'Oh Lorien! Too long have I dwelt upon this Hither shore
And in a fading crown have twined the golden elanor.'
- The Lord of the Rings
- Part five
Silence was beginning to feel oppressive.
"We had never been attacked before." She absently picked up the cloth Turgon was handing her, wiping the dark blood off her sword. "I don't understand why it had to happen now." Her words rang hopelessly empty to her own ears. "We are already this far South."
"Things happen." Maglor's voice sounded distant, even though he was only standing some feet away.
The blood stuck to her hands. It was an unpleasant feeling. It felt like she would never be able to wash it off, ever again.
"It is like that." Turgon, she realized, was trying to sound comforting. "'Tis what is called 'the aftermath'. It is bound to be foul."
"Twenty-one." Amros said.
"Twenty-one," he repeated. "There was twenty-one of them. We killed them all. Us four. Not one of them escaped."
"Stop it." Maglor walked past his brother without even granting him a glance. Some dry branches cracked under his feet.
"Your steps should be silent." Amros carefully sheathed his sword. "You're an elf. You're wearing boots, but branches should not crack when you step on them."
He dug his knife into the animal's flesh, not deep enough to kill instantly, yet wounding in a way that left no chance.
He crouched, and laid the dagger on the ground. For a moment, as the animal shook on the ground with the fierce convulsions of agony, he took the time to immobilize its head with one hand, and stared into its large, pitch-black eyes.
He tilted his head to the right. It was not the first time he had done this, and it was not the first time he had found nothing in the prey's one-dimensional eyes.
Sighing, he picked up the steel blade, and sliced the slender throat, trying to soothe the violent spasms by running a gentle hand down its robe. Still warm, he thought as he stood up.
"Dinner is dead."
He threw the corpse down in front of the fire, then let himself fall onto the ground.
After a while, the world blacked out.
"Should we wake him?"
She shifted her glance from the sleeping form of Amros to the piece of meat she held, then to Maglor; who, she decided, would have authority in the matter.
The latter, she found, was already sitting at his brother's side, and tenderly spread his own cloak on the younger elf's body.
"He sleeps with his eyes closed." A strange smile lingered on his lips. "Like a small child would. A child in a safe room, with a safe roof over his head. Would you believe he were older than you both?"
"Not by very much," Turgon said.
Maglor ignored him.
"He slept like that, too, when he was young." He passed loving fingers in his brother's hair. "He would fall asleep like that with the sound of rows and fights down the stairs. Or the silence. Telvo would cry when there were fights, but he had feared the silence most."
He looked up, and his hand sprang back from his brother's head onto his lap, as if in guilt.
"With his eyes closed," he mouthed.
"Here." Turgon handed him a piece of meat. He took it thoughtlessly, and stood.
She almost started when her cousin spoke.
"It is his kill after all."
She took a hungry bite of her share. Lembas was good, but one got tired of it after a while.
Maglor kept still.
"Don't. If he can sleep, let him."
Then, he edged away from the sleeper, sat down, and began to eat. She thought she heard him mutter something under his breath, but did not dare ask.
The fire was dying. It was Turgon's turn to keep watch, but Maglor, being restless, kept him company.
"But," he stirred the burning embers. "he was not there. He had departed. I knew he would."
"Findo (1)?" Maglor took up his flask and began twisting its cap open.
Turgon nodded, and brought his knees close to his chest. A small smile appeared at the corners of his cousin's lips.
"You think Findo would have departed?"
"Of course he would!" Turgon made and angry gesture. "Ingoldo (2)… He was the only one of us worthy of it."
Maglor brought the flask to his lips.
"In fact, I think he was there." He took a long sip of his drink. "I think he was."
The Sea lay before them, grey and moody and unmoved. She stared at its flatness, and felt the need to cry.
"So this is the end?"
Turgon nodded. The wind took a malignant pleasure in blowing his hair in his face.
"This is the end. We can go no further."
Maglor, who had wandered off somewhere down the coast, came back to stand beside them.
"What will we do now?"
The taller elf shifted his weight from one foot to another.
"I do not know." Uneasy, he paused. "Hope."
Amros did not even blink. "There is no more hope. Only blood and tears."
Then, faster than what the two others could see, Maglor was on him, had grabbed the front of his collar and was yelling into his face.
"Shut it, will you!"
"What now?" She shuddered at seeing the two brothers so close to each other. We have to pull them away, she thought. One of them will end up dead. "Are you afraid of the truth, Brother?"
"It is not truth! Hope might be foolish and useless, but it is here."
"Then it is my truth." Amros whispered, staring straight into his brother's eyes. Maglor let go of his collar, yet she did not breathe again. "My very own."
The older elf emitted a sound that would have resembled a chuckle were it not for the look on his face.
"No." He slowly shook his head. "No, it is not."
1 – Findo: short for Findaràto, Finrod's Quenya father-name.
2 – Ingoldo: the Wise. Finrod's –I think– mother-name.