From the Sea it Came...


Author's notes:

I would like to state first that I don't feel like being a total specialist of Tolkien's writings. I only read the three "Lord of the Rings" books, but I'm doing my best to remain as close to canon as possible while writing this story. So when I'm not sure about something and want to check, I go to the wonderful Encyclopedia of Arda ()
I consider it as a reference for everything about Middle-earth and Arda, and - *important information* - the first half of the introduction to this story is quoted from there with only minor editing.
However, if you ever find anything in this story that you feel is not at its place there, please feel free to tell me about it. I love criticism as long as it's constructive.
In addition, this story needs quite some settlement before the real action begins, so please don't take fright at the sight of an introduction *and* a prologue (I know having both can seem weird, especially since I could have put them both under the same label. But there are two definitely separate parts, so I decided to use both.). Just be a bit patient. Everything will come in time.
Also, don't be afraid about the "other characters" having a too important role. Trust me, you won't be worried about most of them very long, but plotwise I need them for a little while.
As for romance, there won't be much of it in this story, only mentions in the first chapters. The only pairings implied will be Aragorn/Arwen and OC/OC, so don't expect anything else throughout this story, this is mainly an adventure and angst one. However, the theme of friendship and trust will be largely evoked.

Well, I think I'm done with my author's notes for now, and… Oh. Yeah. Disclaimer. Sure.
Disclaimer: All the characters, creatures, realms and lands in this story absolutely don't belong to me but to almighty Tolkien. Except maybe a couple of characters, but I'm almost willing to give them away.

Oh, one last thing before I forget: experience showed me that I absolutely suck at finding names for my original characters. So for this story I used an on-line name generator, that can be found right here: .



Introduction

Númenor, the island kingdom of the Dúnedain, was located in the Great Sea, between Middle-earth and Aman. It was raised from the sea by the Valar as a gift and reward to the Men who had remained faithful through the dark years of the First Age. The Edain who had dwelt in Beleriand were led to the island at the beginning of the Second Age by Elros the Half-elven, who unlike his brother Elrond had chosen to be counted among Men rather than Elves.

Elros became the first King of Númenor, and under his rule and the rule of his descendants, the Númenóreans rose to become the most powerful nation of Men in that or any other age.

For the early part of their history, the Númenóreans were closely allied with the Elves of Tol Eressëa, which lay close to their western shores. The Elves visited them often, and taught them much, but the Númenóreans themselves were forbidden to sail westwards, because the Valar feared they would become envious of the Undying Lands they and the Elves inhabited.

As their greatness and power grew, the Númenóreans began to turn against the Ban of the Valar, and at last one of their Kings turned openly against it, though he did not dare defy it.

The last King of Númenor took his armies to Middle-earth to make war upon Sauron, and so great had the Númenóreans become that Sauron's forces deserted him. Seeing an opportunity to destroy his enemy, Sauron sued for peace and returned with the King to Númenor. He gradually gained the latter's trust, and persuaded him to sail openly against the Valar. This he did, but as he set foot on the forbidden shores of Aman, the Land of Gift was taken away and swallowed beneath the waves forever.

Some few survived the Downfall; Elendil, his sons and his followers had prepared themselves for the disaster and taken ship, and were driven back across the seas to Middle-earth. There they founded the famous realms of Arnor and Gondor, though these were but a dim reflection of the glory of Númenor at its height.



Some others managed to escape from Númenor before it disappeared, and found haven in a series of tiny islands of the Great Sea that hardly appeared on any map of Middle-earth's sailors. There, the former Númenoreans founded a nation they called Norea.

Scattered over those many islands, they had no King to unify them, and quickly got organized in clans, each one settled on one different island. No one knew exactly how many communities were founded, not even the Noreans themselves.

They greatly feared the wrath of the Valar for they had witnessed what had happened to the island of Númenor. Thus never did they try to reach the Undying Lands, dreading the Valar might ban them from their new refuge should they do so.

Isolated from the rest of the world on their small islands, they quickly became remarkable sailors, and lived mostly of fishing. While sailing all over the Great Sea, they were reluctant to approach the shores of Middle-earth, and hardly did they ever dock there. They rapidly made this a habit and broke any contact with any race of Middle-earth, which granted them the name of "lonely people" in addition to the name of "sea travelers". Not having any enemies to fight, Noreans slowly lost throughout the Third Age any knowledge about the art of war, hence becoming renowned pacifists.

Nonetheless, every couple of centuries, a few of them, usually the most curious and adventurous, came to Middle-earth to keep track of what transpired there and of the evolution of languages. But few were those who could claim having met a Norean, even amongst the immortal race of Elves.

Noreans lived mostly outdoors, and very often did they leave their clans for long journeys over the seas. And those people who were always dispersed all over the Great Sea somehow developed the ability to mentally feel the presence of the ones of their kind and know where they were.

They certainly could not outdo the mind powers of the Lady of the Golden Forest, or of any of the elves gifted with such powers, but it allowed them to keep the contact with their beloved during their long journeys and to always find the way back home. Therefore, the lonely people never were truly alone.

Noreans peacefully lived through the Third Age, almost not knowing what evil ailed their cousins of Gondor and barely hearing about the terrible war that took place in Middle-earth, even thinking the Valar had forgotten about them and had left them live there in peace…

Unaware the Valar had certainly not forgotten about them… Unaware the Valar had been displeased that despite the fate of Númenor those Men had dared find haven so close to Aman… Unaware the Valar had cursed them with an evil of their own to punish them, an evil they would soon have to face… An evil that would quickly be out of their control and reach Middle-earth…



Prologue

Small waves broke against the shores of a Norean island, reflecting the dim light of the stars high above the Great Sea. The night was calm and the sky was clear while everyone on the island was sound asleep, everyone but two people. Soft giggles echoed as a young couple entered silently one of the wooden huts of the village, their hands tightly clasped. Once inside, the man wrapped an arm around his lover's waist and tenderly rested a hand on her cheek. Their gazes were intently boring into each other's eyes, sparkles shining there.

"Do we really need to hide like that?" the young woman murmured, a sudden mischievous smile appearing on her lips. "Would you fear my father?"

"To be honest, I fear more your brothers," he teased, and he ran his hand through her hair as he added: "But naught of this matters. You know I would go to the end of the world for you."

"As would I," she smiled. "As would I…"

As they were about to kiss, a strange thud rang out outside. The young man slightly released his grip on the woman to look through the window. "What was that?" he wondered aloud.

After a few seconds spent in bewilderment, the woman made him look back at her. "I am sure it is naught," she said confidently. "Naught that will not be still there tomorrow morning and can not wait until then."

He looked at her and smiled. "You are probably right. It…"

They were interrupted by yet another thud, this one longer than the first one. The man looked through the window again, shaking his head. "This is no natural sound. I should go and check." Seeing the frown on his lover's forehead he added: "Do not worry, I will be back soon. Wait for me…" he concluded with a wink and slowly left, carefully closing the door behind him and leaving the young woman alone in the room.

She sat and began to wait for him, but tiredness quickly got the better of her and she slowly fell asleep, drowning into a world of dreams.

Short was her respite, as less than an hour after she woke up with a start, a deep feeling of discomfort overwhelming her. She could feel many ones of her kind fading one by one.

Dying.

It was as if there was something moving, going through the village and leaving a trail of death behind it. And she could feel her lover was close to it.

Alarmed, she ran to the door and hurried outside, but the night was now too dark for her to make out anything. Yet she could still feel many lives being taken away, inexorably.

Jumping when she heard her name, she turned to see her father walking to her. "Thank Eru you are sound," he said with relief.

"W- What is going on?"

He shook his head. "I do not know, but there is a…"

They both froze as they felt two new souls fade. Her brothers. His sons. They exchanged an anxious look, until the older man commanded her: "Stay inside. I will go check on them."

"But…"

"Do as I say," he firmly ordered. "Go back inside. It is too dangerous out there."

She watched him hurrying away, praying the Valar he would find them alive. She turned round to go back inside, but hesitated on the doorstep. She could not just stay there and do naught while she knew her lover was still outside. And he was still near whatever was killing her brethren. She had to find him.

Making up her mind she moved away from the hut towards where she knew her lover to be. After a few minutes spent working her way through the darkness of the night and trying to pay no attention to all the deaths still occurring around, she recognized his silhouette. But he seemed to be lifting someone, holding him or her by the neck.

Under the dim light of the moon this sight seemed surreal, and the young woman walked to him completely confused. Hearing her approach, the man released the body, and it was only when it hit the ground that the woman recognized with horror the lifeless face of her mother.

With a dazed look she turned to her man: "For Eru's sake what is…"

She brusquely stopped, chocked by what she saw in his eyes when he turned to face her. The love that used to fill them every time he laid them on her was gone and replaced by hatred.

It was not him, she thought. It could not be him.

She did not have the time to deepen her thoughts as the man suddenly swooped down on her and closed his hand around her own neck. Then he lifted her, in the same way as he had previously done with her mother. Her feet were not touching the ground anymore, and despite her struggling she could not free herself from his hold as he was way too strong for her.

She called his name, again and again, almost pleading, but with a smirk he kept tightening the claw that his hand formed around her neck. She knew that with one twist of his fingers he could snap it.

One last time she called his name, the sound barely escaping her throat while tears began to roll down her cheeks.

The hatred in his eyes slightly flinched, and for the shortest moment they showed sorrow and concern while the pressure on his victim's neck disappeared. But then there the hatred was again, and as she rubbed her sore throat the young woman took a step back. She took another one when the man stepped towards her, yet she could not bring herself to go further away.

After a short hesitation and a disgusted look on her, the man suddenly turned round and walked resolutely towards the docks.

The young woman was about to try to follow him when she felt a hand on her shoulder. "Father…" she murmured at the sight of the older man.

He shook his head. "Let him go. Following him now would not do any good."

Begrudgingly she resigned herself. Her gaze came to rest on her mother's lifeless body on the ground and reality suddenly hit her. For the first time she realized what had happened. With a trembling voice she began: "Is she…" She did not have to finish her sentence, and her father slowly nodded. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she enquired about her brothers as well, yet she already knew the answer.

Dead. They were all dead.

Unable to hold it anymore, she burst into tears and took refuge in the comforting embrace offered by her father, who tenderly wrapped his arms around his last child.

And watching over his daughter's shoulder while forcing back his tears, he observed with a dark look the young man jump aboard an empty Norean boat and weigh anchor. His fists unconsciously clenched.

Both their cries mixed with the ones of all those who had woken up in the middle of the night to find the dead bodies of their friends, parents, children, brothers or sisters, husbands or wives, and it is said that that fateful night the lament that rose from that Norean island could be heard from nearby communities a few miles distant.

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Here endeth the introduction and prologue to this story...
Please let me know what you think of my personal theory about what could have happened after the Downfall, either in a review or by mail! *wink*
Or proceed to Chapter one, read it, and *then* write a review! *wink*
(Note to self: stop winking at strangers. It makes them look back weirdly)