Heart of Earth, Heart of Stone - Chapter 2 - The Valar
Jaessa ran a hand down the silky grey robe that had been provided for her. It had been a long time since she had worn such fine clothes. They were not practical when one was constantly traveling.
She looked out the window, and realized with a shock that it was morning again! She had slept the afternoon and night away. She must have been more tired than she had thought. But at least she had been able to get the rest she had been denied in her own bed that morning.
She turned her gaze to the mirror that was mounted on the wall, though it seemed more a part of the wall than a decoration. She ran a critical eye over her appearance. Her dark hair was pulled severely back from her face in a tight braid, and her grey eyes looked too large for her face, emphasizing the sadness that lurked therein that she hoped no one else was able to notice.
Her sisters were generally accounted to be beautiful, though no one pretended to have heard that appellation applied to Jaessa, despite the fact that they looked so much alike. Her coloring was too commonplace, her hair not startling like Tinania's coppery curls, and her eyes did not glow like Zandra's. Too, her demeanor was such that she was often ignored in favor of her more vivacious sisters. She had long since abandoned any attempts to compete with them.
With sudden uncharacteristic impatience she pulled the tie from her hair, and ran her fingers through it, releasing the thick waves. The dark cloud flowed down her back and about her shoulders, framing a face that she now seemed too thin from the cares of her life.
She went to the bed and pulled a brush from her bag, and ran it through the length, teasing out the tangles. Her fingers deftly and defiantly separated a part, and plaited a crown about her head, and tucked in a few white flowers from the vines that grew outside her window. Simbelmynë, she noted absently.
She moved again to stand before the mirror, and examined the effect. It was no use, her hair was still merely brown, and her eyes a simple grey. You can't guild a lily, she thought ruefully, and raised her hand to undo her work, and return her hair to its braid.
A knock on her door ceased this action. How foolish she would look to be fussing with her appearance at so important an occasion.
"Come in," she called, quickly drawing her calm demeanor back about her like a cloak. It was Gandalf.
"Ah, you have awakened. I have come to take you before the Valar." He held the door wide, and gestured her through. She hesitated a moment, casting a quick glance back at the mirror, then moved towards the door.
"Gandalf," she said as she walked past him, "Who are the Valar?"
An incredulous noise to her left alerted her to Legolas's presence. He is not a very pleasant fellow, she thought I wonder how he got Zandra's necklace. Why would she give it to him?
"How could you not know of the Valar?" he asked.
"Questions will be clarified later." Melian said as she approached. "This way." She pointed through some tall doors, carved with the history of Arda.
"Zandra did not know of the Valar either." Gandalf said, seemingly to the air.
"She had an excuse." Legolas said uncomfortably. Jaessa wondered what excuse that might be that she herself did not have. She looked to the doors, and saw Haldir standing before them holding one open for her. There was in his eyes an expression that was foreign to her, though she had seen it often enough in the eyes of those looking upon her sisters. Who is he looking at? she wondered as she swept past him, smiling politely, and walked into the room.
Welcome Jaessa, Earth Sister, a lovely voice spoke into Jaessa's mind. Welcome Legolas Greenleaf, son of Thranduil, Prince of Mirkwood, and of Ithilien, and Haldir of Lothlorien. Legolas moved to stand by Jaessa, though he was careful not to come into contact with her. Gimli joined him. Welcome Gimli son of Gloin, Elf-friend. I am Yavanna, I am the Kementari, or Queen of the Earth in the Eldarin tongue. I will speak for Manwe in this case. You have all been brought here by Iluvatar to answer the new need in Arda. A great evil has arisen, greater than that of Sauron, for, if it is not stopped, it threatens not only Arda, but also Valinor, and the Worlds Beyond the Sea.
"There is nothing beyond the sea!" Legolas protested, "There is only Valinor and Arda! Thus do all of the old songs tell!"
"Nothing in this World." Jaessa said quietly, debating within herself how much to share. "But there are Worlds innumerable created by Dae." The words of this Yavanna worried her, seldom did peoples of worlds such as this one know of other worlds, but a threat to multiple worlds was a force to be reckoned with indeed. Perhaps one that required more than she could give.
It suited Iluvatar, that Jaessa calls Dae, that his Children of Arda not know of the Worlds Beyond, but now you few Chosen of Iluvatar, must learn beyond that which you knew. Jaessa will teach you what you must know of other worlds, and you will teach her what she must know of this. But time is short, Gondor has been invaded, and will soon fall, and Rohan after that . . .
Chosen of Iluvatar? Jaessa wondered, Does she mean that these Elves and this Dwarf are Dae Selador?
"What of Ithilien and Mirkwood? What of my people?" Legolas asked urgently, which Jaessa could understand, considering that was his home.
"What of the Dwarfs? What of the Lonely Mountain?" Gimli echoed, "What of the King?"
Eldarion is dead, and his son is in hiding, the lands of your peoples are refuges still, though they will be hard pressed to remain so.
"But from whence came this danger? The Orcs were all scattered by Elessar." Legolas said. Jaessa wondered what Orcs were. This was all slightly above her head, and she did not know what her part in this was meant to be . . . and she was afraid that she did not want to know.
The Orcs have been gathered again, and though it is not they which have attacked Gondor, they are representative of the true threat. I cannot tell you more . . . you must discover yourselves what is your calling in this.
"What do you mean the true threat?" Legolas asked, "How can we fight it if we don't know what it is?"
"It doesn't always work that way," Jaessa said, surprising herself. Despite what this Yavanna said, she couldn't get involved, she was here to find Zandra only. Zandra, or another Dae Kular could take care of this danger, that was their job. Still, she continued, "Often in cases such as this it is better not to know the true enemy, you become more prepared through learning the enemy yourself. That is why Dae tells the Dae Kular so little when he directs them to certain Worlds." Legolas did not look happy to be answered by her. He was very exasperating. Well, let him not listen to her, Jaessa doubted these Valar would be anymore forthcoming. She herself really should focus now on her purpose in being here. "Yavanna, I must ask you where I can find my sister, Zandra."
Your sister is imprisoned by those who must be defeated. Accomplish this, and you will save your sister.
"What!" Jaessa cried, losing her calmness for a moment, she quickly pulled on her mask again. "I think you misunderstand. I am here only to find Zandra, I cannot help you in a war." She turned decisively towards the door.
You cannot save her without saving this world.
"That's not my job." Jaessa said, not turning around, she fought to keep the desperation from her voice.
"I understood that it was the job of Dae Kular to fight." Legolas said derisively.
"That's the problem."
Legolas was only more confused by this infuriatingly calm statement. She was refusing to fight to save her sister? Oh Eru! he prayed, Zandra was imprisoned again! And he hadn't been there for her. He let her go . . . he should have gone with her. He couldn't fail her again.
"You won't leave," he said to Jaessa. "If the Valar say you must go to save Zandra, you will. I will not let her be lost again!"
"I am not planning on abandoning her, Prince." Jaessa said, no emotion in her voice. "I will go and get someone else to come. Tinania will save her, she will aid you."
Tinania cannot accomplish this alone, Yavanna's voice was inexorable. It is your task. This is what you have been called to do. Tinania will come when the time is right. Legolas, cease harrowing up your soul with your guilt. If you had remained, you would have died with Eldarion. This is why you were called so by the Sea. Your participation in the War of the Ring was preparation for now. This is the purpose for which you have lived. If either of you do not go, then all will fall.
The purpose for which you have lived . . . This is your task . . . the words echoed in Jaessa's mind. "The prophecy," she whispered, "the time has come."
Legolas swiftly tied down the last sail. One of the great ships of the Eldar would bring them back to Middle Earth, so the voyage would be swift. The preparations for their journey had gone smoothly, though, of course they would in Valinor. Now they had only to wait for a favorable tide, which Ulmo would no doubt provide. That is, everything had gone smoothly, except when relating to Jaessa. The girl had disappeared. Preparations continued despite the lack of her presence, so he assumed she was still coming . . . or so he hoped. It was very discourteous of her to disappear when so much still had to be done.
Where could she have gone? He had not seen her since they had left Yavanna's presence. How was he supposed to prepare her for his world when she wasn't here?
Another world! He was having a very difficult time adjusting to the thought that Zandra was from another world, actually, he was having a difficult time adjusting to the thought that there were other worlds.
[Legolas!] Haldir called, [Olorin wishes to speak to you and Jaessa before we go. Have you seen her?]
[No,] he replied, tripping lightly down the rope he had just tied. [Where is Olorin?]
[In the library.]
Legolas turned in that direction, scanning about for Jaessa. He entered the library, and was very surprised to see Elrond and Galadriel present as well. There was a flash at the rear of the library, all four of those present turned to see Jaessa step from a grey void in the air.
[What!] Legolas said, his mouth hanging open in a most undignified way.
[That is the Hall of the Worlds,] Jaessa explained, turning, and she spoke a word of command. The gateway swirled and vanished. [I had to go home to send word that Tinania had to come.]
"You aren't still trying to get out of this are you?" he asked suspiciously.
"No, but Tinania must come also. So says the prophecy." She wasn't in the least ruffled by his tone.
"Legolas, Jaessa," Mithrandir said, drawing their attention. "We wish to give you gifts to aid you in your mission."
"Jaessa," Elrond said, bowing to her, much to Legolas's confusion. The Lord of Imladris was bowing to this . . . girl? "to you I give Vilya, the Ring of Sapphire. Its power is not of Earth, but of Air, and its power is much diminished, but it may give you aid, shielding you from the eyes of those who would wish you ill." Legolas watched in amazement as the once Lord of Imladris took Jaessa's hand and slipped the glittering blue ring on her finger.
"To you Legolas," Galadriel said, and Legolas turned to her, his eyes wide with awe,"I give Nenya, the Ring of Adamant, I wish that it may not be needed, but I much fear it will."
"I have not the wisdom to use this!" Legolas protested, raising his hands, palm out, to prevent her from giving it to him.
"You will know what to do when the time comes." Galadriel said, taking his hand and slipping on the white stoned ring, "Only remember that the Three have not power to destroy, only to preserve and create."
"And Narya I give to you, Jaessa, to keep until such time as you decide to give it to another." Mithrandir said, taking the ring from his own finger and putting it into Jaessa's hand. She reverently removed her necklace, and slipped the ring onto the chain.
"The blessings and wishes of the Wise go with you." Galadriel said. "Go now."
Legolas followed Jaessa as she turned to leave the library. She stopped outside and looked at him expectantly.
"Well?" she said, "Which way do we go?"
"The ship is this way," Legolas said, indicating the harbor.
"Ship?" Jaessa said on a questioning note, her voice hesitant, showing more emotion than he had ever seen . . . which wasn't saying much. "What do you mean . . . ship?"
"The ship that will take us from Valinor to Arda," Legolas said slowly and distinctly. How did she think they were going to get off an island?
"Uh oh." a pause, "This is an island, I forgot. I suppose there is not any other way?" a shake of his head, then, "I'm afraid I get terribly sea sick," she said at last, calmly and matter-of-factly.
Uh-oh indeed. This was going to be a long voyage.