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Chapter 1-False Solace

The house was oddly empty without her sons.

It seemed to be bitterly against her hope of forgetting, as was everything else.

Indis had fled in grey hopelessness to her only remaining Vanyarin kin. They had welcomed her with garlands of gay flowers, wreaths of happiness and joy.

But Indis had felt only grief.

Her relationship with Finwe had distanced her from her Vanyarin kin, and suddenly in completely unexpected times of the day, she would suddenly blurt out some snatch of a song of grief and death.

Her kin were only mildly disturbed, and thought nothing of it. They loved the Valar and refused to tolerate any evil tidings. But Indis was forever touched by the dark allure of the Noldor and could not find solace in dancing among the ever green trees on the slopes of Taniquetil any longer.

Not so was Nerdanel. For it seemed her life was already filled with greyness and insipidity. Her heart was bitter against the angry mutterings of all the people in her city. But she was not wholly without friends.

Strangely enough, the fair one, Melian seemed to find satisfaction in her company.

And there was no accusatory look there, only compassion and understanding. And so did Nerdanel bask in the brief days of companionship, where the bliss of cool compassion washed over her like soothing balm, helping her to forget the fire of the past.

But now, it seemed to Nerdanel that even Melian had deserted her, for she had no friends.

Not any more.

Occasionally she would hear hints and sly whispers behind her back, as though nobody was left to know how the name of the ruling house of Finwe was so tarnished by its Eldest son.

The Spirit of Fire, they had called him. Now Nerdanel only remembered their days together as a blur. Unusual for elves, perhaps, but they were fraught with malice, greed, hatred, flaming love, passionate jealousy, and the unforgivable fire.

It was a strange thing, but when Nerdanel ever found it in her to look back on her past, and bitterly rue everything in it, except perhaps her brief childhood selling her father's wares in Alqualonde, she could see only an overwhelming flame, searching and probing, into the deepest recesses of her Spirit.

She was tainted. By his flame, but she drew again to it, as a moth drawn to light. And again she had been burnt.

Nerdanel the Wise, they had called her. But nothing in the very core of the wisdom that she was famed for ever prompted her to refuse to marry him.

And that her marriage would bring about utter ruin and chaos for elves.

Her wisdom had failed its test, and now the whole world had paid the price.

Oft had Olorin come to her, for he knew what to say and when to say it.

Deeply had she been scarred, and long would those wounds remain open. But she could bear it.

She was not yet bent by the dark days of solitude and wishful longing of their days courtship. And she was strong.

Olorin had helped her through the darkest of days, when no one else dared to approach the 'cursed' house of Finwe and its women.

With gentle words of wisdom and kindness had he prompted her to take control once more, of her fate. But perhaps he had helped her more to take charge of her own very existence, that had been ruthlessly overrun by Him.

Bitterly did she rue the day that she first beheld him, but she would not repent her marriage.

Nerdanel was too strong of will to say that which was a lie. And to say that she regretted loving with her whole, passionate soul, the greatest of her race, that would be the greatest lie of all. Even Nienna would not forgive her.

And now, she was called to a council. Perhaps she should have felt flattered, at being summoned for one of the Great Councils, of which the Valar themselves were a part.

But she could not make herself love the beings who, because of their insufferable pride and desire for domination of sentient beings, had left her husband, and all her sons, and they whom she loved most, to die at the hands of their rebelling kin.

Did they not permit the Kinslaying that caused the Curse of Mandos to be leveled on all the Noldor who dared to rebel against them?

And the Sack of Doriath, which caused her dear sister by love Melian to weep so bitterly at the very mention of it, she who seemed to be of iron will.

And the Fall of Gondolin, the great city of Turgon, her own nephew, who had been slain ruthlessly himself by Morgoth's foul creatures.

And only when things seemed so terribly bleak, even to the 'great' powers, so bleak that it seemd they would not be able to master more than very few thralls, did they—oh! But not they!

They had not condescended to come to the aid of their 'slaves'. Why would they? Being so well cushioned on their thrones of heavenly safety, why, in Eru's name would they safeguard the lives of the beings that they were sworn to protect?

Why indeed.

For His death, for the death of each and every one of her sons, through whose blood flowed the strength of her husband, tempered by her supposed wisdom and foresight, for the most part, Finwe her father, and in many ways far closer in thought than anyone else, Fingolfin the Valiant, who had entertained her even when in her most tiresome moods, when she had fought with Him. For all these and so many more she blamed the Gods, who once had claimed Aman to be a haven of security and bliss. That also it was, when one could not look past the almost forceful abduction that they had carried out.

And Indisshe wouldcould never forget when Indis had heard of her husband's death.

Like a ghostly wraith, a haunting image that never spoke. She gazed emptily for days at the throne on which Finwe sat, and held court.

But Indis' frail form belied her strong spirit. For many days later, after it seemed as though the whole world was going to crumble, Indis saw fit to return to her golden haired kin.

The wisdom. resilience and grace that she seen in Indis had prompted a lasting love between them, but it had not flowered past the Rebellion, and Nerdanel was perversely glad for it.

Perhaps a strange part of her that thought that it was disrespectful to love Indis when Feanor himself had despised her so, had prevented her from fostering friendship.

Certainly He had not been overly courteous to his own foster mother. And she had let herself be swept away by his conviction and strength.

Another mistake by Nerdanel the Wise.

But what went on in the Arda Sahta she knew not.

And did not care to know.

It brought back too many memories of a powerful flame that had choked her with its very heat, it seemed to engulf her soul with its need for domination and absorbed her essence.

She was never the same.

And she was wronged. Mahtan had often told her that marrying him could lead to difficulties.

But then she was young, rash, and madly in love.

But even in her youth, she had been blessed with some measure of wisdom.

And she had ignored it.

And was ignoring it once again as she prepared to journey to the Ring of Doom.

Olorin had not said it, but he was pleased with her choice.

And Melian was overjoyed. Their long days together as companions in grief had blossomed into a strong friendship. But it had been many days since they had seen each other, and a reunion was in order. She had been vexingly busy since the rehousing of her husband, but still grudgingly did Elwe spare his wife's time in talking to the half deranged wife of Feanor.