He had the strangest feeling that he was floating, watching himself from a long way off. Surely that thing, that shell, couldn't really be him. His present form was so much lighter, so much less tied to the earth.
He would have drifted away, but for the woman.
Her name came unbidden to his lips.
He knew her, knew her in ways he could not precisely remember, knew the feel of her skin under his hand, the warmth of her breath on his ear, knew the sound of her voice calling to him.
She stood far forward on the ship's upper deck, looking out across the moonlit ocean toward the land he had once called home. She looked right at him, as if somehow she sensed his presence lingering near, although he knew by now that no one alive could actually see him.
Her words haunted him, stole a piece of his soul and bound it to her.
"I know Mother says ye are gone in spirit, and this thing is but an empty shell, yet I fear ye are instead trapped within, aware of all around ye and unable to tell me what ye would have me do."
"Twas not so far from the truth.
She reached back, pulling the corpse-like thing's arms about her, tears drenching her thick, dark lashes, making her eyes glisten like wet emeralds in the moonlight. "I miss ye so. Always ye have been here for me, guiding me, protecting me from myself. I do no' understand why ye chose as ye did, to sacrifice thyself rather than trust in my strength, but perhaps I do no' need to understand. I wish I was sure ye would wish to attempt this thing, to bring thy spirit back to the body it has deserted. If I have chosen wrong, and ye want no' the gift of the King should he decide to grant it, my spirit shall surely fly away with yours."
It was so hard to remember life in his mortal body. What had he done to cause this one so much pain? The only thing that felt real was the taste of her skin on his lips as he tried to comfort her. But she could not see him, could not feel his touch.
"I need ye, Élandine. I need ye now more than ever. My heart dies a thousand deaths a day without ye."
Élandine. He had been Élandine.
He had loved her.
That love was the one thing that could not die.
He slid slowly back into the thing that had once been his body, trying it on for size. An uncomfortable fit. Body and soul were not truly united, and it was all he could do to make her feel his presence.
"I love ye," Tranorva whispered, holding him tightly there in the darkness. "Forever and always, my heart."
And because she willed it, he began to remember...