THE TALE OF IZILBA
[8 February 2017]
It has been told how Izilba with the sword Makmahôd laid waste to many instruments of dark evil, and how she herself was freed from bonds laid in preparation of her death as an offering to Melkor.4The words of the Faithful included at the end of this book tell in an ancient tongue of her rescue from the island and of heroic deeds thereafter. Here shall be told the tale of her love for Zhera’ and the grief at their parting ways and the paths taken thereafter.
In early years Izilba was found among the king’s garden often, though she herself was not of the line of Elros. A daughter of Jacob she was said to be, of the lineage of one you call Joseph, known to our rolls and records as Zimulof Kloshtuz, the bejeweled easterner of Eldarinwa, Tal Elmar in John Ruel’s stories. None truly know her descent, as she was recovered from a household ruined by fire, though none of the inhabitants were known to have given birth to a daughter, and so, she was a foundling, twice over. Later some would name here twice cast away, neither by light nor darkness desired. A grey one she was indeed, perhaps by long years or magical means a daughter not distant of Thingol Ellu, from who even the very great of Westernesse could not claim so near a lineage. She was high in the esteem of the king and his near kin, but keep [kept] at a distance for her eyes saw far and saw into darkness, and through it to the light in the furthest future times.
Gimilkhad knew her as a child, and in the days of her fostering by the royal house she came to womanhood under the reign of Ar-Gimilzor, father of Pharazon who brought ruin upon all [the] world. In him, it was said by the Faithful, she saw this portending, having seen the ruin in the eyes of the dead King Gimilzor whose lidless eyes, suffering of a burn, gave back the vision to her mind.5Tolkien reports Ar-Gimilzor was born Second Age 2960, ruling for 77 years until death in 3177. His son Gimilkhad (the younger) lived 3044— 3243, being short-lived for that race. The last king, Pharazon (3118— 3319) was wed to his cousin Tar-Miriel (3117—3319) sometime thereafter.
Never at rest save in the gardens of the royal house, and there even learning the song of bees and the keeping in honey of the pollens of every bush and flower, Grey Izilba would often drape herself naked in a cloak of honey bees, sweet and yet full of sting, when affairs of state required her attendance at the Tables of Council. Here it was she gained the eye and ear of Gimilzor who sought to arrange for her union with Pharazon, though to neither of the Arranged Ones (galthalion) “Children of Bonds of Joy,” was this hope to be hoped for. Distrust and at times open contempt there was between Izilba and the other, and yet so crooked were the days, that among the very great in the land, such measures were thought to give peculiar potency to the children of their union, and vitality to their lives. Little would any expect Arranged Ones to love one another, nor to bear the burden of the other’s full weight of desires, which in both were said to be at the fullest, truthfully or not.
The days hastened and as has been told elsewhere, Pharazon took his kin-sister to wife and usurped her scepter for his own, and by the strength of will of the kingsmen – of whose will to dominate and dictate the course of all living things was greatest in all the earth – his reign was celebrated by nobles, and accepted by commoners; though among the Faithful it was said he would bring their troubles to an end indeed, although none thought all their troubles, and some saw a greater foe, and a longer struggle in his end. A fog, as it were, was cast over his fortunes and none could reveal them clearly, either among the far-sighted or those who handled the crafts of divination and tools of scrying.
Martalion he was called in songs of praise, a Foretold One like unto the mighty men of old, of Turambar and Tuor his sire over the long years. In gold finery he covered his nakedness, gilded in sunlight so none could withstand him at mid-day, and girded in true-silver of Mithril, an emblem it was said of the portended Noble that would restore the land and its people to the glory that was sung of the gods in yesteryears, when the magic sun and silver Silpion gave light and truth to all the Fair Folk. Indeed, among that people it was held out in a final hope that in the exceeding vanity of this “Chosen One,” (for that title was carved into the belt of silver) – though the wise said in whispers that the belt alone had been chosen – in him some new relations of Man and Eldar might unfold, as indeed came upon them in Eressëa.
On a time of summer in the year of her imprisonment, Izilba stood in the night at her window, and gazing upon the candle of moon, the ancient Queen Silmariel came to her, and gave her comfort and wisdom, and a stone to speak with her when the moon was in its waning. This stone she named “sea-glass,” in part to dissuade any from its confiscation as contraband “Elvish glass” useful for their spies. The trash of Ossë such glass was indeed called by nobles, who nonetheless employed slaves in its gathering on the North Shores of Middle Earth, so to sell it in Eastern Markets, and even as amulets of great potency, healing, and so on, worn by Westernesse’s common people.
It happened on a spring time, of the Forthing Out of Waters and Roses, that Zhera’ was glanced upon by Izilba, and she knew him for one with a fate that enlarged the circles of the world, loosened the Girdle of Arda. He was of himself said to come in twilight to the shores of Northland in Westernesse, a lowly fisher and tracker of birds of prey, the falcon among them – who provided living specimens to the houses of nobles who delighted in their keeping. Their love consumed the two, and brought ruin upon the kin of Zhera’, who suffered of Pharazon’s men the Burning Death, a slicing off of flesh under blades of red-glowing sharpness, burning and cutting in a manner put upon beasts of sacrifice and High Feasts.
It was in the Fall of that year when Sauron came to power on the island, and the king became his mouthpiece, very great was the fear of the people of this Maiar, and he was worshipped as a God, though not without doubts. Yet in this day a souciance had spread over the people of that land, a brief contentment with their lot in Arda, though one obtained under a false hope and promise of finally escaping the way set upon them by “Distant Gods,” a way demanding their acquiescence to unknowing upon death. In death’s ceremonies they sought by preservation of corpses to give refuge to souls uncertain of the “Right Way” – though to where, it was no longer spoken; indeed, for a great many years it was known that West with the sinking sun the soul would tread upon still waters until arriving in joy at Elvenlands – in this preservation they sought to delay the loss of life, and to keep all men of high birth upon the land, perhaps in some hinted stratagem to make a trial of the West and of their strength at arms against spirits of great men. Few thought such dark plans were any other than lies devised by some ancient priesthood – rebels that opposed the burial of corpses, and for whom it was a dimly explained rite of ascension to have one’s body consumed in flame.
At the Fall Harvest Prayer upon Mount Dolmed, raised by men long ago under the Pillar of Heaven in likeness of a Hill of Foretelling in old tales, on this mount Sauron in guise of a penant made oaths to all the people, of service everlasting to the flowering of the land, and in time to take their reign of wisdom and light – for such should be achieved, he said, if humility and honesty henceforth cover us as the moon’s silver light falls upon the fields of honest men in blessing – to take as torchbearers of Arda Renewed to all the world’s realms and people, which he himself has darkened and enslaved to lies and wickedness beyond the measures of Westernesse’s clerks and starmen.
To this rite (in mock of Eru Illuvatar’s prayer atop Meneltermo) Izilba was constrained to walk, dressed by command in garlands of white blossom of a rose known for piercing thorns, said of a time useful by hunters to draw in witless prey, and keep it until at leisure it could be slain and gutted (just folklore, of course). Zhera’ remained in hiding, though he knew her path led far away from the island, a truth in breach of confidence she herself gave of the words of Silmariel to her.
He doubted her path away was joined with his own, for he was constrained by hostage-taking to remain within sight of a tower of guard, and yet ever away from the coasts. Starving he was, though mermaids, it was said, fed him at need, and gave him clean water to drink (it wasn’t so, of course, but some fools hope[d] to catch a specimen for their collections).
Following the ceremony, Izilba was put into bonds of iron and cast into a pit alone, kept for many days in secret without the consent of the king, for which a woman of noble house, even in those days of laws-at-ease, the law of most respected tradition still required.
Cloaked in the filth of that pit – for it was a dumping pit of carcasses, and the mud was darkened by blood, and it stank without ceasing – she was taken under a waxing moon near to full to the Houses of Iron, in preparation as among the first offerings made in penance by King Ziggurun in atonement of the sins of the kings of Westernesse, whose folly most great was in the blending of divine blood with that of the orc-men of Eastern lands whose capacity for wickedness the High King had fully explored and expanded. None, it was said, knew this design upon her body, to be bled out over the Fires of Nimloth, to staunch its burning and revive the promises of Springing Forth. And bounty some said were held in its “essence” or smoke; for it was not against any law for men to gather the dead wood of this tree at the time of winter and to make fires in their fields that culminated in the burning of strands of bark, or Nimloth’s fallen leaves and dead branches. But the tree was felled, and Izilba brought to their House – for the “Fain” was not yet spoken of – for purification before her offering in atonement, the First of a Noble House.
At this time, and so it had been irregularly for many years, children of less-born names were offered up as a reservoir for Great Men-in- Spirit who wandered the land before the preservation of corpses had been achieved. Now it was never thought the bodies of children would be utterly possessed by such specters, though children oft said was so, when under punishment for minor crimes – a Tale of Elvenlands it was said by parents in response. Yet, what had been mere fancy of childhood was by the king now realized, as these bodies were indeed in great secrecy made vessels of ancient spirits that gnawed in darkness, wasting accursed without the flesh.
As has been seen,6Again, in the Words of the Faithful given after this tale: specifically, the First and Second texts. Izilba was indeed freed from her bonds under the reek, by Zhera’ and the lovers fled in hand from the City of Light, the King’s Seat on the land, by ways known to beasts and bird along the coast in the night to sea caves, awaiting some chance to sail away forever from the island. Here the pair waited on the spread of the reek at Nimloth’s conflagration, while the moon waned into its void of night, and nothing could be seen from any watchtower. Swam they did to waiting throng of sea-wains, and a wind drove them far from sight off the coast, adrift with currents sending them northward.
Alone the couple grieved but gloried in their union of heart, flesh, and fates. Zhera’ had obtained for her as the gift of their plight the stone [sea-glass], though how it was he came into its ownership, he never revealed – it was guessed by Izilba that some bird of his training had been called upon for the work of its recovery from her room in the complexes of the houses of the Nobles – but at this guess, Zhera’ said nothing. Probably it was not so simple a thing to acquire, and it cost him much.