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The Steel  by Aldwen

Laurelin is in full glow again when I awake, rested and refreshed. With the beauty and peace around, it somehow seems unfitting to grieve, and the golden glow seals my determination at least to try to forget my sorrows.

Fëanáro’s presence certainly helps. Even as I have asked him, so he does. He walks with me in the gardens. He speaks with me. And, at whiles, he sits silent and listens to me speaking, and often he even refrains from giving his thoughts unasked. I smile to myself as I notice that. I know the effort it costs my friend.

“Tell me of the news in Tirion,” Fëanáro asks, as we sit upon one of the little hillocks encircling Formenos and watch the small pools as netted jewels glittering below. “How fares my father?”

“King Finwë is well,” I reply. “I saw him shortly before my departure; the new fountain was finished in the main square and filled with water for the first time. There was a feast.”

“I know, I received an invitation.” My friend frowns; his voice is slightly irritated.

“Why did you not attend? It was a lovely event,” I say, annoyed by Fëanáro’s attitude towards his family. “The King was clearly disappointed by your and your family’s absence. We missed Makalaurë’s music, even though lady Indis sang most beautifully. And Nolofinwë and Arafinwë, they also…”

“Speak not of them!” Instead of irritation, true anger now flashes in his eyes as he turns towards me abruptly.

“Fëanáro, lady Indis has ever been kind towards you. And your brothers…”

“Half-brothers!” He glares at me.

“Very well, half-brothers, if you so wish. They are deeply hurt by your resentful bearing.”

He sits silent, eyes bent on the rippling water of the nearest lake, brow furrowed, lips pressed together in a thin line. Sadness fills my heart at the thought how much love and companionship my friend denies himself.

“Will you not let go of this enmity, Fëanáro?” I quietly ask. “You should spend more time with them; then you would see that they love and respect you. You would see that they are worthy of your love also.”

He turns towards me and I see hesitation in his eyes, but only for a while shorter than a heartbeat.

“They are not important,” he then says with a shrug. “And the city wearies me. Let us speak of something else.”

I nod. We speak of other things, until I make up my mind to ask the question that has burned on my lips since I arrived.

“Why the wall, Fëanáro? What is its purpose?”

Startled, he turns towards me. His look becomes guarded.

“Do you not find it beautiful?” he asks at length.

“Oh, beautiful it is, certainly. But it was not built for beauty in the first place, was it?” I do not let go of his gaze.

A shadow passes his face, and he shakes his head.

“Then why?” When he sits silent, I sigh in exasperation. “Fëanáro, you can tell me. I am your friend.”

“You will think me a fool.”

“I will not.”

His sharp, bright eyes consider me closely. Then, hesitantly, he speaks.

“A shadow has been growing on my mind, Aldanwë. I recall how it started, some time ago now. I was in my father’s house in Tirion, standing upon the high tower and watching the gold and silver light mingling in the distance. Suddenly all grew dim around me, and a strange, terrifying feeling arose in my heart, a feeling that the peace and the beauty we now enjoy is but a passing dream from which we are to wake to a world full of darkness and terror. It was so overwhelming that I swayed and seized the railing to steady myself. That foreboding has not returned since, but the memory of it has not faded. It was after that when I started pondering how to preserve the holy Light of the Trees. That is why I made the Silmarils, Aldanwë. The Light is locked within them now… should some disaster happen. And they are safely stored.” He falls silent abruptly, his eyes narrow. “You do think me a fool, do you not?”

“No, Fëanáro.” I lay a reassuring hand on his arm. “Maybe too cautious. But certainly not a fool. Whether your fears are true, only time will tell. But there is no evil in taking precautions.”

“I am glad you see it this way,” he softly says. “I have told of this neither to Nerdanel, nor to the boys. I do not want to alarm them. It was, after all, only a passing thought with little clarity. I do not know what it portends. But whatever it is, I think Valinórë is not unassailable, though I know not who the enemy could be.”

“Let us hope that peace shall persist,” I say quietly.

He nods, but there is a shadow of doubt in his eyes. The feeling of unease I felt when arriving has returned. Fëanáro senses that.

“I regret my words brought fear to your heart,” he says. “But Formenos is indeed a safe place. Come, I will show you!”

We return to the house. Fëanáro leads me many steps down, and then we stand at the entrance to a secret chamber. It is locked.

“What is in there, Fëanáro?” I look at him with surprise. Locked doors are so unusual in Valinórë, and secret locked doors – even more so.

“The treasures of the Noldor.”

Fëanáro lays his hand on the lock, and it clicks open. Then he pulls back the heavy doors, and we enter. Blue crystals of the lamps light up the space in the chamber. Heavy, ornate chests line its walls, containing, as I guess, the jewels made by Fëanáro’s people. On a stand amidst the room there is a casket of dark, polished wood. Fëanáro opens it, and I stand breathless, amazed, as always, by the beauty of the Silmarils. Here, in the dimly lit chamber, the light of the jewels seems even more radiant. They sparkle as if alive, as if rejoicing at their maker’s touch.

Fëanáro smiles. His eyes reflect the brilliance of his creation, his fingers caress the facets of the gems.

“They are my greatest work,” he quietly says. “I shall never make anything surpassing their beauty. The Treelight therein is entwined with the strands of my spirit.”

Despite the smile, his voice is sad. He sighs and closes the casket after the last long look at the gems, and it seems to me that, ere the lid clicks shut, the light of the Silmarils dulls a little, as if the stones, too, were grieving.

“So you see, Aldanwë, that this is a strong place,” says Fëanáro as we leave the vault. “Our greatest treasures are safe here.”

I nod and follow him upstairs. But the sense of disquiet is slow to leave me. Maybe the thought that the most beautiful things in Arda now lie locked in the darkness with none to see and to admire them is the reason. Or maybe it is the glint of steel in Fëanáro’s eyes when he speaks of the treasures of the Noldor.

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