The small grove of trees is nondescript, with nothing but a small cluster of white stones to mark its tremendous significance. As if nothing had ever happened, will ever happen but the song of the wind in the branches of oaks and pine trees.
This is the place where Finwë Nolofinwë will build his fortress. He will close the way up the mountains and, when the day is clear, will see the peaks of his foe’s fortress from the parapets. He can picture the high towers, the way he will make the Sirion River turn slightly to act as a natural barrier. He can picture, clearly, where his builders will raise a hall, barracks for his soldiers, stables for his horses. Nolofinwë is, has always been, thorough, well organized, logical.
Yet, Nolofinwë knows Barad Eithel will not be as logical as it should. He should raze the grove to the ground, cut the oaks for the doors and the pines for the ceiling of the hall. Nolofinwë knows, though, that he will not do so. That the walls will awkwardly encircle the grove as if it were something sacred to protect.
Because this is the place where Fëanaro died.
… and with his dying breath, his gaze turned toward Angband, he made us swear that we would never relent. Never let cowardice into our hearts, or despair disarm us. A fire wild and pure burnt in his eyes. His soul did not depart his body without a fight, and the sheer strength of his spirit burnt his shell to ashes in anger and defiance.
The walls grow higher each day, and soon the grove is enclosed by them. As he stands near the white stones of the cairn, turned toward the Thangorodrim, Nolofinwë cannot see anything but the dull, grey stones of the walls. He can picture his nephews and with them his brother, his face contorted in anger, his silver eyes turned toward Morgoth, and wonders if by blocking the view, he somehow helped Fëanaro find a kind of peace.
He considers turning the grove into a memorial for his family; for sweet Elenwë, whose body slipped into the sea; for his youngest son, Arakano, dead before the sun could warm his face. What keeps him from doing so is the feeling that, somehow, there’s unfairness in that. Elenwë and Arakano died because of his brother’s treachery. So the walls grow and the groves stays the same, tainted by the ashes of the peculiar death and the feeling that something is just not right.
Perhaps it’s the trinkets. The Fëanorians left a few weeks ago for East Beleriand. For days and nights before their departure, women and children, soldiers and crafters wandered to the grove, leaving small gifts hanging from the branches of the trees or in the crook of their roots: painted stones, carved statuettes, treasured old ribbons floating in the wind.
We commemorate our parents, Aicahendë said. Curufin’s wife. Her parents were childhood friends of Fëanaro, drowned when Uinen broke their stolen Teler ship. We commemorate our friends. Her fellow apprentices, one pierced by an arrow in Alqualondë, another one at the beginning of the Battle Under the Stars, and the last one in the mad charge that had ultimately claimed Fëanaro’s life. We commemorate our one true king, and the life we lost.
Do not even think of destroying this place.
Nolofinwë will not; not with the feeling that it is haunted. Haunted by doubts, regrets, anger, betrayal and tears.
And so the fortress grows, grows and grows, and it is never, never truly Nolofinwë’s own.