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The Great Escape  by Calairiel Malromiel

~One the Road Again~

Sixty years later, Finrod and his people had finally broken through the last barrier and connected the new road to the northern side of Formenos and Finrod couldn’t believe his eyes! He’d thought the stronghold looked different in the distance and that was because it was different. The walls hadn’t been breached. They’d been shaped and turned into delicate walkways. Arches carved into them and opening up the stronghold on all sides with the interior turned into a proper courtyard. 

The rough hewn exterior looked to be in the process of being carved, hollowed out and shaped into something more resembling their artistic Noldorin style. Finrod thought he could see some of what his atar was planning for the city and he could see how it would become a thing of beauty. He could see that even the natural ramparts that surrounded the winding road that led to the main entrance were being transformed. 

But he’d seen something coming up this northwestern side of this city….but, well, he was sure his atar had already seen it too! But it didn’t matter! Now that they’d broken through they could start from this direction and begin connecting all the roads and widening them. Paving them into proper roads. But for now he’d savour his accomplishment - his and his companions who he promptly congratulated on a job well done! 

Then he insisted they quit for the day and enjoy a hot bath and a meal. He received no objections from his crew and led them into the city that now had an entrance right into the courtyard. Staff came to lead them to their rooms and Finrod made his way to his chambers so he could bathe before he went to his atar’s chambers. Chambers and interior that he noticed had been remodeled into something that could put the palace of Tirion itself to shame. He hoped that by the time he was finished he’d be able to catch one or both of his parents in their chambers. 



Bathed and feeling like a proper ellon again, he made his way to his parent’s chambers and raised his hand to knock. And with his hand still raised to knock, the door opened to his atar’s smiling face. Finarfin grasped his son in a welcoming embrace and Finrod squeezed back, tightly. He hadn’t realized how much he’d missed his father. Sixty years isn’t much time for the eldar, but he’d spent centuries away from his family - both in Beleriand and in the Halls.

“Finrod, my son! It’s so good to see you!" Finarfin said, letting go of his son, adding, "Your amil has missed you.” he concluded lamely, self conscious with his display and ushering his son into his chambers.

Finrod laughed lightly and kissed his atar’s cheek, saying, “I missed you too, atta. I didn’t realize how much until I saw your face. Perhaps after we finish your - projects - I can bring Amarië to the coast and live with you and amil?”

“That would be marvelous, my son. Do you think you could convince her to leave Valmar?” he asked, and then smiled as his wife exclaimed in delight as Finrod’s presence.

“Oh you’re here! How I’ve missed you!” Eärwen exclaimed, embracing her son, who kissed her gently on the cheek in affection.

“I’m glad to be here, amil.” Finrod smiled, adding, as they sat for their midday meal “I must tell you both what marvelous progress you’ve made here! I can see what you plan here and it will truly be a marvel to behold when completed. Do you have any plans drawn out that you can show me?”

“He does and you can wait until after we eat to knock heads together pouring over them.” Eärwen chided.

“Yes, amil.” her son grinned.

“Tell me how your work goes, son. We began seeing your road crawl towards us a few months ago. I tried to make my way to you and found it unpassable. How did you solve that?”

“It helps to have experienced engineers with you, for starters. Secondly, many willing hands also help, immensely. It was simple enough to score the path and instead of leaving vast mounds of dirt and rocks on the perimeter, the engineers insisted we load the debris onto wagons and when we came upon dips and crevices in the path we wished to take, we’d simply use the debris as filler to level out the road.”

“And they don’t fear spring rains will wash them out?”

“I don’t think so. These are experienced engineers, atar. They did this sort of work in Beleriand and that land had wild weather. Things I’ve never seen here - but you were there. You must have seen how violent the storms are there!”

“Aye! Though most thought it the malice of Morgoth. For my part, I thought it was the Valar themselves who made this land so mild in climate.”

“That could be the reason. Or it could simply be they chose this land because of its position in the world and then engineered it so it was more protected. The Pelori runs the entire length of the eastern side of this land. There is no such mountain range on the western side.” and then he pulled a map out to show his father the details he’d been able to fill in during the course of his travels. “Here! See this plain? It’s about halfway between Formenos and the coast and I thought we could build Uncle Ñolo’s realm here. That is where the Pelori Spur ends and there are many caves there. Caves filled with quartz. Plus there are large forests to the north and the south that are easily accessible from that location.”

“That’s perfect. If I didn’t know better I’d say the Valar made this whole area just to keep us out of their hair.” he smirked, and then, “So the land is fairly flat between here and the coast?”

“Not really. But when we came to valleys or ravines too deep to traverse by using the debris we’d collected we simply built bridges. Rough, but sturdy to begin with, but that is what the followup crews led by the bridge architects were for. Those lads are scary in their brilliance! I imagine things would have gone a lot differently for us had we worked together rather than at cross purposes in Beleriand.”

“I would lay most of that at Morgoth’s door, and to the Valar themselves, for the rest.” Finarfin said bitterly.

“Husband!” Eärwen exclaimed, a fearful look upon her face.

But Finarfin pointed to her face and said, “That! Exactly that fear is why I feel the way I do. You should have seen the land they left our children to languish in, my love.” and holding up a hand to halt Finrod’s protests, “Nay, my son. I know it was not always so. I remember my atar’s stories of the Great Journey and the wonders they saw along the way. That is not what I saw. I saw a land sickened and blasted by malice and hatred. I imagine what I saw would have broken your heart had you gone with us in that last battle.”

“It broke my heart to know that the land did not survive the war. To think of a battle so fierce that the very bones set by Aulë, himself, were broken and collapsed beneath the waves is incomprehensible to me.”

“I never thought those pretty gems my brother wrought would have the power to bring down a dragon so vast he was the size of not a mountain, but an entire mountain range, by a peredhil wearing it on his brow in a sailing ship that flew.” Finarfin said dryly, his brows lifted in wonder. 

But he continued, for he had more to say, “But this is about our fear of the Valar who should be our teachers, not our jailers. I don’t know what made them decide they had to hide us to protect us, but the choice to leave was taken from us a very long time ago, it seems. And to those who died there, very few have been released. This wasn’t always the way of things. When Fëanor’s amil languished they did all they could to return her fëa to her hröa. The same with those who ended in accidents.”

“But it took a long time for those of my people killed by the Fëanorians to return.” Eärwen pointed out.

“But they were returned, my love. I suspect the Valar kept them until our work to repair their destruction was complete so they’d have nothing remaining to remind them of that terrible day. My concern is for those simple vassels who followed their lords and did no wrong save to keep their oaths of fealty.” Finarfin pointed out.

“What say you, my son? Are there those within the Halls who committed no treason other than leaving?”

“Yes! Many! Uncle Ñolo is the easiest example. He and his men committed no kinslaying. His son Fingon did under the mistaken belief that the Falmari had attacked unprovoked. Greatly did he repent that, but he never sought to excuse his actions. But Fingolfin, Turgon and Argon had no part in those acts and only followed because of the Oath Fingolfin swore to follow Uncle Fëanor as our High King. Indeed, Angrod died just as we stepped foot in Beleriand. How does he deserve to remain there? He was even more deserving than myself to be returned and he is yet there. That is not justice.”

“But you sacrificed yourself for another.” she pointed out.

“So? He never got the chance to sacrifice himself. And who is to say he didn’t? I didn’t see him die. As far as I know he died throwing himself in front of ellyth and elflings who were threatened. And what of all of those who died in the crossing? Elenwë is still there! No, ammë. I believe those in the Halls are held in petty revenge. And you can tell me nay until the cows come home, I’ll not change my mind.”

“Until the cows come home?” Finarfin repeated with a lifted brow.

“Tis a mannish saying. They seem to have sayings for everything and deal with the more mundane aspects of life. And most of them are humorous in nature. They have an uncanny ability to laugh at everything. To see the humor in any situation, whether it be humorous or not.” Finrod smiled gently in fond remembrance.

“That tells me nothing of this saying.” Finarfin dryly pointed out.

“Cows don’t come home. At least not without being herded. Do you know they’ve trained dogs to do this? And they bred dogs from wolves who love them and are loyal unto death to them?” breaking off, he grinned, “But I digress! So the saying comes about when one's mind is not ever going to be changed by counsel or argument and invoking something that will never happen anyway is their way of saying they’ll not be persuaded.” he grinned, “I actually find it a very clever way to tell someone to cease. And they have another that is not so kind by telling them to cease their prattle. Actually, they have dozens of idioms to tell nonsense speakers to shut up.”

“Shut...up?” Eärwen asked faintly.

“It’s a direction for someone to shut their mouth. Stop talking - literally. A forceful admonition usually followed by a brawl if not followed.”

“Do they brawl….often?” she asked, horrified.

“Not really - unless they are in their cups. And they don’t have near our tolerance for wine consumption, though they seem to prefer ale. They become befuddled rather quickly. It is best to leave before those affected negatively take issue with those who are what they call happy-drunks. And I can understand the intolerance sometimes, for those become overly stimulated with the need to be affectionate and sing very loudly and very badly.”

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” his amil accused.

“Guilty as charged, ammë!”

“Well, I would prefer to talk about your wedding with Amarië. Do you have any idea when we might expect that?” she eagerly asked. Only two of her four children had wed and Angrod, his son and granddaughter were in Mandos. And who knew if or when Galadriel would ever have a child?

“Should we not wait until these projects are completed?” Finrod asked.

“Is her family still against the match?” 

“Nay, for unless they repent they have seen she will not be moved to choose another. I believe their desire for grandchildren outweighs the accident of my birth.” Finrod smirked.

“You were not an accident, my son.” Finarfin said firmly.

“No, but being born into the House of Finwë apparently is. They resent how their Indis was treated by a vast number of our people. I can’t fault them that, atar.”

“Neither can I. Perhaps now she is one of the three queens their view has softened.” and then, “Have you given any thought to how we will liberate our people from the Halls?”

“I can’t listen to this!” Eärwen exclaimed and quickly left the room.

“She is against us?” Finrod asked in surprise.

“Nay, but her anger has cooled over the years. She’s afraid, son. Perhaps if I were not so filled with bitterness, I would also feel fear. But I’m angered at the captivity of my kin and the kin of others who do not deserve such. Can you now tell me of this place of waiting?” and Finrod spoke of all he knew of the place and how in the beginning they had all been forced to bear their sojourn there in solitude.

“But why?”

“I believe they think we needed to contemplate our errors in solitude. Perhaps it is what they do and find value in it. They truly don’t understand that it can drive us mad. I fear that has been the fate of many there.”

“It sounds more like they didn't want to be bothered with you. That is needlessly cruel. As you say, many are there for following their lord. Exactly what errors do they have to contemplate to justify such a long period of time?!"”

“I’ve come to the conclusion that they do not understand us at all. Though, I imagine Uncle Fingolfin had been given the boon of residing with Argon as a reward for his wounding of Morgoth. That they valued! But it also started a minor rebellion there. Uncle is very stubborn and the boon, whatever it was, seemed to give him the ability to collect other kin. He laid claim to me, Aegnor and Angrod almost as soon as we arrived. He’d already begun collecting vassels and other kin. After a while he just started laying claim to everyone. For what you want, your brother is your best asset for he cheerfully rebels almost daily and they tolerate it.”

“Poor Fingolfin. A shining star, but always in the shadow of our elder sibling. But none can lay claim to his valor. I wish I could have seen him in his last stand.”

“Oh, I can show you that. At least from his point of view. I imagine it was much more impressive viewed as the eagles fly. I suppose that’s why they clawed old Bauglir’s face and stole Uncle Fingolfin’s body. Tis said he walked with a limp ever after. Well, until they lopped his feet off. They should’ve lopped his head off!” and he showed his father the vision of Fingolfin’s battle from Fingolfin’s point of view. It was horrifying.

“That coward! How dared he?!!” Finarfin raged, his ire rekindled against the valar, “I really hate to say it, because I truly believe he went temporarily insane, but some of what Fëanor said was all too true.”

“I imagine Uncle Fingolfin has been adding all those lost from the War of Wrath to his collection and is even now collecting Uncle Fëanor. Once he gets him - and if they can work together - we might be seeing a prison break any day now!”

“There has to be some way to get a message to them!”

“I don’t see how. Not unless we get a sympathetic maia to aid us. But really, I think all they need to do is find a doorway to the outside. They don’t have hröa sitting in a storeroom awaiting us. When I was returned I was basically pushed out the doors and that, alone, slammed me into a hröa. I think…..I think the Halls are a different realm. The Unseen Realm. As soon as I was pushed into the Seen Realm I had the hröa of this realm. It really was as simple as that. This isn’t a matter of not being able to restore people to a proper body. This is a decision to hold people as an act of Will by the Valar.”

“I wonder if all we need do is find a way to open a door from the outside?” Finarfin mused, thoughtfully and he didn’t see the wide eyed look his son directed at him.


~Meanwhile: Mandos~

Fingolfin had left his brother out in the corridor and told him to stay put. This only worked for him if he was alone. When Fëanor asked him how that worked, Fingolfin rolled his eyes at him, saying, “How should I know? I only know that’s how it works. Now, stay put!” And he walked through the wall. Fëanor had no idea how he did that. Nobody else could do so. In fact, the only way to get out of their solitary confinement had been through Fingolfin entering and taking hold of them. Collecting them, as it were, and then walking them back out through the wall. He’d have to ask if he’d come across any barriers since he’d been here. For, if he hadn’t, could they just keep walking until they were all outside?

It was just a few moments before Fingolfin returned and for a moment it seemed as though he met resistance as he seemed to jerk back with his forearm still within the wall. Then he gave a mighty tug and there standing before them was their atar, Finwë, looking shocked and unsteady. Then he gave a cry of relief and joy when he saw his first born standing there and the two embraced.

Later, seated on the floor of a gigantic cavern Fingolfin had found so none of the ones he’d collected could be spirited away and put back into solitary, Fëanor asked something that had been bothering him for a while now.

“Why haven’t you asked me why I left you?”

“Because I don’t care. It’s done. Over. In the past. And things in the past can’t be changed so it’s no use rehashing it. We are here now - together. That is all that matters. That and finding a way out of this forsaken prison.”

“I saw what happened. Why did you speak out against your brother?”

“Did you happen to catch that Oath of his?”

“No, son. The tapestries don’t have sound.”

“Ask him sometime. And I didn’t speak out against him.”

“You did! You and your son!” Fëanor exclaimed.

“Asking if you’ve lost your mind isn’t speaking out against you.”

“That’s not exactly what you said.”

“Fine. Asking if you’ve lost your fucking mind, isn’t speaking out against you. Happy?” and the three elder ellyn heard the snickering from their children seated nearby. “Well, now that we’ve made the infants laugh at my naughty language, can we drop this now?” and then seeing his father’s shocked face added, “Atta if you say language to me, I swear I’ll slap you!”

“He can do it, too! He’s pinched me several times!” Fingon nodded sagely.

Then a loud voice reverberated through the Halls, “Ñolofinwë Finwion”

Getting to his feet, Fingolfin grinned and said, “It must be time for my annual lecture. Don’t go anywhere.” he said cheerfully and then bent to place his hand on the floor and a soft glow immediately lit everyone in the cavern. Dusting his hands of imaginary dust he turned and disappeared before their eyes.

“What did he do?” Finwë asked.

“I think he marks us. He wasn’t kidding when he said he collects us. If not for him we’d all still be in solitary confinement watching dreary tapestries.”

“But how does he do it?”

“No idea. I suppose I should think more about that. He wants me to cook up some means of escape. But honestly? I think he’s our best bet to get out of here.”


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