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The Stars are Gone

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Maitimo! Come back! Calling into the deep darkness—


—that wraps around them, then flame, and a mad laugh in a once-familiar voice, a hand thrusting out a torch, throwing flame onto ships, a flash of red—


—blood on the quays of Alqualondë, swords against harpoons, slaughter, amidst the chaos a smile of greeting—


—that turns into a horrified grimace at the sight of a limp figured being carried by two people onto slope, a wail—


—of pain, gulped back but perceived by his tormentors, the whips and chains and hideous instruments that defy description falling faster, faster, forcing him onto his knees—


—before a terrible figure, tall and mighty, cloaked in darkness but crowned by stars, a sudden, terrible sense of danger making him shiver—


—in the cold, almost frozen to death, then burn in the glare of the sun until he almost melts, hanging high atop a mountain, unable to move for pain, hunger, thirst—


“Maitimo!” Findekáno wakes with a cry, looking about wildly.


“What is it, Káno?” Turukáno has hurried to his side, his hair in disarray and a cloak pulled about him haphazardly. Findekáno sits up, thinking for a moment that it is Maitimo, but then the face above him comes into focus.


“Sorry, Turvo,” he says, sinking back down into his meager pile of blankets. “I…had a dream.”


His brother nods, needing to hear no more; dreams have become more frequent as the distance between them and Aman increases, especially among the Finwionnath. Some say that it is Irmo’s magic, to discourage the Noldor even further, others that it is Morgoth’s. Findekáno thinks that it is their own minds at work.


“I am fine,” he murmurs, shaking himself, “But what about everyone else? No losses tonight?” The instant he says the word, he winces. Elenwë was one of the ‘losses’ and Turukáno still has not recovered from it, though he hides it well. But at the same time, he wonders at the change in himself, for Káno the elder brother and Káno the lover would not have thought to ask such a question. Prince Findekáno, the leader and warrior, cannot imagine not asking.


Turukáno pulls him out of his musing with gentle poke. “They are fine, Káno. Everyone is safe, I just checked.”


Findekáno nods absently. “I will take over the supervision of the night watch.”                                                     


“No,” Turukáno says firmly, “I cannot let you—you need the sleep.”


Cannot let me? Turvo, you need the sleep far more than I do.”  Findekáno snorts. “Go to bed, Turvo, and do not dare to get up until I call you.” He realizes belatedly that he is speaking as Turukáno’s elder brother, not as a prince and the heir of Ñolofinwë.


Turukáno seems to have thought the same thing, for he smiles fondly. “Ah well, the elder brother in you had to surface some day. I suppose you were instructed in the art of brotherly persuasion by Maitimo—”


They both freeze. Maitimo is a forbidden subject, like Elenwë, and Turukáno knows it.  “I am sorry, Káno, I was not thinking, I simply—”


“Let it be,” Findekáno sighs, getting up with some difficulty and tossing his blankets to Turukáno. The chill immediately hits his body, even through layers of clothing. Findekáno closes his watering eyes so that the tears will not solidify, pressing his lips firmly together to stop his teeth from chattering. “Let it be, Turvo.”


Turukáno looks up at his brother from where he has burrowed into the blankets. “What did you see?”


Blinking, Findekáno says, “What are you talking about?”


“The dream you had—what did you see?”


Findekáno is silent for a long while. Finally, “I saw him.”


Turukáno sighs, knowing that this is unavoidable, that his brother needs the catharsis that only telling someone else can bring. After an appropriate silence, he asks “Well, Káno? What did you see?”


Findekáno turns to meet his eyes, and Turukáno almost recoils from what he sees. A pale, still face, utterly drained of any hope, worn and tired, haunted eyes twisted to bitterness. “What I usually see, and more. Alqualondë, and the way he smiled that day, all cool and calm, and Losgar. I still do not know whether he burned the ships or not, since the dream is unclear, but he most likely did.”


That itself is enough to send anyone mad, Turukáno knows, but he senses there is more. “And?”


Findekáno still holds Turukáno’s gaze. “I saw…I saw him, many times. I saw Fëanáro’s body, and what it looked like before he died, and I saw…terrible things. I saw his in pain, Turvo, and I felt his pain. It was like my whole body was on fire, and I wanted it to stop, but I knew, somehow, that it in reality it was worse. And I saw him captured by Moringotto, and tormented so much—so much, Turvo!—and still resisting. And then I saw him hanging by one hand, alone in the mountains, with no-one to help him. And Turvo, I saw him pray to the Valar. He prayed for so many things. For freedom first of all, and when that did not work, death, then his family’s and our safety. And none of the prayers were answered. And I heard him pray one last time, Turvo, to Varda. He asked for so little—just some light that did not burn him or blind him. But Turvo, even then, the Valar ignored him. I saw. I saw that the Sun we have heard so much of was there, and the Moon, and they pained him so much. Only starlight he would have been able to stand, because the stars are so far away that they would not be able to harm him. And he begged and begged for that light, that light which we see and take almost for granted in spite of our hymns and songs—after all, they are just relics of the past. But, Turvo, the stars were gone.”