~ The armies marched, lines of mounted cavalry gleaming under the pale spring sun. The drum of hoofbeats echoed from the silent hills.
Gil-galad swept his eyes over the land where frost still clung in the shadows.
“Thus we marched to meet Elendil,” Tindómion murmured.
“Yes,” Gil-galad said distantly. It was not the first time they had ridden this way, but the walls of Amon Sûl would ever be engraved on Tindómion's mind.
Fëanor's host was at the forefront; he was High King, and his sons were with him. Their scarlet war-plumed and banners took the breeze like a red trump of challenge. Fingolfin came next, all in sapphire and silver, then Fingon, Finrod, even Turgon, who would not be accused of skulking his in a-building city.
Túrin rode with the forces of Imladris, some from Mithlond, accoutered as a warrior in armour straight from the mind of Fëanor, whom had modified, after talking to Maedhros, the Dragon Helm of Dor-lómin, also duplicated on his shield. A plume of dark red rose from the spine of the dragon's back to flow down past his pauldrons.
Vanimórë had gone on ahead with Elgalad, Coldagnir and the soldiers of Mordor to the semi-permanent camp on the near borders of Angmar. Elúred, Elúrin and Daeron had made it their base with warriors both from Imladris and Lindon.
They would have called it a battle already won, were it not for their own history and the fact that no-one knew what would happen in Carn Dûm, what had happened in the last years.
They passed Lake Nenuial's cold, blue waters, where King Elessar's troops waited. Some remained to guard the masons working on his palace, and the workers came out to watch the march of the Elven host into the North.
The land seemed to wait, breathless.
They came at length to the North Downs and the Iathrim twins walked to meet them, smiling their feyness out of lapis-blue eyes.
“Welcome to war,” Elúred said.
Companies were left there, before the greater part moved onward. A southerly wind began to push at their backs as they reached the great forests, and their pace slowed, though routes had been created the last few years to avoid the swamps. Vanimórë had simply cleared them, straight as a ruler when he could, through the woods. The game was thick and the army fed well.
Here they found the first sign of Angmar – not orcs themselves at first, only traces of their kills where they had feasted and left bones. But most of the meat, they guessed, was being carried to Carn Dûm. Vanimórë stared north as if he could pierce the veil that shrouded it. But now was not the time.
The Fëanorions watched him with varying degrees of emotion. Some (Celegorm, Curufin and Caranthir) were as jealous as Maglor, who did not show it. Maedhros and the twins were more accepting. Celebrimbor was entirely different. He had walked straight to Vanimórë and said: “I thank thee. And I would thank thee were thou not of our blood, for thy mercy.”
They all knew by now how Celebrimbor had died, but it was not Vanimórë whom had tormented him; he had given Celebrimbor peace, at the end.
“I too, would thank thee for that,” Fëanor had said, fury in his eyes and love and complications inherent in that love.
“My father,” there was the slightest stress on the word. “did not want him dead. It was very rare he lost control, but he was furious. The anger of a balked lover.”
Celebrimbor did not flinch from it. An abyss lay like slaughter in his eyes.
“I would drag him from the Void if I could.” Ambiguous, that. But Vanimórë inclined his head. Curufin glowered, dark and dangerous as Anglachel beside him, a hand on his son's shoulder.
“Thou wilt not have to,” Vanimórë said, and left them, striding into the dark.
When the forest failed, they came out onto the tundra that stretched to the feet of the mountains. The eerie land was not without its beauty: spring flowers dancing in the breeze. But it was almost empty. Nothing moved, no bird, no beast. Patrols were picked.
“Túrin?” Beleg asked him. The boy had been well nigh silent since their departure from Imladris, his face seeming to grow, daily, more and more into the man Beleg had loved. It had been agreed that he should join a patrol, if he wished to. Better a short introduction to battle than to be hurled face-first into war.
The swift horses pounded north. Túrin was no illusion why his company consisted of Beleg, Kashan, Narok and Vaija of Mordor, Vanimórë, Tindómion, and those strange fey twins, Elúred and Elúrin. They were his bodyguard, he supposed.
He set his teeth as his war stallion thundered over the hard earth which swelled and dipped. He could not see Carn Dúm or its mountains; he was told they were perpetually swagged in cloud, even in high summer, but he thought he could feel it. Was that fanciful? It was like a pressure in the air.
“Blood.” Beleg said.
“I smell it,” Vanimórë concurred.
The horses crested a ridge, the riders drawing rein. There was no place in this open, treeless land for the orcs to hide.
They were not hiding. They were surging north under the low, grey sky, fresh kills hanging from poles, but they were well escorted by warriors. News was that the Great Wood watched the mountain passes of the Hithaegilir, but that they had seen few orcs. No, they were breeding in Angmar, and profusely.
They were far away, but the light caught the dark metal of shields and armor, and their scent came down the air, half-human, half-alien.
“Try to keep one alive,” Vanimórë murmured. “I want to question it.”
The Mordorian's raised their faces, savage, beautiful; ululating cries split the uncanny silence. Túrin's blood rose in something not-quite fear.
The horses loped down the slope, gathering speed as the terrain leveled. Shouts rose from the orcs, who picked up their pace, a score or more stopped, gathered in a ragged line.
It all seemed almost unreal to Túrin, this ride toward violence. He half-saw Vanimórë draw both swords, guiding his mount with seat and thighs. Beleg drew blade and a throwing-ax. Anglachel, a longsword, was hard to wield on horseback, but he had been trained for this, for exactly what they were going to do, now, as was his stallion.
He saw the orcs clearly now. Some were larger, stockier than others, their skins dark-grey or mottled. They bore fangs like wolves, overcrowded in wide mouths, and their weapons were heavy, crude, frankly terrifying, the swords cruelly hooked, axes enormous.
They would go for the horses' legs, he thought and, with the others, swung one leg over the saddle-bow and jumped, running. He thought for a heartbeat that lasted an eternity that he would vomit or soil himself, both, and then an orc was raising its enormous sword and he brought Anglachel down and up where its armour gaped at the throat. The blade was so sharp he did not even feel any resistance, just saw the blackish blood spurt, and wrenched the point out quickly, kicking the body backward.
Then, there was simply no time to think, only to act and react. There was no fear. He seemed to move on reflex, hacking, slicing, ducking, moving, always moving. Anglachel sang a song of murder, deep and hungry, on the edge of his mind.
He came out of a ducking spin, drawing the blade from an orc's gaping maw and realised no-one was near him. And he watched as the others killed. He could not help but stare because it was poetry, it was beauty so lethal it caught at the back of his throat in awe. It seemed effortless.
The orcs carrying the meat, smaller creatures, had fled. They did not get far. Shapes rose up out of the land, tall, fair hair playing with the breeze: Elves of the Wood. Arrows sang, and the orcs went down.
One lived, bound hand and foot now, writhing in its bonds, cursing, spitting. The Wood Elves, reclaiming their arrows, began to walk towards them. They were not strangers to Túrin. The leader was tall, old-gold of hair, and with him was the white-haired Bainalph, who looked like a summer rose and fought like a storm.
“Thranduil,” Vanimórë nodded. More warmly: “Bainalph.”
“And so it begins,” Thranduil said. “Is there aught we can do?”
“No, I thank thee. This one is outside Angmar's borders. Thus its minds is open.”
He killed it after, but quickly. It had hardly been the kind of interrogation Túrin expected: Vanimórë simply stared at the creature. Later he said he took the knowledge from its mind, like scooping fruit from a rind. Naturally it had to die, but it was a simple business of a sword through the heart. Nothing messy. Túrin did not know if he were glad or sorry for that. The others, he thought, would have preferred something more protracted and painful.
“We will take back the game,” Vanimórë said casually, then turned to Túrin. They all did. Vanimórë flashed him that heart-stopping smile.
“Well done indeed,” he said simply, “Let us go back.”
He was relieved that no-one fussed over him, because he did not feel he required it. He was not sickened or suffering the reaction he had been told he might. Nothing. He felt glad that he had acquitted himself well, although he had not emerged scatheless: bruises were forming under his armour. But what he felt more than anything was that he had been born for this.
Then Beleg knelt, dipped a finger in orc blood and walked to him. As Túrin stood, startled, he drew a line down from where the helm ended between his brows, to his chin.
“Thou art Blooded,” he said.
“He is Blooded!” Thranduil cried, and his warriors took up the shout, raising their fists in the air. As did the others, their faces savage, gorgeous. Frightening. Túrin's blood ran scorching through his veins as the blood prickled on his skin. He had not seen the wildness, the ferocity behind the beauty, until now.
The orcs must themselves have had spies out. The army met no more as they advanced ever closer to Angmar's borders. The land grew colder, as if even the advancing summer were reluctant to come here.
“Carn Dûm lies there.” Beleg pointed. Fog hugged the mountains, lapped their feet like a woman's skirt. Túrin could feel it, but not articulate what he sensed. He had learned of the Wars against Angmar, but this was older, darker even than the Wraith Lord whom had once claimed the fortress, or the estwhile Mouth of Sauron who dwelt there now.
Beleg's clear eyes traced his face. “Thou feelest Angband,” he said. “We all do. In the War of Wrath, when Beleriand was drowned, when the Valar fought Morgoth, the Iron Mountains where Angband was delved, were thrust southward into the Ered Lindon. Angband's bones lie deep beneath Angmar. The ancient evil seeps through.”
“But why would I feel it?” Túrin did not take his eyes off the fog bank, “I am a Man.”
“Thy people came from here.”
There was a Man...matted hair and rags, gaunt-faced, horror in wide grey eyes, dirt-ingrained lines on his face. He looked like Carreg, only older, much older. He was shackled to a stone chair, staining against the bonds. Darkness shot with fire stooped over him, twin lights above eyes like the ending of the world...
“Father!” He woke, pushing aside the fur that covered him as if to walk out of the camp, but as his eyes found the fire, it came to him that he did not know where he was going or why. He breathed the dregs of the dream.
Dawn was breaking, smoky-grey and chill. Warriors were moving about. He smelled hot wine and flat-bread cooking.
There was a clear cold stream running not far away. Túrin went down to it and washed briskly. The dread lay like a night-cloud on his heart, the harrowed face of the Man, the awful, awesome thing (he did not want to give it a name) that had loomed over him like a curse.
“Art thou all right?” Beleg asked him as he came back to camp, shivering a little from the water and his dreams. Dream or vision out of the past?
“Yes, I thank thee.” His eyes snapped away as they did so often these days. Beleg had rejected him for a memory. He could not forgive that.
“Then eat.” Beleg passed him meat, bread and hot wine.
Neither could he stop his eyes following Beleg's tall figure as he walked away, or forget his exquisite slaughter yesterday, that glimpse into the wildness at the heart of him, all the Elves.
Days passed. Carn Dûm brooded behind cerements of mist that at whiles gusted aside to reveal raw, ragged rock. The shallow river that formed the border chuckled as if at an old jest. Vanimórë's eyes bored into the north. Túrin understood that he could not cross until the denizens of Carn Dûm came forth. Nor could Glorfindel.
Left to himself, and had he been sane, Malantur would never have gone forth against the forces gathered on his borders.
He had immersed himself in the last years in experimentation. Most died, although the ghouls grew in number, and the orcs bred. Which was as well, since food became an ever increasing problem. A few hunters got through but now most of the meat came from orcs bred for that purpose.
The strongest orcs out of Mordor whom had reached Carn Dûm before the route was closed, Malantur appointed to lead and train his army. The surviving Men he drew about himself. A few oldsters of Angmar yet lived, clinging with grim purpose to their life, such as it was, in his kitchens.
But he did not want to go to war. He knew who waited out there.
His choices, however, were nil. At least his ability to choose one action over the other. There was an army beyond the river, his scouts reported, Elves, and some Men wearing the badge of Gondor. (And Vanimórë, with thousands of years of vengeance to bring down upon him).
“It is time,” Melkor said from beyond the Veil. And pushed at the Man's mind. Who screamed. The watching Men saw, with terror, his eyes turn red-black.
“It is time,” he said.
Coldagnir lit the skies with flame as the gates of Carn Dûm groaned open, the noise echoing back from the mountains, a grinding clangour. War horns rose above it.
“Yes,” Vanimórë said, his face like a jewel under its helm. He cast Túrin a long, measuring look, then smiled at him. It was a smile a man would do anything for. Túrin could not help feeling that he was being tested. He nodded.
A storm rose, sweeping north, thunder churning in its belly. The fog shielding Carn Dûm wrestled with it, then retreated and, far-off, Túrin could pick out great walls, thorn-sharp turrets. A cruel place, and from its gates came an army. The tramp of their feet resounded through the ground.
“Pull back,” came the high silvery war-trump of the Fëanorions. Angmar's forces had to cross the river. They turned, slowly, deliberately, retreating.
It seemed to take an age for the Mouth's army to cross the leagues. He himself lead them, a tall man, striding in heavy, ornate armour. No horses. No, it would be impossible to feed them, Túrin thought.
The storm broke on the mountain-thorns behind them and had gone when, at last, Malantur strode forward. The river ran between them.
“What hast thou come for?” he raised his voice. “And whom art thou?”
Fëanor's great stallion moved forward. It was black as coal-dust.
“Hast thou forgotten thy history, Man?” His voice was clear, golden. “I am Fëanor Curufinwë, and with me are my sons and my kin, and Men of Gondor. And I am sure thou doth recognise my grandson, Vanimórë. We come for a reckoning, Mouth of Sauron,”
Túrin saw the Man's eyes flickering back and forth, but there was something behind them, something...avid. Something that was not him. And wholly unsurpised When Fëanor gave his name, Malantur flinched, mouth parting. But the Will behind his was stronger.
“Ghosts,” he barked a laugh. But there was an eager thread in its weave and somewhat hollow also. “Send the Whore away.” He indicated Vanimórë without looking at him. “And we shall speak further.”
The stallion pawed, stamped. “Vanimórë is a god, or did you not know?” Fëanor's voice carried wrath.
Malantur chuckled. “Then why does he do nothing? Remember our days and nights together, Slave? I am sure thou dost.” But still he would not look.
“Come and have me again, Malantur,” Vanimórë invited him. “I remember it, yes. Come.”
Túrin heard the power in the words. Saw Malantur give a jerk forward. His face twisted. “Thou come!” he snarled. “And we will continue our...pleasures”
The orcs were massed, growling. The scent of the Elves intoxicating after privation, melded with the long, long hatred between their races.
Suddenly Malantur took one step another, in a movement horribly like a puppet. He was fighting the compulsion, but some far more powerful Will was pushing him toward the river's edge. As he moved, the orcs, taking it as an order to charge, surged, churning the water to mud.
Battle trumpets sounded into the storm.
Túrin found himself in the middle of a melee before he well knew what was happening. But his blood was running like wildfire. He would find that thing, that piece of filth and kill him and stop the slime-coated words spewing from his mouth.
He fought, Anglachel singing its death-dirge, dark and triumphant. It cut armour like parchment, the black sword, winnowing those who stood before him. Distantly he could feel pain where weapons struck him and were foiled by the skin of Fëanorion steel that enclosed his body.
A shape loomed before him; it looked like the pictures he had seen of trolls, only malformed, misshapen, muzzled like a canine. A great mace swung toward him and he ducked, rolling, then came up to see the creature stagger, two arrow-bolts through each eye.
“Túrin!” Beleg's clear voice called.
But he was not a child any longer to seek his mentor's protection. He was a man, Blooded. He fought his way, hacking, slicing toward the river, where Malantur had vanished as the orcs charged.
Icy water dragged about his knees as he plunged across – and saw him. The Mouth was standing as if he had no care in the world. His eyes were on Túrin. But they were not his eyes. They were not human at all. They were the eye of a god from before Time itself.
“A Túrin Turambar turun ambartanen.”*
And an abyss opened. Túrin plummeted into it. The mocking words were echoed by a female voice, that fell into screams of madness. Images shattered over him like broken shards of a thousand dreams: A woman, dark haired, stomach swelling, a man, blond haired, armed for battle, embracing her and then him, smelling of metal, a small girl, laughing, a man, limping, a forest of beeches, Beleg, A silver-haired king, a band of outlaws, Beleg, a great Elf city delved into the earth, a bridge across the river that foamed outside, an Elf worn by torment, a gold-haired Elf-woman, another Mortal, Beleg. A great golden serpent who mocked him and died under the Black Sword, Beleg kissing him under the stars while the summer breeze lilted in the trees, Beleg smiling, (himself walking away, saying “It is not right for a Man to lie under another! It may be different for Elves. But this was a mistake.”) Beleg fighting alongside him, Beleg...dying...(I killed him. I killed my love!) A god's pitiless laughter. And last himself, a white hot agony in him, water roaring somewhere, a great dragon sprawled in death. He said, “It is not.... ended.” And “Oh, Beleg!” And the words he had not said aloud: I will find thee, I will find thee again, my love. If it takes until the last breaking of the world, my soul will find thine. It is not ended. It will never be ended.
He screamed into the darkness of a tomb. He watched, year upon year as his body decayed, leaving bone, knowing nothing of the world beyond save the shake of the earth as if great forces moved it. But his spirit, bound to the place of his death, could not flee, could not move from the mound they had raised over him. Time stretched in the darkness, a vast span uncounted, dust sifted down, measuring out the unnumbered years – until one day the great monoliths shifted and sunset light poured in.
And he saw them, strangers then, not now: Vanimórë, Glorfindel, Lómion. His spirit rose free, free! looked eagerly to the east, to what he knew awaited him (another darkness, the soft, reassuring peace of a woman's womb). And then...now. All the years of his short life.
His eyes snapped open. The laughter welled again, poured from Malantur's mouth, but it was not his laughter. This was the incalculable, titanic mirth of a Power. His father, his first, truest father had heard it year upon year.
The room stank of old meat and blood, torches reeked on the walls.
Túrin had been aware of fighting, through the sluice of memory, unable to see anything, frantic, overwhelmed, then nothing...unconsciousness. His head throbbed.
“Dist thou truly think to escape my doom, Túrin? Brave. Foolish, but brave. I have to make you sweat for that – just for a while.”
He was naked, chained to the damp, wall. He was aware of noises, like some vast rumble of machinery, deep underground, muffled and huge. Malantur stood a few paces away. Túrin looked past his mad, oil-black eyes, and said into what looked out from behind them: “I do not fear thee, Morgoth Bauglir.”
“Thou wilt. I am glad to meet thee at last with naught between us but this fool.”
“One fool, and the Void.” icy sweat trickled down his flanks.
“Not for long. But longer than thou wilt live.”
“There is no Doom now,” Túrin made himself say. “Nothing thou canst do to me that has not been done.” Beleg. Heart of my heart. How could I not have known thee? Yet I did. Some part of me did. It was thou whom didst not know me.
“Poignant, is it not?”
They took him out into the cold, to one of the towers that fell sheer to wet back rocks. It was still daylight, and Túrin could see the army gathered at the feet of Carn Dûm, the banners snapping in the chill breeze.
“Hearken unto me, thou Princes of the Downfallen.” Malantur's voice (Morgoth's voice) boomed out. “If thou doth value this relic of the past, and I think thou doth, thou wilt withdraw thy forces across the river. Thou wilt clear the forests so that we may hunt for food freely. Or he will die. He has already died once and should have stayed dead, but this time he will go by my hand, not his own, and slowly. I will carve a piece off him every day and eat it. It will take a long time, I promise thee.”
Fear, hot, clammy, desperate, and blinding rage formed a roiling knot in Túrin's breast. He could see Beleg's silver hair blowing, see the leaders' plumes streaming. How long would it take them to set up a battering ram to take down these gates?
“And if we accede to thy request, Jail Crow?” came a voice of fire and fury. “Oh, yes, I know thy voice, Bauglir!”
“And I know thee. Curufinwë,” Malantur chuckled like the pits between stars. “Why then, Túrin Turambar shall be my guest. We have many old memories to tell over. I shall not let this one touch him, though he wants to. Very much.”
Abruptly, Fëanor wheeled his stallion down the line of his warriors, raised his arm. A trumpet called. The armies turned like a well-oiled machine, and began to retreat. But Fëanor angled his warhorse back.
“Do not think to fool us,” he cried. “There are those linked to Túrin's mind, and they will know if he dies. And if he does, if we do not see him, every three days upon that tower, hale and well, we will come in and drag that rotting carcass thou speakest through out. Trust my words, Bauglir.”
“He came for Túrin,” Vanimórë said.
They had drawn the army back some three or four leagues from the river, enough to fulfill their part of the bargain. Scouts had already reported hunting parties coming cautiously from Angmar.
“How would he know of him?” Beleg was white and his eyes burned with a terrible, pale light.
“Malantur did not. Morgoth did.” Vanimórë continued gently. “I am sorry, Beleg. We did not want thee to know until he did. But we were there, Glorfindel, Lómion and I, we saw his spirit rise from its tomb.”
“And I have been denying him because I would not love a man who looked like a memory. Except he is not!” Beleg gave them his back, wide shoulders braced. “Why didst thou not warn me? Didst thou think I would tell him, not be able to keep my hands from him? He chose me this time, and I turned him away.”
“But how would he know, shut in the Void?” Fëanor demanded to break the pained silence, Vanimórë thought, as much as curiosity.
Vanimórë grimaced. “Carn Dûm draws upon Angband's old poison and power. Malantur was sacrificing to Melkor there. And I – I have a link with some-one in the Void: my father. Perhaps that is all it needs: A window. It may be a small one, very dim. It would be enough.”
“A window is not a door,” Fingolfin observed calmly. “But it was him, was it not?” to his brother.
Fëanor's teeth showed. “Oh, yes. It was. No-one could ape Morgoth. I know him. And so dost thou.”
“Well, he cannot possess Malantur,” Vanimórë said flatly. “Not wholly. The Man could never contain his soul; he can use him as a puppet, however, which is exactly what he is doing. Strangely, Túrin is safer with Melkor holding the reins. Gloating.”
“Only for a while,” Beleg stated, back still turned.
“We entered Carn Dûm,” Thranduil said, his eyes on Beleg. “As did others. It is not unassailable. It is crumbling if anything. We could do it again.”
“Yes. It is a possibility,” Vanimòrë allowed. “I think Melkor can only see and hear what Malantur sees and hears. A window only.” Fingolfin glinted at him. They were more subtle now, his kin, but their favour, even their love, was apparent in expressions like this. Vanimórë had no idea what to do with it.
“He will have guards, sentries everywhere,” Beleg said tightly. But he turned.
“Disguise those who go.” It was Finrod who spoke, with a wry, curling smile. “I did it myself. I failed, but I held for a time.” Celegorm stared at him from beside his father. He frowned.
Vanimórë inclined his head in respect. “Against Sauron, my Lord Finrod, thou didst hold well. And against the Valar as we know, thou didst succeed.” He glanced at Fëanor. “There are some who cannot go. Melkor is watching out for thee. Fingolfin too, would be a beacon. The Noldor will ever be, especially those from the Elder Days.”
“Well, neither canst thou go,” Fëanor retorted. “Until he crosses the border.” He slammed a hand against his thigh. “He was so close!”
“Melkor held him back. Oh, he pushed him to come out, but he is not ready to lose his puppet, not yet.”
“I am going, of course.” Beleg looked at his grandson. Thranduil nodded. “I, too.”
“I shall, also,” Elgalad offered and this time Vanimórë did not object. He wished he could. But this was war. He had to put fear and sentiment aside (impossible). None of the men here had ever spared themselves, save Turgon, for a while, behind Gondolin's white walls.
“We will,” Elladan said for himself and his twin. “We were there before. We at least know a little of the layout.”
“And I,” Lómion offered. “It makes sense.”
Eärendil said, “I will accompany thee.” His eyes blazed. “It is a beginning.”
A beginning for him, a chance to strike back.
“And for that reason so shall I go,” Bainalph said, earning a black look from his king. “I was there. I saw a little of it.” He stood, snowy hair, deceptively delicate, his face moulded with resolve.
“I shall come,” Edenel murmured, and received a similar glare from Fëanor. Both sets of eyes were filled with fear under the anger. But because they were kings and would not openly show fear, the anger burned uppermost.
“In that case we should also take part in this.” Kashan indicated himself, Narok and Vaija. His eyes were blown wide with remembered terror, but he continued. “We know the place better than any save our companions. Kallithan will take command here until we return, and if we do not...”
“Thou art sure?” Vanimórë asked softly.
“Yes, Sire. We have to.” Immortality or no, he was terrified. But he would essay it.
In the end, all those whom had gone before into the fortress to rescue Bainalph went again. Many others offered, but it was only logic that those whom had been there before should go this time. They gathered about a fire, and Maglor came, because this was Power, and he held it in his voice. Tindómion brought out his lap harp and played as his father sang. Vanimore watched from the edge of the firelight.
They allowed the Song to fall upon them, weave about them, cast its illusion. They could still see one another, but to other eyes they were orcs of the mountain breed, of which there were many in Angmar, (and would be more now, after breeding) not strong enough or noteworthy enough to draw much attention save for bellowed orders, Kashan said. They acted as drudges. And were fodder for experiments. Though no-one said that aloud.
They left in the night, and carrying game. Thus they would walk straight through the gates of Carn Dûm and into the fortress. (“But wait a day or two,” Vanimórë advised) They showed the badge of Gundabad, by far the most common, on their leather tunics. Once inside, they would have to find where Túrin was being held. They could go anywhere, Kashan said, save Malantur's private chambers.
Túrin would not likely be imprisoned all the time, they reasoned, if Melkor wished to taunt him, but it would be easier to extricate him from a cell than the Mouth's rooms.
Getting in would be easy enough, they hoped.
Leaving would be harder.
“Thou wilt come back to me,” Vanimórë told Elgalad. He did not know how he could endure without the love he would not accept or believe in, but needed, or how he could suffer any horror to come to Elgalad.
“I will,” Elgalad said with smiling assurance, as if there were no doubt. “But th-this must be attempted.”
Not far away, Fingolfin gathered both Lómion and Eärendil into a strong embrace, and Fëanor held Edenel's hands, speaking low and fierce to him. Yet further away, Bainalph and Thranduil were arguing. The years had not decreased the enforced enmity between these two, it seemed. Yet Bainalph did not hate; he protected himself.
Yet the farewells were not protracted. No-one wanted to admit this might be the last time they would see the others. No-one would give that thought room in their minds. Their faces were predatory, fierce, as they sent their thoughts after those they loved, north into the shadows of Carn Dûm.