The Test by bootsgrandma
Olórin – newly named Mithrandir – pondered his future as his ship ventured on eastward across the vast seas separating Valinor from Middle Earth. His fellow passengers were unaware of his musings. Their duties, in Middle Earth, were different from his.
Manwë had instructed the Maia servant only yesterday on all that was desired of him. He was to work with the elves to bring about the downfall of the Nameless One’s Chief Lieutenant – Sauron. In addition, he was to aid the heir of Elwe and Finwe – Elrond son of Earendil Tuorion. Elrond was also called Half-Elven or Peredhel but was in truth much more than that. He was also part Maia.
It was not unusual among the Ainur to be of mixed race since they progressed in their existence from life to higher life over eons of time as they earned the right to do so. All of Ainu blood were tested by Ilúvatar. The Maiar were tested by both Eru and the Valar because they were servants of the Valar who were themselves servants of Eru Ilúvatar. All were tested each step in their progression.
The test was one of faithfulness to Ilúvatar. Since Melkor’s fall, the One has tested even His most faithful servants. The tests are to see if they would honor and follow the Will of Ilúvatar at all costs or if they would follow the Dark One. Each servant is tested beyond their own intelligence and experience.
The test is different for each servant and all are forbidden to discuss their tests when they complete them. If a servant failed his or her test… the servant forfeited not only his or her future advancement but their very existence as a servant of Eru. No one knew they were undergoing the test until they had passed it. If they failed, they did not have a chance to discuss it. If a servant failed, it was because they went against the Will of Ilúvatar and were cast into the Great Void beyond the Door of Night. They ceased to be a Power of Arda.
Elrond was part Ainu- thus a servant of the One; in his earliest steps of power to be sure, but still a servant. It was Elrond’s time for his first level of testing. His brother had already been tested- and passed. However, having chosen mortality, his progression and future were no longer controlled by the Valar. Only Eru knew the progression of mortals with Ainu blood.
Olórin recalled Manwe’s words. “You understand, Olórin, Elrond is not to know he is being tested. You are to witness his life choices and report of them to the Valar. We shall then proceed as Eru directs.”
Olórin contemplated all of this as he and his fellow Istari made their way east – unaware that he and his fellow wizards were even then undergoing their own Great Test.
Three would fail and join the Nameless One they served beyond the Door of Night. Another would follow his own desires. While not evil, he nonetheless did not advance the cause of the Valar. In choosing thus, his powers were reduced and he forever lost his right to advance to higher knowledge.
Only one would return to Valinor with honor. He would be received into the arms of Manwë himself. Great respect among the Powers would be his – having given all – holding nothing in reserve, not even his life – to ensure the fulfillment of the Will of Ilúvatar.