She had been here before. The familiar, overwhelming calm rippled across her skin as the wind danced around the tall towers of the Grey Havens. She loved the smell of the sea that blew through the glistening harbor. She loved the way the sun beamed through the clouds onto the white sails of ships waiting patiently at the docks. Every time she had ridden down this road she wished she could sit in blissful silence, simply listening to the sound of the gulls, the billowing of the sails, and the sea air swirling around her. Looking past her kin riding before her she could see a ship exiting the harbor, cutting through the waves with ease and eagerness.
At the head of their procession rode her father, Istuion. He rode tall and stern, leading the march of family and friends down to the ships. He held his head proudly . . . yes, he was always proud. Istuion thought himself an example of their kin before them. Old and haughty, he had been indifferent towards the race of men since the fall of Numenor. He had remained in Lindon during the battles of the Last Alliance, and had spurned her, his youngest, for seeing hope in the world. Well, that and because she had become everything he didn’t want, thanks to her two elder brothers. She did not hate him for all his unkindness to her. He had seen dark things that would have driven any other elf over the sea ages ago.
But now her eldest brother was gone, perished at the battle of Fornost. And now her family sailed to the west to join him.
Beside Istuion rode her mother, Nostariel who, though as old as her husband, did not harbor ill towards any of Iluvitar’s children, and was a light wherever she went. Behind her trailed her now-widowed sister-in-law Talathiel — a plain, graceful elf maiden. Following them came several dozen other Elves who had lived under her fathers protection since the death of Celebrimbor. Finally, taking up the rear behind the lindar, and clad in leather elven armour that looked a stark contrast to the flowing robes of the others, she rode with her brother Milloth beside her.
Others of their kin were waiting to take the horses as all but the two last riders dismounted and moved towards the boats. Istuion paused and turned to look at his last children. There was no sorrow nor warmth in his eyes as he met their gazes. After a minute the towering Elf turned and crossed the gangplank to take his final voyage.
“Artistuion,” their mother said softly, coming up beside her horse.
She turned to look down into her mother’s soft blue eyes. “Naneth,” her voice caught as she took her mother’s raised hand.
“Will you not come with us, child? You are certain that this is what you want?” Nostariel searched her daughter’s bright, forest-green eyes.
“Aye, naneth. I will remain here. We are needed.” She squeezed her mothers hand reassuringly. “Do not fear for me. Milloth will keep me on the right path.” Her eyes darted over to her brother who smiled softly, nodding his head in agreement.
Nostariel reached up, cupping Artistuion’s soft face in her hands. “Tinu, my sweet girl, my little lion. You need your amliesse before I depart.” Artistuion closed her eyes, imprinting the warmth of her mother’s hands into her memory. She willed her expression to remain as it was, yet her true emotions overflowed from her glistening emeyes as she opened them.
“Eruraviel,” her mother said softly, the name flowing richly off her lips. “Yes,” Nostariel says with a smile, pulling her daughters face down to kiss her forehead one last time. “My lioness. Eruraviel suits you, tinu.” The woman stepped around her daughter’s horse to embrace Milloth. “Take care of each other.”
And then she was gone. The boards were pulled back and the ships unfurled their wings to begin their passage into the west. Along with her brother, she raised her right hand in farewell to the vessels, watching in silence till the last one disappeared into the sunlight.
“Come, Eruraviel,” Milloth beckoned with a smile as he turned his black steed around to face the way they had came. “Eriador awaits us.”