PartIV Chapter 1
The Light, Quest Day10
So eleven through time and space did speed
Towards The Light and each other to see
For on this tenth day they had all agreed
Together to come with their mission’s key
And in accord all the pieces to place
For they sought a whole from parts to create
For in their hands The Dark’s future did lay
For Light’s five things bestowed to them the base
Of all in life and death, through faith and fate
Showing the way to raze Dark’s evil ray.
There was a stillness, solemn and sullen, as the sigh before a scowling storm. The Light was not as they had known comfort from; it was shadowy and somber; a sense of sinister struggle suffused the sheer substance of their sanctuary; all were on their return journey, not all were safe.
In the outer world, the dawn of the Quest’s tenth day, was beginning to burgeon forth, as silvery streaks of the sun’s spirited rays, glimmering the triumph of its awakening across a glowering grey horizon.
Gandalf arrived at The Light first, engulfed in a time-travel tempest. He staggered in his step and gasped gravely, as if his journey had robbed him of breath; he inhaled the Light’s reviving vapors. He looked about him apprehensively, conscious of the change. The Light was not as it was. A brooding aura hung heavily, reflecting the jeopardy of those still travelling. He quickly checked The Light’s perimeter. It had held true, Sauron and his servants had not penetrated here, but they were lurking ominously close. He willed that the others would find their way; everything depended on this reunion.
He sat down at Light’s table and reflected on his passage to Middle-earth and beyond, into an unimaginable future. He shuddered with the thought of how susceptible to failure he and his mission were, and how could it be expected that the others would endure the pressures put upon them. He felt forlorn, rather then elated as he thought he would on reaching the refuge of The Light; at first he could not understand why; then he realised. He picked himself up and wandered about, waiting for the others. They were close, they were safeguarded – he willed them to be! He was shaken from his musings when he heard:
A billowing brume bellowed, and Faramir stepped from it. He was momentarily disoriented and shaken by his traverse, but rejoiced when he saw Gandalf approaching. They embraced with exhilaration and relief; two wanderers of time and space, now secure together.
Gandalf could see that Faramir had detected and was concerned about the change in The Light. Reassuringly he explained that as each Quest member returned, their life force would add to The Light’s luminosity and power, as he had when he entered; every member and the part of the Board they had achieved, had become an intrinsic element of The Light’s future itself.
Gandalf led Faramir to the table, and once he saw that Faramir had recovered, questioned him on the absence of Boromir, where was he, why had they not travelled as one? Faramir explained what had befallen them, from when their search for the pact in Minas Tirith (when Gandalf had been summoned to help retrieve Boromir from Sauron’s domination), their escape to and from the terror unleashed in the Drúadan Forest, then to their witnessing the ritual of the pact, and finally their separation with Alatar’s sending Boromir to Ben-adar with Faramir’s additional Quest Day, for his journey to The Light on Quest Day 10. Gandalf was shocked at this strategy, fearing that there was no surety in its presumption, but he said nothing to Faramir of his concern, for there was no chance to change what had been set, he merely nodded and muttered that all would be possible with Ben-adar’s will. Gandalf was anxious not to be drawn into further discussion about this possibility, for he saw that Faramir’s seeking-glance, and was saved from this by the strain of melody.
They both turned round to find that Legolas had appeared (the remnants of a swirling whirlpool dissipating behind him) – but Gimli was no where to be seen?
Uncharacteristically the elf of Mirkwood looked stunned yet perturbed, ashen faced, unsettled by the transit to The Light. Gimli’s resolve that they separate and that he make the journey by himself to Dol Guldur, to what seemed like a desperate and hopeless mission, had unnerved the typically calm Woodland prince. It was in this state that Gandalf and Faramir found him, as they greeted him into The Light.
Gandalf immediately picked up Legolas’s demeanor, and decided not to question him about Gimli’s whereabouts; however Faramir, less in tune, posed a barrage of questions. Legolas began to stammer in anxious answers, so Gandalf clasped his shoulder in a fatherly manner, and motioned to his charges that they should find repose in the sitting room. So the three proceeded to an adjoining room with deep-seated lounge chairs, those one could sink into and get lost. Legolas and Faramir sat side-by-side, Faramir sitting back and observing Legolas as he reoriented himself. Gandalf brought large mugs of refreshing cider, and forest fruits and berries.
The light flickered with a muted gold glow, and the aroma of foreboding was displaced with the balm of Legolas’s woodland. He inhaled Light’s air and the colour returned to his face and the sparkle to his elven eyes, and he managed to return a smile to Gandalf, as Gandalf offered him the platter of fruits. He started to talk of his mission, then stopped to retrieve three caskets, handing them to Gandalf, saying that the Elven Rings of Power were now protected in Gandalf’s hands for the Quest; that part of their mission had been successfully accomplished, however, then he paused, drew troubled breath, he explained Gimli’s insistence on travelling to Dol Guldur on an impossible mission he would not be diverted from. In their separation from a dear one, Faramir and Legolas commiserated, it played profoundly on their minds. Gandalf was making reassuring pronouncements, when the three heard a refrain.
The Light grew in intensity; Gandalf knew that some others had arrived.
He left Faramir and Legolas, and withdrew to the grand hall; there he found Merry and Pippin. Outwardly unaffected by their journey, Pippin bounded to Gandalf, clasping and hugging him and talking. Gandalf thought with consoling comfort: ‘Despite everything, still Pippin of old’.
Merry followed. The hobbits then recounted what they had seen in their voyage to the future. Pippin was excitedly explaining, when he realised that Merry was no longer speaking, looking about concernedly. The others, Merry asked, had the others arrived?
Gandalf explained, and took them to where Faramir and Legolas were deep in conversation, but they rose to greet the hobbits as they came running towards them. The warriors laughed at Pippin’s antics, as he burst into an account of their adventures in Fangorn Forrest with Treebeard and Quickbeam. He did not mention the venture into the future, for this was a mission only for Gandalf to know.
So in the excitement of meeting friends, the hobbits scoffed the cider and berries, but it was not long before the frivolity abated – for there were others still to arrive, still in harm’s way.
In this subdued atmosphere, Gandalf tried to divert their apprehensions on to the achievements of those within The Light, assuring them that the 10th Day meant until midnight, and it was just mid-morn. As the group chimed in on the marvels they had witnessed, a melody wafted through the emotionally-charged air.
Gandalf hastened to the hall, but no one was there. He strode to the furthest northern rooms, but he could not locate anyone. As he retraced his steps to the lounge, he heard a commotion of glee in the southern reaches, and saw dashing towards him along the connecting corridor, Merry and Pippin alongside Frodo and Sam. Gandalf had never seen hobbits moving so fast. Frodo and Sam grabbed Gandalf’s hand and not letting him go, saying repeatedly, how they were relieved to have returned to find Gandalf. He saw in their eyes the impact of the ‘visions’, of their witnessing the ecstasy and trauma of life...and death. He led them to the others, and there was the jubilation of others returned - now only four remained outside The Light. Merry and Pippin stayed close to their Shire friends, and while they waited for the others, sat a little aside, joyful in the reunion, but recognising that each was not the hobbit of the Shire who started this journey.
Hours passed, and they chatted, Gandalf asking everyone not to relate their full story until the arrival of the remaining four. For Faramir and Legolas, their angst manifest in a withdrawn sighing silence; then a resonating rising theme was heard.
Legolas and Faramir rose, but Gandalf cordially commanded them to stay, as he withdrew to find which of the four had been heralded. As he entered the hall, he saw the remnants of the twisting typhoon, and then Boromir, the Steward’s beloved first-born, striding confidently to meet him. Gandalf saw instantly that an immense burden had been lifted from Boromir, for his face displayed an inner-peace. Boromir embraced Gandalf and asked of Faramir, had he arrived? Gandalf smiled, and confirmed that his brother was in The Light, and anxiously awaiting his arrival. They walked to the lounge, and Faramir, rushed to his brother’s side and enveloped him in an embrace, tears streaming from his eyes. The others crowded close to welcome Boromir, but as it was clear that the brothers had much on which to catch-up, they left to speak in a private corner.
Boromir’s arrival had lifted the spirits of the others, for everyone sensed that Sauron had via the pact earmarked him as a target, yet he had safely returned to The Light.
Morning grew into mid-of-day, and Gandalf insisted that they partake of a light meal; unwillingly they agreed. As they picked at the bread and meats, they listened out for a theme heralding the arrival of one more of the Quest.
The afternoon drew on, the anxiety started to escalate, three, three were still missing. The air was heavy with grievous thoughts, so Gandalf sought distractions within the confines of The Light. He sent Legolas with Boromir and Faramir to check on the distant posts of their sanctuary, and the hobbits he put to work to sort through the various recovered documents,
Gandalf was alone, and disturbed. There was only one who could help, so Gandalf called upon him.
Ben-adar responded, he would seek out the two in dire need, the dwarf and the maiden; the King he saw was unthreatened, being on the verge of entering The Light.
So it was that Gandalf was by himself, with assurances of one he trusted, when he heard and saw the tell-tale tumult, from which Aragorn appeared.
Gandalf was thankful that the others were not there to see him arrive, and without Éowyn. This was not the King they knew and depended upon. Gandalf embraced his friend and felt the torment he carried; not only for the sacrifice he had made on behalf of all elves, but that he had parted with Éowyn, and sensed the imminent danger she was in... and that she had not returned to The Light.
The Light had, as with each and every entry, grown brighter, but with Aragorn, a grim greyness ensued. Solely Legolas, in the far north, perceived this; he recognized that one with suffering had arrived, and although he was concerned to see if it was Gimli, he realized that Gandalf would call him when it was right for him to know.
Aragorn confided in Gandalf all that had occurred. He spoke in terms of the revelations of the prophecy, and the path he had chosen, and of Hadiya, and of Éowyn. He lamented her departure, unaided, and separated from him for a second time in this Quest. He did not put his emotions in words, he did not know then, as Gandalf recognised in him, how he felt, how he pinned, for her. Gandalf did not say it, he knew that Aragorn himself must come to realise it. There was a moment of silence as Gandalf framed what to say, when the sound of doom-filled drums was heard
Gandalf, then Aragorn, turned to see the trailing squall, and bounding from it, their cherished friend, Gimli, muttering to himself.
Straightaway Gandalf recalled those of The Light, to welcome their dwarven comrade.
The Light itself was gaining in iridescence, and as it reached this peak, the others entered the hall and fell upon Gimli with such excitement that he reeled from, overwhelmed by the attention, as a dwarf would do. They explained their concern for the delay in his appearing, and he was about to explain his time in Dol Guldur, when he noticed that Aragorn walked off; then he noticed that Éowyn was not there. The others explained sorrowfully that she had as yet not appeared; they plunged into a bitter silence. Gimli tried to reassure them, for he had encountered no struggle or obstacle in his path, yet he had been delayed compared to the others. All felt heartened by this, but a morose veil engulfed them as time passed.
It drew close to dusk, then moved to the fall of night.
Aragorn overcome with emotion left the others. Gandalf followed him. Gandalf assured Aragorn that he sensed Éowyn close, and that he had summoned Ben-adar to Éowyn’s aid. Knowing the power of the Ancient One, this news gave Aragorn heart. As Aragorn explained his last sight of Éowyn on the Dove, selflessly flying to save Hadiya’s father, Ben-adarappeared, not as Tom, but in his priestly form. Gandalf bowed respectfully to him, and Ben-adar clasped Aragorn’s hand, explaining that Éowyn was not lost, but that a powerful force was impeding her passage to The Light.
For as it happened in this time, Sauron had sensed Éowyn’s whereabouts, and using his darkest powers, willed her to him. She travelled between the pull of The Light and that of The Dark.
Ben-adar explained to Gandalf and Aragorn that he would need access to the Rings, and with these and his power, he would win Éowyn back to The Light. The Rings, Narya, Nenya and Vilya were brought to him, and the one from Thráin that Gimli had recovered.
Ben-adar disappeared into the aura of The Light, but Gandalf could hear him chanting, calling, willing Éowyn to him. Gandalf also felt the fiendish darkness of Sauron. A savage battle was played out in the space of time, The Light and Dark clashing violently. Then a blaring boom was heard by all those of The Light, as if the bowels of the earth had broken asunder.
Then there was silence, nothing!
Out of this nothingness, in a parallel plain, Gandalf heard, but fortunately not the others, a scream of hate, as it rolled through time as a raging shudder, a growl of terror echoing in Gandalf’s mind; he reeled with its fury and dark-heartedness. Then it ended.
Gandalf sensed that Sauron had been defeated; Éowyn would be released from his grasp. Gandalf clasped Aragorn’s hand and told him this.
However, Ben-adardid not return, nor did Éowyn. The Light dimmed. Everyone saw this.
Gandalf became alarmed that Sauron had breached its power, but he told no-one, not even Aragorn, of his fear. Then The Light flickered and flared, as though it had been reignited in the path of a furious gale, and from its core Ben-adaremerged carrying Éowyn.
Gandalf and Aragorn rushed to Ben-adar’s side, but, he motioned them out of the way, striding to one of the chambers of The Light; for Éowyn was not with life.
The Light faded, descending into a shroud-like gloom. There was a harrowing stillness yet ferment, as a hunted deer, dropping to the cover of the bracken, stopped breathing, waiting for the prowling jaguar to pass. So it was for those who knew in The Light.
The air grew thick with angst... was there any certainty of The Light holding. The strains of a far-off mournful flute, infiltrated the space. Those in the hall heard it, and craved the counsel of Gandalf... some news of Éowyn...
Gandalf and Aragorn stood at the doorway, downcast and distraught. Ben-adargestured for Gandalf tocome to his side. He gave him instructions and Gandalf came to Aragorn and relayed these to him. Aragorn should inform the others that Éowyn has arrived, but that she was critically ill; that Ben-adarwasattending to her, and that Aragorn would stay with them. Aragorn pleaded to be able to help, for he was known to have the hands of a healer, but Gandalf announced sadly that his healing powers would be of no use here.
Aragorn reluctantly agreed to join the others. Gandalf locked the door of the chamber and left in the opposite direction, to retrieve what Ben-adarhad asked for.
Aragorn went to the hall where the others remained gathered. He delivered the message as he had been instructed, and then sat in a doleful silence. Pippin spoke out that they should not be so grimly countenanced, for Éowyn was in The Light, and the greatest power was at her side. Boromir added that he could not envisage a mightier aid to Éowyn’s recovery. The group in unison nodded in agreement, but this did not appease the pain of dread they felt.
Fall of night melded into the darkness of early evening, a time venturing into The Dark’s domain. There was no news, and no sight of Gandalf. The chitchat they had been engaging in as a diversion petered out, their anxiety amplified, and in its engorgement, their helplessness tore at their very spirits.
But Gimli would have none of this, he declared that that this would not be what Éowyn would want of her friends, that with time so short, they needed to do something productive for Light’s mission. He would start by recounting the journey that Legolas and he took. Although some were hesitant with this strategy, as soon as he relayed their experiences of Galadriel and Elrond (though not of the secret prophecy) then the meeting of Thráin, and they started to discuss the events, their hearts lightened. Aragorn did not participate, and stood up from the table and dourly paced the room. Legolas joined him; they spoke briefly and then left the hall heading in the direction of where Éowyn lay.
They had nearly reached the door as Gandalf rushed out, his face a glow. He told them that Éowyn had recovered, that she was well but weak, and would be joining them shortly. Tears welled-up in the eyes of the King and embraced Gandalf in elation. Knowing the mood of the others, they agreed that they must be told at once. So with this joyous news, Aragorn, Legolas and Gandalf strode into the hall. The atmosphere forthwith changed to one of euphoria, but Gandalf reminded them of the enormity of the task that lay ahead.
They had a great deal to do before the mid-of-night on the twelfth day - the time for Light’s decisive reckoning with The Dark. To meet this deadline and to travel Quest’s ultimate journey, everything needed to be completed, with the Board fully set, by the dawn of Quest’s eleventh day.
Gandalf looked into overwrought eyes of those of the Quest. Here sat his friends, his charges, uncomplainingly they had ventured along paths ordained for them, achieving momentous goals, but here and now loomed the stark reality, how were these disconnected tasks to be merged, fused into a whole... how could they individually bring to the fore an accord of thoughts that would define and set the Board. It was Sam who expressed what was in everyone’s hearts, how could their separate pieces be united into a meaningful whole, especially when there was much from his own journey that lay unknown to his understanding.
Gandalf lent over and fondly patted Sam on the shoulder, acknowledging his and the others’ concern, explaining that though they have travelled diverse seemingly unconnected paths, for some to momentous and unfathomable experiences, yet they were not random and separate; and that they should not forget the power of The Light and its bands, through which perceptions and experiences could be coalesced, bringing meaning and wholeness...
Gandalf left the rest unsaid; it was for each to find this in themselves, enlightened by their bands when linked... He waited for this meaning to seep into their consciousness – and by their quiet reflection, for no-one spoke, he saw that they could see...
It was at in this moment of contemplation that The Light took on a renewed brilliancy – a glistening golden glow, and then a melodic air was heard and Éowyn appeared followed by Ben-adar. Aragorn rushed to her side, with the others following. The hobbits clamored in delight, wishing to show their loving regard for her. Aragorn had taken her hand, and held it with such tenderness that all that saw knew that he loved her deeply. This was not the Aragorn and his relationship with Rohan’s shieldmaiden of old lore; Éowyn in turn felt this change, and returned his smile.
Gandalf hurriedly brought order to their welcoming, encouraging that they should not hesitate in taking the next vital step to their enlightenment and The Light’s formulations... He positioned them around the table as they once had sat, once before their journeying, and they laid out their bands such that they touched the one adjacent to it. As the final band was positioned, as before, they locked in sequence, and from their connection, a searing band of brilliance arose with the stirring strains of a synthesized refrain:
They were entranced, by the radiance and harmonies... and as each of their motifs of music merged into a single melody, so their words and thoughts which flowed from their distinct experiences were fused by The Light into an amalgam of meaning:
Journeys have been taken through time and the sky
To find those pieces of the Board to apply
‘The five things to resolve’ have pointed the way
These and those ‘unheralded’ form an array
Only by fusion of the meaning of all
Will bring forth the Dark Lord’s everlasting fall.
There was a profound, cavernous pause. The Light sighed at the sights and senses, sifting and sorting, unifying and threading the filaments of experiences and perceptions.
The light flickered and took on a vivid amber bloom. No-one spoke, in fact many unconsciously held their breaths as they waited... waited for the orchestration of The Light...
Beyond them, another also awaited The Light’s deliberations. By locking onto The Light’s radiance through his tracer on the bands, he lingered to hear...
Those of the Quest were unaware of the Dark Lord’s incursion, but Ben-adar sensed it. He could not shut down The Light’s deliberations, for all the visions and their meanings would be lost, but he could intercede with a mask obscuring images and voices, though he was certain that Sauron had tapped into sounds, and could not see into, The Light. Unbeknown to the others, he encapsulated them in a transparent shield; within this, sight and sound were unaffected, but beyond, a force field of distorting optic and acoustic waves bombarded and garbled any transmission.
He realised what the Ancient One had done, initially he fumed, but then mocked this protector’s feeble attempt, for he knew his trump card had as yet to be played...
Inside the shield, images appeared with words captioning the essence of the event. These were not in any order they could simply work out, but in the interweaving that was the seed, venturing to the core of the meaning. They saw, heard, and felt what was displayed.
There were images of noble and exemplary lives and deaths, intermingled with those that were treacherous and baneful, displaying mankind’s and other’s, most virtuous and villainous traits and beliefs, and the interplay of these internally and beyond individuals. There were visions of the recorded history on the one hand, and ostensibly random circumstances on the other, shaping lives and deaths, some known and others unknown to the individual(s) affected. They witnessed the beauty, glory and ravages of nature and that of mankind’s making; the disasters, discoveries and deeds; the miraculous and monstrous. However, they saw how innocent intentions, wittingly or unwittingly, could be used for good or manipulated for evil, nevertheless, that The Dark could be resisted and routed. How selflessness could be on the cusp of, or be turned into, self-interest; fame into infamy; trust into suspicion; triumph into defeat; suppression into freedom; love into betrayal; trial into strength; death into rebirth (save for dark-hearted self-destruction); prophesy into reality.
And so it was done. The light flickered for a moment, turned lustrous lavender, then waned into a silvered white. The message had been imparted, but as in all things, the message received was not identical for each.
No-one spoke, not that they were overwhelmed with what they had experienced, but in respect for what had been bestowed.
Gandalf rose, and spoke in a grave tone, acknowledging the astounding images they had all been witness of, and would need to reflect upon. He explained that though hours had passed in The Light, in fact for them time had not advanced; it remained early eve and they had done enough for now. They should take a respite and enjoy the feast that had been provided in celebration of their reunion. With balking reservation, they adjourned to the dining hall where platters had been laid out of roasted meats, soft-skinned cheeses, fruits of the forest; warm seeded breads and oat and date biscuits, with flaxen and ruby wines; jugs of malt and the finest Longbottom weed. In this time of distracted merriment, the room was a buzz with chat and laughter, and of Merry and Pippin singing of the songs of the Shire. Even Aragorn joined in, though the sadness was ever present, Éowyn had been rescued from Dark’s harm... she was securely shielded.
Éowyn was engrossed in discussion with Gandalf and Ben-adar, and did not notice, but Faramir and Boromir did not miss the signs. However with what they had gained from their personal revelations, they did not resent their King’s new devotion, they knew what had transpired, what tremendous sacrifice he had had to make on behalf of the elves, and wished that his suit would be favourably responded to. They did not have to discuss this, they looked at one another and knew exactly what the other was thinking... they laughed boisterously in unison then continued with joining the hobbits in their revelry...for this brief moment, they were released from their obligations to the Quest.
While the festivities continued, Gandalf and Ben-adar slipped away. Secreted in a secluded chamber, they spoke of all the pieces of the Board, now open to them. They consolidated them and knew what they needed to do in readiness for the twelfth day. In his earlier discussion with Éowyn, she assured Gandalf that she was completely recovered from her trial with the Dark Lord. In fact, he believed from her insights she had acquired significant powers. These were, he sensed, an outcome of Sauron trying to pull her to him, and in doing so, revealed inadvertently to her something of himself and his plans (as he had once done after Pippin had been entrapped by the Isengard palantir). Ben-adar was sure that this insight would be the potent advantage for the Quest. So with the plan cast, Gandalf went to find Éowyn; Ben-adar remained behind to check on their reckonings and confer with others.
Gandalf found Éowyn sitting with Aragorn; the brothers, Legolas and Gimli were together with the hobbits, joining in their merriment.
He asked Éowyn and Aragorn to come with him, encouraging the others to continue, assuring them that they would all be returning soon to discuss the Quest’s culminating step.
In the chamber, door closed, Ben-adar explained the critical elements of what needed to be done, for as the prophecies had foretold, and now The Light had confirmed, a being’s spirit, righteous or otherwise, continued into the future. It was in this way, Sauron despite being destroyed in one time recurred in another; there was only one circumstance in which the Dark Lords could be erased forever.
Aragorn and Éowyn listened intently to Ben-adar. He explained that from the knowledge gained in the Quest, they knew what was needed to ensure in the conclusive confrontation with Sauron that this unique circumstance occurred. This would be achieved with the aid of the device from the future and the power of the four Rings, and Éowyn in a pivotal role.
Aragorn and Éowyn were astonished to hear what this wise being was proposing; nonetheless, Gandalf assured them of the surety of this strategy, it was what The Light had deemed the definitive plan and for their benefit had arranged for a trial run, before they had to leave at dawn. Aragorn and Éowyn were astounded by the rapidity with which this was unfolding but in their utter trust of Gandalf and Ben-adar, they willingly agreed to be part of this plan. Before the mid-of-night, the four slipped from The Light; they took with them the Rings, the jewel and the connection to the future. As they left, The Light dimmed, and a whirling whine of fearful anticipation commenced as an almost imperceptible undertone.
A message had been left for Legolas. He was to inform the others that the four were traveling beyond The Light and that they expected to return after mid-of-night. No other details were given, except a warning that Sauron was close, and an assurance that the four were following what the Quest members andThe Light had made possible.
The four returned when it was utterly quiet in The Light; Legolas remained, waiting for them. When Aragorn and Éowyn took their leave, Legolas spoke to Ben-adar and Gandalf. Although Ben-adar knew something of Legolas’s lineage, Gandalf (and the others) did not; even his birth-date and ancestry, other than he was the son of Thranduil, was not recorded in old lore. His mother and her family were not identified, and Legolas never spoke of them; never until now, for in what he had seen in The Light, he was sure this had bearing on the Quest’s plans.
Legolas explained how his mother had descended from Elmo, and in fact that the revered prophet Elmowë had been her brother. Elmowë had secretly entrusted her with a sealed locket somehow containing his prophecies, saying it should not be opened unless she received a sign from him. Although his mother had not spoken to Legolas about it, she bequeathed the locket to him on her death, with explicit written instructions that it should stay sealed unless he received a message from Elmowë to open it, and more menacing, that he should never reveal its existence to anyone nor disclose his lineage. For Sauron, so threatened by the Elmowë’s powers of foresight, had with his own hands slain the prophet, obliterating his sanctuary, and then ordering the slaughter of all his family, to erase his memory and line. Legolas’s mother escaped the massacre for she had taken the identity of a Silvan elf concealed in the woodland realm, and knowing that Sauron continued to search for Elmowë’s blood-line, kept hidden her heritage (and that of Legolas). Sauron had seized the entire library and records from Elmowë’s sanctuary, but he did not know of the locket nor that the manuscript of prophecies had been copied for Elrond. Legolas wore the locket always; in a dull silver-like metal, unadorned by gems, it looked an unpretentious trinket of no value.
Legolas took the locket off and handed it to Ben-adar, saying that after the four had left, he received a sign from Elmowë that the locket should be entrusted to the Ancient One for his sight alone. Ben-adar did not ask what this sign was, for he sensed Elmowë’s presence, he accepted the locket and graciously taking his leave asked Gandalf and Legolas to wait for him.
Gandalf had been amazed by Legolas’s story, and started to describe his journey to the sanctuary of Elmowë on the peak of Methedras, from which Legolas responded that he had seen Gandalf’s passage there through the vision of The Light. They pondered at the wonder of The Light’s assimilation and dispersal of specific details to certain individuals, for Éowyn made no mention of seeing this part of his journey, for it had nothing directly to do with her... As they were discussing this marvel, Ben-adar returned. He confirmed that he had opened the locket, and had been connected to Elmowë’s prophecies, and one other, but he would say no more, for things had been put in motion which would not be brought to fruition until the dawn, the birth of Quest’s eleventh day, and there was now a more pressing need requiring scrutiny, a Blue Wizard was seeking entry into The Light; not Alatar, but Pallando.
Gandalf knew of Pallando, but wondered how he would know of this Quest. For although Alatar had assisted in different guises, Pallando had not taken any part. What was his purpose? Ben-adarassured Gandalf that during the Wars, Pallando had acted as an effective agent against Sauron. For Sauron thought he had converted him to The Dark, but instead Pallando had infiltrated and neutralized many of Sauron’s strong-holds in the east. Ben-adar was confident that Pallando was not of The Dark, yet it perturbed him that this Wizard should appear uninvited at this crucial time. He left to seek urgent counsel from Alatar, saying that he would mask The Light, thereby staving off Pallando’s entry.
In Ben-adar’s absence, Éowyn entered in a distressed state. She noticed the dimness of The Light, but this was not driving her state of urgency. She recounted the words she had heard in a dream: ‘A Wizard of Oromë, concealing a darkness not of his making, would be a vessel of destruction not of his knowing.’
She did not understand the words, but there was such a calamitous aura around their telling, she was shocked out of slumber.
Ben-adar had returned as Éowyn was recounting the words; Ben-adar and Gandalf concurred that these words must refer to Pallando. Ben-adar realised then that Pallando represented a devastating threat, for Alatar had confirmed that he had not told Pallando of the Quest, and there was no way of his knowing from any other of The Light.
Assuring the others that everything was under control, Gandalf and Ben-adar insisted that Éowyn and Legolas seek some respite, it was now hours passed the mid-of-night.
By themselves, Gandalf and Ben-adar spoke freely. They agreed that Ben-adar must intercept Pallando before his status as a Blue Wizard gained him access to The Light; there Ben-adar could assess the danger, and contain any calamity.
Ben-adar travelled beyond The Light, leaving Gandalf to check the arrangements for the journey at dawn.
Ben-adar returned with alarming news for Pallando’s presence demonstrated how close Sauron was to infiltrating The Light and destroying those of it. Pallando had indeed been sent by Sauron as an assassin to kill Éowyn. This Pallando had confided to Ben-adar, however, as Ben-adar had reasoned, Pallando was feigning allegiance to Sauron, and even if Pallando had entered The Light, Éowyn’s life was not at risk, for Pallando would not have done Sauron’s will, of this, Ben-adar was assured. Yet, Pallando posed a disastrous peril; this had become obvious to Ben-adar upon meeting the Wizard. Ben-adar realised that what Éowyn had ‘heard’ was correct. For within Pallando, a deadly negative force brewed, a blight Ben-adar surmised, unbeknown to Pallando, which Sauron had implanted. Ben-adar felt it seething, waiting to be released at the command of the Dark Lord, as once the Black Bain had been unleashed to devour the brothers. Ben-adar shuddered at the thought of its monstrosity. Pallando was not The Dark Lord’s assassin; he was innocently his poisoned ray.
Gandalf was shocked at this development, demonstrating their woeful vulnerability. None was safe here any longer, it was clear, when the four left at the dawn, so should the others.
He asked Ben-adar what could be done for Pallando, Ben-adarreplied that he had suspended him in time, shielded from Sauron, for there was no doubt that as soon as Sauron detected he had not entered The Light, he would have destroyed him wherever he was; more than this Ben-adar would not say. To protect those within The Light from the ‘gaze’ of The Dark, Ben-adar had brought into The Light the mystic mist of the moon of the Valinor. From within, it hung like a soft cool mountain haze with a fluorescing agent glow, but from outside, it appeared as a smoky-mirror shield, impenetrable and reflecting. It would not hold off the intrusion of the scouring eyes of The Dark for long, but enabled a sufficient reprieve for all to depart.
It was into this astral aura that Éowyn appeared. With the beauty of human longing and a hope willing to trust in what had been cast from the past, existed in the now and promised for the future, Éowyn could not find peace in rest. She wandered to the remote reaches of The Light, and through the mist she could see the stars shining in the darknight sky.
Aragorn sensed her restlessness and searched for her. Finding and standing behind her he placed his arms tenderly around her, gently embracing her body and spirit, and whispered:
‘In The Light of new lore
A love is a love for ever
*It will never pass into nothingness*.
Where-ever our futures may take us
I will find and come for you.’
United they looked out to Hadiya’s star, and gained comfort from her glorious light; they waited so for the first-flush glimmer of dawn, and Phakt faded from their vision.
As night slipped into the dawning of Day 11, four travelled to the darkness and the hope for the future that Day 12 heralded.