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96
The Gift to the Servant of the Secret Flame

Written for the A_L_E_C "Missing You" challenge. For HASA's birthday. Thanks so to RiverOtter for the beta.


~~~

The Gift to the Servant of the Secret Flame



The problem with voyaging the Sundering Sea accompanied by Ossë and Uinen was that one saw little of the sky and the sun, as Ossë preferred to gather about him colorful storm clouds. By the time his small boat came into sight of the queys of Mithlond, Olórin was feeling quite starved for simple sunlight.

He and Tilion had both been close to Arien, and had worshiped her golden beauty. How often had the three of them danced together in the Light and Breath! But after the destruction of the Trees, Arien had taken the assignment to guide the Sun’s bark through the Seas of Heaven, while Tilion had agreed to do the same for the Moon.

He remembered his last sight of her, newly crowned with the flowers and leaves rescued from Laurelin, a gem filled with its Light upon her breast. She had smiled at him….


He looked up as the Elven sailors of Mithlond leaned down with gaffs and lines to guide his craft into a slip. There was a time of controlled chaos as ropes were passed here and there, and a thick grass mat was set into place as well as bumpers of soft wood wrapped with rope to protect the strafes from impact with the quey itself. It had been so long now since he’d seen so many others—he found himself somewhat overwhelmed.

“You have done well, friends,” said an authorative voice. “Now, go, and let him come to himself. I will take charge now of our guest. You—see to it that suitable quarters are prepared and that a filling meal is made ready for him. And have water heated that he might bathe if he so desires.”

And now the quey was as peaceful as it had been busy but a moment before. Only one was left, a venerable Elf, bearded to denote he was one of the eldest of the Eldar race, his eyes filled with memories of the time before the light of aught but stars. “Welcome, Lord,” said Círdan. “Will any others follow you, do you think? Or are you the last of your kind?”

“I am, I believe, the last to be sent.”

“Can you rise to your feet?”

Olórin snorted, and his companion smiled to hear the undignified sound. “I am not that decrepit in my looks, surely!”

“No, Lord, that you are not. However, many find it difficult to rise and walk properly after many spending days in cramped quarters at sea.”

As he rose to his feet with the aid of his gnarled staff, Olórin smiled. “The quarters here have not been all that cramped.” He accepted the Shipwright’s assistance to step across onto the stone of the wharf, and paused, surprised to realize that it seemed that the solid surface of it was heaving beneath his feet. His surprise must have shown on his face, for the ancient Elf’s smile grew even wider.

“Your body is new to all of this, I suspect,” Círdan said. “It will take some time for it to readjust to the fact that you no longer must ready for the motion of the next wave. Merely stand and lean on your staff until you are ready to move.” Having assured himself that the newcomer was heeding his advice, the Elf leapt aboard the small craft as lightly as any of the much younger Elves who had been there so shortly before. In moments he had the tall blue hat in hand, and was gathering up what supplies could be found into the pack with which the newly come Istar had been outfitted. These he passed over the side to Olórin himself, who settled the hat upon his head and slipped one strap of the pack over his left arm. Having assured himself the mooring lines were properly tied, Círdan returned to the quey himself, and offered Olórin his arm. “If you will come with me, Lord, I will show you where you might rest for the night.”

The clouds overhead had gone from silver grey to purple with hints of flame here and there as the almost hidden sunset passed and it grew darker. Now the purple dimmed into dark grey, save for a faint rift in the clouds to the east where a glimpse of starlight could be discerned beyond the outline of the Elven city.

Círdan noted the direction of his guest’s glance. “The stars are beautiful, there beyond the clouds,” he commented.

“But it is the Sun I would rather see now,” the Istar noted, drawing his grey cloak more tightly about him and shivering in the cool evening air.

“You are cold, Lord?”

“I fear I have spent too long a time at sea,” the Istar commented wryly. “The cool of the waves seems to have filled me. I would wish to bask in the Sun’s light, is all.”

The Elf smiled. “I can understand.” But his face grew more serious, and he stopped once more, gently drawing away from the Maia-turned-Wizard. “Perhaps this is the time for the gifting I have envisioned,” he said quietly. So saying, he held up his hand, and placing the fingers of his other hand about the base of one finger he gave a slight twist----

----And Olórin suddenly saw that he wore there a ring, a ring with a great red stone—although not for long. For Círdan was drawing said ring off of his finger. “It is my hope that this will warm you then, my Lord,” he said with a profound bow. “For I foresee that you will need this as I have not. For there will be hearts to kindle during your time here. It is said that as he wrought this in the smithies of Eregion, Celebrimbor invoked Arien herself and the flame she bears.”

Olórin looked at the ancient Elf with surprise. He remembered Círdan well enough from his days serving in the War of Wrath, and the competence that the Shipwright had ever shown. And he could see that the eye of Círdan had pierced the veil drawn over his true nature, and that he had been recognized from that time.

“You followed our Lord Manwë, second only to Eonwë in his service,” Círdan murmured. “The Secret Flame is bright within you, and all of Middle-earth shall need that ever at your hand if we are to survive to see a better beginning when at last the Fourth Age comes. Accept this, Lord, that you not forget fully your beginnings and your mission as the cares of life seek to overwhelm you.”

Olórin searched the earnest, steady gaze, and at last held forth his hand. The Elf dropped the great Ring into it, and he felt the sudden, unexpected weight of it, the solidity of it that somehow felt more real than did the weight of his robes or the apparent solidity of his staff. He closed his fingers about the Ring, Narya the Great, and felt the thrum of power it enclosed.

Potential! So much potential! And so different in nature than the power held in his staff….

“I am not an Elf, however,” he finally stated, testing the Shipwright’s determination to gift him with this. “It was not intended to be utilized by such as I.”

The bearded lips facing him smiled confidingly. “Perhaps all the better in the end. I am sworn to the service of Ulmo, as much his vassal as is Ossë. Narya and I are often at odds, as my own bent dampens its power. But you, as akin as you are to Fire already—you will have far less difficulty than I in gaining its cooperation; and not being an Elf, you will be less likely to be able to compel the service of those whom it was intended to dominate. And what need have I of it? I would not rule out of compulsion, and do not wish to hide my lands using such power as it holds. It is but a small sacrifice on my own part I offer. Accept it, my Lord.”

The gift was given, and in earnest. What choice had he but to accept it? He bowed to the humility of his host, and at last set it upon his finger….

And he saw her again, Arien, smiling at him as she had as she accepted her new commission, leaning forward to kiss his forehead with burning, life-affirming lips….

Her warmth filled him!




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