Title: Thrice Cursed
Theme: Father’s Day
Elements: "…he [Fëanor] cursed the name of Morgoth thrice, and laid it upon his sons to hold to their oath and to avenge their father." (The Silmarillion, Chapter IX, "Of the Return of the Noldor")
Author's Notes: Stand alone; Bunniverse compatible
Summary: Fëanor’s sons decide what to do following his death.
Word Count: 1401
Maglor appeared at the entrance of the tent. “What is your decision?” he asked of his elder brother. Maedhros was turned away, facing the thin wall of the hastily constructed shelter. Sturdier structures were being assembled outside, but Maedhros had called for this simple sanctuary to be created immediately following their father’s death. He had emerged only when Morgoth’s emissary came to offer terms, and following the brief encounter, had returned to the refuge.
“Where are the others?” Maedhros asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
Maglor stepped within and lowered his own voice. “They have been overseeing the camp. Caranthir is supervising the construction, while Celegorm has taken control of securing our location. Curufin was managing the provisions.”
“What about Ambarussa?”
“He is still inconsolable,” answered Maglor sadly. “He refuses to listen or speak to Curufin; I have also had little luck in communicating with him, but he at least acknowledges Caranthir and I.”
“I know it has been most difficult on him, but we need to unite.” Maedhros looked over his shoulder. “Can you find them all easily?”
Maglor gave a nod of his head. “Shall I gather them here?”
“If you would,” replied Maedhros. “Maglor,” he called out as his brother stepped away. The younger came back into the tent. “Bring your harp with you, if you are willing to play for me.”
Maglor returned several minutes later, his harp carefully cradled against his chest. Few items had survived the burning of the ships, for not everything had been brought ashore. On a whim, Maglor had taken his harp with him that night, and had kept it close ever since.
Behind him stood Curufin and Celegorm, arms folded across their chests, expressions vague and unreadable. Ambarussa’s face was filled with sorrow, and he came in last, save for Caranthir, who kept an arm around the youngest brother’s shoulder even as they came to sit on the ground before their eldest brother. Curufin sat down on a pile of capes and bedding that had been dumped in a corner, and Celegorm leaned against the trunk of the tree that made up part of the shelter.
Maglor took his place beside his brother on the bench that Maedhros had taken up residence upon for most of the day. “What shall I play for you?” he asked as he tuned his harp.
“Whatever Father would wish to hear,” said Maedhros. Maglor paused, his gaze flitting to Ambarussa, before his fingers began to caress the strings. “A decision must be made,” Maedhros announced, voice still low, wary of those who might pass by and hear them. “Morgoth’s emissaries will reach the point of convergence by sundown tomorrow. If we wish to meet with them, our envoy must leave tonight.” Maedhros folded his hands together and rested his chin upon them. “I will not make the decision alone.”
“It is your decision to make,” Celegorm reminded him.
“By right of birth, perhaps, but this quest was Father’s, and I will have us decide and be of one mind. I will not dictate our course of action without unanimous agreement.”
“Then we will surely be here far too long in debate for any of us to reach Morgoth’s council in time,” warned Caranthir.
Maedhros nodded. “That may be so, but tell me, brother: if it was your decision to make, how would you decide?”
Caranthir stared back at Maedhros for some time, neither wishing to be the first to look away. Finally, Caranthir sighed in defeat and dropped his gaze to the ground. “I took his oath, and followed him willingly to whatever place he might lead. How can I deny his dying wish? I do not trust Morgoth, not at all, and whatever numbers were agreed upon, I suggest we double our soldiers, but I would make the attempt to negotiate.”
“You would make the attempt to negotiate?” questioned Celegorm. “Who said you get to go?”
“I did not mean it that way!” Caranthir’s raised voice caused Maedhros to wave his hand and Maglor played louder to mask the words. Caranthir balled up the fist that was at his side, teeth clenched and face turning red. Ambarussa leaned against him and said something too quiet for the others to hear, but it seemed to soothe his brother’s temper. “What I meant was that was my advice, not what I personally planned to do,” he said once he had calmed.
Maedhros nodded. “I understood that.” He looked to Celegorm. “Who would you send?”
“I would send the best negotiator,” answered Celegorm.
“Is that not Caranthir?”
Celegorm gave his younger brother a long, hard look. “I think we all know why I would choose you before him.”
“But you said—“
“I meant the best negotiator who could keep his head!” snapped Celegorm.
Maedhros did not glare, nor did he sigh or roll his eyes. He simply smiled and said, “Then you agree that we should send someone.”
Celegorm smirked and closed his eyes. “We should send someone, as long as that someone is not Caranthir.”
Caranthir looked at Maehdros. “What?”
“Do you agree?” asked the eldest.
Caranthir scratched his neck and yawned. “I suppose,” he finally said.
“Good. If the two of you are in agreement, bringing forth a consensus from everyone else should be easy.” Maedhros turned to address Curufin. “What is your counsel?”
“Trust not Morgoth,” declared Curufin. “I would rather gather our strength and launch an assault upon Angband.”
“That would be foolish.”
Curufin straightened his back and squared his shoulders. “It is what Father would have done.”
“No doubt, and he tried,” Maedhros reminded his brothers. “If he stood here with us now, I would say the same. It was and is foolish. We cannot defeat Morgoth at his gates, not now, not without our cousins’ aid. That said, Curufin, do we wait, or do we meet with them?”
“Waiting is ill-advised. It gives him time to plot.” Curufin shook his head. “We have no other choice but to meet with him.”
“How do we know it is not some trickery?” Ambarussa had been silent, save for his words whispered to Caranthir. He stood now and began to pace, looking more like one who was lost than one who was thinking or worried. “Morgoth cannot be trusted; in that, there is much truth. However, he knows that we know this, and he will expect us to inflate our numbers, so inflating his own. If we do go to him, we must be cautious and we must be prepared. How many soldiers were agreed upon?”
“An army of thirty-six, plus two moderators apiece. I intended to bring seventy-two,” said Maedhros.
“Triple that,” suggested Celegorm. “At least three hundred, in fact. Take only the thirty-six into the clearing, and have the others lie in wait.”
Maedhros nodded. “We are in agreement, then?” When no one spoke any objection, he stood and said, “If Father was still with us, I have no doubt in my mind that he would insist upon being the one to go. Therefore, unless any of you are opposed, I shall go in his stead.”
“May the Valar bless your path,” said Caranthir to break the silence. He and Ambarussa left the tent first, with Celegorm and Curufin following after offering similar words of encouragement.
When at last there were only two, Maglor dropped his hands from the harp, and as the dissonance from misplayed notes faded he asked, “Why did you not ask my advice?”
Maedhros reached out and plucked one of the strings on the harp, watching it tremble as the sound resonated. “You took the oath last and most hesitantly. I did not wish to force such a decision upon you.”
“All the same, I took the oath. I loved our father no less than any of you.” Maglor set the harp upon the ground to rest against his leg as he watched Maedhros stand and gather his weapons. “Allow me to accompany you.”
“No; someone must stay here. If I do not return, you must...” Maedhros rummaged through the pile to find his cloak, refusing to finish his words. “May Eru keep you safe,” he said as he walked back to his brother and kissed his brow. “If I do not return or send a messenger by nightfall three days hence, leave this place and assemble our people somewhere safer. I will find you.”