25. Chapter 25
Author’s Notes: Long chapter coming up. Yes, we are going looking for the pretty shiny rock thingy because Maglor has taken over and absolutely insists he needs to see that darned Silmaril! Many thanks to Ithilwen for suggesting the Quenya name in this chapter, and for all the information she has given me over the last few weeks, plus a few ideas! Thanks to all recommended this story for the Henneth Annun site; I am going to work hard to make sure this story remains worth of that recommendation.
Oh, and to those who asked, Maglor is not acting innocently or being naïve, he’s just not sure what he wants from Bronwyn, or if she is interested in him. So he’s not going out of his way to start a romantic relationship between them. He was shocked by Bronwyn’s mother drawing conclusions about him when she hasn’t even met him!
It is a pleasant afternoon, with a light breeze blowing. I gazed at the clouds, noticing something I had not in many years, that they did make shapes, a hunting hounds head, nose to the trail, a great fire drake, even in cloud form seeming to ooze malice, a woman, braiding her hair. When was the last time I looked, really looked at the sky and saw such things? In Aman, before the lies of Morgoth spoiled the peace, and made the Noldor distrust each other. In the days when my songs were happy, and the shadow of the Oath and the Kinslayings was not on my heart.
Bronwyn seems cheerful enough, but it is easy for me to see that she is concerned about Anita. As we drove, she had told me some tales of Anita’s son, Andrew, for I had asked why Anita felt so sure her only option was to disown him, for he is still a child.
‘He’s just a kid now,’ she said, ‘but not that many years from having the potential to be a very dangerous man. Do you know, six months ago that little brat stabbed me?’
‘He stabbed you!’ I exclaimed.
‘Yes, he was staying with Anita; it was after Andrew’s first brush with the law, and he was making his mother’s life hell. He refused to go to school one day, I tried to make him, and the little mongrel stabbed me using a knife I didn’t know he had. Lucky for me that Anita is a nurse, with a lot of experience with such injuries, or I might’ve died.’ We had stopped for some traffic lights and she gave me a small smile as she pulled her shirt up a bit, showing the scar from what must have been a very nasty wound.
‘So, now you know what sort of kid Anita refuses to have anything to do with. God knows if he’d hesitate to do the same to his mother or sister, somehow I don’t think so,’ Bronwyn said.
‘I do understand why Anita has done what she did, Bronwyn. It is a hard thing, to turn away from someone you love, and it is not an easily reached discission,’ I said to her.
‘You speak from personal experience?’ she asked, clearly curious.
‘Yes, I do.’ I noticed we had reached our destination, ‘We should speak of this later, I think.’
Bronwyn nodded agreement as she slid from the vehicle, and greeted some people she knew, and introduced me. I realised my friend had some influence here as I looked at the large powerboat we were being loaned for the afternoon. Large enough that if one chose the correct weather conditions it was a boat you travel across the great oceans to the other side of the world. Her name, I noted, is Wave Dancer, a pretty name for a boat.
As we placed our own gear into the boat, I spoke softly to Bronwyn, ‘This is not just an ordinary boat.’
‘Nope,’ she said. ‘It used to be an off shore fishing charter boat, one of the largest in the world. When the rich guy who owned her upgraded to an even bigger boat a couple of years ago, he gave this one to the Marine Institute as a research vessel. She’s a real beauty, loves rough water and is a dream to handle. When I told Frank were we wanted to go, he insisted we take Dancer, just to be on the safe side with the strong currents out on the reef.’
I nodded, and having assured ourselves that all the diving equipment and other gear on board is in good order, we cast off and are soon under way, Bronwyn checking the weather with the radio base station, and making sure they, as well as the people at the Marine Institute knew our destination, and probable time of arrival back at the dock.
Bronwyn certainly seemed at home with the boat, standing behind the steering wheel, her hands seeming small on the controls. Laughing, she had asked me if I wished to drive, and I had refused, content to watch her confident handling of the boat, and to look at the ocean as we sped on our way.
Before long a small group of Dolphins joined us, swimming in the bow wake, and leaping as they accompanied us. I went forward, and sat on the bow to watch them, occasionally looking back at Bronwyn who waved at me.
In the lee of a small island we stopped, and dropped anchor.
‘Why have we stopped here?’ I said, as I was feeling a little anxious, wanting to get my self-imposed task over.
‘The tide’s running out at the moment, so there’ll be a strong undersea current over by 5 mile reef right now by the look of things here. So we might as well stop here for half an hour,’ said Bronwyn grabbing a camera.
Curious, I watched her. She smiled widely, ‘Come on, lets take some pics of the dolphins before they leave,’ and then jumped over the side, disappearing briefly before surfacing to shake her hair from her face.
‘Come on!’ she yelled, as the dolphins swam closer to look at her.
I have swum with a whale in a giant salt-water tank, so I might as well swim with dolphins in the open sea, so I too jumped over the side, surfacing beside Bronwyn who was almost face to face with a big dolphin who had lifted its head from the water to look at her. She took a photograph of the beast just before it slid back underwater.
‘Well, that’s better,’ she said, and ducked underwater to take another photograph of a mother dolphin and her baby, who was approaching us too closely for it’s mother’s peace of mind, and she was constantly pushing the baby back away from us, making both of us laugh.
The dolphins circled us, inspecting the strange creatures that had invaded their world closely. One brushed against me, it’s skin cold and smooth. Then, as suddenly as they had appeared, these beautiful creatures vanished. Apparently, their curiosity was satisfied, I thought at first, but Bronwyn’s behaviour was puzzling. She was looking about herself, and I could feel not so much fear as apprehension from her.
‘Best get out of the water’, she said suddenly, her thoughts tinged with fear, and as suddenly I agreed. In an instant it had become a matter of urgency to be back aboard the boat.
‘Hurry up Maglor’, Bronwyn said, an urgent note in her voice. She was already aboard, and I was climbing the steel ladder on the stern. Her hand gripped my wrist, and she was actually pulling me, making me hurry, and then I was on board too, wondering if I had imagined the sudden need to be out of the water, and the fear that had gripped us both.
‘Look!!’Bronwyn pointed to a dark shape in the water at the rear of the boat, growing larger and more distinct. Soon, we could identify the shape, a very large shark, and I felt a cold chill pass through me and the thought ‘what if we had still been in the water!’
‘That is an awfully big shark,’ I said very softly, and Bronwyn turned sharply startled by my voice.
‘Yes, one big mother. I’ve never seen or heard of such a large one here, further north, but not here.’ She said.
The huge shark circled the boat, coming up to the surface once; it’s black eyes staring eerily at me. Then it bit the propeller shaft, shaking itself and the boat in a frenzy as if frustrated that Bronwyn and I had escaped it. Its mouth bleeding the shark gave one final shake to the propeller, and swam off.
Bronwyn was white, and shaken. I wondered if I looked much different, certainly I felt no better than she looked.
‘Shall we move on,’ I suggested.
‘Good idea’ said Bronwyn. ‘Why don’t you drive for a while?’
I was about to refuse when I understood Bronwyn was still too shaken up over the shark, the first time I have seen her seriously upset about something. Not that I blamed her, the thought of being eaten alive by such a beast is very frightening, and unpleasant.
So, I drove the boat, which as Bronwyn had said was very easy to handle. She stood next to me, watching some of the many pieces of equipment in the cabin.
‘How much further?’ I asked.
‘See the little island just to the left? The place we need to be is about half a mile the other side of that. The tidal current will still be too strong when we get there to dive immediately,’ she replied.
I nodded, and as we rounded the south edge of the island I glanced at Bronwyn who indicated we should go on for a little way.
‘Here should do, I think,’ she said, and I eased the boat to a stop, and when I went to drop anchor Bronwyn stopped me, ‘Should we not anchor, the currents are strong here,’ I said.
‘Yeah, as I said before, too strong to dive just yet. But we can drift along the side of the island here and fish for a while until conditions are right to dive.’
‘But this is a research vessel’, I pointed out.
‘So! It’s surprising how much research can be conducted while fishing. Number and species of fish caught, whether any of the fish are tagged, the information on the tags. We will probably not keep any fish caught, just tag and release them,’ said Bronwyn with a bright smile.
‘None at all’, I said, slightly disappointed, thinking why bother if we are not going to keep some fish.
‘Well, maybe a couple if we catch the right sort.’ Bronwyn laughed at my disappointment as she handed me a fishing rod and some brightly coloured lures she had found. Very quickly we had our lines out, and were relaxing, sitting on the deck, drinking some fruit juice we had brought with us.
Bronwyn was looking out at the ocean, watching the movement of the waves, and occasionally glancing at the tip of her fishing rod, quite unaware that I was watching her. For a mortal she was quite tall, and if she was not as beautiful as some other ladies, she had a cheerful pleasant face, and like all of the Eldar I have the ability to see beyond another person’s physical appearance and into that person’s fea. Of course, from the moment I met Bronwyn on the beach I could ‘see’ into her, and that she was truly exactly what she appeared to be: caring, honest, open-hearted and gentle, yet strong at the same time. Those who thought they could take advantage of her would be seriously mistaken!
Like the women of this time, on a warm day such as today, she is not wearing a lot of clothing, just a sleeveless shirt, and a pair of jeans she had cut the legs short on, the material ended well above her knees, showing off her tanned skin. Odd, I thought, the skin of mortals tans in the sun, whereas that of elves does not.
I was jolted out of my quiet observations by the tip of my fishing rod jerking, indicating that I had hooked something. Bronwyn too leapt to her feet as I began to wind in whatever fish had taken the lure.
‘A stingray’, she said in a slightly disgusted tone. Then she brightened as I asked what was the brightly coloured object stuck to it.
‘A tag!’ she said, happily examining it, and noting down the number. We then removed the hook, releasing the stingray back into it’s watery home.
Bronwyn was watched as I threw my line back out, whistling quietly. That was something I noticed, she could not sing, but she could whistle well for a mortal, and often did, mostly when she was feeling uptight about something. And I could guess what that something was.
‘I know what you are thinking’, I remarked casually.
‘Oh yes, reading my mind, are you?’ said Bronwyn, with a slight frown.
‘No, just a guess that you are trying to distract me and make me forget why we are here. But it will not work!’
She smiled then, ‘Didn’t think I’d get away with it, but I can’t get shot for trying, can I?’
I had to laugh, her motives were so easy to read, but what amused me was that made no effort to conceal what she was doing, ‘what you do not seem to understand is it that I am not able to prevent myself from seeing the Silmaril.’
‘Why not? Haven’t you heard of will power? Or rather, in this case, won’t power: you won’t allow yourself not to do this because it’s a very bad idea?’
‘It’s not as easy as that for Elves’, she was giving a strange look, and through our bond I could feel her bewilderment. ‘One of the differences between mortals and elves is that we do not have as much control over our destiny or fate as you mortals. I have been thinking carefully since I first suggested going to see the Silmaril, and I have come to the conclusion that I am meant to see it, and if I do not that some disaster will occur,’ I said to Bronwyn who was now staring at me with disbelief.
‘You think you have no control over your actions? That your whole life is set in stone, your destiny set before you’re born?’ she asked.
‘Well, not quite that ordered. But it is known that we have less free choice than mortals, and it is also known that if we wilfully go against our destiny then it will only lead to disaster. This is as you might say a trade off for being immortal, you get the freedom to do as you will, I and my people get to live as long as Arda lasts’.
‘What Elves call this planet.’ I said.
Bronwyn sat quietly on the deck, watching the waves. She opened her mouth to speak again, but was disturbed by her fishing rod suddenly nearly falling over the rail as a fish took the lure. She leapt up and grabbed the rod, and as she did so, my fishing rod that I was holding, jerked in my hand.
A few minutes later we each landed a large fish, Bronwyn called them Albacore, a variety of tuna, and she said a good eating fish.
‘Which, you’ll be pleased to know, we will keep!’ she said, with a big smile.
We dealt with the fish, and then I pointed out that as our rate of drift in the boat had slowed, so must have the currents Bronwyn was worried about. She agreed, shaking her head, and calling me stubborn. Well, what was she that she was so insisted on accompanying me? I silently anchored the boat securely.
Bronwyn disappeared to change into her wetsuit; mortals could be very particular about modesty. Elves were not, and I did not care whether or not she watched me change, as I thought she might have. Women are strange, never have I understood any woman fully, not even the lady I was once betrothed to, long ago in Valinor. I have not thought of Nadawen in years, and it puzzled me why I should now.
‘Seeing as you believe you have to do this, let’s get it over with then’, said Bronwyn reappearing suddenly carrying her oxygen tank and mask and flippers.
‘Ready’, I asked her.
‘As I’ll ever be’, she replied, her broad smile not fooling me for one instant. I could feel she was scared.
‘One last thing,’ I said as I watched her pick up a spear gun, ‘if we need to, we should be able to communicate without speaking as we have before, as long as we are close.’
She nodded, and I preceded her down the ladder at the back of the boat, grabbing another spear gun as I did. It was wise to be prepared for all possible circumstances, and I had not forgotten the huge shark we saw earlier.
We swam slowly towards the southeast of the reef, and I was amazed by the number and variety of fish we saw, some of which should not have been this close to a reef. Then I saw it. A glow, growing brighter. A strange mixture of awe and fear washed through me as I recognised that it must be the glow from the Silmaril. Remembering Bronwyn I checked for her, and found she was to the left, some six or so feet above and behind me. Even through the diving masks we both wore, I could see her emerald eyes glowing with astonishment at the light of the Silmaril.
Closer we swam, and the schools of fish increased, and became denser, to the point where swimming through them was becoming difficult. Bronwyn was now beside me, as we literally pushed our way through the swarming fish, the Silmaril’s glow becoming brighter by the instant.
It sat, about 80 feet down in the cave we found exactly where the whales had told me it would be. The Silmaril was how I remembered it, the jewel’s glow beguiling as ever. Knowing it for folly of the highest order, I stretched out my hand to take up the gem when something hit me hard, throwing me aside violently. A giant squid! Where in Eru’s name did THAT come from! Was it the Guardian the whales spoke of?
Bronwyn!! Where was she? I could feel she was badly frightened and in need of help. In that moment as I felt Bronwyn’s fear the hold the Silmaril and the Oath had on me for thousands of years broke. I no longer cared for that lump of rock my father had crafted, or that I might be calling down the Everlasting Darkness on myself. I cared only that I had involved an innocent mortal woman in this mess, a woman who I could not find; I could only feel that she was frightened and injured! I had to find her.
I ducked under a flailing tentacle as the huge squid tried to grab me again, and there was Bronwyn, pinned against the rock wall of the cave by another tentacle, her right leg bleeding badly from violent contact with the rock.
I still held the spear gun, and I aimed it at the squid, intending to kill it, and release Bronwyn, and then somehow I would get her back to the surface. As I prepared to pull the trigger on the spear gun, my hands froze as a voice thundered in my mind, ‘Stay your hand, son of Feanor. Thy mortal friend will be released.’
I knew that voice! Another came into view, and I was right, it was Ulmo, Lord of the Waters and the creatures that dwell there. The squid vanished as quickly as it had appeared, and I went to Bronwyn, reaching out to help her. She was bleeding so badly, and I was frightened she would die.
Lord Ulmo came to her side, and performed some act of magic that rendered her unconscious, and then carried her to the water’s surface, beckoning me to follow. The next thing I knew, Bronwyn and I were back on board the boat, I never remembered how. Her blood was everywhere, and I worked hard to bandage her leg and stop the bleeding.
I looked up from Bronwyn, in my efforts to help her; I had not noticed that Lord Ulmo was still nearby. I had thought he had gone.
‘Are you ashamed of yourself, Maglor, to have involved this frail mortal in your Oath?’ asked Ulmo.
‘Yes, my lord, I am. I do not deserve to have Bronwyn’s friendship. I have nearly killed her and for what? A foolish Oath I have never believed in, that I only swore for the sake of my father and brothers. I do not care if I am foresworn. I care only Bronwyn, or indeed anyone else, should not suffer further from my folly,’ I replied.
Ulmo smiled, ‘Then you are free, the last of your family to be released. For your Oath was unfulfillable, and no one, not Illuvator, or Manwe and Varda named as witnesses ever held you to it. Yet the Oath took the Noldor to Middle Earth, and many great and valiant deeds were done as a result, and much evil too’
‘Then if I am free,’ I said, feeling hope for the first time in many years, ‘I may go back to Aman?’
‘Not yet. For the evil of the kinslayings is still on you. But do not despair, for a task has been appointed you, and if you can do what is asked of you, then the possibility exists that the ban may be lifted from you,’ said Ulmo.
‘The scrolls,’ I said. ‘I must find those, and bring them with me for the ban to lifted?’
‘Yes. But you not concern yourself with that yet. For Bronwyn needs to be taken where her wounds can be tended properly.’
‘Yes, of course,’ I felt badly for not having already started for shore, for aid for her.
‘I can read your thoughts, Maglor’, said Ulmo. ‘And in the matter of this mortal, I shall tell you two things, she has crossed your path for a reason, that you might benefit from her knowledge of the scrolls. Secondly that you must trust your heart in your dealings with her. For here you have free choice, and it is up to you to exercise that.’
I was unable to speak, and simply nodded at Ulmo, trying to restrain my tears. That I might find redemption was beyond all my hopes. Ulmo spoke again, ‘You must understand that I and indeed all the Valar watch over the Children of Illuvator out of love. I have watched over you especially, partly from a request from one of your kin, but mostly because you are stubborn, child. You could have freed yourself from this Oath, and redeemed yourself many years ago, but you would not. Now a choice lies before you, and Bronwyn is the key to this choice. I will say one other thing before I go, that the quest for the scrolls will be hard, and dangerous. But help unlooked for may come your way if you are strong. Now, go, seek aid for Bronwyn.’
‘Yes, lord,’ I whispered.
‘Remember, if you are in dire need of aid, call on me. I will help you if I can’, said Ulmo, and he left quickly.
Swallowing my tears, and struggling to regain control of myself, I moved Bronwyn into the cabin of the boat, and I raised anchor and started back for shore.
It was nearly an hour before Bronwyn woke, and I could feel that her pain was intense. I first slowed, then stopped, the boat, and tended to her. Using the natural healing abilities present in all elves, I was able to ease her pain, and give her physical body some extra strength. I was pleased also to note that her leg was now hardly bleeding at all.
She insisted on sitting up and taking radio control, saying that I could not both drive and call the Jackson Base Station for help. We do not why, but the base station did not answer, and for some time, her efforts to raise someone were fruitless, then a voice we both recognised broke the radio silence,
‘Wave Dancer, is that you, Bronwyn? What do you need? Why the SOS’ Came Anita’s worried voice from the emergency radio set in Bronwyn’s house that was kept on at all times.
‘Paramedics, Marine Institute, South Dock. Before you ask, it’s for me, I lost a fight with a underwater rock face, and my right leg’s pretty bad.’
‘Ok, good as done. Then I’m coming down, I want to be there when you dock,’ said Anita.
She signed off, and Bronwyn laid back, her eyes closed, her pain was back, and I knew she was slipping into the condition called shock that affected injured mortals. But I dared not stop again, I knew it was essential to get to shore as quickly as safely possible.
‘Bronwyn, do not sleep!!’ I said. ‘You must stay awake, speak to me.’
‘Mmm, ok, what do you want me to say?’
‘Anything, just do not sleep’, I said urgently
‘What the heck happened out there?’ she asked.
So I told her, making sure to keep asking her if she was awake, which annoyed her greatly. She was pleased however, when I told her that I was free of the Oath, once more claiming to know that I could not be held to it. I let her think herself clever, as it seemed to mean much to her.
Soon we had arrived at the dock, and I could see Anita and Nicky pacing about, waiting for our arrival. Barely had I turned off the boat’s engine and tied up, when both were aboard, Anita checking Bronwyn while Nicky asked me what had happened.
‘Where is everyone,’ Bronwyn asked.
‘All the staff have gone home for the night, and I’ve no idea where the paramedics are’, Anita answered, worry clear on her face.
Nicky and I cleared Bronwyn’s and my things from the boat, and put them safely in Anita’s car. Nicky jogged off to put the boat keys back down a chute for safe keeping until morning, and I changed out of the wet suit, pleased to be free of it.
‘I don’t like this’, said Anita while we waited for Nicky to return. ‘I don’t think we should wait any longer. I’d like to get Bronwyn up here, and maybe start for the hospital in my car.’ She looked at me, ‘what do you think, Maglor. How do you think she really is?’
I closed my eyes, concentrating on Bronwyn, ‘Not good’; I replied ‘She is growing weaker’.
Anita nodded, ‘Then we won’t wait. I think between us we can get her off the boat.’
So we did. Bronwyn seemed happier once back on dry land, and I put her in back seat of the car just as Nicky reappeared, face flushed and out of breath.
‘I’ve been to the security gate, no sign of the ambulance,’ she said.
‘We’re not going to wait any longer’, said Anita. ‘Get in everyone, and Nicky if we see the ambulance roll down your window and wave to them with this’, she said as she gave her daughter a light coloured scarf she had found in the back. I sat with Bronwyn, doing what I could to help her, but she was now very weak, barely conscious.
Anita drove as fast as she dared, but it seemed to take a long time to get to the hospital. Once there Anita went straight in, and I followed carrying Bronwyn with Nicky opening the doors for us.
A tired looking nurse came over as I laid Bronwyn on a bed. She examined Bronwyn, and then beckoned over a doctor. I was literally pushed out of the way as equipment and more people were brought to Bronwyn’s side. I found myself standing in a corner, feeling lost. A hand touched my arm, and I looked down at Anita and Nicky.
‘What are they doing to her?’ I asked Anita.
‘Blood transfusion, treatment for shock, later on there’ll be surgery for her leg wound.’ She opened the door next to her, ‘We’d be best to wait out here, out of the way.’
Nicky settled in front of a television and Anita was called away for something, so I sitting in a very uncomfortable chair feeling very guilty. What if Bronwyn had died? What if she still did? I have no idea how long I sat berating myself for my sheer stupidity. Then a nurse beckoned Nicky and I over to a door that lead into a small room.
‘You can see your friend for a few minutes’, she said, and I saw Bronwyn lying in a bed, looking very small. Anita was already there, and she looked less tense and worried than she had.
‘Is Bron going to be all right, mum?’ said Nicky.
‘Yes, but she’s going in here for a few days’.
A great look relief spread over Nicky’s face, and I understood how troubled she had been. My fault again! I could nothing right, all I was good for was getting others hurt. So I stayed in the corner, reluctant to approach Bronwyn. Anita noticed, ‘you don’t have to hide in the corner, Maglor. Come over and satisfy yourself that she will Ok’.
Two steps and I was at the bedside, my hand on Bronwyn’s forehead. ‘Yes,’ I said ‘She is much better!’
‘Visiting hours over’, said a cheerful young nurse who had entered the room almost as silently as an elf. I was happy enough to leave then, for I was convinced Bronwyn would be fine now, and Anita promised both Nicky and myself that we come back to see her first thing in the morning.
We left, and went home. To Bronwyn’s home as Anita and Nicky were still ‘not home’ to certain people. The three of us spent a restless evening, watching television, no one went to bed, the ladies occasionally dozing on the sofa bed, and I thinking of my latest piece of folly.
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.