Summary: Can or not be considered a sequel to "That which shines West". After the War of Wrath, Fëanor's last sons retrieve the Silmarils, and walk their last path together before being parted at last.
Author's note: So, we eventually have come to the conclusion that it was Deborah's and my Curse as writers to be always writing the same stories. After thrice publishing our different views on similar events at days' intervals… She always seems to get there before me, but I swear that I am not copying her!
Disclaimer: I own nothing, however much I wish I could own the Silmarils… Ack! No!
The Last Chapter
By Le Chat Noir
The night was dark, but not dark enough for elven eyes to pierce. A light wind blew through the camp, after the breaking of Beleriand. And so it was, that after forty years of fighting the darkness, at last the Valar's hosts had overtaken, and now the West of Middle-Earth dwelt under the Sea. But Morgoth's dark throne had been overthrown, and his Dark Diadem taken, and the two remaining Silmarils retrieved.
The Silmarils. They laid in the tent behind him, oozing their soft light through the heavy fabric. The tent itself seemed to glow in an eerie way. Two guards had been posted at each side of the tent-flap. He could feel the other one's presence, somewhere in the darkness, though did not see him.
He wondered why the Valar had bothered to put a guard up. The War was over, the evil was gone, Morgoth had been thrown into the Outer Void… the night seemed peaceful and there was not a sound to be heard, except the soft snoring that rose from the other tents.
Suddenly, from the shadows behind him a shadow sprung forth, and before either the guards had time to cry out or realise what was happening, they were both laying on the ground in a heap, their throats cleaning cut.
Two hooded figures clad in black entered the tent.
His heart was pounding incredibly fast. On the verge, on the verge, … Only those two guards standing at the door… Now they were down… They were there.
He stared. In a dream, he felt his hands going up to take his hood down, pushing some wild strands of hair away from his face, and his brother did the same.
They were there.
The gentle yet cold radiance of Laurelin and Telperion mixed, the terrible beauty that nothing could stain, no fallen flesh touch, the incredible light … for which they had slain, burnt, slaughtered … but, at the moment, it never had mattered less.
They laid there, unguarded, in a haze of light… a light that tore his soul apart. He felt the passion arise suddenly, the flames jumping up, the fire that had been consuming them slowly, little by little, abruptly flaring up, …
He looked into the depth of the gems, and in their wondrous light he saw the justification of all the Kinslayings, of all the deaths, of the blood on his hands, of all the cries and yells of the horror of pain and the terror in little children's eyes… Be it to see that light, once more, once more, the forbidden light that had once lived West, forbidden, forbidden, forever …
His hand advanced on them, and for a second hesitated, unsure, feeling no heat coming from the surreal glow. In the pale yet golden light he saw his brother's face, eyes wide open in fear and awe, lips parted in amazement.
Yes, they had come to forget in the end what they had been fighting for. They had come to forget and doubt. Now they doubted no more. Worth it. Worth it. The light of the Valar, be it the extermination of elven kin, be it walking the path towards eternal darkness, that light couldn't be lost. To see it once, once more…
His fingers closed around the gem, and a searing pain ran through his palm to his arm to his chest. He chocked, staggering backwards, but held the jewel all the tighter. Its glow hadn't been warm, but now in holding it its fire consumed his hand.
He felt the passion torturing his heart, and couldn't make out anymore if it was love, yearning or simply hate.
His eyes met his brother's. The pain… It flashed through his mind. It was Morgoth's pain, it was His pain they were suffering, bearing the Gems on his brow everyday. No. The Sons of Fëanor were burning with their father's fire.
It crashed down on him like a bullet of lead. The Oath. The Oath was accomplished.On the summit of Tuna, in front of the High King's Tower…
Their whole life had been the Oath, since that moment when, the flames on their swords burning shades of crimson, they had sworn in the passion of their heart, led blind and deaf by their father's fire… Now the Oath was fulfilled, they were finished. They were done. Done with their tasks in this life. It was the task their father had set them before dying, before being consumed by his spirit's flame. They had let themselves be led by the Oath after his leaving. Not a moment, not a second had it left their mind in peace, following them, everywhere, always…
They had hated it, hated it to the bottom of their heart. But now…
Everything was finished, he realised. They had been the Oath, the Oath had been them. It had been their purpose in existing.
Now, with the last remaining Silmarils in their hands, they looked at each other and did not know what to do.
It looked simple enough. The camp around the tent was rising. They could hear their angry shouts; hear the metallic sound of swords being unsheathed.
There was nothing to do. They looked at each other and they understood. There was nothing to do, but stand back to back once more and fight to the last. Sell their lives dearly.
Maedhros threw the Silmaril he held to his brother, who held both gems in his left hand, and both swords were drawn in the same motion.
They held onto each other's eyes. He felt strangely calm. The swordplay of Fëanor and his sons had been famous through the whole of Valinor, and then Beleriand, but now they were two, mere two against the victorious host of the Vanyar. Death was coming. That was all. The Oath was accomplished. Now they could die, without a regret, with the jewels in their hands.
He was glad, in some way. It was only the logical ending possible, that he had always expected, deep inside.
Maedhros' gaze hardened, and cold fury was in his voice.
"There is a price to pay for the life of Fëanor's last sons."
As if on mutual consent, they leapt out of the tent, and instantly prepared to stand their ground, back to back.
There was a broad way right in front of them, and the Vanyar stood on both side, frozen, unmoving, like a pack of statues with moonshine in their golden hair. Two walls of animosity. Hatred in their glowing eyes, piercing the darkness.
A picture, a beautiful, yet terrible picture, of two elves fallen from greatness with yet their last remnants of nobility holding their gaze up and fiery, to face the unanimous hatred of a people, standing as stone, sparing them for what they had once been, unwilling to spill the blood but sentencing all the more surely to a more horrible death.
Maglor wanted to blink, but did not dare, surveying the blonde-elves' every nonexistent but eventual moves. After some seconds of stillness on both parts, as none attacked, the two brothers made their way between the ranks of burning stares. They walked slowly, still back to back, suspiciously, wary of each blink and each strand of golden hair flowing with the wind in the other camp.
Suddenly, in the wall of hostile and anonymous faces, one was brought forwards by painful recognition. The other figure did not blink, nor did Maglor stagger. But he walked on, and away, and finally the once familiar face disappeared into the crowd. As Maedhros was facing the other side, he did not see in the strange glow in Finarfin's eyes as his nephews become assassins of his people passed under his very nose.
Maglor began to feel something tickling his face, something soft, which could only be identified as hair.
Eventually, they arrived at the end of the long corridor, and looked back onto the way they had gone, only to meet the thousand glowing eyes of wrath and anger.
They jumped on their horses, and fled.
The tension eased somewhat in the host of the Vanyar, but no one moved. For minutes, they stayed in silence, and followed the quickly diminishing sound of horses galloping off. Then, one of the youngest, not really of age yet, leapt forwards from the crowd and flung himself to his knees near the corpse of one of the guards; all the gazes were fixated on the two figures, one on the ground in a heap, and the other bent over it, sobbing violently and shedding soft tears mixing with the blood… The young elf raised his head sharply, and cried to the darkness:
And another figure was outlined against the crowd. He was in fact no taller nor broader than any normal elf, but something in his stance proved him to be more, and made him appear tall and proud. But it was in his voice, that Eönwë the Maiar, herald of Manwë, was the greatest. And now, as he spoke from a nearby hill, it was for the whole camp to hear.
"The Sons of Fëanor shall not be slain by their brothers as they have slain theirs."
"At least capture them," the youth had stood and held the dead body close to him. "and lead them to the Judgement of the Valar they refused!"
In the silence that followed, Eönwë shook his head.
"They held a Silmaril in their hands."
No one contested.
It took three other elves to tear the young boy from his father's body.
They were riding at no more than a pace through the desolated lands, though the flat land, covered with short and dying grass, was perfect for a free gallop, that they sometimes did push merely to break the deadly monotony of the journey. It had been days, maybe more than a week they rode through lands unknown to them aimlessly, instinctively always going East, away from the Vanyar's camp, away from the ruins of Beleriand, away from the broken Himring and everything they had ever known. By the glorious War of Wrath and the drowning of the Western parts of Endor, and the final fulfilling of the cursed Oath, had they become the homeless princes, the wandering lords, with but a thought in mind, a blurry, hazy thought they weren't quite conscious of, that was to go East, East, still farther East.
And maybe the pain that came from their palms, from the tiny tiny jewel that was clasped there, so small in comparison to all the tears and sorrow it held.
The Silmarils burnt.
They tried to force their minds onto other subjects, staying silent for most of the journey, the journey with no end, for with no aim. Or maybe there was, in the ultimate end, that wasn't one but the beginning of the terrible wait. They had nowhere to go, and they knew it. That there was now only one solution left for them, and the only choice they had was how they would meet and tackle it.
Maedhros was beginning to feel the slightest regret tugging at him. He watched Maglor out of the corner of his eyes. The other elf went with his head bent, his eyelids only half-parted, his once rich dark hair pulled back into a braid, but their original lustre somewhat lost. He followed his older brother almost thoughtlessly, and Maedhros was sure that if he had been leading them back West Maglor, for all his geographical knowledge, would not have reacted. He knew his brother had never quite recovered from the weeks of delirium after the attack on Sirion, and that if he hid it well, his spirit often yearned for the sleep and oblivion of the Path of Dreams, even when his body was rested. Fëanor's eldest son sighed. After all, it was him who had insisted on their last despaired attempt at retrieving the Gems, and had pulled his brother into it against the latter's will. And now, they were fleeing from nothing into nothing, lost as they could be, with no idea of where they could actually go, apart from the fact that they had come East of the mountains into and across the unknown Eriador.
Presently, Maglor had closed his eyes, slid off his seat silently and fell upon the ground in a heap. With an anguished cry, Maedhros jumped down his horse and threw himself at his brother's side, where he came to confront a dilemma. The fingers of his unique hand were still tightly wound around the Jewel, and somehow he could not let go.
Not let go of the torturing stone.
He managed to push his brother to one side, and Maglor laid, sprawled on the half-dry grass, not reacting in any way.
Maedhros sighed again. Maglor should never have been born a warrior. If something that could be called hazard hadn't decided that he be born a son to Fëanor, Maedhros could easily believe he would never have touched a sword in his life, instead going his own way and becoming a minstrel and story-teller, as he knew his younger brother had always wanted to. But a Noldorin prince he was, and under his father's teaching he had learnt swift swordplay and precise archery, weapons in his hands being what Fëanor wanted them to be, that was, deadly.
"Hey." He nudged the unconscious elf with his elbow, getting no answer whatsoever. Resigning to wait, he eventually sat down, cross-legged, and took a good look at his brother's face.
Perhaps it was because Fëanor's second son looked so much like his father, being the one to resemble him most after Curufin. The every traits of his complexion, all of them simply screaming out his lineage, despite his taking after his mother in slighter built and slender frame. Maglor, the kind-hearted Maglor, whom, even in the hunting parties in distant Valinor, never carried but a single arrow in his quiver, always the same, and never shot it. Maglor, whom, with a single inflection of his voice, could silence a chattering assembly and bewitch them for the length of a song, a short one, usually, as there laid his brother's talent; to say much in few words. He wondered if his brother had lost that gift, or still retained it hidden. It had been a long time since he's last heard the greatest Noldorin singer's music. He felt another soft, gentle voice infiltrating the back of his mind, but quickly shook it away. Nerdanel was a subject he'd long banished from his thoughts.
He lifted his gaze to the sky. It was a perfect blue, lovely and gleeful after the evil's fall, but he could see some storms gathering far, far West. Summertime. Summertime, and the crickets chirping lightly to the breeze. He was vaguely conscious of Maglor opening his eyes, as he closed his own and drew in a deep breath, filling his lungs with the fresh, yet heavy air of mid-August.
Such a beautiful day.
The younger elf began to stir, sat up, purposely avoiding his brother's eyes, and stood up, turning his back unto him. Maedhros looked at the dark cloak which fell from his shoulders, wrapping him up completely; it was the same one they had worn to hide themselves from the Vanyar sentries' eyes.
For a while, there was movement from neither party.
"Yes, I know they burn… It's not any easier for me than it's for you…"
He had tried to sound comforting, shooting, but Maglor's head turned in his direction more than harshly.
"What burns?" he snapped.
Maedhros, for a second, was too stunned to answer, and simply stared into his brother's fierce, burning gaze. Seldom had he seen Maglor in wrath; but at that very moment, as anger flushed his pale cheeks and even deepened the darkness of his eyes, he seemed to grow, and once again the older elf was painfully reminded of his father. Presently, Maglor saw the Silmaril his brother clutched, and he snorted, the thin line of his lips curling into a mocking smile.
"Oh. You mean those."
Maedhros let his gaze travel to his brother's right hand, in which he held the gem, and that hand was clasped so tight that it was pale as porcelain. Maglor, realising what the red-headed elf was looking at, swiftly turned away and walked towards the horses, which were peacefully trying to find some green grass to feed on. He stood in front of his own steed, fixing Fëanor's eldest son with a spiteful glare, almost glowing with fury. He yanked the dark fabric from himself, and threw it away, standing there in his normal raiment, which, plain as it was, still bore the marks of incontestable pride and nobility.
"Well I'm tired of this!" Maedhros cringed and blinked. "I'm tired of hiding and running away and avoiding habitations, and I'm tired of suspicious glares and closed doors and that aimless wandering and most of all I'm tired of your patronising tones!"
He inhaled deeply, then nimbly jumped on his horse, and headed West. Maedhros scrambled to his feet in a hurry and ran to stand in front of him, barring him the way, feeling the anger rise in his heart at his brother's unreasoned words.
"Where do you think you're going?"
But in Maglor's eyes and voice was fury no more, only an even more unnerving cold sterness.
Maedhros was baffled.
"And what would you seek on the tide?"
"Doesn't rest lay on its shore?" He by-passed his brother, leaving him behind to stare at his silhouette.
But a second later, Maedhros was beside him again, also mounted and seeming determined to follow him.
"I'm coming with you."
In the blink of an eye Maglor's horse stood in front of his brother's, forbidding him to go any further.
"Oh no you're not. We may have gone through a lot together, brother, but here our ways shall part today. You will not follow me."
Then he turned away to head West once more, with his anger already somewhat cooled and shame creeping into his heart. Maedhros could not come with him. He looked ahead. This was his path to walk; his brother must have another. No, actually. Inhaling deeply, he wished for the silence of solitude. The heavens were preparing a storm, a shower like the ones summer brought unto the mortal lands. It had been long since he'd last breathed the marine air, and that night at the Vanyar's camp, so near, so near the shore and yet too far away, the light breeze had, somewhere below the crazed madness the jewels roused in him, strung the forlorn cords of the sea-longing under his soul. He remembered the diamond-bright shores of Aman, the crystal-clear tides he had come to associate with a crimson liquid running down his blade onto his hand then his arm, the ebb and flow he always finished by seeing marred by blood, merging with the water to dissolve into a sickening shade of pink. He remembered the burst of orange flames springing from the ocean, seeming to burn the water itself. And yet, above all these other images, floated like a light cloud the sound of the tide breaking on the rocks, and the gentle rippling of the waves on the white sand. The sea, that gives peace in both its calm and rage.
And figure whizzed past him, faster than the wind, and the second after he saw a tall silhouette clad in black riding a galloping steed in front of him, quickly getting smaller and smaller as it moved further from him. Without thought, almost instinctively as his mind switches from one subject to another altogether faster than he would have wished to, his teeth were clenched and the pursuit had begun, his own horse thrown into a gallop after his brother's retreating frame.
Maedhros, where do you think you're going?
And without knowing it he asked himself the same question over and over again, the same question he had answered so steadily to some minutes ago, and now there was no one to answer his query. The pursuit under the gathering clouds. Where does he think he's going? Beat him to the shore?
But no one was getting any nearer or farther, and Maglor wondered and couldn't help but admire how his brother could manage a horse that well without a free hand.
But there was no time for that, as suddenly in the way appeared as if out of nowhere a gap, beginning fine and just a thread then growing larger and deeper and when he finally understood what Maedhros was up to it was too late.
He saw his brother dismount, kiss his horse on the forehead, right between the eyes.
No. His voice, famous and revered for its beauty and clearness throughout Aman and Beleriand, then echoed emptily in nothingness. How much more he would have wanted to say, no brother, you can't do that, of course you can't, 'tis not what you intend to do there is no way… Would there be rest for you in the Halls of Mandos? Rest for you in death better than rest for me? But as if a single word could stop his brother in the path he had chosen, in his path, in the fate Eru had assigned the eldest of Fëanor's sons, to slay himself when no one else could have. But could he have not said it? Could he have not wished, somewhere hopelessly, that upon hearing his brother's protest Maedhros would have looked at him once more, and turned back from his way? Could he have let him go, easily like that, without making it harder for himself and trying, at least trying the impossible?
Maedhros looked at the yawning pit that laid waiting in front of him, and closed his eyes, whispering to the void:
"Fingon should have slain me when he had the chance to."
Such a beautiful day, but the storms gathering in the distance.
When Maglor arrived at the place marked by his brother's horse, standing there unmoving, and stumbled to look down, he saw nothing but the glimpse of a light ray, gleaming in the depth of darkness, and disappearing just like it had appeared, in a flash.
He stood wavering on the edge.
His eyes opened wide, and tears blurred his vision. Maedhros had chosen his path. Maedhros, once so kind, once so patient, once so fair, loving to smile and loving to laugh and always ready with his sarcastic comments and serious when had to and trying to bring his brothers together. Maedhros, born to be a leader and always thinking for others and trying to solve everything by himself and always assumed and offered compromises. Maedhros, always the best for horses and unable to hold a grudge to save his life. How things had changed.
Who was to blame?
Maedhros and Fingon, racing down a riverbank.
Trying to figure out the meaning of riddles Maglor liked to set them.
"A mirror? Is it a mirror?"
"A river! It must be a river!"
Two pairs of glowing eyes in a listening crowd.
Who was to blame?
Two little children, the older one carrying his little brother on his back, wavering under his weight. "What do you see?"
"Shh, don't move." A greyish bird, so small, settled on his finger, with its head cocked and bright dark eyes.
"Here, here." Don't cry, my brother.
Who was to blame?
And then the shouts, the yells, the horror. And the thin trail of blood running from the corner of his lips as he stood alone, blinking in the sunlight as if awaking from a dream, a faint shadow of terror in his eyes.
The second Silmaril had found its casing, in the heart of Arda. Now, through the blur and haze of mixed emotions that resulted into nothing, nothing but the dark void under his feet, he became half-aware that the last of the jewels was still clenched in his fist, torturing his hand, the last third of the world's fate in his hand. For a moment, he contemplated throwing it down into the pit.
But hadn't their ways been traced for them already, the dark way, even as they were babbling children in the palace of Finwë? Hadn't Eru reserved a place, a little tune, a single note to them in the Music? Could they have chosen, that night when night had come, could they have chosen? Suddenly a vision came to him of a redheaded lad, who had stayed away in the crowd and watched the whole thing, not saying a word and not moving a finger. Curufin's son, wasn't he? What was his name already? He could not remember, and did not try to, half-unconsciously wondering what had become of him.
But was he bound to follow a path, his own path, that he had chosen… or not? No. Not yet.
He fell to his knees, and wept for his brother under the clouded sky.
And the night began to fall. He didn't know how long he had been there anymore. Minutes, hours. Half a day. He brushed the tears away with his sleeve. So the pride that would not bend was finally broken.
And so the last chapter was written. On the edge of the cliff, sitting on his heels, he began to compose for nobody, for no ears to hear and the wind to carry wherever it wished. He sang for the rest of his brother's soul, somewhere in Arda, in Aman, in Mandos.
And the storm finally broke as the rider flew like an arrow through the darkness. All the lands they had crossed at a lazy pace he now galloped through as fast as possible, and the rain splashed down on the broken earth.
He arrived at the shore at dawn, and the storm was wearing down, till only few drops of water fell from the skies to hit circles on the surface. The sun peeked a blind eye over the mountains behind him, and the eastern horizon slowly reddened, a bloody line being traced along the mountain peaks, and the water gleamed a bright orange merging with profound blue. But West, the sky was still dark, and still some stars were seen shining in the lightening shadows.
He pushed his horse into the waves, till the animal was chest-deep into the waters.
"You will make me proud."
"Yes Father. I shall."
And the glowing star described a graceful curve before sinking down into the depth of the flaring sea, its light confounded in the fiery brightness of rising sunlight, like a silver raindrop in its fire.
"I have failed."
The gulls laughed at the breaking day.
Ok, wait a moment here. This unfortunate author has not the shadow of a clue where this darn story comes from, because Maedhros and Maglor have gone completely out of their minds and are trying to take over the entire plotline. Resulting in this author being confused. As always. For I realise some parts in this thing make strictly no sense. But then who is confused? The author… or the characters?
About that 'last chapter thing'. It is said that Maglor wrote the Noldolantë, in which the first Kinslaying is described. But I felt that the fall of the Noldor could not only be limited to Alqualondë. So, the idea was, either Alqualondë was only the first part of Noldolantë, either Noldolantë was only the first part of a kind of series of songs. That is why Maglor speaks of a last chapter. Also… ah, the darn symbolism no one ever understand… Die, die, …
Eru help me.