"Treachery," Findekano answered at the same time as a red light flickered in the distance and grew strong.
Arakano came to stand by him, tiredly looking out across the sea. "You had a nightmare, brother."
Findekano shook his head, his eyes fixed on the distant flickering light, as he slowly stroked Itarille’s hair. She was too young to have witnessed all that had taken place in their time of darkness and now she, and the other children, would suffer another blow to their fading innocence.
Irisse rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and looked around the bay, a small, confused frown appearing on her pale face. "Did they… They took the ships?"
Arakano startled and looked around, blinking, for the first time noticing the silent shore and undisturbed waters. "I thought we were leaving together?"
"We were," Findekano answered.
Irisse swallowed and moved closer, hooking her arm around Findekano’s, seeking comfort the way she had since she was a little girl. "But… why would they leave?"
"Maybe they are trying to find the right path," Arakano’s voice sounded childish, as he tried to cling to hope. "Is path the even right word for whatever ships follow?"
Findekano did not answer. He should have felt neither surprised nor hurt to be deserted but foolishly he felt both. The spiral of despair and madness kept spinning, slowly drowning them. He wondered how long it would be until someone else noticed the fire on the far shore, before anyone realised that they had been forsaken.
Irisse and Arakano had both fallen silent, uneasy by Findekano’s nightmares and silence. Their eyes looked out over the water as well and he wondered if they understood what it was they saw yet.
Behind them the encampment woke as the wind rose, cold and biting as it tore through clothing. Ecthelion saw three of Nolofinwe’s children on the beach, their black hair flying in the wind as they faced the sea. Curiously he wondered what they were looking at and rose to join them. Soft footsteps behind him told him that others were joining him, walking down to the empty beach.
Turukano and Elenwe moved gracefully through the growing crowd by the shore until they reached Findekano, who stood still as a statue, and behind them the crowd parted for Nolofinwe, respectfully making way for their Prince as he came to stand behind his oldest son.
Voices grew, from whispers and sighs to shouts and exclamations as the quendi around Findekano discovered the fires. Confusion, followed by hope and joy. He was not sure who first spoke what so many seemed to think, that the fires burnt to give them hope, that the King - he felt his father tense behind him - and his sons had reached the shore of their forefathers so soon and that the ships would soon return.
Turukano and Elenwe were smiling at each other, their fingers entwining as they watched the light, anticipation shining in their eyes.
Arakano and Irisse stood quiet by Findekano‘s, their faces torn between hope and dread. They suspected what he knew; his dreams had sown doubt in their minds even if they could not yet admit that he had dreamt true.
Nolofinwe stood quiet as well behind his children, his face inscrutable as he listened to those around him, the voices clear and bright. Someone had started singing as they waited for the ships to appear out of the darkness. Nolofinwe’s eyes alone were not on the horizon of another world but on Findekano. Eventually he moved, resting his hand on Findekano’s shoulder. "What do you think?" he asked quietly, calmly. "Where are the ships?"
Findekano turned, meeting his father’s eyes. "They are burning." he said, his voice soft enough to cut through the noise.
Around them silence fell as the elves around them turned to the father and son, their eyes wide in shock at Findekano's words.