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THE TALE OF FRIENDS
6 May 2017
Now we bring to conclusion these tales of Izilba the fair one of Westernesse, and her espoused beloved Zhera’, and their friends, and kin. It has been told how the North of the land called by John Ruel “Middle Earth” there was housed among the Eldar, the heirs of Amandil; Elendil, Isildur, and Anarion, and they of their houses, kindred, servants, and honored guests. Little of the plans of Pharazon did they reveal to any, even of the Noldo, exiled in that land, reluctant to head back west whence they parted ages prior, rebels seeking unbounded lands free of Vanya and of the wiles of Melko, unwitting possessed among the wise Valar.
Elendil and Isildur learned naught of Amandil’s torment, and treacherous betrayal by kingsmen, and nothing would they do to provoke the guile or machinations of Thû to bring to their lands, after gaining mastery of their homeland Numenor.
Nigh to Eressëa there landed amid the weeds and flotsam of ruined and lost vessels, there came a man, called in records the name Zimulof Kloshtuz, Joseph of Dreams, and Tal Elmar of uHazad’s line, cast astray by the rising power of kingsmen upon Westernesse. Hither the man maybe would perish, but for the passing of a swan- boat bearing Asenath, herself a mortal of noble house, guested among the exiles in that land, albeit in secret and contrary to the laws.
She had come in the last days of the War of Wrath upon Beleriand, when the children of High Birth upon Valinor, of Vanyar and the remnant of Noldo that stayed against the will of Feanaro, set foot upon the Mortal Lands under dominion of the Dark Liar, caster of shadows and illusions dreadful, fateful; and there encamped, resting amid the glory of his ruin and putting forth out into the void, when spring was again opened upon the earth, and the ices pushed back to furthest north: having no enemies, nor urgency pressing their company to return west, some strayed to look out upon those lands then known in vision and story, a thing of wonder surpassing representation, in their encounter. The wide seas looking west, and great diversity of plants and creatures that walked, and none having shared language or tongue, many being silent to their inquiry or invitation to friendship; and to learn of them the doings and happenings in a strange realm; straying, they happened upon the child Asenath, alone amid the wreck, stranded upon a rock by churning seas surrounded; against their law and lore, she was secreted back, but being warned away from trespass to the Sacred Land of Aman, she was borne across the way to Eressëa and there maintained her house, alone of mortals there.
Thus she was of the fall of your flesh much redeemed, and healed; being renewed upon the land, for our bread is leavened of the lilies that long ago drank up the light blessed, castabout the Magic Trees Remembered; and our mead comes of their nectar, a syrup golden, of which your honey holds but a distant, faint shape, or sound. Fed our food, the body of Asenath became well, and sickened not, neither aged, yet it was guessed that death these delights may not forestall forever, and she would pass into the night, wither all men depart.
Contemplating these sayings, under the stars of day then revealed even under the day, when the blue of our sky held out not the stars, nor shut out their influence, but all was a glimmer, and many hues rained throughout the canopy, thus Asenath did stray in her boat, being unwary; and so was she smitten by the man’s presence, as if dead upon a casket of rotting wood, embarked thereon. Her heart was given over to him, and she landed near, swam to his resting place, and laid her head upon his chest, and rested her face against his living breath, as one given new life, sprung forth. Yet living, the man roused not, but was hauled upon a slight sleigh, back to her vessel.
In the day he awoke, certain he was that death had carried him to Valinor, and its glory surpassed all understanding, and if he grieved, it was for this comprehension alone. As yet, moreover, Asenath revealed not herself, but was content to pull the man as she may, uncertain whether upon her homeshores he might be drawn, or perish at last; for its glory was very great, and joy has often ended the few mortals who scented its fields or gazed as struck by some magic bolt, from afar its peaks, golden, and pouring forth white and purple falls, as a rain of gems under sunlight, and stars in the blue twilight.
Yet bear him she did, in her shadow keeping him from sight of her home, until at last coming into the bay of Elvenhome, nigh to Avallonë, the sea fell silent and all was smooth, as when long before the fathers of the kings of Westernesse were borne from broken Beleriand to the Gift, the land prepared for blessing men; preserved amid Arda Marred, a memory of Once that Was Not, where men without evil, suffering not sickness nor death untimely, thrived and gave in joy to Valar and Eldar alike, being enamored of their works and free to amend them in fashion unconsidered by both.
Smooth, silent, without warm breeze or cool breath from the mountains of that blessed realm, she beached her vessel, and standing in the pool of the sea, pulled her catch as it were a fisher of men at day’s end, upon the shore. And here he looked upon his savior, most beauteous in a realm made glorious in penance and redemption, free to receive the music of Ainur, and the visitation for rest and friendship of Vala, great was their joy at the Exiles’ return. This man looked upon and beheld what small portion unveiled, and yet were it not for the love of Asenath, sudden and befallen upon him as avalanche, he too would have perished, being driven out the flesh by love of Arda Revealed, and to rest upon her as a spirit, forever happy.
She being mortal, he perceived; and love flowed forth, and nurtured his understanding, hastening his gaze from Arda to her person, and here upon her face, his mortal soul set its anchor, as it were, against the violence of wonder crashing about his being, and he wept, being without thought, mind, word, and bound to flesh in spirit by love alone for she that stood upon the waves, and called for him to be not afraid, “Beloved, it is as foreseen in dream, where you beheld much that is now upon this island, or once was, or shall be yet; yet myself thou didst not behold, nor I, thee in all my thoughts or fancies herein, at this seaside shanty, where from my childhood I have resided, alien and yet unwilling to depart hence. O man, I perceive thou love me, as I do love thee, and here we twain shall rest, and live, and raise our family.”
The man then stood upon his little sea-barge, and would run to her, but sank deep under the sea, though it was but not more deep than the height of a man in that day, he was therein swallowed underneath, and would have likely drowned, had not he awakened as from a dream, to stand aloft the sand, rising over the still sea, and he laughed, then, and to him swam Asenath, and he to her also and none saw their bliss, for the sun had fallen west, and when they awoke from embrace amid the sea, it too breathed and shoved them upon the shore, there to lie under stars, and the lunging, plunging breath of waves rolling and reaching across the strand. Their bliss was very great, and all griefs remained, being recalled, sweetened and the wisdom and blessing of Eru rested upon their minds.
Here he remained, and grew young again, being nurtured as once she had been. Their union was not hidden from any who called upon Asenath, and it was known among the Noldo in Valinor, and guessed by the Gods in that land, a turn strange and yet by none brought about, nor aided in the violation of decrees unbreachable otherwise.
Asenath bore to Joseph seven daughters; and being free of mortal conditions (save mortality itself), they often pedaled their boats to Tirion, and were by Vanyar received, and of them learned much that neither parent understood, nor pressed by inquiry into revelation. Promises they had freely made, and never did any of these sisters speak even the tongue of Valinor beyond her walls.
They revealed themselves in forms terrible and as tongues of flame, too seldom to those under duress or evil bonds in lands east, and it was their intervention that scattered the Undead Wraiths, when in afterdays Izilba wandered alone into new marshes, to fight beside the heir of Amandil, their descendant by indirect lineage.
These sisters also sent back the fumes of Gorgoroth, when in the valley of Kiliath all would have perished, yet here they too were altered, and brought under the earth, to be bound and condemned, being against nature, and beyond the memory of Music. Yet it is said that when the chains were sent down, to drag them thither, the gatemen of Hell opened the way, being astonished, and wary, fearing firstly, ever for the security of that prison; and the soundness of its walls and gate; so poured out, in readiness waiting, many kindred dead, escaping thereby judgment of him that is not Manwë, but who would be, to all, Lord Alone; and free they shot forth from the vents and crevices of that broken valley floor, in wonder; pouring out rivers of joy across the air, raining gladness upon Bilha ^(clan) and the folk of Zilpa in regions roundabout. Yet also in that pouring forth, of heat intense, the stones shouted, melting, again to re-assemble as stacked boxes, what your wise call Hopper crystals, being of the element Bismuth, mostly, throughout.11I had never heard of Bismuth before writing this story.
These daughters also could not be withheld in Hell, and raised up as light eternal, stars as if come of earth, falling upward, meteoric, in a flash blinding to all the folk in that realm. How it was they came to bear this light has not been said, but herein will be told, for it concerns the greatest grief a mortal man has borne, and yet suffered to live, enduring all pain, so that man might again set foot on lands forsaken, and to all save Ainur, forbidden.
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