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The Crossing of Celon by Himring

Author: Himring
Title: The Crossing of Celon
Rating: PG13
Theme: A  River Runs Through It
Elements: Gelion
Author's Notes: I'm afraid this story has gone somewhat off the rails. The original plan was to write something idyllic, but the river prompt defied me and went and eloped with an old plot bunny of mine. Warnings for (non-graphic) violence to children and character death. Also, although the Gelion gets two dutiful mentions, after looking at a map, I realized that it refused to flow where I needed it to. So the river that actually runs through this story is the Celon.
Summary: Sartandur is one of the servants of Celegorm who left the sons of Dior (Elured and Elurin) to die in the forest in revenge for the death of their master. Maedhros, son of Feanor, Celegorm's brother, is searching the woods of Doriath, trying to find the boys and rescue them. With the remaining Feanorians, Sartandur is waiting for Maedhros's return.
Word Count: 4,141 words


Nobody spoke to them about it.

Maedhros hadn’t, not as such. He had pounced on them without warning, having picked up rumours of their actions from others, and had begun questioning them closely. Where exactly had they left the children? When exactly and in what condition? But he had never asked them why or wherefore or indeed about anything but the simple facts of the matter. His eyes bored into them and did not demand justifications, but accurate answers.

They had found they could not answer his questions. At the time, they had been so sure that they knew exactly what they were doing, but now their memories seemed to be cloudy with emotion and full of gaps. They contradicted each other, contradicted themselves; they started guessing wildly and, in the end, admitted that they had no idea how to retrace their steps. They did not know exactly where they had left the children.

Maedhros, it seemed, lost interest in them on the spot and left before they could gather their wits sufficiently to muster any kind of defence or protest.  They saw him from a distance, now with Maglor, now with Amrod, now with Amras, and then he wasn’t there anymore. Instead, there was Maglor, chivvying them all into a speedier and more orderly withdrawal from Menegroth than they would have thought possible, in view of the disarray their heavy losses had thrown them into.

And now here they were, in a cold and comfortless camp in Arthorien, on the spit of land where Celon flowed into Aros, licking their wounds and waiting ever more anxiously for Maedhros to stop searching for the children and return to them. He seemed to have vanished into the woods of Doriath as completely and without trace as the children had. Meanwhile, who knew what the Iathrim might be getting up to, those who had escaped the fall of Menegroth and those who dwelt farther off to the west, or the Laiquendi, who had taken such swift vengeance on the dwarves of Nogrod—or Morgoth, for that matter?

Everyone was jumpy; they were all peering over their shoulders. The disastrous outcome of their attack on Menegroth had shaken their nerve badly. Amrod and his people patrolled the adjoining areas of the forest of Region as best they could. Amras led scouting trips northwards and eastwards as far as Gelion. Maglor wore a perpetual frown and exerted pressure on the healers to get the wounded back on their feet as quickly as possible.

Apparently this situation was their fault—or, if not the situation itself, then at least the part that concerned the alarming absence of the Head of the House of Feanor. But nobody talked to them about it. Nobody mentioned it to them at all.

Their erstwhile comrades were busy caring for their wounded and mourning the dead. They were busy whetting notched blades, replacing lost and splintered arrows and patching broken armour. They anxiously watched the woods. There was a horror lurking in their eyes, but it would have been hard to say whether it related more to what they had suffered or to what they had done.

‘We’ll attack in the middle of winter’, they had said. ‘Dior is sure to be in Menegroth then; we don’t want to have to hunt him all over Neldoreth and Region. The trees are deeper asleep in winter. Dior won’t be expecting an attack in that season, and he’ll have no warning of us. There will be fewer losses that way.’

They had talked of ‘losses’, not of being killed or killing people, but of course they weren’t fools. They had killed before—and not only orcs: Teleri at Alqualonde, thralls of Morgoth, treacherous Easterlings. However, all previous killing had at least begun in self-defence. There had been some who had reasoned that the attack on Doriath was a kind of self-defence as well—a pre-emptive stroke to obtain the Silmaril lest Morgoth should get there first. But that had been before they slaughtered and were slaughtered in their turn.

They had all done things that horrified them. But one had to draw the line somewhere, and this was how the line was drawn: it separated those who had acted against Dior’s sons from the rest of them. Their actions had put them beyond the pale. The silence wasn’t so much pointed as absolute.

Celegorm would have defended them. Celegorm would surely have been on their side. But if Celegorm had been alive, there would have been no need for defence because they would not deliberately have left a pair of children to die in the forest.

Sandohtar’s wounds, which had appeared serious but not fatal, unexpectedly took a turn for the worse. He died. That left two of them.

Anveryon did not endure the silence for very long. He made a couple of despairing attempts to engage anyone in conversation beyond the immediate task at hand, but their gaze slid past him, questions and comments went unanswered. One morning, he was gone without leave, and his horse and his armour were missing. He had exiled himself from his fellow exiles. They never heard from him again or learned his fate.

Sartandur was made of sterner stuff. He stalked the camp, bitter-faced, grim, doing his share of the work without attempting overtures of any kind. Sandohtar, Anveryon and Sartandur had not been friends, beyond the basic solidarity that manifold shared experiences and their loyalty to Celegorm had imposed on them.  He did not miss Sandohtar and Anveryon any more than he missed other comrades who had fallen in Menegroth, but he felt his complete isolation acutely.

He attempted to fill the emptiness around him with his grief for Celegorm. It was his devotion to Celegorm that had brought him to this pass—whatever motives anyone else might impute to him—and surely now, if ever, was the time to mourn him. It ought to have come easy to him; his devotion to his prince had been genuine.

He tried to think of Celegorm: that splendid restless energy that had filled their days, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, but usually invigorating. There had been no being bored around Celegorm; everything was always in movement. He might not always be wise—he could be astoundingly tactless—but he had held nothing back. He always seemed to be fully there, magnetic by the sheer force of his presence, and Sartandur’s life had revolved around him, all this while.

But now, when Sartandur tried to recall Celegorm laughing, Celegorm shouting, Celegorm’s occasional acts of overwhelming generosity, his instant withering reproof when anyone mistreated a horse or a hound—or even Celegorm’s bad moods, those fits of temper that blew up like a lightning storm and seemed to rain down on everyone within reach of his voice—now, whenever he tried to envision the long-familiar, cherished features of his prince, other memories interposed themselves: a pair of near-identical faces, small and almost delicate, framed in tarnished silver. When Maedhros had questioned him, earlier on, he had not remembered the fear in the eyes of those two boys so clearly nor the imprint of a hand on the cheek of one of Dior’s sons—was it Elured, was it Elurin?— that showed with how much force he had been struck to silence his protests. It was Sandohtar’s hand that had struck the boy, but that hardly mattered for Sartandur knew he had not been any gentler or kinder. Such details kept coming back to him now—although none were of the kind that would have aided Maedhros in his search—and he recognized that his grief for Celegorm was poisoned by what he had done.

But it was still unjust, unjust! For what they had done was, after all, only a very little worse than what the others had done—and it would never have happened, if they had not attacked Doriath, if Celegorm had not died. And also those two boys might still be alive—might even have already been found by Maedhros or by the Iathrim and be safe and sound—in which case arguably what they had done was not really worse at all…

And so Sartandur nursed his grief and his grievance and a stubborn hope that he might still be spared the consequences of his actions. When Maedhros finally came stumbling into their camp, Sartandur, although he had been trying to keep an eye on the woods and the banks of Aros like everyone else, caught no glimpse of his arrival. Nevertheless, the commotion that spread through the camp alerted him immediately. He felt a dizzying rush of dread and anticipation. Soon enough, however, the buzz of rumour revealed that there was no sign of Dior’s sons.

‘Alone,’ voices muttered around him. ‘After all that searching, he came back, all worn out, alone.’

It was not, in truth, clinching proof that Elured and Elurin were dead, but it was enough to make Sartandur’s defences crumble. The illusions he had been clinging to blew away in the winter wind.

Outcast in the middle of his former comrades, he hunkered down in cold shadow over a dying fire and waited to be summoned, for surely now that Maedhros’s search had failed, there would be a judgement, a sentence. But no summons came. He ought to have been relieved, but the longer he waited, the more afraid he became that the surviving Sons of Feanor had simply forgotten his very existence.

Fool! Beggar for punishment! Why seek the attention of those who would only wish to vent their self-righteous indignation on him?

His fire died. He would have to collect more wood and—there was no way he could stop himself—he would collect those dead twigs and branches around the other side of the camp, the side where Maedhros must be. On the way there, clinging to some sense of self-preservation, he made himself skirt unobtrusively around the edges. On the way back, having grown more desperate, he boldly walked straight past with his armful of wood.

No reaction, nothing. He could not even get close enough to lay eyes on Maedhros. Those who had been formerly of Himring hovered around him and what he saw was—for the most part—elven backs. Nobody showed an interest in Sartandur, let alone an inclination to drag him before Maedhros and throw him at his feet. He seemed to have become completely invisible.

He returned to his spot, rebuilt the fire and went on waiting, no longer sure what he was waiting for, but unable to rest. Maybe Anveryon had had the right idea. Nobody would stop him if he left now. They would be only too glad to get rid of him. There were bands of outlaws out there, robbers, who would be happy to take in an experienced and well-equipped fighter, no questions asked, he imagined. He was already being treated as if he was a criminal—he could become one in fact. His chances of survival would not be high—but whose chances of survival were, in Beleriand after the Nirnaeth?

And yet he did not move, not an inch. He was Noldo to the core. He was a follower of the House of Feanor. That was who he was, who he had always been. If he had ever wanted to change that, he would have, before this—not now that the world was falling apart around them.

 Maedhros, send for me, he thought. He remembered his questioning in Menegroth: it had felt as if he were being seized, wrung out like a wet towel and dropped on the floor. Curse you, son of Feanor, send for me now!

What happened instead, interminable hours later, was that they were ordered to break camp and get ready to move southwards.

‘Amon Ereb’, the voices around him muttered. ‘We’re going south, towards Andram. We’ll have to retreat from the Gelion valley altogether for now—it will be wiser to do so—at least until we know what the Laiquendi are up to.’

Amon Ereb, Caranthir’s fortress, the last stronghold still in Feanorian hands—for those who could no longer trust the woods, it was indeed the obvious choice. It was where they would have been headed already, surely, if they had not had so many wounded and if they had not been waiting for Maedhros to return. They made such haste now as they could—no need for orders to the effect, as every single one of them was keen to be away—and on yet another of those chill dark winter days of which there seemed to be an endless succession now, the Feanorians began to ford the Celon.

The banks of the Celon were rimmed with ice. It made the rocks slippery and, in places, broken shards stood out into the water, sharp enough to cut the legs of the horses. In happier days, Sartandur had crossed the clear waters of the Celon repeatedly, nearer to its source up north, passing eastward from Himlad, and had done so without any trouble or thinking much of it. Down here, where Celon flowed into Aros, although it was not as wide as the larger river, its current was strong and treacherous, and its waters in this season were deadly cold.

They took great care carrying the wounded across. Amrod guarded the southern bank. Amras was watching their backs. Maglor’s people gentled the horses and coaxed them into the river, trying to ensure as smooth and steady a motion as possible so that the wounded would not be jolted. Hip-deep in water, Maedhros stood among healers anxious to receive their patients on the far side.

Despite their precautions, one of the mares panicked and reared. Perhaps her legs had been brushed by a piece of flotsam so small that it had passed unnoticed by her handlers. Suddenly, everything was in flailing motion, as the alarm spread to the other horses, and they had their hands full, trying to calm them.

Maedhros’s voice rose above the confusion. The dun in front of him was half out of control. Ceredir, a member of Maedhros’s own household who had come off much the worse in an encounter with a Doriathrin march-warden, was threatening to slide off his back and into the water.

In some situations, it could be a distinct advantage to have two functional hands rather than only one, however skilled. Sartandur, who had been hovering on the southern bank, rushed into the water and managed to grab Ceredir in time before he touched the surface and carry him to safety on dry land. Behind them, the handlers gradually regained control of the horses.

Already a healer was bending over Ceredir to make sure he had taken no further hurt. Sartandur stood aside. Only then did he realize that Maedhros had followed him.

‘Thank you’, said Maedhros to him. ‘That was well done and timely.’

Sartandur looked at him disbelievingly. Did Maedhros not recognize him? He dared not speak, inclined his head and began to turn away. A hand on his shoulder stopped him. He felt himself go rigid. Such a short time ago, he had been praying for the Feanorion to deign to take notice of him...

‘You’, said Maedhros’s voice slowly. ‘You…are Sartandur, are you not? Where are the others? Sandohtar? Anveryon?’

‘Gone’, said Sartandur, half choking on the word.

‘Gone?’ repeated Maedhros, almost blankly.

‘Gone!’ said Sartandur fiercely, defiance winning the upper hand once again. Had Maedhros no idea of what he and his comrades been through, after Menegroth?

He swung around to face the prince. Vaguely, he was aware that their exchange had attracted notice—how incautious he had been, why had he not kept his head down?—but he himself had no attention to spare for anyone except Prince Maedhros. Those grey eyes that had seemed to see right into him, in the flame-lit caverns of Menegroth, were fixed on him again, but he could not read their expression.

Maedhros looked at him fully, steadily, for a moment. Then he lowered his eyelids, still saying nothing. And Sartandur understood in shock that this conversation was already over and that he was free to move away, if he so wished. No! He would not stand for it!

‘Judge me, Lord Maedhros’, he said, and as he heard himself speak, he knew that was what he truly wanted—not to be spared punishment, not to endure silent, out-of-hand condemnation until, perhaps, he stopped caring or until, perhaps, everyone forgot,  but judgement, whatever the cost of it to him might be.

Maedhros raised his eyelids again. He did not look surprised or angry or contemptuous—or any of the other things Sartandur had feared or expected. He spoke as if he were merely continuing a conversation; only Sartandur seemed somehow to have missed most of the beginning.

‘How can I pass judgement on you, Sartandur?’ Maedhros asked. ‘What you did you did in your grief for my brother, your lord, whom you loved. Is that not so? I, too, loved my brother. I, too, grieve for him. So how could I be your judge?’

It had crossed his mind—no, to be honest, he had been mulling over it incessantly, as he sat brooding in unwilling isolation—that if anyone had loved Celegorm as much as he had, if the surviving Sons of Feanor had truly loved their brother, surely he would not have encountered such comprehensive condemnation as he had. He had even asked himself, bitterly, whether he was the only one remaining who truly cared about Celegorm’s death. As he heard Maedhros speaking, softly, without emphasis, of his grief for Celegorm, he felt shame creeping over him at that thought.

It was true that Celegorm’s loss had torn a gaping hole in his life, but he had not been a brother to Celegorm, not even a friend. Celegorm, he was sure, had regarded him as just one of his followers, a loyal and trusted servant, no more than that. Maedhros and Celegorm had dwelt apart in eastern Beleriand: Maedhros in Himring, Celegorm in Himlad. He knew they had sometimes disagreed. Had he truly dared to presume, just because of this, that he mourned Celegorm more deeply than his own brother?

But, however discomfited, he would not abandon the course he had set.

 ‘Judge me, nevertheless, my lord Maedhros’, he said, ‘for who is there to judge me, besides you?’

He became aware that, although in the background the hustle and bustle of the crossing continued, in their immediate vicinity everyone had gone still and was listening. Were they astounded at his impertinence that he should be making demands of Prince Maedhros at a time like this? Here they were, wet and shivering on the banks of an icy river—and by no means out of danger. Did they think he was stupid and ill-mannered and should have been grateful that Maedhros seemed prepared to let him off lightly?  But he had no time to study the expression on their faces; he was too busy watching Maedhros.

‘But how can I judge you?’ Maedhros asked again. ‘Was it not I who led you to Doriath? Does that not make me responsible for all you did there? If, as your leader, I failed to stop you doing it—even created the situation that led you astray—how can I then be your judge, I who must share the blame?’

His voice was as gentle as frost. Sartandur looked more closely and saw what he had failed to see before, wrapped-up in his own concerns: how much Maedhros had changed. This was no longer—or no longer quite—the efficient questioner he had encountered in Menegroth. Maedhros Feanorion had seemed impervious, unstoppable even by Morgoth himself. Now, after the fruitless search for Elured and Elurin, defeat was inscribed in his face, in the hollow look around his eyes, the lines of exhaustion around his mouth.

Not so long ago, Sartandur had been ready enough to place the blame for his actions on the shoulders of Maedhros and his brothers—when he was not blaming Dior for his foolish obstinacy, Feanor for making the Silmarils in the first place and, of course, Morgoth for almost everything else… But he seemed to have lost the taste for it, now that he heard Maedhros accept the blame. It was his own choices that had placed him where he was as much as those of others.

In times past, Sartandur had been sure—so confident in his belief that he had never really thought about it—that it did not, finally,  matter which of the Sons of Feanor one chose to serve: that despite the apparent differences between them, they were essentially one, variations on the same theme: one Oath, one fate. You just picked the style that suited you best—and so he had chosen Celegorm. He had never tested that belief, he realized now. He had known Curufin, somewhat, of course, but Caranthir hardly at all, nor did he know Amras and Amrod. As for Maedhros, until that sudden, confounding interview in the caves of Menegroth, he had never had a personal encounter with him; the eldest son of Feanor had been an inspiring presence at the head of their army, to be sure, a commanding voice heard in the middle distance…

And now here they were, on the banks of Celon—and it could have been argued that Sartandur had been proved right, for Maedhros was not Celegorm and Maglor was not Curufin, but they had all, all seven of them, been defeated in the Nirnaeth and invaded Doriath. They all had blood on their hands, again.

Only, now it seemed to him he had been wrong and that even here and now details mattered. Celegorm would not have stood quietly on the banks of the Celon and listened to him. Celegorm would not even have understood what he was being asked. But Maedhros clearly did.

He hesitated. Maedhros’s face was almost as white as the snow on the banks of the Celon, the shadows in his eyes as dark as the shadows under the trees of Doriath. The Feanorion before him was weighed down with so many burdens already that it seemed cruel to impose yet another one. But if allegiance meant anything at all, then he had a claim on Maedhros, and it seemed to him that Maedhros had acknowledged it.

He knelt, as he had seen Men do, as if pleading for forgiveness for what he was about to do, and said firmly: ‘I still require your judgement, my lord Maedhros.’

Maedhros’s eyes widened. A small spasm of pain passed across his face, and he quickly stooped, grasping Sartandur’s hand, and pulled him to his feet.

‘Do not kneel before me!’ he said. ‘If you require my judgement, you shall have it.’

He let go of Sartandur’s hand.

‘This then is my judgement: if you ever face such a choice again, you shall choose the honour of my House over the desires of your heart.’

For a moment, Sartandur could not believe what Maedhros had said. He feared that his prince had betrayed his trust, that he was being denied and mocked.

‘What kind of judgement is that’, exclaimed Amrod, who had come up as they were speaking.

‘My heart misgives me that Sartandur may yet find it a harsh judgement’, answered Maedhros.

And Sartandur’s stomach clenched for, hearing that answer, he recognized it for the truth. Maedhros’s gaze was resting on him with pity and something that was akin to love—and Sartandur knew by that that Maedhros had given him what he still had in him by way of judgement and that it would cost them both dear. But he had asked and received what he had asked for, so he bowed his head in thanks and accepted it.

***

He saw them again: two small silhouettes against the flames, children trapped in a burning house in the Havens of Sirion beyond hope of rescue—clear proof of yet another Feanorian plan to inflict only limited damage gone horribly wrong. Silhouettes merely—they might be noble or commoner, male or female, Doriathrin or Falathrin or even Noldorin, he could not tell. It did not matter. He felt Maedhros’s judgement strike home like an arrow fired straight into his chest.

‘I choose the honour of your House, my lord’, he whispered and, sword in hand, turned on his erstwhile comrades to defend Sirion’s inhabitants.

His eyes stung with smoke and heartbreak. He would have wept but his tears evaporated in the heat. He was not surprised when a furious Amras ran him through almost straightaway. There were no happy endings this side of the sea.


Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
elenbarathi
Nov. 16th, 2012 03:07 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, this is intense. Very nice work indeed!
heartofoshun
Nov. 16th, 2012 06:34 pm (UTC)
Oops put a comment in the wrong spot here!

Edited at 2012-11-16 06:49 pm (UTC)
hhimring
Nov. 18th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
...this is intense...

Thank you very much!
It certainly felt intense, writing it! The river ran away with me, so to speak!

Edited at 2012-11-18 06:11 pm (UTC)
heartofoshun
Nov. 16th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
OMG, Himring! I wish I had written this. It is so sharply beautiful and filled with pain. I love it so much. I think it might be the best thing you have ever written. Simply gorgeous. Line after line. I'd like to pick my favorite passage or what I think it best, but as I read I kept finding another further on that was as good or better.

This one is beautiful, as so many parts of this short story are; consider it random because you broke my heart several more times before you reached the end.

Not so long ago, Sartandur had been ready enough to place the blame for his actions on the shoulders of Maedhros and his brothers—when he was not blaming Dior for his foolish obstinacy, Feanor for making the Silmarils in the first place and, of course, Morgoth for almost everything else… But he seemed to have lost the taste for it, now that he heard Maedhros accept the blame. It was his own choices that had placed him where he was as much as those of others.

I liked the above so much initially because it resonates emotionally and is how I would have believed someone I could respect might have responded.

I love the descriptions of Celegorm and how he was regarded by those who followed him. I particularly like the remarks about each of the brothers and those who followed them.

In times past, Sartandur had been sure—so confident in his belief that he had never really thought about it—that it did not, finally, matter which of the Sons of Feanor one chose to serve: that despite the apparent differences between them, they were essentially one, variations on the same theme: one Oath, one fate. You just picked the style that suited you best—and so he had chosen Celegorm.

So much here--the being ostracized, his conviction of purpose as a follower of Feanor, the love of his own lord Celegorm and what that loss meant to him, and horror of what it meant on a personal level to do such a thing to children, and, finally, the description of the mark on the face of one of the little princes where he had been slapped. One cannot even condemn out of hand those terrible "servants of Celegorm"--they grew out of the whole war and the situation they found themselves in. Even they were not Bad People--Born Evil!

You broke my heart. But you couldn't put it back together again, because redemption is still a long road to walk for this man, and yet you leave me hopeful in the end for all of them. That when the time finally comes when they can turn their back on these deeds and fully renounce them, and the cost will be horribly high, they will never forget what happened, what they did, and why, and, like Maedhros, never judge others without looking at themselve and accepting responsibility.

It is a so much more humanistic and true judgment of the Feanorians than the ones that carelessly write them off as evil and, therefore, unworthy of much interest or attention. (How can one not love Tolkien's greatest story?) I am human and flawed myself, and I am not a monster either, so I find them fascinating.

Maedhros! It's almost as though Tolkien said more than he meant to say or was even conscious of saying about the human condition when he wrote Feanor and sons. What he explains about what he intended to write about them diminishes always what he actually put down on paper in the telling of these tales. Maedhros stands out among all of them. I have always loved Fingon so much because he loved Maedhros and that spoke so highly of him to me. (And he was terribly brave and I personally put a lot of store in that as a virtue! Too much probably.)

Never mind my blathering. I'm only allowing it to stay on the page, because I hope it expresses how much this piece moved me.

Standing applause. All right, actually slumped on my sofa with a laptop. The point is I love it!

Most of all I loved Maedhros. For whatever else good and bad one might think of him, you paint him here as a true leader and someone who faces his deeds.

Wow!

Edited at 2012-11-16 08:31 pm (UTC)
elenbarathi
Nov. 17th, 2012 01:25 am (UTC)
This is such an excellent, insightful comment; well-said indeed. *joins the standing ovation*
heartofoshun
Nov. 17th, 2012 03:48 am (UTC)
Thanks. It is such a beautiful story.
hhimring
Nov. 18th, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, Oshun, you are such a magnificent singer of praise--like that harper on the field of Cormallen, although he had far more worthy subjects! Thank you so much. I am overwhelmed...
I very much doubt whether this story would be enough to convert anyone who is ready to dismiss Feanor and his sons out of hand. But if I truly have managed to pinpoint something here of what is so vital about them to us both, then I am well pleased with the success of this story!
heartofoshun
Nov. 18th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
I love it! You're very welcome.

I very much doubt whether this story would be enough to convert anyone who is ready to dismiss Feanor and his sons out of hand.

I never give up!
ignoblebard
Nov. 16th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
I read this on Oshun's recommendation and I wasn't disappointed. It's a very powerful piece and actually made me feel the pain of someone who could perform such a heinous act. I love that his change of heart was his undoing. "There are no happy endings this side of the sea." Beautifully written from start to finish. I second that standing O.
hhimring
Nov. 18th, 2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm very glad you weren't disappointed, as Oshun's recommendation was so very generous that I feared she might raise readers' expectations too high! If I have succeeded in making you feel the pain of someone who could perform such an act, then I have indeed succeeded.
As for the plot--as I said, I've had this plot bunny for a while. I thought I might actually have read a ficlet once in which one of Celegorm's former servants was among those who later turned against the Sons of Feanor at Sirion, but when I went looking for it, I could not find it (and I looked really hard), so unless the story has disappeared, I guess my memory was playing tricks on me.
moetushie
Nov. 17th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
Absolutely amazing. You certainly do deserve a standing ovation for this.
hhimring
Nov. 18th, 2012 09:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!
(*blushing, tongue-tied*)
lindahoyland
Nov. 17th, 2012 08:14 am (UTC)
I have to admit these characters and time period don't greatly interest me, but this was truly gripping. I was almost holding my breath. A searing and timeless glimpse of the horrors of war.
hhimring
Nov. 18th, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, Linda! I really appreciate this, as I know the First Age isn't your period and this episode is both obscure and dark even within the First Age! But, yes, I think the horrors of war are--sadly--timeless.
angelica_ramses
Nov. 17th, 2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
As always you pick characters who just come into the canonical Silm, do their thing in two lines and disappear and make them into fully rounded people whose motivations and thoughts can be debated but make perfect heart-breaking sense.

There were no happy endings this side of the sea.
The whole of the Silm in a nutshell.

I join Oshun's standing ovation.
hhimring
Nov. 18th, 2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, Angelica!
I actually had the privilege of reading two short (very different) pieces by Silver Trails and Shadowislands earlier this year that set me thinking about these people, who are only described as "cruel servants of Celegorm", as if they had been born cruel...

The one by Silver Trails is here: http://www.silmarillionwritersguild.org/archive/home/viewstory.php?sid=1528

The one by Shadowbrides is here: http://shadowbrides.livejournal.com/8002.html

And yes, the Silm is rather short of happy endings, especially this side of the sea!
blslarner
Nov. 18th, 2012 12:50 am (UTC)
A terrible yet worthy judgment, one intended to bring back his humanity and self-respect. I am glad to think that he was tenderly greeted by Lord Namo as he found his way Home.
hhimring
Nov. 18th, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, Larner!
I hope you are right and Lord Namo was kind to him. He regained his humanity, but at the cost of much pain!
myaru
Nov. 18th, 2012 08:12 am (UTC)
That ending hurts.

This is such an excellent depiction of guilt and grief. (That's what I read in it, anyway.) The way Sartandur turns inward and alternately tries to absolve himself and mourn Celegorm, and his desire for some kind of punishment to perhaps mitigate that guilt was really intense. The silence of his comrades was an awful sort of spectre from his POV too - though as a reader, of course, I think it was perfect. I imagine everyone is doing the same internal exercise of denial, just a little bit.

that it did not, finally, matter which of the Sons of Feanor one chose to serve: that despite the apparent differences between them, they were essentially one, variations on the same theme: one Oath, one fate.

I really liked this because they do seem like a monolith. It wasn't until I stopped to think about them, after my first reading of the book, that I realized their decisions and philosophies (so to speak?) actually look quite different on a closer look.

I also really liked Sartandur's mental painting of Celegorm.

I just really liked this in general!
hhimring
Nov. 18th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, Myaru! I'm really glad you like so many things about this.

Yes, the others are doing their exercise of denial, too. Of course, they are genuinely horrified at what Sartandur did, so he's not exactly a scapegoat, but there is still something of denial in the way they are ostracizing him: they do want the difference between themselves and him to be greater than it actually is.
mrowe
Nov. 18th, 2012 09:45 am (UTC)
Chilling. Excellent. And what everybody above me said.
hhimring
Nov. 18th, 2012 10:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
I should already have said that "chilling" and "excellent" definitely applies to your piece on the Crossings of Erui as well. A most impressive portrait of Eldacar!
huinare
Nov. 24th, 2012 12:29 am (UTC)
(Late to the party, but this bears saying..)

Wow. You always flesh out your characters’ perceptions, motives, and reactions so adeptly. As others have said, this is intense and wrenching.
hhimring
Nov. 24th, 2012 09:00 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
I'm very glad to hear that you think my Sartandur is convincing. Having walked for a bit in his shoes, I don't think I will think of them as the "cruel servants of Celegorm" again, although of course it makes what they did not a whit less cruel.
keiliss
Dec. 13th, 2012 04:13 pm (UTC)
It's been a long day and I have no idea what led me to reread this while i was feeling tired and emotioonal, and of course it has left me crying my mascara off for dead children and harsh choices.

I never commented at the time, I think I was at a loss for the right words, but there aren't 'right words' really. You took a POV I would never have thought to write,\ and laid bare the reasoning and growth of a man who did the unforgivable and had to finally look truth in the face and accept responsibility. That moment when he realised he had not felt anything close to a brother's loss with Celegorm's death was stunning. The picture of the remains of an army withdrawing from enemy territory was convincing, and the way you described where they were and where they were going felt very natural - no information overload, which is the mistake too many writers make. His need to be punished and Maedhros' refusal and then his final decision was intensely human. The end - I wonder if Maedhros had a moment of foresight there or if he just understood that the course their path was set on would inevitably lead to another dark night of the soul. It was the right ending, I cannot think of an alternate.

I'm not a Feanorian, but you make me read them, be fascinated by the world you describe, and even occasionally love them. Thank you.

Edited at 2012-12-13 04:34 pm (UTC)
hhimring
Dec. 16th, 2012 09:57 am (UTC)
That moment when he realised he had not felt anything close to a brother's loss with Celegorm's death was stunning.

You know I'm really glad to hear that that worked, specifically, because I was a bit anxious that it might come across as just saying "blood is thicker than water" or something like that. I've actually written about Maedhros and Celegorm as brothers, but obviously Maedhros is not going to explain anything about that to Sartandur here.

I wonder if Maedhros had a moment of foresight there or if he just understood that the course their path was set on would inevitably lead to another dark night of the soul.

Maedhros would find it difficult to tell these apart, especially at that point, although it would be very much like him to try.

Thank you! It seems to me that anyone who has written as much about Elrond as you have, will probably find themselves thinking about Feanorians--that is, Maglor at any rate--at some point. And, in fact, you seem to have been thinking about Maglor recently, haven't you? But it has been very good to find that this piece has a rather wider appeal than the subject matter would have led me to expect.
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