By Celebsul

I never expected this - any of it. Even from this distance I clearly behold the Valar's dreadful raiments of war. Searing light and heat emanate from them. They stand vaster than volcanoes, their wrath manifest in tempests and earthquakes. Clouds gather round their magnified forms and rise like swelling prophesies of distant, horrendous futures … but this is now.

I glance at the bodies of my opponents, lesser beings: the ugly mockeries of elves, no more than killing machines; and the alien, transient Engwar. I have heard of the Edain, but these stunted beings can bear no resemblance. What value have they - who will die in an eye-blink with or without foes - aside from serving as the rabid tools of a tyrant, biting the hands that seek to release them?

A child of men stares at me, but I look to Manwë glowing like the sun while eagles wheel around him, the wind of their wings bending branches and scattering leaves. This upheaval echoes the destruction of other trees, long ago - the putrescent tainting of bliss. I want Morgoth gone! He stole the finest creations in Aman. He and His minions have desecrated Beleriand for centuries enough.

That is all I need to know. I lived in blessedness before They called me here, before His pollution became unendurable and the Valar found compassion for my scattered brethren.

The child sobs. I gaze upwards as victory blisters the sky with lightning, gore and ear-piercing cries. Earth boils, steam hisses, rocks crash down in ultimate judgement upon the slaves who served Him. We liberate them from their infinitesimal but evil existence.

At last, He falls, and I grit my teeth upon a shout of joy.

Yet the ephemeral child draws my attention. The Valar are too colossal for this creature to perceive. He focuses only on me, and my sword. Muddied legs swaying as the ground beneath him convulses, wide-eyed with terror, he finds a voice and utters Adûni in an accent that renders the foreign words almost unintelligible.

"Have pity."

For as far as the eye can see, of all his kind, only he remains standing amidst corpses and the miasma of divine strife. What would be pity here - to let his blood join the black ichor of the orcs and the crimson essence of his race? I note a trickle of red from my arm, but all natural animals bleed thus. There is no kinship in our veins. I have no notion even of what age he might be - just that he is slighter than the rest, and his unlovely features do not yet sprout the coarse hair that will one day turn this whelp into a barbarian.

I raise my sword.

He cringes but spits more words.

"They were right. You are savages." Anger rips his voice and the final accusation is an almost soundless scream. "You destroy everything!"

Slowly lowering my arm, I stare into his black eyes. What do they see, those starless caverns? What do they see - if not an elf bringing freedom to an enslaved land? Bright dawn breaks through the fume behind me, and I watch my long shadow enshroud the boy. Then I understand. Though He has fallen, Morgoth's darkness defiles me, and its contagion will spread forever through the world.

There is no victory. Let there at least be mercy.