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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

"The Tapestries"--Chapter Six

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.

"The Tapestries"--Chapter Six

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nelyo black and white
In last week's chapter, the Noldor sailed across the sea to Middle-earth after dispatching of those pesky Teleri. In this week's chapter, Feanaro first begins to ponder the idea of burning the ships...and his growing paranoia and madness becomes clearer as well.

Thanks to all who are reading! As usual, comments and concrit is welcome.


The Tapestries
~6~

In life, I had begrudged the fact that I had to sleep. Sleep took me from my work, from matters far more important than the self-indulgency of repose. Now that I was dead, though, I missed it. In the hall of tapestries, I wished to curl upon a flat surface, close my eyes, and lose myself to forgetfulness.

Námo manifested from the space around me: a churning and billowing of the gray substance that enshrouds his halls organizing itself like an army upon the field to form lips, nose, cheekbones. Gray robes boiled from nothingness and into fruition. The stuff that makes up his eyes turned its flashing green belly to me.

I laughed. He grinned.

“You are beginning to understand, aren’t you?”

Don’t you have other charges here? Why do you devote yourself solely to me?

“Ah, you exaggerate your importance, Fëanáro, as always. I barely spend any time at all with you. No more than any of the others. Right at this very moment, I am consoling fourteen slain Teleri and two Noldor who’d been lost at sea and three Avari arrived from the Outer Lands; I am watching your mother work and holding my wife and trying not to laugh at Oromë’s jokes at counsel, lest I betray my dignity. You forget, Fëanáro, that I am not a creature bound to flesh—or even to a single place and time—as you are. This place is indeed what you make it, Fëanáro, and I am yours to summon, just as anything else.”

There was an ache deep inside of me, in a place beyond pain, an exhaustion that cannot be bound inside the limited vessel of a body. I made a sound that feels like sighing, only is it a sound? The gray robes of Námo rippled with it.

Then go away. I do not want you here. I do not need you here.

“If either of those were true, Fëanáro, then I would not be here.”

I would not have said it if it was not true.

Námo’s laughter was like the grating of metal on metal. I wanted to stop my ears only I had no ears and no hands with which to stop them if I did—and the sound didn’t even really exist, did it?

“If your time here has shown you anything, I would think it would be that you are exceptionally good at lying to yourself.”

I fled into the darkness that hung in the corners of the Halls. Other spirits whisked through mine, and I caught snatches of thoughts, mostly wondering about loved ones. Time ached, a weight upon me, and I thought for the first time since my arrival here of my sons. My sons, taken by me to the Outer Lands and left alone. Cold seared through me. One day, I knew suddenly, it would be their spirits oozing through mine; I would feel them within me, in a place as secret as the center of a flame, as I had in the year before they were born. Only then, they had been innocent: as pure as the mingled white light of the Trees. I wondered what resentment, hatred, pain I would feel within them now, what scars upon their fëar once cradled so tenderly against my own.

Walls manifested behind my back and I hid there in the topmost corner of the Halls, in the darkness where I could not be seen, where my despair would be secret from all, like the spiders who used to weave secret nests in the corners of my sons’ bedrooms in Formenos and Nerdanel or I would have to tear them down with a broom before they would agree to sleep.

The darkness parted, and Námo stood before me, leaning on a broom.

This is ridiculous, I said. I felt wrung out, as I used to feel on the rare occasions when grief or frustration had driven me to the verge of tears. Námo swept me with the broom, and the feeling went away.

“Why are you upset?” he asked as the broom whisked over me. Obediently, my thoughts conjured a feeling of straw scratching skin. “You should be consoled, Fëanáro, by the amount of control you maintain over your existence here. Isn’t that what you have always wanted? Your independence; your freedom to create? This is a place without walls, yet you have contrived walls against which to hide. This is a place without darkness, yet you linger in shadow. Was it not your aim to defy possibility? Put light into stone? ‘Nothing undone is impossible?’ Isn’t that what you told your children, when you felt that they could not meet your expectations? You have all of the control and freedom that you could want here, and yet you despair. For what reason?”

For what reason? It was a question that I asked myself.

I didn’t need a tapestry to remember climbing back aboard the ship. Nelyo had finished quashing the flames on the other ship and had leapt back aboard ours; he stood with his brothers and they watched me—all of them, men enough to swear themselves into the Everlasting Darkness—with eyes luminous and gleaming in the lamplit darkness, wide and frightened.

And I: what did I tell them to do?

“The ships are taking on water,” I said. “We need to get all of the people and all of the cargo onto the beach.”

In my mind, the treachery came into sharper focus. Nelyo nodded, oblivious, and began herding his brothers toward a rope ladder tossed over the side and down to the beach. The twins were jabbering in bright, false voices. Tyelkormo’s golden hair caught the last shred of lamplight as he disappeared over the side; he was brashly hushing them, claiming a pain in his head, sketching it at his temple with flighty fingers. Carnistir looked back at me and smirked, and I felt as though my thoughts were being spelled in ink upon the deck for all of their clarity. His eyes were dark in the starlit blackness with sparks of light kindling at their centers.

The loremasters would commit to parchment many things but none of the mundane difficulty of moving from one land to another, a realm of light to one of darkness. We hadn’t enough lamps to dispel the gloom, and Elves fell upon the rocks and healers had to be spared to stitch the wounds and set the broken bones of the clumsy. Most of the children cried constantly. We all developed a dull ache behind our eyes—straining into the impenetrable blackness—that made me wonder if my skull was shrinking upon my brain. I touched my eyes as though expecting to find dampness there, thoughts leaked upon my face and running down my chin. We were exhausted, hungry. Cold. Lonely. Frightened. All of us.

Ships that had been loaded in haste, by bodies still strong from the light and nourishment of Aman and driven by adrenaline and fear, now needed to be unloaded. Only our numbers were almost halved. Only crying children needed the consolation of their mothers and too many wrists and ankles had been broken upon the rocks. Many sat on the beach, unable to help, earning the resentful glances of those left to shoulder their duties. I and my sons took on the same duties, most vigorously of all. In the disgruntled mutterings of my people, I heard a whisper of treachery.

Nelyo had gathered to him those of our numbers most competent in engineering. Indeed, before my eldest had gone into the service of my father, he had been highly regarded in such matters himself. At the side of one of the ships he stood. His hands slashed shapes against the white, splintering wood. They were conjuring a solution, and I paused to hear him assuaging the fears of the others with all of the polished poise for which his grandfather had prized him, deigning that the strongest of us would take turns diving beneath to secure new boards atop the old and seal the leaks. Already, he was gathering others to his service, to cut wood, gesturing at the treeline behind the beach. “It is too dark,” someone whined, and Nelyo said, “Stone lamps,” (for they were not then called “Fëanorian”; that would follow my death and the gradual cessation of their production). “Stone lamps will hold their light, even underwater. Even can we affix safety masks from the forge to our faces, to afford clearer vision.”

“They will leak,” another protested, and Nelyo’s answer was spilling forth before the other had even finished speaking. “We will seal them with rubber.” Grinning, proud of the ease with which he had overcome the other, more like me than he knew.

More trunks and treasures thumped onto the beach. I wondered if I should stop my son—who seemed more alive than he had in years—and wondered also why that thought came to me. I rubbed at my aching head and strolled down the beach. Curufinwë had taken over my duties, designating Elves to help with the unloading, prodding those lying upon the beach who were least in need of repose to lend what strength they could manage.

Amid the shouts and commands and screaming children, my own thoughts were lost: a speck amid a busy painting. Beyond the circle of lamplight, I strode, listening to the crunch of rocks grow louder beneath my boots. The ruckus behind me was diminishing into nothingness. Eru be praised.

The thought of our first autumn in exile in Formenos came unbidden upon me. The starlings had come that year, a surprise to us, the spoiled princes of Tirion who had always before returned home with the first frost. They had come in great clouds and settled on the fields, picking over what few leavings remained from the harvest. They had risen in swarms against the sky, blocking the light, even the stars. At night, they circled the fields, crying restlessly, and the stars winked and disappeared between their bodies invisible against the dark sky until the horizon appeared to be twinkling with the barest specks of light. With such noise, it was impossible to work. Miserable, for days, we sat in the house and stopped our ears. “This happens every autumn?” we questioned the lords of Formenos. “How do you bear it?” For they went to their workshops and forges like any other day, shaking brooms to scare birds from their path. They laughed at us, at the nausea that rose within our bellies at such relentless, ugly noise.

I walked along the dark beach and stopped my ears, as I had done that autumn. But the endless crackling screams were inside my head and would not be shut. I thought of my people on the opposite shore. My people for—though they allied themselves with my half-brothers—I was their king. I thought of every harsh word to pass between Nolofinwë and me. I felt his hand, warm upon my shoulder, at the moment that he had sworn his allegiance and the Trees had gone out. I heard his sharp words counseling my father against me. I saw even Arafinwë’s innocent gaze turned to mistrust with Nolofinwë at his shoulder. “I just—Fëanáro, I do not like what is happening to our people. The swords—” “Oh, do not pretend that he has not cozened you into saying this!” “He has not, Fëanáro. Brother. You know that always you have had my love. My respect. I could never do what you—” “I am beyond your slick sycophancy, Arafinwë! Get gone from my sight!” “Fëanáro—” “Gone!” A scream. Madness. Nolofinwë’s lips twisted into a smirk.

But surely the treachery I was contemplating—surely it was beyond even me. And surely even they—even Nolofinwë—did not deserve it.

I stood on the darkened beach and stared out at water as thick and comfortless as ink. Even here, it seemed, the hysterical voices of my people reached me, though I was well beyond their torchlight and left alone in the company of my thoughts.
  • An interesting chapter. Fëanor as a character is fascinating here, but the world in which he lives strikes me as a little off, somehow. I liked the realism of Elves misjudging their first steps on the shores of Middle-earth and hurting themselves, and I enjoy Fëanor's ruminations about his own paranoia.

    As always, your concept of Arda is, technologically, an extremely modern place. I hadn't exactly thought of Maedhros as an engineer. And . . . did rubber trees grow in Aman, too? Would they have thought to bring potted trees to Middle-earth, or wodges of raw rubber? That whole thing just didn't feel right.

    This sentence: The stuff that makes up his eyes turned its flashing green belly to me. is a somewhat bizarre metaphor. But this one: Right at this very moment, I am consoling fourteen slain Teleri and two Noldor who’d been lost at sea and three Avari arrived from the Outer Lands; I am watching your mother work and holding my wife and trying not to laugh at Oromë’s jokes at counsel, lest I betray my dignity. is fantastic.

    • I'm going to cut the specifics about fixing the ships entirely. I don't know anything about that sort of thing, and it doesn't do well to pretend that I do. Even rubber-acquisition issues aside, you're right, it's just weird.

      How 'bout if I change "engineer" to "architect," which is more of what I meant anyway? He's more of a hobbyist in this; reference is made in AMC at one point about how he and Feanaro make corrections to an architecture book that they find lying about in an inn.

      The bizarre metaphor I wanted to be bizarre. The fantastic line I found quite ordinary! :)
      • The bizarre metaphor I wanted to be bizarre. The fantastic line I found quite ordinary! :)

        One writer's bizarre is another writer's fantastic?
  • Mmm.. another chapter. And I get to enjoy it properly, at home. I like the way you alternate between Feanaro in the halls, still not used to being without flesh and blood, still unable to completely understand what is expected of him and what he should do with himself and Feanaro in Aman, clearly losing control of things as they developed into madness and lead to his death.

    I loved the opening: In life, I had begrudged the fact that I had to sleep. Sleep took me from my work, from matters far more important than the self-indulgency of repose. I think we've discussed this once or twice and I must have told you that I feel the same way. Only I wish that there were a pill for sleeping and a pill for eating, to simply stomach and then see to other matters.

    Ah, you exaggerate your importance, Fëanáro, as always.

    That must have cut deep, even for someone as humbled by his new condition as Feanaro.

    Fëanáro, and I am yours to summon, just as anything else.”

    *ahem* Sorry, but did you honestly think you'd get away without me finding something naughty even in a chapter and in a story like this one? No, no... *shakes head*

    We were exhausted, hungry. Cold. Lonely. Frightened. All of us.

    Ah! Knowing this full well even at the time, as he ran away from the crowds to collect his thoughts, must have spurred Feanaro on even more. His own fear and uncertainty must have driven him to make terrible decisions.

    Nelyo the engineer taking over brought a smile upon my face and that silent exchange between Feanaro and Carnistir... *shudders* Both fascinating and scary.

    It is no surprise that Feanaro became more and more paranoid. Deep down, even as he contrived the greatest treachery, he was aware of the injustice, but also aware that his previous conduct and decisions would have driven his followers under the banners of his brother. I'm not saying that I understand why those ships were burned at Losgar, except fear of treachery coming back and bitting with full force. Perhaps if Feanaro's mind were clearer, he would have spared the sips and used them not to transport more of the Noldor across the sea, but to explore the shores of Beleriand, to shelter himself and his followers and even to fish for supplies. But practicalities were not on his mind much, eh?

    Can't wait for more! How many chapters does the story have? *hopes for many*

    • There are eleven chapters in this story, and I'm going to post the last two together, as they have more impact when read together. (They're also very short.) So there's not too much more. :(

      I am with you: I wish that I didn't have to waste such time on sleep. A full third of my day, of my life...sleeping? Think of all that I could do! Of course, I have no doubt that I could fill it up in no time, and I'd be complaining again about having no time for all that I want to do.

      Eating I like far too much. Eating is a hobby of mine; good thing I have a fast metabolism and prefer healthy foods. ;) Already, Bobby has proclaimed this Awesome Restaurant Weekend, and we have planned out our first three meals. Eating out and going to the movies...we are such simple folk! :) (We are also going to at least two movies this weekend.)

      As for Feanor in the Halls and in life...the scenes in Middle-earth I wanted to show his gradual descent into madness. I do not believe that he was "all there" at this point in his life...and with good reason. He'd endured far more trauma than most people much less Elves. Of course, the PoV is complex because he is looking back and so is aware of his madness. This spells it out a bit more than I usually like, but I'll leave the deeper, trying-to-make-the-reader-go-crazy-too story for later in the AMC series. ;)

      In the Halls, though, his understanding continues to grow. So we see him fall to his lowest and then rise to his highest not long after as he realizes and accepts his purpose in the Halls. Which is a pretty spectacular one (and fully canonical!)

      And Feanor/Namo...I can totally see it. My Namo is all dark and hott and Feanaro...well, it would be a power struggle for sure! When you get back to writing, how about a challenge? *evil grin*
      • As for Feanor in the Halls and in life...the scenes in Middle-earth I wanted to show his gradual descent into madness. I do not believe that he was "all there" at this point in his life...and with good reason.

        No, I don't believe that Feanaro was "all there" at that point either. I see him as much too rational and practical to have made so many reckless and down-right pointless choices, if he were 100% himself. What shocks me is that none of his sons (or all of them) had the courage to stand up to him and maybe try to bring him back from his descent into madness. True, he was not one to stand up against and the speed with which the events were unfolding did not leave much room for looking after one's mad father, but...

        Of course, the PoV is complex because he is looking back and so is aware of his madness.

        I think that this is what I love most about this story. I'm so impressed by the clarity with which he looks back at himself and how he openly admits that he was, indeed, afraid, out of control and more than a little mad.

        I do want to read and write about a... power struggle between dark!hot Namo and bright!hot Feanaro. I think a challenge is just what I need, especially since I'm going to have more spare time from next week on until well after New Year's Eve. So, by all means, challenge me!
        • What shocks me is that none of his sons (or all of them) had the courage to stand up to him and maybe try to bring him back from his descent into madness. True, he was not one to stand up against and the speed with which the events were unfolding did not leave much room for looking after one's mad father, but...

          That's kind of how I see it: They were caught in such an impetus at that time that they simply could not stop it. This is even canon, to a degree: Feanor didn't want the Noldor to take their time, iirc, because he was afraid that once passions cooled, they wouldn't be so keen on his ideas. (Or am I imagining this?) I imagine that they were hit by Finwe's death and the death of the Trees; imagine the shock of that. Everyone was emotional. They swore the Oath. And I see that as the turning point.

          There's actually a theory in social psychology called entrapment where a person becomes more and more committed to a failed decision as time goes by. The rationale is "I've already spent so much time/money/effort/heartache that I can't give up now!" I see something like this happening to the SoF (and even Feanor, if you assume that he was sane enough to see it). They swore the oath and went through with the exile; then the kinslaying; then all the string of bad choices after that. Actually, from a social psychological perspective, the Feanorians are immensely interesting! But it would take me fifteen comments to mention every idea and theory that I have about this. :^P

          So, by all means, challenge me!

          Consider yourself challenged! Namo/Feanor smut, however you like it, Felakverse or not, and as effed up as you would like it to be. >:^)
          • Let me just say that I would love to hear all your theories and ideas on the Feanorians, whether from a psychologist's or a writer's perspective. Anytime you feel like it, in whatever format and through whatever means. *wink* And I'm pretty sure I'd agree with most of them.

            Consider yourself challenged! Namo/Feanor smut, however you like it, Felakverse or not, and as effed up as you would like it to be. >:^)

            Ah, but I did consider myself challenged! Just look here:

            http://ann-arien.livejournal.com/77418.html#cutid1
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