"And when He had passed out of the city He saw seated by the roadside a young man who was weeping.

And He went towards him and touched the long locks of his hair and said to him, `Why are you weeping?'

And the young man looked up and recognised Him and made answer, `But I was dead once and you raised me from the dead. What else should I do but weep?'"

- Oscar Wilde, The Doer of Good

Ambarussa

By Le Chat Noir

Cano once asked, upon the shore of a lonely beach, what it was that we would do, and there was one who answered that he did not know, but to hope; and upon my translating the gleam in my brother's eyes by voicing aloud his thoughts that there was no more hope, only blood and tears, he turned on me and had grabbed my collar with both hands, and was yelling into my face, for me to shut up with my words of untruths. [1]

It is the way.

~

I was once dead, whom they let burn on their ships. [2]

~

"What is it with Ambarussa?"

Maedhros leans on the doorframe. His voice is jaded, weary, almost faded. He is now accustomed to calling his youngest surviving brother Ambarussa, a name he has at first violently protested against using; but now out of lassitude towards the other's childish whims he gives in to most all of them.

"I don't know." Maglor is sitting on the floor, his back against the side of the bed. He shakes his head while unwittingly chewing on his lower lip.

Another elf is seated there in silence at his side, whose knees are drawn up to his chest and face hidden in his crossed arms. His hair, a strange brown verging on a more coppery hue, is splayed untamed about his body; weaving him a mantel of fire.

"I think," the musician adds after a short moment of hesitation, and gently attempts to push the tangled bundle of hair away from his young brother's face, "I think he's trying to stop himself from existing."

~

When Russandol is angry sometimes he yells and calls me insane. I do not like it. Sometimes too he slaps me and says I am a liar, but it is not true; and he knows it well. I am not insane, and I am no liar. I tell lies to hint at truth, and they are the ones who do not understand.

Yet must there not be one who dwells in dreams, and remembers that happier days were once?

It was night, and there were no stars. Clouds obscured the sky and hid them from our eyes, yet somehow we wondered if even behind the clouds the lamps of the Kindler shone still. Cold was there too, a bitter breeze that teased our skin and stroked our hair and stung our eyes; the perfect snow that buried our feet under its gleaming surface, gleaming with the changing light of our torches' glare. Alien shadows lived on the ground, stepping into the fey rhythm of the dance, waltzing in a pattern broken and intended; and all became mingled as one host of chaos and disarray, lost shadows in the darkness.

There was a dim silhouette before the blazing flames, standing tall and proud; and hands, open palms and clenched fists, thrown up towards the vanished heavens in a gesture of greetings and defiance.

~

Ambarussa, Ambarussa…

Maglor has been looking for his brother in vain for some time now. He had gone to the latter's room first, and upon not finding him there proceeded to a thorough search of their abode.

The younger red-head is nowhere to be found.

~

I tell what they think, what they all think; I merely give their thoughts a shape, craft them into words, and they know it well. This is why sometimes, when I speak, he would rise from his seat and call me liar, and slap my face; and when he does this I am angry and glad.

~

"We ride tomorrow."

Maedhros' voice is sharp as steel, cutting as the edge of a honed sword, his eyes dark like a fire. They are seated together around the half-hearted fire in the hearth, huddled in the circle of feeble light amid the great encircling darkness.

Maglor avoids his gaze by dreamily gazing into the shadows of the hall. Yet there is another whose stare is fixated on him, and it seems that it is the elder who shifts away from the peculiar glance.

"Any last words?" His request sounds empty. He is aware of his younger brother's eyes.

"None. We will win."

Two pairs of shocked eyes are on him. He smiles.

"It is true. We have always won, have we not?"

Maedhros rises abruptly, a silky rustle of cloth accompanying his movement.

~

The question is not whether one exists or does not, but the tragedy lies in the joy of those who live without entitlement, without the right to breathe an air meant for others more worthy than they; the tragedy lies in the stolen joy of those who should but weep, and not even weep, but fade and be forgotten. Yet there must be one who remembers, who tells the truths no one wants to accept; there must be one who is hated for it, for being candid and devoted and mad, anchored to a faith much more tangible than all their frail reality.

~

Ambarussa, Ambarussa…

He is seated on the ground, hugging his knees; his face hidden in his crossed arms and behind the curtain of his knotted hair. His back is against the side of the bed, in such a way that he cannot be seen from one standing in the doorway to his room.

He is silent and does not move. For a second, Maglor fears. It is unreasoned, but there have been many antecedents yet, that he has witnessed with his very own eyes; weary elves staying their feet, lying themselves down on the roadside; laying down the burden of their bodies and the shreds of their hearts…

Ambarussa, Pityo… Brother mine…

Different names he tries. It is unsettling sometimes. After Losgar, none of the Fëanorians had ever known which one of the twins it was whom they talked to: the subtle dissimilarities that had before helped to distinguish them from each other had vanished, gone away in smoke; as if a superficial coat having been swept away by the breath of the fire.

He has soundlessly stooped down to sit at the younger elf's side, passed a tentative arm around the other's shoulders, earning no reaction from him.

Ambarto, Pityo… Wake up, little Telvo…

A shudder runs down the red-head's spine.

Umbarto

~

I was once dead, condemned to the witless pyre.

~

It took a long time for the fire to die. Afterwards I was left alone lying in the snow, and there was nothing all around, but for the cruel snow that fell from the sky and the kindly snow in which my body sunk. I held onto it with both my hands, clenching my fists around it, until it was melted and my nails dug into my flesh and I was seared no more with the burn of flames but of frost; my eyes fiercely shut against the void.

Ambarussa? Someone called my name, with an hesitant voice, but I did not open my eyes. Ambarussa! Cano. It was Cano. Was he dead too, that…

A graceless weight fell to my side, and frozen fingers touched my cheek; making my eyes start open and stare into his anxious ones.

Ambarussa, where is your brother?

I smiled.

~

But I am Telufinwë, the last King, Exalted, Fated, cursed thrice over: by his gods, his father and himself; a mother's child, an artist's madness. [3] My red hair has turned to wear a darker hue, now unlike my mother's, yet I still keep upon my locks glimmers of soft copper, that shine in the sunlight; like a gentle fire that would wake with day.

I do not wake with sunlight, nor with the fire; but in the nightly wind sometimes, that whispers in my ears things I thought were forgotten, by all but for me.

~

"I think he's trying to stop himself from existing." Maglor repeats, and glances at his brother with desperate eyes. Maedhros, without a word, has knelt down in front of the prostrated younger elf, and cupping his face with a firm hand he forces him to look up.

One pair of black eyes attempts to avoid another for a moment, before giving up and fixating themselves on them with a terrible intensity.

Two fingers brush against his cheek.

"You cannot die." Maedhros' voice does not have the beauty of his brother's, but in its apathy itself it is sometimes more potent than the other: an Age of weariness pulsing in its inexistent depth. "There is an Oath that binds you."

The other does not answer, only stares.

~

Much more is there that binds me here, a memory, a name, a duty, a milestone that I do not yet know.

You pity me, my brother.

I cannot die, but it is not an Oath that binds me to this life.

~

And feeling as an intruder, Maglor turns away from the unfathomable understanding that flashes between the two unyielding gazes, of steel and of night.

~

I had a wandering folk once, but even then few were those who followed in my wake. Today Russandol and Cano are kind enough to open their door to me; though, and maybe because they think that I am mad. I have a room of my own: it is small, and I make it look like my room in Tirion. There is a small desk in it, and an inkwell with black ink and a quill, and some sheets of paper: I would like to write, but I don't know what to, or whom to for that matter. Mostly I use them to draw. I can see a tall oak from my window, and I must have made at least a hundred copies of it by now, but none of them are quite the same. My hand is not that of an artist, but I must say I am getting better at sketching trees.

Still often, however, is the quill's tip left to drown in the inkwell, and I upon the bed in the turmoil of my ideas.

It is said that Russandol alone of my brothers stood aside at Losgar, and it is true. He left a trail of footsteps marring the pallor of the snow as he went. Even I was watching, transfixed, obnubiled; and at the moment, I think that nothing could have torn me from the vision of the fire, not even my name cried aloud amidst the crackling pyre. I stood not close to the ships, but I was burnt; and I felt the flames licking my skin and the smoke stifling my breath. Tears were in my eyes, stung by the acrid air, and I fell to my knees and buried my hands and face into the snow to feel the frost of its touch, and ate of it in mouthfuls to quench the scorching fire that had arisen in my entrails; fierce and strange.

I tell lies that might be truth. I do not know. But by telling of these truths I make them think that they are lies, the lies of a raving madman; and they will not believe. It is what counts in the end.

A very thin border after all.

~

"My people are the Quendi, for our gift is in speech…"

The words have left his lips, hardly a murmur, hardly a sigh. Maglor's head is jerked sharply around at the subtle sound, his keen ears of a minstrel unsure of the voice; having felt the vague change in the air of the room rather than heard the mouthed words.

"What is it?"

The young elf's head is now thrown back, his throat exposed, white hands seeming to idly rest in his lap; his empty eyes towards the window, though he does not see. His lips mouth the words again, faintly, so that they are scarcely stirred.

Maglor leans his ears to his brother's face, hoping to catch a phrase, a syllable; but he feels only the tenuous breath breaking from the other's lips.

~

My people are the Quendi, for out gift is in speech.

When the Valar called us to them we first discovered that there were other races in Arda who used words to make their thoughts known. In Aman even animals talked, and my brother Turco was one who could understand their language. Many were those who delighted in finding others to share their words, but the title of Quendi became void of meaning. And we were named the Eldar, the People of Stars; yet not even the stars could be ours, which were kindled with a spark stemmed from the Lady Varda, Elentari.

Yet must there not be one who dwells in dreams, and remembers that woeful days were once?

~

Where is he?

It is not voiced, the silence more potent than the scream.

Leaning upon Maglor's arm, barely able to hold himself straight, the youngest elf has halted, and the slightest triumphant smile is on his lips. In that moment even Fëanor's voice would have proved helpless in telling of the turmoil plainly read on both their features, turmoil of natures divergent.

Where is he?

For a moment, there is no answer to the wordless question; as father and son stare into each other's eyes.

Where is he?

The red-headed elf bows low.

Umbarto was my name, which was the Fated.

Fëanor's eyes stray over to the sea, the gentle waves lapping at the sand, and rest absently upon the darkened waters; sullied with cinders and coal. His child's gaze is fixed intently upon his face, literally forcing him to stare back; and though deep within the spirit of fire's eyes the pyre goes on aflame, blazing on its own after even the fire of Losgar has subsided, the younger elf does not look away, does not even blink.

~

There must be one who is hated, and it may as well be me; for my existence in this world holds no other meaning of use: they can hate their madness with my mask knowing that it is true, and deny these thoughts as those of the mere fool that I am.

I leave for hunting when I am not needed, returning only when I am required to tell the truth to those who will not hear, but when I know that the world will go on without me I ride out into the woods, with a knife and a bow; sometimes straying in the wilderness for lengthy months on end…

Today Russandol has slapped me again, because I said that we would always win, and he knows that I am right.

Our brothers were buried with their swords, but I was not buried, yet burnt into ashes and cinder. I have clasped my sword tight in my clenched fists because I knew that it was not mine, but his that I held, and the metal felt cold in my moistened palms. And today I shall fight with this sword that is the sword of the Fated; and the fire shall come for me after all is done, like it has before all was begun; for I am Telufinwë, the last King, Exalted, Fated, cursed thrice over: who was once dead, and never recalled to life.

~

Notes:

1 – That episode takes place in Journey, chapter five.

2 – In HoME 12, the Shibboleth of Fëanor, one of the twins had slept aboard the ships, intending to sail back to Aman, during the Fire, and was thus killed.

3 – Pityafinwë Ambarussa is Amros' full Quenya name. Telufinwë Ambarto/Umbarto is Amras' full Quenya name. It is said that at the beginning, both twins were named Ambarussa, but that Fëanor requested Nerdanel to give one of them a different mother-name, and Nerdanel named the youngest twin Umbarto instead, the Fated. Fëanor, being unhappy with the name, changed it to Ambarto, the Exalted. Telufinwë means the Last Finwë. Finwë has later become a synonym to the title of High King, hence the name the Last King. Ambarussa has always stricken me as a very impersonal name, and that is why I chose it for this title.

Now, a question to my readers: which one of the twins do *you* think that is? [Knowing me, that's almost far too easy…^-^ ]