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The Steel  by Aldwen

“What injured your son?”

I am certain he knows. And all others know too. Moreover, Nerdanel blames her husband, not Pityafinwë. I am determined to solve this mystery, so I hold Fëanáro’s gaze now, awaiting his reply. He frowns and turns away, clearly unwilling to speak.

“Fëanáro!”

I allow a note of warning into my voice. I know well how skilful he is at eluding questions he does not want to answer. But today his mind is too fraught with worry for his child, so he looks back at me with a nod.

“You have a right to know. Come with me.”

Then he turns and goes forth swiftly, and I follow, my heart full of heavy foreboding.

Fëanáro leads me out of the house and further on, towards a long, low building that stands apart, close to the new wall. It is a strange building for it has no windows, merely strong, iron-clad doors with a heavy lock upon them. I greatly wonder at its design as we approach it. Is it a storage house of some kind? But why the locked door again?

We come close, and Fëanáro hesitates, as if unsure. I do not relent. Arms folded on my chest, I meet his gaze steadily. He surrenders. With a sigh he opens the lock, and we enter.

It is indeed a storage house, even as I have guessed. A dim light of crystal lamps illuminates the space, and tall shelves line the walls. I step closer, confused. The shelves seem to be stacked full of hunting gear. There are bows, arrows and short spears, as well as daggers of diverse sizes.

“Are you telling me that Telvo injured himself with a hunting dagger?” I ask incredulously. “Surely, Fëanáro, your son is too skilled for that! Besides, how was that his brother’s fault then?”

“No.” He sighs again. “I am not telling you that. It was not a hunting dagger.”

His tone makes me increasingly uneasy as I go further in the room. In the next shelf I see something very strange. Long, double-edged blades that end with a needle-sharp tip, with leather-bound hilts and wide crossbars that would protect hands of the one holding them. I take one from the shelf and study it closely, yet I cannot fathom its use. If it is for hunting, then – of what animal? The thin, sharp blade may well have left the deep wound on Pityo’s leg, but I still cannot imagine how that may have happened and how his brother is at fault. I turn the thing in my hands in confusion. And when the truth finally dawns on me, it is so terrible that my fingers go numb, and the blade falls to the floor with a loud clang.

“Did Pityafinwë injure his brother with this on purpose?” My voice is trembling.

“What?” Fëanáro looks at me, perhaps no less terrified than I am, then shakes his head fervently. “Not on purpose, Aldanwë, no! It was an unfortunate accident! They were not allowed to take the steel blades ere they have acquired sufficient skill with the wooden ones.”

Some time passes ere I grasp the full meaning of his words, and when I do, my anger flares up, sudden and bright.

“Sufficient skill? Sufficient skill for what, Fëanáro? For killing one another?” For I realize now - this is the sole possible purpose of these blades. This is the only way of using them. They are not for hunting. “Are you saying that your children are learning to wield these… these things against one another?” When Fëanáro stands silent, I seize him by the shoulders and shake violently. “Answer me! Are you teaching your sons to kill?”

Despite being taller and stronger, Fëanáro does nothing to stop me, to free himself from my hold; he merely stands there with downcast eyes. At length I shove him away from me, and he leans against the wall.

“They are not learning to kill, Aldanwë,” he replies wearily. “They are learning to defend themselves.”

“To defend themselves? Against what? Against that unseen threat you fear? How do you even know that these things…” I kick the hilt of the blade on the floor with disgust. “…that these things will be of any avail against that?”

“Swords,” he says quietly. “They are called swords.”

“Whatever they are called! And, wait…” I narrow my eyes. “You said you had told the boys nothing of your foreboding. Did you lie about that? Did you lie to me, Fëanáro?”

“No!” His eyes glint. “I did not lie! The swords have nothing to do with my foreboding. It is because of Endórë!”

“Endórë?”

Bewildered, I take a step back. Endórë is a place of legend, only seldom spoken of, save in those old stories Maitimo has gathered and recorded. None of us has seen it, for we both have been born in the Blessed Realm, and my parents and Fëanáro’s father have never told us of their abiding in the Great Lands and of their long journey to Valinórë. But now the name of the place alone brings an excited sparkle to Fëanáro’s eyes.

“Yes, Aldanwë, Endórë! I wish to journey thither, to explore it!”

“And for that you need all this?” I point towards the shelves. “For that one desire you would put the steel of death in the hands of your children? I do not understand you, Fëanáro. I do not recognize you anymore.” With these words I turn my back on him and leave the storage house.





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