Heart of Earth, Heart of Stone - Chapter 1 - Valinor
I have borrowed Lady Shinigami's method of indicating Elvish by using brackets: [ , ].
Prologue - http://www.theonering.com/docs/14829.html
Olorin turned a page in the book he was reading There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Holiday by Bilbo Baggins, and chuckled to himself. Bilbo had just rejoined the dwarfs after escaping the goblin tunnels. Olorin recalled well their surprise as the hobbit strode confidently into their midst just as Olorin was insisting that they go back in after him. How he missed the old hobbit. It was many years now since he had passed on. Frodo had lingered on long after, but now he too lay in peace.
He looked up to the window, removing his pipe from his lips. ( Smoking was one of the harmless habits he had brought back with him to Valinor. ) There was danger brewing again in Middle Earth. His bones (figuratively speaking) vibrated with it. Would the Valar send him back? Or would Men be left to fend for themselves?
Although he was certain that king Elessar, his last connection with the world of Men, had now died, still he could not help being interested in the fate of the land that he had put so much effort into saving, even giving his life (sort of) to save it.
He was also concerned at the fate of the Elves who had not yet come to Valinor. He was very surprised at the number of them who had elected to stay, especially Legolas. He knew the Elf had felt the call of the Sea. Galadriel had foretold it, and Olorin had seen it in Legolas's eyes after he had followed Elessar through the Paths of the Dead. Of course Olorin remembered that there were other factors in his decision.
He resolutely prevented his mind from following this fruitless path. He had returned to Valinor, there was little aid he could give Zandra, even if he could find her. Many times he had sent his thoughts away to Middle Earth, seeking hers, but to no avail. It was as though she had never existed. Not seeing her story through was his biggest regret.
Replacing his pipe, the thought crossed his mind that he hoped the Valar would send him back . . .
A bright flash of light appeared in the far corner of the library, where the light from the window did not reach.
Setting down his pipe and book, he walked slowly in the direction of the source, his movements silent from long years of practice, not having a literal physical body helped of course. He did not know what to expect, but whatever it was, it wasn't the graceful grey-clad figure he found. She was of average height, and a long dark braid hung over her shoulder. But stranger even than her presence was that she appeared to have just come through a hole in the air . . . a doorway through which Gandalf could see only a grey nothingness.
A glimpse of the nothingness was all he saw, for, with a swirl of light it was gone. The library was now dark, save for a slight flash of light from around the stranger's neck every few seconds.
She raised one hand to her neck, and lifted a pendant that was strangely familiar to the Maia, though he couldn't place it.
"She's here," he heard the lady say. She had kept her profile to him this whole time, but now she turned. The light was too dim for Olorin to tell how she looked, save that she seemed very familiar.
"Can you take me to Zandra?" she said. Those words filled him with several emotions at once: surprise, because he realized she had known he was there the whole time; shock, at hearing Zandra's name when his thoughts had just been on her; and recognition, since he now had a good idea of who she was, and why she seemed familiar.
"Are you Jaessa?" he asked, though he was confident of her answer.
"Yes I am," she showed no surprise, which surprised him.
"Welcome to Valinor," he said. "I am Olorin, or Mithrandir, though some call me Gandalf. Would you are to come to where there is more light? We can sit and talk in more comfort."
Jaessa nodded her agreement and Olorin turned to lead the way, thinking quickly through what he would tell her, and, more importantly, what questions he needed to ask.
He gestured her to a chair, and then sat down himself. However, before he could speak, the door to the library opened, and a lady in flowing white entered. Gandalf stood and bowed in greeting.
"Melian," he said, "This is Jaessa, she is sister to Zandra, who accompanied the Fellowship."
"Yes, the Valar have been expecting her, though they did not tell me what her name would be."
"You were?" he asked in surprise. He had heard nothing of this. Jaessa did not appear surprised in the least.
"Yes, Manwe requested that a Dae Kular be sent. There is a great threat growing in Middle Earth, one that we have not the skills to stop. Apparently these Dae Kular are known to Manwe, though the other Valar did not appear to know much."
"Who is this Manwe?" Jaessa asked. Olorin was surprised, surely someone who came at Manwe's request would know who he was!
"Manwe is the highest of the Valar, and communicates directly with Iluvatar." Melian continued as Jaessa drew breath to ask another question, "Iluvatar is the Father of All."
"Dae Kular are the warriors of this Iluvatar." Jaessa said, "My people call him Dae."
"So one question is solved." Olorin said. "We know what Dae Kular are. It is too bad Zandra didn't come here."
"What do you mean?" Jaessa asked, "Zandra is here."
Olorin was startled at the assurance in her tone. "Zandra was in Middle Earth, and as she is not an Elf, she would not know how to get here."
"But . . ."
Melian interrupted her. "Manwe will no doubt explain everything to you. But first we await the arrival of another. Will you come with me Jaessa? I can see that you are fatigued. I will show you where you can rest."
Olorin expected Jaessa to protest, he knew Zandra would have, but with that serene calm that had never left her yet, she nodded and followed Melian from the room.
As she followed the Maiar through the corridors Jaessa observed the many strange glances she receive. Obviously strangers were unusual here. Or perhaps it was that she appeared human, for she saw none who were not of the appearance of Elves.
Her emotions were no where near so calm as she pretended. Zandra was near, not even a mile away now, judging by how fast her necklace was flashing. Was she the one for whom they waited? How Jaessa hoped so! It was so difficult not knowing what had happened to her baby sister. It was that feeling that truly impelled her search, not the prophecy as she professed. Family was a very integral part of the Dae Selador culture, and the best, and most effective Dae Kular were the teams formed of husbands and wives, or of sisters or brothers.
Suddenly a tall, blonde Elf moved into their path, speaking questioningly to Melian in a tongue that was very similar to that spoken by the few Elves that were Dae Selador.
[Who is this lady, Melian?] he asked.
[My name is Jaessa,] she responded in the same language.
[Your servant!] he responded with a bow. [There are few strangers who speak our tongue so beautifully as you.]
"Jaessa, this is Haldir," Melian said. "He was North warden of Lothlorien, one of the woods of Middle Earth, he knew your sister."
"You knew Zandra?" she asked.
"For a brief time. She came to Lothlorien in a time of great trouble, she carried in her eyes a great shadow." He paused, "The reason I wished to meet you was that you seemed familiar, now I know why. Change your hair to gold, and your eyes to green and you would be she."
"Yes," Jaessa laughed, "There is always a strong resemblance between members of my family. Almost as if it were Dae's way of distinguishing Dae Selador from other of his servants." She masterfully hid the curiosity that his words had raised. What could he mean by shadow in her eyes? Jaessa looked down at her necklace. It now gave off a steady glow, Zandra was nearly here. She would have her answer soon. "Tell me about this wood of Lothlorien." she said, she dearly loved all forests, a product no doubt of her affinity for the earth and everything that grew on it.
"Alas, that is the one thing that I miss about Arda. But it is faded now, it had begun before I left. Here, in the Wood of Irmo is the only place that I can truly feel at home." he paused and his eyes grew dreamy, "Lothlorien is the home of the Mallorn trees, and of the fields of elanor. The Golden Wood it was called in other lands. The land of dreams only now." His voice was a little sad. Jaessa could feel his love for his homeland, and felt a strong desire to see it.
"Why did you leave it?" she said quietly.
"I felt the call of the sea." he said, "Valinor called me to cross the sea."
"Cross the sea?" she asked, foreboding entering her heart. "It is necessary to cross a sea to get from here to there?" She braced herself for the answer.
"Why yes, Valinor is on an island."
"Oh dear." At that moment the light around her neck ceased its glowing. Jaessa turned as a glad voice cried out her sister's name. Her eyes brightened in expectation as a handsome Elf forced his way through the crowd, only to stop in shock, staring at Jaessa as the light around his neck also stopped.
"What are you doing with that necklace?" Legolas heard a calm voice say through the haze of his shock. She isn't here. Was the only coherent thought that would form. Zandra isn't here. She is lost to me.
[What are you doing with my sister's necklace?] the voice repeated in Elvish, the tone firm, but still oddly calm. Finally one word reached him. Sister!?
"Sister?" he said aloud, and he finally really looked at the lady standing before him, with Haldir at her side. Brown hair, grey eyes, face shaped so like his beloved. Shock slowly evolved into an irrational anger as he realized who stood before him. "Jaessa. You're Jaessa!"
"Yes, but who are you?" her voice was maddeningly calm. He ignored her question.
"Why did you come now?" he cried, his anger overwhelming in his disappointment. "Why now when she is lost?" He saw a little of the color flee Jaessa's cheeks, the first sign of emotion he had seen. He would have began again, but he was cut off.
"That is enough Legolas Greenleaf." He had never met the lady that stood now at Jaessa's side, but he recognized the mother of Luthien Tinuviel, as she looked much like Arwen. "Jaessa is not at fault, neither are you. Do not allow your disappointment to overrule your sense. That is a weakness of mortals, not of Elves." She turned to Jaessa. "Did I not say that all would be explained later? Legolas is the one for whom we waited; however, you and he must both refresh yourselves; and change your raiment before appearing before the Valar."
"And what about me?" a grumbling voice said. "Am I to be forgotten?"
Gimli! Legolas had indeed forgotten the dwarf in his excitement, and then anger. A rumble of curiosity and surprise spread through the surrounding crowd. A dwarf in Valinor!
"No Friend Dwarf," Melian said, "You are not forgotten. You too shall appear before the Valar."
Now astonishment was clear in the crowd's reaction. If Legolas weren't so emotionally drained from his anticipation and then disappointment, no doubt he would have been amused.
"Olorin," Melian said, "Will you see to the comfort of Legolas and Gimli? Jaessa?" she continued, taking Jaessa's arm and indicating the way they should go.
Legolas watched as the two Ladies walked sedately away. How different Jaessa was from Zandra. Zandra would have been firing off questions, trying to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. Jaessa's calm acceptance was unnerving.
[Legolas? Gimli?] Olorin said to get their attention, [This way.] Legolas turned and was shocked to meet the very amused gaze of Mithrandir, at least, they eyes were certainly Mithrandir's, the rest of his countenance had changed when he put off his physical disguise, and revealed himself to be Olorin, one of the Maiar. Olorin turned and led the way to a suite of rooms elegantly yet simply decorated, with one wall open to the air. [If you remain here] Mithrandir said, [You may select any of several types of dwellings, but for now we hope you will be comfortable here.]
[If I remain here?] Legolas asked, [I thought we were no longer able to leave Valinor once we had come.]
Mithrandir's brow wrinkled, [You have been called to speak to the Valar, and Jaessa must go back to Arda if she is to find Zandra. I'd say they were waiting for you for a reason.] Abruptly he changed the topic. [There are clothes in that chest for both you and Master Gimli. I would suggest you make use of this opportunity to rest.] He turned and silently left the room.
"I really need to brush up on my Elvish don't I?" Gimli grumbled.