22 September 2013 @ 07:37 pm
The Valinor Trail. Chapter Seventeen; Welcome to Mandos Halls.  
The Valinor Trail, Chapter Seventeen; Welcome to Mandos Halls
Words; 2,475
Chapter Rated PG.

Disclaimer as Chapter One.


Previous chapters are here.



Welcome to Mandos Halls


“Welcome, Haldir and Tindómë, to the Halls of my Lord Námo.”

The Maia did not introduce himself, but at least he looked fairly friendly, as he nodded towards Haldir and said, “Especially as it is rare to receive any fëa into these halls more than once.”

When he then told them to dismount and just leave their horses, who would be well tended, adding that they need not bother with their luggage either, Tindómë swallowed hard. It had not occurred to her until now that, perhaps, they could only enter Mandos Halls as fëar; that they may have to leave their hröar outside. To, in effect, die.

She swallowed, hard, a second time. If she had to, she had to. This was Spike’s life that was at stake (which, she acknowledged to herself, was perhaps not the best phrase to use…).

It appeared that Haldir had similar thoughts about ‘it is rare to receive any fëa into these halls more than once’, and the leaving of their bags, but he was bold enough to voice them. “Are we leaving our hröar here also, then?”

“Why, no. What makes you ask?”

“Well, few elves do get to take their hröar into your Lord’s presence. But if we are to do so then, I think, we may both feel more comfortable if we can bathe and change into clean clothing.”

The Maia smiled. “Certainly. As you say, I am too used to unclothed fëar.”

‘Phew!’ thought Tindómë. ‘Sigh of relief!’

Holding her saddle bags over her shoulder, she walked beside Haldir as they accompanied the Maia through the great arch of light.

…………………

Tindómë realised that she had expected Mandos Halls to be dark and gloomy, or possibly like the Silent Street and the Houses of the Dead in Minas Tirith. Instead she was walking down a corridor, lit with warm light, which reminded her of both Imladris and the Stronghold of King Thranduil.

Their Maia guide showed them into a chamber, where a meal was laid out on a table, and suggested that they may wish to eat before they bathed – or after, it was their own choice. He waved towards an archway, where a large bathing pool could be seen, and then towards another on the opposite side where he told them they might sleep; it was night beyond the Halls and Lord Námo would grant them audience on the morrow.

Once alone Tindómë turned to Haldir. “It’s very nice – brighter and more – uh – comfortable than I expected. Is the – uh – dead bit like this too?”

He looked thoughtful. “Yes. And then again, no.”

She gave him a hard stare.

“There was the same sense of light and warmth, of being welcome. And food if I wanted it, bathing if I wanted it, silence, solitude, music, if such was my wish. If I wanted to converse with others I would find myself with them… or not. I think this is because some of those I would have wished to see were not ready to see anyone, or not ready to see me. Who knows?”

“M’kay. It sounds kinda pleasant. I wonder if we could get to speak to anyone who is here because they’re dead?”

“I know not. I did not meet anyone who I thought was more than just fëa. Who would you wish to see?”

“Legolas’ naneth. To be sure she is here and to let her know that he is in the West so that, you know, if she felt up to leaving, if that’s how it works, she’d know there was someone waiting for her.”

“I do not recall thinking that it was time for me to leave. Or, at least, the knowledge came from outwith myself, as if someone told me that this was the case.”

“Do you think she knows? That Legolas is here? Well, in the West, anyway? Did you know Orophin and Rumil were here?”

“I… I am not sure. Memories of this place are less clear than memories of time elsewhere.”

“Yeah – I guess that makes sense.” She paused for a few moments. “So – dinner?”

…………………

Spike dreamt of Dawn. Almost every day, for the past couple of weeks, he had dreamt of Dawn. He had almost expected her to begin holding a conversation with him, the way she had in the dream a couple of months ago when she had used what she called ‘Radagast’s window’, but each time the dream had been just that; a dream.

Sometimes she was dancing, or sitting with him watching ‘Passions’ back in his old crypt, but no matter how the dream started she began to fade away and become nothing but a green shade, lying on the couch in Revello Drive, that finally disappeared. As if the Elves had not arrived to return her to the other dimension.

But the most recent one had been different. Spike had been dancing with Dawn, then he found himself lying on the couch as she sat reading Shakespeare to him, and he could feel himself becoming less and less solid. Spike had no idea whether dreams were prophetic or not – and he had no idea what it might have meant – but it was bloody weird and he wasn’t sure he’d liked it!

He shut out the sunlight, readied himself for sleep, and hoped he could dream of Buffy for a change.

…………………

Bathed, and rested, Tindómë concluded it must be morning by the appearance of fresh fruit, juice, and bread on the table in the outer chamber. It was, she realised, the first day she could remember where she had woken with no way of judging the time by the sky. She wondered whether she would get to see Lord Námo today, or whether he would keep them waiting for ages as, as everyone kept telling her, time passed differently in his halls.

“Today,” said a voice and she realised their own personal Maia was back – and had the same tendency of answering unspoken questions she had met before.

“Whatever you feel most comfortable in, whatever seems right to you,” he went on, answering her passing thought of what she ought to wear. “The fëar who come to us through death are clothed as they see themselves, when they arrive, and his Lordship treats all equally, whether naked or dressed in courtly garb.”

Haldir had clearly got the drift of the one-sided conversation.

“It would be most polite if we were to wear what we wore in the Máhanaxar,” he said.

And it was obvious once he said it that he was right.

And so, all too soon, Tindómë and Haldir, dressed in their best, were following their guide along another beautifully decorated corridor. She wondered if she was glad they had finally reached their goal – or petrified.

The Maia stopped at a doorway, waved them through and – they had arrived.

‘M’kay,’ thought Tindómë, ‘so not what I had expected.’

She had expected something like the Máhanaxar, but probably more intimidating and gloomier. Even though the parts of the Halls she had seen so far had not been either intimidating or gloomy at all.

But a rather pleasant room, which was like nothing more than Lord Elrond’s studies in Imladris or Alqualondë, was most certainly unexpected. As, for some reason, was the figure who stood beside a well-filled bookcase.

His slight smile was probably, Tindómë realised, because her first thought had been ‘Elo! If that’s Lord Námo he’s much more handsome than I had expected!’

Which, she realised almost immediately, was a silly thought – he was one of the Valar and they could look how they wanted – but she had expected someone severe and stern, not the tall dark ellon in soft, shimmering, grey who reminded her of Erestor.

“Haldir,” he said, “it is good to see you again.” He paused, and Tindómë realised he was probably ‘rooting around’ in Haldir’s head when he continued, “And it is good that you are beginning to find a new stability and purpose.”

Haldir acknowledged the Vala’s words with a small dip of the head but said only “My Lord…” which definitely confirmed that this really was the Great Doomsman.

“Tindómë,” Lord Námo now turned to her, “my wife told me much about you, after she met you in the Máhanaxar.”

Oh – so one of the Valier that day had been Vairë. Tindómë really wished the Valar would wear badges. ‘Hello, my name is Vairë, I specialise in weaving, and I will be your Valier today.’

A voice in her head said “It is probably not necessary at this point, although we could perhaps consider it for other occasions.’ And, as clearly as if he really was wearing it, she saw in her mind’s eye a badge with ‘Hello, my name is Námo, I specialise in caring for fëa, and I will be your Vala today’.”

‘Huitho!’ Tindómë thought, ‘You’ve really got to be careful what you think around the Valar.’ Followed by ‘And who’d have thought Námo would have a sense of humour? At least… I think he was joking…’

The solid Lord Námo in front of her smiled.

Now he spoke out loud. “It is interesting to see that your fëa is very different from the first Key, and yet you are like her in many ways.”

Elo! Of course he would know more about the elleth who had been The Key than anyone else as her fëa must have spent time right here in his halls! Tindómë wondered if that other elleth was still here, whether she could meet her, or where did she live now if she had been returned to life, and…

“She is not here.” He was inside her head again. “But I am sure it will be possible for you to meet in the future.”

Out loud he said, “I understand from my wife that you wish us to bring someone from that other dimension here, and that he is neither truly alive, nor truly dead, which is why the decision becomes mine. Tell me about this being, and why I should consider it?”

He no longer looked quite so friendly.

And so Tindómë found herself repeating almost word for word what she had said in the Máhanaxar.

“Spike cared for me, and helped to keep me safe, even though there was no spell making him do it like there was on my ‘sister’ there. He did so much to stop me fading when I was pulled back to the old dimension and he understood how important it was for me to come home.”

“And why would that be a reason to bring him to Valinor?”

“He’s immortal, and now he is all alone because all the others were mortal, and they’ve died, and I worry that he might just let himself fade, or burn up and die.”

“What would happen to his fëa if he faded?”

“I don’t know. He doesn’t know. He’s frightened he will go to Hell and suffer for ever ‘cos of the being a vampire thing.”

“Do not the fëa of the immortal get re-housed in that place? Or at least remain bound to the Earth for all time?”

Tindómë had to bit back the urge to shout “I DON’T KNOW!’ Instead she said it in a more controlled fashion. “I thought you might know. They don’t usually have immortals.”

She paused briefly then went on, “Would it not be easier to just poke around in all the corners of my brain and find out things I might even have forgotten? Or, you know, just ask the Powers of that dimension, or even just do the portal thing and ask Spike?”

“We have no communication with the Valar of that place. My beloved wife has told me all that she saw within your memories, and what your heart-brother, your husband, and your husband-brother knew of this Spike also. But she is not the weigher of fëa, she is not the one who can see all that a fëa is, or was, or can be. She would not have looked in your own fëa for the same things I would wish to see.”

Námo came towards her, and placed his hands on either side of her face. Her gaze was held by his, she felt she was sinking into a deep silver grey pool, as if the pool was closing over her head and yet she was not drowning, just warm, drifting... And then it was over. She did not know how long had passed since that first touch – a second, an hour, yéni…

Haldir was still standing beside her – but then he might have been away for ages and just come back.

Namo’s voice spoke inside her head. “There is no need to worry about time passing in my halls, Tindómë. To Haldir only seconds passed.”

Out loud he said “I know, now, all that you know of this… vampire. But I know only what you have seen of his fëa. And even the most evil, the most destructive, of beings can appear to be all kindliness, a giver of gifts, so that they are able to deceive those who are wiser than you. But eventually their true colours will out.”

Uh-uh. That didn’t sound too good. Tindómë was pretty sure he was wrong if he thought Spike was like that – but she didn’t know how to persuade Lord Námo to her way of thinking.

“However,” the Valar continued, “I am willing to consider further. I would meet this being and look into his fëa for myself.”

Tindómë made a small sound of relief. At least he hadn’t turned down her request out of hand, and surely if he got to meet Spike he would realise that his soul was stronger than his demon.

“Have you brought the construct Aiwendil made for you?” Lord Námo asked.

“Uh – it’s in my luggage,” she answered. “I could go get…”

Radagast’s Window was in Lord Námo’s hand before she finished her sentence.

“It is not impossible without, of course, but if a point of focus that is already tuned to the right dimension is available it is sensible to use it,” the Vala said. “Now for The Key to unlock the barrier…”

Tindómë held out her arm. “You want a few drops, a finger-full, or an arm-full?”

…………………

Spike woke and immediately jerked upright.

The room was full of light. A couple of seconds passed and he was not on fire, so not direct sunlight then. He looked around and realised that all one wall of his room was flooded with green light. A familiar green light. And the next room was now a book-lined study in which stood Dawnie and two Elves he had never seen before.

He groped for suitable words but could think of only one thing to say.

“Bloody hell!”

…………………
 
 
Current Mood: tiredtired
 
 
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Marcus L. Rowlandffutures on September 22nd, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
Typical understatement from Spike. Hope they think he's worth salvaging.
curiouswombat: Hmmcuriouswombat on September 22nd, 2013 10:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you - I plan for the answer to that to be clear by the end of the next chapter. Although the way characters sometimes go off on a tangent I cannot totally guarantee that!
(Anonymous) on September 23rd, 2013 03:28 am (UTC)
Yep, I can go along with that, Bloody Hell sounds about right!

Huggs,
Lynda
curiouswombat: meepcuriouswombat on September 23rd, 2013 07:30 am (UTC)
Thank you. Now to get on with the next chapter and find out whether that comment by Spike was strong enough!
Nath: waterkuikenmrowe on September 23rd, 2013 05:49 am (UTC)
Spike; eloquent as ever...
curiouswombat: Hmmcuriouswombat on September 23rd, 2013 07:30 am (UTC)
Now to find out whether it was a strong enough epithet!
ninglorethningloreth on September 23rd, 2013 09:58 am (UTC)
I like all the silver greyness... And Haldir's memories of his time there.

And I hope Spike manages to charm Lord Namo!
curiouswombat: Hmmcuriouswombat on September 23rd, 2013 05:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you liked those bits.

As to whether Spike charms Lord Námo - or even vice versa - we shall see.
myrhiann: pic#57579695myrhiann on September 24th, 2013 06:34 am (UTC)
I loved this whole chapter, and now wait with breath bated, to find out if Spike will be acceptable to Lord Namo.
curiouswombat: Hmmcuriouswombat on September 24th, 2013 07:25 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm already started on the next chapter so hopefully you won't have to bate your breath for too long!
hhimringhhimring on October 8th, 2013 07:31 am (UTC)
They made it all the way to Spike!
Not that the journey wasn't interesting and various goals were achieved en route--but I was getting sort of anxious, somehow.
Now, though, for the really critical part, I guess!
curiouswombat: Hmmcuriouswombat on October 8th, 2013 11:12 am (UTC)
Yes - I thought it was time they arrived and got down to what they had considered to be the serious business!

The next chapter has all been neatly mapped in my brain for ages - but is taking a little while to describe properly in words - but I have now got a bit over 1,000 words that I'm happy about, so it is well on the way.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )