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WICKED: Maiar Games
SUMMARY: When the Maiar seek relaxation they don’t fool around.
WARNING: Humor in some places, angst in others.
‘It is an attested fact that the Maiar are more numerous than the Valar and in fact their numbers are unknown. Indeed, few of the Eldar of Aman have any converse with them or know their names. It is therefore not surprising to note that when asked, the average Elda on the streets of Tirion or Vanyamar or even those of Tol Eressëa cannot tell you what the Maiar do for fun or even if they have any....’
from The Secret Lives of the Maiar by Pengolodh of Gondolin and Tol Eressëa
"So when do you get off?" Manveru asked Eönwë.
"In three hours our lord will release me," the Herald of the Valar answered. "Ingwë is in conference with him at the moment and it looks to be a long meeting." He flashed a wide smile at his fellow Maia. "The High King is not happy with the news that the Valar have forgiven the Exiles and are allowing them to return, though only as far as Tol Eressëa."
Manveru lifted an eyebrow at that. "That island has been deserted for ages."
"Which makes it an ideal place for the Returnees. They will not be allowed on the mainland initially. Our lord thinks that a time of... isolation might be best. The Elves of Beleriand are admirable Children but they have a darkness within them that is foreign to Aman. It will take time for that darkness to be purged."
"Yes, well that’s all very well," Manveru said with a huff, "but where will we go now when we want to play?"
Eönwë gave him an amused look. "Who says we still can’t play there?"
Manveru’s eyes widened with the implication of that one question and he started laughing. "Maybe we can have fun with the Returnees."
"Just so long as they are unharmed in the process."
The two Maiar turned to see Lord Námo striding towards them, an unreadable expression on his face. They gave him their obeisance. "My lord, we would never dream of...." Manveru started to say but Námo stayed him with a gesture.
"I am sure you would not but remember that these Children are war-weary and their fëar have been beaten down from constant fighting and seeing their homeland obliterated. They are very fragile at this point, so whatever you have in mind, do not forget this."
"You do not forbid it, lord?" Eönwë asked.
Námo smiled. "No, nor will any of the Valar. In truth, these Children are in need of some... harmless fun, though they know it not. Be careful with them. They are very precious to us."
The two Maiar bowed as Námo continued on his way to join Manwë in his discussion with Ingwë. Manveru turned to Eönwë. "So who do you think we can get to join us?"
Gilithil, late of Nargothrond, was convinced he was being followed, but every time he turned around to look back along the beach he had been walking there was nothing, just sand, rock, and ocean. Yet, he felt something, a presence he could not define. He had not survived the Nirnaeth, the sack of Nargothrond and the War of Wrath and not know when he was being followed. He turned around, determined to ignore the feeling and gave a sigh almost of relief when he saw his friend, Damrod, come towards him. He waved and nearly ran to greet him.
"Mellon nîn!" Damrod cried with a laugh as Gilithil hugged him. "What is this? You act as if you have not seen me for ages instead of only since breaking fast together."
Gilithil continued to hold his friend in his embrace and whispered urgently in the ellon’s ear. "I am being followed."
Damrod’s demeanor sobered and warrior instincts honed by centuries of interminable warfare took over. "Where?"
Gilithil pointed back the way he had come. "That rock."
Damrod wasn’t sure he had heard correctly. "What?"
"The rock," Gilithil insisted with a hiss. "It’s been following me."
Damrod gave his friend a cool stare. "Rocks do not move."
"You think I don’t know that?" Gilithil fairly shouted in frustration. "But I tell you that rock has been following me since I’ve been walking on this beach."
Damrod went over to the rock in question. It appeared to be an ordinary rock. It was perhaps three hands high and nearly as wide, grey and unprepossessing. "It’s a rock, Gilithil," he said. "I admit it’s rather strange to see a single rock that size on a beach but it’s just a rock. Next thing you’re going to tell me is that it sings as well."
Roimendil turned to Tiutalion. Both Maiar were unclad. "Tell me he didn’t say that."
"Fine. I won’t. Who gets to do the honors?"
Roimendil merely grinned and gestured at Tiutalion who crouched down beside the rock they had been moving through the sand and began singing in a low gravelly voice a hymn to Aulë in Sindarin:
"A Ola, Cevendan, thavron Ardhon,
Ceredir e-mîr, ah e-gynd...."
Gilithil and Damrod had similar looks of horror on their fair faces and without another word they started running as quickly as they could away from the rock, while Tiutalion and Romendil laughed themselves silly, though neither Elf heard them.
Ingil, Olórin and Lisselindë watched with fascination three elflings, not much older than twenty-five or thirty, make their way into the woods near their settlement. Bronweg, Nimbrethil and Handir stepped easily between the trees, though there was an air of wariness about them and the Maiar were appalled that even here on Tol Eressëa these little ones felt the need to go armed. Bronweg, the oldest, carried a sword while the other two sported bows and quivers of arrows. All three looked to be competent in their use and that saddened the Maiar even more.
Nimbrethil, who appeared to be the youngest, stared around her, looking troubled. "Are you sure there are no yrch in these woods, Bron?" she asked in a whisper.
"Nana says not and Ada agrees," the older ellon stated with perhaps more confidence than he felt.
"Ada seemed very upset earlier," Handir stated with a frown.
Bronweg nodded, looking suddenly angry. "I overheard Ada telling Nana that some people from the mainland came and said that we were only here on sufferance by the Belain."
"What does ‘sufferance’ mean?" Nimbrethil asked, looking confused.
"It means the Belain can make us leave any time they want to."
The elleth stopped in dismay and tears began to form in her green eyes. "B-but why?" she wailed. "I’ve been good, I promise. I d-don’t want t-to leave, Bron. I... I like it here. Th-there are n-no yrch."
Bronweg gathered his little sister into his arms and tried to comfort her but did not know what to say. Watching unclad the three Maiar frowned, clearly displeased by the turn of events.
"We need to tell Lord Manwë," Ingil said.
"If he does not already know," Olórin retorted.
"What about the elflings?" Lisselindë asked. "The jest we thought to play on them would be too terrible given what Bronweg has told them. What can we do to brighten their mood and assure them that they are in no danger of being forced from their new home?"
They thought about it for a moment and then Olórin grinned. "I think I have an idea."
Suddenly he was no longer there but in his place was a beautiful white fawn that made its way through the trees where the children were still standing, the ellyn trying to comfort their sister.
"’Brethil, look!" Handir whispered as he saw the fawn come towards them, his expression one of awe and delight.
The elleth turned around and gasped, her tears momentarily forgotten. All three elflings stood stock still, barely breathing, afraid that any sudden movement would startle the fawn and send it fleeing. The fawn stepped carefully towards them, then stopped before turning and heading deeper into the woods. The children moaned in dismay but when the fawn stopped again and looked back they gave one another wondering looks.
"Do you think it means for us to follow it?" Nimbrethil whispered.
Bronweg shrugged. "Only one way to find out."
With that the three elflings started towards the fawn who seemed to wait long enough to assure itself that they were indeed following, then it turned and leapt gracefully into the underbrush, being careful to always be in the children’s sight. Deeper and deeper they went until the children were unsure if they could find their way back to the settlement but they no longer cared. After about an hour they made their way through a stand of large ash trees to find themselves in a glade where a waterfall flowed over a small escarpment into a deep pool. Of the fawn there was no sign yet the elflings were too enthralled by the sight of the glade and the waterfall with its many rainbows to worry about it.
Suddenly there was a shimmering of lights and the three Maiar stood before the children who cowered and looked ready to flee. Lisselindë held up her hand. "Peace, my children," she said warmly. "Fear not, for we mean you no harm. Do you like our little hideaway?"
The three elflings nodded almost as one and Lisselindë laughed. "Then let us dance and sing and be merry, for you are welcome here now and always." Even as she spoke the other two Maiar began to sing a song about joy and good fellowship while Lisselindë spread her hands, inviting the children to take them. Soon all of them were dancing in a circle, the children laughing, their weapons lying forgotten on the grass beside the pool.
Manveru and Erunáro watched the elleth as she led the ellon towards a particularly large chestnut tree. The ellon, clearly a Noldo by his looks, was blindfolded and the elleth, her coloring a pleasing blend of Sinda and Nando, was giggling. "Almost there, melethron nîn," she said.
"I hope so," the ellon said with a laugh. "This is not what I meant when I said I wanted to spend some time alone with you."
The elleth giggled again as she led him to the tree and removed the blindfold. The ellon blinked, trying to focus. "What do you think?" she asked, sounding almost anxious.
The ellon gazed up into its spreading branches and then down at the elleth beside him. "It’s a tree."
She slapped him on the arm in mock dismay. "Of course it’s a tree. I meant, what do you think about building a talan in it?"
The ellon smiled fondly at the elleth and bent down to give her a kiss. "You and your talans. Wouldn’t you rather just have a nice house instead?"
"You Noldor have no soul," the elleth countered with a sniff.
"Which is why you married me," the ellon retorted with a laugh, putting his arm around her shoulder and giving her a hug which ended up with the two of them kissing.
"What is it, Barafinnel?" the elleth asked in confusion.
"That tree just hit me!" Barafinnel exclaimed, rubbing his hand on his head. At his feet was a rather large chestnut.
The elleth looked at her husband skeptically. "I’m sure it did not do it on purpose. The chestnut merely fell and you were in its way."
"Well, let’s stand over here then and pick up where we left off," the ellon said with a sly grin and the elleth complied.
Soon they were lost in each other’s embrace.
"Merilin, I swear this tree hates me. Look!"
Now there were two large chestnuts at the ellon’s feet. Merilin sighed. "I’m sure it was just a coincidence."
"Well, why didn’t one of them hit you instead?" Barafinnel nearly snarled.
Merilin smirked. "Perhaps it likes me more."
The ellon grabbed the elleth and moved purposely away from the tree until they were standing under a nearby maple. He maneuvered their position so she was leaning against its trunk and he had his hands on either side of her, blocking her escape. He leered at her. "Now, where were we before we were so rudely interrupted?"
Merilin giggled and then she was eagerly kissing him and for a time there was only the sound of their heavy breathing.
"Argh!" Barafinnel almost screamed as he arched in pain. Merilin stared at him in shock as he collapsed to his knees in front of her, nearly a dozen chestnuts on the ground around them.
"Are you well, beloved?" Merilin asked, kneeling so as to wrap her arms around her husband.
"Do I look well?" Barafinnel whimpered. "Now do you believe me when I say that tree hates me?"
"Well, perhaps you should apologize to it," Merilin replied in a reasonable tone.
Barafinnel looked up at his wife in disbelief. "Apologize to a tree? I haven’t done anything to it to apologize for."
"Well, you did say you didn’t like it."
"I never did! I said I preferred living in a house."
"Well, I’m sure the tree took it as an insult which is why it’s throwing its chestnuts at you," Merilin retorted, sounding cross. "Now stop whining and go apologize. I like that tree and I want to make our home in it."
Barafinnel groaned as he stood up, his hands rubbing his back where the chestnuts had hit him. "This is ridiculous," he muttered, glaring at the chestnuts lying in the grass at his feet.
"Ridiculous or not, you’re going to apologize to that poor tree right now," Merilin said in a no-nonsense tone.
"Poor tree! What about poor me?"
"Oh really! You ellyn are such babies. How did you manage to win the war with all that whining?"
Barafinnel grimaced, knowing he had been bested by both his wife and a tree. Shaking his head, he made his way back to the chestnut and glared at it for a moment before tentatively putting his hand on its trunk, feeling himself redden in embarrassment and glad that none of his fellow warriors could see him. "Goheno nîn. I did not mean to insult you. I think you are a very fine chestnut tree, one of the finest I’ve ever seen."
He remained standing there, feeling every kind of fool, when a single chestnut dropped, not on him, but next to him.
"There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?" Merilin asked with a smug grin. "You see, the tree likes you now."
"If you say so, love," the ellon said with a sigh.
"Now, why don’t we show the tree how much we like it by climbing into it."
Merilin was already halfway up the tree before Barafinnel could even register the fact. She turned to look down at him, her expression almost feral. "I think we should celebrate our new-found friendship with this tree, don’t you?"
Barafinnel’s eyes widened as he caught the drift of his wife’s meaning and in seconds he was sitting beside her on a wide branch and the two of them began to lose themselves in each other’s embrace.
"Time to go," Manveru said with a smile as he watched the two Elves become increasingly aroused.
"I think he learned his lesson, don’t you?" his brother in the Thought of Ilúvatar said with a laugh as the two of them jumped down from the high branch they had been roosting on.
"Never insult a tree, especially when there are two Maiar sitting in it," Manveru quipped, joining his brother in laughter.
Neither Elf heard them, but the tree trembled slightly as if laughing as well.
Hithwen led her brother towards the chair she had set out earlier which sat under a spreading oak. Brandir followed her meekly, his expression blank, his eyes seeing nothing of the beauty around him. "Now, you just sit here," Hithwen said as she maneuvered him into the chair, wrapping a warm blanket around him, "and enjoy the day. I’ll be nearby."
The ellon gave no indication that he even heard her and she sighed, worry lines marring her lovely brow. She bent down and kissed her brother on the cheek, then walked away to start the day’s chores. Brandir just sat there, looking at nothing.
Eönwë and Maranwë gave each other concerned looks. "He is obviously in need of help," Maranwë said.
Eönwë nodded. "I wonder that Lord Irmo does not have him in Lórien where he can be properly tended to."
"Perhaps he is unaware of the many ellyn who are like Brandir, their hröar unharmed but their fëar shattered," Maranwë ventured.
The Herald of Manwë gave his fellow Maia a skeptical look. "I do not think anything goes unnoticed by any of the Valar within their own realm. No, I am sure Lord Irmo is quite aware of the plight of some of these warriors who saw too much evil in that last war." He sighed. "Atar knows I did."
"Is there anything we can do, though?" Maranwë asked. "I was too busy helping my lord tend to the fëar of the dead during that time to think about anything else."
Eönwë nodded. "You had a most important task."
"I think I would have preferred following you to Beleriand," the other Maia said ruefully.
"No, you would not. Trust me on that, my friend." Eönwë’s demeanor was sober.
"So, what can we do for this poor Child now?" Maranwë asked, willing to change the subject. He had felt bad not joining his friend in the War of Wrath but he knew his lord had needed him more than ever during that time. So many fëar marred by the terror of the War... he shook his head, as if trying to dislodge the images his memories had brought to the fore.
Eönwë stared compassionately at the ellon sitting there with his blank expression, his silvery-grey warrior braids lying limp and lusterless. "He needs to see there is beauty still in the world," he said. "Beauty and laughter and joy."
"Then let us show him," Maranwë stated. He looked about him, and smiled. There was another oak tree nearby and in fact Brandir was staring right at it. "I have never worked with the Reborn, even in the Gardens outside Mandos," he said to Eönwë, "but I have spoken with those of my brethren who do and they have told me some of the stories about how they act and all."
"What do you have in mind?" Eönwë asked.
Maranwë did not answer but lightly jumped up and grabbed a thick branch and swung his legs over so that he was hanging upside down facing the ellon. Slowly, so as not to startle the Elf too much he allowed himself to incarnate, swinging from the branch and humming a ditty popular among the children in Vanyamar. Eönwë had to admire his friend’s sense of play. When the ditty was finished, he started making funny faces at the Elf, who never seemed to notice the Maia.
The Herald shook his head. "I don’t think it’s working," he said and Maranwë reluctantly agreed, swinging himself down from the tree and walking over to where Eönwë stood unclad next to Brandir. He knelt before the ellon, reaching up to stroke his hair.
"What are we to do for you, meldonya?" he said sadly. "It grieves us that you are so lost. Will you not return to us and embrace joy again?" He looked up at Eönwë who had incarnated in the meantime. "Do you know his story?"
Eönwë shook his head. "Though I am sure it is similar to the ones I do know. There was so much evil unleashed at the end. Melkor’s last efforts were ones of extreme desperation. It amazes me that some of these Children did not simply flee their hröar altogether."
"So what do we do?" Maranwë inquired with a sigh.
Eönwë joined Maranwë in stroking Brandir’s hair, looking sadly at the ellon who appeared not to have noticed them at all. He glanced at his friend and fellow Maia. "Kidnap him?"
"Take him to Lord Irmo."
"Rather extreme measures."
"Bring Lord Irmo here?"
"That might work better, assuming he would consent to come." Maranwë sighed. "I suppose I could speak with my own lord and ask him to intercede in Brandir’s behalf to his brother."
The two Maiar were silent for a time, each gently continuing to stroke Brandir’s hair, just letting him know that he was not alone.
They turned to see Hithwen standing there, a tray of food and drink in her hands, her face a mixture of awe and fear. Maranwë smiled at her and addressed her in Sindarin. "Fear not, Child. I am Maranwë of the People of Bannoth and this is Eönwë of the People of Manweg. We were passing by and saw your brother and stopped to greet him."
Hithwen still looked stricken. "B-bannoth? You mean to take my brother to...."
"No, Child," Maranwë sought to reassure her. "We were truly just passing through on business of our own."
"Indeed, Child," Eönwë added. "We were just discussing informing my Lord Glurim of the need to bring people like your brother to Lórien that they might receive proper treatment and healing for their wounds."
"Brandir is not wounded, lord," Hithwen said. "He is just...."
"Lost. Yes, I know," Eönwë supplied. "His fae is in need of healing, Hithwen. It was this that my brother and I were discussing." He gave her an appraising look. "Is that tray for your brother?"
"What? Oh, yes," she said, reddening somewhat. "It is his luncheon."
"Then we will leave you now," Eönwë said with a slight bow of his head and Maranwë copied him. Both made to leave but stopped in surprise.
All this while, as they were talking to Hithwen, the two Maiar had continued stroking Brandir’s hair, and while the ellon still did not seem to see them or know that they were even there, a small smile now graced his lips.
"Oh!" Hithwen exclaimed, putting the tray down on a small table next to the chair to go to her brother. "He’s never done that before."
"Then he is not as lost as you thought, Child," Maranwë said gently, pleased that in this small way he and Eönwë had been able to reach the poor ellon.
Hithwen looked up with tears in her eyes, a sense of hope lurking behind the wet lashes. "Le hannon, hîr nîn, for both of us."
The two Maiar gave her another bow and walked away, fading into the fabric of the environment, much to Hithwen’s astonishment.
"Not exactly how I had planned to spend my free time," Maranwë said as they continued on their way, "though I do not regret it."
"Nor me," Eönwë said. "Come. Let us go see my lord Irmo and speak to him about Brandir and others like him. If he agrees to allow such broken souls admittance into Lórien I will consider this little holiday well-spent."
"Let us even so."
Together the two friends thought themselves away, knowing that they would soon return.
"There haven’t been any... um... incidents?" Manwë asked Námo.
The Lord of Mandos shook his head. "None to speak of. On the whole I think this little experiment of allowing our People to interact with the Children on Tol Eressëa in this manner has worked for the better."
"The Exiled Noldor are as much in need of... re-education as the Sindar and Nandor who have never met us," Varda commented.
They all nodded.
"Eönwë and Maranwë are outside even now waiting to speak to me about bringing some of these Children to Lórien for healing," Irmo said.
"Then, by all means, let us hear what they have to say," Manwë said. "Now that Melkor has been banished for a time, the healing of Arda can perhaps finally begin."
To that there was no objection and all turned their attention to the two Maiar who were making their way before the Valar in behalf of one of Atar’s Children.
All words and phrases are Sindarin unless otherwise noted.
A Ola, Cevendan, thavron Ardhon, / Ceredir e-mîr, ah e-gynd....: "O Aulë, Earthsmith, builder of Arda, / Maker of jewels and of rocks...."
Melethron nîn: My (male) lover.
Talan: Wooden platform in a tree, also called a flet.
Goheno nîn: ‘Forgive me’, with the person forgiven as object.
Hröar: (Quenya) Plural of hröa: Physical body.
Fëar: (Quenya) Plural of fëa: Soul, spirit. The Sindarin form is fae.
Meldonya: (Quenya) My (male) friend.
Bannoth: Sindarin form of Námo.
Manweg: Sindarin form of Manwë.
Glurim: Sindarin form of Irmo.
Le hannon, hîr nîn: ‘Thank you, my lords’. In the context of the scene, she is addressing them both.
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