Small fires lay scattered across the frosty landscape and elves huddled close to the sources of heat and light. The smoke hung heavy, blocking out the light of what few stars could penetrate the shroud of darkness that had been brought down over Valinor. The Repenters had turned back some hours earlier, their path lit by nothing save the blue sheen of the lanterns, making them seem like a company of ghosts. In the bay the waters had calmed and quieted and now whispered against the frozen shores where the few Swanships lay berthed, tall and dark in the faint light.
Findekano wrapped the cloak tighter around himself, leaning his head against his knees. The world had changed. The death of the trees had been the beginning and suddenly their lives had swirled out of control. Darkness had not brought about rekindling or unity; it had brought grief and fear, waking long buried resentments and paranoia. He suspected madness fed of the continuing night. Alqualonde had just been the latest example.
His uncle and cousins still moved along the shoreline, their voices hushed as they packed the ships. The supplies would be carried on the first journey together with the entire royal houses. His father and Feanaro had argued long, trying to decide who would sail first and second. The horses had already been loaded, save a few left behind for lack of room.
Findekano sighed and stood, rolling his shoulders. Turukano sat with Itarille in his lap and Elenwe leaning against him, asleep. Long fingers played with her golden hair as Turukano stared into the fire, lost in thought. Irisse and Arakano slept as well, curled together for warmth. The chill made his shoulders ache. He went over to his father, standing tall and quiet at the edge of the firelight - keeping a watchful eye over the people that had followed him and his brother so far already.
Nolofinwe gave him a weary smile and brushed his shoulder lightly before returning to the fire to rest. It was strange how all save Feanaro and his sonís moved in silence, as if all words had left with Arafinwe and the Repenters.
Soft footsteps crunched against the frozen ground and soon a small hand was tugging on the edge of his robe. "Uncle Findekano, I am cold!"
He looked down with a pale smile. Itarille had been the joy of his life since the day she was born. The golden hair was matted and tangled and her small face too pale and serious for one so small. Her soft silk shoes peeked out from under the hem of the dress, stained and worn. He bent down and lifted her up, wrapping his cloak around both of them. The comforting weight of her head on his shoulder and the thin arms wrapped around his neck was soothing and suddenly reminded him how very tired he was feeling. Rubbing her back he took her back to the fire and curled up, shielding her against the cold with his body.
"Sleep pitya," he murmured, "I will keep you warm now."
He dozed off, exhausted by the walking and fighting and grief that had been constant companions since they left Tirion. Sleep came with haunted dreams, nightmares of shadow and flame, of treachery and coldness and blood.
The encampment was still quiet when he woke and the fire still burnt as strongly. He suspected he had slept no more than a few hours with it was impossible to tell the passing of time in the darkness. The dreams had left him restless and uneasy. Carefully he stood, lifting Itarille to rest her against his shoulder without waking her.
The soft lull of the water against the rocks lured him and he walked down to the now silent shores. The ships that had lain berthed in the bay were gone, the sea a vast mirror of in the darkness. Unease grew as he stared into the never-ending night.
Behind him Irisse and Arakano mumbled, pushing each other as they followed him to the edge of the water.
"Were you dreaming again?" Irisseís voice sounded sharp in the silence.
He stared towards a horizon he could not see and nodded quietly. Dreams had tormented him since he was a child and his brothers and sister all knew how sleep sometime evaded him.
"What about this time?" Arakano sounded young, sleepy.
"Treachery," Findekano answered at the same time as a red light flickered in the distance and grew strong.