Erestor woke to voices belonging to two people conversing quietly. The sun was about to set, and the elf cursed himself for sleeping for so long; now he wouldn't be able to close his eyes during the night.
He recognized both Elrond and Maglor right away. He contained his surprise, though. Maglor was the first to realize that Erestor was awake.
"Well met," the bard greeted him.
"Well met. Finally," Erestor replied.
A ghost of a smile passed over Maglor's lips.
"It's been a long time."
Erestor snorted as he sat up. "That's an understatement." And giving them both a challenging look, he asked: "Have you made a decision yet on whether Maglor will come back to Lindon with us?"
He was being cruel, and Erestor knew it. That question was an open sore, and he had put his finger right into it. He doubted that they had spoken of that matter yet, and their expressions proved him right.
Elrond threw him a black look, and Maglor, seeing it, said sadly:
"He's right to remind us, ion nin. I cannot return, and thus our reunion must be short."
A stubborn glint entered the half-elf's eyes.
"We will find a solution," he maintained.
"His tongue is as sharp as ever," Maglor remarked.
"He hasn't changed," Elrond agreed.
"A great supporter for you."
"The greatest. But he has not the influence to do much."
Maglor shrugged. "That may change in time. He has always struck me as one who would not be satisfied with the mundane. Tell me of Ereinion. Is he well? Are you friends?"
Erestor, in the meantime, had left to gather more firewood. That, at least, was one reason for why he left. The other was that he did not want to remain sitting peacefully across from the second son of Fëanor.
Of course, their journey's goal had been to find Maglor. To tell the truth, Erestor had never wholly believed that they would succeed. Perhaps he had not wanted them to succeed. He had come with Elrond because he saw it as his duty to protect him.
Now they had, and they needed to deal with the consequences. However, he would leave it to Elrond and Maglor to find a way.
By the time he returned, they were in deep discussion. Elrond seemed frustrated, while Maglor's expression had not changed from its calm look. They didn't explain their argument to Erestor, and he didn't ask.
They cooked dinner over the fire and ate it, speaking only occasionally. Maglor used both hands to eat, but mostly relied on his left. His right palm, Erestor saw, sported a large, vicious-looking burn.
Elrond met his gaze across the fire. He had seen the wound, too. They could both guess where it had come from: the Silmaril Maglor had finally managed to regain with his brother, the one he had held but burnt him badly until he had thrown it into the sea.
"I still hear it call to me," Maglor spoke up. Not even now did he miss anything of what went on around him. "It is far removed from my grasp, yet I can still hear its voice."
"The sea is no place for you," Elrond replied after a long silence. "You have wasted away here long enough."
Maglor chuckled. "And what would you suggest, foster-son? I recognize this land best, it being the last remains of Beleriand."
"Travel deep into Middle-earth. Settle down near some human village, or perhaps find a remote tribe of woodelves you can stand to be around."
"Humans have become suspicious and fearful of elves. And as for woodelves, the greater challenge would be finding a people which can stand my presence."
But the idea was not too bad, if there were indeed still some woodelves ignorant of the sons of Fëanor.
"Please," Elrond added.
"I will think on it," Maglor replied.
They spent the night curled up in the hut. They slept long, and when Elrond finally awoke, Erestor was still asleep and Maglor was gone. He stumbled outside, his legs sore from their cramped position during the night.
The bard had relit their campfire and was grilling a couple of fish for breakfast. Elrond heaved a silent sigh of relief.
Maglor smiled at him. "Sit," he said.
The half-elf obeyed. Now that the sun had risen, he finally had a chance to take a closer look at the older elf. Maglor was gaunt, his hair was unbound and unkempt, and he looked weary. His clothes were threadbare but good enough considering his circumstances.
"When Erestor and I set out, I could not be certain that we would find you," Elrond began.
"Why did you leave Forlond on little more than a rumour then?"
Elrond hesitated. "I wanted closure," he admitted. "We heard rumours about you from time to time; a fisherman saying he heard a voice, a trader claiming he had seen a lone elf... I wanted to know."
When the bard remained silent, Elrond gave a sigh of frustration.
"That did not make a lot of sense."
"It did," Maglor contradicted, yet not adding anything else.
And, after a while, Elrond burst out for seemingly no reason: "Elros is dead."
The bard nodded sadly. "I heard." On Elrond's surprised look, he explained: "A human trader I met mentioned it. I'm not completely ignorant of current events, you see."
"Wandering is not a way to live."
Maglor shrugged. "It is as I said yesterday; the Silmaril will not let me go. It haunts me, and I will never see it again, nor touch it again. It is as far removed from me as my home in the West."
Elrond bit his lip. "Perhaps it isn't."
Maglor's head jerked up, his eyes suddenly a lot more intense.
"Your home, Valinor, I mean. Did you know that Galadriel and the others were pardoned by the Valar? They may return to Valinor, and many have, only she and some others have chosen to remain."
Hope rose in the bard's eyes, but it only lasted for a moment. "They will never pardon me. I participated in the kinslayings as Artanis and the others never did. Their fault was shedding blood once by mistake; my fault is threefold, and I always knew exactly what I was doing."
"Why didn't you kill me and Elros then?" Elrond demanded. It was a question he had never dared ask as a youth.
Maglor stared at him.
"Why did you and Maedhros spare us?" the half-elf persisted.
"It was I," Maglor admitted in a rush. "Russandol—I do not know what he planned to do with you."
Maglor shrugged. "You were so young. We had just lost the Ambarussa. I remembered Eluréd and Elurín. I wanted you. I don't know, Elrond, I really cannot tell you."
Elrond sagged some with disappointment. The questions he had carried inside but never dared to voice would always remain unanswered then.
A long silence ensued, broken only when Elrond went back to their original topic.
"You should really think about what we said yesterday and move away from the sea. Lindon may not be possible, but there are other places you can go to."
"I will always hear the Silmaril call to me."
"Have you tried?"
The truth was that Maglor had not. Of course, it couldn't be that easy. But perhaps the call would not be so strong if he was away from the sea.
"You said that you wanted closure. Did you want it for yourself or for me?"
Elrond shrugged his shoulders helplessly.
"Both, I suppose."
"For no other man or elf would I leave this shore. You, however, are my foster-son and dear to me..." He trailed off. "I will do as you counsel."
Elrond suppressed the sigh of relief that wanted to escape.
"You could send messages from time to time; traders get around, men and dwarves both," he only said.
Erestor awoke, and they ate. Afterwards, Erestor made himself scarce again, exploring the surroundings instead. For Elrond's sake he wanted the half-elf to have some time with Maglor, though Erestor was never far away. Their time together was limited.
Six days they spent like this. Maglor became increasingly restless staying in one place, and Erestor had become fed up three days before but not said anything. He did not witness Maglor and Elrond bidding each other goodbye, as he was saddling their horses. Elrond and the bard came to him when they were finished speaking, and Erestor clasped Maglor's arm saying:
Maglor gave him a nod of thanks.
Elrond climbed onto his horse, and with a last look at his foster-father, turned his steed northwards. Maglor, in the meantime, starting walking eastwards through the knee-high grass.
"Did you get what you wanted?" Erestor asked.
"In a way," Elrond replied.
The older elf harrumphed. "Remember how I said that you might not be able to give him rest? I was right."
"And you were wrong too. At last he leaves the sea behind. That has to be good enough for me. I have made my peace with my past life, and I hope that eventually so will he."
Erestor looked doubtful but he held his tongue.
The way back to Lindon was uneventful. The orcs had left, and Elrond and Erestor passed through the same villages as before. The humans recognized them but did not bother them. In Lindon, Gil-galad and Círdan requested that the two elves report to them of their journey. Elrond kept his recount short, and Erestor his even shorter. Neither of them revealed where they had counselled Maglor to go, and the lords, glad that the bard had not returned, did not ask too many questions. Celebrimbor did not ask at all, although he wore a curious expression for a time whenever he encountered Elrond.
Years would pass in which only the occasional message reached Elrond in Lindon, letters which were never signed and always vague.
Through those letters, the half-elf learned that Maglor had indeed found a tribe of woodelves to dwell near for a while, but, before long, a letter from a different corner of Middle-earth reached him. Time went by, and Celebrimbor, Galadriel, Celeborn, Oropher and Thranduil left Lindon. Their paths would cross from time to time, and eventually they would all find their place in the world.
Evil awoke, and news from Maglor became scarce. In one of his last letters during that time, he described a beautiful valley he had come across and decided to settle in for a time. Eregion, Celebrimbor's realm, was threatened, and High King Ereinion Gil-galad sent Elrond to render aid. Erestor rode with him, rebelling against being left behind to worry in a library that he was still not allowed to call his own.
They fought fiercely, but Sauron defeated them, and finally the elves fled when all was lost and Celebrimbor lay dead. With orcs practically nipping at their heels, and their return to Lindon blocked, they fled eastwards towards the mountains; it was coincidence rather than anything else that led them to what would quickly become Elrond's realm and the Last Homely House of the elves.
They were tired when they reached the valley, so very tired. There were too many injured elves who had to be helped by those who were well enough to do so. Some still saw the flames devouring Eregion, the orcs slaughtering their kin. Their eyes were either blank or terrified, their minds caught up in terrible memories. The warriors were tired. Sauron's army had been following them too closely for days. Now this valley would hopefully offer them refuge.
Elrond had been carefully watching the valley for sight of inhabitants. The location... it sounded so familiar to him, and he both hoped and feared to find he was right. The scouts he had sent had discovered nothing, but this did not mean anything. He hoped that he and his people would not disturb anyone, but his senses told him that they already had.
Elrond was at the head of the company, leading his horse. Everyone had been forced to climb off their horses to take the difficult path down into the heart of the valley. It was rocky, and easy to lose one's footing. If they stayed, they would have to see about finding a better path, or perhaps making one. If they stayed, and if Sauron did not find them.
They had still not reached the bottom. The path was winding around cliff faces overgrown with moss. Turning a corner, his heart leapt into his throat at the sight: standing in the middle of the path was a tall figure, clothed in dark brown leather trousers, a dark green tunic, and a green, woollen cloak. The hood was drawn over the person's downturned head, and a black cloth hid his face up to the nose, but Elrond could nevertheless see the bright grey eyes that met his gaze easily. The being's hands were covered by leather gloves and tightly grasped an elven sword of the First Age in a defensive, yet easy stance.
The warriors immediately behind Elrond reached for their weapons and unsheathed their swords or drew their bows. Elrond threw his hand back in a gesture to stay their actions. The man in the middle of the road did not move a muscle.
Still not looking at anyone but the half-elven lord at the front of the group, he said:
Fëanor's banner: as far as the emblem itself, the square, the circle and the flames are concerned, I tried to describe the picture shown by various sources, which is based on the book J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator by Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond. I could not find any information on what kind of background colour the Fëanorian banner had, so I chose blue for purely artistic reasons.
Maglor calls Maedhros "Russandol". It's his epessë or nickname and means Copper-top. I decided against using Maitimo (his mother-name) because I thought that Maedhros may have resented the meaning ("well-shaped one") after his rescue from Thangorodrim where his hand was cut off. Maedhros calls Maglor Makalaurë. Supposedly, with the exception of Curufin, all sons of Fëanor preferred their mother-name. I used the Quenya names Russandol/Makalaurë in dialogue because I do not think that the sons of Fëanor spoke Sindarin with each other. Elsewhere I used the more common Sindarin names.
Names of the sons of Fëanor
(Quenya mother-name – Epessë where necessary – Sindarin name)
Maitimo – Russandol – Maedhros
Makalaurë – Maglor
Ambarussa – Amras/Amrod (both twins were called by that name)
Thank you for reading. Reviews are always welcome.