Title: Footnote to the Akallabeth
Warnings: Some criticism of the Valar
Genre: Somewhere between humour and serious
Summary: The reaction of some leading Noldor to the attempted invasion of Valinor and what the Valar did about it... Qualifies for Finarfin Appreciation Month, I think, although I wrote it some time ago.
And a host of the Númenóreans encamped in might about Túna, whence all the Eldar had fled…. But Ar-Pharazôn the king and the mortal warriors that had set foot upon the land of Aman were buried under falling hills: there it is said they lie hidden imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten….
“I do think,” Eärwen said in an annoyed voice, “that the Valar could have overwhelmed the fleet of that mortal king a bit earlier.”
“Ingwë says that they held back to give him a chance to repent,” Finrod told his mother.
“That’s all very well for Ingwë to say.”
Finarfin, although keenly aware of the dangers of criticising the Valar, could not help agreeing with his wife. “Valmar,” he pointed out, “hasn’t been touched.”
“What irks me,” said Anairë, “is that the Valar insisted on our withdrawing from Tirion, for all the world as though we feared that mortal host. No doubt the king thought that we fled before him.”
Finarfin found himself nodding. He had led the armies of the Noldor in the War of Wrath, it was most humiliating to be ordered to retreat from an over-arrogant mortal. “At least he won’t be able to boast about it,” he said grimly, “nor any others of his army.”
“Besides,” said Amarië, standing next to Finrod, “if we had not retreated from Tirion, and our kin from Alqualondë, we too would have been overwhelmed in the destruction of those blasphemous mortals.”
“Not if the Valar had acted earlier,” said Anairë.
“Or permitted us to resist,” Finarfin could not keep from adding.
“And bring battle into Valinor itself?” Indis, who had come back from Valmar with her son to observe the full extent of the catastrophe, shook her head. “And send more souls to Mandos?”
“Not for long most likely,” said Finrod, “And it would have been less messy. Still, I have no desire to fight the younger children of Ilúvater. And some were our kin, do not forget, distant descendents of my cousin Turgon.”
Anairë made a sound suspiciously like a snort. Finarfin said, “I’d prefer you not to remind people of that. There was quite enough blame heaped against our family in the First Age. I would rather not have Ingwë and my esteemed father-in-law calling the Kings of Númenor heirs to Finwë’s house.”
“Heirs to Elwë Singollo as well,” Indis pointed out. “I don’t think you need worry about Olwë.”
“My father,” said Eärwen, “will have his hands full for some time in any case.” This was too true to be argued with. Alqualondë had been swamped by the tidal wave that engulfed the Númenórean fleet. Tol Eressëa, according to early reports, had escaped more lightly, but not unscathed. Still, the waters at least had retreated. Olwë would have a huge clean-up operation on his hands. Finarfin would have to begin all over again.
The small group bleakly eyed where Tirion upon Túna had once stood. Now there was only heaped up broken ground, the wreckage left behind when the Valar had caused Ar-Pharazôn and the armies encamped about Tirion to be swallowed by the earth. Nothing remained of the fair city that the first Eldar in Valinor had built.
Finarfin thought disloyally that having waited so long to engulf the host the Valar could have waited a bit longer. Until they were away from Tirion at least.
“And so many of our people’s finest builders are still in Mandos.” Anairë voiced a general thought. Four millennia might have passed since the greater part of the Noldor hastened from their home, but the numbers of those left behind had increased only slowly, for more women than men had remained, and far more of the elder, who had satisfied the urge for children, than of the younger, who had not. Moreover most of the younger elves had seen little point in learning building skills when so many houses stood empty. “I don’t suppose Manwë would consider a mass release?”
“Unlikely, I think,” said Finarfin. He turned to his elder sister-in-law, who had said nothing so far. “Nerdanel, do you suppose there’s any chance of Aulë helping out? Perhaps lending some Maia?”
“I’m afraid not. You know how stubborn Aulë is.” Aulë had taken the rebellion of Fëanor extremely personally, and had not forgiven any of those who followed him from Tirion, however great the repentance. Only those who, like Nerdanel and her parents, had not followed Fëanor in the first place still enjoyed his favour.
At present Finarfin was feeling more sympathy for his half-brother Fëanor than he had in two ages.
“Well,” he said, and threw back his head, “the Noldor are the Elves of skill and knowledge still, no matter how reduced. We will build again, in a new place.”
They all looked at him. “A new place?” Finrod said.
“Yes. I for one have no desire to live atop the bodies of a lot of blasphemous Númenóreans.” Moreover Tirion had never truly rid itself of the ghosts of those who had marched forth and not returned. He would not be sorry to leave this place behind. “Fingolfin, when he comes from Mandos, can have the site if he wants it. I intend to found anew.”
Somewhere further from Valmar, he thought. He was tired of bearing himself apologetically for the acts of his kindred, tired of being a mere substitute, a stopgap ruler, tired of being humble and above all tired of trying to secondguess the Valar.
He was the son of Finwë of the Great Journey, he was the king of his people and he was going to begin again.
Endnote: Last time I read the Akallabeth the sentences quoted above lept out at me, and I found myself wondering two things. 1. Why did the Noldor flee from Tirion? These are the Noldor we're talking about. Even granted the ones who stayed behind with Finarfin would largely be the least fire-eating, there must have been a number of veterans of the War of Wrath and it seems surprising they would just run away. Unless they were ordered to do so. 2. If the armies were engulfed when encamped around Tirion, then what happened to the city? There's plenty of evidence the Valar don't have good control over what happens when the landscape starts going haywire...