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Should the pair send forth their throng into unknown open seas, the store of food could not assure them of “suitable nutrition,” as Zhera’ grimly joked; indeed they now faced the unknown with few provisions, a merry cruise away from darkness, a gallant rescue now come to a worse end, perhaps. Zhera’ was no mariner, his craft was hardly suited for open seas, and his star-lore led him to North and South, West and Eastward, but never by their navigation. A wanderer he was, trailing game and prey along coasts or up courses of rivers, paddling through swamps, seldom straying far from coastal lands, ever between the sea and the lands of Middle-Earth. Of his lack of knowledge and expertise at sea, he revealed nothing to Izilba, though perhaps she guessed some measure of his doubts. His stone had dimmed, and seldom did stray words come openly to it, Isildur’s fate being not yet revealed; though Zhera’ hoped to tarry with him many days, but not upon Westernesse.
Izilba for her part ate less, and smiled more often than was her custom, even with Zhera’. No signs or specters had she witnessed since their first day embarked upon the rock-isle, and the stone of Silmariel remained closed. She could see no way to proceed westward to Eressëa, vaguely known to her; for she held the elves in cautious suspicion, hearing of their designs upon Man, and ambitions, it was said in the courts, to make all the realms their own.
Was not Thû one of their kind, albeit greater in lore and might and daring, she once asked of Silmariel, who plainly told her it was not so, that he was of the greater kind, Amanyar who in ancient days held himself out to Melko, called him Dark Eru, seeing in him his rise to power, and the decline of his master’s.
Honking in the distance, but not high up in the new sky, golden and pale rose in the clear dawn: Zhera’ knew the sound of swans in flight, and he leapt from the wain’s hole and stood looking west. The rising sun cast a shadow of the rock-isle, retreating from their float in the small harbor that had become their trap; and lit upon the glory of the white birds, and the purple of their under-plumage. The flock wheeled and circled the rock, and the[n] glided onto the grey-green waves at the far end of the harbor.
Izilba joined him to witness the coming of a hope, for land was surely not too far, if they set forth well, and held to the course they knew not. East, or South, they must sail, but no wind had come for many days, or too violent a blowing for Zhera’s craft’s strength to try and test openly.
With the long seasons of cold temperatures in recent years, sea levels had fallen, exposing new shores and buried rocks treacherous to mariners. Such were these teeth, and the new small harbor, though some portion of Tol Morwen had ever been above the seas, save in the ruin of Beleriand, and the floods that briefly covered the lands.
Urgently the pair gathered nets and rope to trap the swans, altogether, fancying to harness the entire flock to the throng, and like Elves of old to come to Middle Earth in wains swan-yoked at flight. As they planned in haste to surround and surreptitiously capture the birds alone or as a flock, the rising sun cast its gleam upon all the green sea surrounding the rock isle, and it sparkled its depth, shallow and glassy as crystal against the black cliffs and the white fowl. Then a spectre of pale yellow glowed amid the circle of swans, even as the pair watched from afar, and it seemed to be relieved of a weight of grief, and to briefly be enjoyed of their company.
A shade of Nienor it was, barred by her own will against entry to the rest of Mandos, here she had dwelt for three thousand years. Her twice-beloved Turin returned not, and she without kin or friend in life, betrayed by nearly all, waited for what fate the whole earth should suffer.
Enchanted, the pair of lovers felt nonetheless that though their watching was known to the shade, it was right to turn away, and let her grieve and rest with her swanfriends in secret, again. Thus they swam silently to the southern break of cliff, out of sight, in shadow and once again knowing their situation; and the desperate hope to find new land, or food enough to survive in healthy passage to Northern lands.
And hither straying, the pair found a worn stairway, and taking it despite the new heathers and mosses, they entered into a small chamber, a sea-cavern revealed only in low tide, in these cold seasons. Hither might they have perished, famished in great misery, had they not rested and wept, and found the sea-sand concealed a small, underwater passage, which led to a high pillared hall lit by the sun’s rays through narrow tunnels of light, refracted in the facets of a thousand gems.
In this sea-cavern hall amidmost, set back against a sheer wall of white streaked black rock, was a pale cube the breadth and width of a small man. From it a horn (seeming), of black rock, polished and gleaming, shot forth, and it was the hilt of a hidden sword. Izilba walked to the cube, ran her hands over the bee’s wax, known to her by scent and taste, though here was greater store than any she’d seen, of a kind glittering suspension with golden flecks of some ancient flower’s pollen. Her hands grasped the sword’s hilt, and she pulled it from the wax, with ease, and the sword sang as it came forth, laughing that it’s restful incarceration had come to an end, and the evil of this new day would by its steel be stung, shivered, and sliced.
Zhera’ fell back, stunned at the sounds and the vitality of this thing of death, as it surely was.
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