Hunter's Jewel Chapter 8

Maedhros suspected things had not gone well between Celegorm and Mireloth. He had seen Celegorm walk past him, without so much as a glance, to a smaller, more private chamber. Seeing Celegorm in a rage would have disquieted Maedhros less. "We shouldn't leave him alone when he's like this," said a quiet voice behind Maedhros. Startled, Maedhros whirled in his seat, only to see it was Maglor who had spoken. "Maglor, you have got to stop sneaking up on me like that," said Maedhros as he recovered from his shock.

"Forgive me, brother. I often forget how silent my step is," said Maglor with a hint of a smile.

"You think we should go to him?"

"Do you trust Celegorm not to do something foolish right now?"

That settled it. Both brothers walked quietly to Celegorm's part of the tent. Both were more than a little unnerved by the sight that greeted them. Celegorm was stretched out on the ground, absently tossing his hunting knife in the air. "Are you going to come in, or are you two just going to stand there gaping at me?" asked Celegorm. Maedhros and Maglor obliged, but both were more than a little concerned by Celegorm's seeming calmness. "Are you alright?" asked Maedhros cautiously.

"Perfectly. Just relaxing, brother," Celegorm replied tonelessly.

"Stop that, Celegorm."

"Stop what?"

"That blade. Stop tossing it."

"Perhaps I enjoy this activity, Maedhros."

Maedhros refused to take this for an answer. Quick as light he snatched the knife from the air. The response this provoked from Celegorm was nothing short of terrifying. Celegorm leapt up and threw himself at Maedhros, who had no reason to expect a response so vicious, and he failed to get out of Celegorm's path quickly enough. It took all of Maglor's considerable strength to pull the younger brother off the elder. Then the unthinkable happened. Silent, gentle Maglor, who had never raised his voice in his life, began shouting at Celegorm. "Control yourself! Do you think you are the only one in Arda who has known pain?"

"What, Maglor? Did you lose the one thing you could have treasured?"

Celegorm could have gone on, but suddenly remembered what Maglor had lost upon leaving Valinor: his own lady. Celegorm realized the cruelty of what he just said. "Maglor, forgive me…I…"Celegorm stopped there, and collapsed onto a chair. Both of his elder brothers were immediately by his side. Celegorm found their mere presence comforting. "I am sorry. Neither of you deserved that," he whispered.

"It doesn't matter. In any case, I'm not hurt, you just gave me quite a shock," said Maedhros.

"We've all suffered, Celegorm. Sometimes I wonder if we really deserve it," said Maglor.

"It is not for us to judge," said Maedhros.

All three were silent for a few moments. In their hearts, all three knew they would never truly know peace while in Arda. All they could achieve was some small measure of comfort, wherever they may find it. Celegorm was the next to speak. "Do you ever regret it, Maglor? Leaving her?"

"Not a day goes by when I don't regret it. Sometimes I wonder if she does," replied Maglor.

"Is this how we are to spend the rest of our lives? In regret and loneliness? Surely our deeds have not been so horrible as to earn a lifetime of punishment?"

"They are, Celegorm. We have murdered, stolen, and betrayed those we should have held dear. These are not exactly commendable actions."

"Celegorm, you cannot afford to dwell on this. We engage the orcs again tomorrow, you need to be clear headed," added Maedhros.

"I will be, Maedhros. I will be."

Neither Maedhros nor Maglor seemed convinced. Still, they left Celegorm alone. There was not much use talking to Celegorm when his mind was on something.

Celegorm got no rest that night. All he could think about was Mireloth's rejection. What good was it being a Noldorin prince if he could not even enjoy the simple pleasure of a lady's love? Could he, or any of his brothers, find peace here? The Oath, Celegorm thought, that damned Oath will haunt me until the end of my days. And still I fight for it. I've killed innocents and orcs alike, all in the Oath's name. That poor girl at Alqualonde…

Celegorm wanted none of that particular memory, but it came anyway. He had just killed a young mariner who had been foolish enough to raise a blade against him. He had heard an agonized cry behind him, and turned to see a maiden. She rushed to the body of the dead mariner, sobbing. Where the small fishing knife had come from Celegorm didn't know, nor did he care to find out. When the girl had lunged at him he had run her through the chest with his sword. Celegorm could have simple disarmed her, but bloodlust had taken him. He barely spared the girl a glance as she collapsed onto the body of her beloved. Celegorm knew that the girl's dying, accusing stare would haunt him forever. Not only a Kinslayer am I, but a murderer as well. How could he blame Mireloth for her rejection, when surely she deserved far better than he.

Celegorm held no anger toward Mireloth as he readied himself for battle. He put on his fine Noldorin mail, wrought by his brother Curufin's own hand. His sword, forged by his father. His bracers and knife, created by himself. How easy it was to protect one's body, when the heart required an entirely different kind of armor, the kind only the coldest and hardest few could create. If not her, than no one. She would have yet one more token of his love, whether she accepted it or not. Celegorm took off his ring, pale silver set with an ocean hued sapphire. Around the gem was set the crest of his house. Celegorm felt it would only hinder him in battle. Better Mireloth to have it this day than me.

Celegorm met his brother's outside their tent. Only four were there. "Who is missing?" asked Celegorm.

"Take a guess," growled Caranthir, "you know if one of the twins is late, the other will be as well."

"Well, as long as we are waiting, I need to do something. I'll be back shortly."

Maedhros acknowledged that, and Celegorm went off to Avarion's tent. He had no clue what he was going to say to either Mireloth or Avarion. When he entered the tent, only Avarion was there, a sore disappointment. Avarion turned in surprise. "My Lord Celegorm? May I be of service?" he asked.

"Mireloth is not here?" replied Celegorm.

"No. She went to get some supplies. If you want to wait a few minutes…"

"I can't. If you could do me one service, and give this to her, I will be very grateful."

Celegorm gave Avarion the ring. Avarion, for his part, didn't know what to make of the situation. He only nodded, and accepted the ring. "I will tell her," he said. Celegorm gave Avarion a rueful smile, saying, "Tell her that I do love her, even if she wants none of me. I wish her only happiness, wherever she may find it." Celegorm abruptly left, leaving Avarion with his ring and the message. There was a battle to fight now.

In few places was Celegorm so at home than in a fight. It was a rush to him, being able to take down several opponents without even thinking about what he was doing. He fought for father, for brothers, for the jewels, and for his lady. Celegorm laughed as he scythed his way through the orc hoard, and didn't even feel the first sword blow that landed in his side. He simply fought on, mindlessly, caring about nothing, least of all his own life. The next well aimed thrust took him to his knees. This orc was huge, the biggest he ever saw. So this is how I will end, he thought grimly, so be it. Celegorm was the better fighter by far, and soon the huge orc was no more. He felt someone behind him, and knew this could well be his end. It wasn't. Amrod and Amras were supporting him. "Come on, you're no good to us dead!" Amras shouted. Both of them dragged Celegorm off the battlefield to the healers. All three knew his wounds were grave. He needed a healer, immediately.