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Our ships slipped into the harbour at Losgar under the endless dark sky. We had seen no light in months, since the destruction of the Trees of Valinor, save for what little was shed upon us by the stars. Only that, and the light from our torches and lamps, was reflected on the surface of the inky, cold water.

My father was first ashore, followed as ever by Tyelkormo. I was next, not out of a will to follow close by my father and my least-favourite brother, but more out of a will to feel good solid ground beneath my feet. It was such a blessed relief I fell to my knees on the earth and knelt there for several long minutes, waiting for that dreadful nausea of the past sixteen days to fade.

I felt a toe jab into my ribs. "Get up and make yourself useful," my father said, giving me a glare and pointing to one of the vessels. "There are boxes that need to be brought ashore."

I nodded, sighed, and made myself useful. One of the boxes at least, was my own; my only possessions that I'd brought with me from Valinor, knowing that I would never again return.  When the unloading was done, my brothers began to set up a temporary camp on the shore, for it was decided that we would sleep here a while, and move on in a few days. Or at least, in whatever we  could best guess to be a few days, without the light of the Trees to mark night and day.

My father was animated; excited yet anxious. He paced endlessly, tense with energy like an over-wound clock. I glanced nervously across the sea from whence we'd come, and then back at my father, questions burning in my head. Eventually I could bear it no longer, and I approached him.

“Father,” I said, trying to force into my voice a confidence I did not feel. “Which ships and mariners will you spare to send back, and who shall you bring first?” I bit my lip and added hopefully, “Findekano, perhaps?”

My father looked at me, with an expression so suddenly full of hate it made me flinch. He stared at me in silence for several seconds, then he burst into laughter, yet it was laughter without mirth. “I shall tell you how many, Nelyafinwe,” he said loudly. “None, and none!” And he laughed again, before bringing his face close to mine, now speaking more quietly. “Consider this a perfect opportunity to rid yourself of your perversion, and start afresh. Perhaps, in time, I will be able to look upon you without feeling such... shame.”

I felt my face burn red with rage and I opened my mouth to give some retort, but I could think of nothing to say. All I could think of was that Findekano was sixteen days sailing away, on a far shore, and if we didn't send back ships for him and the rest of House Nolofinwe, I would never see him again.

Vaguely I noticed that my father was gathering my brothers together and handing round burning torches. I did not know to what end, until I saw one of the torches thrown. It landed on one of the ships, and charred timber caught light, and the vessel began to burn. Then another, and another.

Six brothers, six torches, six ships.

My father strode towards me, offering a burning torch. “Come,” he said. “Stand with us.”

I knew what he meant by that, and I shook my head. I would have no part in this.

“If you are not with us, you are against us and with Morgoth,” father said, spitting on the ground at my feet. At that moment, I hated him more than I ever had in my life. He snatched the torch away and returned to the assembled group, leaving me standing alone.

Wait. Six torches, six brothers and my father. One of my brothers was missing. I scanned the group and quickly realised it was one of the twins. I grabbed the other, and spun him round. It was Telufinwe. I could only tell when I looked at him closely, for the pattern of freckles across his nose was different from that of his twin.

“Which ship were you and Pitya on?” I demanded.

Telu stared at me, said nothing.

“Which ship?” I repeated, my voice raised in desperation.

Telu pointed to one of the ships and I sprinted towards it, leaping without hesitation from the dockside onto the burning vessel. Smoke filled my eyes and mouth and I coughed, pulling my hair over my face to cover my mouth and nose.

The ship was an open sort without a covered deck, and our living space had been a canvas-covered area at the stern of the vessel, rather like a tent. I was lucky, this ship had been berthed with its prow towards the shore and so the flames had not yet reached that part of it. I ran, stumbling over beams and ropes, yelling Pityafinwe's name.

There was movement inside the canvas cabin and I rushed inside. Pitya was in his bedroll, only half awake, rubbing his eyes. “Maitimo? Are we there yet?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, grabbing him around the chest and hauling him to his feet. “And the ship is on fire so hurry!”

As we rushed back out of the cabin I could see that the flames were spreading fast. The sail was alight now and part of it had come down, setting new fires to the stern end of the vessel. I pulled Pitya close and we ran, dodging pieces of falling, burning timber and canvas. But by now the prow end was well alight. Pitya dragged me to a stop. “We can't go that way,” he gasped.

I nodded and the ship lurched. He was right, and there was no time to think too hard. I grabbed my brother tight, turned to my left and leaped over the side into the water, dragging him with me. When I finally managed to pull Pitya ashore, he and Telu fell into each others' arms, sobbing with relief. The others stood around looking somewhat sheepish.

I looked at my father, whose face was now ashen-white, and so many words bubbled up, so many things I wanted to say to him, about how his hate for his eldest son had almost cost him the life of his youngest. But the words would not come out through my rage and fear and despair, and instead I just turned my back on them all, and went alone to a quiet corner of the harbour, where I watched the flames extinguished as the last of the ships slid under the water.

The Silmarillion - Tolkien
1150 words

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