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Fanfic100 Prompt #014 - Green

Title: Lady Forester
Fandom: J. R. R. Tolkien
Characters: Eärendil, Uinen
Prompt: 014 - Green
Word count: 1070
Rating: G
Summary: His first meeting with one of the Maiar.
Author's Notes: Aerandir, Erellont and Falathar were the three companions of Eärendil on his voyages.

Everything belongs to the Professor.

On the first day, streaks of verdigris veined the currents, scissoring apart the ocean surface to languid patterns. Knots. Webs. Concentric circles. The sails fell slack. The air thickened, hanging like drapery, yet the storm refused to come.

On the second day, the sea forgot its former azure. He gazed over the sides of the ship, and saw only foliage, one infinite field of fronds that stretched from bowsprit to vanishing point, wafting in soft hypnotic eddies as if with a breeze. How gigantic and tender were these hands, he thought. They brushed against Vingilot's torso, murmuring in silence, lulling timber and rope and compass-point to a slow dream. Gradually, the gentle fingers of kelp twined into nets, wrapping about the smooth hull, inviting it to tarry, insistent.

Tree tops, said Falathar. The roots of this forest went all the way down, wherever that might be. Doriath, the name floated to mind for some reason. A hidden kingdom, Girdled with power. Though surely Elwing would not have liked the comparison...

Night caught up with them, windless. The stars pulsed. Again and again he corrected his bearings. They had a bad time of it, taking turns diving overboard to slash at the creepers enmeshing the ship. Stay awake, he told the others, we must stay awake.

On the third day, the men did not sing and barely spoke. Even the sky above had changed in hue, tinted to a luminous, unquiet viridian by the reflections. They made little headway all through the heavy hours, and ground to a standstill by sunset.

"Stay with me, stay with me," he called out, exhorting the others to another effort.

Against the horizon, a single glint.

It, too, was green, but sharp like a needle-prick. The late afternoon haze faded above the waters, and sudden hope ripped into his heart.

"Over there!" he shouted.

The men drew up beside him, and the light flashed again, this time much nearer, like the fiery tip of a sword.

She arrived with scarcely imaginable swiftness, and not even a splash as she raised herself beneath the prow. The bare skin of her shoulders and breasts was the same shade of snow as Vingilot's sails, and her hair and eyes were the same shade verdure as the interminable ripples outspread about the ship. A subtle sheen emanated from her.

"Lost your way?" she asked, surprisingly matter-of-fact and possibly a touch amused. But for the hint of echo like a very distant tide, it could have been any woman's voice.

"My lady." He found the presence to bend deep.

"This forest is dangerous," commented the other being. Her sight swept across the faces of the four men. Though they stood on deck and she remained at water level, nevertheless it seemed she gazed down upon them from the heights.

"We--are sorry for the intrusion." He scrambled for eloquence. "We come in hope..."

"You should not have come. The way is barred."

Something shifted in the sound of her words, and a sudden chill captured the summer twilight. Barred, sang the seaweed in chorus, their voices wan and dulcet and incontrovertible. Eärendil straightened. This would never do, it occurred to him. It was his intention to plead the case of an abandoned land before the Thrones of the West.

"We come in hope that the guardians of the world still possess mercy," he began, and found it within himself to watch her eyes. "It is beyond our place--we who have sinned and suffered--to seek such mercy, yet seek it we must. We set sail from burnt and bloodied shores, though a grievous doom be laid upon us. Hear our plight, Lady of the Seas. My heart cannot rest until the last glimmer of doubt dies, until it knows--knows for certain--that those with the power to listen have stopped their ears forever."

"The way is barred," she repeated quietly. Eärendil held himself steady, but before he could continue, she spoke again, intonation unchanged.

"I know another path, though. Follow me."

Without waiting for a reply, she whirled, and her torso vanished beneath the shadows of the sea. One suspended heartbeat passed, and a breeze touch the sails. The watery ropes heaved against the hull, then slipped aside, and they moved.

Aerandir cried out, pointing downward, and at last they glimpsed the massive serpentine coil just below the surface, between foam and foliage, glistening with innumerable ranks of laced scales like a fine mail of turquoise and emeralds. It swayed, slicing across the jungle's tremulous motions, and a swath of ephemeral blue opened amid the green. The men were already dashing back to their places, and with a rapid touch upon the wheel, the ship veered, and slid with startling ease onto the trail. Eärendil spared a glance up, and saw the Lady's head emerge once more, already far ahead, a white arm raised in beckoning.

In silence they wove their way among leaves and branches and vines, tracing the Maia's sinuous form. At times she led them directly forward, cleaving to the straight path, at times she swerved abruptly, turning in accordance to forest walls only she could see. By midnight the wind picked up strength, and before dawn descended, the men saw that the water before the prow was pure and deep like a transparent mirror against the firmament, draped with countless fading stars.

A flicker of jeweled scales, and she was beside the ship once more, facing them. The falling rivulets of her hair mingled with the waves, all the way down to the roots of the ocean. For a moment, her gaze pierced his thoughts. Then a sudden smile touched her mouth, and the stars quivered, smearing to silver mist.

"The guardians of the world have not yet forgotten their duty," she said, and he was abashed by the gentleness of the rebuke.

"We thank thee, fair and beloved Lady of the Seas..."

"We shall meet again, Mariner," answered the Maia, eyes grave. Noiselessly she dove away, and was gone.

They stared away into the sea for a long while, and Eärendil was the first to recover himself. The Lady's parting words reverberated within him, and renewed promises joined the wind to fill the sails. Lifting his face, he scanned the openness between air and water, searching for sunrise, then aimed the ship in the opposite direction.

Table here


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 3rd, 2009 02:42 am (UTC)
This is very nice! I like your mermaidish description of Unien, and it does make sense that even with the Silmaril, Earendil wuld need help finding the way through the mist of confusion the Valar had put up over the sea to block Valinor from approach.
Jul. 3rd, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you very much! Only when I was writing this did it occur to me to try to picture Uinen in my mind, and I figured, why would she need legs anyway... ;)
Jul. 3rd, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
No, for her a fluked tail would be much more practical!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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