LLYFR GALADRIEL -:-:- HARBOUR OF TEARS
The blight that had fallen upon the land of Aman seemed to produce a new and worse calamity nearly every day. Fëanor, who seemed to grow more insane by the minute, and his equally crazy sons, had succeeded in inflaming the greater part of the Noldor to echo his madness, in a series of scenes disturbingly reminiscent of Nuremberg in the 1930s and using very similar techniques. It was, sadly, unarguable that the Valar's handling of the crisis had been grossly inept. Fëanor had exploited this ineptitude in an appeal to Noldorin pride to ascribe the entirety of the blame for the situation to the Valar in general, igniting the spark of rebellion and fanning the flame into a great blaze which he continually fuelled with ever more heated and mustelline speeches.
Galadriel's mood had in turn grown blacker and blacker as she was forced to play the part of a helpless witness to the gathering storm. These events were, she knew, the manifestation of one of the themes of the Music from which Eru had called the world into being, and to tamper with Eru's Design was the one thing which she would never do. All too well did she know the peril. This evil was no mere isolated incident which could be contained; on the contrary, its ramifications would play a major part in shaping the history of Arda for ages to come. As such it was linked with many different intricately interconnected and interwoven strands of the Music, and to tamper with that linkage - whether by direct disconnection or by altering the sequence of events - would unavoidably destabilise the whole connection between Arda and the basis of its reality, plunging not only its future but its past also into eternal formless chaos in which those lives which still existed would in no manner be worth living, nor could they even find relief in death. Galadriel's understanding gave her the power to change the reality of Arda in any way she wished, but also the knowledge that any change too far-reaching would cause the whole structure to collapse; a kind of metaphysical version of the rule of the middle third applied. She could end the crisis with a thought, but she could not permit herself to do so, and the strain of constantly holding herself back from the action she so longed to take was a torment to her.
Now the situation seemed to be escalating exponentially. Fëanor, in need of transports, unwilling to take the time to build his own, and with his head now thoroughly addled, was taking it for granted that he had the right to requisition anything he could find, whether it belonged to his followers or not; in specific, the white ship fleet of the Teleri at Alqualondë. He had accordingly marched on Alqualondë and begun crewing and taking the ships without so much as a by-your-leave. The Teleri, astonished and angry, had cordoned off the harbour, and Olwë had then confronted Fëanor and attempted to deflect him from his arrogant course. The negotiations, ill-starred from the start, now appeared to be on the point of breaking down completely, and it did not take a genius to see that when this finally happened the consequence would resemble the contents of an entire sewage farm making contact with an extensive array of wind turbines.
And with this latest crisis had come another disturbing development. Suddenly, Galadriel had disappeared. For the last day and a half her pigeon had been flying here, there and everywhere looking for her, or for news of her, but without result; Galadriel was nowhere to be found.
The pigeon reached a reluctant decision. Her part was to support Galadriel. She herself was far from impotent but without Galadriel's instruction she could not act either; she knew how far short of Galadriel she fell in understanding, and she knew how terribly easy it would be for her to unknowingly go too far and end up doing more harm than good. And since search as she might she could find Galadriel nowhere, rather than continually fly around stressing over it she would do better to go home and wait where she knew Galadriel could easily find her if she was needed.
She reappeared in the large, junk-filled room in the old research establishment that was her home and instantly cringed at the din that assaulted her ears. Galadriel was already here. She had found a PA amp and an assortment of speakers either among the junk in this room or from somewhere else in the plant, hooked them up to the computer, downloaded a selection of Motörhead albums and was blasting out this most un-Elvish music at ear-splitting volume while she stomped about the room punching occasional holes in the concrete wall with a look of terrifying fury on her face.
Another Elf or a human would have run a mile from that expression, but the pigeon saw only her beloved friend fighting valiantly to hold herself together. She landed heavily on Galadriel's shoulder and grabbed hold of her ear-lobe with her beak.
Galadriel groaned, pressed the heels of her palms into her eyes for a few seconds and then laid one hand over the pigeon's back. With the other she reached out to click the mouse, cutting off the music and bringing down a silence by contrast equally deafening. "Oh, birdie", she said.
"Gala, love", said the pigeon.
Galadriel lowered herself onto the sofa, leaned her head back and directed a quiet but lengthy stream of swear words at the ceiling.
The pigeon nibbled her cheek. "I couldn't find you anywhere", she said. "I was having these horrible thoughts that you'd, like, lost it or something. Oh, thank fuck you're OK."
"Without this place for a refuge, I would not be so well off", Galadriel replied with an attempt at a smile. "Here, at least, I am safe from temptation. That fool is going to start a battle between my mother's and my father's kin - can you believe it? And I can do nothing. I may not simply disallow it from happening at all when it is in the Music that it has to be. I cannot even join the fight - were it in my being to do such a thing - and decide the outcome of the battle before it has become too destructive, for being of both sides myself, yet desiring not the result sought by either, where is my place in such a fight? To remain in my world and be able only to watch would be almost beyond my endurance. To isolate myself here is, some would say, base and cowardly; but since I can be of no use in any case, what good would it be to do otherwise, which would only create greater danger?"
"Some would say blah de fuckin' blah and I would tell them to fuck off", said the pigeon. "If people weren't so blind to the fact that "brave", "honourable" and "flaming bloody stupid" are entirely different concepts we would be shot of a whole lot of shit. If you're fucked, Gala, the whole fucking world is fucked, and you know what's right better than any of them."
"Ah, sweet birdie, you know me", said Galadriel, and tickled the pigeon's chest.
"I know you'd have told me by now if you wanted me to do anything", said the pigeon. "Can't I go and melt all their swords and snap all their bowstrings or something?"
"And you know that would be no better than if I did it myself", said Galadriel. She plucked the pigeon off her shoulder and cupped her in both hands in front of her face, nose touching beak. "What you can do, birdie, is sit with me and be a soppy git. Be the company who knows who I am and from whom I do not need to hide it, so I do not have to be alone. And that you know also."
The pigeon replied not in words, but by shoving her beak between Galadriel's lips.
"Mm mmm mm mm mmmm mmmm mmf", said Galadriel. "At some point in this mess he will make a wrong move. He will do something that constitutes a direct attack on me... this I saw long ago. And then I can move, birdie, then I can stop him, then I can put an end to at least this one evil act."
Alqualondë was a scene of chaos. The streets leading to the harbour had all been barricaded by the Teleri; some of the barricades had been broken down, leaving the street cluttered with wrecked furniture and carts, while some of them had been set on fire and the stonework of the adjacent buildings was now blackened by smoke. Bodies of Noldorin attackers and Telerin defenders alike lay among the wreckage. In the waters of the harbour more bodies floated, jostled and crushed by the jumble of drifting ships and pontoons which the Teleri had cast off to keep the Noldor from boarding them. To the side of the harbour mouth two partially-submerged floating dry-docks were leaning at drunken angles; the Teleri had tried to block the entrance by sinking them in the channel, but the Noldor had managed to capture them while they were still afloat and tow them into shallower waters before they sank.
The Noldor had taken a cluster of boathouses that stood on a promontory and many of them were now inside, easily defending them against assault from the landward side, while others were manning some of the ships that the Teleri had not managed to cast off in time and were providing covering fire for the tenders ferrying Noldor crews from the boathouses to the other ships. The newly-crewed ships moved one by one to form a cordon across the harbour on the landward side of the promontory, screening the remaining ships from the Teleri. Noldorin archers, concealed behind hastily-rigged curtains of sails, picked off any elf on shore who dared to break cover. As more ships came into action the operation of crewing the remainder became easier and the boathouses emptied rapidly.
On the seaward side of the promontory, but still within the harbour, more floating dry-docks were moored, in which ships were undergoing repair or fitting-out. A long pontoon ran out from the land linked by smaller pontoons to the dry-docks on either side. Fëanor, finding his attention less occupied now that the situation was coming under control, let his gaze fall across them. Looking at the ships under repair he noticed that on one of them at least the work, whatever it had been, had been completed. It was a neat little ship, notably smaller than those already captured by the Noldor - they had of course concentrated on the largest vessels - and it occurred to him that such a ship, small, fast, and bearing only himself, his sons, and his closest associates, might be a very useful asset if the fleet were to come under attack from Telerin vessels still at sea, or indeed from within if fear of the Valar were to drive any ships' companies to mutiny. Lowering himself into a dinghy he rowed over to investigate more closely. Arriving at the end of the main pontoon, he made his painter fast to a bollard and set off along the planking towards the dry-dock containing the ship he wanted.
In another room, in another place, no closer than the end of time, no further away than the thickness of a shadow, a clear voice spoke a single word.
Fëanor could feel the breeze of his movement in his face as he strode along the pontoon. Looking down, he could see the planking passing backwards under his feet. Yet strangely, he did not seem to be getting any closer to the ship he was aiming for. If he looked at the ship, it certainly did seem to be getting nearer with every step, but nevertheless he somehow still had just as far to go as ever.
He reached over the side of the pontoon, pulled off a clump of seaweed that was growing on the wood and tossed it ahead of him as a marker. He walked on; he reached the seaweed, passed it, and began to leave it behind - all entirely as one would expect. But even when the seaweed was a hundred yards behind him still he was no nearer the ship.
All around him was the starlit night that had followed the destruction of the Trees, the darkness broken here and there on shore by fires started during the land phase of the attack and not yet extinguished. The light of the fires reflected off the waves in the harbour, forming red and orange trails across the dark water. Everything not close to the fires was lit only by the dim stars, even to Elvish eyes somewhat indistinct in the gloom. Everything... apart from the landward end of the pontoon, where somehow the light of Telperion and Laurelin seemed to persist undimmed; and here, too, was the form of an Elf, walking with graceful smoothness along the pontoon towards him.
Fëanor did not pause, but drew his sword and carried on. Still the ship he wanted seemed as distant as ever, but not so the advancing Elf; the distance between them rapidly narrowed.
The Elf halted, a few yards in front of him; a woman, and unarmed. Fëanor moved to one side to pass her. She did not move, but even so still she was in front of him, still blocking his path. He moved to the other side. She remained in his path; she was one slim figure, standing alone in the centre of the wide pontoon, yet still somehow there was no room to pass her, neither on one side nor on the other.
Fëanor raised his sword and pointed it threateningly towards her, looking at her along the length of it. "You will not obstruct me", he said imperiously. "Move."
The Elf-woman gave a clear laugh. "I will do exactly as I please", she replied. "Now put that away, you don't know where it's been."
Fëanor did not comply. Still menacing her with his sword, he took a step forwards and repeated his instruction. "Move."
"Boys and their toys", she muttered, rolling her eyes. The strong, shining steel of the sword blade took on the consistency of jelly. It wilted, dangled for a moment from the hilt like a string of snot from a runny nose, and then fell off, landing on the planks of the pontoon in a quivering puddle.
Fëanor looked down at the metallic blob in disbelief; then, despite himself, a cold dread began to grow within him. Involuntarily his other hand moved to his groin, to the emptiness remaining where he had severed his own genitals many years before.
"Who are you?" he said.
The answer came in a clear, quiet voice that seemed to fill the whole world.
"I am Galadriel."
Fëanor took a step backwards, his mind in confusion. "I... do not know you", he said; indeed, he did not, but still the name was a name of fear to him, a name which carried for him a frighteningly certain suggestion of defeat.
"That is true indeed", said Galadriel. "But it is of no moment here. You had your sights on that ship, did you not?" She indicated with one arm the vessel which he had been intending to take. "Do you know to whom that ship belongs?"
"Why should I care?" said Fëanor, recovering as his arrogance reasserted itself as usual. "Obviously it belongs to one of these Telerin fools who would seek to hinder me with their thoughtless refusals. So I shall take it as I have taken these others, with as little thought for them as they have for me."
"You think so?" said Galadriel, advancing slowly down the pontoon and causing Fëanor to back away in response. "Then you think wrongly, for that ship, wrought for his granddaughter by my grandfather Olwë, belongs to me, and you may have nought of me. Soon, indeed, you will have nought of any kind, for your path from this point leads shortly and directly to your death."
"To my death?" said Fëanor disbelievingly. "Do you mean to say that you, unarmed, will seek to prevent me from taking that ship? Then it is you who thinks wrongly, for sword or no sword still I can strike you down where you stand."
"Do not talk nonsense", said Galadriel, continuing her slow advance. "You admit that you do not know me. No more you do. But this I will tell you, that you will attack Melkor himself with more success than you would have against me. I speak relatively, of course. You will die before ever you see more than the walls of his stronghold, but at least you will have made the attempt, whereas against me even that you cannot do."
To his horror, Fëanor found that this was indeed so. He would have knocked her down had he been able, but his arm would not respond to his brain. Try as he might he simply could not make any movement to attack her. It was as if his own muscles were rebelling against him, his own body deciding for itself which of his commands it would answer and which it would not.
"You see?" said Galadriel. "You are a fool, Fëanor; a fool you always were, and as you grow in years so do you grow in folly. And today you have proved that beyond all question. All this..." and she swept out her arm in a gesture that encompassed harbour and town alike, casting over them a light that lit only the corpses of the dead Elves, Noldor and Teleri alike, leaving all else in darkness. Close at hand in the dark water, almost submerged, there drifted a pair of bodies, one Noldorin, one Telerin; some quirk of wave or current had swept them together in an embrace. "The greatest evil that has yet come to pass upon Arda; Elf set against Elf, and not by the hand of Melkor, Fëanor, but by your hand alone, by your own evil and the evil of the poison you have dripped into the brains of your deluded followers. And for what? For the sake of a little less delay in joining a fight which in any case, delay or no delay, you will lose; which you know in your heart that you will lose, though you are too great a fool to believe it; a fight not even for any worthwhile cause, but for nothing more than your own self-important regard for the works of your own hand, for your own pathetic conceit in the trivial skill of making those childish baubles which in your scarcely-believable folly you rate above the happiness and life of every Elf upon Arda. A fool you are indeed, Fëanor, for a baby in its cradle shows more wisdom than you."
"They were no baubles, woman! They were my greatest work! The Valar themselves praised them! What would you have me do, let their theft go unpunished and my father's death unavenged? Crawl like a worm before Morgoth? And what is this nonsense about the life of every Elf on Arda? Do you not think that the life of every Elf on Arda will be the better for Morgoth's death?"
"The Valar themselves praised them", repeated Galadriel scornfully. "These would be those same Valar on whom you blame all the so-called misfortunes of the Elves - misfortunes which are either far more of your own making than of the Valar, or which exist only inside your self-deluded head? It says little for the validity of your position that you cite in support of it the congratulation you received from those whom you would cast as enemies of all Elven-kind. You would display more consistency were you to cite that congratulation as demonstrating their patronising condescenscion, since they must surely be aware of how trivial a matter it is to create such things."
Kneeling briefly at the edge of the pontoon, Galadriel dipped a double handful of the dark water. She stood, holding the little pool in front of herself at waist height. As Fëanor watched, the liquid divided itself first into two, then into four; the four portions pulled in on themselves, becoming spheres, which sat in Galadriel's palms like transparent blobs of mercury. The quivering spheres shrank, and as they shrank, the quivering stilled, their surfaces becoming taut, the liquid masses becoming hard and solid. The shrinking slowed, then stopped; one by one, sparks of light kindled in the centre of each sphere, waxing into strong, steady glows of mixed gold and silver as like to the Trees as was the light of Galadriel herself.
Fëanor gaped in disbelief. In her hands Galadriel held what were, beyond doubt, four Silmarils, each fully as flawless as his own; indeed, more so, since their light was entirely lacking in the suggestion of clinical glare which he had never been able to find a way to get rid of himself. It had taken him several years of effort and a cartload of exotic materials and implements to make his own Silmarils. Galadriel had done it in thirty seconds with nothing but a handful of seawater... for fuck's sake, how?
"Childish baubles, Fëanor", observed Galadriel. Rolling three of the Silmarils into the palm of one hand, she threw the fourth at Fëanor's forehead, where it exploded on impact in a shower of gold and silver sparks and sent him staggering backwards. "For where, after all, is the difficulty in making any thing that does not live? I first thought to make these things when I was four" (bang) "years" (bang) "old." (bang) Galadriel punctuated the words by exploding her remaining Silmarils against Fëanor's forehead one by one. "I would make them in the sea-caves at Eärondor to explode them in the dark. The shells that wash up on the shore are a greater treasure by far. And you would wreck the peace of Valinor for the sake of a little girl's toy? Indeed you would, for you admit that the theft of your toys is of more importance to you than the murder of your father. Finwë was my grandfather, Fëanor; do you not think that I too have a motive for revenge?"
By now there was not an Elf in Alqualondë but who was watching the scene on the pontoon. The flash and bang of Galadriel's exploding Silmarils had attracted the attention of all those who had not already noticed, and pirates and defenders alike were held by the fascination of seeing the pirate chief confounded by this unexpected intervention as light confronted darkness out on the pontoon, Fëanor once again retreating step by step as Galadriel recommenced her slow advance. Few did not know who Galadriel was, but for them perhaps indeed the fascination was all the greater. In the silence that descended the voices carried easily to Elvish ears across the water.
"You take revenge?" said Fëanor indignantly. "When you would have me forgo mine? What kind of..."
His voice dried in his throat as Galadriel cut across him. "No, Fëanor, those were your words, not mine. Indeed you will have your revenge, and I would not have you forgo it. For you will exact it not upon Melkor, but upon yourself, as it should be; and at the same time you will exact my own revenge upon yourself also."
"You speak nonsense, woman", growled Fëanor. "I should take revenge upon myself? Why should I listen to such madness?"
"The madness is yours, Fëanor", replied Galadriel. "I speak the truth; and while you may not listen now, still you will remember, and the vengeance will lie dormant in the memory. The time will come when you will recall it; at that time, heed it you will, and so the vengeance will be exacted."
"Faugh to your stupid riddles", snorted Fëanor. He would have turned his back on Galadriel and walked away, but he could not; still his body would not respond to his command, and he could not even begin to make the movement.
"You will hear me out", said Galadriel quietly. "The Valar had no designs on your toys. It was only your own folly that led you to think otherwise. It is that same folly that leads you to forget - when it suits your purposes to do so - that Melkor, too, corrupt though he may be, is also of the Valar, and as such he has vastly more power than you. Defeat him you cannot; it is folly even to think of such things. By removing your toys to your own feeble custody you were merely inviting Melkor to take them all the sooner, and to take also the life of any Elf who might try to stand against him. Accordingly, it is your own hands that bear the stain of Finwë's blood. Had you been present yourself you too would have been slain, for to stand against a Vala is not in your power. Nor will you have any greater success in this endeavour. Indeed you will never even confront Melkor himself. You will follow him to Middle-earth, and there you will be struck down by his minions as soon as you come within sight of the walls of his stronghold. The wound will be mortal, and as you realise that you are about to die, so too will the mists of your folly depart, and you will see, too late, that I do indeed speak the truth; that all your misfortunes are of your own creation, and the one on whom the blame falls is yourself."
"You are a fool yourself", said Fëanor, "if you think you can change my destiny with so feeble a curse."
Galadriel burst into laughter. "Curse? Nay, it is nothing of the kind. I do not seek to change your destiny. I merely foretell it. You are too blinded by the mists of your own folly to believe, but it is as I have said: when those mists are swept away by the certainty of your imminent death, then you will believe; then you will know that your destiny has come indeed, and that all that has come is of your own making."
Galadriel's relentless advance had now pushed Fëanor to the very end of the pontoon. She took another step forward. Fëanor took another step back.
Galadriel waited for him to finish blowing and spluttering. "You have spilt blood upon the decks of... fifteen ships", she informed him. "Those, since you have defiled them, you may take. The rest you will leave. Now go."
"Oh?" said Fëanor, treading water. "And who will enforce that, since I have already won the battle?"
Galadriel said nothing; she merely stood there looking down at him, and waited.
After some time Fëanor looked over his shoulder. Fifteen ships, rafted together, were drifting in the middle of the harbour. The rest were riding peacefully at their moorings, or tied up to the quays, as if nothing had happened.
"Go on", said Galadriel, making a shoo-ing gesture with her hand. "Swim."
The last strands of Fëanor's resistance shrivelled and died. He set his face towards the drifting ships and began to swim.
Galadriel stood and watched him go. Then she turned and began to walk back along the pontoon. Arriving at her own ship, she boarded it, went below, and closed the companionway door behind her.
An elf on board one of the rafted ships threw a warp to the approaching Fëanor. Fëanor swarmed up it and stood, dripping, on the deck.
"Are these ships fully crewed?" he asked of those around him.
"They are, sir", came the answer.
"Good. Then we are leaving. Make it so."
"What, with just these fifteen, sir?"
Fëanor backhanded the speaker across the face. "Yes, with just these fifteen. Now get on with it."
Fëanor stomped below, and there was a crash of a cabin door being slammed.
"Phoo-hoo, the old man is in a mood", remarked one of the sailors as he began to cast off the warps rafting the ships together.
"I'm not bloody surprised", said another, taking a warp from the first and beginning to coil it down. "Having a go at Galadriel I reckon he's lucky to still be in one piece."
"How so?" said the first. "Is she a Maia or something? She looked like an Elf to me..."
"She is an Elf", replied the second. "She's Finarfin's daughter. Don't get me wrong, she's the loveliest lady you could ever hope to meet... but there's something about her, you get the feeling she could take you apart as easily as blowing the seeds off a dandelion head. There's a rumour that Mandos is afraid of her, and I can believe it."
"Finarfin's daughter?" said the first. "But that'd make her the old man's niece, then. What's with him saying he didn't know her?"
"I don't really understand that", said the second. "But it is a bit like Celegorm after he pissed her off. Guy was a wreck."
"Oh, ar? What's that story then? What did she do to him?"
"I don't really know... she didn't seem to do anything. He said something to her, I didn't catch what it was, but she didn't answer, she just sat there drinking that weird brown stuff she likes and acting like she hadn't heard him. But Celegorm went grey, positively grey, man, and he actually shat himself. Buggered off quick with a big brown stain on his arse. Then the next day he was swearing blind that nothing had happened and he'd never been near her. Punched someone out who wouldn't let it drop. He was in a right state."
"You two can both get to fuck", snarled a voice behind them, and they each felt a powerful shove in the back that sent them staggering over the rail. The angry face of Celegorm looked down on them as they surfaced.
The two in the water looked at each other.
"You know what?" said one, spitting seawater out of his mouth. "Fuck this for a game of soldiers."
"To the wide", agreed the other.
They struck out for the shore.
Galadriel lay on her back in one of the bunks, her legs crossed at the ankles, her hands behind her head, gazing in the dark at the underside of the deck a couple of feet above her.
"Shit", she said after some minutes had passed.
A soft, feathery body pushed itself against the side of her hand, and she felt the tickle of a beak being shoved into her ear canal.
"Dump it on me, Gala", said the pigeon.
"Oh, birdie", said Galadriel. "What a fuck-up."
"Bullshit", said the pigeon. "You rocked it, Gala. It was a fucking brilliant job."
"I was too late", said Galadriel.
"Any sooner and you'd have been too early", said the pigeon. "You said so yourself..."
"I know. Still too late to do any good."
"I was up the top of the mast watching them watching you. It was quite a sight, everyone going "fuck me, what have I been fucking doing?" You unfucked the heads of a whole bunch of people after cunt features had fucked them up. I don't call that no good."
"Doesn't help the dead ones much."
"Helps there not be any more dead ones, though. There won't be any more battles in Aman after this, or I'll eat my own feathers."
"There aren't supposed to be any more battles in Aman after this."
"Fuckin' right! So you have done some good then, isn't it?"
"Gala, you know how much I hate it when people are being cunts to you."
"...Yeeess?" Galadriel knew the pigeon was brewing something.
"You're being a cunt to yourself. Pack it the fuck in or I shall have to beat you up or something." She whacked the elf a couple of times with her wing to emphasise the point.
"Pffff..." Galadriel broke into a fit of giggles, which rapidly became uncontrollable. She rolled over onto her side, made a nest of her arms in front of her face and ruffled the pigeon's chest feathers with her nose. "You great twat."
"Look who's talking", said the pigeon, pecked Galadriel on the bridge of the nose and began to preen her eyebrows.
"Mmmmmm", said Galadriel, running a finger down the pigeon's back.
There was nothing more to be said. They lay there together, barely moving, sharing thoughts without words as the pigeon absorbed the tension from Galadriel and returned it as love. Hours passed. At last, and still without moving, Galadriel and the pigeon fell asleep.