The soft pattering of the fat raindrops on the earth washed away the cold of the winter night, and filled the air with the breath of life such as I could give to the song of the river. Laughing, I danced, swirling in the waters of Sirion, as I lifted my arms in welcome to the fall of the rain.
'Little Singer, what is this you have done?'
I heard the voice of Ulmo in my ear, speaking in his usual calm manner, though I thought I caught the hint of a reprimand in his tone.
'I have called the rain, my friend, though only for a while.' I replied. 'Rain to melt the snows of Ered Wethrin.'
'Merlassë do you think that wise?' He said, 'I do think changing the weather counts of drawing attention upon yourself.'
'I am merely making rain, Ulmo. I'm sure Melkor is used to my whims of song by now."
"I am merely saying, Merlassë, that you must be more careful what –'
'Do lighten up Ulmo, it is only a little rain.'
'Melkor will wonder –'
'Melkor can wonder all he likes. I rather like to keep him guessing.'
'Merlassë you are incorrigible.'
I heard the hiss of the water as Ulmo sighed.
'Let us only hope that you do not make a habit of this.' He said
'Why not?' I tilted my head to listen to his voice in rush of the river. 'I find it rather enjoyable really.'
'Melkor may not take kindly to your little invasion of his territory.' He replied.
'Melkor does not take kindly to anything, Ulmo.' I answered. 'Why should I be concerned about the delicate feelings of Melkor when he would never be satisfied with anything anyone would ever do?'
'Merlassë.' Said Ulmo sternly, 'Melkor is one of the greatest among the Ainur, you should not speak so lightly of him. He can cause you great harm.'
'You are sounding more and more like my brother by the minute.'
'That is because I care for your well-being, as does your brother,' Came his sharp retort. 'You are far too careless for your own good, little singer.'
'Melkor considers me far too beneath him to give me any thought, my friend.' I said, 'You know I have none of the powers of the great.'
'Dearest one, you underestimate yourself much.' Ulmo replied in a quiet, grave voice, 'Even Melkor cannot resist the enchantment of your voice.'
'What are you saying, Ulmo?...' His words awoke in me once more that chill that had long slumbered in my mind. The memory of Melkor's smile and his cold caress resurfaced once more, long buried deep in the corners of my consciousness. I ceased my dance in the rain, standing still in the waves of Sirion, letting its waters surge past me as I stood waiting for my friend's answer - unsure if I wanted to hear it at all.
Ulmo sighed. 'Long has Melkor watched you, even as we dwelt in the Halls of the Ainur. He follows your steps in secret, his gaze ever turned towards you. You do not know, Merlassë, but your brother and I, and even Varda have noted his infatuation of you. He is enamoured by your beauty, your voice, your light, your innocence…such a stark contrast to his darkness and cold demeanour.'
'That cannot be, Ulmo.' I told him with a nervous laugh, 'You must be mistaken. Melkor scorns all those who he considers of lesser power than him. And me, the least of all the Ainur, it cannot be possible. Moreover, he hates my brother of all the Valar, what love can he have for me?'
'Merlassë, has it never occurred to you why he hated your brother most, even before the war of this little kingdom?' He asked softly, 'Long ago, when he first gazed upon your countenance as you sang in the presence of Eru, he sought out your brother for you hand. He would have you to wife, and asked to court you. But even in those days, when he was fair as the rest of the Ainur was, your brother perceived the darkness in him and refused him.'
'Melkor was furious, though he did not show it. He believes your brother denied him your hand to spite him, for in truth you know our people is free to choose their companions as they please, and your brother has no real say in who you may or may not court. Ever since that day, your brother has kept you from his sight, deterring him from any contact with you at all, which only served to infuriate him further. His hate for your brother was only elevated when he fought in the wars against him.'
I was silent for awhile at the revelation of Ulmo's words.
'The word love no longer has any meaning to Melkor.' I said bitterly, genuinely shocked by Ulmo's words. 'He could not love me anymore than he could feel pity.'
'Love is a strange emotion.' Replied Ulmo, 'Even those who have forgotten all else remembers love – so strong and so deeply it runs.'
'You think he still cares for me?' I asked my friend, inclining my head towards the water where the power of his presence coursed all around me. 'You think he still desires me for wife?'
'Ah desire. Yes desire is one thing that Melkor understands most deeply.' He said, 'But his love has long been corrupted. I doubt if he now feels anything more than desire and lust.'
I was silent again. The pitter-patter of the rain as it danced upon the river and the earth did not serve to sooth away the trepidation in my heart.
'Merlassë, you must not sing again, at least not here so close to his stronghold.' Ulmo said at last, breaking the silence between us. 'He may have already perceived your presence from your song. Before, he may have been too preoccupied in his designs of destruction and ruin to give thought to old desires, but I think if he has heard you, the desire in his heart will be rekindled anew. There are more reasons now more than ever for him to possess you as his own. He knows it will wound your brother deeper than any machination of war can do.'
'What must I do?' I whispered. A cold in my spirit rippled through my being, like the flutter of a winter breeze through the thickets. I could almost feel the icy caress of his hand across my face.
'It is not safe here for you anymore, Merlassë,' Ulmo replied. 'It would be best if you return over the sea, out of his reach, or you will endanger yourself, and all those you hold dear.'
It seemed that the voice of Melkor was carried on the wind, a vent of chilling cold that blew from the North piercing the warmth of the rain. He was calling for me, his silken voice as smooth as ice. But it was different than I remembered, darker and harsher and there was something else, but I could not distinguish it. I knew that my friend spoke the truth.
'If not for me, Merlassë, then for your brother's sake,' he urged, 'You cannot stay.'
'Is there no other way, my friend?' I asked him, after a moment of silent contemplation, 'I will not let the fear of him drive me from this place. I will not run away. Let him come for me if he likes, but he shall not have me. I would defy him with all my power, however small it may be, and thwart him in all his plans.'
'Your courage is admirable, little singer, but there is naught you could do.' He said. 'You do not stand a chance in the face of his power. He will break you.'
His voice was sorrowful, echoing in the waters, a lament in the spring rain that winter should come so soon again.
'You forget my friend, that I am the Singer of Eru' I said smiling, 'My song is his song, for I am the daughter of his thought. Even the smallest voice can tame the harshest melodies of Melkor. Father taught me that.'
'When did you become wiser than me, little singer?' answered Ulmo laughing, the river bubbling in reply. But I only smiled.
'Very well then, my little friend, if you insist,' he said, 'There is one thing you can do to veil yourself from Melkor's eyes.'
'And what is that?' I asked curiously.
'Forsake your spirit form, become truly…Eldalië.'
It seemed that for ages I could not move, but could only stand there and watch as this vision unfolded before my eyes. The enchantment of the song seemed to have woven itself around me, rooting me to the ground where I stood. And then the song ceased, and Linneniel laughed and danced, her light feet skipping over the waves. I realized then that the rain did not touch her, nor did it wet the pale blue of her garments, fluttering in the wind.
Then from the river there resounded a mighty voice, and Linneniel answered it. I listened to them speak and their voices were as the waves, overlapping one after the other upon the seashore. I knew instinctively at that moment that the voice from the river was the one of the vala Ulmo. Then suddenly, Linneniel ceased her dance, and her face was clouded by a shadow, though their voices continued their lulling rhythm. Still I watched on, unable to command my feet to stir.
And as I watched, it suddenly seemed that all the light was drained from the brilliant form of Linneniel, and her piercing eyes were darkened. A great wind swirled around her and then breathed past me with a sigh, before it plunged back into the river from whence it came. The river rippled with golden light for a moment, before it dimmed to dull grey again. Linneniel breathed out, closing her eyes.
I looked upon her again and saw that a great change appeared to have befallen her form. Somehow, she looked more solid and real than ever before she had seemed. It was as if an image in a painting had stepped out of its frame and become flesh and blood. I would have gone on contemplating this mysterious change if not she had turned and caught me in her gaze where I stood paralyzed on the riverbank, some distance away.
I gasped unconsciously.
Suddenly from the river beside me, there arose the majestic form of the King of the Sea.
"Edhel, you have seen and heard more than you should have." He said, his voice deep and low.
"I…" but I could not continue, my tongue seemed as stiff as my feet.
Linneniel stepped out from the river, walking towards me. The rain was soaking her thin blue dress, and her dark hair was dripping with water running down her face, making her blink. Finally she stopped in front of me, and reached out a hand to wipe the rain from my face. It wasn't until then that I realized that the hood of my cloak had fallen back and I was soaked as well.
"What are you doing here, Lenwë?" though much about her was changed, her voice still retained the same enchantment and musicality.
"Merlassë." Came the stern voice of the vala, "He cannot remember any of this." I looked from him to Linneniel, who nodded hesitantly and stepped towards me, taking my hand.
"Who are you?" the words came unbidden to my lips, no more than a whisper. Linneniel smiled wistfully.
"I am the Maia of the watersong, mellon." She said softly, "I am named Merlassë by my people - the Singer of the sea."
"My lady, I would not tell if you do not wish it not to be known." I said, but she only looked at me sadly.
"I trust you, mellon, never think I do not." She replied, "But I cannot risk it, he is looking for me."
"He?" I asked, but Linneniel did not answer. Ulmo handed her a flask of pearl, which she took in her hand and held it out to me.
"Drink." She said.
"What is it?" I asked, eyeing the open flask uneasily. The pearl of the flask shimmered slightly in the darkness of the night.
"It is a potion, made from the veils of the sea, the mists and the fog." She answered, slipping the cool flask into my hand. "All those who drink of it come under the spell of my enchantment."
"And what becomes of me then?" I said again, swallowing nervously.
"You will forget," she answered gravely, "And remember no more of this night, or of Merlassë of the Maia." She took my hand in hers, lifting the flask of pearl toward my lips. I hesitated before the opening of the flask touched my lips.
"I like not the thought of losing a small part of my memory for all time, however important and necessary it is, my lady." I told her. She watched me with her pale, pale eyes and laughed.
"You will forget, yes, mellon." She said, smiling, "But is it not forever, for the potency of this drink does not wipe the thoughts from your mind, but merely surrounds it in a haze of forgetfulness. You will recall this night when it is deemed right that you should, and then not even the mists of Merlassë can cloud the memory from your mind!"
Her hand relinquished its hold, leaving my hand alone on the flask, which was much lighter than I thought it to be. I studied the flask closely. What I had first thought to be inlaid of pearl did not seem so anymore as I looked upon it. Instead, it appeared to be a swirling mist, white and hazy upon the surface of the metal. I looked towards Linneniel again, who smiled gently and gazed into my eyes with reassurance.
"Drink, Lenwë of the House of Turgon." She said, "And trust in Merlassë Linneniel, who must put herself in your debt once again."
With these words she bowed with a nod of her head, rising to look tenderly at me.
"Drink." She said again, this time no more than a whisper. Ulmo stood at her side, tall and terrible, seeming to dwarf her diminished figure.
I took a deep breath and lifted the cool metal of the flask to my lips, slowly tipping it up. A smooth liquid slipped down my throat, liquid and airy at the same time. It had no taste, but smelled of rain and the clear waters of Valinor.
I swallowed, and remembered no more.
It was my fourth day in the mountains, and I had gotten no further than the lower peaks. The snowstorms raged unceasingly in its heights and the snow fell so fast and thickly, that no sooner had I broken through a path than it was buried again. I was beginning to despair of ever making the pass over the mountains, nonetheless return by the appointed date. I had halted in the shelter of a rocky cliff side, hoping to wait the worst of the storm out before continuing. My stallion snorted at my side, shivering in the cold.
"I'm sure it will soon pass, mellon nin." I told him, patting him on the nose and breaking away some of the ice that had begun to form on his muzzle. "Be patient."
But they were empty words, and the blizzard showed no signs of relenting. I drank some cordial in an attempt to warm my body, for the very warmth of my blood seemed to be stolen away by this icy storm. It was no use; we would have to continue on or risked being buried under the snow. Already, I felt my mind growing drowsy and my body yearned to sleep, curled against the cold strength of the rock. I tried shaking the thought of sleep from my mind, but it seemed to have a firm hold on me and I could not refuse. All the weariness of the journey seemed to have caught up with me at once.
Leaning against the rock face, with my stallion standing protectively in front of me, shielding me from the worst of the wind, I drifted into sleep.
I was struggling through the relentless drifts of snow, as large as waves, high in the peaks of Ered Wethrin. All around me was swirling white, and it seemed as if I was in a prison of icy snow. A fell voice was on the wind, a malicious laugh that drove the storms of the deadly snow. And no matter how hard I tried to escape from this white prison, I seemed not be moving anywhere at all.
And at last when I thought I could go no further, there came from the south a breeze as warm as a spring day. With gentle laughter, it tamed the raging storm, which seemed to shrink back in its presence. It wrapped itself around me, shielding me from the blasting cold and warming me to the core of my frozen body. It played across the mountains, and where ever it went the air seemed filled with warmth. The looming grey clouds threatened snow no more, but instead fell with soft rain that washed the snow away, and all the path of the mountain was laid bared before me.
With another laugh, the wind seemed to dance on the mountain top while the darkest of clouds loomed some distance away, not able to enter into the warmth of its presence, but watched longingly as it danced. The gentle rain fell all around me, and in it echoed a familiar song I had heard once, long ago.
There was something wet on my face, I lifted a hand to wipe it away but it was insistent.
I opened my eyes.
There was water dripping on me, all around me. My faithful stallion nudged me impatiently, seeming glad that I had awakened at last. I blinked twice, taking in the scene around us.
By the stars of Varda and all that is holy, the snow was melting away!
The snow that had once covered up to my waist was all but gone, washed away by this strange warm rain that was now falling from the sky.
It may be that the vala Ulmo is watching over me yet.
I whispered a quick prayer of thanks and quickly mounted. I knew how closely I had come to death, and if it was not for this spring rain, I would have slipped into sleep forever on this cursed mountaintop. The thought of it chilled me, but I waved it away determinedly – I must continue on at once.
I surveyed the road ahead. It was clear. Rejoicing, I set forth once more with great speed, racing down the now clear path.
I may make it back in time yet.
I watched as the light in Lenwë's eyes became dull and glazed over. The pearl flask dropped from his hand and I deftly caught it before it hit the ground. Running my hands over the coolness of its surface, I closed the flap of the flask. Taking one last look at it, I tossed it back into the rushing river, watching it dissolve and melt back into the waters.
As the last of it disappeared, I turned and looked over to where Ulmo stood impassively, giving me an approving nod.
"The other guard will find the both of you soon. I will take your leave." He said, turning
"Wait." I said, resting a hand on his arm. I found that I could no longer perceive his thoughts anymore, as I could by just the touch of a hand before. It was as if a great wall had arisen between us. All I could feel was the power that still exuded from him, but of anything else there was only silence.
"You are now one of the Eldalië, Merlassë." He said, immediately understanding my thoughts. "You have the same likeness of power that they possess, and that way you shall remain, until the housing of your spirit releases you from its hold."
As he spoke, we heard voices coming from the riverbank further down.
"This is where we say our farewells, for many an age perhaps." Said Ulmo, "You will not see me again, unless it be a time of dire need."
I nodded, and watched as Ulmo turned once again to go. As he disappeared back beneath the current of the river, I heard the sound of his voice in my mind, one last time.
Farewell, Singer of Eru, my friend and sister. It may be that we will not see each other again for an age of the world. Yet I foresee that this path you have chosen will bring you great joy…and also great sorrow. May the grace of Eru smile upon you and light your way - wherever you may go.
And then there was only the gurgle of water upon the riverbed.
As I stood pondering his words, Lenwë stirred at last beside me, the enchantment of the potion full wrought.
"Linneniel! You gave me quite a scare!" He said, taking me roughly by my wrist and pulling me behind him back towards the elven encampment. "Whatever possessed to wander out of the camp at this hour of the night? You could have been shot, you could have been captured, you could have DIED!"
"I am sorry, mellon nin." I said, but offered no more words, remembering the way his eyes glittered and dimmed under the moonless sky as he unquestioningly downed the contents of the pearl flask that I had offered him. Lenwë huffed in annoyance at my words, but said nothing.
The grey wispy clouds lingering damply overhead drifted languidly away as we hurried along, revealing a pale crescent moon hanging shyly in the inky black sky. Soon, we met up with the other guard who had been searching for us further down the riverbank. After making sure that both of us were unharmed, he escorted us all the way back to the torch-lit warmth of the encampment.
Along the broad banks of Sirion, the elvish encampment was a white city of tents in the moonlight, shivering in the light breeze. The torch light flickered, dancing on the fluttering canvas of the tents.
No sooner had I recognized the familiar awnings of my tent than I was pulled roughly inside, and found myself looking up at the livid face of Lenwë glowering down at me. But Lenwë did not speak, seeming to be too infuriated for words. I smiled meekly up at him, but his face grew grimmer. I tentatively touched his arm and was surprised when he caught my hand fast with his own, and would not relinquish it when I tried to withdraw it.
His voice broke. I looked up once again into his hard grey eyes, and saw that his expression had softened. Now he regarded me with an almost tender gaze, seeming to be on the verge of speaking. I gave him a questioningly glance.
But he only swallowed slowly, and said nothing. He dropped my hand and stared angrily at the ground.
"I am sorry if I have caused you any alarm, my friend." I whispered softly to him, "I will not do so again. You have my word."
"No you will not."
I was somewhat taken back by the hardness of his voice.
"You will go nowhere without my escort, Linneniel, until I can trust you again."
Without another word, he left the small tent, his damp cloak snapping at his heels.
I must once again appologize for the long wait. This chapter took a long time in the making and things have been very busy around here lately. I do hope you will enjoy this. I can make no guarantees for when the next chapter will pop up, but be reassured that this story will not abandoned entirely. Happy reading:)