(A Drabble pair that bookends '...And A Star To Steer Her By')
Character: Captain Thorongil
Source: Pre-Ring War
Disclaimer: Tolkien’s world is Middle-earth and all who dwell therein.
Notes: The titles of this and the previous drabble come from John Masefield’s Sea Fever
The fire-fly fleet that set out months before was smaller now. Running before a Southerly, Captain Thorongil stood, his back against the prow, facing windward – it smelt of heat and quenched iron. He nursed his splinted shield-arm in his cloak’s folds, disdaining an obvious sling to ease it – the campaign, after all, was victorious; his men must see and believe in triumph, above lose.
The Corsairs had not expected a land attack, their defences looked seawards. The march and scaling the cliffs was hard, but now the Havens of Umbar stank under a pall of smoking ships and ruined quays.
This helmsman was new; the trusting sailor who’d once offered him the ship’s wheel dead, his final desperate wish, the Captain’s kiss of grace to a mortally injured man...
Bone-weary, Thorongil turned forward; abruptly the wind changed too.
A Northerly, redolent of wood and river-water, blew fresh from Lebennin. He breathed deeply, drawing in remembrance of journeys made and times past like a starving man. He was sick of bodies, bellies and bile, he longed for solitude, green vales, tall trees... and mountains. Enough... He would go north again... Home.
Captain Thorongil undid the catch... and hid away his star.