Ilmariel followed Cirnil up the ramp and onto the ship. Turning back, she saw Sauron, still standing at the foot of the ramp, eyeing the ship with equal amounts of repulsion and anxiety. Finally, he started up the ramp with obvious reluctance, each step appearing more forced. He even closed his eyes as he took the last one onto the boat.
Cirnil immediately patted Sauron on the shoulder. “Don’t worry so much; you’ll be fine. You forget that this is Valinor. Nothing bad ever happens here.”
“Of course,” Sauron said through clenched teeth.
Ilmariel could not help but grin at the sight of the previous Dark Lord of Middle Earth being led to the stern of the ship by an overly blithe Elf; it seemed too bizarre to actually be happening. Chuckling softly to herself, she followed behind them.
Finally they came to a group of benches, some already occupied by elves waiting for the ship to leave. Cirnil guided Sauron to one of these benches, where he plunked down and sat silently. Cirnil then began heading back in the direction of the ramp, seemingly to greet the elves that were arriving and coming onto the ship. However, he paused for a moment as he passed Ilmariel.
“He really is not enjoying this at all, is he?”
Ilmariel glanced over at Sauron, who was resting his head in his hands while gripping large amounts of his hair. “No,” she said.
“I wonder why that is… I have never met anybody who is as uncomfortable on a ship as he is. It is odd.”
Cirnil then continued on his way, and Ilmariel sat down on the bench next to Sauron, who had not moved from his original position, and was staring silently at a fixed point on the deck. Noting his nauseated appearance, Ilmariel found it a bit odd, as she had not thought that Maiar could become physically ill. Evidently, this had been a misconception on her part; by the look on his face, it was obviously possible.
From her seat, Ilmariel could see the waves rolling out in the distance, luminous under the silver light of the moon and stars. She had never seen the ocean before.
There are so many things I have never seen before… she thought to herself.
Amid the soft creaking of wood and rope, and the sound of water lapping against the vessel’s sides, Ilmariel thought she heard a soft moan issue from the body beside her, and so glanced over at him. Sauron had shifted his position, and his head was now resting face-down in his hands. She watched him for a moment more, but Sauron made no other sound, and Ilmariel deemed that the matter did not concern her. She glanced away again, paying him no further mind.
A few more elves came down the path from Mandos, and then the ramp was taken down and they began to sail off. The water was calm, and it handled the boat gently as it rocked it back and forth. However, it seemed to be enough…
They had been sailing for roughly half an hour, during the course of which Sauron had not made a sound, when he suddenly hopped up and dashed around the mast and riggings towards the middle of the boat. Ilmariel lost sight of him and so got up herself, following after him. Crossing onto another part of the deck, she saw Sauron hunched over the side of the boat, clutching the railing tightly.
Focusing on some distant spot off in the ocean, she walked towards the rail a little more. “Are you all right?” she asked.
Sauron turned his head towards Ilmariel slightly, and glared at her. “Do I look all right?” he said. Although his voice was strained, its causticity level was still potent enough to have eaten through a Gondolin-made blade.
“I’ll take that as a `no’,” Ilmariel said.
Sauron lowered his head and drew a ragged breath. When he spoke again, the biting quality had vanished from his voice. “I think I am going to be sick,” he said weakly.
Hmm… Ilmariel had figured something along those lines. She bit her lip and looked around, unsure of what to do. Thinking the best thing would be to try to find Cirnil, she made her way towards the bow. Fortunately for her, Cirnil was there, conversing with a few of the sailors.
“Hello!” he called to Ilmariel when he saw her. “What are you needing?”
“I’m not exactly sure,” she replied. “You wouldn’t happen to have anything for seasickness, would you?”
“Oh,” Cirnil said, nodding.
“Not yet.” Ilmariel paused. “…I hope.”
“Well then!” Cirnil said, jumping up. “I have just the thing.” He reached into one of his pockets and pulled out a small bottle, which he tossed to Ilmariel. “That should do it.”
With a quick nod, Ilmariel went back in search of Sauron, who was in the same spot that he had been in before. She nudged him with her elbow, and then handed him the bottle.
“What’s this?” Sauron asked.
“I don’t know,” Ilmariel answered.
Sauron looked at her distrustfully. “And what do I do with it?”
“Drink it, I suppose.”
“You expect me to drink something when you don’t even know what it is?”
“It’s supposed to help with the seasickness.”
Sauron’s gaze dropped to the bottled in his hand. He stared at it thoughtfully for a moment, and then quickly popped the lid off the glass and drank the contents. Ilmariel figured that he must have been feeling pretty badly to have given in that easily.
After a few minutes, Sauron sighed and sat down on the deck.
“Feeling better?” Ilmariel asked him as she perched on the riggings.
“What is it with you and boats, anyway?”
“It is not so much the boat part as the ocean part.”
“Oh…” well, that just cleared everything right up, didn’t it? “Then what is with you and the ocean?”
“My memories of it are not pleasant.”
“How so?” Ilmariel prompted.
“Why do you care?” Sauron snapped at her, the illusion of flame in his eyes leaping and increasing twofold.
Although it did unsettle her somewhat, Ilmariel was not effected enough to drop her questions. “I’m just curious.”
“You realize that curiosity is a main fault of your people, and that it helped lead to my rise to power in the first place,” said Sauron, coldly.
“Yes, I suppose you are right. However, the circumstances were quite different, and I find it highly unlikely that my inquisitiveness as to why you do not like the ocean will lead me to some terrible ruin,” Ilmariel replied.
“You just don’t give up, do you?” Sauron asked.
Ilmariel shook her head. “It is not something I am known for.”
With a sigh, Sauron stood up and leaned against the railing, taking a moment to assure himself that there was no danger of falling over. “You probably know the story… I was taken to Númenor as a prisoner. I poisoned the king’s mind, made him my pawn… I’m very good at things like that,” he said with a smug smile, gazing off into space reminiscently.
Ilmariel, uncertain of how to respond to such a statement, slowly nodded.
“I told the king that coming here would make him immortal, and so off he went to war against the Valar. I sat back in Numenor, quite pleased with myself, as I was sure that I had the destruction of the Edain practically guaranteed. Of course, I had expected this to come about without anything happening to me…” He paused a moment and frowned. “That was a bit of an oversight.”
Although she had heard the story before hand, Ilmariel did not make the connection until just then. “So… when the island sank into the sea, you went down with it and drowned.”
Sauron shuddered. “It doesn’t matter if you have the ability to get a new body later on… you still feel the end of the one you have.” He glanced down at the ocean again, leery. “…Drowning was not fun.”
“Really?” Ilmariel said, feigning surprise. “And here I had expected it to be pleasurable.”
“Hey, I’m disclosing personal information here. I won’t ever do it again if you make snippy remarks when I’m done.”
“Well, perhaps I do not want to hear all of your little stories. In fact, I am certain that I will not want to hear all of them.”
“Why not? Bit too gory for you to stomach?”
“Probably,” said Ilmariel, frankly.
“Oh.” Apparently, Sauron had not expected her to answer honestly.
Just then, Cirnil appeared and leaned casually against the mast. “Did the drink help?” he asked Sauron.
“Yes,” Sauron replied coolly.
Ilmariel, feeling a bit rambunctious– she thought it might have been the air –decided then to toy around with Sauron a bit, for no reason other than that she felt like it. She realized that it would probably come back to haunt her later on, but, at the moment, she did not really care.
“Cirnil here is the one who gave me that stuff, you know,” she said to Sauron. Something in the tone of her voice said that she was suggesting something.
Sauron looked at Ilmariel curiously, as though wondering what she was up to. “Is that so?” he said, as more of a statement than a question.
“Yes. Did you make it yourself, Cirnil?”
“I did,” Cirnil replied. “One learns to make and have these things around when one is sailing with people who might not be as comfortable on the water as oneself.”
Ilmariel smiled and looked at Sauron. “Isn’t that just so courteous, Rondae?” she said, with exaggerated cheer.
Sauron narrowed his eyes, but did not answer.
“Well, don’t you think you should thank him?”
Oh yes, this was her grand scheme. Well, not really that grand, but she figured it would be interesting to try and get Sauron to say `thank you’, two words he had probably not uttered together in a very, very long time. Suddenly, Sauron spoke; however, when Ilmariel looked at him, his lips were not moving.
You think that’s pretty funny, eh?
Ilmariel instantly realized what was going on, and she did not particularly like it: Sauron was getting into her head, quite literally.
Just figured out what I am doing? she thought to herself. She figured that Sauron would get the message, since he had said that he `heard’ whatever she thought.
Mhm… Not a good idea, not a good idea at all. I do not think you want to go the way you’re going, he communicated, his last sentence in an almost sing-song voice.
Oh, but I think I do, Ilmariel replied.
I would beg to differ. Then differ. It isn’t going to stop me. Have it your way, then.
Then differ. It isn’t going to stop me.
Have it your way, then.
Ilmariel glanced over at Cirnil, noticing that he was watching Sauron and herself with an expression of complete confusion. Still, it seemed that he was anticipating some sort of recognition. Ilmariel turned back to Sauron. “Well?” she asked.
Sauron squinted slightly and then sighed irritably. “I appreciate having the use of your remedy for seasickness, Cirnil,” he said, with seeming ease. This utterly spoiled the fun of it for Ilmariel; it had been much too easy.
Cirnil smiled. “I’m glad that it helped. If there is any other way I may be of assistance, you need merely to ask.” He then hopped down from the rope and headed back towards the bow.
Once he was out of sight, Ilmariel frowned. “That didn’t seem so hard. I thought you would have been a bit more defiant.”
“That was what you wanted me to do, wasn’t it?”
“Then why would I do it?” Sauron rolled his eyes, shaking his head. “I weighed my choices.” He held up one hand. “I could play along with your little plan, and act just like I knew you had thought I would,” he paused, and then lifted his other hand. “Or, I could just suck it up and say an empty `thank you’. Being in my situation, which one would you choose? Hmm?”
Ilmariel thought about it for a moment…
Yes, she probably– no, definitely would have done the same. Nonetheless, she did not feel like saying it out loud.
“You’re no fun,” she said, crossing her arms.
“Oh, you’re a real treat yourself.”
“That’s not very nice.”
“Darn,” Sauron said, snapping his fingers. “And I was trying so hard to be kind!”
“Aaaww…” Ilmariel stood, and took a few steps toward Sauron. “Don’t worry,” she said, patting him on the shoulder, “you’ll get it.”
With that, Ilmariel quickly began to walk away, back to the benches, not allowing Sauron a chance to reply to her last statement. As she walked, she considered something that she had just realized: she had finally met her match in sarcasm. This, she foresaw, would make for many long verbal battles in the future.