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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Author's Notes: Chapter One

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.

Author's Notes: Chapter One

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These are the author's notes coordinating with the first chapter of my story. Because I do not like reading a work of fiction and encountering numerous parenthetical citations referencing foot- or endnotes, then I have made the choice not to include them in my own work. I have organized the notes chronologically, titled with a general topic reference, and have included a passage from my story that illustrates the topic, when possible.

If you are wondering why I did something a particular way or where I got a particular fact, please don't hesitate to email me.

The Name "Nelyo"
"...always my brothers and I called him Nelyo."
Why did I choose to use the name "Nelyo" for Maitimo? "The Shibboleth of Feanor" (The History of Middle-earth, Volume X: Morgoth's Ring) makes quite clear the fact that he preferred his mother-name "Maitimo" and that his brothers and close kin called him "Russandol," so the choice to use the name "Nelyo" seems rather contrary to the canon.

At the most basic level, I like the name "Nelyo." However, this is hardly justification in and of itself for reversing a canon fact, so I argue that it is feasible that Maitimo could have been known as Nelyo, particularly early in his life. Tolkien provides for us parenthetically a shortened epessë-like father-name for each of the Fëanorions, something that appears to be unique to Fëanaro's house. Unfortunately, "The Shibboleth" was never finished and so we never find out when and for what reasons Tolkien intended these names to be used.

It makes logical sense to me that the sons of Fëanaro might have been known by these names in their early childhoods, before they were old enough to decide that they preferred their mother-names. As Fëanaro's legal heir, this makes particular sense for Maitimo. However, the Fëanorions' father-names are rather long and complex--not something that would be easily spoken by a young child making his first fumbling attempts at speech--and so I assume that the shortened versions of these names were adopted so that the children could speak them more easily.

Royal Succession among the Elves
"...Ada never expected to be king and certainly never expected to die and leave the crown to Nelyo."
All of the hullabaloo between Fëanaro and Nolofinwë regarding who was Finwë's rightful heir always seemed rather silly to me, given the fact that Elves are immortal and neither should ever expect to be king. However, further thought on the subject has made me realize that there are legitimate reasons for the Elves to establish royal succession.

The Elves began in Middle-earth, where the legends tell us that many were captured by Melkor and, presumably, some perished. Life was not as easy there as in Valinor; that one person should live to reign as king forever is not a safe assumption. Out of this, no doubt, developed the concept of inheritance, which was preserved at least in the traditional sense even after the Elves emigrated to Valinor.

Still, this does little to explain why it was a big deal for Fëanaro that he be recognized as his father's heir. Tradition or not, Finwë was never supposed to die and leave his crown to Fëanaro. There are other reasons, however, that a king might relinquish his crown, even temporarily. The Silmarillion itself shows how Finwë abdicated in order to accompany Fëanaro to Formenos. A reign until the end of time is long, and it might be assumed that occasionally the king mightn't be available to fulfill his duties, and Fëanaro wanted to make perfect certainty that he--not Nolofinwë--would be the one appointed in such an instance. Also, consider that the Days of the Trees was early in the history of the Elves. Finwë might want to give up his rule after so many years, necessitating a successor.

Still, I have tried to convey in Fëanaro's attitude that his status as his father's legal heir is not one that he expects to assume at any time in the near future; it is more a symbolic title that, for him, denotes his superiority over his half-brother.

The Elves' Comments on "Extraordinary Fertility"
"Four sons, enough to be blessed, but not enough to yet earn raised eyebrows and smirking comments about our parents' extraordinary fertility."
That Fëanaro and Nerdanel are extraordinary in terms of the number of children they produced together cannot be argued: They had the most children of any Elvish couple in recorded history. It is said that the Elves prized their children above all else; why, then, would they mock Fëanaro and Nerdanel's blessings? I hold that it is a basic psychological urge to comment on that which is out of the ordinary. Furthermore, because children were so prized, there may have been a degree of jealousy. Both tendencies were likely to be exacerbated by the presence of too much wine.

Fëanaro's Home in Tirion
"Actually, the house was just outside Tirion....
In my reading, I have yet to find a description of Fëanaro's home, except to state that he lived in Tirion. Tolkien's notes--generously compiled by Karen Wynn Fonstad in The Atlas of Middle-earth--show that he envisioned Finwë's palace at the city's center. No mention is made, however, of his sons' homes in relationship to his.

I have chosen to locate Fëanaro just outside the city for two reasons. First, it was well-established that Fëanaro liked to work alone. It is safe to assume that his privacy would be of utmost value to him, as well as the ability to work without being disturbed by the bustle of city life. Second, Fëanaro's choice to live outside of Tirion reflects his discomfort with the nearness of his half-brothers.

"...we lived in Tirion, except in the summers, when we would go to Formenos...."
When does it say that Fëanaro ever went to Formenos prior to being banished from Tirion? Well, to be blunt, it doesn't. Of all of my conventions thus far, this is the one that is most strictly my own invention. However, like my other inventions, I try not to give in to such tendencies unless they are justifiable using the canon.

That Fëanaro chose to go to Formenos upon his exile suggests some familiarity with the city. This makes intuitive sense, as it is well known that first he and Nerdanel, then he and his sons, wandered the extent of Aman. Formenos, being a centralized northern city (again, using the sketchy information available from Tolkien's notes and kindly reprinted by Karen Wynn Fonstad) is a sensible place for them to have familiarity; it was probably a good location for them to stop for rest and supplies during their journeys.

As far as their going to Formenos in the summer, this is purely artistic license on my part. I envision Fëanaro as being prone to wanderlust; however, while his children were small, he would not be able to travel as extensively as he would later. These trips to Formenos are a sensible expression of his desire to travel and explore, as well as a welcome escape from the stress of Tirion.

Tyelkormo's Ambitions
"...I always assumed that I would eventually take my apprenticeship beside him in his forge. What was the son of Fëanaro and Nerdanel if not a craftsman...."
This premise corresponds with my reasoning for beginning this monster from Tyelkormo's perspective: He fascinates me. He is the most enigmatic of Fëanaro's sons, I think. There is some complicated psychology in that fair head of his!

Using the few details we are given about Celegorm (Tyelkormo) in The Silmarillion, he was the most outspoken of his brothers in defense of their father's ambitions. While Maedhros and Maglor (and perhaps, some of the others) were content to write letters and achieve their goals through rhetoric, Celegorm always advocated forthright action. Aside from the cop-out explanation that Celegorm is evil, there must be a reason for this.

Tyelkormo was perhaps the most opposite from Fëanaro of all the Fëanorions: His interests were natural lore (versus craft and linguistics); he was a follower of the Vala Oromë (whereas Fëanaro spoke openly against the Valar); if you take the perspective that Tyelkormo was blond and fair, he didn't even look like his father. Some writers have made the compelling argument that Fëanaro and his third-born son were never close, and Celegorm's later deeds were a misguided attempt to win his father's elusive affection. I take the opposite perspective: Fëanaro and Tyelkormo are very close, and Tyelkormo aspires to be like his father. Unfortunately, his destiny is not in craft, although his devotion to his father is such that he will deny his natural callings in order to be what he feels is a suitable son of Fëanaro.

"It was my father who first fell in love wiht the peculiar little scribbles of script, but he found them flawed and rewrote Rumil's alphabet so that redundancies and inconsistencies were erased and so that the speech of the Teleri and the Vanyar--even the Valar, if one were so inclined--could be represented as easily as his native Noldorin."
I don't know what information about Rumil's original Tengwar is available. I am sure that Tolkien has notes about it somewhere, but linguistics is not my forte, and so I have not encountered it in my studies. However, I do recall that what was remarkable about the Fëanorian script was its reliance on phonetics, making it possible to represent nearly any language. (Consider the range of writings done in Tengwar, from writings done in Quenya to the poem inscribed inside the ring in the Black Speech of Mordor.) Being as Fëanorian Tengwar were heralded for this fact, it is a sensible assumption that Rumil's letters were not so convenient and likely revolved are the speech patterns of a particular dialect, in this case, Noldorin.

Elvish Dialects
"...while easy to represent our Noldorin dialect and, to a lesser degree, that of the Vanyar, our Telerin kin found their own speech hard to render with Rumil’s letters."
When the Eldar took the Great Journey, the Vanyar and Noldor traveled together while the Teleri were left behind for a while, first in Middle-earth, then on Tol Eresseä. As such, the Teleri spoke their own language, similar to the Quenya spoken by the Vanyar and the Noldor--since all three originated from the same language--but different enough to be considered by Tolkien to be its own language. I have always envisioned Telerin as originating with more Sindarin flavors than the other two--since the Teleri spent some time in Middle-earth, and the Sindar are, in fact, Teleri--but developing in a different direction than both Quenya and Sindarin.

Because the Noldor and the Vanyar lived separately for the most part, their languages naturally evolved into different dialects. A perfect example of this is the thorne (Þ), the unvoiced "th" sound that caused so much strife among the Noldor. Tolkien tells us in "The Shibboleth of Fëanor" that, while many of the Noldor changed the thorne to an "s" sound, the Vanyar retained the original pronunciation, and Indis only spoke with the "s" out of respect for her husband. However, the two languages seem similar enough that a speaker of one could probably easily understand a speaker of the other--especially given the Elves' gift for language--although minor differences still exist.

I like to imagine the Elvish languages as follows: All developed from the ancient Elvish first spoken by the Quendi. This is the equivalent of Latin to the Romance languages. Due to geographical nearness and frequent affiliation, the Noldorin and Vanyarin dialects developed very similarly, kind of like Italian and Spanish. Because they were separated from the other two races of the Eldar, the Telerin language developed quite differently, although it maintained many of its original roots. Telerin, in this example, may be seen like French: The three languages share many cognates, but a native speaker of one might struggle upon first attempt with the others, with the difficulty increasing as the distance widens.

The Elven Educational System and Fëanaro's Apprenticeships with Mahtan and Aulë
"[Fëanaro] was young when Aulë took him as an apprentice...but he wrote often to...Mahtan....[and] Fëanaro was his most avid apprentice...."
This is such a minor issue, yet it receives such varied treatment in fan fictions. Blame Tolkien for that: the author was never clear about how exactly Fëanaro learned his extraordinary skills. In fact, he's never clear about the Elven educational system at all, although it must have existed in some capacity.

Most commonly, the Elven educational system is represented in fan fiction as being similar to that of medieval Europe, with masters and apprentices. Occasionally, I have seen reference to more formal systems, with schools being established. My own conception of the Elven educational system falls somewhere in between: Skilled positions, such as that of a craftsman, are likely learned by being accepted as an apprentice by a well-respected master. For other skills--such as writing, mathematics, and history--I envision that the Elves, especially the Noldor, who are more consumed with gathering knowledge, established a more formal system. Commoners, no doubt, are taught in groups, more akin to a school, but the children of the lords would likely have private, esteemed tutors, particularly Fëanaro's children, given how their father valued skill and knowledge.

As to Fëanaro's own education, Tolkien gives us little information. It is known that he is highly innovative, but surely he did not develop all of his skills from nothing. So who taught the most learned of all the Elves? Consider the facts: 1) Mahtan learned much from Aulë, 2) Fëanaro learned much from Mahtan and possibly Aulë also, and 3) Nerdanel shared her husband's skills--albeit to a lesser degree--and had relationships to both Mahtan (her father) and Aulë (to whom she was loyal) and so was also likely formally educated, especially considering that Elven men and women were of equal ability and held in equal esteem.

Like I said earlier, fan fiction writers have interpreted these facts differently. Some have Fëanaro as an apprentice of either Mahtan or Aulë in his youth. Others have him learning from Mahtan after he married Nerdanel. Given that Fëanaro was the beloved child of a king, I find it more likely that he would be sent in his youth to develop his talents with one of the Valar. Aulë, however, would likely be reluctant to teach Fëanaro all he knew of forging weapons and armor, and so this he would have learned from Mahtan, who possibly lived to see such skills have use on the Great Journey. Having Nerdanel as an apprentice of Aulë (through her father's friendship with the Vala) is simply a convenient way to assure that she will meet Fëanaro while they are both young. Having Fëanaro learn via correspondence with Mahtan and others is strictly a preference of mine, as it both expresses his eccentric character and nicely melds his dual love of linguistics and craftsmanship.

"'Who are you, Moriquendi?'...Mahtan would growl in his most intimidating voice...."
Mahtan is not mistaking Fëanaro for one of the Elves who refused to leave Middle-earth, although this provides interesting foreshadowing, since Fëanaro does indeed share many Avarin philosophies, and the exiled Noldor are sometimes scathingly referred to as Avari by the Teleri and Vanyar. He is simply calling Fëanaro "Dark Elf" because of his dark hair. Also, I don't hold "Moriquendi" to be a compliment among the Eldar. Avari, to me, seems like it would be far more politically correct, akin to calling members of an African tribe "natives" or calling them "savages." By claiming to have called his son-in-law "Moriquendi," Mahtan is making a mild insult against Fëanaro, probably because of his untoward behavior in courting and marrying his daughter.

Maitimo's Calling
"Few have Ada’s love of books, but my brother Nelyo does...."
Why have Maitimo as a loremaster and scholar? To this, I find it easiest to ask, "Why not?" Surely, in the centuries preceding the flight of the Noldor to Beleriand, Maitimo did something to occupy himself. It is common for fan fictions to portray him as having a "misplaced calling" of sorts, in that he is athletic and gifted in the arts of war. It is true that he later makes a formidable warrior, but he is also a strong leader and skilled tactician, suggesting that his education likely extended to topics beyond swordfighting.

The lack of information we receive on some of the Fëanorian sons is dismaying. Even those about whom we know details--Macalaurë is a musician, Curufinwë is a craftsman, and Tyelkormo and the twins are hunters--the details are scant. Maitimo and Carnistir, for all that we know, did nothing and had no special talents in Valinor. This, however, presents an excellent opportunities to fan fiction writers to take what we do know about the characters and create ambitions and talents for them that compliment what we know of their personalities.

I see a lot of fan fictions that assume the Fëanorions all dabbled casually in their respective "trades;" that they served more as recreation than as anything they took seriously. I don't like this perspective for a number of reasons: First, we know that Fëanaro was highly ambitious, as were Nerdanel, Finwë, and Mahtan, and it is unlikely that their descendents would not inherit or learn their diligence; furthermore, industry is a trait of the Noldorin culture, and I cannot imagine that laziness would be tolerated from the sons of the high prince. Secondly, Elves live forever, and as many people out of work will attest, even a short span of no productivity is enough to drive one bonkers. It is unlikely that the Fëanorions would be apt to set themselves up for an eternity of doing nothing.

"...the stunning color comes, not just from the red, but from the blond and brown strands that thread throughout: grandmother Istarnië and grandfather Finwë, respectively, I’d always assumed."

Istarnië was a name Tolkien originally chose for Nerdanel. A quick look in "The Etymologies" found in The History of Middle-earth, Volume VI: The Lost Road and Other Writings shows that this name meant something like "wise woman." (The Quenya root ista- means "know" and is more likely to be recognized in the word "Istari," the Elvish term given to the five wizards sent to Middle-earth in the Third Age.)

I have chosen Istarnië as the name of Nerdanel's mother because it is convenient but for other reasons as well, most namely that since the Elves held males and females equal, it is quite possible that Nerdanel's mother was also skilled. Furthermore, we hear nothing of Mahtan's character to suggest that he had any degree of Nerdanel's patience and wisdom; I like to think this came from her mother.

Nothing is known of Nerdanel's mother, as little is known of most of the women in Tolkien's work who are not directly involved in the heroics. Her character is strictly my own invention. Why make her golden-haired then? I ask in reply: Why not? If I have chosen to go with the idea that Tyelkormo is blonde, it is sensible that this gene passed from somewhere, and I have chosen this "somewhere" to be his grandmother Istarnië.

The Meaning of "Tyelkormo"
"I have always liked my mother-name Tyelkormo.... I like the idea of being the first of my family at task in the mornings."

I am more than aware that the name "Tyelkormo," meaning "hasty riser," was not intended to convey that Tyelkormo was a morning person. Rather, Nerdanel named his this because she sensed that his temper would often send him leaping to his feet. However, this is not a fact I can imagine a mother sharing with her young child, and Tyelkormo's alternate explanation fits well enough and works also with my attempt to convey his eagerness for Fëanaro's approval.
Chapter Two
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