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Not Quite A Maia
On a balcony stretching from the halls of Ilmarin atop Mount Taniquetil - the highest mountain in Arda - stood a figure draped in blue cloth wielding a powerful sapphire-coated staff. A gift from the Noldor, it was said. But he had no wont to admire its shimmering detail, for a more urgent demand must be met.
Perhaps another attempt?
"Heed me, Grey Pilgrim. I command thee!"
But the Maia remained elusive, silent.
Manwë frowned. The wizard should have responded.
Why did he not come when called?
Varda came to him, as he pondered this puzzle. "Beloved, thou dost not find he whom thou seeks?"
"Nay, wife. He wanders yet out of reach of my voice, or harkens not to it - I know not which. I cannot locate him, though long have I stood here and called out his name."
"The blanket of night blinds thine eyes to reaches beyond time and measure, husband. Perhaps our friend is further than any have yet been?"
Blue robes rustled softly as he turned to face the beauteous creature that was his eternal spouse. "That time is not yet upon us," he replied. "Eru Ilúvatar will call all together, or none at all. Thou art aware of this."
She smiled and light shone from her eyes, as his love for her burned in his heart, brightening the darkness his sight and voice sought to pierce. "Then perhaps he is a-wandering?" Her voice was light, almost teasing.
"Let it not be thus!" he declared impatiently. "The hour is late for curious minds to begin exploring the undiscovered reaches of Time and Space. He would not dare: the quest awaits him!"
"Yet he who is free to wander Time and Space may find all the time he needs, my love," laughed Varda merrily. "Thou art aware of this."
Manwë took a seat on a balcony settle. "It seems he has acquired a taste for exploration: perhaps Gandalf the Grey has walked too long and too freely amidst those who dwell in Middle Earth."
Laying a gentle hand on his shoulder, she who was his wife took her seat next to him. "Nay, beloved. Not freely. Ever was his path filled with ignorance, trial and confrontation; long has he battled against the evil we would see banished from existence. Allow him respite to recover from his heavy burden."
Surprised, he observed the gentle plea on her countenance. "And what of the Quest? Sauron grows stronger as we speak, Saruman the Deceitful seeks to subvert our cause, the Fellowship is sundered and the Ring-bearer struggles to achieve his goal. Without the guidance of the Maia, all are lost."
"Without the guidance of a Wizard, all are lost," Varda replied enigmatically.
"Maiar are Wizards, wife," said Manwë, perplexed.
A radiant smile. "Indeed, but not all Wizards are Maia."
The Vala frowned again. "Seek thou to plunge me wholly in mists of confusion? There exist no other Wizards who be not Maia." He paused, then amended, with a touch of bitterness: "Or who were not."
His wife's sweet voice replied: "Not yet."
She cupped his chin delicately. "There are those who exist in other Times that may assist us now, and thus allow Olórin the richly deserved reward of a peaceful journey to other realms."
"But this be his duty."
"His duty was to counsel and assist all those who must stand against the tyranny of Sauron. This he has done. What aid they require now from a Wizard, may also be provided by one who has experience in the fight against their own dark lord. A noble spirit, who seeks neither power nor acclaim of his own, but has proven his strength, wisdom and fortitude against the most powerful of evils to dwell in his own world."
Manwë rose, then turned to gaze down upon the loveliest of the Valar. "Gandalf the Grey is appointed his task, wife. If he cannot achieve it, none can! He is the wisest of the Maiar, he has united the races of Middle Earth in a common cause and he has slain a Balrog. But the war is not yet won. Where dost thou propose we find such a one as he? One who possesses knowledge of such powerful arts that will be necessary for the trials ahead? One of such conviction, such purity of heart?"
Gathering her skirts, Varda gracefully lifted herself from her seat and took his hands, her warm smile illuminating the cool night, and gave her answer.