Bright it glowed, the Silmaril in his hand, brighter than any light that ever his eyes perceived. Hot it also was, seething through the skin of his palm, poisoning through his veins and setting ablaze an agony unlike anything Maglor had ever experienced. With a cry he flung the cursed Silmaril into the sea, and the wails that ripped through him still mingled with the crashes of the waves long after the beach had become no more.
Years slipped by in a haze, though to Maglor time was lost and meaningless. He existed in a foggy world with no sense of direction, no passing of time, and no sign of life. Trapped he was in this void for how long he did not know. All the thought that occupied his mind was the searing pain that originated in the palm of his hand. Songs left his lips without his knowledge, songs that spoke of great despair and terrible deeds. Even to the ears of those who knew not the ancient tongue of the Noldor, the hair on their arms would prickle from the tune sung by the ghost that haunted the shores.
And this is what Maglor had become, invisible yet able to be heard, for much time. Even when he did departed from his spot the song lingered on, casting a cloud of sorrow on any who lingered there for too long. The centuries passed and the world had changed, and what was once the shoreline of Beleriand was now the sea, and still there Maglor sung his lament.
In time, however, another voice accompanied him, though at first Maglor was unaware of it. But soon the voice broke through his barrier, casting in him an awareness of the world that he had not sensed for many centuries. The sound of the ocean waves crashed around him, but he listened for that voice again, faint from where he stood, and he felt a profound yearning to follow the voice.
It was back in the lands of Middle-earth that the voice came, not to Valinor, as Maglor had prayed for. His deeds were still too terrible to enter the Blessed Lands, and indeed the pain in his hand was a remind of the crimes he must pay for all of eternity. The Valar did not want him, but here was someone calling! Someone who desired his presence. Maglor sped through the sea, the world about him becoming like a haze again as he focused on only the voice. He knew not when he glided over land, nor that he had run into a thicket of trees. It was only when his hands touched the hands of another - also silverly like his own - that Maglor became aware of the world around him once more.
He looked up to the eyes of the Sindarin elf before him. Beleg Cúthalion he was named, and he smiled upon looking into his eyes.
“Well met, friend from the First Age,” he said. “I was beginning to think you would not heed to my calls.”
“Why did you summon me?” Maglor asked. The two of them had seldom spoke, for indeed they rarely ever crossed paths. If there had been anything of significance exchanged between them before, Maglor remembered it not. “Why call for me when we were not close, and when there may be others like us?”
“There is only two of us that now walk this world in this form,” Beleg said. “And I called you as a means to respond to your calls for help. You suffered in your loneliness, though you were unaware of it till now but do not despair. Emotions are felt differently when in this form. It took me a while to control my being enough to understand all that swims inside me.”
“So we are the dead?”
“Lingerers,” Beleg said. “At least that is what you are. I do not think you had a proper death, not even when Beleriand fell to the sea. Your spirit has consumed your body completely. But yes, you do seem like one of the dead. Even worse, I must add. Follow me!”
Maglor followed him eagerly. They glided through unfamiliar forest that blurred in and out of focus.
“And what of you?” Maglor asked. “Are you too a lingerer?”
“I died upon my friend’s hand. By all means I should have entered the Halls of Mandos, but I knew how much my death would trouble Túrin, who has suffered greatly in his life. Thus I held on as much as I could, rejecting the calls to enter the Halls till the voice became silent. I still parted with my body for the injury was too grave, but to the Halls I never ventured. I remained here ever since.”
The silence which followed carried for seemingly ages. Maglor was filled with pity for the other elf, but there was also envy, for Beleg had the choice to enter the Halls while he, Maglor, was shunned out.
“We are united at last in our ill state,” Maglor said, “but what now? Where then do we go?”
“Do you not see the world about you?” Beleg asked.
Maglor tried, though the world seemed to fall into haze every time he thought he could make out a shape in the distance.
“You see nothing, for you’ve become disconnected from the rest of the living world,” Beleg said. “I can sense it as well: your light is fader than mines, as if you are about to slip into complete oblivion and fade forever from the memories of us all. And I wish not to have my first friend in this life fall into a void where none can reach you.”
“Do not speak such ill words!” Maglor glided away from Beleg, turning and twisting around as if he could will the entire world to his sight.
And Beleg watched him with uttermost pity. “Is there nothing that binds you here still? Think of someone whom you wish to see again.”
“All that I held dear have been slain,” Maglor said. “But wait! There is Celebrimbor, son of my brother Curufin. He was unharmed during our battles.”
Beleg’s eyes darkened as he regarded him. “Celebrimbor is lost to us. He was slain by the Dark Lord Sauron during the Second Age. Have you not felt his passing?”
“His passing? No, I have not! Ai, this is ill news! He was last among the House of Fëanor. I hope he had wedded since my passing, and I could see his children.” But the look in Beleg’s eyes faded any light of hope that remained inside Maglor.
“Is there no one else?” Beleg said.
At first Maglor replied with a shake of his head, but it was then that his mind recalled two small figures, significant in his life yet brief, as if their presence was like a flash of lightening in his bitter life.
“There was two,” Maglor said. “Elros and Elrond, twin sons of Eärendil and Elwing. I took them as my own children when they were alone and released them when they became of age. They are the only connection I have left here.”
“I’m afraid Elros died long ago, for both brothers were given the choice to be one of our kind or of the men. Elros has gone the way of all Men after their passing. But Elrond still lives.” Beleg suddenly smiled. “You may find something very interesting indeed if you are to go to him, for there has been a recent change in his life for the better.”
“I wish to see him! Can you lead me?”
“I can guide you, but you must allow your own spirit to lead you. Think of Elrond, think of the love you had for him, and let your heart awaken.”
It was difficult, fighting to acquire strength back in his tired spirit, but in time the road before him became clear. Though the world about him was mostly still in a dark haze, he suddenly knew the way. For the most part Beleg followed him in silence, though Maglor felt his gaze upon him several times during their long travel. He knew not where he was going. The land was far too different from what he remembered, but Beleg explained little. It frustrated Maglor, for he very much wanted to know everything that took place since grief overtook his body; he needed the details of Celebrimbor’s death, of what lands they now walked, of how Beleriand fell into the sea.
It was not unlike Beleg refrained the information, for he let the information slowly slip out when he felt Maglor was ready to understand. And with each story, more grievous than the one previous, Maglor secretly wished he knew less. And Beleg sensed it, for any thought that passed between them were felt by the other. And he ceased his last tales when they had approached the realm of Lord Elrond.
Imaldris was the name of this new elven land, and instantly Maglor knew they had come just in time to witness a great event. The merriment of the elves swept through him, filling his hollow heart with a gladness he had not known for so long. He turned to Beleg in question, who smiled.
“It is the wedding day of Lord Elrond,” he said.
“And the bride?”
“Lady Celebrían daughter of Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel.”
“My cousin, a child of Finarfin remains,” Maglor said softly to himself. He hid whatever words he wished to say of his cousin, pushing it aside to focus his energy on the wedding that was to take place.
Elrond had changed much from when the last Maglor had seen him. Though ageless, his eyes held the burden of all he had seen since their parting. Sad though they were, the forlorn was broken today by the smile he wore as he held the hand of his wife to be.
Maglor forgot Beleg for a while, his entire attention on the ceremony that took place. Like a faint wind, he walked past the living elves, his eyes fixated on Elrond his son. He could see Elrond’s eyes moving and gazing as if memories from the past came to him, and Maglor wondered if he remembered the solemn elf who took him for a son.
And it was then it happened. Elrond’s eyes widened in shock, and though it was brief, the shift was not lost on Maglor. Elrond’s eyes seemed to settle on him, as though Maglor had suddenly materialized. Maglor stepped forward, wanting to test him, to see if he could touch one of the living, but he was sent away, pulled back by Beleg.
“Please, my friend, do not disturb this evening for Lord Elrond,” Beleg said.
“What had happened?”
“You almost revealed yourself to all present, and especially to Lord Elrond. Stay here and watch, or leave this land! We must not interact with them no matter how strongly our hearts desire it. It is not our right to mingle with the living.”
“We cannot mingle with them?” Maglor said. “My existence cannot become more terrible! It is small wonder you sought me, to cease your own loneliness!”
“I only wish for the best for yourself and the living,” Beleg said, and there was a tone of hurt that brought Maglor shame for his words. The rest of the evening went without another incidence, though at times Maglor caught Elrond looking about himself in confusion. But his curiosity was abated by the beauty of his new bride, and it was not long before entirely different emotions could be felt from the couple. Maglor felt his own spirit alit with desire, though he had seldom known it while living. Hungrily he watched Elrond and Celebrían part from the celebrations, edging towards the room they were to share.
“Maglor, leave them!” Beleg’s words ran through him like ice.
“I did not know I was following them,” Maglor confessed. “I sense their mounting desire. I do not know why I followed them.”
“Emotions affect us stronger than anything in the world of living,” Beleg said. “I was not surprised you followed. You are still new at controlling your own spirit.” He gently laughed then. “Do not fear, for it took me a while to control on my own urges.”
“But then how else can this pass?” Maglor said. “It’s nearly suffocating me. Perhaps we should both leave.”
“That is not necessary,” Beleg said. “I believe you must stay, for I sense there is much yet that you need to do. But come closer, I could help you.”
Maglor hesitated, realizing the implications of Beleg’s words. The thought repulsed him, for he was uncertain if he would even consider Beleg a friend, but the need was greater. He brought himself against Beleg, and he braced for the release.
But there were no kisses, nor any touches to parts of him that would have given him quick release had they been in the living world. Beleg merely placed a hand on Maglor’s shoulder, and all of the world spun with the intensity. Their souls must have fused completely, for all their thoughts and moods were shared in that timeless moment. The passion was nothing like that of the living. There was no apex to reach, no mounting of the pleasure. Instead, there was pure blinding bliss, waves upon waves of crashing endlessly. The intensity was such that at first it pained Maglor, as he never expected this, but Beleg’s heart and love was pure and unselfish, and quickly Maglor became accustomed, and great pleasure he took from their contact.
When it was over, no desires from the newlyweds could Maglor sense. Perhaps they were done in their own lovemaking, but he gave them no thought.
“I believe your touch has cured my desires for quite some time,” Maglor said. He watched the hand skip from his shoulder, realizing then that no other part of him had to be used to acquire such mirth. He wished to ask Beleg how he knew this, but the elf only smiled at him.
Maglor smiled as well when he realized that the pain in his palm, though not gone completely, had abated.
The seasons passed and still the two elven spirits remained in Imladris. There they kept an eye on Elrond and Celebrían, and when the Anar slept behind the horizon, they told each other tales of all they had seen during their living days. Time slipped so fast that they almost missed the news that Celebrían was with child. This news seemed to especially please Maglor, who wished to see Elrond’s children.
And when that day came, as Celebrían held two small babes in her arms, Beleg watched the look in Maglor’s eyes with utter disdain and worry.
“You should not be here any longer,” Beleg said. “What you yearn is something Eru would never give thee, not now in this life. Your chance had passed long ago. Come! You have yet to visit your cousin Galadriel - we can go to Lothlórien next.”
Yet Maglor could not part with the family. And giving up hope, Beleg let him go, allowing the spirit to slip into the room of the children one night while all was rested.
Not much time had passed since their birth. The twin elflings were still small and had just learned to crawl, but their minds were sharp and could understand the world about them in likens to that of small children.
Beleg stayed beside Maglor, for in his heart he feared the other would commit an act that could unintentionally destroy the sons. And indeed, there was such a great yearning inside Maglor that Beleg felt despair in knowing he could not satisfy this need.
“For so long I desired children of my own,” Maglor said. His voice drifted through the room like a cool mist. The elflings shivered and huddled closer in their sleep, but neither woke. Maglor brought his hand down to touch one of them, but he stopped. “Often I wondered how different my life would have been had I taken a wife and brought to the world sons and daughters. Would I have been stronger in refusing my father’s oath, for I would have something more precious than gems to protect? It did not stop my brother Curufin, but I am not my brother. I would have remained alive and content in the Blessed Realms with my family. I would not have to suffer this pain in my hand and my entire fëa.”
“But had you not come here, Elrond and Elros would have perished, and these beautiful children would not have come into the world,” Beleg said. “An amazement it is to always behold, the child of both elven and mankind.” He dared himself to approach the crib, but once he peered inside, a darkness settled inside him. “By the Valar, these children are ill!”
“Are not so any child of the Afterborn?”
“You would not think Lord Elrond to be weak, would you?” Beleg said. “Nay, there is a strange fate that has befallen them! I fear for them. Should they enter battle, they both will be easily slain!”
Maglor studied the children. There was nothing he could sense from them, but then he trusted not his own senses, for Beleg was the sharper perceiver of the two. “It must be something deeply rooted for Elrond not to notice it,” he said. “I pray he does before either are injured. Let them not befall the same fate as Eluréd and Elurín. Perhaps I can heal them.”
“Think not such nonsense!”
One of the children opened his eyes, and to both their amazement, he studied them intently, studying their presence with such precision that the two felt as if they were pulled into the living world, and with it became corporeal once more. The child clung onto his sleeping brother and tried to shake him awake, but the other elfling was still heavy in sleep.
“Please, do not fear me,” Maglor said softly. But the child was not afraid, he soon learned. He kept shaking his brother, and glancing about them in amazement. But Maglor was growing concerned; repeating Beleg’s words in his mind, he wondered if the other child had slipped into death.
With all his concentration he felt for the pulse of the life inside the tiny body, but it was no use. The Silmaril had cursed his very soul to be weak. But he could still do what he most wished, and ignoring the gentle pleas from Beleg, he brought himself close enough to the children that he could kiss them. In a soft voice he sang to them, his first song since his death that was not filled with sorrow. The waken child listened, and eventually the sleeping child woke. Upon seeing Maglor so close, he snuggled against his brother and let out a short cry. But after a few verses from the song, and he fell into a state of comfort, watching Maglor with the same interest.
The tears hung, silvery bright, from the tips of Maglor’s eyelashes. He brought his head down till the drops fell on each child, who glowed with strength.
“I pray to thee, Ilúvatar,” Maglor said, “take what strength and grace is left in me and pass it to these children, even if I must fade from all of existence. Let no more harm come to a child.”
“Please, Maglor!” Beleg said. “Wish not your own destruction!” One of the children let out a cry at the sound of desperation in Beleg’s voice.
But Maglor continued to ignore him, and to each child he gave them a kiss upon their brow.
It was that moment when Lord Elrond entered the room. He was frozen in his place, for in one quick yet unforgettable moment he saw two elves leaning beside the crib of his sons. And before he could call out to them, his eyes fell on Maglor, and his words came out strangled. The other elf grabbed hold Fëanor’s son, and one moment later the two spirits were gone.
Long had Lord Elrond privately searched all of Imladris for signs of the two elves. Though he saw them only in passing, he could not mistake Maglor’s face, and it troubled him for many years, for he was certain that was not the only time he had glimpsed his foster father wandering in Imladris.
But no sign of them were ever found. Except for one evening he did overhear his two sons Elladan and Elrohir, now fully grown and renowned warriors, reminiscing amongst themselves in the privacy of their rooms. And they spoke of two spirit visitors that often came to tell them tales in the dark of the night, and they marveled at the beautiful voice of the one who often sang for them.