A Strange Malady

“I must speak with you about last night,” Danel said to Parnard. “Know that I did not think clearly.”

“In what way, lady?”

“A mood was upon me that only the counsel of Lord Cirdan has cleared,” she answered. “I will say at the start, I sail nowhere until the end is upon us, as was my promise.”

Upon hearing this remark Parnard was struck with amazement but he made no indication of his surprise. "Now you recall it," he said, slowly. 

Danel sighed. “I never forgot it. But…my mood was a dark one. I needed to be away from everyone I love lest I darken them also.” She leaned forward and placed a light hand on his shoulder. “I would like you to understand, Parnard, for I am not certain it will not return - whatever comes out of my mouth, what is in my heart will never harm you or Estarfin - and of course what I said about him not caring was nonsense to try and send you and Hingalas away.”

"No, no, you do not darken us…why send me away like that, lady? Instead tell me if you wish to be alone, and I will immediately grant your wish.” 

Danel continued: “Last night there was a great darkness upon my spirit; I did not know why. It all but drew me into itself like a whirlpool, filling me with dread and fear. My biggest fear was it would overflow me and spread to others. Despair, as I have never known!”

“Darkness? Whence came it?” 

“From within. How long I have harboured it, I know not. I have ever been hopeful for the future believing that though our days here are numbered, we should still prevail many an age, and yet…” Danel sat down on the grass, as if her legs no longer could bear her up. “I have given way to sorrow in the past. I have felt crushed - but this was as if all will to resist was gone, and the darkness was spreading...from me.”

“Is this darkness lifted?” Parnard asked, recoiling a little. 

Danel drew her knees up under her chin and seemed to ponder the question before answering, “For now. Cirdan says it may return."

He sat beside her and held her hand for some minutes, his face grave, before asking, “What is to be done? Does Lord Cirdan know whence the darkness came?”

“We spoke for several hours. It is not some curse or ill wishing, nor possession by a spirit unhoused. Cirdan says it is not uncommon. Though usually it is much less in strength. It can affect those who seek to leave with much regret. But it tends to affect those who...do not hear the call of the sea mostly.”

“A strange malady!" exclaimed Parnard. This explanation made little sense. He knew well enough by now that the Noldor were a people of mercurial moods, and the lady was blunt of tongue by default, and prone to making astonishing and confounding remarks - why should he not accept this latest outburst with another smile and shrug of the shoulders? And yet it struck him as odd behavior, even for a Nolde. “Will you change your mind again about wishing to sail West, cousin?” he asked, plaintively. 

To which she replied: “What may come from my lips and from my heart may not be the same.” 

This did not answer his question, and Parnard sensed that she was not telling him everything, but he was careful not to display any dissatisfaction, lest he upset and unbalance the proud lady’s wits, which he thought were, to use the vernacular term, “loose."

“Friend Estarfin takes words very, ah, deeply. Peradventure your mind changes again, tell him not of your urge to sail?" he suggested. 

“Then I ask you not to speak of it to him until I have had a chance," said she.

Parnard smiled and made a slight shrug of his shoulders, relaxing a little as he found himself in familiar waters again; the lady’s polite request was really nothing but a command to be cheerfully obeyed. “As you wish. I am glad you changed your mind…” he said, his voice catching with hesitation. Danel would tell Estarfin about this ‘malady’ of hers in her own way, and that worried him. “We should ne'er have come here, cousin. Does this darkness creep in with the waves of the Sea? Should we leave?”

“Possibly. Now let us keep this matter to ourselves. I was thinking of staying here until the morrow,” Danel said, trying to change the subject.

But Parnard would not be shaken off the trail so easily. “Do you seek more counsel from Lord Cirdan?”

‘'No. He has said all that is needed but he has...advised me on some actions. I would like my thoughts straight before we meet Estarfin. I asked Cirdan if he would speak with him. The answer was both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.”

“'A riddle!”

“No, not a riddle. He meant that he will hear Estarfin but he cannot give an answer concerning a ship.”

“But Lord Cirdan is the Harbor Master. Is he helping you or not?”

“'Yes, Lord Cirdan understands.”

“'Very well, then,” said Parnard, realizing that his questioning was in vain, as more would not be drawn out from her, and decided against pressing for details that might explain these mysterious and troubling matters. All things must happen in their own time, he reminded himself, and a new day oft brings hope and fresh assurance. Yet he could not help feeling downcast and discouraged. The moon had set and morning was breaking, dim and gray. Too long have we tarried by the Sea. How murkily yonder clouds frown!