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The Silence  by Aldwen

My father's mood was foul those days, and I was usually the one to bear the brunt of it. He was harsh and unforgiving of my mistakes, and I often left the forge on the brink of tears, and the smithwork that I have always loved became a hard trial due to my father's sharp tongue.

To escape that I often fled to the mountains encircling the southern and western shore. There I wandered, scaling rocky terraces, overgrown with pines, soft moss and flowers of many colours, and at whiles I caught myself at treacherous thoughts about the beauty of the place. Then I would turn away from whatever I was looking at and firmly remind myself that Endórë was hateful to me, that I have come to the hills merely to avoid quarrelling with my father.

One day in late autumn, one of the last warm days of the year, after having listened to a lengthy talk about my flaws I was again climbing the rocky path, and tears stung in my eyes. My father rarely raised his voice, and he had not done that today either, but he had a way with words, and he knew how to wound with them. In that, as in many other things, he resembled Fëanáro closely, even though my grandfather had never used his skill to hurt me. I sat down on a Sun-warmed, moss-clad boulder, turned my gaze northwards and thought of him. I attempted to recall his kindness, his smile and his laughter, but all I could see before my eyes was his beautiful face, twisted in fey rage, red glow of flames reflected upon it. As much as I loved him, I had been terrified of him during those last days.

The memories of my grandfather brought no comfort, and I certainly did not feel strong enough to think of my mother, so I chased these thoughts away and looked around. It was midday now, and the Sun bright in the cloudless sky, but the northern mountains were dark, wreathed in smoke and fumes. Sometimes when the wind changed, these fumes would be driven as far as our camp, and they would coil about the tents and lay upon the waters of the lake, and they were poisonous, - if someone breathed them in too much, he would sicken. But today the wind was from the west, there was not a single cloud over my head, and the lake below glittered as if its surface was strewn with bright gems. A thought occurred to me that this sunlight upon the waves was as fair as the jewels made by our craft, but I did not allow myself to dwell on it. I did not love this land, nor I ever will, so what use to acknowledge its beauty?

Yet even though in my mind I denied myself the solace that Endórë was offering me, my heart somehow accepted it, and my mood was lightened, as I stretched upon the boulder and closed my eyes against the Sun, and I thought that I would rather remain here, where there was only my own sadness and misery, than return to the encampment where the weight of grief the others carried was added to my own. I was weary of being a target to my father's anger, even though I realized that often he lashed out at me merely due to the anguish he himself felt. Several times I had seen regret in his eyes after he had scolded me, but not once had he admitted a mistake or asked my forgiveness. Curufinwë was too proud for that.

I must have had fallen asleep with the Sun on my face and dozed for quite a long time, for when I awoke the sky that had been clear before was veiled with clouds, borne on a cool westerly breeze. Yet it had not been the cold that had awakened me, but the sound of raised voices from the camp. Fearing that we might be under attack, I sprang to my feet and looked down. Amid the tents people were running, talking animatedly to each other, and some were pointing towards the sky. I looked there too and gasped in wonder and awe.

A great bird was descending from now low-lying clouds, circling slowly, and I could discern a figure between the mighty wings, and when the eagle landed in the middle of the camp, I recognized Findekáno, the eldest son of Nolofinwë. Bewildered, I strained my eyes, for I could not understand why the son of Fëanáro's half-brother should appear in the dwelling of the enemies (for so they surely now saw us) astride of an eagle. My kinsman dismounted his strange steed, bowed low before the great bird with his hand over his heart, and then I perceived that there was something else on eagle's back, something wrapped in a cloak, and as Findekáno lifted it in his arms with great care, as if handling something fragile, I thought that I saw a flash of red. My heart missed a beat, I seized my coat and hastened down the mountain path.

When I reached the camp, I was already running. It was in a tumult; people hurrying in all directions, speaking together in hushed voices. I caught some words. Lord of the Eagles… Manwë… Angamando… I stopped one who came past me.

"What is the meaning of this? What has happened?"

He looked at me with slightly bewildered gaze.

"Lord Findekáno… he…. He brought lord Nelyafinwë back. They say… they say that he lives still."

I drew breath sharply. So what I had seen from above was indeed what I thought it was.

"Where?"

"The healers' tent."

I released my hold on his arm and hastened to the far side of the camp where two tents for the need of healing were raised.

As I was nearing them, the flaps of the furthermost one were thrown open and my father and four of his brothers emerged from within. Morifinwë's gaze was even darker than usually; he kicked a stone on his way with all his might, uttered an elaborate string of curses and disappeared amid the tents, nearly running. The twins were holding to each other, swaying as if they were injured; suddenly Pityafinwë stumbled, halted and hid his face in his hands, Telufinwë set his arms around him and whispered something in a broken voice. My father came next; he strode past me without a look or a word; I do not think he saw me at all. His hands were clenched in fists, and his face was white. Tyelkormo came last; his fair features frozen in a mask of horror. He perceived me, halted and laid his hand on my shoulder, and I felt him trembling.

"Do not go in there, Tyelperinquar." His voice was quiet and strangled. "Do not go there now." Then he turned abruptly and followed my father, but ere he left I caught a gleam of tears in his eyes. Cold fear was gripping my heart now, and my steps were faltering as I came closer to the tent. What was in there that could bring my father and his brothers, all of them valiant and battle-hardened during the recent years, to such a fright? There was but one way to learn. With obstinacy that has ever been a part of my nature I advanced and, drawing a deep breath and willing my heartbeat to calm, I entered.





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