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Chapter 1: I Hold With Those That Favor Fire
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
~ Fire and Ice by Robert Frost
Year of the Trees 1172:
The rage was fire in his veins.
Trembling, Fëanáro rummaged through his room, stuffing things haphazardly into his rucksack. He had to get away. His father had told him of Manwë’s decree in the second hour and he had not slept since. His heart was a drum in his chest, driving him on. It had been a few weeks since his last foray into the wilds of Aman. He would need his tinderbox and whetstone. A folded oilcloth, copper ladle and a small tin kettle joined the pack. Finally, he stuffed in a roll of hempen cord and needle case. He grabbed his quiver and bow in its leather case and pinned a crimson traveling cloak over his brown tunic. He was almost out the door when he remembered to change into his boots; sandals would not serve him in the mountains.
After a moment’s hesitation, he knelt down by his bed and withdrew an iron strongbox from under it. He retrieved the key hidden beneath a bowl of full of multicolored crystals on the shelf next to his desk. The brass hinges opened silently for he kept them well oiled. Within the box was a thick stack of parchment, each leaf covered with sable ink in a practiced, exquisite hand. Fëanáro took the sheets carefully and placed them in a leather pouch, lacing the eyelets tightly closed before placing it in his pack. Fëanáro looked over his room one last time and tried to remember if there was anything he might need.
He ought to leave a note for his father.
The anger welled up inside him at the thought and he struck the door’s lintel, the wood cracking beneath his fist. Snarling at his own foolishness, Fëanáro forced himself to breathe normally as he removed several splinters from his smarting hand. He had to get away. His father did not deserve a note. He must leave before his father made the announcement in the Great Square tomorrow. Before he would be forced to bear the pity on the faces of all who looked upon him. No one stopped him as he left Finwë’s suite and crossed the hall, and entered the nearly deserted Place kitchens. After stuffing his pack with a stack of leavened, wheaten flatbread and a hunk of hard cheese, he filled a small cloth bag with salt. Fëanáro did not wish to repeat the trip when he had forgotten the salt and had to eat the bland meat of the game he killed.
He egressed from the kitchens out into the Great Square, making for the Great Stairs opposite the Palace that descended to the base of Túna. Judging by the light, First Mingling was almost over, Telperion’s silver glow barely discernable over Laurelin’s golden blaze. Most Eldar would be waking soon. Heading south, he took the small gravel road th
He took the South Road until he reached the Noldorin mining town of Felyamas on the edge of the Forest of Oromë. There he crossed the stone bridge that spanned Telpeduinë, the river that ran along the Pelóri Mountains south of Tirion and emptied into the Sea through the Calacirya. Once he crossed the river’s floodplain he began the climb into the foothills. The hills were covered with a massive forest that stretched across the lower elevations of the Pelóri for almost its entire length. The dense woodland was comprised mainly of horse chestnut, walnut, evergreen oak and smooth maple. Fëanáro chose one of the many small streams that flowed westward down the hills to ride alongside.
The stream’s banks were thick with hazel brakes and Pelóri alder. The air was filled with the calls from white-cheeked bushtits, spectacled finches and red-breasted flycatchers. His ride was peaceful, interrupted only when he startled a thar that was drinking from the stream. The goatish antelope was covered in black fur with small horns and large donkey-like ears. The solitary beasts were only found in the mountains and, as it bounded into the woods, Fëanáro wished briefly that he had brought along a larger bow. Thar meat was well suited to roasting over an open fire. Yet the short bow he had tied behind the cantle did not have the draw weight to bring down a creature the size of a small goat. Shaking his head, he continued along the river.
After an hour had passed, Fëanáro was forced to stop and to rest and water Hísië. Laurelin was beginning to reach her greatest bloom and the lack of seep had caught up to him. His horse was well trained and there was no need to hobble her so,after removing her saddle, Fëanáro bedded down in the soft reeds on the bank of the stream. Head resting on his rucksack, he watched a black eagle glide overhead, the pinons on its outstretched wings splayed wide to slow its flight. A giant flying squirrel in the alder above him emitted a booming call in warning. Leaping from its branch the squirrel, which was longer than Fëanáro’s forearm, glided down to the safety of a dense thicket of hazel. He drifted down the Path of Dreams listening to the gentle murmuring of the water and the high, squeaking “tseet! tseet! tseet!” of a nuthatch.
Fëanáro woke refreshed and saw that the golden light was waning and it must be late into Quelië Laurë. He saddled Hísië and after drinking from the stream and eating a disk of flatbread, he continued his ascent. It was well into Second Mingling when the woods changed, the trees now comprised of fir, mountain cedar, blue pine and spruce. The forest floor was densely covered with delicate pink rhododendrons, and scattered with vole burrows. Fëanáro dismounted and gathered a large pile of dead wood. He then searched the forest floor for stones and with them he constructed a small fire pit at the base of a towering cedar. Wandering around the roots of trees, he spent some time hunting for morel mushrooms, careful to avoid the stinging nettles that also grew there.
Retrieving his tinderbox from his pack, Fëanáro kindled a fire in his pit. He then sat before it, back resting against the cedar, eating his catch of morels as he waited for coals to form. He would go hunting at second hour. There were many different kinds of partridges and pheasants to be found in these woods. He could stay here as long as he wanted. Perhaps he would not return. He could dwell forever in the uninhabited hills of the Pelóri. His father would send people to look for him, of course. But perhaps he would forget about him in time. His mother had not even been dead four years and he already seemed to have forgotten about her. At that thought he stood, and viciously kicked at a root. Shaking once more with impotent frustration, he dug the leather pouch out of his rucksack.
Tearing the sheets out of the case he held the pages in unsteady hands.
He had been a year and a half when his father had hired a tutor to teach him how to read and write. He had been given a wax tablet, which was a wood panel and frame that was covered with beeswax that had been darkened with charcoal and softened with oil. He was told to copy with a copper stylus all of the symbols his tutor inked onto a sheet of parchment until he perfected them. Fëanáro had mastered all of the Sarati in half a week, much to his tutor’s surprise and his father’s delight. He had then been entrusted with a goose feather quill and penknife. After learning how to dress and point a quill, he was allowed to write whatever he desired on his own parchment. He had spent hours every day at his desk until his hand ached and his inkwell ran dry.
Fëanáro loved writing. He loved the elegance and simplicity of Rúmil’s script. He loved the curves and lines that trailed down a sheet of parchment like delicate vines. He imagined that the little dots and strokes that indicated vowels were little black flowers blooming alongside their stems. He loved the scent of the iron gall ink, and the soft, ticklish tip of the quill. He loved the strange texture of the parchment and the ink spatters on his hands. Yet, even more than the beauty and grace of the letters, he loved how he could now make his thoughts permanent so that he might go back and look at them over again. He must have written hundreds of pages in the first few week after he had learned to write.
Fëanáro looked at the stack of parchment he held.
His tutor had wanted him to practice writing letters to people. He had done so, every day, he had written a letter to his mother. When his tutor had seen his letter’s she had looked at him
Now, gazing at the bundle of letters, Fëanáro knew she would never read them.
His eyes began to burn with unshed tears. Hísië, sensing his distress, stopped grazing by the stream and came to nuzzle his shoulder. He stroked her velvety muzzle as the fire within his chest raged. His father was not to blame for this. In truth, this was the Valar’s fault. It was Mandos’ fault for imprisoning his mother in his Halls. It was Lord Manwë’s fault for allowing the abominable decree that his father could remarry. It was also King Ingwë’s fault for encouraging his niece. Yet most of all it was Indis’ fault. She was to blame for beguiling his father. If the Vanya had not ensorcelled his father a year ago, Fëanáro knew he would have been content to wait for his mother’s return. Yet now she never would, knowing her husband loved another.
With a cry, Fëanáro cast the letters into the fire and watched as the flames burnt his dreams into ashes.
Fëanáro (Quenya): the Quenya form of the name Fëanor.
…First Mingling: a cannon term for the middle (6th) hour of a day of the Trees in which the light of both Laurelin and Telperion mingle.
…It had been a few weeks: a week is 5 days of the Trees or 17.5 solar days.
Hísië (Quenya): ‘mist’.
Telpeduinë (Quenya): ‘Silver River’. A name and geographical feature of my own invention.
…After an hour had passed: an hour of the Tree is 7 solar hours.
Quelië Laurë (Quenya): ‘waning light of Laurelin’. A term of my own invention to describe the 10th and 11th hour of the Trees.
…Second Mingling: a cannon term for the final (12th) hour of a day of the Trees in which the light of both Laurelin and Telperion mingle.
…not even been dead for four years: four years of the Trees is about 38 solar years. Fëanor is the equivalent of a 15 year old boy.
…He had been a year and a half: this would beabout 15 solar years. Fëanor would have been the equivalent of a 6 year old boy.
Sarati (Quenya): the alphabet devised byRúmil.
Notes: I’ve based the Pelóri off of the western Himalayas and the flora and fauna reflect this.
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