Five times re-illum'd, as oft
Vanish'd the light from underneath the moon,
Since the deep way we enter'd, when from far
Appear'd a mountain dim, loftiest methought
Of all I e'er beheld. Joy seiz'd us straight,
But soon to mourning chang'd. From the new land
A whirlwind spring, and at her foremost side
Did strike the vessel. Thrice it whirl'd her round
With all the waves, the fourth time lifted up
The poop, and sank the prow: so fate decreed:
And over us the booming billow clos'd."
[Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Canto XXVI]
Zimraphel the queen awoke in darkness.
She tasted salt on her lips; she would have wept in her sleep. She dried what remained of her tears with the back of her hand, and sat over the cushions of her empty bed. The curtains were closed, but she could sense that it was still night, with the Moon that shone upon the silent hills of Anadune, cruel and uncaring for the fates and the lives of Men.
Zimraphel tried to catch what remained of her dream. A beautiful, sweet dream for once, not like the nightmares that haunted her since Calion sailed, following a mad hope.
But now that she’s asleep, the dream began to vanish, swift as it had come. All Zimraphel recalled in that dream is that Calion was once again young and handsome like the first time she’d rest her eyes on him, at the peak of his manhood and glory, no more like the old, wretched man that had left her alone in an empty palace, with almost no hope of his return.
And there were two children, she remembered. Their faces were already vanishing in her mind, but she recalled that they had her eyes, and something of Calion’s features. At this memory, her eyes almost filled with tears again.
She hated that dream. She’d inherited the gift -or the curse, she had always thought, bitterly- of her father, to foresee the things that will come. Since when Zimraphel was a little child, she could guess when a new guest came at home, or when the coughing of her nurse would end, simply because she’d seen them in a dream. Other dreams were darker and nonsensical, and let her wake up in the night covered in cool sweat. Her father had always listened her when Zimraphel told him of such dreams, and had caressed and consoled her, and had made her promise that she wouldn’t tell of her dreams to anyone. Father was dead since long time, but Zimraphel had always kept her promise.
But that dream was only a lie, not like the ones she’d had for all those years. Calion was old now, and she doubted that she would see him again. And the children ...
Zimraphel never desired to give birth to a child per se, but she always knew that she had to have an heir. But years passed, and the heir never came, no matter of what she and Calion did, no matter how much he prayed to his new god and how many sacrifices he made into the great golden temple in Ar-Minalêth, her belly always remained empty. And his despair grew more and more.
Zimraphel closed her eyelids, biting her bottom lip. Somehow, it was worse than her current nightmare - the one in which the merciless waves of the cold sea covered her, the water cruelly filling her mouth and her nose until she had no more air in her lungs, until the pain was unbearable, and she could scream no more. Not only because this dream would never become true, but also because it was nothing but the symbol of everything she’d lost, and of everything that she would never had.
She had wept in her sleep, without even realizing it, but she now had no more tears, and so the queen of Númenor remained alone in the darkness, waiting for a rest that hardly came.
At the dawn, Zimraphel chased away the last remains of the dream. She washed her face with cold water, silently waiting for her handmaiden to come: she was still the queen of Númenor, no matter if Calion had sailed towards his doom, and if Elendil listened her no more.
She hadn’t to wait long. Her handmaiden, a slim, nervous girl with large brown eyes and light freckles on her soft cheeks, finally came into her chambers, and, after a quick curtsey, began to help her to dress in.
The handmaiden tend to her one of her richest robes, a fine dress of velvet black as a starless night, decorated with golden embroidery, but Zimraphel moved her head:- No- she said.- Not this.
She was used to wear black and gold during her reign, the colours of the new banner of the Kings of Anadûnê, and -so had they hoped once- of the new dynasty that she and Calion had hoped to found. But now … now …
I don’t want to look like a widow, she thought, hardening her heart. Númenor still looked at her like a guide, like at the light of a beacon in the dark. If she showed despair, what could happen to her people?
She couldn’t do that to them. Not after all what she’d done, after all the sacrifices that she made, and the plots that planned, after all what she’d hoped and lost.
-Give me that- she ordered to her handmaiden, pointing at another dress, a silken one, made of shades of blue, who shone like the wings of a kingfisher in the pale light of the early morning. It was a dress intended for a younger woman, but Zimraphel didn’t care. She had liked blue and white dresses, when she was still young and full of hopes, and she had wondered on the shores of Anadûnê.
The girl simply did what she ordered, avoiding her eyes as much as she could. Zimraphel tightened her lips. She wondered if this girl had a family, or a lover, and if she preferred to be with them, instead of being here, complying to the whims of an old queen.
Zimraphel met her gaze in the silver mirror in front of her. Years had passed, but still she hadn’t lost her beauty. She could have wrinkles around her sapphire blue eyes, the same eyes that bewitched her own cousin long time ago, and grey strands in her ravenous hair, and her breasts weren’t no longer high and rich as once, but she could still recognize her look in the mirror, she wasn’t a stranger to herself.
Not like Calion, who at some point was able no more of recognizing himself in the mirror, for all his beauty and manhood had definitively vanished, letting him with only a weak body, and only rage to fill him with.
She silently touched the mirror, and suspired softly. -You could go, now- said the queen to the handmaiden, and the girl swiftly obeyed, letting her alone, with her glare in the mirror as her only companion.
Zimraphel watched the sun slowly descending towards the horizon through the glass of the large windows of the throne room. It had been a long, lonely day: few people still ascended to the high court for an hearing. Zimraphel had sensed the despair and the confusion in their eyes, in the rich ones as in the poor ones.
Enough, she thought, hardening her heart once again. I’m the queen. I must be strong for them. She cannot permit to the despair and the defeat to overwhelm her.
At least, she thought bitterly, the Zigûr was no more in the high court. People said that he had never left his temple since the King sailed: they had heard him laughing and talking with his cursed god in the deep shadow under the silver dome of the temple, but few people had seen him, except his strict cycle of acolytes.
Zimraphel bit her bottom lip. There was nobody on the earth that she hated more than the Zigûr. He could burn in his temple for all she cared, and his bloody god with him: it was him that had brought the worship of his dark god from his forgotten lands in the Middle Earth, it was him that had whispered in Calion’s ear for all those years, leading him to the madness, until she was able to recognize the man she loved no more, it was him that had shattered all her hopes.
She saw from the window the courtyard where once the White Tree stood, proud and flourishing through all the centuries in which the line of Indilzar ruled Anadûnê, now empty except for the dark, curved shapes of the servants that still dare to cross it. The soil that once nourished Nimloth was now grey and arid, and no grass grew on it.
She remembered the words of her father. The line of the Kings would perish with the White Tree, he had said. Zimraphel tightened her fingers on the white wood of her throne. It was so, then? she asked herself. Was it true that the Avalôi had cursed her and Calion, leaving them barren and hopeless, and completely alone to face their doom?
She looked at the empty throne near her own, and suddenly anger raised in her.
What I am supposed to do?, she thought. In the tales her mother had told her, long time ago, the princesses who lost their beloved ones usually died of pain or despair, preferring to follow them in the grave instead of living again. She’d no hope that Calion was alive, or to see him once again - and even so, he had stopped long time ago to be the man she loved- but it’s not pain what she felt. She felt only rage, and hate, and an empty, dark hollowness in her heart, in the place where once her husband was.
A long time passed before she took her decision. Almost five years passed from Calion’s departure, and no word came from him from the West, and any hope had definitively left Zimraphel’s heart. The curse of the Avalôi lied upon her like a bird of prey, and she knew that the days of the Kings were passed. But if she had to die, Zimraphel thought in the end, she would meet her doom without fear. She was a daughter of Anadûnê, born by the seed of Indilzar and Azrubêl, blood of the bloods of the Kings and the Queens of the Sea.
But before, she had to know the truth. If she couldn’t avenge Calion’s death, at least she wanted to know what malice brought him to death. What strange fate had lead the Zigûr, this eerie creature, on the shores of her lands?
For all she loathed the Zigûr, she had to see him, once again. She didn’t care for the risk. She would die soon, and would it be so different if her life would end by the cold hands of the Zigûr, or by the uncareful hand of Erû?
Zimraphel watched the sky from the window of her litter. It was three years since that it seemed that the sun had stopped to shine upon Anadûnê: since the moment Calion had sailed for Amatthâni, enormous black clouds from the West had covered the sky, so similar to the big eagles of the Elder King. And the rare times in which the sun appeared, it was pale and white like an old bone, and pale and cold was its light, and so the fields of Anadûnê grew properly no more, and misery and famine had spread over the island.
Once Anadûnê was the jewel of the sea, the Land of Gift. This is only that sorcerer’s fault, thought Zimraphel, but while her heart ached, her face remained of stone. Oh, if only she had killed him when she had the possibility, when he was only an hostage without any power. At that time, nobody would have thought that one day he would have so much power among his hands. A poor type of sorcerer indeed, had laughed once the courtesans, their bellies full of wine, when they firstly saw the Zigûr, only for turning into his faithful dogs some years later, once they heard the gospel of his dark god.
But the Zigûr wasn’t one of those fair wizards that used fires and tricks for impressing the commoners, and she knew it too well: she had seen for all those years how he had used Calion’s despair for his own purposes. Calion had always been a man of strong will, but the rumours and the whispers of the smallfolk -that was the curse of the Avalôi, if he was barren and couldn’t sire any living child, for the incest he committed-, the plots of Amandil, who once was his best friend, the brash provocations at his authority had somehow wretched his mind and spirit. And she had seen the man she once loved slipping between her fingers like water, until she could recognize him no more.
Zimraphel saw few people on the streets and the roads of the once proud Ar-Minalêth, the Golden City, the jewel of Anadûnê. Their faces were grey and their eyes tired, and they moved without any energy, as if all their blood had been dropped from their veins.
She knew that some of them had preferred to close in their houses, praying at their new god in the hope that better times would come, others instead had whispered that it was all fault of the new god that the King had brought from the East, and had tried to remember the old ways and how to pray at the Avalôi once again. But nobody could teach it to them now, for all the Faithful had fled since long time, seeking for the protection of Elendil in Rómenna.
She shook her head, bitterly. She hadn’t pray the Avalôi since long time, and anyway, she doubted that her prayers would even been listened now. It was her who had decided to give her heart and body to her cousin, instead of the man that her father had chose for her, it was her that had shared her throne with Calion as well as her bed, and it was her that hadn’t stopped his hand when he had cut Nimloth.
-You’ll see, my dear- Calion had said, while he had raised Aranruth, the sword of the Kings, the sword that had once belonged to Indilzar, and to King Thingol of Doriath before him, a golden ray of the sun had shone on the surface of the blade. - Once, our ancestors were the thralls of the Elves, but now we rule the world: they could call us the Secondborn, but the sun has proved to shine more brightly than their pale stars. A new age is coming, a new age in which our children will be free from the lies of the Avalôi and the Elves. Fear no more the words of your father, my beloved. I don’t care for the prophecies, and I don’t care for the Avalôi and their curses. They’d never right to bind us, to treat us like we were their toys. But now I’ll defy them, and I’ll show that their words matter no more than leaves in the wind.
She had wanted so desperately to believe him. Calion was golden and bright as the sun itself in that moment, the true scion of Azrubêl, and everything seemed possible with him. It was so easy to trust him, so easy to believe that, once the Tree was cut and the will of the Avalôi defeated, she would be haunted no more by her dreams and by the promise she made to her father. It was easy to believe that she would be free, free from those dreams she had always hated, because so often she wasn’t able to understand them, and the few times she could, she had hated them even more, because she knew that future couldn’t be changed. So, Zimraphel hadn’t stopped his hand when Calion stroke the roots of the White Tree with the sword of the Kings, until they started to tremble and crush and shatter, and the Tree, untouched in all those centuries, fell broken to the ground.
Zimraphel closed her eyes. No, there’s no way that the Avalôi would listen her prayers, or think her somehow innocent.
She tightened her lips. She didn’t want to know what her father could think of her now. She had choose her road long time ago, and now it’s too late for turning back, or for regretting what she’d done.
Finally, the litter stopped just before the great stairs of black marble of the temple. The immense silver dome shone no more, for it was now stained with the black smoke of the sacrifices, but its mole still defied the sky, almost piercing the thick strate of the clouds. Zimraphel posed her feet on the black marble steps, and slowly, began her climb towards the large golden doors of the temple. She met nobody in her rise.
The doors opened in front of her immediately, even if she saw no porter or watchman. Within, the darkness was broken only by few torches that shone of a sick, red light, tossing large shadows on the ground of black marble. The air was heavy to breath, still smelling of the blood and the smoke of the sacrifices, a reek that never left the temple, not even when the winds brought new fresh air from the sea.
Zimraphel could do nothing but think of an ancient elven tale that once her father told her, a tale that most of the Adûnâim had now forgotten, the tale of how an elven maiden had walked in the dark stronghold of the Great Enemy for defying him. She could not avoid a grin, even in the grimness of the temple. It had been long time since she had ceased to be a maiden, and surely she’s not an elven-woman, no matter of the name her father gave her.
It was only when she entered in the great hall under the dome, that she could finally see him. The Zigûr gave her his back, taller than any man, his slender form covered in black silk that almost hid him among the shadows of the temple. Zimraphel couldn’t stop herself from biting her bottom lip, her hand that slowly strayed on the hilt of the dagger that she kept at her belt, hidden among the fine velvet of her dress. It would be easy, so easy, lurking at his back and sticking her blade among his ribs and deep in his heart …
But she pushed away that thought. She doubted that the Zigûr would be killed so easily: she remembered too well what happened to a Faithful man whose daughter was slaughtered by the Zigûr in the great temple. The man, driven mad by grief, had waited for the Zigûr one night at the back door of the temple, armed with an axe. Nobody had ever seen what happened to him, but the day after the gory head of the man was found at the bottom of the black-marble stairs.
As if he had heard her, the Zigûr turned towards her. In the faint light of the torches, his pale face seemed almost white as paper, and she could see the ghost of a smile on his thin lips. There was an eeriness in his features, she couldn’t avoid to think, for how the Zigûr didn’t look like any of the Men she had seen in her life, not like the blonde barbarians of the North, or the swarthy Easterlings of the Rhûn sea, or the dark-skinned Haradrim.
-It’s a pleasure to see you, my queen- the voice of the Zigûr was low, still, it reverberated between the walls of the great dome like a mighty thunder.- What brings you to my humble halls?
He bowed in front of her, but it seemed more a mockery than anything else. Zimraphel tightened her lips.
-I want to know the truth- she said. She had no time for politeness, especially with the Zigûr.
-Oh, truth- he moved his hands, whose slender fingers made them look like pale spiders in the weak light. - Fascinating question. Every fool could tell you its own account, and then, how could you recognize the truth among them? I know no truth, but what my God told me.
Zimraphel could listen no more:- My husband is dead- she was almost surprised how her voice sounded toneless in saying those words. - For the so called truth of your god.
Zigûr’s smile opened, the fire of the braziers painted his eerie eyes of a crimson light:- I believed that a Númenorean queen would be more trusting towards her husband. Long are the voyages of the mariners. And a war could take years, and years.
-I didn’t come here to hear you mocking me, Zigûr- she took a deep breath.- If he’s not already dead, he will soon been.- And he was dead to me even before he sailed, she thought, but she didn’t dare say it. - No man could avoid his doom. And no man could do what Azrubêl did. Not even the Scion of Azrubêl himself. I told him that this was folly, but he didn’t listen me. Are you truly so mad to believe that he would succeed?
The Zigûr remained silent for some moments:- It matters little what I believe or not- he said in the end.- I didn’t lie to your husband when I told him that the Avalôi are nothing more but a bunch of cowards. You must know that: what help did they bring to your father? Did they even listened his prayers? Or were they too fearful to pose their hands on this island?
Zimraphel felt the rage raising in her chest, even if she had told herself to be calm and quiet, no matter of what the Zigûr muttered:- Don’t dare to speak of my father- she said. Luckily, her voice didn’t betray her thoughts.
The Zigûr only smiled again, her eerie eyes fixed on her. His gaze slowly descended on her figure in a way that made her feel uncomfortable. It was not even desire, but the mere mocking of it. She had to bite her lips as not to scream.
-You’re avoiding my question- she said, in the end, when she was able to control her breath again.- I want to know the truth, and I won’t go without it. Who are you? Who truly are you? Are you truly nothing more but a king in a forgotten land? The people in the Middle Earth believed you to be a necromancer, or even a god - Calion had laughed at those words, she remembered, saying that, if the Zigûr was truly a god, it was truly a poor kind of god, for he bent his knee so easily in front of the Scion of Azrubêl, and he could be hurted and he bleed like any other man.
The Zigûr raised his eyes and met hers. He hasn’t change in all those years, she thought, and it wasn’t the first time she noticed it. He still looked like the first day I saw him. The Zigûr had said that it was the power of his god, that had permit him to not change in all the years he had passed in Anadûnê.
-I told you who I am- he said, finally.- A servant of my Master: nothing more, nothing less.
-You’re not a mere man- she whispered. It was like, after all those years, a veil had fell from her eyes, finally permitting her to see. And it was like a great weight fell on her, and she felt even more hopeless. She had never any hope to kill the Zigûr, but she hated the utterly sense of impotence that grasped her.
The Zigûr did nothing but laughing, an horrid, harsh laughter that echoed among the thick walls of the temple. And it seemed to her that she could see another face covering the fine, but eerie, features of the high priest: a face of a strange, cold beauty, a face that couldn’t belong to a mortal man, but it was somehow disfigured, for seven large scars spoiled it, and over its high forehead burned something that Zimraphel couldn’t see, for they shone too brightly for her eyes to bear. The vision passed, quick as it came, and she blinked.
-Why? - she continued.- Why did you do this to us? Why such ruthless hate?
The Zigûr ceased to laugh, and only smiled, a smile cold as the neverending ice at the extreme North of the world.- Hate? You speak of hate to me? Ah!- he shook his head.- It was never you personally, for the truth. You wanted to know the truth? Well, I’m telling you that. I loathed all the lineage of Eärendil, no matter of who. But even the hate that I feel for your kin, that’s nothing compared to the hate I feel for the Valar. That’s why your husband agreed with me so easily- he laughed again, a laughter deprived of any true joy.
-That’s all- the Zigûr continued, moving towards her. Zimraphel moved back. Even if she knew it’s useless, she wouldn’t die without fighting. - I didn’t care for neither of you, at least until … - he paused a little, tightening his teeth.- Until your beloved King came, and put iron chains at my hands, at my feet and my neck, and he laughed when I fell on my knees, and he mocked me and treated me like I was a mere thrall. And then … - he took a deep breath. - I saw the way he kissed and touched you when you welcomed him, or the way he looked at you, like you were more precious than all the treasures on this world. Why?, I asked myself.
-Because he loved me- she murmured softly. She didn’t even know why she’d replied him so.
-Love!- the Zigûr laughed again. Despite the fear, Zimraphel found herself asking if he wasn’t gone mad. - Oh, love. And tell me, my gracious queen, what has love brought to you? An empty bed? Being left alone, without even a child to console you? Shattered hopes of a new kingdom, a new dynasty that would never exist?
Zimraphel froze. Those were the words she told Calion before he sailed, the last time she had seen him, the rage that leaded her tongue. He hadn’t replied to her, but simply went away, saying no more.
Nobody but her and Calion had heard those words. She had no idea of how the Zigûr could have known them, but she momently stood frozen.
The Zigûr moved forward her, his long fingers similar to talons when they brushed her. Her heart almost maddened in her chest, and she waited the inevitable death that would come, once that his hands would clench around her bare neck.
But nothing of this happened. The Zigûr’s hands didn’t touch her neck, and it was after a moment of disbelief she realized that the high priest was caressing her hair, as a lover touches the mane of its beloved.
-You’re not still so old for not desiring someone touching you, caressing you, making you tremble of desire and your blood rush in your veins, aren’t you, Ar-Zimraphel? - he murmured, his voice soft and low. For a moment, his hair seemed to change at the light of the torches, turning now red, now silver, now golden. -You still want to feel the hands of a lover on you, his kisses on your breasts, the heat of his body against your own, his seed spilled deeply inside you, aren’t you? - and Zimraphel felt his cold breath on her neck, his lips so near to her skin.- You know, you could even had both me and your Golden King, if you had wanted so.
Surprise and relief soon vanished, and it was the repugnance that overwhelmed her. She wanted to scream, and run away from the Zigûr and his long pale fingers, but she imposed herself to stay calm, for the Zigûr was too dangerous to fight back.
-Do not touch me- she replied, her voice icy and cold like the winter winds that came from the North of the world.- You know nothing of me.
The Zigûr simply smiled again . Zimraphel had never hated him as she did in that moment, because he knew her, he knew how to hurt her with his words, and he had already managed to do that.
-As my queen commanded- he said finally, touching her no more. He moved a step back, his eyes still fixed on her:- Are you satisfied, now? Have you find someone who you could blame for your mistakes, now?
She tightened her jaw. She didn’t want to listen him more. It was true that she had done her mistakes. It was true that she had failed her father, and her people, so that the Faithful now trusted her no more. But she wouldn’t heard anymore the words of such a snake.- You drove mad my husband. We had plans … plans that would bring peace and joy and wealth to our land, and you shattered all our hopes.
-No- he shaked his head.- You’re lying to yourself. I guessed that you knew him better than anyone else. Pride was his master, it wasn’t always so? You’re blaming me for what he did. Worse than that- the eyes of the high priest shine almost red in the dark.- You blame me for what you did. If pride was your husband’s master, indeed yours is arrogance. You believe yourself to be so much better than your father, and your grandfather, don’t you? That you would never again do their mistakes, that you would bring a golden age on this kingdom. You couldn’t content yourself with having the most powerful man of Anadûnê at your feet, you wanted more, you wanted that everybody loving you and bowing beside you and praising you, and none could question your authority. Oh, I think you would enjoy so much the idea of Pharazôn conquering the land of Aman for you, and of ruling the world with him like the Elder King and the Queen of the Stars do, if he didn’t turn cold towards you in those last years.
She wanted to spit in that pale, fine face, more similar to the one of a statue than of an human being. There were enough truth in those words to hurt her, because yes, she had hoped so much that she would remedy at the mistakes of her forefathers, and shine with her own light, instead of simply mirroring her father’s one. She had always wanted to be a queen, and had swore to herself that she would do everything in her power to keep her throne, no matter of how much she had to lie, to plot and to kill for its sake.
Zimraphel couldn’t avoid but think back in time, in those years of childhood she shared with Calion, in the palace of their grandfather. He never cared about those elven tales she was fond of, the few elven tales that still the Adûnâim remembered, because his ears were too filled with the tales of the glory of Azrubêl, or of the great Kings of the past, or even the great heroes of the First Age, longing to be like them.
Aye, Azrubêl was glorious, she had thought several times, and she thought it once more. But who remembers the wife and the little children he had left behind, when they heard the songs about his feats?
Strange are the ways of the fate, indeed, because, for how long Calion had desired to be like Earendil, even claiming to be his heir, Zimraphel had never desired to end like his sad wife, even if she was the mother of her line.
She would hate to admit it, but the Zigûr didn’t lie about Calion. Aye, Zimraphel knew her husband too well. She knew that Calion had always been proud, and ruthless, and, even before the Zigûr came, he would have ruled with an iron grip if she didn’t softened his moods. His lust for pride knew few limits: it was only for a strange irony of the fate if he had become her closest ally and her lover, instead of her greatest enemy.
But she couldn’t think about this more, because, in a moment, she could see. It seemed to her that the walls of the temple and the ground beneath her feet vanished, and suddenly, a vision came to her, a vision that before she could grab, was already gone. But she couldn’t forget what she had seen.
And when she spoke, she knew that her words are true.
-You will fall into the darkness- she said, and her voice, now filled with all the emotions she had hidden in all those years, all the hate and rage and fury that she felt towards the Zigûr. - Your name will be forgotten, and you will lurk into the shadows, like the worm you are. And then, in the end, the Void will swallow you, as it had swallowed your Master, once.
Her voice echoed in the thick silver dome, and the flames in the braziers trembled. It was a moment, a mere moment, but for the first time since she had known him, Zimraphel could see true emotions in Zigûr’s dark eyes, not the mere mocking of them. For a moment, his gaze was lost into the void, not watching her anymore, and he remained silent, as if he was caught by doubt. And she knew that it was fear the emotion that crossed his eyes.
Zimraphel did not wait for a reply. She simply turned her back and walked out of the darkness, out of this damned temple, where not even all the smell of incense in the world could cover the reek of blood. The Zigûr did not try to stop or hurt her: he simply laughed, of the same mad, joyless laugh of before. Why would he bother? It was like she was already dead, for him.
She did not cry, when she returned to the litter and back to the palace. She had no more tears, and there weren’t enough tears in the world for her father, for her husband, for her hopeless people, for Amandil who was no more her friend, and now was lost too, and for herself, who had remained alone with the shattered pieces of her life, and her dreams and nightmares.
And in the end, when the rage of the All-father fell upon the Land of the Gift, and water filled the lands she had once loved, and all get lost under the fury of the cold sea, it was her the worst of her nightmares, that become true.