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and small tales hang thereto

Chapter Text

“Only one? I do not know if it is one, it is many ragged fragments of horrors as varied as the moods of the sea, clinging together at their edges. When Gondolin fell I had no eyes for it, for I was looking for nothing but golden hair in the slaughter and smoke, and anything that was not golden hair was grey and fogged out. But I neglected to shut off my ears, so when I remember the moment Tuor appeared, finally, with Idril and Eärendil in his arms, ashen as a ghost from the fall of the city’s white dust like snow, I cannot remember his words, but only layers of screams, circling further and further out. Another, and another, and another.

I remember we were late in escaping down the tunnel I had helped make, and at one deep and narrow part with the least air, there was hardly a patch of ground that was not covered in bodies. It was too dark to see them, too close to avoid them - we trod on them all the way through the dark way, I remember that some were warriors who were sturdy under our feet in their armor, or ground to meat and splintered bone in their mail, or civilians soft and unprotected from the trampling boots, and slippery with blood. They had all blended together there, I would not look down. Tuor was before me, Tuor who was dear was alive for this moment, perhaps a moment more, a moment more, and yet a moment more, before he joined them. That was all I knew.

I smelled the sea long before I knew I had. I did not realize it was the sea of the real world, and not of my mind. I thought I only smelled it because the march, dazed and dragging down with despair and weariness, was rolling over me much like the sea’s depths, cold-hating, merciless, pressing into my mouth and eyes and ears, that had near drowned me years before. Idril and Tuor were at the front of the line, pulling us forward, forward, by dint of trust and threats and mindless resolve, and entrusted me with Eärendil. He had sunk in delirium and did not see my face or hear my voice, his face and hands grey and dry as parchment skins, and his tiny feet tapping limp against my arm with each step. All the curls on his head were still gold and fine as only a child’s can be, though his face was pinched as an old man’s. He would be an old man, I thought, with every step, the steps like swimming strokes upon the surface of the sea, the steps growing into hours, and the hours into days untold. Until I finally caught the scent of the sea, I let that thought push me forward. He would be an old man, I would have enough steps and hours and days, to reach the day he would be an old man, I thought, and did not drown.”