Aman, Second Age of the Sun
A shadow climbed swiftly up the hill under the glimmer of the star-crusted sky. When it reached the gates of Ilmarin, the two Maiarin guards beheld the shape of a man shrouded in a trailing cloak and a hood that obscured his features. Their silver spears clanged loudly in the eerie silence of Taniquetil as they were crossed to bar his entrance.
Without uncovering his face the man demanded that he be taken immediately to their lord's presence. When challenged to identify himself, he merely tossed a sealed scroll at the feet of the guards. One of them picked it up while the other donned his best scowl to show his displeasure at such brazen arrogance, but the visitor remained completely unfazed by his hostile mien.
'Take the letter to Manwë, he will see me at once,' said the Elf impatiently. No title, not even a hint of the deference due to the High King of Arda. The guard all but growled at the insolent manner of addressing his lord.
Surprisingly, the cloaked man's prediction proved to be correct. The second Maia escorted him into the hall of audiences, where Manwë sat on his lofty throne with the unrolled parchment in his hand. It was a letter from his brother Námo requesting, no, urging him to see the mysterious man on a matter of the utmost importance.
The penmanship of the Lord of Mandos seemed to be far worse than his usual appalling standard, but his seal was boldly imprinted both on the wax and next to the dubious scribble that must pass for his signature, thus lending complete authenticity to the missive. Not even Fëanáro had succeeded in forging the seal when challenged by Aulë himself, though the task had kept him away from worse mischief for a few years before he got obsessed with capturing light. The King of Arda sighed at the memory of those untroubled times and then perused the letter again. He wondered if this man would be yet another one of Námo's creepy wards seeking his sponsorship for some dubious endeavour.
When brought to his presence the prideful visitor did not bow, did not offer any gesture of respect or obeisance whatsoever.
'Dismiss the guards,' he snarled instead.
Manwë bristled at this unbelievable presumption.
'How dare you give orders here?' he roared. The room shook with his wrath, making Varda's crystal bead lamps tinkle loudly. He was most proud of the humbling effect this trick usually had on impudent petitioners. Most disappointingly, the Elf before him did not even flinch.
'Just like you not to recognise one of your kin,' he chuckled darkly.
'Námo?' cried Manwë, disbelieving. He stepped down from his throne to have a better look.
The man threw his hood back with a sweep of his forearm. At a first glance he looked like one of the Noldor, but all his features were somehow distorted: his lips too full, his ears too pointy, his cheekbones too high, his almond-shaped eyes too narrow and their inner light too bright, a sign that his body contained within one of the mightiest beings in the whole of Eä.
'Greetings.' The Elder Fëantur now bowed slightly, in mock deference.
'What brings you here in this guise?' queried Manwë, as he admiringly caressed the man's silky hair and kneaded the hard muscle in his arms. 'I can see you are making great progress towards creating the hröa for the reborn Children.'
'Yes, I am. Ouch, that hurt!' Manwë stopped his probing and pinching reluctantly. 'But of late I have run into some technical difficulties,' confessed Námo grudgingly, 'and I direly need your help. Urgently.'
He put forward his hands, which so far had remained hidden inside the wide sleeves of his black robe. The fingers were unnaturally long and wriggled continuously, almost like tentacles. Manwë gasped and studied them warily, unable to completely mask his revulsion.
'One of my Maiar messed up the genetic encoding and inserted some defective sections.' Námo paused, broodingly. 'After such inept negligence he has been reassigned to perform a thorough dissection of the spawn of Ungoliant that Oromë slew last week, and to write a detailed report of its bowels' contents. I am certain he will find the conclusions most educational.' The High King grimaced.
'I thought you said that the physical regeneration would be the easier part of your task, that it was the linkage of hröa and unhoused fëa that would present the only real challenge?' queried Manwë, not daring to add a sarcastic inflection to his voice. He suspected the Lord of Mandos was not in the mood to appreciate being reminded of previous, clearly exaggerated boasting.
'I must say, Manwë, sometimes I question the will of Eru,' sighed Námo. 'He grants us authority to judge the Eldar who are unfortunate or stupid enough to die and to either doom them to the inane nothingness of my Halls or to give them a new hröa, but he does not provide us with instructions about how to create one.'
'We sang the Music, we are supposed to know,' objected Manwë, alarmed at the almost blasphemous whinge of the Doomsman.
'Supposition has not endowed us with ability,' answered Námo thoughtfully, contemplating his writhing fingers. 'I have been hard at work since the Darkening, and yet there is always a glitch or some undesirable trait that spoils all my efforts. Had I succeeded this time I was hoping to release Findaráto soon, but Amarië would not thank me…' his voice died rather abruptly.
'Why do you seek my aid now, and in such haste?' queried Manwë. 'You and Estë are the wisest amongst the Aratar in these matters. My realm is in the ordering of Arda, not in the inner working of its creatures or the most delicate job of handling the fëar of the Children, doomed or otherwise. So how can I possibly be of assistance?'
Námo Nurufantur, Lord of Mandos, squirmed in embarrassment for the first time since he had woken into being in the thought of Ilúvatar.
'I can't free myself,' he muttered through gritted teeth. 'My most trusted Maiarin assistants have tried everything to detach me from this hröa, but their every attempt has failed. In the end I grew sick of their snickering and sent them to clean the cells of those charming creatures wrought by your dear brother Melkor that I collect in my darkest halls.'
'Dare they mock you for this deformity?' cried Manwë. 'I will have them brought before me if such cruelty is their way with the Eruhíni.' He now regretted his previous distaste. Whether a choice of Ilúvatar or a terrible effect of Melkor's evil, Children were sometimes born with marred hröar that in some extreme cases were even beyond the ability of the Valar to repair.
'Oh, no, no, they would never do that!' exclaimed Námo earnestly, then he bit his lip. Manwë watched him hesitate uncomfortably and run a disturbingly mobile hand over his forehead before speaking again.
'This genetic anomaly has manifested itself in…, hmmm, other undesirable distortions.' He cleared his throat. 'My toes suffer from the same affliction, and…' A long silence followed. Manwë tilted his head to one side, as if to invite his visitor to continue. 'And so does my…, uh, my vië.' The last few words had been a quiet whisper in the large hall, but they had echoed all the louder.
The High King of Arda giggled most undecorously.
'Your vië? Truly? Show me!' he shrieked gleefully.
'Never!' scowled Námo, crossing his squirming hands over his body as if to guard himself against an attack.
'I won't be able to lend my help unless I can assess this … phenomenon.'
'There is no need, honestly,' protested the Lord of Mandos feebly. Unfortunately he knew who had the upper hand in this argument.
'Let me see,' commanded Manwë.
Painstakingly, the Doomsman of the Valar undid first the front fastenings of the robe he wore under the floor-sweeping cloak, and then those that kept his trousers up. At one point he had to slap away his kinsman's hands, too eager to help.
Manwë gasped at what was revealed, then began to laugh uncontrollably. Námo wrapped his cloak closed again with as much dignity as he could muster, which was little, considering his lower garments were pooled around his ankles. He was decidedly unamused.
'Oh, please, just another peek…' The Lord of the Breath of Arda could barely speak, he was doubled up and almost gasping for air. 'I'm in stitches… Findaráto…, Amarië…, most pleased… Oh Eru! And hairless, too… Laurefindë...''
Námo's wrathful glare, the same one that had cowed his Maiarin assistants into terrified silence and abject subservience, was completely wasted on the Elder King, who had streams of tears flowing down his cheeks. Not for nothing had Manwë spent several yéni studying the Children and applying his observations to perfect the realistic appearance of his raiment.
The Lord of Mandos reined in his seething anger and waited for the mirth to subside. Finally Manwë managed to speak again between hiccups.
'So why are you here? If not to show off your alluring endowments…' Again he cracked up with laughter, but this time he recovered slightly faster. Námo swore under his breath that he would exact a revenge of some kind, regardless of consequences. But first…
'I need you to kill me,' pronounced the Lord of Mandos darkly. He smiled wickedly at the look of utter shock that replaced the annoying smirk on his companion's face.
'What?' The echoes of Manwë's loud Valarin screech reverberated across the hall.
'You have heard right. I have locked myself into this ridiculous hröa and there is only one way to be released. To avoid an unnecessary and embarrassing judgement it will be best if no other than the King of Arda performs the required deed.' Námo pulled out a gleaming Noldorin dagger from a sheath.
'But, but…' Manwë stuttered. 'What you ask is not possible!'
'Oh, yes, it is. You just need to stab me here,' he pointed at his heart, 'or slash my throat. I give you the choice.'
'I can't do it,' squeaked Manwë. 'I just can't.'
'Why ever not?' thundered Námo. 'What you can not and shall not do is to leave me like this. I have already spent several days of utter misery; after three of them bouncing upon the saddle of a temperamental beast who kept attempting to throw me off all the way from my halls I cannot wait a single more hour to be out of this confinement. How the Children can endure this torture is beyond me.'
Manwë would have laughed long at the irony of having the Lord of the euphemistically named Halls of Waiting bitterly complaining about the discomfort of being imprisoned by his own hand. However, he wisely refrained himself, given the gravity of the situation and the distinct probability of becoming the victim of murder as opposed to the perpetrator.
'I asked you to doom the House of Fëanáro for kinslaying. Now you bid me shed your blood with the same purpose?' he objected. The High King of Arda suspected that his impeccable logic would be futile in this occasion.
'To the Moritarnon with you, you oaf!' cried Námo impatiently. 'You cannot slay me because I cannot die! You will just release me from this loathsome shell. There is a huge difference.'
'Is there?' questioned the High King, doubtful. 'You bid me raise my knife and destroy the hröa that harbours you. How is that different?'
The Doomsman of Arda stepped forward with a snarl.
'Do it!' he hissed. 'Now.'
'Or else?' answered Manwë defiantly.
Námo had to think quickly. He had not expected such petty reluctance.
'I will release Finwë's firstborn, even without a hröa.'
The moment Manwë heard this threat he knew he had no choice but to comply. The thought of an incorporeal Fëanáro unleashed onto Aman, no doubt bent on stirring trouble against those who had doomed and dispossessed his house was insufferable. He conceded defeat and without a word snatched the sharp blade from the wriggling fingers, which felt nauseously clammy to the touch.
'One decisive stroke, that's all it takes,' pointed out Námo, striving to be helpful.
'Just be quiet!' snapped the High King of Arda. 'I know what must be done.' He pulled the sleeves of his cumbersome white robes up his forearms and secured a better grip on the knife handle. With some trepidation Námo presented his chest to his kinsman and closed his eyes.
To Manwë's credit the death was swift and almost painless. As the lifeless body slumped to the floor the Lord of Arda felt one, no, two unclad presences next to him. Both beings pulled on their material raiments and stood by his side.
'I am in your debt, brother!' Námo's relief was patent in his voice, and even a hint of unprecedented gratitude could be discerned in it.
'What is this? Messing up the hall again, darling?' enquired a curious Varda, pouting in distaste at the large puddle of blood on the otherwise spotless marble tiles. She knelt by the side of the empty hröa, lifted the cloak that covered it and thus uncovered its secret.
'No!' shouted two Valar at once, too late.
'Husband…' she almost choked. 'What portent… what in the Void is this?' With a mighty effort she prised her eyes off and lifted them, incredulous, to the others. Her face was flushed.
'An unfortunate incident,' replied Námo curtly. His face was terrible to behold. 'Never to be discussed. Ever.' He glared at the King of Arda menacingly and a brief wave of ósanwë painted a succession of scenes of woeful chaos in Manwë's mind, who cringed in fear.
The Lord of Mandos stretched his arm towards the discarded hröa. A shimmer covered the corpse and a flow of elementary particles emanated from the silver cloud and gradually shaped themselves into a spinning ball of light in his hand, until not a speck was left on the polished slabs. The glowing orb then melted into the radiance of his fana.
'This monstrosity will never be mentioned again,' pronounced Námo in his deepest Doomsman voice. Then he strode majestically out of the hall, calming his troubled mind with comforting musings of dreadful prophecies. The two Maiarin guards shuddered in his wake.
'Darling, do you think you could perhaps consider…?' Varda whispered wistfully. She reached up to nibble the lobe of her husband's ear playfully while her hands roved over his chest and began a slow journey southwards. 'Please?'
To understand the reference to hair and Glorfindel I suggest you read Darth Fingon's Anadûnai or You Live Your Life in the Shadow of the Mountain, where he describes a fictional Vanyarin custom for men to shave any hair below their neck.
Findaráto (Q) – Fingon
Laurefindë (Q) – Glorfindel
Moritarnon (Q) – the Doors of Night, out of which Melkor was cast into the Void
hröa (Q) – almost equivalent to the body of the Incarnates (Elves and Men)
fëa (Q) – almost equivalent to the spirit of the Incarnates (Elves and Men)
fana (Q) – raiment used by the Ainur in the image of the Children of Ilúvatar
ósanwë (Q) - thought transmission
vië (Q) – obvious, isn't it?
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.