1. The Northern Sea
Note:. This vignette is based on my long fic about Númenor: "Full of Wisdom and Perfect in Beauty".. Alissha is an original character mentioned there. She was the eldest niece of Ar-Belzagar, and an unsucessful pretender to the Númenorean Sceptre. After losing the civil war against her cousin Ar-Adunakhôr, she was imprisoned in the Tower of Meneldur.
At the start of my fic, she is alread dead, but the shadow that she projects on later events is so long that I thought she deserved her five minutes of spotlight.
On another news: I have a LJ: http://dracoena.livejournal.com/. There are discussions about this fic going on in it, and I also post the random related vignettes which come to my mind. (both the publishable and the nonpublishable).
The Northern Sea
This is the Empress
whom we compared with the moon
in earlier days
but no radiance brightens
the lonely mountain dwelling.
Every morning, she rises to look at the Sea.
Back when they brought her to this place, she was young and proud like a queen. She sat in the shadows of the lower rooms every day, sewing quietly and giving them nothing but passing glances of disdain. Oh, she heard their gossip, imagined the mocking smiles in their faces. She is waiting for them to come and free her, they said, but she never rose to their provocation.
Only now and then, a dark despair settled in her heart, and she would tear her sewing and throw back her chair. She would pace in circles like a furious beast then, breaking her fingernails against the walls, pressing her mouth against the stone to smother a wailing cry.
She was a queen, a powerful queen... Once upon a time, the Island had shaken under the might of her army, and noblemen had swarmed to kneel at her feet. She had been promised the alliance of faraway Elven kingdoms, the vast power of the Valar.
Now, she is alone. She shouts, and no one hears her call except the walls of an ancient king who liked to watch cold stars. And then she fears, she knows that she was deluded by the shadow of a dream.
They had used her. They all had deserted her: army, noblemen, kinsmen, Elves, Valar, even her sister... no, she did not want to think of her! Never her! Curse her name! They let him bury her alive, abandoned her to her fate.
Deep inside, however, she still hopes that they will arrive one day.
When she was finished with her raging, curling in a corner and watching her hands tremble over her lap in quiet fascination, there was always blood in her mouth. She spat it over the floor, but she could not free herself from the taste for days.
Once, she had the strength to be ashamed of this. She combed her hair, cleaned her face, and forced her hands to take up her torn sewing again and mend it. Sometimes, she even took care of bandaging her fingers, pretending that the needle had prickled them in a moment of distraction.
And she had wanted to take up a sword, the guards laughed.
There were also the nightmares, terrible in their vivid persistence. Those were worse, oh, so much worse. Dreams of a ship that finally comes to take her to a faraway land, but whenever her feet touch the shore it closes upon her, dragging her to a watery grave.
Other times, as she lay on her couch, she was visited by ghosts of children. It was your fault, they said, pointing at her accusingly. Power-hungry monster. Man-woman. We will never be born because of you.
I am not a woman. she said to them, but she did not believe her own words anymore. I am a queen, the rightful holder of the Sceptre. Leave me and begone!
You are nothing. You will never leave this place.
She shuddered. The ship had not come yet.
Now, those struggles have left nothing but chill and silence. Alissha has lost everything, even her pride. Every morning, she rises to look at the sea in search of a sail, white and graceful like the morning star. Her hair has grown dishevelled and grey, her face pale and absorbed, and her former beauty has shrunk to skin and bones.
Only her eyes reflect still a spark of her old fire, fell and distorted, as they watch the horizon for a ship that does not come.