Theme: Yule Exchange 2016
Elements: Before the Darkening of Valinor, at least two of the Fëanorian brothers take a trip together somewhere in Aman. The story should focus on their relationship. You choose the brothers, their reason for traveling, and the destination!
Author's Notes: Many thanks to Elleth for the beta! I use Quenya names for Maglor and Maedhros, respectively Makalaurë and Nelyo.
Summary: Trapped in a cave by a rainstorm, Maglor and Maedhros reminisce and discuss future plans.
Word Count: 1231
Makalaurë sighed as he sank onto the cushion Nelyo had put in front of the fire. A rumble of thunder echoed through the shallow cave. His brother glanced over at him. “Are the horses settled?”
“As much as they can be in this weather.” Makalaurë glanced around the cave. “I’m at least glad we have the way station to ourselves.”
Nelyo laughed. “So you can run around pretending to fight an orc again?”
Makalaurë lightly shoved his brother’s shoulder. “I am no longer a child.”
“It was amusing.”
“I distinctly remember you thinking the opposite at the time.” Largely because he’d universally chosen his brother as the orc.
Nelyo huffed but didn’t deny it. Instead, he said, “My favorite part was when you tired yourself out and crawled into Father’s lap to hear the stories Mother and he learned from Grandfather Finwë and Grandpa Mahtan about the Great Journey.”
Yes, those stories: the starlit skies, the wide spaces of the untamed world, the violent storms and raging rivers, the everyday heroism against the dark. Even storms here in Aman seemed less than his imagination had made of Middle-earth. Maybe it was childhood fancy or maybe Valinor was too safe. Those stories-- secondhand memories, really-- had kindled an itch to see more.
It was a significant part of the reason that he hadn’t settled down in Grandfather’s court like it seemed most of Tirion had expected. Or rather, hoped for, given Nelyo had taken after both Father and Mother’s wanderings, despite his interest in politics. It seemed their family could never settle, would never be content with a quiet life.
The stories of the Dark Rider at Cuiviénen, on the other hand, were never full of fantasy and glee. His family had made it clear where the Rider was: here in Valinor, imprisoned in Mandos. Those stories were horror, the dangers too real.
“Do you ever wonder how much we learned then is actually true?”
Nelyo gave him an odd look. “The myth that we woke up under the stars?” He shrugged. “Some say they are. Others don’t and those who do know won’t tell. I think it’s a tale that’s gone beyond us, that it’s less true for what happened and more for the values it shows us. And also how to count.”
Makalaurë snorted. “Counting is the least of it. There are those who consider what happened in that story about waking up in pairs to be fact, that Cuiviénen was, ignoring the Dark Rider and his creatures, a sort-of paradise, the prototypical Elven community that set up our society as it is today, no matter that Grandfather wasn’t the original leader of those who became the Noldor. ‘To Cuiviénen there is no returning,’ some say. That suggests something more than mere geology.”
Nelyo smiled. “I didn’t say I agreed with those values. Taken literally, that story can lead into all sorts of unfortunate implications.” He poked Makalaurë's side. “I know you’ve heard them. How does that song go? ‘I awoke and looked at a tree…’”
Nelyo grinned. “Too ashamed to admit to writing it?”
“It’s anonymous, Nelyo.” For the hundredth time. Not that the denial had helped previously.
“Doesn’t mean I can’t recognize your songwriting,” he said in a singsong.
“Does this mean I can tell Grandfather who wrote that parody of his House?”
Nelyo’s cheeks turned pink. “Don’t you dare.”
“He knows it was someone in his family.”
“Right now, the blame is pinned on Uncle Arafinwë. I want it to stay there.” Makalaurë looked steadily at Nelyo until he relented. “Fine. I’ll stop trying to get the truth out of you.”
Makalaurë nodded and stood. He’d sat most of the day driving the wagon for the statue his brother had been sent to retrieve from the same village that had hired Makalaurë as the featured singer for their winter festival. Not that it was much of a winter with the rain; they were far enough north and in the foothills that it should have snowed. But it hadn’t yet. Driving the wagon through the muddy trail in the morning would be anything but easy. Still, it would make performing outside far more pleasant than singing in below freezing temperatures would. “Do you think Findis will like the statue?”
Nelyo shrugged. “Her parents presumably know her tastes better than we do. But you’d think they would have made it a condition of the sculptor to deliver it herself. Or at least hire someone rather than sending family. But you had to go and agree to sing at the festival, so here we are.”
“At least Indis had enough sense to talk Grandfather out of hiring Mother to carve it.”
Nelyo put another log on the fire. “I will give her that. Still, I’d rather be at home in this weather.”
“Wouldn’t we all?” Makalaurë muttered as a nearby lightning strike lit up the cave.
The crack of thunder sent the horses into snorting and tossing their heads, so Makalaurë went over to calm them. Not that it would last given how violent the storm was. But it was far better that they were in the cave than outside.
When Makalaurë sat back down on the cushion near the fire, Nelyo handed him a mug of tea. He sipped the hot liquid, the metal mug warming his hands nicely. “Do you ever wonder what else is out there?”
Nelyo stared out of the cave’s mouth into the pouring rain. “Aman is large; we’ve not seen all of it yet.”
“Most of it, from what Mother said.”
“We’ll visit it all eventually. But Avathar… I wonder what’s there. If any of Melkor’s creatures snuck in. No one explores there.”
Makalaurë shrugged. “Given the lack of light, it’s rather dangerous just for that alone. Imagine walking off a ravine because you couldn’t see it.”
Nelyo shuddered. “Point. Even a lampstone could play tricks with the shadows so what appeared to be safe ground wasn’t.” He sighed. “It isn’t like Aman is safe: safe from Melkor’s creatures, yes. But safe from lightning strikes and animal attacks and getting lost?” He looked over at Makalaurë. “It’s why I think Mother and Father were not the smartest in exploring alone. Not that I’ll ever tell them that.”
“Nor will I.”
He looked pensively into the fire. “Do you ever think that we should have stayed in Cuiviénen?”
“I think if you’re worried about the dangers here, what more would there be to worry about there?”
“The Valar imprisoned the Rider.”
“That doesn’t mean they captured all of his allies.” Makalaurë looked out at the rain sheeting down, visible only because of the firelight glinting off the water. “They undoubtedly remained; no one can capture or kill everyone. Which is why you’re concerned about Avathar.”
Nelyo shrugged one shoulder. “Concerned, no. Curious, yes. But not enough to risk becoming lost in the lightless wilderness. That would lead to nothing good. Could you imagine the humiliation of appearing in Mandos for judgement based on a mishap and having to explain yourself to everyone else after your release?”
Makalaurë could, his brother blushing bright red enough to nearly match his hair. He held back laughing with difficulty. “Then what do you want to do instead?”
Nelyo smiled. “In the spring, do you want to explore together? We haven’t yet seen further north than this village.”
Makalaurë grinned. “Let’s.”