11. Born Again
Written for the Five Books, Five Characters card: The Silmarillion, Námo, and Ecthelion of the Fountain, who died slaying Gothmog, Lord of all Balrogs.
And why have you come here, Olórin?
The confused fëa so newly arrived within the Halls of Mandos examined Lord Námo's visage with dawning recognition before looking down to find itself no longer vested in living flesh—nor, it thought wryly, in the blackened ruins of what had beenliving flesh ere it fell with the Balrog.
The Balrog!But what had become of it, once his brother?
The eyes of the Lord of the Final Healing were filled with the fell light that often could be seen there when he thought on the evil of which those who inhabited Arda were so capable. He lies below, awaiting judgment. And now here you stand before me, you who took upon yourself the flesh of a Man, and who must now know the fate that awaits mortals. But why you had to come before me as did Glorfindel or Ecthelion of the Fountain, your hröa burnt away by the flames of a Balrog----
The amaranthine eyes of Námo looked on the fëaof the former Wizard with compassion as the Vala leaned forward to breath upon it, and it took flight, found itself floating as if over a great ocean, moving ever closer to a great Light it recognized from long ago—or had it been mere seconds? Stars were born and died; constellations wheeled within atoms; the song of a single voice was lifted in harmony with----
Well come, my good and faithful servant! In you am I well pleased. The spirit of Olórin found itself enfolded within the arms of Love Itself, saw joy and pain, grief and delight, anguish and solace embodied in the One who held him.
After a great time, or was it far too soon? he heard the question he'd dreaded and longed for: The battle is not yet won. Would you wish to see it through?
He answered, Let it be in accordance with thy will.
Again he felt the agony/ecstasy of being clad in the flesh of a Man, and was carried on Manwë's winds back to the peak of Zirak-zigal, his again living eye examining the infinity enclosed within a single crystal of snow, his body shuddering as its first breath filled his renewed lungs with freezing air, its muscles contracting against the burning cold of the ice on which it lay.
And so was born Gandalf the White, a long, lanky body expelled from the Timeless Halls onto the waiting slopes of Middle Earth, where once again it must inspire others to stand against an immortal evil.