Ranyar.

“Ranyar has been appointed to bring some important dispatches to Maedhros tomorrow,” said Turotulco enviously. “He was appointed to the errand-riders of Lord Turgon because he is so fast and does well with horses. I was put in with the main body of soldiers.”

“Still, that means that I see less battle,” said Ranyar. “But it is full of adventure, so they say.”

“I wonder how we shall get to Endor,” said Turotulco, changing the subject. “I definitely don’t want to cross the Helcaraxë and be frozen to death.”

“Perhaps they shall turn back,” suggested Alcawë.

“Nay,” said Turotulco. “Fëanor has sworn an oath, and if he must cross there he must. I heard one the soldiers in his train talking, and it seems that he overheard Amrod and Maglor talking, and they are worried that their father will make some rash move.”

“I can’t imagine what he could do,” said Alcawë. “He hasn’t many options.”

“If he gets desperate he may try something,” said Ranyar, who Alcawë had marked as being the most seeing of his cousins. “Blood may be spilt.”

“Whose blood?” asked Turotulco, but Ranyar would say no more.

That evening Artanis silently left the camp of the Noldor of Finarfin, and entered the city, the guards bowing as she passed, for they knew her. She went directly to a white house in the upper parts of the city that could belong to a great Telerin lord. She knocked, and was admitted by a tall elf with long silver hair, Teleporno, grandson of Olwë. She beckoned him to follow, and they walked through the city silently but quickly, coming to a large stone building of fountains and gardens. They went up to the roof where few were, and drew aside to the balcony, from which they could see the entire city and beyond.

“Teleporno,” she whispered, “Something terrible is going to happen. I feel it strongly.”

“You do not think that the Noldor will seize the ships by force?” he asked.

“I do not know,” she said. “But Fëanor has great control over the minds of the soldiers, and they will do his bidding. I fear he has gone mad.”

Alatáriel,” he whispered, using the name he had given her in Telerin. “Do not go with these Noldor. Stay in Alqualondë where you once dwelt.”

“I must go with my people,” said Artanis. “And though I do fear Fëanor, I feel that there lies much away in the west. Come with us! We may find great lands to rule.”

“Alatáriel,” he said again, “Why do you wish for such things? Ever you long to rule great lands, and to see all. Do you not remember the days when we dwelt in peace? You were the fastest of our runners, and the fairest of our maidens. Do not go to war and death across the sea! Rather, let us stay here, where we may live one day as lord and lady among the mariners of the Teleri.”

“My heart does not lie here,” she said, and she turned away eastward, gazing across the sea Alatairë.

The next morning Ranyar came into the presence of Turgon, who handed him a letter to take to Maedhros. Ranyar saluted, mounted, and rode away quickly. He went over the green hills and looked down on the camp of Fëanor. To his surprise he found that they were amassed. He ran forward, and came down to the soldiers. He went around until he found Maedhros, looking grave.

“My lord,” he said, bowing. He handed the letter. Maedhros broke it open and scanned its contents rapidly.

“As I thought,” he muttered. He handed Ranyar an already-waiting letter. “Take this back to Turgon.”

As he began to ride away, the horn of Fëanor sounded and the host moved forward. He wondered what it could mean. He rode forward. He decided to see what was going to happen before he delivered his message. It was then he made a terrible mistake that he would rue for the rest of his life.

The Noldor went forward, breaking into a run. They came to the gate of Alqualondë, and attempted to push past Lalawë and his companion four guards. Seeing that the Noldor were fully armed, they drew their swords and bent their bows.

“What do you wish of us, Spirit of Fire?” asked Lalawë coldly.

“Let me past,” said Fëanor angrily.

“Nay,” said Lalawë, not lowering the point of his sword. “Not until you and your followers have laid down your arms.”

“Must we force you?” asked Fëanor.

“You must,” said Lalawë, and he raised up a horn that was on his breast and winded it. Loud and clear it sang. Suddenly Celegorm leaped forward and severed the horn into two pieces. The Telerin guards raised their bows and would have shot Celegorm then and there, but Lalawë held them back with a motion of his hand, and this was fatal.

Caranthir leaped forward with a drawn sword. “Come, Atarinkë,” he cried, using Curufin’s mother-name. He cut down one of the Telerin guards in a single stroke. The other guards shot their arrows, but both missed. Two of the Noldor ran at Lalawë, who parried their blows and ran them through. In an instant Curufin and Caranthir fell upon him and the other guards. Lalawë had no armor on save a light helm signifying his rank, and the contest was soon over. In a quick thrust he wounded Curufin in the arm, but Caranthir raised his sword and gave a great cut that clove through Lalawë’s light helm and through the skull. Lalawë fell dead. The remaining two Teleri moved to flee, but Fëanor slew one and Amrod the other.

“Now, to the ships,” said Fëanor, not even looking at the dead elves. Only Maedhros and Maglor showed any sign of remorse as the Noldor filed through the gate, and the young twins looked pale.

Ranyar should have delivered his message now, but he stood as if he and his horse were rooted to the spot. The Noldor went forward to the docks and tried to seize the ships, beautiful ships with silver sails and white wood. The Telerin mariners were rushing forth, and with their hands attempted to push the Noldor away. The Noldor responded by drawing their swords and cutting down the defenseless mariners. But Lalawë’s horn had done some good – Teleri armed with bows poured out of the city. They shot a volley into the Noldor, and a number fell. Fëanor ordered a charge, and the Noldor moved forward. But the arrows seemed to always find unprotected points behind the shields and armor of the Noldor. They were repulsed.

Ranyar suddenly felt his blood rise in anger. Fëanor had just committed a terrible crime – he had spilt the blood of his kin. The Valar would never forgive him now. He must warn Lord Fingolfin!

He turned and galloped off. But he found coming the opposite direction the hosts of Fingolfin and Finarfin marching at a fast pace toward the haven. He tried to call out to them, but none heard him. He heard cries from them that the Teleri had attacked Fëanor.

“Nay!” cried Ranyar. “Fëanor has tried to seize the ships!” But none heard him in the din. In minutes Finarfin and Fingolfin beheld battle at the docks of Alqualondë.

It was a dreadful scene, the like of which Alcawë had never seen before. The Noldor of Fëanor were pouring through the gate and were battling at the docks in a fierce, hand-to-hand fight. The Teleri, mainly armed with bows and with no armor, were shooting fiercely into the Noldor ranks. A moment later the Noldor of Fingolfin and Finarfin were pouring out onto the docks.

Alcawë was near the front, as he stood near Fingolfin, and he saw a Telerin arrow, made of white wood with gray feathers, strike a Noldo beside him to his right in the neck, and the elf drop. He felt sick.

But then Alcawë had no time to think of such things. He was hurled forward against the lightly-armed Teleri. An arrow bounced off his shield, and a Telerin spear nearly brushed his ear. He saw Turgon near him, slaying a Teler in each of his well-aimed strokes.

Ranyar rode about, trying to find Turgon. But as he rode an arrow from one of the slender white bows of the Teleri sliced through the air and embedded itself in his upper arm near the shoulder. He gasped in pain, and wheeling his horse rode weakly out of the city. Upon passing through the gate he sank to the ground, leaning against the wall. Gritting his teeth he pulled the arrow out, and passed into a faint.

Alcawë felt relieved when at last the Teleri fled. He had not actually met a Teler hand-to-hand, but had several times narrowly escaped the sting of their arrows. He turned and saw Olwë up on the wall, calling on the name of Ossë the Sea-spirit. But no answer came.

“Quick, to the ships,” said Fëanor. The Noldor of Fëanor boarded the ships, and some of the hosts of Fingolfin under Argon. Fingolfin and Finarfin were confused at first, but seeing the menacing Teleri readying another attack, despite the great number of their dead, they retreated from the blood-stained city, back to the camp with the women and children.

As they passed out of the gate Turgon knelt by the unconscious Ranyar. He grasped his cloak and staunched the wound. He whispered some words, and Ranyar awoke.

“My lord,” said Ranyar weakly, and he handed Turgon the letter from Maedhros. It was stained with his own blood, which had poured over it. “Forgive me.”

Turgon broke the seal and read the weighty letter, signed with Maedhros’s mother-name, which showed the familiarity between the two elves.

I fear that my father is going to do something rash – even go so far as to attack Olwë and the Teleri. Do not join in battle, whatever thou dost do. I fear the worst.

- Maitimo

“Alas that I did not receive it sooner!” said Turgon. “Perhaps much blood would have been saved.”

“I was at fault,” said Ranyar, choking as he did so, and tears came into his eyes. “I waited to see what was happening before I delivered the message.”

“You are forgiven, my young courier,” said Turgon after a moment, and he grasped Ranyar’s weak hand. “Duty comes first. You have been amply punished, but I fear that much pain will come of it. I shall bear you to the ships, as you are unable to march.”

At that moment Alcawë passed through the gate. He gave a cry of horror as he saw the body of his grandfather, and fell beside it, tears falling hot and fast from his eyes. He bitterly regretted his oath. Then he looked up and saw Ranyar leaning against the wall.

“Is he dead?” he asked Turgon, hardly noticing who he was speaking to.

“Nay,” said Turgon. “But he may be soon if he loses much more blood. Let us bear him to the ships, where I shall entrust him to my brother.”

They pushed their way back to the docks from which the last of the Noldor were marching away. Turgon bore him up into the ship of Argon, and there placed him in a comfortable bunk, where his wound was bound.

“I shall see you further on,” said Turgon. But Ranyar did not know that it would be a very long time before he ever saw his beloved master again.

Turgon and Alcawë left the ships and caught up with the rest of the army. As they neared it, Turgon glanced at the sky with a worried expression.

“I fear that we may meet with a storm, for clouds gather,” he said. “Alas that such a deed was done! But it is done. Loath am I to forsake the march because of the blood of the Teleri, of which I declare the hands of the house of Fingolfin is guiltless.”

As Alcawë entered the march he met up with Turotulco. “Where is Ranyar?” he asked.

“He was wounded, and is in the ships,” replied Alcawë. “I suppose you can see him again when we next halt.”

Teleporno looked down sadly upon the battle in the courtyard. His bow was in his hand, but no arrow was on the string. Olwë came down to him, seeming suddenly old and sad, and saw Teleporno’s pained face. He stood beside him looked out upon the harbor.

Ossë’s ears are closed to my invocations,” Olwë said. “Alas! Much blood is spilt. See how our mariners fall back. The battle is over. Alas for our ships! Alas for the fairest things that ever sailed Alatairë! And alas also for the blood of the innocent mariners! Alas for our friendship with the Noldor. The hurts shall not easily heal, and the Noldor have moved, and they are cursed. The sea will no longer accept them, so long as the blood of the mariners is remembered.” “I must go with them,” said Teleporno quietly.

“Speak to me louder, my son,” said Olwë, and he turned to his grandson, and his deep gray eyes showed concern.

“I spoke that I must go with the Noldor into exile,” he said. “For I love one among them.”

“I had thought so,” said Olwë. “My dear Teleporno, if you must, go with them, go with Artanis. But now thou art cursed, and never again may thee return to Aman, or see again the Light of Taniquetil.”

“That doom I accept,” said Teleporno, and turning he trod softly away, his silver hair shimmering the starlight. Olwë bowed his head, and if it were possible, the ancient Lord of the Teleri wept.

The weather grew increasingly worse. The seas swelled, and the thunder began to rumble.

Uinen is will revenge herself on us for the death of the Teleri,” murmured Fingon. He spoke of the wife of Ossë, who would weep for the noble dead mariner, and even the heart of the sea might be stirred by her voice. Also they feared Ulmo, that he might drown their ships, their last hope of reaching Endor.

The wind rose, but still the host pushed on. Meanwhile, on board, Ranyar lay in his bunk, extremely uncomfortable with the pitching of the boat.

A young elf not much older than he came down into the hold where he lay with the other wounded, and walked up to him. He was one of Fëanor’s elves, apparently a Noldo of a well-to-do family, probably the son of a lord of Fëanor’s Household.

“So are ye the errand-rider that was wounded in the battle?” asked the elf. “I have been sorely longing for someone to talk to. Captain Narcalimon isn’t one for speaking, and the other members of my company are older Noldor.”

“Yes, I am,” said Ranyar in surprise. “I am Ranyar. But how did you know? And who are you?”

“I am Andúmir son of Vilyanar,” said the elf. “News travels around quickly on a small ship such as this.”

“What did you think of the battle?” asked Ranyar. Andúmir shrugged.

“It wasn’t much of a battle in the sense of the word,” he said. “We try to seize some ships. We are shot at. We attack and are pushed back. We attack and are pushed back again. Lord Fingolfin aids us. Then we fight elves with little more than light bows to protect them. I hear that they have captured several prisoners, one of which is now on this very ship.”

“I thought the battle was horrible,” said Ranyar. “And why did Fëanor attack them like that? He has earned the hate of all true servants of the Valar.” As if to emphasize his words, the ship rocked suddenly to port, causing Andúmir to fall to the white plank floor. He got up as the ship righted itself.

“I never could understand why the Teleri liked ships,” said Andúmir. “Anyway, I think it was justified. Lord Olwë refused to let us, his boon friends and supporters, by giving or lending us several of his many ships. We refuse to let his words get in the way of our oaths, and we attempt to seize the ships without harming a soul. Of course the Teleri not only start protesting, but they lay hands on us, pushing us off the ships into the bay. Of course we drew our swords to keep them away, and they start shooting arrows at us that go through the smallest crack in our armor. Still, I do dislike killing an enemy who can hardly resist our swords. But I expect we are far fewer in number than we were when we came, for their arrows slew many.”

Suddenly there was the sound of rain on the deck. An elf appeared below, frantic with worry.

“Lord Andúmir!” he cried. “To the deck! The ships are headed toward the Narmocarcar!”

Andúmir leaped toward his feat, and Ranyar shuddered in fear on his bunk. Aman had few dangers, yet the Narmocarcar was one of them. It was a ring of jagged rocks nearly entirely submerged in the water. It was there to protect the white beaches of Hísië, and thus far had done its job. But of those who strayed to close, few escaped. For the current running against them was strong, and any impact against the Teeth of the Wolf was sure to be fatal.

Andúmir climbed up the ladder to the deck, where the chilling east wind struck his face. He had never seen such a storm in Aman, and felt sure that it must be the intervention of the Valar to punish them. He groaned.

The fleet was certainly heading towards the rocks. Argon was on deck, tensely gripping the rails. Beside him was a sharp-eyed elf with a scar across his left hand.

“Lord Argon, Captain Narcalimon,” said Andúmir.

“What is it, Andúmir?” asked Narcalimon. Without waiting for an answer, he started speaking quickly but coolly. “We don’t know what we can do. Few if any of us have ever sailed before, and though we know the basics, we cannot handle this in a storm.”

“Send for the Teler,” said Argon. “If this ship goes down his life shall end as well as ours.”

They took the Teler up onto the deck. He was a tall, silver-haired elf with dark eyes, and his clothes were long and silver-white. He still had a light helm with the swan’s head.

“What is your name, Teler?” asked Argon.

“I am Fernaráto son of Spanevë,” he said. “I am a mariner, once captain of the ship that you have stolen, and are standing on right now.”

“We are heading for the Narmocarcar,” said Argon coolly. “Can you guide us away?” He drew out a knife and cut the elf’s bonds. “Unless you help, both us and thou shall be drowned.”

Instantly Fernaráto took charge. “You have taken the sails down, which is the first step,” he said. “Wheel the ship around. Our only chance is to get into a large calm just around the edge of rocks. If we stay off of the rocks long enough, we may be saved.”

“I see some of the ships are already in that calm,” said Narcalimon. “Mostly ours, and some of Fëanor’s, including his own ship. May Ulmo be cursed, and may Fëanor be so also. Why doesn’t he prepare ropes for the survivors of wrecks?”

“There shall be no survivors,” said Fernaráto in a grim tone. “Any that break upon those rocks shall not escape.”

[edit] The Betrayal

Alcawë stood with the other Noldor looking out to sea. Many of the women were in tears. It seemed impossible any could survive.

“Where is Argon’s ship?” asked Turgon. Fingon pushed forward.

“There,” he said, pointing to the ship. “It is not so near doom as several others, but is not safe either.”

“Oh that I would not see thee die, my brother,” whispered Turgon.

The ship was moving toward the rocks still, though less quickly, and it was also moving slowly toward the calm. The calm was slightly enclosed by the land around it, being almost a bay. But they had to get around a point of rocks.

“We are going to have to try something,” said Fernaráto. “Prepare to open the sails.”

“But if we open the sails the wind shall throw us upon the rocks,” said Argon.

“Just do what I say,” ordered Fernaráto. “If we don’t open them immediately after we are over that point the current shall pull us right back onto the rocks.”

Fernaráto saw the wisdom in this, and shouted an order barely audible above the gale. Lightning cracked, and rain poured down in sheets. Visibility was low.

Under Fernaráto’s guidance they somehow managed to barely clear the rocks. As they missed the rocks by feet the Teler cried out “Open the sails!”

The ship moved dangerously toward the rocks, but the sails opened and the ship moved away and entered the calm. They were delivered. Fernaráto’s position improved immensely. From then on he was treated as an equal, and though Fëanor refused to let him go free out of pride, he could roam about the ship at will.

The ships could not land there, and communication was done by lantern signals. It was found out that twenty-six beautiful ships had perished on the rocks. Only forty-one were left. Few elves had died, however, for the ships had little more than the minimum amount of elves required to sail them.

After the storm died, they continued northward. Tension reigned, for they took it as an evil omen. But after many hours, perhaps about nine days (or perhaps longer – there was neither sun nor moon to tell time by) both hosts, land and sea, halted almost involuntarily. They had come to a place where there was a rocky beach. Upon a towering black rock stood a dark figure about twelve feet tall that they could not make out the features of. Many of the elves stood as if they had grown roots. Then the figure spoke, a deep and loud voice, solemn and terrible.

“Stay, O Noldor, and listen to my voice,” it said. Many felt sure it must be Mandos, the Vala of the Dead. “Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also. Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures that they have sworn to pursue. To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason, shall this come to pass. The Dispossessed shall they be forever.

“Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman. For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death’s shadow. For thought Eru appointed to you to die not in Eä, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief; and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos. There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you. And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after. The Valar have spoken.”

Many on ship and land quailed and recoiled. The black figure seemed to disappear, for when they blinked he was gone. But Fëanor, mastering himself and hardening his heart, cried out in a voice that sea and land could hear.

“We have sworn, and not lightly,” he said. “This oath we will keep. We are threatened with many evils, and treason not the least; but one thing is not said; that we shall suffer from cowardice, from cravens or the fear of cravens. Therefor I say that we will go on, and this doom I add: the deeds that we shall do shall be the matter of song until the last days of Arda.”

But Finarfin called back in like tone and volume. “I renounce ye, my half-brother. I shall forsake this march, and I shall accept neither the name of coward or traitor, for it is ye, O Fëanor, and thine house, who has betrayed the Valar. You drew swords upon my kin, and my kinship and my friendship with Olwë is deep. Yet my anger does not rest on ye in this hour. Only bitterness and grief do I hold in my heart; for there is room for naught else.”

With this he started to ride away inland, and nearly an eighth of the Noldor, mostly those of his house, moved to follow. Fëanor looked after them in anger, and turned away. But the sons of Finarfin did not move, for they still felt bound to the sons of Fingolfin, and were loath to depart from the task, though they knew that they might well not see their father again.

The host continued on for many days. The air grew colder as they went on north. The ground grew bare and was soon littered with gray stone. A fierce wind whipped through their hair and bit their faces. But the mist was thick and covered the stars above. Many of the women and children suffered from the bite of the cold.

They rested for ten hours after about fourteen hours of walking. Since they had neither sun nor moon to give them the time, they relied on an elaborate star-clock built before the demise of the Two Trees for telling night-time, but was before their march expanded to have twenty-four hours by one of the prominent craftsmen of Tirion. As all the Noldor loved astronomy, and most could easily name every constellation, they could readily turn the discs of the clock to the correct place, and then go through a complicated routine to find a rough twenty-four hour system. It was complicated, but was not heavy overmuch, and did not take a lengthy time to set up.

One time of rest Maglor went to his father, who stood gazing out into the night from the bow of the ship. He seemed never to sleep or rest, and often stood gazing, his hands clenching and unclenching. It was nearing the end of one of the ten-hour rest times, when the ships were drawn close together.

“Father,” began Maglor. Fëanor turned to him.

“Yes, Makalaurë?” he asked.

Maglor hesitated. He felt more than ever like going back and singing to calm himself, but did not move from where he stood, and at length spoke. “I have been thinking of the things that have taken place, and though Maitimo my brother thinks like to me he would not raise voice. Art thou sure that we do what is right?”

“Do you mean you doubt that it was wise to leave Aman?” asked Fëanor. His voice betrayed no anger, and Maglor looked into the dark eyes and saw nothing. He continued.

“Not about leaving Aman,” he said. He hesitated once more. “I speak of the slaying of the Teleri at Alqualondë.” He paused. Fëanor said nothing. He then finished slowly. “We have already caused the wrath of the Valar to fall on us, and the wrath of Uinen to devour our ships. Must we go into exile, never to return? The Valar have been gracious to us, and the kinslaying at Alqualondë was –” But he never finished, for suddenly Fëanor exploded, his dark eyes bursting into flame, his face as livid as that of a madman, so that even his son Maglor stepped back.

“I had a right to those ships! They had no right to deny us! Never speak of the Teleri in that manner again,” he cried. “And the Valar! Weaklings who sit in their seats and watch good elves such as my father fall to the evil hand of Morgoth, and do nothing in vengeance! Weaklings who will let all of Eä be taken piece by piece from their hands! If I do not go, none will! So Manwë would forbid us. He has no power over us! The Curses of Mandos may fall upon us, but I would bear them gladly in a thousandfold degree, if I could take back the treasure of my heart, and the honor of the Noldor!” Suddenly he halted, and the fire lessened in his eyes, and as if ashamed of his previous manner (if that were possible) he continued on in a softer voice.

“But Makalaurë, my son, you needn’t let fall tears over the kin of my half-brother’s wife. They resisted me, and learned to think better the next time. I would do it again. I do not rejoice in killing, nor in slaughter, but if we are to return, than I will have none say us nay.” With that Fëanor turned and marched back into the cabin. But Makalaurë stood still standing, gazing at the stars.

“The treasure of thine heart, thou sayest?” he whispered softly. “Alas! If only thee cared for the single life more than the work of thine hands and the oath of thine mouth, and thine wife my mother more than the delight of thine eyes.”

“I have just thought a disturbing thought,” said Alcawë one time during their march. Several months had passed since the Battle of Alqualondë. He was often the one among the three companions who did think of things to worry about.

“Then pray do not tell me of it,” said Turotulco. “’Tis a pleasant day for walking.”

“But what then?” asked Alcawë. “When we are done walking, and have gone far enough north as to be nearest Endor, what shall we do?”

“Why, sail across the ocean, of course,” said Turotulco. “I thought that was settled.”

“But there is a problem,” said Alcawë. “Are you without sight? Have ye not seen the concerned looks of the Sons of Fingolfin? We have lost many of our ships, and now there are not enough to carry us all over.”

“I suppose that we would be ferried gradually over,” said Turotulco, though his face became sober at this thought. “But I would not trust the House of Fëanor to pass over first. They would quickly disembark and leave us in the wastes to die or return to Tirion.”

“You see!” cried Alcawë. “I am sure that the House of Fëanor feels the same way about us. The fear of treachery is rampant in the air. They say that the fear of treachery often leads to it. I pray that it shall not be so.”

“Ranyar was always the sharper one,” said Turotulco regretfully. “I wish we could talk to him. I haven’t seen him in months. Surely his injury has healed by now!”

“Perhaps,” said Alcawë. “But as yet we have had few chances for the ships to dock. Some have swum out to them to give or take supplies, but the seas are ice-cold now, and few dare the swim anymore. It is too bad that the ships of the Teleri do not carry small boats! But we can do nothing about it.” Suddenly something caught his eye. A little ways off was Artanis, tall and proud as ever. But near her there plodded a tall and noble elf, crowned with silver hair. His clothes were long and white with silver lining, and inlaid with pearls and diamonds. The cloth was of high quality, though very light, and easy to walk about in.

“He is one of the Teleri,” remarked Alcawë. “And I daresay he is a noble among them.”

“It must be Teleporno,” said Turotulco. “He is a grandson of Olwë. He used to be seen often with Artanis when she lived there, or so it is said. There is a young Telerin maiden that walks beside him. Strange; I would almost guess her to be Teleporno’s daughter, except that he has never been married.”

“How do you know so much?” asked Alcawë.

“Ranyar would listen to all the news of those that journeyed between Tirion and Alqualondë,” said Turotulco. “I was often bored, but I stayed with him having nothing better to do.”

“I saw that maid in Alqualondë,” said Alcawë suddenly. “I know it, partly because of the black hair. Mistatelmë was watching her when we entered with Lord Fingolfin.”

“I wonder why,” said Turotulco. “She cannot be older than we are.”

“Perhaps Mistatelmë had met her before,” said Alcawë, gazing steadily. Suddenly the girl turned and looked at them. He quickly turned away, wondering how long she had noticed them watching her.

“Perhaps,” said Turotulco, eyeing Alcawë.

About another thirty hours later, they heard a horn up ahead.

“What is that horn?” asked Alcawë uncomfortably. “None of the elves come this far north.”

“I don’t know, and I don’t like it,” said Turotulco.

“It sounds like a Vanyarin horn,” said Alcawë, after he heard it again.

At that moment something to his left, inland near the mountains, caught his eye. He thought he had seen the glint of metal. Then he saw a spot on the lands. What was it? Soon he realized that it must be a party of elves about thirty strong, wearing gray cloaks, but every now and then he saw a shine as the stars reflected off something beneath the cloaks.

The host halted. Fëanor turned and rode down the lines. “Swords outward!” he cried. “Prepare! This may be a trick of Morgoth!”

So they turned their swords outward, and waited. The elves came into view. They were all hooded and cloaked in gray, as Alcawë had guessed. Their leader stepped forward and threw back his cloak. He was unusually tall, with a face that reminded Alcawë of the messenger of Manwë’s. His golden hair, fair face, and bright eyes identified him as a Vanyar. Under his cloak as he moved Alcawë could see armor in gold and silver, richly decorated, with vine and leaf designs, and many stars and trees. His cloak was clasped with a clasp shaped like a seven-pointed star, with a white gem in the center.

“Who are you?” asked Fëanor in a stern tone.

“I am Anganáro,” said the elf. “I am the Chief of the Wanderers. We are Vanyarin elves who have been exiled to the north. I say not why, but I beg ye let us march beside you, and let us leave Aman forever. Our spies in the south reported that you had left, and we rejoiced, but you had already passed our lands. Only now have we caught up with you. All of us are warriors, armed with bows and swords. We are ready to fight against Melkor.”

“Your service is welcome,” said Fëanor. “What talk is there of peace while Morgoth still reigns? Fall in behind me.” And so the Exiled Vanyar joined the march.

Finally the host reached a place where the ships could go no further, for great pieces of ice were scattered across the sea, and it would be of too great a risk to send the ships through them. The ships found a place to dock, and the gangplanks were dropped. Therefor the host made camp, waiting to see what their leaders would decide to do. Fear was rampant, as Alcawë had said, and all feared to let another go first. At that moment, Fëanor was speaking with his sons on this matter.

“You have heard them grumbling against me, I assume,” he said to them. “Many of those who follow my half-brother Fingolfin and even some of ours regret their road, and name me the cause of their troubles. We can go no further north. We have only to decide what to do.

“Two courses only there are to get to Endor. One is to take the Helcaraxë. The other is to take the ships across the strait. But the ships are too few, for we lost many in the storm, and the Helcaraxë is impassible.”

They sat in silence for a long while. Then Curufin raised his head slightly and spoke, his voice soft as always but hinting of great mental cunning and strength.

“We could seize the ships,” he said.

“Exactly, my son,” said Fëanor, his eyes lighting up in delight. “I had thought of it myself.” Some of his other sons turned away, knowing how Curufin was their father’s favorite.

“I see no other way to do it,” said Celegorm. “It would be wisest. We have retained mastery of the fleet. We can sneak the women and children on board while everyone else is asleep, then open sails, and on to Endor.”

“We can indeed,” said Fëanor.

“I certainly would not let the Noldor of Fingolfin go first,” said Curufin. “Let us do it! We can be away before they even realize what has happened.”

“The wind is blowing from the northwest, a good omen,” said Amrod.

“I suppose we must,” said Maedhros, who saw that this was perhaps the only way to reach Endor. “In ten hours, then.”

Ranyar woke suddenly from his repose to hear the sounds of feet running across the gangplank. He was still suffering from his wound because he of two factors. The first was that the air did not aid his wound in any way, and though elves were thought invulnerable to disease, a fever from the chills to the north seized him. Also it opened again during a recent storm when he was thrown out of his bunk. He was mending now, but was unable to go back onto shore. He could walk a little, though.

He hardly had time to wonder what was happening when the hatch opened. Andúmir who lay beside him on the floor opened an eye. Noldorin women and children came down.

“What is this?” Andúmir asked. “Is it up sails for Endor?”

“Yes,” said a voice, and they turned to see Maedhros standing there. “We are sailing for Endor.”

Ranyar, lying in his bunk, did not say anything, for he had no knowledge of how many ships they had lost, and the problem of space had never occurred to him, and Andúmir had wisely refrained from saying anything about it to disturb him while he healed. So he closed his eyes again, though he wondered a little why everything seemed so quiet when he would expect the loading of the vessels to be noisy, and fell back into slumber.

Alcawë woke to hear shouts, and rising he saw Turotulco standing beside him in astonishment. He turned and looked out to sea. He was startled. There was not a single ship in the harbor. He heard mutterings of “treachery” all about him.

“Do not worry,” said Fingolfin. “They shall return for us.” But Alcawë wasn’t sure if the elf-lord was quite so convinced of this as he seemed.

Ranyar rose and went slowly up to the upper deck of the ship. He felt better when the breeze struck his face, and he sighed. He noticed Andúmir and a good many other Noldorin elves standing near.

“I wish I could have sailed on one of the ships of the House of Fingolfin,” said Ranyar.

“Ranyar,” said Andúmir slowly, “You are, as far as I know, the only Noldo of the House of Fingolfin on this voyage.”

“You mean you left without them?” asked Ranyar. His eyes hardened.

“We shall return for them,” said Maedhros, who had walked up. “We shall return. The journey should not take us more than forty-eight hours there, and then another forty-eight hours back, if the wind is favorable. I was given command of this ship, and I assure you we shall not desert the rest of the Noldor.”

Ranyar bowed, but was not at peace.

The voyage passed on uneventfully. Ranyar mended quickly. A while after their departure he was looking out eastward across the sea. Maedhros joined him, and both of them stood searching the horizon.

“You are thinking of what is ahead?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Ranyar.

“I do so often,” said Maedhros. They stood silent, while the stars reflected off the waters of the sea. “I wonder if I shall ever cross this ocean again and see the white city of Tirion and the high peak of Taniquetil.”

“Shall we not again, my lord?” asked Ranyar, and he somehow felt a closeness to the elven lord.

“We are going into exile, my friend,” said Maedhros. “We are going from light to darkness, from life to death. Who that goes into the shadow ever finds the light again?”

“Do you ever feel that way?” asked Ranyar in an almost whisper. “Do you not remember when the light of the Two Trees vanished, and became darkness that only the stars lit?”

“I do,” said Maedhros. “Our revenge on Morgoth for the destruction of the joy of our eyes and the light of our souls drives us on. It may drive us to our death, or to doom.”

“What does lie ahead for us in Endor?” asked Ranyar.

“Fighting Morgoth until our quest is fulfilled, or we are dead, or the world ends,” said Maedhros. He turned to Ranyar, his red hair streaming out in the wind, and his dark eyes reflecting the stars. His blue cloak with the star shone, his cape unfurled in the wind, and his hand rested upon the hilt of his shining sword. He looked all over a great elven-lord. “There are elves who remained in Endor. The Sindar they are called. Elwë Singollo, the friend of my grandfather Finwë, rules in Eglador, or so last we have heard. It may be that the hosts of Morgoth have overcome him; perhaps not. Alas for our race! My father wrought evil in Alqualondë, and he may forge more before our journey is over.”

Ranyar turned back as Maedhros started singing softly in his rich voice.

Ere tomorrow, ere next day
I stand and wonder as if fay
what lies ahead? Dark doom or death?
Or Morgoth’s cold and dire breath?
Ere tomorrow, ere next day
I stand and wonder as if fay

“Who wrote it?” asked Ranyar.

“Makalaurë did,” said Maedhros. “That is, my brother Maglor. It is much longer than the part I have just sung. While it doesn’t quite compete to the poetry of Fëalómë, being one of his first pieces, it speaks of what is in my heart now.”

“Your heart must be deep indeed, and in a dark mode,” said Ranyar.

“Perhaps,” said Maedhros. “Yet it is my own thought. Tyelcormo, that is Celegorm, often said that I am always thinking of shadows and darkness.”

“Perhaps we are in need for more of it now, Lord Maedhros,” said Ranyar.

“You may call me Maitimo,” said the elf-lord. “To those whom I share a ship with I am Maitimo. I would have you follow my host, Ranyar, for I see that your foresight runs deep though your years are few. I have guessed more about you than you may think. You are lonely, and afraid, and sad. Your loneliness is because your friends are on shore, your fear because of the shadow in the east, and your sorrow because of the slaying of our brothers in the Haven of the Swans.”

“Yes,” said Ranyar. “I have a brother and a cousin on land. My brother’s name is Turotulco. He was always the fighting one, the best of any of us with the sword and axe. Then there is my cousin Alcawë. He was the smart one; he always is the first to figure things out. He is a page of the House of Fingolfin. He has one of those special swords; a Súrlindë.”

“He has a Súrlindë?” asked Maitimo. “Whence came he by that?”

“He received it when everyone else received their weapons,” said Ranyar. “An elf he knew, named Mistatelmë, said that he was probably meant to have it. He is good with the sword, and especially with that blade I would not want to meet him in battle.”

“And you?” asked Maitimo. “Can you bear a weapon?”

“I carry a sword,” said Ranyar. “I was never one for weapons, though I daresay I was good at them. My father is a mason, but I would rather be a sculptor, one who can cut pictures in stone. Or I would be a great elven-lord, who plans cities and battles.”

“Mayhap someday thou shalt be both,” said Maitimo. They looked at each other, and Ranyar felt bound to this fair elven prince, and they clasped hands, one a great lord, the other a young warrior, but Ranyar knew they would be as friends and brothers from that moment henceforth.

They sighted land a while later. Ranyar got his first glimpse of Endor. It was different than Aman, but different than he had expected. There were great numbers of pine trees growing across from the beach. The ground was rocky, but Fëanor steered them through a gulf, which was called the Firth of Drengist. It was like a spearhead, and slowly came to a point where a great river flowed into the firth from a great cleft. To their right were high cliffs. To their left a great sandy shore, the shore of Losgar, in a place called Lammoth. The ships landed. Caranthir was about to jump out onto the shore first, but Curufin held him back.

“Wait for our father, for he has earned the honor for coming this far,” he said.

“That I have,” said Fëanor. He leaped down to the beach carrying his sword and a long pole with something wrapped up near the top. He suddenly released it, and the star of Fëanor shone from the blue field of the floating banner. The Noldor had returned.

The rest of the Noldor soon followed. It was with a somewhat awed expression that the Teler, Fernaráto, went out onto the shore.

Ranyar rose, and boarding another ship to carry out some of the food (for his wound was far better, almost healed) found Amrod and Amras talking below deck.

“Let me sleep,” said Amras. “After all, it will be uncomfortable to sleep on shore, and it is almost time for us to sleep anyway.”

Amrod looked queerly at his brother. “You don’t seem sleepy,” he said at last.

“Yet I wish to stay,” insisted Amras. Ranyar noticed that Amras did not look his twin in the eyes.

“All right,” said Amrod finally. “I shall await you on shore.”

Ranyar wondered at this conversation, for it seemed to him quite obvious that Amras wished to hide something from his brother. He suddenly remembered the friendliness between Amras and Aegnor. He noticed also noticed that some stores were still left on board. The idea occurred to him that perhaps Amras wished to sail back to Aman without his father’s knowledge to Fingolfin and his people. But he left the ship and said no more.

Several hours after the landing Maitimo turned to his father.

“Now what ships and rowers will you spare to return, and whom shall they bear hither first? Fingon the Valiant?”

But Fëanor laughed, a laugh that was like icy fire, and a strange light was in his eyes, like one who is doomed to die. Those near stepped back in fear. “None and none! What I have left behind I count now no loss; needless baggage on the road it has proved. Let those that cursed my name, curse me still, and whine their way back to the cages of the Valar! Let the ships burn!”

Several of the brothers turned, shocked, to their father. But Curufin stood with a queer smile on his lips, and he signaled several of his followers who had stood ready, and they threw torches upon the ships. The rest of the Noldor soon followed with seeming eagerness and enthusiasm, setting fire to each sail and plank of fair white wood, destroying the beautiful ships. But Maitimo stood alone aside, and none saw what he did or said there, whether he wept or cursed or stood silent.

“But we have provisions on board that would be useful!” exclaimed Celegorm. “And we are still far north. These vessels would aid us to go further south.”

“Now, at least, I am certain that no faint-heart or traitor among you will be able to take back even one ship to the succor of Fingolfin and his folk,” he said, and he laughed again. And the cries and cheers of the Noldor rang throughout the lands and the mountains. And far away, a shadow enthroned heard them.

Back on the shores of Aman the Noldor of Fingolfin and the sons of Finarfin, as well as the Exiled Vanyar stood in dismay as great plumes of fire rose from the horizon, visible from hundreds of miles away.

“He destroys the most beautiful ships ever to sail the seas,” said Fingolfin. “He has betrayed us, and left us to die in the wilderness or return to Tirion in shame.”

“He has set us up for ruin,” said Mistatelmë.

“Still,” said Fingon, who stood near, “There is the Helcaraxë.”

“That would be impossible,” said Finrod.

“Would you rather that our honor be destroyed?” asked Fingon. “I say let us brave the dangers!”

“We could lose half our host,” said Turgon. “The hardships, especially for the women and children, would be horrible. I wish to say that I am against this.”

“I must think,” said Fingolfin. “Let me think.”

The fires burned down, and the once proud ships became charred white planks floating in the water. They had just finished their meal after a time of sleep, when Amrod gave a great cry.

“Where is my brother Ambarussa?” he cried. “Did ye not rouse him from his slumber on the ship?”

“That ship I destroyed first,” said Fëanor. His hands did not shake, and his voice was steady, betraying no grief, but the light in his eyes flickered.

“Then rightly you gave the name to the youngest of thine children,” said Amrod, his voice filled with grief and yet seemingly a layer of wisdom and authority underneath. “And Umbarto ‘the Fated’ was its true form. Fell and fey are you become.”

Ranyar had heard that at the birth of the twins by their mother, Nerdanel, they were given besides their father names the mother name Ambarussa. Because Fëanor insisted on giving them two different names, Nerdanel had given the younger the name Umbarto, which meant the fated, though they both still called the other Ambarussa. Disturbed, Fëanor had revised it to Ambarto. Nerdanel had begged that Fëanor leave the twins with her, predicting that one would die, but Fëanor would not listen. What thoughts did he think now? What was he pondering in his sharp mind? Fëanor turned away and covered his face.

When Fingolfin came forth to the Lords of the Noldor that remained with him, his eyes were resolute.

“We shall cross the Helcaraxë,” he said, and his voice was calm and steady as cold steel. “I desire now more than ever to reach Endor, and meet the son of Míriel again.” Some of them, such as Turgon, bowed their heads, while others, such as Finrod, seemed to have fires kindled behind their eyes.

“And I shall follow thee,” said Anganáro fiercely. “For he betrayed my people as well as thine.”

“Let us go!” said Finrod. “The sooner we start, the sooner we shall be paying our compliments to Fëanor.”

“Yes,” said Angrod his brother, placing his hand on the hilt of his sword.

“No blood shall be spilt between I and my half-brother again, if I would decide it,” said Fingolfin. “Yet march we shall.”

[edit] First Intermission

(Until I can think of a better title. . .)

Then Rúmil halted, and though the children looked at him eagerly not another word did he speak, but closed his eyes and sat back deep in thought.

“But what about the gem?” asked one, and Ulmondil felt that he would have liked to say the same. “Is that the end of the story?”

“Nay,” said Rúmil, opening his eyes. “Rather, this story has just begun. You will learn about the gem in time. But it is too late for any more telling this night. Return to your homes, and the next day I shall speak more on this matter.”

The children went disappointedly from the room, and many of the adults followed, but one elf stayed, and after all others had gone walked forward to Rúmil.

“It has been long since this tale was told, Master Rúmil,” he said. “Do you think it is wise? Especially for Ulmondil Bregolharn?”

“I believe it will give them a lesson that they could not learn better any other way,” said Rúmil. “It may open old sores, but perhaps it shall heal them after many years.”

The elf reached over and lifted up the gem, fingering it, for a short while. After this pause he spoke. “Do you intend to tell them of the horrors of the passage of the Helcaraxë, and the terrors of the early battles?”

“It shall be very valuable to them,” said Rúmil. “The passage of the Helcaraxë is considered among the deeds of the Noldor not near the least.”

“That I know,” said the elf. He looked into Rúmil’s eyes. “And I trust you shall not reveal my identity to them?”

“No,” said Rúmil simply. “That is for you to tell.”

The elf drew out from his cloak a little flute made of bone, and played a few notes on it. “Remember that tune, Rúmil?”

“I do,” said Rúmil.

“Perhaps I shall play it for them,” said the elf. Rúmil looked hard at him.

“Are you sure that you will be able to do it?” he asked.

“It may hurt,” said the elf, “But I feel it is time.”

Ulmondil walked for a while on the beaches of Tol Eressëa with his friend Anardur that next morning. “This is an interesting story that Rúmil has been telling,” he commented.

“Yes,” said Anardur. “I once met Maglor, who you know lives on the Isle, when my father and I went to a feast held by Lindo. He sang us a song he wrote called the Noldolantë, about the Kinslaying. I had not realized how terrible it was until he sang it, and yet could not quite picture it until Rúmil told us of it.”

“I didn’t realize Bregolharn my grandfather was at the Kinslaying,” said Ulmondil. “But I wonder why my grandfather did not return from Middle-earth. I cannot find an account that says he died.”

“And what about his comrades, Turotulco and Ranyar?” asked Anardur. “They are both Quenya names, so it is possible they are both here under different names.”

“I feel that Rúmil had a greater purpose in telling us this story,” said Ulmondil. “Why did he select me? There are several others I know whose ancestors were Noldor.”

“Do you know much about the House of Bregolharn in Middle-earth?” asked Anardur. “I mean, were they of Gondolin or Nargothrond or someplace else? And after the first age, did they dwell in Imladris or Lindon?”

“I don’t know,” said Ulmondil thoughtfully. “But perhaps I shall learn.”

That night again Rúmil called them together. When all were seated he raised up the gem.

“I shall continue from last time, and perhaps you shall learn about this gem,” he said. “The journey has begun which changed the history of Middle-earth forever.”

[edit] Go on to Part 2: The Return of the Noldor