About them, the bright light waned and faded, until they were surrounded by a cloud of swirling gray. Osse’s face became grim, and somber, as he pointed ahead of them to a void of black swirling at the center of the gray cloud, from which two voices, two dark voices, full of venom and hate, emitted.
“So Yavanna comes in disguise, thinking that I and thou, and the servants of my making will not detect her passing?” The first voice was barely more than a whisper, spoken as if from a great distance, embittered and heavy.
“And she brings with her the firstborn of the Valar in her arms, as well.” The second voice, sounding as if it were stronger, and closer, had taken on a tone of evil glee as it said this, and Lalaith flinched. This low, guttural voice, sounded much like the angry, hateful hiss she had heard in Imladris, when the One Ring had spoken to her. Lalaith guessed that this voice belonged to the disembodied form of Sauron. She knew that the Ring and Sauron were one, the Ring sensing the thoughts and passions of its master, longer ever to return to his hand. “My master,” continued Sauron’s voice, “is this a child borne of Yavanna?”
“Nay,” spoke the distant voice, bitter with hatred, “for the child bears the likeness of Varda the fair, the star maker, whom I knew well. She who rejected me, the greatest of the Valar, for Manwe, that whelp of a brother, who bears not my power, though he is favored, spoiled, for he follows mindlessly the will of our maker, and only with such help, gained the advantage, and thrust me into the void beyond. Does he think my power has ended? That I cannot speak my will to my servants?”
“I am ever at your bidding, my master.” Spoke Sauron’s voice.
The first voice growled weakly. “Pathetic excuse for a servant, thou art, Sauron. Defeated by a child, one of the Secondborn, no less.”
“No! Not defeated.” Sauron’s voice protested. “For my ring claimed his mind, turned him to my purposes.“
“Yea, indeed, and then lost itself at his death.” The first voice mocked. “Have thy servants found yet thy ring?”
“No, my master, but they seek it, and they will find it, ere the world grows much older.”
“See to it, that they do.” Demanded the first voice. “But ere thou findest the ring, find also a way to take the child from Yavanna. Speak to the minds of thy servants, and those others of dark minds. Bid them take the child by stealth, and bring it to thy realm in Morgoth. The child is of the seed of the Valar, and if I can but turn her to my purposes, she will become as great and as terrible as ever I was. And if I cannot turn her, then I will destroy her. I could not bring her mother to join me, and for the folly of Varda in choosing Manwe in my stead, her child will be lost to her.”
Lalaith snatched a ragged breath in her lungs and clung tightly to Osse’s hand as the vision changed, now to a green glade beneath a bright blue sky. Her star woven blanket was spread beneath her in the center of the green clearing, lush with tall waving grasses, the baby who was Lalaith lay on her back upon it, happily flailing her arms and legs as she looked up at the sky, and about her at the tall grasses and trees, her first sights of the wonder of Arda, her golden little head barely visible to Yavanna above the tall grasses.
Yavanna, having shed the glorious light that had surrounded her as she sat in the Circle of Doom, had taken the appearance of a common Elf, but still tall and beautiful, and clothed as always, in her gown of sparkling green. She sat some distance from the happy infant on the jutting root of a tall tree which stood at the edge of the grassy glade. The tree had an odd twisted shape, bearing the appearance an old, bearded man, two limbs jutting from its sides seemed as arms, and its roots as legs, and Yavanna sat as if upon its lap, looking up into the trees branches, and speaking, as if she and the tree were conversing as friends.
“She is the daughter of Manwe, and Varda.” Yavanna said proudly, gesturing joyfully to the baby as she spoke, and the tree even seemed as if it were nodding in approval to her words, though it appeared that only the wind was moving its branches.
“Ah.” An aged voice spoke from the tree. “Then it is a joyful thing indeed, my Lady.”
“Yes.” Agreed Yavanna with a smile. “And it is by the grace of my Lord and Lady that I have brought her here. I wished for thee to be the first to meet her, my old friend.”
“Oh, then I am blessed,” said the voice from the tree, “to be the first of all of Middle Earth to meet this child.”
“Thou art the oldest of all that live.” Yavanna reminded her companion. “Come, my friend.” She said with a light, cheerful laugh, and hopped lightly to her feet. “Thou mayest even hold her.”
“Might I?” The aged voice gasped in surprise, and the tree grunted and groaned as if it were moving to rise, to pull its very roots out of the earth.
On the far side of the clearing, the grass rustled slightly, and then was still, but Yavanna and her companion, did not see the slight movement.
Again, closer, the grass moved again, and now the baby seemed to sense that something was amiss. She opened her tiny pink mouth, and let out an alarmed sound, and Yavanna looked up at the baby, the first hint of concern coming onto her lovely features. But it was too late. Between the baby upon her star woven blanket, and Yavanna, a massive spider, dark as jet, hideous and evil looking, arose out of the tall grass on its eight massive legs, and leered at the two friends with fiery venom, dripping like lava from its fangs.
“Take care, Vala and Ent.” The great spider spoke in a long slow hiss as she surveyed them with her many eyes. “She was born in the image of the Firstborn, and she can die as they, by the poison of my teeth.”
“Move aside, vile servant of Sauron!” Yavanna demanded, her voice firm and commanding, though her eyes were bright with fear for the baby. “I command thee in the name of Manwe, to go, and to do no harm to the child!”
In response to her demand, a hiss, sounding much like mocking laughter, came from the spider. A length of web issued from beneath its body, and looped around the baby. The spider’s two back legs deftly bundled the now frightened and crying baby, in a cocoon of web until only her head showed, and plucked her up off of her blanket. The spider’s black eyes, full of hate, never left Yavanna or her companion. The baby squealed angrily in protest, but the spider paid her no heed.
“I am no servant of Sauron, though I may, for my own purposes, do his bidding. I am one of the daughters of Ungoliant the Great, the Slayer of Trees, and I carry within my fangs, the fire of Udun. I do not fear your oaths, nor do I give regard to the name of Manwe.” Laughed the creature. “I spit upon that name.” She hissed, then, and from her two fangs, dripping with glowing, lava-like venom, she spat forth a flaming sheet of fire that engulfed the grass and the woods about Yavanna and her companion, forming a sheet of flames that blocked Yavanna’s sight from the spider as it turned and fled, the baby clutched to its belly. The tree, singed by the flames, recoiled as if in pain, but Yavanna, a Vala, and unable to die, gave them no heed, and darted through, ignoring the heat and pain of the flames to pursue the vile beast. But it was gone, disappeared as suddenly as it had come.
Yavanna ran far and long, in search of the creature, for many days and nights uncounted, speaking to the trees and the grasses, as was her gift, of the great black spider, but none she spoke to, neither bird nor beast, had seen its passing, as if it had been shrouded by the evil mists of Sauron, from their sight.
At last, knowing her search to be fruitless, Yavanna returned with a heavy heart, to her friend, still standing though one whole side of its bark was scarred black, and many of the trees around it, had been burnt to the ground at the snake’s flaming breath.
“She is gone.” Yavanna cried, sinking down upon the tree’s roots, and flinging herself against its bark. “What shall I do? What shall I tell her mother and father? She was their glory, their crown, and now she is gone.”
“I do not know.” The tree’s voice was filled with pain both from Yavanna’s pain, and its own wounds as one of its scarred branches, clutching the star woven blanket, lowered and offered the sparkling cloth to Yavanna. “But tell them that I will not stop searching for her, as I can. I will keep my eyes ever watchful, and speak to all that is in my dominion of her.”
“She has surely been taken to Mordor, to the lair of Sauron, if the daughter of Ungoliant has not yet destroyed her, herself.” Yavanna mourned, inconsolably. “Even with the greatness of her father’s sight, Manwe himself cannot see that far.”
“Oh, my Lady, do not fear.” The tree soothed her. “For Iluvatar’s sight is everywhere, even within the blackness of Mordor. If her life came because of his will, it will not end without his will.”
Yavanna, somewhat consoled by the wisdom of her friend’s words, nodded, her tears subdued. She pressed her cheek against the soft cloth her friend offered her, but would not take it. “If ever thou findest her, give it back to her. It is her favourite.”
“I will do as you bid, my Lady.” Said the tree.
The vision once again changed. The scene dark, two sheer walls facing each other, plunging down into an abyss of impenetrable black.
Nothing moved, no sound was heard in this darkness, though Lalaith understood that this was the abyss beneath the bridge of Khazad-Dum, the bridge they had passed over to escape the Balrog, and the Moria orcs, the bridge from which Gandalf had fallen. There was a slight movement on a narrow ledge jutting from one of the walls, and Lalaith realized the spider that had snatched her from Yavanna was there, still clutching the baby.
“So,” said the spider as if to herself, ignoring the furious squealing as the baby glared angrily at her, knowing, even in her infancy, the creature’s evil nature, “you are the child of the Valar. You look not so great as they, here in these dark pits. Shall we see if you can truly die from my poison as Sauron claims? He said to bring you to Mordor alive, but you see, my little one,” here, the spider caressed, almost gently, the fair golden head, with one of her vile legs, and the baby wailed, and thrashed as if trying to escape, “I answer to no one. Morgoth, you see, betrayed my mother. And any servant of his, I will in turn, betray.” She drew the baby toward her fangs, dripping with fearsome, fiery venom, preparing to drive them, like two knives, into the baby’s tiny body, when, from above, came a whistling sound, and an arrow, black and foul, plunged deep into the body of the spider, piercing through her bulbous abdomen.
The spider froze, a hiss of angry surprise emitting from her before her legs curled inward to her belly, twitching in her last death throes, before she tipped, and toppled from the ledge, dead, into the empty darkness below.
“Augh. What’s this?” A new, heavy voice spoke, and from above, the dark, hunched body of an orc, wielding a bow, appeared, scampering like a beetle, down the nearly sheer wall of the abyss. “Pah! The Vala child! Just as the voice of Sauron said, when it spoke to my mind.” The orc snatched the baby up, roughly, and studied the tiny face, the rest of her body still tightly encased in the spider’s matted web.
Lalaith glanced quickly at Osse’s face before she turned back, for she recognized the angry, pig like features of the orc she had fought within Balin’s tomb. The one that would have crushed her throat had not Legolas and Boromir slain it. The baby frowned angrily at this new, though still foul creature, and continued to squeal angrily.
“Augh!” The Moria orc shouted, nearly dropping the baby. “I cannot blame the spider, now. To take you to Mordor, will be nearly more trouble than you are worth.” The orc licked its lips, but then frowned. “But were I to take you to Mordor, through the paths and the pits that Sauron has shown to my mind, mine alone,” the orc emphasized, with a rough shake to the baby, “I would be very well rewarded.”
The baby, Lalaith, drew in a breath, opened her little pink lips, and squealed again. “Augh!” The orc shouted angrily, flinching from the sound. “I will claim my reward, but that will not keep me from killing you myself, one day, you little snaga!”
Then tucking the baby roughly under one arm, the orc slid, snake like, into a narrow crevice in the wall, and was gone.
Lalaith bowed her head, her brain pounding from agony, from the pain of what she had seen. “Please, no more, Lord Osse. I cannot bear it.” She pleaded, her eyes shut, her hand clinging tightly to the Maia’s.
“Forgive me, young one.” Osse said gently, and she felt him leading her again, back the way in which they had come. “There is more you must see.”
Lalaith sighed wearily, but Osse continued. “Do not fear, daughter of Manwe. You are stronger than you realize. And I will not leave your side.”
Lalaith felt somewhat comforted by Osse’s promise, and opened her eyes again, to see before her, a great eye, its pupil a cat like slit, wreathed in flame, set at the top of a black angry looking tower, far apart from the white light that surrounded her and Osse. She sensed from it, anger and hatred, and shrank near Osse’s side, grateful for his stalwart presence. Facing the misty darkness, as if across a vast, dark chasm, of space were the Valar, Manwe at the head, flanked by the others, their faces, though fair and beautiful, held controlled rage as they faced the eye. Yavanna stood near Varda, still weeping, while the Star Queen held her hand in a consoling manner.
“So, the Giver of Fruits, Yavanna, has also given your baby away, lost her, has she, Manwe?” The voice of Sauron said, speaking with mocking venom in his tone. “Why would the folly of one of the Valier cause such great animosity for such a harmless spirit as I?”
“The Lady, Yavanna, is not the one to be faulted, Sauron.” Manwe’s voice returned, echoing across the chasm and causing the flame wreathed eye to vibrate, as if shivering in fear. Manwe’s voice was calm, though there was power within it as well. “Thou, and thy master who dwells within the inescapable Void to which thou wilt someday be doomed, and thy servants bear the blame, and thou shalt not keep my daughter.”
“Won’t I?” Sauron’s voice answered back. “She is kept within the Tower of Barad-Dur. None have yet escaped it.”
“My daughter shall be the first then, for it is Iluvatar’s will that she do so, and what he speaks, will be.” Manwe’s voice was deep and commanding, and the power of the words he spoke made the eye shrink with fear. “As my Lord, Iluvatar has decreed, she shall dwell now, for a time, in Arda, among his Children, and she shall earn their love, as they will hers. She shall grow in wisdom, and in grace and beauty, and she shall find one among the Sons of the Firstborn, who will give her his heart’s love, and earn the love of her heart in return. She shall live in happiness, not in the misery with which thou hast cursed thyself, and which thou wishest upon her.”
“Shall she?” Sauron’s voice growled, amused. “I say not. For if ever she escapes my dominion, her life will never be one of happiness! Shall your daughter ever cross to the west of the mountains of Ephel Duath, and dwell among Iluvatar’s Children, she shall know nothing but grief. Any women who learn to love her with the love that a mother bears for her children, and any men who desire her for the beauty and grace she has inherited from your mate Varda, shall all die. And they shall perish in pain and misery, cursing her name, and the day she ever came among their people!”
These words of Sauron rolled across the chasm at the Valar with the pronouncement of an unbreakable curse, and even Manwe himself paused for a long moment, before he spoke, his voice calm, but yet filled with strength, greater than Sauron’s. “These words of thine, even I cannot counter entirely.” He admitted, and cruel laughter began to rise, like an evil cloud, from the flame wreathed eye, before Manwe continued. “But I can decree that this curse rests not at all upon the Firstborn, among whom she shall dwell. And any of the Secondborn who shall die for her, shall do so, only willingly, because of the love they shall bear for her, and shall find redemption and great reward for their sacrifice within the Halls of Mandos.” The dark, hateful laughter cut off into an angry, rageful growl, and Manwe finished, “Thus, this curse thou hast spoken, shall in the end, mean nothing at all.”
The great eye of Sauron, trembled in rage, and muttered, “Then I shall command my servants to slay your daughter now. She shall be cast into the fire, and shall perish.”
Varda glanced fearfully at her husband at Sauron’s words, but Manwe did not appear troubled. “It is Iluvatar’s will that she live. Thou shalt not succeed.”
“We shall see.” Sauron muttered, his voice heavy with hatred.