1. Price of a Broken Promise
She has sworn not to do this to herself again. Even as she gets up and dresses in the dark, she tells herself she will not do it. Nevertheless, soon she is astride her mare Izre, leaving Emerie behind in the intense pre-dawn chill, blackness of sheep invisible against the blackness of the fields. Dawn overtakes her on the way to the coast.
The precipitous path down into the cove is all too familiar. So is the empty beach and the empty sea. The last time she was here, though, it was warmer. Today, the grey, pathetic excuse for sunlight barely seems to illuminate the waves. As she paces along the strip of firm moist sand between the water and the dunes, the wind, never entirely still along this coast, rises and carries sleet with it—sleet, not quite snow, not yet, but there is no avoiding the conclusion: it is winter, too late in the year for voyaging on the high seas. It is another year in which Aldarion will not come.
He is holed up in Mithlond, no doubt, hobnobbing with elven royalty, quaffing mulled wine with Gil-galad or Cirdan, warm and comfortable and safe, having forgotten his promise to his wife. She tries to hold that thought, but the wind rises and it blows away with the sleet. She walks along the shore, and she thinks of all the dangers of Middle-earth she has heard of. All the sad old tales come alive in her memory, how Barahir died and Gorlim and Huor and Turin. No, that was before Morgoth was defeated—but still there are manifold dangers in Middle-earth: orcs and trolls and dragons. But there is no reason to think that Aldarion has encountered any of them, is there?
The wind reaches for her with cold wet fingers. She forgets to keep an eye on the waves and one comes in and laps at her feet, drenching her shoes. The sea is her enemy—and inevitably she begins thinking of shipwreck, storms at sea, torn sails and broken masts, fogs, treacherous currents and insidious rocks, mangled corpses afloat among the sea wrack, bones sinking to the ocean floor—oh, to be Queen Almarian, serene, patient and steadfast, stitching away at her embroidery in Armenelos, seemingly confident that all it takes is time and if only she waits long enough, her son will be returned safe and sound to her just as he was, except perhaps a little wiser...
The sea is her enemy. The wind from the sea carries the icy moisture that easily penetrates her warmest cloak. Her hair drips, clammy against her neck. She is soaking wet, right down to her underwear.
By the time Erendis reaches Emerie again, she is white and numb, so stiff with cold she can hardly loosen her fingers from the reins or speak. Zamin raises a great outcry, pulls her off her horse, drags her into the house and bathes her like a small child, scolding her fiercely all the while. She wraps Erendis in a woollen dressing gown and half a dozen blankets and virtually forces camomile tea laced with honey down her throat. Gratefully, Erendis feels warmth creep through her limbs again. Only in her chest, something refuses to thaw and has once again grown harder, colder.
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.