As Above, So Below (4)
When the sons of Feanor had come to the havens they had fled again, the sad story of their life. They had gone to an island in the midst of the sea and there, just as they had begun to settle, Eliagor had glimpsed the white ships of the West over the sea. Aelinuial had been straining for war from their youngest days, when she ships set down she was nearly fully clad already to meet them. Eliagor had been next, he was the youngest, he hardly remembered Gondolin and the dark things they had glimpsed at the distance. He had some fire for that girl who had been in the havens and they had lost track of, perhaps he imagined that in going back to Beleriand with the host he might find her. Halgruith did not really know what he thought, but as the two of them made for their things he realized that he would be brought along as well. And so he had gone, and followed them and the bright-clad host of Valinor to war.
He did not really like war, Halgruith was no warrior by nature. He was a craftsman and in stature, though taller than his brother and sister, he was more narrow at least than Eliagor. He preferred the bow to the swords that his brother and sister carried, but most of all he preferred to be nowhere in danger. He had no idea what they saw in the war or perhaps what they had seen for now they sat just as he sat, tired and wounded and worn.
The hosts of the Valar had covered Beleriand like a river, and the orcs had been no trouble. It had seemed almost a joke then, as they had traveled along in that strange war. They had marched with other Noldor, gone along with them like it was the first days and they would storm Angband and rent forth the gates. It had been almost pleasant, really, until the great winged dragons and the balrogs and the rest of the army had issued forth. It had ceased being pleasant quickly after that but he had continued on.
Eliagor’s interest in war had rapidly declined as well, but he had been set in some thought that he might find that elf he’d fallen in love with at the havens, he still fancied her alive and well somewhere. Valar only knew where. His sister, however, was a completely different tale. He had noticed her growing set as it went on, her fervor was almost feverish in its intensity. He thought perhaps she had gone mad. But they had fought on and they had survived, and now on this slab of stone that had once been a road they sprawled out in light clothing, armor piled away, awaiting the sunrise.
“So where will we go now?” He heard Eliagor ask, his voice quiet and hoarse, knees drawn up under his face. He was fully grown now but only just and he still looked so young to Halgruith, even with the smudges on his face of blood and sweat and dirt.
Aelinuial moved over and sat beside him, Halgruith remained on his perch of broken stone, just above them. “We could go West? The herald said we would be welcomed back now.” His voice was hoarse as well, he’d been a singer once, he wondered if he still could sing or if that was lost to him now.
“Back?” Aelinuial looked up, her eyes glittering in a pale face, that feverishness was back, as though she had been rendered ill by some poison. “Back where? Gondolin is destroyed, the havens are destroyed. Those were our homes. Not… not in the West.”
She spat the words like acid, Halgruith looked down to his brother, he turned his helm in his hands and said nothing and Halgruith returned his gaze to his sister. “Listen to reason, Aelinuial. It’s all destroyed, all of it. Let the men have it, Valinor is where we belong, not here.”
“Listen to yourself! ‘Where we belong’! Mother and Father died for us to remain here, they did terrible things so we could be free here and you want to make that all for nothing!”
“They died for nothing everyone did! Would you join them playing at freedom?”
“You haven’t any idea what you’re talking about! You would do better staying at home in your shop!”
He looked down at Eliagor again, he was aware suddenly that he was standing, but so was Aelinuial. Only Eliagor still sat, peering down at his helm. He spoke up after a moment. “I want to stay here. Caralasse is here and I’m staying here. You can go if you want but it’s home here.”
He was outnumbered and he felt it keenly. Eliagor had some dream of finding his lost love and Aelinuial… Aelinuial had some memory of the oaths their parents had taken and now determined that that should be her life. He spoke with two elves driven mad.
“You must both be joking, we don’t belong here.” He was reasoning with the mad, there was no hope in it. He kept trying though. “Didn’t you hear them? The oaths are fulfilled, the sins pardoned. We are free, free to go where we belong and stay there safely.” He spoke pleadingly, earnestly, looking between them. Eliagor stood, moving next to their sister. They were both mad, what was wrong with them? Why wouldn’t they just listen to reason?
Eliagor was young, it made sense that he wouldn’t listen to reason, but Aelinuial was the oldest of them. She should have been measured in her thought but here she had the same dreams that had driven them to this place, dreams of great kingdoms and some… some absurd sense of freedom. They would kill him, staying here, him and themselves. Nothing good had ever come of this place.
He looked between them, at their set faces, and then around at the rent and broken earth. It was all ruined beyond repair, there was nothing left here for them. He felt his sister’s hand on his arm, her fingers were so small and delicate, in another life she might have been a minstrel or a dancer she was so fair and lithe.
“Come with us Halgruith, come east. That’s where we belong. It’s what they swore, to go to the wide lands and find Kuivienen. That’s just what we’ll do.”
He looked desperately between them again. It was madness and he looked to the sky, praying for something, anything to save him from this. But the skies were clear, there would be no savior, and he sighed heavily and set his hand on his sister’s.
“Yes… alright. We will… we will stay here. All of us together.”
Yes, that was the key wasn’t it? Together. Someone had to look after them.