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The sun was already setting when Alatar slipped out of the tent and joined his companion to watch the moon rise.

"Do you think it will work?" Pallando asked. Alatar sighed and rearranged the folds of his burnouse before he answered.

"Could you not ask me that each time we meet with another matriarch? Of course I believe it will work, I would try something different otherwise!"

Distinct progress was growing scarce as darkness rose in Mordor once more. Time was growing short and their tempers were growing ever shorter. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, to work on each clan and family individually and talk them away from Sauron’s influence, but at first, Saruman had slowed down their progress with his authoritarian manner, and later on they could not shake the feeling of being pressed for time.

Alatar and Pallando had been colleagues and friends since they entered creation, but depending only upon each other, without contact with any other Ainur for centuries, was more difficult than they had expected. To redefine their working relationship had been almost as much of a struggle as overcoming the ancient legends about the Great Sorcerer, Saviour of Mankind, and convince followers and sceptics alike that he did not have their best interests at heart. Rather the opposite, actually. Humans could be so incredibly dense at times.

Alatar sighed again and let himself be folded into Pallando’s embrace. As much as he disliked Pallando’s nagging, it was one of the reasons he had asked for him to join in on becoming one of the Istari. They always worked best together, pushing each other to be better, greater, more . To call their established strategy in question may come at a time where Alatar did not want to hear it, but that was why there were two of them, after all.

“We should go further east next,” Pallando’s murmur tore Alatar from his musings.

“I would like to see the Orocarni again, after all this time, and see what became of the sea and the woods at their feet. A little break will do us both some good. And maybe there are still some elves or dwarves living there, I could do with some of them for a change, instead of humans.”

He was nuzzling Alatar’s hair, and Alatar had to struggle not to melt into the embrace completely and purr in contentment.

“Tomorrow. We still have to wait out the matriarch’s answer. It would be incredibly rude to leave earlier. We can watch Tillion’s antics until the morning, that will cheer you up, yes?”

Alatar chuckled and smiled. It was true after all. There few things as funny as watching Tillion from afar, safely removed from the disaster zone that surrounded the boisterous Maia.