PartIII Chapter 3.4
Quest Day 5: For those of the Light and Dark
Mid of night to the dawn
The word reverberated throughout the cosmos… a name called out in wonder – and in triumph.
The Vortex had exploded… and in that instant of eruption, there was a thunderous roar, then a conjunction:
“a flare of livid lightning, forks of blue flame” (Tolkien, ROTK, ‘The Stairs of Cirith Ungol’), and “violent fiery flashes”(Jackson et al, Screenplay ‘ROTK) leapt between the void and the worlds of the Quest – the void in which Melkor had been exiled by the Valar - a void beyond the Walls, the Walls of the Night.
They both, the Dark Lord of this age and the Ancient One, sensed the Dark King; they felt the ferocity of the specter of the once mightiest Valar as it reached out from the abyss - from beyond the world of all.
Sauron called out:
‘I uduih cea Poqrek, pc Pujhok, I uduih ceak kohakn!’
throwing his hands up in exaltation!
The Ancient One, Iarwain Ben-adar, heard the call, gasped in horror as the nexus occurred, and shuddered to the core.
So dual Masters of The Dark melded in a moment of minds; the third, one of The Light, cast a chant which cleaved their connection.
Prior to the disjuncture, Sauron received a threefold coded vision from his Master, and forthwith commenced the realignment of his palantir to decrypt the messages.
Ben-adar had intercepted fragments of the images, and set about to assemble the shards.
And so it was, worlds apart, the greatest powers of these times, Sauron and Ben-adar, intellects soaring, sought desperately the purport of what had transpired, and the revelations of Melkor, some with unison-of-mind, others, divergent.
Within the minds of Sauron and Ben-adar: what was known by both
The Vortex of Melkor had been set to trap the maiden.
The Maiden was vital to Quest’s cause.
None previously had survived the Vortex.
The projection of the Vortex would temporarily absorb Dark’s power.
The Annuals of Arda had foreshadowed the sole way the Vortex could be obliterated: through the discharge of Light’s fireball, reversing the Vortex’s negative charge.
This discharge would mean a diminution of Light’s force, possibly permanently.
With the obliteration of the Vortex, the conflagration could forge a course to the void in which Melkor had been cast.
Through this, Melkor could reach out, and be….
Within the mind of Sauron
Within the mind of Ben-adar
My Master lives on and has spoken.
Melkor’s visions –revelation - have directed me… to the Steward’s first born, still alive; to The Vial, of which the Wizard of Isengard holds a key, and to….
The mantra of disjunction closed the medium, but not before Melkor transmitted to Sauron.
From the shreds of thoughts, I sense that Sauron has seen through the ruse with Boromir, which puts the brothers in grave jeopardy.
What of… a vial? Yes definitely a notion of a vial… and an association with Saruman… the prophecies will be needed to unravel the meaning…
There was another transmission, but the code eludes recall…
The Dark Lord summoned his Captain and physician. He sent the healer to the Wizard with instructions that at all cost the coma was to be reversed and the Wizard revived.
To the Captain he announced that the Steward’s first born was alive in the Drúadan Forest, and must be destroyed once-and-for-all. As Dark’s spies had failed to ascertain the exact location of the Steward’s youngest, he would have the Lieutenant sheath the whole forest in “the Black Bane”. The most powerful occult instrument of the sharman it would be bred to find the Steward’s sons; like a bloodhound it would sweep the forest until it uncovered the brothers’ whereabouts, propelling a pall of thick gangrenous mist that choked the air and consumed every living thing.
The Dark Lord, now with Melkor’s channeled perception of the Steward’s heirs, could sense the elder’s vulnerability; weakened by Dark’s repeated onslaught and brought to the edge of existence, presently feeling elated and secure, how the warrior would crumble with desperation when the Black Bane would seep into Light’s sanctuary, suffocating and strangling the Gondorian spirit… nothing was immune, nothing could save the House of Húrin.
The order had gone to the Lieutenant, who assigned the comatose Wizard to the hands of the physician, and proceeded to the Tower laboratory. Here was the potion recently concocted through the mystic mingling of rites from the biblical past and baleful future. A terrifying concoction, as yet in rudimentary stage of evolution, from which a minuscule quantity of the Bane had been extracted. On four occasions it had been trialed, on animals then, using the tracer, on a prisoner released the previous day on the plain of Lithlad; within twenty minutes it had found and devoured the wretch. The Dark Lord was anxious to see what havoc it could unleash, and commanded that the remaining portion be deployed against the brothers. The tracers would be honed to the Bands the brothers wore, albeit, being masked by The Light they had not been located at this point, but the Lieutenant was confident the Bane could hunt the brothers down.
The Lieutenant prepared the phial, it was complete at the end of witching hour, the mid of midnight and the morn. Sauron’s prized raven would carry it to the northern tip of the Drúadan Forest, then release its contents, which would, as the ghoulish mists of bleak winter creep across the forest floor, travel southwards on its deadly mission. Wherever hidden, the Lieutenant had reckoned that the Bane would snare the brothers before to the dawn.
Ben-adar, struggling to piece together the threads of the exchange, and in a psychic envision of Dark’s domain, recognized the signs of a primordial ghoul being revivified, something insidious and malign. Ben-adar urgently consulted the prophecies, then Light’s copy of the Annuals of Arda, looking for what fury was to be unleashed, and how much time there was to obstruct its purpose?!
Then at 3am, hearing the howl, Ben-adar realised it was the Black Bane that had been spawned, and that it had been sent in pursuit of the brothers. No power could stop its advancement, but there was a chance that The Light could forestall its path long enough for the brothers to reach the dawn.
Ben-adar left The Light to face Dark’s Bane, and came upon it at Eilenach…
Of the brothers
The brothers were safe, or so they felt, cocooned in Light’s sanctuary.
The passing of others through their space, departed as a momentary sensation, and was for now of trifling note or consequence. They chatted on, the wine and the revelations of that evening bringing a euphoria of sorts, that though weary in body, their minds effervesced jumping between topics, with no thought or need of rest.
The night moved through its witching hours, and a clock struck 3.
Almost immediately the mood changed, as if a shadowy pall had been cast-over them. Both brothers knew not what had happened, but suddenly a darkness, not of light, but of spirit, engulfed them.
Boromir jumped up and began to pace the room, declaring in a troubled tone:
‘Something has been sent against us little brother; do you feel it?’
At first Faramir was unsure what he felt, but unmistakably, he became overwhelmed with a feeling of dread.
Boromir strapped on his sword:
‘Faramir, we must leave this place now!’
‘And go where Boromir? We must stay here ‘til the dawn. Whatever is coming, we have more chance to meet it here, in the sanctum of The Light. Have you not always said, it is better to meet a foe on one’s own ground… the forest is alien to us, only here we have an advantage.’
‘But to be trapped like a hare in a hole, as we are here...’
‘We must trust that The Light will protect us here to the time of our departure with the dawn.’
‘That is hours off, and a feel… sense, something mightier than any foe we have fought before…I would meet it, rather than cower here…’
‘We dare not, Boromir….we have come this far only by the grace of The Light… we are out of our league against such evil forces. Come, let us pack in readiness of an urgent departure,’ and Faramir, gently grasping Boromir on the shoulder as he past, walked to the table. Boromir reluctant, but conceding to Faramir’s reasoning, followed.
The brothers busied themselves in their preparations, but the anxiety of something unknown, seethed inside them.
Finally, manuscripts, scrolls packed, chronomap set for the Gondorian Great Hall on 3 January 2985, Faramir returned to and stoked the fire, scarlet flames leaping upward, crackling with life…yet a chill pervaded their space.
Boromir, resigned to the wait, poured the remainder of the crimson wine into the goblets, and handed one to Faramir…
‘Never let it be said that Gondorian warriors do not know how to celebrate the coming of a fray…let it come, nothing can defeat where righteousness reigns.’
So the brothers sat before the fire…and waited…
What Ben-adar found at Eilenach horrified him.
On a front extending across the forest was a grey-green glutinous gloom. It had seeped across the forest floor sheathing all that lay in its way. Whatever it touched, withered then, as if consumed by a firestorm, was incinerated beyond recognition. It flowed ravenously, and unlike anything of nature, it fuming with scorching heat and frigid cold, and exuded the stench of death. The forest was mute and barren, every living thing had departed or been consumed. In the distance was heard the despairing call of thrushes, forced to leave nest and young. The forest to the south, mourned its imminent arrival.
It had traversed the northern reaches mercilessly, flowing south, slow and deliberate, searching for the brothers.
Ben-adar spread out his arms, and shafts of light formed a wall before it, cutting off its advance.
The caliginous mass collected behind the barrier, slithering up it…then without warning, it burst into flames, exploding like a fire fountain, catapulting sparks high into the air past the wall, and where a spark landed, so it started its march again, regenerating itself as it was propelled forward.
Ben-adar retreated south, and at Nardola, he stabbed the earth with his staff, and where it pierced the ground, the terrain separated, and a gaping chasm appeared; the reaches of its depths far from sight.
He waited for the Bane to make the reaches of the crater, then like migrating lemmings, it fell, oozing its slimming mass into the abyss.
He waited… he knew it would not be stopped by this ploy, but hoped it would drastically delay its path. He reasoned, hoped, that if it could forge its way back from the depths, it would take much of the rest of the night to do so.
He waited… and watched for the signs of its emergence. It seemed no time at all when he heard a hiss, as if a wheezing of a large beast in its expiring throes, then he smelt the distinctive reek, and felt the fire and chill of it.
He knew it was coming, and he had not stalled it long enough.
He rushed to set his last lure. He retreated further south, to a dry creek bed at Stonewainé, edged by giant weeping willows at the verge of the forest leading to the cottage.
The night sky fumed with turbulence. The orb of night had fought its way across the sky, and tried to pierce the grim blackness with its ashen glow, but barely a glimmer reached Middle-earth.
He looked to the east, craving for any signs of the twilight of the dawn, but only a sable murk prevailed. He realised that he could not depend on its coming to save the brothers, so he readied himself, and looked through the forest, and there, in the pulsating shadows, the army of the Bane was advancing once more, flowing into the creek bed.
Ben-adar chanted, as Elrond did in old lore, calling for the waters to rise up at the Ford of Bruinen and drown the Nazgûl and their steeds.
Now he called out in like manner:
‘Yesaqt ud sga Ygosa Liupseopt
Motsap si Mohgs’t neop
Qota un eheopts sga feqjpatt
Epf fqiyp sga Clebj Ceop”
Listen to Light’s pain
Rise up against the darkness
And drown the Black Bane.
And so, as vision replaced old lore, and Arwen replaced Glorfindel, so for Ben-adar:
“The ground suddenly trembles…. a mighty roar fills the air” (Jackson et al, Screenplay FOTR)
“At that moment there came a roaring and a rushing….”
and as the torrent swelled, a wailing arose from the blackened hearts that formed the Bane, but
“their piercing cries were drowned in the roaring of the river as it carried them away.” (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘Flight to the Ford’)
Ben-adar looked at the creek bed after the waters had passed, and it seemed every molecule of the Bane had been drowned. He turned, thinking it was gone, at least for now; soon the dawn would come, and the brothers would have left and be safe… but he heard a rustling in the willows, spun around and saw that some droplets of the Bane had propelled themselves to the weeping foliage, suspended, holding on waiting for the waters to recede. They dropped to the dry bed, burgeoning and spreading, regrouping, then flowing furiously forward.
Ben –adar, looked up at the hill. The cottage was there, but it was blanketed by Light’s mask. By this, the cottage was invisible and the life-force of all within was shielded to any on the outside; thereby, Dark’s spies had not uncovered the brothers’ whereabouts. However, Ben-adar knew the Bane was of a different breed, he had not counted on it being duped like this, and as he saw by its motion now, that it had not been.
It began its ascent through what appeared as an impenetrable barrier of decaying mounds, pits and standing snags, and as it advanced, it seemed the growth of the forest sprung up to block its path. But it was futile, for it continued relentlessly, scorching then consuming everything before it.
It came to where the cottage stood; it hesitated, for while it had no eyes, it could see that no structure was visible ahead, yet one containing its prey, stood before it. And from it, though mouthless, in victory of its find, it let out a shrill, primeval scream, then fell silent.
Ben-adar gasped in angst as he heard its cry.
‘The dawn, the dawn, it must arise soon,’ Ben-adar exclaimed out aloud in desperation, as if his call could bring it forth.
He could do nothing to stop its advance now, and watched on as it slithered up the unseen walls, reaching and oozing over the roof, and sweepingly, totally enshrouding the cottage.
Ben-adar knew that an immense force protected the cottage from intrusion, but he did not know if it could protect it from the Bane. If it gained entry, the brothers would have no line of defence, except….
The brothers heard the scream, then all was silent; it made them heave in horror. Then they heard the scrapping of the Bane as it slithered up the walls, then over the roof. They could not imagine what was happening, or what this was, but it seemed that this thing was enshrouding the cottage.
As battle-harden warriors they had faced many beasts of the Dark Lord’s making, but this not knowing what this was, sent chills of alarm through both of them.
The cottage shuddered, ached, creaked and groaned.
The dawn, they knew the dawn was close, but would it come in time!
Ben-adar hoped that there was still a chance, but it was not without risk; he must first communicate with the brothers – he must tell them what to do…and so he sent the message:
‘Feqj’t Cepa gepa tiuhgs wiu ius
Sga besseha lew giw, cus os lew pis upom sga feyp
Tas sga bgqipilent, epf gimf sgal bmita.
Inap sga qaeml id nqingatoat
Epf bemm unip sga Letsaq id Loffma-aeqsg
Si bibiip Sga Mohgs eheots Sga Feqj
Pi lessaq yges, taew yoshop ost ciupft
Sga feyp yomm taps si wiu.’
The cottage may hold, but it may not to the dawn.
Set the chronomaps, and hold them close.
Open the realm of prophecies
And call upon the Master of Middle-earth
to cocoon The Light against The Dark.
No matter what, stay within its bounds
The dawn will be sent to you.
Within the cottage, a silence throbbed….
Then the fire exploded, sending shimmers of sparks throughout the room and the candle spluttered and smoked, as if a fierce wind had entered; and the brothers heard Ben-adar’s words.
Boromir unbuckled his sword; this would be of no use now. He calmly passed Faramir’s chronomap to him, and took his; they put them into their cloak’s pocket. With anxious hands he placed the book of prophecies on the table – and reached to open it; as before, it opened by itself. A blank page appeared; then for a trembling moment, nothing… Then came a heralding of haunting horns and harps, and the Master appeared.
Boromir repeated Ben-adar’s words:
‘O bemm unip wiu Letsaq id Loffma-aeqsg
Si bibiip Sga Mohgs eheots Sga Feqj’
To cocoon The Light against The Dark.
The Master looked at them, a grave, pensive gaze, then he nodded his head in recognition of hearing their plea, then in a softly spoken voice he called:
‘Euma, picma Xeme
Bpeds e xattam diq lw yeqqoiqt id Sga Mohgs
Et wiu ipba fof diq sga Tup epf Liip;
Bibiip sgal dqil Sga Feqj
Epf bemm unip Eqoap, wiuq tup-leofap
Si nomis gaq bgeqha epf cqoph diqsg ost aeqmw qota.’
Craft a vessel for my warriors of The Light,
as erewhile you did for the Sun and Moon;
Cocoon them from The Dark, and call upon Arien, your sun-maiden, to pilot her charge and bring forth its early rise.
He then looked upon the two, smiled, and his image disappeared, the music stopped, but from the pages arose a white shimmering corona.
But as the light was rising, as feared by Ben-adar, his words to the brothers had pierced the armor of the cottage, only by a single slit in space, but one the Bane could detect, and through this shaft it shot a sole particle of its malignant mass into the cottage; it dropped to the floor at the other end of the room from the brothers. It welled up and sprung to life, its eyeless form rising to sense the direction of the brothers, pulsating as it grew in mass, then gradually, knowing its prey had no avenue for escape, It propelled itself towards them… the floor boards blazing as it slid over them.
The brothers saw It, and Boromir’s placed his hand on Faramir’s shoulder, the big brother giving comfort to the younger:
‘Whatever happens, Faramir, we must stand firm.’
Faramir replied, horrified at the sight:
‘If this is the end, then I am content that we face this together.’
‘This is not where we end, little brother, the dawn will come in time.’
As he spoke, Aulë’s corona flowed-over them, encasing them in a translucent capsule.
The Bane stopped, screeched out, a deafening shrill, It reared up, trying to re-locate their position, now masked by the aura of the corona.
Boromir realised at once that the capsule had thrown It off their scent, but if It could adapt its sensors It would locate them again. If that occurred, there would be only one thing to be done…for the capsule he was sure could not protect them both from the inferno of this baleful energy.
The Bane reamassed. Boromir’s worse fears were confirmed; It had realigned itself and ‘saw’ again their position, and recommenced its advance. As It came towards them, It consumed everything in its path, all incinerated by its mere touch.
Boromir decided he had no choice. He embraced Faramir, and while doing so, pressed the two pressure points shown to him by a Bak Mei master; these would place Faramir into suspended animation, his vital signs would cease and the Bane would loose sense of him. Faramir fell into a faint, and Boromir eased him to the floor. He kissed him on the forehead, as Aragorn had him as he lay dying at Amon Hen, and whispered to him:
‘Goodbye little brother. The dawn will come in time for you.’
The Bane rose up anew, this time like a cobra spreading its hood ready to strike, hissing in fury.
Boromir realised his plan had worked; the Bane recognised that it had lost the sense of one. It weaved wildly, screeching and sniffling the air, trying to pick up the missing aura.
Boromir took a huge breath; the heat of the Bane even through Aulë’s shield was unbearable. His plan was to make for the door and then into the forest; he knew It would follow him and he could not escape It for long, but Faramir would be saved.
He leapt from the capsule, the Bane hissed and turned in his direction, he bolted to the door, opened it and ran into the forest, looking back making sure the Bane was following him.
With lightening speed the Bane surged after him, shooting a spray of its venomous self at him. Boromir tried to duck, but the ooze hit him on his chest … or so he expected, but instead, It splattered onto a transparent shell that was covering him…he had not realised that when he left the capsule, The Light had recreated another protective shield enveloping him. His thoughts immediately were of Faramir, was he safe… did his action fracture Faramir’s capsule? Desperately he looked back through the door, and breathed a sigh of instant relief, for he could see Faramir lying safely within his.
Momentarily stunned but quickly recomposed he tried to run on, but the Bane bounded at him, splattering him with its slime. He resigned himself to the end, then heard Faramir’s calling him from the past of old lore:
“Whither goest thou? O Boromir!” (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘The Window on the West’)
and a chanting, from a vision anew:
“Boromir, Boromir!” (Jackson et al, Screenplay TT)
He harkened the words, and they gave him courage and a resolve to survive.
He could hardly breathe; the heat and It’s hate were so monstrous, and overwhelming was the feeling there would be less torment to just give in. Miraculously the shield held, holding It from consuming him. It swarmed over this, roaring with triumph, and as It reached the level of his eyes, he saw in the sky of the east, a vision of a glowing nymph pulling plumes of silvery shafts, the dawn…the dawn was coming!
Of those of Brandybuck and Took
The two hobbits slept from the mid of night, through the witching hour… then as if a being stirred them from their dreams, as 3 am came to this land and time, they awoke, startled by something they did not know.
‘Pip, something has been sent against The Light; do you feel?’
At first Pippin was unsure what he felt, but unmistakably, he became overwhelmed with a feeling of dread.
‘Yes, Merry, not in our time, but in another, something fiendish has been unleashed.’
And while elsewhere this terror pursued those of the Quest, all in their world was serene, the night, the stars and moon, seemed at peace.
‘The stars were out in the dark sky above the trees.’ ‘It was a fine night’
They ‘looked up’… and ‘after a time…’ ‘the stars grew thicker and brighter, they were burning bright and blue.’^
Despite this serenity, the hobbits were unnerved. Something heinous outside their comprehension was in pursuit of one of their own. They did not seek the comfort of Treebeard, who they could see in the moonlight at the far end of the clearing, it was as if they needed to find solace in themselves.
So the night passed. It seemed to have taken refuge under its great trees, creeping away from the coming dawn.
Together they watched the dawn grow slowly in the sky, now bare and cloudless, until at last the sunrise came. It was pale and clear. (A fusion of imagery from Tolkien, LOTR)
Of the maiden
‘We will be safe!’ uttered Raalta in a relieved tone, betraying his previous concerns.
Éowyn turned to look at the room in which they stood. The cottage was hewn out of some pale wood. It lined the floor, walls and ceiling of the room. There were no adornments, but there was a rustic table and chairs in one corner, and a fireplace in the other. A number of candles were alight on the mantelpiece and a fire was ablaze, bathing the room in a balmy comforting glow.
Raalta motioned to her to take a seat on the lounge before the fire, which she gratefully did, sinking into its downy cushions. She sighed in relief, the first time she had felt real comfort and safety since the Quest’s journey began. Something overwhelmingly reassuring flowed from within the cottage.
As she did, she felt a sensation, barely a flicker of a feeling. She sensed others in the cottage. Others arriving. No, some who were to arrive years in the future, as she had now. A fleeting sensation, that lasted but a second and then drifted away in time and space.
Raalta had left the room and returned with goblets brimming with honeyed coloured apple juice. She drunk deeply of the refreshing nectar, and realised how drained she was.
Raalta had sat alongside her, and asked in a concerned tone:
‘Éowyn, are you up to discussing what must now be done?’
‘Raalta, fear not my fortitude, for I am stronger than my gender would portray… but pray I ask of you, give me your account of what has happened, for there are things which linger as murky figments in my mind, like shadows of memories...’
‘Fair maiden, you have shown an inner strength that exceeds all men I have known… and I will not hide from you anything I know that will enlighten your understanding,’ Raalta replied, pausing in case Éowyn wished him to clarify his intention, but she did not…she looked with trust at him, and he saw the depths of the grace and beauty in her spirit.
He continued solemnly:
‘I intuit Saruman’s access to this time is limited and he will not be able follow us. He will reason that it was the Great Books that you came to read. He will look for those which have been recently referred to. He will try to sense from those pages opened for some time, what it was you were searching. He will then see if any other books were examined, and by consulting the catalogue, if any are missing, and on what they contained. He will look at the table and see the trace of water and candle-wax, evidence of dedicated study.’
Éowyn thought intently, then enquired:
‘If Saruman still searches for signs of this, he must not be aware of this by other means, by those of The Dark.’
‘My thoughts are that although he has uncovered your whereabouts through the Bands, he was not, as yet, been able to capture the substance of the messages transmitted.’
‘How is it Raalta that you seem to know so much about Saruman and his ways?’
Raalta hesitated to answer, but after an awkward silence, he responded:
‘For I was once a disciple of his.’
‘You follow the teachings of Saruman?!’ Éowyn exclaimed shocked by his admission.
‘Be not alarmed Éowyn, I said I was once.’
Reassured, Éowyn responded:
‘In Minas Tirith you started to impart your story, why not finish this while we wait for the dawn.’
Raalta, hesitant, but respectful of her need to know, replied:
‘It is a story of the corruption of power and false trust. I will not give you all that occurred, for it is sufficient to say, I was on the Council of the Wise, with Gandalf, and Saruman. There was a struggle, not of Gandalf making, but there were those who wanted Gandalf as its leader, and others wanted Saruman. I was of those who supported Saruman. In those times I did not see the peril in this Maia. In fact I revered him greatly. Despite Gandalf’s warnings, I took no heed, and over time, I become totally indoctrinated by the Wizard of Isengard.’
Raalta paused to gauge Éowyn’s reaction, but she was not judgmental and urged him on:
‘Over time I came to the realisation, by watching Saruman in his negotiations with others, notably the Steward of Gondor, that Saruman was gaining, through deception, insidious influence over the kingdoms of Rohan and Gondor. However, it was not until I saw Saruman with the planatir, that I realised that in fact he was himself being controlled by the Dark Lord. Appalled, I confronted Saruman, and with no caution, foolishly told him that I could, would not continue as his supporter. He gravely asked me to reconsider my position. I said I would not. I realised that I left Orthanc under threat, but did not know that already Saruman had signed my doom. I was waylaid by orcs outside Isengard, but Gandalf appeared and came to my rescue. Gandalf took me to Rivendell for refuge, knowing that I would not be safe from Saruman’s wrath anywhere else. I resided with Lord Elrond for a number of years, but I could not stay. I had an extensive knowledge of the Great Books, second only to Saruman. So with the counsel of Gandalf and Elrond, it was decided that Gandalf would offer my services to Denethor II as ‘Protector of the Books’. As I could not appear in my Maiar form, we decided on the one you see. Even Saruman has not realised my true identity, though on occasions he has sat as close as you do to me now.’
‘What of your family and friends?’ Éowyn asked.
‘No-one except Gandalf, Elrond and one other know my real identity. To all others I was lost, although Saruman knew that I was not killed that night. He originally sought me, but as time went on, my existence became trivial matter of relevance to him. So even he let Alatar die from his concern.’
‘Alatar, you are Alatar, one of the Blue Wizards,’ Éowyn exclaimed, ‘I have heard stories of your journeys, and that you disappeared…’
‘But you see I did not disappear, but changed in form,’ Raalta laughed heartily, a tone of laugh that Éowyn had not heard for an age.
She looked at her protector, and saw in his glinting hazel eyes a nobility and wisdom:
‘You mentioned Raalta, Alatar…’
‘Raalta is the name I am now accustom to,’ Raalta corrected amicably.
‘You mentioned, that you were aware of deceptive negotiations that Saruman undertook, and one with the Steward of Gondor. Was this with Denethor II, Boromir’s father?’
‘Yes. I was there when Saruman duped Denethor into an oath that unwittingly placed him in the power of the Dark Lord.’
‘How is this so?’ Éowyn said, knowing that Boromir and Faramir’s mission was to uncover such a pledge.
‘When Denethor II became ruling Steward of Gondor he was gravely concerned about the prophesized return of Isildur’s heir on the one hand and the re-mergence of Sauron on the other. Saruman capitalized on this fear and offered Denethor an alliance and access to great power. He promised that he could give Denethor protection and make Boromir, then only a young boy, a fearless warrior, equal to any king of Gondor. For this, Denethor pledged allegiance to Saruman, and a pact was drawn in blood. Saruman blessed Boromir with heroic valor and will for power. Denethor did not realise at the time that this will for power would drive his son to The Dark, and eventually to be a vessel for the Dark Lord, much like how Sauron had created the Nazgûl.’
Éowyn, realizing the importance of this information for Boromir, urged:
‘Is there anything that can be done to undo this pledge and curse?’
‘The blessing cannot be undone by any means I am aware. But if Boromir could have Denethor return to the time of the creation of the pact, and refuse it, then the blessing would not… follow…’ he faltered mid-sentence for a shard of a sensation flared forth, he shook this off, and continued: ‘But there is enormous peril in undoing what has been done.’
She responded excitedly:
‘You don’t know how important this is for part of the Quest is to understand this pact...’ She was about to add:
‘Boromir and Faramir were to return to their father at the time of the Battle of Pelennor Field, and seek from Denethor what this pact involved and to renounce it.’
but realising that it was not for her to declare, even to this trusted protector, the details of another part of the Quest, she hesitated.
He did not notice, for as she spoke, he was caught up in his thoughts – a sense of a time to come, a confounded foresight of brothers being guided to escape Minas Tirith, of dire effusions and desperate straits and….
‘Raalta… Raalta?’’ she called out realising he was not with her…
The filament was broken, and he returned to her and saw her mental quandary, and answered sincerely:
‘I do not believe that Denethor could renounce it...’
She sat-back on the lounge feeling despondent for the brothers, for their quest seemed unattainable, and with this, a debilitating tiredness engulfed her… as if she was depleted of all energy.
She had not asked about her experience with the Vortex, for as Raalta knew, mercifully her memory of this experience, as a defence for her sanity, had been erased… They felt it was for the best for now… later, when it was all over, then…
Raalta could see the exhaustion in her eyes,
‘Dear Éowyn, I see your fatigue, why do you not rest for a time,’ he expected her to argue, but she did not as she answered:
‘Yes, I feel a draining weariness in my bones, but only for an hour or so; promise me Raalta that you will wake me then.’
She had slept through the late witching hour… then as if wrenched from her dreams, as 3 am came to this land and time, she awoke, startled by something she did not know.
At first she was unsure what she felt, but unmistakably, she became overwhelmed with a feeling of dread, a thing, not in her time, but in another, something monstrous had been unleashed.
She shook herself awake…trying to fight off the overwhelmingly ominous sensation, which was mixed with feelings of being caught in a whirlpool of terror; she heard voices, then the muffled squeaking as if a door was opening.
She jumped up and rushed into the main room, and was horrified to see through the open doorway, the back of a titanic form. In the darkness of dim moonlight, it looked like it was fully cloaked in black; was it a Nazgûl?!
At the moment of considering whether to take cover, the form started to turn to walk into the cottage. Frantic to arm herself, she picked up the iron poker from the fireplace and waited for its attack. But when it turned, instead of the hollow hood of Dark’s servant, she saw the face of an elderly but handsome man.
He was equally started by her, and realising her dismay at his sight, put his hand out in friendship and spoke:
‘Éowyn fear not, it is I, Raalta.’
‘Raalta…you cannot be?!’ she exclaimed, for this was not the figure of the Raalta she knew.
‘Ah, but what you see is the image of Alatar, for I am in that form, having been visited by my… Master; come here and I will explain.’
Éowyn cautiously followed him to the lounge before the fire, trying to come to terms that this was Raalta, how different he was… though when she looked into his eyes, she saw that gentle, generous spirit of her protector.
‘I heard voices…’ Éowyn remarked.
‘Yes,’ Raalta replied guardedly ‘he came to notify me of Saruman’s movements and prevailing power, and to provide a solution to the problem of messaging Aragorn and… and matters of the brothers...’
Éowyn was aghast:
‘You revealed details of the Quest to another, unknown to me!’
Raalta put his hand on Éowyn’s shoulder to reassure her:
‘He is the greatest Master of The Light. It is his appearance that made me to revert my Maia form. I can assure you that Gandalf trusts him implicitly, as do I. He has stepped from his realm, which he is reluctant to do, to come to our aid and others of the Quest. I have no doubt if you met him you would feel my judgement in him sound,’ Raalta asserted humbly.
‘I do not question your judgement Raalta, for it has been true in all circumstances, but I fear Saruman’s and Sauron’s reach of influence.’
‘There is no doubt that Iarwain Ben-adar is beyond their influence.’
Despite his reassurance, Éowyn could feel an uncontrollable apprehension well within her… something from her deep unconscious throwing shafts of panic into her awareness, and she recounted to Raalta her feeling of being caught in a whirlpool and a ghoul being unleashed against The Light.
Raalta replied hesitantly:
‘Your senses serve you well Éowyn, for indeed, a primordial force has been vented against The Light, and there are those things hidden from our current comprehension. You must trust in your inner-self, for this is where your strength must lie,’ he stopped as if distracted by receiving a message unheard by Éowyn, for he nodded his head in acquiescence, then continued breathlessly:
‘Éowyn, you must ready yourself, for the dawn comes early on this Quest Day... take heed of the signs for they will mark your way…go now… the time is near…’
Éowyn went to the room where she had rested, picked up her cloak and returned to Raalta:
‘There is much I do not understand or know…but am assured that The Light will guide me. I thank and leave you Raalta, knowing that our paths will cross in the future.’
She felt drawn to the forest, and walked from the cottage into the night. She looked back at Raalta through the open doorway, then looked up and saw in the easterly sky - a deepest Prussian blue - a vision of a glowing nymph pulling plumes of silvery shafts, the dawn…the dawn was breaking, and as “the sun’s first light cracked over the top of the trees”, “the light of the dawning sun” sent “a narrow shaft of sunlight” (A fusion of words from Jackson et al, Screenplay TT) down upon her, and she travelled back to the ancient time of Númenor, to meet Hadiya, and Aragorn.