Dûlan followed the Lady Èríele on silent feet as she went out of her father’s gates and through the dark, quiet city of Alqualondë.
But he did not need to see her. He knew where she was going.
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
Èríele stood on the sandy shore of the Sea, awed anew by the picture Ilúvatar painted in the sky every night.
She heard footsteps behind her and she knew who was there. She had known ever since she left her father’s house.
“Dûlan,” she stated, turning her face from the Sea to the Elf standing behind her.
“Princess Èríele, I-” Dûlan started.
“No,” Èríele interrupted. “I came here, to the Sea, to be alone. It is not my wish to be followed and disturbed with idle speech.”
Dûlan raised his head, his dark eyes glittering strangely in the dim light of the moon.
“But, my lady, I came only to give you this.” Dûlan took his hand from behind his back and opened his long fingers.
In the palm of his hand lay a ring, wrought cunningly of silver, and in the center was set a beautiful stone, the color of the Sea. And when light was shed on it, it sparkled not, but rippled, as the waves on the sand.
Èríele scorned the gift, having no pleasure in a jewel gifted to her by an ill-favored person such as Dûlan.
“My favor, Dûlan, cannot be bought with simple things of a smith’s making.”
“It is not of a smith’s making,” Dûlan defended. “It is of my own making, even the gem which I captured the likeness of the Sea in. I made it for you. Please, take it.”
Èríele knew it would be unpardonable if she refused, so she reluctantly reached out and took the ring, slipping it onto her first finger.
“Thank you.” Èríele allowed Dûlan to see a half-smile upon her face.
Dûlan smiled broadly at her and then walked away, disappearing into the shadows.
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
Èríele sighed, glad Dûlan was gone. She took the ring off of her finger, having no desire to wear it longer.
She turned her face back to the Sea, but she became aware of the feeling of a presence.
She looked around her and saw no one, but the feeling of a presence did not fade.
At last she called, “Is anyone there?”
And she heard no voice, yet the very waves seemed to clearly whisper, “Fear not, it is I.”
“Who are you?” Èríele questioned.
And again, the waves whispered, “Fear not, Èríele, Maiden of the Sea. When it is time, you will know.”
Then there was silence and the presence was gone, leaving Èríele alone again.
The water rolled up to her feet and the wind blew her golden hair gently around her face, comforting her.
She sank down onto the sand, whispering, “Oh, Ilúvatar.. Hear my prayer! For surely there is something greater, a greater purpose for me. I am of the Eldar! Must I be ever content to stay, for all time, on these shores and only watch the ships sail in and out? Must I then be wed to be free of my loneliness? This is not my wish.”
And she felt peace, for she knew her prayer was heard by Ilúvatar, the One.
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
Èríele re-entered her father’s house quietly, shaking her dress again to be sure the sand was gone from it. She heard the laughter and the music coming from the Great Hall, and she knew she could never get to her room without being seen.
She tossed her wind-swept hair away from her face and entered the Hall to sit quickly beside her father.
She was relieved that nobody had seemed to notice her. She directed her attention to the Elf playing the harp in the corner.
It was the Shipwright, Mordil, and he played well, yet his music lacked feeling and life, and Èríele lost interest.
Avesár, a visiting Elf, a Noldor, stood next to play by many requests, but instead of going straight to the instrument, he bowed to Èríele. “My lady Èríele,” he said in a soft voice, “I would be most honored if you would sing with me.”
Èríele nodded and took Avesár’s outstretched hand, rising.
“What shall we sing, lord Avesár?” Èríele murmured as Avesár took his seat.
“Your song. The song of the Sea, Èríele. I, though i am not Teleri, love the Sea, and I know its music. So sing, Èríele, sing what the Sea has said to you,” Avesár told her.
Èríele smiled, surprised that the Noldor Elf had called her by name, and she turned to face the company.
Avesár started playing, truly the music of the Sea, and Èríele closed her eyes and began to sing, weaving the song of the Sea in words so high and beautiful that even the Valar have never yet heard their like.
When at last the song was completed, Avesár escorted Èríele back to her seat to the stunned silence of the Elves.
“My lady,” Avesár spoke in a sly tone, “I believe they liked it.”
Èríele’s laugh brought the Elves back to life. They rose out of their seats, clapping loudly and thanking Avesár and Èríele all at once.
Èríele lowered her head and blushed, and Avesár did a bow to the uncharacteristically loud Elves.
“Well, friend Avesár,” Lord Isil remarked, chuckling, “It would seem that you have become as much of a Sea-loving Teleri as my daughter is!”
“Indeed, Lord Isil! Indeed,” Avesár laughed as he cast a thoughtful glance at Èríele.