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The Wars of the Valar  by Fiondil

43: Ents and Eagles

Nmo insisted to Aul that he go to Yavanna and explain everything. Aul sighed, looking reluctant.

"Shes going to be very angry," he said.

"No doubt," Nmo replied, hiding a smile at Auls dejected look.

"Come with me?" the Smith asked, looking hopeful.

"Coward," was Nmos only reply but he accompanied Aul to his mansion where Yavanna awaited them.

"Where did you find him?" she asked Nmo as they entered the mansion.

"Ill let Aul tell you," Nmo replied. "Im just here to lend him moral support."

Yavanna raised an eyebrow at that but decided to ignore Nmo for the moment, turning instead to Aul who stood before her looking very nervous. "All right, Aul, what have you been up to?" she demanded in a no-nonsense voice. There was actually a rumble of thunder in an otherwise clear blue sky and the ground beneath them trembled slightly. Both Aul and Nmo looked upon the Earth Queen with no little respect.

Aul cleared his throat and began to explain. Yavanna remained silent throughout the narrative but when Aul came to the end of his tale, she sighed. "Atar is indeed merciful, my husband, and so I will be as well. I wish you had told me what you were doing sooner, for then your... children would have had something of me in them and they would love the things of my creating. But now..." she shook her head. "They will have little love for the things of my love."

"What do you mean?" Nmo asked in curiosity.

Yavanna turned to him. "They will love first the things made of their own hands, as does their atar." She gave Aul a sad but understanding smile before continuing. "They will delve deep in the earth and the things that grow and live upon the earth they will not heed. I fear that many a tree will feel the bite of their axes."

Aul put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Yet that is equally true of the Children, both the Firstborn and the Second," he said gently. "They will eat and they will build and though the things which you have made have worth in themselves, and would have worth if no Children were to come, yet Atar will give them stewardship over all and they shall use all that they find in Athraphelun, though not, by the purpose of Atar, without respect or without gratitude."

"Not unless Melkor darken their hearts," Yavanna retorted sourly, unappeased and sorrowing for what she feared would come of her creating.

Aul looked at Nmo pleadingly, for he did not know how else to comfort his spouse. He was himself very direct and practical. He saw no reason to think of what might be and his heart contained no concept of borrowing trouble. All would be as it was meant, as far as he was concerned.

Nmo looked upon the two with deep sympathy. He could understand Yavannas concerns and grieved more that she was grieved rather than for the ultimate fate of her creations. Aul, in his uncomplicated way, could not really appreciate the depths of pain Yavanna was experiencing just thinking about what might be done upon the Outer Lands in days to come. "Why dont we go find Manw and see what he has to say?"

The other two Ayanumuz gave him grateful looks. "Thats a good idea," Aul said.

Yavanna nodded in agreement. "Where do you suppose he is?" she asked. "He and Varda havent been around lately, I noticed."

"Probably taking a well deserved holiday from the rest of us," Nmo said with a laugh. "They must get tired of all our antics sometimes."

"Speak for yourself," Aul retorted with a grin. "Actually, I think they are at Ilmarin overlooking the final details of construction. Shall we?"

The other two nodded and they all thought themselves to the outer courtyard of Ilmarin. It was still empty of decoration, for neither Manw nor Varda had yet put any thought into how it would look yet. Wandering through the colonnades and squares, they eventually found Manw sitting alone in a small courtyard where a fountain splashed gaily. He smiled at them as they stopped, afraid of disturbing him.

"Come and sit," he said, gesturing to stone benches that surrounded the fountain. They complied and for a time they all sat in companionable silence, enjoying the peace that radiated all around them. Finally, though, Manw looked up from his contemplation. "You came here for a purpose." It was not a question.

Aul nodded but it was Yavanna who spoke. "Aul was telling me that when the Children come they shall have dominion over all the things of my creating, to do with as they will forthwith. Is that true?"

"Stewardship..." Aul corrected her, "not dominion."

"Is it not the same thing?" she asked.

"Nay, it is not, as you well know, Yavanna," Manw answered. "The Children shall be stewards of all that is given them, though I doubt not that Melkor may well corrupt the hearts of some and teach them the fine art of domination." He gave them all a rueful look. "Yet that is not your question is it?"

Yavanna shook her head. "My heart is anxious, thinking of the days to come," she told him. "All my works are dear to me. Is it not enough that Melkor should have marred so many?" She gave them all a bitter look and Aul hugged her, giving her a kiss on her brow. "Shall nothing that I have devised be free from the dominion of others?" she cried, ignoring her husbands attempts to comfort her.

"If you had your own will what would you reserve?" Manw asked unexpectedly. "Of all your realm, what do you hold most dear?"

Yavanna thought for a while before speaking. "All have their worth, and each contributes to the worth of the other. Yet, the kelvar can flee or defend themselves, but the olvar cannot. Of all the olvar that I have brought into being, the trees I hold most dear. Long are they in their growing but swift will be their felling and unless they pay toll with fruit or nut upon the bough little mourned in their passing. So I see in my thought." She paused, closing her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, they were surprised at the fire that burned within them. "Would that the trees might speak on behalf of all things that have roots, and punish those that wrong them!" she hissed fiercely.

"That is a strange thought," Manw said, looking somewhat disturbed.

Yavanna gave him a measuring look. "Yet it was in the Song," she replied. "While you and Ulmo were Singing of clouds and wind and the pouring out of rain, I lifted the branches of great trees to receive them, and some sang to Atar amid the wind and rain."

Manw sighed. "You have given me much to think on, sister," he said. "I cannot give you an answer now...."

Nmo stood. "Then let us leave you in peace," he said, indicating with his eyes to Aul and Yavanna that they should stand as well. "We will await your answer to Yavannas concerns at the Ezellohar."

"That is well," Manw said and with a brief bow the other three Ayanumuz faded from view, leaving him alone.

For a while he sat staring at the fountain. Then he spoke a single name and Enw appeared, giving his lord a respectful bow. "Enw, I do not wish to be disturbed for the nonce. See to it."

"It will be as thou sayest, lord," the Mya said with another bow and with a single gesture, three other Myar appeared. "The Lord is not to be disturbed. Guard ye the ways into this courtyard."

Each of the other Myar bowed to both Enw (as their captain) and to Manw (as their lord) and moved purposefully to take their stations, one along each of the four pathways leading into the courtyard with Enw taking the main path leading towards the front gates. They stood out of sight of Manw to provide him with complete privacy.

Meanwhile, the Eldest sat, thinking of all that Yavanna had told him, recalling the Song and trying to hear that part of it that was Yavannas to Sing. Slowly, like a flower opening itself one petal at a time, the Song began to rise once more about him until he found himself in its very Center. He then began to heed the many things therein that he had heard but to which he had paid no attention.

Then it seemed to him that the Vision was renewed, yet it was not now remote as it had been in the Timeless Halls, for he was himself within it. He gasped at the enormity of the Whole that was upheld by Atars hand, humbled that he had had some small part in its making.

*Not so small, Child,* came Atars voice within him. *Thourt more than thou knowest and thy powers are greater than thou perceivest.* Then it seemed to Manw as if Atars hand that upheld all entered into the Song itself and from it came forth many wonders that until then had been hidden from him for they were from the hearts of the other Ayanumuz. He finally saw the trees about which Yavanna had spoken and knew something about them that she did not. And he saw something else that set his fa soaring in awe and delight.

"I thank thee, Atar," he whispered, "for showing me all this. I... I had almost forgotten how very beautiful the Song truly was... is...."

*And ever shall be, best beloved,* Atar said lovingly. *Though thou and thy brethren have striven to recreate its perfection, that can never be nor was it as I intended. Take comfort that though thine efforts fall short of the Vision which thou hast in thy mind, I will always accept thine endeavors and sanctify them. The Vision is just that.... a vision. It is not Reality. What thou makest of the Vision is the true labor which I have given thee and those with thee. Despair not that thou canst never achieve the perfection to which thou strivest. A time will come when I will bring all to perfection and thou shalt see that the flaws in thy designs will make the Vision even more beautiful than thou canst now imagine.*

Manw bowed his head. "I thank thee again, Atar, for thy forbearance...."

*It is not forbearance, Child,* Atar said with a smile. *It is love....*

Manw felt Atars Presence fading from his conscious mind and he suddenly came to himself. "Enw, dismiss thy guards with my thanks," he said even as he rose and thought himself away.

****

"What do you think Manw will say?" Yavanna asked Nmo as they sat under the boughs of the Trees. It was still several hours before the first mingling of the Lights and Ibrnithilpathanezel was still waning while Tulukhedelgorus was just beginning to flower again. Aul had decided to return to his forge, saying he had been neglecting his other duties lately and needed to speak to his Myar and apologize to them.

"And I suppose I should choose another Chief Mya," he had said before departing. "I think Auros might do."

Yavanna nodded in agreement. "He is a good choice."

So Aul left and now it was just Yavanna and Nmo awaiting Manws arrival.

Nmo shrugged his shoulders, not sure how to answer. "Im sure whatever he decides will be the fairest decision he can devise. He will have consulted with Atar about this, I am sure."

"Rather, Atar consulted me," Manw said as he appeared before them, smiling. "Or to be more precise, we consulted each other."

"Stop speaking in riddles, Manw," Nmo said, giving Manw a smile of his own. "My head is hurting."

Manw chuckled as he sat with them beneath the Trees. "Atar spoke to me saying, Do then any of my Children suppose I did not hear all the Song, even the least sound of the least voice? Behold! When the Children awake then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared. For a time: while the Firstborn are in their power and while the Secondborn are young."

Yavanna sighed, looking appeased. "Thank you," she said softly.

But Manw apparently was not finished. "But do you not remember that you sang not always alone? Did not your thought and mine meet also so that we took wing together like great birds that soar above the clouds? That also shall come to be by Atars will and before the Children awake there shall go forth with wings like the wind the Eagles of the Lords of the West, or so shall I name them."

Yavanna stood up, a smile wreathing her face as she reached her arms towards the heavens. "High shall climb my trees, that the Eagles of Manw may house therein!"

But Manw rose as well. Nmo remained seated, amused at the contradictory expressions on his siblings faces: Yavanna pleased, and Manw grave. In fact, Manw appeared to have grown in stature and majesty and when he spoke it was as if from a great height. Nmo shivered slightly, recognizing an echo of Atars voice in the Eldests words.

"Nay, sister," Manw said, "only the trees of Aul will be tall enough. In the mountains the Eagles shall house and hear the voices of those who call upon us. But in the forests shall walk the Shepherds of the Trees."

"Shepherds of the Trees...." Yavanna said with a dreamy smile. "I like the sound of that."

Manw smiled, seeming to have shrunk to a more normal stature. "It was Atars suggestion," he said. "And now, I must leave you. Varda is still not happy with the placement of the conservatory." He gave them both a rueful smile. "I have the feeling that its going to end up on a very inaccessible peak before shes satisfied."

Yavanna and Nmo laughed at that as Manw faded from view. Then Nmo turned to Yavanna, giving her a wink. "Lets tell Aul his trees will someday have occupants."

Yavanna nodded and soon they were fronting Auls smithy where they found him pouring molten metal into a mould. Yavanna gave her husband a rather smug smile. "Atar is bountiful," she said. "Now let your children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril."

Aul stopped what he was doing and gave them a measuring stare before shrugging. "Nonetheless they will have need of wood," he said, returning to his smith-work.

Yavanna looked to Nmo and he reluctantly nodded, knowing full well the truth of Auls words. Yavanna sighed, no longer looking smug.

****

Kelvar: (Quenya) Animals.

Olvar: (Quenya) Plants.

Note: Again, much of the dialogue is taken directly from the Silmarillion, although Nmos participation in the various conversations is my own invention.





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