The green stone glowed in Melian’s hand and Olorin stared at it, fascinated.
“The Elessar,” he said slowly, his eyes still fixed upon it. “I thought it was a jewel made in Middle-earth before the fall of Gondolin? How comes it here?”
“Through long journeys,” Melian replied. “This is the same stone made by Enerdhil in the hidden city long ago, in the First Age of the world. He was the pupil of Celebrimbor – he who made so many wonders in Eregion – but Enerdhil put all his love and his craft into this one beautiful thing.” She held up the stone, and it seemed as though they were sitting not in a great and lofty hall, but in a quiet, sunlit field of green. Melian smiled.
“It is a thing of wonder, is it not?” she said. “Enerdhil made it to capture the light of the sun and the green, wholesome things upon the earth. All in Gondolin loved it. He was free with his creation and set it upon a pillar in a central courtyard of the city, to the joy of all. But he was slain when the city was overrun. Idril saved the stone as she and Tuor fled, and it was brought here.
“But now,” she continued, turning once again to Olorin with her piercing gaze, “now the Valar have decided its healing beauty should return to Middle-earth. You have been chosen to bear it back and to find its rightful home.”
“I?” said Olorin, incredulous. “I have never set foot upon Middle-Earth. How shall I know to whom I should give this thing? It is a precious gift. It will take many lives of men before I could attempt such a choice.”
“That is why I have come,” replied Melian with a smile. “For Idril gave it to Earendil, the husband of Elwing, my kin. It was they who brought it over the Sea. And it is to their descendents I believe it should return.”
“You wish it to be given into the hands of Men?” asked Olorin.
“There are many paths that could be trodden,” she said, thoughtfully. “I do not know what its ultimate fate will be – that is hidden from me. But I perceive there is one who will know, and will act in a manner that Eru will bless. I believe you should take the stone to Alatariel, who many in Middle-Earth these days call Galadriel. She is the most far-seeing among the Elves who remain, and for many years was my companion and helper in Doriath.”
“I am sure she learned much from you,” said Olorin quietly.
“Alatariel knows many things – and she is powerful as well as wise,” said Melian. “Before she came to me she learned through bitter experience how power in the wrong hands can destroy; how great and mighty heirlooms can blind brothers and kin to truth and set them to war against each other. And she also knows the power of a rightly given gift.”
“Where shall I find her in these latter days?” he asked.
“She lives in the forest of Laurelindorenan, or Lothlorien as it is sometimes called, with her husband Celeborn – my husband’s kinsman,” Melian replied. “Even if I had not had this extra charge for you, I would have advised you to seek her land, for there you will learn much – and build a strong ally in your work against the powers of evil.”
Olorin shifted in his seat. “It seems strange that I who know so little should be the one chosen for this work,” he said.
“Who knows what the high king has seen that you and I have not?” his companion said softly. “But I know that despite your doubts – perhaps even because of them – you will not fail. I know you will well repay his trust.” She took his right hand and placed the Elessar into his palm, closing his fingers over it. He placed his other hand over hers, feeling the warmth and power that was ever in her touch, and she smiled.
They sat in silence for some time, hands clasped, then at last Melian sighed. “We have made our choices,” she said. “But now you no longer fear. It is well.”
Olorin stood and walked again to the window where he could see, far below him, a grey ship lying at anchor. Elves were busily bringing provisions aboard, readying the sails, stowing the ropes and singing as they made ready to depart – as they made ready for him to depart.
He pulled his gaze away and looked again upon his dear friend’s face. “Is there ought else I can do for you before I leave this place?” he asked.
“Not before you leave. Yet I would ask – ” she paused, as if seeking the words. “I would ask one thing of you amid your journeyings in Middle-Earth.”
“You have but to name it,” he replied.
“I fear for the future of my kin,” she said, her voice low. “Not for Elrond, Elwing’s son, who is lord of Imladris. I send him my greetings, but he does not need your aid. No, it is to the sons of his brother Elros that my heart is turned – the descendents of Elendil of Númenor. I foresee strife, especially in the north kingdom of Arnor. And although I do not fully understand why, I know this line must be preserved.” She turned to him. “Helping to do so will be one of your labours, Olorin.”
“Gladly will I labour for your children – for so I perceive them to be,” he said. “If they are the enemies of Sauron our purpose and goals will be the same. And if they are your true children, they will be noble beyond the reckoning of mortal kind. I give you my word that I will watch over them.”
Before Melian could reply, a single clear trumpet call sounded from the bay below them. The ship was ready to depart. She stood at once, took Olorin’s hand and pressed it. “Farewell, my friend,” she said softly. “I will send word ahead of you.” She turned and walked towards the great doors of the hall, her gown of pale gold fluttering behind her, but before she reached the vaulted archway she vanished from his sight. Back to the gardens of Lorien, he thought wistfully. Where I also would go, if my own will was master at this moment.
“It is time,” said a voice. Behind Olorin stood Manwe, his majestic blue and silver robe glistening in the light. “Has Melian given you the gift?”
Olorin nodded. “She has, my lord.” With a last look at the soft, healing light of the Elessar in his hand, he reached into his travelling bag for a small leather wallet. In it, he carefully placed the stone, folded the wallet over it, and stowed it in a secure corner of the bag. Then he looked at Manwe.
“I would have your blessing upon my path, my lord,” he said.
“That is why I am here,” the high king replied. Olorin kneeled before him. Placing his hands upon Olorin’s grizzled head, Manwe blessed “the road before you, seen and unseen; the power of mind, hand and heart; and the strength of will and purpose. May Eru grant you an enduring fire that will never be extinguished. Namarie, ar nai aistale Ainur nauva as le.“
Olorin bowed his head, then rose. The lord of the Valar grasped his shoulders. “My faith is in you, my friend,” he said, and kissed him on both cheeks. “Farewell.”
Grasping his ash staff in one hand, Olorin reached for his pointed hat and placed it upon his head. Taking a deep breath, he nodded to Manwe and walked from the hall. Many saw him as he strode through the streets of the city and out towards the Bay of Eldamar, his jaw set and his eyes determined beneath thick, bushy brows.
And the Elves hailed him with honour as he walked to the ship that waited to bear him across the Sea to Middle-Earth.
* Farewell, and the blessing of the Ainur will be with you.
(I’m no Quenya scholar, so forgive the likely mistakes.)