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3: The Máhanumaz
They placed the second beacon-star in a different galaxy. Varda cringed when she learned where they were going to put it. It was one of her earlier attempts at creating a galaxy and as a spiral it failed miserably. There was a central bar of stars where the spirals would have begun, but she could never quite get them to work and so it was very irregular in shape. There were actually two of them fairly close together, one smaller than the other. Personally, Námo rather liked them as he found spirals to be too... ordinary. Manwë was constantly assuring her that what she considered ‘mistakes’ were quite lovely in their own right.
"We can only try for perfection, beloved, but can never hope to achieve it," he told her after her second attempt failed and she was nearly weeping with frustration. "Eru rejoices in our efforts more than in our actual achievements. These ‘failures’ as you call them are quite beautiful and we rejoice in them, as we rejoice in you and your talents." He kissed her tenderly and she took comfort from it.
Now they were setting up the second beacon-star. Námo was curious to see Aulendil pestering his Master with questions about the beacons and their mathematics. Námo noticed with amusement that Aulë patiently answered the Máya’s questions without actually giving anything away. He wasn’t sure if Aulendil understood what the Ayanuz was doing but decided it wasn’t important enough to worry about. Manwë suspected that there were a number of Máyar who were sympathetic to Melkor without declaring themselves openly as some of their brethren had already done. It was best to exercise caution, though Námo suspected that in the end it would all come to naught. Some things just seemed to be inevitable. He wondered sometimes why he had been able to see so much farther into Eä’s history than any of the others. Sometimes the knowing was more burdensome than he liked and he was never sure what he should tell for fear that others might try to change the course of what must be. Atar had explained it to him before he had left the Timeless Halls...
"Each of my Children has been given special gifts," Ilúvatar said as they wandered through the water-meads. "Thy gift is perhaps more burdensome than most, my son, but if I did not think thou couldst handle it, thou wouldst not have received it."
"It’s hard, though," Námo said softly, sounding somewhat confused. "Sometimes the knowledge of what will come is too... painful... and who do I tell?"
Ilúvatar smiled gently at his Child and kissed him, enveloping him in an ocean of love and well-being. "Thou canst always tell me, my best beloved. I will always listen."
Námo sighed and allowed himself to sink into his Atar’s embrace. "But who else should I tell?" he asked.
Ilúvatar simply smiled. "Trust thine own feelings, Child. And if thou canst not do that, then trust Manwë to know what to do. He is thine elder in all things and has wisdom thou hast yet to achieve. Go to him when thou'rt troubled and he will comfort thee."
Námo nodded, looking less confused, but still unsure. Ilúvatar took him further into his embrace and soothed him with a lullaby. Námo sighed again, reveling in the ecstasy of being loved by Love...
Námo’s attention was drawn back to the present when a sudden explosion of light and gamma rays burst upon them and the second beacon-star appeared. All cheered, though Námo idly noticed that Aulendil was less enthusiastic about the beacon’s appearing than his fellow Máyar. He frowned as an errant thought crossed his mind but disappeared before he could actually latch onto it. He thought it might be important, but he couldn’t be sure. He shook his head to clear his mind.
"Don’t you think it’s pretty?"
Námo turned to see Vairë standing next to him. "Sorry?"
She smiled warmly at him and he suddenly felt stupid for some reason. "The beacon-star. Do you not think it is pretty?"
"Ah... um... yes, I suppose it is," he stuttered and wished he could just disappear into Varda’s black hole in the center of their home galaxy. He had thought Vairë the fairest of the Ayanumuz when they were yet in the Timeless Halls. His brother Irmo had tried to encourage him to speak to her, but he’d been too shy and unsure of himself. When he learned that she had chosen to enter Eä his joy knew no bounds, but he still did not speak to her overmuch after they finally came there. His duties often kept him from seeing her as often as he would have liked for she was usually working with Nienna and Estë, while Námo most often found himself working with his brother and Oromë.
And now here she was, speaking to him and he couldn’t think of anything interesting to say to her. Not that it mattered, for Vairë seemed content to do all the talking.
"I thought the first beacon-star was spectacular, but this one is quite lovely. I like how it flashes different colors as it spins. Even the gamma emissions have a musical tone to them, don’t you think?" She flashed him a brilliant smile.
He nodded. "Very musical, but not as... as musical as you... I mean when you sing," he said wondering if he sounded as idiotic as he felt. Irmo seemed to know all the right things to say to Estë and he was much younger than he in their Atar’s Thought. You would think as the elder brother he would be the more sure one. Their sister had merely shaken her head when he had said as much to her one time.
"Each of us comes into his or her own at their own pace, brother," she had said, smiling at him with great patience. "Do not rush to be like our little brother. Concentrate on being yourself. You’ll find you’ll like yourself better that way."
Vairë was giving him a considering look. "Do you think I’m musical?"
He nodded. "I liked the way you sang the Song. I think I would have foregone singing it myself just to listen to you."
"Why didn’t you?" she asked coyly.
Námo had to stop and think about that. Why hadn’t he stopped singing his part of the Song to listen to Vairë? It would have been lovely to have done so, but then he realized that standing as close to Melkor as he had been, it would have been dangerous. She was not standing all that far from Melkor either but she was further away than he and was therefore protected from Melkor’s insinuations. She might have been persuaded to join him in his rebellion had Námo stopped singing so that she would have heard Melkor’s discontent more clearly. Her own part of the Song could well have been corrupted. That thought frightened him. He knew now that by remaining in the Song, he might very well have saved her.
"I... I needed to remain in the Song myself," he stammered. "I did not want to be disobedient to Atar." Now he just sounded as young as some of the Máyar who had come into existence much later in their Atar’s Thoughts and even Námo had found them amusingly naive in comparison to him and the other Ayanumuz.
Vairë frowned somewhat but brightened again. "I’m glad you were obedient to Atar’s commands," she replied. "I do not think I would have liked it if I were the source of your disobedience, even unknowingly. That would have been too heavy a burden to bear. Thank you for remaining in the Song."
Námo looked at her in surprise. "Y-you’re welcome."
He was saved from thinking of what else he might say to her by Ulmo coming up to them, embracing him with his thoughts. "Manwë wishes to speak with you, Little Brother. Hello Vairë."
"Hello, Ulmo," Vairë said with a smile. "Where’s Estë? I wish to speak to her myself."
Ulmo shrugged. "She’s around somewhere, giving one of the Máyar grief over something, I think."
They all laughed, for they knew Estë was very particular about how things should be and woe betide anyone, Máya or Ayanuz, who did not meet her exact standards.
"I’ll just go find her then," Vairë said, "and see if I can’t rescue whichever hapless Máya has fallen into her clutches."
Námo and Ulmo both laughed again and then they were alone. Ulmo embraced Námo once more. "Come, we shouldn’t keep Manwë waiting."
Námo nodded in agreement. Looking about, though, he realized that most of the people had dispersed now that the beacon-star was set while he and Vairë had been talking. Manwë was nowhere in sight. He turned to his fellow Ayanuz in puzzlement. Ulmo merely smiled knowingly.
"Manwë said to give you and Vairë one hundred eighty thousand spins of the beacon before interrupting you."
"How generous of him," Námo said somewhat sardonically.
Ulmo laughed. "You don’t know how generous, Little Brother. Varda only wanted to give you half that much time. Come, let us go."
Námo nodded and, lifting the coordinates from Ulmo’s mind, followed him across Eä to where Manwë was presently holding court, deep in the heart of one of the spirals whose nucleus was an intensive source of light all along the spectrum, making it an easy place to find in the great wastelands that still abounded all around Eä.
They arrived near the galactic center, coming to a planet circling a red giant where a dead ocean covered most of the surface, its dark waters lapping listlessly against barren rock. Ulmo grimaced somewhat at the sight but otherwise said nothing. Námo remained silent as well. He thought the planet was actually quite beautiful in its deadness, but was wise enough not to say such things to the others. Even his brother sometimes looked at him askance whenever he said something like that. Only Manwë seemed to understand what he truly was saying and would offer him a secret smile which gave him some comfort even as he remained embarrassed by his gaffe.
The rocks were of a shade that was closer to rose and purple rather than true red. The ocean, while lifeless, was nevertheless interesting in its own right as dark emerald waves lapped upon the shore under a mauve sky. This close to the galactic center the planet knew nothing of night. The sky was forever brilliant with stars and its own parent star glowed in carmine shades, swollen and red as it entered the final stages of its existence.
They met in a natural amphitheater of rock in the midst of the one small island continent this planet could boast. Námo was surprised to see only Manwë, Varda, Aulë, Yavanna, Oromë and his own sister, Nienna, there. None of the other Ayanumuz was present. He glanced at Manwë in unspoken confusion. Manwë smiled and gestured for him and Ulmo to join them where they congregated near the center of the amphitheater. Ulmo gave Námo a sympathetic smile of his own.
"Do not wonder that not of all us are here, Little Brother," he said as they made their way down to where the others awaited them. "We eight are the most powerful of the Ayanumuz and it is for us to make the decisions concerning the ordering of Eä and the establishment of Atháraphelun."
Námo stopped in shock. "What do you mean? Irmo is much more powerful than I and Vairë..."
"Not so, my son," Manwë interjected. "I know you do not think yourself powerful, but you are in ways that you little understand, though in time and with thought you will see what you consider your weaknesses as the strengths they truly are."
Námo shook his head, not sure he agreed, but remained silent. Manwë gave them all a glance, lingering longest on Varda. The two shared a secret smile between them and for a brief moment their aurae flared forth in splendor as their love for one another manifested itself. The others basked in the reflected glow and Námo felt immeasurably better for it. Then their aurae dimmed to more acceptable levels and Manwë turned his attention to the others.
"Ulmo is correct," he continued, speaking solemnly. "Whether we recognize it or not, we eight and only we eight are the most powerful of the Ayanumuz who have entered Eä. It is for us to determine the shape of the universe in readiness for the Children who are to come. This is an awesome responsibility, but Atar has every faith in us and we must hold true to that faith for ourselves and each other, especially when things go wrong, and they will." He glanced again at Varda who merely nodded her acceptance of her beloved Spouse’s words.
Manwë spoke again. "To that end, we must delegate our responsibilities between ourselves. Varda, I think, will continue bringing forth the stars, while Aulë, Ulmo and I will continue to work out the mathematics of the deep structures. I’m not satisfied that there are only nine spatial dimensions. I think there is a tenth one we haven’t detected yet. It’s hidden somewhere in the superstrings."
Ulmo nodded. "I concur," he said. "At least we only have to deal with one temporal dimension. I wonder why Atar wanted ten spatial ones, though? Except for the four that rule the macrocosmos, all the others are in the microcosmic range and should not unduly disrupt the structures we’ve invoked."
"Yet, we need to track them all down if we are to monitor the flux of chaos that may threaten us," Aulë commented. "Better to be safe than sorry. We need to locate that tenth dimension, as Manwë says. Ignorance could spell doom for us if we are not careful."
Námo nodded. "The tenth dimensional field will prove important for us in the future."
All the others looked at him in surprise. "How do you mean, Námo?" Varda asked, her expression somewhat grim and suspicious. "What have you seen?"
Námo felt weak before Varda’s gaze but held himself upright. "I have seen nothing, but I know this tenth dimension that Manwë wants to find will be important for us in the future."
"Peace, Varda," Manwë said, stilling all protest with his tone. "If Námo says he does not know the particulars than we must respect that. It is enough to know that knowledge of its location, be it in the macro or the micro, will be of importance to us in the future. The whys and the wherefores are not necessary for us to know at this time."
Varda nodded reluctantly. Manwë resumed speaking. "Yavanna, you and Nienna should concentrate on coming up with some architectural designs of Atháraphelun. Atar means for it to be the centerpiece of his creation, the birthplace of his Children. It needs to be special and unique."
"We will recruit the others as necessary," Ulmo then interjected, "but Irmo and Estë are working on their own project and Vairë has indicated she wishes to help them. I suspect Vána will want to work with you, Yavanna, and perhaps Nessa."
Yavanna and Nienna nodded their agreement to Ulmo's assessment. Then Manwë turned his attention to Námo and Oromë, his expression turning more grave. Námo wondered nervously what task the Eldest had determined to give them. He did not have long to wait.
"Oromë, you and Námo will have the most dangerous task." Manwë paused for a moment as if debating whether to continue. "I need you to track down Melkor’s whereabouts."
Námo felt himself shrink from that and Oromë looked equally nonplused. "Do not confront him," Manwë warned, "but seek to establish where he hides himself. I do not like the way he snuck up on Námo this last time." Námo blushed at Manwë’s words, but there was no condemnation in anyone’s eyes. "We need to keep better vigilance against my deluded brother’s machinations. I fear that some of our own people may well be snared in his trap."
"If they haven’t been snared already," Námo said, remembering Aulendil’s inquisitiveness about the beacon-star and then his sudden disinterest in it.
Manwë nodded. "Indeed."
Oromë turned to Námo with a questioning look. Námo shrugged, then said, "You are wise in the ways of the hunt, Oromë, for did you not find that errant variable star that was wreaking havoc with the electromagnetic fields of those two stellar systems that collided when no one else, including Varda, could find it? I will follow where you lead."
"Where should we look, though?" Oromë asked. "We need a starting point in order to pick up Melkor’s trail."
"Start where he was last seen," Manwë suggested. "Start where the most recent supernova occurred."
Varda muttered something vicious that none of them quite caught, though they laughed all the same, for the proper Lady to the Eldest was known to have a sharp tongue and an imaginative vocabulary.
"Before we disperse to our separate tasks," Manwë then said, "I think it behooves us to give our little group a name that separates us from the others, Ayanumuz and Máyar alike."
"Why?" Yavanna asked.
It was her spouse, Aulë, who answered. "As a way of quickly identifying ourselves to our fellows. Already many of the Máyar refer to our brother Manwë as ‘Tar-Anyára’. It would be wise, I think, to establish lines of authority now rather than later. We are the chief of the Ayanumuz and the Máyar here in Eä. This should be recognized by all."
All this while Námo had remained silent, his thoughts distant from the discussion as the future impinged upon his conscious. Then, he spoke, and when he did it was with an authority that even he wondered at. "We are the Máhanumaz, though the Children will render it differently in their own language."
Manwë nodded. "‘Máhanumaz’ then. By this name shall we be forever known, ve Ilúvatar selyas."
"Ve Ilúvatar selyas," the others echoed and then, at Manwë’s command, all dispersed saved Námo and Oromë.
When they were alone, Manwë spoke. "I know that what I ask of you two may be impossible, but I deem it most important that we know where Melkor hides himself. The future of Atháraphelun may well depend upon it. Go now, and take care. My brother is the most potent of us all and may have powers of which even I am not aware. He is dangerous. Do not underestimate him or those who now follow him. They seek the darkness, fearing the light. That is both their strength and their weakness. Remain in Atar’s Love and remember who and what you are and you will do well."
He embraced them and kissed them as their elder brother rather than their king. Námo felt strengthened in Manwë’s trust in him. Then with a bow he and Oromë took their leave of Ilúvatar’s Vice-gerent in Eä in search of Melkor’s lair, somewhere in the uncharted depths of the cosmos.
Tar-Anyára: (Quenya) Most Old King, i.e. the Elder King as he would later be called by the Children. [tar "king" + an (intensive prefix) + yára "ancient, old" (Tár, as an independent noun, is used only for the legitimate kings of whole tribes. Manwë could be said to be the king of the entire ‘tribe’ of Eru Ilúvatar’s Children in Eä.)]
Máhanumaz: (Valarin) Authorities; the title given to the eight chiefs of the Valar. The singular would be Máhanaz. In Quenya this was rendered as Máhani (sg. Máhan) but most often they were known as the Aratar, meaning "Supreme", among the Eldar.
Ve Ilúvatar selyas: (Quenya) "As Ilúvatar wills it."
Notes: Varda’s "mistakes" are, of course, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, which are irregular galaxies and our closest neighbors.
The galaxy where Manwë holds court with the other Máhanumaz is a spiral galaxy known as M77 and is called a Seyfert galaxy. These galaxies have nuclei that are intensive sources of light along all wavelengths from radio to X-rays. M77 is the brightest such galaxy in our sky. It lies 60 million light years away in the Cetus Cluster.
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