Surrounded by flames, kin and abiding friends, Zhera’ was himself a pool of black, drowning in the realization before him, of things uttered by stone or crystal these many years: Undead men had risen as kings over these lands, and though they could not of themselves injure any man, the more eager were servants to their command, doing more evil than perhaps even the Undead planned for their subjects. The Primal Dark spreading from Westernesse was now in Hinterlands and Thitherlands, a pale sickly fume, as a death shroud of Nimloth the Fair, tree in the forts of the king’s City of Light.
These new reeks choked the sight and air from the lungs, and at times it came reaching, to burn the country and all that abided there. Zhera’ now comprehended the consequences of his escape with Izilba from that island, blaming himself for the slaughter of his clansmen, and the folly of youth seduced by dreams of peace and joy; being but a ruse for the trapper, here on a hillside watching the homes of his youth burn, and crack and hiss in his blood’s melting. He comprehended now the cries of the crystals, the hacking and theft, the keeping of slaves in pens, and now guessed the silence of her stone, that crystal he acquired by dear transaction, dark at every night of peering, last heard of her a shout of blazing in dark halls of stone, where kings kept stolen children, and the breaking of her sword in a flash, then darkness abiding, revealing to him its mastery, encircling baubles of light, this void that endures, waiting to the candle’s melt, or wind consumes the heat, for is not light only on the outer shell of the thing, surrounding it is darkness, inside its own shadow persists?
The stone of Ancient Sunlight was to curse the small ones, seated high; cast down as Melko; the green crystal caught in its body the color of new grass and unfurled oak, but where is it? Lands are not green, but with sickness. And the fable of the stones of light, Silmarils, he doubted; and in doubting them, how to explain the War of Elves and the Dark One, but a battle without end, as hope?
Words of passing voices have been told elsewhere, and these even the learned may construe as the cries of a lost battle front, in retreat against the wave of shadow high as the mountains. In the North, Elendil with his sons revealed little of what passed in Westernesse, yet often came inquiry about the theft of Eden’s jewel, white Bansil; or questions concerning the name Narsil, whether it was a new power to aid or against the Black Ones that spread faster than rumor, and from the stars seemed to fall without warning; to draw back Sauron to these lands would not alter the state of Westernesse, but would end all hope of refuge or small victory; yet in concealing their things of light gathered from elves and carried out of Westernesse, these elf-friends appeared to many to watch in weakness the spreading sickness, the immanent famine, the new pestilence and old plagues, none to cure, save by the dread kings of the West, but not their kin northward?
These sayings, rumors, questions unanswered, and more had passed by Zhera’, and now all as surrounding clamor the dead spoke again, convincing. Of the elves nothing was said, perhaps it was better to let them fade?
Indeed it has been mentioned that the spewing forth of Gorgoroth, and fumes out of the earth, hastened the Noldos’ Day of Fading, in this age prolonged only by the wearing of rings, ancient and fashioned in exile of Gondolin; or wrought by Telchar and his guild in competition with Atanatar, giver of gifts – rings, wondrous, full of knowledge to bestow, and slow to corrupt their wearer.
Now in counter to the fuming hills that decayed and rotted, all preserved by effort and labor of Eldar, those great ones took up again their rings, showing themselves in part to the master of craft- magic Thû, for now it was needful that all Noldo and Sindar that remained unite, first in heart and mind, then as a body to resist the onslaught.
To their aid flooded the Vanyar of Ulmo, most beautiful and terrible to crooked in heart, crashing came they upon the shores south of Anduin the Great, riding upon crests up Esgalduin, armed for battle, Mithril housed, and throwing weapons of light against the gathered spirits of Darkness that held Doriath against dead men, and ushered them into Udûn-Hell, slaves infernal. All about that land was altered – hills thrown up westward, and south the Ramdal arose to heights to fence out any wanderer; sunken were these lands, thereafter, first persisting as a pestilential marsh, salted and brined against life, then with the pourings of Gorgoroth, ash-laden, flat, porous to fallen rain; far underground still held the realm, of Thingol, his captains, who in the tremors took their wives and dead children and fled far away, upon a cold wind they came against in the deep vents of the Lower Airs, and they were lofted high out of the earth, a River of Joy flowing last from Doriath’s grave, where after the fullness of Mordor was established, engraven in mockery of Melian, who in ages gone spurned Thû for an elf.
That prince, Ancient of Days, Grey Thingol-mantle, restored by granting heirship to Dyacôm in the rite of baptism under waters, arose from that Hall, in song praising Eru as in Before-the- Adra-that-is [-Arda-that-is], he keeping this first song brought by Melian, and cloven from his soul at her departure west in grief of his death; and the end of their realm, the parting without redress taken upon Luthien for sake of Beren, who himself ensnared all the realm, as a reply to Thingol’s hubris. Yet a song he received, and recalled, being named “Nâthān,” as at first by Luthien, when come upon the boy Dyacôm. And this song he taught in part to his soldiers, and they to others departed, or lost and forsaken; and the sound of their choir much disturbed the Lord of Balrogs, and it was that sent forth flu upon the fumes, clinging to ancient vengeance withheld, to ruin all the trees, the forests, every leaf, and all green things to turn grey.
So the Day of Fading, when most the Eldar understood the dire place of Men, among the Dark Things, the Primal Cloud, the smokes and unshadowed dead, the Undead ring-bound, and Thû, sure to remain but a little while as steward-guest-captive-hostage in Westernesse. And high waterfalls leapt upon by golden voiced nymphs were stopped up, or scattered; and Ithilien was torn along her back, a great crevice opening eastward of the Blue Mountains, from which grey clouds arose, and blocked the light of stars.
All this destruction and war of powers was but contrived in preparation of the assault, or to its staying, by the Men of Numenor or upon El-ressëa, that name itself stinging their ears; for it was called such by the lost children, to whom the blessings might come, of gaining Arda, and of pressing down into the mire all their enemies, and by the breath of their lips to set aright all that evil had bent crooked, in praise of Eru.
That Song of Thingol’s will last be given in this record, of the paths and lives prior to the passage of Zhera’ and his people to a promised land, here the words of the Faithful shaped into story, and breathed alive, again. For though himself drowning in the darkness of despair, and by fear of his own part to weigh down any surrounding, thus; and though he knew not the way to Izilba, or what to do next; and all his choices had as yet turned against his intention, Zhera’ faithful remained: to nothing but his hope that even at the end of Arda, when cast against the immoveable void, and ended utterly, yet Eru would turn even this to good, and make thereby a habitation – permanent wherein his children may abide, encircled by his Name, and delighting in the majesty of his creation, that fills the void.