Where the Shadows Lie

Author: Clotho123

Nominator: Elleth

2009 Award Category: Genres: Horror - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Rated Teen for a horror element, also contains some references to violence

Summary: What if Maglor had submitted to the Valar after the War of Wrath? The Oath of Fëanor was said to be unbreakable...

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Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 10

'Maglor in History' is often found in Silmarillion fanfiction and has been done to very different effects in a lot of good stories that run the gamut from the common 'happy ending' to 'absolutely heartbreaking'. This AU, while not set in our primary world history, nonetheless explores what happens - or might have happened - to Maglor after the events in the Silmarillion. The story acts on the assumption that he surrended to the Valar and was allowed return to Valinor. Perversely, what should have amounted to a happy ending is in fact quite the opposite, Clotho123 clearly and absolutely heartbreakingly details the consequences of the Oath of Feanor in telling the tale of the last survivor of that line. Early on in the story, Maedhros implores against Maglor's bringing the Oath into Valinor, foreshadowing the horrible consequences it might have (and by the by offering another chilling perspective on Maedhros' eventual suicide not as a completely desperate but very aware and perceptive deed), and the reader is not spared witnessing Maglor's suffering and loss of his self. With the Oath [vain..., but not void], Maglor succumbs to darkness and uses his powers to cause harm even in the Blessed Realm, so that what might have been an act of mercy and healing is twisted beyond comprehension. A discussion of different options from an Eldarin perspective near the end very clearly states that there literally is no discernible way out, and even death must be ruled as out of question. What makes this story so chilling (a word that has been used several times in other reviews, and very justly so!) is not only the morale of actions and consequences in a very marred world by very marred individuals (namely, of the Feanorian Oath and Quest), or the extremely disturbing picture of a fate worse than death, nor the hopelessness (since the story rather seems to move in a circle, the beginning picking up where the end left off) of Maglor's personal Everlasting Dark, but the fact that a shred of his old self remains and must witness the events unfolding, adding further torture to an already terrible fate. The Oath of this story very clearly picks up on Tolkien's original intention and vision of words possessing power, and it seems fitting somehow that it should be the Mighty Singer who at last falls prey to them, and perhaps even adds further momentum to Feanor's initial rebellion against the Valar in the second-to-last line of the story, [The Valar are to blame. They brought him here…], and playing into Morgoth's original plan of causing maximum harm to the Blessed Realm. I would have liked to see this explored, but understand that it would distract too much from the story that is being told. An all-around excellent story, the quality of the writing is superb, and although this dark fic is definitely not for delicate minds, to me it rings as one of the truest regarding Tolkien's thoughts for the sons of Feanor, even though it explores a scenario that is not found in the source material.

Reviewed by: Ithilwen  ✧  Score: 10

This story is horrifying. Absolutely horrifying. In the best possible way, of course! You do an exceptionally good job here of showing the power of the Oath; no wonder the poor Feanorians were so driven to fulfill it if THIS is the suffering they experienced when they tried to turn aside from it! I love the way you show Maglor's power of voice slowly being perverted into an instrument of Darkness, and how his continued existence is inexorably bringing horror back into the Undying Lands. One has to wonder how long it will be before some of the other Elves decide to override the Valar's commands and act to silence poor Maglor. (The thought of him having his tongue ripped out but being forced to continue living on voiceless gives me chills.) I did find myself wondering why the Valar seem so determined to keep Maglor from taking his own life, since it seems to be the only way he might find release from that unbreakable oath. It seems a terrible act of cruelty on their part. Or perhaps they know what fate met his dead brothers, and are trying as best as they can to keep the last Feanorian from being utterly consumed by the Darkness? An excellent short fic, and a very different take on Maglor's fate from the ones we more commonly see in fandom. Well done!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

Now *this* was chilling. There are a lot of ways to write frightening or haunting stories, but this has to be one of my favorites. The story grows into the terror, unfolding its horror with slow relish. Which is not to say that it starts with something light or fluffy. It doesn't. Maedhros's warning to Maglor is definitely ominous and there are plenty of hints about what's to come. But in the beginning, it's a quiet kind of terror. And it's restricted mainly to Maglor himself, so it's also an isolated kind of terror. But then it starts to change. Once the Oath has worked its doom on Maglor, it begins to spread. And inch by painful inch, the story gets darker and darker. It's doom by degrees, and then the whispers begin. The whispers were, for me, the most disturbing part of the story. Maglor and his personalized Everlasting Dark was certainly bad enough, but what really made my breath catch was the thought that the elves in Valinor were now beginning the cycle all over again. It gives a whole new meaning to the idea of Everlasting Dark. They can't escape what Fëanor began, and with one act of atonement, Maglor inspires those around him to again consider his father's perspective on the Valar and on kinslaying.

Reviewed by: Angelica  ✧  Score: 7

Maglor has always been one of my favourite elves and I've always enjoyed the stories that give him some kind of happy ending, whether allowing him back to Valinor or giving him life and love this side of the Sundering Seas. Then I read Clotho's story and had to rethink everything. The central question she asks is: what is the Everlasting Dark? What are the consequences of breaking the Oath? The story describes the terrible fate that Maglor encounters as he arrives in Valinor after repenting and once the reader comes to see the hopelessness of his situation and the relentless suffering he experiences, it becomes even more understandable that the Feanorians should have beeen so desperate to fulfill the Oath since they seem to have been aware (at least Maedhros was, according to the story) of the unspeakable consequences breaking it would lead them into. What Clotho describes here *is* the Everlasting Dark, and it's truly something to be terrified of.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 7

Fandom seems to have two ends for Maglor: either he endures to the end of Earth, and even seems to achieve a certain measure of normalcy within the world of Men, or he goes insane. I can think of only two instances in which he actually was redeemed explicitly. Clotho takes the darker path, and she ties Maglor to that Oath in a fashion as brutal as one could possibly wish. One thinks of Fisher Kings, whose lands are ravaged by their own sin - the way she draws in everyone around Maglor, inflicting his curse upon those around him, is terrifying. And the Valor can do nothing - here they truly are Powers *of the world*; they cannot interfere with an Oath that crosses that boundary and ties itself to the creator with His own name. They are powerless to prevent the perverse working out of Maglor's own oath, even as it hollows him out and condemns him to a kind of living death. Very creepy and well told in just a few words. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Klose  ✧  Score: 5

This is a chilling tale recounting of what the fate of Maglor might have been if he attempted to break the Oath and return to Valinor. The quote that precedes the main text is well served by the story. The author realistically explores the ramifications of the idea that the Oath taken by Feanor and his son was so severe that it could not be 'dissolved' just because Manwe and Varda (or, I suspect, Eru) would not want them to fulfill it (this idea is the fulcrum of the conversation that Maedhros and Maglor have in the Silmarrlilon to no resolve). Maglor's singing talent is used to frightening effect in exploring just how the unfulfilled Oath would manifest itself, and the last line is suitably shiver-inducing.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

A stark, bitter and increasingly bleak AU scenario. Clotho spares neither Maglor nor the reader the consequences of taking the Oath and attempting to break it. In Maglor's journey from a desperate hope to madness and darkness, we see the flip side of glamor and hope caused by words; words hold power and magic, and even the penitent cannot always escape their spell. Beautifully written, with a disquieting chill that rises and is, fittingly, left unresolved.

Reviewed by: Celeritas  ✧  Score: 4

Psychological horror is the best kind. Clotho puts a frighteningly realistic twist on the “Maglor repents” fic by making the reasonable suggestion that, for Maglor at least, this would change nothing. The atmosphere of the story is as stifling as Maglor’s life becomes, constrained as it is by two opposing choices he made long ago. Utterly creepy, with no end in sight.

Reviewed by: samwise_gamgee_fan  ✧  Score: 4

Wow, absolutely chilling story, which definitely fits into the horror category. The descriptions are so vivid and Maglor's fate so perverse, so utterly pointless, his desperation so poignant that "Where the Shadows Lie" is well worth the read, even if you're not a Silmarilion specialist. My favourite part was when Maglor starts using his power for curses in a veiled and gut-wrenching cry for help, trying, or so it came across to me, to force his captors' hands and make them release him from his torment. Bravo!!

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

A tragic tale, tragically told. Sad and filled with grief and horror. All too likely a result had Maglor indeed tried to return to Aman without fulfilling his now impossible oath. Exquisite!

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 2

How sad to think of a world in which there is ultimately no forgiveness and no chance for reparation. No wonder it drove him mad!

Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 2

Chilling. Completely chilling. And it is perfect, too, that way. It is good you let it hanging in the end; more would have undone it. Brava!

Reviewed by: Nieriel Raina  ✧  Score: 1

Chilling and dark. Maglor's hopelessness is very clear. Nicely done!