Silmarillion Writers' Guild Minstrely and Music

Chapter 2: And Darkness Fell

He has extinguished all our hope and love like a candle. True darkness is not only around us, but now it also resides in our hearts. I am sitting here, trying to understand why, of all people, Melkor had to kill our grandfather. It is incomprehensible to me, even now, after those two days had passed, and I ask myself how we ever could deliver such news to our father. I wonder what task is beset on us now, with the trees gone, but I think father will not hear of anything except plans for revenge. All thoughts of reconciliation seem forgotten until maybe our mother will choose to stand at his side again. Hope was in my heart, since there is no other person that can soothe my father’s pain, and then it would be left to our mother who knows him so well.

Yet, I feel so compelled to write once more, here during my watch at this campsite. This need to write it down, word-for-word will hopefully serve as a memory for the difficult days ahead of us. It is nearly impossible to grasp that which we can’t see, and I suddenly realise that this journal, as I now will call it, shall help me remember what we have lost, will recover, and ultimately gain once we will return. Therefore, I shall recite this word for word, thought-by-thought, from memory, whether born in pain or bliss as of today.

Three days ago, our time had been spent in utmost joy and bliss as the festival on the hillside of Taniquetil was in full swing. We remained only one night at the inn and entered the city well-rested. Once there, we were informed that Father was still in council, but shortly before that, he made amends with my uncle, Nolofinwë. With this reconciliation, many of our people took this as a sign to accept Manwë’s invitation to come to his halls. Such a gesture had reached our abandoned homes as well, and we all took it as a benign gesture.

When we entered the city, we could hear much rejoicing, especially since father chose to do so openly. Nelyo told me that this way, father would have held the upper hand in what would eventually transpire between him and the Valar. He confided to me that, shortly before he left, our father had expressed the wish that we cast aside all doubt of one line wishing to supplant the other, especially now that we know for certain that Finwë favoured our house above the others. It was a clear signal to all that it was time for us to finally spend our lives in peace without any interference, and for our grandfather to heal most of our wounds, except that of our own father.

As was allowed by custom, we were all clothed in our normal garments, since most of our formal robes were still up North, but it mattered naught to us. It pleased our sire that we did so and none of our friends thought lesser of us. We were the last to arrive and could barely come closer to where our father and uncle stood. Perhaps this was for the best as our presence here was a distraction for our father. He most likely would have questioned us, right then, as to why we left Formenos. In hindsight, he would have been right.

Still those who recognised us stepped aside and we could come close enough to see what would happen next. Even though many grew silent, once my father faced his brother Nolofinwë once more, we all felt assured of what would follow next. We stood behind our father when he accepted Nolofinwë’s hand as a friendly gesture once more, openly before those who missed such a moment the day before.

It was our uncle who spoke first and firmly, saying, “As I promised, I do now. I release thee, and remember no grievance.”

I could have sworn that none dared to breathe again before my father would answer. He quietly accepted his brother’s hand, but said naught. For a moment they stood there, two mighty lords, and none dared to predict what would follow next. After Nelyo cleared his throat, our uncle said, “Half-brother in blood, full brother in heart, I will be. Thou shalt lead and I will follow. May no new grief divide us.”

“I hear thee,” answered Fëanáro, my father. “So be it.”

They were words of rejoicing, and once my father and brother embraced , many sighed in relief as my father said to all who would bear witness, “Now that this feud is healed, may the reunited houses of the Noldor bring forth the most merriment!’

With that, we were all excused to celebrate this great news with our friends, who welcomed us with ale, wine, and the understanding of friends upon Taniquetil. Ecthelion was most pleased with my gift and challenged me to a musical duel; a challenge with my standing reputation I could not ignore! It was a fine duel, flute against lyre – this, simply because Turko could not find my lap harp in his frantic search – and our enthusiastic bystanders joined us in song, following our lead in whatever ballad or drinking song we might choose. I will admit that I lost track of time, we all did, until someone screamed out in anguish when Telperion, who was waning in favour of the other, as the hour of mingling had passed, suddenly dimmed in front of our eyes.

At first, we could not comprehend that this was happening. I found myself opening and closing my eyes often, and asked one of my friends to pinch me, just in case I was dreaming . Once Laurelin’s light seemed to be absorbed by a creature so dark, we shouted out in horror and prepared to chase after this monster. I recalled that Irmo had once told me of the nature of time in this realm; it was an answer to if my father could ever live his life without enduring the pain of his mother’s death. This thought had come to me as a dream, and I tried to write it down at first, but once Irmo spoke to me, I could not do otherwise than to share this dream with him. The Valar compared it to the Music - the notes I knew all too well - that defined Time, which, at its turn, flows ever from the first note to the last chord of Era. At that moment, I fully understood what Irmo tried to tell me, and I now wonder if I should have taken his words more seriously.

Nelyo, pragmatic as ever, ordered torches to be brought and thusly we sought our father while the light finally failed. Turko immediately gathered all the strong hunters around him and sought out Oromë, immediately assuming there would be a chase.

Our procession soon grew as we set out, Nelyo led and Glorfindel – another childhood friend of ours - held the rear, encouraging many confused citizens as we walked on the slopes of Taniquetil. The darkness blinded us, but the silence was deafening. It was something I had never experienced; a world this dark, voices silenced at first. What else could we do? We were not accustomed to this. The answers we sought were up on Taniquetil, and I knew many turned for guidance as this sudden darkness disrupted our lives. All I have ever known in my life was the light of the trees, and even though we now had the fire of the torches to light our way, it was still very unsettling.

Yet we moved on; one followed the person before as closely as a pack of wolves. A detail that reminded me of grandfather Finwë’s stories on how they marched forth on the slopes of Taniquetil – for the second time – to Valinor. It seemed so unjust that here in this realm, where we should be free from this darkness, left me to wonder if father indeed had been right about Melkor’s nature. Often, we did discuss it. The fiercest amongst us simply pleaded to see his creation once more, when this malignant Valar sought out father in Formenos, Father showed him the door immediately, disgusted by even the suggestion that someone else, other than his own blood should see what he created. I saw them twice. The first time father allowed me to hold all three of them, and I felt empowered by its radiance. Nelyo and Kurvo often debated the actual effects of the jewels. They bantered about why some of us fared better after seeing the jewels, if we were shortly plagued before by colds or scratched hands or feet. None knew how my father created these refined jewels, but we all know that many wanted to claim them.

Just as I thought that peace returned amongst our followers and not many voices could be heard, a hurried messenger raced around the corner, and if it were not for Nelyo’s quick reaction, the rider surely would have crashed into our group. Yet the rider rode on as if the horse’s tail was set on fire, in the same direction we wanted to go; to our father and the throne of Manwë where we last saw him. It was at this time that the first rumours started to spread, I heard Ecthelion’s vehement reactions when it reached him, causing Nelyo to halt our group and commanded all attention to him. Before I felt uncertain what Nelyo had done the day before, but now he rode into the centre proudly and said:

“None of Finwë’s line is behind this! I have the sworn words of my cousins Findekáno and Findàrato. All that follow their lead have also foresworn their allegiance to us. Let this be told, for that is the same message my father Fëanàro will tell the mighty Valar. Turn to them for your answers, but do not blame our mighty house for something we obviously had no hand in!” Nelyo continued after a short pause, “Now! If you doubt my word still, feel free to leave us and remain as a thrall gnome under his malicious wings!”

Nelyo’s words shocked many, for had we not all heard of the days before the great Sundering? I wondered how many of us could have forgotten about the tales told by our parents and grandparents? For the truth might not have been spoken aloud, however this knowledge strengthened us in our firm beliefs that we had been lied to all along.

“Who is with us?” I said as I stepped forwards.

“Do we wish to hear the truth and nothing else?” Ecthelion joined me, and then turned around, searching for anyone who might challenge him.

“For Truth!”

These words did not tumble from our lips, but by another who emerged from the throng headed by Findekáno and Turukáno. As I stood on my toes, I spotted Írissë, Findárato, his brothers, and sister Artanis, and felt glad to see our generation forming one union. What better signal could we give than this?

“No more lies,” said Finderato as he clasped the arm of Nelyo, “even in this hour we shall stand united. There will be no more lies between us.”

Despite the uncertainty of this moment, I could sense the wave of relaxation as it passed through both groups, and I felt reassured that, if our grandfather was here, he would have been proud of what we had learnt and had put into practise, so shortly after our arrival. Suddenly, Huan’s mournful howl pierced through the air. Not long after that, we all heard a great cry of frustration that we, as Fëanáro’s sons, immediately recognised. I could not stand still any longer and ran to whence the sound came, not caring for any protocols I might break because of this. Moments later, I knew that at least my brothers followed as I neared the seat of the great council. There, the horse of the messenger stood with his limbs shaking from exhaustion. The messenger stood by the steed’s side, his head bent and shoulders shaking.

Relying on Turukáno or Írissë to take care of that poor creature, Nelyo and I rushed forwards, recalling that I had pushed aside some of the Valar as we made hasted to reach our father, who stood there: his fists clenched in anger. Uncle Nolofinwë stood beside him, shaking his head in disbelief. Tears coursed down his face and our younger uncle, Arafinwë, stood there like one of Mother’s statues.

“What has happened?” Nelyo demanded as he rushed towards our father. Suddenly there was silence as Tulkas turned around, his face grim and his eyes sparked with fire.

“Your grandfather has sent us a message that he received reports of the winds turning to icy cold, and that the cloud that loomed up north has thickened,” Arafinwë said almost automatically, his eyes filled with fear.

“My father would not send such reports if he fears for something. We must retreat to the North and defend our house there,” my father decided firmly.

“You cannot leave.” Manwë solemnly intervened, “For we will need you at council. You may send your eldest with a party instead.”


“Fëanáro, you have heard how our children swore allegiance to the other. We will finish our council here first. I will not leave your side as your sworn brother. Our father will rejoice that all of his grandchildren will be with him, to strengthen him in this hour of need. When this is over, we shall join him as well!” Nolofinwë suggested.

“Nelyafinwë.” My father answered after giving it some thought, “Gather your brothers around you; your cousins as well.”

“Who shall aide you during this council?” Nelyo asked as both Findekáno and Finderato walked up to stand next to him on either side.

“My sworn brothers shall,” Fëanáro answered grimly, “this is an important matter for me, Nelyafinwë, and I know I can entrust you with this. You will have Kanafinwë, and in Formenos, Morifinwë, Kurufinwë, Pityafinwë, and Telufinwë at your side.” Father said resting his eyes upon us as he spoke our given names. “Once Turkafinwë returns, he can aide me in the more basic chores.”

Moreover, it was decided that we all should journey to Formenos to protect our grandfather. Írissë insisted on staying at Tirion, and Artanis said naught as she appeared to be in great distress. However, once I pressed her, she would not reveal it to me. Arakáno mocked her for such cowardness, and even though his father publically reprimanded him, Artanis said nothing, turned around in haste, and ascended the stairs that led to grandfather Finwë’s house, her head held high. We set out on this journey rather quickly, travelling light since not all our luggage had been unpacked from our previous one. Nevertheless, we knew that, up in the North, those who lived there would provide anything we would need. Our horses were rested well enough, so we raced back to our dear grandfather who loved us all in equal capacity. It was just that ever since the moment we left, I felt so cold and I blamed the sudden darkness. For some reason it was difficult to find our way as it felt that some other darkness obscured our sight, even an amount of torches bound together could not make us look further than the horse in front of us.

It was halfway through our journey, when two distraught messengers halted our party. I recognised the two riders, for our grandfather used them often to take letters to court, or to his wife, Indis. Their faces were covered by soot, their clothes tattered, and their skin bore dried up wounds. It was only after we offered them something to drink, did one dare to speak to us. Never before in my life had I seen such fright in a man’s eyes, and I could not say whether he was afraid of what was to come - and what may happen if he was to tell us his errand - or what he had left behind. We all sensed the burden of doom carried by this man, and once Turukáno saw to his wounds, he dared to speak.

“I have ridden forth, on the command of your acting Lord,” the messenger started.

“How is our grandfather?” Findárato immediately asked, eager to hear that our grandfather was in no grave danger.

“Your grandfather has… perished,” the messenger named Carnildo carefully answered, swallowing hard as he fought down his tears.

“Grandfather Mahtan?” I blurted, but knew at the same time that it would not have evoked such a reaction.

“Grandfather Finwë,” Nelyo replied instead, and his voice croaked at the last syllable. Still I cannot describe at best what happened after that. Suddenly all sound was muted and none, except for my brother and my cousins, swam in my vision. For all my life, I always heard the soft undertone of the Music, but now there was nothing as even in this score it was as if this fermata belonged there. Then the Music returned in a rich crescendo before I could hear the outcries again. Perhaps that explained the ominous feeling I had had since leaving Taniquetil. What was I to do now? Making it even worse, fear gained hold on my heart while my knees threatened to give way. A great pain, nay emptiness - a deep hurt - made me cry out, and I do not know whose arm wrapped around me at first. Was it Moryo or Pityo? Nay, they would not be here! They were at Formenos as well!

Yet the overtone carried a discord, or was I the one imagining this all just to concentrate on that alone, in order to avoid this realisation that someone that once was, no longer walked amongst us? I recall images of wildlife on a loom that were simply cut off because we felt the need to hunt them down to kill only for sustenance. Grandfather’s death seemed so… senseless to me. If his life could have been taken thusly, did that mean that anyone else could just take it as well? What about my brothers? Why did Carnildo not speak of them? I tried to reason my way out of this, attempted to make sense of by whom and for what reason our lives should be forfeit, and in what cycle. Others now clung onto me for guidance, now that Nelyo concentrated on Carnildo, whereas Turukáno kneeled down next to the other rider who just emerged from the pitch dark, as both were expected to do I suppose.

I still do not know how I did it, but I straightened my back and looked down at both my brothers who stood at my side. “We must send word to Turko, father, and our uncles.” Such strange words to say after a shock this deeply. “They must know.”

“What do we know Káno?” Arakáno asked, his voice more steady than I expected. I noticed my cousins looking at me as well.

“We shall get our answers. For you have not spoken about my brothers, Morifinwë, Kurufinwë, and the twins. Please tell me... are they unharmed?” I inquired with determination and I sensed how those close to me relaxed. I wondered where this hidden strength suddenly came from. Certainly. I had performed on stages and knew that, at such moments, I could convince my audience to believe every word I would utter. However, to me this was a most unwanted audience, let alone a performance I never could have imagined to write!

“I am not certain what to tell.” Carnildo cringed.

“We demand to know it! It is our birthright to know as well, is it not Nelyo? They are our cousins and our grandfather!” Aikanaro suddenly shouted and turned to the messenger. “You shall not lie to us and shall share with us everything you do know! I demand it!”

In tears, Carnildo began to relate. “The king was heavy with grief at the departure of your father. We think that a foreboding was upon him for, you see, he would not go from the house. Your brothers were quite irked by the idleness and silence of the day and, with permission, took their leave to ride towards the Green Hills. They looked northward, and we wondered about why they looked that way. Suddenly, we were aware that all was growing dim! The Light was failing!” At that moment, my hands start to shake. My brothers appeared to be safe!

He told of the darkness coming upon them, and how the blackness descended, like a cloud, and enveloped the house of Fëanàro. To them it was a sudden attack on the city, lead from the inside by Melkor. Without remorse, this evil, vile creature had killed all who had laid eyes upon him as he passed through the gate. It was that this messenger and his brother hid in the stables, just after our grandfather had given them a missive. The poor man called it the Horror of the Dark, yet they could not turn their gaze away and had to watch how Melkor demanded all the Jewels of our kindred. Our High King, Finwë of the Noldor, met this fallen Valar at the gate, and Melkor demand to see father’s most prized creations. Yet Finwë stood his ground and answered, “No other than our own kindred shall see and touch them. Such is the wish of my son, Fëanàro. Unless you have his written permission or him standing behind you, I shall not let you pass.”

For a moment the elf hung his head, and we all fought back our tears, tried to keep control of the pain and uncertainty that raged inside us all. After a brief pause, the man continued. “Then Melkor lifted his mace and smote him against the wall. There on the doorstep, Finwë managed to sit up on his knees and Melkor repeated the question again. Again, our High King repeated our answer. Then… Melkor brought down his mace…” Carnildo swallowed hard. “Again we heard the sound of great blows struck. Out of the dark cloud, we saw a sudden flame of fire, and then there was one piercing cry. Our horses reared and tried to break away. Some did so and they wildly fled away. We both lay upon our faces without strength; for suddenly the cloud came on, and for a while, we were blind. He must have stepped over your grandfather’s body for, as I found the courage to look up, your grandfather was already lifeless. We could not move, we could not do anything for the terror was in our hearts. Moments later, Melkor emerged once more, holding something so bright and screaming its anguish as Melkor held it. Rays of blinding light burst forth and, I swear, I am not lying when I say it burnt the Vala. As he screamed out, the same light also hit your grandfather’s body, so fierce it was that the corpse withered before our eyes. Only then, did I realise that your grandfather had not suffered long, for he must have died before Melkor could enter your home. Melkor broke the stronghold in his anger and then leaped forth into the night.”

I sat there, staring blindly into that same darkness Melkor had disappeared into. Our grandfather was murdered before the doors of our home, that which we built ourselves. The threshold we so often rushed over, the same door of which my father had intended to make a great show of it to carry my mother across the steps, once they had reconciled. Perhaps...nay I cannot guess now. It was Aikanaro who jumped up in his anger, and Moryo followed his example with a dark scowl. “This is a lie! This is just a lie and…”

“Sit down the both of you!” Nelyo admonished them. “I have known these two all of my life and I never caught them in a lie. What of our brothers?”

“Their horses panicked as well, and all were unseated. They came to us as fast as they could and helped us during our first hours in this panic. Morifinwë leads us for now.” Carnildo shook from emotion, but there was no lie in his eyes.

Nelyo sat there in silence for a few moments and then spoke. “I have decided that we shall send these two messengers to deliver the news. I will go with them, for I strongly feel that I must deliver these fell tidings in person. Yet, I feel the urge to see Formenos for myself, just as all of you. I do not think they will risk my wrath, if this has all been a lie, now, do you?” He ended and both the messengers confirmed it with a shaky ‘yes’.

“All of you will travel north. I do believe that my brother, Kanafinwë here, can lend me his pen, quill, and, wax so that I may write a message for our brothers, telling them where I will be. I do think that we will see the truth and will undertake the proper actions. Findárato! Findekáno! You are here on your father’s insistence. What say you? Will you seal the message with your authority as well?”

“Aye,” Findekáno started and Finderato finished, “we both agree that this is the best we can do, also on behalf of our grandfather.”

“Then release them and let them take their leave with me, after I have written this message.” Nelyo decided. He finished the letter two hours ago, and I am still not certain what to believe. My brother quizzed me about proper burial rites, and what I knew of the fate of the dead, since he knew I occasionally had visited Vairë’s halls. Yet, I could not tell him, nor recited what both Irmo and Vairë told me, and now I deeply regret not paying more attention. Instead, I tried to answer matters as best as I could. Nelyo insisted that I should take care of such a matter myself, and told me to leave the matters of temporary rulership in Kurufinwë and Morifinwë’s hands, although Nelyo thought that they should form a council of four, with Findárato and Findekáno. For that, he wrote a different message, expressing this wish, accompanied by a report of what happened before the darkening of the trees.

It is quiet now as I write these last words for today. Soon, I know Turukáno will relieve me from this watch, but I shall not sleep. Such respite will not come to claim me this night, for I have much to ponder after all that has happened.

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