A/N: I apologize for not updating for so long. I have no good excuse. I will simply offer you all chocolate, apples, and honey. I hope you enjoy it and this new chapter.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Silmarillion, Danny Phantom, or Tolkien's Legendarium.
As soon as the portal closed behind Clockwork, Námo turned to face the four elves the ghost had brought to him. "It has been a long time since your deaths. That you not only refused my Summons, but had to be brought to me, is most disturbing."
The Vala now studied the four elves. Aragon and Thîwdín were particularly embarrassed. Tarmafuin and Thangrod were completely unrepentant, but unhappy at being caught. Námo continued, studying the four fëar as he spoke. "Now that you are here, it is time for you to face that which you tried so hard to avoid." He paused for a second. "Your time of Judgement is at hand. I will speak with each of you privately. Aragon," the named elf looked up with fear in his eyes, "you will be first. Come with me. The rest of you will await me here. Vairë, if you have no objection..." He indicated the elves as he turned to leave. Vairë nodded in assent.
Nervously, Aragon followed Námo. The other three elves watched him anxiously, Vairë standing nearby, watching them with an icy expression on her face.
In another hall, Námo stopped and turned to Aragon. He indicated the walls, lined with tapestries like the others. "Aragon, these are your tapestries. They tell your story. Now, you have a choice. Either you narrate them, or I will."
Aragon looked at the Vala in trepidation. "What is the difference?"
Námo studied the tapestries a moment before returning his gaze to the elf. "The tapestries are an objective telling of the events. If you narrate, I shall hear your perspective of the events. If I narrate, you may not like the perspective I choose."
Aragon considered this and nodded. "I will narrate. Where shall I begin?"
Námo simply waved his arm around the room. "Wherever you wish. It is your story."
Aragon gulped before heading to the tapestry to the immediate left of the door they had entered through. "Well, I was raised in Tirion. I was a good child, for the most part. I was obedient to my parents and instructors. Though, I probably should not have done that to my friend." He indicated a scene near the top of the tapestry, wincing at what it depicted. "It was just a prank, but it was a stupid thing to do.
"Overall, life was good. I trained many young elves in archery. As I was one of the finest archers in Tirion, Prince Fëanor requested that I be the one to train his sons. They were all apt pupils, but Maedhros, the eldest, was the quickest to pick up what I taught him. It was a delight to teach him. His brothers had other interests that occupied more of their time, though they also were good pupils.
"My proudest moment was being chosen to serve in Prince Maedhros's retinue." Aragon straightened in pride as he remembered. "I served with distinction, and my superiors spoke well of me. For long, my duties were relatively light. I was a great favorite to be invited on hunting parties and teaching young ones. Malice was unknown under the Light of the Two Trees. My service as a soldier was, as yet, unneeded.
"I was married shortly after Maglor, Fëanor's second son, became my pupil. My wife Kalwen also served Prince Maedhros, but she was a seamstress and music instructor. She was particularly fond of playing the harp, and taught many children to play. My daughter Minyamírë was born when Caranthir, Fëanor's fourth son, joined his brothers' lessons. My son Fimthalion was added to me* just before Amrod and Amras, Fëanor's youngest sons, began their lessons.
"Both of my children excelled in their lessons. Minyamírë preferred pottery. She made exquisite pieces that often were favored by the lords to use in their homes. Fimthalion became a hunter, and served under me in Maedhros' retinue. He was also an excellent archer, having been one of the best students I had in his class."
Námo nodded at this recitation. "I can see you were an excellent father and instructor. You also served Fëanor's family well in those early years." Aragon straightened a bit at his words, his fear fading somewhat as his accomplishments were recognized. The Vala continued, "However, Morgoth's return changed things quite a bit. Why don't you tell me about this one?" He indicated the third tapestry from the corner they had reached during Aragon's recitation.
Aragon sighed. That should have been expected. That was where the trouble all began! He walked to the indicated tapestry. "You have to understand: when Morgoth was released, we actually paid little attention to him. We were ordered to refuse him admittance to the workshops, though I heard that he offered great knowledge to those who would listen.
"Some time after the Silmarils were made, I began to hear rumors of the vast realms that could be found in Middle-earth, and that the Valar were envious of what we could do there."
Námo crossed his arms and interrupted the elf. "Excuse me? Why should we be envious of you? Our relationship to you as your instructors was nothing like the relationship between instructor and student among the Elves. Surely you were aware of that?"
Aragon blushed and winced at the reminder. "Yes. I should have remembered that. But it was not entirely my fault. It hardly excuses my actions, but you must understand, Prince Fëanor had begun to speak openly against the Valar. His anger was terrifying to behold at such times." Aragon looked at Námo sheepishly. "He was a very persuasive speaker. I realize, now, that he was wrong. But, at the time, he made so much sense."
Námo sighed. "Fëanor was, indeed, a powerful speaker. When he felt strongly, few could argue effectively with him and not be persuaded by him."
Aragon nodded. "So I heard from those who worked the smithies with him." He took a breath. "In any case, not long after, we were gathered outside the home of King Finwë, while the lords met. Prince Fëanor came storming in, in full armor, looking ready to hurt someone. Within moments, Prince Fingolfin, the elder of Fëanor's younger half-brothers, emerged. Fëanor followed, still furious, and threatened to kill his half-brother with his sword if he made further attempts to usurp his place in their father's heart. This outburst led to us learning that Morgoth had begun the rumors we had been hearing.
"Prince Fëanor was banished from Tirion for twelve years because of his threats. As his sons joined him in exile, I felt it to be my duty to go into exile with them. My daughter had since married, and chose to stay in Tirion with her husband. My son, who served in Maedhros' retinue with me, as well as my beloved wife, chose to go with me as we followed Prince Fëanor. We built a great fortress to the North, which we called Formenos. We stored the many jewels and weapons the craftsmen had made in a great vault, the Silmarils kept inside a chamber of iron.
"Morgoth could not be found after his lies were revealed, so naught was known of him until he came to Formenos. I was on guard at the gate that day, when he asked to speak to Fëanor privately. It was not my place to refuse, and so I sent for the Prince. The conversation they had was very short. Fëanor sent him away in anger. In great fear of what this portended, we immediately sent a message to Manwë, informing him of what had happened."
Námo interrupted. "Yes. I remember that. Of all the ill-conceived notions to come from that House, this was the most responsible reaction of Fëanor during your lifetime."
Aragon sighed in minute relief. It was good to hear from the Vala himself that at least one decision of the House which he followed was meritorious. He picked up his thread from where he left off.
"Training increased after that, as we did not know when, or in what manner, Morgoth might return. As time passed with no further word of what Morgoth was doing, we settled into a more normal routine. Most of my time was spent in training the newer warriors in the princes' retinues. Being widely acknowledged by all in Formenos as one of the best, I was often asked to assist all of the commanders where my own schedule permitted.
"That year, when the harvest came, Manwë declared a time of festival and summoned Fëanor to Taniquetil to speak to Fingolfin. Fëanor decided that, as he alone was summoned, he would go alone to face his brother. King Finwë was uninterested in going, and had no orders regarding the summons. So, we remained behind when Fëanor went to appear before Manwë.
"It was hours later that the worst happened." Aragon looked down at the floor in sorrow. "Sudden darkness struck, and Morgoth returned to Formenos while we were trying to find out what had happened. A great Darkness came with him, and he slew the King, who alone of all of us would not flee from the Dark. Morgoth then broke into the treasury and took all of the jewels therein, including the Silmarils.
"Fëanor returned to Formenos in grief and rage for what had happened when the news reached him. He gathered everyone together and led us back to Tirion so he could speak to all of the Noldor together. We were all so grief-stricken over the death of King Finwë, none of us objected to his rebellion. His ban had not yet been lifted, so he was not permitted back in Tirion. We followed him back, and he summoned everyone to the high court on the hill of Túna, at the heart of the city.
"His speech in the darkness, after the death of the Two Trees, inflamed our hearts. His own grief and madness stirred us all to madness. I, myself, could almost imagine the great victories to come in battles yet unfought. Dreams of great deeds in the vast lands across the Sea overwhelmed all reason.
"We should not have left for Middle-earth. I see that now. But I only wanted to continue to serve my king and his sons. I followed them out of duty. Yes, also of greed for what the Race of Men might take possession of, but primarily of duty to my king and to Maedhros."
Námo nodded. "From all you have said, you were very loyal to your lords. Your decision to leave Valinor was not the best judgement call, but it was not the worst, either."
Aragon found himself thankful for choosing to tell his story himself. Objectively, he knew now that following Fëanor and his sons East was a bad idea. But after hearing Aragon's perspective on the matter, the Vala decided there were mitigating factors and determined that his bad choice was not as disastrous as it might have been thought of otherwise.
His beloved wife Kalwen would need no such mitigation. She was against leaving Valinor from the beginning, and only came to be with him. He was thankful for her support and hoped she had fared well in her Judgement.
Námo moved on. "Now, perhaps you should explain this." The Vala indicated a new scene.
Aragon blanched. How could he possibly explain the Kinslaying as anything other than the horrific evil it was? "Well... I was marching at the rear of Fëanor's host. I arrived after the fighting had already begun. All I saw was Elf fighting Elf, Elves wearing the livery of the Teleri fighting Elves wearing the livery of my king. I knew not the cause. I followed my orders. It was not until after the fighting ended that I realized the battle was nothing less than Kinslaying."
The elf gulped hard, as the true horror of what he had participated in was too difficult for him to stomach. And it was worse once his own words describing the event came to his own ears.
"I should have returned to Valinor, then. But I feared the doom I would likely face for my part in what had happened. And I still wished to serve Maedhros, who was set on following his father still."
Námo made a noncommittal noise, crossed the room, pointed at a new scene, and said, "And this?"
Aragon walked over to the indicated tapestry. Námo had skipped over several hundred years and a number of major events. The tapestry itself was the last but one in the room. The elf paled a bit, then steeled himself, as he found it highly disturbing to discuss his own death. He cleared his throat before speaking.
"Well, Maedhros was inspired by Beren's recovery of one of the Silmarils. If Beren could recover one of the Silmarils, so could we. He organized as many of our allies as he could convince to join us into a force to attack Morgoth's fortress. Unfortunately, the Easterlings that had allied with us delayed us with talk of an assault from the Enemy. By the time we arrived, the battle was raging in progress. Our arrival turned the tides of battle, and we could have won.
"That was when the dragons were unleashed. And then, the Easterlings turned on us. We were caught between enemy forces. The Men fighting on our rear nearly overwhelmed us. I fought to protect Maedhros in the confusion they wrought. I died protecting Maedhros, and gave him the chance to escape the slaughter." He looked down sadly for a moment, then straightened up proudly. "I died protecting my beloved Prince Maedhros in the fight against Morgoth."
Námo considered the elf before him and nodded. "I congratulate you for protecting your lord so well. You kept him safe, and died to do so." Aragon brightened at this. "However, you still refused my Summons to my Halls." The elf wilted a bit. The Vala now pointed to the final tapestry. "You appear to have behaved well for most of the millennia since you died. Perhaps you would like to explain why you participated in this." He pointed to the bottom panels.
There was no way to justify his participation in the most heinous act possible for a Houseless fëa: invading and attempting to steal the body of a living Elf. It wasn't bad enough that Aragon did it on his own, but he helped three others conspire to do the same.
Ashamed, he hoped there might be some mitigating factor, though he couldn't guess what that might be. However, as with explaining his role in the Kinslaying, simply telling the truth might... Well, it wouldn't be enough, but it was all he had.
He looked to Námo as he would attempt to plead his hopeless case. He sighed and began. "Initially, I merely wished to chide Thangrod and the others for their ambition. They wished to steal feathers that were never theirs." He rolled his eyes in remembered annoyance. "They all sought the lives of lords and princes, positions none of them had ever earned in any way. But once the idea of acquiring it came to mind, the desire for a body of my own was quite strong. So I did not object when Thangrod said his plans were in earnest. I was even willing to go with them, though I had to restrain Tarmafuin's desire to take Celebrimbor before it was clear where the adan was.
"The elf I chose had exactly what I wished for. He was strong, a skilled fighter, and even taught children. I would have been able to pick up where I had left off when I died. When that dratted adan child threw me out, I simply sought out another soldier. But the child prevented me from selecting another. And that strange device he took out held me prisoner." Aragon shook his head in embarrassment. "Perhaps, I should be more concerned that a mere child could see the way of Light and Truth more clearly than I."
Námo raised an eyebrow at this. "Had you simply answered the Summons, you would have been reborn and had your own body back by now." Aragon blushed at this reminder of how badly he had acted.
"Given that you have mostly done well in both life and death, and given that you repent of your evil deeds, I shall give you my Judgement: You will spend the next 200 Years of the Sun here in the Halls of Mandos, contemplating your life and considering how you wish to live your life after rebirth."
Aragon bowed his head in acknowledgment. "Thank you for your mercy, Námo."
The Vala studied Aragon a moment. "You should thank yourself, for being forthright and honest with me."
Aragon nodded. "That is true, but I thank you nonetheless."
Námo smiled gently. "You are welcome. I will leave you to your contemplation. When I conclude my Judgment of your compatriots, I shall have Vairë bring you refreshments."
"Thank you, once again, for your kindness." Aragon closed his eyes. He knew he deserved no better, but still, he had to ask. "I accept my fate. Two hundred Years of the Sun of contemplation. Am I to be... alone? Two hundred years is no time at all to an Elf. But 200 years alone is a great deal of time."
"No. You shall not be entirely alone. Both Vairë and I will spend time visiting with you. How often will yet be determined."
Aragon sighed with true relief. "Thank you, once again, for your great mercy, Námo."
And with that, the Vala left the fëa in contemplation.
* Yes, I know this phrasing seems odd. Miriam1 told me when she read it. But this is how Elves speak about their children, according to Tolkien's Legendarium.