I have always wondered about Eol's thoughts, especially after he (unintentionally) killed his wife and was thrown into prison. After reading 'Of Maeglin' I realised I actually felt sorry for him, even though at first I thought he was a selfish a-hole.
As always, please review!
He was furious but brooded in silence in the darkness, where only a single shaft of starlight slanted through the narrow slit in high in the wall. Even if he'd had someone there to speak to he doubted that he would have talked. It was not his way to say much, even in anger. Most of the time. He did remember, with startling clarity, those moments in which his temper had gotten the better of him and he'd vented his anger in harsh words, almost immediately regretting them as each one tumbled from his mouth. But he had never struck her, no matter how infuriated he'd been.
Now he would gladly have nailed either her or her son to a tree himself.
Once his fury had finally subsided the memories came flooding again, more to trouble him than to calm him.
His thoughts strayed back to his home deep in dark Nan Elmoth – but the dark for him there had been somewhat cheering, not like the cold darkness here that clung uncomfortably to him like wet leather. His mind ambled up the path to the door of his small house, whose windows revealed a soft light glowing inside. The fire would burning already when he arrived, but nearly always a slim white figure would be standing over it, the shadows playing about her pallid face. Sunlight he despised; but the soft light that seemed to radiate from Aredhel Ar-Feiniel he rejoiced in. He could be in the worst mood but a smile from her was enough to lay a calm on his troubled spirit.
Still, her smiles were a rarity, especially of late; sometimes he felt as though nothing he could say or do would bring back the sparkle in her eyes or even the slightest curl to her lips. He remembered bringing her costly gifts on his return from long stays in the Dwarven cities or making her things himself, exulting in seeing her adorned so in the most exquisite silver jewellery. She loved silver. Silver and white.
From the moment he first saw her desire overtook all sense of reason. He thought that all he needed in life was metal to work. But no metal, however beautiful, had this entrancing effect on his spirit. Nor did it cause that sudden fire to awaken and rage within him.
He tried to shake off this feeling almost as soon as it arose. Iron and steel, they were more familiar to him, more predictable than any woman could be. He looked down on those Elves of Thingol's court that chased after ellith, considering himself above lowering himself to any woman, with all those sickening outpourings of what they called love.
But what of this lovely vision that walked in his sight? The starlight that slanted through the trees fell onto her white, upturned face. Her dark hair hung partly loose, curling down to her waist, dark as galvorn. He drew in his breath sharply at such beauty, such as he had never seen before. He pursued her in the shadows, watching her as she wandered amongst the trees. Ah, she could wander anywhere and still only be brought closer to his home. Closer to him. Something drove him on, kept the fire smouldering in him. What it was, he knew not.
Of course, the one woman who cast such a blinding enchantment on him would be one of those murderous Kinslayers. But as his affection for her increased even this after a while ceased to bother him.
Why do you despise the sun? She had asked him when he was in his forge. She had already stayed in his house for a few weeks. He had responded with a half smile.
I dislike it. It's too bright.
Too bright? It brings light and warmth.
Not for me. If it's any light I like it is the light of the stars.
May I ask why? He paused for a moment before answering.
I don't know. Somehow it's more pure, more beautiful. She smiled.
You are very eccentric, my lord.
Perhaps I am. But perhaps you will one day see what I mean. At that point he put down the black sword he was in the process of forging. All that could wait for some other time.
Do you want to see it? He asked. Her eyes lit up. He loved seeing her eyes glow with that light.
I would, if you would show me.
He led her to a place he knew well, one of the few places where the sky was still visible and the stars shone brilliantly. He was delighted when he saw her look up at the stars in wonder, taking in the softly lit scene, as still as a pillar of alabaster.
Aredhel Ar-Feiniel was his wife.
There was a time when she was less indifferent toward him, when that enchanting smile graced her countenance more often and she would nearly enjoy his company. He tried to make her see the beauty of the twilight and shadows of Nan Elmoth, to shun the detestable sunlight and rejoice in the stars. One day, he thought, she would learn to love him. That was what he hoped for more than anything else. She was the most fair of anything he'd laid eyes upon and he prized her above everything, even above the works of his hands. The more superficial feelings he'd had at the beginning had long since passed to something more substantial.
He loved her with everything he possessed, with the whole of his dark heart. But he was not one for words. If ever he tried to tell her of his devotion, the words stuck in his throat, refusing to form into anything remotely coherent. And not wanting to sound like a gibbering idiot he remained silent. He remembered the sadness that settled like grey clouds on her fair features in those moments, as if she were disappointed in him. Why hadn't he been able to tell her how much he appreciated her, how much she illuminated his very existence? She was to him what the light of the sun was to others. And she was gone.
Perhaps he'd realised too late that the most beautiful and costly of silver was not enough to keep those whom he loved at his side. Had he been deceiving himself all these years, to believe that his son's composure and silence was just thoughtfulness? Maeglin's quietness was but a mask for sorrow. Deep in his heart the lord of Nan Elmoth knew he had failed them both. He had caused an ever-widening rift between himself and his own family. But Eol refused to believe it.
Surely she had been able to see his deep love for her without having to use words, how he tried in every way to please her. He was tired of trying. His face suddenly twisted into a snarl of rage. He had given her everything and this was how the deceitful creature repaid him. A thousand curses on her and ten thousand on her treacherous son! No longer would he allow her spell to work on him. She bewitched all who were so unfortunate as to come into contact with her. May the bird return to her cage where she would sicken again. But his son would not be taken from him. Those same thoughts raced through his mind as he hurled the spear at Maeglin, fury burning in his eyes, watching in horrified fascination as his wife leapt before it and took the wound to her shoulder. He glanced behind as several Noldor sprang forward into action, seizing him and whisking him away to this foul dungeon. Eol saw her fall, there before her brother and son. They could do all they wanted and nothing would ever heal her. A spiteful smile crossed his face, causing those Proud Ones from over the sea to shout at him and shove him all the way into the dark.
Angry and hurt, he had ridden far, pursuing them even in the daylight and perceiving where they were fleeing. They would seek the city built by those accursed ones! This knowledge and the sneering remarks of that man who called himself 'lord Curufin' strengthened him in his pursuit, hardened his heart. He called himself a lord yet he had no lordship over these lands. Thinking about it now, it was a wonder that Eol had managed to restrain his fury. He looked up and saw Aredhel's white raiment glisten as she and Maeglin hastened onward. Then he rode on.
Somewhere above him in one of Turgon's rooms he knew Ar-Feiniel lay dying, surrounded by all those who loved her dearly. Except for him. He smiled to himself ironically. He would die – this he knew. Probably thrown off some cliff, something only that Noldorin scum could devise in their beastly minds. But they would lose her too. Aredhel would be departed from the hither lands soon.
His life had been simple before that confounded woman had come into his domain. The murderers from over the sea cursed everything they touched, as Aredhel had cursed his life.
A sudden clang startled him out of his reverie as the door swung open. Looking up he saw a figure standing hesitantly in the doorway, holding aloft a lantern. She looked younger than Aredhel, though she was quite tall. Ah. So this was the King's daughter, whom he had only seen briefly when he was dragged before Turgon. No doubt another beautiful, scheming enchantress. He could only stare. To be sure, she carried herself with great dignity and grace, her head held up, as his wife had. But she looked nothing like Aredhel, with wide cerulean eyes and silky curls of gold. There was an energy and vivacity in her, not the coldness and indifference of Aredhel.
For a while they remained silent. Eol had never felt so unnerved in his life. Those seemingly innocuous blue eyes seemed to pierce right through him, though she said never a word. Finally his discomfiture grew too much to bear.
"Well?" he said gruffly. "What do you want with me, princess?"
Her voice was warm, musical, and it echoed around his dark prison. "I want to talk to you."
Blessed Aman, she thought as the light from her lantern spilled upon the bent figure that had claimed Aredhel as his wife. This was the first time Idril had studied her uncle. He really was in a pitiful state. His dark and unkempt hair hung in strands about his face, his armour had probably seen better days and his heavy boots were mud-splattered. Hardness and bitterness were engraved in his face. Although her aunt was dying, by her own husband's hand, Idril nearly felt a pang of sympathy for him. But it passed quickly when he spoke, his voice harsh and rasping. She wondered if it were possible that he was serving the Lord of Darkness without even knowing it.
"What do you want to talk to me for?"
Idril drew herself up even taller and held up her lantern, whose light fell upon Eol's harsh features. He flinched a little.
"For the sake of the Valar, girl, put that down!" Startled, she lowered it, and saw him visibly relax.
Even with the light covered he thought he could see a soft light emanating from the young princess. Good Lords, did all these Kinslayers glow like that? The look on her face was so pitying. He turned away. He did not need pity, least of all from a daughter of murderers. He felt very uncomfortable under her watchful gaze.
"Well?" he said again. "Speak. But you need not insult me. Your father has already demonstrated his ability to insult by throwing me in this accursed place."
Idril could not see any sign of remorse for what he did.
"You killed Aredhel." There was a sharp edge beneath her silvery voice.
"I am quite aware of that, your Highness," he answered, almost surprising himself by his horrible calmness.
"Please allow me to finish, Master Eol." If he was going to flaunt her title sarcastically, she would do likewise. "You have killed Aredhel, in the process of attempting to kill your own son. She was beloved in this city and you have robbed us of her. However, despite your lack of penitence, Aredhel herself asked me to tell you that she and I are – " She paused to clear her throat. "We are imploring the King to spare you."
"But why do you want to spare me for? Why do you care?"
She sighed exasperatedly.
"Look," she said firmly. "You are a deranged fool and if you die tomorrow it makes no difference to me. I am doing this for Aredhel. It was her wish that you be spared."
With that she turned to leave, but not without glancing behind her. Eol read in her face a look of sympathy mingled with something that looked like contempt. The door clanged shut loudly, echoing heavily in his cell and leaving only that beam of starlight shining down on his bent form through the narrow window.
Her wish? Well, how gracious of her! Not that he cared much for life now. His had been ruined a long time before.
They were not meant to be together and he had known that from the moment he had seen her gliding through his forest with the starlight on her face. But he had not heeded it. Morgoth himself could not have done a better job of sowing misfortune and death in their paths.
Indeed, there had been some dark force behind Eol's desire from the beginning. Somehow he sensed that he had brought darkness to the city, though he knew not how. Maybe that was a good thing, to bring misfortune on those abominable Kinslayers. All he knew was that one day mighty Gondolin would fall, perhaps through him.
Alone in his prison he feels it when she breathes her last. Alone in the darkness he knows that her spirit has fled from Middle Earth. And alone in the shadows, where no one can see him, a tear slides down his face.