“You certainly look the part, daughter,” mother said, snapping a leather tome shut and setting it on the towering pile of books beside her bed. “I do love that gown on you.”
“I know, that’s why I wore it.” Luimëníssë smoothed out her blood red skirts.
Her mother peered over with a critical eye as her handmaidens helped her into a dress of deep purple. A silver belt was hung over her hips.
“So compliant today... is there a reason?”
Luimëníssë fidgeted behind her back, but kept her confident smile. If she played the part of the noble daughter well enough, her mother might overlook her shock and derision when she won the honor of most perfect pearl.
“I would only like to see things to run as smoothly as possible for you and father with our guests.”
She strolled towards the immense study table and flipped through a few sheets of vellum. Her mother, Nanwë , had been a pupil of the famed scholar Rúmil, the creator of the Sarati, the first alphabet of the Eldar. She was still counted among the Loremasters. Becoming the grand lady of the Teleri and even motherhood had never kept her from her passion for learning.
“I always hoped you would one day pick it up, the study of lore.” Nanwë sat at her vanity. She draped her floor length black hair over the back of the chair.
“But you hate to read.”
Luimëníssë shrugged. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be, it’s good to know your own mind, your own tastes.” Nanwë’s light eyes flickered up in the reflection of the mirror. “Though I do wish you’d keep your pursuits closer to home. Pearl diving at dawn isn’t exactly a wise use of your time.”
“Who told?” she groaned.
“No one. I saw you sneaking through the rose garden. Don’t you know I do my morning reading there?”
One of the handmaids giggled. Luimëníssë shot her a glare and the elleth only lifted her chin in defiance. “I’ll keep that in mind for next time.”
“You may go,” mother curtly told her attendants with an authoritative wave of her white hand. The ellith passed a look between them before exiting the echoing bed chamber. “Luimëníssë. Come here.”
Cringing, she inched towards the vanity. The roar of the ocean was muted in that corner of the mansion. Her mother’s rooms overlooked the gardens rather than the sea. Nanwë had never warmed to the steady beat of the tides in her many years in Alqualondë.
Her mother took her hand as she stood over her. Nanwë’s normally placid expression was marred by concern, her dark red mouth pulled tight and eyes wide. It made Luimëníssë pause.
“Do you know why I give you such harsh boundaries?” She sighed. “You must think me a tyrant.”
Luimëníssë shrugged. “No, but I do wish you’d allow me more freedom. I’m not like you, mother. I’m not content at home with books and parchment. Ulmo help me, I enjoy things that frighten and thrill me.” She tried to laugh, but her mother didn’t join in.
“You know the prophetic vision I was given when you were born?”
She had heard this tale often. “Of course. You saw a high tide.”
“Not just a high tide. A deluge, a wall of water with you standing against it.”
Mother stood as her voice cracked, wringing her hands at her middle. Luimëníssë was struck dumb. Her grave mother was the soul of discipline, she rarely wept.
“The same as your brother, thus his name Náretarnon so he will never forget the flames I saw at his birth. And of course, he became a smith. Your father insisted we allow him to study the craft, but I pray constantly for his safety.”
“But mother, perhaps my fate lies in the ocean as his does with fire. Not as an ill omen, but a prophecy as to where we are gifted. Maybe I should become a shipwright.” She came alongside her mother and took her hand. Nanwë’s flesh was ice cold. It made her shudder as did the emptiness in her eyes.
“What’s wrong, mother? Something troubles you.”
Nanwë squared her shoulders. “You are right, perhaps I am only acting out of motherly fear. I have a secret to tell you that you must keep from your father for now.”
Luimëníssë snorted, hearing the words her atar had told her not two hours earlier. “Of course.”
“I am with child.”
Luimëníssë gaped at her mother. “How wonderful! I had always hoped you would have another!”
Nanwë’s lips curled up though her chin trembled. “Yes. It is. But I dread what I shall see for this baby. I know I should be logical. But these visions, the flood and the fire, they have haunted me...”
Clearing her throat, she walked to the door and called for the handmaids to finish their work. The last moment they were alone, Nanwë turned to her daughter, a tragic twist to her lovely mouth.
“Perhaps someday when you have a child, you will understand. But I pray you have not inherited the sight from me. I would do anything to save you from that fate."