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The Council Continues
The next day, being Valanya, the elven High-day when no business was transacted, was a day of rest and the Council met again the day after, on Elenya, about three hours after dawn. Ingwë sat looking out upon the tiered seating where the delegates waited for the session to begin. He recalled the conversation with Lord Manwë and Lady Varda and what had been decided between them with Falmaron giving them suggestions as to how to bring up the Council of the Reborn and their agenda.
“For you know that they helped sponsor my expeditions,” he told them as they ate, “not only to explore and map Valinor, but also to seek out and begin mapping the eastern continent and I know from speaking with Eärendil that there are at least two other continents that we have not yet reached.”
So now the moment of truth had arrived and they would see whether he, as High King over all the Elves, had the ability to inspire his fellow rulers to join him in implementing their plan. Ingwë glanced at Arafinwë on his right, who gave him a supporting nod, and then Olwë on his left, who smiled at him. Then he took a deep breath and let it out slowly as he banged his gavel to get everyone’s attention.
“We adjourned the other day without giving you the opportunity to ask us questions about our trip to Endórë. You have all had the opportunity to think about what we told you and I know that some of you have spoken to others who went with us about their own experiences.” He glanced briefly to where Thranduil sat with Elu Thingol and Celeborn. The two kings both looked troubled while Celeborn just looked bored. Galadriel, sitting on his other side had a very smug look to her and Ingwë wondered what all that was about. Nothing good, he was sure.
Laelir of Garth Laegeldrim raised his hand and Ingwë acknowledged him. The Reborn Nando stood and gave the High Kings a bow of respect. “My lords, we are aware that while several people who accompanied you to Endórë remained behind, there was one who went with Lord Findaráto who returned. My fellow delegates and I are curious as to why Lady Helyanwë did not remain in Wiseman.”
He sat down and there was an air of expectancy among the delegates, almost as if they were waiting for something bad to happen. Ingwë glanced to where Helyanwë sat between Sador and Alassiel and gave her an encouraging smile. “Would you like to address the Council, Lady Helyanwë?”
Helyanwë nodded, looking reluctant and resigned at the same time. Alassiel squeezed her hand and Sador gave her a kiss of benediction before she rose and walked to stand in front of the dais and faced the delegates. For a moment she just stood there and cleared her throat a couple of times before she spoke. “My anatar, Prince Sador, asked me to accompany Prince Findaráto because Aran Gil-galad would not release him from his duties and my brother, Beren, was not even in Valinor but exploring the eastern continent. I did not wish to go, but I knew my duty.”
She paused for a moment as if gathering her thoughts together. “It was very strange and frightening. I did not feel at home even though I was surrounded by fellow Elves. The Mortals… I cannot adequately describe what I felt upon meeting them for the first time. They were nothing like I imagined them to be and they did not hold us in awe.”
“Were they supposed to?” Maglor asked, frowning. “I spent ages wandering the coasts of Endórë and interacted with the Mortals who lived there. Some knew who and what I was. They may have been a little in awe of me, at least at first, but I did not demand that of them. Most treated me fairly as they would treat any of their neighbors, others were less than kind.” He shrugged. “Did you expect them to fall at your feet and worship you, my dear?” He gave her a gentle leer to show he was not being serious.
Helyanwë blushed. “I did not know what to expect and on top of that there was the question of leadership. Prince Findaráto, by virtue of his station, should have automatically become the leader of us all, but those of Wiseman did not see it that way, deferring to Lord Glorfindel instead.”
“Which only makes sense,” Celeborn interjected. “Findaráto, for all his talents, would have known little of the ways of the Mortals of this day, while Glorfindel would be more than cognizant. From what I saw, Findaráto and Glorfindel appeared to work well together.”
“But some of us did not feel that should be the case,” Helyanwë said softly, not looking at anyone. Then she seemed to gather herself together and continued in a more forceful manner. “At any rate, various incidents occurred that forced Findaráto and Glorfindel to resolve the situation once and for all.” She paused for a moment. “I was not happy. I missed my family and my friends. I had no particular talents or skills that could be useful to those living in Wiseman. I felt superfluous and unneeded. Yet, I would have done what I could to fit in, to help out. It was only when Their Majesties appeared unexpectedly for the wedding that I realized that I no longer wished to remain in Endórë and when others petitioned to remain behind, I asked to be allowed to return.”
Before anyone could comment, Sador rose and addressed the chamber. “I regret that my granddaughter did not have a welcoming experience in Endórë, which only says that not everyone is cut out to go there. I knew that Helyanwë probably was not the right person to go, but I wanted someone to represent my family since I was forbidden to go myself and her brothers were unavailable.” He glanced to where Gil-galad sat and the king had the grace to look abashed, though he did not go so far as to offer an apology. “At any rate,” Sador continued after a moment, “I am very proud of my granddaughter for going and while the experience was not what I had hoped for her, I am assured that she has no regrets and learned from it.”
“Thank you, Lady Helyanwë,” Ingwë said and the elleth bowed and returned to her seat. “We kings are well aware of what happened and why and we have every confidence that whatever problems our people were having in the beginning have been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Now, what we of this Council must decide is where do we go from here? We have told you how it stands with our people in Wiseman and what they are doing and what they hope to accomplish. It is up to us here to decide what we will do.”
“But before we do, my lords, you have not said anything regarding my son and daughter-in-law,” Aran Amdir said as he stood.
“That is because I think the news should come from you, Amdir,” Ingwë said, “but let me first explain to our fellow delegates what you are about to show them.”
Amdir nodded and resumed his seat as Ingwë addressed them all. “As you know, Amdir’s son, Amroth, and his wife, Nimrodel, are expecting. When the news was first brought to us and we shared it with the people, I was disappointed in the response or lack thereof and the many, shall we say, less than polite words spoken.”
“Frankly, I was appalled and embarrassed,” Arafinwë interjected, “and I wish to formally tender my apologies on behalf of us all to Aran Amdir and Tári Ivoniel. I am sure you are very proud of your son as well you should be.”
“For a very long time we had no news, did not even know if he lived or resided in Mandos,” Amdir said, squeezing Ivoniel’s hand. “When Lord Námo came to us a few years back, we feared the worst, but he assured us that not only was our son alive but he was happily reunited with the love of his life. And then when we learned that they were expecting children, our grandchildren, our joy knew no bounds, but we were confused by the negative reactions of others, for children have always been precious to us and to denigrate another’s good fortune in having children added to their house was troubling.”
“Yes, it was, and it points to the fact that our people have sunk so low in despair that we no longer rejoice in the good fortune of others,” Ingwë said. “At any rate, while we were in Endórë, we learned something quite unexpected. Amdir, if you would.” He gestured and Amdir stood and approached the dais, handed the manila envelope to Ingwë but did not return to his seat. Ingwë stared at the envelope for a moment before speaking again. “What I am about to show you is an example of Mortal technology. More to the point, this technology revealed something that our own healers who now reside in Wiseman never suspected.” He opened the envelope and pulled out the ultrasound picture. “You will all have an opportunity to look at this closely. You need direct sunlight to see it. What I have here is a picture showing Lady Nimrodel’s womb and the children within it.”
Murmurs of shock and surprise ran through the chamber and it was a couple of minutes before Ingwë could get them to calm down. “Yes. It is the Mortal version of scanning, except they do it with machines. This technique, which in their language is called ‘ultrasound’, perhaps best translated as orlamma, is commonplace and every pregnant Woman undergoes it. Lady Nimrodel submitted to it as a matter of course.”
“And what does this picture show that we did not already know?” Aran Lórindol asked politely. “We know they are expecting twins.”
“And in that you would be incorrect,” Ingwë retorted. “They are not expecting twins, but triplets.”
Immediately, the entire chamber exploded with exclamations of surprise and disbelief. Several delegates even went so far as to rush toward the dais, perhaps with the intent of looking at the ultrasound themselves. They did not get far. Almost immediately, several Maiar appeared, armed with swords of light and towering above even the tallest of the Elves, blocking their approach.
The Elves instantly became statues, goggling at the sight of Eönwë, Manveru, Erunáro and several other warrior Maiar standing there with cold expressions. “Sit down,” Eönwë commanded in a soft voice that nevertheless held steel and the Elves complied, cringing in their seats and looking more like errant elflings than the leaders of their people.
“Ahem.” Ingwë cleared his throat and Eönwë turned to look at him, lifting an eyebrow at the High King’s amused expression. “Much as I appreciate the… ah… assistance, my Lord Eönwë, I think we can handle things without… um… divine intervention, as it were.”
“My apologies, Ingwë Ingaran,” Eönwë said with a slight bow of his head as he returned his sword to its sheath. The other Maiar also sheathed their swords and the level of light around them dimmed to more acceptable levels. “It looked as if you were being rushed and I have my orders from Lord Manwë.”
“Ah, well, you were only doing your duty then. Thank you,” Ingwë said graciously. He glanced at the backs of the other Maiar who remained looking out at the delegates, effectively blocking his view. “Perhaps if you and your fellows could possibly… um….” He made a motion with his hands as if parting something before him and Ingwë had the feeling that the Herald of Manwë was laughing at them or at least at the situation, though his expression remained politely neutral. Without a word, the Maiar all faded from view, leaving behind a myriad of floral scents that lifted their spirits and calmed them.
Ingwë glanced at Arafinwë and Olwë, both of whom shrugged, then looked at Amdir still standing before them blinking slightly.
“So, where were we?” Ingwë asked rhetorically. “Ah, yes. Triplets. Twins are rare, but not all that unusual among us. Triplets on the other hand, that’s something new, isn’t it? And I cannot help wondering if this is a message from Eru for us.”
“What do you mean, Ingwë?” Amdir asked.
“Just that, when we of Aman thought that your son and daughter-in-law were expecting twins, the reaction was rather, shall we say, ho-hum. But triplets? That’s something else again. Frankly, I haven’t seen any of you act so alive in ages, literally.” And the scorn dripping from him was obvious and several people started blushing and not looking at anyone directly. Ingwë let the silence drag out for another minute or two before continuing. “Well, you will all have an opportunity to view the ultrasound later. Right now, we need to discuss certain other matters.” He pushed the picture back into the envelope and handed it to Amdir with a nod. Amdir bowed and returned to his seat.
“As you all know, Lord Falmaron and his crew have recently returned from a mapping expedition of the eastern continent.”
“To what purpose, though?” one of the delegates asked out of turn. “We know it’s similar to the lands of Endórë, though presently uninhabited.”
“Yes, and that’s the point,” Ingwë retorted. “According to Lord Manwë, with whom I spoke last night, we should have been colonizing the eastern continent several thousand years ago.”
There was a general hubbub of surprise at that announcement. “People, please!” Ingwë called out. “Let me continue. Thank you. Now, as I was saying, Lord Falmaron returned recently from his mapping expedition. As long as he is present with us, I think it wise to hear what he has to say about it and the reason for it will become clear in due time. Lord Falmaron.”
Falmaron rose and bowed to the high kings. “Thank you, Your Majesty. I would have Loremaster Beren Castamirion speak of our findings.”
He sat and at Ingwë’s nod Beren rose and addressed them. “As Lord Lindir has pointed out, the eastern continent appears to be similar to Endórë in many respects based on the description that has been given by a number of people familiar with it from times past, but there are also significant differences and I will not bore you with them, for they are not all that germane to this discussion. What I will say is that the land is untouched. What predators we came upon are the usual type that would be found even here in Valinor. The land is fertile, the water plentiful. The areas we have mapped so far are temperate in climate. We stayed through the winter season and found it no harsher than what most of us are used to. In other words, the land is waiting for us.”
“Again, I ask, to what purpose?” Lord Lindir reiterated. “What has the eastern continent to do with us?”
“Everything,” Ingwë said, giving Beren a nod of thanks. The ellon resumed his seat. “With the approval of Lord Manwë we high kings have decided to institute a colonization program. We mean to send people to the eastern continent.”
“But why?” Lindir insisted. “It is not as if Valinor is overcrowded.”
“No, that’s just the point,” Ingwë said tightly, gritting his teeth in frustration at the obstinacy of the ellon. “Our population should have been greater than it is. Oh, we could never hope to equal the Mortals in their fertility, I grant you, but apparently, we should have had a larger population by this time than we do. A war is coming, people, the War. And we Elves are woefully undermanned. We do not have a sufficient number of warriors for what is to come, according to Lord Manwë.”
“Well, we have seven billion potential allies among the Mortals,” Laeglir said with a diffident shrug. “With Elves commanding the armies, there’s no need for more of us. We certainly have sufficient numbers for command.”
Ingwë sat there feeling appalled, not sure how to respond to the Nandorin Speaker. He glanced at Arafinwë and Olwë, both of whom looked as shocked as he felt at the elleth’s casual disdain. Many of the delegates, those whom Ingwë knew had once abided in Endórë and had had dealings with the Mortals, looked equally shocked, he was glad to see, but just as many were nodding their heads in agreement with what Laeglir was proposing.
Before Ingwë could muster up a reply to counter Laeglir’s words, Arafinwë leaned forward, his expression cold. “The Mortals are not ours to command,” he said. “They are our comrades-in-arms and when the time comes we Elves will fight side-by-side with them.”
“You commanded the armies in the War of Wrath,” Lindir pointed out. “What is the difference here?”
“You were there, as I recall, Lord Lindir, fighting beside Gil-galad. You forget, or you choose to ignore the fact that I and Lord Intarion commanded the Host under Lord Eönwë who had the supreme command and the Mortals who joined us fought under their own commanders. Actually, that’s not strictly true. Many of them joined us and fought in units comprised of both Elves and Mortals. Is that not true, Gil-galad?”
The erstwhile king of Lindon nodded. “Indeed. One of my top commanders was a Mortal.”
Arafinwë nodded. “Intarion and I had several Mortals among our captains who sat in council with us and Lord Eönwë as we decided on tactics and the deployment of troops. So, Laeglir, your idea that we Elves will just waltz on over to Endórë and take over the armies of the Mortals is both arrogant and wrong. We are all in this together and unlike us who have lived in peace for the last four or five ages, the Mortals have continued to hone their fighting skills. They certainly do not need us to lead them by the hand. If anything, we might do well to learn from them.”
That last statement met with reactions of disbelief by many, though not all. Ingwë saw Maglor nodding in agreement with Arafinwë, as did Celeborn and, surprisingly, Thranduil. Arafinwë leaned over to whisper to Ingwë and Olwë. “Too bad we don’t have any Mortals to show off. I think most of the delegates definitely are the ‘won’t believe it until we see it’ types.” Both Ingwë and Olwë nodded.
“If it weren’t for the dimensional barrier, we could do just that,” Olwë said. He gave them a wicked grin. “Bring Alex Grant here, lock the chamber and let him loose. These poor bastards wouldn’t know what hit them.” Both Ingwë and Arafinwë snorted in amusement.
Maglor raised his hand just then and Ingwë recognized him. He stood. “I am assuming that you want volunteers to go to the eastern continent and begin colonizing it. How does that help us, though?”
“I am glad you asked that, Lord Maglor,” Ingwë said. “Lord Falmaron. I believe you have something to say to this.”
Falmaron stood and walked down to stand before the dais, facing the other delegates. “It is not enough to just send a few hardy, adventurous souls to the eastern continent, which by the way, we have named Ambaróna. Those who go, go with the intention of bringing forth children. All who go must first be bonded and give oath that they will add children unto them within a specific period of time or be taxed.”
“Are you serious?” someone demanded.
“Very,” Falmaron replied. “And more to the point, that must also be the policy here in Valinor. You who are rulers, must issue an edict ordering all single Elves within your respective realms to be bonded within, say the next five years, or be taxed very heavily and all presently married couples who are capable of bringing forth children must produce at least one child within the same time period or be taxed as well.”
“And you, Ingwë? You approve of this?” Lórindol asked.
Ingwë nodded. “More to the point, the Valar endorse Lord Falmaron’s plan.”
“Lord Falmaron’s, but not yours,” Lórindol shot back.
“Lord Falmaron’s, as a representative of the Council of the Reborn, and mine.”
“The Reborn!” another delegate exclaimed. “Always the Reborn. What gives them the right to dictate policy?”
“In case it’s slipped your mind, my lord,” Falmaron said with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes, “we Reborn outnumber you Once-born and have outnumbered you for quite some time as Mandos has emptied out. I think it was Lord Námo’s not so subtle hint that we needed to increase our population. We of the Reborn Council have watched as you Once-born lost estel and simply gave up. At first we thought to… encourage you to a different course by marrying and bringing forth children ourselves in defiance of current policies but after consulting with the Valar on the subject, we decided to wait and see what would happen. In the meantime, I continued petitioning for the right to mount an expedition to Ambaróna with the intention of finding suitable places for colonization, for we knew that eventually the time would come when such colonization would be needed. Well, that time has come, my lords and ladies. Time and past time. As Lord Manwë told us last night, Ambaróna should’ve been colonized thousands of years ago.”
“This colonization project is effective immediately,” Ingwë said. “We will begin implementing plans to send the first wave of colonists within the next year. Volunteers are welcome, but if necessary we will send them by force.”
Now there was general disapproval from the majority of the delegates who were upset by the unilateral decisions being made, and arguments broke out with many insisting that there be a discussion on the matter first, followed by a vote. Ingwë was attempting to explain that the time for discussion was past and action had to be taken when suddenly there was a flurry of incandescent lights that blinded all of them, alerting them to the imminent appearance of one of the Valar.
When the light dimmed, they all sat in shock, but not at the sight of Lord Námo standing before the dais. That, in itself, did not shock them, long used to seeing even the dread Lord of Mandos come among them on occasion. No. What shocked even the high kings, rooting everyone in their place and making them speechless, was the sight of Lord Námo’s companion.
“Alex?” Ingwë whispered, recognizing the Mortal staring about with unfeigned interest.
Alex Grant turned around at the sound of his name. “Ingwë! This is a dream, right? Please tell me this is a dream.”
Ingwë could only stare at the Mortal, not quite sure how to answer him.
Words are Quenya:
Orlamma : Literally, ‘above/over-sound’.
Ambaróna: Eastern (land). The place-name is canonical.
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