Ilmariel was back to counseling a few hours after having spoken with Namo. As sleep was not necessary for disembodied elves, along with the fact that she could not tell whether it was day or night (there were no windows in the Halls of the Dead, and the elf souls obviously could not go outside), the little counseling sessions would go on in an endless cycle. She was now with her first of six groups. Once she had gone through them all, she would have roughly the same amount of time it had taken to complete all six to do whatever she wished. Then, the rotation would begin again.
After making his remark about Finrod, Namo had ignored Sauron’s complaining. In fact, he ignored Sauron altogether, speaking to Ilmariel as if he was not even there.
“…Firstly, you will need to make the members of your groups aware of the fact that you will no longer be with them. Then, you can attend to any personal business you might have. But, please, make it quick,” Namo said. “I do not want to be waiting around in these Halls forever.” He contemplated his last statement for a moment as he and Ilmariel began to make their way out of the prison. “Hmm… well, that was ironic,” he said. “Anyway, once that is done, come back here, and I will get Sauron out. Then you two can go through the whole re-embodiment thingamajig.”
Ilmariel continued walking silently for a moment, then something that Namo had just said struck her. “Us two?” she asked.
“You mean… he gets a body, too?”
“Of course not, he just goes through the process for no particular reason. I just felt like wasting time making him appear to get a body, without him actually getting one.” Namo said, sarcasm thick in his voice.
Ilmariel glared at the back of the Vala’s head, but said nothing audible.
“There is no way he can learn how to properly interact with people if he does not have a body,” Namo said. “How many living people do you see communicating with the dead?”
“I haven’t seen any living people in a long time.”
“Hmm…” Namo seemed to consider this for a moment.
“Is it safe, though,” Ilmariel asked, moving back to the actual topic of the conversation. “I mean, couldn’t he hurt people, or something?”
Namo shook his head. “No, not really. He does not have much power left to him… not that he could physically use, at least. The only real power he has is what wisdom he possessed from being a Maia, but that should not be a problem.”
“But, when he has a body, couldn’t he…?”
“Do you think we plan on letting him have the form of some dark overlord?” Namo asked Ilmariel, a small amount of indignation detectable in his tone. “Really, we’ve thought this whole thing through. He will look like he did in the cell.”
“Ehh…” Ilmariel cringed, not too pleased with the idea.
“Well, what did you expect? It was the last form he had before he was completely in Morgoth’s service.”
“You guys let him go around like that? Can’t have been too good for public image…”
“He was never out and about enough to really affect anybody. In fact, when he took off, quite a while passed before anyone even noticed he was gone. He was one of those smithy people– metalworking and that sort of stuff, you know. Those ones don’t care much for appearance, so nobody really minded that he looked that way …except for the Elves.” Namo looked at Ilmariel. “What is up with you people and looks, anyway?”
Ilmariel shrugged. “Must be a gene, or something.”
“Sure…” Namo replied, obviously unconvinced.
After that, they had gone separate ways; Ilmariel off to see her first group, and Namo to do… whatever it was that he did.
The first group was probably Ilmariel’s favorite, to be honest. No one in that group had died a terribly dramatic death. Of course, that was in comparison to, say… Maedhros or Eol. They were all normal elves, had lived relatively uneventful lives, and had somehow died. Furthermore, none of them had the credit of dying in a noble or honorable way. In fact, they all made the way Ilmariel had gone out look pretty good. Sometimes, Ilmariel wondered how they had managed to live as long as they had. She never said that to any of them, of course. It simply would not have been nice, or, more importantly, helpful to her cause (which was to get them over their issues, so they could once again function in the world outside Mandos’ walls).
Almost nothing exciting ever happened in Mandos, and so, should something remotely interesting chance to occur, the news spread like wildfire. There was little hope that anything meant to be secret would remain undisclosed. By now, the whole group knew that Ilmariel had met with the Lord of the Halls for some reason, and they were all curious to know more.
As this group very rarely took part in the things that were normally considered “counseling”, it did not surprise Ilmariel that they wanted to know the story. However, before she had returned from her meeting with him, Namo had told her that she could not share what she was going to have to do. It was meant to be secret, and that was just the way it would have to be. There was one aspect that she did have to share with them, however.
“After today, “she said, “someone will be taking my spot.”
“What?” a female Elf named Fimiel asked.
“I will no longer be your counselor.”
“Where are you going?” Amondin inquired.
“Other… places…” Ilmariel answered haltingly.
“Are you being released?” a few asked in hushed unison.
“Not yet.” This was partly true, at least.
“Sorry,” Amondin said.
“Me too,” Ilmariel responded.
There was a pause, and then Ilmariel decided to get things going. “So, anything interesting to share today? Don’t give everything up;” she cautioned, “you need to save some stuff to last you the next couple millennia.”
The group went well, and the next four were even easier. Those four only wanted to milk the counseling, and so did not care in the least that Ilmariel would be leaving. All they wanted was somebody who would listen to their stories.
Many of the elves in the sixth and final group were actually rather interesting individuals. If not for Feanor, Ilmariel might have almost enjoyed this group. To Ilmariel’s surprise, Feanor did not seem to know anything about her little meeting with Namo. She decided he had probably been off someplace moping all day, and therefore had not heard. Had it been otherwise, he more than likely would have gone off on some egocentric speech; he was always full of those.
When Ilmariel said she would be leaving, Feanor did not even ask what was happening to her. She figured that he had been through quite a number of counselors by now, and was probably used to them disappearing. Although a few of the others asked some questions, no one inquired much. Miraculously, the session was completed without incident.
Ilmariel then had a while left for herself, which she spent going around and saying her goodbyes to the few people she had spoken to on a regular basis during her time in Mandos. She informed them that she would not be around anymore, but that they would probably see each other again at some time.
After that, she made her way back to the door that led to the prison cells. Namo was already there, waiting for her to turn up, and there were two other people there as well. Ilmariel assumed that they must have been Maiar, or something of the sort, since they had bodies. It was difficult for her to judge their appearance, however, as they both wore long, hooded cloaks.
As soon as Namo caught sight of Ilmariel, he began to open the door. By the time she had reached him, Namo was ready to lead her down again.
He did not waste any time. “You are still willing to do this?” he asked.
Ilmariel found it rather odd that he would pose such a question, as she had earlier been given the impression that she really had no choice in the matter.
“I… suppose so,” Ilmariel replied, looking out of the corner of her eye at the two silent figures that were following them.
“Do not feel like we are just tossing you out into the wilderness with him,” said Namo. “You will not be alone. There will always be someone around that can help you if you need it.”
“That’s good,” Ilmariel said, a flash of what might happen if she were alone going through her mind.
“All right, here we go.”
They had finally come to the cell that contained Sauron. Namo reached out a hand, grasped a bar, and pulled the door open. Ilmariel could not help but cringe at the idea that the doors to the cells that held the people they wished to keep away from everybody else merely had to be pulled open.
It seemed that Sauron’s train of thought was running on a similar track.
“Please say that it was not actually that easy to open,” he said, although, from where he was, he could not be seen.
“No, it wasn’t that easy. Not that it should matter to you, anyway,” Namo replied as the two people who had accompanied Ilmariel and him went into the cell.
Ilmariel waited for a moment. Some muffled cursing issued from the cell, but, when she looked questioningly at Namo, he did not seem to notice; the Vala’s attention appeared to be ardently placed upon the ceiling.
Finally, the hooded maiar appeared again, holding Sauron, who did not seem at all pleased, between them. Ilmariel wondered for a moment how they could hold Sauron when there was not any real substance to him, but she decided that it was probably not the best time to ask.
They left the prison then, Namo first, closely followed by Ilmariel, and then Sauron and the other two maiar. The procession was silent, and, although there were a few things that Ilmariel wanted to say, she refrained.
When they reached the main hall, Ilmariel suddenly felt very self-conscious. There were many elves in that hall at the moment, and they all stopped what they were doing and stared at the group. Namo went on as though he did not notice, which might very well have been true, as with time he had probably gotten use to it. Ilmariel tried to ignore the stares as well, but with little success.
However, Ilmariel soon realized that the elves quickly lost interest in her, and even with Namo, the moment they saw Sauron. Most of then seemed unable to figure out who he was, which suited Ilmariel just fine. Yet, there were some of the older elves present, and it seemed as if they might have almost recognized him. However, if they did, they made no sign of it.
Ilmariel almost thought that they were going to get out of the main hall without mishap; that she might actually get through this without anybody right out saying that the suspicious looking person being led along behind her was Sauron. That being the case, nobody here who knew her would even be able to consider what sort of a mess she was getting into, and that was just the way she wanted things to go.
Ilmariel had just released a long-held breath, finally beginning to relax, when Feanor entered the hall. The instant she saw him, she knew there would be trouble. She drew a sharp breath in past her teeth, waiting for the inevitable to occur.
…She did not have to wait long.
Feanor stopped dead in his tracks, staring at Sauron with what appeared at first to be utter disbelief. Namo seemed to realize the danger, and began to walk over to Feanor to push him back into the hall he had just been in… but it was already too late.
Feanor’s shocked expression quickly turned venomous, hard and cold as stone. Ilmariel had never seen him this way in all the times she had been around him. The blubbering, complaining Feanor she had seen for years on end had erased any memory of the tales Ilmariel had been told as a child, the ones in which Feanor was strong-willed and stoic. Now, however, she was finally getting to see that side of him, and she could not honestly say that she felt it was much better.
A fiery gleam seemed to leap up in Feanor’s eyes, and, for once, Ilmariel understood how he had earned the name “Spirit of Fire”. Feanor steamed silently for a moment, but Ilmariel deemed that it was nowhere near long enough.
“What are you doing here?” he asked coldly.
At his words, Sauron seemed to become aware of Feanor’s presence for the first time. “Ah, Feanor! What have you been up to these last, oh… 18,000 years, locked away here while I have been out free?”
Feanor’s rage was easy to comprehend; however, he did a good job of concealing it. “The usual things one does when one is without a body. I am sure you would know all about those things, though, as you have been without a body yourself, oh… six times, now? Your ability to lose bodies in completely idiotic and degrading ways is quite amazing, really,” he answered snidely.
Whispering rose around them as everyone began to realize that this strange new person was indeed Sauron. A few of the elves began to yell, and worked their way over to Feanor, standing behind him like a small army. Ilmariel wanted to slide off to the side, but decided it better just to remain where she was, as in moving she would likely have drawn more attention to herself than if she stayed put.
Sauron was less able to hold down his fury, and by this point was visibly quaking; evidently, Feanor had hit a touchy spot. However, he was also able to frighten off all the elves that had been standing behind Feanor (Ilmariel really did not want to know how).
“Firstly,” Sauron said, “I believe it to be seven, counting recent events, and I must relinquish what awe I might receive for losing bodies to your talent for losing everything that is important to you in equally– or more –daft manners.” He tossed his head back slightly, as if daring Feanor to make a move.
Apparently, that was the last straw. Feanor screamed and ran towards Sauron. Ilmariel watched with interest, eager to see what would happen. One of the maiar that had been holding Sauron let go of him, grabbing Feanor just as he came within striking distance. As Feanor struggled to get loose, Sauron merely laughed; this, of course, only stoked the fire of the Elf’s ire.
“Let’s not forget what things you’ve had taken from you!” he yelled at Sauron.
“You need not say ‘body’, as you have brought that up already.”
Feanor shook his head. “No, I was just going to list off about everything else that you could possibly possess, seeing as how you have been reduced to nothing!”
Finally, Sauron reached his breaking point, and began to pull against his restrainer in hopes of catching Feanor. A brief struggle ensued, during which Ilmariel was not entirely certain what happened. When it was over, Sauron was loose and was plowing his way over to Feanor.
If Ilmariel thought the previous little exchange had been entertaining, what now followed was much more so. Feanor was also able to wiggle out from the hold of the maia, and now he and Sauron began to kick and hit each other any way they could. This struck Ilmariel as rather odd, since she had always thought that bodiless spirits were unable to touch. She glanced over at a person near her, and tentatively reached out a hand to see what would happen. Her translucent fingers had just passed through the elf’s arm when she realized that she was looking at her. “Um… hello,” Ilmariel said, giving an uncomfortable smile. The she-Elf just shook her head and walked away.
All the same, Ilmariel had just figured out that it was impossible for Sauron and Feanor to actually be fighting. Looking closer at them now, she realized that they were not really able to land any blows, as their hands and feet simply passed through their opponent. While they attempted to hurt each other, attempted being the key word, they began to sling insults.
“I’d never go so low as to slay my kin!” Sauron said as he batted at Feanor’s non-existent hands.
“You don’t even have any kin,” Feanor retorted. “It would be impossible to kill something that does not exist, moron!”
“The word is ‘Elf’! Besides, I’m not the one obsessed with jewelry!”
“What are you talking about? Yes, you are!”
“No, I am not!”
“What were the Silmarilli then, huh?”
Feanor actually paused. “Oh, yeah… you have a point there.”
“And I did not even know how to make Rings until your grandson and his cronies taught me!”
“Well, at least I did not go out and seek the knowledge!”
“You wouldn’t have to— you figured it out on your own, you little pansy!”
“Well, it just shows how intelligent I am compared to you, if a lowly Elf could teach himself how to make Rings where a Maia couldn’t!”
“I just wasn’t as desperate as you were. You’re like a little girlie elf!” Sauron gasped and paused a moment as something seemed to occur to him. “You really are a fairy!”
“You’ve already tried that once. Can’t you think of a better comeback than a previously used one?”
“No,” Sauron said, “I’m serious. You’re… GAY, or something!”
Everyone else in hearing distance gasped. Ilmariel cocked an eyebrow. Wow… this could be interesting, she thought to herself.
Feanor stood open-mouthed for a moment, looking positively aghast. “I never!” he cried, going at Sauron with doubled effort.
Sauron, however, did not fight, but backed away slowly as Feanor came after him. “Your greatest prize, the thing you went to war for, was jewelry. You were obsessed with your niece’s hair, and asked her for some on several occasions.”
“Three times! Only three!” Feanor tried to put in quickly, but few heard.
“You never spent time with your wife, and that is why she left you…”
“I have seven sons, though! HELLO!”
“And you lived way up north for years with only men! It makes sense now!” Sauron paused again, and grimaced. “Eeeww… I don’t want to fight you anymore.”
“Giving up then, eh?” Feanor asked.
“Not giving up really… more of putting a stop to the fight; you might make a pass on me, or something.” Sauron shuddered and then began to walk over to where Namo stood sadly shaking his head. “I’m ready to get out of here, now,” Sauron said. The guards moved to come hold him again, but he quickly turned to them. “Where do you think I am going to run to? Do you really think I want to stay here, without a body? No, I want go get out as soon as I can. I’m going to behave …for now.”
The other two maiar looked at Namo, who simply shrugged. They then backed off, allowing Sauron to make his way over to the hall that Namo was standing in front of. Feanor did not hinder Sauron’s movement, seeming to be incapable of moving himself. A rather stupid expression was printed on his face; it appeared to be a mixture of shock, disgust, amazement, and horror.
After a moment, Namo slowly began to head back the way he had been going, and Sauron followed closely behind, now without the guards holding him. The gears in her brain taking a moment to catch up to everything, Ilmariel remembered that she was part of the party, and hurriedly followed after them.