DISCLAIMER: Still not mine.
BETA: Fiondil (Thank you, mellon nín!)
Written for the Middle-earth Express Prompt #103: Strong: Extended Edition
A/N – A knowledge of the Silmarillion, or at least the Tale of Lúthien and Beren, would be helpful in following this story.
By Nieriel Raina
Y. S. 468
He had always considered himself strong, but in the dark, listening as one after another died with screams of agony ringing off the stone, he felt weak. And so he should. Had he not foundered when it had counted most? When he needed to be his strongest, he fell. Stripped and afraid, bound and tossed into a deep pit, Finrod faced the unacceptable reality.
He had failed.
Now he would die in his own tower held by the enemy. A soft snort escaped him. The irony caused his lips to quirk into a cruel smile bordering on the maniacal. What greater failure could there be? To fail not just in their quest, not just in fulfilling his oath to Barahir, not just in his battle with Sauron, but to find his end here in what had been Minas Tirith as a prisoner? It was laughable, absurd…painful.
Lying bound on the cold, hard floor, Finrod let his thoughts drift elsewhere. He continued to mentally berate himself and allowed his thoughts to stray to his beloved. How ashamed she would be of him! Not only had he abandoned her to return to a world marred by darkness, but he would meet his end in such a disgraceful manner. A pang deep in his heart caused him to flinch. He had wished to make her proud. To become not just a prince, but a king of Elves: mighty and wise.
Foresight had shown him his end - death while fulfilling an oath. Finrod had told his sister thus when she had inquired about his lack of a queen. He had hoped to die in battle, an honorable death! He had not considered this: To die in the dark, a failure, afraid, weak….
Time after time the glowing eyes would appear; and one after another their companions were eaten alive. Not a one spoke and betrayed them, and each time the screams began Finrod allowed himself to sink further into despair.
Until at last, only he and Beren were left. As he lay lost in despair, he realized that soon one of them would die. And with sudden clarity, Finrod knew Beren would be the next victim. He, Finrod Finarfin's son, had stood up to Sauron, had engaged him in songs of power! Morgoth's lieutenant would not simply dispatch with him. No, he would be the last, tortured in the hopes of gaining information.
But Beren would die, ripped apart by the wolf…
In that moment, something arose inside Finrod. He might be weaker than he thought. He might have failed in protecting their company from Sauron. He even now was afraid. But he would not let his oath go unfulfilled! Beren would live, and he, Finrod, would meet his end fighting!
: - :
Beren knelt weeping beside the fresh mound of dirt. Darkness had been purged from the isle, but it had come at a great cost. Never had the man met another with such strength of will as Finrod Felagund, unless it was his own determined Lúthien.
Running a finger over the ring on his finger, Beren swore to himself that he would also be strong and fulfill his vows. He might die in his attempts to attain a Silmaril and so gain the hand of his beloved, but he would go down fighting as had his friend. He would remember that strength, which had broken the bonds of the enemy and killed the evil wolf with bare hands and teeth. He would remember the fairest of princes who had died in the dark accepting his fate. And he would fight until the very end himself.
And one day, if fate and the Powers allowed it, he would pass the ring of Felagund to his son, along with the story of the King of Nargothrond and the fulfillment of an oath.
: - :
T. A. January 29th, 3018
Aragorn brushed a midge from his face in frustration. The sweltering sunlight flashed on the green jewel set in the unusual ring on his finger, and he paused to look at it. Marveling once more that such a delicate-looking piece of jewelry had survived over the long ages and had once belonged to so great a person as Finrod Felagund, Aragorn ran a finger over the serpents reverently. Smiling, he resumed his pace, trudging on through the marsh and not letting the miserable landscape deter him from his task. He had sworn an oath to his friend Gandalf, and by the Belain, he would find that wretched creature if it was the last thing he did!
Stooping in the mud to lightly touch the indentation of a strange track, Aragorn felt hope spring up anew in his heart. He would succeed! And if the Belain allowed, one day he would pass on the tale of strength and fulfilling oaths to his own son.
Grinning, he imagined a small face turned up in awe. He could almost see the small chin drop as he learned the ring had come from Finrod Felagund. And he could imagine the wide eyes as the young one learned of his kinship with the ancient king. And suddenly he wondered if Finrod even now walked again in Eldamar. Had he married his beloved Amarië? Did he remember his ring and the oaths he had kept so very long ago?
: - :
F. A. 121
Finrod looked at the sealed parchment in his hands. There was a noticeable bulge inside. He glanced at the messenger who had delivered such a curious package. The elf looked to be a Sinda, though he was dressed as a Nando. Perhaps he was both.
"Are you sure this is for me? I cannot imagine who would send me a letter from Ennorath."
The messenger's grey eyes sparkled, though they were also tinged with sadness. "I was charged to put this directly into your hands, my lord."
Tilting his head, Finrod appraised the messenger once more. This was no common errand runner, he could now see. This person held an air of command and was a lord in his own right.
"I do not believe we have been properly introduced. You know who I am, yet I have not the honor of your name."
The golden haired young lord smiled mischievously. "Legolas Thranduilion, Prince of Eryn Lasgalen and Lord of Asgarnen in Ithilien."
Finrod felt his lips twitch despite his efforts to hide his amusement. "You are Oropher's grandson?" Legolas nodded. "I look forward to getting to know you, youngster. Now, if you would be so kind, please explain why I have received a package from across the Sea?"
Pain clouded Legolas' eyes, reminding Finrod of a grey sky darkening before a storm. His head bowed, and with careful words, this prince of the Sindar spoke softly. "I believe the letter will explain all, my lord."
Looking again at the curious seal, Finrod broke the wax and unfolded the parchment, being careful not to drop whatever was inside. As he opened the last crease, he gasped. "My ring!"
Reverently, he touched the cold metal, marveling at seeing it once more. Even now, he bore a similar device on his hand. Turning eager eyes to the message, he began to read.
Eldarion Elessarion, King of Gondor and Arnor, Friend of Elves and Dwarves, The Continuing Hope of Men:
To Finrod Felagund, Prince of the Noldor, onetime King of Nargathrond, Friend of Beren:
I find it a great honor to be able to address you, my distant kin. I have no doubt my letter will find its way into your hands safely, along with its most valuable contents. It is this thing that gives me reason to write to you, my lord. I am sure you recognize the ring you once gifted to my ancestor, Barahir, which was worn by his son, Beren, when he came to you for help in his quest to secure a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown. Even now, though my mother is of the race of the Eldar, I find it hard to believe I address one who accompanied that distant ancestor of mine! But I digress from my purpose.
My father and I often spoke of the story behind this ring that once belonged to you; and how the story of your strength in the face of adversity has inspired so many generations of our people to keep our oaths. Near the end of his days we decided we would break from the tradition, at least somewhat. My father, Aragorn Elessar, commissioned a copy of this ring to be made that will be passed on to my son and his heirs when the time comes, along with the story of the strength of Felagund.
It was our desire to see the original returned to you with our thanks, for we feel it played a crucial role in seeing evil defeated in our lands. Long generations have been taught the tale, and many a man has worn this ring and remembered. Now we return it to you as a symbol of an oath fulfilled and a beacon of light, for no longer does Sauron or his evil hold sway in Ennorath.
The Ring of Barahir is once more the Ring of Felagund. We hope you find this gift honorable, a circle completed.
And so it is done, and my heart is lifted to some degree in knowing you will once more hold this in your hand. My father has gone the way of men and has passed from this world; and while I might find some comfort were the ring on my finger, instead I will find solace in knowing one of his final wishes has been accomplished. A piece of our family will have sailed the wild waters through the Straight Road and will reside in the Blessed Realm until the end of days.
May it bring you the joy it brought my people, and may you also remember the strength that overcame darkness and fulfilled your oaths.
His fingers grasped the ring tighter so that the metal bit into his palm. He felt a single tear slip down his cheek and he brushed it away with his sleeve. Letting a smile turn his lips, he closed his eyes.
He had not failed after all. He had triumphed.
A/N - Tol-in-Gaurhoth – Isle of Werewolves. Originally built by Finrod early in the 1st Age on Tol Sirion to guard the Pass of Sirion and keep watch on the doings of Morgoth on the northern plain of Ard-galen and prevent passage south by Orcs through the Pass of Sirion, the West Gate of Beleriand. The tower was stormed by Sauron in 457 1st Age. Morgoth's lieutenant lead a host of Orcs and Werewolves against it after the Dagor Bragollach. Sauron made the isle such a place of terror it was renamed Tol-in-Gaurhoth.
Belain – (Sindarin) Valar (pl)
Ennorath – (Sindarin) Middle-earth
Asgarnen – (Sindarin) Rushing Water. The name of Legolas' colony in Ithilien in my Undying Friendship universe.
Eldarion's title of The Continuing Hope of Men is mine and that story has yet to be told.
Thanks for reading! Comments are appreciated!