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The Wars of the Valar  by Fiondil

39: Behests and Betrayals

The corruption continued to seep slowly southward towards Almaren. Manw had every available Mya out searching for the source and attempting to track down Melkor. Aul and Ulmo returned as soon as they heard the news from Curumo when he found them examining Ormal.

"The Lamps are safe enough," Aul told the other Ayanumuz. "Aulendil and Curumo are very good at what they do. Theyll see that nothing untoward happens to them."

Nmo was not so sure, but remained silent. Those particular Myar were not his to command and he had to trust that Aul knew them better than he. Still, he continued to have an uneasy feeling and wished he understood the reason for it. He confided in Vair who gave him a concerned look.

"If you think something is wrong you should tell Manw," she suggested but Nmo shook his head.

"I have nothing concrete to tell him. To simply say that I have a bad feeling about something without specifics would be worse than useless."

"You will tell him though if anything more concrete comes to you, wont you?" Vair asked.

Nmo nodded. "I would not withhold such information unless specifically ordered otherwise by Atar."

Vair had to be content with that and the matter was dropped. In the meantime, the hunt continued without success. Yavanna, with Vna and Nessas help, attempted to stem the flow of corruption but they had little success. Even as they managed to stop it in one place it appeared in another. Forests were blighted and streams turned into noisome fens. Grasslands withered and there was a never-ending coldness blowing from the north. Snow fell even near the equator and the Sea was tempestuous in spite of Ulmos best efforts to calm it, crashing against the coastlines of the continents and bringing great ruin to the shores.

"I suspect one of my People is responsible for this," he told Manw, "but I have yet to discover who... or why."

"I fear Melkor has a hand in this, leading some of our People astray," Manw opined with a sigh. "We need to find him and sooner rather than later."

None of them disputed that and so the search continued, but in the end it proved useless.

Nmo, in the meantime, was evaluating his three charges. Olrin, he could see, was happily aiding Irmo and Est with the last of the Myar who had been injured in the war. These were the ones most severely injured, so much so that their former duties were now beyond their present strengths. Olrin was thus busy helping Ancalequirind with deciding what functions their fellows could perform honorably so that they did not see themselves as a burden upon their masters.

"It has not been easy, lord," Ancalequirind told Nmo, "but Olrin has been very helpful and has exhibited great patience and compassion when speaking to those whose far are still... damaged." She ducked her head in embarrassment and Nmo realized that she was placing herself in the same category.

"Say rather that their far are fragile and in need of much love and understanding," he said with a gentle smile. "You are doing quite well, child. Your mistress and I are very pleased with you." Ancalequirind brightened at that and Nmo went away satisfied with what he saw in both Myar.

Fionw was another matter. His anger had abated somewhat while helping to still the fires and quakes that raged across the planet after the war, but he was still impetuous and inclined to question any order given him. Nmo was worried that such anger as still resided in the Myas heart would fester into an open sore and provide the very opening Melkor needed to corrupt his fa. He vowed to himself that that would not happen, though he was presently at a loss as to how to prevent it.

"Fionw is an enigma," he confided to Orom. "I cannot seem to get through to him. He is still resentful of me."

"What of the other two?" Orom asked.

"Enw and Olrin both have accepted their punishment and are eager to make amends," Nmo said. "In fact, I would willingly release them back to Manw this very moment but Manw will not accept any of them back unless all three are ready to be returned to him."

"Hmm... Do you suppose if Fionw knew that his truculence was preventing them from returning to Manws service he would amend his attitude?"

"I hesitate to force the issue," Nmo replied. "It might lead to further resentment later on. He needs to come to terms with his lot on his own. Manw is in no hurry to receive them back. He knows I will watch over them and keep them safe and the other two are happy doing what they are doing. My People and Vairs have been very good at accepting them and treating them no differently than they treat each other."

"That is well," Orom said with a nod. "If you would like, give Fionw to me. I plan to do some additional hunting of those monstrous beasts plaguing us. Perhaps he can take some of his anger out on them."

Nmo gave him a considering look. "Have you figured out how best to hunt them then?"

"Not really," Orom said with a scowl, "but I know that I have a better chance against them when I employ a number of my Myar to help. Fionw would fit right in."

"Very well. I will send him to you and I will tell him he is to obey you in all things or Ill know the reason why." Nmo flashed his fellow Ayanuz a smile that nonetheless boded ill for a certain Mya if he disregarded Nmos mandate. Orom merely nodded, keeping his own thoughts to himself.

****

For once, Fionw did not object when Nmo told him he was giving him to Orom for a while. In fact, the Myas eyes lit up at the prospect of hunting the monsters that were rampaging across the continent. Nmo was not sure he liked what he saw in that but decided to let Orom handle him as he would. His brother Ayanuz had a way with recalcitrant people, as he recalled, smiling to himself at certain memories. Enw was with him when he told Fionw of his new duties and gave the Ayanuz a worried look after Orom took Fionw off with him.

"He is so angry, lord," the Mya said. "Why is he so angry?"

"Werent you?"

"At first," Enw conceded, "but my anger swiftly turned to shame that I had betrayed my oaths to be obedient unto the Ayanumuz. I think Olrin felt similarly, but Fionw...." he shook his head.

Nmo gave him a comforting smile. "He is younger than either of you, is he not?" At Enws nod, he continued. "I suspect that it will take him longer to come to terms with what has happened. I am hoping that hunting these monsters will make up for me not allowing him to go after the myar."

"I am glad that you stopped us, lord," Enw said with great fervor. "When I think what could have happened if you had not...."

"You see now why I did what I did, do you not?" Nmo asked and the Mya nodded. "Good. Then your... punishment was meet. Now come. I wish to take a look at the damage to the coasts. Ulmo is sure one of his People is responsible. I have my suspicions but I need to see for myself before I make any accusations."

Enw nodded, well used to his new lords ways. His respect for this particular Ayanuz only increased the longer he stayed in his service.

****

They were examining the southwestern coast of one of the smaller continents on the other side of the planet. Ulmo had reported major storms along that particular coastline. The waves that had crashed upon the shore had destroyed the land for several leagues, carving out a new shoreline that was nearly to the mountains that spanned the center of the continent.

"This is bad," Enw commented, looking around in shock. "There was a pleasant meadow surrounded by fruit trees not far from here where some of us used to come to relax. Now... why is this happening?"

Nmo shook his head, his eyes narrowing. "More importantly, who is doing this? What do you know of Ulmos People?"

The Mya gave his lord a startled look. "I havent dealt with them all that much. Most prefer to spend their free time in the Sea or wandering along the banks of streams and rivers. I only know a few by name."

Nmo nodded. "Are there any who sometimes exhibit... irrational behavior?"

Now Enw began to look uncomfortable, hating to speak ill of any of his fellow Myar before even this particular Ayanuz. Nmo understood how he felt. "It is not a betrayal to speak if you know something that may shed light on the subject, Enw," Nmo said. "Whoever is responsible is in a great deal of emotional pain. Perhaps it is someone acting out because of their experiences in the war and they have no other way to deal with it. They need help and if you know something...."

"Look, lord!" Enw interrupted, pointing behind the Ayanuz.

Nmo turned and frowned. Two of Ulmos Myar were there, further along the new shore, apparently arguing as they came out of the ocean. Neither had noticed him or Enw.

"Do you recognize them?" he asked Enw.

"Oshosai and Uinen."

"Hmm... let us go see what they are arguing about."

Nmo started off with Enw trailing him. When they got closer Nmo could see that Oshosai was clearly unhappy and Uinen was simply furious.

"...you insane?" they heard Uinen exclaim. "Lord Ulmo holds your allegiance. What can Melkor offer you except grief?"

"You dont understand...." Oshosai started to say but Uinen cut him off with a snarl and an oath.

"Then why dont you explain it to me, child," Nmo interjected as he approached them.

Both Myar gasped when they realized they were no longer alone. Uinen actually went to her knees; Oshosai just stood there, rooted to the spot in shock.

"Please, lord, be not angry with my spouse," Uinen pleaded. "He doth not mean to...."

"Be silent, Uinen!" Oshosai snarled. "He is not our lord. We do not owe him any explanations."

Uinen glared at her spouse. "He is one of the Mhanumaz, you fool! He hath our lords ear in all things."

"One of you will tell me what is going on," Nmo stated baldly, his expression darkening, his manner becoming more threatening. Enw recognized the look and flinched, for he had had first-hand experience of an angry Nmo. Uinen paled and Oshosai took an involuntary step back.

"It... it is nothing, lord," he stammered. "Merely a... a lovers quarrel."

"You lie!" Enw exclaimed and then stopped in shock, for he truly did not know how he knew this, yet it was true.

Oshosai and Uinen both stared at him in disbelief. Nmos expression, however, was more thoughtful and he did not censure the Myas outburst.

"I heard mention of my fallen Brother," Nmo said when he turned his attention back to Oshosai. "I think there is more going on than a lovers quarrel."

At that Uinen began to weep. "Lord Melkor hath promised Oshosai the rule of the oceans if he leaveth Lord Ulmos service and cleaveth to him instead."

Nmo gave Oshosai a considering look. "Is this true?"

Oshosai muttered something incomprehensible and refused to look at any of them.

"I asked thee a question, Oshosai," Nmo said, his voice cold as the methane snows on Ullubozphelun. "Do not make me ask a second time."

All three Myar visibly flinched at Nmos tone. Oshosai only nodded. Nmo sighed. "And what did he ask of thee?"

Oshosai looked up and his smile was nearly feral. He gestured at the broken shore. Nmo hid a grimace. Instead he called silently to Ulmo who appeared from out of the depths of the Sea, his green-blue beard and long hair trailing behind him in the surf. Both Oshosai and Uinen cowered before him.

"Have mercy, lord," Uinen stammered, but Ulmo stayed her pleas with a gesture, turning instead to Nmo.

The two Ayanumuz bespoke one another in sanw. Ulmos expression darkened and the wind came up behind him, bringing the surf to dangerous heights, but then he breathed a sigh, releasing his anger and the swell lessened, though it still left them all drenched. The Ayanuz who would one day be called Lord of Waters by the Children looked upon Oshosai and Uinen dispassionately.

"Thou hast much to answer for, Oshosai, but I will deal with thee later. Uinen, take thy husband to Aul. He is already expecting you both."

The two Myar bowed, though Oshosai still looked somewhat rebellious, and thought themselves away. Ulmo turned to Nmo and Enw, shaking his head. "As if we dont have enough to worry about."

"Our brother is insidious in his blandishments and lies," Nmo said with a thin smile. "Hopefully, you will be able to regain his allegiance."

"Uinen will have much to say about that," Ulmo replied with a wry smile of his own.

Nmo laughed. "Of that, I have no doubt."

Ulmo then bowed to them both before making his way back into the Sea, disappearing under the waves. Nmo cast a look at Enw, who fidgeted somewhat.

"You knew he was lying," he said and the Mya nodded. "Interesting...."

"But how did I know, lord?" Enw asked in confusion. "How do I even know that any of us can utter a... a falsehood?"

"How indeed? I recognize a lie when I hear it but that is because I was subjected to Melkors lies for some time, but you... you are too innocent...."

Enw bristled at that. "I am not so innocent that I know nothing of Lord Melkors ways, lord."

"Peace, child. I do not disparage your experiences, but you are still very innocent of pure evil, all of you are."

*But thou wilt know of it better in time, my child.*

Enw fell to his knees in shock, trembling, while Nmo merely smiled, his slate-grey eyes brightening. "Dont frighten him, Atar," he admonished their Creator.

They both heard Atar chuckle and Enw relaxed somewhat, though he remained on his knees. *Thourt being impudent, Nmo,* they heard Atar say, though the tone was loving rather than censorious. Nmos smile broadened but he did not contradict the One. They both felt His attention rest upon Enw, who visibly paled, thinking he was about to be punished for his disobedience, but then a wave of pure love swept gently over them both and the Myas demeanor became less servile.

*Now, that is better,* Atar said. *Thourt a worthy servant to thy masters, Enw, and I am well pleased with thee. Thou hast learnt thy lessons well and so I have decided to give thee more responsibility.*

"Wh-what responsibilities, Atar?" Enw asked in a whisper, looking both fearful and pleased at the same time. Nmo put a hand on the Myas shoulder and gave it a squeeze in support.

*Thou didst recognize Oshosais prevarication, didst thou not?*

Enw nodded.

*Thou hast never encountered another who lied in thy presence,* Atar continued, *yet the ability to discern lies from truths hath always been thine. I have waited until thou didst recognize it in thyself before giving thee this behest. I wish for thee, Enw of the People of Manw* Enw fairly gasped at those words and tears began to form; Nmo gave him an encouraging smile. *to be mine Oathkeeper, to record the oaths of all my Children, whomsoever they be.*

Enw looked up at Nmo in confusion, clearly unsure what Atar was asking of him. "I do not understand...."

"Thou already hast the ability to remember all that is said to thee, dost thou not?" Nmo reminded him. At Enws nod, he continued. "I think Atar is merely giving thee a task that thou performest without thought, but now it will have a focus."

*Nmo is correct, my child,* Atar said. *Thine ability to remember all that is said to thee will now be used to record the oaths of all who invoke my Name or even when they do not. Both those oaths they mean to keep and those that are mere lies, thou shalt record for me.*

"B-but why?" Enw demanded, totally at sea.

They both sensed Atars smile and Enw felt his fa being soothed. *I have my reasons, child. Be thou content.*

"Yes, Atar," the Mya said meekly.

Another wave of love and assurance swept through them and Nmo helped Enw to his feet, embracing him and giving him a kiss on the brow.

*One other thing,* they heard Atar say. *The record thou shalt make of the oaths of the Children shall be made available to any of the Ayanumuz at their request, but the record of the oaths uttered by you who are from my first Thoughts shall be closed to all except me. Not even Manw, who is my vice-gerent in E, will have the right to view these oaths. Dost thou understand, child?*

"Yes, Atar," Enw said simply, though his expression said otherwise.

*That is well. I do not ask an easy thing from thee, Child, for there will be times when the oaths thou shalt record will grieve thee, yet I would not give thee this mandate if I did not know that thou hast the strength to do what must be done. Nmo can attest to that, canst thou not, my son?*

Nmo merely smiled, giving a nod.

*Then go in peace and in my love, my Children,* Atar said and they felt Him withdrawing His Presence from them.

For a moment the two of them stared at one another, both at a loss for words, then Enw gave Nmo a shy look. "How should I... record these oaths, do you think?"

"Hmm... a good question. Too bad we didnt think to ask Atar, though I suspect He would just tell us to figure it out for ourselves." He gave the Mya a wink and Enw snorted. He was about to make a comment when they both heard Manw call to them. Without another word they thought themselves back to Almaren to find Manw and Aul questioning a distraught Curumo while several of the other Ayanumuz stood around them. Myar milled about uncertainly at the periphery, concerned and frightened expressions on their faces.

Nmo saw Vair standing near by and went to her. "What happened?" he demanded softly, not wishing to interrupt the interrogation.

Vair gave him a grim look. "All we know for sure is that some of Melkors minions fell upon Curumo as he was guarding Ormal and forced him to flee," she whispered.

"What about Aulendil?" Nmo asked, looking about for the Mya but not seeing him.

"Thats what were trying to find out," Manw said, looking up and speaking to Nmo directly. "It seems Auls Chief Mya has disappeared. No one knows what has happened to him."

Nmo gave Aul a quizzical look which his fellow Ayanuz returned with a curt nod, and sighed, closing his eyes. He had a sinking feeling that if and when they did find Aulendil they would all regret it.

****

Oshosai: The Valarin form of Osss name.

Ullubozphelun: (Valarin) Ulmos Dwelling: Neptune.

Linguistic note: Behest: from OE behs a vow and probably confused with behesten command, thus the ME shifting of its meaning to that which is willed or ordered; a command; a mandate [c.1175].





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