Title: The Light
Theme: Potluck Challenge
Elements/Starter: The star Sam saw: was it Earendil? What would a star think about going back and forth across the heavens over the generations? Does he realize the hope he gives?
Summary: Same as the starter
". . . they took Vingilot, and hallowed it, and bore it away through Valinor to the uttermost rim of the world; and there ir passed through the Door of Night and was lifted up even into the oceans of heaven.
Now fair and marvelous was that vessel [Vingilot] made, and it was filled with a wavering flame, pure and bright; and Eärendil the Mariner sat at the helm, glistening with dust of elven-gems, and the Silmaril was bound upon his brow. Far he journeyed in that ship, even into the starless voids; but most often was he seen at morning or at evening, glimmering in sunrise or sunset, as he came back to Valinor from voyages beyond the confines of the world."
"Of The Voyage of Eärendil"
"Sam struggled with his own weariness, and took Frodo's hand; and there he sat silent till deep night fell. Then at last, to keep himself awake, he crawled from the hiding-place and looked out . . . Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach . . . Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master's, ceased to trouble him . . . putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep."
The Return of the King
"The Land of Shadow"
# # # # #
I gave the choice to my beloved, though I knew what her choice would be. Thus, I am of the Firstborn: an immortal elf. Beyond that, I knew not what the Valar would decide to do with me. That I would not return to the mortal lands of Middle-earth I knew in my heart, but what would be my fate, I could not discern.
Mighty are the Valar with powers beyond our reckoning.
"A mariner you have been; a mariner you shall continue to be."
"What oceans shall I sail," I dared to ask, for this took me by surprise, "if I am not to return to Middle-earth?"
Manwë smiled in reply. "You shall sail the greatest ocean of all, whose substance is the breath and energy of Iluvatar."
My ship was changed, reworked by the thoughts of the Valar, hallowed by their touch, made fit to sail upon such a sea. I was set in my place at her helm and together we passed into the Beyond; through the Doors of Night into the oceans of Over-heaven.
Once, and once only, was I allowed back into the mortal realms. It was given to me to fight in the battle against Morgoth. For that reason, to obtain assistance from the Valar in the struggle against his evil might, I had sailed the seas to the Blessed Realm; risking their wrath. I found instead wisdom and mercy. I was allowed to come to the aid of both my Men and Elves in the War of Wrath before returning to the vastness of Ilmen.
I am not here, in the Over-heaven, to merely wander about in my ship. He who made all is not so wasteful as that. Here there are other beings that have become entangled in the thread of rebellion Morgoth sewed in the far off time when Iluvatar was making all that has been made. I am sent to both reason with and take up arms against them, for in the end they all seek the destruction of Arda and those who dwell thereon. Some have repented. Most have not, and I fight them, along with others who stay true to the One. We are tasked with holding evil from these realms at bay.
But, as I said, there is mercy in the dealing of the Valar, and, at times fixed by He who ordains all, I come within sight of the Blessed Realm and of Arda. This is so my Elwing need not be separated from me forever as this would break the spirit within each of us. And at these times, I have been told, those dwelling in Middle-earth can see the light of the Silmaril which I bear upon my brow.
Gradually a question grew within my spirit - am I still able to help those who struggle upon Arda? I know that the Firstborn remember Elwing and I; that the three who sailed with us took back the tale of the Valar's mercies. Long are the memories of those who do not die. But what of the race of Men? I had learned of my sons' choices. Do my descendants from Elros remember the full history of their family?
My questions began to consume me, at times distracting me from my tasks, until Manwë called me to him.
"It will not do to have you so distracted with your erstwhile questions, Eärendil, Mariner of Ilmen," he said to me. "Know, our friend, that much time has passed upon Arda. Your journeys have kept you distracted. Your age, Arda's first age, passed with the victory over Morgoth in which you were allowed to take part. A second age came with the founding of Lindon and the creation of your son, Elros', realm; Númenor. Long did this age of Middle-earth endure, but again Evil began to flourish. Sauron, a disciple of Morgoth, grew in power until another great battle was fought by the Firstborn and Men. With the over throw of Sauron, and the planting by the people of Elros of the White Tree, scion of Nimloth from their lost realm of Númenor, a third age began."
"My son founded a realm of Men?"
"Yes, and the light of the Silmaril upon your brow guided them to the place we prepared for them. And some called the land Elenna, Starwards, because your star insured their safe passage upon the waters."
I felt great joy at having been of aid to my son and his children and the Men who went with them, but it faded.
"You said the White tree was from their lost realm."
"Evil over came many of them and the island was sunk into the sea."
I hung my head at this.
"Do not mourn over much, Eärendil. Such is the way of things. Like the tides of the ocean, life rises and ebbs. In the third age the people of Elros again shine forth for many of Middle-earth's years. But the disciple of Morgoth did rise again as the wisdom of those Men, the Dúnedain, faded. Now, at this moment in time, once more the peoples of Arda stand at the edge of a precipice and their third age is drawing to a close."
And I regretted my wondering, wishing I had contented myself with the tasks given to me in the Over-heaven.
"Then there is no hope for the Firstborn or for the Men of Elros' lineage?"
"Eärendil." Manwë spoke my name with great tenderness and I looked into his sparkling eyes. "Do you not know your creator better than that? Always, there is hope."
My mind was filled with a vision. A man of proud bearing, though roughly clad, stood upon the prow of a black ship, and I knew he was of Elros' lineage. Suddenly there broke forth above him a banner as black as the depths of Over-heaven upon which there gleamed the image of a White Tree, a crown and seven stars. The gems in the stars flared in the light of the lowering sun and I knew them to be elven-gems. And in my vision this distant child of mine changed. I saw him dressed as a king, a gleaming star upon his brow, a green gem, like the Elessar, flaming upon his breast.
Then the vision faded.
"Ever there is hope, Mighty Mariner," Manwë's words filled my thoughts, "but his hopes are placed upon another, not upon himself. For had the hope of Middle-earth rested solely upon his shoulders all might well be lost, for the disciple of Morgoth, Sauron, has his mind focused upon this veiled king of Men. See! Hope lies elsewhere!"
And I saw skies filled with vapors and reek. A thick layer that, when finally pierced, revealed a vast desolation below. A land as denuded of life and beauty as was Morgoth's accursed realm of Angband. I knew I looked upon his minion's copy of that vast corruption. Closer and closer the vision carried me until I beheld two small beings; filthy, tattered and weary with their struggles in that barren land.
My spirit felt a great burdening and I knew one of the two bore something of great, but evil, power. As I watched, they crept under some bracken and were lost to my sight.
"You sense correctly oh Hero of the War of Wrath, Destroyer of Dragons. Much evil abides in a Ring that hangs upon a chain around the neck of the Hobbit, Frodo Baggins. He journeys in the Dark Lord's land in order to destroy The Ring and bring down Morgoth's disciple. Your son, Elrond, gave him sanctuary as long as he could and he goes forth with the blessings of the Firstborn, and all free people, upon him. With him is one of his kindred; a plain and simple Hobbit of great heart named Samwise Gamgee, whose loyalty knows no bounds."
The Valar's voice softened. "Without the love of his friend, Frodo Baggins would long since have failed in his mission. But now, the heart of Samwise Gamgee is weary and he feels hopeless."
I felt Manwë's touch upon my arm. "Will you lift his spirits, oh Mariner of Ilmen?"
Faster than thought I stood in the prow of Vingilot as she sailed low, near to Arda. I closed my eyes. I visualized the light of the Silmaril, made brighter by the dust of elven-gems in my raiment, shining forth toward Arda. To Middle-earth. To the desolate destruction made by the follower of Morgoth. To that ridge of rock. To that thatch of bramble. The light must get through!
There! A break in the fumes and vapors. The light of the Silmaril touched the bracken.
I saw Samwise Gamgee come out and look to the West. He gasped at the beauty of the light; hope bloomed in his spirit. Despair gave way to new strength and determination. The Hobbit and I shared a moment of peace then he went back under the bramble to strengthen Frodo Baggins with the blessing of the light.