Silmarillion Writers' Guild Minstrely and Music

Chapter 1: Homecoming

Sometimes, once Laurelin starts to wax, when I wander upon the roads amidst our people, I often find myself smiling at the sounds of the birds from afar. Their high-pitched voices bring forth memories of holidays spent with father and my brothers, near the beach or in the cold north. How is it possible that, despite our forced stay here, (for none had wished for this banishment to happen), I already start to miss Formenos? It is not that I rejoice in leaving it behind us, given the reason why we set out in the first place. This, against our father’s wish and, even though our grandfather convinced most of us to leave, there is still gnawing doubt inside me. It forces me to wonder if we can actually leave him alone in our dwelling, this soon after Melkor’s threatening visit.

Yet, we have lived many years here, for we often spent years up in the cold north, forging friendships, and prowling rich hunting grounds for either animal or gems. For many of us, this has been a welcome change whereas, others – including me – miss the courtly buzz and easily acquired entertainment. I know for certain that I shall rejoice in the fact that the summons for father, coming from the Valar, feels like a new start for us all. That we can shake off this gloom that enshrouded the reason for this exile. Mayhap that is the reason why I started this journal. This morning, when I awoke, it came to me as flighty thought, perhaps that chronicling this new start needed to be recorded. Or was it, perhaps, that I needed to write it down in order to believe that my father was given another chance? It was a strange thing, especially since I never gave thought of making notes of my life before this day, not even when Manwë’s messenger arrived a week ago. Was it a foreboding of Irmo, or shall this be my only time that I will entrust these personal thoughts to parchment? Right now, I cannot tell. However, I gave into this urge and found an unused scroll.

Aye, the birds...They must have started this unordered musing, bringing back those memories of a carefree youth. And, not only that! Perhaps it is the shrill sounds of their sweet voices that come so very close to the delightful cries of my young twin brothers who, at their turn, would be chased down the beach by the ever-energetic Turkafinwë, many years past? The three of them explored many types of woodland in the south, and living here in this stone wasteland is sometimes hard for them. Those three have strong bonds. The twins most often teased my younger brother who – depending on his mood – could either turn into the fiercest of creatures, or would stomp off disgruntled. Of course, how often was it that the wild creatures were the target of the little ones’ aim, and they more than once sought out Turko for help? There is a certain understanding between them. None of us were surprised that Turkafinwë became a hunter in Oromë’s following and, when he returned, he would teach his little brothers all he knew or had learnt during his own apprentice ship.

Nelyafinwë, on the other hand, seemed to thrive well in my father’s shadow, even during this exile. I know that often eyes were turned upon him, and that father would see to it himself to school my eldest brothers. However, both often said to the other that my brother could live in more freedom than my father ever could. Ever since grandfather Finwë proudly announced the birth of his son, Feänáro, many eyes were on him: an unnecessary burden for a child so young...a child that appeared to be born shrouded in the mystery of his mother’s demise. This knowledge freed Nelyafinwë, but we were not used to remain idle when it came down to our studies, and my big brother was often found in grandfather’s study, seeking out new scrolls.
Once he studied them all, he petitioned to gain access to the collection of the Valar, harbouring a special interest in the wars they pertained to. I often wondered why Nelyo would seek delight in researching strategy and, to some degree, court politics. After all, none expected him to become our leader; not in the peace we knew back then, when the feud between my father and uncle, Nolofinwë, had not caused this riff between our houses. Later, he showed me the way to the same collections, telling me of what I could find or simply assuming that I would delight to read all as well.

Soon we established a name amongst the families in Formenos. Wherever a scroll could be found, the brothers Kanafinwë and Nelyafinwë would appear. At first, we laughed about this, but as the months passed, we rejoiced in this common interest that gave us many pleasant hours to spend with our grandfather, Finwë. In turn, he gladly answered our abundant questions. Not all the time we lived here was filled with dark moments, or left us feeling deprived of our much-envied social status. We all learnt how to put our skills to good use, and used the messengers to remain in touch, albeit barely, with the rest of our people and mentors.

Grandfather Finwë seemed most content with this arrangement, appearing to me that he used the time with us to somehow compensate for the many years he spent with his second family. It was not that we loathed or shunned them, nay, even more so our friendships with our cousins have always been that of a glad nature. It was just that we knew that we should not show any favour for one of our uncles, to spare us the ire of our father. Yet, nearly every month, Turko passed on a note of our cousin, Irissë, in which he elaborately writes about the comings and goings in Formenos. Nelyo insisted on keeping those letters that Irissë returned and, yes, many of us guessed about the why. Turko the most. I knew that my brother wished to keep track of the Tirion society, only because he entrusted this to me. He simply did not want many to know of his intent to reclaim his position at High court, without any visible backlash. He wanted to hide his reasons for doing so, so that he could decern what could have fuelled the fight of our father with his second brother.

Moreover, peace it was. A family life was unequivocal, despite some family conflicts in the past, of which we all knew originated after our beloved grandfather decided to re-marry. Father does not speak of his pain often, only when he has visited the gardens of Lorien to commemorate the passing of his mother. Later, when I completed my apprenticeship, and became one of Irmo’s wardens, father asked me to accompany him. At that moment, I learnt the truth about his deepest pain, and why he strived hard to keep such a cruel emotion from us.

Often I wondered why a mother’s love - of which I knew could be endless - was taken away so suddenly. I shall speak of this later, when I am in a better frame of mind. The more my uncle pushed for the brotherly love they asked for, the more my father turned away from them. First, my father spoke in moderate compassion for their blindness, later in harsh and explicit language. This was a lesson for us all as we stood by helplessly: I have forgiven my brothers often for their mistakes; always finding a way to forgive them without retorting to them in a harsh manner.

Alas, if it was not for my mother, I could have spent hours pondering about the beauty of the two trees. However, since she had discovered my talent and gift for music, she often forced me to practise day in and out. There were moments when I’d rather seek out my father in the forge, to work on other projects besides the crafting of music and song. To me, it was a pleasure to observe how my father created his masterpieces, and to watch how he, as an artist in his own right, could work endlessly on the simplest of things with dedication. From ploughs to refined jewels, he made it all with equal passion. My opinion is that creation can be found anywhere, one not being more important than the other.

Kurufinwë was the most apt to follow father’s example. I recall how he once had stolen – or borrowed it as he put it – from Morifinwë. That day, I was assisting father in gem cutting when the little boy he was back then, strutted into the forge while his hands tried to hold up Morifinwë’s heavy tool belt. A sparkle gleamed in my brother’s eye, a glance that, later in my life, often served as a signal that Kurvo had set his mind on something. Father recognised it as well, and set himself to work on a smaller belt for his eager son. Later that evening, he informed my mother of his father-name, and Kurufinwë has never left my father’s side ever since.

Tyelpinquar, my little nephew, followed his father’s example in precise detail. He would sit in the corner, waiting for his father and my father to finish a project. One in which he hoped he would appease his grandsire one day, striving to match his skill and become better. Father often prided himself for playing such an important role in tutoring them both and, except for those two, I do not think any on Arda can rival him in his skill. In years past, many days were spent by some of my other brothers delighting in the search for gems and metal – or any kind of raw material that would form the very basis of their works. It was a welcomed task in which Kurufinwë most often led the others.

Morifinwë could often be found aiding my mother in pursuing her gifts in sculpting, especially since the day Kurvo entered the forge. Father saw to it that he shared his time equally with the both of them. However, whereas Kurufinwë insisted on spending time with his father in artisanship, Moryo also showed interest in our mother’s skill. Moreover, what easier task was there than to pose for her and her own apprentices? It was no surprise to us all that he met his lady during one of those sessions. My mother has locked away that statue until the day they choose to be married. So far, Moryo and she decided to postpone their courtship, under pressure from her father who was concerned by the consequences of our banishment. Moryo once told me that her father feared for her reputation becoming tarnished, and Moryo considered his love for her to be so strong that more years unwed would not change what is between them.

Such was our family life before they freed Melkor from his prison, and he again walked amongst us. Moryo’s mood had turned dark during our stay in this city, as if he mourned for his mother’s absence. I, who performed often for audiences, saw the change gradually. It was not his words, but his actions, that did speak so much louder. One day I pressed on being his brother, wanting to know what ailed him.

In hindsight, I think I could have seen it earlier what caused the rifts between our houses and our people. In my experiences in observing audiences, I could tell from their non-verbal communication if something was amiss. Where at first, many enjoyed the simple songs and plays I could present to them - whether as a solo artist or with an ensemble - later it became natural to see groups cluster, talking amongst themselves and, after that, certain factions did not return. At first, I did not understand why this happened, and faulted myself for sloppy artistry, until the day I overheard my grandfather, Finwë, and his heart brother, Ingwë, expressing their concern about Melkor’s influence. Manwë could not be persuaded, since he so blindly believed in his own brother’s redemption.

Now I can see what my grandfather and his brothers intended to do. Most of us were placed under the guidance of a Valar. For example, my brother, Turkafinwë, was placed under Oromë’s tutelage; an assignment my brother rejoiced in. I, on the other hand, often visited Irmo’s garden, where I sought the knowledge to understand my visions and dreams, seeking for a meaning and way to translate such a thing into verse and song. Vairë showed interest in my skills as well, and often I visited her in her halls. Here, she spoke to me with regards to how her looms shaped the fates, and how many could be influenced by the deeds of others. I marvelled at being allowed to see the tapestry of our house so far. All the unique colours and brightness stood out for me. Even so, some parts seemed less bright than the others. Something else caught my eye, and I will freely admit that my heart sang upon the thought of seeing her again.

As I look back now, while we journey south, it proved not to be enough. Melkor’s lies worked more than well on the disturbed family relations. Even though it was hardly to be noticed at first, our assignments as wardens was explained by many that, our own grandfather sought to supplant us with his grandsons from his second brood. The latter was a phrase father started to use increasingly as he - at mother’s insistence - still corresponded with his half brothers and sisters. I do believe, however, that we all underestimated the way society looked upon and, moreover, followed our behaviour as we tried to appease both our father and grandfather. At a certain point, we even started to believe the rumours as well, especially when Turkafinwë was hardly at home . What other reason could there possibly be then? Nelyo even intercepted gossip that Turko sought to overthrow even his eldest brother. A rumour we all knew to be false the moment we heard it.

There was naught we could do. After all, when it came out plainly that uncle Nolofinwë indeed thought that our father should know his place, the matters at court escalated, and we all forsook our studies to travel North with our father. Nevertheless, none could have expected or forseen what grandfather Finwë did.

Yet there was still an unresolved issue between my father and me. Later, when I spoke to my father about this visit, a shroud of gloom descended upon him. A few days later, this gloom transformed into an unrelenting fire in his eyes that my mother tried to assuage the best she could. When I later spoke of this to Vairë, the Valier decided, in her wisdom, that none of my brethren should visit her any longer. Still, even to this day, I can hear the soft clicking of the looms, the occasional whispers of her maidens that I have grown to love. They are there now, close to the city we are travelling to, after years of banishment from the court. These years away have been well spent, on matters of husbandry or swordsmanship for example, but my father and I have reached an understanding as to why I longed to visit Vairë’s halls. I know now that his mind is at peace, and before the summons came, my father told us, while we all sat at the dining table –grandfather included – that he would see to it that he would make amends with our mother. This surprised the Ambarussa the most, given their last memory of our mother. Yet Manwë’s message took precedence over this, but we all understood and gave over our support to him, no matter how vile we all considered the lies spread about us, before we went into this exile.

It was merely two days later when father rode off, his mood light and joyful. There was this glitter in his eyes that I have not seen since the evening I had confessed my infatuation with the elven maid in Vairë’s service. Today is different in the sense that the three of us are following our father, at the request of our grandfather, and Nelyo now leads us. Late this afternoon, we arrived safely in a small village, just north of Tirion, and only now I found a moment to sit down and write as to why we came here. Insecurities aplenty plagued us during this journey, one being how we would be received, since all our people know that we are living in banishment. Another being how father would react to all of this, once we caught up with him.

“Do you think they will welcome us?” I asked Nelyo, shortly before a familiar inn came into sight.

“I do believe that the summons that bade father to return, will also carry the well wishes for a speedy return. Perhaps for us as well,” Nelyo answered, “Or are you afraid that your beloved maiden might have chosen another?”

I admit that I tried very hard to push that thought aside for a long time. After all, there was never much time for me to express my affections for her. Then again, even if she would have chosen another, I am certain that my future wife would cross my path eventually. I have no deep wishes to be married and start a family. It is only Kurufinwë who was just alike our father, and became a doting father at a young age. Who is to tell when and how? Right now my life can take me to wherever it pleases me, and I am truly aware that, I will return invitations for performances, and visits will pour in. Just as my other brothers will experience the very same. Of course, this being said, there is nothing wrong with the fair maidens that grace the streets and houses in Formenos. Still, I feel ridiculous, but I do know that I am not the only one who is eager to return.

Turkafinwë’s smile was so broad as his horse pranced restlessly beneath him. When the summons came, father decided to go alone, and grandfather refused to go since the banishment still felt unjust to him. Father felt that he did not need to disturb the daily rhythm of the others, and simply set off, ignoring the protests of his third son. Once we gathered for the evening meal, grandfather’s demeanour had changed and asked all seven if they would follow their father south, partly realising that this banishment was a burden to us all. This and given the dangers Melkor could pose to his beloved son who had chosen to ride alone. Nelyo then glanced immediately into my direction, then to Moryo who shrugged and pointed his knife towards Turko. Thusly, we all decided that we three, Nelyo, Turko, and me, should follow our father.

We all know this route so very well, and Tirion is just behind those two hills ahead of us. However, even our horses deserve a rest and I could not help it, but a tune bubbled up – one I jotted down shortly before I started to write this - and before I knew it I hummed it as my eyes met Nelyo first. My eyes then looked to the energetic Turkafinwë who was eager to join the front in leading our caravan. Those few lords who volunteered to accompany us, rode their horses with great confidence, being alert to any sign of danger around them. It would only take a word, perhaps one sentence, that would release us from this eager knowing of what is to come once we return home. We all hoped for friends visiting us, once word spread regarding our return, and to find out how they have fared during our absence.

Questions as how our mother would fare, and for me, specifically, I asked myself how Indis would respond to the scroll grandfather entrusted to me alone. It is late in the evening now and Nelyo is deep asleep. I wonder how he will be in the morn...Will he rush to Taniquetil first, or if he dares to go that far to follow father to the ring of Doom?

The halls of the common room of the inn are quiet. I think that Turko still has not returned from the inspection of our horses. I pondered what Kurufinwë and his family would have done if he rode with us. Would they have refused to stay at this inn, eager to return to their homes shortly after our arrival? Not paying heed to father’s demands otherwise? I simply could not imagine that, no matter what his wife Maline would insist upon. As for dark Morifinwë, I cannot tell. Maybe he would have stayed at father’s side, or he would have sought out mother first, following the twins whom, of all of us, missed her most. Nevertheless, my brothers are not here, choosing instead to remain behind with grandfather at Formenos.

I know that I have enough time tomorrow to do as I please, unless father sends word that he needs me, once he hears we are this near. I am pleased to be so close to our home in Tirion, and I cannot help but to start planning my visit to my favoured taverns. Perhaps my friends shall be there. My packs carry a most prized flute. When I departed for the North, a friend of mine asked for this instrument on the eve we followed our father, making sure that our friendship would remain as steadfast as it had been back then.I am certain Ecthelion will appreciate such a gesture, and thoughts of renewing this long lasting friendship is another thing to which I look forward.

I do believe that when we meet, our father will understand our restlessness all too well. It must have been a tough decision to decide between the protection of his own father, and the wishes of his son. Nelyo did point this out to grandfather while we debated. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I can hear his rich baritone that always makes us all sit up suddenly, and alertness takes over as we wish no longer to be constrained by this maddening anticipation. He knows our hearts all too well and, today or tomorrow, he will forgive us for granting grandfather’s request. This still leaves me to describe the manner of our arrival here. Nelyo, being our leader for this journey, gave us that leave shortly before we would crest the last hill, and before we would rest here in this quiet town.

I can nearly imagine how we would arrive tomorrow, and how hard it shall be to keep our eagerness in check. Suddenly I remember the last time when we returned home, after a long absence, and before the lies of Melkor started to turn our lives upside down.

“All right, my most impatient son,” he addressed Turkafinwë lightly then, “why do you not race ahead and announce our arrival...Courteously,” He added dryly, and I remember wondering if Turko would have heard that last part as he raced off to take the first hill.

“Turkafinwë!” he then bellowed into my brother’s direction, and Huan immediately halted in his steps, “Can you see to it that we are not reprimanded again? I would rather not cause another incident like when the Ambarussa nearly ran down the first gate years ago. Your grandfather managed to smooth out that incident, but I do doubt if I would have such an influence!”

I cannot help it even now, but a chuckle escapes me as I recall how Turko looked at our father, followed by his rather visible struggle to control his answer. “Aye Atar! I will see to it that I will reach the gate first! Calmly!” he answered and with a big whoop, he raced after the scouts who would announce our arrival, followed by his hound.

“It will be good to return home and see our mother and kin again.” I recall telling Nelyo, earlier today with hope. I earned the broad smile of my brother who would indeed have raced with the others, if not so much depended on his return, and the health of our horses. It was a joyful return indeed, and there was a genuine feeling of hope that we could return to how things once were. There is one thing I am certain of, though...There are changes ahead of us, and I intend to make the most out of it!

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