The Greatest Torment
Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the private enjoyment of Lord of the Rings fanfiction readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.
The seas at Alqualondë ran red with blood.
Red stained the sand. It flowed in little rivulets to the low places, and pooled under the fallen.
A blade, gleaming in the light of the stars, clashed against another to parry a hasty blow. Curving back, it then struck forward to pierce through flesh and bone. Blood poured from the wound, and a body fell to the crimson ground with a gasp of pain, taking the blade with it. I set my foot against his chest and pulled it out. As if he were vermin. As if he were not my kin.
I had no time to pause, as a white Teleri arrow left a stinging line in my cheek, and I returned to the fray with a sick feeling in my heart. How had it come to this? Ilúvatar help me; there is so much blood.
I fought on the quays at Alqualondë. Around me were the screams and cries of the wounded and dying. At my back, Makalaurë fought, my brother, whose hands were better suited to plying the light strings of a harp. Now they were like mine, red: red by the light of the stars, red with the blood of our kin. My hands gripped my sword-hilt with the lust of battle.
Before me stood a Teleri archer. The same whose arrow had sliced my face.
My sword cleaved through bow and arm to lodge between his ribs.
I kicked him and spun away. He fell to the ground with a strangled cry, blood pouring from his mouth, as good as dead. Already, he stilled as his fëa fled to Mandos.
I had no need to steel my heart against his death. I had killed too many that day.
My sword sang its hideous lament and I could not have stopped it even if I had possessed the will to try. Each one I killed is forever seared in my memory. Though the seas will rise and the mountains will fall, and the skies themselves shall crash to the earth in glorious ruin, I will not forget them. I had known some of those I slew.
But once I raised my sword, I could not lay it down again. What I had begun I must finish; I must take it to the bitter, agonizing end.
So my sword clashed with steel, wood, and flesh, and at my back, my brother's blade executed the same rite of slaughter.
At last, I stumbled on the bloody ground and fell heavily to my side. Makalaurë was gone, I knew not where. The blade of my opponent whistled towards me and I was helpless to stop it.
But his face abruptly changed. His eyes widened and his mouth opened in a soundless cry. His lifeless body crumpled to the ground. My arm was grasped solidly and I found myself pulled to my feet.
"Are you hurt, Russandol?"
I gazed in surprise at the concerned grey eyes of my cousin.
"No." Then louder, "No, I am well."
He stared at me strangely, enigmatically.
"What happens here? What have the Teleri done?"
I opened my mouth to answer him, but no sound came. I gaped wordlessly, trying desperately to form the words. From the deck of one of the white ships I heard my father's call, taken and cried over and over from the lords of the Noldor, my brothers.
"To the ships!"
"To the ships! To the ships!"
I wanted it to stop. I wanted to somehow stop the dawning horror on Findekáno's face; the dismay and loathing in his eyes.
"What is this madness, Maitimo?" he whispered.
But still I could not speak. As his eyes began to turn dark with anger, red was reflected in their gaze. I tried to pull away from him, but the world was fading swiftly away from my grasp. It was as if I were swimming in the cold waters of the pool in the courtyard of our dwelling in Tirion. Only Findekáno remained. And he smiled a cold smile that spread across his hate-filled visage.
"Awake Nelyafinwë," he said mockingly.
I struggled, but colors had merged beyond comprehension, as brilliant dyes having lost their radiance, and being cast out, will run together creating an entirely different hue; the sounds of an unfathomable tumult were likewise enmeshed beyond perception. I could only see his face with its horrible, scathing eyes and hateful smile. Then I was aware of intense heat. No! No! Something was wrong, terribly wrong. This could not be happening. The battle at Alqualondë was over.
"You are not Findekáno."
His lip curled at my words and his eyes glimmered with spite.
With frightening suddenness, the maelstrom of colors and sounds dissolved into blackness and clanging of forges, together with the crack of whips and pain-filled screams. Only Findekáno's face remained briefly, before that, too, was gone to be replaced by the foul countenance of Morgoth, the Dark Vala. A balrog stood behind him, and perhaps other things also, but I could not see. Morgoth smiled at me, taunting my helplessness, even as the three jewels of my Father taunted me from the Iron Crown on his head.
"A pity to disappoint you, but Findekáno is not here. Nor will he come for you from the shores of Araman."
I clenched my jaw. Though wearied, I would not allow myself to be baited. I would not let him see the pain caused me by the thought of my father's betrayal of Findekáno and our kin. An image of the slain archer swam before my eyes.
"In all truth, I do not think any will fetch you soon. Your brothers refuse to negotiate for your release. They have withdrawn to Hithlum." He shook his head, in mock sorrow. "Perhaps they need more reason to hear me. So I have a plan for the heir of Curufinwë, King of the Noldor."
I turned away my face, but I could hear the malice in his voice.
"Do you want to know what it is?"
I tried to think of the radiance of the stars; the voice of my mother, anything that was light and fair. All I could see was blood: blood staining the white ships, blood running over my hands. . .
I did not feel the clawed hands seize me. I did not see the stone walls or fires or fell creatures of dark mien pass me. A vision of Alqualondë filled my mind, and another that swiftly displaced it: a white ship, glimmering in the starlight, with red flames licking its mast and swan bow as it slowly sank beneath the rocking waves.
Morgoth's voice intruded upon my dark imaginings.
"Do you think they will free you from here?"
The flames and blood vanished with a shake of my head and I was on a precipice of Thangorodrim, mightiest of the towers of Middle-earth. Ropes were being lowered over the side. Gazing over the edge, I saw a band of iron caught by a chain to the rock face. I gasped as I realized what he intended.
And Morgoth laughed and said scornfully, "Foolish Elf, to challenge the might of Melkor, Lord of Arda! Now you are mine, and on this peak you will dwell until Ilúvatar makes an end and the world dies, or your flesh shrivels in the sun and your fëa escapes your immortal body."
Again Morgoth laughed, but he reached forward and shook me violently.
I lurched and jerked upright in a bed, my heart thumping wildly. The sky and rock dissolved into the walls of my tent. It was Makalaurë who was shaking me. Makalaurë. It had been a dream, just a dream. Makalaurë.
I did not realize I had spoken aloud until he answered me, his grey eyes concerned.
"I am here, brother. You are safe. Findekáno brought you from Angband."
I remembered. The song . . . the hope I had thought I could no longer feel . . . the crushing despair . . . then the pain, and the rush of wind . . . It had been a month ago. I looked down. My right hand was, indeed, gone. A faintly amused smile curled my lip. My sword hand. How fitting.
Makalaurë drew breath as if he would speak, but then exhaled rather forcefully and rose. He did not ask me how I was. He knew.
The morning sunlight coming in the open tent flap danced in red patterns on his skin. I blinked and rubbed my hand over my eyes, but the images remained: the bloody images of the dead, unjustly slain.
"It is morning. I came to rouse you."
I nodded, and then added, as an afterthought, "Thank you."
He gazed at me with an indefinable sorrow.
"Is there anything I can do, Russandol?"
No. No, do you not understand, brother? There is nothing anyone can do.
The seas at Alqualondë are red.
Author's Note: I used the Quenya names. Therefore, in case you are unfamiliar with them. . .
Nelyafinwë is Maedhros' name.
Maitimo is Maedhros' mother name.
Russandol is Maedhros' nickname.
Makalaurë is Maglor's mother name.
Findekáno is Fingon's name.
Curufinwë is Feänor's name.