Chapter One: https://www.theonering.com/docs/14037.html
Chapter Two: https://www.theonering.com/docs/14131.html
Chapter Three: https://www.theonering.com/docs/14251.html
Chapter Four: https://www.theonering.com/docs/14346.html
Chapter Five: https://www.theonering.com/docs/14569.html
The next morning, Faramir awakened to find Elanor sleeping beside him on the sand. He smiled down at her and lightly brushed a wisp of hair from her face. She stirred. Faramir nearly closed his eyes again, but something caught his attention. He smelled… bacon. He didn’t know who on this island was cooking bacon, but he knew he wanted to be friendly to them, whoever they were.
He rose and followed the smell of the bacon. A few yards away, behind a cluster of trees, he found Gwynna, tending a fire and skillet.
“Awake, are we?” she asked, picking the bacon out of the pan with a fork and placing it onto a large, flat rock.
Faramir was about to ask how she had escaped the sinking ship that last night, but suddenly remembered a saying his father had adopted as a personal mantra. `Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle, and quick to anger.’ Oh, the tales his father would tell about that. Pippin hadn’t even said a word when Gandalf had held the newborn Faramir and commented, “Well, he looks like less of a fool than you, even though he is a Took.” Instead, Faramir decided to help himself to some bacon.
A very few minutes later, Elanor came stumbling over towards the alluring scent of the cured meat. She looked too groggy to think of asking anything. With barely a yawn, she devoured quite a substantial amount of bacon before even opening her eyes fully.
“Well, now that you both appear to be awake, we’d better decide what to do.” Gwynna said, eyeing them carefully. “We have no ship, no steeds, and no way to the mainland.”
“Then what are we to do?” cried Elanor despondently.
“Patience!” Gwynna said sharply, and the hobbits suddenly noticed how exhausted she looked. “I’m… sorry,” she said a moment later. “I suppose that you want to know how I escaped the ship last night. Well, I’m not going to tell you, for it is unpleasant and I truly do not wish to speak of it. But I will tell you why we encountered that storm last night.”
“Men have angered the Valar. Their wars, their gluttony. Morgoth, the ancient evil, first planted the seed of hatred and deceit in their hearts. Though his evil has long passed from the world, the seed still flourishes and grows in their souls. The Valar believe that to wipe the last mark of Morgoth from this world, all men must be destroyed.
“There is weakness, there is frailty; but there is courage also, and honor to be found in men,” Faramir said, chewing thoughtfully on his last strip of salted meat. “What?” he said as he noticed the two females staring at him. “I’m allowed to be astute, aren’t I?”
Under her breath, Gwynna said, “Gandalf was right. You can learn their customs and ways in a month but after five hundred years they may still surprise you.” Unfortunately for her, hobbits also have an excellent sense of hearing. At her statement they glanced at each other and smiled.
“Anyway,” Gwynna continued, “That’s correct. The only one of the Valar that believes what you have just said is Varda, the great Lady of Arda, who placed the stars in the sky. They are her love, and that she will not take away from men. But I stray from the point. The Valar have taken everything from men. The sun, the moon; they toss their seas and wither their crops, flood their rivers and kill their beasts. Here, the skies are blue and clear, start of another beautiful day. In the mainland, the skies are dark and torrential rain is falling. Come.”
With that she led them to the eastern side of their tiny island. Far on the horizon, a black mass hovered, and as they watched a flash was seen amidst the clouds and a faint blast of thunder reached their ears.
“As you have seen, traveling by sea is impossible, and I fear the air to be the same. There is but one other way. It takes a great amount of power, and I am not yet going to speak of it. I am nearly spent. I need rest, a week at the least, at the most two, for the air is growing more chill by the day and winter approaches. Though it does not snow this far south, men still die of the cold.”
At that, the hobbits first noticed the crisp feeling in the air and the breeze that seemed to find them through their garments.
Gwynna then said, “Do not speak to me ere I rise. Farewell, for now.” As she said this, she sat near her pack, legs crossed, with her back to a gnarled tree. She closed her eyes and barely moved.
In their two weeks on the island, the two hobbits grew even closer than before. They would not leave one another’s company for more than an instant, and did nearly everything together. During sleep, if one awakened so did the other, if one tossed the other did as well.
Therefore, one night, Elanor awakened suddenly for a sound slumber to find Faramir sitting on a rock far out in the tide staring into the night. She hopped over rocks until she found herself by his side and silently sat beside him.
Faramir spoke. “I’ve been thinking, Elanor. Of when I… ” he waved his hand vaguely at the sea. “Amazing, it was so soon. It feels like ages. Things happened that I must tell you about. Things that I would not dare to believe if I had not seen them with my own eyes.”
He then told Elanor of his vision. He felt her pain as he talked, though she did not speak. As he told her of his brief conversation with her father, she gasped and her eyes blurred with tears.
Finally, after a long silence, Elanor said, “He knew. About the war between the Valar and Men. It must be that my father survived his journey across the Sundering Sea. How else would he know?”
“Did you ever truly doubt that he was alive?” Faramir asked quietly.
Elanor thought silently for a moment. “No,” she finally said. “I didn’t. I felt that he was alive. I always told myself that I was making it up, that he could be dead for all I knew. But always, at the bottom of my heart, I believed it.”
“I knew it when my father died,” Faramir said quietly. “I had been off in Buckland with Kalimac, (you wouldn’t know him; he’s a Brandybuck). Suddenly I felt a pain in my chest, and everything went black for a moment. I took ill for several days. A week later, news arrived from Gondor. The messenger said that my father had died on the very day that I had first taken sick, and that King Elessar sent his deepest regrets. He sent a letter reading that my father had been an excellent hobbit of stout heart and sharp mind. Though it did not bring my father back, it eased my grief. One thought only has troubled my heart since; I never bid my father a final farewell,” Faramir finished, an almost unnoticed break in his voice, and Elanor squeezed his hand.
There was a silence in which the two hobbits heard only he crashing of the waves. Elanor spoke.
“My father said that I would cross the wide sea to Valinor, not for rest but for war. Do you believe that we will truly travel the sea to fight the Valar? Faramir, do you think that I may see my father again?” Elanor’s heart jumped as she said this, filled with hope and wonder.
“I cannot say, Elanor,” Faramir replied slowly and thoughtfully. “I do believe your father’s words, but my heart doubts that such things should ever come to pass.”
“You’re probably right, of course. But I will dream of this, until either it indeed comes to pass or my life comes to an end.” With that, Elanor rose and carefully walked over the stones and on to their camp. There, she lay down and appeared to be asleep, though for quite some time into the night, she stared, tears in her eyes, into the endless dark of the starless sky.
Soon after Elanor finally drifted off to blissful slumber, Faramir appeared beside her, lay down, and took her hand, placing it on his heavily pounding heart, silent pain deep in his eyes.
* * *
During the rest of their uneventful stay, the small island began to feel like home. Soon, they knew every rock and tree by heart, and could run clear from one side to the other in pitch darkness without stumbling once. But, as in all things, every joy must at last come to an end.
Late one afternoon, not a day more than two weeks after Gwynna first passed into her curious slumber, the hobbits returned to their camp to find her awake and rummaging through her pack.
“Nothing to eat,” they heard her mutter under her breath. “Nothing at all. What’s this; no, that’s a quill. What I wouldn’t give for a potato!”
Faramir cleared his throat. Gwynna looked up. “Oh, well hello. You wouldn’t happen to have anything to eat, would you?” she asked hopefully.
“Well, we did find some apples just over there,” Elanor said, gesturing vaguely towards the northern side of the island.
“Oh, apples would be just fine,” Gwynna replied, smiling. I’m absolutely ravenous. Weeks without a bite can make one a bit peckish.”
“If you like, we could stew some conies for supper,” Elanor said as they guided Gwynna to the apple tree.
“Oh, that would be absolutely divine,” Gwynna said. “I hope it wont be too much trouble.”
“Not at all,” piped Faramir. “Not after all you’ve done for us.”
With that, Gwynna’s face suddenly darkened. The change was so sudden and drastic that the two hobbits asked in unison.
“What is wrong?”
Frowning, she replied. “Now is not the time. Tonight, after supper, I shall tell you. Such things should not be discussed in daylight, or on an empty stomach.” She forced a smile. “Now, what about those apples?”
* * *
That night, as the last rays of the sun were fading from the sky and the first crisp autumn stars were beginning to glimmer in the east, the hobbits stoked a fire in anticipation for their makeshift council. Elanor looked longingly to the far north.
“I wonder,” she said, very quietly, “if my brothers and sisters can see these same stars.” But whether anyone heard she never knew, because at that moment, Gwynna emerged from the edges of the forest, carrying an arm-full of firewood.
“Bring yourselves close to the blaze. Here, sit and warm your hands. Now, I must tell you the only way I have been able to discover to get us off this confounded island.”
With that she told them her plan. The next morning, they would go to the water’s edge closest to the mainland. Then, using a spectacular amount of her mysterious power, Gwynna would form a tunnel in the water from their island to the mainland. It would touch the ocean’s floor and would continue for the good twenty miles to their destination. They could not stop to eat or rest along the entire way, because at best, Gwynna would only be able to hold the tunnel long enough for the hobbits to reach the Bay of Belfalas. She explained that she would find a way to join them later, for to make the tunnel high enough for her to walk would be nearly impossible. Neither of the awed hobbits said a word. Though the trials he had been through were hard enough for Faramir, he believed that this would be the worst.
“Can you really do that?” Elanor asked incredulously. “I’ve never heard of anyone doing such a thing, not in all the tales I’ve ever heard!”
Gwynna regarded her with a stern eye. “Then you haven’t heard many tales. And I am sure, then, that you have never heard any about me. Go to your beds. We’ve a trying day to come at first light.”
That night, neither of the hobbits slept soundly. Amid Elanor’s troubled dreams, her father kept appearing, just only out of reach, calling for her to jump the last hurtle, cross the last obstacle, but she could never reach. He kept calling that he didn’t have much time, to hurry. Finally, she gave up, and collapsed onto her knees in the darkness of her foreboding.
Faramir’s dreams were, if possible, more ominous for him. He was in a dark cave, black as deepest night. Far away, he heard Elanor calling to him along with many voices he had never heard. Suddenly, he was brought upward, realizing how immense the space was. Then, the walls were falling, falling, crumbling down into nothingness, covering him, crushing him, suffocating him, he was trapped, he couldn’t get out.
He awoke in the gray morning, cold sweat chilling him in the darkness. His fears were as real as his own flesh, and stayed with him as leeches, sucking his hope. He awoke in a cold sweat, the blue light of dawn just approaching the eastern horizon. The horrors were as real as his own flesh and blood, staying with him like leeches, sucking his hope.
* * *
Author’s Note: Guys, I’m sorry this has been sooo boring recently. Chapter Seven is where it really starts to pick up, I despise the first six chapters. But my faithful readers shall be rewarded! It gets much better from here on, I promise! Look with expectation to Chapter Seven, and I hope you like it as much as I do!