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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Silmfic: "Leaves before the Wind"

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Silmfic: "Leaves before the Wind"

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feanor fall
I haven't written--really written--in too long a time. Well, today I felt like it. Kinda out of the blue, but muses aren't known for being rational beings. I asked my friends list for ideas for Silmfic (here--keep them coming! :), and heartofoshun suggested, "Maglor shortly after the Nírnaeth Arnoediad, better even if he is worrying about Maedhros."

The summary on the SWG: Following the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the sons of Fëanor wandered in the woods of Ossiriand. Maglor and Maedhros travel together, recovering from their physical wounds and slowly succumbing to their emotional ones. Maedhros/Fingon. Dark.

I rated it Adult over there for sex, violence, expletive language, and mature themes.

If you'd rather read it on the SWG, here it is.

Leaves before the Wind

The wound on his forearm had been deep and, in the haste of fleeing from the north to Ossiriand, improperly cared for. Maglor drew the bow and sighted along the arrow, but it trembled and, even in the few moments it took for him to line up the shot, began to stray from its target. He swore under his breath, cringed, and tried a prayer instead. The arrow listed even further off the bowstring. He shut his eyes, willed strength into his aching arm, and loosed the arrow.

The thrash of limbs in the brittle undergrowth told him that he'd hit his target. He rose and hurried forward. The deer was scrawny. White ringed its eyes as it died, its legs pedaling furiously, searching for the earth it would never tread again. Maglor finished it quickly with a blade to the throat and watched the rime of frost recede beneath the blood. "Praise--" he began, but there he stopped. Praise what? Surely not the Valar. Surely not his waning skill. Praise Uldor for not slicing me deeper. He massaged his aching arm, and his face crumpled into a grin. He needn't see himself--hadn't, indeed, seen himself for months now, save as shards of color in the surface of a rushing stream--to know he looked mad. "Praise the life of this being, taken for our sustenance," he finished at last, his voice flat against the silent backdrop of the forest, his teeth still bared in a grin, palms turned heavenward for dramatic effect.

He slung the deer over his shoulders and started back to their camp, or where he had last left their camp. Maedhros had a habit of picking up and moving the camp at unpredictable moments, usually, it seemed, while Maglor was gone, although he'd woken one memorable night to the slither of icy rain on his face because his brother had stripped down the tent and was hastily packing it into a rough ball. "Hey!" Silver eyes took on the writhing light of their lone candle--Maglor wished to conserve them, but they were both prone to nightmares--before Maedhros whipped around, hair darkened by rain, and disappeared into the forest. "Hey." Maglor's hand stretched to nothing.

The camp was still there this time. Maedhros was writing, sitting beneath a tree with one long leg steepled to support the ledger and the other stretched before him, barefoot despite the cold. They'd come across a cottage once and Maedhros had traded the woman who lived there a Dwarf-made dagger for a ledger with only the first two pages given over to household accounts. Those he'd excised carefully with his knife and left on the woman's doorstep, weighted down by a rock. The ink he made, climbing high into oak trees during the day and plucking off wasp galls, which he steeped like tea (in their battered tin teapot, too, Maglor discovered to his unpleasant surprise after pouring himself a cup of what he assumed would warm his bones and settle his empty stomach after a fruitless hunting expeditions), and the quills he cut carefully from the reeds that grew along the stream.

"Maedhros." Maglor dropped the deer a few yards from his brother's outstretched foot. "Dinner. Help me."

"Mmm." He tapped his quill against his lips. They were spotted with brown oak gall ink. He'd done that for as long as Maglor could remember. Maglor made a face that his brother did not see, having not yet looked up from his book.

"Maedhros! Help me!"

Silver eyes flicked up to meet his. Maglor still flinched. He knew those eyes, he knew that face, but-- "Finish my sentence?"

Maglor sighed. Dark lashes shadowed the silver eyes again; Maedhros had resumed writing without waiting for an answer.

"Sure," Maglor said, but for his own benefit, to pretend that something like mutual regard still existed between him and his brother.

~oOo~

After dinner, Maedhros worked on burning the title of his book into the thin leather cover of the ledger. He extracted twigs from the fire and pressed them into the leather, every now and then grabbing them too close to the fire and hissing and sucking his fingertips. THE CATALOGUE OF ERRORS, it was called. The letters were done; he was adding the little curlicues and fancy bits that Maglor had never learned to do, but Maedhros would have, having studied lore once. He used to watch his brother practice scripts, in their father's library with dust dancing in the beams of Treelight that crisscrossed the room, watching him carefully form and embellish each letter with a steel-tipped pen. He hadn't seen his brother even attempt anything beyond a straight serious script--the kind that labeled maps and battle plans--since the loss of his hand. The emerging design on the front of the book betrayed no handicap.

"Sss!" Maedhros's fingers were in his mouth again. On the ground beside him, the burning tip of a twig grayed into ash.

Maglor coaxed his brother's fingers from his mouth. The tip of the middle one was already welling into a blister. The others were ink-stained and puffy from abuse in the fire. "Maedhros--"

Maedhros jerked his hand from Maglor's grip and went back to rooting around at the base of the fire. A strand of hair fell over one shoulder and dipped into the flame. Maglor swiped it away before it even had a chance to singe. "Maedhros." The threadbare tunic his brother wore was the same he'd worn since pulling it over his nakedness on the morning of the Nirnaeth. Maglor had been there to put on his brother's armor, as he'd always done. He'd smoothed the tunic across his brother's shoulders to remove wrinkles that would rub and pinch under the weight of gilded steel. He smoothed it again now, though it was oily and it stunk and Maedhros would likely never wear gilded steel again. He was still rummaging at the edge of the fire, and his hair was over his shoulder again, dangling into the flames, so Maglor could not see his face. "Nelyo--"

A fist full of burning twigs smashed into his face, and Maglor's sight went black.

~oOo~

It was the day he'd first proposed the Nirnaeth--no, of course, they were not calling it that at the time, but he could now think of it as nothing else--to Fingon. Always, they had been coconspirators, and an idea kindled in the mind of one took on a delirious intensity when it was shared between them. They'd barred Fingon's bedroom door save to admit a servant with food--one plate, one glass shared between them--and might have been boys again in Aman, planning a party or way to convince their fathers of the wisdom of another summer spent together, but for the moon that hung gravid in the window behind them, so bright that they could forego candles until late into the night.

Maedhros staggered to his bedroom, closer to dawn than sundown. He'd left his shoes somewhere--couldn't remember where--and the stones were cold beneath his feet. He didn't bother with nightclothes. The bed was piled high with furs and a servant had kept a vigorous fire going. He left his clothes--tunic, trousers, underclothes--in a trail from door to bed and fell into oblivion.

He woke to Fingon--bright-eyed, flushed, naked--beside him.

"Do you remember when I used to do this, Nelyo? Come to your bed in the middle of the night under some pretense of--well, whatever I thought would convince you to let me stay. I had no idea what I wanted, only that I wanted it. We were so innocent then." He rested his chin on Maedhros's shoulder. His arm circled Maedhros's chest, pressed a place on the left side that was relatively free of scars from Angband.

Maedhros lay unmoving. He remembered those times. They'd both always worn nightclothes. They hadn't needed furs piled on the bed because it was Aman; it was always warm. Neither had yet known what it was to love, much less to lose that love.

"I would put my hand here, just like now. I would feel your heartbeat, just like now. It would be maybe a little too fast. Just like now." Fingon moved his lips toward the side of Maedhros's face but stopped just shy of kissing the corner of his mouth. "You were older. I suppose you knew what I wanted. The first time you did this--" he turned Maedhros's face to his, kissed him full on the mouth, their lips parting and tongues touching--"Valar, it felt so good. You could have ravaged me there, and I wouldn't have stopped you, so drunk was I on that first kiss--"

Maedhros turned to face him. Their hips touched. Their legs raveled. "Of course I wouldn't have done that."

"Of course you wouldn't have." They kissed deeper. Fingon's fingers slid up his thigh, and the leg responded as though pulled by the strings of a puppeteer, rising to clasp Fingon around the hip. Fingon laughed, his fingers resting now where Maedhros's leg joined his body. "We were so innocent then. Nelyo."

Next he knew, Fingon was pinned beneath him. He was much bigger. Older. Fingon had never been a match for him. The stump of his ruined wrist pressed Fingon's throat. The name Nelyo barely wheezed out again. Maedhros pressed harder. "That name no longer suits me." Fingon laughed past the pressure on this throat. "Don't ever use it again." They were innocent no longer. Maedhros ravaged him.

~oOo~

When Maglor came to, Maedhros's ruined wrist was draped lightly across his throat, just hard enough that he could feel his pulse beating against it. Silver eyes caught the starlight. The fire had died. Maglor struggled up and scrambled back through the fallen leaves, away from his brother. "What the fuck, Maedhros!"

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hit you like that. I don't like that name anymore." He closed his lips tightly, as though trying not to say it.

"Well, I won't call you that anymore! You didn't have to hit me. You could have just told me."

"I'm sorry."

"I don't know what's wrong with you! All you do is make your reeking inks and write in that stupid book--"

"I was supposed to be a loremaster, Macalaurë, remember?" he said with an air of childish hurt. "Before I became a politician and then--" he waved his ruined wrist-- "this. A military commander? A failed military commander. I should have stuck with the books! I was good at that."

Maedhros had been wounded the worst of all of them in the Nirnaeth. They'd had to drag him from the field and had only managed that because he'd been almost dead by that time. He'd been wounded in the gut, and the wound festered, and within days, he burned with fever. Maglor and Caranthir took turns pulling him on a makeshift stretcher; their other brothers, if they'd escaped the battle alive, were unknown to them.

"Oh, they're alive," Caranthir said one night when they stopped to rest. "Fingon is dead."

"What?"

"How can you marvel at that, given the state of our eldest brother? How could you not have known?"

"Caranthir, no one survives wounds like this." He gestured at the rot-black gash across their brother's belly. "I'd assumed Maedhros's state as that from a mortal wound, not ... regicide."

Caranthir laughed that brash, ugly laugh of his, the one that sounded like he was parodying a normal person capable of normal emotion. "People survive things like this all the time. All the time. He survived Angband; he will survive this too, but Fingon? It's not so certain he will survive the loss of Fingon." He clasped Maedhros around the chest and put his face beside Maedhros's flushed, fevered cheek. "I am not as strong as I was in Aman. Once I would have been able to pull this from him and cast it--" He stopped and pressed his mouth into Maedhros's armpit and made a hissing noise.

Once you would have known Ulfang and his sons were not to be trusted, Maglor thought, but he said, "Pull what from him?"

"The hurt." Caranthir looked up, his eyes bright and dark like a vulture interrupted at its meal. "But no, he will suffer with it."

Maglor woke one morning and Caranthir was gone. He stomped a circle around their campsite in the woods, calling for him but heard no reply and found no sign. When he returned to their camp, Maedhros's fever had broken. His wounds healed. He became strong again, stronger than Maglor. But he would have starved for the sake of that book.

He cradled it now in his ruined arm. The fingers of his good hand traced the carefully wrought letters on the cover. THE CATALOGUE OF ERRORS. "I have already added my error tonight to it. I did it while I was waiting for you to wake up. It's between following our father to Formenos and making test of my strength against Angband too soon. I suppose if it's read, that will seem an odd place for it, but it means that much to me, and through that choice, whoever reads my book will know me. I didn't mean to hurt you and hope you can forgive me. The handwriting is horrible because I didn't want to leave off touching you, but that makes it genuine, I hope."

You are mad.

"I am mad. I know. I am like a star that has burst: My light was so bright it lit the sky even in the day but now, every day now, the darkness tears more of me away."

The day Maglor returned to camp after searching for Caranthir, he found Maedhros wearing only the tunic he'd put on him morning of the Nirnaeth, standing thigh deep in a stream. He was holding an axe at his side and bobbing in the water, blood trailing off in black tendrils in the brisk current. "Maedhros?" He turned. His face was splattered with black blood too. It was on his lips, like ink from tapping his pen on his teeth while lost in thought, back when they'd been boys in Aman.

An orc lay on the opposite bank of the stream. Its crude iron helm had been split in two with a single swift, strong blow. Maedhros had not stopped there. He'd beaten the creature's head into the mire of mud on the stream bank. He let the axe fall into the stream, pulled himself up the bank with fistfuls of brittle, leafless vines, and began to pack up their camp.

  • Ouch. That hurt. It was beautifully written.
  • Beautiful with stark emotion layered in exquisite prose.

    I haven't the words.
    • Thank you, Lilith. That is high praise coming from a wordsmith like yourself! :)

      I wanted the raw emotion in it, so I'm glad that came through for you.
  • Oh this is so sad and powerful. I could feel their pain so vividly.

    Beautifully written, Dawn.

    Edited at 2012-07-22 11:32 am (UTC)
    • Thank you, Scarlet! I wanted that raw emotion to come through, so I'm glad I succeeded for you. :)
  • I'm glad your muses returned! :) Enjoy in writing, dear! :)
    • Thank you! I'm going to try to squeeze a little more in today but have a lot of RL stuff, unfortunately ... D:
  • The insanity comes clearly through in this little slice of their lives. The most frightening thing is that they still have so long to fall... It's a joy to have you writing again.

    - Erulisse (one L)
    • Thank you, Erulisse! It's good to be back. Now that ToME is settling down, I'm hoping I can sustain it.

      They do have a long way to go. I don't normally write this period of their lives at all, so this was a different take for me! :)
  • This was breathtakingly sad and gorgeous at the same time.
  • I am like a star that has burst. Yes, indeed.

    Gods, Dawn, this was so achingly real I could hear their voices. Beautifully written.

    Edited at 2012-07-22 04:10 pm (UTC)
    • Thank you, Kei! That particular line is one I had in my mind to use as I wrote--then almost forgot to put in! I had to rewrite a tiny bit to add it. I'm glad I did. :)

      I'm trying to do more realistic dialogue. When I read back on my early stuff, I cringe at how uptight my Elves sound! :D
  • Far, far from the dreams of glory with which the Noldor and, in particular, the sons of Fëanor, must have departed from Valinor. Maedhros' madness is very disturbing, though completely expected and very well portrayed. His obsession with the books (perfect title, btw) is really moving. I loved it.
    • Thank you, Russa! "Oh how far they've fallen" is always my thought upon reading that the sons of the once High Prince of the Noldor are living adrift in the woods, utterly defeated. Even though this isn't technically a Felak!verse story (due to the inclusion of Maedhros/Fingon because I knew it would delight Oshun), there are a lot of nods to AMC and related stories, the obsession with books (and the ink! :) being one of them.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting! :)
  • You've shown the Feanorian combination of insantity and charisma beautifully here. I'm so glad that you're writing Silmarillion stories again.
    • Me too! :D Now let it continue ... but my husband and I were talking this afternoon over lunch (he has been pushing me quite a bit harder lately to take my writing more seriously), and we're going to try to set aside an hour each week for creative stuff. More would be ideal, but given that I've had zero hours between March and writing this story--aside from commissioned projects that I had to do and stuff that I do with my art club at school--then even an hour per week is something! :)

      Insanity + charisma--that does sum them up, doesn't it?? :) Thank you for reading and commenting (so good to see you around too! :D)
  • Oh god. I'm pretty sure you just ripped my heart out. That was beautiful and heartbreaking. ♥
  • I really enjoyed this! It's is one of the finest expressions of Maedhros, post-Nirnaeth, that I've ever read. You've really captured it - brutally, I'd say. That the name "Nelyo" is so hurtful to him, so much that he'll strike the people he loves most, is also an amazingly good idea, and illustrates him so well.

    Now I kind of want to see the scene where Maedhros first kisses Fingon. Why did I already make a request... :D
    • Hey, I never said you could only make one ... ;)

      But the next piece I think I'm going to work on is la_prime's request for higher-rated ficlets. I think I'm going to do a series following Maedhros and Fingon. I might be able to work that kiss in there somewhere. ;)

      Thanks so much for reading--and commenting! I'm glad you liked it. "Brutal" is pretty much what I was going for too.
  • Heart-wrenching. It may have been the bits about Maedhros's moving the camp at unexpected moments and those curlicues on the book cover that got to me most. The effort Maglor had to put into shooting the deer and sorting out the appropriate reaction also will stay with me.

    One question, though: I'm not sure what the word "ravage" means in this story. I've seen it used on a couple of occasions where it seemed to be a (?American) spelling for "ravish", but here it's not really clear to me.
    • Thank you, Himring! Those were all moments I very deliberately included, so it's good to hear they worked. :) (On never knows!)

      Ravage ... I thought of ravish but didn't like the implication of non-con. Ravage is more an implication of violence without the overtones of rape, which is why I chose it.
      • Ah, I see. Thank you! That didn't quite work for me, I'm afraid, but by the looks of it, I'm the only one who had any problem with it. You see, I read this as "he violently raped Fingon", then went "Whoa! Did she really say that?" and backtracked. True, "ravage" doesn't normally mean "rape" (except when someone is actually spelling "ravish" that way), but it implies a great deal of violence to me, when it is not clearly being used figuratively. (So that my alternative reading would have been "he then proceeded to beat Fingon up", which doesn't quite match your intentions either, I think.)
        • Ravish and ravage definitely aren't the same word. It might be idiomatic too; ravish is often used in a much lighter sense than its dictionary definition (at least in the East Coast U.S.; can't speak for other English speakers). It's funny because I specifically chose ravage over ravish to divorce it from its violent sexual connotation; I wanted more to imply a violent lack of control (with the similar sound of the words filling in the blanks ... as though the context wouldn't do that. :)
  • I just finished reading your new story and all I have to say is, wow! I think the mood/tone that you created is brilliant! Not knowing the Sil, I read a bit about the Battle of Unnumbered Tears on Wikipedia (I know, bad me), and after getting a bit of the history I went back and reread it. Can I just say that I absolutely love the way you depicted Maedhros! Given all that happened to him I don't see how he could be in anything less than the extremely dark and foreboding place that he seems to occupy in your story. When I reread it, all i could think about is how much he had lost--literally and figuratively-- and how he had to give up his own dreams after he was thrust into a situation that he did not want to be in. It is incredibly tragic, and to me the fact that he is out of control fits like a puzzle piece into this point of his life. I think the scene where he hits Maglor in the face is incredibly powerful because it depicts in a very raw way how truly powerless he has become.

    As with all of your stories, I also loved the imagery. You have a magnificent way of writing mood, which I think is one of the most difficult aspects of writing because you hasve to explain rather abstract concepts of feelings that are generally difficult to explain. Of particular note for me was the line, ".... but for the moon that hung gravid in the window behind them, so bright that they could forego candles until late into the night." Given the rest of the scene this works perfectly. I really enjoy that kind of description, and you always pull it off marvelously.

    Again, great job, and all I have to say is keep going!
    • Thank you, love! :) I am still bowled over that you read this--and liked it, despite the fact that it is not a good "starter Silmfic" (as it does require some knowledge of the book, as you found out). A lot of what you're picking up on character-wise is more fully developed in AMC, especially loremaster!Nelyo; he's hinted at here (which you picked up on), but that is him in AMC (just giving you a preview of what you're in for ;).

      Thank you again, so much, for reading this, since I know it isn't your thing, exactly. And thank you, thank you for your kind words. You know I'm willing to admit these days that I'm a good writer, but it still feels like I have miles to go before I sleep (to quote one of your favorite poems! :), so it's nice to hear good things about what I manage from someone whose intellect and creativity I respect.
  • I just clicked the non-existant "Like" button a million times. (LJ needs a "like" button. It would save me the embarrassment of flailing stupidly happily over your writing. :) Beautifully written as always, as if the scene was plucked from the original how it was meant to be.

    Also the first Silmfic I've read in a long time, so that's fitting!

    And (you can't escape it) yay Caranthir cameo!
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