Beyond the sea by kdragonrose

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Story Notes:

There was some sort of glitch the first time I posted this, so I am reposting in hopes the problem is fixed.


The two brothers huddled together in the crow’s nest for warmth. The night was calm, but the wind was biting and the pair was quickly chilled to the bone. Thavron and Raevon were Ear’Quessir *sea elves* had spent years shuttling their elven kindred across the sea to the Undying Lands, but never had they experienced a journey such as this.

The seas had been rough and tumultuous since they left port. Their passengers had taken refuge in their cabins or below decks for the majority of the trip, which, as Thavron was constantly reminding his younger brother, was a harbinger of ill luck. The elves traveling to the Gray Havens were often filled with joy and their songs seemed to carry the ship across the waves on beams of rosy sunlight.

There were no songs on this trip. The days were filled with wind and the constant thrashing of the waves. The sea was occasionally calm at night, but the heavy clouds would blot out the moonlight and only a few determined stars would shine through.

As the brothers kept the watch, Thavron continued to harangue Raevon about the ill omens and portents of this journey. Raevon wished he would just shut up...or at the very least, find another subject to pontificate on.

As if the fates were finally answering his prayers, Thavron suddenly elbowed his brother in the ribs.

“Aye, there she is...Didn’t I tell you?”

“What are you babbling on about now? I’ve grown weary of your constant diatribes,” Raevon snapped, rubbing his side irritably.

Thavron pointed toward the bow of the great ship.

“There! Right there! I told you she’d come and there she is!”

Raevon turned his keen elf eyes in the direction his brother was pointing. At first, he thought what he saw was some sort of trick of the light. As the starlight broke through the relentless storm clouds, he could see a figure standing at the very point of the bow. The sea winds billowed the heavy cloak around the slender body, like the wings of some enormous bat. Yet, the elleth stood still, impervious to the frigid night air and frothy spray of the sea water.

“She comes out at night, but only if the stars are shining. By day, she hides herself away in her cabin and speaks to no one.” Thavron whispered, as if afraid speaking too loudly would break the spell.

“Who is that?” Raevon asked. “I don’t remember seeing anyone like her coming aboard!”

“I call her Leo Eel, the Shadow Star,” Thavron hissed. “She hides her face in the shadows and covers herself from head to toe in long cloaks. There are those among the crew who say she is the Lady Galadriel herself. Others say she is an evil sorceress, come to doom us all with some dark curse.”

“What stories you tell, brother! Surly you don’t believe in such nonsense! Perhaps she is just a simple elleth who wishes to be spared from your incessant prattling!” Raevon scoffed.

“Say what you will Raevon,” Thavron hissed. “But I tell you this, a dark presence has befallen this ship from the moment that wraith-woman stepped on board!”

****

Tauriel could hear the guards whispering from the crow’s nest, though she could not entirely make out the words. She paid them no mind and fixed her gray-green eyes on the stars above her. Though she had ceased to weep for Kili long ago, her heart still ached at his loss, particularly on nights when the starlight shown down upon her face. Kili had been a kindred spirit during a time when she had begun to question her loyalties in a world which would soon be torn apart by darkness.

In the years that passed since Kili’s death, Tauriel left the woodland kingdom of Thranduil and set off on her own. She had dedicated her life to slaughtering as many orcs, goblins, spiders or other dark creatures as she could set to her blade. As their bodies lay at her feet upon the ground, Tauriel had hoped to drown her sorrow in their foul, black blood. She killed more dark creatures than she could count in an age, but the pain had lingered. Only the passage of time had dulled death’s sting.

Even as her elvish kin began their departure from Middle Earth to the Undying Lands, Tauriel lingered, killing orc after orc, yet finding no peace in their deaths.

She heard tales of the great battle between men and the dark forces of Mordor. She knew the armies of Lord Elrond and Lady Galadriel had joined in the war, but Tauriel chose to remain in solitude, hunting and killing on her own.

It was only a few weeks ago that Tauriel began to feel an inescapable pull to leave Middle Earth for the Gray Havens. She fought against the force calling her to join her kind for as long as she could, wandering aimlessly, until the night she arrived at the western shore.

A fire moon was rising in the sky above the few elvish ships still moored at the docks, and without question, Tauriel knew her time had come. She no longer knew where she belonged in Middle Earth. She could only hope to find what she sought to fill the void left by Kili in a new land. She longed for a new beginning.

She pulled her cloak tighter around her shivering body, suddenly aware of the unnatural darkness which had stolen over the ship. Her hood still covered her face as she searched the decks, now crowded with the elven sailors, scrambling and shouting orders. The deck lurched beneath her feet and Tauriel grabbed the ship’s railing to steady herself. She could smell the coppery odor of electricity in the air.

She turned to go back to her cabin, but the ship lurched again, nearly causing her to fall to the slippery deck. The crewmen were frantically running and tugging on the ropes, as rain began to pummel the ship in a relentless deluge.

Tauriel’s keen senses were screaming a warning. This was no ordinary storm. She gripped the rail with one hand and reached for the hilt of her sword.

The curtains of rain made it nearly impossible to see. Lightening flashed as Tauriel turned to and fro, trying to find the source of her unease.

A scream rent through the howling wind. A bolt of lightning struck the mast of the ship, igniting the silvery wood and canvas of the sails. In the flickering light of the flames, Tauriel could see large, dark shapes clamoring over the side. Uruk-hai!

Tauriel had only fought these giant half-breed mutants on rare occasions, but she knew them to be fierce. She had never heard of Uruk-Hai attacking an elvish ship before. She drew her sword and began slashing at the closest Uruk, who had seized one of the crew in a crushing grip.

More elves were coming from below decks to join the fray, but Tauriel could see they were being over-run as more and more Uruks continued to board the tossing, heaving ship. There must be a boat of some kind out on the water which the Uruks had used to chase down the elven ship, but Tauriel could see no further than the end of her sword in the near-total darkness.

She spun and slashed but the black bodies kept pouring over the side, as relentless as the raging waters below.

Tauriel dispatched an Uruk with a withering blow to the head, only to be thrown to the deck by the crashing, boiling sea. She fought to gain her feet, but another Uruk was quickly upon her.

Kicking and thrusting, Tauriel managed to fell the Uruk and scrambled upright as the ship was hurled through another crashing wave. She stumbled backward, grabbing the railing with one hand to avoid being swept overboard, but felt an Uruk’s blade slash across her exposed abdomen. She fought back bravely but the Uruk lunged at her, breaking her tenuous grip on the railing and causing them both to plummet into the sea.         

The Uruk clung to Tauriel’s legs, pulling them both further and further under the raging water. She kicked desperately, feeling the heel of her boot connect with the Uruk’s face. She felt its grip on her legs loosen as she continued to lash out in a wild attempt to free herself.

The Uruk clawed at her, but Tauriel kept fighting. Soon, she felt the Uruk’s hand slip down over her boot as she struggled to swim against the frothing ocean.

Salt water burned her eyes. Her sodden clothing and the added weight of the Uruk had pulled Tauriel far below the surface. Her lungs screamed for air, but the dark ocean seemed determined to claim her for its own.

She kicked and pulled as hard as she could, but fear began to close its implacable fingers around her heart. Far above her head, lightening flashed and Tauriel could see the flames consuming the ship through the water that engulfed her. Her head was spinning, but she gathered her courage and made one final, desperate attempt to reach the surface.

When she could hold her breath no longer, when all hope was nearly lost, Tauriel’s face finally broke through the water. She gasped for breath, only to be quickly slammed back down by a huge wave. Again, she fought her way to the surface and again, was hit by another wave.

Tauriel knew she would die out here if she had to keep swimming alone and unaided. When she came up for air a third time, she searched hopelessly for something to keep her afloat. The ship was well beyond her reach, fully enveloped by fire. She could scarcely hear the cracking and popping of the flames over the crash of the waves and thunder. Thick, black smoke blotted out even the flash of the lightening.

Her arms and legs ached, salt water burned the large slash across her stomach from the Uruk’s scimitar, but she forced herself to keep swimming.

Suddenly, something struck her head. Tauriel gasped, taking in a mouthful of sea water. She sputtered and choked, positive she was under attack by another Uruk-hai. She had lost her sword in the churning water, but she still had her dagger in its sheath about her waist.

Tauriel floundered in the water like a gut-hooked carp, but could find no sign of her foe. Was he waiting under the water to ambush her? Instead, she saw a large crate coming directly at her, driven by another huge wave. 

She seized the crate as the wave crashed over her head. Clutching the wooden box with all her might, Tauriel bobbed up and down like a cork. When she found herself in the trough between waves, Tauriel flung her upper body over the crate, trying to balance her weight as well as she could.

A length of rope dangled from the box into the water and Tauriel took a turn of the course twine around both wrists. If she could only hang on to the crate, she might survive the night.




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