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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

"By the Light of Roses"--Chapter Fifteen

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"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.

"By the Light of Roses"--Chapter Fifteen

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Last week, Eressetor finally managed to find equal ground with the impetuous Fëanáro, for the benefit of the entire family. Fëanáro's unhealthy obsession over his estranged wife seemed to diminish, and order and purpose was restored to his House with plans for the Spring Hunt.

Until word came from Tirion that he was to attend festival there, and Eressetor made a discovery that caused him to doubt that this was not Fëanáro's purpose all along.

This week, the story comes to its conclusion. Melkor's actions destroy life as they know it for the Noldor, and characters are called upon to make difficult choices in love and loyalty.

Please remember that this story is rated for adults only for reasons of sexuality and mature themes and contains slash. As usual, all comments are welcomed.

My sincerest thanks to all who read this story, offered advice, and made it such a pleasant experience for me to share this work. Honestly, I did not expect much of an audience for a slash novella built on a strange AU premise that I wrote on the request of a dear friend, so it was a most delightful surprise to discover that others seemed to enjoy reading this story as much as I admittedly loved writing it.

Many, many thanks for making the last three months a lot of fun.


By the Light of Roses
Chapter Fifteen

By the Light of Roses


He announced it to us that night at supper, standing at the head of the table with all faces inclined to him.

He looked at none of us as he spoke but rather over our heads, like a king addressing a crowd. Even I—his beloved—called such bare hours before, he would not meet my eyes.

“Manwë has deemed that I shall return to Tirion, to come among our people for the Spring Festival and make my recompense.” His voice was bold, as carefully constructed to be noble and unwavering as were the towers and spires that marked the Tirion skyline. We were not his family but his subjects, expected to accept his will without question.

I felt his sons shifting restively, a motion as subtle as the sound of a turning page. Curufinwë snorted. “Surely you won’t! Surely you won’t kneel before those who hold the keys to our cages!”

“Kneel? No. But I will go. I will go in the manner of one grieved, without festival raiment, to show perhaps our people the nature of the Valarin generosity. That they drive me from the gates of my own home, from the city where my father is king, and into the cold north; they leave my family the choice to suffer here or stand divided, and when their whim suits, they invite me back, not out of any concern for our well-being or our joy but because they hunger for the light of the Silmarils and desire to rekindle friendship as the exile draws to a close, to make a parody of diplomacy, so that they may always say—when the rebellion comes (and it will)—that they made worthy attempts with us, to treat us with kindness and dignity, that they have given us every choice to live free in this realm. How is there exile in freedom? A man who is free cannot be likewise banished, and it is captors—not friends—who seek to bar a man from happiness and home. But you know this, my daughters and sons, and our family has stood strong despite their attempts to do otherwise. We will become stronger still, in the weeks to come.”

We sat in silence and pondered this. I saw that he had at last let his gaze fall upon one of us: me.

Quickly, I looked away.

Then, I reconsidered: He did not know that I knew. He believed me to be as naïve as his sons, and who was I to destroy the illusion? Let him remain unaware of the power that he had created in me.

With the last bit of strength in my wounded heart, I lifted my chin to meet his eyes. And I smiled.
~oOo~

I was finishing my treatise that night on the evolution of the thorn into the s sound when he came for me. He’d been busy with his own work, preparing now for the journey to Tirion. The Spring Hunt had been abandoned, although I’d heard his sons’ unruly voices as they squeezed like a slow-moving clog of chaos down the narrow hallway to the family parlor; their voices, to my ears now grown accustomed—or maybe tired—of hearing them now sounded less like seven individuals and more like a single voice with all its range of intonations, as though they were a single being, from Telvo to Curufinwë. From that singular voice, I’d discerned that the Spring Hunt would still be held, even in Fëanáro’s absence.

But that which had, until this morning, meant so much to him: forgotten.

He sat on the corner of the table and watched me work. I said nothing to him, but this was not unusual: We each were scholars and knew the way of the trade, knew how easily inspiration could be stemmed, diverted, and never found again. He watched my quill scratch across the parchment, my handwriting sloppy, a dishonor to his beautiful alphabet, as the words poured forth: this, my final treatise in my year as his apprentice. “You will become my assistant,” he’d said, and there had been excitement in his voice. The merging of our ideas, I understood, would take the place of the merging of our spirits.

Which was impossible, of course, because he was already married.

“You will become my assistant, and when the apprentices arrive, you will oversee their academic work, and I will oversee their practical work.”

“Apprentices?” I’d asked. I’d supposed that this was how normal couples felt, circling the empty rooms of the house that would be theirs or planning the conception and naming of their firstborn child. “The word is plural now?”

“Yes. There shall be two, I have decided.” His eyes had sparked like the capricious fire licking at the sky, seeking to infect—and consume—more than what it had been given. I understood that his joy for learning and knowledge was such that it couldn’t be contained within just him or even within him and me. He needed to pass it on to others, until all of Aman was covered with those taught to think like he did.

Now, that seemed sinister.

I’d chosen this topic—the thorn, that which certain scholars teasingly claimed to be the cause of the breach between the Houses of Fëanáro and Nolofinwë, not knowing the truth behind their claims—with particular care, for it would be the treatise that I would write with the most passion, perhaps putting into better, more rational words than even Fëanáro had. Perhaps I would sway the Noldor to his side in this matter, and the rest would follow.

That had been my hope, unspoken, but he’d known, and he’d approved of my topic with a pleased smile teasing his lips.

Now, my quill faltered and stopped in mid-sentence.

His hand slipped along my cheek and tucked my unfettered hair behind my ear, lingering there, the thumb tracing the delicate whorl, the sensitive tip, as though memorizing it for one of his sculptures. “I remember when you first came to me,” he said, “and you would not appear outside your chambers without your hair braided so severely that I feared it might pull from your scalp. And your raiment! Those robes, even in the heat of summer, with the embroidery so itchy…I thought, ‘Here is a man who likes to torture himself.’ ” He lifted my chin and searched my eyes. Maybe he was looking for truth in that? “But I discovered that you like pleasure too, though you were long in succumbing to me. And now, I wonder, what happened to the robes and the braids that must have taken you an hour each morning?”

They had. But I had discovered an enthusiasm for something greater than appearance and decorum, the diligent manners of the elite. I glanced at the stack of papers beneath my hands pressed flat against them.

“I still have them,” I said. “The robes, that is. The braids also can return at any time.”

He leaned close to my face, his breath a whisper upon trembling lips. “I never want to see them again.” He kissed me with lips parted, tongue sliding against my stubborn mouth. But I could not resist him. From the night we began as lovers—by the glow of the roses—I had not been able to resist him.

He led me to his bedroom though his sons were still in noisy council in the family parlor, led me past closed doors and empty rooms, and had my clothes off before we’d even reached his bedroom. Yet neither of us took the other, and it was a strange kind of pleasure—flesh pressing flesh and our lips plying gentle kisses—deliberate, without the sudden violence of orgasm. As water will come to a slow boil atop a fire, so pleasure infused us, until it could not be contained by body alone, and the room—all of Arda, maybe—seemed to center on two bodies lying side by side, as equals, with arms and legs tangled and indiscernible as to which belonged to whom. We were pressed so close that our breaths matched—I inhaled for his exhale—and we were opposites, yes, but also with inevitable synchronicity: Laurelin and Telperion, each separate and different but unable to escape the other, our fates likewise entwined.

The silver light in the skylight overhead faded until there was only darkness punctured by a thousand scattered stars. I lay with my back in the curve of Fëanáro’s body, his breath moving my hair and warming my flesh as though his nourishment, his life was mine as well.

“Eressetor,” he said, “I love you.”

His palm was pressing my belly over my navel. I lifted his hand in mine, fingers twined, and kissed his palm that tasted of salt, the skin as soft and resolute as suede; the hand from which greatness had been derived: two loves, seven sons, and countless treasures. Why was I given the power to see through his love, to know that I had taken the second place in his heart, yet I was not given the will to resist, to wrench away? Why did I take comfort in his heartbeat at my back and his hand content to lie in mine?

Why did my voice whisper, with the inevitability of an echo, my voice subordinate and dependent upon his: “I love you too?”

For I did.
~oOo~

Finwë returned three days before the heralding of spring, and Fëanáro left the next morning upon his fastest horse, riding for Tirion.

Upon his back, he carried nothing but his clothes, those of the plainest craftsman: a white tunic over fawn-colored breeches and sturdy boots to his knees, his hair tied back in an unflattering horsetail. “I will drink of rivers and eat of the land,” he’d said to his father’s concerns, and when Finwë asked, “But how, son, shall you wash your teeth? Comb your hair?” he only laughed.

The sons scorned seeing him off—“Pity the day that I give my time to some frivolity devised by the Valar!”—but yet they all appeared and stood for once in silence, in a reverent half-ring. Finwë and I stood aside.

Fëanáro laughed at our formality, “I shall be returned to you in five days! Do not act as though I am exiled yet again!” yet he bade each of us farewell in turn. Tyelperinquar kissed his grandfather’s cheek, and his daughters-in-law embraced him. To each son, he said something that none of the others heard, and he made a show of clapping Finwë into hearty embrace, then held him long, unspeaking, eyes opened and unblinking, while Finwë whispered in his ear.

He came to me last and took my hand in his. “Eressetor,” he said and nothing else, for what remained to be said could not—not here—and had already been said the night before anyway. I nodded. “Fëanáro.”

Swinging onto his horse, he heeled him through the gate and was gone.
~oOo~

The next evening, I made my excuses to retire early to bed. I’d been sitting with the sons, all of us silent but attentive, as though we expected to hear something rising from beyond the horizon. I dared glance up from my book once and sneaked a look around the room: We resembled a warren of rabbits with ears pointed at the sky, awaiting a sign of trouble. Giggles burbled to my lips, and I covered them with a cough, to which only Maitimo had the manners to reply, “Blessings.”

“Thank you,” I replied, and made my excuses not long after.

I was halfway up the stairs, pondering another sleepless night in my lonely bed, when I heard footsteps behind me and Maitimo called, “Eressetor?” I turned. “We are still going on the Spring Hunt, leaving at the zenith of Telperion and…we would like you to come.”

“ ‘We,’ Maitimo? Or ‘you’ feel that it is polite and decorous to ask me, the apprentice of your father?” I said, surprising myself with my own insolence, sounding more like Fëanáro than I’d intended.

Maitimo, though, was unfazed, but then, he would have to be, growing up and surviving in the House of Fëanáro. “ ‘We,’ ” he said, “feel that since our father wished you to come, then you should. It will do none of us any good to sit about the house for another night and day, wondering how things are faring and when he will return to us.” The word “when” was pronounced deliberately because I’d heard him and Macalaurë arguing earlier that day; Macalaurë seemed to believe that if Fëanáro reunited with his wife, then he would not return to Formenos, even driven out upon the blades of the Valar. “It does you no good either,” he added, and his glance skipped from mine then, and I knew that he knew.

Heart hammering in my chest, I said nothing.

“We all love him,” said Maitimo, “each in our own way, and we shall ride in his honor.”

“Then I shall come,” I said.
~oOo~

Maitimo and I went to the private study of Finwë, and Maitimo knocked once upon the door. “Enter,” came the stern voice, followed by a softer, gentler, “please.”

Finwë was hunched over his desk, working avidly over some papers that—when I peered closer—seemed to have no purpose aside from distraction. Maitimo was careful not to look. He made the same speech to Finwë as he’d made to me—turned to listen to him with the amused smile of a grandfather hearing his grandson’s first recitation of his numerals, leaning his head upon his fingertips—about riding in honor of his father, but Finwë did not likewise concede.

“Nelyo,” he said, using Maitimo’s ancient childhood epessë with such ease that I knew it was deliberate, “what your father failed to understand about my willingness to participate in this—what you, perhaps, will understand, being of more pliable mind than is he—is that the life we left behind in the Outer Lands is not something of mystery and romance for me; it is not even myth or history or tradition. It was something that I did not live so much as survive, and I understand—as your father does not—that the events surrounding the Spring Hunt that have earned the euphemistic title of ‘traditions’ were not celebrations. They were essential, then, to our survival; they were brutal and they were cruel. It was a blood-soaked day that we all longed to forget upon our arrival here, for we were no better than the beasts that we hunted on that day…or the beasts that hunted us. What you father does not understand is that I do not want to go back, to that time or that place, and that I brought my people here and wed my wife in the Light of Valinor because I wanted my son never to know it either.

“And now, I do what I must to ensure that our people remain here, where we need not usurp festivals with bloodshed ever again.

“I will not stop you, Maitimo, for each celebrates this day in the way that he pleases, in the way that has the most meaning for him. And perhaps, had I not lived the reality of it centuries ago, then I too would find significance in resurrecting that which is best left buried. But I will not join you, and I hope that you will explain my reasons to your brothers as you see best fit so that they understand that this is not a divisive choice on my part but rather one that I must make.”

Maitimo bowed neatly and said not another word, and we went on the hunt without Finwë, leaving him alone in his study, sitting in the faint glow of stone lamps with his hands pressed upon the desk before him, staring into the night in the direction of Tirion.
~oOo~

In the shadows of the forest, we did not realize immediately that the Lights had gone out. It was the Mingling—the softest light of the day—and the light that reached us in Formenos under the best of conditions was thin and diluted by distance. In the depths of the forest, crashing headlong through the trees after a stag dancing just out of reach, we rode by the light of the stars overhead—as had our ancestors—and with our thoughts turned to the spillage of blood, several minutes had passed before we noticed the darkness as though it—as Finwë had portended—had also invaded our hearts.

Tyelkormo had just cut the throat of the struggling quarry—sawing through sinew and hide to spill its blood across his hands in an act of what we called “mercy”—when Telvo chanced to look up, a queer look upon his face, and I followed his gaze to the stars, shards of light whetted by the darkness, as sharp now as needles upon the bed of night.

It happened not long after: a roiling blackness, pestilent, and even the stars went dark, and I thought that the end of Arda had come—that which is portended in the myths—without ever having felt the ache of endless life in my bones, and I wondered, Where would Fëanáro’s spirit go? To me? Or to his wife?

But the darkness was not the ending of Arda: It was grief and madness, sickness and despair, born upon the wind like a cloud of locusts; it stuffed itself down our throats until we could not scream or call for each other; it buzzed in our ears like one thousand flies feeding on rot. I screamed and screamed but no sound came out. I thrashed in the darkness and collided with trees, tripped over a root, groping the comfort of warm flesh, at last finding it, only to discover that I had not found one of the sons of Fëanáro but the slain deer, still warm with tenacious life, and I had stuck my hands in his blood.

I screamed and screamed but no sound came out. My voice would not rise above a whisper for days after.

Mercy we’d been delivering, although we hadn’t truly believed it at the time: delivering the creature beneath my sticky hands from life before he was consumed by Darkness, as we were now consumed.

The humid mouth of Darkness, closing upon us.

I envied the stag, for the swiftness of his death.

I screamed until all of the air was wrung from my lungs and I fainted, my mind curled upon its own private darkness before I even felt the slap of my face falling into the pool of blood.
~oOo~

Light triumphs over darkness. It is one of the rules of Eä.

That was Fëanáro’s voice, the day in his study that he’d closed all of the drapes—even tacking them at the sides to prevent the entrance of light—and had opened and shut a lamp upon the darkness. Yet even from around the seams, light crept forth; even when his hand clutched and covered it, the light went through his fingers, as though his blood and bone were of no consequence.

See?

The blackness that had come upon us dissipated like smoke on the wind, and we walked home, our mounts having fled. We searched a while for them, calling and whistling, and came to a ravine and found Macalaurë’s gray mare at the bottom, her neck twisted and broken beneath her and a froth of agony upon her lips. He’d vomited into the leaves, and we’d all looked away, lest we did the same.

We hadn’t searched after that.

It took us the better part of the day to walk back to Formenos, and after a while, we realized that the light wasn’t coming back.

We walked in circles for a while; without the light to guide us to the south, we knew not in which direction we moved. At last, I made out the patterns of the stars above us, as I’d seen them so many times through the skylight above Fëanáro’s bed. “This way,” I said, pointing at the bright blue star at the apex of a perfect equilateral triangle, my voice hoarse, torn by screaming. But in the absence of light, all birdsong had ceased; even the rivers had fallen mute, and my voice was heard. That those perfect moments of my life, spent in his arms and gazing upon the stars, should come to such dark fruition; I knew then that I would never again know such joy. “This way is south.”

No one questioned me. In the darkness, our fear made us equals.

After a while, we came upon other Elves, also walking south. They had fled Formenos, when the darkness had come, running blindly across the plain and toward the forest. Many were injured—having tripped or collided with things, dragging injured limbs—and all were wide-eyed and silent. Sometimes, I would see one blinking, as though waiting for the shroud upon his eyes to be lifted, or maybe waiting to wake from a dream. Macalaurë and Telvo circled among them, calling for their Vingarië and Nandolin; Curufinwë whirled every woman with pale brown hair toward him, even those who could not possibly be mistaken for Terentaulë. Pityo peered over the heads of the crowd, searching in vain for his betrothed. I dared not think of my own lover and what might be his fate.

We arrived at the estate. The copper gate had been twisted open, wrenched aside.

We all spent a long time standing on the path, looking at that.

It was Telvo who whimpered, “Grandfather?” and propelled us all forward, with Maitimo in the lead with his arm around the shoulders of his youngest brother. The front door to the house had been shattered into splinters, but we moved with the impetus of fear now and did not bother to stop and ponder it. The house echoed with footfalls, upon stairs that doubled upon themselves and senseless, twisting hallways, a house filled with voices. Grandfather! Grandfather! Grandfather! All along the hallways were strange, bright patches upon the walls where treasures and paintings had hung; that which could not be taken had been smashed into thousands of irreparable pieces.

Grandfather!

My own voice, barely a croak, shouting in a whisper: Finwë!

I found myself at Maitimo’s side, barreling down the hallway that led to the study where we’d left him. There were two doors at the end: one leading to his study, the other to the northern garden and the strange, luminescent roses. Maitimo plunged into the study, shouting his grandfather’s name, but I did not follow. I stood with my hand upon the knob to the other door.

Beneath my hand, it slipped open, and I saw that it—like so many other things in the house—had been broken. Like a dead limb, it flopped open.

Amid the softly glowing roses lay the broken body of Finwë, the reek of blood and death mixing with the plushy-sweet smell of wine, of sap spilled from broken stems and falling like tears, upon the fleshy red faces of the roses, dripping onto the face, body—and wounds—of the King.

By the light of roses—the only light in the endless dark—the fate of the Noldor changed.

I reached for the door before Maitimo could see, but it was too late: He was at my back, his voice rising in a wail, fingers tearing at his own hair and his face twisted with agony, his screams punctuating the endless, swirling, hopeless and hope-filled calls of Grandfather? still circulating in the endless catacomb-hallways of the house behind us.
~oOo~

None of us could bear to be inside of the ruined house, and so we assembled in a small buzzing mass on the wide walkway leading to the broken front door. The sons cloistered themselves from all others—wives, children, me—in the burnt, broken grass beside the path: Ambarussa, embracing; Maitimo consoling Tyelkormo as he himself wept; Carnistir railing senselessly while Curufinwë listened—making mud with his tears—and Macalaurë stroked his hair.

Terentaulë and Vingarië had come up from Formenos. I stood to the side with them; they were whispering furtively. “We must return to Tirion! To Fëanáro!” Vingarië was saying, but Terentaulë swiped the tears from her eyes and said, “I-I shall not.”

“You shall not?” Vingarië’s voice: incredulous.

“No, for—for my husband—I shall not remain with him. This is the end of their—of our—family.” She began sobbing, hiding her face in Tyelperinquar’s flaxen hair.

I felt it too: It was only the beginning of madness. I felt it radiating from the small cluster of Fëanáro’s sons like heat from a crucible of molten metal, that which is solid and whole reduced to feeble liquid, able to be remade into shapes both mad and dangerous.

In my mind, a thousand connections were coming together, as I knew that they would in Fëanáro’s, and the net that they made would ensnare us all.

Unless we remained here, pledging allegiance to no one.

Terentaulë was crying. “I will take Tyelperinquar—my cousin in the north—I shall raise him in peace and he shall never know the hurt of war—” Her voice was rising but the sons of Fëanáro—not even her husband—heard her to pay her any mind.

The beginning of madness.

In the midst of it all, I wondered: What would become of me?

I wept for the lost King and the darkness upon the world, but also for Fëanáro, for surely he was lost to me now as well, and I would never know love again for the whole of my endless life.

Selfishly, I wept most for this.

From the darkness at the end of the path, a shape emerged; the shape had broad shoulders and a wide, beautiful face with amber-colored eyes. There was dirt on his hands, for he’d been sowing new life within the earth even as his husband had been taking it within the forest: Nandolin. He carried an old tin lamp, the kind that held a candle quivering within it. All of the lamps of the house had been smashed and their stones taken, and we blinked in surprise at the light.

No one paid him any mind, least of all the sons of Fëanáro. Telvo’s face was buried in his twin’s shoulder; his back heaved with gulping sobs and grief that had no voice. And Nandolin, incredibly, did not heed the sons of Fëanáro either but came to us: Terentaulë, Vingarië, and me.

“We must take the road with greatest haste to Tirion,” he said. “My father will lend us horses, and if we do not sleep, we shall make it by—” he hesitated, for none of us knew the time of day, not without the trees. “We shall make it by tomorrow.”

None of us answered him. Vingarië was gently rocking Terentaulë in her arms. I looked at the ground.

“Do you see them?” Nandolin asked, pointing to the sons of Fëanáro. He spoke awkwardly, always as though there was a chunk of granite beneath his tongue. “Do you see their unquestioning solidarity? Why is it that we—the ones they love—stand aside? Is it because they can smell our doubt upon us like blood?”

“We cannot—” Terentaulë began, her voice like a cracking whip, but Nandolin interrupted her. “We can. And will. How dare we call ourselves family if we forsake them now? Our family?” His voice was driving like a fist, and we all winced.

Our doubt: it reeked upon us like blood.

“We will make our excuses in the years to come, that it was for the best, that we lacked the strength for what is to come…or maybe we will put the fault on them, on fights that we had and pain that they gave us. But really, it is simple: We are family, and we must go with them.”

He turned then and strode into the insular cluster of Fëanáro’s sons. He went to Telvo and stroked his back while Pityo held him in his arms.

Vingarië’s arm slipped from Terentaulë’s shoulders.

She nodded at me as she passed. “Eressetor. If I do not—” Smiling to cover her fear. “Best wishes.” And she went to slip her hand into Macalaurë’s, the hand that was not consoling Carnistir.

And from the path then came a surprising sight: the pretty, impatient face of Pityo’s betrothed eased into focus from the shadows. She paused and looked upon us—Terentaulë and me—before moving to stand solidly at Pityo’s side. In a reflection of Nandolin, her hand lifted to rest upon his shoulder, and she looked at us no more.

Curufinwë stood alone in the circle of brothers and Terentaulë also. She bounced Tyelperinquar and wept without end—but her feet slowly carried her to him, and he alone of the brothers caught his wife into his embrace, and the wept together, with Tyelperinquar held between them.

They began to move toward the path, and I watched them go. Nandolin was speaking again of horses in a voice awkward but strong, leading with the battered tin lamp held high in his hand as a beacon, and Maitimo was nodding through his tears. Amid the chaos, frail order was beginning to take hold.

I waited for Nandolin to turn back, to beckon me one last time to follow. I watched his lamp dancing down the path, growing smaller as he moved from me and left me in the darkness.

We are their family….

But it was Telvo, his gray eyes bright in the darkness, red-rimmed and swollen with tears, his hand caught in his brother’s on one side and his husband’s on the other, who turned and looked back at me. Eressetor?

Jogging to catch up with them, together, we began the walk to Tirion with the lamp held high, the tiny twist of fire striving bravely against the darkness.
~THE END~
  • There are no words. ;_;
  • I'll just tell you a few things that I thought/can remember from the first time I read this.

    1) Hunting. Since Celegorm at least, and I would assume the other sons as well, is a good hunter, he would probably not have to cut the deer's throat. I assume he should be good enough to be able to shoot the stag and have it drop.

    2) Dead horse. My only comment is that well...better than finding the mare with a broken leg instead...

    I want to reread this chapter, but if I do that now, there's no way I'll have enough motivation to go to my economics recitation!
  • It's brilliant! My immediate reaction was "did you have to end it there?" but on reflection I'm glad that you did!
    • Thank you! :^D

      This is the sort of story that could continue...well, forever! I've already had a request to follow up on the reunion of Erestor and "Laure" (Glorfindel)....

      But I had to end it or poor ann_arien's birthday present would have never been delivered!

      I haven't decided yet whether there will be more stories in this verse or not. I'll just have to see what the muses want!
  • *sniffles* Cruel, you are. ... or rather, the story is.

    *clings to her Fëanorian headvoice and cries*
  • Wow... I think it'd be very easy to make "darkness scares people and drives them mad" into a cheesy scene, but you did an *awesome* job of fleshing out this scene that didn't even seem all that real to me when I read it in Silm and making *me* feel scared (and sad) along with the Elves.

    And Finwë in the glowing roses... amazing that such a small detail can tear all the more at my emotions! :(

    What a great story! Thanks for sharing!
  • I too thought, "No, don't stop it here!", but it makes a natural ending to this part of Eressetor's life. : (

    "By the light of the Roses".......What a title - the image of a broken Finwe under the rose light is totally creepy.

    Someday, I would love to read your version of the First Age. You can capture the inner current and agony of a character like no one else. Love it. *hate the tight feeling in my chest after* but love it. Thanks for another great story.
    • I too thought, "No, don't stop it here!", but it makes a natural ending to this part of Eressetor's life. : (

      I've given thought to the idea of a sequel or more stories in this verse because I loved writing this story so much...and it could go on for much, much more! We'll have to see what the muses want.

      "By the light of the Roses".......What a title - the image of a broken Finwe under the rose light is totally creepy.

      I was honestly waiting for some smarty-pants to say, "Dawn, roses don't glow; you've got your images screwed up!" :^P Alas, I will admit to being evol and intentionally using the roses only in reference to Erestor/Feanor and then at the last second.... Yeah. >:^)

      Someday, I would love to read your version of the First Age.

      I'll get there someday! :^D I have stories planned out in my head, just not enough hours to write them all!

      "Choices of Spirits" and "Salt" are set entirely or partially in the First Age, but looking over my list of stories, there are sadly few that move beyond the Darkening.

      You can capture the inner current and agony of a character like no one else. Love it. *hate the tight feeling in my chest after* but love it. Thanks for another great story.

      You're welcome! And thank you so much for these kind words...you are making me grin like an idiot! This story was the most fun I've had writing in a while, so I am so pleased that others have enjoyed it as much. :)
  • Dawn, I remember reading the whole story in a mad rush immediately after you e-mailed it to me, and, when I got to the ending, my very first reaction was much like the others have said in their comments: Why does it end here?! But like them, I realized that it's best this way, even though the story could go on forever...far beyond what we know about the fate of the Feanorians. There is a rather selfish reson why I'm glad that you ended my b-day story when and where you did, too. I don't think I could have read about Feanaro's reaction to the news of his father's death and the theft of the Silmarils. Not if you'd have conveyed the heart-wrenching pain with such intensity as you have in this last chapter. There is only so much heartbreak lil old me can take and I can't take much of it when it comes to Feanaro. (which is rather ironic, since I've been pretty much ignoring him in favor of my latest anime muses and I know that he's not happy about it).

    By the light of roses—the only light in the endless dark—the fate of the Noldor changed.

    This phrase is so well constructed, so well placed between paragraphs and it sounds almost like a sentence, frightening and irevoquable. I love it.

    The image of Feanaro's sons all clustered together, overcome with grief and clinging to each other will stay with me for a long time. And it is that much more sad that it takes a while for those around them to shake off their doubts and take their place back at the sides of those they love. Their family... It makes me wish that I were there and I could hold them all in a huge, huge hug, even if I'd know that things aren't going to get better.

    It is somewhat ironic how Nandolin, the awkward outsider that Telvo's brothers look down on, is the one who rounds them all up and leads them, hanging on to what binds the entire family in spite of the grief that has them almost paralized.

    And... to end this ramble on a positive note... that scene of Feanaro's last night with Erestor, before going to the Festival, is so... *sigh* beautiful. Honestly, like I said before, even knowing that second place in Feanaro's heart is the best one can have, who could possibly resist such tenderness? *big, big sigh*

    Besides, when reading this a slash novella built on a strange AU premise that I wrote on the request of a dear friend I seriously wubbled. I heart you so much... *huggles* Thank you, oh Great and Inspired Writer, not to mention Wonderful and Generous Friend.
    • Dawn, I remember reading the whole story in a mad rush immediately after you e-mailed it to me, and, when I got to the ending, my very first reaction was much like the others have said in their comments: Why does it end here?!

      I have my own selfish reasons for ending it where I did: It could go on forever, well beyond the length of even a monster like AMC! But I felt like this was a place where most of the conflicts in this particular tale are tied up, everyone takes a big breath, and...I reveal yet more conflicts. Yes, I have a bad habit of doing this. *sigh* But I feel like this might be a story I might continue someday, so who knows.

      Though you mentioned Feanaro's imminent death...this (from Erestor's PoV) is not something that I am really prepared to write yet. I don't feel that I am skilled enough as a writer to walk that line between legitimate grief and cheesy angst. I am slowly working my way to that point, and I think that this story is one of the closest I have to hitting that mark...maybe someday. :)

      This phrase is so well constructed, so well placed between paragraphs and it sounds almost like a sentence, frightening and irevoquable. I love it.

      Thank you! :) The idea of the roses came to me while writing the scene where Erestor finds Feanor on the balcony and they later have their first kiss in his study. It simply...came upon me. You know that I like my stories slightly surreal and spooky in places, and as I worked the roses more and more into the story, I decided that they suited the ending as well and sort of tied everything together in an odd, genetically engineered way. ;)

      Your copy might have it this way, and it's something that I changed in this printing of the story: When Erestor talks about the beginning of his affair with Feanor, he says "by the glow of roses." I changed this from the original version so that the light of roses was reserved for Finwe. Just a BtLoR trivia tidbit. ;)

      It is somewhat ironic how Nandolin, the awkward outsider that Telvo's brothers look down on, is the one who rounds them all up and leads them, hanging on to what binds the entire family in spite of the grief that has them almost paralized.

      Nandolin was another surprise in this story for me, and he is truly a pure-hearted character. Feanor says it of Telvo, but it is even more true of Nandolin, and I think that's why he alone had the strength to move the family--his family--to the next step.

      Though one must wonder what Nandolin--a pacifist--will think of the events that evolve from his motivating the family to return to Tirion.

      And... to end this ramble on a positive note... that scene of Feanaro's last night with Erestor, before going to the Festival, is so... *sigh* beautiful.

      Yay! :^D Thanks! I didn't want the climax of the story to be...erm...a literal climax. ;) Honestly, mind-blowing sex as a resolution gets a bit tired for me after a while. Well, I never tire of reading it, but it feels a bit formulaic to write it. So I sought a connection on a deeper level here. Of course, both characters know it might be the last time that they are together.

      Besides, when reading this a slash novella built on a strange AU premise that I wrote on the request of a dear friend I seriously wubbled. I heart you so much... *huggles*

      Awww...but it's so true! *hugs back* I really feel very indebted to you for poking me to write this story. It was one of the best writing experiences that I have ever had, and when I started posting it, my literal thoughts were, "Who cares if no one reads it? I really liked writing it that much." Of course, when people did read it.... *bowled over*

      So thank you again for the inspiration and nudging to break out of my own writing rut and try something new. *big hugs* The next step is revision and trying to find an archive willing to take adult-rated AU Elf smut.... ;)
  • Oh nooooooooooo!! I can't believe it's over. *cries* And just when everything seemed to be going so well for Feanor's household in the last chapter... :-(

    Beautiful, once again. The images in this chapter were just so... and I don't know if I can ever think of Finwe again except dead by the light of the glowing roses. That is one creepy image, Dawn -- it has staying power. And here I was thinking that the roses were kind of odd but mostly romantic to the extreme, particularly after the Carnistir's-begetting-day-party scene with Telvo and Nandolin, and Feanor and Eressetor on the balcony... and now this.

    The ending is SO wonderful -- Nandolin coming to keep it all together in the family. And he really is going to be accepted as part of the family now, I hope -- or is that just the trauma of the moment bringing them closer together? Oh, Dawn. Won't you write a novel (or a short story at least) about Telvo and Nandolin and what happens to them? It's just that I need something to read, and these two are hot. *shameless begging for more*
    • And just when everything seemed to be going so well for Feanor's household in the last chapter... :-(

      Mwahahaha! >:^]]

      (Okay, now that that's out of my system, I will behave!)

      And here I was thinking that the roses were kind of odd but mostly romantic to the extreme, particularly after the Carnistir's-begetting-day-party scene with Telvo and Nandolin, and Feanor and Eressetor on the balcony... and now this.

      Damnit. I said I'd behave....

      The roses were a surprise in this story. I didn't envision them until the begetting-day-party chapter when they just seemed to fit. I wanted something slightly creepy to use as a symbol to tie into Feanor and Erestor's romance. And when it came time to find Finwe...well, it made sense.

      I will admit to a few evol cackles for casting the roses as romantic images and then using them as a backdrop for the murder of one of the major characters. ;) But they always did have a slightly surreal and creepy vibe for me, so it seemed to work.

      Oh, Dawn. Won't you write a novel (or a short story at least) about Telvo and Nandolin and what happens to them? It's just that I need something to read, and these two are hot. *shameless begging for more*

      Lol! I am thinking certainly of continuing this story, though I haven't decided exactly how yet. From Erestor's PoV? Someone else's? Regardless, if I do continue it, Telvo and Nandolin will feature prominently of course. Although, even in my own mind, I have mixed feelings about their fate. Nandolin is a pacifist. Will he follow the Feanorians after the Kinslaying? Or even after the Oath, when Telvo binds himself to something other than his husband? Or will his love withstand both of those things? I don't know, so I really have a lot of thinking to do.

      But I have fallen in love with this verse, so I will probably continue with something somewhere along the line. :)

      Really, thank you so much for reading this story and for all of your comments along the way. I really can't express how surprised and grateful I am for the following, support, and advice I have gotten on this story. *tackles you in big hug* Thank you! :)
  • Oh, Dawn... (Did you ever realize I somehow like beginning review like this when a story touched me a lot?)

    I unfortunately didn't have a lot of time to review each chapter, but this last one is totally perfect for the story. I know that 'perfect' may not be the right word for it, but the ending is just totally fitting. This chapter was so touching, and frightening, and any emotion that fits in between those two. It was almost like the peripetal moments in greek tragedy, when for one moment you'd almost believe that things will be well after all (even though you know that they won't, but then the catastrophe happens. I think I even may have cried a little.

    Wonderful story. When reading stuff like that I know exactly why I like my porn with a plot. :-P
    • Oh, Dawn... (Did you ever realize I somehow like beginning review like this when a story touched me a lot?)

      Lol! Now I'm going to start paying attention.... ;)

      This chapter was so touching, and frightening, and any emotion that fits in between those two. It was almost like the peripetal moments in greek tragedy, when for one moment you'd almost believe that things will be well after all (even though you know that they won't, but then the catastrophe happens. I think I even may have cried a little.

      I cried a little when writing it and rereading it and revising it....

      I like what you said about the Greek tragedy; that puts into words exactly what I was trying to do. Erestor sort of gets his jumbled emotions into a semblance of order, he manages to take the place of the one providing order to Feanaro and so the family...then this happens, which is entirely beyond his control. I am mean to my characters, yes!

      Being a horror writer, I couldn't resist trying to make this chapter scary. And in the wake of scary--for me, anyway--often comes tragic, so I am squeeing like a fool now to have so many people saying that this worked! :^D

      Wonderful story. When reading stuff like that I know exactly why I like my porn with a plot. :-P

      Thank you! (And no worries about not commenting every week; having people actually read my stories is enough for me!) And I'm totally with you on PWP...that is, pr0n with plot. :^P This concept started out as a pr0n without plot, but my better sense forced me to contrive a backstory, then backstories for the characters, then next thing I knew, it was a novella.... *is hopeless* ;)
  • Okay, here I am, many days late, and an entire national deficit short. I have designated Saturday nights as "no homework nights," so I am going to write this review of BtLoR, dammit, before I forget again. I'm all set up here with the heat on, a rum and Coke in hand, and the satisfaction of a hundred pages of history and a good dinner behind me.

    So. On to the review.

    Overall, I think this story was successful in some parts and less than successful in other parts. Your stylistic use of the English language is as fantastic as ever, as is your eye for detail. You are one of the few writers I read who actually writes using all five senses. No matter how small an object is, you make the reader see it in exquisite detail. No matter how subtle an action, if it's significant, one of your characters will notice it and comment on it. For the most part, your metaphors hold up, your action is lively, and your words are both compelling and effortless to read. It is truly a joy to read a piece of Dawn Felagund writing.

    I think this story falls short in the characterization. I understand that you wrote this as part of a challenge and decided to play with the fanon conception of Erestor a little on the side. My guess is that you've relied on these two limits a little too much as a crutch. Erestor in particular suffers, especially in comparison to the Fëanorians. They are wild and compelling, and Erestor needs to have a great deal of personality to hold up to them, even in first person. I don't think he quite has this; he's a finely detailed observer, but seems transparent, as if (to stretch Gertrude Stein a little) there's no there there. There are times when he seems to become almost a caricature of the Collegiate Gay Drama Queen, especially during the flashback with Ornisso.

    There is a nice, restless energy around the seven sons. They practically crackle with tension, especially Telvo. . . up until Fëanor makes his Speech. I've already discussed that, so I won't go into it again. I would have loved to see more of that energy around Fëanor himself, though. He ought to be the source of all of this tension, but he seems oddly calm and in command. I don't get any sense of a man who is thisclose to snapping, which he ought to be at this point in the timeline.

    You've done a nice job of evoking the louche, decaying atmosphere of the home in exile. One can feel energy being wasted, talents spoiling, and people getting on each other's nerves in small, unforgivable ways. The atmosphere and detail of this story truly sparkle, but at base it seems just a little flat.
    • Thank you for the review! These are all excellent points that I will keep in mind when I decide to be brave and attempt some form of revision. :)

      Erestor, I'm afraid, is never going to measure up to my Feanorians. I suppose that this is in part my bias as an author and also due to the fact that my Feanorians were characterized by connecting lots of little dots in the canon, and Erestor simply doesn't have enough dots. Whereas I spent six months just thinking about the Feanorians before beginning AMC (and how many words later of writing about them), Erestor is not a character I think I ever would have written except for this challenge, so keeping with the fanon was convenient and, yes, probably a bit lazy. Alas, this was a gift for a friend, and since she is enamored of fanon Erestor, I suppose I could say that I was being unselfish as well. ;)

      As for sensory detail, it's probably not too surprising to you that one of my most frequent admonishments when doing beta-reads is "Use all of your senses!" Visual imagery tends to become flat and boring to me really fast if overused. I'm glad that my imagery works so well for you. Sometimes I worry that I bog down readers with too many details and too little plot.

      Thanks again for all of the reviews that you've done on this story! They're going to be one of my best resources come revision time.
  • Well, while I'm not an avid slasher and not one to read longer romance stories, after AMC I needed something else...so I figured why not?

    I love seeing all the sons of Fëanor grown and interacting. I think you describe them really well. Fëanor is clearly halfway and back to insanity at this point, and I love it. Erestor is a little cardboard, but I think, in the context, it works; Fëanor and his sons are the stars of the story, so for Erestor to mostly just witness it is fine by me.

    Now: By the light of roses—the only light in the endless dark—the fate of the Noldor changed. gives me chills every time I read it. The image of total darkness except for the glowing roses, the house in disarray, and Finwë lying there, mauled and dead, coupled with that line...ugh. Amazing and heartbreaking.

    (Of course, the one thing I would *love* to see is your take on Fëanor and his sons taking the Oath; the detail in the Silm. has just never cut it for me...)

    The pairing comes off dark and a little disturbing; the tension between the members of their family is so real. And it all sets the tone, the tone being: the shit is about to hit the fan.

    So again, I say, well done! :D
    • Oh! And, I was also going to say how I love the fact you don't have Fëanor magically never really liking Nerdanel anyway, as SO much slash seems to do...the fact that not only does he still love her, but is obsessed with her, also adds to the dark feeling of the story.
  • Oh my GOD!!!

    I really haven't read anything like this before! This was amazing story and I would love to read it more. *winkwink*

    This is beautiful story and I really love you way to descripe. But this was quite difficult to read... English is not my first language but the third and therefor I had some "black outs" (I couldn't figure what you were saying... *shames* ), but it truly was only minor problem. Luckily I know a lot about Silmarillion (my favourite book!) so it made it easier to follow.

    I have to admit that your warnings of slash made me read this. I write mostly slash by myself and ... well, Fëanor is difficult to pair. You know, he is so powerful elf that it's hard to find him an elf to pair with. As a slash story, this is really sweet.

    Now I am going to read this again.
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