The stars were still veiled when he woke and the campfires still lit up the ever-lasting night. A glance at the time-glass proved that hours had passed while he slept, the cairn having both base and a small tower. The beach was almost empty again, only a few hopefuls still looked out over the black waters. Silence had once again fallen over the waiting elves and the air tasted faintly of bitterness and regret.
Turukano stared into the fire again, his arms wrapped protectively around his small family and Nolofinwe stood some way from the fire, watching the timepiece and the sea.
Low voices came from the neighbouring fire where Arafinwe’s children sat together, whispering between themselves in their mother’s musical, lilting language. Apart from them the camp was quiet.
Findekano sat up silently, losing track of time as he watched stone after stone being added to the cairn. Their dreams were being buried, slowly. It felt almost as if each one of those small pieces of rock were laid over his chest and shoulders, pulling him down, crushing him under their weight.
Nolofinwe’s face was grim and serious as he laid the last stone on top of the others. "Findekano dreamt true," he said heavily. "We have been betrayed. We return home."
"Home?" Aikanaro’s voice was furious. "They left us behind and we reply by returning like kicked pups? I say we follow them and claim what is ours!"
Laurefinde’s voice was quiet, graceful. "What would that win us? We would merely fuel this circle of hatred. Better we return to the home we should never have left."
"Then go home, vanya! Go sit at the feet of your masters like the hounds your kind are like!"
"Silence!" Nolofinwe was close to roaring as he stepped between them. "Insults and attacks agasint our own will accomplish nothing. We have two options, to return or to continue our journey."
Findarato quietly rested a hand on Aikanaro’s shoulder, mumbling in his ear and slowly Aikanaro relaxed.
"I cannot see that we can do anything but return," Turukano added. "We have no ships, nor could we convince the Teleri to aide us anymore and the ice of the north is uncrossable by all save the Valar."
Some of the quendi nodded at Turukano’s words and the group slowly parted, some went to stand behind Turukano and his kinsman, others - including all of Arafinwe’s children - stood behind Aikanaro, in a show of support.
Nerwen’s voice was clear as she looked at Turukano. "Was my uncle right in calling us slaves? Are we so entrapped in the wills of the Valar that we can not make our own decisions? I have my free will and I have strength enough to face what has not been faced before. Perhaps, cousin, you have less will to leave and more of an urge, as usual, to crawl back to safety and avoid the hard choices."
"I argued against leaving in the first place," Turukano said irritably. "I thought the idea foolish then and I still do, even more so now. Choosing comfort and warmth and civilisation does not equal being a slave."
Nolofinwe nodded slightly. "You did object to the original suggestion." He sighed. "Well Findekano, you convinced us then that we should leave. What do you say now, after what we did at Alqualonde and after your dreams of betrayal?"
Findekano stood silent a long time, feeling their eyes upon him. "What makes you think we still have a choice?" He finally asked quietly. "Why do you think we could still return?"
Silence followed his words
"We all heard the words of Mandos. The house of Arafinwe returned then, we did not. We followed the house of Feanaro this far. The Valar created Caracirya for us when we wanted to see the stars, do you not think they could fence the land against us? Is our choice between returning or continuing or is the choice no more than whether to perish here or elsewhere?"
Elenwe was paled as she stared at him, looking trapped and afraid. Laurefinde had lowered his gaze, watching the ground rather than anyone else.
"We could at least try to go home," Turukano’s voice was stubborn.
Findekano looked at him. "I think we all should do what we feel right," he answered quietly. "Go home if that is what your heart is telling you. I am facing the ice."