The Wind, the Sea, and the Sky: The Istari Arrive

by Vison

There they are on the sea strand, all Five of them. The wind is brisk off the water, and chill- catching their robes, whipping their hair and long beards. They look about the land and sea and sky, then at each other. This is not like where they come from, as far as they can remember. Are their minds puzzled by a long journey and a strange sleep? Did they come by boat, rocking on the bosom of the sea? There is no boat in the water, not now. But is that a sail, glimmering white very far away on the Western horizon? Gone, gone now. It may be that it has become that star that just for one heartbeat blinks between the mountainous clouds and the water. The surf rears higher and great waves break, spilling white foam at their feet. The skies darken and the wind rises and soon they are being wet by the sea spray and rain.

They move from the windy shore to the nearby woods. The wind booms overhead in the trees, leaves whirl around the tree trunks, but here for the moment they are dry. Radagast moves purposefully, walks up to a towering oak and presses his hands and face to the living wood. Listening. He smiles, and sighs, and caresses the rough bark. lie looks up and up its length and sees eyes in the boughs above. He holds up his hand and a tiny brown wren sidles cheekily down the tree and perches on his finger, cocking its pert head and regarding him with interest. His whole being is suffused with delight and wonder, For a moment or so they are still, then Radagast nods and turns to the other Four. "I am going now," he says. "They are calling me."

Alatar watches Radagast until he is vanished in the tree shadows. He frowns, and shivers. He goes back to the water's edge and stares out over the surging waves, and in the white spume of a huge breaker he sees a face, lovely and laughing, laughing at him. He lifts his hand in greeting and she dives under with a flirt of her fishes tail and then there she is, near enough for him to see the ocean colour of her eyes. He walks into the water and reaches her and she puts out her hand, it is clear and pink as the inside of a precious shell. He puts his hand in hers and turns to the shore. "I am going now," he cries. "They are calling me." He walks until the water is so deep he is swept off his feet, then down he goes into the green-grey sea.

Pallando watched Radagast and he watched Alatar. He has left the shelter of the woods and stands on a rock that is upthrust from the shingle. Here the wind is stronger and he opens his arms and closes his eyes, surrendering to the wind‚s rough embrace. He hears a cry, high and wild, heart piercing. Tears sting his eyes and are caught away by the wind. He leans into it, trusting its power, and suddenly he is whirled upward like a leaf and there is the great eagle, soaring beside him, great fierce golden eyes burning into his. "I am going now," he shouts to the two below. "They are calling me." Then he is gone up into the wild sky, into the realm of thunder and lightning.

Saruman watched Radagast touch the tree, watched Alatar take the seawoman's hand, watched Pallando rise with the eagle. He turns slowly around, holding his staff out as if' divining the Earth, Air, and Water. His white robes flap around his lean body, his hair and beard are wet tendrils whipping his skin. Even the rocks beneath his feet are rumbling with the fury of the storm, sparking one against the other. He pushes against the wind into the lee of a great rock. He kneels and takes up a handful of dry seaweed and leaves and crushes them. Then he takes up two rocks and cracks them together hard over the brown, dried leaves and the tiny spark falls and he breathes on it and he breathes again and a tongue of flame catches a bit of silvery driftwood and Saruman leans back on his heels and smiles. He stares into the red flames that laugh and beckon him and holds his hands over the heat. He takes up a handful of fire and walks away down the beach, the wind at his back. I am going now," he shouts back. "They are calling me.' But the wind takes his words and breaks them into a million shards that fall unheard with the rain.

Gandalf stands alone between the Trees and the Waves and the Wind. He, too, turns, as if divining the elements. He turns and turns as if in some sacred dance, eyes closed, head back, arms spread, his robe belling out. The wind has stilled, the waves fall gently now as the tide retreats and the sand shines wetly in a clear beam of light that pierces the Western skies and strikes the shore in benediction. He stands very still and listens. He hears the sea hushing on the sand, hears the trees swaying, breathes the cool, salt-tanged air. He hears something else. There, in the lee of the great rock are two of them and they are watching the fire. One reaches toward the hungry, licking flames and Gandalf puts his hand between that hand and the blaze. The face turns and Gandalf smiles at the love and trust in the great grey eyes. "At last you are come," it says, "we have been calling and calling you." Gandalf slings his staff across his back and takes each being by the hand and stands for a moment looking West. "Shall we go now?" he says at last.