I wanted to try something new with this fic, as in a more poetic and dramatic tone (if I can), a much shorter story (probably around 5-6 chapters) and some racy scenes :) So the rating is M, not so much for this 1st chapter than for later on. I did not really wish to come up with a female OC and one day, as I was deperatly browsing through some Gondorian genealogies, I found her, Gilmith. She's an actual canon character whom you can find in the genealogy of the Princes of Dol Amroth (I'm telling you a bit more about her at the end of the chapter) and based of the tiny bits we know about her, I came up with this fic.
Just to provide a quick background to this story, Anfalas is the westernmost part of Gondor (so we're quite far from Minas Tirith). At that time, there was still a king in Gondor, Eärnil II (he ruled from 1954 to 2043) and his son, Eärnur, was the last king to rule the kingdom before Aragorn comes (Eärnur died in 2050). During these years, the Witch-King came to Mordor and eventually took Minas Ithil which was then renamed Minas Morgul. Also, around 1944, Gondor lost control of Umbar, so after that and for a good thousand years, the corsairs raided Anfalas and Belfalas every now and then. Also, not far from Dol Amroth (which is where Prince Imrahil comes from, in the LOTR, and is located in Belfalas, next to Anfalas) used to be an Elven Haven, Edhellond that was abandoned some time after the death of Amroth, King of Lórien (the one who was in love with Nimrodel). Amroth died in 1980 so at the time of this story, it was still a fairly recent event and we can guess the people of this area were used to the presence of Elves (at the time of the War of Ring, it was an area where Sindarin was still commonly spoken in households). And since Dol Amroth means "Hill of Amroth" it came only known as such after his death, before it was called Dor-en-Ernil "Land of the Prince" because the lords of Belfalas had been named Princes by Elendil and they were Faithful Númenóreans of his kin (and from what I've gathered in Belfalas the people remained very 'Númenórean' in appearance and culture). Sorry for the long explanation!
That's it for [the very long] introduction! Have fun reading and please forgive me for the occasional typo!
The painting used as a cover is "On the Seashore" by George Elgar Hicks (Victorian era, but it does set the mood).
Ah, and of course, all credits to Professor Tolkien.
Along the Shores - Part 1
Anfalas (Gondor), 2028 T.A. early September
It was a small town, or perhaps just a big village, set on the western bank of Lefnui river, a few miles north of its mouth, where it flew into the sea, and it was an area where Sindarin was still spoken in most households. There, the land belonged to the kingdom of Gondor, but the men who dwelled in the Anfalas had their own customs and they rarely ventured farther than Dor-en-Ernil, fewer even had gone past Pelargir. And ever since Mordor had seemingly rose in power once more, as two decades ago Minas Ithil had been conquered by the Ringwraiths, those who dwelled on the shores felt no desire to travel east and more than ever were their hearts and minds turned towards sea.
Alas, it was from the sea that death had come, when the corsairs of Umbar had lead a sudden attack on Anfalas, catching the villagers unaware, for they all had gathered to celebrate a wedding, on this warm September evening.
He had seen the flames rose high in the sky, illuminating the forest and the meadows within at least a mile around the village, and soon a heavy cloud of black smoke smothered the fire. It floated above the ruins of the houses all night, absorbing the light of the Moon and of the Stars, and at dawn it started disintegrating, as ashes slowly settled on the ground, covering the whole town with a thick dark gray mantle.
A gloomy silence enveloped the village's burnt remainings, yet he had walked through it, in the hope of finding some survivors. He had seen that some had been able to escape on horseback, before they were completely outnumbered by the corsairs, but he doubted they would come back anytime soon, since they probably had rode further inland to seek a safe refuge nearer the mountains. But he, the sole witness of the whole attack, could not bear to leave without having searched the village as thoroughly as possible - at best, one or two lives might be saved, perhaps.
The first one was an old man whose hair and beard were white and he sat on the ground, his back against a stone wall, his heart still feebly beating. Dried blood stained his clothes and whatever lethal wound he had received, he could not overcome it - closing his eyes after he had drew his last breath was all there was to do. The second was a boy, a child of no more than six or seven, whose skin was burnt, covered with blisters, and he had asked for some water, although he had passed away before drinking any of it. The third and last one, he would have almost not spotted her at all, for she was burried beneath the broken pieces of huge beam, in what had probably been a stabble. Under layers of cinder and dirt, a gleam of her brown hair had caught his eyes and after long labour, he had been able to retrieve her from the ruins. Having made sure she could be moved safely, he had carried her outside the village, to the shore where he could easily find shelter in a small creek.
The girl - she most probably had not celebrated her twentieth birthday yet - was inconscious and, checking her upclose, he had discovered a bump on the back of her head. He had thus assumed she had been knocked down when the roof above her had collapsed, yet she had been lucky enough no to be burnt alive, somehow. However, she had inhaled great quantities of ashes and violent coughing fits would seize her, the sound of it was horrible and more than once did he fear she would simply die of choking.
But this one, despite her frail appearance, was tough and by the time night came once more, she had not given up on life. He did all in his power to help her, cleaning her face, her arms, tending some minor injuries, and wrapping her in warm clothes, yet he really would have needed some plants to truly heal her and he dared not leave her side - if she did not make it to the morning, he did not want her to die alone, at least.
An hour or so before dawn, while the Moon alone was providing a pale glow that reflected on the stones and on the sand, she stirred a little and, after having coughed again, she finally opened her eyes. She did not see him at first and she scanned the cave, bewildered, until her green gaze fell upon him, who was sitting near the the entrance, his harp in his hands.
"Where am I?" she whispered and even as exhausted as she was, it was in Sindarin she had spoken and not in Westron.
"Not far from the sea," he simply told her.
It was not exactly a cave they were in, but rather a nook the waves had digged into the limestone walls of the creek, and she actually lied on grey sand, just a few yards away from the water since the tide was high. No corsairs would ever find them in there and, anyhow, they were not a very interesting prey, compared to nearby settlements.
"Who are you?" he asked her.
"Gilmith, daughter of Imrazôr," she answered, rubbing her face slowly. Her head hurt and she soon realized even the tiniest effort turned out to be terribly painful.
"Where are you from?"
"Dor-en-Ernil." The land of the Prince... She felt it was not relevant to mention her father was this Prince and lord of Belfalas. That was too much words and speaking required a strength she no more possessed.
"And what were you doing before... before the attack?"
She had received quite a blow on her head and he had been worried that even if she did wake up, she might suffer from memory loss, or perhaps something even more terrible.
"I was at Fíriel's wedding... my friend's wedding," she muttered and, suddenly, as if alerted by the waves' gentle lapping sound, she became agitated. "The sea... it is dangerous to be near the sea..."
"Have no fear, this cave is hard to reach and more than likely unknown to Men, even those who dwell closeby," he said and she seemed so weary, almost on the verge of fainting, that he decided she had talked enough for now. "Now, rest. You are safe with me, Gilmith."
He plucked a few strings of his harp and soon a sad melody filled the cavern, one that carried images of far away lands and lost treasures. Music did good to Gilmith, for within minutes, her breath had steadied and she fell back to a deep slumber. It would be days, perhaps weeks before she could stand on her own and move by herself again. But it did not matter, for he had nowhere to go and nothing else to do - he would take care of her, nurse her back to health, as he had done for so many others during so many years. Beside wandering and singing, that was all he had left to do.
After seven days had passed since the terrible night of the attack, Gilmith started showing some positive signs of recovery. She barely coughed anymore and she was able to sit upright long enough to eat the broth he brewed for her - he thought it was now safe for him to leave her alone a few hours a day, when he was out in search of food or to scout the area.
The girl barely spoke. She seemed not to bother about who he was or why he had decided to take care of her and that was quite alright with him, for he had very few answers to provide to her. And so, most of the time, when she was awake, Gilmith stared at the sea, lost in her thoughts, dreaming of distant shores where heather bloomed and seagulls flew high in the blue sky, for these images chased away her woes and brought her closer to her beloved father and brother.
While her mutism did not worry him overly, he was surprised she had not yet shed a single tear. She had gone through quite a traumatic event, both physically and mentally, and he reckoned many of her loved ones had perished in the tragedy. Ought she not have wept profusely by then or was she simply concealing her pain from him? True, he avoided gazing at her too long and she could have been crying while he was away, however he felt she was still too shocked to realize what had happened and perhaps she would cry alot, in due time. She surely would indeed.
And one day, a fortnight exactly after he had found her amidst the village's rubbles, Gilmith seemed to finally take notice of his presence and it dawned upon her she owned him her life, he whose name even she knew not. It was dusk and the first stars had lighted up in the sky - that was what he was staring at, unaware that she had woken up from a long nap, unaware that her green eyes were set on him. The rosy Sun had disappeared beyond the sea, gone into the West, though she had left behind her prettiest colours, gradients of flaming red, orange and purple that shimmered on the waves' crests. This magnificent display of nature's beauty ever filled his heart with grief, endless, hopeless grief, and in moments like these, even music failed to soothe his tormented soul.
How he yearned for those lands, how he did... Heaving a sigh, he turned his head around, only to meet her gaze.
Gilmith was startled, nonetheless she inquired, in a low voice, "Where are we?"
The question, however simple it was, shook him out of his nostalgia and he answered at once, "A few miles east of the village I found you in."
"And... what is your name?"
"Call me Dregor."
Dregor, he who runs away.
Gilmith highly doubted it was his real name, but she knew better than to tell him that, even though she did wonder where he was from and why he he had been around the village the day she had nearly died. What had he been doing there, he, an Elf? For he obviously was one, that was easy enough to guess, and if his people used to dwell in Belfalas, they had almost completely vanished after the death of King Amroth, some decades ago.
His speech too was strange. His Sindarin was different from the one she was used to hear and speak - hers was the Sindarin of the Men of Westernesse and his, while being perfectly intelligible, sounded soft and grand, like a mysterious song of old times. Yet when he sang, and as far as she could recall he had done so everyday since they were together, it had always been in Quenya, a language Gilmith was rather familiar with, although in Dor-en-Ernil its use was limited to official ceremonies and scholarly researches.
"You are not a Man..." she then said, not sure of how she should tackle this matter.
"No, indeed..." And he was about to ask her who she was exactly, for she looked... she looked quite Elven-like for a maiden of Gondor. Actually, it was obvious Elven blood ran through her veins, for even he would have mistaken her for one the Silvan Elves, had he not stumbled upon her in a Men's village - not to mention her father's name was Adûnaic.. But he had strict rules concerning those he saved and healed, he never asked for more than their name and their place of origin, in short, all he needed to help them reach home safely. The rest, he knew, was none of his business.
"Where are you from? The North?" Gilmith ventured to ask, as she grabbed a bowl he had put beside her beddings, when she had been asleep.
"I come from far away," was all he said, without so much as a glance at her, resuming his contemplation of the sky.
Clearly, he would say no more on the matter and Gilmith herself, although usually curious when Elves were involved, had no desire to question him any further. Her head felt dizzy whenever she sat too long, her legs were still heavy and numb and her whole body ached from all the bruises that covered her skin - it seemed some of them would never disappeared. And she had yet to wash herself, as Dregor had only cleaned her partially and that had been days ago already. Her hair was greasy and she stinked, that was maybe why he never came near her - he always stood by the cave's entrance.
Yet the dirt and the pain were not the real issues she struggled with. She had to fight every second not to let her mind being crushed by the images of the massacre that had taken place in the village, the night of the wedding...
It had been the first time she had travel on her own, without her father and her brother by her side. She had had a small escort with her, a few guards and maids, like it suited a young lady of her rank, but all in all it had been a small company, for the roads of Gondor were safe and the pirates of Umbar had not lead any attacks in Anfalas or in Belfalas over the last decades.
Gilmith had been so happy to attend Fíriel's wedding. Both girls had been friends since childhood and even though they had both been looking forward the feast, it had also meant they would live apart henceforth. With so many reasons to celebrate, she had danced a lot, and even flirted with some of the young men there. Yet now she dared not imagine what had happened to them afterwards, when the pirates had come... They probably all had died, Dregor had told her he had seen barely a dozen people escape on horseback, although, admitedly, there could have been a few more - had Fíriel been among them?
"Do you remember what happened?"
He seemed to be able to tell what was going through her mind and Gilmith thought it was maybe time to put some words on what she had been the witness of, despite her weariness.
"Barely... The people of the village raised the alarm, I heard the bells ring and then lord Beregond yelled at the men to get hold of any weapon they could find and he told us, the ladies and the young ones, to run into the woods and hide there... But the corsairs were on us, fast, too fast, and I believe... I believe none of us had gotten prepared to fight or had fled far enough. I saw them slain a few men, including the groom... Women yelled, children cried... As for I, I aimed to reach the nearest house to hide in it, I entered the stable but failed to notice it had been set afire. A beam fell from the roof and hit me on the back of the head, thus I... I was knocked down..."
"You had been there for hours, then, when I found you," he said, pensively. "You were lucky, Gilmith, these men probably assumed you were dead already, otherwise..."
"Otherwise they would have killed me, or worst... I would be on one of their ships as we speak," she muttered and it took all her will not to sob.
He nodded and his face was grim, but his grey eyes were filled with pity which gave Gilmith enough courage to go on.
"I have to go back to Dor-en-Ernil, my father and my brother... they must believe me to be dead. I have to see them, I need to..." Talking about them was difficult and it made her become distressed, increasing her languor - she fell back on her bedding.
"You are too weak to walk, let alone to undertake such a long journey," he said sharply.
"There are dozen villages along the shores where many ships are moored, surely someone would help me go there. My father is much loved among the people of Anfalas and Belfalas..."
He had come closer, worried that a fever might seize her, yet even then he kept an appropriate distance between them, merely brushing her forehead with his left hand to check her temperature.
"Gilmith, I mean not to scare you, however... it is hardly plausible the pirates have limited themselves to sacking one village."
"I saw dozens of ships on the sea that night, the whole coast must have been devastated."
"Yet I... I have to go home."
"Worry not, I shall find a way to deliver you safely to your lord father."
Deliver. His choice of word was peculiar, but she understood what he had meant - he would not himself enter her hometown, nor any other town for that matter, for he belonged elsewhere and their meeting had been but a mere incident in his wanderings.
Despite being listed as such, Gilmith is not an OC, but she was not in the list of characters I could chose from (which is not surprising I suppose). She is the sister of Galador who was the 1st Prince of Dol Amroth (and ancestor of Imrahil). Their father was Imrazôr, a noble man of Númorean descent and Prince himself although in his time the land was still probably called Dor-en-Ernil (Land of the Prince), and their mother was Mithrellas a Silvan Elf and a companion of Nimrodel (the one the river was named after in Lórien). It is not sure whether they really were Half-Elven, since it's considered a 'legend' that Imrazôr wedded an Elf-maiden, but in the LotR Legolas says he can tell Imrahil has Elven blood running through his veins... Anyhow there is an actual family tree, so it is = Imrazôr + Mithrellas = Galador and Gilmith.
She was born in T.A. 2009, so she is 19 in the story and her mother, Mithrellas, vanished some time after her birth, so she never knew her and since her brother is 5 years older than her, he probably doesn't really remember his mother very well.
Oh and a harp seems to be quite a big item to carry when you have lost everything and wander the world hopelessly, so let's assume it is a celtic harp. They're not too big.