Araloth is approaching the alcove in the wall when she hears the name of her husband, and pauses.
“King Fingon must be mad!” This is spoken in a hushed voice, but Araloth can hear its low and gravelly tone quite well. “He knows there’s little hope against the Nameless One, but he still persists in this foolishness.”
“Maybe he has some knowledge we don’t,” a second voice offers, and this time, Araloth knows the speaker; Ascar, a captain in the army, bright but still unblooded. “He wouldn’t lead us into certain death, uncle.”
Ascar’s uncle snorts. “For that thrice-damned Fëanorion he would do anything, nephew. This would not be the King’s first foolishness done in his name.”
“But uncle! The King loves his people, he loves us, you know that, and his regard for his friend would never lead so far as to put us in danger.”
“Friend, is it?” The man laughs, a stifled laugh. “Friend. No, Ascar, they’re more than friends, and, if my suspicions hold right, an Oath as strong as Fëanor’s binds King Fingon to that cursed family.”
“Which is the King’s family anyway,” Ascar points out. “And as for the other, uncle—he is married, once. The Laws—”
The older man sighs. “That is an argument for another time. And even if I’m wrong, you can’t deny that the King’s own son has been sent away; that brooks ill for his confidence in his plans.”
“But, you see—”
What Ascar’s response is, Araloth doesn’t wait to hear, tiptoeing backwards before announcing her presence with heavy steps as she walks past.
The problem, she think, is that both men have points, and that Fingon—
What Fingon is doing she doesn’t understand.
We will crush him, Fingon had told her, the night he had returned from Himring, his eyes still bright with the memory of Maedhros’ presence. We will crush Morgoth between the hammer and the anvil, and there will be no place for him to flee to.
A picture of confidence, then, with his triumphant smile and the hope in his voice, but he had asked that their son be sent away, and Araloth knew this plan of his and Maedhros’ was not fool-proof.
Initially, he had wanted to send her to Círdan, too; it had taken many nights of arguments before he had relented. And even then, that last night had been brutal.
You may die, Aralossë, he had flashed, lapsing into their native Quenya. You may die, and then what will become of Ereinion?
Russandol will take care of him, Araloth had snapped back. Or do you think he will die, too?
Fingon had not responded; now, Araloth thought with fear of what that meant, but then, she had been fighting, and too enraged to perceive this. All she had seen was a refusal to engage her, and she had pressed on, the final blow the most brutal. And I have as much cause to fight as you do. Moringotto took my Ornodil away just as he took away your Maitimo.
At this, Fingon had sighed. Very well. You win, Aralossë. I will not prevent you from coming.
But the moment of triumph had been stolen; the slump of his shoulders had shown the truth of her words, hitting closer than she had known possible; he had never revealed this darkest fear (or maybe darkest reality) that Morgoth had taken away what made Maedhros Maedhros. And that should have compelled pity out of her, but the only thing which had risen had been horror that if it was true, the man who lead their armies was well and truly instable. Quelling the words that rose to her tongue, she had slipped away, but later, she had taken it up with him again. Russandol is not quite sure of his plan, is he?
No, he is not, Fingon had agreed, and there was gratitude in the hand he squeezed over hers for not explicitly bringing up what he’d given away. But I’ve learnt that he tends to err on the side of caution; sending Ereinion away was partly a move to appease him.
Araloth had bitten the words that rose, again, away, the voice screaming that only Maedhros (and now, maybe, Lúthien and Beren) knew the full extent of Morgoth’s power, that only Maedhros had the right or the ability to judge the strength of the Dark Foe.
Her thoughts, however, must have been obvious in her face, for Fingon had grinned wryly. Aralossë, Maitimo is afraid. And—don’t tell him I said this—so am I. Both of us are jumpy and nervous, with reason enough, but if two people managed to best Moringotto, then his power must have diminished in the past years.
Or maybe, Araloth had suggested tartly, Lúthien has the blood of the Ainur and power on her side. And maybe it is easier to break into Angband on a stealth mission than to take it by force of armies.
Fingon had nodded in agreement. All that’s true, Aralossë, but I’m afraid we can’t delay this any longer.
There had been a new kind of fear in his voice, and Aralossë had blinked. Why not?
Aralossë, two promises tie Maitimo; our marriage and Fëanáro’s Oath. He has the safety-net needed to prevent disaster; the others do not, even Curufinwë—he and Elewendë are of the same mind, and she will not restrain him. We need something else to prevent their going after Sindocollo. And, he had added, as Araloth had opened her mouth to interrupt, Aralossë, Moringotto gains on us everyday. He must be stopped, somehow, and isn’t it better to die trying, at least, than to hide out in our fortresses and wait for him to come to us? I love my people enough that I will give them a dignified end, at least. I, too, have an Oath, remember; the oath of a king to his people.
Araloth had acknowledged his point with a nod of her head, but now, she couldn’t stop thinking. An Oath as strong as Fëanor’s, Ascar’s uncle had said, and now she felt like laughing, as strange as that was. An Oath as strong as Fëanor’s, indeed.