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Set free

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In the darkness, footsteps, slow and measured, one after another, on the soft yielding grass covered with a thin sprinkle of dew, and the land stretches far in all directions. The footsteps are muffled and not heard and only he feels his feet descend onto the cushion that is the ground. One and another, slowly and steadily he walks. Determined, but still the need to put off the inevitable reigns in him and Fëanáro prolongs his journey as much as he can, occupying his mind with demanding thoughts.

And even from this distance, even obscured by darkness, he can discern the little hill and upon it two stumps. The Two Trees that he refused to revive the last time he was here. Ezellohar. It has been more years than he cares to count. He does not have a full recollection of the events, but he has a few very vivid images in his memory still.

It was because I tried to capture and posses it, the light, he tells himself. Why would I need to trap it? The light was not there for me to take and keep for myself. It was not meant to be enclosed and possessed by anyone, the light was meant to be free in the world and shared with all. Its beauty and shine, its potency to create and to keep light and life in Arda, its power, it corrupted me. The Silmarils ensnared me and I shall not be truly free until they perish for good and the divine light, which I kept prisoner inside of them, is finally released into the world, unhindered as it should be.

He does not want to do it. Yet he knows that it has to be done. His mind is open and certain that it is the right action to take. I need to destroy them and with them the hold they have over my heart and mind, he assures himself. Everyone will be better off once they are no more. Fëanáro walks and the feeling of fate greater than himself, a power that weaves its threads through the world, a knowledge of something inescapable, has flooded every part of his spirit long ago.

The stars gaze down from the sky alone and a thick layer of shadow lies upon Aman and the rest of the world. The world is dark once again and it has turned colder. The temperature is very low, to Fëanáro comparable only to the time after the Darkening, and the air sweeps over his skin, his newly acquired body, and leaves it chilly to the touch. Distantly, he wanders about the Moon and how the one jewel would look like up there in the heavens and how much brighter it would be. He shall never see it.

Máhanaxar draws closer with every measured step he takes and all too soon it opens up before him, its marble floor a dark shade of grey. They sit upon their thrones and he can see those turned towards him, he can sense their eyes and minds reaching his way, but waiting patiently in the absolute stillness.

The silent footsteps abandon the soft grass as he strides further and he is heard, clear yet quiet steps on the polished stone, and he nears the centre of the great circle. Fëanáro stops. And now it is him who waits. He is ready and feels almost calm, despite the hitch that sometimes emanates from his core, the last attempt to persuade himself to turn around and leave or take the Silmarills and run. He takes a deep breath, dispelling the poison. Let them burn and erupt, let the shells break and the light fly free.

“Curufinwë Fëanáro Finwion Therindion,” a voice says and it sounds like wind, not a breeze, but not a storm either, “we all know why we have gathered here. Shall you do as you were bidden?”

“I shall.”

Manwë gives a single nod and in a fracture of a second two figures from the circle disappear. Fëanáro looks to the empty space left behind and wonders, imagines. What exactly is happening right now? He sees the Silmaril being engulfed by burning orange magma, somewhere in the hidden depths on the earth. The other one pulled from raging waves, below which it rested on the bottom of the ocean, while the rain persists and falls onto the surface of the sea. How much time has passed he does not know, but at last, the two missing Valar come back, unexpectedly manifesting before their seats. Manwë rises and walks towards him and so do they. When he is three steps away the Elder King halts. He lifts his hand, which has up until now been empty, turns it, his slender fingers moving, and then a Silmaril appears, lying in the palm of his hand. Fëanáro´s breath hitches in his throat and his eyes are caught by the shining object before him, its golden silver sheen so familiar and tempting.

And now comes the crucial moment. Something that he has been waiting for… longer than what was good for him. He can sense it calling to him, beckoning. Manwë extends his hand and, hesitantly, Fëanáro slowly touches the stone, lifting it and enclosing it in his palm. From his left he is interrupted by Aulë, once his teacher, who regards him with keen auburn eyes. Silently, he hands him the second jewel. Fëanáro retrieves it and turns right to meet Ulmo who walks up to him and offers the third one. Fëanáro takes it, now bearing all three of his most illustrious and treacherous creations. They shine up at him, basking him in their enthralling light, singing their enchanting song. Just close your hand, the voice of his past whispers again somewhere inside him. Close your hand, turn around and walk away… Yet Fëanáro looks up at Manwë and nods. As on command all the other Valar and Valier rise. Manwë moves aside and as he passes him Fëanáro thinks he can see the Vala smile.

Again, his feet resonate delicately against the marble floor and each step brings him closer to what he now desperately feels he needs to do. He wants to have this over with, to lift the weight off his chest. For so long his desires have revolved around the three Silmarils he now carries, feeling and hearing their presence. They have captured him and their light seeped into the last base of his spirit and there was nothing more strange and captivating. He treads the dewy grass silently, holding his head high, eyes fixed on what is awaiting him.

As he nears Ezellohar the two unsightly stumps bode what will come to pass. He forces his heart to stay calm. In his mind he remembers the Trees as they used to be in old Valinor. Huge and brilliant, towering from the mound and sending their light across the lands. He reaches what remains of them and Yavanna Kementári appears by his side.

He does not know how he made them in the first place. Fëanáro have been working for days without a respite, forgetting to do anything but labouring in the forge, his will firmly set on capturing the stunning power inside a crystal. He has no recollection of the last stages of those experiments. When he eventually came to his senses three magnificent gems, shining with the mingled light of the Trees, were sitting on the table before him.

A piece of him got trapped inside of them. No, I have willingly poured a part of my soul into them, he thinks. As if capturing the light alone was not enough and he desired to be with it always. As if something else had to hold it in place. He will forever remember the second, when a shiver ran through his body as he gazed at them, hearing the soft music, completely awestruck, revelling at achieving the impossible and at their incomparable beauty.

They slowly approach the hill and the two hideous stumps. He stops and kneels on the ground before them. Nothing is heard and Fëanáro closes his eyes to lose himself completely in the moment. He can feel Yavanna´s touch on his mind, seeking to understand, searching, and he opens it and spreads out the thoughts and memories like a cloud. And then, deep down, hidden in the innermost corner, he can feel it. A spark in the darkness, the Silmarils. They are there and the secret of their origin with them. I can understand now. I recognize myself, I can see the forge and the light and the crystals… The Valië sees the memory and he breathes out in relief and opens his eyes. The three fateful gems still lie in his hand, now pulsing slightly with that golden silver gleam. The air sings with free energy that runs thought it. The light sings to him its own unique song.

Yavanna reaches to him and covers his hand with her own and her slender fingers hover above the Silmarils. It doesn’t feel like anything he has experienced before and the degree of light and sound increase. The weight vanishes suddenly and he realises there is only light now and when she moves her hands away he can see the truth of it. The Silmarils are gone. He watches intently what she is doing. Her hands surrounded by a fog of brilliance, she walks right to the remains of Laurelin. There, she touches the dead tree and sends some of the light inside of it. It disappears immediately. Then she walks over to Telperion and does the same. Fëanáro holds his breath. A weird sensation of premonition fills him and he is anxious that it might not work despite knowing that it will. He looks ahead but there is only dark. But finally, after a few seconds, his eyes catch a glimpse of what he has been waiting for.

A spark. And then another, and another and in a short while the dead flesh is sizzling with light underneath. Sparks rise all over, shining from beneath the crumbled bark, light seeps to the surface and out and more and more rays still appear. Fëanáro can only stare at what plays out before him, reverently almost, fascinated by the process, by the act of creation and the strength.

Suddenly the light flashes in a cruel magnitude and Fëanáro turns his head quickly, clenching his eyes shut, raising an arm to shield himself. But he can still see it, burning bright and red underneath his eyelids. It pulses fiercely, producing more light and heat. The light resonates in the air with its strange song, peerless, just out of reach of his full comprehension. Fëanáro´s ears discern swelling and rustling noises as the Trees are growing anew. At last the light softens and he can look again, seeing both of the Trees lit, a golden and a silver torch shining with a dimmed strength. Everything calms down, the air, which felt charged like during a storm, gets quiet and only the steady light remains, peaceful and eternal. The air hums with content and so does his spirit.

Tranquillity. Fëanáro slowly breathes in and out. Freedom. The light is unrestricted now, not coveted and possessed by one individual. His spirit is finally free of the hold, he realises as he feels it in its entirety now. Lightweight, unhindered. Whole. He feels satisfied and serene. When was the last time I have felt in such a way? I cannot even remember…, he notes with some confusion. The light is where it is supposed to be, free of him and he of it, free in the world for everyone to enjoy.

Both Trees now stand before him in all their might, tall, with a multitude of branches and glowing leaves. They shine with their respective lights, gold on the left and silver on the right, and together their power mingles into the most admirable radiance. The air feels warmer on his skin already, nurturing and pleasant. After what was most likely only a moment he stands up, his feet surprisingly steady on the ground, and he looks around. He catches the eyes of Yavanna Kementári and she smiles and he knows that what he had to do was accomplished. He will leave now, walk away on the soft soundless grass, retracing his footsteps, but only to a point. I started by leaving the Halls of the Dead, Fëanáro thinks, and I will continue by finding again my life alongside those with whom I truly belong. And he walks away.