Great stuff chaps - I kept meaning to post reaction in here before now but something always seemed to be happening or about to and I never got to it before now
To make up for it here's a short story I did as some 'spin-off' fanfic when I hadn't done any creative writing for far too long. It's Middle Earth universe based but v. little to do with LotR except to tie in with my RP character's background as her daddy is the central character... The Sea Horse*The bard sits herself down near the hearth and begins to spin her tale to the others at the Inn*
Northwards of Dol Amroth is a broad, long strand of golden sand that stretches over its south-facing shoreline many, many miles into the deep blue Western Ocean. The people call it Longstrand in the Westron tongue – in Sindarin it is Anfalas. The climate is mild there and, in the summer months so warm and sunny that many from the city and castle take to fishing for the great shoals of sea trout that return to spawn in the River Ringló. Some people stay in wooden huts of varying comfort in the hills above the strand for weeks on end, as life is so pleasant and others follow the sea trout upstream to harvest their roe, which is a great delicacy once it is smoked and fetches a high price in the markets of Dol Amroth.
In my story, there were two youths, not quite men yet, and their names were Erl and Imrahil. They were cousins and both bold, adventurous boys of the most noble birth, with the dark hair and sea-grey eyes of the high-born folk of Westernesse. When they were very young they had both been taught how to sail the small sleek gliders – a slim boat around ten feet long with a high rib from stem to stern, a tall single mast and large triangular sail which was weighted with a span of wood called a boom that spun around the mast depending on the direction of the wind.
On this day, Erl and Imrahil, decided to go sailing in their glider, The Princess
, taking care not go too far out to sea as the currents there could be treacherous. At first all was well and the wind took them scudding across the waves faster than a gull can fly. They did not intend to stray too far from the shoreline, but after they had been out for an hour, what seemed to be a light mist surrounded them. For a while they could still see the shore, so all they had to do was hold the course they were taking. So, when the mist got thicker and the beach gradually disappeared, they held their tiller steady, still unafraid until suddenly they were aware that their craft was travelling much faster.
Try as they might they could not turn the little boat to the starboard to hug the coast. The current held them for several minutes longer, but then, as suddenly as it had begun, it released them into clear sunshine once more and their small vessel slowed. Looking around them, the lads saw to their relief that they were in a beautiful sheltered bay they had never seen before. Realising they had come much further then they had intended, they decided they would head in towards the shore and then follow the coastline back to their summer home.
As they turned shorewards they saw some horkas* leaping in and out of the water not far from their boat. They smiled at each other as these small blue-grey dolphins were thought to be lucky creatures. The wind was getting strong again, and, as they did not want to be blown back into the current again they decided to take the sail down. Regrettably Erl, who had not often seen horkas, and could not resist looking at their agile jumps, did not concentrate enough on the task in hand. A strong gust suddenly snatched the sail and boom, which Imrahil was trying to tie down, and swung it sharply in Erl's direction. He had turned away again and did not realise his peril, despite Imrahil's loud cry of dismay, as the boom hit him squarely in the shoulder and sent him flying through the air and into deep water.
He fell with a great shout and splash. There was a strong undertow and he was dragged irresistibly underwater back out towards the main current. Had the blow been to his head there is little doubt that he would have drowned. As it was, he was fighting for air as he finally surfaced almost back where they had arrived, far from The Princess
and still being pulled away out to sea. Erl was a good swimmer and struck out for the little boat, but his shoulder ached horribly and the current was far too strong for him.
He could see but not hear Imrahil, yelling at him, ashen-faced, and desperately trying to reset the sail to follow him. Seawater was filling his nose and mouth and he was pulled underwater once more. He could hear a hollow clanging sound and suddenly felt something swim between his legs. Instinctively he tried to grasp hold of the object, which he suddenly realised was a horka's head and beak. The creature, supple and smooth as wet leather to the touch, seemed to understand his distress, and positioning itself beside him, nudged him none too gently until he took hold of its high dorsal fin. The animal immediately surged off in the direction of The Princess
, Erl clinging frantically to the rigid fin. It took him a while to realise how powerful the fish was. It almost felt like he was riding a horse as the horka flexed itself in an up and down rhythm through the waves and through the hazy pain he gradually realised the creature had actually pulled him out of the current and was taking him back towards The Princess
As the little dolphin, barely as long as Erl was tall, neared the small boat it began to slow. Imrahil, seeing what had happened, had stopped struggling with the sail and was reaching out toward him. The horka's beaky mouth was almost touching the hull of The Princess
as Imrahil, leaning over, grasped Erl's lower arm with both hands. Erl almost reluctantly let go of the slick, warm fin and clasped one of Imrahil's arms firmly as the little creature rose beneath him, boosting him out of the water.
"He's smart!" Erl shouted, teeth chattering, as Imrahil hauled him into the boat.
"Just as well he is!" Imrahil yelled angrily back at him. "Why didn't you watch what you were doing!" then he clutched Erl to him fiercely and burst into tears. "I thought you would drown." he sobbed.
They were both crying with relief now. The horka was chittering at them, head bobbing a few yards away from the prow now, it's long beaky mouth almost smiling at them. They both turned and watched laughing, as the horka made one huge leap into the air, twisting away from them as it hit the water and swam furiously back to it's family, who were still playing their leaping games off in the distance.
"That fish just saved your life!" Imrahil's voice was filled with wonder.
"It let me ride on its back!" Erl spluttered, shivering violently. "It's not a fish! It's a sea horse!"*The horka is my own made up term for the local name of a harbour porpoise, which of course is a mammal, not a fish.