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Raguel, standing with Manwë, Varda and Námo on the balcony of the throne room in Ilmarin, chuckled as he listened to Gwyn, Gareth, Alex and Derek plotting ways to break someone out of prison. He had been listening to the brothers’ story with as much interest as the other three Valar, perhaps more so, for he had never had much contact with the mirroanwi, whether Eldar or Mortal, and he found them fascinating. He glanced at his fellow Ayanumuz and saw that they were equally amused by what they were witnessing. Manwë turned away and stepped back into the throne room with the others following.
“So it seems young Artemus is recovered from his recent ordeal,” Raguel said.
“Perhaps,” Manwë replied in a mild tone as he took his throne. The others also sat with Raguel taking the throne normally used by Aulë. Eönwë appeared and offered them wine, which they accepted, then left at Manwë’s nod. “He may just be putting up a good front. They’re very good at that sort of thing.”
“Yes, just like the rest of us,” Námo said with a slight smile as he sipped from his goblet. “We’ll need to keep an eye on him. He’s due to return to Fairbanks tomorrow and resume his studies. I wonder how he will fit breaking someone out of prison into his already busy schedule.”
The other three chuckled. “His calendar is a bit full at the moment, but I imagine he will find a way,” Manwë said.
“Atar told me that Artemus was destined to do something important, something that could change the very course of history, but I doubt breaking a drug smuggler out of prison qualifies,” Raguel said with a snort of amusement. “Yet, if he is successful, then what? He will be breaking their laws, they all will be, and then they may end up becoming fugitives along with this person whom they release from incarceration.”
“Oh, I don’t think it will come to that,” Manwë said. “Alex is smarter than that. He will find a way to release Rufus Moynihan so that the authorities will not question it, of that I have no doubt.”
“What do you know that we don’t, Manwë?” Námo asked, narrowing his eyes.
The Elder King gave them a beatific smile. “Many things, my son, but in this case, it’s not so much actual knowledge as it is a… confidence that all will work out as it must.”
“Well, of course, that goes without saying,” Raguel said with a huff of annoyance, “but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us wouldn’t like to know what you’re up to, Brother.”
“For the moment, I am up to nothing where Alex is concerned,” Manwë assured them. “I am more interested in what is happening here among the Eldar. The delegates to the All-Aman Council have departed, none of them very happy.”
“To say the least,” Varda said with an unladylike snort. “I think your little stunt with Alex has backfired, Námo.”
“No, I disagree,” Námo said. “Right now, they’re all angry and upset, but that’s from shock. Once the shock wears off, some of them will begin thinking again and realize just what the stakes truly are.”
“How successful will the kings be in implementing their enforced colonization plans, do you think?” Raguel asked.
“They won’t have to implement it if the Reborn volunteer,” Námo replied. “Falmaron and Vondo will lead the way and many of the others will follow, including, I suspect, the Fëanoreans.”
“Oh? Do you honestly think Maedhros will go to Ambaróna when his heart is set on joining his cousin in Wiseman?” Raguel asked in disbelief. “You know Maglor discovered him trying to sneak onto Vingilot when Eärendil was about to leave for Aewellond. All the ellon can talk about is Alex Grant. He may have given up on the idea of him and his brothers infiltrating the mortal world to set up their own versions of Wiseman, but he is still bent on going back to Middle-earth.”
“And we can’t have that,” Manwë said. “He’s needed here. They all are. We really cannot afford to send anyone else to Wiseman at this time.”
“What about Sador?” Raguel asked. “I hear he refuses to speak to Gil-galad and will not fulfill his duties as Steward, delegating them to others. He has even left Kortirion and spends his days walking the beaches of Avallónë, constantly gazing out to sea. He is very angry and resents that he has been denied the right to join his brothers.”
“Gil-galad may well regret denying Sador his wish,” Námo said with a shake of his head, “but that is something the two of them must work out for themselves. Sador is more than just Gil-galad’s Steward, he’s also the head of the Council of Reborn.”
“A position from which he can always resign and turn over to another,” Varda pointed out, “and there are plenty of people in Gil-galad’s court who can also act as steward.”
“But none of them are Reborn,” Manwë pointed out. “Ereinion is somewhat prejudiced in that respect.”
“Well, I for one think that we should allow Sador to move to Wiseman sooner rather than later for all our sakes,” Námo declared.
The other three gave him surprised looks. “Oh? Is there something you want to share with us, Námo?” Manwë asked.
“Do you mean, do I know something you don’t?” Námo retorted with a quirk of his lips. “No. This is not prescience, just common sense. As Raguel pointed out, Sador is angry and an angry Reborn…”
“Is a dangerous Reborn,” Raguel finished Námo’s maxim for him and the Lord of Mandos nodded.
“I thought that was a bored Reborn?” Varda gave them a coy smile.
Námo shook his head. “Comes to the same thing, my dear.”
“I’ll have one of my People keep an eye on Sador,” Manwë suggested. “Nornoros might do. He’s dealt with the Reborn and knows what signs to look for and can alert us if necessary.”
Námo nodded. “We should also keep an eye on Maedhros. I notice he and Turgon have been seen together.”
“And that troubles you,” Raguel stated.
Námo raised an eyebrow. “Those two are plotting something. What, I don’t know, but it can’t be anything good.”
“Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?” Manwë said with a smile.
Raguel gave them a puzzled look. “Do you not know? Why don’t you just assign one of the Maiar to listen in on whatever they are plotting?”
The three Valar gave him surprised looks. It was Manwë who answered him. “First of all, that would be rude and, second of all, what’s the fun of that?”
“I don’t understand,” Raguel said with sincerity.
This time Námo spoke. “It is true that any of us can assign our Maiar to follow the Eldar about and listen in on their conversations, spy on their doings, but if we do that, then Fëanáro’s accusations that we are their masters and they are our thralls will be true. We have never done so, however tempting it might be. Oh, our People, in the course of their own duties, might overhear or see something about which they think we should know and report to us, but that is simply a matter of serendipity and not something arranged.”
“We’ve been very careful to assure the Eldar that we are not voyeurs. The vast majority of them have never actually had any dealings with any of us or our People. They should not live in the fear that their every movement is under scrutiny by us.”
“Then how do you rule?” Raguel asked. “And you don’t seem to have a problem checking in on those in Wiseman or elsewhere in the world. What is the difference?”
“There is none,” Manwë answered. “We do not pry into the lives of the Mortals or the Eldar. Yes, we look in on them as we did just now, but notice that we watched them in what you might call a public setting. They were sitting around a bonfire listening to a story and when they broke up and went their separate ways we did not follow any of them to see what they were up to nor have we ordered Fionwë and Olórin to do so. They guard and keep watch over the whole of Wiseman, but they do not violate the privacy of those whom they guard and neither do we.”
Raguel nodded in understanding. “It is different in the Timeless Halls. When Atar wishes he can watch even the most intimate of moments of the Children and we who are with him will watch as well.”
“That is the Timeless Halls, which are unmarred, not Valinor, which, unfortunately, is,” Manwë said. “Do try to curb your natural curiosity where the Children are concerned, Brother. They deserve their right to privacy no less than we.”
“I will keep that in mind,” Raguel said. “So, not to change the subject, but I will anyway, what do you think Ingwë, Arafinwë and Olwë will do next?”
“Hmm… that is the question, isn’t it?” Manwë said. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, but I think Ingwë is ready to remind them all just why he is High King.”
“Now that should be fun to watch,” Námo said blandly and the other three laughed in agreement.
Ingwë swirled the wine in his goblet as he sat in his study with Arafinwë and Olwë. The three kings and their entourage had returned to Vanyamar after the All-Aman Council was dismissed. Olwë had assured Eärendil that he would find his own way back to Alqualondë, so the Mariner left with Gil-galad and his people, including Sador, Alassiel and Helyanwë. Falmaron, Beren and Círdan had elected to remain in Valmar visiting with Lord Ulmo and his People to discuss the logistics of colonization and providing transportation for the colonists.
Standing before Ingwë was Maglor, who had politely refused the wine offered him as he sought to apologize for his brother. “I do not know what is with him,” Maglor exclaimed in frustration. “Until Alex Grant appeared, he was fine, but now he appears an ellon obsessed.”
“He is a Reborn, Macalaurë,” Ingwë said mildly. “The Reborn are practically a law unto themselves at times. My own son is a prime example, renouncing his heritage and moving to Vanyalondë to help his cousin Lórindol. He appears to be quite content to let Findaráto’s son rule as king while he remains only a prince and Lórindol’s vassal, never mind that Ingalaurë, as my son, is properly his superior.”
“They have a very warm relationship,” Maglor said with a smile. “There is genuine love and respect between them. I think they look upon each other as otornor rather than king and vassal. Your son is genuinely happy, of that I have no doubt.”
“Well, be that it as it may, we were discussing your brother,” Ingwë said. “He seems to have discovered a new toy, so to speak.”
“I could not believe that he was trying to sneak aboard Vingilot,” Maglor exclaimed. “I was ready to kill him, truly I was. He’s driving me to distraction and I’d like nothing better than to drop him from the highest peak of Taniquetil.”
The three kings chuckled. “You sound like a parent,” Arafinwë said.
“I am a parent,” Maglor shot back. “I raised three wonderful children, but they were none of them half the trouble Maedhros and my other brothers are even now. I swear, I think they’ve simply decided not to grow up. None of them take anything seriously. It’s all about play, but they are not newly-released Reborn.”
“But they are Reborn,” Olwë said, speaking for the first time. “I would not sweat it, as the Mortals would say. Maedhros is not going to Middle-earth, at least not anytime soon. I doubt anyone will be allowed to go back. I know Celeborn and Galadriel plan to return for their daughter’s wedding, which is only right, but even they will not remain there permanently. We need everyone here. Your brothers are Reborn and the Reborn need to lead the way.”
“So you expect them to pull up stakes and remove themselves to the eastern continent to start all over again?” Maglor asked.
“Perhaps,” Olwë said, “but it isn’t a requirement. Falmaron is sure that many of the Reborn will be eager to colonize Ambaróna, but not all will and we still would prefer that younger generations of Once-born be part of the colonization project. We cannot rely solely on the Reborn nor should they be expected to shoulder all the responsibility.”
“No, I agree with you there,” Maglor said.
“What of the Harthadrim?” Arafinwë asked. “Would they go if asked?”
Maglor shrugged. “Possibly. Frankly, I don’t think the term applies to us anymore. Except for those of us who originally resided in Middle-earth before coming to Valinor, the younger generations have no more hope than the rest of our people.”
“Then it is time for them all to find their hope again,” Ingwë said.
“And how do you propose to do that, Uncle?” Arafinwë asked. “Nothing we have tried before has worked.”
“That’s because we didn’t have the threat of the Mortals to back us up,” Ingwë retorted.
The other three ellyn gaped at the High King. “What do you mean, threat?” Olwë asked.
Ingwë gave them a slight smile, a smile that boded no good. “Can you imagine what will happen if it is known that when the time comes, the Mortals will be given command of the elven armies because we were too stupid to increase our numbers so we could be on an equal footing with them?”
“Are you serious?” Maglor demanded. “How will that instill hope in our people?”
“I don’t think hope is the answer anymore, my son,” Ingwë replied soberly. “I think what our people need right now is anger. They need to walk this world with hearts on fire if they ever hope to win against the Enemy. Right now, their hearts are cold. It’s time to waken the embers again and we will do so only by threatening them with the likes of Alex Grant.”
The other three Elves continued to gape at the High King sitting there calmly drinking his wine. “Valar!” Maglor finally exclaimed with much feeling. “I think I need that drink now.”
“So can you do it, do you think?” Turgon asked Maedhros. The two were in one of the private gardens attached to the palace in Vanyamar, examining the skateboard Turgon had brought with him.
“What is the wood?” Maedhros asked as he rubbed a hand over the smooth surface of the board.
“Maple. I was told it is the favorite wood for these, though others are made of artificial materials that the Mortals have learned to create. Gwyn and Gareth assured me that wood is better.”
“Trucks, they are called, though I do not know why,” Turgon said, using the English word.
“They are made of some kind of alloy, I think.”
“Steel mostly, but yes, there is some process that the Mortals use to make them impervious to rust. Do you think Lord Aulë knows of the process and, if so, why has he never taught it to us?”
Maedhros shrugged as he continued examining the board. “Perhaps I will ask him the next time I see him.”
“Well, do you think you can make copies of this?” Turgon asked, returning to his original question.
“Oh, of a certainty,” Maedhros assured him. “What I need is measurements.”
“We can go to the royal smithy,” Turgon suggested. “They will have the means for you to take measurements.”
“Let us go, then,” Maedhros said, standing. “I know you will not allow me to take this with me, but if I can make sketches…”
“By all means, make your sketches,” Turgon said as he stood as well.
“So why are you asking me for help in making another skateboard?” Maedhros asked as they exited the garden and headed for the royal smithy. “You are as well trained as I in the art of crafting and metalsmithing.”
“True, but I am being watched. My uncle Arafinwë was not sanguine about me purchasing the skateboard, though he did not forbid it. But the one time he caught me skating down a corridor of the palace he threatened to have it burned. I promised him I would not skate inside the palace and he has given me one of the courtyards for my use, but it is rather lonely skating all by myself. He is hoping I will soon tire of my… my new toy and it will be forgotten, a curious memento of my visit to Wiseman, nothing more, but if I have others who join me in skating….”
“Well, I will see what I can do about it.”
“Would you like to try it?” Turgon gave him a sly look.
“I am not sure I would be good at it,” Maedhros admitted. “I think it will take lots of effort to learn to balance upon so flimsy a surface.
“Yet, mortal children skate upon them with ease,” Turgon countered. “Surely you do not want to be bested by mere mortal children. It is not that difficult.”
Maedhros stopped and Turgon did as well. The firstborn son of Fëanor looked about them. They were alone. He looked at the skateboard in his hands and then at the smooth flagged path on which they stood, so inviting. Stealing a glance at his older cousin, he gave him a conspiratorial grin. “So, how do you work this?”
Turgon grinned back. “Let me show you,” he said and a few minutes later Maedhros was carefully balancing himself on the board and with the thrust of a foot he was off with Turgon running beside him yelling encouragement.
Otornor: (Quenya) Plural of otorno: sworn-brother, the Quenya equivalent of the Sindarin gwador/gwedyr.
Harthadrim: (Sindarin) People of Hope; see The Journey Home.
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