The sun shone pink on Rayn’s face as it rose. She stirrred, and looked at the elves below her. Legolas was still dreaming, she could tell by the glazed look on his face, but Balved was already out of the tree, and squatting under another. He was holding something. Rayn jumped out of her branch, and strode over to the spot.
“What is it?” she asked. Balved opened his hand without speaking, revealing a gullchick. It squalked, a tiny, high-pitched sound.
“Where is its mother?” Rayn asked. Balved shrugged, stroking the baby bird.
“I don’t even know where he came from; the cliffs are where they build their nests, and the closest mountain is many feet away. He would have died in trying to walk down here, and he’s to young to fly,”
“Then he is a mystery,” Rayn said.
Legolas dropped out of the tree and joined them.
“What are you looking at?” he asked. Then he saw. The gull squealed again, and flapped its tiny wings. Balved handed it to Legolas. The bird stared deep into Legolas’s elvish eyes.
“What are you going to do with it?” Rayn asked.
“Can we keep it?” Balved asked. “It’s mother isn’t anywhere to be found.”
“I guess we could…” Legolas said.
“If we do it needs a name,” Rayn pointed out. She though a moment.
“How about Anariwë?”
“That is a name for an eagle, not a gull, Animwë is better,”
“But see, he is not white, he is grey,” Rayn pointed out.
Legolas listened curiously to the strange words.
“And what is it that you are talking about calling him?” he asked, a bit annoyed.
“Golden-Bird was mine, White-Bird was what Balved wanted him called,” Rayn intrpreted.
They thought some more, then Balved spoke.
“Aeraew?” he suggested.
“Seabird, that is a good one,” Rayn said. The little bird called again, affirming his take to the name.
“I guess we can’t say no to that!” Balved exclaimed. They all laughed.
§ § §
They spent the day wandering in the village. Rayn bought some food and they ate, throwing scraps to Aeraew, who picked them up and swallowed them hungrily. Elves passed them in the lanes and streets throughout the day. They whispered curiously to each other, clearly marveling at Rayn’s armor. She drew her cloak around herself and looked uncomfortable. Legolas left Balved to hold the bird and walked next to her. Balved walked silently back to the tree.
The two, in their armor and weapons caused quite a murmur among the other elves on the street, and some, recognizing the half-queen, bowed. She smiled at them, and continued walking. Legolas knew not what to say. He wondered if she wanted to talk about her troubles.
“Do you want me to leave?” he asked. She shook her head.
“No, in fact I would rather you stay,” she said.
“Oh?” he remarked, nudging her further.
“I like spending time with you,” she said simply. They turned off of the road and into the woods. Wandering through forest again Legolas felt more at home. Rayn made her way toward the beach, and he followed curiously. They soon reached the break of the trees, and Rayn walked down to the shore.
“I feel in the water the same thing you do in the trees; the same overpowering desire to be part of it, to live it, to breathe it, the ocean brings about the same in me,” she said, staring at the water. A look of peace crossed her face. She threw her cloak back, revealing her armor. The sun, high in the sky glinted off of it, and Legolas had to shield his eyes.
He stood a little while, then wandered down to where water met sand. He bent down and laced the water with his hand. Rayn smiled as she watched him, recognizing his joy at being here, at going home, and his fear at facing an evil unknown to him. She walked soundlessly to where he stood, leaning close to his ear she whispered the same word that she had in the fountain hall.
“Come.” She slipped her hand into his and began to walk along the beach. They said nothing, for nothing needed to be said. A long way their path went, though no footprints marked where they had been. They walked all that long afternoon, and Rayn led them in a great circle over sand and then back through wood.
When they again entered the forest Legolas climbed into a tree and began to go from it to others, making as much progress in his path as Rayn. She likened him to a squirrel, leaping from branch to branch, and yet noiselessly. She began to jog, and then to run, but still he kept up. She laughed, and stopped suddenly. He stopped a little ahead of her, breathing hard. Jumping down, he waited for her to join him.
They soon were back in Avathar. They found Balved outside a small building. Aeraew was with him, and the little bird squalked happily at the sight of Legolas.
“Where have you been all day, Legolas?” the young elf asked. “Aeraew and I wondered when you were going to come back.”
“We went to the beach, and came back through the wood,” Rayn said, taking the gull in her arms. “And we found out just how excellent Legolas is in the trees.”
“Oh?” Balved said, confused. Rayn laughed her merry laugh and walked off toward their tree. Balved followed, scratching his head, and last came Legolas, who turned to look one more time at the ocean, before himself turning to the inland.
§ § §
Their departure in the morning was one of little fanfare, with only a few family members of the crew appearing to see them off. The fleet left in relative peace, as much peace as can be expected of one hundred and twenty ships. Balved and Rayn went immediately to their cabins, and Balved took Aeraew with him. But Legolas paced along the deck for awhile, stopping only to glance at the sun, which glowed pink on the horizon. He understood Erindor’s hostility to Rayn, for opposing him and taking Legolas’s side. For taking the side of the elf who is coughed up by the ocean, and only to take away from the Undying Lands and go back to his home.
“Is that all I am?” he wondered. “An outcast, who steals love and spirits off those who should not leave?” he dropped to his knees and put his head in his hands. “What am I here for?” he whispered, “What have I done?”
He sat there for a long while, his eyes lifted, staring at the sun, watching it climb further and further. Tears glistened on his face. He thought of his home, and of Rayn’s and Balved’s. He thought of how, while on the Sea, they were all away from their homes, and all of them in yet another, belonging to no elf, but to the Valar. Of them, he daydreamed also, flying in their color through the sky, walking, diving, intertwining with one another as spirits, who danced in the light that spilled from their own selves, and sang in far away lands.
He unwittingly got up and went to his cabin. Laying down on a couch, he wandered down unknown dream-paths, and did not wake for some time.