There were a people who dwelt in this world beneath the trees. They lived short lives, for the darkness was not the friendly dappled darkness of the woods we know, but rather an oppressive, suffocating blackness which penetrated every hill, valley, and mountaintop. All land was covered by trees. There were no oceans. There was no sky.
There was a young girl living in this forest. She had no name, for such was the way of her people. She did not know who her parents were. And the life she lived did not satisfy her.
This was due to a memory from her past. She had once gone down a forbidden path and seen something that altered her and left her restless and impatient with everything she knew.
It was a golden sunbeam.
She did not know what it was; only that it was bright, and pure, and altogether perfect and unlike anything she had ever seen. Where she lived there were no sunbeams. There was, moreover, no day or night as we know them, for the trees kept all light from reaching the forest floor where the girl and her people lived (if living it could be called).
She had tried to ask some of her silent kindred about the mysterious light ray. But the subject was verboten, and by broaching it she made herself so as well.
One day she met someone who looked like her people, and yet unlike them. As if he had once been one of them; but some hidden, elusive characteristic kept him apart. His eyes were bright, and full of something utterly un-dark.
She did not greet him. She stared in blatant curiosity at his clean garment. In this world of wet and grime, how was he not soiled? She could not remember a day when she had not been filthy.
"I am called Lanc-adan-iaur."
His voice was gentle and authoritative. She saw in his eyes and stance that though he was old, he commanded a strength which he chose not to use. In his knotted hand was a staff, its head smooth from years of use.
"You have no name, do you, my child?"
Her head snapped up, and she spoke sharply, with a hint of fear. "Of course not."
"It is not, 'of course'. It never was and never was meant to be 'of course'. Do you want a name?"
She opened her mouth, but no sound came out. To speak of having a name was forbidden. And this strange old-and-young man admitted to having one - offered her one! She was wary and cautious, afraid of a trap, and had half a mind to turn away at once, but already she was entranced.
"I don't understand."
Then he smiled - another thing seldom done and highly discouraged. "If you follow me and see what I would show you, then one day you will understand, and that day you will be given a name."
"Where would you take me?" She was still distrustful. But how she longed for something different, somewhere new!
Now his eyes were piercing. "To find the source of something you once found, long ago. You have not altogether forgotten it, and that is why I am here."
Immediately she thought of that sudden, veiled glimpse of the clarity in brightness, down the path where none would go. How could he know? It had been so long ago, and she had tried to forget it. If it was known in her land that she remembered, she would be exiled. She said nervously, "I - I don't know what you mean."
"Yes, you do," he intoned ever so softly.
A few moments passed in heavy silence. The girl kept her head down and her eyes lidded. Then the old being held out his hand and uncurled the fingers where she could see them. "Will you come, child?"
She glanced at his palm, then back towards her living-place, shrouded in dimness like everything in the world - except this old man's eyes.
"There is nothing there for you."
She looked up at his wise, lined, peaceful face, and heard the love in his voice. And she took his hand.
They were still in the forest, and had not strayed from the one main path which led to each living-place in her village. But the girl had never been this far down it before. The path was the same, but the direction and surroundings had altered.
"Who are you?" she asked the old man.
"My name is Lanc-adar-iaur; The Ancient Messenger. I bring those in darkness to the light. To Anor, my master." He spoke the name reverently. The girl shivered and was afraid.
"What is 'light'?" she asked.
"It is not something which can be explained to those who have known nothing but darkness. But you saw a glimpse of it once: that day you left your village. That was only a tiny portion of what light truly is."
"But what is it?"
"It is Anor, my master. Or rather, Anor is Light. You will know one day, if you want to know."
"I want to know!"
Lanc-adan-iaur stopped and looked deep at her. "Child," he whispered, "do you? It is not a decision to be lightly made."
She stepped back under the intensity of his gaze. But she was resolved. "That bit of whatever-it-was, 'light', was the only good thing I've ever seen. I want more of it."
He smiled. "Yes, that is good! Come."
And down the path Lanc-adan-iaur ran; fast and strong, showing a virility that belied his appearance of age. The girl would not have been able to keep up if he had not held her hand.
The dim shaded trees flashed by, then not so fast as Lanc-adan-iaur slowed. Something strange was near; between the leaves the girl could see miniscule snatches of... Something. But there had never been a 'between the leaves' before. Her breath leapt from her throat in quick gasps.
"Child," Lanc-adan-iaur said seriously, "I will lead you into the light - but you yourself must truly want it. Understand that there is no going back to the life of ignorance you led. Once you have seen Light, you never forget it."
She nodded and stepped ahead of him. Then she saw something unheard of - the trees... ended. Aways ahead she saw space, and color, and... Light. She cried out and ran forward -
- and stopped. She turned and looked back at the path from whence she had come. Lanc-adan-iaur was at her side, watching her. "You have been there before, child. You know every place that path goes. Take the path unknown ahead of you."
So she turned again. Her feet carried her tremblingly to the opening. Her eyes were wide, her chest heaving. Her hands shook.
With one sudden explosion of brightness she was out! She nearly screamed, but not from fear. What was this terrible, beautiful Sun? "I cannot bear to look at it," she said apologetically to Lanc-adan-iaur as she shielded her eyes with her hand.
"It is always so at first," he laughed. "One day you will be able to look upon Anor, my child."
A boy knelt in the dirt, his hand on the bole of a tree in the forest. His startled eyes were gazing at a pure white orb through an uncommon gap in the treetops. "What can it be?" he whispered softly to himself, not knowing that someone was nearby to hear his question.
Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder. "She is called Ithil. I named her myself."
The young man turned to find himself looking at a being with resiliant, intense eyes, white hair, and dark, vibrant skin. He looked old, but his hand on the boy's shoulder had a youthful grip.
"Who are you?"
The old man smiled. "One come to show you that which you have been seeking."
The boy suddenly dropped his gaze. "I - I am not seeking for anything. Has the third boy been telling you tales? I am not seeking for anything."
"Yes, you are."
The boy looked up again, and this time his eyes were open.
"Child, do you see Ithil?"
"She was once a creature like you. She lived in these woods. But I showed her Anor, and she was changed; for she came to love Him so much that I gave her a name, and now she always reflects His light, and stays in a place where she can be in Him forever."
The lad stared at Ithil. "She was like me?"
"She, too, lived in darkness." Something hovered about the corners of Lanc-adan-iaur's mouth. He knew the boy was ready.
"Tell me about the light!" said the boy breathlessly. And Lanc-adan-iaur smiled.