Word Count: 633 + Notes
Challenge: b2wm 2011 #3
Fandom: The Silmarillion
Characters: OC First Age Easterlings
Summary: An Easterling scout encounters the Sea for the first time.
Kiran knelt down beside the river, his fingers sinking into the muddy bank. That at least was a relief, for even here mud was still mud. The earth rose high on either side, nearly blocking out the sun, and the mist rising up from the river gave the gully a feel quite unlike anything Kiran had ever experienced before. Yet it was comfortable in its own way, this closeness of stone and mist. Behind him, he heard the faint roar of the sea or imagined he did. The water's sound had worked its way under his skin and set his thoughts to racing, though he couldn't say why.
He had to find his bearings. He was alone, far from all help and more likely to meet an elf-warrior than any people who would help one such as he. Dev had already died on one of their arrows, and Kiran did not know what had become of Vidya. They had been sent out from the Easterlings' encampment to scout the surrounding countryside when the elf-scouts had come upon them, and Kiran – he blushed at his own shame – Kiran had run as fast as his feet would carry him.
The elf attack had driven out all thought of the sea, but now, as he knelt so close to her quieter cousin, Kiran could not quite forget the song that had sprung up inside him as he had listened to the waves crashing against the rocks. He had never seen the ocean before these last few days, and it was a sight he would not soon forget for all that the water's song had unnerved him. Here he heard the song, too, though it was quieter than it had been. Gentler. The story that the water's sound called to mind seemed more his own tale, less foreign, and now he found that he quite liked it. The mud oozed between his fingers, and the water surged around his wrists, washing the grime of a week and more's hard travel away.
Must he leave this place?
In truth, Kiran knew where he was well enough. Following the gully toward the horizon he saw the ruins of what had once been the old elf-city, and the sun setting to his right told him he was south of the old city. The orcs held this part of the country around Vinyamar and if he found one of their scouts they would point him in the direction home. And he knew his duty. He knew he must leave, must tell what news he had learned and try to explain why he had run. They were his people, and it was a mad whim to stay here close to the sea. What if an elf came upon him while he slept and cut his throat, or a wild beast attacked and gutted him? And if he didn't return to the camp, if he played turncoat for good...
He sighed to himself. He did not want to return, but he was neither coward nor traitor and he would not shirk what needed to be done. A part of him longed to stay here, to listen to the river's song and see what secret paths it might lead him down; but that was a child's folly. He turned his thoughts toward home and the beer barrel waiting for him there. He remembered other things, too: his mother's embrace, the warmth of a campfire shared with his own kin, the way Rani smiled when her eyes met his.
Shouldering his pack, he made his way toward the heath surrounding the ruins. If his steps were heavier than before, and if his mind was pulled ever back to his memories of gulls whirling over the sea, well, some things could not be helped.
It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen. (Ainulindale, the Silmarillion)