(Silwë - Ch 1) Silwë of Valinor

Silwë loved the stars, and that is how he was named; for that name means Star-light in the language of the Noldor, Quenya. In the days before the Sun and the Moon, the Noldor had been second to follow the path of the Vala Oromë upon the Great Journey from the East, through the darkened Greenwood and over the mountains, and across the great sea to Aman, the Undying Lands. This is where Silwë dwelt, near Tirion-upon-Túna, with the Noldor, his people, under the light of the Two Trees.

He was tall and slight, fair-skinned with raven-dark hair that fell long and straight, and he adorned it with the trappings of his craft: beads, cut gems, circlets and chain, small bells and carven hair-sticks. Though he had no particular talent at song and dance, like many of the Eldar did, he enjoyed fine clothing and wine and Miruvórë - he had no dislike for parties, though he ever seemed lost in thought, despite his erudite way of speaking and love of occasional dry humor. He was vain, in some ways, though he did not find himself remarkably beautiful; he simply loved formality and things pleasing to the eye.

Silwë was a jewel-smith, of no insubstantial talent, and he spent his days in Valinor studying at the forge and bench of the Vala Aulë, the Smith, learning the arts and lore of metal and jewels. From him, and his kinsmen, Silwë learned too the deep, esoteric ways in which the Noldor worked their craft, creating singular items deemed enchanted by many who saw them. He was skilled at this, and that which later, in Beleriand, was deemed sorcery, or perhaps the control of emotion and manifestations, and of visions.

He dwelt in a small home outside near a brook, which overlooked at some distance the Sea, where he had a workshop and a forge of his own, and would spend his time at either for hours at a time, sometimes days. He did not take a wife, nor did he have family; but he was happy, and his neighbors thought him pleasant, and he often sat upon the grassy bank of the creek in the company of a large, orange cat whom he called Airwë (which, in Quenya, meant <em>Orange</em>). From time to time, he - like many of the Noldor, in those happier days - enjoyed the company of the Falmari of Tol Eressea, with whom he would trade Noldorin jewels for pearls, decline the invitations of the Sea-elves to swim in the deep ocean, and then spend nights stargazing over the water, listening to the lilting Falmarin music that made him think of shimmering foam and the cries of birds.

And so it was for many years, happy at his work and his learning, with his cat and his anvil and his forge, his jewelry, fine robes and his carven hair-sticks. The Noldor had not yet learned fear.

But Melkor came, in friendship, or so he said. He poisoned the minds of the Noldor, ever so slightly, and they grew suspicious of the Valar and of those who were not their kin; the Noldor learnt the craft of fine weapons and armour, though they knew not yet what for. The Noldorin prince Fëanáro, son of Finwë, King of the Noldor, eventually grew paranoid and violent, and was exiled for a time, when he drew his sword upon his half-brother, Fingolfin. The Noldor were restless, and suspicious. It felt as though something was coming.

Then, at last, Melkor brought to Valinor Ungoliant, and destroyed the Trees, and all was dark. He murdered Finwë and stole Fëanor’s jealously-guarded treasures, the three Silmarils, and fled to Beleriand. Fëanor, in rage, defied the Valar, and raised many of his people to follow him to Beleriand in revenge, to win back the jewels. Silwë, as many Noldor, felt that by this act his people had been wronged, and took up arms and armour to follow Fëanáro, now King, to war against the disgraced Vala Melkor, whom Fëanáro cursed to evermore be known as Morgoth.

Silwë adjusted the armour he had crafted, not used to being dressed in this way. He was a craftsman, not a soldier; but then, none of the Noldor were soldiers. Not yet. As a smith and a jeweler, he was unable to resist a bit of purely decorative flourish, and the graceful but very functional breastplate was set at the chest with the eight-pointed, eight-rayed star that was the symbol of the House of Fëanáro and adopted by the Noldor who would follow him. He slipped his crimson cloak around his shoulders, and locked the door to his workshop.

A languid meow came from the grass by the footpath, and a big, handsome orange cat strolled out of the reeds. He stopped and regarded Silwë in the way only cats seem to be able. He knew something was afoot.

“Airwë, do not look at me that way. I will return soon.”

He picked the beast up and nuzzled his face into the soft, sun-warmed fur. Airwë began licking his master’s hair, and then his face. Setting the orange bundle down, Silwë knelt and offered his hand. The cat gave it several licks, and then rubbed his body against it; blinking his large green eyes, he looked up at the elf expectantly.

“I will be home soon,” Silwë said, giving his beloved pet one last scratch behind the ear. “I promise. You know how to care for yourself."

The cat rolled over in the dirt, and fell asleep with his stomach in the air, as Silwë walked down a path to a road, and down the road to the beach. He stopped there a while, and picked up a stone. It was small, no larger than the size of his thumb-nail, but it was smooth and even-colored, a shimmering white common to the shores of the Undying Lands. He slipped it into his pocket. For luck, he thought.

He walked on, toward the Swan-Haven, to an uncertain future.