22. The Masthead Watch
I sit astride a spar, and gaze out over the Sea. The waters are black at night, like the sky above. Looking up, I can see Eärendil traversing the heavens. The stars are bright out here, brighter even than they were in the Havens.
Swinging up to a standing position, I climb a little higher, and look Westwards. There is a wager amongst the crew that we shall not see land for at least a month; whoever is first to catch sight of Tol Eresseä will win a gem, a gift from Círdan. So although I do not expect to see the golden shores of the Isle, I look.
I would dearly love to be the one to win the gem. For the honour, and for the chance, maybe, to trade it for a ship of my own. But I do not know how trade works in the Blessed Realm. I think many of us are somewhat nervous, though we would never admit it, that we will find it difficult to settle in the West. We have never known any other home but Middle-earth, never known another life. My parents escaped the wrack of Sirion, where many lost their lives; and after went with the Lord Círdan's household to Mithlond.
And there I was born, and there grew up, a mariner like my father. He and my mother sailed a week before us, but I sought and was awarded a place in Círdan's crew. We knew not who our passengers would be, but the ship - ah, the ship! Such a vessel has not been seen in Mithlond for many a long year. Her timbers are white and her prow graceful, and she slips through the water silently, smoothly. We prepared her, providing her with food and water for a long voyage; coiling new ropes of stout hithlain; and raising the creamy sails on the masts. When she was ready, all Mithlond came to see her, and we who had won places in the crew were envied.
It was towards the end of iavas that the first passenger arrived, on a magnificent stallion. His robes and hair were white, and a light was in his eyes. Círdan hurried to greet him, and soon 'twas murmured throughout that Mithrandir had returned. Yet the last time he had been to the Havens, he was old and grey. We knew not what had befallen him, and he would say little, save that he was sailing with us.
Only days later, the rest came, and we bowed low. All my days I had heard rumour of these, and we knew that Círdan took counsel with them. One, Lord Elrond of Imladris, some in Mithlond knew when he was but a child. His name has long had honour amongst us seafarers, for his sire was Eärendil and his brother Elros, two of the greatest mariners ever seen. But he is a child no longer, and wisdom is in his eyes. My father said that he bears a striking likeness to Eärendil himself.
And with Lord Elrond came the Lady Galadriel, one of the few who is returning Westwards rather than sailing for the first time. Of her, tales have been told - she is indeed one of the great of the Firstborn, and to look upon her is to see the might of our Noldor kindred. Some of our people mutter darkly about the Noldor, remembering Sirion; but Galadriel was not at Sirion, and all that I have seen of her since we set sail tells me that the tales spoke true.
The strangest passengers are two small beings - halflings, from the land of the Shire. By rights, we in Mithlond should know these creatures, but they are apparently content to stay within their lands. The haflings are small, but courteous. They eat far more than their size would indicate - or the older one does. The younger merely nibbles, though his appetite has increased since we left land. Both of them speak tolerable Sindarin, and I have heard that the elder even writes it.
To begin with we wondered that mortals could sail, but soon the full tale came out. The younger Halfling, Frodo, bore the One Ring of the Enemy to Mordor, where it was destroyed; his uncle Bilbo was the finder of the Ring. We had heard rumours of these deeds, but none of us imagined that such a little people would be the bane of Sauron.
By listening to the talk as we go about our duties, we have heard the rest of the news. Middle-earth is now the dominion of Men, Isildur's Heir having taken the throne of Gondor once more. And he has wedded Lord Elrond's daughter, who will now never come to the Havens. I marvel that she could sacrifice this for a mere Man, and indeed her choice has been the subject of much discussion by night as we lie in our hammocks.
I have been clinging to the mast for a long time, lost in my thoughts, and I slip back down and settle myself astride the spar once more. A lantern swings just below me, sending a circle of silver light out into the night. Someone on deck is singing, a soft song of love for Arda, and I add my own melody to the music and the sound of the waves. I could not ask for anything else at this time than to be sailing West with a fair wind on a clear night, and so I settle down to enjoy the rest of my watch.
iavas: Sindarin for winter (thanks to Celandine and her Calendars resource article at HASA!)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.