Now when he came at last to the great halls in the Towers of Oiolossë, and stood before Manwe and Varda, he quailed at their power and their beauty, but they bade him be not afraid, though they had hard questions to put to him concerning his deeds in Arda during his life there.
And Manwe said sternly: "You were granted a gift, old man, the gift of knowledge, with the one purpose that you might use it wisely amongst your kin, passing on the histories of the lands and peoples of Arda, in full truth and without distortion, to those who would use them wisely."
"Yes Lord," replied the old man, greatly troubled, for he feared the tone of Manwe's voice and felt dread in his heart at his words, guessing at where they might lead.
"And this you have tried to do," said Varda. "But little did you heed what might befall should that knowledge reach those who care not for the sacred texts and would use them to further the pride and vanity of the Dark Powers of him we do not name. For even now a great evil has spread across Middle Earth, yea even the evil of half-truths and of tales distorted, and the great deeds of the Children of Iluvatar are lessened by it. Your toil has run away with you, Master Tolkien."
"Alas my Lady, you speak truly," replied the old man in a quavering voice. "But I was not granted the span to do otherwise for time overtook my endeavours, and I had to trust to others to continue my task. But I know what is in your mind. For have I not heard the petty wrangling of those who care only for the colour of Elven hair, or whether Balrogs have wings? Why some there are who spend their waking days in pondering the truth of the depth of the fords at Osgiliath, when I myself gave little thought to such matters. I am a master of tongues, lord, but no military historian. And have I not seen the mockeries of tales that would have great warriors more interested in carnal pleasures than the fight against evil? Why, they render the fair lands of Middle Earth a veritable brothel! And do I not tremble at the travesty that even now renders the Wars of the Ring a craven thrill for the entertainment of adolescents, turning hobbits into sex symbols and elves into, well, fairies?"
"So, you too have seen it?" Manwe sighed and the ground shook as he did so. "Actually, I thought the film was rather good. It made me cry which is more than your books ever did. But it is not of the evils that have come after that I speak, for you are not accountable for those. Now comes the rub. I summoned you here today for I am troubled by the complaints of many who dwell in Valinor or beyond the confines of Arda, and who had great part in the deeds of those times. They feel misrepresented by your words, and by what has followed.
Here is the list of the harms you must repair. For though you intended it not, your words and your tales have caused a great storm, that began as a trickle of stones, but would have brought down a mountain on your head had I not intervened for your safety."
From a great carved coffer beside his throne, Manwe took then a long scroll and began to read from it.
"First, Olorin. The hat must go. He never could suffer it, even while he walked in the Shire, for it has made folk laugh at him and it diminishes his dignity. As you well know he wore only a hood. And the beard that you gave him is too long. It gets tangled in the mane of Shadowfax.
Second, the Eldar. The people of the younger days believe them to be vain creatures, caring only for their hair and their clothes. They are gaining, how shall I put it, a certain reputation, Master Tolkien, and they fear that you have overstated that side of their nature, for few folk there are that treat them seriously in these times. And you were unclear on the matter of their ears, an issue of some sensitivity.
Third, King Elessar. You have granted him virtue in too great a measure, and he fears that your portrayal has rendered him tiresome. You made no mention of his other deeds at Meduseld, or why he was so delayed at Dunharrow that he came only to the City when the battle was almost done. He is, after all, a Man, and he ever craves more exposure."
The old man broke in, astounded; "Why, I named a whole volume after him, Lord. Was that not sufficient?" A dark shadow crossed his face as realisation suddenly came. "But, what of the Lady Arwen? Must I break her heart? Moreover, did they not liken their love to the bond between Luthien and Beren? No, I could not countenance such a thing!"
"Then, did Luthien never tell you?" said Varda softly, and broke off. "No, perhaps some tales are better left untold. Not all enjoy the bliss that you were fortunate to earn, but I would not tread on your dreams so I will hold my peace."
There was a long silence and then Tolkien sighed and said sadly. "The World is changed. I feel it in the Air. But perhaps not as much as I once thought, for is it not said that the more things change the more they stay the same? Forgive me my innocence, Lord Manwe, for I lived not even the span of Baggins to learn the true ways of Arda, and it was a sheltered life I led. I see now that I was searching as through a veil of mist, for what I wished to see and not what was."
"We of the Valar know that well, friend," replied Manwe gently, "for that is why you were chosen. The tales of old rarely speak the truth of events, or none would wish to hear them. But there, we have toiled long in explaining this to all our most illustrious children, and still they listen not."
"Then how was I at fault, and what must I do?"
"That shall be told in time. But first there is more to come. Saruman you revealed as a traitor to the council. That was the greatest error in your sources, for you spoke long with Olorin did you not? And the rest you took from the Red Book?"
Tolkien nodded weakly, for his head was beginning to spin.
"Much as we love The Grey Pilgrim, he is not as you would have him. He long wished to supplant the leader of his order at Orthanc, for he envied his power and his silken words. The deeds of Sauron and the Wars of the Ring were a perfect cloak with which to mantle his desire, and he had in this the unwitting support of the Halflings, whose tale it was you told. But Saruman was misunderstood, and in him was the true path to peace, as he long tried to persuade the free peoples of the West."
The Professor reeled. This was more than he could bear. He opened his mouth to reply but no words came.
Then Varda spoke. Her gentle voice was kind, a mother explaining the strange ways of the world to her child. "He was to surrender the Ring to me, once he had received it from the hobbit, Frodo. Gwaihir should have brought it, but Olorin beguiled him. And long before, the Heir of Elendil, what was his name?"
"Aragorn?" quavered Tolkien.
"Not he, the other. Isildur. He was sent, to bring it to Valinor via the Havens, but he did not arrive. The orcs that waylaid him, they were sent by Olorin, you see, but he could not find the ring in the River."
"But, forgive me lady, why to you?"
"The ring was mine, master Tolkien. A trinket from Manwe. Aulë made it for him to give to me. We knew not that it had any power until Sauron took it and claimed it for his own."
"Did he not then forge the One Ring?"
"He did not," retorted Manwe. "It was made in Orodruin, that is true, but the idea that Sauron made it was another feint by Olorin, for it suited his purpose against Saruman."
Tolkien sat down heavily on a three legged stool that had appeared from nowhere, and said faintly;
"Then why was he not cast out of his order for his evil misdeeds? And all those people dead in the Third Age. I do not understand."
"Olorin is a maker of mischief, a spinner of yarns, you might say," continued Manwe. "No doubt you remember the Council. He is harmless, and all love him, as they would have loved Saruman had they known better. The end was achieved. Sauron was punished. But Saruman and Olorin, they are brothers and they sought ever to outdo one the other.
But now, to the quick. You must repair the fault of your words so that Saruman be restored and the others be rightly known. Leave nothing out this time."
"This time?" whispered the old man.
"You must go back," said Manwe solemnly. "The history must be recast. Only that will atone for the ills that have arisen, and you must undertake the task. You must begin again, Master Tolkien!"
The Professor staggered out of the hall and stopped outside to recover his strength.
"Why ever didn't I just stick with the day job?" he thought as he lit his pipe.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.