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10: Pá Morilattar
Námo found himself in distress without understanding why. The sensations of the hröa which he was experiencing were interesting in themselves, for he had never stayed incarnated for such a long time, but some of the sensations were annoying or downright embarrassing.
Like now, for instance.
There was a funny sensation at the end of the protuberance on his face that he recognized was how he breathed the atmosphere. ‘Nose’, if he remembered correctly, was the word that Aulë had coined for it, but now there was something wrong and he couldn’t reach it to find out what it was. All he knew was that the sensation was driving him crazy and, worse, he had no name for what he was feeling. Even as he was wrinkling his face trying to get rid of the sense of discomfort he wondered if the Children would experience the same thing and come up with a word for it. He hoped so. ‘Annoying sensation on the end of my nose’ didn’t quite work, but in his distress he couldn’t think of anything else to call it.
Then there was the silence. Somehow, the manacles that bound him and kept him in hröa also prevented him from using ósanwë to communicate with his fellow Ayanumuz. He had wondered why Vairë hadn’t just called to them when taken captive, and now he understood. He was alone in a way he had never experienced before, bereft of freedom and bereft of community. It was frightening. He tried to open himself to Atar but there was nothing there, just a blank emptiness in the center of his fëa where Atar had always been even when he wasn’t consciously aware of it.
He did not think anything could prevent him from speaking to Atar. The thought of Melkor having the power to cut him off from Atar made him quail. Despair engulfed him and he wondered how long it would be before Melkor would come and simply take what he wanted from him. He did not think he could resist for very long without Atar there to support him through his trials.
Acairis had left him some time ago and that was another thing. ‘Time’ seemed to have a different meaning to him while in hröa than it did when he was unclothed. He had never paid attention to the passing of time, though he was aware of it as stars flamed into existence and then flamed out again, planets lived and died and whole galaxies underwent evolutionary changes. Yet the passage of time as Eä knew it was an external thing, not touching him except as a referent to the approaching Time of the Children, the only event in Eä that actually interested the Ayanumuz. All else was mere Prologue, a setting up of the stage for the great Drama that was soon to unfold on Atháraphelun.
But now ‘time’ held a different meaning for him. ‘Time’ was measurable in a way he had never thought it could be: between one visit by Acairis and the next. He both dreaded and anticipated those visits — dreaded them for what she did to him, or tried to; anticipated them for the relief they offered him from his aloneness. Alone, he had too much time to think. When Acairis came, he was incapable of thinking about anything except staving off the dark ecstasy that threatened to engulf him when she attempted her seductions and cruel games involving pain and pleasure.
The last time — he had lost count which time it was, the third or maybe the fourth — she had done nothing more than climb on top of him, wrapping her legs around his torso and her arms around his neck and then began licking and nibbling on one of his ears, running her fingers through his blue-black hair. At first the sensation was annoying.
"Acairis, what are you doing?" he had asked in exasperation.
"Hush, my love," she had whispered, then continued her ministrations.
"I am not your love," he had stated emphatically, but she wasn’t paying any attention and soon, neither was he.
The annoyance became less so and had she stopped after a while he might have thought it was pleasurable, but she didn’t. She had continued, transferring her attention to the other ear. Now, the sensation of pleasure was increasing to a level that was truly painful. Námo had gritted his teeth and could feel his entire hröa tightening as wave after wave of pleasure and pain coursed through him. He had found himself panting, trying to draw enough air into his lungs. He had tried to think of something else, anything else, but to no avail. His mind was a blank. Not even the thought of Vairë seemed to help.
He had heard himself moan as the feeling of pain crescendoed and focused itself into a single exquisite point just below his diaphragm and then he had heard someone scream and was appalled to realize that it was he doing the screaming.
And above his screams he had heard Acairis’ dark laughter as she had climbed down from her perch. With a final flick of her tongue across his chest, she had faded from his sight. The look of satisfaction on her face had been thoroughly evil.
As the final wave of ecstasy had engulfed him, sending him into oblivion, his last thought had been a prayer.
*O Atar, where art thou?*
That had been the question that had greeted him upon his wakening, finding himself alone again. This time he almost welcomed it. He could feel his hröa weakening for some reason and was unsure why. He found it difficult to swallow now and his sight was blurry. He began to fall into a stupor, only to jerk awake when a single sound reached his ears.
He looked around, but saw no one. He frowned, trying to remember what he had heard. It had been a voice, he was sure, but he could not place it. He leaned his head against the stalagmite and closed his eyes again, falling back into a state of uncaring, wondering idly if anyone was planning a rescue or if they had forsaken him. Maybe they were just waiting for Manwë to return. He hoped it would be soon. He really wanted to disincarnate now and wondered how the Children would cope with always being in their hröa without escape except through death.
He opened his eyes, blinking stupidly. What was that word?
Death... he let it roll across his lips and through his mind. He knew about death, for it was all around him in the rise and fall of whole galaxies. The Ayanumuz had inhabited Eä long enough to witness the life cycles of stars and those of lower lifeforms that inhabited what few planets they had bothered to create that could sustain life. Yet...
The thought of the Children dying... he felt a shiver run through him. Atar had used a word for the Secondborn when he was describing Námo’s new gift. What had it been? He hadn’t really paid much attention, still trying to come to grips with his new-found ability.
Mortal... that was it, mortal. He experimented with the word in his mind, saying it over and over again and alternating that word with ‘death’. Yes, the Secondborn would die, but so would the Firstborn, or at least some of them. He had a sudden vision of a time so far into the future that there were no words to describe it. He saw himself standing in a hall of some kind and calling a name and there before him stood one of the Firstborn, but only in fëa, and there was a look of sheer terror on the Child’s face. Even as the vision faded, he wondered why seeing him had evoked such terror and was suddenly saddened.
He was distracted by something wet running down his face and spent several precious minutes wondering at this particular sensation. Truly, the hröa was a marvel and he could well understand why Manwë had cautioned them about staying too long in it. The sensations were too addictive, even, he realized with some chagrin, the pain.
Was that Melkor’s plan? Was he to be weakened in hröa to the extent that Acairis’ advances would be impossible to resist so that by the time Melkor was ready for him he would not be able to distinguish pain from pleasure and would welcome Melkor’s embrace because of it? A dark thrill rippled through him and he found himself suddenly squirming, trying to pull his hands through the manacles.
"You really shouldn’t do that."
Námo stopped and stared at Acairis who was sitting cross-legged on the stump of a nearby stalagmite, her chin in her hands, gazing at him dispassionately.
"Wh-why not?" he rasped, his voice so thin it was difficult to think of it as his voice. Acairis tsked and suddenly was standing next to him, offering him a cup of water from a clear cut-crystal goblet. He hesitated to accept but his hröa was in torment and he eagerly drank, feeling suddenly more alive than he had since being chained.
"Thank you," he whispered and meant it. She was evil but it didn’t mean he had to treat her with anything less than the respect with which he would treat any of the Máyar. He would not follow her down the black hole she had fallen into.
Acairis lifted a delicate eyebrow and smirked. "You’re welcome." Then she resumed her seat on the stump and gave him a quizzical look. "Tell me about the morilattar."
The request surprised him on one level, but somehow not another level. "What do you want to know?" he asked. He didn’t mind talking to her if it kept her otherwise occupied.
Now it was his turn to raise an eyebrow. "Everything?"
She nodded, her eyes dark with some kind of passion to which he could put no name. It frightened him, nonetheless. "I want to know everything there is to know about Varda’s mistakes. They are so fascinating."
For a long moment Námo merely stared at the fallen Máya and wondered. Was this interest in black holes something she had had all along or was it a product of her fallen state? He didn’t know and at this point didn’t care.
"They are a singularity of such extremely intense gravity that not even light can escape," he started to explain.
"Why?" the Máya asked with obvious interest.
Námo leaned his head against the stalagmite and closed his eyes, dredging up all that he had learned about these fascinating phenomena. "When a supernova remnant shrinks below a certain size, the extreme curvature of space seals off contact with the outside universe."
"So it is the extreme gravitational pull of the singularity that prevents everything including light from escaping," Acairis summarized, her voice sounding eager.
"Yes," Námo said with a nod. "And anything that comes within a certain radius of the singularity is pulled into it and cannot escape. I’ve called it the ‘event horizon’."
"And Varda had no idea she was making one, did she?" the Máya smirked.
Námo frowned. True, they had all laughed at the results of Varda trying to make a single large star to shine from the galactic centers of several galaxies, including their home galaxy and the Children’s galaxy, but it had really been a mistake and she had been so devastated by the results. As Námo recalled, Varda had gathered as much interstellar matter as she could find and then started compressing it to form the stars. Unfortunately, as the matter collapsed the gravitational attraction increased beyond anyone’s expectations and before she could stop it the matter disappeared into an emptiness that honestly appalled them, for the escape velocity exceeded the speed of light and suddenly nothing was there.
"It was a mistake," he said, seeking to defend the Elentári as some of the Máyar were beginning to call her. "She knows better now."
Acairis’ smirk deepened. "No doubt." She gave him a considering look. "Tell me about the event horizon."
"What do you want to know?" he asked.
She shrugged. "Why is there an event horizon?"
He shook his head. "I don’t know. I only know that all morilattar have them and some are very close to the singularity while others are further away. You can only detect the event horizon if matter is streaming into it, otherwise..."
"Otherwise, you could be sucked into one without warning," she said, nodding and looking thoughtful. "How interesting... something that sucks all electromagnetic radiation into itself and never lets it go."
Something about the way she said those words sent a frisson of dread through Námo’s hröa. Acairis must have noticed for she looked up and gave him a smile that never reached her eyes.
"Wouldn’t it be fun to venture past the event horizon of one of these morilattar?" she asked with glee.
Námo couldn’t help smiling. "Only if you’re interested in never returning to Eä," he said.
She got up from the stump and moved over to Námo, softly caressing his chest. He felt his hröa involuntarily tightening in anticipation of yet another session of pain and pleasure but Acairis merely looked up at him, her expression more serious than he had ever seen on her.
"There are morilattar, Námo," she whispered to him, "and then, there are morilattar. You are standing on the very edge of the event horizon of the one if not the other. Take care lest you step too much closer, for it you do, you will never escape even if... if the One, himself, rescues you from Melkor."
It was telling to Námo that the Máya did not refer to Eru as Atar any more. He was not sure what her words meant or even why she was issuing such a warning. Before he could formulate a question, though, she was gone, leaving him wondering, unaware that he was slowly sinking into the black hole of despair as hopelessness of his plight began to engulf him.
Pá Morilattar: (Quenya) "Concerning Black Holes".
Elentári: (Quenya) Queen of Stars, a title of Varda.
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