The ocean was still in the midst of the night, all except for the gentle lullaby of the waves, and the lone footsteps of the figure. Silver rays pierced the dark blue expanse of the unknown, and the sea went on endlessly to the horizon. The loner had wanted to walk on the seaside dunes just by himself, without any disruption, not even a disruption of a close friend. How he had longed for the sea! – The gulls were silent, but he could hear their song upon the breeze.
The salty wind exhilarated him, for his sharp senses took it in every moment. The wind spoke of things beyond where he stood, for it had traveled endlessly from the beginning of time itself, when Iluvatar had created the oceans and the earth. The wind was ageless, and timeless; it was a part of eternity itself yet it was not a part of it.
The ocean was also ageless and timeless. It spoke of mysteries of the deep, the things that one would never know hence adding to the beauty of its presence. It spoke of elusive secrets, of forgotten tales that only it could remember. It spoke of the past, the present, and the future. Past seemed to embedded in it, while it only seemed to care for the present and future lay beneath it. And so the loner loved the ocean. The forests had spoken of life, as well, but the ocean was wholly a different thing, a different world. Thus he was taking his first step into the thing he had longed for, the thing he had never known, and would never know.
The white waves crashed on the rocks, and the colours! – All the shades of blue, violet, and silver mixed within, green and grey as well. They were more beautiful than any gem or jewel, perhaps because they were alive and – somehow – breathing.
He stood transfixed upon the sand – which shone silver in the moonlight and starlight – and he listened to what the ocean had to say to him. He could not catch every word clearly, like the stars, but he vaguely had a meaning. What the ocean said to him, none ever knew save the Elf and the ocean themselves.
He did not see the child until it appeared from the waves. He was not surprised for some reason, however. He had never seen a being like this before, and it was also ageless and timeless.
The child was a child of the sea. Its endless blue eyes seemed to shine out with depth and life, as the ocean itself, yet they were not wholly clear, like the fog on the seaside. The child’s hair was a rippling silvery-blue, as if the waves of the ocean had stroked its head and the moonlight danced on it.
The child seemed nearly transparent and not so, it seemed solid and not so. It was clothed only in seaweed and things washed up on the shore. The child was not pure, but he had blemishes and scars here and there, old deep ones that could not be erased. There was no outright expression on its face, but if it could be described it would have been said pensive. The child seemed so young and so old at the same time, and it was neither a male nor a female. It scrutinized – it seemed – the other figure on the seaside carefully.
As for the other figure he was also listening, also scrutinizing the child. Some deep echo came from within, and while the child did not speak, the echo did. It seemed to beckon the Elf over, over to where it was standing by the waves. The figure followed, and he was not afraid and yet afraid. This was a child of the ocean, the child of the sea.
It seemed a dream, and if he was never to awake from it, so be it. His body seemed not of the earth but rather of what dreams were made of, and he did not seemed to control it, nor any other being. Of its own accord it followed the child. The child was gently, graciously, walking into the soothing waves with its long legs, and at a certain place its head disappeared among the waves.
The waves intensified in their strength once more, and the Elf could only do all his worth to follow the child. He must follow the child.
Strange. It seemed that he could breathe here, under. Yet then, why not?
It was silent and calm under the waves, and there was no sound. Silver reflections danced among the blue expanse, and his movements were free in the water. No living thing appeared just yet. The Elf combed his long fingers through the water, testing all his movements as if he was a babe: curious and exhilarated. He, for a moment, forgot that he was to follow the child, until it showed itself, flickering and urging him to follow. And so he followed.
What must have been a few leagues into the ocean – taking no more than a few seconds, it seemed – the first fish appeared. It was silver on its stomach and iron on its back, and it danced among the colourful, plant-like things growing there. As they went on further the underwater forest seemed to grow and expand, and more exotic fish danced among the branches and the flowers. The Elf laughed in delight, and he, too, swam among the fish. The child, with a faint smile, followed him. The foremost part of the sea, her beauty.
Then they moved on. Deeper and deeper! New creatures showed themselves, first shyly. Grey, large fish with fins and a pointed snout were the first of them, clicking and chattering gaily among themselves. The child stroked a particular one’s back. The Elf, fascinated, watched until the beasts pulled him in the play. Yet they, too, in time, left. For there were more urgent things at hand to see and feel. The playful part of the sea, her joy.
It became darker and darker, yet both could still see. The child swam on fearlessly, for it was a child of the sea. Yet the Elf was afraid. What loomed in the darkness beyond? But he was following the child. So he went on.
There was nothing to be afraid of. For some time it was eerily silent, and then the first animals showed themselves silently. Strange fish glanced around here and there, some with living light on them. Many seemed blind, but they seemed not lost. The Elf thought them strange, but no stranger than some of the beasts of the earth. Many animals were transparent – and of course, blind. Their unseeing eyes stared at the Elf, acknowledged the child. The blind part of the sea, her eyes.
The ocean, for this part, was dead and unloving. No living thing danced here, breathed here. Skeletons of what had been forests rocked themselves gently in the current. Nothing seemed to live here, yet there was an untold beauty in the death. The child swum on freely, with no fear of the death around it. The dead part of the sea, her past.
They came to a great ruin underwater. The child hung back warily, as if it was forbidden to enter. The Elf went on. The moon scarcely went down to the ruins, yet beams of light revealed mysteries here.
It must have been a city, and its once white and complete walls and statues were getting covered with mosses. The air was silent and heavy. It must have been a city of fantasy and beauty, of magnificence and a history worth knowing. Strange runes were carved here and there, and the Elf could read some but most were locked to him. They were more ancient than him, more ancient than his forest home.
One statue showed a warrior, his sword raised, yet he was a man of justice, it seemed. Noble were his features, and it reminded the Elf of a companion that he knew of, now dead. He guessed what this city was – or had been. Numenor? The great ruin of Numenor, between Arda and Valinor?
The child let him linger for some moments. The lost part of the sea, her city.
It is time to go up, go back.
The figure did not want to. There were so many secrets undiscovered in the ocean, secrets that he would never know.
You would not know all of them even if you were to spend your immortal years here. Even I have unexplored depths, yet to be discovered. Come now, child. The echo within the child spoke. It was the ocean speaking through her child, yet it was also the child talking.
The Elf resisted for some minutes, then nodded.
They went up, up to the sky, to the moon and the stars. The Elf found himself back on the beach, not a hair wet. How could this be? Had it been a dream? The child was not there.
The Elf turned to go back. It was nearing dawn. Yet something told him to stay back, just for a while longer.
Then he saw: a great fish. Silver and blue was it, and it was immense. It rose up from the depths of the sea, and crashed like a wave, spraying water into the night sky. It came close to the Elf, who watched unmoving, yet it hesitated if it was forbidden from entering the boundary between sea and earth. Its eye watched the Elf.
It dark blue eye was known to the Elf: clear and unclear. It is the child.
The hidden part of the sea, her secret. The shared part of the sea, her child. The whale-child sank under the waves once more, disappearing from the Elf’s view. Would he see that sight once more? From far away there came a low song as low as the depths of the sea and as high as the stars. The Elf heard the whale-child go into the heart of the ocean, but for a scarce moment it came back up again, and gazed at him.
And what did the child mean? The shared part of the sea, her child. Did that mean that something of the child remained in him? The child of the ocean. Perhaps he also was a child of the ocean and the earth.
Perhaps. For the last time the child spoke.
Like a silvery whisper on the wings of a breeze, the child was gone. All that remained was a song that was already forgotten and lost.
A blue expanse a-sundering,
A child weeps a silver tear,
Of the deep discovering,
For in the dark chasms of the skies,
There is a lone star wandering.