Bitter. It was the only word that could accurately describe everything and nothing at that moment: the cold that had seeped into her bones, the feeling welling in the pit of her stomach, the taste left in her mouth with every little thing she tried to consume. Was it bitterness, though, that feeling settling into the pit of her? She decided yes, yes it was. Nessavendë knew where the bitterness was rightly directed, as well: Fëanor and his brood, for forcing their hand in the crossing of the Helcaraxë. Bitterness soon turned to anger, though, if she dwelt on such thoughts for too long, and anger was quick to blind eyes and bring about death in such treacherous conditions. They had already lost many to the cold and moving ice, and others suffered from injuries that the healers could not fully focus their efforts upon.
Such was the lot of those who wandered the ice: suffering.
She could not let the burden of bitterness and anger weigh down her thoughts, though. Giving up was not an option. Not now. They had to go on, and they were, except for this moment. The group had stopped, an effort to count those still among them being put forth by their fearless leaders. The healer, wrapped in the mismatched furs they had harvested and sewn together before their trek, adjusted the pack she carried and tugged the hood of her furs up closer about her face. Just those few moments of freeing her hands from the warmth--if you could call it that--of the furs caused her fingers to turn red. Of course her face was an entirely different matter: it was hard to tell where her freckles began and ended on her cheeks anymore. She had bound her hair up about her head, attempting to cover her ears with it as well for added protection. Nothing could really keep the cold out, though.
Someone nearby mentioned passing out the lembas once more, to give strength since they had stopped. Volunteering, Nessavendë took the proffered food and moved about those mingling, trying to keep the warmth flowing in their veins. Milling about the others kept her warm as well, or as warm as the bitter cold would allow. She stopped as she came upon a young nis, a horse with the elf. Eyeing the creature momentarily--it was remarkable that it had lasted so long, she thought--a piece of the lembas was offered to the younger nis, the last piece she had been given.
"Here," she murmured, refusing to speak too loud. Sucking in the cold air caused her lungs to ache as well, so she had resorted to speaking softly or murmuring when talking with the others. It was becoming common place, really, the murmuring or whispering. It seemed the further along they moved along the Helcaraxë, the colder it became. And when the fog was dense, that was when it was the coldest. Thankfully the fog had lifted for the time being.
Everyone seemed miserable, but this particular nis looked even more so. She was young, though, Nessavendë ascertained, and no doubt this was a decision she was regretting at this moment. The redhead could not blame her: there were times where she regretted deciding to go, deciding to refuse the pardon of the Valar and follow after the foolhardy. She wondered what her mother would say if she could see her child now. She recalled her mother's parting words and felt a pang of guilt: "I only hope your spirit is strong, filit." Being strong was the only thing she had left now. "Are you warm?" she asked, the worried tone of the healer coming out in her. So far, she was alone as far as Nessavendë could tell: alone just like the healer and probably just as bitter as she was as well.
Her parents were dead.
The thought, no the reality, sunk in her belly like a rock thrown into a pond. She had not known the nature of such loss before. It had never occurred to her that there could be such a terrible thing as the loss of her parents. The Lights had gone out. They’d left their homes never to return. But, her parents had been alive then even in that darkness. That they could be taken from her too had not once crossed her young mind. They were not just Immortal to her, as all Firstborn, but also Invincible in only the way a child could view their parents. What could possibly harm them, the pillars of her life? The Ice. The Helcaraxe. That could harm them. It could kill them even, and it had killed them. Despite passing of time, their death still did not seem real. Marillel half expected to look behind her to see them walking along with the rest, but they were never there no matter how many times she checked. To keep her heart from breaking further at the heavy disappointment, Marillel tried to keep herself from looking back. Every so often, she forgot, and the hurt flared up like the fires that couldn’t keep them warm.
One foot in front of the other, Marillel trudged with the sullenness of a moody teenage coupled with a despair of freezing starvation. With her brother ahead of her, she let the self-assured front of being ‘fine’ drop. Misery painted her expression, eyes narrowed against the glare of ice and lips curved down in an angry scowl. She hated the ice, hated the cold, and hated their king for leading this suicidal walk. Why her parents followed eluded her even now. Had his pride been worth this slow death? Had her parent’s pride? She tried not to think ill of them. They’d died within the first year, orphaning their young children early on in the Crossing. They could not have known how long their children would starve, would freeze, would walk.
Her youth felt stolen from her. Tears shed for her parents froze upon her cheeks, and the same ice that killed them touched her young heart. She might live through this Crossing, but it would not leave her unchanged. Perhaps not for the better. Someone so young should not be exposed to such torment so early, and it was torment. All this death on the grinding ice, so exposed, so vulnerable…the youth she had been at the start of this journey died within the first year with her parents. She no longer felt young even though her years were few.
Vindësúru , the great blue roan who trudged along her with heavy strides, nuzzled the back of her shoulder. A long hand went to his muzzle, savoring the warmth of his breathe. There’d been talk of eating horses, desperate murmurs amidst the screaming of the frigid winds. Not this one. Marillel would do terrible things to whoever tried, that much she knew for certain. There were two things upon the Ice that she loved and only two: the horse beside her and the ner ahead of her. For them, she would be as unforgiving as the Ice that tested their resolve to live.
”Are you warm?”
Grey-blue eyes, seemingly captured essence of the Helcaraxe within, slid over to address the speaker after having received the lemmas with a murmured thanks. She ate none of it herself, only breaking off a large piece to feed to the dangerously thin stallion. Any naysayers to the practice could freeze for all she cared. It was her portion. She’d do what she wanted with the lembas. The rest she tucked away int the folds of her clothing after taking a careful nibble in case Erestor had refused his portion or been overlooked.
Marillel kept thin lips pressed tightly, her face as emotional as the ice banks. What sort of question was this? Was she warm? Of course, she wasn’t warm. No one was warm. It was impossible to be warm.
Her eyes flickered to her brother’s back, an act to remind herself not to be unkind. She knew the older nis’s question was meant out of compassion, not stupidity. Still, it sounded stupid to her ears. Marillel was fairly certain the tips had near frozen off, maybe frostbite would take them entirely. At last, she looked back to the questioner, a careful mask hiding any sense of judgment that might have been there for the question. Normally, she would have simply walked off or just remained silent, but out of gratuity, Marillel decided to respond. Besides, there was really no where for her to walk off to on the Ice, and this nis seemed the sort to keep talking if greeted with silence.
“I was thinking of taking off a layer, actually,” She replied even toned and blank-faced. However, a ghost of a grin pulled at the left corner of her lip that didn’t quite match the emptiness dominating the rest of her expression.