Early winter of the year 506 of the Sun:
Normally, Celegorm never hunted this close to the woods of Doriath, knowing that Marchwardens hid in the tall trees and were ready to shoot anyone who could be a possible attacker. Something about its people getting extra paranoid every since the Girdle of Melian had vanished. Yet today, he was drawn there, his old hunting instincts telling him that something were wrong. Just a month earlier, the young King Dior Eluchîl had sent a offer of attempting to solve the problem of the Silmaril together, at the border to his kingdom. For, as Dior had written in the letter, it were technically a heirloom to the seven Sons of Fëanor yet many in Doriath did not want Dior to hand it over anyhow, claiming that it now belonged to him since it had been the requested bride-price for Luthien that Beren had to give Thingol for her hand in marriage.
“I do not like this feeling that I have….it is only a few days left to the agreed date for the talk and there is no signs of the Elves here in Doriath setting up that temporary house at the border where we would meet!”
It unnerved him in a worrying way, like how he had felt at hearing the news of Finrod dying and knowing that he had screwed up like never before with Curufin, something that could never be undone. They had paid a heavy price for their arrogance and attempts to gain power in Nargothrond. Then he heard it:
“Please, stay awake!”
The cries of two children, very young ones if he heard right. Had something happened to a father who were out with his children? Celegorm followed the sound.
It did not take long for him to find them. In a little ravine, with no opportunity to light a fire to keep the winter cold away, almost like they had been dumped there to die from the ruthless winter, were two Elflings, no older than six to seven years at the oldest. And the adult, who had to be their father, laid on the side with a bloodied rag, made from the sons' small robes that failed to hide fresh injuries in his abdomen that was still bleeding.
“Little ones! Where are you?”
The sound of a unfamiliar voice, from above, made the children look up. Their faces revealed that they must have been crying, in fear for their father.
“Help us! Ada was attacked! He is bleeding!”
“Stay calm, and try to keep your father awake! I am try and get you all up!”
Somehow, Celegorm managed to get all three of them up from from ravine, through he naturally had some difficulties with the father who were half unconscious and not cause the other elf to die from blood loss. Giving the Elflings his spare winter clothes to keep warm, Celegorm then tied them on his extra horse so they could not fall off while riding, and he took the father in front of his saddle with the thickest wolf fur he owned to try and get some warmth into the father.
Sure enough, Celegorm caused a bit of a scene in the Fëanorian camp when he arrived far later than planned, but seeing the season why, Maedhros sent the camp healers to deal with the small family in one of the bigger tents meant for injured soldiers.
“They were in a ravine? With little to no warm clothes to protect them against the cold?” Maglor asked, clearly worried as he boiled some tea water to give to the children while they waited for the news of how serious the injuries on the father was.
“It seemed like they were dressed for warmth as if they had planned a longer day out in the woods, yes, but there was nothing to help lit a fire and no rope to help them climb out on their own, so I think there is a bit of a mystery here.”
“Masters, you all need to come quickly! The father shows signs of poisoning, as if he was attacked with a weapon dropped in poison! We do not know if it is a poison we have dealt with before or not!” a distressed healer called from the tent, making all seven brothers hurry there.
Now, in the light from lamps rather than the dark winter night outside the tent, did it became more clear who the Elf must be, for both Celegorm and Curufin recognized some facial features from both Luthien and Beren, which had merged together into the feverish face in front of them. The brown hair were the same colour as Beren, with the same soft curls as Luthien.
“Dior, what happened? Surely you would not be careless enough to carry a poisonous weapon on yourself…”
Dior, who struggled with the pain from his wounds because the painkiller salve had yet to work, could only shake faintly on his head.
“My daughter...Elwing showed signs of having inherited some...of my mother's possible powers...there is people at court...claiming that she must be Luthien reborn...for they are so alike in appearance and...she were born only a few months...after that mother passed away…” he gasped, trying to speak loud enough to be heard.
“And your sons do not?” wondered Maedhros, who helped one of the little twins to drink from the tea cup, both were in a state of shock that worried the battle-hardened brothers.
A new shake on the head.
“Neither one, or...myself. I do not know why only Elwing seems to have powers...but...Elurin and Elured...overheard some courtiers whispers to each others...a plan to...get rid of me and the boys…”
Even if Dior did not say why, the reason were obvious; a new princess, with the signs of having her famed grandmother's powers and possible beauty. And while her father was known for being one of the most fairest beings ever to live, a claim that could not be dismissed even in this moment as he was in such pain, that he had not any power from Luthien from Melian must put Dior in a serious disadvantage as a leader.
Suddenly, Dior coughed up blood, a worrying sign of that the antidote for most poisons must had been given too late. And the violent movement of his coughing also caused the wounds on his abdomen to reopen.
“Your wife and daughter! Where are they? Did you get separated?”
Somehow, Dior managed to tell that he and Nimloth had tried to sneak out from the palace once the twins had told them about the plan they had overheard, basically being forced to run away from their own home for their own security. The grief in his eyes told them what must have happened to Nimloth, for it was the same dead look Curufin got in his eyes whatever he thought of his own wife, long gone to the Halls of Mandos.
“I felt the moment of her death...just before I and the boys were attacked out in the woods. I think...they planned to make it seem like you dishonored the meeting and kidnapped my sons to use as hostages...in return for the Silmaril...while attacking me and Nimloth…”
Laying the blame on the Fëanorians, by pretending that they had sent spies to attack the royal family...a plan that seemed smart while talking about a way to do it, but in reality would have several flaws. Like clothes with a improperly done Fëanorian star in silver, no hints to Quenya while talking, and little to no Noldorin appearance on the attackers.
“We have not sunk so low as to use poisonous weapons against unarmed people,” Caranthir growled, from where he awkwardly was trying to calm one of the crying twins.
They all knew it, that Dior would not last to dawn. His injuries were too serious, and the poison were slowly claiming his life.
“Maedhros…! My sons...please, protect them...I do not trust...the people of Doriath...to take good care of them...because of this...they want someone with my grandmother's power to protect them, not someone who have barely seen forty years of age…and my daughter… she will think that...” Dior pleaded, raising a hand that was trembling hard from the poison. Maedhros laid his left hand in the offered one.
“So you are basically giving us the blessing to punish Doriath for what they have done to your family?”
A faint nod, followed by yet another bloodied cough.
“My sons...their true names...they are only named after my grandfather to please him…”
Lowering his head, Maedhros let Dior whisper something in his ear.
“Let the boys touch their father.”
Elured and Elurin did cling to their father once they go some help to climb up on the bed, which he allowed despite the massive pain it must cause him, for he wanted them close in his last moments of life.
“I want...to have Nimloth buried with me...if that is possible. I do not know...what afterlife I will have, so if she is reborn in the Immortal Lands…”
Clearly Dior wanted his wife to have some small comfort in knowing that their bodies had been placed together, even if their souls were not.
“We will arrange for that, Elven bodies does not decay in the same fast manner as mortal bodies. And reunite Elwing with her brothers, if we can. We will keep them safe. The Silmaril is not worth the lives of innocent children.”
The answer were enough for Dior, and with the knowledge that at least his sons were safe in the hands of the best warriors around, he drew a final breath before his soul left his body.
Doriath were attacked a few weeks afterwards. Now it became clear what a mistake it was to claim that the House of Fëanor to be behind the disappearance of the royal couple and their twin sons, for all seven of them lead the attack from all around Doriath, narrowing any escape roads.
“Burn down the forest around Menegroth!”
The Silmaril or Elwing were nowhere to be found, but Curufin got into a secret room meant for cold storage, normally used to store ice during summer. There, he was met by the horrible sight of Nimloth, her dead body hanging from the ceiling in a manner that normally would have been suicide, but the dark strains on her yellow dress and wound straight in her chest revealed the true manner of her death. The cold inside the room had preserved her in a way that would have brought up memories of the Grinding Ice, had any such survivor seen her.
“I have found her! I have found Nimloth, Maedhros!”
Caranthir, Celegorm and Celegorm were met with some attempted resistance when they brought Nimloth's body out from the room, carefully wrapped in their own cloaks to hide the identity, and while they all three suffered deadly wounds that would send them to the Halls of Mandos, they still managed to get the body to Maglor and his soldiers.
In another room, abandoned in great haste long before the news of the attack, did Amrod find a hidden letter from Galadriel that revealed where Elwing had gone.
“Elwing and the Silmaril were both given to Galadriel and her husband Celeborn to be brought into safety. At least they have the courtesy to apologize about not mention where they were going but the risk that someone would follow them were too great…” Maedhros muttered darkly while reading the letter. Well, that explained a part of the mystery and they knew that the little princess should still be alive for now.
“Burn our brothers' bodies here in Doriath. And Nimloth on a separate pyre. Her bones shall be buried alongside Dior in Himring, where they should have eternal rest together. The bones of our brothers shall be brought to Amon Ereb.” he commanded to his three brothers who were still alive.
They had chosen to bury Dior under the stones of Himring, Maedhros' old fortress, since that was a place the Elves of Doriath never would be looking for the body of their betrayed King. Elurin and Elured had already been sent to Amon Ereb under the names Dior had whispered to Maedhros, giving them a new identity as yet another pair of orphaned siblings that had become so common over the years here in Beleriand.