Reborn: Whispers in the Void
The figure was no more. His form had passed, and his soul became shriveled and wary, yet this meant not that he was dead and gone. Instead, within the wariness, there was renewal, and through this renewal, there was manifestation. With the passing of one form came the creation of the next, for the figure's quest was not accomplished just yet. The old soul could only hear voices at that point; grievances, fond memories, and the orders that were given to him long, long ago. For some time, the figure could only witness the images presented to him throughout his long, eventful past, but soon, he began to hear three names being whispered to him, which repeated in his mind and throughout the rest of the Void.
The figure was once known by a great many as Gandalf the Grey, but that time was over. He at that point needed no name, just a shape. A shapeless form was not very useful for most beings in such troubled times, for a war had started. Heroes, armed to the teeth, were fighting against an unseen evil. A ring to dominate all others. A darkness.
"There is no darkness here," whispered another shapeless form. "My presence is too great for corruption. Throughout your trials in your previous life, you have come to know me better. I am Eru, who for some, is called Ilúvatar, and you are a wise and trusted being. You have faced evil and you have defeated its forces many times. You now only have one final test."
The word 'test' repeated in the figure's mind for what seemed like forever, and then there was slumber. Life was motionless for the figure, and there was only the Void, until the sound of water was heard. A sensation was felt at the same time. A rag. Then suddenly, a voice was heard.
"Are you there, friend? Can you hear me?"
At this point, he realized that he had a now manifested body. Sniffing and breathing sensations were felt at the same time, and as he opened his eyes, the wizard realized that they were not adjusted to the light. He shielded his eyes, which quickly grew accustomed to the environment. What Gandalf saw then was something that he would never forget for as long as he lived. A man, dressed in brown and white robes, sat before the now-reborn Gandalf. The old man had a short, bushy white beard and a lived-in face. Gandalf could tell, in an instant that this man had seen many things. When the old man saw the wizard awaken, he was shocked, but also a bit relieved. "You look weary, friend. Try your best to stay calm."
Gandalf could barely hear, but that sense quickly returned to him. "This place seems… unfamiliar," said Gandalf. "Where are we, and who are you?"
"This is my home," the old man answered. "And you're lucky to be alive. I found you nearly lifeless, not but a few miles west of here. Now, I'm not one for medicinal knowledge, but based on practical thought, I can tell that you'll be alright, you just need some rest."
The old wizard sat up, looking around to see if he could find anything that was slightly orthodox, but he was all but unsuccessful. The room bore shades of white and brown. A short table was placed somewhat across the room, and an old, wooden chest lay beyond it. Old trinkets and tools were scattered throughout the room. Gandalf looked back at the old man, seeing that he resembled Gandalf the Grey, in a sense.
"People around here call me Old Ben. What of yourself?" said the old man, as he sat back, stroking his beard.
Gandalf began to remember the voices that spoke to him in the shapeless Void. He was given a new epithet upon his resurrection. The wizard remembered a phrase that was said to him by a figure in the Void: "What once was Grey, will now forever be White."
"White," he thought. Gandalf then spoke to Ben with reluctance, for he didn't want anyone to know too much about his past.
"Where I traveled, and where I lived… they called me Gandalf the Grey, but now… I am Grey no more," said the wizard to the old man.
"Oh?" Old Ben responded, in question.
"I remain Gandalf, but now as Gandalf the White."
"A strange name, I might add," Ben remarked, as he quickly changed his expression to that of an unprepared and somewhat worried one. "Oh, no!"
"Whatever is the matter?" replied Gandalf. Old Ben rushed out the door quickly, putting up his hood, in the process. He popped his head back in shortly thereafter to inform Gandalf of something.
"Get some rest," panted the old man. "I've got some dire business to attend to."
The old man left, leaving Gandalf alone. "What a queer fellow," Gandalf said under his breath.
"I heard that!" shouted Old Ben, as he walked further away. Gandalf chuckled quickly, then fell back into the land of slumber.
"You are no finished, yet," a voice in Gandalf's mind whispered. "Be still, for this is your final test of will. I must leave you, now. My presence in this universe cannot be any more apparent, for I must return to the Void, to watch over Eä. Do not be weary, Olórin, for you are strong. You are not alone. You are never alone, for now, you must trust the Force."