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Falcon, The: The Adventures of Peregrin Took: 5. The Forbidden Isle
During the long flight from the coast into Belegaer, the dawnwatch would find Pippin standing by the Mormegil’s prow, letting the cool draught of speeding air fill his face. The pirates disliked the dawnwatch. It was something navy sailors would do, not proud Corsairs. But they did it, for the ones who were left loved their captain, and for six days danger pursued them.
But on the seventh day the last of the ships fell back and did not show herself above the eastern horizon, and the crew of the Mormegil felt they were well and truly free. Then some broached the idea of turning back, not to Umbar, but to the friendly coast of the Mountains of Near Harad. Morelin said no.
“Those coasts will not be friendly for some time yet,” he told them. “And you know as well as I do we need to re-provision and repair. Unless you wish to do both in the middle of the open sea, we will need a haven, and Meneltarma will have one.”
The pirates grumbled, but having survived a mutiny they knew not to question the captain.
“It’s just unlucky, is all,” said the old gray-bearded pirate. “That isle is part of the Downfallen, and it’s all of it cursed.”
Pippin broached the same thought in private, but Morelin was firm.
“I cannot go sailing to places I know will not be hospitable,” he said. “The Downfall is nearer to legend than history. All we seek is a safe harbor for a week. Nothing more.”
“And then what?” said Pippin.
Morelin’s eyes narrowed at him.
“I know what you would ask of me,” he said. “But I am not an explorer. This ship will not be your vehicle.”
“You deprived me of my steed when you took me prisoner,” Pippin reminded him pointedly. “Haven’t I been a worthwhile guest? It’s not as if you could go back to the Bay of Belfalas anytime soon. Why not wander?” But Morelin steadfastly refused.
So Pippin went about his duties, manning the evening watch upon the crow’s nest, helping with weaving, splicing, and coiling the ropes, even holystoning the decks. He did not mind.
The dawnwatch, though, he kept himself. He slept early and woke earlier still. The closer they came to the seas over Atalante, the more vivid grew his dreams.
One morning he went to his usual perch to find Poclis standing there alone. The first mate seemed lost in many thoughts. Pippin decided not to bother him.
“Razàr,” said Poclis. “Do not let me keep you from your morning walk.”
“It’s not really a walk,” said Pippin, joining the first mate. “More like a stroll and then a long, blank stare. I’m quite good at it.”
“You like to joke when you are burdened with troubling things,” Poclis observed.
Pippin peered at him, and then nodded. “Yes,” he admitted. “Most of my people do so, but perhaps I do more than most.”
“My people enjoy laughter,” said Poclis, and he fell silent again.
Pippin looked up at Morelin’s right-hand man. Poclis was taller than any Big Person he had ever seen, even taller than the Dunedain, taller than elves. His skin was a deep purple brown, and it seemed luminous in sunlight or torchlight, and clutched onto a powerful yet long-limbed frame. He had no hair upon his head but for a braid he grew at the back, thin and smooth, like a ribbon or rope, to his waist. His cheeks were scarred with patterns whose meaning Pippin did not know. His ears were pierced in many places, as was his nose, and from his neck hung numerous necklaces of everything from gold to the fingernails of slain enemies. One of them was a long ivory tooth. Davy said he heard it came from a lion Poclis had killed to become a man. Pippin barely had an idea of what a lion was.
“Tell me of your people,” Pippin asked.
Poclis looked down at him. Then slowly the giant of a man smiled. His teeth were white and clean. “And you will tell me of yours.”
Pippin nodded. “It’s a bargain.”
The people of Poclis’s tribe were hunters and herders of cattle. They came from the sun-drenched grasslands of Far Harad, south of the Great Desert, south of the Girdle of Arda that was the waist of the round world. Upon those grasslands, Poclis said, vast herds of innumerable creatures grazed from rainy season to dry: buffalo, which were like oxen with black hide and horns like the sickle Moon; zebra, which were like horses, but with tails like bottle-brush plants, and a coat of black and white stripes; antelope, like gaily colored deer, in sizes and shapes from housecats to horses; and other creatures, unicorns and dicorns and leo-pards and hunting-pards or chita, and lions indeed, and oliphaunts. Through it all ran a wide, slow river, brown with silt, that emptied into Belegaer past a hot, steaming forest.
Poclis’s tribe lived in a fenced enclosure of spacious huts constructed of straw, packed with mud, and painted with the white ash deposited in ages past by the two mountains who dominated the plains. They were called the Two Mothers, said Poclis, the Elder and the Younger, and the Younger every other lifetime of men would spout ash and smoke.
The Elder never gave utterance anymore, and her head was always capped in white ice even beneath the baking sun. From the snows on her far side came a laughing stream that became a crushing torrent that emptied over a mighty waterfall into a lake whose banks seemed beyond reach, and frequented by birds of every possible feather and wing. From the lake, said Poclis, came the Long River, which flowed north for four thousand miles and more through the Great Desert, and emptied by many mouths into the ancient Bay of Ormal by the Straits of the World.
Poclis had left his home to seek the life of a wanderer. His father was chief of the oldest and most populous of their townships, Ngiranemo upon the foot of the Elder Mother, and Poclis had been the only child of the wife his father loved most. But there were sons before him, by his father’s first wife, and Poclis had refused to settle for the lot of a small hut and a tithe of his father’s cattle. He wished to wander the wide lands, see all there was for a man to see beneath the sun. His brothers were also worshippers of the Eye, and Poclis did not believe in him or in anything else other than the spirit in his heart and the ground beneath his feet.
So he left. He wandered through many regions, until he was captured by warriors of a strange tribe, and taken prisoner to their villages by the sea. Corsairs bought slaves from them, and so Poclis was sold to a Corsair ship, which brought him to Umbar. He learned many things in his time of bondage.
Morelin had come to Umbar shortly after the War of the Ring. He was already a mariner of reputation, or so he seemed to Poclis and his master, the owner and captain of the Mormegil, though it wasn’t called that yet. Morelin bought the ship, and won it when the previous owner thought better of the price and tried to have Morelin killed. Morelin instead killed him, and took the ship and all its contents, including Poclis. Morelin said he had no use for a slave. Poclis understood and prepared himself to be sold to another master. Instead Morelin freed him.
How ironic that the very act of giving him his freedom would turn out to bind Poclis in devotion and loyalty to Morelin every year since.
“So you see, Razàr,” finished Poclis, “I left home to seek my fortune in the wider world, and here I am, through many misadventures a man in full, who has seen more than he could ever have dreamed as a cattle-herder on the Plains of the Sun.” Then he sighed. “Yet as I grow older, I come to miss those plains, all the same.”
“It seems we’re a lot alike,” Pippin told him.
Pippin nodded, and told him his own story. “I am the youngest of four children,” he said, “and the only son. My father was a farmer…”
Morelin frowned at the chart in his hands, and then peered again through his glass. He then raised an instrument to his eye and regarded the height of the sun. After this he consulted the chart again, then threw it on the deck.
“Hang the charts,” he said. “We continue for the isle.”
The pirates grumbled, but obeyed. Pippin picked up the map and studied it, his eyes drawn first to the star-shaped point of Meneltarma, and then to the landmass at the margin, straddling the Girdle of Arda and extending far south. Would he ever get there? And what use would it be to go there? Lions, pards, unicorns and oliphaunts. He had lost Tempest so long before. He could not walk those plains.
Frodo walked to Mordor.
But he wasn’t Frodo.
He had no quest.
So they voyaged on. Pippin went about the duties Morelin had assigned him. He was lookout for the duration of the evening watch each day. He climbed to the crow’s nest at the top of the mainmast, little less than halfway between the slanted arms of the mighty main yard, and stood there for three hours each evening as the sun sank into the West and the stars appeared.
From his perch he saw the moods of the seas through which they sailed, its phenomena and its denizens. He noticed that not all the sea was the same color. The eighth day of their journey, they had steered into a region of fast-moving water that was a deeper, darker blue than the rest of the sea. It proved to be a strong current that Morelin said would take them southwest at five additional knots over their wind speed. Pippin also came to discern the savor of deep swells that came from distant storms, and the bright-topped whitecaps churned by the brisk midday breeze.
They passed from the current into calmer waters as clear and evident a background as the noonday sky. Here in these waters far from shore he saw shoals of blue-backed fish larger than he was; sharks with their pointed snouts and dorsal fins like the Mormegil’s sails; fighting fish with beaks like swords and wings on their backs; and sea turtles, lazing on the surface before proceeding to hunt for jellyfish.
He saw dolphins, a different race than those Cellas had introduced to him, black-snouted and black-backed with their eyes ringed in white as if they wore dwarven spectacles sold at the Farthing Fair. He saw, several times, tall torrents of water spurting from the surface of the sea, full of rush and blow like the fountains of hidden springs. When he pointed them out the first time, the pirates had been excited.
“Whales! Whales!” they called out, and damned their stars they had not the time to hunt one.
Pippin did not know what a whale was, and paid no heed to the threat of hunting, until well into the third week of the voyage he chanced upon them again as he manned the crow’s nest. It was early in the evening and the sun was setting behind a bank of mist that had slowly been growing as they sailed further West. They had turned northwest with a southeasterly wind blowing them toward their destination. To port, the sea rolled with swells from a distant storm, and in the sky above the setting Sun, Earendil sparkled above all other stars. To starboard, the waters seemed strangely disturbed.
He saw, perhaps a league or so distant, objects surging through the surface of the water, and discerned the fluttering of thousands of tiny fish. Then suddenly one of the dark shapes resolved into an immense pair of jaws, toothless, deeply ribbed, and they rose through the mass of trapped fish and engulfed hundreds of them in a single gulp. They did not stop there, but were followed by a vast head, large as a house; and then the head dipped back down, snout first, and in a curve Pippin beheld the full length of the creature with its smooth skin of blue and gray as it fed upon the anchovies and fingerlings of mackerel that bloomed in the summer oceans. It was a leviathan, largest of whales, surpassing others of its kind found in later years, even before the greed of Men would wipe from the seas an entire generation of the oldest and largest of the breed.
The sight of the one hunting was enough. But then Pippin saw from the depths another leviathan rise and pass within a few yards of the Mormegil. The pirates all hollered and made commotion, and several brandished spears.
“No!” cried Pippin, overcome with some emotion he did not understand. “No! Don’t trouble it! Don’t hurt it!” And before his eyes he saw a baby, a calf, slip out from beneath its mother’s fin. It was the size of the longboat.
The mother rolled sideways, and Pippin saw an eye as large as half his body regard him with clear and conscious regard. He smiled faintly, a tremor running like lightning from the hair on his head to the hair on his feet, until his smile vanished and awe overwhelmed him completely.
The leviathan dove, its calf with it. It gave a twitch of its flukes, wide as the ship; and then it vanished. But it was all Pippin could do not to believe it had seen him, and that it had waved thank-you.
So passed the days until, at the coming of dusk, Pippin was sitting on the crow’s nest, idly singing a sad song he had made up to amuse himself.
A light will shine upon the farther shore
A light will keep you with me evermore
And though night will fall I will not be afraid
Remembering the vow we made
So go on and cry, my friends,
For not all tears are evil;
This sky won’t break
For all the stars inside it!
And no ring or precious thing
Will keep me far from you
This light will shine for you
Earendil. Pippin smiled as he looked upon the Evening Star. “Hello,” he said to Elrond’s father. “Lovely evening out here in the trackless wilderness, isn’t it? How did you ever manage it?” There’s a Man in a ship with a Silmaril on his brow.
He laughed at the old doggerel, then saw beneath the Star against the bank of mist and the fire of the vanished sun, a peak like a five-horned crown, rising above the sea.
He rang the cymbal next to him. “Land!” he cried. “I see land!”
Pippin stared at the jagged stone of the crest behind the beach, wreathed in the ever-present mist.
“You’ve been staring holes in the mountain for three days,” said Brogar, coming up behind him.
Pippin looked up at the Easterling and smiled. “How goes the repairs?”
Brogar pointed down the beach. Some of the crew were stacking fresh-milled wood planks and spars. Others were sorting through the fruits and herbs they had collected from the forests. Out in the deep water by promontory of dark rock, the Mormegil echoed with the faint pummeling of hammers.
“We should be done within the day,” he said.
Pippin squinted exaggeratedly. He saw Poclis walking by. “Would’ve gone faster if you’d let me help,” he said so the first mate would hear.
Poclis did. “You helped enough the first day.”
Brogar laughed. “Yes indeed. Just how many sharks did you want to catch for our table?”
“It was not the sharks, it was using yourself as bait,” Poclis added.
Pippin puffed his chest out. “I wanted a swim.”
“You wanted to get on land so badly after nearly two months at sea that you were ready to slay every shark, sea-snake, shrimp or sponge that tried to stop you,” said Morelin, sauntering to join them. “Peace, Peregrin,” he said. “None doubt your ability or skill. But this is physical work, and frankly, we are all larger than you.”
Pippin shrugged. “Fine. I’ve been quite busy myself.”
“I know. Thank you again, by the way, for bringing Davirin with you on your exploration of the island.”
“Well, he’s a very nice boy,” said Pippin. “And I needed his long legs when we ran into that deer. And away from it. That was a deer, right?”
“I think so,” said Morelin. “Though of a kind unknown on eastern shores. No doubt its race has spent all these thousands of years marooned on this isle. I have a team hunting for them now. Fresh venison would be a welcome feast, wouldn’t you say?”
Pippin pulled a fruit out of his pocket, its thick purple rind concealing five soft pits enclosed in clear, custardlike flesh that reminded him of a union of apples, plums, and milk. He had found them and tasted them on his first trip through the woods and found them delightful.
“I’ve been quite enjoying the rest of the produce as well,” he said. He glanced again at the summit of the peak. “Though there’s part of the island I have yet to see.”
“In that case, you should go now,” said Morelin. He gestured to the pervading milky calm over sky and sea. “The storm from the south shows signs of passing here. I have heard tales of the power of these warm-water tempests.”
“They are strong,” Poclis agreed. “They rise from rain clouds above the jungles of the south and grow in strength over the waters of the girdling seas and the current we rode here.”
“If, or when, it comes,” Morelin said, “I want to take the ship to open water rather than risk surging waves to dash it against that headland yonder.” He looked down at Pippin. “Well, then. That is your guide. When the clouds gather and the wind lifts, you must head back to this beach. I may set sail without you.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Pippin said, though he suspected Morelin would.
Poclis, Brogar and Davy asked to accompany Pippin.
“Very well,” said Morelin. To Poclis he added privately, “Keep our little falcon out of trouble. I have grown fond of him.” Poclis nodded.
They prepared for a short hike. Davy brought a haversack in which to store anything they collected. Brogar distributed long, thick-bladed knives for hacking through tangled underbrush; the forest and woods had proven difficult in many places. Pippin brought his sword and dagger and, of course, his elven cloak.
“So,” said Poclis. He motioned to Pippin. “Lead on, Razàr.”
Pippin looked up again at the sheer cliffs. His companions saw a fey grin spread across his sharp features, and his green eyes gleam with recklessness.
Without a word, he went, and the others followed.
They walked up the beach into the thick mantling forest. The woods were quiet but for the calls of many birds. Dim sunlight filtered through the mist and shade of the forest, settling upon unfamiliar plants and flowers. Pippin moved easily through the underbrush with woodcraft of which his far-off Fallohide ancestors, whose blood by some accident or design ran nearly true in him, would have been proud. Poclis did the same. Brogar hacked through thickets with his knife. Davy cautiously followed.
They hiked up the rumpled slope of the isle for most of the morning, making their way in a spiraling course from the coast toward the mountainous heart of the island. Thus they reached the face of the ridge at noon.
Pippin looked up again. He could pick out numerous handholds and ledges across what had seemed a steep, almost sheer rock face.
He unstrapped his belt and slung it from his shoulder across his chest so that Trollsbane and its scabbard were upon his back. “I’m climbing,” he announced.
His companions regarded him with expressions ranging from doubt to incredulity.
“There must be an easier way,” Brogar said.
“We cannot follow you up that rock face,” Poclis stated.
“If we had ropes, and pitons…” Davy, the child of the dales of the White Mountains, thought aloud.
“Razàr…” Poclis sighed. Pippin was already scrambling up the mountain.
Within a few minutes Pippin was high enough to see over the forest. He paused and looked around. They had come but half a league from the beach; the rolling terrain and thick forest had slowed their pace. The sea was shrouded in mist, but to the southwest, mare’s tails were scudding across the sky, followed by grey, and then black, clouds. A storm indeed.
Towards the west he saw where the rocks were lower. He pointed.
“There’s a little dale or scree not a quarter of a mile to the west,” he yelled. “You Big people go down there and try and keep up!” He beamed and then continued his climb.
It was little over a hundred feet to the top. Pippin, with a few breaks for bites of the fruit in his pocket, made the summit in good time.
The rock face he had climbed was the southern ridge of what had once been a circular crest concealing a forested hollow. The tallest portions of the crest were upon the north and east, three hundred feet easily above the hillside. To the west, a flood, or centuries of steady wear, had opened a gully in the encircling stone.
The wind buffeted him. It was coming from the south, and Pippin espied the harbingers of heavy weather coming their way. He had trouble keeping his balance. He knew he should start carefully making his way down, but he decided to turn around and take in the view a little longer. What could be the harm?
The wind caught his cloak and blew him off the ridgeline.
It was half the distance from the crest to the floor of the bowl-like hollow at the center of the island than it was from the outside hills to the crest; and far less steep. Pippin rolled, tumbled, and skidded his way down, raising a cloud of grey dust that looked like ancient ash. He came to rest by a field of dull green grass.
“Ouch,” he moaned, rubbing his bottom. “And I’m all bruises once again.”
He picked himself up. He checked his equipment. Yes, his dagger was still there, and he knew Trollsbane had not been lost. Just a few bruises and cuts then.
“Well, that wasn’t quite so bad,” he said. Then he looked up, and his words died into the mist.
A grove of trees grew in the center of the hollow. They were old, and gnarled; but no older trace of growth was around them; they sprouted after the Downfall, then. Their bark was silver, their leaves dark green and three-pointed. Mallorns.
Pippin walked towards them. He felt a strange stillness pass over him; his heart beat clear and strong, but unhurriedly; yet curiosity was almost overwhelming his senses. He took soft breaths and swirled the fog with his exhalations. He was not chilled; but his fingers were cold.
He came to the trees, and realized they had grown in a ring. Within them was a glade of grass, and a small, clear pool sheltered by a standing rock of black, glassy stone. From a cleft in the stone sprang forth water.
Pippin, not knowing why, undid the clasp of his belt and laid his arms aside on a nearby low branch. Weapons would not be welcome. How he knew that, he did not know, but he knew it indeed, as well as he knew that no shoe or boot was to touch this grass. But his feet were always bare. He took a step, and entered the circle of trees.
It was dark. The world was formless and void. A wind from the West blew over the surface of the Sea.
A new star blazed forth in the heavens. A mighty host crossed the Sea. The Dark Power was defeated, his pits unroofed, and he himself cast from the world into the endless void. Land sank under the power of the wrath of the West. The sea rushed over them.
Scattered ships of Men roamed the waters.
An island rose to meet them.
Their power grew with the passing years. They learned knowledge, and strength, and their craft surpassed any who came after. Their cities bore towers tall as hills. They shaped rock like children shape sand, and forged metals never before seen under the light of the Sun or Moon. Their ships all but flew across the oceans.
A fleet crossed the Sea to the aid of the Elven-king. They were delayed by storm, but their coming was as the host of the West in Elder Days. The new Dark Lord submitted to their power, and the men of Middle-earth bowed low before them, the tall sea-kings, for they seemed closer to gods than men.
Vast were their voyages. All the seas of Arda they navigated. Every land they sought to touch. Every haven they found to chart. Ever they searched for anything that might give them their deepest desire: the immortal life of the Elves and the gods.
A prince set sail with a small fleet. He flung nets to dredge the ocean floor, far in the north over the lands beneath the wave. He uncovered much treasure lost, but he cared nothing for riches, seeking instead for knowledge and the virtue in the attempt.
Then his nets brought up a jewel shining like a star. Its beauty entranced the prince, and possessed him, and he would not give it up. He abandoned his quest and took his ships and his jewel far into the distant seas.
The prince sailed his ships through many waters, till he ventured into the eastern sea whence the Sun rises. There a mighty storm came upon his ships, and they foundered, and he and those of his men who also survived were left on a beach by the mouths of a grand river. But he kept the jewel in a pouch on a chain around his neck, and so he retained it when he was cast upon the foreign shore.
The survivors took what they could and followed the river into the desert, to a green valley where Men dwelt in huts built under overhanging cliffs of stone. There, exhausted and half-dead, they sought refuge among the savage tribes.
They came to love the people of the valley, and the people welcomed them as impoverished gods, and offered them wives to bed, which they accepted. The prince became their ruler, their god-king, and he ruled them for three generations of men.
And the jewel that guided him he set upon a tower for all to gaze at but never again touch. And it shone like a star come down from heaven, a star that would never set.
Upon the island kingdom in the midst of the Sea, a terrible doom was fast approaching. Convinced, and deceived, that they were worthy of godhood, the mighty kingdom and her greatest king sent forth an armada the scale and scope of which the world would never see again, armed with weapons unheralded in mortal thought until a far later age: orbs that cast burning light; projectiles that struck and burst in ruinous fire; lightning bolts, shot like arrows from the prows of the thousands upon thousands of golden ships. And they landed upon the Blessed Land, and laid siege to the holy city and the mountain of the gods.
Blasphemy. Catastrophe. Disaster. Downfall. The Powers laid down their guardianship, and the One changed the world. The Great Rift opened in the midst of the Sea, and into it plunged the great waters, and the island was cast down into everlasting darkness. Only the mountaintop remained, a lonely isle above the grieving waves, for it was sacred to Eru, and was ever a holy place.
Nine ships of those who remained faithful were spared, and fleeing east founded Kingdoms in Exile.
But in Far Harad, the earlier kingdom remained placid and proud beneath the bedazzling light of their captive Star.
“Razàr! Razàr, wake up!”
Pippin didn’t want to open his eyes, but he kept getting water in his nose and mouth, and he wondered why Poclis was trying to drown him. He knew Poclis was carrying him, and that they were running. Why he was carrying him, he didn’t know.
He opened his eyes to see his friend’s face wet with pouring rain.
The storm had come.
“What happened?” he cried, as a thunderclap shook the air.
“We found you within the circle of trees,” said Poclis over the roar of the rain. “We could not wake you. The weather had began to turn, so we decided to go back. We have been running for the past hour, but the storm has only grown worse. I fear it will become much worse before it gets better.”
Pippin nodded. “Put me down!” he yelled back. “I’m awake now.”
“My legs are longer!” Poclis replied. “What happened to you?”
“I don’t know! It was like I fell asleep!” Pippin felt frantically for his weapons. They were not on him. “Poclis—”
“You were talking in your sleep,” Poclis interrupted. “Were you dreaming?”
“I don’t know!” Pippin’s head ached.
The storm turned the tangled forest into a thicket of impassable avenues. They had no time for delicacy. Brogar and Davy hurried ahead, clearing a path for Poclis and Pippin. The ground was soaked and footing treacherous.
Davy suddenly cried out in alarm and vanished.
“Davy!” Pippin cried. They ran to the boy’s aid. He had slipped into a shallow ravine.
“I’m all right!” Davy called. “Nothing’s broken.” But he grimaced as he put weight on his ankle.
“You have sprained it,” Brogar said, hurrying down to get him. He slung the boy’s arm around his shoulders. “Come!”
“Put me down,” Pippin said. “I can run as fast as you walk.”
Poclis hesitated, and then did as Pippin asked.
Pippin joined Davy and Brogar in the bottom of the depression. “Let me take that bag,” he said, pulling the haversack from Davy’s shoulder.
“Thank you, Pippin,” said Davy, and with Brogar’s help climbed up the steep, slippery slope, hobbling through the wet earth and dead leaves. Pippin opened the haversack and found Trollsbane and his belt among its contents. He sighed in relief. Then he tripped over something upon the ground.
“Razàr?” said Poclis.
“There’s something down here,” Pippin said, crawling through the leaves, brushing them away. “They feel like…”
He gasped. He had uncovered a skull. Ancient and worn, covered in hardened black ash, yet still whole, it lay half-buried in the earth, lost in forest litter. Something glittered around it. Pippin scraped some earth away. It looked like gold. He picked it up. It was a delicate golden fillet, worn upon a woman’s brow, made of woven metal like thread in which somehow was braided strands of tiny and minute diamonds. It was an ornament fit for a queen.
“Razàr!” Poclis shouted. “We must go!”
Pippin nodded. He made to tuck the fillet into his pouch. Then he glanced at the skull. This queen, whoever she was, had died here, possibly upon the Downfall. This belonged to her.
Pippin decided to leave the fillet where he found it. “I’m sorry,” he said to the woman’s bones, and climbed out of the ravine.
Through treacherous winds and unslackening rain, Pippin and his companions ran, until they heard the surf pounding against the beach. They broke through the last stand of brush to see Morelin, his black cloak spilling around him in the wind and rain, beckoning them strenuously, and three men holding down the longboat through the powerful waves.
“Hurry! Hurry!” the captain cried. The explorers increased their speed as they could. “Come on!”
Pippin splashed into the spill of the waves. Most were over his head in height. Primal terror waked in his heart, but he swallowed it down. He would not be daunted by wind and water!
Long hands seized him under his arms and threw him to the men in the boat. They caught him, sputtering. “Poclis!” Pippin cried. “I could have swum, you know!”
“No arguing!” Poclis retorted, wading through. “Come! Come!” he urged Brogar and Davy. “Captain!”
Morelin joined them and climbed into the boat, followed by Poclis. Each man grabbed an oar, except for Pippin, who went to the prow to look out into the storm.
“Where’s the ship?” he cried.
“I sent her out into deeper water!” Morelin responded. “I took the longboat back to shore to wait for you. You appear to have been delayed!”
“You could say that!” Pippin said. “How are we going to ride out this storm?”
“In the open sea!” Morelin said.
Pippin nodded and returned to his stance, gazing into the rain that now stung with salt-sting as it mingled with the spray of the waves. The pellets of rain were flying at a harsh angle as the wind strengthened. Powerful swells rocked the boat and the bay itself, and against the ridge of rocks where the Mormegil had anchored, the swells crashed in massive breakers.
Pippin saw the lights of the ship, which rolled among the swells beyond the rocks of the island. He looked back, and Meneltarma was wreathed in rain and cloud. Fragments of his vision upon the hollow in the mountaintop returned to him, of the Downfall of Númenór and the wrath of the West; even as they came to the ship and climbed up on the thrown line-ladders, he saw in his mind the great green wave of the Sea washing over the hapless land.
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