Long Gandalf spoke with Mandos; and leaving that place which is called the Halls of Awaiting, he at last made his way to the house of the Valier Nienna, from whom he had learned much of pity and patience in long ages ere the rising of the Sun and Moon. And with her were several figures, cloaked in grey, forlorn as it were amid the splendours of Aman.
"Long your spirits have dwelt in Mandos," Gandalf said. "But rejoice! For you are given life again, for good or ill. Yet it is not without price: for you are not yet given leave to dwell in Valinor, which you forsook long ago. The wide lands of Endor shall be your home again; and you shall find that much has changed since the wars of the Silmarils."
At that some stirred, as if at the memory of some blow. But Gandalf said, "Much is changed, I said: but much also has not. The Age of Men has begun, yet many of the ills that the Black Foe bred linger still to trouble the Kings of Men. You will go to Middle-earth, much as I did, as a counter to those evils. But my work is done. I was the Enemy of Sauron; and though his realm is now ended for ever, and I have returned at last to find rest, work still there is to do. You are sent to finish that work, or perish in the trying; and in that the World may find redress for the evils you wrought upon it, now three Ages ago."
"We will go," they said.
"Good!" said Gandalf. "But do not be too hasty, as a good friend of mine used to say. (You may be fortunate enough to meet him one day.) For you will find little welcome among the Elves, and less so among Men; for the latter for the most part shun the Quendi, and even the descendants of the Elf-friends of old remember your fell deeds in their tales.
"Moreover," he went on, "though you are charged with righting the wrongs of Ages past, yet you are forbidden to meddle in the affairs of Men, or of bringing power to bear against them for your own gain. You will not know the strength you possessed in your youth; indeed, your bodies in Middle-earth shall be a shadow of their beauty here in Valinor. Of material things you shall have only what you may carry, and live as I and my fellow Wizards did for long years, making no permanent abode for yourselves. Your greatest allies shall be secrecy and stealth. Your haunts, the wild places: those forsaken by Elves and Men; though you may at whiles have succour of the few who will know of your errand."
"What, then, is our errand, lord?" asked one.
"That shall be revealed to you in time," said the wizard. He glanced at Narya the Great, the Ring of Fire which he still wore. "I will come to you unlooked-for with counsel, or to those in Middle-earth who have ears to listen to my words. And when your errand in Middle-earth is done, or you perish in the attempt, then you will at last be brought before Mandos, and judged."