(Following on from Forging the Dream | The Laurelin Archives )
I took off my boots as we approached the shore. A mixture of small rocks and sand though it was, it was my home, and I would embrace it with all my senses. Home I say, rather all that remained, and that a much smaller Mount Rerir than I remembered. Damaged badly in the War of Wrath, little was left save a few outcrops or rock, and this small island. Smaller by far than Himring, it still called to me with open arms.
The boat-elf eased the small ship that had carried us from the fishing village in Lindon Sound, up towards the beach, jumping out to finally pull the craft nigh the shore, that Parnard and I would indeed only get our feet wet. I watched my friend pull off his own boots, and look to the land with some excitement.
“So this is all that is left of Thargelion?” he said, his eyes already scanning the land he had heard Estarfin and I speak of.
“Alas, so,” I replied. I walked to the drier sand and then fell on my knees, planting both hands deep in memories. Though I had never ascended this Mountain before, save the lower, wooded slopes, images and fragrances flooded me. There were tears on my face.
“I will be back for you both tomorrow, late afternoon,” our enabler spoke as he pushed off his boat and jumped back in. “You will be safe enough if you steer clear of the high rocks.” He waved to us, then was looking to catch the breeze and unfurl the sail.
We waved back.
Parnard cheered at me. “Home, lady. Shall we explore?”
I rose to my feet, brushing sand off my clothes, and nodded.
“Lead on, O Nolde.” He threw back his hood and looked up to the sky for a moment.
Then we both picked up our backpacks and shunted them onto our shoulders. The horses had been left back in stables in Forlond, we were exploring on foot.
I did not quite know what I was looking for. A piece of amber, yes, and perhaps some small pieces from the pine trees that grew a few hundred yards back from the water? I would know it when I found it. But just to set foot on that land again sent waves of memories through me.
Parnard watched me closely, less my mood was caused by the sea longing, but it was not so. Not that day. As I walked along the sands to where the valley was, I thought I could hear songs and dancing. Voices raised in celebration. My mother calling to me.
Sensing my potential to become lost in morbid recollections, Parnard halted a moment. I looked out to the sea that covered them all, and I bowed my head.
“To you all, my brothers and my sisters. To all who fell here. May you find forgiveness and mercy, and be freed to life again. I miss you.”
Parnard stood back a moment, respecting my words, then reached forward and touched my shoulder. “Now, lady, where do we go?”
I turned full circle, taking in the view.
Mount Rerir still dominated it all. The highest slopes were bare, but the pines, birch and rowan reached high. The sands were golden in places, and rocky in others. There was an area of shrubs, yellow flecked gorse, sea grass, and sea holly and thistle. I drew a deep breath of the unfamiliar salt air.
“I would walk the shore, the island is not large, it should only take us a little over an hour.”
My wood-elf companion scanned the area warily. He pointed to the weathered mount.
“Yes, that is all that is left of Rerir. It had once been a huge mountain, though was already lesser when we dwelt here. Damaged in the War of the Valar I believe. Then again it, and the mountain range, were damaged in the War of Wrath.”
Parnard nodded. Then pointed at the sea. “Did you once live down there, you and Estarfin?”
“In the valley below,” I nodded as I gave my answer. My thoughts were with friends lost, with my mother, buried in the tower as it fell to the flames. “We lived down there, under where the sea now is.”
Parnard walked further along the beach, then put down his boots and unclasped his cloak. He moved to the edge of a small precipice. He removed his sword, Steel Thorn, and began removing the rest of his clothing.
“If you are sure I shall dive here and see what can be found.”
“Oh, Parnard,” I cried out. “We shall not just come upon a relic or treasure of old, on the sea bed. The dwellings will be further down than either of us can dive. We shall have to be satisfied with what is on the nearer sea bed, or anything washed up upon the shore.”
He halted a moment, midway in unbuckling his hauberk. “Your home must seem very changed now, lady,” he said with compassion.
“It was beautiful,” I replied with difficulty.
Parnard tried to keep me focused. “So much has been lost that was wondrous,” he said. “But we are here to find something for Estarfin.” He plucked a piece of sea heather, and put it between his teeth.
And indeed his words had the desired effect. “I must not lose myself in memories.” I sighed. “It is in my thoughts that some things may have been washed up over the yeni, on the shore or further up? It is possible we may find something useful.”
“Did you bring a shovel?” my friend asked, thinking practically.
No, I had not. But I was also thinking a treasure may not be buried so deeply up here, unlike the ruined city below.
“There may have been scavengers over the centuries,” the wood-elf said. “I have heard tales, mostly in Mithlond I grant you, of ‘Pirates’...Men who are brigands at sea. They may well have cleared such an undefended place of goods?”
“The ships out of Mithlond patrol here,” I replied, knowing it was but rarely. Parnard was right. Corsairs from the southern lands could well hold some treasures of the Noldor. But that was not a matter for today.
“Or there could be something in that house?” I announced, as a wind blew back some of the firs just enough for me to make out the shape of a building, further up the slope.
“What house?” questioned Parnard, then he turned to look in the direction I indicated.
“Someone may dwell there, and we cannot burgle someone's house, even if not, lady!”
“I doubt anyone lives there now,” I said. It was possible. I knew there were rumours that Himring was inhabited, and from further back that Maglor himself hid in the archipelago. But it was Rerir I was concerned with that day, and no other.
Parnard piled his removed clothing, but took up his sword again as we headed up over the sea grass to the gap in the trees.
And there it stood. What was once a fine place, built of marbled stone. Not overly large, no palace, neither a fortress, but a good sized home for several folk perhaps? It was of elven design, though not typically First Age, I thought. The woods had partially reclaimed it. Some was covered in ivy and other creepers. Some of the windows were broken where branches of nearby trees had grown through them. Much of what was once wood had rotted. It was with caution we both mounted the steps to the main door.
I could sense no other living thing, save some observant squirrels.
“What did the Noldo do to secure their treasures,” asked Parnard, moving with sword drawn to stand one side of the door. “Might they have buried them under a secret spot, under the ground?”
“We guarded them,” I gave answer.
“But the guards have long fallen,” my friend replied.
“Most likely. But none dwelt at this height when I lived here. And by the look of this place it is only three thousand years old, or so. It is not from the First Age.” I knocked loudly three times on the door. It shook, but did not open or fall. “We look here, then go down to the beach and do some diving? The side of the island that faces home rather than the Ered Luin.”
“I think so, I think so...” Parnard nodded.
I knocked again, but the sound seemed to echo through emptiness.
Parnard stood forward, still with Steel Thorn in hand, and listened intently for any sound within. Then he stood back, shaking his head.
“We try the door,” I said. “If any Eldar are within, I doubt they will try to slay us.”
Parnard pushed at the door, and with some effort opened it. He walked in, then brushed himself off. “I walked into a cobweb,” he said.
I pushed a little at the stiff door myself, but only managed to open it another inch or so. It was not surprising with a place so neglected.
My wood elf friend was moving stealthily around the empty room, clouds of dust rising from each step he took. He sniffed the air, cautiously.
“Oh, we shall need such good baths after this. A long soak in the room at Forlond will do me well, though a swim off the shore will go part way.” I wiped a hand over one of the few items of furnishing, a lantern by the door. “Almost two inches of dust.”
“I see no sign of recent footprints on the floor,” Parnard coughed. He rubbed his eyes then peered through the dimly lit room to the next.
“The wall paint is still visible, though the plaster has cracked and flaked in many places.” I observed, trying to make light and short movements that did not send more dust into the air. “Oh, to open the remaining windows and let light and fresh air stream in.”
Parnard was already moving into the next room. “What is beyond there?” he said.
I followed into what once must have been a large library, for it was full of rotting bookshelves and more piles of dust. There was a grand, curved set of stairs to the upper floor.
“A noble’s house,” I suggested, “Or a Lore Master’s?” There were two doors on the further side of the room, but I wanted to see the upper floor next. What greeted Parnard and I must have once been an exceptionally beautiful place.
“A star–watching balcony,” I announced.
Parnard walked to the balcony despite its crumbling condition. He trod carefully.
We both gazed up at the large, glass domed roof. Some of the glass was broken, and it was over half obscured by the nearby trees. The basic metal structure was still sound.
“It was a wonderful place,” said Parnard.
I nodded. “A lore master, or at least someone learned.”
Parnard spoke in a low tone.”Do you think there are any treasures hidden behind any of these blocks of stone? I have heard of such things.”
I thought for a moment. “I suspect any treasures this place once held were old books and tomes recorded in earlier days. It looks like knowledge was the most precious thing to the inhabitants.”
“Oh,” said Parnard.”If there is naught here but rotting wood and a few sunbeams, we should leave.”
I had come to the same conclusion. The house held a history I would be keen to learn, but it was not what we were there for. But as I walked down the stairs I made a point of looking into two further rooms. One had a cupboard that was falling apart, the other a battered metal chest. Neither yielded anything of use.
“It looks as if they did not flee in a hurry. They took almost everything with them,” I observed.
“A goblet and a rock,” Parnard said, raising both from the chest to show me.
“A pewter goblet set with an agate?” I looked closely. “It is not something we can use. “
Parnard dropped it back in the chest, but tossed the rock up and down in the air before putting it in his pocket. He took up his water bottle and drunk a little to ease his dry throat. “It looks as if we will need to go diving after all,” he said.
I nodded in agreement. “But first I would have a short time under the fir trees, to collect a few things of the land.”
So we left the dusty old house, and breathed again the pine scented air. It did not take me long to find what I sought. A few seeds, a few needles, a few small twigs. I held them as if they were equally precious to any adamant. “His home, as well as mine,” I said. Then I put my treasures carefully in my backpack.