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Many Journeys: Elleth's Fanfic and Fanart
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Many Journeys
In her youth she [Nerdanel] loved to travel far from the dwellings of the Noldor, either beside the Sea or in the hills; and thus she and Fëanor had met and were companions in many journeys.
(J.R.R. Tolkien, Morgoth's Ring)

December 2015
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Many Journeys: Elleth's Fanfic and Fanart [userpic]

Originally written for the Cuiviénen challenge at B2MeM 2010 over at SWG, and then rather far from happy with it, I gave this some time to simmer and twisted and added a bit here and there. I abandoned the drabble format and introduced some different imagery that perhaps goes some way toward explaining Fingon's motives for the outcome of this AU, if you want to use the term motives at all.

Warning for AU, death scenarios, grisly imagery, blood.

The challenge: Choose a favorite novel, short story, or poem. Write down the first line from it. Begin a story or poem using that line (or create an artwork that could be inspired by a scene beginning with that line). If the line has names or places that do not appear in your story, you may substitute something more appropriate.

Based on the beginning of a Neil Gaiman short story:

I guess I've been following Scarlet for a long time now. (Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky – Neil Gaiman, in Fragile Things)

The Follower

I guess I've been following Russandol for a long time now. Not that there are any trails or directions to follow this time (unlike the straight-ahead of Helcaraxe), aside from one: snaking out of the valley, the site of the ambush, the only road leads to Angband, but I still have hope of finding him here. His brothers never even collected the dead, which leaves the place strewn with bones of men and horses, and an abode of scavengers. There is a banner of the House of Feanor half-caught in a ribcage, and I find myself on the lookout for coppery hair on this skull or that. Nothing, only a starved wolf with russet in his coat that slinks toward me. I think I saw it before, and fire an arrow, try not to listen to his high whimpering, try not to look as he dies, and continue my work.

The dead have been searched, I slouch on, glad to leave the cloud of rot behind me, although some remains clinging to my skin and recall to me one of the small, no, the tiny blessings of the Helcaraxe. The trail of dead we left we left behind smelled as pristine as the snow they were buried in, what stink had clung to them was in the clothes we pulled off them and distributed among the neediest, but there is no use to consider this now: The road darkens before me, and despite the will to find Russandol, my steps falter. The stone is smooth and ought to carry me quickly, unlike the cracks and crannies of the ice, but the three peaks towering in the distance make me doubt the quest will ever be achieved. Moringotto is powerful indeed, and if my cousin has been imprisoned behind these walls, if he even still lives, the power of the Eldar will not avail to rescue him.

Perhaps Makalaure was right.

The road winds on through desolate lands. The days I use for resting, in between rocks and covered with my cloak, though true sleep is a rare luxury that I have gone without since my coming, and that before meant certain death; closing our eyes to the ice would cover us in drifting snow, or pitch us forward into the next-best crevasse. The ice was indifferent to that, although sometimes its shifting and groaning sounded nearly like the slow, grinding laughter of a monstrous thing, sometimes coming so soon after the fall of another one of us that the march became unceasing, unsleeping except for the ways of our dreams. The risk of discovery was too great, is too great now. The mountains have eyes that watch my every step, waiting only for a chance to seize me. So I doze as I walk, and it is the fields of Aman that lie before me, and Russandol running out of reach, side by side with the russet wolf. My hand closes on air, and with anyone else, I would say their laughter mocked me.

The road leads to no resolution, no hidden entrances I can find, no longed-for coast, and I so cut across the great mountain fence, leaving shreds of skin climbing over rock and ice and rubble and sneak past the mishappen sentinels that guard this way into Moringotto's domain. More than one of them falls with an arrow in their back before the alarm can be raised, although I grimace at the loss of the arrows. I may need to defend myself on the way back. Even if I do not find him, my family will be looking to my return, and I will not forsake them.

The cold of the wind bites, but Helcaraxe had sharper teeth. I clench mine and march on. There is firelight through the cracks below me, and foul fumes rise to make me cough. Invariably the cold and the fire make me think of Araman and the betrayal, and in the blue light of evening I think again of turning around. Leave this place, breathe fresh air, feel grass between my toes once spring has come. All the commodities that were forsaken on the ice. But I also know that while Russandol lies in torture, none of the joys this land could hold would be mine to have, and so I must follow, cutting past patches of snow in the high places to avoid traitorous footprints and horrid memories. It has become the journey more than its objective that has begun to matter, the journey and the dreams.

I guess I've been following Russandol for a long time now, and now the road is at an end. Through Aman and Araman, over the ice and and against my father's words I traveled the lands until the lack of sleep has left me half-mad. I am still half-mad, or would not sit in Enemy lands, thrum my harp, raise my voice, and hope for answer. That is what Makalaure did, from the safety of his own keep. But here there is Russandol running before me again, but this time the chase ends, he turns around, and sings back at me, a skeleton skull with red hair that must have grown for years, a tumble of bones and taut skin. His words freeze my blood, and that bite is harsher than the teeth of ice, than that of the starveling russet wolf that dogged my steps across Helcaraxe, perhaps made his way across the sea before me, that I recall now and then – how? – as a guiding shadow over the ice, that smells of smoke and rot and tears my heart out and bounds away with my blood freezing into his fur – a bony hand on the bowstring, how can I not, an arrow that flies true, and I try not to listen to the whimpering laughter and the final silence ---

Go now, Russandol. Go where I can't follow.

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