Scales of War
The Dead Are Not Dead
You successfully navigate your way through the tortured memories of the spirit Celebrimbor, ordering them in the right sequence. You also give the ghost the stability it needs to remember the name of its lost love: Finduilas.
1. Jaunty tune
Laughter, vibrant laughter. The snatches of a jaunty tune, plucked out on a harp, backstage at the theatre after the show. The two of you have brought the house down with your performance. A little risqué, perhaps, to openly poke fun at such a mighty being, but at this moment, you feel you could take on anything. You sweep her into your arms. Though you are delirious with joy, a tiny sliver of envy pricks your heart. She has a gift you know you will never have.
She cuts you short with a look of unutterable sorrow. “My art is my life,” she says. “Those songs were not yours to pass off as your own. Do not come to me again.” She walks across the great stone bridge, never looking back. You utter no words; you are poleaxed, trembling, ready to fall over. A few minutes later, the acrid taste of rage begins to form on your tongue.
DM’S COMMENT: Finduilas is upset at Celebrimbor’s theft of her work. She also informs him that their relationship is over.
3. “What though the field be lost?”
Laughter, unearthly laughter. Her eyes are so dark that you cannot see the pupils. Your whole world is reflected there. The grove is wreathed in mist, suffused with a delicate chill. When she moves, the air seems to condense and swirl around her, taking your breath away. In her arms, your pain is almost bearable. What though the field be lost? All is not lost. The unconquerable will and study of revenge, immortal hate, and courage never to submit or yield, she whispers. The words echo in your mind, curl around your heart like tendrils of ice.
DM’S COMMENT: Another woman that Celebrimbor meets after the end of his relationship with Finduilas.
4. “No more, no more!”
The kitchen smells of herbs during the day, jasmine in the evening. You chop vegetables at the small counter just under the window, occasionally gazing into the garden. They have been in each other’s arms for hours. “No more, no more!” you groan to yourself. You can’t bear to watch. With an effort, you look down at the cutting board. You have accidentally sliced open the tip of your thumb instead of an onion. The top is quite gone, except for a sort of hinge of skin.
DM’S COMMENT: Celebrimbor watching Finduilas.
5. To shed tears
There is no depth, you realize, to which you will not sink, no degradation too base, no deception too vile. And so you break into the bedchamber under cover of darkness, slipping the monogrammed handkerchief between bed and night-table, as if someone has carelessly dropped it on the floor. The scent with which you carefully douse the bedsheet stings your eyes, but you have long since lost the ability to shed tears.
6. Tiny lies that moulder and multiply
So easy to twist the truth, so horribly easy. Outright falsehood is not even necessary, you discover. With mere innuendo, you touch on fears he doesn’t even know he has. An implication, an evasion of the eye, an apparent slip of the tongue that you are quick to downplay — all are pinpricks of poison, tiny lies that moulder and multiply in his brain. Despite (or perhaps because of) his obsession with reason and logic, he has always been susceptible to emotional manipulation. Later, he will not even remember from where his initial suspicions came, in what soil his fears bloomed into the bitter fruit of jealousy.
7. The end of love
After the deed is done, you will rearrange the body, leaving behind a trail of carefully fabricated clues: a lock of hair, a scrap of torn fabric, a rune written in a language only one among you is thought to know. The fellowship of the Creeping Shadows will be broken forever. This is the end of love. It only remains for you to take your vengeance.
8. Gone where you cannot follow
The snow lies thick on the ground. Your mouth is dry, your hands cracked and raw. Dully, you stare up at her corpse, which dangles grotesquely from the tree. The appearance of suicide. So clever of you. Sudden nausea. You vomit into a snowbank and fall to your knees, sobbing uncontrollably. She has gone now, gone where you cannot follow.
DM’S COMMENT: Celebrimbor has just murdered Finduilas.
9. His gaunt white face
Shame and guilt, long banished to the farthest reaches of your mind, return now, like wolves on the scent of blood, to rend your broken conscience. As if your thoughts have taken tangible form, the door bangs open, and a blast of wind and ice-cold rain sends the poem flying off your desk. He stands framed by the doorway. Fury is etched in the writhing muscles of his gaunt white face.