As the clouds turned pink, Khamul hurried off into the empty streets, rushing down roads, heading with all speed towards the palace.
"What is your hurry, lady?" the guard asked.
"Open the gate, I need to speak with Sauron," Khamul said.
"That is Lord Sauron, to you," the guard reprimanded.
I'm not going to be sad to see you die, Khamul thought, glaring at him as he slowly opened the gate. Much slower than he had to, in her opinion.
Sprinting through the gate, Khamul raced into the temple and nearly ran into Sauron, who was standing in front of the altar, gazing up at the ceiling.
"What is it?" Khamul demanded. "It is dawn."
"A red dawn," Sauron said. "The blood of all Numenor will spill today."
"Are you sure you will not come with us?"
"There are things that I need to take care of," Sauron said. "But you are right about the Valar; this disaster will be meant to kill me as well. Therefore," He removed the One Ring, "take this."
"The Ring?" Khamul asked as he placed it in her hand. It was a solid gold band set with no stones, though Khamul knew that in heat it displayed markings.
"Take it and leave now," Sauron said. "I take it you have not caught Elendil?"
Khamul shook her head.
"That is unfortunate. They stole the seven palantri from their resting place yesterday. I had wished those for my own. But no matter. At least we will all get out of this coming disaster."
"What of Miriel?" Khamul asked. "I don't know if the boat can hold another person."
"Don't bother with her," Sauron said.
"And the child?"
Sauron shrugged. "It's either mine, in which case it's a monster, or it's Melkor's, in which case it's worse. Believe me, it's good that it's dying here."
Khamul nodded. "Anything else?" she asked, her legs dying to run back to the docks and leave these cursed shores.
"Go," Sauron said.
Khamul obeyed happily, sprinting with every ounce of speed she possessed out of the gate, ignoring the snarls of the guards, and down the streets. Day was just beginning in Numenor. The people were waking up and shops were starting to open. For the last time, Khamul thought.
"Can we leave?" Ceure asked as she ran into the docks.
"Yes!" Khamul yelled. "Get in the boat! Get in the boat!" As she yelled, a mighty tremor struck, hurling her to the ground. It's beginning Khamul thought. She put the Ring on her finger in order to keep it safe from flying into the ocean or some such thing.
"Khamul, you are nearly transparent," Vorea said, alarmed
"What? I don't care," Khamul snapped. "I don't have time for this! Get in the boat!"
Ceure was already undoing the knot to cast the boat off as another tremor struck, this one more violent than the last. Shingles fell off roofs, people fell to the ground in the street, carts tumbled over.
"So much for Elendil," Khamul muttered.
"Agh!" Ceure exclaimed, leaping to her feet suddenly and nearly capsizing the boat.
"What are you doing?" Khamul roared.
"We are coming with you," Elendil said, throwing back a tarp that had been covering the far end of the boat.
"There's not enough room!"
"We will make room," Elendil said. "Hurry! The Valar will not allow the people of Numenor to suffer for long!"
Cursing, Khamul shoved the ringbearers into the boat one by one.
"Lord Elendil," Morion said, bowing as Khamul pushed him in.
"It is hard to see my kinsman fallen so far," Elendil murmured.
"Valar!" Khamul snarled. "That's Isildur! And that's the other one, too!"
"Yes," Isildur said, glaring bitterly at Khamul. "I do not see why we had to wait for her, Father."
"Debts must be repaid," Elendil said. "Hurry, Lady Khamul. We cannot wait long now."
"I must be mad for this," Khamul muttered, stepping gingerly into the boat as the earth shook again.
"Hands to the oars!" Elendil cried, seizing an oar and pulling with all his strength.
"You heard the man!" Khamul snapped. "Pull, dammit! Pull!"
The boat was far over its capacity, and with every tremble and shake was in danger of swamping. As it was, Khamul was soaked from the splashing of the oars and the waves that sloshed over the small boat.
"Did you get the palantri?" Khamul asked as they rowed through the entrance to Romenna Harbor. Chaos was evident all around. People were running back and forth, trying to put out flames that were springing up all over town. Khamul looked towards the palace and the great dome of the temple, and saw a figure standing atop the dome, daring the Valar to do their worst. Sauron, she thought, shaking her head.
"Yes, we did," Elendil said. "I fear you can have none of them."
"I don't care," Khamul said.
"Why are you transparent, lady?" Elendil's second son asked.
"Anarion!" Elendil grumbled.
"I don't know, and I really don't care," Khamul said. "The only thing I care about right now is getting out of here before the really bad stuff starts happening. And then I'll worry about why I'm transparent."
"Do you think we're safe now?" Ceure asked, looking back towards Numenor as they left the Harbor.
"No," Khamul said. "We won't be safe until we're in Middle-Earth."
"I agree," Elendil said. "We cannot relax though until we are at least a mile from the island."
"What is going to happen?" Vorea asked. "Do you know?"
Elendil shook his head. "I do not," he said. "Save that it will be a terrible disaster."
"And that's all you need to know," Khamul muttered. The shoreline was disappearing, but the waves were choppy and rough. A powerful storm is brewing over Numenor, she thought, glancing up at the sky. Black clouds hovered above Armenelos.
There were a few exclamations as the boat suddenly rocked as a wave passed under it.
"Row!" Elendil roared, and no one dared disobey him.
"What's going on?" Khamul asked as they paddled – Vorea even using her sword – away from the island.
"That was no mere wave," Elendil said.
"What? That little thing just now?" Khamul asked, nearly laughing. "It shook the boat, but barely."
"We are in the open sea now," Elendil said. "Though not so far that we are safe from the debris that will soon be coming."
"By the Valar!" Vorea gasped. "Look!"
All heads turned towards Numenor. The sea was receding fast from the white shores, leaving fish thrashing and wriggling, exposed to the air.
"The fools," Elendil groaned as people rushed down to the shore to gather up the food that was just lying there.
"What is it?" Khamul whispered.
Elendil looked away from the island, his eyes full of pain. "It is over," he said.
A mighty wave rose up from seemingly the thin air. It was over a hundred feet tall and cast the exposed shore and hundreds of people in a dark shadow. Then, it came crashing down.
"We aren't going to get hit by something like that, are we?" Khamul asked.
"No, we are too far out to sea," Elendil said. "But when the houses and trees are destroyed, then we will have trouble. The debris will be all over these waters."
"Dammit," Khamul cursed.
They were a mile away from the island when a series of tidal waves began to swamp the island, each one reaching further and further inland. Armenelos was nothing by now. It had been taken by the second wave.
"Meneltarma will be safe," Anarion said, looking to the temple at the top of the mountain. "The last temple to the Valar in Numenor will be protected."
"I pray the queen made it there safely," Elendil said.
I doubt she did, Khamul thought.
They rowed all through the night. Occasionally the ship was hit by a tree branch or a piece of glass that used to belong to a window. Other items continued to turn up, along with bodies.
"There's another," Ceure said the next morning, nodding at a corpse floating in the water.
"There's a lot of bodies," Khamul said.
"There were a lot of people on Numenor," Elendil said.
Waves flowing from sunken Numenor, along with a good, stiff wind, carried the ship farther and faster than it could ever have gone by rowing alone.
"I think we'll be on Middle-Earth in two days," Khamul said. "I hope you brought water," she said, looking at Elendil.
"We are well-prepared," the last Lord of the Andunie said. "What of you?"
"We don't need to eat or drink."
"I see," Elendil said, nodding.
"Just to get this straight," Khamul said, "this isn't a permanent arrangement. When we land on those shores, wherever they are, we are mortal enemies."
"Of course," Elendil said. "My debt has been discharged."
"Good," Khamul said. "We'll go our separate ways then."
Elendil smiled. "I will not tell you where I am going," he said.
"I think I'll be able to find out," Khamul said.
"You will be headed to Mordor," Elendil said. "Despite the Valar's best efforts, they could not slay Sauron, could they?"
"No," Khamul said, shaking her head.
"Then it will be war between us," Elendil said.
"Try not to get yourself killed by anyone else," Khamul said.
"I will do my best not to get killed at all."
Isildur cast Khamul a dark glance that spoke of his intentions in the coming war. Khamul returned the dark look, with interest. You think you can kill me, son of Elendil, she thought. But you are wrong. Oh, how you are wrong!
A healthy, alive, if wet, company landed on the shores of Middle-Earth the dawn of the third day after the destruction of Numenor.
"Are you all that survived?" Khamul asked as they staggered off the boat.
"There are nine other ships," Elendil said. "But that is all I shall tell you."
"If you know where we are, that would be nice, too."
"Pelargir," Morion said. "I've been here before."
"I see settlements in the distance," Elendil said. "Ah, they fly the flag of Numenor. I think I see rest for us, my sons."
"And I can see Orodruin's fires," Khamul said, glancing towards the south.
"Again, I say it is a shame to see a kinsman fallen," Elendil said to Morion.
"Through no choice of mine, Lord Elendil," Morion said.
Elendil nodded sadly. "It has been a time of strange allies and great grief, but that has ended. Farewell, ringbearers. May we meet again under better circumstances."
"We won't," Khamul said.
Elendil and his sons walked towards the settlement, while Khamul and the other ringbearers headed back towards Mordor.
"It's going to be a long walk," Khamul said.