They rode on horses to the gods' feast to tell my grandfather what had happened. The rest of us stayed -- you couldn't see anything, you couldn't do much of anything, and the air was very heavy and full of particulate matter that settles in your lungs where there's no good mechanism to get it out and you just feel it there all the time. - this happens to humans too but they don't feel it, it just kills them.
We waited in the dark for a week.
I do not know much of what happened at the gods' feast because all the people telling the story were telling a story, even more than people usually are. I know that the gods were demanding my grandfather give up the Silmarils, that they might be used to restore light to Valinor. I know that when my grandfather heard that his father was dead he departed the feast into the dark alone, and was gone for several days, and they were afraid he'd killed himself. They found him covered in blood, cold, alive, and he told them that they needed to return to the rest of us quickly so we could go off to Middle-earth, follow Morgoth, stop him, recover the Silmarils.
When he came back he was speaking so quickly I couldn't keep up and I usually could, I was always one of the very few people who could. It was the most important moment for him to explain himself and he couldn't do it. We needed to establish an independent Noldorin kingdom outside Valinor and we needed to recover the Silmarils to do it. Morgoth had the Silmarils, had perhaps orchestrated most of the last thousand years to have the Silmarils, and if he knew what to do with them the war was already lost, because they were a tool powerful enough to win it, in Morgoth's hands perhaps a tool powerful enough to remake the whole world however he desired it. He didn't think Morgoth knew what to do with them because the world was still here, but Valar are slow. Maybe Morgoth was being slow. The stakes were unimaginable in every respect but that was the respect in which they were highest. And no one could know. The Valar didn't know what the Silmarils could do. Our people didn't know what the Silmarils could do, beyond 'heal us'. If Morgoth didn't know yet -- and he might not know yet, every day we weren't dead made it likelier he didn't know yet -- then he could never, ever know, and if everyone knew he'd find out somehow. He said he hadn't told even us, for this reason.
And then he said that it could not possibly be hidden that the Silmarils were so important, that a war we were fighting for the Silmarils would look different from a war we were fighting for some other reason, that of course we had to keep the innocent people alive and be just and good and worthy of the weapon we were reaching for but that it wouldn't, really, look very much like a war where we weren't reaching for it, and so the thing we needed was an explanation for reaching for it which wasn't the true one no one could know, and that that explanation was going to be that they were very important to him and he considered them his own children and the only things of beauty in the universe, and he would swear to recover them from whoever would claim them, whatever the cost -
I didn't explain that. I should have. Elves can swear things. We can make promises that bind our future will, that make us incapable of turning back on our word. You can be slow in fulfilling it, for a while. You can be careless, if you're not introspective enough to catch how you're being careless, in which case you can't.
He was going to swear to recover the Silmarils and war with any who withheld them and he wanted his children to all swear it too and then everyone could accurately predict them -- which was important, people get hurt when you're not possible for them to predict -- and also no one would have cause to wonder why the Silmarils, why at that price, if they didn't already know, which they probably didn't since the world was still here.
I've - said it the way I understood it at the time, so that you see how -