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44: The Second Council of Manwë
When Oromë found out about Manwë’s Eagles he was somewhat miffed. “I don’t suppose you could convince Atar to give me a steed upon which I can ride in pursuit of Melkor’s monsters, could you?” he asked.
“A steed?” Manwë gave him an enquiring look.
Oromë nodded. “I have decided I need a better mode of transport than just my legs to go after these creatures. Taking them on foot is proving too difficult and downright dangerous for me and my People when we are in hröa.”
“So what sort of transport are you looking for?” Manwë asked in curiosity.
“Something that runs on four legs and has great endurance and can carry me and my weapons without being weighed down.”
Manwë thought about it for a time. “I do not know....”
“Perhaps thou meanest something like this, lord?”
The two Ayanumuz turned to Naehaerra, one of Oromë’s Máyar who often accompanied his lord on his hunting expeditions. The Máya had a look of deep concentration on his face as his bodily form began to shift until before them stood a four-legged creature, all silvery-white, his chestnut-colored eyes limpid and knowing.
“Yes!” Oromë exclaimed, running a hand over the creature’s flanks. “Truly, Naehaerra, thou hast brought to reality the vision of my need,” he said. Then he turned to Manwë. “Do you think that we can convince Yavanna to bring forth such a creature for me?”
“I do not doubt it,” Manwë said, “but it will be of Eä and therefore it will not live forever. How many of these creatures will you need over the long ages?”
*Thou needest only one, lord,* Naehaerra bespoke them. *I will bear thee where thou wishest to go for to no other would I allow that honor, not even a dumb animal.*
“Surely you do not mean to remain in this form, Naehaerra?” Oromë demanded. “Nor would I willingly treat any of my People as if they were naught but beasts of burden.”
Naehaerra tossed his head, pawing the ground with one of his front hooves which left golden light behind where he struck the earth, and made a strange sound with his voice, yet his thoughts were clear enough. *I find that I like this form better than my previous one. If thou wouldst allow it, lord, I would keep it and think me not as a beast of burden but rather thy boon companion as we hunt together the fell creatures that haunt the Outer Lands still.”
Oromë gave Manwë an enquiring look and when Manwë nodded his permission, he placed his hand upon Naehaerra’s back. “So be it, my friend,” he said solemnly. “Let us hunt together and never be parted.” With that he leapt gracefully upon Naehaerra who gave a whinny of delight and then he was speeding away with Oromë astride him, laughing with joy.
Time passed in Eä. The Ayanumuz and the Máyar were content to remain behind their mountain fastness, feeling secure from Melkor’s depredations. Little thought was given to the darkened outer world where Melkor slept not but gathered his strength, calling to him all manner of evils. His most faithful servants of fire and darkness, whom the Children would one day know as ‘valaraucar’, abode with him in his northern fortress, which Melkor called Utumno.
Not far from the northwestern shores of the Sea, Melkor had a second fortress and armory built to resist any assault that might come from Amanaphelun. In ages afterwards that stronghold would be named Angamando and its command was entrusted to Melkor’s newest and most fearsome lieutenant — the Maia Aulendil, who would ever afterward be called Sauron.
And as the dews of Ibrínithilpathanezel and the rains of Tulukhedelgorus continued to be gathered into wells of water and of light by Yavanna’s Máyar, Melkor’s realm spread southward over the rest of Ambarhíni in which shapes of dread haunted the slumbering woods and under the star-strewn stars other, darker perversions walked abroad.
Yet, not all the Ayanumuz had forgotten the outer world....
It was the Second Mingling of the Lights and the end of another day for the Ayanumuz. Manwë, Varda and Vána were visiting Námo and Vairë, sitting in a courtyard of their mansion which overlooked the Ezellohar. They were enjoying the sight of the Trees when Aulë appeared, looking troubled.
“Has anyone seen Yavanna?” he asked.
“I haven’t seen her for some time,” Vairë said. The others nodded in agreement.
“Or Oromë for that matter,” Námo chimed in. “He’s not been around lately. Vána was asking for him earlier.” He nodded towards Yavanna’s younger sister.
Aulë stroked his beard. “Hmm...”
“And what does ‘hmm’ mean?” Manwë asked in amusement.
Aulë just shrugged. “It just means ‘hmm’,” he said. “Well, I think I’ll go back to my forge.”
He started to leave but Námo called to him. “Wait! Are you just going to leave it like that? Why were you looking for her anyway?”
Aulë raised an eyebrow. “Do I need a reason to seek out my own spouse?” he asked somewhat haughtily.
Námo blushed. “Sorry. That didn’t come out quite the way I meant. I only wondered if there was something wrong.”
“What’s wrong is that my wife and Vána’s husband are missing and have been for some time,” Aulë retorted. “Don’t you think we should be just a little concerned?”
The others exchanged worried looks and Manwë nodded. “Eönwë,” he called softly and the Máya appeared, giving them a bow. “Go among the Máyar and find out if any of them have spoken to either Lady Yavanna or Lord Oromë recently, then report back to me.”
Eönwë’s expression remained neutral, giving nothing away as to his feelings about his orders. Instead, he bowed once again before fading from view. Aulë nodded in satisfaction. “I’m going back to my forge. Let me know what you find out.” With that he strode away, leaving the others exchanging grim looks.
“Anything?” Manwë asked when Eönwë appeared to him some time later.
The Máya shook his head. “Cemendillë and Aiwendil both claim not to have seen Lady Yavanna since five Second Minglings ago. Neither have Lord Oromë’s People seen him, but they assured me that that was not unusual. Lord Oromë often disappears for days at a time.”
“But not for as long as this!” Vána protested. “Always he tells me how long he will be away.”
“What did he tell you this time?” Manwë asked.
“He didn’t,” Vána admitted. “In fact, he simply left without telling me.”
Námo furrowed his brow. “That’s not like him. Did any accompany him?” He asked this last to Eönwë.
“Naehaerra as always,” Eönwë replied with a slight frown. Many of the Máyar were still uncomfortable about their fellow taking on such a shape, yet Naehaerra refused to leave it. “Ulcuroitar went with them it seems, for none have seen him for some time either,” he concluded.
“Where does he go?” Varda asked musingly.
Námo cast her a wry look. “Where do you think, Varda?”
The Queen of Stars grimaced. “The Outer World is under Melkor’s dominion. Whyever would he go there?”
“He does enjoy hunting,” Vána said.
Manwë gave her a shrewd look. “You knew this, that he takes some of his Máyar to hunt the monsters roaming the Outer Lands.”
“Yes, I did,” Vána admitted.
“So this is not the first time he’s disappeared.” Manwë made it a statement and Vána did not bother to answer. Manwë then closed his eyes. “Aulë,” he called softly and almost immediately the Worldsmith was before them. Manwë gave him a discerning look. “This is not the first time Yavanna has gone missing, is it?”
Aulë gave him a shrug. “She’s disappeared for a time or two. I’ve never bothered to ask her where.”
“Why bother now?” Námo asked out of both curiosity and a gnawing suspicion that they were being set up. It was clear to him that both Aulë and Vána were well aware of their respective spouses’ whereabouts. There was more going on than any of them realized. Why would they both suddenly raise an alarm when no alarm had been raised before?
Aulë shrugged and Vána refused to look at any of them. Manwë exchanged a considering look with Varda and then came to a decision. He turned to Aulë and Vána. “You know where they are. Go. Bring them back. I am calling a council to begin at the next First Mingling.”
Manwë’s tone brooked no argument and both Ayanumuz gave him a brief bow of respect before disappearing. The Eldest turned to Eönwë, looking grave. “Go to the other Ayanumuz and tell them that I summon them to a Council at the next First Mingling. Tell Ulmo especially that I will accept no excuse for his not attending.”
Eönwë bowed more deeply than before, then went off to do his lord’s bidding. Námo looked to Manwë and Varda, both of whose expressions were unreadable. “Yavanna and Oromë are up to something.”
Manwë nodded somewhat distractedly, deep in thought. “So it would seem.” Then he came back to himself and rose. The others rose with him. Taking Varda’s hand he nodded to Námo and Vairë. “We will leave you for now. We will meet again in a few hours at the Mahananashkad.” With that he and Varda made their way out of the courtyard to their own mansion.
Vairë turned to Námo. “What do you suppose is going on?”
Námo shrugged. “I think we will find out soon enough.” It was obvious from her expression that Vairë found his answer inadequate, but Námo had no other answer to give.
Tulukhedelgorus was coming into full bloom even as Ibrínithilpathanezel was fading when all the Ayanumuz met at the Mahananashkad. It was the first time that they had so met in council there and the solemnity of the occasion was evident to all. The emblems carved in the thrones glowed with preternatural light. Over time all the Ayanumuz had carved a symbol upon the backs of their thrones in imitation of Námo’s sun-in-eclipse carving. Manwë’s now had a bird of prey which he called an Eagle, though it had yet to be brought into being and Varda’s was an eight-pointed star. Ulmo’s was a three-tined staff while Nienna had a fountain carved in the shape of a woman kneeling and weeping. Aulë’s, not surprisingly, was a hammer and anvil, and Yavanna’s was a gourd filled with a profusion of fruits and grains. Irmo’s was a rainbow and its seven colors were formed from other precious stones that were crushed and embedded into the carving. Estë’s symbol was of a musical instrument that Aulë created for her which she called a harp, the playing of which proved very soothing to the fëar of all. Oromë’s emblem was a type of tree, which the Children would one day call an oak, and Vána’s was elanor and niphredil entwined (though these were not the names by which they were originally known to the Ayanumuz). Tulkas had as his emblem a weapon of war and Nessa’s was that of a gentle four-footed animal. Vairë’s symbol was also something Aulë had crafted to her specifications, a device upon which she had begun to weave colored threads together to form beautiful tapestries which were hung within their mansions. The tapestries were mostly depictions of the Ayanumuz and Máyar at work and at play, though more and more seemed to concern themselves with the history of the building of Eä and in particular Atháraphelun. She called the instrument a ‘loom’.
When they were seated Manwë began. “It seemeth that there is something that two among us wish to share with the others.” He cast meaningful looks at Yavanna seated to his right and Oromë to his left. Neither would meet his gaze. “Wouldst thou like to begin, Oromë?”
The future Lord of Forests rose, his expression grim. “I have been ranging throughout the Outer Lands which, in either our cowardice or wariness, we have neglected, much to their detriment.” The baldness of his statement took several of them aback. “Nay, let me speak,” he commanded, raising a hand to still their protest. “Too long have we hidden ourselves behind these mountains. Too long have we spent our days with the concerns of Amanaphelun. But what of the Outer Lands? Soon, as we measure such things, I deem the Children will appear.”
“Yet we know not the hour,” protested Varda.
At that point Yavanna stood. “Atar’s Vision was brief and soon taken away, so that mayhap we cannot guess within a narrow span of days the hour appointed. Yet, be sure of this: the hour approaches and within this age our hope shall be revealed, and the Children shall awake.”
Oromë nodded. “The Outer Lands are drear and full of unclean shadows. We hoard the Light of the Trees unto ourselves and give no thought to what the darkness holds for the Children. Ever I hunt with my Máyar, pursuing to the death the monsters and fell creatures of Melkor’s make.”
“And I,” added Yavanna, her expression wistful, “wander through the Outer Lands to heal what hurts I can, saving what can be saved by setting a deep sleep upon many things that thrived during the flowering of Almaren in hopes that when the time is meet they will awaken once again.”
“The hour of the Children is not yet come,” Estë insisted. “As you said, Yavanna, we know not even the day of their awakening. How then can we plan for their coming if we know not when and Atar will not reveal it to us?”
“Yet, what shall we do?” Yavanna countered. “Shall we then leave the lands of their dwelling desolate and full of evil? Shall they walk in darkness while we have light? Shall they call Melkor lord while Manwë sits upon the borders of Amanaphelun in his high seat of Dáhanigwishtelgun and merely gazes upon the Outer Lands and does nothing?”
Manwë was about to object to Yavanna’s words when Tulkas sprang to his feet, his face infused with an inner fire. “Nay!” he cried. “Let us make war swiftly. Have we not rested from strife overlong, and is not our strength renewed? Shall one alone contest with us forever?”
Manwë raised a hand. “Peace, brother,” he said not unkindly. Then he turned to Námo. “What sayest thou, Námo?”
Námo then rose, his expression distant. “In this age the Children shall come indeed, but they come not yet. Did I not say that it is doom that the Firstborn shall come in the darkness, and shall look first upon the stars? The Light of the Trees we do not deny them out of greed or contempt but because it is as Atar has willed for them and that cannot be gainsaid.” He paused and stared intently at Varda. “Great light shall be for their waning. Ever shall they call unto thee, Varda, at need.”
Varda looked thoughtful. Manwë nodded, gesturing for all to be seated. “Here then is the doom by which we must abide: the Outer Lands shall know only the light of the stars under which the Firstborn shall awake. As for Melkor....” he sighed and looked more sad than grim. “The time for war is not meet. Many of us are still weary from our last battle with him.”
“Weary or just afraid of being burned again?” Tulkas muttered but he did not speak again and Manwë let it go.
“I do not forbid any of you from wandering through the Outer Lands,” he said. “I only ask that you exercise caution.”
“Caution?” Oromë enquired, not sure what the Eldest was getting at.
“He means watch where you tread,” Námo said with a straight face. “We don’t want you accidently stepping on any of the Children in your haste to pursue Melkor’s get.”
Manwë rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I meant at all!” he protested, but the others were too busy laughing to pay him any mind.
Naehaerra: Nahar. I have assumed that Oromë’s steed must be a Máya who has taken equine form for him to be immortal. We know from the Silmarillion that Arien and Tilion forsook bodily form for the celestial forms that they now have. Elsewhere in Tolkien’s writings we are told that the Valar could take forms other than those imitative of the Children. It seems logical then that the Máyar had a similar talent which they could exercise at will.
Valaraucar: (Quenya) Plural of valarauco (sic): Balrog.
Utumno: (Quenya) Melkor’s first great stronghold in the North. The name appears to mean ‘Deep-hidden’.
Angamando: (Quenya) Angband 'Iron prison'.
Mahananashkad: (Valarin) The Máhanaxar or Doom-Ring.
Note: The Second Council of Manwë occurs 1000 Valian years (9,580 solar years) after the creation of the Two Trees. 28,740 solar years have passed since Tulkas came to Eä. The council debate is taken (more or less) directly from the Silmarillion.
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