Quiet. The last remnants of those departing had left a few days earlier. Even the oldest had joined this time. Himwen had seen the cave emptying, had seen the Men carry what little they owned out of this dark, dank place, to a world they barely had seen. To go south, to a part of Arda they perhaps never had visited. And still, with brave hearts and deep determination, they had taken charge of their own destinies and pushed forward. In her quiet contemplation, she pondered about the consequences of their kind taking that stride now. They would be there when she and her kind would not. Perhaps that would be enough.

Sitting on the stony outcrop outside the cave door with the wind playing in her dark, almost black hair, arms folded around her knees, another thought struck her. Up until their departure, she had joined the few who handled the messenger birds. They had shown her specimens which might be able to travel as far as she hoped for, but none had been terribly sturdy. Most were used around here, not travelling as far as Imladris.

There, on the outcrop, she was still waiting for a sign, something to show her it was time. It had been quiet for days. What if she was waiting in vain? What if no one had gotten the message? She had been told that the bird chosen for her was exceptional despite its age. Only one look at it had revealed to her that it was indeed an experienced one, though perhaps somewhat beyond its retirement. She wondered why they had kept it in service for so long. The raven known as Muin had been presented as one of the best, one to cross enemy territory without being spotted. He did indeed prove to be inquisitive and inventive, for he looked once at Himwen and then used a stick nearby to poke at her with. Perhaps it thought she was food, she wondered. But no, the fowl just sat down again, peering at her with its head to the side, one eye examining her. After a few moments, she started to feel rather uncomfortable. Birds had never been a companion of choice for her, and they ate frogs. Muin seemed to sense her discomfort and decided to press it by leaping into the air and perching on her shoulder. Its eye seemed enormous at that short of a distance. Himwen being the curious one, took a long look into the depth of it and suddenly felt a... connection. A spark, perhaps. There was no communication to be had, but a sort of kinship felt between the two. She understood him, his intentions, and he understood her. As birds go, he was as old to his kind as she was to hers. For a moment, she lost herself in memories of Beleriand of old, and had to shake herself out of it. It was all in the past. This was now.

The wind tore through her hair and should have made more sound in its wake. It seemed so silent with no one else there but herself and her thoughts. She remembered how she had strapped the short note to Muins leg, how he valiantly, but rather clumsily had risen to the air and flown away until he became a speck of black on the horizon. How he could fly with that scruffy coat of feathers she would probably never know. Three days had passed since. She had seen nothing, not even Yrch. She was eager to continue. Resting at a time like this, when she knew her comrades were in potential danger was like pressing a spring into a too small a box. Opening the lid now would unleash it in full force and perhaps surprise all around with its power. Unless the box was never to be opened. Her thoughts went in circles, again. To Helcequen finding the frozen path, to Lady Danel asking for a messenger... Did they manage to traverse it? All she could do was hope. Hope that they were safe.

A soft "Kraah!" caught her attention, pulled her out of her dire thoughts. Shading her eyes against the muddy sunlight with her right hand, she noticed a black speck in the sky. It seemed to approach her in a too fast a speed, almost... as if it was falling from a high altitude. Himwen sprang to her feet and hurried to what would be the crashing point of the black bundle. She knew now it must be Muin returning. For how long time had he been flying? She jerked out just in time to catch him as he fell the last few metres. He had returned to her! Her gratitude knew no bounds. As she inspected him for injuries or exhaustion, she noticed that his left wing seemed unusable. It was not broken, as far as she could tell, though he may have sprained it in the flight. Her knowledge of fowl healing was not enough to help him in this case, and leaving him behind might mean his extinction. Muin would have to come with her. After all, despite the wounded wing, he had seen his duty as the foremost priority and made sure to follow through delivering his important message. Such a gift he had given her in the end, the gift of knowledge. For on his leg was a new note placed. She tried to catch his eye once more, but he seemed to be asleep in her arms. He would have to stay there for now, until he could perch upon her shoulder.

Finally, she pulled out the note that had been tied around his leg. It was short, but consice. "Return at speed, my dear." It was signed without a name, but he did not have to add one. She knew. With a trembling sigh, she hurried to collect her belongings for the last time in this accursed land. Himwen was going home.

(Picture painted by Himwens player)