Some years passed indeed from the Tower’s fall before Thingol set forth apartnered with Ki-Abroam, in that time it is supposed, little being certain, that he gave what aid and succor a spirit fading might, to wandering souls thrown out in the ruin of Mordor-First, and the upheavals that Gothmog apushing wrathy, loosed there many spirits not unchained for an age (or more). So he gathered as a shepherd, the straying ewe and lamb, and returned them to courses more promising of a joyful day, and a few he delivered to Gil-galad, while many others he sent a shipping by a wind, westward, huddled masses, crouching against the looming light, failing, and rising darkness uplifting, as waves tossing unhappy sailors, marooned between worlds, lacking the heart to choose one way or the other, and so few of the ships came to harbors blessed in the West, and none were received gladly – for in those days the Elves had a lock, as it were, and pulling a chain of floating islets about their sea-realm, did blockade (even as men in those days); so in limbo of Hell, these ships rested on shores un-everlasting, ever eaten at by the waves, as gnawing doubts, and there they remained and many were lost in the fleeing of the Noldor from Arda, and in the sea’s wrenching upheavals, there following.
Yet none had power greater among these exiles to stay the float of Thingol King, and commanding the parting of waters, he leap[s] from his bark, and leading before his shipmate, walked as a bodied-one through the gates that otherwise kept without all having not invitation; fear of what, none of the Exiles upon that island could speak out, precisely, but signs were shown, in heaven and under sea, to line with the words and sayings of Rumil loremastered above all Elves then in Arda; the sun belched and bellowed flames, while the moon at times hid his face in darkness, as though fearful of what upon Earth was taking place, where before righteous men governed all to peace; And the stars were at battle, one group fixed against another, though no man perceived these tidings until it was too late, indeed, having ignored or willfully abjured the witnesses of previous intelligences delivered undeniably from the Powers enthroned upon White Mountains Westward.
So even had he attempted the crossing, being suddenly again a second-aged, eldered-twice as a man, even Joseph ZK may have found no reception before the gates locked and absent a watch-warden; yet attempt this deed, in return he did not. For as yet he rather hoped to return with a Silmaril, and then to lead all honorable men as he might find passage for, as in Tales of Olden Days, when Numenor was raised up in greeting-salute of Earendel’s lofty beam; fanciful he remained, perhaps the more so, having himself witnessed and acted in the Elvish wight’s enstorying out from word into deed, as with a whisper the blocks of castles impenetrable came down a-tumbling, supplicants of his cheer. So now he delayed return, also finding no words to tell the glory and grief of their daughters’ upraising heavenward, as star-sisters of myth, he tarried rather than hold Asenath in a house empty, and without set date of their little ones’ embeaching and sudden arrival at the shores of their homeplace. So he waited, and often while a-slumber, he considered again that Eru-potter enwheeled with the catchall clutch, drawing to his inexorable will all that would be, and thus shaping the ways by all unseen, and slight seeming, but small work, “effortlessly undone.”
So too in dream came the words and wisdom of Rugus, even as he camped and wandered aside the Zheradin, guiding their course and receiving of the largess manifold to which they often would come, as if stumbling men beholding a faery circle aflame in gold and silver ringed dances. Often their days were lit as with a rose-gold timbre, and closed out in blessing of scarlet-violet, soft as a murmur, as they retired in prayer to Eru (all save one, of course).
And it was perhaps in hopes of coming of those gems enlightened by the Two Trees, and by Feanor’s magic words awakened, that Joseph met in dream the thoughts awander of Rugus, who (as has been told) indeed had to one Silmaril come, and he knew yet the way to return, and often the thought-desire gnawed upon his mind, yet in his heart was peace.
Thus when Thingol as upon dry land had come, to the ringing islets about Eressëa, there was none Elf (nor Asenath, nor daughters) to greet him as an estranged king come back from a long war, as rightly ought to have done. More eager were those waters to cast aside their motions, and stand idle as centries [pun?], for they had been pursued by filthy waters, come up from the East, and which pushed ever against their guard, but not breaking, nor furthering their black reach thither.
Yet it was perhaps the leavening by Thingol-su of those waters heavy in worry, incidental to his passage, that freighted away briefly their watch, these aware-waters did rest for a time, and make play placid about the lands; for here was not a king, great in power, and his friend an island’s guardian beyond any wave to withstand?
Those Days of Smooth Waters indeed returned, for a brief season, as in happier days, when to receive weary Noldo, these waters would push to a gliding sail, and land them gently, as with the ancient courtesy befit one’s friends, homecoming from a sadful sojourn. And seeking out the Tendril Isle where Asenath’s gardens were tended, and her seaward cottage glowed yellow and gold all the day, and her song carried upon the waves the delights of that maid, and her memories; being received kindly, though a stranger, the king Grey Mantle without his trusty ally came to her realm where indeed she was queenly; comely above mortal women all (save one, perhaps) and joyful to be a danger in other, lesser lands. To her were given warnings of coming onslaught, and wisdom to hold such to her heart, and to reveal naught to any other, lest panic ensue and overwhelm the wisdom gained in ages and trials; And blessing too he spoke upon her, and that shack countryside cottage aglow, and the child Machir grown swiftly to a lad seventeen summers high, to him was made known all the heroes accomplished in Ancient Days, and named now fitly beside them, Thingol placed his own father, grappler of fell-evil creatures, and purveyor of lights, nether-realms in brooding darkness hungered at him, though he quaked not, nor quailed amid those onslaughts, and much else did he tell, to mother and child eldest of that seed manly, and yet bearers of divine tracery, inward if seldom beauteous so, outward (in your days, more so is this truly stated).
While thus engaged, wrapt about the cocoon of recollections laughful and cumbersome to unravel in brief (for distracting delights along the way still in his memory abided), while thus enmeshed, as it were forgetting if only a moment his haste to make landfall and thus reach Valmar, shooting lights as rushing stars were sent forth in alarm and warning, and then did the sky fall.
For a black stench engloomed as by woven woes bearing all the world’s troubles spread out and rose up, and blinded their eyes of all thereabouts; and even only dimly did Thingol discern in outline, the huge sails wrought in human leather, and traced in hideous forms by ligament and dentition, tissuey innards outward displayed, horrible to behold even but dimly. Thus came Pharazôn, rolling upon a wave of mist substantial, for the placid waters retreated in full, reckless, and came crashing upon the little islets, drenching the inhabitants, as though awash in tears of what may come, dreading.
And from his ships leapt the wolves, aglow in their guts, skeletally streaking across the bay their own shadow and silhouette, in one. And they ravening, being fed on slaves who withered along the rowing-march to these islands, desired lighter things to consume, luminescent in dreadful anticipation, to take in their clutching maws, the oil, and to chew fat; the seeds of ancient light, and the pollen thereby cast as dream-sending airs, enveloping sleepers in wisdom or dread, as the work of Ainu Lorien struggled yet to preserve the original (fool) hopes of union of Man, Elf, Atani, Elda, to Ainur-Vala-kind; and dreams unhappy haunted these ancient powers, as though enfolded under a black rolling wave; and dreams hideous sent also en- pollened, to the sleepy on ships wagering the soul of their realm, arising in fullness of might and rash folly, unwisdom raised, to cap their rites and sacrifices, offerings and oblations before Dark Evil; and scenting upon the breeze the meadow of their blowing forth, and swaying white-golden as a song of peace everlasting, these beasts ran straightaway, and in the night without day, nor sun’s setting, consumed there all the fruits and bulbs gathered, and drank up the pooled light of ancient vintage; and these wolves of Thû’s whelp sated, and sleeping dreamless lay about the fields; and others unwilling to sleep, being aroused more so under the wish of endless night starless, hunted little children, and their pets, dragging bodies to heap up a hill (never forgotten). And though day to other lands arose, here never again came that last-blue sky, a twinkle, stars and brethren clouds alike, a-shimmer in multitude hues, as only gathered in your day into the bowing arc, misled; when before a straight road was marched upon to Valinor, as a highway of gems endless in varied array, lighting the soul’s reception to dwell forever among the Gods, Never more;
Yet in that day the Nazgul Three set foot upon our lands. And by a banner raised in bone-pole, flesh tethered to living men – their feet being hewn and all hacked away, from the burning displeasure that hallowed land roasted up, and for feet these men-beasts wore helmets of iron, turning there the seer Rumil’s saying, that when helmets of iron tread over the lilies, shall one half be upturned, and the second half downtrodden, thrown up high.
Now GrayMantle faced the ruin of paradisiacal Eden in Exile made whole by the Noldors’ repentance; yet beside him clung Asenath to her lad, and they clasping to clutch his spirit, held him not, but in his heart he wailed, and again knew that doubt, seed of unbelief, that maybe Eru was devised in his heart, a solace-phantom, and no preserver of good spirits.
Where that Eastern star? No stars at all did he behold; where that gem lofted away out of reach of Feanor’s sons, who await tidings of this wager’s success, and the outrolling flood of every wicked vengeance they sought to restore upon Man and Elda; then his mind-heart caught upon Melian (if ever he truly escaped her lights) and in memory of her beauteous visage, he turned to Asenath and son, and ushered them with a blessing song, into a skiff, and putting forth his last force, sent a swiftly rushing gale against her bow, and the vessel skidded out far into the western seas, to sit in witness of what should come.
Thus was a mortal to see, and two in witness, the fulfillment of men’s evil work, and the futile residence they claimed in that Elvish isle; for to none else came these seeings; against a black bottomless pit in what was long ago (seeming) a sky, streaked now a blazing scimitar, beam of fused star-and-sun, silver- turning-golden, until unfolding as an axe’s head, red flame stretched out over the whole pit-sky; and that magic ax was swung down upon Eressëa, and half was sent down into the depths rushing, while yet one half cleared of wicked things, being clean was lifted upon this axe’s head, as a lever raises some stone of a pit’s grasp; and there the land lifted stayed awhile, agasp, aghast, aglar-eshzt. And yet now bereft of his soldiery fearsome even to gods, he having drank his fill of the lilies’ cup, gilded though in his hand had it turned, so Pharazôn bolted the heart firm to Thû’s plan, and purposed then and there to row, if alone as king maybe, upon the shore of Lands Undying, and finally claim title wrongfully withheld for all the ages of Man, wrongfully misled, then as cozened, lastly settled – as in gift given by friends of unceasing generosity – in what prison only Vala may devise: Westernessë, overwatched he believed, by elf- wardens, sickly and fearful to lose their usurped realm, a buffer to the true prize, and temptation for all save the highest in wise- lore, and pure-claim to that throne reserved; King of the World, and of every breath there taken in, and every cry to hear, So he named himself, Willful, Chosen, Fated: Three in One, King of Air, Earth, and Wave.
And obey his command did they, the airs and waves, to speed his Golden Vessel thereto upon the shores; and finding none to challenge, he named all that land his realm entire, everlasting, and beyond any to wrest away again.
Yet as has been elsewhere told, all these boasts were vain; for descending again now, Eru did ask politely to borrow that ax of Ki-Abroam, and taking it in hand, did swing it down, and cut the earth itself to her core, and as if sweeping some dried flies off his window sill, Eru brushed into that gaping cut the whole force of Numenor’s remaining fleets, and when tumbled down, he set down that ax, asking yet to keep it awhile by his side, while about the whole of rent Arda, he moved, and stitched, and lastly sent such a wave, single in rising hump, straightaway to encompass the tower of Thû, and he upon a throne laughing, then in dismay, swimming, and silent churned under, into the black he most desired, here to find himself subject to scorn and mocking taunts, drowned sailors laughing cast into those teeth stained in reek of lies.
And when he was finished, to Ki-Abroam he returned that ax, and Eru tied a rope about his strong body, and so wrapped, pulled away the land of Exiled Elves, into the Realm of Hidden Things, and also he lifted in wonder the whole of Valinor, and set it beside the Exiled; there to abide, neighborly, twain exiles, where gathered then all to hear the promises of Earendel, uttered as the Colossus, one foot among the Living Gods, and the other stretched upon the crumbled meadows where once his father Tuor rested awhile, awaiting the Bath of Fire, and the issuance of his spouse therefrom, cleansed and scrubbed of grief, but not of loving kindness, nor mercy for her children who here remain, as a whole world, lost.
“We shall return, and visit to look upon their griefs,” he stated plainly, “to do what Eru will, in furtherance of His Mind’s Unrolling, though a long while remains for us to abide, before we come again, and there remain, for all time.”
The End (for now)
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