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29: Meneldë, Tambë Cemendë
Author’s Note: Please refer to the last chapter for the names of the planets. I will not be consistent with their use. Sometimes I will refer to a planet by its Quenya name, other times by its Valarin name depending on who is speaking. Again, as a reminder, I will be referring to the entire solar system as Atháraphelun, while Earth will be referred to as Ambarhíni.
The first notice of the attack came from Lótessë, whose turn it was to ward Tirisambar. Suddenly there was a bombardment of cometary material which acted as a screen for Melkor and his People. One of the largest of the comets plowed between the orbits of the two larger planets of the tri-planetary system, forcing the largest to be knocked completely out of its orbit before Lótessë had time to counteract the measure. The large planet spun almost lazily away into the outer reaches of the system, lost in the stellar cloud that surrounded Atháraphelun. Lótessë watched as it captured one of the small comets that had been used to bombard the system, thus gaining a companion as it made its way outsystem. The other two planets, along with the two smaller satellites, were flung away from the ecliptic so that their orbit now was nearly twenty degrees out of kilter to the rest of the system. Its trajectory was such that Lótessë automatically calculated the new orbit and cringed when she realized there would be times when what was left of Lord Oromë’s creation would actually come further into the system so that it would no longer be the outermost planet.
Lótessë screamed, more in anger and defeat, than from any pain or fear. In the face of overwhelming odds, she did the only sensible thing: she fled inward to Ambarhíni, weeping in shame at the thought of having failed in the trust that her lord and lady had placed in her.
Oromë, in fact, was the first to reach her, assuring her over and over again that she was not to blame. "You did right to come here," he told her once she calmed down. "Melkor’s forces are too many for one to hold off. Now come. Go to your lady and stay by her side. She will need you."
Lótessë seemed mollified by Lord Oromë’s words and soon she was being embraced by Vána, who continued to assure her that all was well.
In the meantime, there was a hasty council above Mahalmambar among the Ayanumuz. Manwë spoke. "We must protect the Children’s World at all costs," he told them and no one disputed this. He then issued orders. "We need to meet Melkor before he reaches the inner system. I do not want him to pass Askhadphelun’s orbit if at all possible."
Ulmo grimaced. "That might be difficult. The orbit is very wide. I would rather bring the line further in."
Manwë responded negatively to that. "Only at the last," he said. "I want to keep Melkor as far from Ambarhíni as possible. My warriors and Oromë’s People will hold the line at Askhadphelun. Námo, you and Irmo bring your People here to Mahalmambar. You are our second line of defense. The rest of you will act as the final line of defense if all goes ill with us."
They all nodded their understanding and were soon off. Vairë and Estë insisted that they join with Irmo and Námo in their line. "You and I have been through too much with Melkor," she told Námo. "I don’t want to lose you."
"You will not," he assured her, giving her a quick embrace and kiss. "You’re stuck with me for all the Ages of Eä and beyond."
So it was agreed and soon all of the Ayanumuz and their People were placed where they were ordered, though Aulë and Ulmo had to be rather firm with a few of their own People who wanted to be at the front. "We will follow Lord Manwë’s plan," Aulë told them. "If I know my Fallen Brother, he will surprise us and we will all have plenty of opportunity to engage the enemy."
Whether the words were prophetic or just based on common sense, it hardly mattered, for it was not long before Melkor’s People pressed the attack. They came from all points, not just along the ecliptic but above and below it as well. The battle was fought within a spherical field in which the Children’s World was the center. The two armies met within the rings of Askhadphelun, and huge chunks of ice and rock were used as weapons by both sides. Electro-magnetic bolts flashed silently across the intervening space. Part of the defensive line was forced back, creating a kind of reversed bulge. Námo realized what was happening and sent Maranwë with half his People to help hold the line. Maranwë, in fact, did better than that: he led his troop not towards the place where Melkor’s minions were forcing Manwë’s People back, but away and then splitting so that half went towards galactic north from the west and the other half did the same from the east, using the Black Hole as a shield. Then they met again behind enemy lines, taking out Melkor’s rearguard. Soon those inside the ‘bulge’ were subdued and then they were thrust away by the single thought of Yavanna who happened to be the nearest Ayanuz.
The battle proceeded with great fury. Manwë oversaw everything from his vantage point at galactic north as he hovered above his own world, directing others as he saw fit. Slowly, however, the line was being drawn back towards Mahalmambar, the Máyar giving way, though they made Melkor’s People pay for every light-second of ground. Ulmo was with him, as was Varda. None of them looked very happy.
"We have the superior numbers," Ulmo stated, "but Melkor’s minions are vicious and their hatred for us is paramount. They will stop at nothing to get what they want."
"Or what Melkor wants," Varda said even as she negligently sent several Dark Máyar tumbling about. One or two found themselves coming dangerously close to the Black Hole, though its event horizon was so narrow none were in danger of falling in. Still, it just infuriated them even more and the attacks escalated to the point where Manwë reluctantly ordered a retreat to the orbit of Nasarphelun. Námo and Vairë were naturally reluctant to abandon their own world, but obeyed nonetheless.
And then, nothing. All battle ceased.
Everyone stopped and stared about. Melkor’s People simply ceased their attack and retreated rather than pursuing the Máyar further into the system. The Máhanumaz met at the top of the volcano where Námo had had his conversation with Atar, leaving the other Ayanumuz to stand watch. By mutual consent they incarnated, standing about the large central caldera.
Manwë spoke first. "Melkor is obviously up to something, but just what escapes me."
"It appears that his initial goal was to take Mahalmambar," Námo ventured, "though I fail to see how that helps him."
"He means to hem us in, I suspect," Varda said, "though for what purpose I cannot say."
"It’s almost as if he’s waiting for something," Aulë stated musingly.
Several of them nodded in agreement. "The question remains, though," Námo said, "waiting for what?"
None of them had any answers.
"Should we try to force him out of the system?" Oromë asked, but Manwë shook his head.
"I do not like the idea of going on the offensive," the Eldest stated. "There is the possibility that Melkor is setting a trap for us. I would like to avoid it if I may."
"We may not have any choice," Varda stated coldly, her eyes glittering dangerously under the light of her stars.
Manwë nodded. "I know," he said, "but something about all this does not sit right with me. Something else is going on."
"How long do you think we have?" Námo asked, his expression almost feral. There was a coldness in his demeanor that sent shivers down more than one back, though Vairë merely put her hand in his. Námo looked at her and smiled and it was as if a hundred stars had gone nova all at the same time.
Aulë had his own question. "Do you think it was wise to let so much of the system fall under Melkor’s control? Granted, it will be easier to defend a smaller sphere of conflict, but having Melkor at Mahalmambar...."
"Or Phainaphelun," interjected Vairë, her expression bleak at the thought of what Melkor might do to her and Námo’s world.
Aulë nodded. "Or Phainaphelun, brings him too close to Ambarhíni for comfort."
Manwë nodded, his expression less calm than normal. "I agree, but the viciousness of the attack is something none of us expected. I fear it will only get worse and it may even destroy Atháraphelun."
That thought stopped them cold and more than one face registered shock, dismay and even disbelief at the idea of seeing Atar’s plans for the Children thwarted in such a way.
"It will be as it will be," Varda intoned calmly, her expression hardening to resolve. "Our task is to preserve what we may. If only Ambarhíni survives this war it will be enough. The other worlds, dear to us in their own way as they are, are not the focus of this conflict."
"You speak rightly, beloved," Manwë replied, casting a smile her way. "Let us therefore speak of defense."
*I would much rather go on the offensive, myself,* Oromë sent Námo a private thought.
*It may come to that,* Námo replied, *but I fear that when that happens most of this quadrant of the galaxy will be destroyed as well. Best to follow Manwë’s lead for now, but keep yourself in readiness for any contingency.*
*I just hope Melkor never reaches Ambarhíni,* Vairë said, Námo having invited her into their conversation. *We’ve put in too much work and I hate having to start over.*
*As Varda says, it will be as it will be,* Námo replied, *and as Atar wills.*
To that there could be no objection, so the three concentrated on Manwë’s instructions for their defense, offering their own ideas where warranted. When all was agreed upon, all but Manwë and Varda unclothed and went to their posts.
The waiting was interminable. Many of the Máyar became restless and uncooperative, wanting to take the war to Melkor rather than waiting for Melkor to come to them. Only Manwë’s warrior Máyar, led by Eönwë, and Námo’s People remained calm and focused.
"We’ve been up against Melkor’s warriors before," Námo reminded Maranwë and the others. "They will not hesitate to use whatever weapons they may and we must be prepared to meet force with force, though it goes against our natures to do so. Melkor’s People will not have any such compunction."
The Máyar all nodded. "We will follow thy lead, lord," Maranwë said, speaking for them all.
Then Námo took two of his younger Máyar aside, holding a private conversation. *Elemmartamirë, thou and Morinehtar have a task that I wish for you to perform, though I doubt not that you will resent me for it."
The two Máyar exchanged looks, then Elemmartamirë turned to Námo. *Á quetë, héru, núrolyar lastëar,* she said simply and Morinehtar nodded.
*I would have you guard the Lady Vairë for me,* Námo told them, humbled that they would be so willing to do his bidding though they knew not what it was.
*Doth not thy lady have her own guards, lord?* Morinehtar asked, sounding puzzled at the request.
*Yea, she doth,* Námo conceded, *but I would have you beside her for my own sake. I trust you to protect her.*
Elemmartamirë gave her lord a shrewd look, then smiled wickedly. *Thou meanest, lord, that thou wishest for us to keep thy lady out of trouble.*
Námo had the grace to blush at being caught out. *That, too,* was all he said.
For a moment the two Máyar did not respond, bespeaking one to the other in ósanwë while Námo waited patiently for their answer.
*Thou dost not command us to this task, lord?* Morinehtar asked.
*Nay, I do not,* Námo stated, but would not elaborate.
*Then, lord,* Morinehtar said, *rest assured that Elemmartamirë and I will do all in our power to protect the Lady Vairë and to keep her out of harm’s way.*
*And may Atar have mercy on any who seek to prevent us from fulfilling thy wishes, lord,* Elemmartamirë added, her aura going from its placid green to a deep purple as she spoke her vow, her demeanor cold and purposeful.
*That is well, my children,* Námo said, *but be mindful of your own safety. I would not lose either of you.*
*What should we say to thy lady if she asks why we are guarding her?* Elemmartamirë asked, ever practical about such things.
Námo smirked. *Tell her anything you wish, just don’t mention my name in the telling.*
Both Máyar laughed aloud at that. *We will do our best to keep thy identity a secret, lord,* Morinehtar said with a smirk of his own.
Námo nodded. *I thank you, my children. My heart will be the lighter knowing that two whom I trust implicitly will be watching over my lady.*
*The honor is ours, lord,* Morinehtar said with a bow, which Elemmartamirë echoed. *Our joy is in serving thee in all ways.*
Unbeknown to Námo, Vairë was having a similar conversation with two of her own Máyar, Ancalequirindë and Ardalanyamo. "Ye understand what I ask of you, my children?"
The two Máyar nodded in acquiescence. "Aye, lady, we do," Ardalanyamo said. "We are to make sure thy lord comes to no harm."
"But what should we say if he questions why we are always beside him during the conflict?" Ancalequirindë enquired.
Vairë merely shrugged. "Whatever you wish, so long as my name is not mentioned." She gave them both a meaningful stare and the two Máyar grinned, giving their lady a bow before going off to carry out their duty.
It seemed that the lull continued on for some time, though the uncertainty of what would happen next made it seem longer for most of them. It was three of Manwë’s People — Manveru, Fionwë, and Olórin — who alerted the Ayanumuz to a possible resumption of hostilities. The three were stationed a hundred and twenty degrees to galactic north, each patrolling a third of the northern sky.
"Something’s coming," Olórin stated to his fellow watchers. He was looking out along the galactic arm in the direction of galactic east and noticed a brightening of that area.
"Is it a nova?" Fionwë ventured.
Manveru’s aura indicated confusion. "If it is it’s the brightest nova I’ve ever witnessed." He turned to Olórin. "Go, tell lord Manwë," he ordered.
Olórin complied, thinking himself away. It had been decided earlier that any reports were to be given directly to the Eldest in person rather than through ósanwë. "That way we keep rumors and the possibility of betrayal to a minimum," Varda explained and the others agreed with her assessment.
Olórin appeared at the top of the mountain on Erumëambar, giving Manwë and Varda his obeisance. "My lord, something approaches along the following coordinates," he reported, sending the spatiotemporal coordinates at the same time. "It looks like a supernova, but Manveru doubts that is what it is. Besides which, it appears to be on a trajectory for this system."
"He’s making his move," Varda said to her spouse.
Manwë nodded. "For the moment we should concentrate our forces along that particular perimeter, just to be on the safe side." No one objected and soon orders were given and received and a contingent of Máyar made their way to where Manveru and Fionwë, now rejoined by Olórin, were still on guard.
"Any idea what is approaching?" Erunáro asked his brother as his troop joined the others at the perimeter.
"No, but I think we’re about to find out," Manveru replied calmly and then there was no more time for speculation.
For a fatal moment of stunned disbelief, the Máyar, joined by Ulmo and Nessa, just stared at what was approaching. There were three stars, all of them blue-white supergiants, and they were moving towards Atháraphelun.
"That’s impossible," one of the Máyar finally said, voicing everyone else’s thoughts.
"Try telling that to those stars," Ulmo rejoined with a humorless chuckle. "Stay back, all of you," he ordered. "Nessa and I will deal with these."
So saying he and his fellow Ayanuz started to exert pressure on the oncoming stars to at least put them on a different trajectory that would avoid Atháraphelun. But that was a mistake, one that would cost them dearly. As soon as the slightest pressure from their combined wills touched the stars, they all exploded into incandescence and out of the fiery hell that had been unwittingly unleashed came three of Melkor’s people, seemingly transformed into beings of pure nuclear fire.
For a split second before the beings found their orientation and began to attack, Ulmo had time for a single thought: I think we now know what Melkor was up to in Varda’s nursery. Then there was no more time for thought as war came upon them with a vengeance.
Meneldë, Tambë Cemendë: ‘In the Heavens, So On Earth’.
Note: This title is an adaptation of the phrase used by Tolkien in translating the Lord’s Prayer (Paternoster) into Quenya (final version). There he has the phrase "Cemendë tambë Erumandë", translated into English as "On earth as it is in heaven". Earlier versions of this prayer used ‘Meneldë’ for ‘in heaven’. Menel, however, speaks specifically to ‘the firmament, the high heavens, the region of the stars’, while Eruman, literally ‘the Blessed Dwelling of Eru’, would be ‘Heaven’ as the place to which good souls go after death. I use menel in the sense of ‘the region of the stars, the rest of Eä’.
Á quetë, héru, núrolyar lastëar: ‘Speak, lord, thy servants are listening’.
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