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The Wars of the Valar  by Fiondil

16: Nmos Homecoming

As it was, it was some little time before Nmo felt sufficiently strong enough to return to E proper. Also, as Manw predicted, Aul and Ulmo were reluctant to leave the tenth dimension, but eventually the Eldest issued an order in a tone of voice that they all recognized and dared not disobey. Aul and Ulmo went first, leaving Manw with Nmo, Orom and Irmo. Nmo was feeling unsettled and at one point actually fled, ending up hovering over the event horizon of the black hole in the center of the Childrens galaxy. Manw ordered the other two Ayanumuz back to E and went after Nmo himself, being careful not to emerge too close to him.

"Nmo," he said quietly, "its time to go back."

Nmo merely shook his head, not looking at Manw, his attention riveted on the emptiness before him. "No."

"Nmo," Manw commanded, "turn around and look at me."

"No."

"Perhaps you are correct," Manw said, changing tactics. "Perhaps you are better off remaining here... alone."

"Good."

"So, Ill take Orom and Irmo and leave you alone," Manw continued, "and no one will ever return here to talk to you or see how you are doing... not even Atar."

That got Nmos attention. He turned around to face Manw. "What do you mean, not even Atar? Atar would never desert me."

"I didnt say he would desert you, child," Manw said reasonably. "I said that no one will ever disturb you here, including Atar."

"But..."

"Nmo, look around you," Manw insisted. "There is nothing here. You said it yourself: all is potentiality, not fulfillment. That can only happen if we return to E. Do you truly want to remain here alone? I tell you this, if you decide to remain, I will not allow anyone to come here, though you will be free to leave anytime you wish and join us in E."

"Then what..." Nmo began, sounding confused and uncertain about Manws motives.

"But if you do," the Eldest continued with implacable certainty, "you will not be allowed to take your rightful place among the Mhanumaz, nor will you be counted among the Ayanumuz. I will set you among the Myar and you will have to take oath to one of us."

The absolute shock that Nmo felt was quite evident. His aura nearly disappeared into the ultra-violet. "Youre not serious," he countered faintly.

"Very," Manw said. "And make no mistake. Atar will support my decision in this, however much it may grieve him... and me."

For the longest time neither spoke. Manw waited patiently for Nmo to make his decision. "He... hell find me," he finally whispered.

Manw schooled himself not to respond to the hurt and fear Nmo was exhibiting. "Perhaps," he agreed with equanimity, "but if he does, he will not find you alone. I will make sure you are never alone. You will always have an escort, and I do not mean just by your Myar or even mine."

Nmo gave him a puzzled look. "You mean...."

Manw nodded. "I will make sure that one of us is by your side at all times," he explained. "One of the other Ayanumuz will be there. You will not be alone, ever."

Nmo thought about it for some time and Manw could see him vacillating between fear of returning and a need to be with others, at least on a subconscious level. He still would not let others near him, but he definitely would seek out the company of whoever was there. Manw remained still and waited. He could feel Atars love gently supporting him, both of them, though he suspected that in his agitated state, Nmo was unaware of this. Finally, the younger Ayanuz sighed.

"I... I dont want to be alone," he said quietly.

"Im pleased to hear that, my son," Manw said. "Come, let us away from here and return to our family. They miss you and are eager to welcome you home."

Nmo nodded and reluctantly moved away from the black holes event horizon and stood before the Eldest, his expression still troubled. "Im ready," he said.

Manw tentatively reached out to embrace him and was pleased that Nmo did not flinch but allowed his elder brother to hold him. "Then, let us go home."

****

Manw wisely emerged at the same spatial coordinates as they had been in the tenth dimension, knowing that Varda and Ulmo would keep everyone else away. Nmo went perfectly still, questing with his mind.

"Its so... alive," he whispered, sounding almost awed. "Id forgotten how alive E truly is."

Manw smiled at him. "See what you were missing?"

Nmo nodded. "Wh-where is everyone?" he asked, looking about and sounding a bit more fearful.

"They are waiting for us in our home galaxy," Manw said gently. "Theres no rush. Take your time. When you think youre ready, well go find them."

Nmo nodded and Manw was intrigued at the shifting frequencies of the younger Ayanuzs aura as Nmo tried to get his fear under control. No, not fear, Manw thought to himself, shyness. That, and the uncertainty of his welcome. Manw remained still and was patience personified, willing to wait for as long as necessary. Nmo, however, did not stall for long and Manw was pleased to see this one exhibit the strength of will and courage that he knew lay deep inside him.

Nmos aura steadied to a shade of violet that was perhaps darker than normal but closer to its original frequency than it had been of late. "Lets go," he said and his thought-sending was calm.

"Ill let you lead the way, then," Manw said.

Nmo gave him a surprised look, but realized that this was another test. He resisted a sigh, checked the coordinates in his mind, tentatively reached out to his brother, who sent thoughts of welcome and reassurance and then the two of them were gone.

****

"Hes coming," Irmo warned them all. "Remember what I told you. Let him make the first move."

Nmo suddenly emerged with Manw beside him. For the longest moment no one moved or spoke, then Varda stepped forward, but not too close.

"Welcome home, Nmo," she said quietly and with great sincerity. "Weve missed you... Ive missed you."

That revelation seemed to shock Nmo. "You did?" he asked, giving Manw an uncertain look.

Manw nodded and so did Varda.

"I missed your insight and counsel," Varda continued. "My beloved was correct... I have come to appreciate your talents very much and I am glad you decided to join us again. You are greatly needed here."

"I am?"

Several of the Myar, especially among Nmos own People, stirred at the obvious sense of confusion and doubt in Nmos tone. Maranw, as Nmos chief Maya, was particularly grieved at the manner in which his Lord was acting, as if he were less than the least of the Myar.

*Merely your perception, youngling,* Aul sent to him, aware of how Nmos People felt. *Your Lord is still counted among the Mhanumaz, never forget that. It will merely take some time for him to regain his sense of self-worth after what Melkor did to him.*

Maranw mentally cringed at the image Aul then sent him of his Lord in hra and forced himself not to weep before them all.

"So," Manw was saying, "here are your own Myar waiting to welcome you, Nmo. Have you no words of greeting for them?"

Maranw and the others went perfectly still. Nmo gave them a shy look, his aura tinged with green and moving into the orange spectrum, but he did not say anything. Maranw decided to make the first move: he knelt and had the pleasure of sensing the other Myar also kneeling before their Lord.

"Welcome back, my Lord," he said simply. "Thy People await thy commands. Wouldst thou hear my report of all that we have accomplished in thine absence?"

For a time Nmo did not respond and then all could see his aura moving back towards its more normal violet. "I would be pleased to hear thy report, my child," he said with remembered formality. "Perhaps thou and thy fellows will join me later and ye may speak to me of what hath occurred while I was... away. For now, though, I would fain greet my fellow Ayanumuz first."

"It will be as thou sayest, my Lord," Maranw answered, rising and the other Myar followed suit.

Manw nodded in approval. "Good, good," he said, addressing the Myar in general. "Then let ye all depart that our brother may greet his brethren in peace."

The Myar all bowed and were gone, save those who, like Maranw, were attendant upon their masters and mistresses as a matter of course. Maranw noticed that his own lord appeared less ill at ease now that there were fewer people around him. He noticed Nmo mentally making a head count.

"Wheres Vair... and my sister?" he asked Manw.

"Ah, well, Vair has had to do her own healing after what happened," the Eldest explained "and Nienna is with her. I have been assured that both will return to us soon. Now, why dont you greet the others while I consult Varda on a matter."

Nmo nodded and Maranw saw him shyly advance to stand before Aul and Yavanna and give his greeting.

"Welcome home, Little Brother," Aul said jovially.

"Its good to see you again, Nmo," Yavanna greeted him with gentle regard.

Nmo nodded but otherwise did not speak. Instead he moved to where Ulmo was and repeated his greeting. One by one he went to each Ayanuz and greeted them. None tried to take him into their embrace however much they wanted to. Finally, Nmo faced his brother and Est. For a long moment he did not speak, then, suddenly he was embracing not only Irmo but Est, much to everyones surprise, Nmos not the least.

"Thank you," he said to them, though just what he was thanking them for, not even Nmo could have said.

Both Irmo and Est nodded. Then Irmo noticed that Nmos aura had turned a particular hue of indigo that usually augured mischief from his brother.

"Nmo, what are you..."

Nmo laughed and grabbed Est, who started shrieking, and then neither she nor Nmo were there.

"NMO!!" Irmo yelled. "You bring her back right now or so help me..."

Est practically landed right on top of him, but before Irmo had time to realize that, he felt his brother encompass his mind and then he was gone. Manw sighed and gave everyone a rueful look. Aul and Ulmo merely smiled while the others appeared nonplused. Oroms orange aura brightened with amusement.

"So do we go after him or pretend we dont want to play?" he asked.

"Hell be absolutely impossible if we dont play," Ulmo replied with a laugh.

"Is this typical behavior from him, lord?" Maranw asked, sounding perplexed.

"Sometimes," Manw allowed. "Do not let it trouble you, child. This is merely a... what did you call it Aul?"

"Coping mechanism," Aul answered, then turned to Maranw. "Our brother was... violated," he explained baldly, sending them a mental picture of what Melkor had done to Nmo, and all saw the aurae of Maranw and the other Myar in their presence go dark in shock. "Regressing into play is his way of dealing with what happened to him. When the emotions get too much for him to handle he reverts to play. Its usually followed by a period of sleep. These episodes are becoming less frequent as he learns to... integrate his feelings and accepts them."

"Well, the question still remains..." Ulmo started to say but was interrupted by Nmo emerging with Irmo next to him.

"Dont you want to play?" Nmo asked, sounding aggrieved.

Manw shook his head. "Not at the moment, Nmo," he said with gentle authority. "Why dont you go with your Myar and let them tell you what theyve been up to while you were gone?" he suggested. "Would you like Irmo to stay with you?"

Nmo gave his brother a glance and then nodded. Irmo looked very pleased at that.

"Good," Manw said decisively. "Run along then, and afterwards, if you still feel like playing, then we will, but I suspect youre going to want to sleep soon, wont you?"

Nmo scowled at that. "I dont want to sleep. He... hell find me if Im sleeping."

No one needed to ask who he was. Manw sighed. "I told you, you would never be alone. Ever. Do you believe me?"

Nmo hesitated for a second, then nodded.

"Then why dont you go find a favorite star to sleep in and Ill have my People help yours in guarding you and Irmo will stay with you as well. Does that meet with your approval?"

Nmo gave the Eldest a ghost of a smile. "Any star?"

"Just so long as it doesnt have an event horizon attached to it," he retorted with mock severity.

At that Nmo actually laughed and, with a gesture to his Myar, he said, "Let us go then, my children. Come, brother, I know just the place."

With that Nmo, Irmo and all of Nmos bemused Myar and half of Manws Myar, led by Manveru and Erunro, were gone. The other Ayanumuz gave Manw bemused looks of their own.

"Event horizon?" Varda asked.

"Dont ask," Manw said with a grimace.

"Well, thats one crisis averted," Ulmo said contemplatively.

"For now," Aul amended.

"For now," Manw agreed, then he gave them a wry smile. "Good thing Vair wasnt here, she would have been furious that Nmo grabbed Est instead of her."

They all laughed at that and went back to their duties with lighter hearts. Nmo was back where he belonged. They all knew there was still a long road ahead and that their brother was far from healed, but they were now feeling more hopeful.

Nmo, in the meantime, was trying to decide between two blue-white dwarf stars that were relatively close to one another in size, though he kept insisting that, while one had a more comfortable core (whatever that meant), the other felt warmer.

Irmo and the Myar just stood around looking on in bemusement as the Mhanaz jumped back and forth trying to decide which star was the best for sleeping in.

"Nmo!" Irmo finally yelled in exasperation. "Just pick one!"

Nmo gave his brother a hard look and then a wicked grin. Making a rude noise, he was gone, apparently to check out other stars. Irmo gave Maranw a wry grin. "I think your report to your Lord will have to wait, Maranw. It looks as if were going to be busy helping my brother find just that right star for sleeping in."

Maranw grinned in spite of himself. "Im rather fond of red giants myself, lord," he said and then they were all laughing as they went after Nmo still jumping from star to star looking for a good place to hide.





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