Of Tuor by Shir ann

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"The night passed, and the brooding silence lay again upon the empty lands. Weary and spent Tuor slept beneath Ulmo's cloak; but Voronwë crept forth and stood like a stone silent, unmoving, piercing the shadows with his Elvish eyes."

White and cold shone the stars that night, illuminating the grey and dull stones that littered the wayside, ragged remnants of ancient mountains that once stood in that very place yet now were long in the past. The wind was chill, and sang between the largest of the rocks with a sound like a spirit wailing in much grief, and it was an unwelcome noise and piercing to the ears of the one who stood motionless near the thicket of brambles and heath out of which a large boulder raised its head.

Small tufts of dry grass that littered the path in patches were plucked about and strewn loosely by the gust, and small stones and grains of sand were picked up and tossed with the resonance of many drops of pattering rain against the roughness of the rocks.

Black clouds passed over the stars in tufts of sudden veiling darkness, and shrouded the light of the moon and cast long shadows by the ripping current. Darkly rolled the faraway thunder, yet it was distant and came infrequently and no threat of rainfall cowed the land here.

Coldly the wind hissed around Voronwë's ankles as he stayed silent guard against the stealth of the night, quiet and unmoving as the very boulder by which he stood, save for the quick and rapid movement of his sea-grey eyes as they flickered to and fro, searching perpetually for any sign of stirring in the dark.

The white moon shone full upon his hair, and as the breeze lifted and played with the strands they seemed paler than the gold they resembled by day; made of the light of stars to give the impression that each lock was forged of silver and pearl. Grey and green was his raiment, made to hide him well if danger did not forbear, but so pale was his skin that it reflected the moon, and glowed in the blackness of the night.

So still he stood that one might pass him by and not notice the tall Elf in his wary stance, and he seemed even to be asleep or in trance, yet his every sense was alert and sensing for any mark of their pursuit of Orcs.

The boulder offered such a lair underneath its lee as a hunted beast might seek, looking for to escape chase, yet still Voronwë's heart bore some measure of unease at their openness.

And yet, his gaze was not unendingly trained upon the low path underneath their way; his sharp eyes flickered momentarily back to the high rock underneath which Tuor still slept in peace beneath Ulmo's cloak. Yet only fleeting was his glance before resolute he turned it relentlessly back upon the road below.

In the distance upon the far hill and at intervals upon the road itself there still burned the watchfires of the Orcs, and if the breeze blew favourably towards him he might still hear the harsh calls in their tongue, sign that they nonetheless followed though their prey was long lost to their hunt.

For Orcs the Elf watched, but his mind was not entirely on Orcs. Countless emotions drew across his face with his heart's speech, and yet none were there to bear witness as for hours he merely stood and thought, and sang softly to himself a song of the sea-lands which he so missed.

The wind picked up harsh again, and quietly with a sigh Voronwë drew his grey cloak tighter about him to ward off the cold. The night drew on long as he stood thus, unmoving, taught through countless years into such patience and not to tire.

A shifting from under the rock drew his gaze to Tuor's resting place, alarmed, but the mortal had merely turned in his sleep, peaceful. The Elf's face saddened as he looked into the darkness underneath the stone; still no move did he make, yet only stood thus staring at the sleeping form of Huor's son.

Dawn hastened upon them finally, though the fires of the Orcs yet burned, and one by one the silver stars disappeared from the deep blue night and a grey glow appeared above the rim of the horizon.

As the time for watchfulness passed and the time for wakefulness and further travel drew nigh, the wind also stilled and was gone laid to rest quietly, as if by fair chance it had arisen so its song might keep the Elf company during the long night. The soft boots of Voronwë made no sound as finally they were shifted from their long-stilled position to walk slowly over the gravelled path, and the rustling of his clothes as he bent down and crept into the hole Tuor yet slept in was but minor disturbance in the calm air.

The man lay warmly covered by the sea-god's cloak, its grey hue seeming to shimmer into water-shades of green and blue as the light changed so that it gave the impression of many scales of fish sewn together by skilled hands. His head lay pillowed upon an outthrust arm, and the expression on his face was of such peace and youth that Voronwë had not the will to continue on, but stayed rather bent as he was and frozen to his place, his gaze unmovable from the face of Huor's son as he noticed, not for the first time, the mortal's beauty.

The ground was grainy and rough beneath his hands, and crouched ungraceful he was forced upon his knees, yet the Elf did not shift from his position; the red light of the first rays of dawn poured into the hole, illuminating the man's hair as spun gold, and still Voronwë did not move and only looked upon Tuor with emotion unreadable reflected in his eyes.

The first song of the earliest bird of dawn trilled through the air, the merry sound of heralded day, and the scents of night-blooming flowers slowly faded and changed into the smell of dry grass and broken near-winter leaves, trodden into the ground by creatures of the wild. The light glowed red and orange upon the scattered clouds in the sky, and the rising sun cast long shadows upon the faces of Voronwë and Tuor underneath the lee of the stone where it had yet to reach.

Slowly then, by much force of will and with less sound than the loved harps of his people with only the breeze to draw their strings would make, Voronwë did lean forward and, placing a hand gently upon the shoulder of Tuor and still hesitating as if by great thought of uncertainty, finally quickly press his lips to the mortal's.

Soft they were, like velvet, and unmoving and slack in sleep, and yet for long moments did the Elf remain so, his eyes pushed tightly closed and his mouth moving gently against the other's, and his touch was featherlight and so soft that Tuor did not wake from it.

And when the moment had passed and the time had truly come for them to depart from this place, Voronwë leaned away and wiping a tear from his face laid hands upon Tuor, and his eyes were sad and grave.

"Thee I cannot have," he whispered, beyond the hearing of mortal ears, looking into the man's countenance, "and knowing this it has been overmuch burden to ask of me to lay against thee so tightly for another night. But we near our journey's end, and perhaps then my heart can have rest from seeking that which it cannot possess,"

Then pressing gently at Tuor's arm and shaking lightly, he said aloud: "Wake, Tuor son of Huor, and arise, for dawn is near; the skies are open now and we must depart,"

"...and he creeping out saw that the weather had indeed for a time relented, and the black clouds were rolled aside. There was a red dawn, and he could see far before him the tops of strange mountains glinting against the eastern fire. Then Voronwë said in a low voice: 'Alae! Ered en Echoriath, ered e·mbar nín!' For he knew that he looked on the Encircling Mountains and the walls of the realm of Turgon. "

(Directly quoted from Unfinished Tales, ch.1, 'Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin')
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