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Of Zhera’ and his stay we now turn, even as Izilba and her party descend from Kiliath and wind their way to the region of his clan, seeking to discover if they might, whether he also passed, or where else he may be, at rest or hiding.
Three days the man slept, and rising in the twilight, after the sun sunk into the western sea, he spoke to each of the daughters of Izilba, telling them of her beauty, and nobility; that he had failed to keep tryst with her, and now they would be separated until death, if not thereafter. He told the daughters his admiration for their bravery, kindness, loving obedience to his counsel, their cherished laughter, and to each he committed the care of his sons, bidding them flee east to the homelands, if not further from the shadow, its crashing wave falling upon all the lands. His heart was broken, and yet also full; to his new friend and brother, and to his sons, he committed the care of the daughters, urging them to abide until the girls had arrived to womanhood, housed and secure. He explained that the hunters that move under darkness and see through its cloak would never stop seeking him, nor his kin; and thus it was now needful for him to depart, for in Westernesse he left some business unattended, and had yet some few specimens to deliver, and others to collect. Though they would constrain him, even by bonds, until the man grew less fay, for the sake of his heart, they conceded his desire, and complimented his courage and wisdom, and recalled all his laughter, the teaching of Eru gained from elf-friends; and assured him that their children would learn his lore, and know of the glory that was upon Westernesse, ere its fall under the shadow. Many scenes sorrowful to depict and ^to recall might be drawn; but also tearful joy, for the quest had ended, and though in failure concluded, love had abounded there.
Before sunrise he prepared to row his canoe westward to the island that gave him all joy above any he’d imagined; and greatest sorrow. Before the dawn he had indeed passed the wide arms of the sea cove, and the calm seas took his ship beyond their sight upon the hills stretching along the coast. He left them his stone and crystal, keeping only a snare for himself, and a net; and a pouch for food and collecting ^rain water. No cares any longer did he bear, and while the stars sat, fainting in the west, and blurred into purple twilight of dawn eastward, the spirit of Pyunmahl sat upon his canoe’s prow, and rested there.
Turning to him, she smiled and told of the great light living amid the joy that surrounded the elvenhomes, wherein she had been welcomed; now it seemed, many a years long.
She answered all she knew, that Zhera’ inquired of; but of his son and the mother he sought, she learned nothing while wandering in the meadows and fields. She said passage she would receive to Westernesse, by his rowing, should he deliver her there; and that in Olden Days, the ships of Numenor transported good and happy ghosts thither, gathered from all the lands, there often to be born as men in reward and gift; these were elvenkind. Of the whereabouts and wandering of Men, she could not say with authority, concerning their whereabouts after dying, save what she saw and heard; and of the good she told him much, and of the wicked, she quieted into silence; nearly fading under the threat of a rising flame in the east.
Before its arising, she also gave him this learning that he was not ensnared by fate; for any god, nor any king; and love held him thrall no longer, neither in the flesh nor by spirit-lights, interlocked at the heart. He was free and could row to Westernesse, and there receive his due, and swiftly be brought to Eressëa, before it departed; or he could return to the shores of men and risk there again for love, and forsake his assurances upon Eressëa; and of what he may find, she could or would not say, he being free and uncompelled in this matter. Yet she said his family could be delivered to the land of promise, that not only he, but others along with Pyunmahl – her sisters of Izilba – had been granted free land upon those blessed islands, and that deliverance alone remained to hinder their blessing; that it was the smoothing of spiritfriends (Silmariel) who speaking on their behalf, as daughter of one beloved, and being without homeland any longer – for it was utterly under the ruin of fume and molten ore – being houseless, and persevering nonetheless to do all that was good, in the day; without thought of reward, and for the good of the deed, and its fruit to be delightful spread upon many, that shores had been promised them, as an inheritance of their mother’s right. And not as servants, nor helpers; but forever resident there, should they obtain passage; and knowing his charge to the daughters, and to Emmer, Zhera’ understood in his grief he [had] neglected their promise; or, seeing it beyond fulfillment, without utter risk of ruin to all the blessed Elvenhome, he forsake thought and dream, and [had] stood upon the earthen-soil, pointing his family eastward against the light of the sun; even as he followed it, alone.
Thus repenting, Zhera’ promised Pyunmahl he would bear her swiftly as may be to Eressëa, and not Numenor – to suffer their wickedness and body-binding anew; yet she must abide under veil and cloaked from her sisters yet a while, until their deliverance was contrived. To this she consented, joyously; and the craft was turned about, and wind western blown, sped him as the sun arose, back to the shore of his departure; already he was exhausted, and the currents fought his barge, and would send it far south to strange lands had he not wrestled against them, and by the flight of birds reckoned his landing-end.
Then near overhead, from behind, he heard the call and screech of a hunting fowl, a falcon; diving and swooping, rising as it passed into the east. And following it, for it seemed akin to the bird long ago traded to obtain Izilba’s sea-glass, new vigor came upon him, and he strove all the day, until late after midday, before the evening-time, he saw from afar his host yet encamped, and their fire upon the beached hills alight, around which forms sat, and played, and danced against the bluing shield of eastern sky.
Then rising over a dune was a tall figure of a woman, and she held aloft her arm, and upon it, having circled high above, dove the falcon, and it caught, and stood thereon raised against the western golden light; behind this figure of shadow followed a mighty arm [man?], bearing a sword that shone black glistening as with dread and thirst of blood. Holding to this warrior, as it were hunting to slaughter at last his kin, even as he returned to shore, too late it seemed; bound by a rope about her waist was another woman-form, shadowed.
Then she threw back the hood of her cloak, and her hair received the golden light, and amber glowed radiant, and under her face upon her breast shot forth the blue light of a gem, ancient and clean; and it smote his eye, so that he could make out no more the forms, so blinding was the radiance of this witch. Now he saw in the distance his own kin about the fire cease their musing, and revelry; and stunned, as it were, stand as stones, pillars of salt upon the shore.
He dove from the canoe, and ran as he could up into the surf-crashing, calling to his kin to run, but the sound of the crashing of Ossë, or his laughter at dragging the man back only to see Ifariel and her witchmen slaughter all, nothing was heard; as if amid the tumult was the silence before the violence, when the trap has been stretched, and pauses before taking the creature captive, forever.
Then as the sun sent a few stray glimmers upon the golden shore, as though all was now and thereafter under an interminable shadow; as Varda looked upon him, and her own daughter, and Manwe embraced his spouse, and Ulmo arose in the mist, Ifariel was changed in an instance to Izilba, and she cast aside her cloak, and sent forth the falcon; and she ran into the wash, and leapt upon Zhera’, and the sun stopped its descent, hovering to send light thereon for all to look upon their joy, and weeping amid the surf.
Thus ends the Tale of Izilba, and her Zhera’. Yet now we shall tell what befalls the lovers, whose joy was greatest, having found all they had lost – Dyacôm his father and brothers, and they their mother, the daughters of Izilba, she of vision and lore, and the sons of Emmer, love also, unknown. And Zhera’ named his brother Zilpharon truly; to their eternal bond of love they bound also Emmer and his sons, and for a while, upon the shore, bliss had sent back all sickness, recall of misery and fear of Eru’s forsaking.
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