Chapter 12: Old Injuries
I did some organization for the coming trial and the currently sidelined negotiations with Ingwe and Olwe, and then I went to bed. Findarato had not woken, and Earwen told me that she intended to sit up and keep an eye on him. "Not that I do not trust the healer, but I worry so it isn't as if I'll be able to sleep anyway," was how she explained her decision.
It was at some time in the middle of the night when I was woken by an unearthly shriek. I sat bolt upright in bed and reached for the lantern.
"Ingoldo, wake up. It's me, Earwen, your Mother! Don't!" I heard Earwen say, followed immediately by a crash.
In my haste I overturned the lantern, knocking the cover off and shining light everywhere. I heard a voice begin to chant:
"Yet courage and faith may secrets keep, in the face of horror's power,
love lead into places dark, breaking the chains of thy dark tower..."
Fortunately, Feanorian lanterns are almost impossible to break. I grabbed it by the handle as I ran for the living room.
Earwen was sitting on the floor holding her head, while Findarato stood with his arms spread wide in front of the couch staring raptly at something I could not see. He shone with golden light. He began to chant again, and suddenly I could not see him past the pictures his words painted. I looked aside to see Earwen but I could not see anything save the word's visions, neither Earwen nor the door behind me through which I had come. For a moment I panicked, and turned and tried to run for the door I could not see. But I could not leave Earwen there alone. I turned back. He's fighting something evil; he won't be expecting good. Maybe I can reach him... Gathering my wits, I began to sing, putting everything I had into it:
You need not fight for you are safe,
Your chains no more your wrists may chafe,
Come back to me, my son,
Your victory has long since been won.
He continued chanting, and with yet greater strength better directed towards me. My mind began to blank, and I feared I might faint. And still he continued:
"But death itself is not an end, though Mandos halls do lie ahead,
And outside time there is the One..." He faltered and stopped. I could see him again. He saw me, I know, for he smiled at me before falling forward onto his hands and knees. I started to go to him, but then remembered Earwen. I turned to see her getting shakily to her feet. "Go to him," she said. "I'm fine."
I went to Findarato and knelt down beside him. I touched him gingerly on the shoulder. He was shivering violently but he did not push me away. Instead, he sat up fully. His eyes were still wild and unfocused, and I hastened to reassure him. "It is me, Arafinwe, your father," I said. "You are safe here and no one will hurt you." I put my arms around him and he relaxed slightly and leaned his head on my shoulder. I found myself smiling grimly. "Anyone who wants to will have to get through me first. And your mother, and Ingwe, and Olwe and many other people."
Behind me I could hear people whispering at the door. I turned to look. It appeared that every member of the Noldor delegation was standing in the doorway in varying states of night clothes. Earwen was trying to quiet them and shepherd them out the doorway. Unfortunately, more people were arriving behind them, and there was a good deal of confusion. I recognized Ingwe's voice. Ingwe was a mind healer. Now he might actually be useful... "Ingwe," I said, "I could use your help. Everyone else; we don't need an audience."
Ingwe managed to make his way through the press to my side while Earwen worked to get the crowd to disperse. He caught Olwe's arm and pulled him with him. "I think you need to see this, Olwe," he said. "You don't have to do anything but watch." Ingwe turned to me "What happened?" he asked.
"I'm not sure," I replied. "Findarato, can you tell us what happened?"
"It looked like an nightmare," Earwen said, having finally managed to persuade curious onlookers to leave.
"There was," Findarato began, and stopped. I could feel his terror and a deep seated loathing. I caught glimpses of a large stone room with a vaulted ceiling and a darkly armored form that radiated cold.
"You don't have to talk now, if the horror is still too strong," Ingwe said. "However, if you can speak of it you will be nearer to conquering it."
"Gorthaur," Findarato whispered. "I was back there, but I could not get to Beren, and the wolves..." He trailed off, while inside my mind I saw images that I did not understand, save that they reeked of evil and terrified my son. He was clinging to me so hard that I felt sure I would have bruises tomorrow. He was in pain, too. That infernal headache of his had come back. I suppose attempting to fight evil beings with songs of power does not count as not using magic. Even if the evil beings aren't actually there...
"He can't hurt you here," I told him firmly. "The Valar would not allow it and he would not dare come here."
Ingwe agreed. "Your father is right. It is the memory of past evil, with no power to harm other than that which you yourself give it. But enough of that. Are you hungry? You have not eaten since early yesterday if what Arafinwe told me is correct."
He shook his head, then winced. He did not speak.
"The healer said he must not use his magical abilities," I told Ingwe. "He just did so rather spectacularly. Can you tell if he's harmed himself?"
Ingwe gently laid his hand on Findarato's forehead and looked into his eyes. Findarato shivered and looked away. Ingwe's expression of concern deepened. "There is nothing to fear, child. I would never harm you." Despite his words he removed his hand and turned to me. "Arafinwe, could you sing him to sleep? It is the best thing for him at the moment and he does not trust me as he does you."
"The tree shepherd's song?" I asked Earwen. She nodded, and we started singing. Findarato's eyes gradually closed and he sagged in my arms, asleep again. I adjusted his position slightly so that he would be more comfortable and turned to Ingwe.
"I do not like this at all," Ingwe said. "His recent kidnapping has clearly reawakened the trauma he received in Middle-earth. I'm astonished the Valar sent him back like this - none of those Returned from Cuvienen were in such a state when I saw them again." He frowned. "How long did you say he was in Mandos?"
"I don't know precisely," I said. "I think it was under one hundred years. Lord Namo said that he had volunteered to return."
"Very short time span. I do not understand what they were thinking, although they must have had a good reason. What happened before I arrived?"
Earwen answered. "He was thrashing around in his sleep. I tried to wake him, but he was still in the grip of the nightmare and did not know where he was. He didn't know who I was either, and he screamed horribly and knocked me down. Then he started singing something about blood darkened towers and breaking chains and he was putting so much power into it I could not see where I was."
I broke in. "He was still doing it when I came into the room. I have never seen so much power wielded by anything short of a maia before. The few times I actually saw him through the song he was flaming with golden light. I didn't know what to do, so I tried singing to him. He heard me and stopped, at which point he collapsed. I went over to him and tried to calm him down. I think that is when the rest of you arrived."
Ingwe pulled out a small golden whistle that hung from a chain around his neck, and regarded it thoughtfully. I recognized it - I had one like it, although I had left mine in the dressing table. The Valar had given each of us one after Alqualonde in case we needed to summon emergency help. I had never needed to use it.
"I am going to request assistance," Ingwe said. "He needs to go back to Lorien and stay there until he has dealt with these memories, and I don't fancy sending him there with only Eldar for company. He is a danger to himself and others in this state and someone would likely get hurt." He blew the whistle. It made no sound that I could hear with my ears, but I sensed it nevertheless.
Nothing happened for 20 seconds. Then there was a shimmer in midair and Eonwe appeared. "What is the problem?" he asked, then looked at Findarato and frowned.
"I apologize for disturbing you," Ingwe said, "but Findarato's recent kidnapping seems to have reawakened severe trauma received in Middle-earth. I deem that he needs to receive care in Lorien. Unfortunately, he has shown himself to be a danger to both himself and others and I fear someone will be injured if any of our people attempt to accompany him to Lorien."
Eonwe nodded. "I can take him there. You have other questions you wish to ask."
He was looking at Ingwe, but it was Olwe who answered. "He is obviously not healed. Why did the Valar return him so soon? I was told that they did not return people until they were ready, and that that was why some of my people were still in Mandos and some might never return."
Eonwe hesitated. "I am afraid I do not know the full details. You would need to go to lord Namo for those. I know that it was hoped that he would be a spokesperson for the Exiled Noldor. He also wished to return, so it was decided to release him. However, it seems to have been rather harder on him than was anticipated or hoped."
"I am coming with him to Lorien, by your leave, my lord," Earwen said. "I do not think he should be alone among strangers at this time - and Arafinwe must stay here for the negotiations," she said, shooting me a hard glare as I opened my mouth to insist on coming to Lorien as well.
"That would probably be wise," Eonwe said, "although he will not be entirely among strangers. Olorin will be there and it was he who looked after Findarato when he had newly come from Mandos. I should probably take you first and come back for Findarato. I can only take one person at a time," he said apologetically. He extended his hand to Earwen, who took it. They both vanished.
The rest of us looked uneasily at each other and waited for Eonwe's return. Eonwe returned in a couple of minutes and took Findarato from me. "Olorin is waiting for him there and he will be well looked after," Eonwe informed me. "Before I go, do you wish to handle the trial yourselves, or would you rather hand her to the Valar for judgement? Lord Manwe tells me that lord Namo is very displeased with her behavior."
We traded glances, and Ingwe spoke for us. "I believe we can handle her ourselves, but any of the Valar who wish to be present and offer suggestions or advice are most welcome to attend. However, the trial will not occur until Findarato is able to attend because we need his testimony."
"You may have to wait some time."
"We can wait." I said. "We're not Hildor who die of old age. We can wait."
"In that case I will leave you," Eonwe said and vanished.
We stood silent for some moments each lost in his own thoughts. Olwe broke the tension. "This Gorthaur is one of Morgoth's Umaiar, I believe?" he asked.
"Yes," I answered. "Gorthaur is his chief lieutenant."
"Morgoth has many people prisoner at the present time, doesn't he." Olwe asked, his mouth in a thin line. It wasn't really a question; he had been told the answer multiple times before.
"You will get your ships," Olwe said. "You will get them if I have to build every last one myself, I swear it." He walked away and out of sight.