Water splashed against the hull of the ship and Fëanáro took a deep breath. His hands clawed against the railing, determined to endure the rocking of the boat in the waves until most passengers had left the swan ships. He'd go last for he didn't trust the wood beneath his feet. Despite the unknown ahead they were safer on land right now. For while he wasn't a shipwright he certainly possessed enough knowledge about wood itself to guess that the swan ships weren't as sturdy as they looked. His people might think that the creaking planks beneath their boots was a natural occurrence because none of them ever sailed a ship before. But Fëanáro, who had spent time among the Teleri during his travels, noticed the damage.
Until now he hadn't voiced his concerns to anyone. Yet it wouldn't be long, for now Telufinwë boarded the ship, a rowboat was waiting in the waters below to bring the remaining Noldor to the shore.
"Ada, it's time to go. You and your men are the last," Ambarussa said, and never had Fëanáro been so glad to hear the voice of his son.
Darkness reigned in these new lands. Far more than in Aman where the Valar influenced the light of the stars to shine bright, even after Morgoth darkened Valinor by burning down Laurelin and Telperion. Clouds barred them from seeing the stars, making it incredibly difficult to navigate. All they could do after they set sail was to head east and stay on course despite the terrible storms they experienced.
No, don't think about that. You survived. Your children are alive and that's all that counts, the High King reminded himself, banishing the horrifying images as he took the rope and climbed town the hulk into the rowboat.
It dangerously wobbled when his feet touched the wooden bench but he felt hands steady him until he was safely sitting in the middle. Immediately his eyes searched for his son again, fearing for his safety in this unfamiliar territory. But Ambarussa was a good climber and swiftly sat down next to him. Then the brave warriors on board started to row quickly making the long way back to the shore. They were just as eager as Fëanáro himself to leave the ocean behind. He would understand it if none of them wished to gaze upon the sea again.
I'll fulfill that wish to anyone who cradles that particular desire in their heart, Fëanáro promised to himself. For it took the cliffs rising up beside him to realize that they had made it. That they had reached the eastern shore and left Aman behind.
A mix of anxiety and curiosity gathered in his stomach. This wasn't the first trip into the unknown he had made. Very often he travelled with his sons through Aman, simply to see if he could reach the end. He had. The sea surrounded Valinor. Despite the mass of unexplored land, though, they were never alone. Maiar roamed the parts where most elves never ventured, creating a whole different atmosphere. Spirits lurked at every corner, in the waters or in the forests, unused to human contact or the concept of speech.
Fëanáro long ago stopped trying to talk to them. Unless they approached you directly the Ainur left you alone.
He wondered what kind of treasures Endórë would have in store for them. Different animals surely. Unknown herbs and lands. A climate they had to get used to at first because Fëanáro suspected that the chill travelling down his back wouldn't leave anytime soon. Aman was far warmer, milder than what he had seen from Endórë so far and they had been roaming the shore for weeks, searching for a suitable landing spot. Fëanáro hadn't expected the high, rough cliffs greeting them which were impossible to climb for one elf alone and even more dangerous if they wished to unload the cargo they brought with them.
The sheer relief among his people had been palpable when the scouts reported to have found a narrow beach. Now the swan ships anchored in the bay, awaiting an unknown fate while his brave, beautiful people touched the new land.
Well, not new for all of them. Fëanáro had some Noldor in his ranks who made the journey once and were eager to return.
"The King," someone shouted when his boat reached the shore, and Fëanáro jumped into the water to help his man pull it up the beach. "The King is here. The King is safe."
Ambarussa was right next to him and murmured quietly, "There were concerns of your survival father. When so many ships capsized in open water they feared you had been among them."
Fëanáro inhaled sharply. The screams and shouts for help were going to haunt him for the rest of his life. So many of his people had drowned when the storm hit the swan fleet. Others even fell overboard when they tried to help their kin. Yet the sea swallowed them all. Only a handful of survivors had they been able to rescue. He'd have to speak to those as soon as he had a moment. Thinking of it, he needed to speak to a lot of people. Crossing the sea had been far more difficult than he anticipated. All he had known in his life were wild rivers, lakes and shallow beaches.
Who knew that waves could grow so high, so terrifying, able to frighten even the oldest among them?
"Are your brothers safe?" Fëanáro searched the beach for his children, unable to spot them.
His eyes were still unused to the starless night. Tales were that a parent would know if a child of their heart left this world but he hadn't felt a thing when Finwë died. Though that could've been overshadowed by the trees standing in flames and the Valar surrounding him, requesting he give up the Silmarils. Light which could've been useful now. Fëanáro knew that the jewels would've illuminated the entire beach, brought the stars back and a little more hope into their hearts. Yet they were gone. Now they had to learn without their light. All that remained was fire. Good old usual fire that came forth whenever you needed it. Wood burned the same way here as it did in Aman. A comforting thought that at least this would never change.
I wanted to leave. Wanted to put Aman behind me for so long, Fëanáro thought. How often had he studied maps, tales of the first comers who travelled from Cuiviénen? Yet actually crossing the sea to leave their home behind was something else entirely.
Fëanáro hoped that his people felt the same as he and nursed a childlike curiosity in their hearts, eager to explore Endórë despite the frightening circumstances that brought them here. It was difficult to tell since everyone looked the same in the light of the torches that had been lit. Tall, black-haired figures with cloaks around their shoulders and pale eyes that reflected the red glow of the fires. Only the metal of their swords flashed occasionally.
A shudder went down Fëanáro's back, cold and chilling. Somewhere in this these lands Morgoth roamed freely, laughing at the pain he brought into the world and that his kin refused to raise a hand to stop him.
Thief. Murderer. Fëanáro spat and cursed Morgoth‘ name again. Never had he felt such a violent need to strike someone down. Such hate rising in his chest that threatened to consume his thoughts if he thought about the black enemy too long. I'll not leave peacefully as long as such injustice reigns.
"Ada, we're fine. None of us were harmed during the crossing," Telufinwë said, reading his father's expression correctly.
As the youngest, he and Pityo might have spend spent less time with his father than Maitimo but Fëanáro always made the effort to be there for this children, no matter how turbulent and taxing the recent years had been. Besides there was no doubt in father's love for them. Any of them. That at least was still an unshakeable truth, solid as the mountains at the horizon. Regardless if the stars burned out and all light left this world. For Telvo knew that he could live without the Two Trees, without the Silmaril and even without Finwë, stranded in a foreign land that harbored many unknown dangers for them.
But he could not exist without his father's love. Imaging a world where their father felt uncertain about Telvo's loyalty, about the loyalty of all his children, was unthinkable. Ambarussa's found his twin's eyes despite the half-light and the dancing shadows causes caused by torches most people carried momentarily since the lamps were still packed away in one of the many boxes.
I know you feel the same, Telvo thought, prodding his twin with his mind. More often than not, they communicated without using words. Speech was limiting when one could rely on oswanë instead. We were one person the day we saw father break down with grief, screaming in pain at the loss of his only parent.
And none of Fëanáro's children wished to witness something like this ever again. Their father's pain became their own that moment. Hence why none of them hesitated to swear the oath.
When Fëanáro saw his son's eyes switched into gaze one particular direction he knew that Pityo was unharmed at least. The twins lived in each other's minds, always inseparable. Usually the reason they were the ones best informed of what was going on.
"Nelyo is organizing the camp and the sleeping arrangements. He'll want to see you as soon as possible. Curvo is taking care of Telperinquar. The little one wouldn't stop screaming the entire way here. And Tyelko is already out hunting, I believe," Ambarussa rattled, also pointing in a few directions where he had last seen his brothers.
Who His other brothers were currently busy aiding their people, setting up tents, cooking meals or calming down the horses. The animals had suffered greatly from the passage between Aman and Endórë. Even before the storm hit them they had been uneasy. After the swan ship dangerously tipping tipped too much to the side, so that everyone feared to capsize as the other boats did, panic spread among the animals. Telvo had been among the unfortunates tasked with the duty to reign them in.
"He's riding out alone?" Fëanáro's voice wavered slightly as he asked.
Fear crept into his heart despite the knowledge that all his children were grown and capable adults. No matter how old his children were, he'd never stop worrying and the fear for their safety manifolded increased after losing Finwë to Morgoth.
How easily he could've slaughtered my children as well, Fëanáro thought. They were travelling alone. Morgoth could've utterly destroyed me had he taken my sons from me as well.
Thankfully his children knew him well. And they all obeyed the rules he instilled in them a long time ago. Ambarussa shook his head and eased his father's worries. "Moryo is with him. Just like Along with an entire company of warriors. They know better than to go alone. We aren't familiar with this land. Who knows what dangers lurk in the shadows?"
Considering they all felt the strangeness in the air and the faint hint of Morgoth‘ presence lingering in your the nose when you they breathed in, father's people possessed the common sense to stick together.
"Besides we're going to need a lot of meat after existing on fish and dried fruits for so long," Telvo added. "And a few of the hunters went a along with the scouts, keeping an eye out for herbs and a running river. But word is that we need to move inwards inland soon if we don't want to live off what the coast can provide us."
As easily as words came to him usually, in this moment Fëanáro was unable to speak. Instead he pulled his youngest child Telvo into a tight hug.
"I'm so glad, you're safe," he whispered. His words were nearly lost in the sound of the waves breaking against the beach. Since Telvo relaxed against him, he must've heard him anyway. "Whatever else happens from now on, whatever we see or have to in Endórë to survive ... you're safe at least."
Fëanáro made sure to look Ambarussa in his eyes when he spoke, voice a little hoarse, "You're my children. I wouldn't know what to do if something happened to you. I wouldn't be able to live if I lost just one of you. I left behind Tirion, a wife who hates me, a brother who's after my neck and my crown, most of my wealth and the work of alifetime, but I can bear it. As long as I've you at my side, I don't mind starting over."
"Ada," Ambarussa croaked, struggling for words as well. Father wasn't usually this honest and open with his thoughts. It warmed him and broke his heart at the same time.
In a few years when they settled down it'd probably be easier to look back and think of the change they gone through. Despite his best intentions Aman had still been his home. Not a warm and welcoming one after everything whatthathappened but still ... there were good memories. Times where mother still laughed at their antics and kissed father to shut him up. Now it was all gone and it would never return.
Suddenly Telvo hated the sight of the sea. He didn't want to look at it.
"No fear, ion-nin," Fëanáro mumbled.
It was unnecessary for Telvo to say anything. Fëanáro knew his children, felt their spirits burning against his own so that all he had to do was to place a kiss on his son's head. There was much to do and it'd be long before he found sleep or time for himself again but his sons deserved his attention. Worse enough that they had to spend the crossing from Aman to Endórë apart because they couldn't risk of being on the same boat. Which meant that they needed some reassurance and his love right now, as much as he was able to give. They followed him. Unquestioningly eager to join his side when staying behind would have been so much easier. Safer. Yet they made their choice and respected themhimenough to accept that path. Even though it leadledinto a dark, unknown future. Just like his own.
When Fëanáro pulled away to finally mingle with his people, get an idea what needed to be done, Telvo stopped him for a final time.
Pulling at his sleeve the twin said, "If you can find the time, you should talk to Cáno as quickly as possible. We discovered that it were was mostly his people who drowned in Uinen's tears."
Fëanáro nodded,a little confused. Before he could ask what Telvo meant by invoking the Ainur's name regarding the kin they lost onatsea, his child ran off to reunite with his twin.
Walking up the beach he ignored how the sand clung to his wet trousers. A little dirt never disturbed him. Asacraftsman you weren'tone wasn‘allowed to be bothered by vanity so he didn't care what he lookedlikeright now. His hair was tied back in a practical braid,for the wind had torn at it for far too long, his clothes were thick enough to protect him from the cold and most trinkets he owned he longer wore upon his body. Upon the march from Tirion to Alqualondë he learned that they just got in the way.
Searching for his eldest son, Fëanáro asked himself if it disturbed his people that he wore no crown. Finwë had been wearing his when he was slain and Fëanáro couldn't bear the thought of even touching that blood soaked thing. So Finwë had been buried with it owning it even in death, because Fëanáro knew that he could never be the King his father had been. As much as he loved Finwë and grieved his loss, they argued too often about they way they led their people. Perhaps it was because he was a craftsman first and foremost and had learned early that beauty depended on the beholder. That applied as well on to how his people wished to live their life lives.
Standing on a dune, finally able to get a better view of his environment, Fëanáro stopped a moment to watch all the people surrounding him. All of them mucked in to get the work done despite the fact that they just hit the shore a few hours ago. Already some men went back to gather the goods they brought with them from Valinor to safety. Others started to pull the Swan ships on land so that the horses didn't have to swim all the way. The rest was were busy cooking, eating and resting around campfires.
Here and there a voice hummed a song of old, greeting Endórë and relishing in the soft whispering of the trees in the distance.
"Lord Curufinwë," someone called out to him. "May I have a word with you? We have a little bit of a problem here."
Fëanáro turned towards the voice. Apparently it was time for him as well to roll up his sleeves. Rest could wait.
It took hours until Fëanáro finally found some rest. In the end there had been so much to do that he couldn't bring himself to retire. People had questions, were restless and eager but most relaxed when their King announced the decision that they wouldn't be leaving anytime soon. This spot was as good as any as long as they didn't intend to settle down somewhere.
They also hadn't come to a decision yet of what to do with the swan ships yet. A part of him wanted to throw up every time he looked at them. When they set sail there hadn't been much time. Enough to put the cargo on board and take care of the fallen but getting rid of the blood had been impossible in such a short time. Even now it gleamed on the white planks, a stark reminder that they had paid a huge price in order to get here.
Kinslayer, a vicious voice accused him. Fëanáro couldn't tell if it was his own consciousness or Morgoth laughing at him. You had such big words when you drove the Noldor out of their homes. Such great ideas but now your legacy will be forever tainted with blood.
Yet ... Fëanáro grasped the sword at his hip, thinking back when talking to the enraged Teleri, failed, and had drawn his sword to protect an old friend. As confusing and chaotic as the fight had been, the his choice to end a life had been a deliberate one. When he saw friends and kin drowning because they had been wearing armor or saw them fall with throats slashed by fisher knives, Fëanáro stopped hesitating. Instead he fought, yelled orders to drive the Teleri back no matter how persistent they acted. Somewhere along the way he had lost any sympathy for them. Blood tainted stained the stones of the harbor, corpses were pushed into the port and out of the way while the cries of the wounded rang in the air. No, they could accuse him of being a ruthless Kinslayer all they wished. That title he earned, but looking back wasn't an option anymore. Regret, wishing to undo his deeds, would just bring shame on those who lost their lives in Alqualondë.
Fëanáro would find a way to honor their memory, Teleri and Noldor alike. But first Morgoth had to fall.
"He will be brought to justice," the Noldor swore to the night. "The House of Fëanáro will stand witness when the Black Enemy is brought down."
For they had already discovered what Morgoth had done to this land its citizens. Scouts came upon a twisted creature, vile and not what Fëanáro would call being alive. The creature, the Orc, as it called itself, confirmed also that Morgoth did return to Endórë. In the North beyond the mountains they'd be able to find him.
First we must get rid of these creatures, Fëanáro decided. Not an easy thought given how they slaughtered elves in Alqualondë already but no one said that bringing Morgoth down would be easy. Though I didn't suspect such beasts in his service.
To think that anyone in Arda could serve Morgoth on of their own free will was nauseating. But ... perhaps this Orc didn't have a choice. Fëanáro suspected as much because no one could do such harm to their own mind. Not on purpose. Under the surface waited a black screaming mass of pain instead of a mind. Desires, needs and thoughts so corrupt he hadn't been able to look into it very long.
"I won't end like this," Fëanáro told himself. That possible fate drove even fear into his heart. "Never. I'd rather die than end like this and not recognise my own kin when I see itthem."
For that Orc had been once an Elf. Fëanáro was sure of it. Just as much as he knew that this wouldn't be his fate.
Before he could further contemplate what else Endórë had in store for them, a voice rose above all others and the night was suddenly filled with beauty, incredible and terrifying. While most Noldor around him stopped to listen to the golden voice of Valinor Fëanáro only sighed, remembering that Ambarussa urged him to speak with Makalaurë.
"Oh my son, what brought such grief into your voice?" Fëanáro asked himself and headed towards the source of the singing.
His search ended not just with discovering Makalaurë but almost all of them. Only the twins were missing, everyone else dear to his heart had gathered around a fire finally ready to rest a bit. Curufinwë and his wife sat before a tendtent, cradling little Telperinquar in their arms. The boy had finally fallen asleep. Also thanks to his uncle. For Makalaurë stood before the campfire, face turned towards the flames while singing an old lay from the time when Finwë still walked these shores. And while there were a few who recognized it no one dared to join in. Fëanáro waited with all the others and studied Makalaurë's expression. It was intense and while emotions flickered across his face during the appropriate parts of the song, his son was almost lost in the power he was summoning.
Voice heavy and deafening somber, yet also fair and alluring, Makalaurë turned, what Fëanáro guessed was sorrow, into a promise. He was greeting Arda, claiming never to have properly met her before since Aman was not truly a part of it but a manufactured home of the Valar. Fëanáro decided that he'd talk to his son later. Interrupting Cánafinwë when he put power into his voice was never advisable and since it seemed to be good for him, an outlet to all the riotous emotions trapped inside, the his father let him be.
Instead he sat down next to Maitimo who stared into the flames with a similar expression on his face.
"Though it's unlikely that you'll answer me, can I at least ask what's bothering you?" Fëanáro tried to open a conversation.
No matter how far they travelled or if blood rained from the sky, Fëanáro remembered it when his eldest child was mad at him. While he was good at hiding it, there was no denying the flicker of silent fury in Maitimo's eyes. In recent years it had always been him who was the reason for it though both of them worked hard to get past the resentment. Maitimo didn't like being angry at his father. He just couldn't help himself sometimes and today his son had enough reasons to justify it.
"Wouldn't be able to narrow it done down even if I tried," Maitimo said. The tone was so deep that the echo vibrated in Fëanáro's chest.
"If it makes you feel better, I can apologize," Fëanáro offered, speaking softly.
As earnest as his proposal is was, Maitimo knew it's also an attempt to lift the mood between them. Long they established that there were things that they'll they would always see differently but father and son vowed never to let it become a reason feel bitter. Since Maitimo also had an intense dislike for half hearted apologies Fëanáro used them sparingly. Today was such a day that required acknowledgment to the past. Taking his children from their home, dragging them to unknown shores, watching them defend each other with a ferocity that surprised even him ... all of this happened because Fëanáro didn't stop them.
Of course he could argue that it's it was all his fault, that none of this 'd would have happened had he not created the Silmarils. But that's that was hardly true. The jewels were fine until the point Morgoth darkened the world. Until the Valar wanted their light back.
Fëanáro wondered what's what was going to happen if he reclaims reclaimed the Silmarils and the world is was still dark. He didn't want to think about it so he pushed the thoughts back.
"No use, father," Nelyo finally said. He dragged his right hand through his hair as if at least one thing in his life should be in order. "I'll have to live with the people I killed on my own."
"I'd love to offer you comfort, my son. Unfortunately that's something that we're going to have to live with," Fëanáro said and this time his remorse bleeds bled through.
Less because he feels felt sorry for the Teleri. The fisherman fought hard and long. Had they won, they would've shed not a single tear for the Noldor. Consequently Fëanáro had no intention of doing the same. There was nothing was he could've given Olwë in exchange for the ships. The sea king desired nothing. Refused to give ground. Fëanáro would've would have been contend content with some wood and a shipwright to show him how to build a ship. Yet not even that Olwë had found it necessary to do. Not even to honor his fallen friend, and Fëanáro could hardly have dragged father's mangled body with him to convince Olwë otherwise.
The only regret that disaster made him feel was that his sons also had elven blood an their hands now.
"I wish you hadn't been forced to do that, my son," Fëanáro said and took Maitimo into his arms who sat in the cold sand, unmoving.
For a moment Fëanáro feared that Maitimo would draw away and reject the contact. Only to feel a hand covering his in the next second. Their fingers curled, entwining so neither of them could let go. Fëanáro's heart broke a little that his son didn't ask for more and thought that this small and private touch was all he could allow himself.
"It is not the kinslaying itself that disturbs me so," Nelyo whispered. "But rather how easy it was to kill another elf. One moment I was manning a ship, hoisting the anchor, and in the next moment I had my sword buried in the stomach of a fisher."
His eyes flickered to the horizon and Fëanáro had no doubt that his son currently stood in the blood-soaked haven of Alqualondë rather than sitting here with him in Beleriand. Not that it took much imagination to travel back there himself. Despite the distance and the sea between their camp and Valinor, the memories were still fresh in mind. Yet the King of the Noldor knew better than to interrupt Nelyo when words were still pouring out of him.
"I saw how surprised he was. My sword went right trough him. I saw it sticking out at the other end. I think I caused more pain by drawing the sword out of him again than stabbing him in the first place," Nelyo's voice shook a little. "He fell to my feet. I tried to check on him but he was dead before his body hit the ground."
"Do you wish you hadn't killed him?" Fëanáro asked. He carefully kept any emotion out of his voice. It wouldn't do Nelyo any good if thought he was being judged. "That there had been a way to reason with him?
Maitimo laughed, hollow and desperate. "No. No, I can't. I know we tried everything. Olwë didn't listen no matter how often we went over together what we could offer him as recompense. Besides ... after the fisher fell to my feet I saw that he tried to attack Carnistir. Nearly succeded even. He has the cut beneath his ribcage. Had I not killed the Teler, my little brother would've been dead."
Fëanáro's breath hitched when he heard the confession and his head snapped around to look at the spot where he had seen Carnistir last. Relief flooded him when Fëanáro saw his son, composed as ever and currently wolfing down a hare. Though there was the way how he moved his left arm, very carefully, as though not to aggravate an injury.
"So close, I came so close to losing one of you," Fëanáro muttered under his breath. Not able to stop himself, he hugged Nelyo tighter. "I know it will not help you with the dreams but for my part I'm glad that you're all still alive and well. And if takes soaking my hands with elven blood to make it stay this way than I would gladly do it again."
"I know," was the answer and Fëanáro looked up to meet his son‘s grim expression. "I felt the same way. This fisher was the only time I hesitated. For the rest of the battle ... I danced. I showed no mercy because I knew that I couldn't expect any. I saw how the Teleri stabbed our fallen kin to make sure they stayed dead instead of letting them bleed and giving them the meager chance to survive."
"Why did they went to go so far for these ships, father?" Nelyafinwë wanted to know. He was confused how something material could mean so much not only to an individual but to an entire group of people. At least the Noldor fought to avenge Finwë's death.
The King of the Noldor hummed hesitated, drawing on ancient knowledge he had gathered over the years. "Unlike the Noldor the Falmari do not possess the skill to preserve their creations. Whatever they build, boats, houses and all other things they hold dear, the wind and the sea take away. Often very slowly, for time gnaws at those things that are exposed to the elements. Your grandfather was one of the first to figure out how to keep the inevitableat bay, mostly because he wished not to see mother's work diminished before I had the time to appreciate properly."
"Oh," Nelyo made a small noise. "I think I understand."
He remembered as well what his father was speaking of. Míriel Therinde's tapestries received great care from anyone who belonged to the House of Fëanáro. All of the brother's shared the work to clean and preserve their grandmother's work. Even some of father's students earned the right and they saw it as the highest honor, the highest praise.
"So the swan ships are the only thing that endured over time?" Nelyafinwë asked, seeing the anger of the Teleri in a new light.
Not that it would've changed his actions. Nothing could've kept him from keeping his little brothers save safe. Yet perhaps he should've argued harder to be shown how to build a craft on his own.
"I fear so," Fëanáro answered. "Ulmo blessed those ships, partly build built them himself when the Falmari crossed the sea as remembrance for of the friendship they share."
That made Maitimo a little uncomfortable. He had never been the type to turn to the Valar when he was in trouble and despite how high the House of Mathan stood in Aulë‘ regard, the meaning behind the reverence some elves practiced always eluded him. What use had he for prayers when he had two good hands and a solid head on his shoulders?
"Do you think we should give them back?" Maitimo asked his father.
Yet there was no doubt that he was rather thinking of the Noldor they left behind then than making amends to a tribe they'd never see again. Fëanáro flinched because he saw the hope in the eyes of his son and his expression transformed into one of sadness. It wasn't often that he had to deny his children a wish.
"I'm afraid that this is never going to happen, Nelyo," Fëanáro tried to let his son down gently. "I've thought about that option as well. My reasoning for going ahead and leaving Nolofinwë behind was that I couldn't trust his people to obey my orders. We both noticed the dissent in their ranks. Many wishes wished to turn around and make amends to the Valar after what happened in Alqualondë."
"Yes," his sons whispered hotly, afraid and irritated at what Fëanáro was trying to tell him. "You promised that we 'd go back and collect those who stayed true the cause. Give Nolofinwë the time to separate those who're loyal to you from those who wish to see a son of Indis with the crown."
Maitimo's pain was so obvious that Fëanáro felt it as if it were his own and like usual he would collect the stars from the sky to keep his children from harm, but ...
"I can't, Nelyo," Fëanáro confessed. "Our men reported that some of the swans already start to sink. Currently they hurry to get everything off the boats before we loose lose valuable goods. I've told them to strip the ships of everything that might be of use later because we don't know how long the swan ships will still be there."
"Why?" Nelyo cried out. He drew away from his father, not wanting accept the fate presented to him.
"As we discussed, Nelyafinwë. The swan boats are old." Fëanáro told the harsh, unforgiving truth with the calm voice of a teacher. "They're relics, kept in the Haven as memorial and not because they were still in use. The wood was brittle long before we even set our foots on them but the storm they have been exposed to did the rest."
Maitimo sprang to his feet. Looking down at his father, he said "But I promised Finno ... we just can't leave them there."
"We have little choice," answered his father, hands in his lab lap and eyes filled with sadness. "I promise I'll inspect the boats personally but I'll risk neither the lives of our men nor yours for a journey that you're unlikely to survive. And let's not forget that the ships barely contained any of us. Nolofinwë's people are numerous enough so that crossing the sea in the remaining boats presents a danger that I don't want to expose them to."
"They'll hate you," Nelyo said. "Nolofinwë will think you've betrayed him. Left him behind because you didn't trust him enough."
His voice was loud enough to be heard by anyone who cared to listen. But trapped between anger and desperation he didn't notice that most in the camp had long stopped what they were doing to follow their King's tale about the swan ships.
"I'll have to live with that," Fëanáro answered. The firmness and determination in his voice was so strong that the strength of his soul bleedbledthrough. "But as their King I'm responsible for their lives. I don't exist in order to make them like me. As long as the Noldor survive their opinion of me is secondary."
Silence reigned in the camp and the only sound that reached Maitimo's ears when he stared at his father was the crackling of the fire behind him. His lips moved yet he was unable to get a word out. His whole world just shifted, broke his soul apart because he always assumed that they would go back for the rest of their people. Though that those Noldor behaved more as if their they were Nolofinwion's than knights sworn to the King of the Noldor.
With a broken sound stuck in his throat Nelyafinwë turned and stormed off towards the beach before anyone could stop him. Only after he was gone did Fëanáro allow himself to sigh. He lowered his head. He didn't like to be the harbinger of bad news but the truth would've gotten out sooner or later. It was testament to the character of his people that they accepted his reasoning with little protest. Instead they raised their cups, toasted to each other in silence and beheld the West of for a moment, knowing that they were never going to see their kin again. But like Fëanáro himself, they were glad that they also never had to experience the nightmare of a journey like they just left behind them.
In the end it was Makalaurë who broke the silence when he approached his father.
"The ships will burn, no matter how much Nelyo wishes it were different," Kanafinwë stated while looked at his father with his white unforgiving eyes.
"Yes, they will," Fëanáro sighed. "Yes, the ships will burn. For it is the only way I can signal Nolofinwë that we'll never return. From now on my brother has to rely on his own strength."