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VIII - Of The Flight of the Noldor - Swearing Bloody Murder

It takes a while for the Dark to clear a little, leaving plain old darkness in its wake. The First Light now exists in only one place: Fëanor's Shinies.

On poking the stumps of the Trees, Yavanna reckons she could revive them if all three Silmarils were sacrificed before the sap dried in the roots, leading to a somewhat tense exchange in the darkness.

Manwë: Fëanor, may we please have the Shinies to grind up and restore light to the world?
Fëanor: ...
Tulkas: Just give them over already! Would it kill you to break a few jewels?
Aulë/everyone: SHUT UP TULKAS.
Fëanor: Yes, yes it would probably kill me! Screw you lot!

Specifically, Fëanor laments that destroying his unique works would kill him through grief, and that he would be the first Elf of the Light to be killed [by having put too much into his creations]. Námo cuts in to correct him with "Not the first," and I think most scholars take this to be the lord of Mandos feeling the death, simultaneous to the conversation, of Fëanor's father...which makes his lack of elaboration come off as being either a smug git or paralysed by his knowledge of the Song and how things are supposed to go. These scholars would forget, however, the actual first death-by-creativity in Aman: that of Fëanor's mother. Although still pretty harsh, I think this explanation sits better with Fëanor's free will and Námo's oracle status, since a reminder of the sacrifice made to bring Fëanor into existence, made out of love and will to nake something brighter for the future, might encourage Fëanor to see that such things might be intended and in harmony with the Song, and so, for love, submit. It might actually have worked, if Fëanor's annoyance with Tulkas wasn't as incandescently exaggerated as everything Fëanor felt.

It's at that point a terrified messenger comes in from Fëanor's fortress in exile with the news that High King Finwë had been killed, trying to hold the gates against some kind of all-devouring Darkness whilst the others escaped. Fëanor's sons are on their way, but everything in the hall at Formenos is gone - including the Silmarils (archaically, the abducted Shinies are referred to as 'raped').

It's at this point Fëanor goes ballistic.

He storms off, cursing Valar in general and Melkor with a name so burnt-black with the power of Spirit Of Fire's rage it stuck to him forever: Morgoth. Heat almost shimmers off the page as it becomes clear, even across the vast gulf across time and myth and species to the reader, that Fëanor puffed up and threatening to gut his brother was just Fëanor in a mild snit. This is Fëanor angry.

(I suggest some music for the next bit here)

Raging, Fëanor next reappears in Tíríon with the remnants of his household (despite the outstanding warrant for him there) and declares his intent to chase Morgoth where he's fled back over the sea and indeed to the ends of Eä if necessary, promising the land the Valar surely meant to deny them in favour of humans (the scribe notes the irony of Morgoth's ideas being repeated here) and demanding loyalty. His rhetoric being as untranslatably fierce and captivating as all he did, the majority of the Noldor's young male nobility fight to swear in, with Galadriel shouldering her way amongst them to set her sword with her cousins'. The Fëanorians themselves take a further oath, setting their souls as forfeit to far worse than death should they fail to avenge Finwë and retake the Silmarils, whoever or whatever stood in their way.

So, if you remember what I wrote previously about there being nothing more terrifying in the Tolkienverse than drawing the focused wrath of an elf, the Silmarils are an absoloutely fantastic example of objects cursed, not by magic bending the world, but by the sheer will of the elves involved. Come into the possession of a Shiny, and the brothers will hunt you down, whether you're a monster, a kid, an unfortunate human or Morgoth himself. Throw anything in their way and they will keep gunning for you, as long as it takes, and they're willing to die trying. A Terminator is frightening because it keeps going like that, through obstacles and injuries that would cripple a living thing, but somehow when a non-demonic, thinking, immortal-but-not-remotely-invulnerable being chooses to become that...that is so much worse.

Some of Fingolfin's side of House Finwë try to raise objections, but these are met with "Oh, be quiet, Fingon," and similar as the greater part of the Noldor pack up and set off after Fëanor, who is by that time already rushing ahead. The Valar shortly notice this, but only watch with bemusement, trying to avoid giving their younger-sibling-souls more reasons to divide and/or declare war.

Burning as he was, Fëanor did seem to realise swimming across the sea in armour or crossing the Helcraxë, the northern ice bridge, might take quite a while if not actually impossible, so he led his fired-up tribe down to the Teleri to ask if he could borrow their ships to defy the gods and hunt the Great Darkness. The Teleri, understandably enough, are not keen to hand over their love and livlihoods, and advise calming down and maybe not insulting the Valar.

Fëanor does not appreciate being told to calm down. After a few moments' simmering, he orders his heavily-armed band to go take the ships, and consider resistance as a declaration of emnity. It's a testament to the sheer baseline ferocity of the elven spirit that the Teleri, taken by surprise and fighting blade-wielding infantry armed only with whatever they could pick up, weren't losing until Fingolfin's march caught up and saw a pitched battle, immediately jumping in on the side of their kin. Note the lack of black hats present here at the Kinslaying: even as Fëanor invents murder (and in his ever-extreme way, mass murder verging on genocide straight off the bat), his mind clouded with grief and rage, always rage, he's not, fundamentally, an evil being. Just too much.

Meanwhile, over the sea, Morgoth has been feeding Ungoliant everything but the Shinies, not noticing she's become unutterably huge and temporarily more powerful than him until too late...thus it was that whilst Fëanor was swearing eternal vengeance on the dark mastermind, Morgoth was being very nearly eaten by a bug. His remnant critters come and save him, but not before he's screamed a scream heard right around the world that stayed in those valleys forever after (a fascinating concept, and a fine way for young campers to scare each other silly with the rocks' freakish echo effect). He needs some help ungrasping his charred-black hands from the Silmarils, too, which have started burning him through their box.

Back to the Noldor, whom the seas will not permit an easy crossing after such bloodshed; plagued by storm and shipwreck, a great ethreal figure, probably Námo, turns up and says "DOOM." delivers a final warning from Manwë: whilst the Valar won't justify the bloodshed by actively opposing Fëanor and his followers, anyone who goes on forfeits Their protection and will either get killed from these mad oaths and factioning, or, if born under the light of the Trees, spiritually wither and eventually "fade" outside Aman. Also, Fëanor, you flat-out can't take down the most powerful entity short of Eru Himself: all the Valar tried this already; it's just not possible.

At which point Fëanor looks up, and you can imagine the look on his face, one much like the time he kicked Melkor out of his house, and basically says: "I haven't tried yet."

A few elves repent and start the long trudge back. Stalled, dissent and uncertainty set in after a few days trying to decide what to do other than sit about and starve. Fëanor, catching rumours of disloyalty, decides at once to Hell with them, and sets off in the remaining boats with his sons and a few hand-picked retainers whilst everyone else is asleep. On landing, his eldest asks who should dare the angry seas again to go fetch those left behind - Fëanor snaps at having to repeat himself, and on the theme of "to hell", has the Teleri's most beautiful works set alight, not even stopping to watch the flames as he rushes onward.


Back over the water, Fingolfin realises his elder brother has ditched the lot of them and grinds his teeth on his oath of loyalty for a bit before ordering his kith and kin, the remnant of the rebel Noldor, into a nigh-suicidal march across the Great Ice. He stamps along at the head of the column, nominally to test the ice, but presumably in fact due to the strangth of his cold-burning desire to catch up with Fëanor and throttle him.
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