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The Silence  by Aldwen

The time had come for us to leave Mithrim. Tomorrow my father will depart eastward, and I shall go with him. Nearly all things were packed already. The smith's and jeweller's tools lay in chests, carefully wrapped and arranged under Curufinwë's watchful gaze. I had decided to gather my own belongings later; they were few. But while the day was still bright, I had wanted to roam in the hills for the last time, to scale the cliffs, to feel the scent of the early-summer flowers. In these hills I had first discovered my love for Endórë, and they will always hold a place in my heart, a place that will be taken by no other fair memory.

I stretched upon a moss-clad boulder. Tomorrow in this time of day we will be on horseback, climbing some path of Ered Wethrin. But for now I was still here, in this fair corner of Middle-earth. Having wandered amid the cliffs for hours, the rays of the Day-star warm upon my face, I now closed my eyes against the dazzling light, and dozed off for a while. I was awakened by a presence of someone, a shadow falling over me that I felt even with my eyes closed.

I opened my eyes and perceived my eldest uncle sitting beside me, his hair gleaming in the Sun like a flame, his gaze turned towards the lake and the camp below on the bank. Sensing me awake, he turned towards me and smiled, that slow, quiet smile that always seemed a little sad to me, and now I suddenly wondered whether this sadness had been there always. Had it been there in Valinórë, as we roamed in the woods of Oromë and fields of Yavanna and sat under stars, listening to the stories our people had brought over the Sea, from Cuiviénen? No, it had not been there then. Had it appeared when enmity arose between his father and uncles? Or later? I could not recall, and I could not ask. So I merely smiled in return, and we sat in silence for a long while, watching the glistening ripples of waves, the white dots that were the swans, the play of the shadows of clouds upon the surface of the lake.

"I came here often earlier, to escape my father's anger and my own grief," I said at length. "Do you know, this is the same place where I sat when the eagle landed in our camp."

"That winter was not easy for you," he quietly replied, sympathy in his eyes.

"No." I bowed my head. "And the years before that… Ever since we came here, ever since you rode away… It was that hopelessness. And silence. Silence was the most evil."

"Ai, brother-son…" He sighed. "I am sorry you had to suffer all this. All of you. If I could undo all that evil I would."

I laughed shortly at his words.

"Uncle, you are the only one I can think of who, after having endured what you have endured, would ask others to forgive you!"

"My anguish is of my own doing. By my own evil choices I have brought this upon myself and upon others also."

I looked at him and saw that he meant every word. I opened my mouth to speak, ready to object, but he shook his head.

"Do not argue with me on this, Tyelperinquar. I am right, and in your heart you know that. For every voice there is an echo, for every stone thrown in water there are ripples. It is simply as it is."

"I do not want you to be right in this!" I whispered fiercely and squeezed shut my eyes, fighting angry tears.

"I know that, my dear boy." Nelyafinwë set his arm around my shoulders, and I leaned against him as I had done so many times before as a child, seeking support and comfort that my father was mostly too busy or too impatient to give. For a long while we sat there, side by side, and my grief retreated. After some time I raised my head from his shoulder.

"It is not fair that always you should be the one to care for everybody else!"

Nelyafinwë softly laughed.

"Not fair, maybe, yet fitting. I believe I have the longest experience, with so many younger brothers. And I do not see why I should not extend my care to my nephew."

"I am grateful to you for that."

"Tyelperinquar, I will remain in Mithrim for another winter ere I too go east," he said after a while. "If you would rather stay here than go with your father, you are free to do so. Or you may go with any of my brothers if your disagreement with Curufinwë still stands."

I shook my head. My father's anger at me was indeed still smouldering, at whiles flaring up, but I had not the heart to leave him.

"It still stands, but I think I should go with him," I replied. "He may still be wrathful, but he needs me."

"I think so too, brother-son." Nelyafinwë nodded. "I think you are doing what is right."

"Uncle, I want to promise you something ere I leave," I then said. He frowned, and I smiled. "It is not like that; I will swear no oaths," and when he nodded with a wry smile, I went on. "I promise you that from this day, all my deeds will be guided by duty and honour."

His smile faded, and he looked at me long, somewhat differently than before, and it seemed to me that in his eyes I noticed something that I had always been so desperate to see in my father's gaze. Then he nodded solemnly.

"This is an honourable promise, brother-son, and I value it highly," he said. "I only wish… I wish that I could make the same promise to you," he quietly added, his eyes darkened.

Only much later will the full meaning of his words be made clear to me. After Doriath. After Sirion. For now, only a strange and disturbing thought crossed my mind, a thought that in these deep grey eyes the light will henceforth battle the darkness forever, and, Ilúvatar be merciful, if the darkness should prove the stronger. But it was a fleeting thought, soon carried away by the warm evening breeze as I made my way downhill, to the camp, no, to the city, one of the first cities of the Noldor on the shores of Middle-earth. My heart was lightened by my promise, a promise I should have made to my father, maybe. Yet my father thought little of such things. But Nelyafinwë cared, and in his eyes I had seen that he had been proud of me. And somehow, that was enough.

 

~ The End ~





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