From the heart of the Dark Land, heart-notes rise – one clear, one high, and a dreadful dark descending shriek, as a golden note falls, strikes rock... and falls.
The fire leaps in joy: its smokes rise sweet upon the East Wind, who blows free and fierce, bringing tidings to the west.
The skies are swept clean – ash falls over Pelennor, and rains upon Ithilien, glitters over Rohan and dusts the Shire, even. In Lórien, Galadriel lifts her face to the sunlight, as Nenya sings and then subsides, makes way for a new harmony woven round nine dear, familiar songs...
May 10th, 3025
There was something strange about the day. There was a stillness to it: even the gulls seemed subdued, and the dragonflies' drone whisper-thin. It was as if the very mountains were exhaling a silence... a smallness, almost, as if they were bowing their lofty heads.
"Raneg?" The boy lay still and silent as the day upon the strand, his ear pressed to the earth. But the call came again: "Raneg!"
He should go – he should rise and go to his mother before she sent Halbarad to find him...
But no, Halbarad was abroad since Tuesday, gone on some errand for Lord Círdan and his mother.
With a sigh, he rose and brushed the sand from his clothes and face and hair, then scrambled regretfully along the stony way. Sandstone riddled by wind and water left many pools and places for a young boy to explore. He had been the starfish king that morn, and watched the hermit crabs scuttling about, while sailors hastened along the quays, carrying goods, checking sail and rigging – making all ready.
For, Lord Círdan and his people were leaving at last.
The boy closed a hand about the pearl that hung upon a silver cord about his neck. The Shipwright had given it to him last night.
"To remember me by," Círdan had said, and then: "Who wears it has the care of the Havens in his hands."
"Shouldn't Mother have it?" he had asked.
"She has other cares – the people look to her for guidance. She is their Lady. But to you, I give care of this place, and this land that has so long been our home. Keep it well, so that later, it may keep you and yours well," Círdan had answered.
To keep the Havens and care for them seemed a very great chore, one he had no idea how to do, but he had promised the Shipwright he would, and he meant to... once he knew how. Círdan had seemed well pleased, at least.
"Raneg!" He raised his arm and waved to his mother, who saw and made for him, stepping lightly among the sandstone crags. She held out her hand to him as she neared, and he clasped it. With a soft grunt, she turned and, to his delight, swung him over a little gap. "I should have kept you closer," she told him. "We are wanted on the quays. It is time."
The boy blinked, and glanced up at her, then over at the docks. Indeed, folk had gathered there – all of Mithlond, it seemed. His heart sank. "Must they really leave now? I thought Halbarad would come back first!"
"We shall hope he has. But the tide turns, and the sea beckons. Come," she urged, and swept him up in her arms, lengthening her stride, and for all he felt himself too old to be carried like a babe, he did not protest. For if Lord Círdan and all the Elves were leaving this very hour, he would not miss their sailing.
No one would miss it. All along the quays, and in the street that ran along the dockside, the refugee Dúnedain had gathered. Young and old, they stood – a patient throng, and silent as the day itself. Silver stars winked here and there among the folds of cloaks as the crowd parted to let his mother pass. He watched heads bow, and felt their eyes upon him when she set him down so that he could walk the last way with her.
Upon the dock stood Círdan, his hair gleaming silver in the sun; a little to one side of him stood an old, brown-robed man, leaning upon a staff and with a beard that surely swept his knees. But beyond him, there were a man and woman that he did not know, save that they were too familiar from his mother's stories: Celeborn of Doriath, and the Lady Galadriel turned to stare gravely down upon him.
"Mae govannen, hên nín," Galadriel greeted him, and then held out her arms to his mother: "A! Mír nín."
"Daernaneth," she murmured. "Daeradar."
The old man meanwhile looked upon the reunion, as Lord Círdan joined the lord and ladies, then he looked down at the boy standing anxiously by.
"Well-met, lad," he said, and held out his hand. "You must be Arrandir."
"Yes," Arrandir answered, clasping that hand, ere asking in turn: "Who are you?"
"A very good question, but since we've little time, you may simply call me Radagast."
"You're a wizard!"
"I was," Radagast replied, but then raised his seamed face at the sound of horses' hoofs clattering over the cobblestone. In the road, beyond the crowd, a horse and a pony appeared. As they reached the quay, they came to a stop, their riders leaping down from their backs. They left their mounts untied, trusting them to remain there as they hurried forward. "Ah. Excellent timing," the wizard pronounced.
The crowd murmured, but shifted again to let the newcomers through – a Ranger, and one who, by his height, could have been his son, save that the face was not young enough, and the tousled brown curls that framed it had too much grey salting them. Halbarad and Peregrin Took hastened to join them.
"My lady, my lords," Pippin said, sounding just a bit out of breath. "It seems we came just in time to say farewell!"
"To us, perhaps. But I think you will be very welcome here, if you will stay for a little while," Galadriel replied, glancing at Arwen, and then at Arrandir. Then stepping back, she gestured minutely to Círdan.
The Shipwright stood forward, then, and Arwen quietly moved to stand behind Arrandir, placing her hands on his shoulders, as Halbarad and Pippin fell back a pace or two. Círdan smiled down upon him, then spoke so that all could hear who stood by:
"Our time in Middle-earth has ended; Elvenhome calls us now beyond the Sundering Seas. Much has been lost, and many have perished who should be here to enjoy the fruits of their struggle. They have given more than can we, but perhaps some little grace is left us to give."
So saying, he laid a hand upon Arrandir's head, and said: "In the darkest days, the Dúnedain stood with us upon the walls, and waited on the tidings from the east with sword and bow. And though we were spared, Gondor is shattered, and Rohan ravaged, and the land of your forebears destroyed. Therefore, what we have made here is yours now to hold, for your people and for memory of ours, and of the friendship that has bound us. Will you take this gift and this charge from us, Arrandir Ben-adar?"
It was the same question from last night. Arrandir had said 'yes' to it already, but plainly, that had been practice of a sort. Aware of all eyes upon him, and the of weight of that hand, and of the glimmering knowledge that what he said now, he said as the son of his mother and the father who was one among the many absent givers, he drew himself up, and nodded.
"I will," he said. And then, because his mother insisted he mind his manners: "Thank you, Lord Círdan."
Círdan smiled at him, then put one hand to either cheek and leaned down and kissed his brow. "Then take root and grow anew; prosper, and remember us. Farewell, child. My lady Evenstar. Master Took. We shall remember you – always."
"Farewell," Pippin said, and Arrandir blinked away tears, for he could not remember a time without the Shipwright.
The Elves and Radagast boarded the grey ship then – the last elven ship in the harbor – and in a flurry of activity, the sailors made ready to depart. The anchor lifted; the sails unfurled and caught the breeze. With a groaning of masts, the ship turned and cut out into the bay, while from the shore, the people sang:
Ai! laurië lantar lassi súrinen, yéni únótimë ve rámar aldaron! Yéni ve lintë yuldar avánier mi oromardi lissë-miruvóreva Andúnë pella, Vardo tellumar nu luini yassen tintilar i eleni ómaryo airetári-lírinen. Sí man i yulma nin enquantuva? An sí Tintallë Varda Oiolossëo ve fanyar máryat Elentári ortanë ar ilyë tier undulávë lumbulë ar sindanóriello caita mornië i falmalinnar imbë met, ar hísië untúpa Calaciryo míri oialë. Sí vanwa ná, Rómello vanwa, Valimar! Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar! Nai elyë hiruva! Namárië!
The ship dwindled in the distance, and a silence fell once more. To Arrandir, it seemed as though somehow, the heavens had lowered. The elven ship gleamed upon the horizon, and then was lost in the glitter of the sea and the closeness of the sky.
A sigh seemed to go up among those gathered, and Pippin wiped at his eyes with a handkerchief. But he glanced up at Arwen, and with a slight, sad smile, reached up and patted her hand. His mother lowered her gaze to him, and smiled in return, then looked to Halbarad.
"Thus passes the Age," she said, and then squeezed Arrandir's shoulders. "Come, gentlemen – there is much to do in this new world."