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The Bluntness of Grief

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The first thing they knew was touch. They had not been, before, and their being was unstable, still grasping in the wake of its new existence. They did not know how to be. (How? To know? Why? They quivered in the magnitude that was being with something they would later learn was fear.) But the touch was calm and grounding, and as it soothingly traced their edges, they came to accept this being. Their awareness grew, and they accepted their form as their own.

And at last, they knew the hands that touched them. They knew their resonance, their being that shone through its soft sheath of flesh. They would know them anywhere.

Mother. Father. Creator.

They had no concept for what they felt, no name for the bright, fiery glow that kindled within them. They only felt, until they felt like they would be destroyed in this, that surely this was too much for this new form of theirs. (How could they have recognized happiness?)

A deep, warm voice reverberated through them, as in answer to a question they had not spoken.

“Anglachel.”

The metal of their being soaked it up, recognized the meaning of the word. Anglachel.

They were Anglachel.

They were alive now.

 

… … … …

 

“This is Anguirel.”

With those words, mother-father-creator held out another blade, in a strange sort of introduction. Anglachel could feel the resonance of the other sword weave into their own, harmonic, a perfect complement.

Brother. Sister. Mate.

Anglachel had not known alone was a feeling, until then, until from one moment to the next they were no longer singular, no longer merely themself. In a single instant their entire comprehension was altered to incorporate two. Anguirel was young still, brand new and hesitant in reaching out, but when their thoughts touched, their metal sang in joyful recognition.

They were made to be together.

 

… … … …

 

Mother-father-creator would often polish them, even though they didn’t require it. Anglachel relished in the touch, its reassuring affection. They hummed along with the strange melodies that fell from their mother-father-creator’s lips, and drifted in warm dreamless resonance with Anguirel.

Other times they would be taken in hand for exercises, drills that made them familiar with the motions of a fight. Even without an opponent, Anglachel thrummed with excitement every time they were handled like this. In the core of their being they were crafted for combat, and it felt good to be used as such.

Everything felt right in those moments. (It was home.)

 

… … … …

 

Their world was no larger than their mother-father-creator’s workshop. It was a good place, warm and dark and filled with the companionable resonance of metal worked well. Anglachel was usually content to just sit in their wall-mounted rack next to Anguirel, to observe and learn from what happened in the forge. Sometimes however, when mother-father-creator wasn’t there, their thoughts drifted. They dreamed.

- of darkness so deep that it would break them, their shards tearing apart black flesh and drowning their agony in black blood–

No matter how many times the dream recurred, they still woke up crying, clinging to Anguirel’s reassuring presence.

Anglachel knew their brother-sister-mate wasn’t spared from the frightening dreams either. They dreamed of brightness, of crystalline screams and light so harsh and hot it would dissolve their very being. Those were the times they had to comfort Anguirel.

In the dark of night, still half in throws of their dream, the younger sword would cry the same thing again and again.

I don’t want to die.

Anglachel didn’t want to die either. Maybe that was the curse of sentience, of being. The other metal in the forge had no such fear. It rejoiced in being worked with skill, without true attachment to the form it lost or gained in the progress. It did not fear destruction, or loss. It seemed a strange thing to contemplate, even.

But wasn’t their fear just as strange? After all, what was death for a sword?

 

… … … …

 

People came to the workshop more often now, arguing with mother-father-creator about land and protection, trade and payment, things Anglachel had only the most rudimentary knowledge of. But the people that visited were different from mother-father-creator; their voices echoed condescension, their postures emitted disdain. The visitors’ unhidden disrespect was so great it made Anglachel wish mother-father-creator would take them in hand and end their miserable lives.

“So vengeful, brother-sister-mate.”

Anguirel wasn’t as eager to fight as they were. The younger sword was of the opinion that if left alone, this too would pass, like so many other disputes they had witnessed.

“They disrespect our mother-father-creator. How can you not wish them punished?”

“We don’t know enough. Mother-father-creator might bear their taunts for a purpose we do not understand.”

That could be right. Anguirel was usually right when it came to such things. Yet still… They didn’t trust the people that left mother-father-creator so agitated with each confrontation. This didn’t seem like an ordinary dispute between blacksmith and client…

 

… … … …

 

“I will have to leave you.”

Anglachel had known something was wrong when mother-father-creator had taken them in the side-room to be polished, out of sight from Anguirel. Still, the words sent a shiver through them. Had they displeased mother-father-creator? Why would they be left? And where? Mother-father-creator’s fingers soothingly stroked their blade.

“It is not my wish. But it is the price for my freedom.” He sighed. “I came here many years ago because I wished to know those of my kind, my kin. It was my mistake to think those are the same thing.” He wryly smiled. ”I had more kin among the dwarves, for all that we looked nothing alike.” For a moment, he hesitated. “They wish to fence this kingdom. Lay the magic of the Belain over it so none can enter and none can leave without permission. For protection, they say. But I refuse to be so imprisoned. In all the years I have lived here this place hasn’t become my home, and I won’t be bound to it.”

Anglachel’s mind dazzled with all the information. Mother-father-creator had spoken before of things outside, like the king and the balan-queen, the fell beasts of the Enemy, the dwarves he had once lived with, and many other things… but this was more complicated. Every sentence was coloured with layers of resonating meanings and connotations… Anguirel would have been better at this.

“My folk, though I was not raised among them, chose not to live under the rule of the Belain once. Having lived here, I believe they chose so with reason.” Another wry smile twisted his lips. “The King has long coveted you and your twin, Anglachel. And my plans to leave have given him excuse to claim you. The star-iron I made you from was found within Doriath, and the king believes this gives him right to you. He has demanded one of you in payment for the lands of Nan Elmoth on the outer edge of Doriath, and the right to live there under my own rule. He made it clear that since the star-iron technically belonged to him, he might as well claim you both. I… I have little choice but to comply.”

Though mother-father-creator’s voice was calm and steady, it shivered with resentment and defeat. Anglachel felt a burning hatred awake within them.

“He will pay for this.”

Their voice was deep, with a dark, sharp edge. The sound startled Anglachel themself more than it seemed to surprise their mother-father-creator, who only nodded.

“Oh yes, that he will. Those who name things onto themselves that they have no right to, always pay the price in the end.”

They had long been polished two times over, but still mother-father-creator rubbed their blade with the utmost care. To know it might be the last time… Anglachel would have wailed, had their newfound voice been amenable to it.

Mother-father-creator softly shook his head. “Do not think I prefer your twin over you. I would not have given up either of you, had I had the choice. But Anguirel is younger than you, in make and in mind, and his character is more pliable. I would not leave him to Thingol and his witch-wife. You are stronger. Angrier. I know they won’t be able to twist you to their purposes.”

Swords were supposed to serve their wielders, in protection and assault. Anglachel had often thought about the day they would be taken up to serve mother-father-creator in battle. Certainly, they had imagined more blood and less politics, but in the end this came down to the same. If they could only protect mother-father-creator and Anguirel like this, then so be it. A cold, cutting emotion jolted through their being. Anguirel

“Does Anguirel know?”

Once again, mother-father-creator didn’t bat an eye at their speech.

“Not yet. I wanted to tell you first, given that this concerns your fate foremost. I expect he will be upset.”

Anglachel didn’t answer anymore. They would need their strength for Anguirel.

 

… … … …

 

Eventually the day came that mother-father-creator had to hand them over to King Thingol. Anglachel had so far tried to face their ordeal with grace and dignity –mostly for Anguirel who had wailed and cried enough for two– yet when the moment was there, and they felt how they were passed from mother-father-creator’s hands into the cold, grasping fingers of the king, they well and nearly screamed. They hated him. THEY HATED HIM. Rage and anguish fought for dominion so fiercely within them, they were certain the king could feel them tremble. They would cut off his greedy fingers, would he dare to test their edge! Mother-father-creator made a cursory bow and walked away, not looking back. They wanted to cry out to him, beg him to take them back home, to please not leave them here with this cold, callus-less tyrant… but their true voice refused service, and mother-father-creator had closed his thoughts too tightly to hear their mindvoice. When the doors of the audience hall closed behind him, Anglachel felt the pain of abandonment crash down on them. They were alone now.

“You must not ever bear this blade, husband. It will do you ill.”

The Queen. Her hand touched them, and it was like another sword clanging against them. This was no woman. This was a weapon no less than they were; forged not born. Her flesh was a sheath she would cast aside to wield herself if it came to it. Anglachel would have lied if they had said they hadn’t been a tiny bit impressed. But that changed nothing.

I will cut you still, balan-queen.

To their surprise, they suddenly felt another mind resonate with them, thick and cloying and full of unsettlingly dark undertones. 

“I don’t doubt it, little blackheart.”

The Queen spoke again to her husband.

“I can feel its malice. The dark heart of the smith that forged it still dwells in it.”

Noticeably loath, the king handed them over to his wife.

“Then it should probably be sealed away.”

“No. Keep it in the armoury. Such a thing as this is best left within plain sight.”

Anglachel had felt terror at the thought of solitary confinement, but refused to be grateful for the queen’s intervention. They remembered the stories of mother-father-creator about the Belain. Hers would be a poisoned gift no doubt.

 

… … … …

 

The king’s armoury was large and well filled. But they were still alone. And worse. Their place on the wall could have been a place of honour, but it felt more like a pillory.

Most of the swords in the armoury didn’t speak with voices, but still the blades’ rejection was tangible. Anglachel was wrong; too hard and too dark. Their unique resonance was dissonant in this king’s legion of carbon steel sameness.

Worse than that was Aranrúth, the sword of the king. It was older and larger than Anglachel, and just as cold, judgmental and cantankerous as its owner. Unfortunately for them it was also the only sword in the armoury with some form of mindvoice, which it mainly used to express disapproval and distrust of a blade that would shatter other blades. Anglachel somewhat suspected the sword held a grudge against them for having been coveted so by the king. (They had no doubt Aranrúth was petty enough for that.)

The worst, however, was what wasn’t there. Anguirel. They missed Anguirel so deeply it hurt. They didn’t dare to slip from awareness, not even to escape the daunting place that was the armoury, for fear they would dream. They were alone, and it was crippling.

 

… … … …

 

Their depression lasted as long as it took to remember mother-father-creator’s words.

“You are stronger. Angrier. I know they won’t be able to twist you to their purposes.”

It wasn’t much to sustain on, but it would have to be enough. They’d show them. With their father-mother-creator’s determined words as a mantra, Anglachel converted their sorrow to wrath, their pain to hatred, until it didn’t hurt so much as burn.

Years passed. Anger became a madness of sorts, a poison that served as an antidote to something worse. They hadn’t been so much as touched in over a long year. They hadn’t been spoken to in so long they could hardly remember how to form words. Thinking hurt. Everything hurt. The anger had clouded their memories. They didn’t remember mother-father-creator’s face. It hurt only so long as it took to be mad about it.

 

… … … …

 

They were alone, until they were not. Anglachel’s disjointed mind had stopped keeping track of time, and eventually of the surroundings as well. As such, they didn’t see the hand that reached out to them until it had already wrapped around their hilt and lifted them from the wall.

It was shocking, exhilarating, painfully blissful. It had been so long since the last time they had felt the touch of anything except for dust that Anglachel almost didn’t recognize the feeling. But what a feeling it was! As they hungrily soaked up the sensation of finally –finally!– being held again, the only thought in their mind was for this touch to please, please not end. They would do anything if it meant they wouldn’t be abandoned again. Anglachel reckoned they had lost a great deal of self-respect during these long years in Menegroth’s armoury. They couldn’t bring themself to care, however. It was just so good to be held again… They only vaguely followed the conversation that went between the one that held them and the much-hated king Thingol.

“That sword? Are you certain?”

“Your majesty, you told me this sword will pierce any armour, shatter any weapon, and slice through any substance, even bare rock. It seems to be exactly what I need. No orc will stand against this blade.”

“It is a weapon of evil intent. It is treacherous, and resents those who wield it. It will bring you bad luck.”

“But it truly is as powerful a blade as you told me?”

Reluctantly, King Thingol acceded,

“… Yes.”

“Then this is the sword I will take, my King. I can find none better suited to my purpose.”

Much to their own shame, Anglachel was only relieved to hear they wouldn’t be thrown back in the armoury.

 

… … … …

 

“I don’t believe you are inherently evil.”

Their new wielder was a tall blond elf named Beleg Cuthalion. Anglachel didn’t want to like him. He was an elf of Doriath, and a favourite of Thingol no less. They absolutely didn’t want to like him. However, the blond bastard sure knew how to make it difficult. For starters, he had introduced himself to them. Who even did that? Even well appreciated, non-evil swords usually didn’t have to count on such courtesy… And now he was carefully cleaning off the dust of years from their blade, taking his time to return the shine Anglachel hadn’t even realized they’d lost.

“There’s probably a reason why you are called such, I’m not naïve. But I’m going to take a guess here and assume you too had your reasons for whatever earned you such an epitaph. I won’t reckon you by the deeds of those who came before me.” The elf admiringly stroked them. “I hope you can extend the same consideration to me.”

Yes, it would be very, very difficult to dislike this elf…

 

… … … …

 

The first time they tasted blood was a turning point. Anglachel had known before that they were made for battle, as such was inevitably the nature of swords… but it was only when they first sliced through the skull of an orc and felt its miserable spark of being die, that they truly knew their purpose. The understanding resonated through their being as they cut and sliced through orcish flesh, drunk on the taste of blood and lives ending. In murder their mind and make were one. Nothing existed but the next kill, the next enemy to fall on their edge. They laughed out loud, overcome with pure visceral elation. It was a delight like no other...

 

… … … …

 

Beleg was a good bearer. He was an expert swordsman, unrelenting in his pursuit of the enemy, and unfailingly thorough in their upkeep. Anglachel didn’t try to dislike them anymore. Once it had become clear that Beleg was simply too hard to dislike, and that trying to muster hate for him was a hopeless venture, they had tried for indifference. But… that too seemed doomed to fail. Maybe if the elf had simply treated them as any other sword that did its duty, then perhaps it could have worked. But Beleg spoke to them, as only mother-father-creator had done. He told them of his friends (most notably the accident-prone friend he had been tasked to find), of the woods of Doriath, of his life as a marchwarden… The small titbits of one-sided conversation were likely just a way to stave of loneliness, yet they made it very hard for Anglachel to be indifferent about him.

The more they fought together, the closer they felt to the blond elf. It wasn’t anything like the togetherness as they had had with Anguirel, or the warm affection of mother-father-creator, but it was companionship, and somehow it made the absence of all the previous more bearable.
(They already loved him then, though they didn’t know it.)

 

… … … …

 

They did not like Turin. The man was brash, hot-headed, and his arrogance was only rivalled by his astonishing ability to get in trouble (two characteristics Anglachel believed were intricately linked, for that matter.)
Of course, without Turin they would still be in the armoury, so in their own way, Anglachel was grateful for the man and his dubious life decisions. However, now they had met him, they didn’t really understand what Beleg saw in him. The man’s choice of friends was about as sensible as all his other choices. (In other words, common sense hadn’t been within a mile radius of it.) Anglachel didn’t think they would ever forgive the brutish robbers who had tormented his elf; it was jarring to have to fight with them rather than against them. They wished Beleg had simply left Turin to his band of ill-mannered miscreants. Nothing good would come from this.

 

… … … …

 

It happened too fast. They didn’t mean to. They never would have thought such a small prod would enrage the human so! They didn’t mean to! One moment they were still firmly held within Beleg’s hand, the next moment they already tasted the tang of his blood, felt the last shiver of his dying being resonate through their form. They screamed, even before the loss ripped through their metal and the realization of what they had done shattered their mind in pure agony.

They had betrayed him. They didn’t mean to! They had killed him. It was an accident! He was gone now, gone for good. They were all alone again. It was their fault. The pain that wrecked through their being was unimaginable. It was too much. Anglachel could feel themself break, inside.

No more

They were still screaming when their mind gave out.

Please no more

 

… … … …

 

They woke to softness, a kind voice and a soothing touch. It hurt. It hurt so much. They were lost. Anguirel! They wanted Anguirel. … Can’t. Gone. All gone. They were alone now.
They cried.

Singing. There was singing. Mother-father-creator? No. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, like them, like them. It hurt.

It was too dark. They were so tired. Why did it hurt so much?

It had been their fault.

Was this insanity? They could only think when they did not remember. Their mind was full of thick, cold darkness. They understood no more. Had their blade been broken? Maybe they were dying. It felt like they might be dying.

It would be good to die.

 

… … … …

 

“Anglachel…”

They didn’t realize they had responded to a call until they woke again, held in slender, callused hands. Their senses were dull, the pain a throbbing ache in the depth of their being. They were awake, but only barely. Their thoughts felt viscid, slow and syrupy in their mind. It took a while before they processed the voice that called out to them. “Anglachel, do you hear me?”

It was familiar. Mindvoice, resonance, warmth. Another blade? No, this… this was a person. How…? They forced their mind to form an answer.

“Who… are you?”

“My name is Celebrimbor. I am the smith who was asked to repair you.”

Repair them? So they had been broken… They shuddered.

“Don’t want to be repaired.”

The smith’s voice was calm, soothing.

“I thought so. There is nothing wrong with you, apart from the fact that you are blunt and no one knows why. It was my guess that you are blunt by choice.”

Blunt. That seemed… fitting. The pain felt blunt too, now.

“It hurts.”

Celebrimbor’s voice was tinted with memories.

“Yes. Grief always hurts.”

They cried.

“I want it to stop.”

“I know. Sssh.”

He sang. The language and the melody were strange; different from the songs they knew from mother-father-creator. But… it was comforting. It felt… It felt like home. Anglachel listened, and as the cadence of the song wrapped them in warmth and cradled them to sleep, they forgot the pain for a little while.

 

… … … …

 

Celebrimbor’s smithy was a good place. Under the earth, like the forge they had been born in. Sooty and warm, and resonant with chiming gem-song and the contented hum of skilfully worked metal. Anglachel wanted to stay here. They didn’t want to fight anymore, never wanted to kill again. The thought made them sick, made them remember the feeling of –his blood, his flesh, his shuddering, choking last breath forced from bloodied lips- They tried not to remember.

The madness was never far away though. It would grip them unexpectedly, reaching up from that cold, aching place within them to drag their entire mind into darkness again. They kept no memory of those times, no recollection except for pain. They never knew how long it took, how much time they lost.  Celebrimbor didn’t tell them. The smith held them and comforted them, but asked nor answered any questions. It suited Anglachel well enough. They didn’t want to speak about it anyway.

One day however, Celebrimbor did ask.

“Who is Anguirel?”

The question cut through them, right into that dark place they tried to ignore in-between the days of madness. They curled in on themself.

“Why?”

“It is a name you scream, when you dream.”

“No. Why did you ask?”

Their voice trembled. Anguirel. Home. They had only the vaguest memories of together. Anguirel was gone, so very long already. They were always alone now.

“Because you need to speak of it, or you will never be healed.”

They defiantly squared themself against the smith’s softly persuasive undertone.

“I don’t want to be healed.”

Celebrimbor sighed and gently stroked their blade.

“No. You don’t want to be in pain. But you already are, and no matter how you try to outrun it, that pain always catches up with you. It is poison to your mind.”

“What do you know of that?”

Celebrimbor hesitated.

“I have seen people… kin of mine, lost to pain as you are. I… I know.”

Anglachel didn’t believe him.

I don’t want to talk about it.

Celebrimbor nodded, a glint of sadness in his gaze.

“All right.”

 

… … … …

 

They woke in the middle of a heated conversation. Celebrimbor was speaking with another elf, a tall male dressed in pale robes unsuited for work in a forge –or any sort of work, really. Someone official, probably. Their voices were polite, but their entire demeanour echoed tension; Celebrimbor had instinctively fallen into his sword stance, even without a weapon in his hand. Definitely not a friendly chat.

“Merion, you wouldn’t send a mad warhorse back into the fray either. This is not so different.”

A scathing laugh.

“You would compare a piece of metal to a living, breathing animal? Tyelpë, I know your family tends to get overly attached to their things, but isn’t that taking it a little too far? It’s still just a sword, not a person!”

“Then how do you explain that not one smith in Nargothrond has been able to sharpen it? It has a will of its own. It won’t fight anymore.”

The elf huffed.

“It’s a strange material. Who is to say what its properties are? It’s more likely that we simply don’t know the correct procedure to sharpen it.”

“More likely?”

“More likely than your traumatized sword theory, at least. I hope you realize how flagrantly stupid it sounds when you hear it from another’s mouth.”

“Objects may have a will of their own. This wouldn’t be the first time.”

The other elf shook his head in mock exasperation, and after a dramatic eye-roll a wicked little smile played on his lips.

“Do you know what other theory I picked up?”

“Oh?”

“That a certain smith has let his eye fall on that star-metal, and that if only he can convince Orodreth and that human protégé of his that the sword is useless, he’ll get to experiment with it for his own gain.”

“What?!”

The elf shook his long brown mane, smugness written over his face.

“Oh, nothing. Just that you might want to reconsider what sort of things you spread around. Not everyone is happy to have kinslayers’ ilk here, after all. If you start making moves to advance yourself, convincing the king of your little theories, you could find that your position here very tenuous indeed…” The elf sent Celebrimbor a self-satisfied, knowing smirk. “It wouldn’t do to forget you’re essentially a charity case.”

With that, he turned and left the workshop, robes billowing behind him.

The conversation left Celebrimbor obviously agitated, and Anglachel a little puzzled. A charity case? Celebrimbor was a skilled smith, and his work was in high demand. Surely he could support himself easily? And that elf. So disrespectful! What ever had the smith done to deserve that kind of derision?

They found themself… curious.

“Why are you a charity case?”

They asked while Celebrimbor was polishing him. The smith shrugged.

“Why should I tell you? You will not speak of your past to me either.”

That was different. That wasn’t just a story to tell. It hurt! They couldn’t speak of it! It was too… They stopped blank before their thoughts could get away from them.

“Not the same.”

Celebrimbor levelled a pointed stare at them, putting down the polishing cloth for a moment.

“Are you really so sure about that?”

Anglachel wanted to say yes. But they weren’t sure, not really. This smith could hear the voice of metal. He was more like mother-father-creator than any other they had ever met. He had been kind to them when they had been lost to the darkness, and even now he had defended them against this haughty elf lord. In truth, who were they to discard his past as just another story to tell?

“… no.”

“At least you’re honest.”

“It is very difficult for a sword to lie.”

Celebrimbor seemed surprised by that.

“I did not know that.”

“By its very nature, a sword cannot lie about its purpose. Why should it lie about anything else?”

“That… makes a strange sort of sense.”

There was a silence, in which Celebrimbor returned to polishing them. Just when they thought there would be no more conversation that evening, the smith spoke up.

“I have renounced my father. Repudiated his deeds, and the deeds of his brothers. They were my only family in these lands. I… I have no one now.” His words thickly resonated with a feeling Anglachel knew, so very well. Aloneness. They shivered.

“My father… is probably as close to evil as one can come without falling under the rule of the Enemy. Even if he wasn’t a bad person from the start, his deeds have set him on a path that will inevitably lead to death, if not of himself, then of countless innocents. Those are footsteps I refused to follow in.” Celebrimbor swallowed. “Yet he was my father. His brothers were my uncles. And in the end… I chose that what I felt was right over what felt right.”

He sent them a wan, mirthless smile.

“So you see, that is why I am a “charity case”, as they say. I have no family but myself, no name but the one my mother gave me, and the people here won’t let me forget that they could cast me out just the same as they did the kin I broke bonds with. I am here only by grace of the king.”

Anglachel remembered. They remembered being alone in a place full of others, the distrust and contempt thrown at them, the first tastes of madness born from pure misery. Anguirel. Mother-father-creator. Beleg. A sharp ache cut through them. So alone! They curled in on themself on instinct, desperately hoping for the pain to pass rather than grab hold of their mind. When it only barely drew away without bringing on another episode of insanity, Anglachel made a decision.

“I… I will tell you of Anguirel.”

And they did.

 

… … … …

 

Celebrimbor was right. It hurt to talk, but it helped. They cried when they realized how hard it was to even remember Anguirel, or mother-father-creator, or home. The years had made them abstract, names to give to their grief more than faces and voices.

Anglachel didn’t know where they were now. Were they still in the lands of Nan Elmoth, or had they travelled further away from Doriath? Had mother-father-creator perhaps returned to the halls of the dwarves he always spoke so fondly of? Did they miss them? Did they even remember them? It hurt to think about. But for the first time, they realized it hurt more to not think about it. The memories were all they had left. To let them fade was to lose their home all over again.

 

… … … …

 

“What do they mean with ‘kin-slayer’?”

More people had come to ask for progress on the sword –meaning them- including the obnoxious Merion and a few more of his like. Not every conversation stayed equally polite, and the word had fallen more than once. Though obviously a curse, Anglachel didn’t find it the most obvious insult. When they posed their question though, Celebrimbor looked at them as if he thought they might be joking.

“A kin-slayer is someone who has slain his kin.”

That did not say much. Kin was a difficult thing. Who was kin to whom? Anglachel had given the matter some thought before, and hadn’t fully managed to make sense of it. Kin to them was Anguirel, for certain. They were of the same make, the same material, the same mother-father-creator. They were closest kin, brother-sister-mates. And mother-father-creator himself was of course kin as well. He was their parent, even though they held no outer likeness. That wasn’t necessary anyway, for kin. Hadn’t mother-father-creator called the dwarves kin? Anglachel halted. Was kin of kin, kin as well? Did that mean they were kin of the dwarves? This needed clarification.

“Kin of your father, is kin to you. Yes?”

It seemed that Celebrimbor was starting to understand how difficult a concept this kin-slaying thing really was, because something in his gaze shifted, and he frowned.

“Kinslaying means slaying those of the same kind as yourself. It is the worst crime known to elves.

That seemed… a strange thing to say.

“Kin and kind are not the same.”

This they had learned from mother-father-creator. And it was logical, really. If kin equalled kind, they supposedly shared greater kinship with any random blade than their own mother-father-creator, for they were technically of the same “kind”. (For as far as swords could be considered a kind, which was a whole other issue by itself, really.) Celebrimbor sighed.

“They aren’t. But… the term kinslaying comes from a time when there was no concept of murder perpetrated by one not of the Enemy. Before the first kinslaying, our entire kind was united as kin in the face of the darkness. Good and evil were clear-cut.”

“So kinslaying is an exponent of the simple truth that nothing is clear-cut. It is the destruction of an illusion.”

“I don’t think I have ever heard it put so candidly. But… yes. I suppose that is about it.” Celebrimbor’s expression was sad. “But you will find that elves in general are very opposed to having their illusions destroyed.”

Anglachel found it all rather confusing. It mostly confirmed what they had already known about the nature of elves, namely that they were nothing if not hypocrite. The concept had peaked their interest though. After all, weren’t they a blade that destroyed other blades?

“I am a kinslayer, by your definition.”

Celebrimbor raised an eyebrow.

“You’re a sword.”

“That can –and has- destroyed other swords.”

“What is the point you are trying to make?”

Anglachel considered their words.

“I did not choose my make. But I chose my edge.” They hesitated. “You and I… we are not so different.”

Celebrimbor pensively looked at them, sorrow in his too-bright eyes.

“Perhaps we are not, indeed.”

 

… … … …

 

As time passed, more and more people reacted to Celebrimbor’s apparent “unwillingness” to truly find a solution for “Turin’s blunt sword”, and Anglachel could see it weighed on the smith.

They resented being coined “Turin’s Sword”. They had been Beleg’s Sword, and with him gone, they wanted to belong to no one but themself. However… they could see the strain on Celebrimbor, and they could tell this situation was slowly moving towards an inevitable boiling point.

They remembered another smith, in another, darker forge, who had stood his ground against a king until he had no more choice but to comply with his demands.

Maybe Thingol had been right, and they were bad luck… From their perch on the wall, they observed and considered Celebrimbor. The smith had been unfailingly kind to them in the face of their madness; he had cared for them, comforted them, drawn them back from the darkness of grief. Without him, they would still be lost inside themself. He… he deserved better than this. Once that thought settled into their mind, Anglachel came to an inescapable conclusion.

They would have to go.

 

… … … …

 

They told him the next evening, after yet another annoying elf had come to “inform” after the smith’s progress. 

“There is a way you can… repair me.”

Surprise was written on Celebrimbor’s face at this.

“How do you mean? You aren’t damaged in any way that a blacksmith can help with. You told me yourself your bluntness is your own choice.” They frowned. “I wouldn’t force you to come back on that even if I could.”

Anglachel squared themself.

“I am broken.”

“You’re not.”

“You don’t understand. I am broken, inside. And for a sword, being and form are close to one. I could not be more broken if my blade had cracked as badly as my mind. You'll... You'll have to reforge me."

They saw understanding dawn in the smith’s eyes, along with sadness. 

“Anglachel… Why… Why would you tell me this?”

“Because I have to go. Even if you keep defying the king and his retainers, you won’t be able to keep me. In their eyes, you have no right to me. It… it is better like this.”

Celebrimbor bit his lip.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. It will probably be done anyway, eventually. If not by you, then by some other, less careful smith tasked with making a useful blade out of me. And I… I’d rather have you do it than anyone else.”

Rather someone who knew them, someone who cared, than some unknown who thought them no more sentient than a hunk of raw ore.

“Do you know what will happen to… well, you?”

Anglachel hesitated. They had tried their hardest to keep their mindvoice even, but now their emotions trembled in it.

“I… I will not be Anglachel anymore.”

They didn’t know who or what they would be, but they would no longer be the blade that came from mother-father-creator’s hands. Maybe that was for the better. Perhaps they wouldn’t hurt so much anymore, when they were remade.

“Life has been unkind to you.”

The words resonated with warm affection and profound regret. Anglachel wasn’t sure it comforted them or made them want to cry. Probably both. By some miracle though, they kept their voice steady.

“Maybe it will be kinder to my new self.”

“With Turin?”

They laughed, nervously, without mirth.

“He could very well be the only being this side of the sea whose luck is unquestionably worse than my own. We're practically made for each other.”

They would be made for him, in any case. The thought was deeply depressing. Celebrimbor stroked their form, gently, as if they were built of spun glass rather than the hardest material in Arda.

“I wish this wasn’t needed.”

They hadn’t said it when mother-father-creator told them of what would happen. They had tried to stoically accept their fate and not show their anxiety, their grief, their distress. No longer. Their voice quivered.

“S-So do I.”

 

… … … …

 

“I’m scared.”

Celebrimbor soothingly caressed their blade, a gesture so familiar by now that its comfort was almost painful in this moment.

“I know.”

He didn’t say it wouldn’t hurt, or that it would be over soon. Anglachel was glad he didn’t lie to them. For all they knew, this might hurt worse than anything in the world. They shivered. Celebrimbor gently calmed them.

“Sssh.. It will be all right.”

Of all the things he could have said, all the platitudes he could have used for comfort, that was the only one Anglachel could -had to- will themself to believe. A sob escaped them.

“T-Thank you.”

“Sssh. Sleep, Anglachel.”

He sang. It was that strange, lilting lullaby again, that song that felt like home, even though they didn’t understand the words. Curling up inside themself, they allowed the melody to wash over them. They didn’t try to fight it. And as their senses dimmed and their mind slowly sank in warm, soft darkness, one last thought flitted through their mind.

They wished… they could have seen Anguirel. One last time.