The gold of the Nauglamir still glittered dully beneath the rapidly drying blood of its previous bearer. Beren lifted the necklace carefully by the chain and held it at arm’s length, examining it closely. His scalp prickled as he thought of the last time he had seen the thing, gleaming at the throat of King Finrod Felagund. Now it seemed merely a twisted echo of its former self, and when he looked at it he saw nothing but the image of Finrod lying on the cold stone floor with blood covering his face and his eyes staring up at the darkness.
At last his eyes were drawn reluctantly down to the jewel, which burned clean and bloodless in its setting. It looked grotesquely out-of-place, he thought, wondering what had possessed Thingol to combine what must be the two most ostentatious pieces of jewelry in the world into one horrifying creation. The Silmaril caught the light so effectively even as it generated its own that Beren could hardly bear to look at it, yet he did not glance away. It seemed to be daring him to do so, but he thought he would let himself go blind before he allowed the damned thing to best him.
“The gem is yours, if it is anyone’s,” a voice said close to his ear, and Beren jumped. He had become quite good at detecting the silent approaches of the Lindi, but Almwë could still sneak up on him when he was distracted. The elf appeared unhurt, and his narrow face was devoid of emotion, but his movements had lost some of their grace to weariness. Beren had caught glimpses of him during the battle; Almwë had been everywhere, a deadly whirlwind that swept through Nogrod’s forces and prevented as many as possible from reaching his people, most of whom bore no weapons other than bows and arrows.
Seeing Beren grimace at his suggestion, Almwë said, “Give it to Lúthien, if you wish. It may be of some comfort to her, though I am sure nothing will please her more than your safe return, and the boy’s.”
“What should we do with the rest of it?” Beren asked, indicating the spoils taken from Doriath that now lay in the dirt and blood among the bodies.
Almwë shrugged, disinterested. “It is cursed. Drown it in the river.”
Beren nodded, suddenly feeling very tired. Though he could not match Almwë’s ferocious pace, he had fought as hard as the elf in the heat of battle, never faltering until all of their enemies had fled or fallen. But now that the anger and desperation had faded, it was catching up to him. I’m not as young as I used to be, he thought, then laughed softly to himself when he remembered how many times he’d heard his grandfather or Aunt Andreth or Uncle Bregolas say those exact words.
Almwë gave him a strange look, but said nothing.