Together they had danced through the unformed world as flames, had moved through the white heat at the heart of the world singing joyfully, singing the world into flaming life, she and her sisters.
Then war came and duty and her Lady called her. She chose her path and made a form strong and fair, to follow her Lady to battle, sword of fire in hand.
But her sisters danced to another song, and they turned, and slipped away and were lost.
She danced in the fiery light of Laurelin the Golden, in the great golden wells of light, and it was almost as it had been in the beginning, the fierceness of it and the heat, save that her sisters were not there.
Faithful she was, and followed duty’s call. When the time came, she braided up her fiery hair, put flame aside and worked patiently as her Lady set new stars across the sky, to light the world for Eru’s children.
When darkness fell again, she endured it, and was chosen to guide the Sun, Laurelin’s last flower, across the sky. A dangerous, lonely and unending task. She took it gladly, took off her form and leaped into the sky, cradling the precious flower blazing against her, singing joy, singing light against the Shadow as she flew.
Far below, the sea blazed into shining blue, the sky blooming into a dome of sapphire, and far away she heard the fear and loathing of the Enemy and his creatures as her light swept across the land, brilliant, terrible and splendid.
She held up her flower of light to lands long locked in darkness, and Yavanna’s work answered, bursting into a myriad shades of green as trees held up their shining leaves to her in delight, and grass rolled out across the plains.
And then, small and distant, she saw them. Her sisters, their light half-obscured by Shadow, their long hair tangled and their eyes turned strange.
She called out to them: a greeting? A threat? She almost did not know. But they knew. They looked up at her in fear, and fled beneath the mountain.
Long she danced across the sky, following her allotted course while far below her, Eru’s children fought and suffered and died. Eru’s children, to whose service she was sworn to bring her light to Arda. Still she did her duty, even as one by one her sisters, strange and terrible as they had become, went out to fight the Children and were slain.
. . . . . .
The world was changed and worn and grey, the mountains now were old. Eru’s younger children had multiplied, and his firstborn were fading, yet Laurelin’s flower still burned with light and flame. Arien still trod the sky unfailing, obedient to the burden she had taken up so long ago.
Below her on a grey mountain-top, she saw her crawling out, a thing of slime and darkness, stronger than a strangling snake and far more terrible, but still a shadow of all that she had been.
Her sister, her last remaining sister.
Beside her, a cousin still wrapped in the form of one of Eru’s children staggered to his feet, sword in hand. The cousin was the stronger, Arien could see it.
Her sister looked up, her eyes filled with hate and darkness and recognition, and Arien met them, barely recognising what her sister had become.
And then her sister lifted her head proudly, and now you could see it again, the faint shade of what she had once been.
She stood as if to dance and put on flame, dressed herself in it in splendour, as long ago they had worn fire to dance in the morning of the world. And then she turned to battle.
Arien wept tears of flame as battle raged upon the mountain-top, as thunder rang across the peaks, as smoke and rains of ice folded around her sister and her cousin. Until at last her sister was cast down, ruined upon the mountain-side.
The guardian of the Moon was known to be wayward. He had often gone astray, but Arien had held to her duty, always, day after day down through so many running years, until now.
Arien set the flower down lovingly in the chariot in which they rode. She left her burden in the sky, and came stepping down, her path shining, to hold her sister’s blackened, taloned hand as broken on the rock, her sister died.