Disclaimer: I own nothing pertaining to The Silmarillion. This story was written for entertainment purposes only, and not for money.
'He summoned the Valar to the Ring of Doom, and thither came even Ulmo from the Outer Sea.'
- J.R.R. Tolkien, 'The Silmarillion'
It was an ordinary day in Valinor.
Mandos was arguing with Celegorm's fëa, which had not mellowed much since the Elf's death. It was an argument that might have threatened to become violent, had either of them possessed bodies with which to actually be violent. Mandos said that the fëar had no rights, and no right to ask for rights, and Celegorm insisted that times were changing and that the fëar deserved to be allowed to do things (like get out of the Halls of Mandos early, for good behavior).
Nienna ignored her brother and his little righteous war with practiced skill. She was trying to soothe the various traumatized fëar who had tried to argue with Mandos in the past. Lórien was providing no help whatsoever, because he was napping in Lórien, dreaming peaceful dreams. She would give him nightmares some day, Nienna told herself, if he continued to laze about when others were working.
This was Life As Usual.
Unfortunately, Life As Usual was doomed to take a drastic turn for the worse. Mandos, Nienna, and Lórien had no plans to visit the strange world known to its inhabitants only as 'Earth', but in Valinor, one had to constantly expect the unexpected (in which case, it ceased to be unexpected and nearly became normal). When a few Maiar showed up announcing that the Valar were all summoned to Mahanaxar for a very important meeting, the three began steeling themselves for the unexpected, already worried.
The two Fëanturi in particular did not like going to Mahanaxar, because it meant that they had to clothe themselves in mortal bodies. It made them uncomfortable to experience all the limitations of a hröa, and they did not much care for the sunlight. As for Nienna, she preferred to drift around weeping figuratively, as opposed to walking around weeping literally, as she had to do when she was in a hröa, but she was stoic (as always) about this.
The Valar wended their way to Mahanaxar, and sat down, looking at each other and wondering why they had been called to another council. What could possibly have gone wrong this time?
Things had been deteriorating in Valinor. Of the Valar, Oromë said that there was nothing interesting left to hunt and that taxidermy might be an interesting hobby; Ulmo was spending his time teaching dolphins how to balance balls on their noses; Aulë was threatening to invent something that would forever ruin the tranquility of the Undying Lands (telephones, perhaps); Irmo was rarely seen, as he spent most of the time snoozing in his gardens; Námo had started a debating club in his halls, and was systematically trouncing any fëa who dared to challenge him (though the contenders were few); Tulkas had discovered a book creatively (and somewhat arrogantly) titled The World's Best Knock-Knock Jokes and was proceeding to drive everyone insane with it.
The Valier were nearly as bad. Varda, for example, had recently realized how fun it was to cause supernovae. She had started blowing her stars to pieces for some sort of cheap thrill. This was very worrying.
Since they were all sitting in Mahanaxar and nothing was happening, Tulkas decided to break the lengthy silence by telling a joke (not a knock-knock joke, thankfully). Only three of the Valar understood it (but then, they were the only three listening to him), and only Nessa, devoted spouse that she was, actually laughed. The other two Valar rolled their eyes longsufferingly.
Manwë spoke at last. "I know that you are all finding life very dull without Morgoth trying to overthrow us" (he did not like to speak of Melkor, and now he had taken to using the Elven version of his brother's name) "and without certain Elves creating uprisings." There were nods from those assembled. "However, something has finally happened."
Eyes widened. Valar murmured excitedly. This was the best news they had heard in Ages.
"Middle-Earth is in trouble," began Manwë, to get their attention. He had it at once.
"Middle-Earth is always in trouble," said Tulkas, and a few of the Valar sniggered. Insubordinate wretches.
"Middle-Earth is in trouble again," Manwë said calmly. "In fact, unless we do something about it, its history is going to keep on repeating itself."
"It has entered into a time-loop of some kind?" asked Aulë, stroking his highly distracting beard. He was the clever Vala, and he tried not to let any of them forget it.
Manwë nodded. "The Third Age has repeated itself hundreds of times, each time with different variations. Some have been great, others have been small. However, in each variation, once Prince Legolas sets sail for Valinor, the Third Age loops back and begins again."
"So that is why Legolas has not showed up yet," thought Mandos to himself. He had been wondering. It also explained why several fëar had entered his Halls, left his Halls, and entered them again. He had not supposed the place to be escapable, but he had not mentioned the problem to anyone. He did not like talking.
"The variations have actually been surprisingly consistent," continued Manwë. "A certain Elf and Ranger, for example, have suffered grievous injuries in almost each loop. Lord Elrond has occasionally had more than one daughter. Place-names have changed, but only slightly, especially in the case of Rivendell. Once or twice, strange horses with long horns have appeared and gone galloping about pointlessly." ("A horse with a horn can't be pointless," muttered Tulkas rebelliously. He was ignored.) "The Fellowship has set out for Mordor, but in some variations, there have been Nine Walkers, and in some instances, Ten Walkers. Sometimes several members of the Fellowship have died, sometimes none of them have died."
"So how was history supposed to happen?" asked Yavanna curiously.
Manwë shook his head helplessly. "I do not know."
This time there was stunned silence. Manwë knew almost everything.
"What do we do, then?" asked Ulmo. "We can't just let these time-loops keep on happening."
"We can't risk changing history in the wrong direction," commented Oromë.
Mandos considered saying something about doom, but then he remembered that he had used that word in the past six councils. Anyway, by now maybe the others would have realized that nearly everything ends in doom. He remained silent.
"I have been researching," said Manwë, "and it seems that the only explanation for this is otherworldly intervention."
"Otherworldly?" asked Vána.
"There are hundreds of worlds all around us," said Manwë. "They do not overlap... usually. When they do, only catastrophe can result."
Mandos reflected that Manwë had phrased the whole doom thing even better than he could have.
"Someone has been tampering with our world, changing what was supposed to be. We have to find out who is doing it, why they are doing it, how they are doing it, how we can keep them from doing it, and also how the history of Middle-Earth is supposed to turn out," said Manwë.
"I plan to send several Valar to the worlds that are nearest to ours and that seem the most threatening," said Manwë. "We shall keep our eyes open for disturbances, for portals that may lead to these worlds. If you find one, keep it open for as long as you can, and we'll see what we can do about it. This could be very dangerous, especially since we'll have to remain clad in mortal bodies for the duration of our stay in another world."
Mandos and Lórien winced. Nienna wept quietly in her corner, unhappy at the prospects of having to cry nonstop during her potential mission.
"All right, that's all I have to say," said Manwë. "You can go now."
Vairë was tearing out all her tapestries in a fit of temper, and Mandos was watching, not bothering to stop her, since he did not particularly want to lose a limb. The handmaidens had all gone rushing from the room the moment Vairë had coming stalking into it. They were clearly very wise.
"They're always messing up their pathetic lives, curse them! Now they're trying to wreck history itself!" yelled Vairë, shredding a depiction of happy Elves feasting in Nargothrond. It was a disturbing sight. "Who gave the blighters a free will anyway?"
Mandos nodded, and thought about doom.
"All my weaving is worth nothing! It's just symbolic trash!" yelled Vairë, heaving her loom out the window. There was a squeak from below, as it laid Lórien out cold. (Such is the disadvantage of a hröa.) "I don't know why I bothered to record their history," she sobbed. "They're nasty and ungrateful and I hate them."
Nienna stepped into the Hall cautiously, tears trickling sympathetically down her face. "Do not worry, Vairë," she said soothingly, scooting Mandos out of the way. "We'll manage to fix everything. Haven't we always?"
Vairë nodded, sniffling. "It's just so dreadful to learn that all my tapestries are inaccurate," she said.
Nienna picked up the pieces of yarn and thread. "That is no reason to destroy thousands of years of work," she said. "Our situation is not that bad."
Lórien wobbled into the room, looking as though he were in pain. "It's all a big panic for nothing," he said. "So what if their history is going around in circles! I don't really care."
Nienna scowled at him. "Try to be a little more comforting and empathetic. I for one feel sorry for the poor Elves and mortals stuck in Arda, living the same thing over and over."
"You should go into the carpet-business, Vairë," said Lórien, trying to be more comforting and empathetic before his sister could start making a speech.
Vairë sighed. "Maybe I should," she murmured.
Mandos was worried, because his spouse was clearly suffering from mood swings. He thought that perhaps she needed some kind of Help.
"Manwë got the bad news off his chest, and that will be that," Lórien finished, firm and resolute and incredibly optimistic.
That would have been that, except a portal did open, and Manwë, who was sitting in Oiolossë, happened to notice it, due to Varda's helpful presence. The portal was very subtle, merely a slight tear in the fabric of the world, and it opened up around Prince Legolas and swallowed him whole. Legolas's disappearance was about a subtle as a smack on the face, far more conspicuous than the actual portal, and Manwë, who took his job very seriously, could not overlook something so obvious. He managed to hold it open, and while he did so, he yelled, "Help! Help! Valar to me!"
Tragically for the Fëanturi and their sister, they were dutiful Valar, and thus the first ones to arrive on the scene. The only sign of their presence was a slight chill in the air, but Manwë knew they were there. "Go on!" he yelled, panicking. "I don't know how much longer I can hold this! Go through it!"
Nienna could not help but be reminded of Ulmo, and his dolphin-training sessions. ("Come on, my darlings! Go through the hoop! Go through the hoop! I'll give you a fish if you do it! That's it! Yes, very good! Now do it once more! Hey! Come back, my darlings!") She sighed, and she and her brothers slipped through the portal with easy grace.
Manwë felt the three Valar leave. He heaved a sigh of relief, and let the portal close. "Varda, dearest," he said, "whom should I put in charge of the Halls?"
Varda smiled. "It depends, my love, on how much you want the poor fëar to suffer."
Manwë considered this with a rather diabolical expression on his face.
"And people think Manwë is too nice," thought Varda to herself.
She chuckled knowingly.