The characters, the context and the main plot belong to Professor Tolkien, whom I greatly admire. Iím only trying to fill in the gaps he so graciously left for us, fanfic writers, to have some fun.
Rating: General, for this chapter.
Dedication: this one is for Finch.
This is the prologue to a rather lengthy Celebrimbor story I have begun to write a couple of years ago. I have already planned out all 14 chapters but have not come any further than what you can see here.
At one time, Finch asked me for a Second Age story, but at that moment I could not think of any. Then, writing ďInnocence,Ē I established Erestor as a survivor of Ost-in-Edhil, Celebrimborís chief city in Eregion, and got interested in the last twig of the FŽanorean tree. Not to mention the excellent stories of the Silmfic authors that opened up a whole new world for me: that of the Cursed (aka: FŽanorís descendants).
Quite frankly, I donít feel up to the challenge to write about the sons of FŽanor. But Erestor apparently admires Celebrimbor very much in my stories, so I thought I could as well take a look at the ill-fated Lord of Eregion.
This particular scene popped up as a stand-alone in my brain and thus could be read as such. It happens in Ost-in-Edhil, shortly before the Fall of Eregion Ė a year maybe, or even less. I didnít want to make it so nailed down, in case I should need to very things later.
My sincerest thanks to Cirdan who offered to beta-read this story.
[Ost-in-Edhil, around the year 1690 of the Second Age]
The Dream came to me again.
It comes every year in this night, regardless of the ever-growing amount of time that is parting me from the true events, bringing back images of fire and blood.
Or deaths, to be more accurate.
Deaths, caused by skilled hands that could create things of great power and beauty Ė or caress softly the fear-frozen face of a little elfling.
The gentle fingers of my father, covered with blood.
The blood of our own kin.
The blood of the innocent.
When I decided to leave Lindon and the Sea with its never-ending, ever-accusing murmurs of reproach, I came as far to the East as I could get. I wanted not to hear the lament of the waves any more. I could bear no more to listen to the cries of the slain in their sorrowful song.
I was innocent in the bloodshed, after all. I was but a little elfling, not yet strong enough to even raise a sword.
And yet I know that I am not completely innocent.
I shall never be.
For the blood of the Kinslayers is coursing in my veins as well, and with it I, too, carry the weight of the Curse of the Valar. íTis the fate of all those who had been born of FŽanorís blood, and there is no escape from it.
No matter what we might try, the blood of the innocent remains on our hands. Even on mine, who have not spilled it. I only hope that when I depart from my body, the Curse will leave Middle-earth with me.
For I am the last of FŽanorís descendants, and there shall be no more of the cursed blood after me. So I have decided many years ago. I have chosen to end the Curse that had caused so much pain and anguish, not only our own family but to all who ever came near us.
I have lived with the Curse all my life, ever since my father grabbed me from the nursery and brought me to the ships that were stained with the blood of our kin.
Even my clothes were stained with it.
With Fatherís fingerprints.
With the proof of our sins.
With the Mark of our Curse.
How could I punish a child with the same fate?
Nay, it has to end with me.
For here is no forgiveness for us in the heart of ManwŽ, and the stars of Varda cover their face when looking down at us. Whatever any of us tried since we came back to the lands of our forefathers was doomed.
Father and his brothers could not fulfill their terrible Oath.
They could not regain the last sparkle of the Two Trees that the skills and the vision of their father imprisoned in the Great Jewels.
So they chose to slay those who were able to achieve this goal.
Not only caused they the downfall of our own family Ė they also destroyed the most beautiful city ever built, AlqualondŽ upon the white shores, where the silver flutes of OlwŽís folk sang to the rolling waves under the starlight.
And they brought down Doriath with them, too, the Hidden Kingdom of ElwŽ, one of the greatest Kings of our kind, and not even Melianís wisdom was enough to foresee this and save it from the fall.
And when all else was lost, they even attacked the hosts of Valinor in their embittered madness, staining their hands with the blood of our own kin once again.
And for what?
The Jewels are gone now, our family slain, the kingdoms of FinwŽís sons destroyed Ė and Darkness is falling again.
And this time I am no innocent in its coming.
One would think after all that I have seen I would be shielded against temptation.
And I was, indeed.
Evil and Darkness would never have lured my heart into their trap.
But no one had ever warned me about the perils of love and beauty.
Never have I known what despair could do to one of the Cursed.
When I came to this place, some nine hundred years ago, I only wanted to redeem myself. To create beauty Ė and a power that might heal some of the wounds the madness of my family had torn in the flesh of Arda.
I meant no harm.
I hoped to escape the Curse, to gain forgiveness, if not from the Valar, to whom I had long but ceased to cry out in need, then at least from our own kind. And the Jewel-Smiths who joined with me in my labours, had the same goal before their eyes: to help and heal and to bring beauty once again into this world, marred by Darkness.
But alas! None of us truly possessed the skills of our forefathers, not even I, who only had seen the masters at work in the half-forgotten years of my early childhood. And even though I had been allowed into AulŽís smithy once or twice, to visit the family of my grandmother, I never was taught by any of the great ones. Not even by FŽanor, albeit I was his blood, the only grandchild he ever had.
But his mind was already clouded when I came of age, and though Father taught me everything he knew of the arts and skills of our family, he never could mess himself with the measure of the Masters who dwelt in Aman.
Nor could I, or any of my fellow Jewel-Smiths.
Working with Dwarves did help. They possess great skills, and once they detected kindred spirits in us, they were ready to share some of their secrets Ė in exchange of some of our own. But it still was not enough to make true the vision that we all shared; for the lore of the forging of Rings of Power got lost among our people, and the Dwarves never possessed it, as we have come to understand.
So we were near to despair when He came, some four hundred years ago: one of the Maiar, of great power and beauty, noble and kind as it seemed. He said he was one of AulŽís people, and was sent by AulŽ himself to teach us again, as our forefathers had been taught in the Elder Days.
He also said that AulŽ would still love us.
And that we might be forgiven one day.
My folk was overjoyed and greeted Him with arms and hearts wide open, and even I let myself be mislead and deceived by the smooth sweetness of His voice and by the longing of my own barren heart.
I should have known better.
The folk that dwell in my realm are young and know little of the Lords of the West and their unbendingly hard laws. They have been born in Middle-earth, long after the War of Wrath, or are of Sindarin descent and have never left these shores, living in blissful ignorance for years uncounted.
But I should have known better.
In the hearts of my heart I always knew that the Cursed would never be forgiven. The Law of the Valar knows little mercy, and even that little only causes more pain for us, lesser beings. If naught else, this much I should have learnt from the history of our House.
Nor are the Cursed meant to be loved.
The fate of Father and his brothers should have taught me that.
Yet I readily accepted the grudging friendship of Narvi, for after all those endless years he was the first being who looked at me and saw only a fellow craftsman, not a cursed Elf, loaded with the sins of his fathers.
May he be spared from sharing my fate for that!
Deep in my heart I feared that I would bring the Curse to him and his brave, skilled and peculiar people as well Ė and still, I was too weak to refuse the comfort his friendship offered me.
I should have known better, indeed.
And I should have known better than gather this young folk around me, under the dark cloud of our doom and hope that they would fare well nevertheless.
Making them my own people and basking in their respect and love made me forgetful. I have forgotten that I am not truly one of them.
They call me their Lord, yet I am something very different.
I am their doom.
For it was I who greeted the so-called emissary of AulŽ first; I have opened my house and my workshops for Him, eager to learn and mayhap even more eager to impress.
I wanted to show that even in our exile, we still are able to create things of great beauty and power.
And in awe He watched our efforts, indeed, and he seemed to have learnt just as much from us as He had taught us. For He had all the knowledge and lore, yet little skill, and was eager to work with us in our smithies.
It should have raised my suspicions; for had He truly been one of AulŽís people, He should not have needed us to learn the skills of forging. But my heart was captured by greed Ė the greed to learn, to create, to become what I was meant to be by birth: a Master Smith, worthy of those in the smithies of Aman.
So I listened not to the warnings of my mind but let my eyes be clouded by beauty and let my heart be deceived by promises, and finally I, who was devoted to heal the wounds of Arda, bowed under the hand that had helped tear them wide open.
The Curse has finally caught up with me.
Alas that it was already too late!
For had it come earlier, I might have realized, that at the end, He would betray me.
That love and friendship and forgiveness is not meant to be for the Cursed.
Nor could we ever redeem ourselves.
We are cursed til the end of Arda, and only when we, too, perish forever with Arda itself, would we mayhap find peace.
Not earlier Ė not even in the Halls of Mandos.
Now I begin to understand my grandmother who wished not to be returned to life, and had the Valar listened to her, all our fates might be different now.
Or they might not.
For regardless of what happens to those close to us, decisions have to be made and the ramifications have to be endured.
I for my part would choose the way of MŪriel, would I be given the choice. I would remain in the Halls of Mandos, where I can do no harm, not even driven by the noblest of intentions, til Arda ends and the House of FŽanor shall be free.
Until then, Darkness shall fall again, and all that remains to me is regret and sorrow.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The sun has set. The stars of Varda were veiled by clouds once again, as if they had refused to look down at the last son of the Kinslayers. Celebrimbor, son of Curufin, took a last, long look at the beautifully-carved stone houses of Ost-in-Edhil, the chief city of his small realm Ė a city, that, despite his efforts to build it differently, turned out very much like AlqualondŽ, with its white towers and tall, protecting walls, save the absence of the Sea, but even the murmur of the waves could be heard with some effort in the dance of the wind among the branches of the great holly-trees.
It was a beautiful city: small, but well-built, like a finely cut jewel, revealing the art and skills of its builders. It had gardens and fountains, and places for festivals to be held and for people to gather and exchange tidings and listen to the music that wandering minstrels had to offer. It was home.
It was doomed.
For the one who had it built, the Lord that ruled it, carried this doom within his heart, and no innocence of its people could save it from its final fate.
Sooner or later it would fall, as fallen has every other city the Exiles had built.
And then, the cries of the slain would haunt the dreams of its Lord again.
It was only a matter of time.
Celebrimbor sighed and descended from the flat roof of his beautiful but lonely house. He had no time for mourning and regret. His cousin from afar, Gildor Inglorion of the House of Finrod, was due to arrive in two days, and he still had a jewel-adorned necklace to finish Ė a carcanet of gold, set with many gems of great beauty, forged at the likeness of NauglamŪr, that caused the untimely death of ElwŽ Singollo, Lord of the Hidden Kingdom.
Curious that Gildor would want to wear a piece of jewelry. But Gildor never let himself be frightened by fate, and mayhap at the end he would be the one to master his own. Celebrimbor knew not. Nor did he care. All he cared for was his work, for work was the only thing that still gave his heart some sort of peace.