The Last Ship

He stands upon the quay, his eyes fixed upon that far-off horizon. The swan-ship bobs gently at her moorings, her golden beak turned eagerly towards the light. A tiny step, that is all. But still, he hesitates. What will he find, behind that veil of rain?

The sun sinks lower behind the bank of pink-tinged cloud, and still he hesitates, lost upon the shores of the impassable sea. He feels, stronger than he has ever felt it before, the life blood of the earth pulsing beneath his feet. He feels everything. Every blade of grass, every drop of rain. He feels the pain of every living thing on this Middle Earth. The slow torture of overburdened stone. Trees bleeding beneath the savage axe, sweet, astringent sap falling heavy to the earth. The swans, singing as they die.

How can he leave this? This is the world to him, all that he has ever known. And for all her faults, he loves this Middle Earth. He loves the wildness of it, the high, untamed places, the tangled trees in the darkest reaches of forests where, even now, no foot has ever trod. This land is mother and father both to him, and child as well. He thinks of Lorien, his land, his own, grown strong by his nurturing.

All has failed. It is over. There is no place left in this world for any but men, and he grieves, remembering the bright Noldor of the Eldar days, their oaths and valour crumbled into dust. Now, only the dark elves are left, secret and silent, retreating back into the darkness from whence they came.

The memories of a life age swirl through him. Days before the sun arose in splendour, before the High Elves came from over the sea, before Gondolin or Nargothrond was raised and fell, before blood stained the jewelled caves of Menegroth forever. He remembers Eregion, when it was the fairest of all the lands in Arda. He remembers tears unnumbered, and elves piled upon the hill of the slain. He remembers Amroth his son, with golden hair stirred by the endless wave which covers the jewels of Calacirya forever. He thinks of Lorien, her golden leaves fallen now, her light extinguished. The last, dying mallorn standing naked in the rain.

He thinks of Galadriel, and of Celebrian awaiting him. He steps from the quayside onto the white stern of the ship, and now he cannot look at the silver veil of glass, glistening upon the far horizon.