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Olorin wandered across the sandy floor of the forest Lorien, his feet steadily striding. A bright silver light shown on everything, and brown trunks swayed beneath the green canopy high above. The forest rose gradually, then dipped again as he traversed, his feet stepping through warm streams that flitted across the dry sand in low places. He was searching. Climbing each rise and descending each slope, not knowing what he would see ahead, the forest was always changing, created anew by the thoughts of the Vala that governed it. For this is how healing begins. Newness mixed with old, shrouded in peace, founded in the most ancient. But he knew he would come to it by the time the light dimmed. The clear pool, the sapphire tree, and the house beneath its crystal boughs.
The light had dimmed when he approached the gradual slope of another climb. As he ascended, his eyes met the straight brown roots that held a line of slender trees standing like guardians a top the crest. He reached the top and crossed through the trees. The land planed out before him, and he saw what he sought for. The pool, the tree, the house, with its white spackled walls, brown knotty supports, and steep angled roof. Outside the house, she was waiting. Olorin, keeping his pace, walked to her and she wrapped her arms around him. He bowed his head on her shoulder. “You made it” She said. “Yes… My love.”
She was the key. She was the key that entered his mind and closed the vault of his spirit, so when they were together no cares of Aman or weights of possible futures whispered in the councils of the Valar concerned him. It didn’t matter. He was with her, in the house of Melian.
The next morning as he awoke in Melian’s chamber, a breeze came through the window ruffling the curtains and giving him a glimpse of the tree outside, its crystal bark glinting in the golden light. On the wall wooden pegs were fashioned, and nightingales sat perched upon them, their heads turning to and fro as if they were speaking to one another. Olorin turned his head and saw her. Her eyes were closed in a perfect peace with a slight smile across her slender lips. Her raven hair laid out over white linens that she had covered herself in the night before. His heart expanded from within, and his joy was beyond comprehension. He contemplated to himself, “Has Eru written that I am to feel more love than any of the Ainu? For how could there be more peace than this?” Then Melian opened her eyes and looked at him and smiled “He may have written it for you as a gift, knowing your future cares may lead you to walk like a willow branch bent in the morning dew.” “I will not bend if you are by my side.” He said.
As the golden light grew, Olorin and Melian passed across the clear pool to parts of the forest that remained unchanged. White flowers blossomed out of green moss that bordered ancient paths, and the two Maia were alone. “So great Olorin, What have you learned from your time with the enlightened ones?” “Well,” he said. “I attended the high sessions of the Ring of Doom and have counseled with each of the eternal ones separately. I have perceived part of each of their minds and believe I have gleaned something unintended, and quite unexpected. Through each of them, I have pieced together where it is most likely the Children will awake. Through Ulmo’s life giving waters, Aule’s protective mountains, and Yavanna’s bounty. I at least know where the perfect combination of these elements intertwine. I wish to go there and seek for the Children myself.”
Do you think that wise oh Maia of Nienna?” said Melian. Olorin looked at her “Do I think it wise to follow my heart when the mind protests? I have followed my heart before and it led me to you. I am curious to see where it leads me now. I cannot stay in Lorien forever, I wish to see other parts of Arda, even if they are harsher.”
Melian stirred. “They will be harsher, and you will not be able to enter among the Children as yourself. They will be frightened, you will have to appear as one of them, but there will be an element of yourself present in their form, you cannot hide yourself completely.”
“It will be my hair. The greyness. The grey that represents the mingling of old and new. For I will be born again, though I will not forget my old self” Melian’s eyes pierced him “Remember those words oh Olorin, for I fear you will forget before the end.”
Olorin stood high above the hills of Cuivienen, and looked down. All was silent, but many fires were burning, revealing Olorin’s ghostly form so he might be visible to the keenest eye, if any were around. He listened, and watched. There were many of the first born going about. He saw their imaginations had barely left the wooded hills surrounding the water and the stars above. He wished to speak with them, but remembered Melian’s words. He would transform himself, enter among the first born, and learn about them, and help them. He slowly drew himself back to the hillside, stooped down, and cited an incantation that unknown to him, had been devised long ago by the shape shifter of Aman, Sauron. He began slowly:
zha mi enden………..
ze mi enden………….
geshtu mi enden………….
okush tumi olob obtu maduen!
But his spell over reached, and he remembered no more.
Lainil cleaned her newborn child in the waters of Cuivienen. Her husband watched them with pride in his heart. “What shall we call him?” She asked, as she climbed onto the shore, wrapping the wet child in a blanket. “The light of the stars shimmer in his face and hair,” He said. “We shall call him Elwe.”
As Elwe grew, he grew taller than all the dwellers by the water. His hair was of silver grey, of which he earned the name Singollo. At a time, he and his brothers Olwe and Cirwe were wandering the woods in the hills when they came to a dark opening in the mountain. They stood upon the threshold debating whether to go in, when all of a sudden, a vast behemoth with countless dangling legs, glassy eyes, pinching jaws, and a long undulating worm like body, broke from the opening and came down upon the three brothers. Olwe and Elwe were knocked to their backs by the thrashing colossus. Cirwe was taken in the pinchers of the monster's mouth and screamed in horror. Elwe grasped, picked up a large jagged rock nearby, ran towards his screaming brother and crashed it down upon the creature’s face. After several blows the monster lay dead halfway out of the opening, a black cloud drifted from its mouth and disappeared into the sky. Cirwe lay next to it, broken, looking at his brothers with blank eyes, and said no more. “What is happening?” said Olwe. “I don’t understand. He is not moving anymore. Kirwe‼?”
¥ Somewhere, around a golden tree, two beings taller than hillsides spoke with glowing eyes. And Orome left his meeting with Mandos ¥
As the grief for Cirwe lingered and the tale was told of Elwe slaying the mountain creature, he was chosen as a lord and protector of the people under the stars. Elwe, accompanied by two of the bravest in the land, Finwe and Ingwe, traversed the hills and explored over the ridge to the country beyond, and brought back fruits and animals that were not in any story any of them had ever heard. But the firstborn’s time by the water was coming to a close, for a great rider and hunter of fell beasts was approaching.
Orome and the three elves stepped upon the undying lands and began their way towards Taniquetil. They were first brought to Ezellohar to behold the two trees. Many were there to welcome them, and amidst Elwe’s bliss, a spirit of great beauty looked upon him with bewilderment and curiosity. He returned her gaze. Finwe pulled him from his dream, “My brethren, we must bring our people here, for this is the land of truth.” Said Finwe. “You speak well master Finwe” Said Ingwe, “For I feel the truth here also, beckoning, every piece of me. I feel if I were to fall, the very air of this place would not let me, and would return me back to my feet”. Ingwe clasped the shoulders of his friends, and turned away from them. He walked silently across the circle of the staring company and kneeled before the great guardian of this realm.
Elwe and Olwe led a great host of their people, making their way to the light of the two trees. Suddenly Elwe stopped and peered ahead in the night. He saw a dim light in the forest to his right. He was drawn to it. He felt as if he were in a stupor, his mind flipped and turned so that he wavered in his steps. He grabbed Olwe’s arm to steady himself, then spoke to him, “See that glow?” “Where?” said Olwe. Elwe pointed to the night, “That glow up ahead.” Olwe stared but could not make it out. “I do not see it my brother.” “It is there.” Said Elwe. “And it’s like a burning in my heart. I feel a tremendous doubt in my mind. I must go to see what it is.” He looked at Olwe, “I will be back brother.”
Before Olwe could speak Elwe left the path and crossed through the fallen leaves, over a small hill and came to an open glade bordered by two trees. In the opening he saw what he thought was a woman walking towards him in a long white dress. She was a vision, yet had no distinguishable face. Blurred by his limited sight, he yelled out, “Why are you here!” All of a sudden the vision was upon him, its floating eyes stared down on him and brought him to his knees. He saw the stars above wheel and become streaks of white light. A reply came from every point surrounding him “Because I hold the answers to your tangled thoughts! Why do you think you have not been rescued yet? Manwe does not know you are here and if he did, he would not approve. You have been locked here by Sauron. But his evil has led to good he did not imagine, as Illuvatar deemed it. Do you not know who I am?” There was a battle in Elwe’s mind. His two selves grasped and clawed at each other. A great sound rocked and shook the hills beneath him, the sky split, a light shown down, and he knew who she was. She was the key. The revelation in his heart was like a breaking and mending at the same moment. He could see her clearly now. Tears rolled down his face. He took her hand, and looked into her eyes. “Yes, I know who you are. You are the Giver.... And you did not abandon me.”
“So it has come back to you, my standard” said Melian. “Yes, it has, because of you.” He looked long into her eyes. “Shall we not leave this place? Shall we not pass the long road back to our home, now that we are together again?” “As I have said, you are locked in the form as you are, by the cursed words of Sauron, and you may not leave it while Elwe lives. If you return to the undying lands, I fear you shall remain as you are, forever, for what hurt can assail you there? But if you remain here there is much good you can do. The remnants of Melkor still inhabit these lands and defile all the Ainur have built. There will be those of the Elves who stay behind. You can protect them, as you already have. And while it is true that Melkor has been chained, the source of your imprisonment, Sauron, faithless and accursed, is not in the land of Aman. He is here. Will you leave the Children alone to face him?"
Elwe looked down. The sudden weight of the burden he knew would be his fate if he listened to Melian rushed to him. His face was drained and pale. He looked back up at her, the sky became a blinding white light of streaking stars. “There is doubt in my mind I can defend this realm against Sauron.” Melian looked at him. “It is a big world Olorin, and even you cannot be its lone protector. I will at least share this burden with you, and give you what help I can. For I do not wish to return to my home beneath the crystal boughs without you.”
And so the story unfolds. But this is a story that you think you know…. but do not. For the Maiar that was Olorin, born again as Elwe, marveled as Singollo, and crowned as Thingol, was also a wanderer of many other names. Along with Melian, he spied on Sauron, assailed him, and learned his mind and patterns. Olorin never forgot he was in the form of the Children of Illuvatar, and therefore did not challenge Sauron openly, but thwarted him where he may. And when Melkor returned to Thingol and Melian’s great dismay, they still bouted with the Maia Sauron, but in disguised methods. Eventually, out of pity for their own people, they hid their realm. On occasion, and unbeknownst to many, they would escape the borders and defend the freedom of those outside their walls as they could. As we all know, Melian and Thingol’s love grew, and brought into the world Luthien Tinuviel. And in Thingol’s form, being bound to the prowess of the firstborn, Luthien was a true Elf maiden mingled with the divine.
As the years turned to hundreds and the memory of Lorien was like a speck of dust in the corner of a shadow in a dream, Melian spoke to Thingol with distress in her heart. “We have spent many years besetting Sauron’s deeds. We have had victories and deep losses. I know his mind now, and he is strong, and I fear him. I fear him in my heart, there is a blackness there because of him. Yet, he is but a dog that waits at his master’s door. For Melkor is the enemy of this world and mover of all evil in Middle Earth. I have no power left to stop the destiny we are all heading towards. Only an intervention from the greats can stop it.” There was a deep fear in Melian’s eyes as she spoke, and Thingol became saddened by her despair, yet he had had similar thoughts for a long while. He spoke, “I have been here longer than most, if not all, and I too have done what I can. You are my touchstone, but you needn't linger here any longer. And since Valinor is hidden to the first born, there is no returning for me.” Melian looked at him, “There is one way, I believe” she said. “I believe, for you to undue your binding spell, you must leave Elwe behind, and then your spirit can be free to return to its original form and home. You may not know it, but there are those in your realm as we speak, who have no heed for your life. They are in the deepest halls of your house, with the Silmaril. They have much pride, and repay offense with cold steel.” Olorin looked at Melian for a long time. “So it must be.”
Elwe descended his stairs to meet the Naugrim, and they released him.
He awoke in Melian’s chambers. A breeze came through the windows blowing the curtains back and forth, giving him a glimpse of a blue tree outside in a silver light. Nightingales looked down upon him from the wall. He was unsure if he had just arrived or had been laying there for many ages, but the memories came flooding back. And then he noticed he was happy, the burden was lifted, the weight was gone, and she was at his side staring at him. “It has been a long time and I’ve been waiting for you. Where have you been?” “The long time was spent in a dream, and you were there with me. You told me the truth, and you were my friend.” “As you were mine in my own." And they smiled at each other. Olorin in his gladness could not believe he was back in the house of Melian. “My love, I have longed for this moment since before the sun and moon rose in the sky.” He rolled over and wrapped his arms around her and she buried her head into his shoulder, and they were happy.
But, for a while… For not long after in their bliss, there came a knock on Melian’s door. It echoed across the chamber. Olorin got up, walked across the room and opened the door. And there at Melian’s threshold, stood Eonwe. He bowed, “Hail great Olorin, wisest and most honorable Maia, I have a summons from the Mountain Giver. Manwe seeks your presence.” A strike of concern flashed through Melian. Eonwe seeing her worry spoke kindly, “Hail Melian, lady of light and love. I see you wish not to be separated from him. You may accompany him to the Ring of Doom."
Olorin walked through the gilded archway and into the Ring of Doom. There, facing in front of him, yet at the far end of the ring, was great Manwe, towering upon his throne. Three others stood in the Ring facing Manwe, and the circle of the staring company watched as Olorin passed. “Where have you been?” asked Curumo, “We have been waiting for you.” Without looking Olorin said “I have just come back from a long journey, if you must know.” “Well we are thankful for your presence. Only you, could leave Manwe in wait.” Olorin, ignored Curumo, and passed through the company. He stood directly in front of Manwe, bent down on one knee and bowed in reverence. “Sulimo.” When he raised his head he saw that at the feet of Manwe was Ingwe, who looked at him with great bewilderment and curiosity. Then Manwe spoke. “I have seen into the far regions of Ea, and there is a new peril rising in the east. I am in need of emissaries to sail the bent seas. Two have agreed to go and I have chosen you to be the third”. “Not the third”, said Varda. Curumo’s eyes narrowed. Manwe looked down upon Olorin and held him with glowing eyes, blue as the deepest light. After a very long time Olorin spoke, “My father, I am afraid, and I am yet weary from a long journey. Surely there are others more fit for the task?” Manwe replied, “You are wise Olorin, to fear the Ruiner. But that is why you must go. For you can move the hearts of many, even though they drown in fear. While Sauron sows the seed of destruction, you may sow the seed of defiance in others. But I wonder. Are you so wise that you know to fear him before you have met him? For Sauron left the peace of Aman before it was disturbed, and he has not returned. The deceitful Sauron has not shown himself to this land, he is only known to those who walk in peril in Middle Earth, yet I am the only one who can see into the far regions in which he hides. I wonder, have you had dealings with him before?” Olorin glanced at Melian who stood nearby. Then, to their surprise, Ingwe spoke. “He has my lord.” Ingwe looked at Olorin. “Do you know what you did? You slayed the mountain beast. The blood dried on your hands didn’t it? I know what you did!” Aiwendil stepped in from the edge of the Ring. “Why do you speak of this Maia in untruths?” “He is right Aiwendil.” said Olorin. “I have been here before, in this ring, in other forms, though I did not know it.” Curumo saw his chance. “So you have been lost! Without knowing. On a reckless pursuit I’ll wager. And only to be brought back by the help of others. My lords, there will be need of order in the conquest against the dark Maia Sauron. A leader with strong knowledge and discipline. The great Olorin is wisest of all. Alatar and Pallando are the cleverest, and dear Aiwendil is kindness embodied. But I am strength, and I do not waver or fail, ever.” Manwe pondered all that had been said, and he looked at Melian, then back at Olorin and spoke. “I can see your journey has been strange, and your tale has been long. But I believe you have stayed true to yourself, with the help of others close to you. I ask again, will you not fight Sauron? Through will of mind and on the battlefield? For he is now the great enemy of middle earth, and is unchained. Do not doubt that he has the power to enter Aman unseen, to fill hearts with fear, and to suade allegiances. For unchecked he can destroy house and home even here, in the undying lands, from Tirion to Lorien.” Olorin looked at Melian and her eyes grew wide from the thought of Sauron in Lorien. Olorin pushed himself off his knees and stood tall before the company. He spoke to Manwe. “I will take him down like he’s never seen.” He turned to Melian. “I will keep you safe until the end of all things.” He became taller and spoke resoundingly. “I will stand in the way of a thousand men!” Then staring into Melian’s eyes one more time. “And you will never be afraid again.”
Then immediately, a ray of light struck the five Maiar in the Ring of Doom from all angles, as if it were gleaming lightning. Olorin could barely see what was happening around him, but he could tell the others were slowly, one by one, being whisked away by the light. At last he stood alone, the light surrounding him and piercing him. He wavered and shook in its power. Then, all of a sudden, a grey cloak from nowhere wrapped around him covering his body, a tall pointed hat shoved down upon his head, and a wooden staff snapped into his hand. Which he leaned down upon to support himself from the blinding power, like a willow branch bent in the morning dew.
And with that, he was gone.
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