Stirring Rings by Larner

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For those who wonder, I've decided to rework this story, which I've realized had a number of canon errors and some serious inconsistencies in language usages.  So, I'll be reposting it, and hope that this time I can get those crucial middle chapters written and thus tie the beginning and ending (which has been written for three or more years!) and so post the whole of it!  Some chapters require but little editing, while others need total rewrites, so it should be worth a re-read as it's posted.  Thanks!  BLS

Stirring Rings



            Throughout the Second Age he’d passed almost unnoticed, a single Elf wandering the shores of Ennor, of the Mortal Lands, his hands terribly scarred by an ancient burn, his laments sending thrills of various sorts through those few who heard them.  He sang his grief for those who had died before his eyes, those he believed he’d failed to protect and those who’d died by his hand.  He sang of the land of his birth, and how sorry he was that he had left it, driven by a vow he’d given freely at the time but that he’d not pondered with sufficient care before following the lead of his father.  He sang of the murders of his grandfather and father, and their estrangements from those who’d cleaved to them.  He sang of his own wife and child, left behind to dwell with his mother and remaining grandsire when he and his brothers followed their father to the slaughter of Alqualondë.  He sang of the betrayal of his uncles and other kinsmen who’d had to follow over the treacherous ice of the Helcaraxë when he failed to stop his father from burning the ships stolen from the Teleri rather than sending them back as promised to bring the rest of the fleeing Noldor to the shores of Endorë.  He sang of the realms he and his brothers had created and held—and then lost due to treachery and the lasting hatred of their foes.  He sang of his own foolishness and of his horror at his brothers’ betrayal of Finrod and the folk of Nargothrond, and of his and Maedhros’s perfidy toward those who’d dwelt in Sirion, and of the horror he’d felt as he’d seen Elwing throw herself out into the stormy sea rather than allow his bloodstained hands to touch the holy jewel she wore by right of inheritance, come to her by the steadfastness of love known by a mere Man for her grandmother.  He sang of the dark years of struggle against Morgoth’s power and darkness and the loss of his brother’s hand as Maedhros was rescued by their cousin.  And he sang of his own disbelief that he’d still been driven by the vow he’d made so long ago to betray all and seek to steal the jewels taken by the might of the Valar’s forces from their brother’s Iron Crown, and of his shock at how his brother had ended his life in fire, casting himself into the depths of the earth to escape the burning of his remaining hand.

            Few truly saw him, and fewer still purposely sought word of him.  Throughout much of the Second Age Sauron’s minions hunted him at times but never found him; by the time Sauron had returned to Middle Earth after the fall of Númenor he was all but forgotten even by the Lord of Mordor.  For Sauron the hatred of Fëanor’s sons for all who had served the Black Enemy was of far less moment than his own hatred for those who had witnessed his abasement before Ar-Pharazôn and who had continued to defy him on Atalantë, and who had survived the foundering of the Star Isle only to flourish on their return to Middle Earth.  What mattered the wanderings of one who had fallen from lordship to an eternity of exile even from among his own kind?

            But he who had been named Macalaurë by his mother and who’d been known as Maglor during the wars against Angband never forgot his hatred for Morgoth’s former lieutenant who now sought to take his former Master’s place as the Dark Overlord of all of the Mortal Lands.  From time to time Maglor would disguise himself and enter what Elven lands and settlements of Men he came to, and would sing of ancient enmities, reminding all that although Morgoth might have been vanquished and thrust out of Arda through the Doors of Night, the same was not true of Sauron, who once had been called Aulendil, friend of Aulë, the Smith from among the Valar.  Had not Sauron helped to topple the first Lamps set up by the Valar to light the world?  Had he not led his Lord’s people against the forces of those amongst the Eldar and the Edain and Khazad who’d ever sought to preserve Ennor from Morgoth’s darkness?  Had he not encouraged others of his own kind to take the forms of Balrogs and vampires and werewolves and other shapes too terrible to imagine and to attack those Morgoth named as his enemies?  Had he not taken many prisoners for his Lord, and aided to break them, corrupting their bodies and spirits to create orcs?  Had he not enslaved many to work in his mines and fields?  Had he not tried many arcane arts too dark to contemplate on Elves and Men and other creatures, and learned somehow to harvest sufficient power from the deaths of his victims to recover from the losses he knew when first his temple to Morgoth was drowned and later he lost his Ring to the shards of Elendil’s swore wielded by Isildur?

            None might recognize the singer and bard who came and went unseen save when he sang; but his songs served to inspire many to remember that evil still remained within the Mortal Lands and must be opposed ever.  And ere he would stand to take whatever harp was being passed from hand to hand to offer his own song for the evening, he would listen closely to the news discussed around him as he nursed his drink, and use it to inspire what he should sing and to craft new songs of warning against the perfidy of Sauron.

            And now and then he would find himself facing one of his own kind, usually those who were headed West toward Mithlond who would hear singing north or south of them along the shoreline and who would turn from their path to follow the song to find him.  It happened rarely, perhaps but once or twice in five hundred years, but there were a few who would seek him out.  Some sought to confront him for the evil he’d wrought.  Some begged him to give over that long-ago vow and return with them.  Some merely offered to bear messages for him to those who’d remained behind, who’d stayed true to the Valar and Peace, those he’d loved dearly.

            He knew that one of his fosterlings had founded his own small kingdom in a hidden and protected vale near the roots of the Mountains of Mist, and that the other had chosen mortality and had founded a great—and now lost—kingdom within sight of Eressëa.  He knew that Findaráto, Finrod Felagund, had died and that he’d been among the first of the Noldor exiles to be reborn in Aman.  He knew that a remnant of Elros’s descendants had returned to Middle Earth and had created great kingdoms here, and that both were threatened by Sauron’s forces led by the Nazgûl.

            When those few who offered to bear messages came at last home to the Undying Lands, it was always with the same request, that the Valar be implored to send aid against Sauron and his creatures.  For had not Sauron proved himself as treacherous and hateful of those who served the Light as had Morgoth?  Always Maglor had opposed Morgoth; now he opposed Sauron as he could, which was little enough.  No longer would he carry anything more lethal than an eating knife, recognizing that he was far too violent in nature and easily swayed to betrayal to be trusted with weapons of war any longer.  So it was the echoes of his songs and his pleas and his hatred for those who would impose Darkness on all that reached the Undying Lands and that were passed unto the Lords there.  And at last the day came that he who’d been known as the Friend of Men and past King of Nargothrond prevailed upon his father to seek audience before the Valar themselves, again begging aid for those who dwelt in the Mortal Lands and faced the antipathy and tyranny of the Lord of Mordor.


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