This looks like a wonderful place. What a brilliant idea! I, uh, guess I might as well start off, eh?
A/N: Argh! Rabid Silmbunnies! This one was born out of a single sentence in Unfinished Tales about Tuor’s foster-father: “…one Annael, who alone of all who went to war from that people had returned from the Nirnaeth…” Thank you to Claudia, for the beta.
Disclaimer: The world belongs to Tolkien, the words alone are mine.
He can still taste blood. He is not sure if it is his, or that of someone else, or indeed, of something else. He was not bred a warrior, and he does not know – has never needed to know – how to tell the difference, although some among the Noldor he heard boasting of how they could smell a wounded Orc by the blood, from a league, nay, from two leagues away.
None of that particularly matters now, because all those Noldor are probably dead, and because there is no water with which to ease his parched throat, nor to wash the taste of battle from his tongue.
Faelion died yesterday; died screaming with the Orc-poison in his veins because Annael had neither the strength in his limbs nor in his heart to ease his passage to Mandos. He covered the body with rocks as best he could; murmured as many prayers as he could remember; rested a while in the dust. The pain in his left leg is getting harder to bear – the rest, it seems, has only made it worse when he comes to move again.
Stumbling onwards, he sees the mountains loom ahead, seemingly no closer than they were yesterday, or the day before. But they must be closer; there is no room in his mind for any other thought, and he is driven ever onwards, closer to home.
He imagines he can still taste the blood, though he has drunk what has seemed like a river of water since he crawled, a pitiful figure, into his home. No other has returned, they say, and greet him as a hero. A hero! They look for a leader in a coward – no, perhaps not a coward, for his brother had told him, had ordered him to flee, to take Faelion and go! For the love of Yavanna, go! – but he does not feel like a hero, nor a leader.
The ache in his leg is still there. Like the blood-taste in his mouth, he suspects it will be with him all of his life. It is with numb fingers that he braids back his dark hair; smoothes his tunic down, tracing the scars that lie underneath the cloth, unseen.
The mortal is wild-eyed, tearful, fearful, and the truth tastes bitter on his tongue, bitterer than the blood taste, even, and who would have known that a daughter of the second-born, so short-lived even in times of peace, would have been made so distraught by news of death? Certainly not Annael, and he wonders if this is further proof that he is no leader.
Then she is gone, and the son of Huor is left to him. Annael is no leader, and he knows this, but in the eyes of this child he sees strength, and his own redemption. He made a promise to her, and that promise he will keep. Tuor will be his gift to the world; shall be warrior, leader, legend – shall be everything that he could not.
And when they sing songs of Tuor, long from now, they shall not remember Annael.
*runs off to pimp this community*