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55: The Last Debate
Námo led them into his Halls, refusing to look back to see what Melkor’s reaction to the place might be. He took them through the main hall and down a particular passage that had not existed previously. At the end of the passage was a door before which they all stopped.
"Wait," Námo said and then he closed his eyes and centered himself before he began to Sing. It was a Song of binding and restraining; of secrets revealed and justice upheld, yet woven into it was the possibility of repentance and release. He ignored the stir from behind him as Melkor writhed in fear and anger at what Námo wrought; Tulkas and Oromë held him tight. At last the final note faded away and without looking back, Námo opened the plain wooden door and began to descend the stairs that were behind it. Down it wound until it came to a short passage where there was another door, this one made from meteoric metals that had a black matte look to it, reflecting nothing. With a single thought from Námo, the door opened into a chamber that was approximately ten feet square. It was empty save for one piece of furniture.
"You have to be jesting," Oromë exclaimed as he and Tulkas dragged a still resisting Melkor into the room.
Námo shrugged and gave the other two Ayanumuz a wintry smile. "Never let it be said that I would deprive anyone, even Melkor, of a few homey features to their cell."
Tulkas snorted while Oromë grinned even as the two of them pushed Melkor into what appeared to be a replica of the very throne on which he had been sitting when they found him in Utumno. This throne, however, had a few extra features, namely rings embedded in the armrests and the front legs so that Angainor could be passed through them, effectively binding Melkor to it.
When they had gotten him secured, Tulkas reached over and removed the gag. Melkor glared at them equally with contemptuous hate, then fixed his attention of Námo, who had stood impassively by while the other two dealt with their Fallen Brother.
"You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?" Melkor sneered.
Námo shook his head. "Oddly enough, I am not. I am sorry we have come to this."
"No doubt," Melkor said sarcastically. "Well, torment me as you wish, Little One, but don’t expect me to snivel and beg like a broken slave the way you did. Rushirithir so missed the little games you and he played..."
He got no further with his taunt, for suddenly Námo spat in his face, shocking him into silence. Then, without another word, Námo turned and exited the cell. Oromë was standing there looking at him as if he’d lost his mind, while Tulkas merely gave him a knowing grin. Blushing a little in shame at having allowed Melkor’s taunt to get to him, he nevertheless gave Tulkas a wry grin. "You know, you were right. It does help."
The golden-haired Ayanuz’s booming laugh, even as Námo sealed the cell door shut, was the last thing Melkor heard for some time after.
They returned to the Mahananashkad where the others awaited them. Námo gave Manwë a bow as he entered the Ring. "It is done," he said simply and then resumed his own throne.
Manwë nodded. "Then we must now speak of the Children and what should be done for them."
Ulmo frowned. "Do? Why should we do anything at all? Have we not removed Melkor so he can do them no more harm? Let them be where Atar placed them. I doubt me not that there is a purpose behind it with which we would do well not to interfere."
"Ulmo speaks well, Manwë," Yavanna said. "I deem these Quendi were meant to use their gifts of skill to order all the lands and heal their hurts."
"Yet they are defenseless against the evils that roam under the starlit dusk," Vána said.
"They can learn to defend themselves, if need be, or they can be taught," Oromë suggested and Tulkas nodded in agreement. "Though, in truth," he added, "I would fain have them with us where they can live in peace and without fear. Aulendil, Cosmoco and Yelur are still out there, capable of doing great harm to the Children."
"Not to mention Acairis," Vairë said darkly and the others nodded in agreement.
Aulë, however, sided with his wife and Ulmo. "I think we should leave them where they are," he said. "Atar wished for them to awaken under starlight. If we bring them here to Amanaphelun, to dwell under the Light of the Trees, will that not defeat whatever design Atar has for them?"
"Will they even want to come?" Yavanna insisted. "They know naught of us save Oromë and the journey will be long and perilous. They may not wish to leave what for them is their home for what they may deem an uncertain future."
Manwë turned to his spouse. "What say you to this, beloved? These Children woke to the glory of your stars. Do you wish for them to continue to rejoice in your creations or should they come here, forsaking the stars forever?"
For a long moment Varda did not speak, her expression one of deep thought. "The Children awoke under starlight as Atar decreed," she finally said, "but he said nothing about them having to remain thus. I do not know why they should have been denied the light of a sun, to live in darkness only. I would rather they dwelt amongst us in the Light of the Trees, for they are beautiful with a beauty like and yet unlike our own."
"I agree with Varda," Nessa said. "I, too, find them beautiful and would fain have their fellowship, that we might teach them all that we can about Atháraphelun and the love that Atar has for them, for us all."
"Do you not think they know that already?" Irmo asked.
Nessa shrugged. "I do not know. What say you, Oromë? Do the Quendi know of Atar?"
Oromë shook his head. "Not, I deem, as we do. Some of the oldest among them mentioned that upon waking they heard music, soft and gentle, and they somehow sensed that it was a song of welcome though they admitted that the words were unintelligible to them."
They all paused to reflect on that for a time. Finally, Manwë spoke. "Still, that is not to say that we cannot teach them further."
"That is true," Ulmo said. "Yet, why must we bring them here to teach them? Unlike them, we are not bound to the physical world. All of us can think ourselves to Cuiviénen. We can teach them as easily there as here."
"Yet, these lands would remain empty of their presence," Nienna spoke for the first time. She stole a glance at Námo, who all this while had remained silent, unmoving and unmoved by the arguments either way. Even Vairë could not tell what his thoughts were. "I have begun to collect the tears of the fëar who have come to my brother’s Halls, for I deem that when Atháraphelun’s Time comes to a close, those tears will be needed." She sighed, and they could see her own tears welling up. "I would not want to have to collect any more such tears ever again."
Manwë nodded. "I, too, would not wish for you to have to collect such tears from any Child again."
"And that brings up another point," Ulmo said. "What of the Secondborn? Will we leave them to fend for themselves against the evils still lurking in the Outer Lands when they too awaken?"
Manwë shook his head. "We will deal with that when the situation warrants it. For now, let us concentrate on the Firstborn and what we wish for them." He glanced about the Ring, gauging the intent of the others. His gaze settled on Námo sitting opposite him and wondered why the one Ayanuz who had the most to gain if the Children were safely living amongst them here in Amanaphelun had yet to voice his thoughts. He was tempted to ask point-blank for Námo’s opinion, but decided against it when he saw the set look on the younger Ayanuz’s face. He instinctively knew that Námo would abide by whatever decision the rest of them made, but he himself would say neither yea nor nay to any of their arguments. Manwë had a feeling deep inside him that perhaps they were in the wrong, but he was genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of the Children and looked forward to having them here with them. Already, in the back of his mind, he was anticipating the joy of teaching these bright inquisitive beings all that he knew of Eä and of Atar.
"Are we agreed, then?" he asked. "Should we summon the Children to dwell with us under the Light of the Trees for all the ages of Atháraphelun, that they may not be victims of whatever evils still lurk in the darkness under the stars?"
Varda, Oromë, Nessa, Vána, Nienna, Irmo and Estë all nodded their assent. Vairë looked at Námo, frowning slightly at her husband’s continued silence. She sighed, wondering if he would hate her for her choice. As if he knew her thoughts, he suddenly turned to her, and while his expression never changed, his eyes were warm and loving and accepting and she gave him a loving smile before turning her attention to Manwë. "I concur with the others," she said.
Tulkas sighed. "I little like the idea of removing them from where they are, for I foresee great trial and heartbreak for them in their journeying hence, yet I, too, wish to have them near us."
Ulmo sighed. "It seems that the majority are in favor of this, therefore, I will abide by the decision to summon them to Amanaphelun, though I deem it folly."
"As will I," Aulë said, then turned to his wife who nodded reluctantly.
Manwë rose, his mien solemn. "Then it is decided. The Children will be summoned to abide with us for all the ages of Atháraphelun." He turned then to Oromë. "Go, brother. Return to Cuiviénen with our invitation. Let us bring the Children home."
Before Oromë could respond, Námo slowly rose and all gazed upon him with wonder, for he appeared to them in a foreboding light, his amaranthine eyes dark with something none of them could put name to and in the words that he then spoke there was the echo of Another’s Voice:
"So it is doomed."
- Metta -
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