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Together the vessel bearing a stranger divine, embodied, a ghost queen, often reaching to dip her arm under the passing waters, to run her fingers through the hair of Machir, undead merman swimming as dolphins may, leaping and laughing, free of his dread, and of its burning; moreso now, for his mother attended more carefully, being spirit, to his mind, and recovered all her thoughts, hopes and ambitions, there on the Isle Tendril; hidden away, secret from Elves there exiled; and they were thus: to plant herself a garden, there to grow fodder to draw spirits, and so to deliver nutrient-rich crop; of the soil, to their hands out holding, without end; and her thought was to tell all she knew, and to grow as it were, such lore, as a gardener sprouting peas and blossoms, to give away, sharing, until all the deserts (save those in their nature fulfilled, as desert) improperly dessicated, and bereft of green, may burgeon; and of their own soils, bring down and call up water to drench them, until all made life, to support more; so she conceived, to do so of lore, and not hives, or herbs, yet this thing was, she guessed (rightly) by Eressëa’s folk, forbidden, unwise distribution of what would by Man corrupt, be bent crooked, and spill out in droves to drown, and slake dry earth more so thirsty, in tasting, and deprivation after;

So they [Exiled Noldo] too guarded what knowledge kept they, a clan, from outsider’s hearing; and though in all ways else, kindred and host welcoming, generous to failing themselves of every good, depriving their houses before scanting a guest, in one share had they retained what some called deviously (say, in a house’s leaving, unsatisfied) Feanor’s Quitclaim: to keep most precious from all others, while larding their stores to satisfy every other lust; but this one desire, Asenath there found unfulfilled: to gather and sprout all lore come by, in passing, or rumor, so seeking;

Hoarded they, who are gone, Ki-Abroam spoke to her thought, revealed as he rowed in the night;

Enough I or Machir wheedled, to set within our own secret kept lore, sufficient to conclude –

But the details, he swimming along interrupted, Those are now and may be forever unwritten;

So decrees Eru, Ki-Abroam said, Only when lore is turned over to read in another’s house, may it further along, and not perish.

So to Asenath’s heart came a beam of light, by that star under which they rode, alone penetrating the cloud vast overhanging, grotesque and ill-shaped, evil to consider too long, who there abided, run upon its turves grey, morose, insubstantial, yet in the Airs, mighty nonetheless, being in Manwe’s proctor, entire; in her heart that beam opened, and brought to her mind, a union foreseen: All the sons and daughters (immediate only!) of Finwë’s House: those of Feanor Firstborn, and of Nerdanel his espoused; Seven sons, and daughters, three (all remained, alas, kept in Zimrathon-Finarphin’s estates; And his own, sons lost in exile, or remaining to gather beside him, long in days of peace, but not everlasting) in Aman; and the daughters, Firiel and Irimë-Gladhwen, of whom already some / much has been stated; and lastly, Fingolfin, valiant, and faithful even toward woe inevitable, and not of his own hand’s or heart’s making or devising evilly; this house entire she beheld, and it was as one, gathered, each knowing the confusion wrought in each other’s hearts, by Melko-enemy everlasting; and asking clemency of their injured kin, siblings and sister-sons, nephews all; in peace surrounded, healed one another’s wounds, and in healing, were themselves brought to full health; and lit by Eru’s Flame, white clean, nothing doubting concerning their trust formed in a night, the dark surrounding, gathering howls, they departed, one song singing, pleased to embroider in making it suit the path sought by each of Finwë’s Household; and this song of

Redemption wills Eru, shall be borne out to all places, until none remain left to gnaw, at semblance, echo of past deed, wicked done, and injuries beyond redress; None shall stay their climbing up and down, as upon a ladder, coming to say what was seen, and by them done, and yet in hallowing by Eru, turned all to good, that would not refuse; as a star’s rays, every angle taking, outward to cut the dark, shatter its comprehension, she beheld that House, in glory extended, then came all those lights back to a star of stone, in Finwë’s palm resting, a little hand, held high in a night of winds rushing, to a tower’s failing, and a kingdom down thrust, and yet the boy’s, arising; and holding that star aloft, kissed it was by another star descending, Earendel borne; the boy and his far distant son, yet a father of that house, the son become;

So Asenath glanced again upward, and winked to the star glowing above, and she (the star) smiled, awaiting (for time is brief, to them); and she trusting her rower’s oars, lay down, and slumbered, even in spirit a rest, first as if never before enjoyed; while Machir swam along, deep in reverie, peace-full, and humming to keep Ki-Abroam’s strokes in time (to the current).

Here the Ax-Man laughed to himself, and kept the sound of it ringing for many a day; for had not Eru all foreseen, and better turned he, everything that now was – and not merely seeming! – in an evil way? Not content to row alongside, the currents too obey his whims, and if suiting the song he hums, to dry land would they turn, and its fish gain legs, to dance upon, or just to run from Ulmo’s fish-laden feasts!

He considered the old friend, how long ago it was, they gathered households, and stuff held in reverence, and as toddlers waded to Arda’s bright blue shores, out of a black ink encompassing, as to scrawl first their signatures, his on land, the other upon the waves; how they parted, and times ate or drove at one another’s realm, as to amend, never to conquer (save in jest!). How Melko arose in Ulmo’s holes, and poured fire where water would not fill; and in mockery of Aule-Abraham, put land there, bare; then land too he eroded, at will, in bitterness of having no distinct place to own, save the Fire surrounding, and its dark fence beyond; in Pity these two Vala-friends – Ulmo and Aule – came to Manwe, asking whether Melko ought some place upon Arda, be wholly free, ruling as he thought wise?

And Manwe inward turned his winds, and there shaped a notion, as a piper embouchures a tunnel of sound; from Manwe’s blowing, coals burned bright before Aule, and waves arose and swayed above Ulmo, until they crashing, cooled Aule’s coals at his forge, splitting all, and miring too, that master’s crafts, in ash-damp, swampy, sickly rolling: Never, Manwe answered,

Lest he Melko-Dark-One, alone
Send all Eru’s Begotten, Cast Iron Hell
Bond, Never shall either we alone, dissuade
His might its inevitable desire’s fruiting;

For though we three may labor all, only
By Varda-wife’s hand-held light, a torch
Small, everlasting oil unburning, may this
Fate in the music unforetold, never sung,
Be awayed, and Eru Begotten, all survive
Amid her light, and send away, his own unlight.

He (Ki-Abroam) musing, brought before his ship, a stray vessel skiff seeming, nowhere to row, again Varda’s light, and this he followed, until that shore reaching, where long ago (now seeming) he with Thingol set out, to rest in Valmar’s Bells Ringing, and to ponder there a new course, for Eru to consider and take;

But all was changed, and the stars arranged themselves differently, where before was shown, and again, cloud parting, he viewed; had they parting that fume early in his rowing, elsewhere would he and this vessel, arrived, and not only lost the way, but the map too; so blessed that cloud its covering, and more the leading beam; returning thus, he rested, while Asenath again through his Brass Book, read, making notes and emendation where misspeaking in addled age sudden onset, bent under grief; lingering too in reading, amid Ki-Abroam’s snoring, to forestall Machir’s severance, who upon land – even as spirit, nonetheless – would not go, yet the sea did not herself make him a swimway; and now we too let them loiter near that shore, where departing, in peace they rest, to be encountered again, in this tale’s end (but not the story’s concluding).

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