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The Wars of the Valar  by Fiondil

42: The Sin of Aulë

"Aulë has been acting strange lately," Yavanna confided to Námo some time after the creation of the Trees.

"How so?" Námo asked. He was on Ezellohar watching the mingling of the Lights, a favorite pastime with all of them. At the moment Tulukhedelgorus was waning and Ibrínithilpathanezel was waxing and so, as they had begun to reckon Time, this particular day was ending.

Yavanna shrugged as she gathered some of the light from Tulukhedelgorus to store in one of the wells that had been constructed for that purpose. A couple of her Máyar were helping. "He’s become secretive, disappearing for hours on end, and when he is physically here, he is still somewhere else in his thoughts. He won’t talk to me, though I have tried to get him to speak. I fear Aulendil’s betrayal has cut more deeply than he will admit. He has not yet declared a new Chief Máya, in spite of the fact that it has been nearly a hundred years since the war."

Námo nodded, well aware of most of this. Ulmo had ceased to reside in Amanaphelun on a regular basis, preferring to roam the depths of the Seas that were his first love and they had gotten used to that but Aulë’s long disappearances were being remarked among even the Máyar and Námo had wondered at it. However, as long as Aulë did not neglect his duties to them, there was little anyone could do about it. Not even Manwë had the right to question Aulë’s whereabouts.

Still....

"Has he been exhibiting unusual or irrational behavior?" Námo asked. He was aware from speaking with Irmo and Estë that a few of the Máyar, even those who had not suffered any injury during the last war, had shown some odd behavior, suffering what his brother was calling ‘flashbacks’ where it seemed they were refighting the war. While none of the Ayanumuz had been wounded in the last conflict with Melkor, who was to say that even someone as stalwart as Aulë could not suffer in fëa? Certainly the betrayal of his Chief Máya had been a devastating blow for all of them. How much more must it have been for Aulë?

Yavanna stopped to think about the question. "He has begun to refuse his Máyar admittance to his forges."

Námo stared at Yavanna in surprise. That was a new development. For any of them to refuse to deal with those who had given them their allegiance was unheard of. "Perhaps he is afraid to trust any of them given what happened with Aulendil."

"I think it’s more than that," Yavanna said with a frown even as she continued to gather the golden light that had fallen from the younger Tree, "but in what way, I cannot as yet determine."

"Have you spoken with Manwë about this?"

Now Yavanna stopped and gave him an embarrassed look. "I... I’m afraid to."

Námo felt his eyebrows nearly leave his forehead in shock. He took her into his arms. "Whatever for?" he asked.

"If he learned that I... I went behind his back...."

Now Námo was truly alarmed. For Yavanna to be afraid of her own beloved spouse....

"Not afraid of... afraid for," she said, having divined his thoughts. "He scares me, Námo. I’m afraid of what he might do."

"To you?"

She shook her head. "To himself."

A silence stretched between them as Námo contemplated her words. It was true, he had seen little of Aulë lately, so he could not say for sure if what Yavanna had told him was true, yet he did not doubt her sincerity. She was genuinely afraid for Aulë in his dark mood. "What would you like me to do?" he finally asked her, pulling her away from his embrace to look her in the eyes.

She smiled, looking relieved. "Would you talk to him?"

"Why me?" he asked in genuine confusion.

"Irmo told us how you helped Melyanna when she went missing."

"Ah... of course," he said with a nod. "Very well, I will go and speak to him but if he will not see me...."

"I know, but I would appreciate you trying. At least I will know whether or not I am just imagining his... odd behavior."

Námo nodded. "Then I will seek him out, but I cannot promise anything."

"Atar bless you," she whispered, giving him a grateful kiss.

He smiled. "He already has."

****

Knowing that Yavanna was very concerned about Aulë, Námo wasted no time seeking the Smith of Arda out. He went first to Aulë’s workshop in Ilmarin but did not find him there so he traveled to their city where his main forge was located. It proved strangely empty.

"Aulë! Aulë!" he cried but there was no answer save the echo of his call. He considered for a moment and then thought himself to the newly constructed Urnambar. He scanned the barren world for any sign of his fellow Ayanuz without any luck. Now concerned, he set his mind roaming the cosmos in search of his older brother, seeking him in a way similar to what he had done when he went looking for Melyanna. There was nothing, not even an echo of Aulë’s aura anywhere.

"Atar," he whispered deep in his mind. "Where could he have gone?"

And then it came to him....

****

"Nice forge," Námo said in greeting and was secretly pleased to see Aulë jump, for the Ayanuz had been too busy hunched over his work to notice Námo’s arrival.

"Where did you come from?" Aulë demanded angrily, brandishing the hammer he had been using. "How did you get here?"

Námo raised an eyebrow at his brother’s threatening stance. "Most likely the same way as you did, brother. Now, what are you about? You have Yavanna worried sick."

"Nothing. I... it’s nothing. Just a little project I’m working on. I just didn’t want to be disturbed, is all." His defensive and evasive manner had Námo seriously alarmed. He looked around. They were inside a large cave situated about halfway up Oiolossë, or where that mountain would be in their own dimension. Námo could hear running water somewhere further inside. Without a word, he started towards the back of the cave.

"No!"

Námo turned in surprise and stared at the hand on his shoulder, holding him back. He looked up into Aulë’s eyes and mentally flinched. His brother’s expression could only be called ‘frantic’. "Aulë," he said quietly but with authority, "let me go."

Aulë blinked a couple of times and then glanced down at his arm in surprise. He released Námo, staring at his hand as if he’d never seen it before. Not giving Aulë another chance to stop him, Námo took advantage of the other Ayanuz’s momentary confusion to continue down the passage towards the inner caves. Before he reached where he could hear the water running he came to a chamber that was to his right. Although there was no light here, he could see well enough. Peering in, he gasped in shock.

"Atar help us!" he whispered. "Oh my brother, what have you done?"

*That is what I would like to know, my Child.*

Atar’s words reverberated through the cavern. Námo shuddered slightly and Aulë, who had followed him down the passage went white, reeling with shock and dropping the hammer he still continued to hold. Námo had to grab him to stop him from falling to his knees. Peering back into the cave he saw the seven squat figures had not moved. Were they even alive? he wondered to himself. Then one of them turned its head slightly, looking directly at the Ayanuz.

Well that answers that question, he thought wryly and then turned his attention back to the conversation between Aulë and Atar.

*...beyond thy power and authority?* Atar was saying. *For thou hast from me as a gift thine own being only and no more; and therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind can live only by that being, moving when thou thinkest to move them and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle. Is that thy desire?*

Aulë shook his head, gazing longingly into the shadows where his strange creations sat as if made from stone. "I did not desire such lordship, Atar," he said quietly as he entered the cave and knelt before the seven stunted beings, who then gathered around him. He gently stroked the hair of one of them.

"They’re a bit... short and they have no beauty," Námo said in the ensuing silence. "Why did you make them thus?"

Aulë sighed. "I could not see clearly the forms which the Children will take and this was the best I could come up with."

"Ah.... Did it not occur to you, my brother, that the Children will most likely take forms similar to our own? Why else would we incarnate as we do?"

Aulë shrugged. "Truly, it never occurred to me. I just assumed that we would naturally incarnate as we are, not that we did so in imitation of those who have yet to come into existence. Nor does it follow that the Children would of necessity look as we do." He paused, giving his creations a sorrowful look. "Also I wished to make them as impervious to Melkor’s power as possible. Stunted and ugly though they be, they will be strong and unyielding even as are the mountains."

*Yet, even the mountains will eventually wear away,* Atar commented gently. *Why such impatience, Child? You were ever the most stalwart and steadfast of all thy brethren.*

"I so desired the coming of the Children, Atar," Aulë confessed, "and I wished mightily to have learners to whom I could teach my lore and craft. It seemed to me that there was room to spare in this world for all manner of creatures to perceive the beauty of Eä which thou hast caused to be and rejoice in it, yet for the most part Atháraphelun remains empty still and no voices but our own are raised in praise of thee."

Námo sighed and knelt beside his fellow Ayanuz, giving him a hug. "I too am impatient for the coming of the Children," he said quietly, "yet for everything there is a season, Aulë, and the time of the Children has not come. What you have done... it is a mockery...."

"Nay!" Aulë protested, standing and glaring at Námo. "If in my impatience I have fallen into folly, so be it. Yet, the making of things is in my heart from my own making by Atar, and the child of little understanding that makes a play of the deeds of his atar may do so without thought of mockery, but because he is his atar’s son." Tears began to well in his eyes as he knelt once again before his creations, hugging each one lovingly.

"Please be not angry with me, Atar," he pleaded. "I know not what to do to regain thy love. As thy child I offer to thee these things, the work of my hands which thou hast made, as a gift. Do with them what thou wilt."

Silence ensued and Námo wondered that Atar did not respond to Aulë’s offer. Aulë must have had a similar thought for suddenly he rose, his expression bleak with tears streaming down his bearded cheeks, and he took hold of the hammer he had let fall and began to swing it. "But should I not rather destroy the work of my presumption?"

"Aulë, no!" Námo shouted, attempting to forestall his brother’s intent. He grabbed Aulë’s arms and by dint of his own will stayed the execution. "Look! Look at them, my brother. See how they cringe before your wrath and bow to you in supplication. Surely you have not willed them to move or speak so?"

*Nay, he hath not,* came Atar’s calm and loving voice and Námo felt a caress upon his fëa and from Aulë’s expression, he could see that his brother Ayanuz felt it as well. Interestingly enough, the strange creatures also had expressions of awe and peace upon their hairy faces. *Thine offer I accepted even as it was made, my Child,* Atar continued. *Dost thou not see that these things have now a life of their own and speak with their own voices? Else they would not have flinched from thy blow, nor from any command from thy will.*

Aulë stared at the creatures for a moment, dropping his hammer and going to his knees again, opening his arms. Slowly, as if unsure of their welcome, the seven creatures rose to their feet. One of them took a hesitant step forward and when Aulë made no other move than to open his arms wider, it went to its creator and soon all of them were being hugged and kissed by Aulë as Námo and Atar looked on in gentle amusement.

"May Atar bless my work and amend it!" Aulë exclaimed.

Then Atar spoke again. *Even as I gave being to the thoughts of the Ayanumuz at the beginning of Eä, so now I have taken up thy desire and given it a place therein; but in no other way will I amend thy handiwork, and as thou hast made it, so shall it be.*

Námo gave Aulë a wicked smile. "You should have made them taller."

They both heard Atar chuckle, but then his thoughts became more sober as he continued to address them. *But I will not suffer this: that these should come before the Firstborn of my design, nor that thine impatience should be rewarded. They shall sleep now in the darkness under stone, and shall not come forth until the Firstborn have awakened upon Atháraphelun. Until that time, thou and they shall wait, though it seem long. But when the time comes I shall awaken them, and they shall be to thee as children.*

"I thank thee, Atar," Aulë said humbly. "Will they lie here or...."

*Nay, Child,* Atar said gently, *for they no more belong in this dimension than thou dost. Let Námo help thee to lay them to rest in far-sundered places beneath the mountains of the world.*

Aulë nodded and laying a deep sleep upon the creatures, he and Námo took them one at a time, laying them in caverns beneath different mountain ranges of the Outer Lands. The last one Aulë placed beneath what would later be called the Hithaeglir by the Children. He gazed lovingly upon the creature, gently stroking his tangled locks.

"What do you call them?" Námo asked as he joined Aulë.

The other Ayanuz shrugged. "Hadn’t really thought about it. I just called them ‘Híninyar’," he said, casting a shy glance at Námo, who smiled knowingly.

*And thy children they shall be,* Atar assured him, *and often strife shall arise between thine and mine, the children of my adoption and the children of my choice.* Then they felt Atar’s benediction envelop them as He receded from their thoughts.

"How about calling them Fassilië?" Námo said with a wink. "They’re certainly hairy enough."

Aulë suddenly laughed, his fëa restored to humor. "Perhaps the Children will come up with something," he said as they thought themselves back to Amanaphelun.

****

Hithaeglir: (Sindarin) Misty Mountains.

Híninyar: (Quenya) My Children.

Fassilië: (Quenya) ‘People of the shaggy hair’ [fassë: tangled hair, shaggy hair + lië: people].

Author's Note: While the conversation between Aulë and Atar is taken directly from the Silmarillion, Námo's presence is strictly non-canonical.





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