The phoenix must burn to emerge.
Janet Fitch, White Oleander
Screams filled the air, cries of the dying rising to the sky. Orcs and Elves alike fought down their horror as they in the starless night. The black clouds rising from Anbang's depth covered the entire North. The only natural light were the torches, reflected in the polished elvish armor which was slowly dimished by blood and dirt. Unholy gleamed the red life force of their fallen comrads for the enemies they meet with hardened steel and unwavering determination bleed black and slow like oil.
Among the two armies who now discovered their own mortality, happened another battle. A bigger, mightier one where not a single soul dared to interfere. Like shadows taller than trees and without a definite form the Valaraukar sorrounded Fëanor and a only handful of loyal warrior remained, fully intend of protecting their King. Yet the King didn't hesitate to meet the beasts, fallen spirits that they were, the Valaraukar howled when Fëanor's sharp sword cut through their unearthly flesh and flinched when forced to meet his piericing eyes.
Before Fëanor, the first Eldar born from a womb and who had lost both parents to the Halls of Mandos forever, the servants of Morogoth learned the meaning of fear and forgot their sadistic arrogance they practiced ever since they rejected Eru Iluvater. The return of their Lord Melkor who had been taken from them, imprisoned by his deceitful siblings after their Lord sacrificied himself to keep Utumo's existence a secret brought the Valaraukar to unimaginable heights. On General Sauron's order they attack the approaching enemy, King Fëanor himself whos name had been whispered in fright by their Lord when he learned that the mightiest of the Eldar had followed him so swiftly over the sea.
So the Valaraukar attacked the Elven King. From their mouth fumes errupted, robbing the brave warriors the very air they needed to breath. Their claws tore bodies apart, cutting through armor as if it were paper and their long pointed tales swung around like wips and every hit with it deadened the living flesh with burns while their wings kept the rest of the armies away, making it impossible for the seven sons to come to aid.
One by one the King's guard, old friends and loyal followers, started to fall until a single warrior was left to witness how the giant beasts beat down on Fëanor. Again and again, since the Elven King started to tire.
The last guard didn't see the final blow himself. Instead Prince Nelyafinwe's cry for his father reached his ears but the warning was in vain - one of the Valaraukar managed to stab Fëanor. A black spear with a long blade stuck out of the King' stomach who first blinked in shock before he cut his enemy down. His attempt to move on the next failed when Fëanor stumbled, strengths drained away by the blood filling his lungs.
"I curse you," Fëanor spoke to the gathered Valaraukar. "I curse you, servants of Morgoth. None of you shall ever see the light again. You may've dealt a blow against me but it will not alter you fate. Your spirits will be destroyed, your names forgotten and your bodies turned to ashes while the wind scatters it over the world."
Fëanor's words were barely a whisper since his breast was heaving and he had to stop every few seconds to cough up blood but the great demons had all stopped moving, frozen in fear. They knew, each and every single one, that the Elven King could have called them by the names they possessed once but instead he uttered a curse in a language they had almost forgotten.
Truth rang in these words and afraid what else the Elven King might lay upon them, the Valaraukar fled. But despite their fear they returned to Angband with the knowledge that the Elven King would die soon for he had not much time anymore.
The Valaraukar were gone, dissolved into black smoke before Fëanor's body finally hit the ground.
Dry dust settled on his tongue every time the dying King gasped for air.
"Atar," Maedhros' voice hollered over the battlefield. His voice betrayed his desperation as he started running.
With great leaps the prince used the length of his body to his advantage and reached his father before anyone else. Black despair settled into his soul as he discovered all the blood. The last loyal soldier who survived the Valaraukar's ambush tried to stop the bleeding, yet the cloth was already soaked and Fëanor's blood stained the hands of his friend.
Maedhros' joined quickly, clutching his father's hand with his own.
It can't end like this, the prince thought, recalling the angry words they exchanged at Losgar. They had barely spoken since then. Now it seemed foolish to have argued at all - over boats! Fragile little things that provided no protection on the high sea, leaving them to watch how friends and family drowned, vulnerable to Uinen's wrath.
"Ada!" Maedhros choked, barely able to get a word out.
His beautiful red hair fell down on his face like tears as he bent down, hoping to get a reaction out of father. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw his brothers join him. Celegorm came running, skidding the last meters on his knees just as distraught as Maedhros felt. Curufin was close behind him if Maedhros discerned the dark shadow looming over him correctly.
Somewhere in the distance Maglor's voice carried over the battlefield, giving orders and calling the remaining brothers to his side.
They all lost sight of Fëanor when the battle started for it hadn't been planned to ambush Angband. All they had been doing was moving to place a few soldiers had scouted out. Easier to defend in theory but armies moved slow and they must've been visible from afar. The last thing Maedhros remembered was riding at the rear, intend to but as much distance as possible between him and his fathers when they were suddenly surrounded by these malicious and deformed creatures.
The arrival of even worse monsters hadn't even registered in his mind as Maedhros had been far to busy to fight for his life. Using the sword in mock battles was one thing, a battle lasting hours something else entirely. Even Alqualonde didn't compare because that had been fear pain no water don't drown dark sword blood water comeonpleasewakeup...
No, Beleriand brought new horrors because in Aman at least they killed Elves. Beings that would receive Námo's mercy and tender care for being innocent in the whole matter. If Maedhros would never be able to forget the wide eyes reflecting his own shoked expression when he killed a Telerin guard than that was another thing. At least the Teleri had been human. People with hearts - cold hearts, frozen in darkness because they didn't see the plight and need of the Noldor and not even Fëanor's fire could move their expression to melt. Yet these black and disfigured beasts were mindless creations of Morgoth. They did not even care for each other, slaughtering their own if it meant to hurt a single Noldor.
"Nelya...Nelyafin...we," Fëanor tried to speak, choking on the blood filling his lungs. "Our ... p-people...are..."
"Most of them survived," Maedhros told Fëanor. His vision blurred from the tears running down his face. "They concentrated their forces on you."
"You ... you ... will become King ... a-after me."
Fëanor's chest was heaving. Each breath was a painful struggle and any could be the last. The hand is Maedhros' grasp weakened, slowly losing its grip.
"Ada, no," Curufin challenged now. "It'll not necessary. You'll live and remain King of the Noldor."
"N-no, Curvo...," Fëanor disagreed and managed to transform his face into something kind, loving and smiling. It took effort but the father of seven managed to let his gaze wander over his gathered children. "I won't. My b-battle is ... lost. It deeply regrets me to ... to leave you to ... clean up my ... my messes. It's my g-greatest regret ... to leave ... leave you ... alone in this dark world without ... light."
His eldest look incredibly lost and Fëanor regreted that possessed not the strength to apologize for his harsh words. Weeks of silence between them, both to alike to overcome their pride.
I hope that they all won't curse my name one day, was Fëanor thought as his awareness faded. Nelyo, Cáno, Tyelko, Curvo ... Moryo ... Pityo and Telvo.
Fëanor felt relief as he managed to touch his children's minds one last time. To feel their spirits, living and strong while his own strength failed him. It was not fair that they would've to bear and defend his name, in this strange land where they only had each other. With no light safe the stars.
Gentle hands cradled his face, drawing it on a soft lap. Fëanor tried to focus on the face directly above him. His final guess was Maglor who combed through his wet and blood soaked hair.
"Pro-promise me ...," Fëanor rasped, calling his children's attention to him one last time.
"Anything, Ada," one son answered. Or perhaps they all spoke with one voice.
"Morgoth can't have the Silmaril's. In his hands they're ...," Fëanor sought for better word than 'influential', "...dangerous. Please, don't ... for the shake of Arda. Our people who follow us out of loyality. Or ... at least for your brothers ... Morgoth can't have ... isn't allowed to ... to ... to..."
For the first time in his life words failed Fëanor and the Highking of the Noldor knew that he only had seconds left in this world. In the distance he heard his sons pleading for him, speaking familiar words of promise and doom yet Fëanor barely registered his children swearing the Oath a second time, unprompted but of love for their dying father. Blackness descended on the dying elf, his fea flickering in and out of existence because the hroa was too damaged for repairs yet Fëanor refused to let go of life.
Before his eyes he saw the stars, bright and terrible. Intend on drawing into the black pit he promised he would enter if he failed.
But I haven't broke my word yet, Fëanor realized. A inner spark protested against his fate, his supposed end which 'd be far too convient for many for his likening. It isn't over. I'm still here. Bound to Arda like the rest of us.
These were the thoughts of a dying man who's body was broken and heavy, feeling the hands that reached out to drag him out of Arda into the higher realms. Perhaps Mandos or the Void, Fëanor couldn't see what lingered beyond the dark veil.
Let go, the world whispered. Close your eyes. Rest. You're a dying man and each breath is agonizing torture.
Fëanor, surrounded by his greatest creation he ever wrought with his own hands, his beloved treasures he put years of love and care into, had only one answer for the demand that he should die.
Fëanor hissed and burst into flames.
"Ada!" Maedhros let out a choked cry.
The only one able give his horror a voice. The rest of his brothers stood frozen as they watched Fëanor's skin light up from the inside. Not a single word was spoken as blue veins turned red, starting out at his heart and travelled down his body until Fëanor's clothes started to smoulder. Smoke rose up as the robes under the armor caught fire. Beside the crackling of fire and the occasional clash of metal against metal in the distance as Fëanor's army chased the Orcs away the only hearbale sound was a soft hiss. Coming from Curufin who had been holding his father's hand. Now he had to pull away because the touch became unbearable.
Curufin looked down at his fingers. He knew what death looked like, had seen it often enough in the last year. But what he saw this didn't make sense. Death was cold. Slumped bodies that never got up anymore. Death couldn't be touched. It didn't leave blisters on the skin. Yet his hand hurt, reddened from the last contact with his father's hand.
Curufin's scientistic mind raced as he tried to comprehend what happened before his eyes. Instead of distand unseeing eyes staring into the starless sky his father struggled. His body bucked, fighting against an invisible force before a final scream tore through the air.
A wave of heat hit the princes in the chest, barreling past even their armor. The taller ones like Maedhros and Caranthir stumpled under the weight. Maglor threw his hands in front of his face, protecting it while he stared into the rising flames.
"What is this?" Amras whispered.
He had been thrown onto the ground and now he still half kneeling as bright white fire consumed their father. It grew. Higher and higher until the flames rose above their heads. Moments of disblief past as the fire that came from Fëanor's body became as tall as the Valaraukar had been.
Huge and terrifing. Soldiers in the distance shouted for the princes to retreat for their hadn't seen their King being struck down. But the princes refused to move. They couldn't. Not when they all felt the fëa they once came from tugged at their souls and a spark kindled in their spirits. Against the red sky the Sons of Fëanor were dark silhouettes and their shadows danced when the fire engulfed them. Dear friends and commanders shouted their warnings over the battlefield but since their had trouble trying to reign their horses in none could really tell the origin of the tree-tall bonfire or if their Lords had been harmed.
Which they were not. Maedhros noted that he wasn't the only one who glanced at his hands. Fire brushed over his skin yet it didn't hurt. The flames licked around him, cradling him in an embrace but they barely scorched his robes.
"Father," Maedhros whispered as he realized the origin of the inferno.
Childish wonder warmed his heart and brought back memories from a time where Fëanor could still pick him up and carry him on his back. It had been a while since he remembered how much father cared for his children. For him. Since the last years were overshadowed by a strained relationship between him and Fëanor. Once their shared the same opinions and a great deal of trust but in Formenos months went by without them exchanging more than a few words.
I would never hurt you, the fire spoke and Maedhros sob got lost in the crackling sound of the flames.
"Don't go," he pleaded. Maedhros reached out for the fire in the attempt to embrace what was left of Fëanor. "Please, Ada. Don't leave us. We still need you. You ... you can't ..."
Thinking of death alone was enough to silence Maedhros. As much as they fought recently, the thought to have the silence between them become permanent was unbearable. Terror and anguish rose in Maedhros' chest until he gasped for breath, the chant of Ada Ada Ada never leaving him. And perhaps this could've been the end, the last exchange between a father and his eldest son though the thoughts of the remain brother didn't differ much from Maedhros'.
Yet here in this world under the black sky in an unknown land Fëanor refused to fade. One last time the fire grew. The flames branched out until it became a pillar touching the clouds. The color went from wine red to orange of the evening sky before it finally brightened.
The Fëanorionnath, the army which followed their King into theft and kinsmurder, suffering darkness, doom and the angry sea turned to watch the while light towering above them. Its force chased the clouds away, liberating the hidden stars and the elves breathed in relief at the sight. They thanked their King first in their prayers and Varda second for they believed he was the cause of it. They also noted how quickly now the black beasts fled before the sight of the white fire and the majority of the armies rode forth, slaughtering those who weren't quick enough to escape their blades.
This day, the Fëanorionnath celebrated their victory and not many noted sorcery dominated the night.
In fact there were very few who took noticed of the Song of Power soaring over the field, thickening the battle before it quickly died down. The white pillar of fire vanished and the remaining sparks were blown away by the wind as the night turned pitch black again.
But, so some sharp souls noticed, change had been brought into the world. It was different from before. Its thrum was subtle so that only two Maia in Beleriand interrupted their work to turn their gaze towards the horizon. Sauron in Anband furred his eyebrows. Yet he said nothing when the dark Vala didn't seem to detect the shift in the air. Melian in Doriath on the other hand silenced her husband by raising a hand and soon left the room to investigate what she believed to be an echo of Eru Iluvater.
Surrounded by his seven sons Fëanor gasped as he woke naked, but unharmed in the ashes of his former body.
"My children," were the first words Fëanor spoke.
They were hardly more than a whisper. His body still trembled from the shock of the sudden rebirth it experienced. There was also the cold. Distantly Fëanor was aware that the cool night affected his hröa but the chill didn't quite reach his soul. Inside him his senses fought a battle. Sensations like touch and sight told him he should be freezing but his fëa still burned bright even though he had no longer the form of a pillar made of fire and flames.
A desperate cry made him look up and what he saw hurt far more than the death and the reembodiment he just experienced. Maedhros had fallen to his knees, hands stretched out yet not touching as if he was afraid Fëanor would burst nothingness. There were also tears on his face. His eldest son was crying freely with a devastated expression carved into his face that Fëanor had never seen before ... and never wished to see again, he decided.
"Nelyo, my beautiful son," Fëanor said, rasping because of the smoke stuck in his throat. It took strength he didn't truly possess right now. With sheer willpower alone Fëanor raised his hand to touch Maitimo's cheek to swipe a tear away. "My dear, beautiful child, don't cry. I'm not worth such distress. Please stop."
"Atar," Maedhros rasped and pulled his father into his arms.
Since he was still kneeling he could only bury his face in Fëanor's stomach but neither of them cared. Whispering endearments the newborn King hugged his child back, stroking his head and combing through the ash-darkened hair.
The rest of the brother didn't dare to move. All had witnessed - felt - what just happened but they couldn't comprehend what just happened. Their fëa felt how their father had been fading, slowly slipping away despite their best effort to keep him in this world. Just when they though all was lost and they would be pulled into the dark abyss Fëanor had vanished into ... he returned. Returned them alive, with a body they could touch.
Not a single brother could hold back their tears as assembled around the pair. Close enough to touch yet most content themselves for now to feel their Ada's fëa crackling beneath their skin again. Finally they regained their senses, remembering that the mystery of Fëanor's return must wait since they were still standing on a battlefield.
"We should retreat," Caranthir spoke. His voice was raw from screaming, crying and inhaling smoke. "Our enemies have fled but they'll return soon. We should seek shelter and tend to our wounded."
"You're right, my son," Fëanor said and helped Maedhros to his feet. The red-haired still looked shaken, far more than his father who resumed command again. "This night might not be the victory we hoped for, but we're still here. We prevailed and we will remain until our task is finished."
With these words the Fëanorians vanished into the night, heading south away from Angband. Maedhros quickly offered his father his cape and as soon as they rejoined their army Maglor left to produce some proper clothing for their father. What he returned with wasn't fancy, but it kept the Highking warm and offered protection. Though no Orc and no Balrog, not even Morgoth himself, could've gotten close to Fëanor anyway for his sons guarded him fiercely.