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Final Choice
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Final Choice

...but Dior was slain also, and Nimloth his wife, and the cruel servants of Celegorn seized his young sons and left them to starve in the forest.

~Of the Ruin of Doriath (The Silmarillion)

...

The tapestry has long since become threadbare. I run a hand across the frayed strands, threads woven long ago when Doriath was a garden and great power fenced the borders from evil.

Queen of Doriath, I inherit your place, but your land is not safe any more!

“You cannot hide forever! We have much time to wait for you!”

I close my eyes, trying to block out the harsh tones that ring through the halls, and my hand falls away from the weaving. They are waiting out there for me, waiting while the blood of my beloved stains the white stone.

My face is frozen, but my mind is miraculously clear. Slowly, almost dreamlike, I take three measured steps and stop in the stone archway.

They are standing there, eyes cold and merciless, unfeeling as stone. Several blades rise at my appearance, but the wielders keep their distance.

“The jewel.”

My hands are shaking, but I stand tall. “You are unworthy of owning it,” I say contemptuously. “Cursèd, damnèd, and bloodstained as you are."

A flicker of uncertainty crosses his face, and he brushes a strand of dark hair away from his eyes. A harpist's fingers, I think absently.

Another brother, bleeding his life onto the white floor, says, “Give us the jewel, foolish woman, or make your children suffer!”

“No!” I cry, my icy composure breaking. “Do not touch them!”

My boys, my little ones…

Their eyes look into mine, frightened and trembling, and I can see the dark bruises coloring their cheeks.

“Naneth?”

Oh, Elurín, small one, do not cry! Please!

“Give them to me,” I say, my voice shaking but hard. “Give them to me.”

“The Silmaril, then.”

Tears sting my eyes, blurring the sight of my sons’ innocent faces. “Give me my sons, please,” I whisper brokenly.

His eyes light up, and he demands harshly, “For the last time, the jewel! You may have your sons when you give us the jewel!”

I would give you all the riches of Menegroth if you let my sons alone. I would give anything to save them…

But I have nothing to give.


“You will suffer for your refusals, woman,” the pale one says, breathing heavily. “Your husband killed our brothers, and I am soon gone, but you will suffer.” He turns his head slightly, and I can see the thoughts trailing across his face.

Those few moments contain an eternity.

“Take them into the forest and leave them.”

“No!”

My cries go unheeded, and my two boys, small faces confused and horribly terrified, cry out for me, their hands reaching for mine in vain.

I run forward, heedless of the guards before me, and my hands reach for theirs in return. “Eluréd, Elurín!” I cry.

Nana!

Strong hands restrain me, push me back from the gates, and the cries of my sons are lost in the bitter wind.

WHY?" I scream futilely, wanting nothing more than to tear the cruel face before me. “THEY ARE INNOCENT!

My cries are in vain: they are stronger than I. I cannot break past them.

“You truly are foolish,” he breathes weakly. “And know this, woman: their sufferings are your fault. Wherever you go, your spirit will be haunted by theirs, because you would not save them. Tell me where the Silmaril is, or you shall be given the same end as your husband.”

Dior, my beloved…

My cries turn to laughter, high and hysterical, as they push me back, away from the gates, away from my sons’ cries. “You shall never have it! It is gone beyond your reach!”

His pallid face turns ugly, and his eyes narrow.

“No more of these lies, woman, I warn you.”

“Search my heart, if you could; it is gone, and you shall never find it! You were never worthy of it! Your hand would burn at its touch, Fëanorion!”

He stares at me blankly, breathing raspy, as if the shock is too great. “You lie,” he says finally.

He wants that accursed jewel, for which blood was spilled and lives lost! That gem!

My laughter is almost unbearable now, making my throat ache, but I cannot halt it. I look around the front hall desperately, and there is no escape.

“Námo will have a long reckoning when your spirits reach his halls!” I spit scornfully.

“TELL US WHERE THE JEWEL HAS GONE!”

They wanted the jewel, and it is out of their reach! Gone!

What a warped fate that the minds of Elves could be so undone by one of their own creations, a crystal-captured light meant to bring joy and illumination instead of the pain it has caused.

Dior… Eluréd, Elurín… Elwing-nin… Forgive me… O Elbereth, watch over my little ones!

With one single clear thought, I run towards them.

He is caught off guard by my sudden attack, and raises a knife to defend himself. I feel a stab of unbearable agony in my middle, and stagger backwards with a blade in my chest.

Behind the ragged circle of Noldor, a splintered mirror hangs on the wall. I can see my face reflecting in each of its million pieces, and I am terrified. Strange, twisted triumph is written across my pale face.

“When we meet in Mandos,” I whisper, “my spirit will speak with yours once more, and you will all wish you never came to Arda.”

I can feel the life ebbing from my body, but as I fall, I feel a strong pair of arms catches me, one ending abruptly at the wrist.

To look upon the face of your own death is an evil destiny. His long tresses are the color of fire, and he looks unlike his brothers. In those dark eyes, before so fey and fell, I see horror. Regret. Pity. A thousand myriad emotions, and memories as clear as daylight.

A white shoreline stained with blood... Pale swan ships aflame... A copper-haired woman, eyes full of agony...

He stares into my eyes, and whispers, "Forgive..." and then halts.

There is nothing to say. Nothing he can say to atone for his crimes.

The faces of my sons, my husband, my girl: they all fly before my eyes like lightning. My sight blurs again, but from wound or tears I cannot tell. The heavy taste of blood fills my mouth, and the screams of my children ring in my mind.

If I can save them, perhaps my life will mean something. Elwing is safe, but my two boys...

"Eluréd... Elurín..." I rasp, spattering his tunic with blood. He visibly winces as I look upon him with pain-glazed eyes. "Save them..."

A single moment passes like an eternity. Time stands still, and all is meaningless but his answer.

"Yes."

My breathing is slow and labored, and I can no longer tell one Elf from another. I can see the dulled eyes of my beloved from here.

I take one last breath, and no more.

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