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12: Finding Námo
Námo was resting, floating serenely in a Void that was not empty, but was gravid with potentiality. It was rather like being held in someone’s arms. He frowned, or rather, his aura darkened to a shade that would in his incarnate form manifest itself as a frown. He seemed to remember being in someone’s arms before, but the memory was elusive and it did not evoke any feelings of safety. He felt safe now. Safe from what, he could not have said at that point, only that he was safe....
And the Nothingness which held him agreed.
He sighed and snuggled deeper into Love’s embrace, unaware that that was where he was.
"Where is he? Where has he gone?" Irmo cried.
The would-be rescuers were in the cavern where Námo had been held, still staring in disbelief after the cloud of color that had disappeared with one of their own.
Irmo’s cry shook Manwë out of his shock — and if he were truthful — his anger, anger at Melkor, anger at Námo, but most of all, anger at himself. He sighed, shaking his head. "Come, there is nothing more we can do here."
The Máyar thought themselves home immediately. Oromë had to physically take Irmo in his embrace to prevent him from running after the nermir. The future Lord of Lórien protested, exclaiming that he wanted to stay and look for his brother, but Manwë gently, yet insistently, overruled him.
"Your brother is no longer on this planet, Irmo," Manwë said compassionately. "He has fled."
"Back home?" the younger Ayanuz asked hopefully and he cast his own mind out to touch the familiar electromagnetic signature that meant ‘brother’ to him, but nowhere could he feel Námo’s presence.
Manwë shook his head. "Nay, my son. He has not returned home. He is nowhere in Eä that I can detect."
That frightened Irmo and his hröa was visibly shaking in shock at the realization that what Manwë had just said was true. He could not find Námo anywhere. He looked up at the Eldest, his expression full of confusion and fear. "Wh-where is he? O Atar! where is my brother?"
Irmo started weeping and was unaware when both Manwë and Oromë embraced him and between them helped the younger Ayanuz to unclothe before they set off for home.
Námo became aware again, but could not find the will to take in his surroundings. He felt starlight on his fëa, soothing, warming, replenishing his depleted store of energy and cleansing him. The stars sang joyously of Life and Self-sacrifice, for they gave of themselves unstintingly, that life might bloom within Eä like flowers in springtide. Námo listened for a while, unaware that he was humming along with the stars’ singing. Then he gave a mental sigh, curled up into himself, still cradled in the Sea of Love, and went back to sleep, content.
The remaining seven Máhanumaz gathered on the planet where they had first named themselves to discuss what had happened. Irmo was with them, still distraught and unwilling to listen to reason.
"I have to go after him," he protested. "I have to help my brother."
"Where will you go?" Manwë asked in a reasonable tone. "Where will you look?"
"He has to be in Eä," Irmo stated firmly. "There’s nowhere else for him to go. The Timeless Halls are closed to us."
The others nodded in agreement, then Aulë spoke. "You are correct, Irmo. Námo is still within Eä, but somehow he’s found a way to... to hide himself, so none can detect his presence."
"He’s hiding from Melkor," Nienna said, her expression almost murderous at the thought of what Melkor had done to her brother.
"But why is he hiding from us?" Irmo asked plaintively, confused by it all.
Manwë shook his head. "I don’t think he’s purposely hiding from us, my son," he whom the Children would one day call the Elder King said. "I think he’s hiding more from himself."
Irmo shook his head, not sure what Manwë was saying and then he went still, a glimmering of a thought teasing his mind. "Hiding from himself... or Atar?"
There was a collective gasp and they all stood in somber silence at the implications of those words.
Where are you, brother? Irmo cried out in the silence of his fëa, feeling bereft of all comfort. Please come out of hiding. Let us who love you help you. Please, Atar, help us find my brother.
Irmo was unaware that all the others were sending their own prayers winging through the halls of Eä to the One who heard their pleas and smiled indulgently, even as He continued to hold the object of their concern in His embrace and crooned a lullaby that was echoed by Varda’s stars.
Námo came to himself with the lullaby echoing within him and looked about him with interest and frowned. Where was he?
All about him swirled the stars. He was in the midst of a globular cluster overlooking a galaxy. He checked the coordinates and gasped in surprise. This was the Children’s galaxy! But how?
He scanned the surrounding space. There was no sign of the others, anywhere. He hesitated to call out, afraid...
Why was he afraid?
Something dark clouded his memories and he shrank from its touch. He was unaware that he was whimpering as he fled into the heart of a nearby red giant and clung to its core. The gentle pulsing of the nuclear reaction soothed him and then he felt something stroke him reassuringly. With a sigh he curled himself around the core and fell back to sleep. The star, which was nearly depleted of its energy, heated itself up a bit more to give the Ayanuz additional comfort, joyful that its final outpouring of energy was for this lost one’s benefit.
Námo was unaware of the star’s final death throes as he dreamlessly slept on.
Manwë stood in the field where his beloved and her party had been attacked. It was peaceful now. The sunlight gleamed through high pink clouds while the ghostly reflection of the rings shimmered in the dark waters of the nearby lake. Flowers of every shade and hue swayed in the gentle breeze. The nermir that had so enchanted Námo flitted about in pairs or singly, going from one blossom to another in a lazy pattern of disdainful beauty, unaware or uncaring that their creators were watching.
Irmo was there, along with Oromë and Vairë. Manwë hid a smile at the sight of her. She was... ‘furious’ was too mild a word for what she was obviously feeling. Manwë sent a private thought to Aulë, who was helping to stand watch over the Children’s galaxy, asking for a suitable phrase to describe Vairë’s mental state. The future Smith of Arda was rather good at coining new words.
*Outraged?* he heard Aulë suggest. *Er... no... um... incensed... rampageous... uh... demented... oh, I know!... how about ‘royally pissed off’?"
Manwë watched Vairë fume and glower, muttering viciously to herself, obviously impatient to be doing something, anything, to bring her beloved back to them, and smiled, nodding. *Works for me,* he thought to Aulë and the Worldsmith laughed.
Manwë sighed to himself. Unfortunately, they were still at a loss as to how to proceed. Oromë stood somewhat apart from the group. At a distance, surrounding them, were a contingent of guardian Máyar, swords of light in their hands. No one was clothed. Manwë had made that clear: they were not going to take any chances that way, not with Melkor still loose.
"Anything?" Manwë asked.
Oromë shook his head. "He came here and then... it just stops. I don’t understand."
"Neither do I," Manwë said reflectively. "I have every confidence, though, that we will discover the truth of it in time. Meanwhile, let us continue to search. If he is unable to flee to the Timeless Halls and he’s nowhere in Eä, the only other place where he could conceivably go is Cúma."
"He would not go there," Irmo said forcibly. "My brother did not like lingering near the borders of Eä. Cúma would not be where he would flee even instinctively."
"What if he did not consciously flee anywhere?" Vairë asked, calming just enough to enter the conversation.
"What do you mean?" Manwë asked her, his expression one of mild interest. Perhaps Vairë had an insight into Námo’s character that was unknown to even his own brother and sister.
"What if he had help?" she responded, looking more perplexed than anything, as if the words she had just uttered did not make complete sense to her.
"Help?" Irmo asked. "Help from whom?"
It was a moment before Manwë was able to supply the answer, but when he did, no one questioned it.
"Atar," he said at last, nearly whispering. "Atar helped him."
They stood around in silence, trying to absorb the implications of the revelation. Finally, Vairë sighed, now looking exasperated. "If Atar is hiding him, we have no hope of finding him. We’ll have to wait until Atar reveals Námo’s whereabouts to us."
Irmo reluctantly agreed with her, but Manwë was dissatisfied. He turned to Oromë. "Keep searching. If Atar did indeed help Námo to flee, he still may have left clues for us to find."
Oromë nodded and set out to follow Námo’s electromagnetic signature, scanning the extra dimensions in case the Ayanuz had hid himself there. The others, including Vairë, stood silently by, hoping against hope, that they would be able to find Námo.
Before it’s too late, Vairë thought to herself. Too late for what, she could not say, and refused to contemplate the possibilities.
When he woke again, Námo found himself floating amidst an ocean of ionized gases and wondered what had happened to his star. The gases were backlit by a slowly rotating neutron star. Clouds of bright orange, deep red and sulfur yellow billowed about him, blown about by interstellar winds. It was absolutely stunning and Námo spent some time merely gazing at the colors, which reminded him of something but just what that was he could not say. He sighed and started to roll over and fall asleep again when a Voice echoed through him.
*Feeling better, best beloved?*
The Voice was full of warmth and love, but all Námo knew at that moment was sheer terror as memory of the last time he had heard someone say those words to him came crashing to the fore.
He screamed and tried to flee, but something held him down with inexorable intent, allowing him to thrash and scream to his heart’s content until exhaustion took over and his thrashings stilled along with the screaming. For some time that was measurable in the half-life of decaying radioactive particles, he simply lay there, floating, waiting, and not caring that he waited.
Eventually, the Voice spoke again, softly. *Námo, open thine eyes, Child.*
At first Námo did not understand the words. He had no eyes to open in his natural form. While he remained conscious he saw all about him. Only a conscious intent to close off his sensory input allowed him not to see, or hear or experience any other sense. He was awake at this time, his eyes were never closed.
*Not those eyes, Child,* the Voice chided gently. *Open thy mind, Námo. Thou'st kept it closed for far too long. Time to wake up.*
Then Námo understood and quailed. If he opened himself up that way Melkor would find him again. No. Best to remain hidden and safe, whatever the Voice said to the contrary.
*As long as thou'rt with me, Námo,* the Voice said with grave authority, *thou wilt be safe. No one will find thee unless thou dost will it so. Be at peace, my beloved, and open thyself again.*
Several stars in the vicinity flamed in and out of existence before Námo made a cautious move and let a small part of himself open up into full communion with Eä and all that was within it. It was a mere chink of an opening, but it was enough to let in Atar’s Love and Námo found himself weeping again, but this time not in terror.
*That’s it, Child,* Atar said. *All is well, now. There’s no need for tears. Atar has thee.*
*Hush now,* Atar said soothingly. *I’m not angry at thee, Námo. Be at peace.*
"B-but thou dost not know wh-what he...what he made me do," he whispered forlornly and was shocked to hear Atar’s quiet laughter echoing within him.
*Do I not? Why sayest thou that, Child?*
"Be-because you weren’t there!" Námo protested while looking around for a star to hide in. He wanted desperately to wrap himself around a star core. They always seemed to make him feel better when he did, their pulsing soothing him. "Melkor did something... I couldn’t feel thee."
Ah! there was a nice little yellow dwarf only a few degrees west of galactic north. Maybe....
*Námo,* Atar gently chided him, *stop looking about at the stars and pay attention.*
Námo went still, suddenly embarrassed. "Yes, Atar," he whispered.
*That’s better... Child, Melkor did nothing... it was thou who closed thyself off to me. I was always there waiting for thee.*
Námo shook himself in denial. "B-but I... I couldn’t sense thee! I called out and..."
*Didst thou, or didst thou merely think so?*
Now Námo went still for a different reason, trying to fathom what Atar was telling him. He dredged up the memories, quailing slightly at some of them. He felt something warm stealing over him and realized Atar was holding him up, encouraging him to face the memories and accept them. The sick terror he had begun to feel faded somewhat and he continued his self-examination, coming to the conclusion that he had deluded himself into thinking Atar had abandoned him.
"Because that’s what I would’ve done if I were thee," he said aloud, feeling ashamed.
*Then it’s a good thing that thou'rt not, is it not, Child?* came the surprising response and for a moment Námo was unsure how to respond, but the underlying sense of humor in Atar’s tone clued him in and he found himself chuckling and then laughing outright at the absurdity of it all.
*That’s better,* Atar said and the smile in his words was tangible, making Námo feel warm all over and loved.
He sighed, allowing himself to sink into his Atar’s embrace. For a time he merely floated, reveling in the feeling of being held by Love, but the feeling of security did not last. The memories that he had been blocking from himself were slowly seeping into his consciousness and shame and revulsion began to engulf him. Suddenly, he yanked himself from the embrace and started to flee, though where he thought he would go was questionable. Atar, however, had other ideas and tightened the embrace, refusing to let this Child of his go.
"No.... no....," Námo protested weakly, struggling to break out of Atar’s embrace. "Please, Atar, don't...don’t touch me... thou dost not know... I’m not...."
*Shhh, Námo,* Atar crooned. *Thou hast done nothing wrong, Child. Whatever hath happened, know that thou hast not lost my love. Nothing can do that. Be at peace, best beloved. All is well between thee and me.*
Námo sighed and stopped resisting, allowing his Atar to continue holding him. Atar was crooning a lullaby, the one he remembered hearing even as he had slept, the one the stars had sung to him as he lay cradled in his Atar’s embrace though he had not known it. Without conscious thought he began humming along. Soon he was drifting off to sleep again, the lullaby covering his fëa like a warm blanket.
"I’ve checked all the other dimensions, Manwë, and nothing," Oromë said, his frustration plain, "not even a trace."
"That makes no sense!" Irmo complained.
"Hush, Irmo," Manwë retorted mildly, "let me think."
The younger Ayanuz subsided, though he could feel the frustration within him building. He idly noticed that Vairë had wandered off a bit, gazing intently at the nermir flitting about. Oromë, waiting patiently for Manwë to speak, gave him an encouraging smile. Irmo felt himself relaxing somewhat and nodded his thanks.
"What about the nermir?" Vairë suddenly asked. "Would they know where Námo went?"
Irmo was ready to scoff at such an absurd idea but stopped when he saw Manwë giving Vairë a considering look.
"An excellent idea, my dear," the Eldest said. "And since you thought of it, you may have the honor of calling them to us so we may ask."
Vairë nodded, looking pleased and in minutes they were all surrounded by a cloud of the winged creatures. Manwë allowed himself to be clothed and one of the nermir landed lightly upon his upraised palm.
"Now, little one," Manwë whispered, "we’re looking for one who is lost. Perhaps you and your fellows can help us find him."
They waited as the Song in velvet-winged form considered the Chief Ayanuz’s request.
"Where are the others, Atar?" Námo asked.
He had woken at some point and was now sitting on a rock spinning above a dead planet that orbited an orange star. He was idly swirling the dust that covered the moon with his mind in a random pattern. He did not know how often he woke and slept, only that with each waking he felt stronger and stayed awake longer. He was able to face the memory of his captivity with equanimity now, no longer trying to flee from it. He still burned with shame and remorse at times, but those feelings were dimming and he was learning to accept what had happened without blaming himself. It had taken time and much patience on Atar’s part (or so Námo suspected), and he thought he still had some healing left to do, but he was well on the road to recovery.
Now he was taking more interest in his surroundings and wondering why his family had not yet found him.
*Oh, they are around,* came the amused reply.
"Atar!" Námo protested. "That’s not an answer."
Laughter rang through the halls of Eä and Námo felt warm and merry at the sound of it. *But that is the only answer I will give thee. It is for thee to discover for thyself where thy brothers and sisters are.*
Námo sighed, feeling frustrated, but decided it wasn’t worth pursuing. Instead, he had another, quite different, question. "Why can I not detect any lifeforms on any of the planets? There, that yellow-white star in the inner arm," he said as he pointed towards the Children’s galaxy, automatically naming the coordinates to himself. "There is burgeoning life on the fourth planet out. The seas should be teeming with it yet I sense nothing. It’s as if..."
*As if what, Child?*
Námo shrugged. "It’s almost as if this is the Eä of our Vision, before we came here and discovered a wasteland."
He felt silent agreement from his Atar and the sense of encouragement to continue his thoughts. "This is Eä, but not?"
*This is Eä as thou and thy brethren have created it, but only in its potentiality, not in its fulfillment. That will not come about until the end.*
Námo considered what his Atar was saying and sat in contemplation for some time. Then, in a blinding flash of insight he suddenly realized where he was. "But how?" he asked. "How did I get here?"
*I brought thee here, Child.*
Námo sighed. "I know that, Atar," he replied somewhat shortly, the exasperation he was beginning to feel coming to the fore. "What I want to know is..."
Now Námo felt his Atar smiling at him. A sense of warmth spread through him as he felt Atar rock him. *Námo, Námo. Thou'rt such a delight! But no more questions will I answer. It’s time to sleep again, my Child."
"I’m not sleepy, Atar. In fact..."
But whatever he was going to say went unsaid as he heard Atar sing the same lullaby he had heard off and on since first awaking and he suddenly felt himself growing sleepy again. Before he could formulate another thought he was drifting away. The stars picked up the descant and harmonized the song the Creator was singing as Námo continued to sleep.
Námo curled up some more, unwilling to come fully awake.
"Námo, wake up, brother."
Now there was gentle laughter and Námo slowly began to sense that this was not Atar speaking to him. He came fully awake and found himself surrounded by Irmo, Oromë, Manwë and Vairë. They were smiling down at him. It had been Irmo who had spoken to him.
"Hullo," he said simply, looking at Manwë. "I think I found the tenth dimension."
Cúma: (Quenya) The Void; that which is outside Eä.
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