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The wages of sin is Death, and thereabouts the lands yet remained much death, where before had been sin; and though the main instigators of grievous evil now were in a hole, abiding accursed, without dying nor life to grasp and hold, there upon the lands residing upon Arda remained to be purged as with a fuller’s cleaning thrusts, the fruits of those paid in full; and yet unpaid still are those cast into their pits, unresolved until returns the lands that fled their feet and grasping hands and slobbering lust.

Now, it is not stated that Eru repays the Sinner in his death; rather, the working out of sins resolves in death, unnatural when first beheld by Men, now held as entirely innate to your sort (mortals). Death of the body surely, but also death to one’s fabrication, the hand’s metal outpouring stilled, and cold, cracks a-shatter; the mind’s efforts to piece and puzzle extraordinary, falters and blows as chaff in a later breeze.

Death in many forms and guises indeed came upon as raining down from Heaven to spoil the residue of Numenor’s gladiatorial theaters, where blood spilt daily, and was by beast- men lapped up, and bathed in, even as the many corpses piled up, unburied, swarmed with carrion and flies aplenty. So by disease were these eliminated, their markets having not administrators, nor fearful managers, faltered, and provoked rebellion among those penned and chained, to a spreading forth of death, daily visited; towns and settlements scattered, abandoned endeavors to labor at industry, thrifty no longer, for all lands were ending, it was proclaimed; and mines collapsed, so what holes remained were by no miner delved longer; but only haunts of beasts and wicked men, remained; all in your day called economy, order, politic and nation-trade, ceased; dying as man’s first youthful flowering wilted amid a too-early summer heat, and those works of evil were stayed (awhile); though not now did all men repent, and return to wisdom and the lore taught by wandering wisemen, gleaned from elf-kind; instead of joyful supplication, and replacing of evil with good, rather was found dumb wandering, as in a mist of grey cloud, too dull for seeing, yet preserved for lacking darkness utter;

And men died indeed, in that day when the lands heaved out into seas, and seas barfed entrails as it were, so wrenching were the excoriations she received of Ulmo, having turned in a day to serve another (a man!); and of the winds thereabouts, it is not said they’ve wavered in honoring Eru by Manwë’s obedience-to; yet some said those sails of skin were bellowed, and not by any art known to man so filled they; so perhaps the Airs rested a-linger, to consider what had bypassed, those lands, and what remained for her to caress, or trouble, or cast about one grain against another, so that deserts unrolled, and crashed slow upon the mighty towers raised against the rule of Eru; and death in unraveling stone and sinew of bony-wood, and consuming fire rained down from a red firmament, squelching all who thought in death, destruction, ruin to undo the Tune whistled and hummed by Eru, small but resonant with hurricane and earthquakes. Spinning devils, some feared, bore away children in payment for cleaning the land of fireful drakes and poison asps; so we come amid the survey of death, raining down, boiling upward, and strolling as sand blows over sandpiles, to a crack in the earth, where now Joseph stops, and leaning, gazes into, to see if indeed those unhappy folk of Bilhah have here retreated, for days, until nighttime falls and settles its cover black – starless as the void again upon the land’s body.

Over here, whispers Rugus in the failing light, down this shaft we may gain our entry, and scour our doubts regarding whither all those maids, in my far-reaching glass I spied.

Now Rugus it was who when nearly a year previous, departed the Zheradin with no promises of ever-seeing; and in wandering, returned whence all slaves: to the Master bound. Yet in so ambling, as it were by happenstance – although to him it was compulsory, if only gentle – that perforce he passed under that ugly tree a-propped, withholding the falcon catch, every day, dewy to the protuberances hidden well below the level he trod; and when so passing there under, he halted, being without direction, pulled neither pushed, and so he stood blindly, dumb- staring, as if both awakening from a long sleep, and returning to a deeper enfolding slumber. So he stood, content perhaps, while the sun seemed to pass above glum skies crossed about in a thatchwork of fumes and sulphur reek.

And thereabouts also returned, as though also sleep- walking, ZK, Joseph once of Eressëa, no longer to be so named; but abandoned, by exiles no less! And despondent, all his works unraveling of their intended designs, to enmesh and tangle about his way, so he stumbled, when after seeing in dream-vivid sight, the flight of the lands and Ones Westward, to him known by sight; Having no reason to doubt the drowning of Tendril Isle, or the lucky escape of Asenath with (luckier still!) Machir, now was he alone; Thingol-su returned not, neither did Ki-Abroam make himself known, after that sky he split, red-and-copper burning, and cleaved their homeland twain; eager still were those wraiths to arise in might, or assuage unsating avarice, or to wreck what remained of goodly stores, and industrious households, burning farmlands, and spoiling bridges as they went about in hoards of heavy-footed Easterners, swart and squat, unlovely of tongue, and pleased to turn every intonation or whim into ruin realized.

So he returned, too, lastly of all who escaped that realm- arising under a reddening eye; for though he saw nor perceived not, a bond was set as upon his shoulders and thus yoked, he pulled what future-hoped-for, feet-adragging, back to the chambers where last he looked upon and kissed the faces of his daughters, alight by his own failing oil, all poured out.

So now seated as though hiding from the heat of the day, in the shade of that standing elm, was also despondent, glanceless, Joseph, many years aged as in [a] day, and having suddenly it seemed sprouted a beard to rival his forefather’s boasted follicular generations.

Indeed straggled about, entangled with vine and twig, reached his beard, curling in the wind, to draw the unmoved gaze of friend-Rugus and he sat down, and rested his head upon Joseph’s shoulder, and Joseph, his hand clasped; both there wept without shame, for being alone, in all the world, having chanced here of all places, one upon another; and grieving also each for a friend estranged, in misery, misapprehended now his own plight, and how near to failing ruin each had carried his own course;

In the night, they arose, and promising never to stray one from another, so long as each abided, and desired not solitude forever, hands interlocked they scurried stealthily out that realm, by devious ways to few then walked, and in brief time came they to further shores, westward gaping; thence they wandered, as beggardly father and son, south along the twisting line of coast;

Often they failed in walking, or even at waking; resting at leisure or at need, indistinguishable, so careless now were they.

So it was they arrived at that blowhold in searock, known it seemed now an age lived long before, to Rugus; who recalling what none encountering may ever forget, knew this place the portal wherein was kept, a Silmaril, safely, overwatched by a sometimes seated wraith, and his brother aglimmer, yet remorseful.

And though a long and hopeless endeavor, these two mortal men came in a long while, astarved for food and the light it gathers, to an opening far under earth, where borne was that gem, and so it seemed to carve before it a tunnel of a hole- grotto; and many tunnelings beside, to amaze and confuse even the hearty and well-prepared; until coming to rest, in a wide opening pool, black upon black upward; there to enlight as it chose, whensoever it deemed, and never else more.

Thus dark, and weary unto death, these two halted, and grieved not, for neither cared now to live, only to no longer suffer in bodies by Melkor perverted, and bend along paths that ever conclude, not in light’s embrace, but a darkness, vast, solid, unencumbered by sound, save one’s failing breath and that of thy companion’s last wrenching gasps, before a wall surrounding.

When beaming out, suddenly, that Silmaril awakened, and called to Rugus, knowing in him one aforetime introduced; and also naming to Joseph its light come to ignite his fading fire, reaching forth hands to clasp, pulled both upon their feet, and dusting them off, bid them sit awhile, and drink of it.

Renewed, yet without direction, these men departed, with promises to return, and bring news of the others, kin in light, awaiting.

Yet here stooped over a crevice of earth, we return to Joseph ZK Tal-Elmar of Ruel’s writings, and he glancing now over to Rugus, even as he descended into the slender shaft, and sank as it were into the earth, his russet hair high standing, alit by some nether glow, that to Joseph was not like the pure radiance of the gem unearthed by the same; and it caressed his fantasy-hopes, that here he may find rest, to renew his long search for stray sons of Verlû, Ephraim and Manasseh (to your books known). Maybe, the thought entered his heart, maybe even here they survived the tumults, and once again he has stumbled upon a long-searched out kin, suddenly revealed when least anticipated.

But it was not so. And here Rugus fell into gross wickedness, being enamored of the flesh of many women, here embarked upon a course not to be recommended to any reader, and of his deeds came many evil fruits, and yet in that abundance, a single good olive, taken to planting afar off. Of his deeds there we pass over in silence, mustering ourselves to consider the good this warrior often wrought, to stranger, and not least to Zheradin otherwise often lost in a wilderness everchanging. But into wickedness his proclivity sank, and there still abided for a time, in obedience of oaths taken on in other (somehow preferable) times, his companion who shared that lost light.

And here we leave our trusty man, Zimulof the Easterner all a-jeweled; now to see how it came to be – that amid a whoredom, of temptations needful in that epoch where ending it seemed was all the world of Men, so to waste out one’s days in gluttony of flesh partaken, even beyond the coursing lusts of basest soldiery; and also to earn thereby bread sufficient to stuff into one’s mouth, or into the bellies of children caught awander across that desolate plain-desert; being borne there, it was said in boasts of hateful resentment, by the gods themselves, who scattered now all the hosts of men, wily-nily, wheresoever bloweth their wills inscrutable; and sometimes these women did make offerings of saved kine, to the tornados that spun about that place, and leaving the child a-milking, knowingly set some out in harm’s way, as though to propitiate the very gods mocked and despised in their fleshy ceremonies, hateful. Then in the dawn, crawling forth, these keepers of the Brothel would look about the changing face of the lands, with hands shielding the dim light out of their eyes, and return in silence, to await some straying catch thereto hindered; delayed; and coiffed, and moistened, became embedded in the groundwork of arising world, accepting of misery, as natural right only, given to all man’s estate.

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