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Left to linger afloat the whole ocean, Asenath beheld the open vault of heaven and her stars, horizon to horizon, though lighter in her blackness than the sea surrounding, rolling gesticulations of self-contempt, and recrimination for bearing or suffering the lot of piratical tyrants now housed well inside mother earth, but not gestating in a womb. Prisoners they were, Numenoreans folded under, in this world of darkness everlasting, and heats aswelter. All that tumult and war-ruin, cries and exultations of Man, not-yet exalted, was past; and silence reigned, interrupted by thumping sea taps against her boat’s hull and sides; Machir stood and looked, in silhouette Asenath was struck by the beauty of his figure, pure and sculpted amid the light, yet still bearing under and above two darknesses, unlight.
The lands departed, effortless rising, and were no longer seen against the stars; what had before her eyes passed she did not doubt nor believe, and too early was the loss for grief, still present was hope of return, or her ascension; neither came, and the days and nights rolled overhead, each sun and moon pulling up memory and sister-grief, and coming down, having not looked nor shone upon the Blessed Hallowed dales and mountains, sands and streams, their light restricted its glow, and cast over all was a veil of sadness, never to overcome; the stars blighted, left the day her blue sky, undappled; and the night, no silver nor gold streaked; whether angry wrath or sullen reconciliation to their departure, Asenath vacillated, herself as the heaven’s orbs, wandered; they were gone: friends and kin, Vala, Edain-sick, Atani imperfect, and Elves all. The seas breathed, and she with Machir asked of the waters, What now? Whither the Man-maid of Tendril Isle, and her boy-nymph, unready for that world’s treacheries, and its slop, the works of iron, the cold bitter? No answer to her prayer, she took up a rowing oar, and with Machir at her side pulling waters in time, Westward they pushed that vessel light upon the waters.
As they neared the coasts, hills rolled out of the curve of sea’s ending, and from there, arose throughout the day and night, ships fleeing Arda, and rising upward, until vanishing; aglow by day, and shining as dull stars in night, she knew the vessels as Vanyari ships, by Teleri composed of stocks of lumber kept in the preserves of Noldo-unfallen; a work of three peoples, lighted by Vala-breath and wisdom to rise into all airs about Arda, and to traverse the Hidden Things. Now they arose, and did not return back down, but were as if swallowed by the opening vault, each by their absence departing our misery, and leaving more to follow therefrom.
But of these griefs, we ought not speak; yet still their absence resonates, where once joyful laughter and music sublime rolled free across entire continents, no longer, but sorrow, dread vast open space upon lands unfriendly, and mourning its loss and newcomer’s blithe lack of comely deportment and wise treatment; a cut has been made, and scars only show what was taken, and what lingered.
No ships would greet her vessel-bark off the shorestrand, and too fearful to wade or swim (a sea-nymph? Hah!), Asenath and Machir watched as the last fleets arose, and then again as before, the sky fell shut, and black went the sudden vault’s skein. Yet howls remained, for her ship’s passenger and captain to fear from, and now knowing their danger, having rowed nearly to shore, even to run aground the land known as forbidden her kind and her son also, she wept, heaving her body with the waves’ grieving, and to her kneeled Machir, and upon her knees he also wept, knowing now, firstly the bitterness of Man, knowing absence, the whip of time, lashing onward when our ships would stay to linger where joy was, but now gone, arisen or sunk; a-facing her tears’ deluge, he understood his own father’s bravery, and hopeful deeds against every loss; and their futility, and the vanity of our tiny hands that cannot even time hold up, nor any water steer, nor land raise and keep aloft; yet suffer these may, and do, and will ever more, broken blistered, calloused unfeeling (in blessing! To unfeel!) gnarled by necessity’s work, crushed and splintered seeking aid of dead wood, to straighten ourselves; Ah, the unbearable weight of Man fell now upon his youth, and he was aged therefrom many summers, or else would like to have perished, for the losses of our infancy and youth are slow in coming, and gentle, bearing; but now as one drop, all fell, and Machir reeled, and lay in the boat’s bottom part, wrenching, wretched; Asenath knew all this, and arose a spirit of flame in this darkness upon the Great Deep, and to her son she now kneeled, and comfort gave him; until he rested, and she too, slept.
So they floated by the current’s wandering, southward, along the strand, and for many days, slept; waking only to drink, and to partake of the little food given them by Thingol, guest now it seemed an age ago, in a dream land, light enmeshed. And as the father before run aground, so now this little sturdy craft paused, and itself rested, being vigilant where her captain neglected caution, and weary, sought a safe shore of ghosts, empty. None may conceive nor hear to write the sorrow come upon Asenath, having lost what was given, and for an eternal friend and kinship, with glorious souls, gone. Neither shall we linger to contemplate, but pass by her, marooned amid the tides warm, and a little earth fruitful, straining water in keep[ing] preserved living things, a way station long ago perhaps, for seabirds and waifs stranded, in blessing set without the fence of Valinor, lands to all but Holy, forbidden.
Ulmo perhaps directed the woodcraft seabarge to those small shores, where waited no ghost, nor wraith; but a being, ageless, come to Arda before the Dark Primordial descended; and a-watch the plight of gods, internecine battles beyond, aiding where appropriate, and staying observant otherwise;
Plucking at an axe-head, he (?) sat in the strand, washed by the tide’s incoming, and hummed to her, to draw her from that boat; and there she peering over in wonder to cut through all grief, hopelost sorrow delving endless, that smiling gnome- master Ki-Abroam, of no race identified; (is laughter embodied a species of creature?).
Daughter Divine, fear no sorrow after that sinking
Of all your hopes, and life in joy, sent
Heavenward, to you has come, blessing amid
The cursing of thy household, long descended;
And new upon the lands west, raised by Ulmo
In secret preparation for contingent vacancies,
If needful; small to inhabit, suited he foresaw,
Best for Man, and by Vala and Elf, neglected.
Thy husband even now ponders
His own course, and I having left him
Not so recently, saw in distant future-time, he
Beheld but did not grasp, that gem whose light
Was kept, to the furtherance of Eru’s design—
So safely may be housed in Ulmo’s prefecture, a tribe
Of Man, first to come where was all
Hallowed Realm under Manwë-Varda kingship; and
Yet unredeemed, claim they suzerain, it for a time,
To dwell while other plots are contrived, and seeds
Brought up for a new planting; here shall
Thy husband reign, with thee, in blessed peace,
Forever, alongside Vala-born-as-man,
Died to restoration, spirit renewed, all; and
Thy kingdom everlasting, arm by arm
Thy Man Joseph, is here established!
Where once an age before in Doriath these two lay dead, limbs intertwined, he bearing on brow that gem to heaven taken in Earendel’s Vingelot; restored shall be that kingdom, Dior-Ausir and his White Tree Girl Nimloth, of no house raised, but of the earth brought forth; So in long After Days, as her own past outrolled, and Dior’s fate told, may Asenath beauteous, wise, generous, spiteless and friend to every stranger, hold her king Sovereign, Joseph-Dior, to look out, and in the fields of Arda, behold the threshing hosts, from heaven returned, Eressëa’s Exiled, replanted aside all others, who losing what was given, may find in Asenath-Joseph’s realm, restoration to fullness of joy, everlasting: Eru’s children, their Earth rightly; and Valar, the Light of Trees, unencumbered.
This blessing pronounced where cursing alone she considered, Asenath was by Ki-Abroam, embraced, and Machir, also. The gnome-laughter axe-wielder then taught them great lore of Ancient Days, perhaps to none other upon Arda-Earth known; and when Lore exhausted their spirits, he told tales comical, and listened to their own; and near them, labored, as a grandfather of the children of Men ought to have worked, yet he alone knows their original plight, and danger, Ancient of Days.
A long time, he said as the days ended their counting of a month since the sky turned rushing black, and stars fled their house in the day;
One month, only, yet a long while it may be,
Before Joseph and Thee sit at meat, as king
And queen. A long while, further now than
Even my mind can foresee; though gone out of vision,
It was before, and so again
In Eru’s blessing, shall better contrived, yet be.
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