Standard disclaimer: All the characters, locations, some quotes, and the initial conception of this world belong to J.R.R. Tolkien, whether it be from Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, or The History of Middle-earth Volumes I-XII.
Dedication: This is a birthday fic for Lipstick (June 10).
Child of Dawn
The peaceful woods of Nan Elmoth were disrupted one lovely night by the cry of a horn so loud that Maeglin almost wanted to cover his ears, but he knew that doing so would shame him before his father, and so he endured the shrill sound. Eol scowled darkly. He said no word but instead brought his son back home and locked him in his room. Maeglin heard his parents' yelling clearly through his door.
"What are the Noldor doing in Nan Elmoth?" Eol demanded. Maeglin thought he could hear the sound of blows and could imagine Eol slapping his mother.
"Perhaps they're here to free me," Aredhel yelled back. "Perhaps they've heard of your wrong deeds and will now put an end to your miserable life."
Maeglin heard the front door of their house slam shut. Then he heard the sound of his mother's weeping. Doubtless, the servants had been set to watch them both. Normally, Maeglin did not dare to try to break free from his room; he knew what punishment would come from his father's belt. Tonight was different. He broke the window to his room and fled into the forest ere the servants could give chase.
Maeglin's eyes were as sharp as his father's, if not sharper, and he saw his father's trail despite the darkness. Maeglin followed them to a clearing, where he found Eol armed with galvorn and surrounded by many men. Opposite to Eol's forces was a Noldorin Elf of surpassingly tall stature, and the brightness of his eyes made Maeglin uneasy. And yet, Maeglin could not help but to be in awe of the Elf. It was clear that he feared nothing, not even death itself. His armor was not black like Eol's but a shining gold with copper inlays. It seemed purely ornamental, but Maeglin knew better. His mother had before told him of the skill of the Noldor, and Maeglin could see plainly in the design and craftsmanship of the armor that it had been made by skilled hands. The Noldorin Prince (for Maeglin surmised that that is what he must be) had also brought with him a great host. His troops were on horseback, like him, but none of the steeds of his host came even close to matching the majesty of the red stallion upon which sat the Prince.
"It seems that you can see through my enchantments," Eol said coldly. "What power is this?"
"I need not reveal myself to a Dark Elf," the Prince said. "It has been long since we have heard word of Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, and we had thought that she had returned to the Hidden Kingdom of Turgon. By chance, I have heard news recently that she is here in Nan Elmoth. I will not leave without her."
"Aredhel stays of her own will," Eol said. "Would you force her to be parted from her husband, dear kinsman?" This last was said as sharply as a knife's point.
"Let me speak to her and discern if she truly stays of her own will. If it is so, I will depart from your lands and offer you redress for my unkind words." The Prince drew out a necklace of jewels that shone brightly in the starlight of Helluin. Eol gasped. He had heard rumors of these (and spoken of them before to Maeglin). These marvelous gems were such that they appeared clear and dull as glass in the day but came to life at night. They matched well with Eol's personality. "But if she chooses to depart with me, then I will take her with me, and if you try to stop me, my men and I will kill you and any who stands in our way." His eyes shone oddly in the light of the jewels, and Eol's men, though usually grim and unreadable, seemed terrified. "Those who steal the daughters of the Noldor and wed them without gift or leave do not gain kinship with their kin, and even if your claim of marriage to her was legitimate, do not forget that I am a Kinslayer. I would show no mercy to you even if you were my own blood brother."
Eol was silent for many moments. At last, he said, "Give me the jewels that I may hold them for ransom. Then I will lead you to Aredhel."
"Take them." The Prince threw the necklace to Eol, who caught it neatly. "They are not the Jewels of my desire."
Eol then led the Prince back to the house, and Maeglin followed with all the stealth of a cat. It was a trap. Maeglin could feel it in his very bones. He knew that Eol's messenger had undoubtedly gone to gather more men and that the Prince of the Noldor would be ambushed. If the Prince suspected, he showed no sign.
"You may enter my house and speak to the White Lady of the Noldor," said Eol. "Your men must stay here. Already I have allowed more kinslayers than I would like under my roof." The Prince nodded and dismounted. "Leave your sword," Eol said. The Prince hesitated. "It is the way of my people," Eol lied smoothly. "We are not kinslayers like the Noldor. We bring no weapon into our house."
"Sir!" said one of the Prince's followers.
"It's fine," the Prince said. He loosened his sword from about his waist and handed it to Eol. "The Dark Elf will not betray me. He knows that if he does, he will suffer torment worse than that of Thangorodrim. Then darkness he would have, as his heart has ever desired, but darkness without stars, and he would think kinslaying a kindness to him."
Eol's brow furrowed but he took the sword and said no word. The Prince entered, and the woods seemed quieter than normal. The horses of the Noldor kicked at the dirt uneasily and neighed.
"I imagine that their conversation will not be a short one," Eol said to the Noldor. "Your horses are causing much tumult in my gardens."
"Gardens?" repeated one of the Noldor with a snort. Before the house was nothing more than dirt and grass. Some few flowers were scattered along the stone path that led to the front door, and these Aredhel had planted when Maeglin was still a child in hopes of making her dark home more reminiscent of the White City of Turgon. But few of the flowers had survived, and the gardens had never become anything more than a mocking reminder to Aredhel of that which she had had and left behind.
"Either have your horses removed from my gardens, or I will have my men cut off their legs," Eol said coldly.
"Beware, Dark Elf. Our Lord is not with us, but we do not fear you any more than he." Still the Noldor urged their horses away from the house, and they found themselves surrounded by a darkness so thick that they could barely see their own mounts, much less each other. Maeglin knew that Eol's servants would kill them all. He hurried past the darkness and followed his father into the house.
Therein, the Prince was fighting many of Eol's men. It seemed that he'd kept a hidden knife, and he'd also taken one of the swords from his slain foes. Aredhel was watching from a corner, where two of Eol's men held her tightly. The house was filled with shadows, but the bright eyes of the Noldorin Prince seemed able to pierce that darkness.
"The mountains of bodies will grow so long as you send commoners after me," said the Prince.
Eol laughed and stepped forward. Now that he had dispatched with the Prince's guards, it was only a matter of time before the Prince was also felled. He handed the Prince's sword to a servant and drew Anguirel, the black sword that had been wrought from the iron of a fallen star.
"Let us test the armor of the Noldor and see if it is any match for my black blade," Eol said. He attacked the Prince, and though the Prince blocked, his sword was no match for Anguirel and was cloven in two.
The Prince fell back and threw a chair in Eol's path. Eol only laughed in that spine-chilling manner as he knocked it aside with his sword and continued to pursue his prey. The Prince desperately used anything he could as weapon--candlestick, vase, waterskin--but nothing stopped Eol's approach. Indeed, the Dark Elf had no reservations about breaking his own household so long as he could continue to take twisted delight in toying with his cornered mouse.
Eol lunged suddenly at the Prince. The Prince blocked the first attack with a chair but could only dodge the second attack. Eol did not draw back and continued to attack his enemy fiercely. At last he caught the Prince's shoulder, and the ear-piercing scrape of metal to metal filled the house. Aredhel screamed. Eol paused in his onslaught to evaluate the damage. There was a large scratch across the shoulder of the Prince's armor, but the mail had not been penetrated. Eol nodded approvingly. The armor was of a metal stronger than the finest steel, but it was still no match for Anguirel.
"I almost regret that I must kill you, Kinslayer," Eol said. "There are many metalworking techniques that I would enjoy tormenting out of you."
The Prince laughed. "The Dark Lord has already tried and failed. I would not show him the secret of the Jewel-wrights."
Maeglin made up his mind then, and once that was done, his body moved swiftly and without hesitation. He backstabbed the servant who held the Prince's sword, took and unsheathed that sword, and then slew the two men who held his mother. Eol turned to see what was the commotion, and even as he did, Maeglin threw the sword to the Prince. As Maeglin would expect of a man who was trained in war, the Prince did not stop to ask questions or hesitate to take advantage of the situation. He caught the hilt of the bright blade midair and swung it deftly to block Eol's oncoming stroke. Unlike the last sword, which he had wrested from one of the servants, this sharp sword of the Noldor did not break or even chip when matched against the black blade Anguirel. The Prince locked swords with Eol. Maeglin delighted in seeing fear suddenly fill his father's eyes.
The Prince pushed Eol's sword, showing his greater strength, and then began a series of fierce, precise attacks. Eol managed to parry some of the strikes and lunges, but Maeglin had the feeling that even his defense was predicted by the Prince, for another attack was always quick to follow. For the first time, Eol's black galvorn armor was cut and pierced. In a few short moments, Eol was knocked off his feet. Unable to get back onto his feet quickly enough, Eol stared in horror as his adversary drew his sword back to run him through.
"No!" Aredhel, freed from her captors, had been watching the fight as one transfixed, but she now leapt in front of Eol. The Prince's sword stopped barely in time to keep from hurting him. "Please don't kill him! Though he has done many wrongs, still, he is my husband, and I beg you to grant him mercy!"
The Prince lowered his sword. Eol suddenly thrust his sword through Aredhel such that his black blade pierced her body and stabbed the Prince in the shoulder. The Prince cried out and dropped his sword. Eol drew Anguirel out of Aredhel and pushed his wife's body away. So stunned was Maeglin that he could not even move to his mother's side.
Eol laughed. "If it had been me, I would not have listened to the plea of a woman." Eol approached the injured Prince, who clutched at his right shoulder. "You proved a good challenge, but now it is time to end this."
The Prince drew a hidden dirk from the back of his armor and threw it squarely into Eol's left eye. Eol cried out, dropped his sword, and brought his hands to his eye. Before he could even draw the dirk out, the Prince took up his sword again and decapitated Eol with one mighty swing. Only then did Maeglin realize that it had been the Prince's right shoulder that had been hurt and that he wielded his blade with the left hand. It had been a feint to draw Eol into a false sense of security, Maeglin realized. Indeed, Maeglin perceived now that there was no hand in the Prince's mailed right glove, for it swung freely at the wrist.
The Prince looked at the remaining servants of Eol with piercingly bright eyes, and they fled into the woods. He rushed over to Aredhel to see if she might be saved, but her eyes were blank and her face ashen. If there had been any words upon her dying lips, they had gone unheard. The Prince laid Aredhel's body to rest and folder her arms over chest so that it hid the ghastly wound.
He turned then to Maeglin. "Thank you for your assistance earlier. Are you Aredhel's son?" It was probably self-evident. Maeglin had grown to resemble his mother strongly, though in personality he had been more like his father.
Maeglin nodded. "I am Maeglin, 'Sharp Glance,' son of Eol and Aredhel. But my mother named me also Lomion in the forbidden tongue of the Noldor, and she said that it means 'Child of Twilight.'"
"'Child of Dusk,' though Lomion could also mean 'Child of Night' since lómë is more often used to mean 'night,'" the Prince said. "I am Maedhros, eldest son of Feanor. And among my many names, I am also known as Amaurëa. Did your mother teach you enough Quenya for you to understand the meaning of that name?" Maeglin shook his head. "Amaurëa means 'Dawn.'" Maedhros looked around the broken house. "Surely you do not wish to continue to stay here."
Maeglin shook his head. "I'd dreamt of going to the Hidden Kingdom of Turgon with my mother one day, but that will never be now."
"Then you will come with me," Maedhros said. "I have no heir and will raise you as if you were my own son. The name Maeglin suits you and is much to my liking, and your mother-name will always be Lomion, but henceforth, you will also be known as Amaurion, 'Child of Dawn,' though that name will be little used as Quenya is not heard in these lands."
Maedhros whistled sharply then, and his great red stallion came galloping from the dark woods and through the front door, which had been left open by the fleeing servants of Eol. He took his horn that was attached to his horse's saddle and sounded it several times. Soon, those of his men who had survived the attack by Eol's servants came, guided by the sounding of that horn through the shadows of Nan Elmoth. A spare mount was assigned to Maeglin.
Eol's sword Anguirel was given to Maeglin, and Eol's body was buried in front of his own house, for Maedhros would not leave him to be eaten by wolves though he had become twisted with evil over the dark years. Maedhros refused to bury Aredhel with him in the very place that had been her prison, and her body was wrapped in blankets and then secured to one of the horses. When all was in readiness, the company set off to the east.
As they rode out of the shadows of Nan Elmoth, Maeglin, who had been forced to shun the sunlight all his life, beheld for the first time the rising of the Sun. In the light, that Maeglin saw that the hair of Maedhros was as golden-red as the sunrise. Tears came unbidden to his eyes, and at first he blinked them back, but then he saw the look of understanding in the bright eyes of Maedhros. Maeglin shed his tears freely then, for he was free from his imprisonment and torment at last and had found a good and powerful lord to follow. No longer was he the Child of Night. Now, he would be the Child of Dawn.
Note: Maedhros was named Doegred, which is Old English for 'daybreak' or 'dawn' (IV. 260).