1. The Hidden Lady
"In that time those of the Numenoreans who were saved from destruction fled eastward, as is told in the Akallabeth. The chief of these were Elendil the Tall and his sons, Isildur and Anarion. Kinsmen of the King they were, descendants of Elros, but they had been unwilling to listen to Sauron, and had refused to make war on the Lords of the West. Manning their ships with all who remained faithful they forsook the land of Numenor ere ruin came upon it. They were mighty men and their ships were strong and tall, but the tempests overtook them, and they were borne aloft on hills of water even to the clouds, and they descended upon Middle-earth like birds of the storm."
The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
It had been just a hunch — one of a maniac at that — so much so that I would not even name it a calling or a vision. Yet, after a day of hiding in the loft of the stables, from Sauron's soldiers, the idea had just come so unbidden, and yet there had been urgency to it. I have been a mariner most of my life, and when but a tot, I would hang onto my father's legs, pleading for that chance to go to sea with him. I am certain that he knew once I saw the ever-expanding horizon, something deep inside of me would stir and flourish. Long ago, my father had warned me, and again I could hear the worry and warning in his words: But it is most like that, you shall fly from the Land of the Star with no star to guide you; for that land is defiled.
Indeed, defiled it was, even though we could not wholly lay blame on Ar-Pharazôn. However, in his blind pride, he brought Sauron here. It was easy to see how we came to that day, where it made no sense to me to be here out on the sea. There had been no wind, the sky over Rómenna was still clear and to leave the harbour with all I own and hold close… Madness one might say, to take out such fine ships into quiet waters. Many of our men rowed us far enough from the coast, at least, from what I estimated would be far enough away from the reach of Sauron's men. My father's words probably played a larger role in my choices than I expected.
Many curses flew at me, that mad lord who would dare to wrestle away from such control. The scorching heat did nothing to improve the moods of our crews either. The day my father left these shores, he extended his concern for my fate here to a warning, and for long I had been unable to understand how this would take shape.
Then you shall lose all that you have loved, foretasting death in life, seeking a land of exile elsewhere. But east or west the Valar alone can say.
Believe me, as we all looked upon the shores of our Elenna, such memories shall always be cherished. I wondered then how many of my people would have lost loved ones themselves, and if they shared the same bitter feeling that crept over me. How could father have known? Even now, many years past this day, words fail me to describe the omens. However, nightmares haunt me as the gifted lands were swallowed by the sea and oh, those cries! The pain and screams of an unwanted surprise! Proud women, vain men, the innocent children… all lost.
Nay, the memories remain and are paired with the most terrible of dreams. It happened so fast...The lands rose and groaned, and the calm seas suddenly churned as gasps tumbled over our lips. Suddenly, I was the hero; my previously bemoaned insight praised. Surely, the shock now surfaced since not many could comprehend what happened. We live with this heritage and yet, as many bards and poets ask, there are too many words left unspoken still.
I knew that the worst was yet to come. I have battled wild seas and fierce storms where our ships would be tossed around. In my day, I bested mighty storms, sea walls that simply pitched our ships around like toys. Sometimes I experienced a seaquake, and knew that there could be more high waves following the first one. However, a power this mighty… Our lands just swallowed… There had to be repercussions. I simply could not hesitate and ordered everyone, from my wife to the young deckhands, to lash themselves to the railing for the best chance of survival. No, I was not certain if we would survive the first wave as I honestly did not know what to expect, let alone the second. I knew they could not steer themselves out of it.
How did I know such a fact, even if I did not know what to expect? I shall tell you: Years of study in the library under father's tutelage. In the end, the call of the sea became too strong for him and he left us with impossible tomes to study. Those tomes were precious to us as the discovery of a work given by the elder came with the punishment of death. I know now that such knowledge gave me the power to rescue my people. I made my calculations, shouting instructions to keep the sails set just so, with the hope, perhaps, that at least one of Manwë's maiar would take pity on us and would give us that gale of wind. It was a risk, oh yes, but never could I have anticipated what would follow.
At first, the sea appeared to be dead calm, and then surely enough there were high waves, but none for us to worry about. It was a strange sight, considering what just happened in front of our eyes. Wasn't Ossë normally more… fiery? Yet, it did not sit right with me and as I looked overboard, I saw the first signs of a strong eddy. Of course, the tides would be disrupted by this sudden change, but as soon as I looked beyond the keel, I realized that this eddy was slowly being transmuted in a violent spiral motion. It was to be a maelstrom. I then realised that there was no time for us to question what the Valar might or might not do.
At that moment, I considered all of our lives forfeit. There would be no escaping this downfall, even with us so far out of sea. My father's words came back to haunt me even more. What else could I do as the strong motion rocked our ships, pulling us all into a certain death? Was this the gift of Ilúvatar that we would be given? Surely, the Valar would do something? So far, all of my father's foreboding words materialised.
I was not ready to accept the mystery of men, nor were my sons, my wife and theirs, my grandchildren, my crew, and their families. What more could I do than pray, and suddenly Fíriel's words came to me. Our maiden had sung such a sad song just days before. Yet more words with such dark foreboding. Mayhap Ilúvatar would listen now as well? It was at least worth the try and, since we considered ourselves faithful, why could we not perish with words directed to him tumbling from our lips. I remembered and with a steady, yet pleading voice, I began...
'My father you made this world for Elves and Mortals, and you gave it into the hands of us mighty lords. But my heart resteth not here forever; for here is ending,'
Before I could continue, I felt the strong hands of my wife on mine. 'And there will be an end and the Fading...'
'What are you doing?' My wife hissed, and I wondered what wrong there could possibly be in invoking our Allfather now.
'Offering our prayers to him will not do, can you not see? If Ossë could have raised our lands out of the Great Water... Maybe Ar-Pharazôn angered him, crossing such boundaries we were not supposed to cross,' she suggested to me as the ship started to drift closer to the dangerous maelstrom.
'Lady Uinen,' I murmured.
'I do think it is the right thing to do,' she insisted, and without thought, I handed her my purse. Her ladies-in-waiting followed her example immediately. As I looked at her proudly, she stood tall and regal next to the railing, taking out a handful of silver coins as she started to pray.
Oh Lady Uinen, patroness of us men who sail the seas
You who are inexhaustible of your grace upon the embitters of marine loneliness.
In your might that can control your spouse during his ravings,
reminding him to show compassion to us who cannot resist the pull of the sea; to protect us,
faithful in the tempests of the soul and in the dashing of the sea.
Do bless those loved beings that are beseeching
your protection on this day that we chose to depart,
and, us forsaking the sweet quietude of the household,
waiting here with anxiety to learn of our fate.
Merciful Lady, do bless those in our ships
as we sought to protect and honour our country
and fought so hard to restore the purity of our heritage
Mother and Lady, our Earelen,
listen to the prayer of our hearts,
wrought by the war and deceit, we who beseech you
conceding us in either life or death
the merciful sweetness of peace
or spare us if there is mercy to be given.
We had to try. Desperation attempted to numb me, and I could only imagine how this last, desperate plea for help would wear down others. Following her example, I started anew, and I heard many of my crew whispering the very same words. As if we both sought for the extra strength, my wife reached out to me, and our hands entwined while we both finished this prayer. It was then that the barrels started to slip, even though they had been well secured. What power was answering our words?
'What will the Father, O Father, give me in that day beyond the end when my Sun faileth? What is it that you want from us?' I murmured, unsure if indeed Uinen would listen to our words and pleas. For a moment I did not dare to look at what force of nature would answer. Yes, I did hear the awful sound of rails breaking, sails ripping apart as one of our first ships was pulled into the violent vortex. What else could we do? Over and over, we chanted our lines as the dreadful sounds screamed in our ears, and the waves claimed and took. As I opened my eyes, I counted ten of our ships; Anárion's ship was so close to destruction.
'Not my sons!' I suddenly cried; dread taking hold of my heart. 'Ilúvatar, hear us! Earelen! Surely you would not allow him to be taken to the bottom of the ocean?!'
No answer came and the vision of the second ship sinking, the sounds and wailing, curses and oh, yes the begging for mercy. Had we not been faithful enough? 'He is so young...' I whispered as I kept my gaze on his ship, its afterdeck bobbing dangerously on the strong downward current, '...And so afraid. Do spare him, my son of summer, and my youngest and ...' The thought then came suddenly to me. If I could try, perhaps change my prayer to Ilúvatar, maybe he would accept my offer?
'Ilúvatar,' I spoke hoarsely, 'Take my life and give my life to my sons! Let them be! Let them live! Please! It is my choice, if I lay down my life, will you please let them live?!'
It never came to that. In hindsight, I now realise that I might have played my hand with offering to sacrifice my life, in exchange of my youngest son. There had been enough offerings to appease the wrong god. I will admit now, it was a desperate gamble of a father; maybe one will say that our Allfather did not bear all of us his punishment. My wife still believes it was the Lady Uinen. I simply do not recall. At that moment, our ship lurched dangerously and we all hung on for our dear lives. Maybe it was Ossë's tempest, his answers to his lady's pleas to spare us. Whoever chose to serve us – for there are different bards who will all spin a different tale – we were borne aloft the hills of water and after that all became dark. I have heard that these walls of water nearly touched the clouds, yet reasoning will also tell us this could not have been possible. Yet we landed on the shores of Middle-earth, where I regained consciousness here, in Lindon, and being placed under the High-king's care. My beloved sons were spared. Maybe they will tell a different tale. However, you came to me, curious to learn how we had been spared from Elenna's downfall. Make of it what you will, for I do know that, as your story will travel from town to town, retold by others, tall tales will be spun of it. The madman's tale will be turned into the legend of heroes, but I have done all I have could.
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.