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VI. - Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor - Viper in the Empty Den

Estranged from and no longer restrained by Nerdanel, Fëanor turned that star-burning soul and ferocious talent of his to making shiny things.

The Shinies, in fact. Three perfect jewels of an unknown substance, impossible to destroy, light drawn from both Trees burning in them like souls. Indeed, it's suggested here and later that some of Fëanor's own soul was given up to the Silmarils - it's a setup for a little trick Sauron would later try with golden rings, but aside from that and the potential damage to Fëanor's self, the act makes the Shinies something like kin. Bearing in mind that these things also contain all the love and creative energy not being grounded in/by Nerdanel, and that the language used to describe Melkor's unclean desire for them is always, always couched in terms of lust, I come away with the distinct impression that the Shinies are the closest Fëanor got to having daughters.

It's a slender hypothesis, but it makes more sense of his later actions than someone simply never told that rocks should not be bonded to as closely as talking things. So the Silmarils were created, at any rate, and the Valar passed them around and cooed at them (or went "DOOM!" in Námo's case) whilst Fëanor hovered protectively nearby, resulting in the Shinies recieving holy qualities, particularly from Varda (goddess of shiny), with the result that anything unhallowed touching them would be burnt black and shrivelled up by sheer force of shininess. Oh, and humans, too, for reasons not entirely clear and again suggestive of the story's passing from elven roots down to a contact period, leaving our scribe-narrator as one of the latter.

Melkor sees the Shinies and is consumed by lust. "Inflamed by desire", even. He sidles out, possibly grabbing a cushion on the way, and plots all the more to corrupt the elves, get them away from the Valar and enslave them as his groupies whilst keeping the Shinies for himself. It is of note here that the darkness quickened in Valinor is not simply Melkor being himself alone, but Melkor developing a possessive obsession. He goes about being "helpful" as before, but starts to add in hints that the Valar had gathered the elves to them as pets rather than siblings, out of fear that the elves' greater creative power would usurp them, and rumours of some weird mostly-hairless bear things called Men that would take over the ancestral lands of the Quendi in their absence. Subtle lies, gently fed to those without the concept of untruth: a restlessness naturally began to stir amongst the younger generation, those that had never known that distant place nor Melkor as a warlord and a terror in the dayless dark. Distrust of parents' reasoning and distrust of the Valar's nature gradually took root, and Melkor worked hard to wedge his words into the cracks thus created in the elves' loyalties.

Fëanor, still young and excessive as ever in all he did, was very keen on these new ideas and theories to play with, and still keener to learn about the other continent. Likely he bothered Finwë about it for hours on end, unwittingly aiding the spread of Melkor's doubt. Melkor gleefully spread another rumour: that Fëanor and Finwë were thought suspect by the Valar, who would sooner have Fingolfin in charge and would aid him should he make a play for leadership of the entire Noldor tribe. Fëanor, being himself and not keen on his half-brothers in the first place, swallowed the bait and halfway down the rod. Melkor promptly dropped a concerned word to Fingolfin that Fëanor was making warlike noises and that maybe some arming and gathering of support was called for, just in case that firecracker decided to do something nuts like drive him out of the house of Finwë. Oh, and maybe alert the Valar, too.

It's hard both not to admire Melkor's manipulative skills and not to develop an urge to shake those manipulated and explain to them what a lie is, even though they'd only just been invented, and how all the strife was utterly self-fulfilling. The best thing about the Silmarillion as a myth is that these first people experiencing corruption in Valinor are innocent but not stupid, clearly acting of their own free will but from clouded motives. They're complex, and yet string-pulled by a powerful but not overly smart creature who's let himself become honed to a point of malice.

At any rate, things came to a head when Fëanor walked in on Fingolfin trying to convince Finwë that the Valar were their friends and Fëanor really, really needed reining in. It's a credit to Fingolfin's courage and Vanyar-like cool-headedness that he ignored his half-brother's immediate puffing up and growling at him and calmly removed himself before forcing Finwë to take sides or endanger himself stepping into a physical fight. Fëanor, however, incensed at being blanked, pursued him into the street and effectively sealed the fate of Arda by drawing a blade on his (half)brother, threatening to gut him if he should ever try to lessen his House's firstborn's influence again.

Fingolfin, having balls of steel, continued to ignore him and walked off to find Finfarin, his own weapon untouched. Being somewhat public, however, the incident reached the ears of the Valar, who somehow got Fëanor before a court and banished him to the hills for a minimum of twelve years, pending allowance by his kin. Fingolfin volunteered to be the one that allowed him at once, addressing Fëanor directly as brother: one can only imagine the smouldering look from the unwillingly forgiven eldest, temporarily depossessed by said paragon of forgiveness. The scribe makes careful note that despite Fëanor and his allies being brought to trial causing the exposure of Melkor's lies, Finwë's choice to follow Fëanor into exile (it's unclear whether the boys wanted to go or were just packed off too, because Fëanorians) made it look very like the Valar were supporting Fingolfin's faction, despite the factioning being Fëanor's fault.

The last bit of this tiny chapter is probably the most telling, both about how Tolkien's world works and how damn badass Fingolfin was in neither running nor retaliating that morning. Melkor, on the run from the law, makes a bold attempt to convince Fëanor that they're allies. Fëanor, pride stinging from the whole ordeal, actually half-considers this until Melkor suggests that a mountain fortress out in Labrador isn't going to keep a Valar away from those lovely, lovely Shinies...and gets kicked out by a furiously protective/possessive Fëanor. The most powerful entity in the sung world is pretty peeved by this, but too scared of the nutjob with the sword to try anything more, and so slinks away whilst Finwë frantically calls the police. Despite the Valar doing nothing but sitting watching their shadows lengthen at the time, Melkor outruns them and vanishes beyond the Trees' light.

Everyone knows he'll be back, however; so ended the age of innocence in Aman.

Gosh, that was a lot for a tiny chapter.
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