Format: Short story (c. 1100 words)
Warnings: Non-explicit reference to orcish violence and torture; somewhat more explicit references to the aftermath
Characters: Original characters (Noldor), Sons of Feanor (Caranthir, Maglor, Maedhros, Celegorm), Aegnor, Edhellos (Eldalote)
Pairings: OFC/OMC (implied)
Creators' Notes (optional): In passing, as it were, I inflicted a dire fate on two original characters in another story. Here is their own story, how they dealt with it, as told by others.
Summary: Despite her physical disability, a woman crosses Beleriand to assist a fellow victim. She has help on the way.
The warning I sent came too late. Most of the villagers were safe, but Maryame had strayed far from the walls, collecting sloes for wine-making, and could not be found in time. The orc band found her instead. Before I could catch up with them, they had gone to ground. I did work out a way to get at them in their hole in the end, but it took time. When I first saw what was left of Maryame, I thought she was dead. As soon as I realized she was still alive, I sent for my best physician. I reported to Himring as well and my brother immediately sent his physician Bronadui.
The two best physicians in all the Marches—and all they could do was to save her life. They could not make her walk again. For a while she would see nobody, speak to nobody. Then she asked me to teach her embroidery. She had shown no interest in it, before—she had always been out and about. She could have learned it, perhaps, but she could not quieten her mind enough, although we both worked at those lessons, hard. The memories she would not speak to us about unsteadied her hand when she tried to create an image. She took to doing a lot of the mending for the village instead, stabbing undergarments and hemming cloaks with precise, vicious stitches.
At first we did not speak to her of the others, not wishing to evoke horrors. Afterwards, I could have kicked myself, for it was when I let slip a mention of Vanimo that the change came. She asked for more details, I answered as best I could—and then she picked up her pen and began to write to him.
She was one of my failures, one I was haunted by. She deserved so much better for her unstinting courage during the ordeals I subjected her to--sometimes even the best healer is no more than a butcher. So when Curutane sent for me again, I came at once. Like everyone else, I suppose, my first thought was that Maryame’s plan was sheer lunacy. She was in so much pain still, daily—never mind not being able to walk a single step or move her legs!
‘Maryame,’ I said to her. ‘I understand you wish to see Vanimo. But surely we can find a way for him to come to you! You are not nearly well enough to travel all the way to Dorthonion.’
‘No,’ she said. ‘You do not understand at all what it is like for him. It will be easier for me to go and see him.’
I opened my mouth to protest. Then I saw the look in her eyes. Despite the continuing bodily suffering, she already looked much better than the woman I had said goodbye to last time, who had silently turned her face from me to the wall. I wrote to Caranthir. He sent his best wagon, with dwarf-made springs. I got out my store of painkillers, piled the wagon high with straw, feathers and blankets and held her hand most of the way to the Gap, while the wagon swayed and bumped beneath us.
She arrived at my home, completely exhausted and yet unable to rest for the pain. Bronadui had already given her as much painkiller as he dared. I played the harp to her and it seemed to help. So after she had a couple of days of rest, I got into the wagon with them and played soothing tunes all the way to Himring. In between, in snatches, when the ride was relatively smooth, I spoke of Dorthonion to her and of Vanimo, whom I had seen.
But still she arrived in Himring so worn out that she was unable to speak. Narye fed her on broth and honeyed tea for a couple of days so she might not need to chew. When she had recovered a little, she told me she was not sure she could face the wagon again. So I sent for Celegorm.
I brought the best-tempered, most intelligent mare from my stables and we walked across Aglon, softly, softly, my girl setting her hooves very carefully all the while.
‘Brave lady’, I said to Maryame, ‘you’ve come all these miles for a man who will not come even half-way to meet you? Are you sure you don’t want to run away with me instead?’
She almost laughed. She almost tried to slap me. I like to think it gave her strength for a couple of extra miles.
‘She’s coming all the way from Thargelion to see me,’ he said to me, between gritted teeth. ‘The least I can do is to meet her at the gate.’
He was pale and sweating and looked as if he was about to throw up at any moment. The way from his rooms, along the corridor, down two flights of stairs, through the main hall, across the courtyard to the gate—for me alone, it would have been a matter of a couple of minutes, crossed almost without thinking. At his side, they stretched endlessly, steeped in fear.
‘We’ve already come farther today than we did yesterday,’ I said to him. ‘And she isn’t here yet; she’s only just left Himring, according to the last report we had. You can still meet her at the gate. You will.’
He gave a sigh—self-disgust and defeat. I remembered him as he had been before. I hugged him, just a little, and he lurched back to his rooms beside me like the sick man he was, although his physical wounds had long healed.
But when Maryame was gently eased off the horse at the gate, he was there, white-faced and clinging to one of the gate-posts.
The burden is heavy that I carry on board this ship—not of possessions, for any that might have meant enough to me to want to carry them to Valinor went up in flames in the destruction of Dorthonion, long ago, but memories, too many memories. Almost, I turned back.
But then I look on Maryame and Vanimo. It is incredible that they survived, those two, when so many others perished, but there, miraculously, they are, together, on board this ship with me.
It gives me the courage to leave, the courage to look ahead.
Maryame tells me that now, finally, after centuries, a little feeling is returning to her toes.
I originally invented Maryame and Vanimo in the following passage of Neighbourly Relations:
I [Aegnor] had had opportunities to consider what it might mean not to return fully from Angband. No longer was it something that happened only to Sindar. To my knowledge, a handful of captured Noldor had escaped or been freed over the years. Ardil had disappeared again, under suspicious circumstances. Saron had, without warning, strangled his wife and daughter and then set himself on fire. Maryame had not walked since, although she had been freed more than two hundred years of the sun ago. My friend Vanimo now lived like a prisoner in his quarters and suffered agonies of fear every time he had to set foot outside the door.
Of those whose fate I knew, Russandol seemed to have made the best recovery by far. I did not even want to think about that. And I did not want to hear what Angarato had to say about it in case it was not what I wanted to hear.
Bronadui, Maedhros's physician, Curutane, the embroideress, and Narye, Maedhros's housekeeper, have also figured in other stories of mine before.
Curutane is explicitly named here for the first time, though. She is a relative of Miriel's.