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Peace Paid With Blood

Chapter Text

Whistling then a crack followed by a soft yet clear number, the number resonating with the pain the speaker felt. All Carnistir could do was watch in horror as his elder brother went through this…. this torture. He wanted to scream and run forwards beg them to stop what they were doing and allow him to take his brother’s place. Macalaure had already suffered a fourth of the punishment for all of them and if he did as he wanted to it would be the most horrible insult to him that could be made at this point.

Despite Macalaure’s fear of whips he stood there and took each lash with little more than a barely perceptible wince of pain and the clear count. Already though blood had been drawn though the one holding the whip had been carefully aiming so that it would strike lower and lower down as the punishment continued. Carnistir wished he’d gone with his initial instinct and told Macalaure that there was no way to make amends for the deaths at Alqualonde. Instead he’d told Macalaure the whole thing and the fool…. Macalaure had decided to take the punishments for his brothers, their father and he himself on the condition of the matter as a whole being dropped.

Another crack and there was a soft splatter of water as sweat ran down the ellon holding the whip’s face. Carnistir could see that he wasn’t using as much force as he likely normally used and spared enough thought to be grateful for it. If he had then there was little chance of him helping Macalaure back to their camp and his tent unnoticed.

Why though? What did Macalaure hope to accomplish here? Peace? There was little hope of that once… oh. That was it. He selected Carnistir to accompany him because Macalaure trusted him and that the others would not find out until after the fact much like none of them had known about the newly healed injury on his brother’s back. At once a surge of love and fury raced through him. Love because it was fitting that he do this for them all, and Carnistir was so proud to be Macalaure’s little brother. Fury because damn him for being so selfless and so open to taking the burden upon himself even when the others would have gladly shouldered their share of the burden.

Carnistir watched for hours as his brother stood there, arms secured to a dead tree as the whip struck again and again until at last Thingol stepped forwards and gently gathered some of the blood that ran down Macalaure’s back smearing it into two streaks on his cheeks and one triangle upon his forehead. After drawing the lines with his brother’s blood Thingol turned to the elves still present and spoke with a loud clear voice.

“The blood that has been spilled is repaid and our cousins no longer will be named guilty.” Turning to the ellon that had been using the whip he nodded at Macalaure. “You may release him now and see to it that he is taken care of.”

As the ellon untied the cords that had helped support Macalaure his brother turned, silver eyes cool and sharp despite the pain clearly written on his face and the way he leaned against the tree. Carnistir spared a thought to how like their father he looked, and cursed the resemblance all the same because he knew what his brother would say next.

“Nay, you would give your own people no succor after a punishment of this sort, and so I shall accept none from you. My brother will see me back to our camp and this matter shall drop indefinitely else I myself shall demand a similar punishment from you for those slain at the hands of your kin.” Macalaure straightened and then collected his shirt and tunic, the dark red made far more sense now as they would show the blood from the lashes the least. Tellingly Thingol said nothing against Macalaure’s observation

Carnistir knew that it would be a matter of pride that would allow his brother to walk out of the clearing and away from the elves there. He swiftly and silently moved from the back of the crowd gathered there to the edge where he would meet his brother. Macalaure did indeed manage to make it to the edge of the clearing his face pale as Telperion’s light and looking like he was mere moments from collapsing. Yet rather than moving to support him Carnistir looked over those assembled and narrowed his eyes wishing he could simply snap for them to be on their way away from here for they had done enough.

Macalaure gently placed his hand on his shoulder distracting him from his anger and reminding him that they needed to return to the Noldor camp in that one simple gesture. Yielding to his brother’s desire to return to their camp Carnistir nodded subtly and turned following behind him half a step ready to move to support him should he indicate he would accept it. It was only once they were out of sight and hearing of the elves gathered there that Macalaure indicated he needed the help.  Carnistir swiftly was at his side an arm wrapped securely around his waist and Macalaure’s arm across his shoulders with Macalaure himself leaning heavily against him.

“That... was horrible I never want to see another whip as long as I live.”

“Then why did you do it?”

“You know why.” Macalaure gave him a calm pointed look. “I did it because we desperately need allies and they know these lands and can help us.”

Carnistir said nothing angrily glaring at the ground in front of him.

“Moryo... please, I ask this from you as your brother, please do not tell the others about this. They are already angry enough with the Thindar and with the rest of the Noldor and we cannot be divided now. Not now and not until Morgoth falls.”

“I will not tell them. I think they should know, but I figured out your reasons and while I may disapprove I will trust you and keep this a secret between us.”

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Tyelcormo had been pacing outside of the tent for the last thirty minutes. Once Carnistir had returned with Macalaure the two of them had retreated to the elder sibling’s tent and refused anyone else entrance to speak with their leader. At last Carnistir walked out carrying a bowl of water tinged red. Seeing the red tint and catching a faint whiff of blood Tyelcormo gave Carnistir a sharp look silently demanding to know what was going on.

Seeing the look Carnistir pressed his lips together into a thin line before shaking his head. “Ask Macalaure. I gave him my word that I would stay silent on the matter.”

“So something important happened?”

“I already said I gave my word to remain silent, if you want to know ask him.” Carnistir nodded his head towards the tent irritation at the situation carrying in his voice.

Tyelcormo looked at the tent for a moment trying to decide if he should go in or not. At last he nodded to Carnistir who turned and carried the bowl away likely to dump it out of their camp so no one else would catch the scent the water in it held. Tyelcormo ducked his head to better hear movement inside the tent and tapped on the waxed canvas. For a moment there was no sound and he was about to leave when a reply came at last.

“Enter.”

Carefully he slipped inside and blinked when he saw Macalaure sitting on the stool without his robe and without the crown. Ever since he’d been given the crown for safe keeping he wore it while he was awake so seeing him without the trappings of his office was distinctly odd and more concerning than simply seeing Carnistir carrying a bowl of bloody water.

“I heard you returned from your discussion with the Sindar. Did everything turn out well?”

“As well as can be expected, I managed to undo the ill that our Arafinweian cousins managed to cause at least. Thingol has agreed to drop any and all grudges and bans he was planning on putting into effect regarding the Noldor, and it seems that relations between our people and his shall continue as they had previously.” Macalaure replied. Tyelcormo frowned catching the exhaustion and something else, pain perhaps or possibly anger, coloring his elder brother’s voice.

“That is good then. I know many were concerned that things would deteriorate between us, particularly among those who are with our half-uncle. Now-”

“Just call him our uncle. Any reminder of the gap between us and him will only weaken our position and may cause us to lack support later when we need it.” Macalaure cut him off with a sharp wave of his hand. Musician though he was it was also clear that he had paid attention to the lessons in politics they had been forced to sit in on. “How did the planning session go?”

“That was the other thing I wanted to talk to you about. They were suggesting setting up different towns and cities and having things grouped up by those. We could have a central area for trade and then we would have the farms and livestock in specific areas around those central areas.”

“Similar to what was there in Laiquacelu?” Macalaure asked, referring to a smaller town that had been a short distance from Tirion. Tyelcormo nodded his confirmation wondering what Macalaure would think of that proposal. His brother picked up a quill and dipped it in a small pot of ink before starting to write something on a piece of heavy parchment. “I would like a list of how many of our farmers and herders know how to use a sword and bow. Those who know how to use only one of the two weapons would be useful as well they will be the ones most likely to be at the outer edge of such communities.”

Relieved that the idea was actually being seriously considered Tyelcormo nodded pressing his hand to his chest over his left lung giving a slight bow. He caught the brief flash of irritation in Macalaure’s eyes at his gesture and nearly smirked. “It will be done immediately.”

“Have the Ambarussa take care of it they will have the entire camp done quickly, also see if we can have similar done with Nolofinwe’s camp the more our two groups mix the better.”

“You are not going to see him then?” Tyelcormo found that change distinctly odd and more than that it was concerning. Since they arrived Macalaure tried to have a meeting with their uncle every few days to help soothe the anger that the ones who crossed the Helcaraxe felt for those who did not.

“Not tomorrow. I had planned to, but the meeting with Thingol took more energy than I initially believed it would.”

“If I ask you what happened in Doriath you will not tell me will you?”

“I reached an agreement and the issue between us has been dropped. What more needs to be said?” Macalaure replied sharply to his question nearly making him flinch. It was ironic really how many people, himself and the rest of their kin included, forgot just what Macalaure could do until they were confronted with his ire.

“Nothing… I apologize for bothering you about it.” Guilt lit Macalaure’s eyes but it was not enough to cause him to apologize or to explain what had happened. Reluctantly Tyelcormo accepted that until it was necessary for him to know what happened he would not find out from either of his brothers. “Shall I send for anyone else?”

“Send for Húron if you would I would like to know how many attacks happened while I was away.” Macalaure requested rolling his shoulders a little as though they were bothering him. Rather than ask if he could help any Tyelcormo bowed formally before ducking out of the tent again.

Outside he frowned up at the moon just rising over the horizon. Something important had happened and Carnistir knew what it was, but he could not tell Tyelcormo and Macalaure would not. Frustrated he turned to find Carnistir. Even if he would not learn what had happened he would find out how best to help, and he would tell Curufinwe and the Ambarussa about what he knew as well. Macalaure may keep them in the dark about this much as he had regarding Moriñgotho’s demands that did not mean that they would not help where they could.

Before walking away he sent one last look back towards the tent wishing that Maitimo were present. Their eldest brother always could get Macalaure to answer what was going on even with the musician’s reluctance to speak of something. Alas he was not so they would simply have to wait. Sighing heavily he went to find Húron first so that Macalaure would get his answers before seeking his own.

Chapter Text

Carnistir was worried. The storm outside looked to be particularly violent with lightning flashing in the distance over the mountains on the horizon. Normally a storm of any sort would be of little concern so long as their supplies were safe and sheltered from the worst of the rain and lightning, but right now he was worried. Not about the supplies, no, those were the duty of the Ambarussa to deal with, He worried about something even more important. If he was correct then the mental and emotional wellbeing of their current leader was at stake and Carnistir still could not tell their brothers what had happened in Doriath because of his elder brother’s ridiculously self-sacrificing nature.

He knew that Macalaure would be far more concerned about the state of things within their camp than his own wellbeing though and reluctantly checked in with the leaders of the different units checking that they had the supplies they needed so that when he finally got to his brother there would be a reason to be there aside from his worry. It had gone easily enough until he checked in with the healers. They desperately needed another person whose hand was steady to help care for the wounded, and the twins were unable to find anyone else but Carnistir himself.

Cursing under his breath Carnistir looked at the two sternly. “I will help here, but you two need to do something for me first.”

“What is it?” Amrod asked, Amras peering over his shoulder at Carnistir his eyes burning with curiosity.

“Go find Tyelcormo. I want him to go and stay with Macalaure until I am done here and get there.” It seemed simple enough to the two of them judging by their shared look, and if need be Carnistir would take the blame for their exuberance. The twins looked relieved and bounded off in search of the hunter without another word.

Carnistir on the other hand took off his richly embroidered robe and laid it aside before rolling up his sleeves. Then his first patient was brought in and he had little time to think as he stitched up wounds, rubbed poultices over those that needed no stitching and bandaged the lot of them. Finally he finished with the last one that needed his attention and flinched as the crash of thunder brought to mind the sharp crack of a whip.

Looking outside his eyes widened and he muttered more curses under his breath. It was pouring and lightning flashed in the distance followed by another crack of thunder. Picking up his robe Carnistir ran out into the rain making his way to Macalaure’s tent praying that Tyelcormo was there as he’d asked because if not then Macalaure was no doubt hiding away pretending everything was okay like he had for the last week since he’d bought their peace with Thingol with his own blood.

Ducking into Macalaure’s tent he sighed in relief seeing both of his older brothers on the ground, Tyelcormo leaning against Macalaure’s cot and Macalaure leaning against Tyelcormo himself. They looked up as he entered and gave him a small smile each before the next crack caused Macalaure to flinch violently. Dropping his robe on the desk Carnistir sat in front of his brothers facing them and placed his hands on both of Macalaure’s cheeks.

“Easy brother, you are safe in our camp. It is only Tyelca and I here.” He caught the look  that Tyelcormo sent his way at the old nickname but thankfully his brother said nothing as Macalaure nodded.

“I know.”

“It’s just the storm. How about I send Tyelca to get Curvo, Tyelpe and the twins from the forge? We can all stay here and eat cooked nuts and dried meat and you can tell us about the time atar and ammile got lost in the mountains for a week. You promised Tyelpe to share that one so he wouldn’t worry if it happened to him remember?”

Tyelcormo gave him a calculating look no doubt putting some of the pieces together now. Carnistir gave him a slightly pleading look and he gave a short brief nod. “Of course I will but I think Moryo would be better since he’s already wet.”

“Nonsense, you are quicker and know where to find Curvo better than I.” Carnistir replied tartly managing to draw a shaky laugh from Macalaure.

“Aye, please Turca? Will you go find our brothers, they shall no doubt find the story entertaining as will our nephew.” Macalaure added his request to Carnistir’s drawing a long sigh from the hunter.

“Very well I shall go and you and Carnistir may speak of what happened that you still have yet to tell us.” Tyelcormo said shifting Macalaure away from him and standing.

As he went to leave Macalaure caught his hand and gave him a pleading look. “Please brother. I know it grates on you but please believe that I have a reason for my silence.”

For a moment Tyelcormo gave him an unreadable look before nodding slowly. “I do trust you. I wish I knew what occurred or that I knew your reasoning but I will not be the one to start a fight over it.”

“Thank you.” Carnistir said seeing how overwhelmed by the trust given to him Macalaure was.  Tyelcormo nodded to them both then was off. It would not take him long to find the others, but long enough for Carnistir and Macalaure to speak and for Carnistir to check Macalaure’s back.

Macalaure reached up and slowly, painfully tugged off his tunic and shirt revealing the bandages still wrapped around him. There were a couple of small patches of crimson staining the white of them drawing a slightly irritated sigh from Carnistir. “You need to stop overdoing it Macalaure.”

“How? I am needed and they need a strong leader not one who limps about cringing at everything.”

“You wouldn’t even if you tried.” Carnistir said as he unwound the bandages. “Still perhaps you could take any meetings with the scouts standing also those with our commanders.” His thought that Macalaure could stop riding back and forth between their camp and Nolofinwe’s went without saying though his brother no doubt picked up on it from the look he gave him.

“I shall give those two suggestions a try and we shall see.” Macalaure consented to that much at least.

Carnistir checked over each laceration that was still visible now and picked up a salve that he rubbed into the ones that hadn’t reopened. Then he wrapped a clean bandage around his brother’s chest to protect the injuries from his general daily activities.

“You’re worried.” A sudden boom coupled with a slight flinch gave him an excuse for it.

“You flinch at the sound of thunder and Nolofinwe will notice if no other will how you react to it.”

“That’s not all on your mind.” It was just like him, clever Macalaure, to somehow able to see through him even in his half-truths.

“No it isn’t.”

“Then what is?”

“You know already I believe you should tell them what happened. Yet I know your reason not to and have accepted it, so with what you did to achieve peace with Thingol where will you draw the line once Nolofinwe demands satisfaction?” Thingol and his people had only extracted vengeance for the Teleri and thus had absolved their guilt thereof but Nolofinwe and those who followed him still demanded satisfaction before they would consent to peace.

Macalaure didn’t reply, instead he merely drew his knee up to his chest and wrapped his arms around it looking at the entrance to the tent thoughtfully. Frustrated that he would not get an answer Carnistir stood and strode across the tent to dig out some cushions and furs out of a chest there. As he pulled them out he felt his brother’s eyes focused on his back.

“I will do what I need to so that we will survive and win, that should be enough.”

“Already a fear you’ve held since you were an elfling has returned what more will you drive yourself to do, die?”

“As I said I will do what I need to.” Macalaure replied firmly the flash of lightning as the tent flap was opened turned his eyes white for a moment and made him look more like their father than any of his brothers could remember him looking before. They settled around him, Tyelcormo stripping off his shirt and vest before settling behind Macalaure again, and the others arranging themselves and the cushions and furs so they would all be comfortable. Seeing their expectant faces Macalaure laughed softly and then began telling the story. Once that story was done Tyelperinquar pleaded for another from his uncle and another until they all fell asleep settled there on the floor all but Macalaure who stayed awake for an hour more turning Carnistir’s question over in his mind.

Chapter Text

Standing before Nolofinwe while his people treated his as the King was different than standing before him as an uncle. Macalaure looked around briefly noting who all appeared to be angry and who was despite their seemingly calm appearance. It echoed loosely the way that Thingol’s court had looked when he demanded an audience with him, the main irony being that he was technically the Regent of the King to these people, the one who had true power over them, and further he helped build this very building they stood to judge him in.

Findecano looked around nervously as though his cousin expected a revolt and Turucano looked simply furious as did Irisse who stood next to her brother. Findarato looked pleading and guilty all at once while his siblings looked cool and angry all save Artanis that is for she was not present though Macalaure made a note to seek her out and speak with her separately for he would demand an accounting from her since he and not her uncle was the current ruler as they chose to follow his father across and not return to lands where Nolofinwe would have been named King in Finwe’s place.

“Nephew you requested an audience and I have granted it so speak now or leave and allow us to return to our tasks.” Nolofinwe commanded not meeting his gaze. Macalaure felt a little amused, here his uncle was named and treated as King yet he felt guilty for it when before the one he knew he owed his difference. Still he had come for a reason and that was to restore peace with his uncle and those who followed him.

“Would you say Nolofinwe that you are the representative of those here?” Silence descended like a thick storm cloud over those present and outrage seemed to linger that he would question that which they would name fact. “Further would they agree that you are such and thus able to demand any retribution and accept it in their name releasing the guilty from a crime?”

Nolofinwe looked at him confused; he didn’t seem to quite understand the significance of his questions though he had learned politics with Maitimo from Finwe himself. Macalaure tilted his head slightly reminding his uncle that he awaited an answer. The Noldor around them beat him to it though and loudly declared their confirmation of it.

“It seems they believe it is so. Do you?”

“I will do my best to prove worthy of their trust in me.” A barbed remark aimed at Macalaure for his father’s decision to set the ships aflame rather than send them back, the true cause for which was something he would hold to himself and his followers as necessary and thus not a source of guilt. “I fail to see what you would do about this though as you and your kin have already proven untrustworthy at accepting punishment when it is sorely needed.”

“Have you even spoken with Thingol recently? Of course not. You would call me not only disloyal but a coward as well I see. I would wash my hands of you and yours demanding you leave were you not the dearly loved kinsman of my brother.”

Nolofinwe winced a little, imperceptible to anyone not watching him, and bowed his head slightly acknowledging that he had spoken out of line there. That Macalaure had the authority to do so had clearly not occurred to any of those present save Findarato who sent him a pleading look asking him to continue tolerating their presence. Macalaure gave him a brief glance as well as a slight nod.

He was fully willing to continue accepting their presence which was why he was here rather than leaving them to their own illusory world where Nolofinwe was their king and he himself was little more than the reviled and exiled ruler of their once kin and friends.

“I will ask you to name your price for ‘forgiveness’ since I am the eldest kin of the one who wronged you able to gift a retribution price, save you yourself and your siblings who abandoned you to return to the Valar.” The jab at Arafinwe and Findis was a reminder that he was not the only one to wrong them though he did understand why they acted as they did.

“You would use your father’s skills to craft me something?”

“If it was deemed necessary.” Macalaure confirmed then held out his arms like a he was an actor displaying his fine costume. “A gift crafted with my father’s skills at my hands and cooled with my mother’s blood from my own body for how else should something to pay for blood taken be created?”

Hearing the shocked murmurs Macalaure spared a moment to be glad he convinced his brothers not to come with him this time. If they had heard his words they would all have been furious and Carnistir specifically would have snapped at him that it was a price set too high for such ones who would mutter among themselves against their rightful ruler and who too would name another their lord whether their King will it or no.

The expression on Findecano’s face, as though he’d been hit in the gut nearly drew a smile to Macalaure’s lips but he restrained himself. Deciding that he would be sending the gift with Findecano to give it to Nolofinwe. Politics... had it’s uses and the reminder that he would give them only as much of his skill and time as he wished to would be a potent reminder as they were beginning to forget the proper order of things that had thus far been allowed to be forgotten.

“I would have you craft a knife for me then. One that’s edge is sharper than a razor and that will never dull nor tarnish. Manage that and I shall absolve you of all guilt I would claim is yours for the many lives that were lost on the crossing of the Helcaraxe.”

With a smile, small and slightly ironic, Macalaure gave his uncle a deep mocking bow silently acknowledging his place here but also reminding him that they neither one truly had the final authority as long as Maitimo may yet live. Then straightening he turned and walked out. As he walked back to the camp where his brothers were awaiting him Macalaure paused and looked north at the distant mountains where his scouts had reported Maitimo being held before turning to face that point. Touching his right hand over his heart then touching his fingers lightly to his mouth he then held his hand out fingers splayed towards the place he’d been told Maitimo was hanging.

“Soon brother mine. Soon I shall work to have you back with us, and then Morgoth and his servants will rue the day they turned the anger of the House of Feanaro upon them for I will see them fall just as I know you will.” Turning back he continued on his mind alight with rune chains and thoughts of placement for the blade he had been bidden to craft. It would be done soon enough and then he would see to it that Findecano had it with him to be carried safely to Nolofinwe.

Chapter Text

Nolofinwe hadn’t been sure what to expect from his meeting with his nephew and now seeing the fierce glares directed his way by Curufinwe and Carnistir he wondered even more if coming to speak with him was the right way to go. Still he felt that he needed to speak with Macalaure about their meeting and to apologize for bringing up things best left unspoken. As the guard let him into the tent, a tent because he’d taken the building that had once been his nephews and didn’t that send a stirring of guilt through him, he looked at his nephew. Seeing white where his collar was open the guilt he felt was mixed with some confusion though he said nothing and instead bowed to him.

“Nephew, thank you for seeing me now.” Nolofinwe said quietly looking at him.

The glint of white cloth seemed to stand out to him somehow, gnawing at his thoughts a little though why didn’t quite come to mind.

“Of course Uncle. You gave me the same opportunity after all.” Macalaure replied setting his pen aside.

“I wished to apologize to you for my words during our audience actually.” Surprise lit his nephew’s eyes and Nolofinwe smothered a smile. “I spoke wrongly about events that occurred.”

“Did you now?” Macalaure asked lowly his eyes measuring him thoughtfully.

“I did. You tried your best after your father left you with this whole mess to deal with.”

“That’s what you think I see.” Macalaure’s eyes narrowed at him and he stood stiffly. Walking around the table and gesturing for Nolofinwe to follow him Macalaure left the tent. He followed him feeling a little confused by his nephew’s behavior. Was not his acceptance of the situation as it stood enough for him? Not knowing Nolofinwe followed his nephew through the camp and to the healers. Seeing him press a finger to his lips Nolofinwe nodded. Peering in Macalaure pointed at a bed on the far side of the tent and the two of them crossed to it. There was an elleth, on he remembered being a friend of Feanaro’s who was gasping softly for breath despite the horrible burns that covered her arms and chest. Shock and mute horror filled him seeing the proud lady laying there in such pain. Looking at his nephew for an explanation he saw the small sad smile and the way his eyes seemed to see right through him.

Leading him back out of the tent Macalaure took him just outside the camp where they would have the illusion of privacy if little else. Turning to him so close to asking why he was taken there he suddenly saw the weight of everything on his nephew’s shoulders and felt a spark of worry and fear as he wondered what he’d missed.

“She went out with Nelyo when he went to treat with Morgoth. Of the entire company she alone returned, and then only because my brother threw her on his own horse and sent it off. That mess you claimed my father left me was not left for me by him, or not by him alone.”

“Will she survive?” Nolofinwe asked softly feeling as though their places had been switched, him the younger asking Macalaure who seemed so much older now.

“They do not know. I almost hope she does not though. She’s born enough guilt that to add the weight of my brother’s capture to her would be cruel. Still you see now some of what I deal with, injuries the same as you even if not from cold, broken hearts for those lost, the only difference is I have shattered relationships I must work to restore because of the carelessness of you and yours just as surely as the lax behavior of mine.”

“I wish father were here.” The words were out before he could stop them and for a chilling moment he wondered if this new person who wore his nephew’s face, for the nephew he’d left would never manage such burdens so gracefully, would take offence to them.

Macalaure nodded slowly lifting his eyes up to the crystal blue sky above. “I wish so too. It is not to be though so we two have to work together to keep things together and maybe in time we shall see our foe defeated at our feet.”

“I will aid you as I can. Please believe that. For all my words spoken back there before those who followed me, please believe that I will do all I can to aid you just as I spoke that I would follow your father.”

“Then so may it be. Let us rise above that which would see us fall and work to be one people once more. For Finwe’s sake if for no other reason.” Macalaure spoke, his words holding the lightest touch of power as he spoke of working together for the sake of one lost  and Nolofinwe could not bring himself to be angry about it. Instead he rejoiced that they had reached an agreement.

“I was named the leader upon my father’s relocation to Formenos, and have remained so thus far. Once reparations have been made I would like very much to give away the post. I fear that it has started to get to me.” He commented, setting aside the formal official behavior and sitting down on the ground.

Macalaure rolled his eyes and laughed softly. “Indeed, and what gave that away?”

Grinning he looked up at him, relieved that some of the ellon he’d known remained still. “Consider it a lucky guess, or consider it the words I spoke yesterday. Those were entirely uncalled for and I admit that I was angry and wanted to try upsetting you.”

“It is lucky then that I have five younger brothers who tried time and again to bait me similarly.”

“Lucky indeed.” They stayed in silence for a moment, Macalaure standing over him as they looked to the sky. At last Nolofinwe sighed and got to his feet again looking at the bandage and realizing that no battles where Macalaure could have gotten hurt had happened recently.

“I must thank you nephew, for going to the lengths you have to secure our peace. I will not ask how you secured it merely to thank you for it and to tell you that in the future I will attempt to aid you as best as I can.” Nolofinwe stated clasping his right hand over his heart and bowing deeply. He didn’t want to know what the cost was, not if it caused harm to their current rightful leader, but he was so profoundly grateful that it had happened somehow.

“Then it was a cost well paid. Now go, before your daughter or son come thinking I murdered you or that you need rescuing.” Macalaure turned and started back towards his tent. Pausing he looked back over his shoulder. “Oh, Nolofinwe, should you see Artanis before I do inform her that I need to speak with her as swiftly as possible. I care not what her grievance is with me or with my father she acted out of line and without care for the wellbeing of anyone of our people.”

Nolofinwe stood mutely looking at his nephew’s retreating back mentally agreeing to the request. After seeing the elleth and the way that the people seemed worn down in spirit even if not in strength it was the least he could do, and perhaps somehow the meeting would help restore the spirit and strength to some who were weary now. Even if not then it may well help in the future.

Chapter Text

It had taken Macalaure weeks to get everything ready and settled enough to even think about forging the knife that had been demanded for the reparation price. The metal had been gathered and the design had finally been settled on now and Macalaure was standing before an anvil and a flame holding the tools of the forge with his hair tied back away from his face.

Curufin had to marvel momentarily at how like their father his brother looked there watching the metal heat up with a knowing gaze, and for an instant he was jealous that Macalaure had been their father’s last student to get to see the full extent of Feanaro’s knowledge before he realized that some skills would never be learned. The jealousy melted away as he gazed at the small finely honed knife that rested in its sheath against Macalaure’s thigh. The knowledge of how to make a blade cooled only by blood was passed on to them by their father. Feanaro had called it an exercise of possibility and had wanted to know how finely crafted such a blade could be.

As Macalaure worked the metal into a usable form Curufinwe watched fascinated though he kept close and careful watch over his brother. Carnistir had been right when he’d said that Macalaure seemed to be taking his desire for peace too far, though at the same time Curufinwe could see how this was necessary despite all of their preferences. So he merely watched and waited, ready to step in if it was needed and though his brother said nothing about it he could practically feel the mixture of gratitude and annoyance at his presence.

As he watched Macalaure seemed to finally be pleased with the form the shape and condition of the metal and pulled the knife free from its sheath and cut his arm shallowly letting a few drops fall on it, the liquid hissing and steaming as it landed on the hot metal. Then he heated it once more before finally taking the hammer to it.

The air seemed to heat more and more and become thicker and thicker as Macalaure worked. Light seemed to flash as the strikes from the hammer fell and power seeped from his brother into the hammer to be imbued in the metal that was even now taking form, the last lingering power was drawn into the anvil strengthening it for later works of this sort. Curufinwe was so very glad that he’d volunteered to watch over their brother, none of the others would have managed to stand up to the sheer amount of power flooding the room, something he’d learned to deal with enough that he could stand and watch though his breath was coming in short, sharp pants. His eyes were beginning to burn from the heat and the light yet he refused to turn away.

Each hammer strike rang through the room, through Curufinwe himself even, stirring a memory of one time he’d watched their father craft something similarly. At the time he’d wondered how no one else had heard and felt it and now too he wondered the same though he knew that both areas had been crafted and selected with care to absorb the lingering energy that would try to escape still.

The plans had been spoken about with care by Macalaure and he himself before his brother had even started working on the metal so Curufinwe knew just how far Macalaure planned to get this time in his work. Seeing him weaken as he worked though filled him with worry that perhaps this would be too much for him to do, and that maybe he needed to stop before he’d intended, it was only trust that Macalaure would know when to stop kept him quiet and watching rather than there demanding he stop.

Soon enough Macalaure used the knife again cooling the metal with his own blood from a fresh cut and Curufinwe finally moved. The air still felt like it was dragging him down trying to force him to stay where he was, but he made it to his brother’s side and wrapped an arm around his shoulders looking at the basic form of the knife that he’d started to craft. Ignoring how his brother’s hands seemed a bit unsteady holding the tongs and hammer he took the hammer and set it aside where it would be easily found later then he realized that there was a streak of blood on his arm.

Stiffening he gave his brother a sharp look, though he held his tongue suspecting that a lecture on working while injured would simply be ignored at this point. Carnistir’s concerns made even more sense to him now though, now that he saw fresh blood coloring the linen shirt Macalaure wore under the thick leather apron. Frowning he took the tongs and moved the knife that his brother was making aside where no one else would disturb it and then set to work dragging his brother out of the area. Just outside he found three other smiths and an apprentice waiting.

“The forge is empty go ahead and get to work.” He told the smiths then he caught the apprentice’s arm, stopping him from following them in. “I want you to go find Carnistir, he’s been working with the healers, and tell him to come to Macalaure’s tent as quickly as he can.”

The young elleth nodded silently and turned running off to do as he’d commanded.

“That wasn’t necessary.” Macalaure protested softly, his voice worn and tired. Curufinwe gave him a quelling look that simply caused him to laugh. There was a slight wince as he laughed but the sound seemed to cheer everyone around them up a bit. “All right, Curvo, I shall allow Moryo to fuss over me.”

“You had better.” Curufinwe growled softly, he leaned closer and murmured just loud enough for his brother to hear, “Your back is bleeding, and given that you and he are keeping something from us I figure you’d rather he be the one to deal with it.”

Seeing Macalaure pale a bit filled him for a moment with a surge of poisonous joy, that he’d gotten the upper hand for once, but that was replaced by guilt seeing how his brother looked down away from him guilty and upset by the whole thing. Sighing he wrapped his arm a bit tighter around his older brother and lead him to his tent.

“I’ll not say anything of it to those who aren’t our brothers. They should know at lease in case you need to be helped and Carnistir is too busy to do anything.” Curufinwe offered as they entered the tent. Macalaure gave him a small sad smile and squeezed his arm gratefully.

“Thank you Curufinwe. I will tell you all what is going on, just not now. Things are too tenuous right now for me to do so without any worries.”

“I will hold you to that. Now have you given any thought to-“

“Curufinwe shut up.” Carnistir said walking into the tent carrying a bowl of water, some bandages and a pouch of herbs. “Macalaure will worry about Maitimo when he can, let him deal with uncle and the others first.”

“Fine, I shall take my leave then.” Curufinwe bowed to his elder brothers then walked to the exit.

“Curufinwe…” Macalaure’s voice stopped him and Curufinwe turned to look at him puzzled. “I am planning on rescuing him soon. As soon as I finish that blade and recover from the process I will see to it that our brother is returned in one way or another.”

Smiling a bit Curufinwe gave another slight bow and then left the tent feeling strangely lighter now. Maybe things would turn out okay after all. Either way he would trust that they could manage to get Maitimo at least and that would help with so many things. Thusly inspired he made his way back to the forge, his mind abuzz with ideas and plans that would be useful for scaling cliffs and cutting chains at least. Perhaps those would serve a purpose with the much longed for rescue to come.

Chapter Text

It was finally finished, the shining silver knife that Macalaure had been working on for over a week. There was the slightest glint of crimson to its otherwise untarnished silver hue and the runes to ensure that it would be ever sharp and untarnishable gleamed a dull pewter rather than the brilliant nearly glowing silver that the rest of the blade was and Carnistir felt the need to throw it away and never see it again knowing that his brother’s blood had gone into its creation and caused that red tint.

Nolofinwe had better accept it and finish absolving them of all guilt now for if he did not then it was he who would have to worry about future repercussions. Finally dragging his eyes away from the blade he met his brother’s amused gaze and scowled at him, more so when he spotted the partially finished and carefully worked leather sheath that was covered in runes as well resting in his hands.

“No more. You’ve shed enough blood for us Canafinwe.” He used Macalaure’s father name to emphasize his irritation and concern about the situation.

Macalaure smiled a little, his face still pale because he’d done far too much and had reopened the recently healed lashes on his back while completing that knife. The loss of blood and pain would stay with him for a while yet, and perhaps would encourage him to be more cautious in the future though Carnistir doubted that since the ‘punishment’ he’d accepted from Thingol certainly hadn’t convinced him that this was a bad idea. His brother did however bow his head in acknowledgement.

“You have my word that I shall try to avoid it though we shall have to see how things stand soon before I can make any agreements of the sort.”

He seemed to be trying to be purposefully vague but having heard the conversation between Curufinwe and Macalaure days ago Carnistir was able to follow the line of thought. He felt his breath leave his lungs sharply and he stared at Macalaure wide-eyed. “So you weren’t just trying to calm Curvo? You mean to make an attempt soon?”

“No I was not simply trying to calm Curufin down. I truly do plan to try getting Maitimo back soon.” Macalaure replied quietly tying off a cord that was part of the sheath he was now working on for the knife. The speed with which he worked would have it done soon and they could finally work together with the lost friends and family who had been left behind on the shores of Aman.

“You haven’t said anything before about this.”

“Is it so unbelievable that I would keep my own council?” Macalaure demanded giving him a reproving look. “Last time I spoke of Maitimo nearly everyone in the room called me a traitor and made it perfectly clear that father would never accept such a plan if Maitimo had been captured while he lived.”

Carnistir looked away feeling guilty that he’d added his voice to that group at that moment, he had come to regret it not long after but his anger had sharpened his tongue as he’d argued against his brother and leader. Now he had a better understanding of what it had cost Macalaure to make that decision, yet it sparked his temper that he’d been kept ignorant of this plan after he’d kept other just as important and vital information from their siblings. That they knew little to nothing of it did not matter to him only that Macalaure was so determined to keep such vital secrets from them when the knowledge could do them good and they could help him plan for what was to come.

“You still should have said something! To Tyelcormo at least, he said nothing then and is our best at finding his way to places that are better left alone!”

Macalaure watched him with calm eyes and set the nearly completed sheath down to fold his hands on the table. “Maybe I should have done so. Still it was my choice and it will be my decision on who goes whether one of us or not.”

Carnistir felt his face grow hot and opened his mouth to speak when one of the scouts who was rarely seen in camp, not since before Nolofinwe and the rest of the Noldor arrived and since then several scouts had seemed to more or less vanish for weeks at a time, poked her head in.

“My lord?” She asked softly, her eyes focused on Macalaure though they flicked towards him briefly.

“Yes, what is it Mísëlumbë?” Macalaure asked her beckoning for her to enter sending him a sharp look silently demanding that he hold his tongue.

“I was keeping watch and one of Moringotto’s servants, I believe that it was one of the ainur, came and hid him. I am unsure how but all of the others checked and none of us could see him.” She said quietly, a slight tremble shaking her hands as she waited for Macalaure to respond to the information fearing that he would be angry with her for the news she brought to him.

Rather than get angry Macalaure sighed and nodded. “Thank you Mísëlumbë. You and the others can reduce your watch. If another comes and seems to move something report it to me otherwise just keep an eye on things there and wait. Someone will go and find him sooner or later.”

She bowed and ducked back out of the tent no doubt returning to the ‘others’ with their new orders. Carnistir frowned and gave Macalaure a sharp considering look. It seemed that his brother had not been nearly as careless and unwilling to keep an eye on Maitimo as they’d thought at least not if his guess was correct.

“Carnistir while I appreciate that you are concerned with things as they are I would appreciate it if you would spare me whatever you had to say regarding Maitimo and my utter lack of action and care. There is little you could possibly say that has not been told to me before by father’s advisors, the ones who survived, and the rest of the camp’s whispers. Now I will need you to see to it that our siblings and the rest of those who are against our cousins and uncle stay busy tomorrow while Findecano is here, I have things I need to speak with him about and the snide remarks he tends to receive will not help the conversation.”

“I shall see it done.” Carnistir bowed mimicking the scout. Aas he was straitening to leave he could not keep the anger and hurt from his voice as he added his brother’s current title in a mocking manner, “With your leave then, my lord.”

Quickly he turned and left, though not before he caught the brief glint of hurt in his brother’s eyes. There were many things he needed to do if he was going to fulfill Macalaure’s request and to make sure their other brothers were busy was just the first of them. No doubt Macalaure would make his own arrangements with Findecano to see to it that their cousin visited for whatever reason he planned on. No doubt ensuring that the knife was taken to their uncle along with a message though perhaps it had to do with the information the scout brought to him.

Irresistibly Carnistir found himself pausing with his eyes drawn northward and he spared a brief prayer to the Valar, if they would even consent to hear him now, that Maitimo be kept alive and safe until he could be rescued because it was starting to seem more and more like that may not actually happen despite their best efforts. Well he at last started walking again seeking for the twins, they would no doubt help him to figure out how to keep the others busy for a time while Macalaure played politics with their cousin.

Chapter Text

Findecano was confused as he walked through the Feanorian camp. He’d not expected to be called there by his cousin, and the lack of hostility surprised him more than being stopped every few steps by someone who wanted to protect their leader would have. Then he remembered that it was Macalaure he went to meet not Feanaro nor Maitimo so his cousin had no doubt arranged for his unhindered passage through the camp. He’d have to remember to thank him for the consideration. Getting to the tent he entered, seeing that he had been invited and the entrance flap was tied partially open.

Macalaure sat there reading over what looked like a map frowning at it as though it would give him the answers he wanted if he waited long enough. Coughing softly he drew his cousin’s attention to him and gave him a nervous smile. Only noticing after Macalaure looked up at him how pale and tired he looked.

“You sent for me?”

“Yes I did. Thank you for coming on such short notice.”

“It wasn’t a problem. What can I help with?” Findecano asked smiling brightly at the warmth he heard in Macalaure’s voice. Macalaure seemed to relax and smiled a little as well gesturing for him to come closer to him and the desk.

“I had originally intended to ask you to take this knife to your father.” He held up a knife, no doubt the one that was the reparation price demanded of him, but rather than hand it over he set it down again. “However I learned something interesting that I need your help with more.”

“I’m guessing that I get to take the knife to my father anyways?” Findecano asked hopefully, eyeing the blade. Macalaure chuckled softly and slid it over closer to him.

“I suppose you may as well, but that still isn’t why I asked for you to come here.” He gestured to the map again. Now that he was close enough Findecano saw that there was a spot in the mountains to the north that was marked. “We believe that Maitimo is being held there, and when I say we believe I mean we knew he was there but the Maiar that answer to Moringotto hid him from those who have abilities that are tied to osanwe… that’s how it seems at least.”

“So you want me to see if I can find him?” Findecano asked, astonished that his lack of skill and ability in that area was useful for a change rather than just a shameful secret.

“I- yes. Please Finno? I’ve been planning on trying to rescue him but so far things haven’t worked out for it and when we finally have things where we can do it we can’t find him to rescue.” Macalaure gave him a pleading look and Findecano smiled and nodded reaching forwards to grab one of Macalaure’s hands giving it a careful squeeze. Macalaure sighed a bright relieved smile crossing his face. “Thank you.”

“No need to thank me. Just answer something for me first?”

“What is it?”

“Did he help? Burn the ships, that is. Did he help burn them?”

“No. He tried to talk father into sending them back for you all.” Something that had been tight and knotted in him seemed to release at last allowing him to breathe again.

“Thank you.”

“As you said ‘no need to thank me’.” Macalaure said a slight self-depreciating smile on his face now. “Now, that knife is for your father, I would appreciate it that he gets it before you decide to wander off for who know where. However I did gather some supplies for you on the chance you did decide to go, they’re over there… just take a bow and a blade of some sort. There’s a map showing where the orcs seem to like being but you could run into one or more.”

“That sounds like it will be useful, how long have you been planning on going to rescue Maitimo exactly?” Findecano asked curiously, he knew his eldest cousins were fairly close so it didn’t surprise him that this had been planned out so well. He just wanted to know how long things hadn’t been working out for a rescue to be attempted.

“Longer than I want to admit, it’s been an uphill battle to get everything together enough for it to even be possible now.” Macalaure replied dryly, a small amount of frustration in his voice. It made Findecano smile to know that his cousin cared enough about everyone to keep trying despite all the problems he’d had thus far.

“Fair enough. I do plan to help out, though if anyone asks I just took off on my own and you have no idea where I went.” He grinned looking forwards to the adventure that finding and possibly rescuing Maitimo would be. “That way there isn’t any trouble if I don’t come back.”

“Would you like to take Curvo’s attempt at a chain cutter with you? It works for normal chains and from what we can tell Maitimo is chained to the cliff face so you’ll have to climb up and figure out some way to get him free of the shackle or to get the chain free of the cliff.” Macalaure offered not even bothering to ask him for more details.

It made him happy to know how well known his wanderlust was known that he could just make plans like this and no more details were asked for just if he wanted to borrow things like that. “That might be a good idea. If I don’t have a way to cut the chain then I may have to hurt him and I would rather not do that.”

“I agree, I’d rather have hurting Maitimo as a last resort.” They both grimaced thinking of how much pain he’d probably been put through already.

“Right so that pack and where can I find Curufinwe’s experiment to ‘borrow’?”

“It’s in the forge, if you ask Tyelpe I am sure he’ll get it for you.”

“I’ll never understand how such a contrary pain in the ass like your brother had such a sweet and kind child like your nephew.”

“I think Tyelpe takes after grandfather more than father.”

"That would explain it. Okay, I should go now. I need to borrow Curufinwe’s contraption, get the instructions for how to use it, get this knife back to father, and then I’ll figure out what to do from there. If all goes well I plan to have Maitimo back here safe and sound soon enough.” FIndecano listed everything he needed to do, leaving off that he planned to go find Maitimo either today or the next because it would leave Macalaure where he could honestly say he didn’t know where he was.

“I hope you manage it Finno, I really truly do.” Macalaure told him standing at last and giving him a quick tight hug.

“I will, you’ll see. I will go and get him back before you know it.” He said picking up the pack that Macalaure had gathered for him. He took one last look at the map before heading out to find Tyelperinquar at the forges, the one way the child seemed to be like his father was his love of working with metal. Yes, soon he’d get his cousin back and then once Maitimo was back and recovering nothing would stop them from making this land their new home, and maybe just maybe by working together they could defeat Moringotto and avenge both Finwe and Feanaro as Feanaro had planned when he’d chosen to leave Aman in the first place.

Chapter Text

The blade that Macalaure sent him had been received with relief; finally Nolofinwe could tell the ones who followed him that their horror and tragedies had been repaid in some measure by the current leader of those who wronged them. Findecano seemed much happier when he returned from his visit with his cousin as well which was all for the better. Truly they all felt the losses and betrayal keenly, though his children and their Arafinwian cousins most of all. Really Artanis seemed to be mostly indifferent to it though she doubtlessly felt the sharp edge of betrayal as well for why else would she speak so coldly against her Feanorian cousins? He simply hoped that Macalaure would not be too hard on her when he finally managed to get the chance to speak with her, for it was when not if since he’d determined the necessity of doing so.

Unsheathing the blade Nolofinwe found the slight red glint chilling, a reminder of what his nephew had done to forge it.  Blood used in forging was typically frowned upon since it had been discovered to be possible by Feanaro, just the thought of someone using their blood to craft an object seemed overdone and unnecessary to most who heard of it. Yet in this case Nolofinwe had to allow that Macalaure had been correct in choosing to do so. Resheathing it he tried to think of who should carry it and how to explain his reasoning. Looking up he spotted his eldest son and smiled deciding then and there that he would doubtlessly find a use for the blade.

“Findecano, may I have a moment please?”

“Of course father, what is it?” Findecano asked walking closer to him.

“Your cousin made the knife as was his reparation price; I would have you carry it as my heir. When you go into battle I would have our people know that we are once more at peace among our own and that even though we quarreled we have reunited as one.” He held out the knife in its sheath. Findecano looked at it wide-eyed and slowly took it from him.

“I am honored to do so but shouldn’t you have others see it first?” Findecano asked unsheathing the blade and admiring the craftsmanship of it.

“The council was here when you presented the blade to me, they will vouch for your cousin upholding his word and crafting the knife which had been demanded.” He replied pleased that his son found the flaw which was easily removed by who had been present when he’d been handed the blade. There was a brief nagging worry that he’d missed something but he easily banished it figuring that if anything did come up it would be easily solved.

Findecano nodded resheathing the knife and attaching it to his belt. “All right I accept the honor and the blade. It shall serve our people, the Noldor as a whole, from this day forward until I am no longer able to wield it for whatever reason.”

“So be it.” Nolofinwe replied relieved, more relieved than he’d admit to being, that he no longer had to worry about it. Though doubtless the red tinged knife would haunt his mind for some time yet.  Looking Findecano over for a moment he dropped all pretenses and gave him a one armed hug. “You look tired, were your cousins truly that draining?”

“No, I hardly saw anyone aside from Macalaure. We simply spoke about Maitimo and he told me that he’s tried to find him without much success.” The aggravation that colored Findecano’s voice alarmed Nolofinwe and he grabbed his son by his shoulders giving him a gentle shake looking him in the eyes.

“You must let your cousin go. For your own sake Findecano, please I do not wish to lose you.”

“I will make no promises father, you know that. My half-uncle was a sterling example of why such things are carefully watched and done.” Findecano replied wry humor filling his voice as he spoke.

Nolofinwe grimaced at the reminder of why they were all there though he had not made up his mind on if it was a good thing or not. “I wish he had not done so. Feanaro was impulsive but I never believed that he would go so far.”

“No one did. I am surprised that my cousins would swear such an Oath as well though.” Findecano said. It was a conversation they’d had before while they crossed the Helcaraxe and he had as much an answer now as he did then.

“I fear that I know as much about how their minds work as you do, and doubtlessly far less knowledge than you in truth.”

“Perhaps I shall ask Macalaure at some point, he seems most likely to give me a straight answer.”

“If you do then I would like to know for I would much rather my own children never follow me on such a destructive course.”

“I shall, now if I may I would like to retire now.”

“Go, sleep, I have the feeling that tomorrow will be a very busy day for us all.” Findecano smiled at him as he said that, a smile that seemed to convey that he said something he knew little of but was so very painfully true that it was funny.

“Of course, a pleasant night to you father.” Findecano said leaving the room.

Once he was out of the room Nolofinwe sat down again and looked thoughtfully at the brazier set nearby. The flames made him wonder if maybe he should have simply done as his tempestuous brother seemed to want, and yet he remembered the surprise and relief in Macalaure’s eyes when he first caught sight of him. No, it was better that they came. Only together could they manage to fulfill that awful Oath that Feanaro called down upon himself and his sons. Maybe that was the reason why the stars lit their way during the crossing, because Lady Varda saw they needed to be there for Feanaro’s sons and followers.

If that was the case, and Nolofinwe suspected that it was, then he would be grateful that he made it and could offer what help and support that he was able. Well if he was going to be of much or any help then he had to get better with his sword and shield, otherwise he would be worse than useless. Maybe once he was a little better he’d see if Macalaure and his other nephews would be willing to spar with him since they had practice in true combat unlike Nolofinwe himself and all of his followers. That of course brought another possible problem to his attention of those who followed him none of them bothered to practice much except for when they had to for keeping warm.

He’d have to change that as well, starting with his own skills. No one could afford to be ignorant in how to defend themselves. Far too many of Feanaro’s followers had fallen thanks to that ignorance as well as the ignorance of how to move as a group in battle. Though from what he’d heard that lack had been dealt with by Maitimo’s orders and Macalaure’s careful attention. He wished he’d gotten the chance to see them working together, certain that unlike Feanaro and himself they were a proper and formidable team.

Getting up he made his way to his room and picked up the armor and weighted blade that he’d had made so long ago in Tirion before heading outside to what seemed to have been a training yard that his nephews and their people had used. Stopping near a fence he started arranging the armor and weapons on a bench. Trying to decide if he should practice armored or not.

“My lord?” A guard asked quietly drawing him from his thoughts as he set his armor down.

Looking up he smiled seeing that it was one of the younger guards who no doubt just finished up his shift and saw him behaving oddly. Waving at the empty field they were at the edge of, the dirt packed down before they arrived by his nephew and the rest of the Noldor that had moved with him. “Ah, I was hoping to find a partner for a quick spar. If you don’t mind that is.”

“Not at all my lord, but are you sure?” The young nir asked, clearly worried about a possible reprimand for causing his leader to land on his back even if it was by accident due to a spontaneous action.

“Yes. We are in a new land and my nephew seems to have felt that it was necessary. Since he’s been here longer I feel that perhaps we should follow his example.” He replied as he quickly pulled each piece of armor over his clothes. The armor felt a bit loose, but he had lost some weight while crossing that cursed ice and furthermore he hadn’t exercised as much as he used to back in Tirion which he would now rectify, by himself if need be.

“All right then. I’ll spread word around that you want training done from now on.” The guard stated, changing Nolofinwe’s evaluation of him to the nir likely being a commander or captain of some sort. “The rest of the guard will make sure they do it and gladly so. Though I hope you will go easy on me. I haven’t learned more than the basics before we left home.”

“It is the basics that we build on, there is no shame in only having those, but come let me test you and see how you fare against me.” Nolofinwe climbed over the fence and the guard followed. They made their way to the middle of the field where they faced each other. “If you do poorly then we shall simply go again until you can last and if I fare poorly then we shall do the same, for an hour at least. Longer in the future perhaps but we shall see as we learn the rules of this new land.”

“Yes, my lord.” The guard replied raising his sword in a brief salute. Nolofinwe did the same gesture in reply then made the first move. They sparred for some time drawing others who were curious and some, who wanted a chance to learn better, joined them, lifting their weapons to learn how to use them better in their own defense and in defense of their homes and lords. Yes, Nolofinwe thought pleased, this was one way they would make a difference.

Chapter Text

There was a mess over at the Nolofinwians camp, Amrod noticed with amusement. Amras peered through his eyes and Amrod felt his twin’s curiosity and amusement. Really they never seemed quite so disorganized before but it seemed that even their order could be turned to chaos. Feeling a nudge in the back of his mind he huffed softly and shrugged because he had as much of an idea of what was going on as his twin did.

Carefully he slipped from the camp that their people set up and moved closer to his half-uncle’s encampment, they’d supported that decision of Macalaure’s after all it wasn’t fair that the others not only had to walk through the freezing cold and ice but to have to start from scratch too? That was just too cruel, and Amrod found it hard to believe that people though their father would have been cruel enough to do that. Either way Macalaure seemed grateful for their support- Amras gave him a nudge again silently reminding him to focus so they could find out what was going on. Amrod nearly walked into one of the guards but slipped out of sight into the shadow of a building just in time to avoid him.

“Have you seen Prince Findecano?” The guard asked another one who was approaching from another way.

“No,” The other guard shook her head. “Have you checked the stables?”

“Yes, he wasn’t there but his horse was.”

“I’m surprised they left us any horses after what they pulled with the ships.” In his mind Amras bristled angrily at the comment and Amrod agreed with him, they had no idea what type of leader Macalaure was.

“Now is not the time for that type of comment.” The guard Amrod nearly walked into said sharply.

“Right, sorry I forgot that they actually paid the reparation price and with a blood forged blade at that!”

“I still can’t believe that he actually made one, and that Prince Nolofinwe gave it to Lord Findecano not long after he received it.”

“Maybe that’s why Lord Findecano vanished, he went to hide it away.”

“Nah, Lord Findecano cares about his cousins more than that. If anything I would be tempted to bet he went to try to find Lor- King Maitimo and rescue him.” The two guards paused suddenly and shared a horror filled look.

“Someone needs to go tell Prince Nolofinwe, and someone else needs to go ask Prince Macalaure if he knows anything about Prince Findecano’s disappearance.”

Amrod frowned as he finally fully understood the problem and he sent a mental nudge to Amras who sent a feeling of acknowledgement. Grimacing Amrod slipped from the encampment and back to their camp knowing Amras was already speaking with Macalaure about what they’d discovered. Amrod mentally ran through a list of what all would be needed if someone was to go after him though he had a feeling that Macalaure would give orders for them to stay near the camp or that whoever left only did so to retrieve the scouts that had been monitoring Maitimo.

It didn’t take him long to slip through their camp and into the tent where Amras and Macalaure were. Macalaure gave him a vaguely disapproving look, knowing that he’d snuck into Nolofinwe’s camp. He smiled sheepishly, really what had he been expected to do? Besides sooner or later the commotion would have been noticed by others or it would have spread to their camp.

“Ambarto, you know that Nolofinwe asked us to stay out of his encampment.”

Amrod winced silently lamenting that they’d told Macalaure about their reason for using new names, it wasn’t their fault that hearing their Quenya names always made them feel like they were in trouble besides the Sindarin names were far easier to remember. Seeing Amras give a small motion of his hand Amrod ducked his head.

“I’m sorry Macalaure, but when I noticed the commotion over there I got curious.”

Macalaure sighed and smiled a little. “I know but you still shouldn’t have done it.”

“They said cousin Findecano is missing.” Macalaure nodded slowly, thoughtfully.

Amras sent him a puzzled look which he replied to with a shrug, which Amras returned. Macalaure looked at Amras and nodded.

“Amras, you are to go find the scouts we posted to keep an eye on things in Angband. Go there tell them that if anything happens they are to return immediately then come back. Amrod you are confined to the camp, Carnistir needs someone to run errands for him while he’s helping the healers. Since you are being punished you are not to shadow Amras while he’s away.” They both pouted at Macalaure who smiled a little and shook his head. “That’s my punishment for you sneaking away. Now Amras you go get ready to go, Amrod you stay here and behave.”

Amras left the tent pausing to give his hand a brief squeeze, and then headed to their tent to get everything he’d need for the trip. Macalaure seemed to be waiting for something or someone though and ignored the papers that were on the table in front of him. After several minutes, just when Amrod was about to ask what was going on, Curufin stalked into the tent leading a guard wearing Nolofinwe’s colors.

“Pardon the intrusion Macalaure, but you said to bring anyone sent from Nolofinwe to you regardless of what you are doing.”

“I did, and I thank you Curufinwe.” Macalaure gave him a small smile before turning his full attention on the guard. “What is it Nolofinwe sent you to me for?”

“My Lord Nolofinwe asks if you’ve seen Prince Findecano.”

“Sadly no. I have not seen him since the day I sent the blood-knife to Nolofinwe. I was not aware he was missing.”

The guard looked nervous and cleared his throat. “We were not aware of it until this morning. Typically when Prince Findecano leaves it’s only for a couple of days but he’s been gone for longer this time and no one can find him.”

“I see.” Macalaure looked at the map spread out on the end of the table and nodded once. “You may inform Nolofinwe that we shall keep an eye out for him and that should he appear here that we will send word to him immediately.”

The guard looked relieved and promptly bowed before leaving the tent. Curufin gave Macalaure a sharp look before smiling wryly and following the guard. He pouted a little again wondering what Curufin caught in that exchange that he’d missed. The thought was quickly set aside when Macalaure called his name.

“Yes?”

“Go find Tyelcormo and tell him about this. He and the other hunters will need to know to keep an eye out for Finno.”

“Okay!” Amrod turned and was about to leave the tent.

“Oh and once you are done talking to Tyelca go find Carnistir and let him know you are his help until Amras gets back.”

Amrod winced and nodded walking on out of the tent. He’d hoped that Macalaure had forgotten about that, but clearly not. Oh well it was only until Amras got back, that wasn’t too bad right?

Chapter Text

He was lost. Findecano looked at the map intently trying to figure out where he’d taken the wrong turn. After a few moments backtracking mentally he spotted where he’d taken a wrong turn. Mentally groaning he turned and backtracked to where he’d gotten off track.

“How is anyone supposed to find anything in this place? I swear everything looks the same.”

“You shouldn’t swear things Prince Findecano~”

“Yes, I kno-“ Findecano stopped and whirled around trying to spot who he missed seeing. Laughter drew his gaze upwards and he spotted one of the Ambarussa crouching on a small hill nearby.

“You caused quite a commotion leaving like you did.” The redhead commented still grinning a bit.

Findecano cleared his throat nervously and shrugged. “It is hardly my fault that no one asked where I was going.”

“You’re here looking for Nelya aren’t you?”

“Does it make a difference?” Findecano asked softly, not seeing a reason to deny it.

“No, not really. I just wanted to check and see if our guess was correct.” The twin hopped down from his perch and gave Findecano a small gesture to follow him. Findecano hitched his pack up higher and followed him through a few paths that had been practically invisible. Finally they reached the base of a cliff and Pityafinwe –or was it Telufinwe?- pointed upwards. Findecano looked up and gasped softly seeing his eldest cousin’s battered form handing from the cliff face. “So he is still there is he?”

“Yes… he is. I- how is he-“

“It’s Nelyafinwe. He always seems to survive and to be at least one step ahead. Pityo and I suspected that it was at least partially deliberate, his capture, since Cana seemed to keep us so much more ahead of Moringotho afterwards. That isn’t to be shared with anyone else though okay Cano?” Telufinwe –not Pityafinwe- asked him softly as though not really sure he should be saying anything at all.

“Yes. I’ll keep that to myself. Can you help me get him down Telvo?” Findecano asked his cousin. Telufinwe gave him a startled look before looking up. Grimacing he shrugged.

“I don’t know. I can’t see where Nelya is.”

“I can but I don’t think I can cut the chain and keep him from falling alone.”

“Okay. I’ll help you get him down. I was about to head back to camp when I saw you anyways so I’ll help you carry him back if I need to.”

“Thank you.” Findecano said smiling brightly. Telufinwe grinned back just as brightly. Lowering the pack Findecano pulled out some picks, at least that’s what they looked like, and a length of rope. Handing two of the picks to Telufinwe he tied the rope around his waist before handing the rest to Telufinwe. He then moved what looked like a giant set of wire cutters to the strap on the outside of the pack where he could reach it easier after climbing up. Telufinwe tied the rope around his own waist and then made sure he had a good grip on the picks.

“Curufin really went all out. These look like they would stand up to anything.” Telufinwe said cheerfully moving to the cliff. Findecano settled the pack on his back again and started using the pick like device the way he remembered Tyelperinquar telling and showing him.

Telufinwe carefully matched his pace as they climbed up to where Maitimo was hanging. Findecano nearly cried when he saw the pure relief on his cousin’s face as Maitimo finally noticed them. It took longer than Findecano wanted to admit but they did get up to Maitimo and he helped position Telufinwe’s hand on Maitimo’s waist. Then he climbed a little higher and pulled the ‘chain cutter’ from the pack, once Telufinwe had Maitimo secure Findecano worked to cut the chain. For a long moment it seemed like nothing would happen but all at once the blades of the metal cutter sliced through the chain and Maitimo gave a pained groan as his arm was finally freed from the position it had been in for who knows how long.

Telufinwe carefully kept Maitimo pinned between himself and the cliff while Findecano climbed lower again. As they climbed down the two of them traded off who was actually climbing and who was supporting Maitimo. It was a relief when they finally reached the bottom of the cliff and no longer had to try to shift Maitimo back and forth between them while one was still completely unable to see him.

“It seems that whatever is preventing us from seeing him is tied to the shackle.”

“That will make things interesting. Once we get close enough can you have Pityo get Cana and Curvo to meet us? Between the four of us we should be able to get the shackle off of his wrist.”

“Of course I can. Do you think we can move now though? I don’t think we want to stick around too much longer.”

“I want to check some of Maitimo’s injuries before we move on, but once I do that we can go.”

“Okay I’ll go make sure no one is coming.” Telufinwe said before slipping away.

“You know… sometimes I think those brothers of yours are more trouble than they are worth.” Findecano informed Maitimo who gave a low raspy chuckle at the comment. Findecano sighed and lowered the pack again. Digging through it he pulled out a flask of water, which he carefully gave Maitimo a little of, and a relatively clean rag. Wetting the rag Findecano checked and cleaned some of the injuries that littered Maitimo’s body mentally cursing Moringotho and all who served him. Carefully he wrapped the worst of the injuries and made a makeshift sling for his cousin’s right arm. “You’ll need to try to keep that arm immobile. At least until we can get a healer to look at it.”

“I…” Maitimo broke off into a coughing fit, “figured.” He finished the sentence and panted softly.

Findecano nodded and tucked everything back into his pack. “Well it looks like we’re ready to go.”

“Good, we need to move now. Otherwise we’ll have a patrol walk into us.” Telufinwe said appearing on Maitimo’s other side.

“Well if you’ll support him on that side, I’ve got this side and we can go.” Telufinwe nodded and carefully felt for his brother’s shoulder then helped Maitimo up with his left arm slung across his shoulders. Findecano nodded and carefully wrapped his arm around Maitimo’s waist. The two of them half helped and half carried Maitimo away from the cliff face. Findecano couldn’t help but think that normally this would have looked ridiculous, Maitimo being supported by him, the shortest of their entire family except for Tyelperinquar who was still growing, and one of the Ambarussa, though they were closer to equal in height right now. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who found the situation funny because Maitimo was laughing softly, hoarsely, to himself.

Findecano just hoped that with Telufinwe they could manage to get Maitimo away from Angband and to a healer quickly enough for his cousin to survive with everything still functioning… Maitimo’s right arm was one of his main concerns right now but only time and healers would tell if he’d survive everything completely.

Chapter Text

It took a few days before the twins were in contact again Macalaure noticed. Pityafinwe seemed restless while his twin was away, more so with the restriction on how much contact they were to have between them. Tyelcormo had needed to take the youngest out to train several times when the tasks that Carnistir set for him hadn’t worn him out enough.

He would have worried but one of the scouts reported that Telufinwe had gone to follow Findecano once his cousin had been spotted. Frustrating as it was to say Findecano would make sure to keep Telufinwe safe until they returned and really Macalaure had few doubts that the protection would go both ways as long as it took for them to return. Keeping the news that Findecano had been spotted in the area around Angband from Nolofinwe’s camp was proving to be a little more difficult than he’s expected yet so far he had managed to do so, the longer that information took to reach Nolofinwe the better. They could not afford to have Nolofinwe distracted with how to rescue Findecano if the worst happened, especially not now that relations were finally mending properly, and if Macalaure’s own part in Findecano’s journey was discovered that would just make things worse again.

Standing he stretched forgetting momentarily about the wounds that had yet to heal on his back. Hissing as he felt one of the deepest ones still left unhealed reopen Macalaure shifted his posture. Carnistir would be cross with him once his little brother found out just how little he was resting, but between making sure everything was dealt with and keeping himself in fighting condition Macalaure couldn’t truly take the time to stop moving and just heal.

“You’re bleeding.”

Macalaure looked at the tent entrance startled and internally groaned seeing Tyelcormo standing there. “Am I?”

“Yes, but since you aren’t admitting to it I’m going to guess that whatever it is, is something you don’t want us to know about.”

“Tyel-“

“It’s fine, just please don’t overdo it too much Cana.” In a rare show of vulnerability Tyelcormo made the request stepping forwards and crouching just in front of Macalaure, smiling a little Macalaure knelt and hugged his little brother.

“I am trying not to. Now what is it that you are here for?”

“Pityo asked for me to get you and Curufinwe to go meet up with Telvo.”

“I see. All right, I can definitely do that.” Pausing for a moment he thought and then grimaced. “Would you help me clean up the wound that’s bleeding? Normally I’d ask Carnistir but he’s keeping Pitya busy and I would really rather not listen to a lecture on how I need to actually let any injuries I may get heal right now.”

Tyelcormo snorted softly grinning now. Standing up Tyelcormo helped Macalaure to his feet then while Macalaure slipped off his tunic and shirt Tyelcormo grabbed a cloth, stained a faint red from the sheer number of times it had been used to clean wounds, and a roll of bandages. Seeing the stripes of red on Macalaure’s back he gasped softly.

“Cana-”

“It’s fine, trust me.” Macalaure replied coolly. He’d forgotten just how bad it would look, probably like he’d been mauled by a couple of wargs or something. “Just wipe away the blood and help me get the bandages in place then I can go get Curufin and we can see what Telufinwe wants.”

“This isn’t-“ Tyelcormo stopped midsentence and shook his head walking around Macalaure so they were facing each other. “That was part of whatever you have Carnistir keeping quiet about isn’t it?”

“It is none of your business what happened, and if you won’t help me bandage those then I will do it and go get Curufinwe on my own.”

With a slightly defeated sigh Tyelcormo nodded and walked back around Macalaure then cleaned the wounds with the cloth. Once that was done he carefully wrapped some bandages around his brother’s torso and tied them off. “There, I made them a bit thicker than you probably do but that should keep you from bleeding through them until you are on your way back.”

“Thank you Tyelcormo.” Macalaure smiled and pulled his shirt and tunic back on. After making sure that they were settled properly he glanced up and frowned seeing the worried look on Tyelcormo’s face. “I will assure you that it is nowhere near as bad as it looks.”

“Maybe not but it was, wasn’t it?”

“Tyelca… please not now. I already promised that I would explain once things that need to be dealt with are dealt with and you agreed then. Is now really that different?”

“Yes- no- I don’t know. I just… you’re hurt, pretty badly if you got those when I think you did, and now that I know.” Tyelcormo shook his head clearly agitated. “I’m worried I lost one brother thanks to over confidence. I don’t want to lose another thanks to more of the same.”

“Would it help if I say that all Curufinwe and I are doing is going straight to Telufinwe, helping him with whatever it is, and then coming straight back?”

“Yes. That helps. I’m still going to tell Curufin to keep an eye on you.”

“Go ahead.” Macalaure agreed feeling the urge to laugh. Stepping around Tyelcormo he grabbed his sword belt and then held open the entrance of the tent. “We can go and you can give him your directions right now.”

Tyelcormo laughed to himself, and nodded. His eyes were still worried though much less so than before Macalaure gave his permission to have Curufinwe keep an eye on him. The two of them quickly made their way to the forge, Macalaure somehow managing to put on his sword belt as they walked.

“If you see any orcs while you’re away-“

“Kill them so they don’t attack the camp?”

“I was going to say let Curufinwe deal with them but you aren’t going to listen are you?”

“Of course not, who do you take me for?” Tyelcormo laughed at that.

Entering the forge they looked around for Curufinwe, spotting him on the far side of the structure Tyelcormo grimaced. Macalaure on the other hand smiled mischievously and gently tugged on his sleeve making Tyelcormo move behind him.

After checking to make sure that interrupting him wouldn’t cause Curufinwe to hurt himself Macalaure called across the room, “Curufinwe Atarince!”

Immediately their brother jerked and looked around wide-eyed. Seeing the two of them standing in the doorway he called back, “Whatever it is I didn’t do it!”

Macalaure shrugged. “Perhaps not but I need you to come with me, and bring some lockpicks.”

“Lock picks?” Curufinwe asked bewildered as he approached the two of them.

Tyelcormo nodded grinning. “Yep lock picks. Telva called Pitya to have you and Cana meet up with him. While you two are gone I want you to keep an eye on Macalaure okay?”

Curufinwe frowned at the request but nodded slowly. Tyelcormo’s use of Macalaure’s proper name instead of a nickname was enough to say it was something sort of serious. Macalaure rolled his eyes.

“Hurry up, we’re running late already.”

“I wasn’t aware we were being timed.”

“If it’s what I think it is we could easily be racing against the clock now go get ready, I’ll see you on the northern edge of camp.” Curufinwe nodded and hurried off to get ready to leave.

Tyelcormo watched him and shook his head. “You’re going to take horses aren’t you?”

“Yes, three of them.” Macalaure replied calmly before heading to the stables. Tyelcormo followed him there and readied two horses in the time it took Macalaure to manage one.

“You need to be careful; nothing is worth you worsening those.” Tyelcormo murmured to Macalaure as he helped him mount up.

Macalaure paused for a moment, letting the pain that mounting caused ease. Giving Tyelcormo a reassuring smile he nodded. “I will be as careful as I can.”

Curufinwe arrived before more could be said and to Macalaure’s exasperation Tyelcormo stopped him and told him something before Curufinwe could mount his horse. Curufinwe gave Tyelcormo a long look before nodding. Then he joined Macalaure and the two of them were off.

Chapter Text

Amras frowned wondering where Macalaure and Curufin were. Amrod told him that the two of them were on their way already. Enough time had passed for the two of them to meet up with him and cousin Findecano already. Maitimo was not doing well at all from what Findecano said about how he looked and the sooner that he could see his brother the quicker he’d know how to help him. As he was getting ready to go find some more herbs that would help slow the bleeding that Maitimo was doubtlessly doing thanks to how they had to handle him Amras heard two voices and perked up recognizing them immediately.

Despite wanting to call to his brother he kept quiet and watchful until he saw the two of them and three horses. Curufin was scolding Macalaure for something while Macalaure seemed amused. As was usually the case Macalaure spotted him first and lead the two horses he was guiding over.

“I thought I told you to return immediately after the task I set you little brother.” There was fond warmth in his voice when he spoke reassuring Amras that his elder brother was more amused than upset.

“You did, but cousin Findecano asked me for my help, and how could I possibly refuse?”

“How indeed… speaking of Finno, where is he?”

“Over here. Curvo brought the lockpicks right?”

“Who do you think I am? Tyelcormo? Of course I brought the lockpicks!” Curufin squawked indignantly. Amras giggled and lead the two of them to where Findecano knelt. Macalaure frowned, his keen ears likely catching some sound that neither Curufin nor Amras himself could hear.

“Finno… I take it you were successful?” Macalaure asked releasing the reigns of the horses’ bridles trusting them both to stay like they had been trained to do.

“I was, thanks to Curufinwe’s creations. The shackle has some sort of enchantment though; it seems to be what is keeping him invisible.”

Amras gave Curufin a questioning look but saw the confusion on his face as well and realized that Macalaure had kept some plan of some sort from them all, or well not them all but most of them since Findecano seemed to know what was going on. Macalaure stepped closer holding a hand out to Findecano who guided him to sit next to where Maitimo’s head would be. Macalaure leaned forwards and whispered something to Maitimo confirming Amras’ suspicion that he knew what Findecano had done.

“Curvo… you keep saying you can pick locks blindfolded right?” Amras asked his brother worried.

“What about it?” Curufin asked crossing his arms defensively.

“Think you could do it if the lock is invisible?” Findecano asked watching Curufin.

“What?” Curufin gave Findecano an alarmed look.

“Invisible, can you do it?”

“If he cannot then we will have to hurry and pray that he survives the trip because his breathing does not sound good.”

Curufin’s eyes widened as he suddenly understood what they were talking about. He staggered forwards a couple of steps then fell to his knees. His hands felt carefully along the ground until he found Maitimo’s limp hand and then moved up to the shackle. Quickly he felt along it, his fingers clearly making out something that neither Findecano nor Amras himself had found.

With shaking fingers Curufin pulled out the lockpicks and opened the pouch they were kept in. Macalaure reached over Maitimo and grabbed Curufin’s wrist meeting his eyes. After a moment Curufin nodded and took a deep breath relaxing, then he pulled out the right tools, his hands steadier now. Later Amras would have to tell Amrod that watching Curufin pick a lock that was invisible was boring, more so than watching him pick a visible lock was but as the lock clicked open and Maitimo became visible all thoughts of boredom vanished.

His chest felt hot and tight and his breathing quickened as he took in all the welts and marks littering Maitimo’s body. The way his brother’s skin seemed taut over his bones and the shallow breathing that was now visible. Maitimo’s eyes were partially open yet they were glassy and dazed in a horrible way that would haunt his sleep for months if not years.

“Amras!” Macalaure’s voice cut through his panic. “In the saddlebags on my mare are bandages and salves. Get them.”

With those instructions, clear ones that he could follow without thinking, Amras retrieved the bandages and salves. As he returned he saw Macalaure carefully giving Maitimo water, so very carefully, with tears running down his face. Findecano was leaning against Curufin now, the two of them trusting that Macalaure could direct what needed to be done; he’d spent enough time visiting the healers and listening to Carnistir that he knew something by now.

The next few hours were spend in a haze of cleaning injuries, applying salves and bandages while Macalaure kept Maitimo calm and directed him. Finally Macalaure smiled at him and told Curufin something that was vague and blurred in his mind. The next thing Amras knew was that he was on one of the horses clinging to Curufin, his brother’s cloak wet under his cheek and Curufin’s thumb was rubbing gentle circles on his wrist. Findecano and Macalaure were riding the other two horses with Maitimo tucked carefully in Macalaure’s cloak and outer robe while riding behind Macalaure. The pace was slower than Amras was comfortable with but knowing that it was for Maitimo made it worth it because he was alive and would get better.

Chapter Text

Findecano returned. No one had realized he’d left for weeks, well not entirely true Carnistir strongly suspected that Macalaure knew Findecano left and in that same infuriating way his brother had he’d kept that information to himself yet again. Sort of like how Carnistir only found out about Macalaure’s trip with Curufinwe out for a couple of days from Tyelcormo. That didn’t truly matter now though, because Findecano brought someone back with him… well someone aside from Ambarussa. They were unable to truly detect who it was though Macalaure and Curufinwe had been called to the settlement that they’d built before Nolofinwe and his people had taken it.

Curufinwe returned stunned but when asked he simply shook his head, tears in his eyes and retreated to the forge. Macalaure returned later equally silent but thoughtfully. No one bothered to try to get information from him because either he would tell them what was going on or he wouldn’t and that was that.

Tyelcormo watched them both intently though trying to divine what was going on from their actions, and Carnistir wanted to laugh and tell him he’d have better luck asking the grass what happened than finding out from Macalaure or Curufinwe since no doubt Curufin was keeping silent on orders much as Carnistir himself was regarding how Macalaure bought peace for them with the Sindar. Yet he couldn’t help but hope that maybe somehow Tyelcormo would figure it out and share it with him since the twins doubtlessly knew already. Speaking of the twins they were currently draping themselves around Macalaure despite him having scolded them not to do so less than a week ago.

Macalaure was laughing softly at their antics though, something he couldn’t truly remember him doing since before atar- Scowling Carnistir walked over and hauled Ambarto up by the back of his tunic giving Ambarussa a stern look. Ambarto just dissolved into a fit of giggles as he met his twin’s eyes prompting Ambarussa to do the same, clinging to Macalaure’s shoulders. Macalaure smiled and gave a small shrug as the look was turned on him.

“Why is it that you never seem bothered when I give you that look but you never could stand it from anyone older than you?”

“I had atar give me it too many times.” Macalaure replied his voice lighter now too.

Carnistir nearly growled at the combined feeling of not being taken seriously and that he had all the pieces he really needed for something but he wasn’t seeing it. In a huff he turned and set Ambarto on Macalaure’s cot before moving Ambarussa to next to his twin. Turning back he saw Macalaure massaging his shoulders giving him a grateful look which eased some of his frustration.

“What is going on?” He finally asked, figuring that he’d get no answer but feeling better having asked outright.

Macalaure did indeed smile enigmatically but rather than give him a non-answer or sending him away he tilted his head and said, “You know what’s going on you just haven’t put it all together yet. Think back to that meeting you overheard and that should give you the last piece you need to finish putting it together.”

Carnistir frowned as he did so, thinking back to the meeting where a scout came in and suddenly it dawned on him. Curufinwe had complained about the climbing gear and the chain cutters he’d made being missing not long afterwards, and then Findecano and Ambarussa had returned with something that almost no one seemed able to see. Macalaure and Curufinwe had probably been called to get the locks open on the shackle which meant… He turned hopeful eyes on his brother and Macalaure’s smile widened as he nodded.

All at once Carnistir felt like he’d been hit in the gut and given the warmest hug at the same time. Tears of relief filled his eyes as he sat down right where he was still staring at Macalaure. Maitimo had been rescued, and now that he thought it the words kept repeating themselves in his mind over and over again. Not even the twins launching themselves at him and burying him under their weight seemed able to snap him from his relieved shock.

Macalaure moved to his side, crouching down and gently pushing Ambarussa off of him, which finally pulled him from his shock.

“What are you doing? You should be resting.” Carnistir scolded his brother, though his voice was lacking the usual heat that command would carry.

Macalaure laughed holding up his hands in mock surrender. “I would but it seemed like you needed help to get unburied.”

Carnistir groaned and pushed Ambarto off of himself before standing again. Then he helped Macalaure back up and to his chair, his brother patiently tolerating the assistance though he clearly didn’t think it was needed. A sudden thought hit him and Carnistir swallowed looking at Macalaure nervously.

“How… how bad…?”  He couldn’t even finish the question, but thankfully his brother knew how to read him. Macalaure gestured for the twins to leave the tent which they did though they were sulking about being excluded. Of course they probably figured it was about what Macalaure had convinced him to stay quiet on.

“Bad. At least a month of rest and the right arm will likely never regain the same strength.  His shoulder muscles took too much strain holding his weight like they were even though he lost a lot of weight, and that’s not even including what was done before he was hung.” Macalaure’s voice was low and there was a strong undertone of guilt and sorrow. “He will need us to support him Carnistir. All of us, and if we don’t manage that then there is a good chance that we will lose him still.”

“Okay, I will get things ready for if and when he is moved here. Should we set a tent up near this one or…?”

“I was going to suggest that we use one of those folding screens that the healers use and section off part of this tent. It’s large enough that a second cot can be set up for you or me while he’s recovering and then we can let him decide how he wants to go from there, either way I want him to have someone present at all times for a while.”

Carnistir nodded mentally going over everything that might be needed for Maitimo and his wounds. Once he settled on a list of things he might need he realized that Macalaure was patiently waiting for him to share his thoughts.

“I will get things arranged for him to be moved here though you will want to tell Faervel and Maereth about this.”

“I already have. You were the last one that needs to be in the know before he is moved here, and I wanted to wait until Curufinwe finished working out the enchantments on the shackle he was wearing. It blocks those with average or stronger strength osanwe abilities from seeing him, that’s why cousin Finno could get him while we could not.”

Carnistir sighed heavily and set a hand on Macalaure’s shoulder. “I am glad he is back Cana…. I truly am, but you need to know he likely won’t recover enough to take up the Kingship again. Think about what you’re going to do.”

Macalaure gave him a pained look but nodded wordlessly knowing that he was right and that Maitimo probably wouldn’t be fit to rule. He felt guilty upon seeing that look on his brother's face, but it faded all too quickly.

“I will. Thank you Carnistir.” Macalaure gave him a tight smile then gestured for him to leave while picking up his pen once more.

“Oh, before I leave… I would like to recruit the twins to gather some medicinal herbs for me. We’ve got some but if he is as bad as you imply then I will need more of some specific ones. Also we are nearly out of some for treating welts.”

“Go ahead. You might also ask Tyelcormo to go along. Ambarto and Ambarussa can share with him what happened while they were separated and he can help carry more herbs back.”

“Of course, thank you Macalaure.”